Owning and operating an espresso machine is a very rewarding experience. There is no greater feeling than brewing your own shot of espresso in the comfort of your own home.
The aroma illuminates the house with the warmth and love of coffee and espresso. It is no surprise that an espresso machine is often one of the most sought after machines every year.
With that being said, after much research and testing, we have put together a tried and practice guide to the best espresso machines. This is perfect for the individual who is seeking to learn the basics or 101 behind espresso machines and the top rated espresso machines in the industry today.
What Are Espresso Machines?
Before you can even buy an espresso machine it’s vital to understand what an espresso machine actually is. An espresso machine is simply a machine that utilizes pressurized water to force ground espresso coffee through a filter to produce more concentrated, thick and creamy form of coffee known as espresso. Today, given the advancements in technology, there are numerous espresso machines that can do much more than just this. For an example, some espresso machines can also steam and froth milk simultaneously.
What is the difference between espresso and coffee?
One of the most common questions that people ask in coffee shops around the world is: What is the difference between espresso and coffee? First and foremost, one of the main differences between espresso and coffee is the way it is made. If you did not know, there are not any actual ‘espresso beans’ to create ground espresso. In fact, espresso is made from a blend of different coffee beans. With that being said, espresso grounds are considerably finer than regular coffee grounds. In that, the process to make espresso involves an intense amount of pressure to compact and produce a thick and concentrated form of coffee. On the other hand, coffee involves boiling water dripping over the coffee ground. Unlike espresso, coffee utilizes the pressure of gravity to create a fresh cup of coffee.
What you need
In order to get started, there are two important products that you will want: a top-rated grinder and a top-rated home espresso maker. Now, there are hundreds of top-rated espresso makers that come built with a grinder; however, the price is adjusted accordingly. Once you have the machinery to make the espresso, you need the vital component of espresso grounds. Some of our favorite espresso grounds brands are:
- Illy Espresso Medium Roast Finely Ground Coffee
- Brooklyn Roasting Company Iris Espresso
- Lavazza Super Creama Espresso Whole Bean Coffee
- Stone Street Coffee Company Knee Buckling Espresso
While learning to use your espresso machine may take some time – the time spent is beyond worth it. To be truthful, the time spent learning is more about learning your taste buds and preferences than learning to use your espresso machine. Today, many companies value simplicity and user-friendliness. With that being said, if you have the opportunity to join the espresso movement, do it.
Types of espresso machines
A semi-automatic espresso machine is one of the most common and affordable espresso machines. One machine comes with a boiler, a portafilter, and a switch for extraction. With these machines, the user must grind the beans themselves and froth or steam the milk. In this market, there are two different variations:
- A manual semi-automatic espresso machine is one where you are required to begin the brew and end the process. The user has full control over the time of the shot.
- The other variant for the user is a programmable semi-automatic espresso machine. The user will still have full control; however, there are programmable features.
The elite machines in the industry are more than likely super-automatic. Have you ever gotten a glance at the machines that restaurants and coffee shops use? These are them. Each super-automatic machine comes fully equipped with all of the bells and whistles. The user will not be required to do much as the machine will do it all. This includes frothing, steaming, grinding and extracting.
Capsule or Pod Espresso Machines are relatively new to the market. These machines are actually made from pre-packaged capsules of different aromas and flavors of coffees and espressos. These machines function based off specific capsules and often are easier to use than other machines.
Best Espresso Machines by type
Top Rated Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines for 2018
Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine
In the semi-automatic espresso machine industry, this is the number one rated semi-automatic espresso machine of 2017. This machine is built with some of the most impressive features. In fact, this machine could be rated number one across all espresso machines; it is that good!
- This comes built with stainless steel boilers and duel pumps to produce espresso and steamed milk or froth simultaneously.
- Built with an OPV, or over-pressure valve.
- With a backlit LCD display, the user will always know the temperature, the shot time and be able to gauge the temperature for the perfect espresso shot.
- A 58-mm commercial grouphead, which assists maintaining the perfect temperature.
- If you want your espresso ready at a certain time, the Breville has an automatic start feature where the user can program a specific time to begin brewing.
Coffee Café Barista Espresso Maker with Automatic Milk Frother
When it comes to compact espresso machines, the Mr. Coffee Café Barista Espresso Maker is easily the best in the industry. Weighing in at only 9 pounds, its also one of the lightest espresso machines. For the user that is seeking a small espresso maker that won’t take up much counter space, this one is perfect. With outstanding features and the ability to produce the richest shot of espresso, you can’t go wrong with this one.
- The Mr. Coffee Café Barista comes built with a one-touch control panel. This allows for the user to dictate a one-shot or double-shot of espresso, latter or cappuccino.
- As the name insists, the machine comes built with an automatic milk frother.
- Easy to use and easy to clean.
- The machine is adjustable so the user can decide what type of cup or size cup they will be using.
- The Mr. Coffee Café Barista comes equipped with a 15-bar pressure pump. This is an impressive feature as it guarantees a flavorful and creamy sip of espresso.
Gaggia 14102 Classic Espresso Machine Brushed Stainless Steel
The Gaggia 14102 Classic Espresso Machine is known as a true espresso beast in the industry. It is one of the heaviest and largest machines in the market. While this could be a turn-off for some, the machine comes built with a beautiful stainless steel design and impressive features.
- The Gaggia Classic Espresso Machine is one of the fastest espresso makers in the industry. Built with a 3-way solenoid valve, the pressure system and grouphead function to produce a delicious and efficient shot of espresso.
- This machine is made from some of the highest-grade of material. In fact, the grouphead is made of marine-grade brass, which is perfect for maintaining the high levels of pressure and temperatures. This allows for the user to have a full-bodied shot of espresso.
- The Gaggia Espresso Machine comes equipped with an impressive 72 oz removable water tank.
- In comparison to it’s competitors, this machine comes built with a 17 ½ bar pump with an intense boiler to produce the BEST shot of espresso.
- Built into the heart of the machine, the user can also make steamed milk and froth.
Top Rated Super-Automatic Espresso Machines for 2018
Jura Giga 5 Automatic Coffee Center
Reaching this level of super-automatic espresso machines, this is the pinnacle, the crème de la crème. If you want the best espresso maker that has swept the awards across the world, the Jura Giga 5 Automatic Coffee Center is it. To be honest, words actually cheapen the perfection and beauty of this grand piece of innovation. This machine is the number one rated espresso machine of 2017.
- With two ceramic disc grinders, this is the fastest and quietest espresso machine in the entire industry.
- The Jura Giga comes with 19 individual programable specialty coffees
- Built with a TFT, or Thin-Film Transistor, display front-screen. For an example, the user can have a one-touch espresso, latte, macchiato, cappuccino, frothed milk, hot water, and assortment of coffees.
- The most impressive feature is that it comes built with separate chambers for grinding and brewing. In other words, an individual can make two coffees at the same time.
- The Jura Giga comes with an Intelligent Pre-Brew Aroma System, which maximizes the smell of the espresso, one of the most important parts!
- With a thermoblock heating system, every single shot will be perfect.
DeLonghi ESA3300 Magnifica
When it comes to espresso makers, you can’t go wrong with a DeLonghi machine. They are known across the world as one of the best and most innovative pieces of machinery. Not only are they visually appealing, they also come built with some awesome features.
- This machine minimizes the transferring of espresso grounds and beans. With a bean-to-brew system, the user does not need to grind their own coffee as the machine does all the work. This maintains the quality and integrity of the bean.
- Built with two stainless-steel boilers for the perfect temperature.
- Also comes with an instant-reheat function to make sure each shot stays the perfect temperature.
- Due to the De’Longhi’s Cappuccino System, each espresso shot is guaranteed the richest and densest froth in the industry.
- Completely user-friendly with a control-panel and one-touch system.
- Removable water tank and bean container.
- With different spigot height, the user can select the perfect size of espresso or coffee.
- Customizability is important to De’Longhi. They created a machine that allows the user to determine the strength of the espresso.
Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine
Many of the different super-automatic espresso machines can often be a bit pricey. The Gaggia Super automatic Espresso Machine was built to bring the quality of super automatic machines at a cost-effective level. With some impressive features and add-ons, this could easily be one of the top-rated espresso machines of 2017.
- Built with the user in mind. This machine is one of the easier espresso machines to use. With a simply push button, anyone can handle making a shot of espresso.
- 1400 watt motor, which is perfect for the finest grounds of coffee and the best tasting espresso.
- Extremely light-weight and compact. This is perfect for the consumer who want an affordable, cheap and moveable espresso machine.
- Very easy to clean with removable parts.
- This machine has the opportunity to save energy with a standby mode.
Top Rated Pod Espresso Machines for 2017
Nespresso C75-US-TI-NE Prodigio With Milk Esprseso Maker, Titan(B01C7QR386)
Just when you thought technology could not get any better, Nespresso surprises us all. With the first ever “connected” espresso machine, Nespresso has developed a machine that can develop a delicious cup of espresso from a touch of your cell-phone. This is just one of the list of impressive features this machine offers.
- A connected Nespresso Machine. What this means is your cell-phone can make your cup of espresso. Whether you are on iOS or Andriod, all you need to do is download the app. You can then manage your stock, program your brewing times, brew from your phone and even get alerts about your machine.
- Built with a 19 bar high-pressure pump, making every espresso shot as if you are the barista. The perfect flavor, temperature and aroma is ready in under 25 seconds.
- Energy saving feature after inactivity.
- The 27 oz. water tank is rotatable, making it perfect for every kitchen.
- Ability to program ristretto, espresso and lungo shots.
- Each capsule is design with your taste in mind. With different aromas and tastes, every single Nespresso shot is perfect for you.
De’Longhi Nesprseso Latissima Touch
De’Longhi has reached the market of capsule and pod machines. With one of the top-rated espresso machines in 2017, the Latissima Touch is one of the most beautiful pieces of technology. With numerous flavors from the Nespresso capsule line, every single shot from this machine is bound for greatness.
- Built with a 19-bar pressure pump. Every single espresso that is made from this machine will be of the quality of a barista.
- Offers 6 different options for the user: latte macchiato, hot milk, long, espresso, ristretto, and cappuccino.
- Machine comes provided with the infamous “automatic cappuccino system.” The user will always get the perfect amount of rich and long-lasting foam.
- De’Longhi has mastered the temperature and heating times. Each shot will be ready within 25 seconds.
- Simplicity was the theme for this machine. With one-touch technology, your favorite drink is only one touch away.
- Mess-free and easy to clean. With capsules and pods, you will never have a mess. All you need to do is throw away the capsules.
Nescafe Dolce Gusto Stelia
The definition of beauty in espresso machines has been redefined by this modern and pristine machine. Nescafe Dolce Gusto Stelia represents a new generation of espresso machines and has just the features to match it.
- This machine is considered a mult-beverage maker as it can produce not only espresso but also lattes, cappuccinos and americanos. This machine can also make the popular chococcinos as well.
- This machine is built with an Intuitive HMI Interface.
- Intelligence is at the core of this beast. It will turn off after minutes of waiting idle.
- Since the machine is a pod-based machine, there are a variety of options of flavors and aromas to use.
- Packaged with a 1-Liter water tank.
- Beautiful touch sensitive system.
- Personal recommendations for every single shot of espresso and drink.
- This machine will deliver 15 bars of pressure, which is perfect for the at-home cup of espresso.