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- True espresso only comes from high-end machines, but now you can have your very own espresso machine at home.
- The semi-automatic Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine is the best one you can buy.
Coffee lovers start out innocently enough with drip filters, French presses, milk frothers, and stovetop espresso makers; but then next thing you know, they're browsing Amazon for full-on espresso machines with all the bells and whistles. If you've reached that stage of coffee addiction, don't worry, we're here for you.
We've researched everything you need to know about buying a shiny new espresso machine for your home and we've combed through the details and reviews for dozens of machines so you don't have to. Before we get into the best espresso machines you can buy for your home, let's take a look at all the key terms and information that you need to know to make an informed purchase.
What makes a true espresso?
The Italian Espresso National Institute has very strict standards as to what can be called a true espresso. However, the basic idea is this: Espresso machines force a small amount of nearly boiling water under at least 9 bar of pressure through finely ground coffee to make true espresso.
The result is a thicker, creamier coffee with more caffeine inside. Pressure seems to be the key defining metric of making real espresso, and that's why stovetop espresso machines don't produce "real" espresso, according to the experts (but we still highly recommend them for anyone on a budget).
What kind of espresso machines are there?
There are two kinds of espresso machines in this world: steam-driven and pump-driven. Steam-driven machines come in two types: stovetop espresso makers like the Bialetti Moka Express and pump-less electric machines. Neither are featured in this buying guide, but you can read all about our favorite stovetop espresso makers here.
Pump-driven machines are much more common and there are more varieties that fall under that umbrella, according to CoffeLounge.
- Manual Lever Pump: It works just like you'd imagine it would - you manually pump the espresso out by hand with no help from electricity.
- Electronic Pump: With this kind of machine, you set the right temperature and electricity pumps the espresso out for you.
- Semi-Automatic Pump: Here, you'll grind the beans and tamp them into the filter before turning on the machine. Then, you pump the button to turn it on until the water turns black, at which point you turn it off.
- Automatic Pump: This machine also makes you grind the beans and tamp them into the portafilter. The machine will automatically turn on to brew the espresso and go off again when it's done.
- Super Automatic Pump: Finally, a super automatic machine takes everything out of your hands. It grinds the beans, tamps the grounds into the filter, boils the water, pushes it with lots of pressure, and takes care of the waste for you. It's very easy, but it'll cost you a pretty penny.
There are also fully automatic pod machines like the Nespresso, which require zero assistance from you beyond popping in a pod and pressing a button. All of the machines in this buying guide are either semi-automatic or pod machines.
Here are our top picks for the best espresso machines:
- Best overall: Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine
- Best machine for $400: Gaggia Classic Semi-Automatic Espresso Maker
- Best machine under $100: De'Longhi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso Maker
- Best pod machine: Nespresso VertuoPlus Coffee and Espresso Maker
- Best machine if money is no object: Breville Barista Touch Espresso Machine
- Best manual machine: Flair Espresso maker
- Best lever machine: La Pavoni Europiccola
Updated on 02/11/18 by Malarie Gokey: Added related links to coffee buying guides. Updated pricing.
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