Many would qualify me as a coffee addict, and even my boys say I am a coffee nut, on the other hand, I prefer to call myself a coffee lover and a true fan. However you choose to put it, the basic idea and the underlying truth is that there are few things in this world that I enjoy more than a good cup of coffee.
A well-prepared Espresso has always been my passion, but I have always relied on a good-quality coffee-shops and experienced baristas to prepare me one. I have drunk many espressos prepared at someone’s home, and it was never quite the same – that is, until recently!
A short time ago my close friend served me a cup of bliss – she even had to convince me that she has actually prepared it herself and show me the actual espresso machine she has used before I could believe her.
I now know that technology has developed enough for me to find the best espresso machine for my home too, and finally, enjoy a perfect cup in my pajamas and the comfort of my bed.
As always, I will share my quest with you so that you could also share the pleasure of being able to drink and serve the best coffee at your home.
Why Buy an Espresso Machine?
First of all, there is that little thing I already mentioned – you will be able to enjoy your first-morning coffee without even leaving your bed. Of course, you have to have a loving partner (or old-enough children) who will be willing to prepare it for you.
This means no more hurrying when preparing for your work so that you would have enough time left to drop by your favorite coffee shop. No more waiting in the line hoping you will not run late for your important meeting. With a good Espresso machine in your home, you can plan your time better and turn coffee drinking into your personal ritual.
Owning a coffee machine allows you to explore the infinite world of craft coffee as well. You can satisfy your curiosity and try out of the ordinary tastes, or coffees from different regions, and discover what your personal favorites are. You would not be limited to a narrow choice of a coffee menu in your preferred coffee-shop.
In this way, you would eventually deepen your coffee knowledge and, more importantly, discover what you really like, not just in terms of the origin of the coffee but also the amount of coffee you should put, the grind size and time it takes to prepare it. The freedom to try out different adjustments will eventually lead to you discovering a real ideal cup of coffee totally in tune with your personal taste and needs.
You can rely on your instincts, but you can also find a wealth of information online, such as online barista classes and other educational resources, but one thing is certain – you will have full control over the coffee-making process.
Making your own espressos will also prove to be more economical, but also more sustainable and environment-friendly. The single-serve packages are handy, but their package is not recyclable; they also double the cost of actual coffee.
In translation, for the same amount of money you spend on these industrial coffee pods, you would be able to buy double the amount of the highest-quality, fresh whole-bean roasted coffee and at the same time support quality coffee production.
And finally, if you like to entertain as much as I do and constantly have people coming over to your place, an espresso machine will allow you to wow them with a great cup of delicious coffee they are sure to appreciate – and every good homemaker wants her guests to feel this way!
Choosing the Best Espresso Machine
It is quite simple to set the criteria for the best espresso machine – the best machine produces the best and most enjoyable cup of coffee. One should also consider how easily and quickly it can be made.
While aesthetics is certainly important too, if making process is too complicated, tiresome and time-consuming, you will eventually drop the whole thing and turn back to buying your coffee.
For this reason, I have done some research and comprised a list of things that need to be considered when you set out to find the best espresso machine for your personal needs:
1. Taste, Texture, And Temperature
Although evaluating taste is rather subjective, the strength of flavor and the amount of crema or the foam on top of the espresso can be graded somewhat objectively.
The crema on top should, as the name already suggests, have a creamy texture and golden color. In order to achieve the best flavor and texture, you have to secure not only the best espresso machine but also a high-quality coffee blend.
Another thing you should consider is the resulting temperature of the coffee as soon as you finish making it. According to the National Coffee Association, the temperature should ideally be around 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Usability and Capacity of the Machine
As far as the machine is concerned, you should thoroughly investigate its usability.
First of all, make sure it is not too difficult to operate and that you will be able to learn to use it properly on your own before you feel disheartened. If you are not willing to learn, make sure that even beginners can prepare a good cup of coffee, and you will not have to.
Consider all the parts included that should give you a basic idea of how complicated the machine really is. Can it produce just a basic shot of espresso or it can turn it into a latte and cappuccino, or brew macchiatos and Americanos? Beware though that having these options will surely cost you more too.
Finally, consider the capacity of the machine as well as it also influences the price.
If you are not like me, and you like to drink your coffee solo, a smaller-sized unit may be sufficient to satisfy your needs and keep the money in your pockets.
On the other hand, if you and I are alike and you have a large family and a number of friends constantly around, most of them being espresso-lovers, you may want to consider purchasing a machine that can produce more than ten cups at a time!
3. Type of the Machine
There are three types of espresso machines:
Pod or capsule machine
This is the easiest to use type – you simply pop an existing pod or capsule into the machine and press the button. This sends the hot water through the pierced package, and the espresso comes out done. There is no mess or hassle. However, you are limited to the tastes offered.
Pump espresso maker – traditional manual machine
Operated in the same way as machines in coffee shops, these machines utilize thermostatically controlled boiler and heat the water until it reaches optimum temperature and passes through the ground coffee at the correct bar pressure. You have to use pre-ground coffee and do almost everything yourself, even steaming milk.
Bean-to-cup machine – automatic machine
Although they perform similarly to pump espresso machines, they have a bonus in the form of a built-in grinder. This means that they first grind the coffee beans and then run hot water through them. The more expensive models even froth and dispense milk automatically, while cheaper ones feature a manual steam wand.
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4. The Look of the Machine
The looks matter – at least in the world we live in today, and therefore, we cannot neglect it even when it comes to espresso machines.
If you prefer a certain design or style, or you want a certain shape and color to blend in with your home décor and colors – you might have to look harder, but you will most probably find it all in the end.
5. Maintenance and Cleaning of the Machine
I do not like to clean much, especially if there are tiny parts involved, or special rules and restrictions.
For this reason, I always recommend choosing a machine which is easy to clean.
The best espresso machine should, in my opinion, disassemble and reassemble quickly and easily, and all the parts should be dishwasher safe.
Most Recommended Espresso Machines: Detailed reviews 2020
DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica is a bean-to-cup compact machine that will easily fit into any kitchen. Besides being space-saving, it is also highly convenient to use as you can fill the water tank and empty the coffee grounds without having to move or rotate the whole machine.
It can use both whole beans and ground coffee. If you use beans, which I recommend, you can choose the grinding level, and the machine will automatically grind them before brewing.
All the controls are set on the front panel and quite easy to use – you have various options from choosing the coffee-strength to selecting the cup size.
You can adjust both water and coffee quantity.
This machine can make you almost any type of coffee – espresso, Americano, cappuccino, or latte drinks. Thanks to the cup warmer, a cold cup will not influence the temperature of the coffee, and it will always be perfect.
Other useful features are three-hour automatic shutoff and water-level indicator. A removable drip tray, and rinse and decalcification auto programs allow for easy cleanup.
The best thing about this machine is the taste of coffee coming out of it. There is nothing strange about it if you consider that it is made in Italy – as the espresso tastes as if you are drinking it in some Italian café. Although it is a bit loud while grinding, and the water reservoir is a bit small for my needs – I tend to forget that while I enjoy the superb taste and texture of the coffee it produces.
- Makes perfect espressos
- Able to make a double espresso
- Compact and eye-catching
- Easy to clean
- Small water reservoir
- A bit loud
First off, I will say that you can use it without much prior knowledge or experience, which is good considering the poorly written manual you receive with this unit.
It features two boilers allowing switching from steam to brew quickly and sets the grind dosage automatically rather successfully. It does not auto-froth the milk – which can be a deal-breaker for those who often use this feature.
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The LED display, and easily accessible water tank and ground dispenser on the front make this machine fairly convenient. There is no option to choose a cup size, which means I could not always brew directly into the mug I preferred to use at the time.
The water tank is, once again, too small for my needs and I had to refill it too often. The unit is good-looking but takes up a bit too much counter space. The front is made from stainless steel, but sides and trays are all plastic which makes me question the overall durability.
On the plus side, it is easy to clean and comes with a tube of grease to lubricate if necessary. The Gaggia Brera is a good value machine, but for my taste, it does not produce the strongest tasting espressos, especially when you use ground coffee. Do not get me wrong, the espresso quality is acceptable, but not perfect – it might be a fair compromise for the price though.
- Good value
- Easy to operate and clean
- Automatically sets the grind dosage
- Appealing design
- No alerts when the unit is out of ground coffee or beans
- The ground coffee option produces a bit tasteless espressos
- Poorly written manual
- Low capacity
KRUPS EA8250 Espresseria is another fully automatic espresso machine, compact in size and modern looking. The metal built-in burr grinder features an adjustable grind setting, and the bean hopper is extra-large with the capacity to prepare several drinks in a row.
However, it only fits a standard espresso cup, and the grinder is also a bit noisy, but aren’t all?
Although I like my coffee made from whole beans, and the fact that this machine cannot work with pre-ground coffee does not bother me much, it might be an issue for some of you. The control panel features an intuitive LCD screen and knob which allows you to set the amount of water.
The settings are easy but also quite limiting and do not leave much space for experimenting with taste and texture. Coffee coming out is quite enjoyable, maybe it has to do with the fact that the unit is made in France. It can make cappuccinos, espressos, and provides a steam nozzle for creamy latte drinks too.
Once again the water tank could be a bit larger, but as the size is standard, it is just not in correlation with my personal needs but might be perfect for yours.
You do not have to clean the heart of the unit, and there are additional accessories you can buy to make cleaning even easier such as cleaning tablets, descaling powder or a liquid cleaner for the steaming wand.
The largest complaint I have has to do with the pull-out drip tray as it is a little small and has a faulty sensor that alerts you that it is full when it is not.
- Extra-large bean hopper
- Easy settings
- Perfectly balanced espressos
- Fits only one cup size
- A small drip tray and faulty sensor
- A bit expensive
It is also compact but has numerous features and a “professional feel”.
It is advertised as stainless steel – but not all parts are, and the black ones will show water marks. The removable water tank is once again of standard size, and I have already come to terms with the fact that I need to refill often and will not complain. It can work with both pre-ground and whole-bean coffee.
This is an energy-efficient model that offers a single boiler system and an energy-saving switch. The controls are easy to use and logically positioned. You can choose from five coffee-strengths from extra-mild to extra-strong, and opt for regular, specialty or decaf according to what you like.
The machine produces perfectly balanced espresso and macchiato, but also a creamy latte or cappuccino. The beverages are of perfect temperature, and a manual cappuccino system creates thick and creamy froth which lasts long and is rich and dense.
The problem is that you have to be extra careful when choosing the coffee beans as the machine simply will not properly grind them which can lead to numerous other issues.
You are sure to enjoy the delicious espresso with a great crema once you find the appropriate beans. The machine is also easy to clean out afterward, so it will not spoil the enjoyment.
- Adjustable coffee spouts
- Works with whole-beans and pre-ground coffee
- Energy-saving switch
- Numerous options
- Not entirely made from stainless steel
- Does not work with oily beans
For all of you coffee lovers who have to work with a tight budget I have decided to test and review Mr. Coffee ECMP1000 Café Barista Premium Espresso System which comes at a fraction of the price of the other reviewed machines.
It is a semi-automatic machine, which means that you have to use pre-ground coffee or buy a grinder. On the bright side, it includes an automatic milk frother which allows you to make creamy cappuccinos almost effortlessly.
Somewhat bigger, and almost entirely made of plastic, it does not have a luxurious appearance, but it is well designed and functional nonetheless. The control panel is easy to use and offers buttons for making single or double shots, espresso, cappuccino or latte. The cup tray can be adjusted to accept different cup sizes, a feature that many far more expensive systems do not include.
It is easy to use, but also easy to clean. Namely, you just need to hold a designated button, and it cleans itself. Both milk and water reservoirs fill and clean easily too. It is quite noisy while operating even on the espresso setting.
The coffee comes out rather strong, well-textured and pretty good, especially considering the low price of the unit. It is certainly a good choice until you can afford a more advanced system.
- Removable and easy to fill water and milk reservoirs
- Can create single and double servings
- Includes 20 interesting recipes
- Highly affordable
- Almost entirely plastic
- If you like to use whole beans you have to grind them appropriately
And the Best Espresso Machine is…
After reviewing five great espresso machines you would not regret buying, there is certainly a lot to filter through, but the winner is definitely DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica Super-Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine as it offers numerous possibilities, almost-professional performance and, most importantly, exquisite espressos. 🙂
Last update on 2020-07-05 at 23:03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API