The Best Espresso Machines: Top 5 Brewers Most Recommended By Experts
The espresso we all know and some of us love is a star by itself, but it’s also in many popular coffeehouse drinks. Espresso-based orders include the Caffé Americano with espresso and hot water, the Caffé Latte with a double shot topped with steamed milk, and the famed Cappuccino with espresso topped with steamed and frothed milk. The one thing these drinks have in common besides espresso is that they cost a pretty penny per cup at the coffee shop. But these could all be made in your own kitchen when you have one of the best espresso machines at your fingertips.
Regardless of what kind of machine brews your coffee, it’s no secret that caffeine can give you a quick boost. Interestingly, a study found going for that second and third cup may be good for your brain. Researchers say people who regularly drink coffee are not only more alert but see more activity in their brains as well. Consuming three to five cups per day can make coffee drinkers more focused, as well as display greater memory and learning abilities.
You’re probably already very familiar with the perks of coffee though since it’s one of the most popular drinks in the world — especially in the U.S., Americans love their coffee — and when coffee shops across the country closed during the 2020 quarantine, a poll found that 49 percent of people decided to become their own baristas. And 66 percent of those said they don’t plan to ever stop. In fact, a quarter of respondents said they used the time at home to learn how to use an espresso machine! Were you a part of this group, too?
If you haven’t yet splurged for a machine, or you’re ready to upgrade, the list below should help! We’ve rounded up the best espresso machines based on the consensus of 13 espresso experts. That way, you don’t have to spend hours researching, or worse, spend hundreds — maybe even thousands — of dollars on something not quite top notch. And another thing to note is to only buy premium coffee beans with a roast you like since your espresso will pull all the flavor out of them. Comment below what espresso machine is your favorite for your morning pick-me-up. Ready to see which machines your high-quality beans will love? Read on!
Bon Appétit adores this machine: “If you’re regularly ducking out for americanos or macchiatos and your gear-loving self is itching to commit to a home espresso machine, join me in adoring the Breville Bambino Plus — the best espresso machine at its price point, in my book. With the Bambino Plus, brewing espresso is hard to mess up. The steam wand auto purges the last drops of milk lest someone in your household ‘forget’ to clean it.”
Serious Eats promotes this pick for seriously good espresso, writing, “The Bambino Plus can automate virtually every part of the process while still giving you the feeling that you’re pulling a shot of espresso. From an ergonomic design that’s deeply satisfying and intuitive to use to unparalleled temperature consistency and its ability to steam perfectly textured milk, it’s almost more difficult to make a bad espresso drink with this machine than it is to make a good one.”
Forbes says it’s comparable to commercial equipment: “Equipped with 9-bar extraction pressure (the same as commercial machines in coffee shops), this espresso machine is simple, straightforward and offers reliably robust results, even for newbies. When you start the machine, it pre-infuses ground espresso with low water pressure to soak and expand the grinds before kicking into high gear. This translates to more even extraction, balanced flavor and a picture-perfect layer of crema. The adjustable steam wand offers an automatic microfoam setting for beginners and a manual setting for those ready to go to the next level.”
“This easy-to-use machine makes one or two shots of espresso at once. The stainless steel portafilter holds 18 grams of freshly ground beans, and the machine has a fast heat-up time, promising the correct water temperature for espresso in just three seconds. It also offers three different milk texture options and three adjustable milk temperatures, and the milk heating process can be done automatically. Plus, you can fit a large mug right under the portafilter, so your espresso shot can go right into whatever vessel you’re using for your drink, rather than a smaller espresso cup,” adds Real Simple.
Do you consider yourself an at-home barista? Homegrounds thinks you’ll enjoy this machine: “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 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. This semi automatic 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, and you are fully in charge.”
NBC News reports that it’s a good budget option: “At under $600, the semi-automatic Breville Infuser is one of the best budget options for home brewers. The machine allows you to control the volume of each of your brews, plus it has digital temperature control and a pressure gauge that helps you optimize your extraction.”
Wired believes this is everything you’d want in an espresso machine, plus more: “The Diletta Mio is everything an Italian-made espresso machine should be. It’s compact, stylish, built to last, and brews circles around the competition. It’s an absolute joy to use, too. The controls are all very straightforward and pared down to the essentials. You have one button for power, one button for brewing, one button for steaming, and a switch to toggle between brew-ready and steam-ready modes. A good espresso machine should feel a little analog, like an heirloom-quality stand mixer.”
“Diletta’s design was the smartest of the bunch. It uses buttons for all of its functions instead of switches and dials, which not only looks sleeker, but offers a much better user experience of the steam wand — toggling on or off immediately instead of manually opening and closing a valve. All in all, the Diletta was a good-looking, user-friendly machine that feels worth the expense,” raves Epicurious.
Bon Appétit notes that it is “available in matte white and matte black, both of which hide smudgy fingerprints, and limited edition blue.”
Tom’s Guide recommends this choice if you crave a great cup of coffee but want a straightforward machine: “The DeLonghi Stilosa offers one of the best espresso machines at this price point. It’s a completely manual machine, which means you have to do the grinding, measuring, and tamping, as well as the frothing yourself. However you can adjust the cup size according to how intense you like your espresso, brew into a travel mug, and make either 1 or 2 cups at once. And the boiler is constructed of stainless steel, making this a highly durable machine. All in all, this is a great model if you want a really good cup of coffee and don’t care too much about lots of bells and whistles.”
CNN also recommends it because of its features and amazing price point: “The De’Longhi Stilosa is the machine you should consider if you want real espresso drinks at home and need to spend as little as possible. The machine heats up quickly and is ready to go in about a minute, though you’ll need to prime the pump to move water through the system before pulling your first shot. But once we got comfortable with the machine, we were able to easily pull satisfying shots. It does a solid job for basic milk drinks, but you won’t be able to produce latte-art-quality microfoam. The Stilosa is perfect for someone who drinks an occasional espresso, or just has one in the morning, but it isn’t as sturdy as the more expensive machines.”
“There are hundreds—hundreds—of budget espresso machines, and the DeLonghi provided the most straightforward and consistent espresso experience,” adds Serious Eats. “Its small size also makes it an easy fit on your countertop.”
Food & Wine chooses this Breville model for its customization options: “The Breville Barista Express is our top choice for an espresso machine because it offers automatic and manual operation and features customizable settings. It has an integrated frother, grinder, and tamper and comes with a stainless steel milk frothing jug and filter baskets. The built-in grinder produces the right amount of fresh grounds of your desired consistency for each shot of espresso. In addition to letting you choose your own grind setting, this machine alters its water pressure as you use it, which results in evenly extracted espresso that tastes smooth and balanced. Plus, the grinder can hold up to half a pound of espresso at a time.”
“You can’t beat the Breville Barista Express and its combination of performance, features and price. The machine’s formidable grinder pulverizes espresso beans and smart technology doses grounds directly into its portafilter basket, plus its sturdy frother steams milk well and makes thick foam. So while it’s not exactly a cheap espresso machine, you’re getting a lot for the price,” claims CNET.
Serious Eats claims it is best for “people who want to streamline their shot pulling process and prioritize ease of use and consistency in their espresso.”
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.
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