TABLE OF CONTENTS
- The 10 Best Espresso Machine Consumer Reports for 2021 Reviews
- #1. Best Overall Espresso Machine Consumer Reports: Breville the Barista Express Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine
- #2. Best Home Espresso Machine: Rancilio Silvia
- #3. Best Super Automatic: Breville Oracle Touch Fully Automatic Espresso Machine
- #4. Best Cheap: Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
- #5. Best Manual: Flair Espresso Maker
- #6. Best Pod: De’Longhi VertuoPlus Coffee and Espresso Machine
- #7. Best Single Serve Coffee Maker: Keurig K-Cafe Coffee Maker
- #8. Best Coffee and Espresso Machine Combo: Breville Duo Temp Pro Espresso Machine
- #9. Best Espresso Machine for Beginners: Breville BES500BSS Bambino Plus
- #10. Best Budget: De’Longhi Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
- #11. Best Espresso Machine Under $100: SOWTECH 3.5 Bar Espresso Machine
- #12. Best Customizable: Breville the Barista Pro Automatic Espresso Machine
- #13. Best Commercial: European Gift La Pavoni BAR-T 2V-B
- How To Choose The Right Espresso Machine?
- How Does an Espresso Machine Work?
- What Kind of Espresso Machines Are There?
If you can’t start your day without a steaming cup of espresso, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we’ve curated some of the best espresso machines Consumer Reports for 2021, so you can power up without running to the coffee house every morning.
However, reviews can only help if you have some basic understanding of espresso makers. Buying the right espresso machine requires understanding how an espresso machine works and some important aspects you should look for.
We have discussed everything in detail in our comprehensive espresso machine reviews and guide, so read on!
The 10 Best Espresso Machine Consumer Reports for 2021 Reviews
Now that you have an idea about what to look for in an espresso coffee maker, let’s jump into the list below and discuss our top 10 priorities.
#1. Best Overall Espresso Machine Consumer Reports: Breville the Barista Express Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine
If you’re one of those who need the ‘perfect’ espresso shot to start your day, this semi-automatic gem can be an excellent choice.
The Breville Barista Express gives you enough automation to make the espresso-making task easy. On the other hand, it also gives you high control over different variables, such as temperature using PID.
To start with, it grinds your beans with its conical burr grinder exactly the way you want, using 18 settings from ‘coarse’ to ‘fine.’
What’s more, it drops the ground coffee right into the portafilter, which is pure bliss. This means that you’ll often find some coffee grounds in the drip tray, adding to the machine’s maintenance.
Apart from this, it’s pretty capacitive, holding 8.8 oz of coffee and 2.1 quarts of water. However, this leads to a 13.5-inches wide build, taking up a lot of countertop space.
The single group head maker provides 15 pressure bars, catering to every kind of taste bud. With a mid to high-range price, it also offers a lot of bonus features, such as a built-in tamper, a hot water dispenser for your americanos, a cleaning warning indicator, and much more.
- Digital temperature control using PID
- Built-in coffee grinder and tamper
- 18 grind settings
- Energy efficient
- Attractive stainless steel exterior
- Large water tank
- Requires a lot of maintenance
#2. Best Home Espresso Machine: Rancilio Silvia
The Rancilio Silvia espresso machine, in our opinion, is best suited for experienced people. Better yet, it’s perfect for the former barista who is used to commercial machines or doing most of the steps manually to create different flavors.
A significant feature of this maker is its durability. With a stainless steel exterior, including the frothing wand, it’s not only robust but also pretty attractive.
Moreover, the single boiler is made up of brass known to help retain heat. Do keep in mind, though, that a single boiler isn’t the best for temperature control, so we recommend this for experienced users. The lack of a pressure gauge also adds to this.
When holding the portafilter, you’ll notice that it’s nice and heavy due to its chrome-plated brass material and is built to last. Another plus is the 3-way valve, which decreases pressure as soon as you switch off brewing, so there’s no hot water spraying out.
With a capacitive 2.1 quarts tank and a 15 bar powerful pump, the Rancilio Silvia is one of the best home espresso machines for veterans. We can even say it’s close to a professional-grade commercial maker.
- Stainless Steel exterior for durability
- Brass group head and boiler
- The 3-way valve prevents portafilter mess
- 15 bar pump
- Large tank
- A bit difficult to use for beginners
#3. Best Super Automatic: Breville Oracle Touch Fully Automatic Espresso Machine
If you have the pocket but not the time to pull the perfect shot at home, we suggest investing in the Breville Oracle Touch. With this super-automatic maker, you’re only a touch away (on its 4-inch touch screen) from a drink of your choice.
The Oracle Touch automates everything for you. Seriously. Every step of the process, from grinding and tamping to brewing and frothing milk, can be programmed using the capacitive touch screen. You can even time the machine to turn on automatically so you can enjoy a piping hot shot whenever you feel like.
The smart machine also remembers your preferences, and you can save several custom drink recipes in its memory. Hence, every time you select that particular drink, you’ll get the same taste, thanks to its automated features.
Moreover, you can customize everything, including dosing, shot volume and timing, and grinding (with 45 options to choose from.) It even has a highly advanced steaming wand that cleans itself after use – talk about modern!
Automation isn’t the only good thing about this espresso machine, though. With a stainless steel exterior and boiler, it’s super durable. Plus, it looks ultramodern and attractive.
However, the machine is large, being 15-inches wide. And, of course, all of that comes for an eye-watering price. But honestly, it’s a smart investment, especially when backed up by a 2-year repair warranty, making it one of the best super automatic espresso machines out there.
- Stainless steel boiler and exterior
- 4-inch touch screen
- 45 grinding options
- Temperature probe and auto-aeration wand
- Large size
- Very expensive
- Read more: The Best Air Fryers for 2021
#4. Best Cheap: Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
You don’t always have to spend thousands of bucks to enjoy the perks of an espresso machine. The Mr. Coffee Barista Espresso machine is the best cheap espresso machine on our list. It’s not automatic – you’ll still have to grind and tamper your beans – but it does the rest.
The front side has three buttons for either making espressos, lattes, or cappuccinos. Double pressing the buttons lead to different functions, such as pulling a double shot. While this may seem complicated for some people, we think it simplifies the machine’s overall design.
After grinding and tamping the beans (with the included plastic tamper), all you have to do is attach the portafilter, press the desired drink button, and let the machine do the remaining job.
For lattes and cappuccinos, the machine froths the milk from the removable milk reservoir and dispenses it into your cup. However, the amount of milk for each drink is preset, but you can adjust the frothing settings.
While the automated processes make your life easier, you can’t always expect consistent shots from this machine. After all, it’s pretty inexpensive. However, for milk included drinks that could mask these inconsistencies, we think it’s perfect.
- Automatic milk frothing and dispensing
- Makes different drinks with one press of a button
- 15 bar pressure pump
- Removable water and milk reservoir
- Very easy to use
- Inconsistent results
- Plastic tamper not very helpful
- Preset milk quantities
#5. Best Manual: Flair Espresso Maker
If you’re professional in making espresso or don’t find espressos from automatic machines as tasty, try the Flair Espresso Maker. It’s a fully manual espresso machine, requiring you to boil the water and pull the shots manually.
It can generate up to 16 pressure bars, letting you create different flavor profiles for different taste buds. Moreover, it comes with a detachable brew head, so you can easily wash it along with the other components.
Since you have to do everything on your own(right from the start), this espresso machine doesn’t have any electric connections and touch screens. Furthermore, it’s made up of steel and aluminum, built to last longer.
All you baristas out there will certainly love practicing your skills with this affordable manual espresso maker.
- Durable steel and aluminum build
- Generates 16 pressure bars
- Detachable parts for easy maintenance
- Comes with tamper and other accessories
- Comparatively lightweight
- Not the easiest to use
#6. Best Pod: De’Longhi VertuoPlus Coffee and Espresso Machine
With the Nespresso coffee and espresso machine, you can have coffee and espresso(whatever you like) every morning with minimal effort.
This machine requires you to buy coffee pods (about a dollar each), and that’s pretty much all you have to worry about. Drop it into the machine, and with its centrifugal action, it will brew some fantastic coffee and deliver it right into your cup. Ease of use? 10/10.
Because of the 7000 RPM, it produces some amazing crema without the need for milk. Plus, you can choose from espresso and other crema drinks, and the machine will adjust brew settings accordingly. This is possible due to the machine’s ability to read barcodes on the Nespresso pods.
Moreover, this can be the best small espresso machine as its super, super compact. And, it does not cost a lot either.
However, as good as it may sound, there are a few drawbacks. For instance, you can only use Nespresso pods and the cups they want you to use. Plus, even though the used-pod holder can hold up to 10 pods now, it’s still a hassle disposing of them.
Other than that, this machine can give you some Barista quality espresso and drinks, thanks to the rich-tasting Nespresso pods. Ordering pods is all you have to do before getting started with this machine; it’s that simple to use.
- Very easy to use
- Brews great espressos
- Compact and lightweight
- Five cup sizes available
- The used-pod holder fits up to 10 pods
- Works only with Nespresso pods
- Buying pods may not be easy for everyone
#7. Best Single Serve Coffee Maker: Keurig K-Cafe Coffee Maker
If the idea of pods seems appealing, here’s another option: the Keurig K-Cafe coffee maker. Use it to make coffee, lattes, or a bunch of other things. You can also press the ‘strong’ button to brew an espresso, but it won’t be a true espresso since this is a coffee maker.
However, if you’re a fan of cappuccinos and lattes, you’re in luck. With its automatic frother, you get to choose between latte and cappuccino settings, and even a hot and cold drink.
The machine froths up some delicious looking crema to complement your drinks, so if you’re a cream lover, you’ll love this machine. But the best part? The frother is dishwasher safe, and you can easily store its contents in the fridge for later use.
Moreover, with the drip tray in place, the machine can fit mugs up to six inches. Plus, its 60 oz reservoir can serve up to six cups of coffee to keep yourself awake throughout the day.
Some of the additional features make this one of the best-rated espresso machines. For instance, you get a reminder to descale your machine. It will also shut off automatically after two hours of use, making it energy efficient. Hence, overall, it’s a smart pick for people looking for convenience.
- Large water tank
- Descale reminder
- Auto shut off
- Easy to use
- Automatic frothing
- Very wide (around 15 inches)
- Cannot brew ‘true’ espresso shots
#8. Best Coffee and Espresso Machine Combo: Breville Duo Temp Pro Espresso Machine
For making the best coffee drinks and espressos without spending thousands, the Breville Duo Temp Pro is another excellent choice. Not only is it easy to use, but it also includes several accessories for a smooth experience.
So, what’s the deal with Duo temp? The machine has a single boiler, but thanks to this particular technology, you can steam and brew at different temperatures.
This is possible due to the auto-purge feature. After steaming, simply turn the dial and it will flush out steam and mix in cool water, so you can start brewing within seconds. For a machine within this price range, it’s a pretty impressive feature.
Plus, it has an internal PID that regulates temperature, so you can enjoy a perfect shot every single time. With a stainless steel thermacoil, it’s brew-ready within a few minutes. Oh, and the steaming wand is also stainless steel, which is a bonus.
Basically, all you have to do is ground your coffee, tamp it, and attach the portafilter. From here, the machine, after pre-infusing, pulls the shots for you. It also has an indicator for emptying the tray. Beneath this is a storage compartment for other tools. How sweet!
Overall, we think it’s a real deal, especially with all its accessories.
- Stainless steel exterior
- PID that regulates temperature
- Auto-purge for different brewing and steaming temperatures
- Easy and simple to use design
- Hot water dispenser
- Rear-mounted reservoir difficult to manage
#9. Best Espresso Machine for Beginners: Breville BES500BSS Bambino Plus
This almost automatic espresso machine by Breville is a good start for beginners who are serious about their espressos. Featuring a smart steam wand similar to the Oracle, the Bambino Plus gives you great value for the price.
The first notable feature is the size, as it’s barely eight inches wide. However, since it doesn’t include a built-in grinder, you could say that a separate grinder makes Bambino’s compact design useless.
However, the pressurized baskets let you use pre-ground coffee, which is perfect for beginners. Also, you get a 2.1 quarts reservoir and the ability to fit a 5-inch tall mug on the drip tray.
Moreover, the Bambino Plus regulates temperature using PID to give you consistent, great-tasting shots. It also features an instant heat system that enables it to start brewing within a few seconds.
Plus, the automatic steam with adjustable milk temperature and texture gives the perfect foam for latte art. Hence, the Bambino Plus is the best automatic espresso machine (nearly automatic) that’s also affordable.
- Brushed stainless steel exterior
- Large reservoir
- Instant 3-second heat
- Automatic steam wand
- No built-in grinder
- The steaming wand can make a mess
#10. Best Budget: De’Longhi Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
Okay, so you don’t want to break your bank and only have a couple of hundred dollars to spare. The smart choice is to try Enter De’Longhi Bar Pump, the remarkable espresso machine under $200 that’s on our list.
It’s pretty simple to use with only one dial for selecting modes: resting, heating, brewing, and steaming. A second knob controls the steam for the wand. The machine supports a quart full of a tank, which is nice considering it’s 10 inches tall and only 7 inches wide.
With a single boiler, this maker has a double thermostat for reaching the two separate temperatures. However, you can’t expect consistent results, especially keeping the price in mind.
On the bright side, it features a 3-in-1 holder that fits one shot, two shots, or an ESE pod. The machine also maintains a brewing temperature so you won’t have to wait between shots. Plus, it’s easy to maintain with a removable water tank and stainless steel tray.
- Simple controls
- Easy maintenance
- Steel drip tray
- Very small footprint
- May struggle with light roast grounds
- Fits only 2-inch cups
#11. Best Espresso Machine Under $100: SOWTECH 3.5 Bar Espresso Machine
Do 200 bucks sound too much to spare? Well, we have something for you under $100- the SOWTECH espresso machine.
SOWTECH makes the whole process pretty straightforward. With one dial to control steaming and brewing, you don’t have to do much apart from the obvious. Just drop in coffee grounds in the filter, tamp them, and attach. You’ll have one to four cups of nicely brewed espresso within minutes.
The tiny machine also features a steaming wand that makes decent froth. Moreover, you get lots of accessories, like a super handy carafe that can hold the four cups of espresso.
Yes, it’s not going to make the greatest of espressos, but for such a low price, it’s the best affordable espresso machine out there.
- Super inexpensive
- Very easy to use
- Includes multiple accessories
- Very compact
- Stylish exterior
- Inconsistent results
- May not make the best froth
#12. Best Customizable: Breville the Barista Pro Automatic Espresso Machine
Are you confused between semi-automatic and automatic? Breville brings you the best espresso machine for home that’s between semi-automatic and automatic- the Barista Pro.
If you’re not up for grinding coffee beans, the machine’s built-in conical burr grinder will do it for you. Plus, you can adjust it from 30 settings on the digital screen. Not only this, but you get to control the temperature, volume, and time your shots if you want.
Additionally, the Barista Pro gives you almost instant heat, thanks to its ThermoJet heating technology. It also comes equipped with pressurized and non-pressurized baskets, both, so newbies won’t have to struggle much.
Since the machine will do almost everything, all you have to do is froth the milk using the 360 swivel wand. All of this for under a thousand bucks. Not bad.
- Built-in conical burr grinder
- Lots of settings to customize
- Heats up very quickly
- 1 quarts large tank
- Quick switch from brew to steam
- Hot water dispenser
#13. Best Commercial: European Gift La Pavoni BAR-T 2V-B
If you want to open up a cafe or enter the espresso market, the La Pavoni BAR-T 2V-B is a good option to start from.
To begin with, it has two group heads made up of brass, which helps retain heat. Moreover, it has a large water reservoir that can store liters to last you through the day.
With two steaming wands and separate solenoids, it’s easy for two people to use the machine simultaneously. A vertical chamber for pre-infusion and convenience features like boiler auto-fill enables baristas to make some of the strongest and best-tasting espressos.
- Multiple brass group heads
- Separate solenoids
- Vertical pre-infusion chamber
- Hot water dispenser
- Anti-vacuum valve
- Very heavy
How To Choose The Right Espresso Machine?
Here, we guide you through the things you should consider before investing in an espresso machine.
However, if you’re a newbie and not familiar with some of the espresso maker’s terms, you might want to skip to the last couple of sections of this article and enlighten yourself.
Otherwise, go ahead and give this buying guide a read to choose the best home espresso machine for yourself:
The most crucial factor in determining your purchase is your budget. How much are you willing to spend on an espresso machine?
Here’s where you decide what your must-haves are and the bonus features you can live without. For instance, some espresso machines come with built-in grinders, while others have an aesthetically pleasing appearance. Are you willing to spend extra on such features?
When going through your options, look for your must-haves if you don’t want to spend a ton on a fancy machine.
Depending on your set budget, it’s time to decide what kind of machine you’re into. Are you mostly running late and don’t care about mastering the art of making espressos? Get yourself a super-automatic espresso machine that even grinds the beans for you.
However, if you have a very specific taste or just don’t have the budget for super-automated models, a semi-automatic one will be the best espresso machine in this case.
Plus, this kind of maker is often a popular choice because of the control it gives you while also automating other steps, saving time and energy.
Now, consider how often you’ll be using your machine. Do you need espresso shots every couple of hours to power through the day? Will multiple people use the machine at your place?
An average home espresso machine can hold water for about eight shots of espresso. So, you can do the math and decide whether this is enough for you.
Additionally, you will have to consider the grinder capacity, given that your machine comes with one. If you have more than one person using the maker, consider getting a machine with a higher capacity grinder.
Not everyone has a kitchen like that of Gordon Ramsay. With that in mind, you’ll have to look for an espresso machine that will fit on your countertop. These machines, in general, are a bit bulky and take up space. So if your countertop isn’t big enough, you’ll want a compact maker.
Moreover, most espresso machines come with a single group head, which is more than enough for home use. A few come with more than one, and while that’s a viable option, these machines occupy a lot of space.
Plus, you’ll also have to think about whether you can store it in the cabinet when not in use. Keep in mind, the larger the machine, the heavier it is, and the harder it is to store.
# Frothing Wand
Many entry-level espresso makers don’t come with frothing wands. If you’re into cappuccinos and lattes, you’ll surely need a frothing wand in your machine. Also, make sure it’s made up of durable material like steel.
However, if you solely rely on espressos, you can easily find a maker without a frothing wand that still brews amazing espresso.
Most espresso machines aren’t very cheap. That being said, look for a durable machine backed up by warranty – you don’t want it to break down after pulling a few shots.
An espresso maker with metal parts is more durable, but plastic parts are often more aesthetic. Moreover, a fully automatic machine can cause a lot of trouble if one small part stops working, and will require you to spend a good amount on its repair.
These were just a few important points you should think about when deciding what kind of espresso machine you want.
How Does an Espresso Machine Work?
If you are relatively new in using espresso makers, all that complicated jargon must have left your head hurting. This section will be your OTC pill, simplifying how an espresso machine works and explaining some important espresso maker terms.
To keep stuff simple, let’s take the example of a semi-automatic machine. First, you’ll have to grind your beans in either a grinding machine or in the espresso maker’s built-in grinder. How coarse or fine the grounds are, depends on how strong you want your espresso.
After this, you put these grounds into the portafilter, a spoon-like, heavy metal tool with a filter basket. Next, you’ll have to tamp these grounds with a flat-sided heavy tool to even everything out. The portafilter is then locked into its place, known as the group head, in the espresso maker.
Once this is done, water enters the machine either through a built-in or removable reservoir, or a connected pipeline. Next, this water is pressurized through a vibratory or rotary pump. Bars are a measure of pressure, and anywhere between 9 to 15 bars is ideal for espressos.
From here, the pressurized water is heated in a single or double boiler. Single boilers use the same temperature of water for steaming and brewing or use thermostats for regulation. Double boilers heat water at different temperatures for both processes.
Lastly, this pressurized and heated water is passed through the coffee in the portafilter, extracting the very sought-after drink, espresso.
An added step is frothing the milk for crema. The steam created inside the machine is dispensed through a wand. When the wand is submerged under milk, it creates microbubbles and hence, the foam.
What Kind of Espresso Machines Are There?
Okay, now you know the basics of how an espresso machine works. But since there are various types, each one works differently.
Here are the most popular kinds of espresso machines you’ll come across:
Capsule Espresso Machines
This is one of the simplest espresso machines out there. Basically, it’s a small machine that uses pre-packaged pods of grounds to brew your espressos, lattes, tea, etc. Some of them also include a steaming wand for the delicious crema.
Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines
As mentioned earlier, this is often a popular choice among average consumers. It’s a mid-range option that regulates temperature and pressure. It can also automate most steps while letting you do certain stuff manually.
Some come with built-in grinders, while others come with convenience features like auto-shutoff and shot timing.
Automatic and Super-Automatic Espresso Machines
We’ve included these in the same category because of how similar they are. These smart machines automate every single step of the process, making the job ten times easier.
First, the built-in grinder lets you adjust the grind size. Secondly, you get to adjust shot time and volume and save these drinks in the machine’s memory to get the same taste every time.
Super-automatic machines also froth your milk for you, and some dispense it right into your cup. All you’ll have to do is add beans, select your drink, and voilà! You’ve got some barista-quality espresso without much effort.
If you’ve stuck with us so far and reached the end, you must have an idea about what kind of espresso machine will suit you the best. Remember: you get what you pay for.
Nonetheless, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got your hands on the best, fully automatic espresso machine- using it will require some maintenance and knowledge about espresso makers to get a coffee-house quality shot every time.
But once you know how to use them, the espresso makers in our list will prove to be a smart investment, no matter the price range.