Whether you’re an espresso aficionado or a beginner in all things coffee, the best espresso machines can help you create high-quality espresso drinks right in the comfort of your own home. Many models come with useful features like built-in automatic milk frothers (great for whipping up lattes and cappuccinos) and other barista-approved accessories that make brewing a breeze. Some models are lightweight and portable enough to easily move around the house or bring with you while traveling. If you’re on the hunt for a machine that will deliver coffee-shop-level drinks, we spoke with coffee experts for their espresso machine buying tips.
How to choose the best espresso machine
When choosing the best espresso machine, experts agree that you should consider space, budget, purpose, and any cool features you’d like to use.
“Definitely think about how much effort you’re willing to put in the morning,” Sebastian Ventura, director of education for New York–based Colombian coffee company Devoción, tells SELF. Ventura says that if you want just to press a button and go, an automatic espresso machine may work best for you. Alternatively, if you’re interested in a more hands-on experience, a semi-automatic machine may be a better fit. “A semi-automatic machine allows you to manipulate all aspects of brewing and achieve a balanced espresso to your tastes,” adds Ventura. If you want a machine that can brew and steam simultaneously, go for a dual-boiler espresso machine.
Cary Wong, director of coffee at Partners Coffee, suggests looking for temperature control and stabilization when picking out an espresso machine. “In order to get the best out of the coffee, temperature consistency is one of the key factors in a great-tasting espresso,” says Wong. Overall, the best espresso machines are “user-friendly and not intimidating to operate at home,” he adds.
It’s not just about choosing the best espresso machine: Experts also stress that you shouldn’t forget to purchase a high-quality coffee grinder if your espresso maker does not already have a built-in grinder. A coffee grinder helps crush coffee beans into grounds that can then be brewed. “There is so much focus on the espresso machine when setting up a brew bar, but a great grinder is also essential,” Anita Tam, Specialty Coffee Association judge and CEO of Slow Pour Supply, tells SELF. “So including that into your budget is important too.”
How to pick the right coffee for your espresso machine
When picking out coffee for your espresso maker, look for a slightly heavier roast profile, “either a medium or dark roast, depending on your flavor preference,” Lyndia McGauhey, head of training and development at Verve Coffee Roasters, tells SELF. She also says that you don’t need to look for the word ‘espresso’ on the bag. “That simply indicates that it fits the roast category,” she explains. When choosing, she typically likes to go for a blend of two to three coffees to help add more complexity and structure.
“That said, espresso offers a vast array of flavors, and it’s okay to have fun and be playful!” McGauhey says. “Do remember that two different coffees will pull differently, so you may need to spend some time dialing in your parameters if you change coffees frequently.”
The best espresso machines
To help you choose the best espresso machine for you, we tapped coffee experts for their picks, broken down by different price points. Below, you’ll find their top picks from high-quality brands like Breville, Nespresso, Cuisinart, De’Longhi, and La Marzocca, available at retailers including Amazon, Williams Sonoma, and Sur La Table.
Budget-Friendly Espresso Machines
Espresso machines don’t have to cost a ton of money. If you’re new to the world of espresso or are just looking for inexpensive options, here are some highly rated picks that can help get the job done without breaking the bank.
Espresso Machines Under $600
There are also plenty of higher-end espresso machines that sit below the $600 price point. Whether you’re ready to take your espresso-making to the next level or need something with a few more features, these options can help you achieve the perfect cup of espresso regardless of how much experience you may have.
Splurge-Worthy Espresso Machines
If you’re an espresso enthusiast wanting to invest in a top-of-the-line espresso maker or are looking for an espresso machine with all the bells and whistles, then these higher-price models may do the trick. Although expensive, these machines are often used in coffee shops around the world—so you know you’re getting a high-quality brew each time.