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The 4 best espresso machines of 2020
We researched dozens of models to help you brew the perfect shot.
The ability to brew a smooth, nutty, perfectly balanced shot of espresso from the comfort of your own home is a true luxury. But these machines don’t come cheap — we couldn’t find any for less than $50, which means you’ll want to make sure you’re buying the best of the best when it comes time to spend your money.
We compared dozens of espresso machines from top brands like Breville, Mr. Coffee, Nespresso, Cuisinart, Ninja, Chefman, Philips, De’Longhi and more to come up with these standout picks, which are known for delivering delicious espresso at the touch of a button.
Our favorite espresso machines
Best for small spaces:
Best espresso machines for 2021
We did the research and rounded up the best espresso machines you can get right now, complete with pricing and exactly where to buy.
Best overall: Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
Mr. Coffee’s take on the espresso machine hits the sweet spot between style, quality and a smooth user experience. The touch panel allows you to easily select a drink, though you can customize it using the manual setting if you prefer.
And this espresso machine doesn’t use plastic pods, you can choose whichever beans you want to brew — while avoiding the guilty feeling that can come with using disposable plastic pods.
One Amazon reviewer bought the Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino maker after trying two other, more expensive, Breville machines and states that this one “performs well and produces a consistent, good tasting espresso.”
Best budget: Jura-Capresso Espresso and Cappuccino Machine
12 reviewers on the Staples website all have rave reviews for this cheap reasonably priced espresso machine, which rings in at under $60. In addition to espresso, you can make lattes and cappuccinos — thanks to the frothing wand — or regular coffee if that’s what you’re in the mood for.
As one Amazon reviewer states, this budget espresso machine is “handy, dandy and simple.” So while it may not be sophisticated enough for coffee snobs, it should do the trick for your daily caffeine fix.
Best for small spaces: Nespresso Essenza Mini Original Espresso Machine
This minimalist espresso machine delivers the same taste and quality as the clunkier $400 version, but without extra frills like bluetooth compatibility or a frothing wand. If you want the versatility of brewing Americanos — basically, watered-down espresso — too, then you can pay about $20 for the Essenza Plus.Shop now at Amazon
Best investment: Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine
Coffee snobs, this is for you. The dual boiler is what makes this machine so special — basically, you can pull a shot and froth your milk at the same time without worrying about screwing up the espresso’s precise temperature. This machine has the capabilities of a commercial espresso machine, but it’s designed for domestic use.
You might also consider the Breville Dual Boiler if you want to whip up fancy espresso drinks at parties or for larger groups of people. One reviewer on the Breville website noted, “we can make [drinks] for a small crowd pretty quickly.”
Where to buy: Amazon
What kind of espresso machine should I buy?
Some espresso machines are designed for those with barista experience, while others are engineered for beginners. Look out for these features when deciding which machine will suit your level of expertise.
Espresso machine features
Espresso machines have a wide variety of features to offer. Here are a handful of useful features to look out for and compare when shopping:
Clear control panels
Digital displays are much easier to understand than indicator lights, especially when it comes to programming your machine.
If you’re opting for an automatic machine, they come ready-assembled with built-in grinders. An adjustable grinder will allow you to adjust the grind to suit whichever coffee bean and machine you’re using.
Variable coffee strength
This feature allows you to accommodate the intensity of the coffee flavor to your own personal taste, as well as the varying tastes of your friends, family or colleagues.
Machines range dramatically in size from a compact capsule model to a large espresso machine. Make sure your coffee machine will suit its spatial surroundings.
Cup warming tray
A cup warming tray can help to retain the heat of your coffee by warming the cup before it’s poured. If you tend to forget about your coffee, only to remember it later and come back to a cold cup, this could be a game-changer for you. It’s also handy in those cold winter months when drinks cool much more quickly.
Plenty of models can make two espressos at once, but they often just grind one dose of beans, which leads to a much weaker flavor. If you regularly need to make two cups, look out for models that make them one after the other rather than at the same time. These models grind a new dose of coffee beans for each cup, which is the best way to ensure you both get a good, intense hit of caffeine.
Water tank empty reminder
This is a handy feature that reminds you to add water before starting your machine or before making your next cup of coffee. It’s usually a little icon that illuminates to show you that the water in your tank is running low.
Height-adjustable spouts allow your machine to accommodate larger cups, for example when making a tall latte.
How to compare espresso machines
Coffee grinds range from extra coarse to extra fine. Here’s some handy information on what each level of coarseness is useful for and the flavor it produces.
Extra coarse coffee grinds are generally used for cold brewing techniques — perfect for a refreshing iced coffee on a simmering summer day.
Medium coffee grinds generally have the texture of sand, are most readily available on the market and are most commonly used in automatic drip coffee machines.
To make the best espresso, you’ll need to use a very fine and consistent grind. One easy test to check whether your grind is fine enough is to pinch the grounds between your thumb and forefinger. The coffee should clump together slightly in the center of the pinch, where the pressure is hardest, but not clump too much. If it does not clump at all, it is too coarse and will produce a weak shot. If it clumps excessively, it is too fine and will produce over extraction, which results in unfavorable flavors.
How much does an espresso machine cost?
Espresso machines range in price. Pod and capsule machines can cost anywhere from around $75 to $400. If you’re leaning towards an automatic machine, the prices range from $400 to $2,000 and beyond. If you’d like to try a more hands-on experience, semi-automatic and manual models can cost somewhere between $150 and $1,100.
An espresso machine can be a great investment to help you save both time and money if you like to indulge in lattes, cappuccinos and other coffeehouse drinks on the regular. Consider the machine’s overall features, size, price and ease of use before buying.
How did we choose these products?
To choose our list of the best espresso machines, we compared the price and overall features. We read hundreds of first-person product reviews around the web, as well as articles written by baristas and experts in the coffee biz.
We looked at espresso machines with a reputation for delivering consistent, delicious results over a long period of time. Finally, we paid special attention to ease of use, since fighting with a machine before you’ve had that morning Joe is the only thing worse than drinking no coffee at all.
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