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Home » Best Home Espresso Machine of 2023 – Our Top Picks

Best Home Espresso Machine of 2023 – Our Top Picks

Looking for the best espresso machine? Are you afraid to buy a machine that is hard to use or makes inconsistent coffee? Are you simply overwhelmed by the thousands of options? If you answered yes to any of these questions, Home Grounds has you covered. This is a big decision; you’re not buying a new toothbrush here!

In this review, we cover a few different categories to help you find the right machine to fit your style, kitchen, and budget. Just skim through our list of the top rated espresso machines below and find the one that suits you most.


Homegrounds editorial team is made up of a group of self-confessed coffee nerds and passionate coffee researchers. We have all worked in various roles in the specialty coffee industry, from cafe baristas, to roasting beans to espresso machine maintenance, and everything in between.

Buying a new espresso machine is a big decision. The internet is full of low quality reviews from writers that have little to no coffee knowledge, and are certainly not experts. Their recommendations are based on 5 minutes of Googling, rather than experience.

At Homegrounds, we have purchased, tested and extensively used all of the top ranked espresso machines on this page. We update this article at least twice per year, to ensure that our recommendations are always current and up to date. If you see a machine in our top list of the best espresso machines, you can be sure it makes fantastic espresso every time.

We’ve rounded up some of the best picks from each category so that you don’t have to spend hours researching, or worse, spend hundreds on a lemon.


  1. OUR TOP PICK: Breville Infuser
  2. BUDGET PICK: ​DeLonghi EC155
  3. RUNNER UP: Rancilio Silvia
  4. BEST SUPER-AUTOMATIC: Philips 3200 Series

The table below contains all of our favorite picks in 2023, with a recommendation for all budgets and machine categories.

Image Product Details
Best Overall Best Overall Breville infuser espresso machine Breville BES840XL Infuser
  • Semi-automatic machine
  • 13.7″ x 11.5″ x 13.2″
  • 61 oz Capacity
Runner Up Runner Up Rancilio Silvia Rancilio Silvia
  • Semi automatic machine
  • 9.2″ x 11.4″ x 13.3″
  • 1.8-liter reservoir. 0.3-liter boiler
Budget Pick Budget Pick de'longhi EC155 ​DeLonghi EC155
  • Semi automatic machine
  • 8″ x 10″ x 11″
  • 35 oz Capacity
Best For Milk Drinks Best For Milk Drinks Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista
  • Semi-automatic machine
  • 12.6″ x 8.9″ x 11.2″
  • 1.7 liter (water tank), 0.5 liter (milk)
Rocket-Appartamento-Espresso-Machine Rocket Appartamento
  • Semi-automatic machine
  • 16.7” x 10.8” x 14.2”
  • 76 ounces capacity
Best For Espresso Nerds Best For Espresso Nerds Gaggia espresso machine Gaggia Classic Pro
  • Semi automatic machine
  • 9.5″ x 8″ x 14.2″
  • 42 oz Capacity
Best With Grinder Best With Grinder Breville espresso machine Breville Barista Express
  • Semi-automatic machine with grinder
  • 13.25″ x 12.5″ x 15.75″
  • 2l Capacity
Best For Small Spaces Best For Small Spaces Delonghi Dedica DeLonghi DEDICA
  • Semi-automatic machine
  • 13″ x 5.9″ x 13″
  • 35 oz tank (17.2 oz shots)
Iconic Design Iconic Design La Pavoni Professional Copper and Brass La Pavoni Professional Copper & Brass
  • Manual espresso maker
  • 12.6″ x 17.9″ x 11.4″
  • 38 oz Capacity
Best Super Automatic Best Super Automatic PHILLIPS 3200 Philips 3200 Series
  • Super automatic machine
  • 9.7” x 14.6” x 17.0”
  • 60 oz Capacity
Most Portable Most Portable WACACO NANOPRESSO Wacaco Nanopresso
  • Manual espresso maker
  • 6.14” x 2.8” x 2.44”
  • 2.7 oz Capacity
Best Pod Machine Best Pod Machine Nespresso Essenza Nespresso Essenza Mini
  • Pod machine
  • 3.3” x 12.9” x 8”
  • 20 oz Capacity

The 11 Best Espresso Machines

Still undecided? If so, keep on reading to get a more in depth breakdown of why these are our top rated espresso machines that make real espresso.

1. Breville BES840XL Infuser – Best Home Espresso Machine

  • Type: Semi-automatic

  • Dimensions: 13.7″ x 11.5″ x 13.2″
  • Capacity: 61 oz.
  • Milk frother: Manual steam wand

The Breville infuser is the best machine for home baristas. Real baristas know the importance of pre-infusing the grinds to get the perfect extraction. With the BES 840XL Infuser, this is built into the machine. A steady, low-pressure pre-infusion – much like the “bloom” on a pour over – prepares the grinds for the optimal 9-bar extraction. Unlike other Breville machines, like the the 800ESXL or the Bambino Plus, this machine’s PID temperature controller is programmable in 2-degree increments and reduces fluctuations during extraction for consistent flavor.

This semiautomatic machine’s double-shot filter baskets take a dose up to 19-22 g (typically, filter baskets take 11-13 g) if you’re looking for a higher coffee-to-water ratio. Combine this with flexible shot control (including manual shot control),and you are fully in charge. The Infuser is like the Barista Express, but with less features (and a more attractive price tag). Read more about the Infuser in our full review here.

2. Rancilio Silvia – Runner Up

  • Type: Semi-automatic

  • Dimensions: 9.2″ x 11.4″ x 13.3″
  • Capacity: 1.8-liter reservoir. 0.3-liter boiler
  • Milk frother: steam wand with an acorn tip

The Rancilio Silvia M’s track record over the last decade has truly set it apart as a superior entry-level machine. Yet it has the ability to satisfy the experienced barista, since it’s a very straightforward machine. With an iron frame and stainless steel exterior, this sleek machine is built to last. This semi-automatic machine is equipped with a forged marine brass group head boiler, leading to greater stability in heat and longer-lasting pieces, as well as a large 12-oz boiler, which gives an incredible steam capacity.

Rancilio Silvia espresso machine has a commercial-sized portafilter and creates less mess with a 3-way solenoid valve that relieves pressure on the coffee grounds after an extraction. The Silvia excels in milk steaming, relying on a steam wand that has an acorn tip. The one disappointment is the lack of a built-in grinder. Many users complain of having to work fairly intensively to find a grind that works. But seriously, if you want the best espresso machine under 1000, you won’t regret getting this one — learning how to grind coffee well should be a priority anyway.

3. DeLonghi EC155 – Budget Pick

  • Type: Semi-automatic

  • Dimensions: 8 x 10 x 11
  • Capacity: 35 oz.
  • Milk frother: Manual steam wand

Budget, affordable espresso machine, whatever you want to call it, readers often ask: “what’s the best espresso maker under $200?”. While we can’t answer that question directly because prices are always changing, this machine is a good starting point. As of writing, the EC155 didn’t make it to our list of the best espresso machines under $200 as it costs a few bucks above $200. But, the Delonghi EC155 made it into Home Grounds’ list of the best espresso machines under $500, and it’s the best affordable espresso machine on this list, for many reasons.

DeLonghi EC155 is an entry-level option. This machine combines accessibility and ease of use with the reputation of an established company. It comes with the patented De’Longhi Cappuccino Frothing Wand so frothing for an array of coffee drinks will be a breeze. It also features a 3-in-1 filter holder that works for both pre-ground coffee and espresso pods.

The black and stainless steel exterior is compact and easy-to-clean, making it a seamless fit for many modern kitchens. If you’re wondering where to buy a De’Longhi EC155, or want more information click the button below or read our full review here.

4. Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista – Best for Milk Drinks

  • Type: Semi-automatic

  • Dimensions: 12.6″ x 8.9″ x 11.2″
  • Capacity: 1.7 liter (water tank)
  • Milk frother: Automated frother with carafe

The Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker is all about convenience. Brewing options, an automated frother, even the adjustable cup height on the tray make this ideal for anyone who wants to experiment without taking the plunge into more expensive machinery like La Marzocco.

Frothing milk is done automatically (no guesswork) and the milk jug is removable, allowing you to store any unused amount for next time. The water tank also pops out easily, making refilling a cinch. Plus, the one-touch control panel makes selecting the kind of drink utterly convenient.

This is in many ways the “sweet spot” of the home espresso machine market: the higher-priced machines deliver more, but you can get solid features in this bracket. If you’re looking for a convenient, quick way to get a decent cup of espresso, cappuccino, latte, etc., this is a solid choice. Read our Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista review here.

5. Rocket Appartamento – Best Prosumer Espresso Machine

  • Type: Semi-automatic

  • Dimensions: 16.7” x 10.8” x 14.2”
  • Capacity: 76 ounces
  • Milk Frother: Manual steam wand

The top prosumer espresso machine this year is the Rocket Appartamento, a gorgeous, high-performance machine. Prosumer espresso machines are designed for home use but feature commercial-grade components and build quality. As such, the Appartamento is expensive and takes some practice to master, but the resulting cafe-quality drinks are unmatched.

Every Appartamento is handmade in Italy to exacting standards. The exterior is high-grade stainless steel with attractive laser cut-outs on the sides. It’s relatively compact compared to other prosumer machines; indeed, the name Appartamento stems from it being suitable for apartment dwellers.

The Rocket Appartamento has a 1.8 L heat exchange boiler, a design that allows you to steam milk and pull a shot simultaneously – a must for lovers of milky drinks. It relies on the iconic E61 group head with a 58-mm commercial-style portafilter, a style found on top espresso machines for over 60 years. It guarantees a stable brew temperature, even without a PID, and enables a low-pressure pre-infusion stage.

6. Breville Barista Express – Best with Grinder

  • Type: Semi-automatic with grinder

  • Dimensions: 13.25″ x 12.5″ x 15.75″
  • Capacity: 2 liters
  • Milk frother: 360-degree steam wand

The biggest selling point of the Barista Express is how easy it is to use. That’s why we often recommend it as the best espresso machine for beginners. Our Barista Express review came up with a common theme: a huge number of home baristas love it! It’s bigger than other machines, especially in width, and exudes espresso-making authority with a host of options and variations that give you more control over the brewing process.

Like Breville Barista Pro, the Barista Express grinds beans fresh with a built-in grinder, has a 2L water tank (a removable water tank) with filter capability, and a 360-degree swivel action steam wand – all tools that can allow you to make fresh, crafted coffee at a rapid rate. The unit even comes with a dedicated hot water outlet, making it more of an all-in-one device (and making up for some of the extra countertop space it requires).

7. DeLonghi DEDICA – Ideal for Small Spaces

  • Type: Semi-automatic

  • Dimensions: 13″ x 5.9″ x 13″
  • Capacity: 35-oz tank (17 2-oz shots)
  • Milk frother: Manual steam wand

The EC860M DEDICA is a compact, sleek machine that takes up less than six inches of counter space (in width), yet still has a 35-ounce water tank that holds enough water for 17 2-ounce shots. It’s available in black and red, as well as stainless steel.

The two-spout portafilter means you can brew two shots at once if you’re starting the day with a friend, or a double if you need a little more coffee love in your morning.You can also fit an ESE pod. Plus you can remove the drip tray to fit a taller cup underneath the portafilter. It’s built-in steam wand means you can make everything from cappuccinos to flat whites and lattes.

True, you’ll need to provide your own steaming pitcher, and you’ll need a grinder that gives you finely ground coffee for high quality espresso. But that’s true for most compact machines, especially at this price point.

8. La Pavoni Professional – Iconic Design

  • Type: Manual

  • Dimensions: 12.6″ x 17.9″ x 11.4″
  • Capacity: 38 oz.
  • Milk Frother: None

Steampunk fans, your machine is ready. The Pavoni name is familiar to espresso connoisseurs around the world. A Milanese man called Desiderio Pavoni was the first to produce commercial coffee machines in 1905. Made from brass and copper, the La Pavoni Professional begs you to wear goggles and a leather flying cap while pulling a shot of espresso.

It doesn’t have a spring lever but a piston, meaning it works purely on the user’s muscle power. This – well, let’s say it – rewards practice. Pull too quickly and it blows bubbles out the portafilter; pull it just right and your espresso comes with an extra helping of well-deserved pride.

If the Chemex speaks to Mies Van der Rohe designs, the La Pavoni cries out for Art Deco china to sip your coffee from.

The Professional is also less bottom-heavy, meaning it can be difficult to keep in place in operation. (Get used to holding the base down while you lift the lever.) It has a capacity of about 32 single shots. However, as it is a piston-operated machine, achieving a consistent brew takes practice and attention. But isn’t that half the reason you want a manual machine in the first place?

9. Philips 3200 Series – Best Automatic Espresso Machine

  • Type: Super automatic

  • Dimensions: 9.7” x 14.6” x 17.0”
  • Milk frother: LatteGo automatic frother with carafe

There are many styles of super automatics. Some make great office coffee machines, while others are great for home use. In our opinion, if you’re opting for this type of machine, you might as well get one that does everything at the press of a button. If you agree with that, then you’ll agree that the Philips 3200 Series is an ideal choice. With its built-in grinder and automated frothing, you can prepare an espresso, coffee, cappuccino, or latte macchiato with a single touch!

The ceramic burr grinder has 12 different grind settings and is rated to 20,000 cups. And the bean hopper is equipped with an hermetic seal to keep your beans fresh. Every drink is fully customizable using the touchscreen display. You can adjust coffee strength, temperature, and volume, as well as milk volume and texture.

The LatteGo frothing system is what really sets the Philips apart from the competition. It whips milk and air at high speed in a special frothing chamber before delivering it to the top of your waiting drink. Even better is that it doesn’t use any tubing, so cleaning is a breeze.

Speaking of easy to clean, this model comes with the AquaClean filter, which promises 5,000 cups of coffee before you need to descale. To put that in perspective, if you drink two cups a day, you won’t need to descale for nearly 7 years! Read our Philips 3200 Lattego review to learn more.

10. Wacaco Nanopresso – Most Portable

  • Type: Manual

  • Dimensions: 6.14” x 2.8” x 2.44”
  • Milk frothing: None

The Wacaco NanoPresso, an upgraded and even smaller version of the very popular Wacaco MiniPresso, is a fantastic portable option for espresso on-the-go. Made of sturdy plastic, this cylindrical espresso maker comes apart into several pieces for brewing but then neatly reassembles into a single unit for storage and travel.

It should come as no surprise that this manual brewer requires you to provide your own hot water and ground beans. However, once you have these locked and loaded, you’re ready to make some impressive espresso. The pump on the side of the cylinder pops out and after a few priming pumps, out emerges rich, glorious coffee. 

A nice bonus for the lazy among us? Compared with the older MiniPresso, the NanoPresso is 15% easier to pump.

While this is obviously not the perfect choice for a simple morning espresso in your kitchen, the Wacaco NanoPresso is an affordable addition to your coffee arsenal that allows you to prepare an espresso anywhere.

11. Nespresso Essenza Mini – Best Capsule Espresso Machine

  • Type: Pod

  • Dimensions: 3.3” x 12.9” x 8”
  • Capacity: 20 oz.
  • Milk frother: None

There’s no need to extol the virtues of DeLonghi as a manufacturer of quality appliances, and Nespresso clearly feels the same way. The Essenza Mini marries that quality with the popular Nespresso coffee pod format, offering a wide range of different roasts and flavors.

Essenza Mini is the most popular Nespresso machine thanks to it’s affordable price tag and ultra compact size. As the smallest Nespresso pod machine, it fits comfortably in a kitchen, dorm room, cubical, or RV. It doesn’t offer a frother, which is part of what makes it so tiny, but you can choose between two drinks, an espresso (1.35 oz) or a lungo (5 oz).

Like all capsule-based single serve brewers, convenience is the name of the game. Just pop in a pod, push one of the two buttons and get ready to sip. Read our Nespresso Essenza Mini review to learn more.

How We Test Espresso Machines on this list

We thoroughly test every espresso machine we recommend to bring you the most reliable reviews. Each machine is different in its operation and target audience, and that’s why we follow a standard set of guidelines when putting it through its paces.

Preparing espresso

We used each espresso machine out of the box, as intended. Sure, we could improve some with mods and hacks, but that’s not the point. When you buy an espresso machine, it should work. We don’t upgrade the filter baskets, install a PID, run automatic machines manually, or use other tricks.

We used filtered water and freshly ground coffee (except for Nespresso machines, which we test with capsules.) For machines with built-in grinders, we used integrated grinders. For the others, we used a Eureka Mignon Specialita, which is an excellent mid-level espresso grinder.

For manual, semiautomatic machines, and automatic espresso machines, we pulled 10 shots before settling on a verdict. Why? Because these machines take time to dial in the perfect grind size, dose and tamp. It’s not unusual for the first shot or two to be terrible, but it shouldn’t take more than 10 to find a sweet spot. However, super-automatic and pod machines should be able to deliver perfect shots right away and are judged accordingly.

Milk Steaming

Not all the machines on this list have a steam wand. Also, none of the machines here have an automatic milk steaming. But for those that are frothing milk, we ran several tests. We steamed both large and small milk volumes, and we used both a dairy (1%) and a plant-based (barista-version oat milk) option. In each case, we evaluated steaming time, pressure, and the ability to achieve both an airy froth and a creamy microfoam.

Espresso Machine Milk Frothing Options

When buying an espresso machine, an easy way to narrow down your options is to think of what drinks you enjoy. If you like milky drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, you’ll want something with a frothing system (or you can buy a separate frother). On the other hand, if you prefer a basic espresso or Americano, you can save money buying a simpler system without a frother.

If you do want to froth milk, there are several ways to do it. The most common is a manual steam wand paired with a jug. These take a bit of practice to master, but worthwhile if you want the silky smooth microfoam you need for a latte. Some machines add modifications to their steam wands to make frothing easier, such as Gaggia’s patented Panarello steam wand.

Alternatively, some super automatics offer automated frothing. You program your preferred milk texture and temperature, and it delivers it to your waiting cup. The quality isn’t quite on par, and keeping these systems clean can sometimes be a headache. But the convenience is undeniable.

What about machines with no frothing?

If you choose a super-automatic or automatic espresso machine, it will likely come with a milk frother, or at least a steam wand for making cappuccinos and lattes. But if you buy a budget coffee maker, you might need a separate device to make milky beverages.

If your espresso machine doesn’t have a steam wand and you can’t face the day without a cappuccino, check out our review of the five best milk frothers.

If you feel like you’re ready for making latte art, watch Steven’s beginner’s guide:

What types of espresso machines are on the list?

You’re about to learn how to choose the right machine. How? Well, first you’ll have to decide the machine type that suits your personal needs. This will get you one step closer to making coffee shop level espresso at home.


The original manual espresso machine was introduced in 1905. These require (and reward) skill and practice. If you want to control everything about your espresso shot and milk frothing, they are the benchmark. You basically do everything, from grinding, to pushing, to frothing, and then hopefully enjoying.

Related: The best manual espresso makers.


If you like the satisfaction that comes from hands-on espresso brewing but don’t want to have to do every last step yourself, a semi-automatic machine could be just the thing. You choose how much coffee to put in the filter basket, you tamp the grinds with the right pressure, you start and stop the pump to control how much water you use.

This article focuses mainly on semi-automatic machines because they tend to be the most common for home use.

Fully Automatic

Also known as ‘super automatic machines’, one-touch operation is what these machines are all about. Many let you program in your preferences in coffee strength so that you can select your pre-programmed drink later with no fuss. If you’re short on time and don’t want the muss and fuss of a more hands-on experience, these are a great choice.

In terms of espresso quality, they don’t quite match manual or semi-auto machines, but for those looking for something quick and easy without losing too much quality, they fit the bill perfectly.

Related: A look at the best automatic coffee machines of 2023.

Portable Espresso Makers

Also known as compact or travel espresso makers, they’re really good for people with tiny kitchens, spending time outdoors or living the #vanlife. Many of these don’t even require electricity, making them the ultimate choice for portability. They vary greatly in quality however, so make sure you spend time choosing wisely.

Related: The best portable coffee makers of 2023.

Pod Machines

Last (and certainly least) is the capsule espresso machine. While convenient, they definitely don’t make the highest quality coffee. Still, we’ve recommended one below, because they are hard to beat for convenience.

Related: Best Nespresso machines

Commercial Coffee Machines

As the name suggests, a commercial machine is designed for coffee shops. So you’ll rarely see one in a home barista’s coffee space. They are expensive, but that’s because they are built to handle high volume espresso making. Still, there are a few that cross the line of commercial and home use, which we talk about below.

If you’re looking for a great espresso machine suitable for a coffee shop, the machines below are not for you. Instead, read our guide to the best commercial coffee machines here.

Prosumer Espresso Machines

Prosumer espresso machines are a combination of professional and home espresso machines. In other words, prosumer machines are espresso machines for everyday home use, but they have a bunch of high end features, such as vibratory and rotary pumps. Bear in mind that these are usually the most expensive machines but they provide café quality espresso drinks.

We’ve compiled a great list of prosumer machines you can look at. We also reviewed particular prosumer brands like lovely Lelit machines, the Bezzera brand, beautiful Rocket espresso machines; some larger ones, like Quick Mill espresso machines and La Spaziale.

How to Choose the Best Espresso Maker for Your Home

If you’re overwhelmed by this huge list of options, don’t worry. This buyer’s guide is here to help you narrow it down to the perfect model to suit your home. The only other thing you must do is learn to use your machine to brew damn fine espresso. Hello deliciousness!

Espresso Machine Brands

An espresso machine can be a big investment, so it pays to buy something from a reputable brand. Here are a few of the top names in the industry.


Established in 1932, the company has manufactured some of the most respected small kitchen appliances in the food and beverage industry. It has won awards for creating innovative products that are as affordable as they are high quality (3).

It’s not surprising that they produce some of the best home espresso makers, because they design products with features for everyone from espresso beginner to expert. Not only are the features easy to use, but they allow for the perfect cup of coffee every time.

They offer deals that feature a one-year limited warranty on all products – meaning while you get to know your machine you’ll have no fear of showing it some tough love.

Check out the customer favorite Breville machines here.


Located in Treviso, Italy, DeLonghi manufactures a wide range of food, kitchen and home appliances (4). Originally incorporated as a machine-tool manufacturer in 1902, they diversified in 1950 and bought the rights to manufacture Braun household products in 2013. DeLonghi produced their first good espresso maker, the BAR5, in 1993 and their first super-automatic machine, the Magnifica, in 2004. In 2007, they launched their first product in partnership with Nespresso, the Lattissima.

Here are the top rated DeLonghis and some of the finest machines made in Italy.


Nespresso debuted the coffee-capsule concept in 1986. Four coffee flavors and two machines made up their original product line.

As early as 1991, concerns about the aluminum coffee capsules led Nespresso to begin a recycling program in their native Switzerland, with 34 recycling centers around the country (5). They maintain programs in sustainability and environmental responsibility to this day, not only in ethical trading in coffee but in sourcing aluminum for their capsules. In 2015, Nespresso opened Switzerland’s first LEED-certified manufacturing facility.

Beginning in 2010, competitors began making coffee capsules that would work in Nespresso machines. Nespresso now works in partnership with Breville and DeLonghi to produce many of their machines.


Achille Gaggia patented the first steamless espresso maker in 1938, introducing a new way of making espresso. The hot-water method is also credited with first producing the layer of crema that espresso lovers enjoy today. Their Gilda, introduced in 1952, is considered the first intended for home use (6). In fact, because early Gaggia machines introduced the lever-action, we have them to thank for the term “pulling a shot” to refer to producing an espresso. 

Mr. Coffee

Mr. Coffee is known for pioneering the drip machine way back in 1972 (7), but the brand’s expertise now extends to low-cost options as well. Their long history means the company knows a thing or two when it comes to proper extraction of coffee, whether that’s in a gentle drip brewer or a high-pressure coffee maker.


Krups makes an array of espresso machines that are of genuinely great value from cheap models to pricier super-automatics. Not every model they make is worth your money, and some suffer from serious drawbacks or user complaints. Read on to learn the best Krups espresso machine models.

Espresso Machine Lingo and Features

It might feel like the world of espresso machines has its own language. They can also be complex in terms of how they work, which can make spending a big chunk of cash on a machine feel even more intimidating. So here are some definitions to help guide you. Apart from the basic lingo, there is also a number of espresso machine modifications you can play with.

Single Shot or Double Shot

At the simplest level, these describe the volume of espresso you pull. A single shot is about 1 ounce of espresso made from 7 grams of coffee. A double shot is approximately 2 ounces of espresso made from 14 grams of coffee, though these days we are seeing larger and more intense double shots. 


The piece that holds the filter basket, which you typically lock in place before pulling a shot. Portafilters come with various diameters, from 40 to 60 mm, with 58 mm being the commercial standard. This matters if you’re buying spare filter baskets or a tamper.

Filter basket

The piece inside the portafilter that holds the ground coffee. Many home espresso machines have interchangeable filter baskets for different sizes (and strengths) of espresso shots. Some also have a filter basket designed to hold an ESE pod.

One touch

A function that lets you make espresso with the push of a single button. Many super-automatics let you program a specific drink, then brew it with a single button. For example, you might program the amount of coffee used in a drink, the ideal temperature of the water, and the amount of steamed milk you prefer. Later, you can brew your custom drink with one touch.

Heating system

The internal parts that heat water for brewing espresso and steaming, if your machine has an in-built frother. The wattage and design of the heating system have an effect on how quickly it heats up and whether it can maintain a stable temperature.


A heating system that uses one boiler to provide hot water to make espresso and steam for the frother. With a single heating system, you can’t pull a shot of espresso and steam milk at the same time. Some higher-end espresso machines have dual boilers, which means you can steam and pull a shot at the same time.

Drip tray

The removable section where you rest your cup while pulling a shot. Drip trays catch any drips after you remove the cup (or carafe). When you remove them, you can empty and clean them in the sink. Other espresso machines let you remove the drip tray to fit a taller cup or mug under the portafilter.

Steam wand

The steam wand is used to steam milk for cappuccinos and lattes. Some steam wands are operated by a button; others require you to turn a knob controlling the volume of steam that passes through the wand. Some frothing systems pull milk through a valve that froths and heats it, allowing you to pour it directly into the drink.

We’ve taken a look at the top-ranked cappuccino makers, and you can see the list here. Not all these machines are suitable for making lattes, but these are.

Water reservoir

The container holding the water you use to make espresso and to generate steam for the frother. The larger your water reservoir, the more espresso shots you can pull without refilling.

Alternatively, watch our video on espresso basics:

Espresso Machine Milk Frothing Options

When buying an espresso machine, an easy way to narrow down your options is to think of what drinks you enjoy. If you like milky drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, you’ll want something with a frothing system (or you can buy a separate frother). On the other hand, if you prefer a basic espresso or Americano, you can save money buying a simpler system without a milk frother.

If you do want to froth milk, there are several ways to do it. The most common is a manual steam wand paired with a jug. These take a bit of practice to master, but worthwhile if you want the silky smooth microfoam you need for a latte. Some machines add modifications to their steam wands to make frothing easier, such as Gaggia’s patented Panarello steam wand.

Alternatively, some super automatics offer automated frothing. You program your preferred milk texture and temperature, and it delivers it to your waiting cup. The quality isn’t quite on par, and keeping these systems clean can sometimes be a headache. But the convenience is undeniable.

What about machines with no frothing?

If you choose a super-automatic or automatic espresso machine, it will likely come with a milk frother, or at least a steam wand for making cappuccinos and lattes. But if you buy a budget coffee maker, you might need a separate device to make milky beverages.

If your espresso machine doesn’t have a steam wand and you can’t face the day without a cappuccino, check out our review of the five best milk frothers.

If you feel like you’re ready for making latte art, watch Steven’s beginner’s guide:

What Else You’ll Need

Depending on the machine you choose, you might need to purchase one or more of these accessories for making espresso. If you want amazing crema-rich espresso, sometimes you need to invest a little more. But seeing as you’ve read this far, I’m guessing you want the tastiest espresso possible.

key espresso accessories

A Burr Coffee Grinder

Most aficionados agree that a burr grinder is the best choice for consistency and quality of grinds, which is vital when making espresso (9). Whether hand-crank or electric, a burr grinder crushes the coffee beans into evenly sized grounds, optimizing the flavor extraction.

Read our review of the best burr grinders to learn more, or just take a look at our top pick, the Baratza Virtuoso Conical Burr Grinder.

Coffee for espresso must be much finer than for drip coffee because espresso is brewed much faster. So the most important characteristic for a coffee grinder is that it produces a very fine and even grind.

If you like the old-school approach, a hand grinder gives you excellent control over the coffee grounds you produce. Plus, it doesn’t use electricity, and saves you money. If you’re getting a small, portable machine like the Wacaco Nanopresso for camping or travel, take a look at our review of manual coffee grinders. See whether one of these would make an excellent addition to your go-bag.

P.S. if you wish to get one step closer to becoming a PRO in espresso making, watch our video:

An Espresso Tamper

The tamper is a tool used to evenly compress the espresso grinds into the filter basket, a key step to make a high-quality shot of espresso. A few machines come with a good tamper, but most offer only a cheap, plastic version. In this case, it’s worth buying one. You want something metal with a hefty feel and comfortable handle. You can even buy a nifty spring-loaded tamper that puts just the right pressure on your coffee grounds.

Read about our favorite tampers in this article.

A Steaming Pitcher

If you coffee machine has a steam wand and you plan on enjoying lattes and cappuccinos, you’re going to want a steaming pitcher to pair with it. The best steaming pitchers are stainless steel, with tapered sides to help contain the splashes as you steam the milk and a spout for pouring latte art.

Speaking of art, if you really want to show off your skills, be sure to pick up some cool espresso cups too.

An Espresso Knock Box

You can make espresso without a knock box, but this can make your espresso-making sessions a breeze. An espresso knock box serves a container for used coffee grounds. Just knock your portafilter on it to catch the puck. This accessory needs to be sturdy and able to hold hot coffee grounds. Here are some great espresso knock boxes.

The Verdict

And there you have it: everything you need to know about finding the best espresso machine for your home. Our top pick this year is the Breville Infuser, which will satisfy both beginners and experts alike with its range of professional grade and easy-to-use features.

Breville Infuser

This article was last updated on 4 January 2023.


You should choose the machine that best fits your lifestyle. Pod machines are more convenient but the trade-off is that their pulling shots are poorer quality. They also have a negative environmental impact due to the extra waste created by the pods. Pod machines are usually cheaper than genuine espresso machines but the pods themselves are more expensive than buying beans. So over time, it will pay for itself. If you want the convenience of a pod machine without the downsides, consider instead a machine with a built-in grinder like the Breville Barista Express.

Typically, espresso is brewed using medium or dark roasted beans, because they contain the highest amount of natural oils and are the least acidic. This yields the golden crema and chocolatey flavor profiles we often associate with espresso. But there’s no reason you can’t brew any beans you love using an espresso machine. Here’s a list of some of our favorites. And of course, coffee bean brands from Italy make great espresso too.

The ideal pressure for making espresso is 9 bar, and most home espresso machines have pumps rated much higher than that, typically 15 bar. Sometimes you’ll see even higher pressures advertised, but this is meaningless. If you see espresso machines offering more than 15 bar, know that it won’t make any qualitative difference to the shots you pull (10). When making espresso, the brewing temperature should be between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit (11). The best machines not only achieve this temperature but hold it very steady during brewing for the best possible extraction.

  1. National Coffee Association. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncausa.org/about-coffee/how-to-store-coffee
  2. Ltd, R. and M. (2019, April). Global Coffee Pods and Capsules Market – Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2019 – 2024). Retrieved from https://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/4763958/global-coffee-pods-and-capsules-market-growth
  3. Herborn, D. (2018, July 17). From Australia to the world: Jim Clayton. Retrieved from https://www.theceomagazine.com/executive-interviews/manufacturing/jim-clayton/
  4. History. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.thegreatitaliancafe.com/history.html
  5. Rawes, E. (2019, April 9). How to recycle (or reuse) Nespresso Pods. Retrieved from https://www.digitaltrends.com/home/how-to-recycle-or-reuse-nespresso-pods/
  6. Bryman, H. (2019, February 19). Historic Brand Gaggia Milano Revived with New Commercial Line. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2019/02/19/historic-brand-gaggia-milano-revived-with-new-commercial-line/
  7. Hensel, A. (2015, August 4). Mr. Coffee Co-Founder (and Industry Disruptor) Dies. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/anna-hensel/mr-coffee-cofounder-dies.html
  8. Kilbride, D. (2018, June 21). How Does Pressure Affect Espresso Quality? Retrieved from https://www.perfectdailygrind.com/2017/06/pressure-espresso-quality/
  9. Mazzarello, B. (2018, April 4). The Right Grinder for You. Retrieved from https://blog.bluebottlecoffee.com/posts/the-right-grinder-for-you
  10. Muhl, R. (2016, December 14). Brew pressure explained. Retrieved from https://fivesenses.com.au/blogs/news/brew-pressure-explained/
  11. How to Brew Coffee The NCA Guide to Brewing Essentials. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncausa.org/About-Coffee/How-to-Brew-Coffee
Jovana D
I come from a country where people drink domestic coffee (what the rest of the world knows as Turkish coffee) and where Nescafe designates all instant coffees ever made. So, imagine my first encounter with, say, Hario V60...Yes, it was love at first sight.  Today I’m a moderate coffee connoisseur and a huge coffee lover. My favorite brewing methods are the V60 and traditional espresso-making. Yet, despite my country’s long tradition of Turkish-coffee-adoring, I somehow cannot stand it. That’s just too dark, even for me.


  1. A great article with a lot of great information. Just one thing missing. You need a category for the best home espresso machine (any price). That is what I was most interested in learning.

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