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Best espresso machines: Get a quality caffeine kick at home

A black Krups espresso machine on a kitchen worktop
(Image credit: Future)

Our demands for a quality brew are much higher today than ever before when it comes to the quality of our brew. Just look at how coffee shops have flourished in recent years to see the proof. Still, many of us want to be able to get barista-quality coffee without actually having to go to a café and overpaying. That's where home espresso machines come in.

Top Ten Reviews has been reviewing espresso machines for seven years. Since then, we've spent hundreds of hours researching and testing to understand what it takes to make a perfect espresso at home. We've also consulted with baristas and coffee experts to get their valuable insight, and laid out everything you need to know about how to buy espresso machine to help guide you through the process.

If you’re not quite sure whether an espresso machine is right for you, and are thinking you'd prefer a filter coffee machine for your home, then check out our guide to the best drip coffee machines.

But if you want to see our list of the best espresso machines available to buy right now, simply read on. We've assembled a guide to the seven espresso makers that our testing proves make a stellar cup of coffee. We’ve highlighted three of our favourites here:

More guides for coffee lovers:

Best single-cup coffee makers
Best filter coffee machines

Best Overall

Breville The Infuser

Breville The Infuser

Make genuine café-quality espresso at home with this impressive Breville unit

Pressure (bars): 15 | Water reservoir (liters): 1.8 | Programmable buttons: 1 | Auto shut-off: Yes | Total filter baskets: 4 | Milk frother: Yes | Milk jug: Yes | Warranty: 1 year

Quality metal tamper included
Makes excellent froth
Heats water fast

The most important thing to know about the Breville Infuser is it makes high-quality, tasty espresso. In fact, its espresso scored the highest in our taste tests. This is no surprise since it has a pre-infusion system, which means the machine soaks your coffee grounds before it begins extracting. This results in a fresher, more flavorful shot.

Pre-infusion technology is normally reserved for more expensive and professional machines, so it’s big boon to have it on a consumer-level model such as this one.

Some of the products we reviewed take several minutes to bring water to the appropriate temperature, but the Breville Infuser has a thermocoil heating system that warms water in less than a minute. This is especially important if you have a tight morning routine or need to get out the door in a hurry.

The Infuser makes it easy to brew espresso with its two dedicated buttons: one for a single shot and one for a double shot. There’s also a programmable button you can set to your own unique preferences; once that’s done, all you do is put your cup under the spout and push the button.

This espresso maker also creates excellent froth. It comes with a stainless-steel milk jug that you place under the frothing wand. If you know what you’re doing, it only takes a few seconds to get high-quality, tasty froth.
The last feature worth noting is the machine’s tamper. All the other models we tested included tampers made of flimsy plastic that were only marginally effective. The Breville Infuser includes a weighty metal tamper that can make a properly even tamp – something the rest of the machines we reviewed were sorely lacking.

Best Value

Mr. Coffee Café Barista

Mr. Coffee Café Barista

If you’re looking for caffeine bang for your buck, the Café Barista from Mr. Coffee delivers

Pressure (bars): 15 | Water reservoir (liters): 0.5 | Programmable buttons: 1 | Auto shut-off: No | Total filter baskets: 2 | Milk frother: Yes | Milk jug: Yes | Warranty: 1 year

Great value
Integrated milk frother
Buttons for espresso, cappuccino and latte
Inconsistent water temperature
Messy milk frother
Taste varies

The first thing you should know about the Mr. Coffee Café Barista is it’s far from the perfect machine. Its temperature can be inconsistent, it can get a bit messy and the quality of its espresso varies from shot to shot.

That said, it’s great for people who love coffee but don’t want to bust the bank for a machine that costs hundreds of dollars more.

What makes this espresso machine stand out above other similarly priced models is it’s relatively simple to use. It has a three convenient preprogrammed drink buttons on the front: one for espresso, one for cappuccino and one for latte. Once the portafilter is in place, just set your cup underneath and the machine does the rest for you.

The Café Barista’s milk frother is unique in that it’s part of the machine itself, rather than the standard jug and wand setup. The milk compartment fits neatly next to the portafilter and froths at the push of a button. When it’s done, you simply slide the nozzle over and froth pours right into your cup. It’s very convenient – even if the quality of the froth leaves a little to be desired.

Best Pod Machine

Nespresso CitiZ&Milk

Nespresso CitiZ&Milk

A pod machine that makes delicious coffee – and quickly too

Pressure (bars): 19 | Water reservoir (liters): 1 | Programmable buttons: 2 | Auto shut-off: Yes | Total filter baskets: 0 | Milk frother: Yes | Milk jug: Yes | Warranty: 1 year

Easy to use
Brews high-quality espresso quickly
Makes outstanding froth
Relatively small water reservoir

Of the two pod espresso machines we reviewed, the Nespresso CitiZ&milk is the best by a mile. And it’s not only the best pod machine we tested, but it’s also the easiest and fastest way to get your morning cup. In our tests, we found that it takes less than a minute from when you turn on the machine to when you have your espresso, latte or cappuccino.

This is thanks to the machine’s great design – all you have to do is place a pod (or capsule) in the top of the machine, close the lid and press one button, and you’ll have a flavorful espresso shot in short order.

The coffee the CitiZ&milk made was among our testing team’s favorites. And the crema was as good as or better than that made by the ground-based espresso makers we tested.

This machine also comes with the best automatic milk frother we saw. It’s a handsome thermos-style jug that fits on a base connected to the machine itself. Simply fill the jug with milk, place it on the base and hit the start button. The CitiZ&milk’s specially designed spring swirls the milk around to frothy perfection. It’s truly the best froth produced by any espresso machine we tested.

Best for Artistic Frothing

DeLonghi EC-685

DeLonghi EC-685

If you like your coffee with a dash of creativity, this DeLonghi is your espresso maker

Pressure (bars): 15 | Water reservoir (liters): 1.1 | Programmable buttons: 0 | Auto shut-off: Yes | Total filter baskets: 3 | Milk frother: Yes | Milk jug: No | Warranty: 6 months

Artisanal frothing quality
Milk jug not included

Creating espresso art requires a combination of skill, milk and an espresso machine capable of creating the right kind of froth. In our tests, the DeLonghi EC-685 emerged as the best espresso machine for creating artistic froth. 

It creates the perfect foam consistency for you to manipulate coffee and milk into whatever designs you want. The professional barista even said the quality was on par with a professional espresso machine. 

The art you create in the froth is only limited by your imagination, skill and patience at not drinking the coffee. Also, the DeLonghi earned one of the highest ease-of-use scores. It received a 9 out of 10 in the review of the espresso machine's controls. 

For coffee drinkers familiar with how espresso is made, the machine is easy enough to operate straight out of the box. For novices, it may take a little longer, but not long to master.

Best Warranty

A Cuisinart Programmable Espresso Maker EM-200 espresso machine on a kitchen worktop

(Image credit: Future)

Cuisinart Programmable Espresso Maker EM-200

A programmable espresso maker with a large water tank and good warranty

Pressure (bars): 15 | Water reservoir (liters): 2 | Programmable buttons: 1 | Auto shut-off: No | Total filter baskets: 2 | Milk frother: Yes | Milk jug: No | Warranty: 3 years

Large water tank
Generous warranty
Average espresso quality
Froth is not great

The Cuisinart EM-200 is a mixed bag. It has a lot of strong features, but its subpar coffee results drag it down.

It is relatively cheap, easy to use, has one of the largest water reservoirs and the longest warranty period of all the machines we tested. However, it received low marks in our espresso and frothing quality tests. That makes it unlikely to meet the standards of coffee connoisseurs.

All the buttons and controls are easily accessible at the front of the machine. Once the machine turns on and heats up, you can start making either one or two cups of espresso with a single push of a button. There’s also a program button you can use to customize your espresso, pulling it to fit your unique tastes. It’s not immediately clear how this feature works, so you’ll need to consult the user manual for instructions. But once you know how, it’s very simple.

There are a couple of features we expected to see that were missing. While this espresso machine comes with a milk frother, the Gaggia doesn’t include a jug to hold your milk. That means you’ll have to buy a jug or make do with the cups you have in your home already – both of which is inconvenient. It also lacks an auto-shutoff feature, so you’ll need to double check that you’ve turned off the machine every morning.

Best Build

A Gaggia Classic 14101 espresso machine on a kitchen worktop

(Image credit: Future)

Gaggia Classic 14101

This Gaggia looks cool and is sturdy, but it’s tricky to learn

Pressure (bars): 15 | Water reservoir (liters): 2.1 | Programmable buttons: 0 | Auto shut-off: No | Total filter baskets: 2 | Milk frother: Yes | Milk jug: No | Warranty: 1 year

Large water tank
Cool design
Steep learning curve 

The Gaggia Classic espresso maker yields good coffee, but it's trickier to use than most of its competitors.

The Gaggia Classic is sturdy and durable, thanks to its stainless steel and high-quality components. This includes the heavy and well build portafilter. The water reservoir holds 72 ounces, which is more than any of the other espresso makers we reviewed.

The swiveling steam wand is classic in its look, but our barista didn’t care for its design. She commented that it was poorly made and took a while to learn how to steam and froth with it. This applies to the machine as a whole. The learning curve is steep when it comes to mastering its features.

Despite its flaws, this espresso maker makes very decent coffee. And with this device, you also get the convenience of a hot water stream for tea or other drinks. But it was also the noisiest home espresso machine we tried, with the sound level measuring 93.8 decibels.

The Gaggia Classic stays hot for quite a while after use, and it takes some time to clean everything. The head can accumulate coffee grounds, so you need to wipe it off often or the excess grounds will fall into your coffee. And because of its stainless steel design, fingerprints and other smudges build up fast, so you’ll need to clean it regularly.

Best on a Budget

Espressione-Ariete Cafe Minuetto 1334/1

Espressione-Ariete Cafe Minuetto 1334/1

It may be cheap, but it still makes good coffee – from either pods or ground coffee

Pressure (bars): 15 | Water reservoir (liters): 1.1 | Programmable buttons: 0 | Auto shut-off: No | Total filter baskets: 3 | Milk frother: Yes | Milk jug: No | Warranty: 1 year

You can use pods or ground coffee
It’s an all-manual machine, so there’s a learning curve

Good-quality espresso machines can be expensive. However, the Espressione Cafe Minuetto 1334 is budget-friendly and brews good-tasting espresso from both pods and ground coffee.

It’s always great to have choice when brewing your own espresso, and this machine lets you adjust the strength, flavor and boldness of your brew. This compact, stainless steel machine also does a good job frothing different kinds of milk to add the finishing flourish to any good cup of espresso.

The Cafe Minuetto 1334 comes with a coffee pod filter, a one-shot filter and a two-shot filter. The water reservoir is big, and the machine has a cup warmer on top. It also includes a helpful tamping tool with a measuring spoon on the opposite end.

Since espresso machines range from about $100 to over $1,000, this is a practical and economical choice. And we only found a couple drawbacks. For example, the steamer gets quite hot, so you need to be careful when you use it. Also, you must manually turn off the hot water that flows through the portafilter.

More guides for coffee lovers: 

Best single-cup coffee makers
Best filter coffee machines

ProductPriceOverall RatingPerformanceConvenienceAccessoriesWarrantyEspresso QualityFrothing QualityEase of UsePressure (bars)Water Reservoir (liters)Programmable ButtonsAuto Shut-offTotal Filter BasketsMilk FrotherMilk JugWarranty Period (years)
Breville Infuser BES840XlView Deal4.5/59.29.4105100%100%60%151.8141
Nespresso CitiZ&milk C122View Deal4.5/510106.7580%90%100%191201
DeLonghi EC-685View Deal3.5/58.665.82.570%80%90%151.103-0.5
Cuisinart Programmable Espresso Maker EM-200View Deal3/56.564.21040%40%80%1521-2-3
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista BVMC-ECMP1000-RBView Deal3/57.537.5560%60%80%150.51-21
Gaggia Classic 14101View Deal3/57.144.2575%50%60%152.10-2-1
Espressione Cafe Minuetto 1334View Deal2.5/56.725540%80%50%151.10-3-1