Best Prosumer Espresso Machine (2021 Reviews)
So you’ve caught the espresso bug? One day you think you might want to try to make an espresso at home, and from there it’s a slippery slope to spending your kid’s college fund on a prosumer espresso machine.
I get it. I’ve been there.
But if you’re going to deny your offspring an education, let’s at least make sure you can offer them a great espresso. Here are 9 of the best prosumer espresso machines worth skipping calculus for.
At A Glance:
The 9 Best Prosumer Espresso Machines in 2020
Each prosumer espresso machine on this list is capable of incredible espresso and perfect steamed milk. So the best one for you depends on your style, budget, and kitchen space. Check out our prosumer espresso machine reviews and then consult the buyer’s guide below to make your decision.
La Marzocco’s classic Linea espresso machines have long been found in top cafes around the world (1). Now with the introduction of the Linea Mini, that same high quality is available for the home market.
The Linea Mini is handmade and uses the same commercial-grade components as its larger namesake, including two stainless steel boilers. Its major innovation is the integrated brew group, which provides the same renowned temperature stability as the saturated brew group but in a much smaller footprint.
You control the temperature using a stepped wheel, which La Marzocco claims is MORE INTUITIVE than a digital PID temperature controller.
Perhaps the most impressive feature of the Linea Mini is the milk steaming, which is best in class and actually rivals the top-of-the-line La Marzocco machines. Just ask coffee shop owner and coffee expert Chris Baca:
You cannot tell the difference in end texture between [the Linea Mini] and the Strada that we have in the cafe. It’s literally that good.
This impressive steam power is a result of the large steam boiler and short distance between boiler and steam wand. Prepare to become the Michelangelo of latte art!
Shot timing on the Linea Mini is controlled manually using a paddle. However, the pre-infusion is automatic, a small loss of control that some baristas may find irksome.
From a quality perspective, there’s nothing to fault on the Linea Mini. No surprise from the La Marzocco brand. It has IMPECCABLE Italian styling that makes it stand out from the shiny stainless crowd. It’s available in seven colors, and built-in barista lights will make your espresso shot feel like a Broadway star.
The latest iteration of the Linea Mini features app connectivity for Android or iOs, allowing you to control most features from your smartphone. I mean, what else is there?
While the Lelit Bianca
As expected in this price bracket, it’s a dual-boiler machine with a rotary vane pump. Both boilers are stainless steel, and their temperatures are controlled independently by PID. It’s also equipped with no-burn hot water and steam wands, the latter of which has interchangeable 2-hole and 4-hole tips (2).
The most impressive aspect of this machine is that you can control the flow of water through the E61 grouphead using the manual paddle. This is by far the cheapest machine to offer this capability, so if flow profiling interests you, take note. There is also programmable pre-infusion.
I love the aesthetics of the Bianca. The wooden accents paired with the shiny stainless casing give it a classy but warm look, like it belongs in a home. Cleverly, the water reservoir can be mounted on either side, so you can configure it to fit your kitchen.
As a nice bonus, it comes with a bottomless portafilter, along with the standard dual-spout. A bottomless portafilter can hone your espresso skills and yield drool-worthy videos of shot-pulling action.
Even though Rancilio Silvia is comparable in price to many entry-level espresso machines, its quality and performance land it squarely in the prosumer espresso machine category.
It offers INCREDIBLE VALUE that novices and long-time espresso lovers will appreciate.
Its low cost comes from the fact that it’s a single-boiler espresso machine. Clearly, this won’t appeal to everyone. You can’t pull espresso and steam milk at the same time, and this will inevitably affect the quality of your milk-based drinks.
That said, the Silvia is known for offering best-in-class steam power. This is the rare machine that can make high-quality microfoam for under $1000, surely a direct result of Rancilio’s experience building commercial espresso machines.
That experience is evident in the build quality as well. Rancilio has outfitted the Silvia with many of the same components found on their commercial coffee machines, including a steel frame and stainless steel exterior. Likewise, the chrome-plated brass saturated grouphead is modeled after a commercial espresso machine for ideal temperature stability.
Inside, the upgraded boiler is corrosion resistant lead-free brass, which has been thermally wrapped for even heating. It uses a vibratory pump, so you can’t plumb this prosumer machine to a water line. But the 67-ounce removable water reservoir is easy to keep topped up.
The Silvia is easy to operate, using just a few switches for power, brewing, water, and steam. You’d be hard-pressed to simplify more than that!
Bezzera is an Italian brand that’s been making some of the most amazing prosumer espresso machines for over 100 years. The result is the ability to fuse the best of traditional design and modern technology.
The Magica is their mid-priced prosumer espresso machine. It uses a heat exchange copper boiler to make coffee, steam, and hot water simultaneously. Moreover, its PID controller ensures temperature accuracy and stability. Finally, the classic E61 brew group is on Magica’s front side.
The vibratory pump isn’t as quiet as the rotary type, but it keeps this prosumer machine affordable and yields plenty of pressure. Because the pump isn’t compatible with direct plumbing, you need to monitor the water tank. Yet, you won’t be refilling too often, as it amounts 135 ounces.
The Magica has a great design, both aesthetics and functionality.
The body panels are an elegant polished stainless steel, and the group head and portafilter are decked out in shiny chrome. Operation is a simple lever system to start and stop the shot. Plus, you can monitor two pressure gauges on the front of the machine to dial in the details.
Both the steam wand and water wand are fully articulated. You operate them by user-friendly joystick controls, as opposed to less intuitive knobs.
Heat exchange espresso machines are less expensive than comparable dual boilers but still allow you to pull espresso and steam milk at the same time.
So they’re a great way to get more bang for your buck.
The Rocket Giotto Evoluzione R is my pick for the best heat exchanger espresso machine on the market this year. They set out to make this prosumer espresso machine the most versatile model in their line-up, and in my opinion, they pulled it off .
Unlike the Bezzera Magica, this prosumer machine uses a rotary pump, so you can either plumb it directly to a water pipe or rely on the 98-ounce water reservoir. Conveniently, the pump pressure can easily be adjusted with an external knob. And though its pumps are naturally quiet, Rocket redesigned the interior of this machine to eliminate as much noise as possible.
One thing I love about Rocket is their commitment to the aesthetic.
Handmade in Milan, Italy, Rocket espresso machines, such as the Giotto Evoluzione R and our other favorite, the R58, have an old-school vibe and elegant styling (3). The Giotto has a shiny stainless casing, chrome accents and portafilter, and the iconic R logo on one knob.
The grouphead is the standard E61 with automatic pre-infusion. It’s coupled with a nickel-plated copper boiler with a brass end-plate and Rocket’s proven thermosyphon system. An upgraded PID thermostat ensures excellent temperature consistency and includes a digital shot timer. Two no-burn wands provide steam and hot water. Ta-daa
Izzo’s Alex Duetto IV Plus is my favorite dual-boiler machine this year!
At its heart are two insulated copper boilers, providing better heat retention than stainless steel. Each can be controlled independently, so you can save energy by leaving the steam boiler off if you only want espresso.
If you consider silence to be a virtue, this is one of the quietest prosumer espresso machines on the market. Izzo has also carefully configured the interior to minimize noise from both the rotary pump and motor. They’ve even added magnets to the drip tray to reduce vibrations.
Other upgrades to the latest model include more space under the grouphead for larger mugs, and an upgraded PID with shot timer included.
The Alex Duetto relies on the same well-known E61 grouphead we see on most of these coffee machines, which includes automatic low-pressure pre-infusion (4). However, the ability to switch between the standard 15 amps and a high-power 20 amps is unique to this machine.
The extra power means FASTER HEAT-UP and recovery for the boilers and will be particularly valuable if you like larger drinks.
The build quality is stand-out, with the frame, outer casing, and most components made from stainless steel. While some manufacturers will use cheaper materials on small parts you won’t notice, Izzo uses stainless steel throughout. This machine is built to last.
The Alex Duetto IV Plus is equipped with a no burn steam wand and water wand, and controlled by custom-designed knobs. And unlike most espresso machines, the steam wand comes with two different tips, a 2-hole and a 4-hole, so you can easily switch to the optimal version for your drink.
If you’re the kind of espresso lover who appreciates the control and satisfaction that only a manual machine can provide, you’re sure to enjoy the La Pavoni Professional
Long renowned as the top brand for lever espresso machines worldwide, La Pavoni introduced the Professional line as an up-market follow-up to the popular Europiccola. Compared with the Europiccola, the Professional has twice the capacity and an added pressure gauge. Larger households will appreciate the size increase, but everyone will enjoy the pressure gauge. Use it to perfectly dial in extraction and experiment with pressure profiling.
It’s a single boiler machine, so you’ll have to wait between pulling espresso and steaming milk. But it has the advantage of heating very quickly, in as little as 5 minutes. It comes with both single and double shot baskets, though with a smaller-than-standard 52 mm diameter — something to bear in mind when shopping for accessories.
The Professional offers two ways to steam milk, and you can easily swap between them. There’s a traditional steam wand with a 3-hole tip and an auto-frothing attachment. The auto-frother is great for cappuccinos, but you’ll need to master the steam wand for latte art.
La Pavoni’s manual espresso machines, handmade in Italy, are as much a work of art as they are an appliance. They sport a cool steampunk aesthetic that can serve as the focal point of your kitchen. Just remember that they need extra height to accommodate the operation of the lever, and plan your espresso bar accordingly.
If money is truly no object, buy Slayer’s Single Group espresso machine. Not only does it have the chops to make a cafe-quality espresso, but it’s so beautiful that I wouldn’t be surprised to encounter it in a modern art exhibit.
Slayer’s stated aim is to make the absolute best espresso, regardless of time, cost, effort. I’d say they nailed it (5)! Though at nearly double the price of the Linea Mini, the next most expensive machine on our list, it won’t be for everyone. Only serious home baristas need apply.
So what do you get for those extra dollars?
The biggest innovation is Slayer’s patented needle-valve technology, which gives you complete control over water flow during extraction. This “flow profiling” has become increasingly popular with professional baristas, but is still rare in the home market. It allows you to optimize extraction of any coffee to get the best flavor in your cup and is absolutely worthwhile if you’re buying specialty coffee beans.
Inside, you’ll find two stainless steel boilers and a rotary pump, with a commercial-grade electronic grouphead rater to 1 million cycles. This machine also features incredible temperature stability, with an SSR circuit board and a PID controller adjustable 0.1 degree increments. You easily navigate its features with the LCD touchscreen display.
Even though it’s a relatively new company, the Slayer look is already iconic, with the distinctive X-shaped side panels and classy wood accents. As you’d expect at this price, the craftsmanship and materials are top of the line. Indeed, the latest model includes even higher-grade internal components for better longevity.
Because this was conceived as a commercial espresso machine, it lacks a water reservoir. So if you buy it, be prepared to plumb it directly to your water line.
Despite its diminutive size and relatively low price, Rocket’s Appartamento has all the bells and whistles you need to craft top-quality espresso at home.
The name says it all. Appartamento is Italian for apartment, suggesting that even the smallest urban dwellings have room for this brewer.
It uses a heat exchange boiler, so you have the flexibility to brew and steam at the same time while taking up less space than dual boilers. This is paired with the classic E61 brew group with mechanical pre-infusion.
Cleverly, a small flow of water from the boiler is also used to keep the grouphead heated, for better temperature consistency when pulling multiple consecutive shots.
Like all Rocket machines, the Appartamento is handcrafted in Italy to rigorous standards. It has a very cool design, maybe even more so than other Rocket machines. It keeps the polished steel aesthetic and classic R-labeled knob, but adds circular side panel cut-outs available in a huge variety of colors to suit any decor.
It offers a steam wand and separate hot water wand, both of which are fully articulated. Despite the machine’s small size, it has a surprisingly large 61-ounce steam boiler. Therefore, you have more than enough steam power for fine microfoam.
A few concessions have been made to keep the Appartamento’s compact footprint.
It uses a smaller vibratory pump, which means you need to rely on the reservoir for water. Though vibratory pumps tend to be a bit louder, Rocket has gone out of their way to adjust the internal design to dampen vibrations. This is by no means a serious noisemaker.
It also has a relatively tiny drip tray, which is a minor inconvenience. Just dump it out every day after morning coffee time to avoid spills.
How to Choose the Best Prosumer Espresso Machine
Choosing the best pick among these high-rated prosumer espresso machines is a big decision. It’s not like sampling a new brand of coffee; you’re going to be dropping a lot of cash, so you want to make sure you know what you want and what you’re getting.
To avoid potential disappointment, read this buyer’s guide carefully. It covers the important specifications you need to consider to find the best espresso maker for you.
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Manual, Semi-Automatic, or Automatic?
Most prosumer espresso machines are semi automatic, which provides a nice balance between convenience and control.
- In a semi-auto espresso machine, a pump generates the necessary 9 bars of pressure to pull an espresso shot, but the barista does everything else. That means you’re in charge of variables like grind size, dosing weight, tamping pressure, and shot timing. Some semi-auto espresso machines have an automatic pre-infusion step, while others will leave this in the hands of the barista.
- With a manual espresso machine, not only will you be in charge of all these same steps, but you need to manually generate the water pressure as well. This is usually via a pump or lever.
- In an automatic espresso machine, often called volumetric in the prosumer space, the barista no longer controls shot timing. Instead, the pressure stops automatically when a certain volume of water has flowed through the coffee puck.
The Heart of Your Espresso Machine: Vibratory vs. Rotary Pumps
There are two distinct styles of pump found in prosumer espresso machines: electromagnetic vibratory pumps and mechanical rotary pumps. Appliance-grade home espresso makers use almost exclusively vibratory pumps, while commercial machines rely on rotary pumps.
Prosumer espresso machines occupy the middle ground and can make use of either.
The main advantages of vibratory pumps are that they are smaller, less expensive, and easier to repair and replace. However, they have a shorter lifespan and are louder when they operate, though good design principles can minimize the noise issue. In comparison, rotary pumps are whisper quiet and more durable, but they’re also larger and more expensive (6).
To be very clear, none of these pros and cons has a measurable impact on the quality of espresso itself.
Depending on your needs, another potential advantage of espresso machines with rotary pumps is that they can be plumbed directly to a water line. By contrast, vibratory pumps only pull water from a reservoir.
In commercial settings, direct line plumbing is pretty much mandatory, but it can be equally valuable at home. Provided you can handle the plumbing logistics, you never have to worry about the reservoir running dry, and it allows for a proper low-pressure pre-infusion (7).
Choosing a Boiler: Design and Materials
All but the least expensive prosumer espresso machines allow you to pull an espresso shot and steam milk at the same time. You do this in two ways. You can either have two boilers or you can rely on a heat exchanger system within one boiler. Let’s dig deeper into the pros and cons of each system.
In a heat exchange (HX) boiler, the brew water is pulled from a pipe that runs through the boiler, while the steam and hot water come directly from the boiler. The pipe’s design is calibrated to ensure perfect brewing temperature.
HX machines are more affordable than dual-boiler machines because material costs are lower, and with only one boiler, they have a smaller footprint. The trade-offs are less precise temperature control and less consistency in high-volume situations like coffee shops.
In comparison, dual-boiler espresso machines have separate boilers for steam/hot water and brew water. That means both boilers can be ready and at the perfect temperature at all times, which is nice for the home brewer but crucial in a busy coffee shop. The downsides are that double-boiler machines are larger and more expensive.
The cheapest prosumer machines, usually those under $1000, will have one boiler without a heat exchange system. In this case, you need to wait for the boiler to adjust its temperature in between brewing coffee and steaming milk. These machines will be far less expensive and can have a much smaller footprint, but you’ll never nail that perfect coffee shop-quality latte.
Once you’ve committed to a style of boiler, you should still take into account the impact of material. The most common boiler materials you’ll encounter are stainless steel, copper, brass, and aluminum, with each offering its own perks.
- Aluminum is usually only found on small and inexpensive espresso machines, which is why you won’t see it in any of the prosumer machines on this list. It’s mainly used because it’s cheap, lightweight, and has a relatively high thermal conductivity.
- Copper is the most expensive material, but it also has the highest thermal conductivity, which is why you see it so often in high-end cookware. It’s also naturally antimicrobial. Copper boilers usually have brass endplates to make it easier to attach other components.
- Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. It isn’t quite as thermally conductive as copper alone, but it’s less expensive and easier to manufacture. Many brass boilers are nickel-plated to make them more resistant to corrosion.
- Stainless steel is very popular because it’s relatively inexpensive, very easy to work with, and incredibly durable. Because it lacks the thermal conductivity of copper, it takes a tad longer to heat up.
Measure Twice, Buy Once
Compared with average domestic espresso machines, prosumer espresso machines tend to be larger than you expect. So measure your space carefully before choosing a model.
If you’re short on space, look for a machine with a heat exchange boiler instead of dual boilers, and a vibratory pump rather than a rotary.
Another size consideration is the clearance between the group head and drip tray. If you like larger drinks, this can be a crucial factor that is often overlooked. If you only drink straight espresso shots, then you don’t need to worry about it.
Steady boiler temperature is great, but a well-designed grouphead is vital for maintaining ideal water temperature while pulling the espresso shot — arguably the most important part of the whole process (8).
There are two well known group designs, with slight variations of each between brands. The classic E61 grouphead has long been the most popular, and it continues to be widely used. This is especially true for the home setting.
The temperature stability, especially when combined with double boilers, is excellent for low volume use in a domestic setting.
This is because the E61 grouphead constantly circulates hot water through pipes between the grouphead and the boiler.
In recent years, the saturated grouphead has been found to offer even better temperature stability. In this case, the grouphead is bolted directly to the brew boiler, and hot water flows from the boiler to the group.
A third solution, which is rare in the home market, is to have an electronic grouphead with a heating element built right in. These offer the most control, but are also more expensive.
With entry-level espresso machines, there are a ton of milk frothing options, all designed to dumb down the process. You’ll come across froth enhancers, Pannarello steam wands, automatic milk frothing, frothing carafes, and so on.
But if you’re choosing among prosumer espresso machines, expect to need a little expertise. Most are equipped with commercial-style steam wands. They might take a little practice, but they’re also your best route to silky-smooth microfoam.
Given that every prosumer espresso machine has a similar steam wand, the factors you’ll want to consider are the range of motion, the size of the steam boiler, how cool the wand stays while in use, and whether there is a separate hot water wand. The importance of these factors will depend on your needs.
If you’re in the business of latte art, opt for a fully articulated steam wand and a larger steam boiler, even if that means a bigger espresso machine. The larger steam boiler means better steam power and temperature stability, especially if you’re making a few milky drinks in a row. If you value an Americano more than a cappuccino, then you may want to prioritize the hot water wand.
Every machine reviewed here is more than worthy of a place in any espresso lover’s home.
Still, our all-around favorite this year is the La Marzocco Linea Mini. It stands out from the crowd thanks to its compact frame, commercial-grade components, best-in-class milk steaming, and colorful retro style. You’ll never regret adding one to your home espresso bar.
A prosumer-grade espresso machine can last 10 or 15 years, if not longer, though you may need to replace or repair some components along the way. That said, given the constant evolution in technology, you might be tempted to replace your machine once a decade regardless.
Flow profiling is when you adjust the rate of water flow through the group during espresso extraction to optimize the flavor of the espresso. It has become increasingly common with the current influx of specialty coffees.
Flow rate can impact every phase of the extraction, including the pre-infusion. And as more baristas experiment with the technique, it’s being found that different coffees benefit from different flow rates (9).
You should backflush your espresso machine about once a week. Backflushing is an important part of cleaning and maintaining your espresso machine. In a home setting, with a machine that gets daily use, aim to backflush using just water about once a week. Then do a proper backflushing with an appropriate cleaning solution approximately once every 200 shots.
- Reznick, A. (2013, May 13). Inside La Marzocco: Starbucks’ original espresso machine gets a high-tech makeover. Retrieved from https://www.geekwire.com/2013/meet-linea-pb-la-marzocco-unveils-generation-linea-classic/
- Korhonen, J. (2020, June 15). Milk Steaming 101 – Basics of Creating Microfoam. Retrieved from https://www.baristainstitute.com/blog/jori-korhonen/june-2020/milk-steaming-101-basics-creating-microfoam
- Velits, M. (2017, July 18). Andrew Meo founder of Rocket Espresso Interview. Retrieved from https://isadore.com/blog/article/andrew-meo-founder-of-rocket-espresso-interview?do=CloseMaskPopup
- Marcocci, M. (n.d.). Coffee group heads 101. Retrieved from https://www.beanscenemag.com.au/coffee-group-heads-101/
- Wolfson, J. (2018, May 4). Behind the Scenes with Slayer Espresso. Retrieved from https://coolhunting.com/food-drink/slayer-espresso/
- Hurlbatt, M. (2016, April 15). Why Rotary Vane Pumps are Essential for Espresso. Retrieved from https://pumpsolutions.com.au/why-rotary-vane-pumps-are-essential-for-espresso/
- Prestidge, J. (2016, January 13). 8 Steps to Purchasing the Perfect Espresso Machine. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2016/01/8-steps-to-purchasing-the-perfect-espresso-machine/
- Burton, G. (2011, January 11). The E61 Group Head: An Oldie but a Goodie. Retrieved from https://www.fivesenses.com.au/blog/the-e61-group-head-an-oldie-but-a-goodie/
- Grant, T. (2020, July 29). How Flow Profiling Impacts Espresso Extraction. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/07/how-flow-profiling-impacts-espresso-coffee-extraction/