The best espresso machines allow you to get the ultimate coffee experience in your home. That not only means you can save money by getting your favourite coffee right in your kitchen, but also lets you fill your house with that wonderful coffee smell as you become the barista.
From a simple machine that automates the work for you, to a more complex coffee making design that gives you freedom to play with settings – there are lots of espresso machines, each tailored to your needs. So if you want a quick coffee before work, or you need to take your time perfecting your ideal espresso on the weekend, there's a machine for you in this guide.
One consideration is milk – do you want a frother to get you that foamy layer or are you happy with straight black coffee? Another point to think about is those beans – do you want a machine with a built-in grinder or do you plan to buy a grinder separately or, perhaps, pre-ground coffee? You may want to also check out the best coffee makers to see if there are options in that guide which better suit your needs.
For ease, the pod machines offer the simplest and most efficient way to get espresso. This guide features a few brands including the famed Nespresso, meaning you have a choice of pod types - with lots of flavour variations. This is worth thinking about as you'll be locked into that brand's pod shape and type once you commit to the machine.
Best espresso machines
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While we've reviewed most of the products in this guide, there are a few that we're still in the process of testing. For these espresso machines, we've provided an overview of the important specs and features that you need to know to help you make the right decision for you and your home.
The best espresso machines: tried and tested
1. Breville Infuser BES840XL: Best overall espresso machine
Brilliant for making smooth and tasty espresso, the Breville Infuser BES840X also features a milk frother that performed well in our testing. This machine created a decent crema on top and due it being semi-automatic, this model is easier to use than a manual espresso machine.
This was also the only model that had a metal tamper for compacting the ground coffee so that it’s ready to brew. Better for performance, the metal tamper makes this model a great choice for the smoothest espresso around.
Ideal for making lattes and cappuccinos, the Breville Infuser BES840X also comes with a metal milk jug. The machine is also compatible with both ground coffee and pods, making it very versatile. The model is a little noisy and can take a while to get used to, but once you’ve mastered it you’ll be feeling like a pro barista in no time at all.
- Read our Breville Infuser BES840X review
2. Nespresso CitiZ&milk C122: Best pod espresso machine
Renowned for its stylish machines, Nespresso models including the Nespresso CitiZ&milk C122 only use pods. While these pods can be expensive, they are very good at creating delicious drinks with very little effort or mess.
The Nespresso CitiZ&milk C122 comes with a built-in milk frother and produces a beautiful crema on top of the espresso. This model really does stand out for its usability and how little effort you need to put in to make a great quality drink. If you don’t mind the added expense of buying the pods regularly, you can’t go far wrong with this espresso machine.
- Read our Nespresso CitiZ&milk C122 review
3. DeLonghi EC-685: Best espresso machine milk frother
The DeLonghi EC-685 espresso machine has a sleek design and is fairly compact, meaning it won’t take up too much space on your countertop.
It’s very easy to use and makes a tasty cup of espresso, but what really sets this machine apart from others is its great milk frother. Creating frothed milk near to a coffee shop’s standard, this machine doesn’t come with a milk jug, however, so you will need to buy one.
The auto shut-off on this model is also very helpful and adds to its safety aspects. The warranty is shorter than most machines we reviewed though.
- Read our DeLonghi EC-685 review
4. Cuisinart EM-200: Most versatile espresso machine
The Cuisinart EM-200 uses a bar pump to create a delicious espresso that is smoother than you’d get with a steam pump. This model also offers programmable and manual controls so that you create the exact coffee you want.
Other features on this model have been well thought out too. For example, a switch allows you to keep the filter in place so that you can get rid of your coffee grounds without losing the filter and making a mess.
Even the milk jug that comes with this machine has a good spout so that you can create pretty coffee art on top of your drink. It has to be said that this machine is a little noisy when you’re using it and it’s also pretty heavy too.
- Read our Cuisinart EM-200 review
5. Espressione Café Minuetto: Best large capacity espresso machine
The steam arm milk frother on the Espressione Café Minuetto works well and is ideal for lattes, it does, however, get very hot so you have to watch you don’t burn yourself. What really stands out about this model though is its large water tank, meaning you can create lots of drinks with ease.
Suitable for both ground coffee and pods, this machine also has a cup warmer which is really handy and not something the other machines we reviewed had. Due to the manual controls, this model does take a bit of getting used to before you can master the perfect drink, but it is a great option.
- Read our Espressione Café Minuetto review
How we test espresso machines
When we test espresso machines we put them through there paces. Each of the best espresso machines that we have featured in this guide are slightly different, but we test each one from the ease of set-up to the shot of espresso is produces.
During the review process we consider the overall design of the espresso machine - how it looks, how much space it takes up and any removable parts such as a coffee bean grinder that'll need to be checked on prior to each use.
The cleaning and maintenance of the espresso machine is also important to help ensure the longevity of the coffee maker, and that you are getting the best performance out of it. We note how easy it is, and exactly what needs to happen to keep it in a tip-top condition.