Let's face it – espresso is just good. The light crema, the bitter heart and the caramel body all come together for an exquisite treat. Espresso is a nice pick-me-up on your way into work or a good way to relax after a fine meal. Topping espresso with warm milk gives you the option of enjoying a cappuccino, while steaming milk produces a rich latte. The best home espresso machines can multi-task and produce a variety of delicious coffee drinks.
Owning the best home espresso machine for you means you don't have to wait in long coffee-shop lines or endure late-night cravings because the café is closed. It will also save you hundreds of dollars throughout the life of your machine as you create tasty espresso right in your own kitchen. Some models of espresso makers brew multiple cups of espresso at a time, while barista-style machines brew both espresso and coffee.
Espresso makers range from inexpensive units to high-priced machines. We reviewed a variety of models, from the very simple to the premium adorned, in our effort to find the best espresso machines out there. The Krups XP5620, the Cuisinart EM-200 and the DeLonghi BCO 264B all rated high on our review of the best espresso machines because they use bar-pump pressure brewing, come with extra features and offer a variety of functions, including the ability to brew both coffee grounds and prepackaged pods.
In determining the best espresso makers, we looked at each machine's performance and features, and we also considered the safety of the machine and the available support from the manufacturer. Below are some details for you to be aware of as you search for your ideal espresso maker. Also, check out our learning center to read more articles on espresso machines.
All espresso machines come with a steam wand for heating milk to top your espresso. Some steam wands are adjustable so that you can change the consistency of the milk. This means you can turn your espresso into a latte, macchiato or cappuccino. It's a bonus if the espresso machine comes with its own frothing cup. If it doesn't, you can grab any cup, mug or glass to steam, froth or blend the milk into the drink of your choice.
The more parts of your espresso machine that are removable the better. This means you will be able to better clean every nook and cranny to help prevent calcium buildup and bacteria growth. Drip trays, portafilters and water reservoirs can all be removable, depending on the model of your espresso machine.
There are two important accessories that are needed for brewing great espresso: a measuring tool and a tamping tool. A measuring tool ensures that you use the proper amount of coffee grounds during each cycle. Too much can cause the filter to clog and reduce the effectiveness of your espresso machine. The tamping tool helps pack the grounds tightly in your espresso maker so you can get the best flavor from the coffee beans. Most espresso machines come with one or the other, but the best espresso machines come with both a measuring tool and a tamping tool.
A valuable feature to have on your espresso machine is a cup warmer. Your delectable concoction will stay hot longer when it is poured into a warm cup. The best espresso makers include a cup warmer that heats one or two cups while the espresso is brewing.
Espresso machines use either steam pressure or bar-pump pressure to brew espresso. The best espresso machines use bar pressure. All commercial-grade espresso machines use this method because the taste of the espresso is much better than steam brewed.
Bar-pump espresso machines have more parts than steam machines. Most espresso machines contain parts that cannot be cleaned in a dishwasher and must be hand washed. Consider the time you have to devote to this chore since, depending on how often it is used, your espresso machine may need to be cleaned every two or three days.
Espresso servings are called shots. Each shot equals one ounce of brewed espresso. Coffee shops typically serve two shots, or doppio, for each serving. Espresso makers vary in the amount of espresso they can make. All the models we reviewed can brew at least two ounces, or shots, of espresso. The best espresso machines make four shots, enough for you and a friend. Some espresso makers allow you to brew two cups of espresso simultaneously.
The best espresso is made from freshly ground coffee beans. However, when you are in a hurry, it is nice to be able to brew a prepackaged pod rather than taking time to measure out and tamp the grounds. Not all espresso makers are capable of brewing pods, so if you'd like your machine to have this capability, look for one that specifically offers it. For even more convenience, look for a self-priming machine. A self-priming espresso maker will automatically ready itself for use, eliminating the need to go through a set-by-step setup.
Since espresso has the potential to cause scalding, burns or fire, it is important to consider safety when you're purchasing an espresso machine. Since heating elements do not change color or texture when they're hot, an on and off indicator light will let you know when your espresso machine is safely off.
The best espresso machines come with a polarized plug. This means one prong is larger than the other and can only be plugged into an outlet one way. This makes it difficult for inquisitive little ones to plug it in easily, reducing the probability of both electrocution and burns. Additionally, short electrical cords keep the cord away from little hands.
Warranty & Support
The industry standard warranty for espresso machines is one year. Warranties generally cover manufacturer defects that are visibly apparent when your espresso machine is first unpackaged and used. In addition to traditional phone and email support, many manufacturers' websites include online user guides and FAQs. You can often connect with tech support through Facebook and with other espresso machine users to swap espresso recipes.
There is no need to travel to Europe or even to the local coffee shop for a hot and refreshing espresso. You can bring a piece of Italy home with your own espresso machine, and save time and money in the process. Our espresso machine reviews will help you find a machine that will fit your lifestyle and budget.