I love coffee. No, that’s not right. I love good coffee. Hot, iced or the popular frappucino, it doesn’t matter. I’d find reasons to drink a cup (or two) regardless of the weather. Of course, excellent cups of coffee can be quite expensive. So I decided to take the next step – I’d brew my own. And that meant getting an espresso machine. But with all the many brands and kinds available in the market, that’s easier said than done. So before I parted with my hard-earned cash, I decided to review the top 5 espresso machines first.
This is what I came up with.
#1 Breville The Barista Express Coffee Machine
You can hardly do espresso machine reviews without running across the Breville brand. After all, Breville has been making small kitchen appliances for over 4 decades.
The Breville Barista Coffee Express Machine is their frontrunner in the line of automatic espresso machines. And why not? It’s a machine that’s packed supremely well, making even the unboxing easy and a pleasure.
It doesn’t come with any cheap plastic, but rather is made of stainless steel. It definitely looks professional on any kitchen counter. The best part is it’s equipped with its own burr grinder, ensuring you get coffee from freshly ground beans every single time.
Some people have found it a bit of a challenge to find the right settings for their specific coffee blends. However, once you get the hang of it, the Barista Coffee Express is really rather easy to use. You can adjust almost anything to get your perfect cup- grind fineness, ground amount, how hard you tamp the grounds, water amount, water temperature, manual shot length, etc. It’s also got one of the more generous water storage capacities among espresso makers at a solid 2 liters.
Clean up didn’t take a lot of effort as all parts can be disassembled and reassembled fairly quickly. As a bonus, you also get superb customer service!
The Breville Barista Coffee Express Machine deserves to be called the “Best Home Espresso Machine”. It’s also our choice for “Super-Automatic Espresso Machine”. You just can’t go wrong with it.
#2 Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker
If you’re after an espresso machine that gives the best bang for your buck, then look no further than the Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker. This nifty little machine retails at less than $200 at Amazon and packs a whole lot of punch.
For one, it takes less than half a minute to get a cup ready. That’s largely due to its thermoblock technology and the 19-bar high pressure pump. It has a smart system that lets you know when water is running low. It even shuts off automatically after 9 minutes! The 24-ounce water tank is removable so cleaning up is not too hard. Used coffee capsules fall conveniently into a holding area for quick and easy disposal. There’s also power cord storage so you won’t have to worry about power cords lying about all over your kitchen counter.
The Pixie is nicely designed and comes in a variety of colors. The high-quality plastic is smudge-free. The side panels are made of aluminum. All that in a little package that takes very minimal space.
Our choice for Best Value Automatic Espresso Machine? Definitely the Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker
#3 Breville The Infuser Espresso Machine
Here’s one thing that separates the Breville Infuser Espresso Machinefrom the rest of the pack. It starts a steady, low pressure to expand the coffee grinds. What’s that for, you ask? Well, doing it that way allows all the cracks and gaps in the coffee puck to be filled. When pressure is finally applied, every part of the puck is covered and you extract optimal flavor.
So the temperature stability issue that plagues many espresso machines? Breville all but fixed it on the Infuser. Whether you’re making crema or decaf, the flavor is sure to be superb every time!
The Infuser may be behind compared to the foaming capabilities of a dedicated boiler, but it does make up for it with a dedicated hot water dispenser, high-quality head gasket and a well-made portafilter.
It’s designed to have an automated cleaning cycle, too. The machine pretty much lights up whenever it’s clean up time. That’s mighty convenient.
The Infuser is a classic Breville. It’s not entirely made up of steel, but the plastic parts are all very high quality. That makes the Breville Infuser Espresso Machine our choice for Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine.
#4 De’Longhi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso
There is a reason why De’Longhi wins awards for its small appliance designs. Just take a look at the De’Longhi EC155 15 Bar Pump Espresso. It’s a beauty isn’t it? It doesn’t hurt that it comes mighty cheap, too. At just under $100 through Amazon, it’s definitely one of the more affordable espresso machines in the market.
But don’t let the price fool you. The EC155 is a very capable machine.
It’s not very big or very bulky. It’s actually very compact and for its price, doesn’t look cheap at all.
You can use it to brew ground espresso but it also has the capacity to use coffee pods thanks to a dual-filter holder. The thermostats are also separate so you can get your coffee at exactly the right temperature all the time.
While it doesn’t quite function as fast as the Nespresso Pixie, it can still get your cup ready in about a minute. It could get you 8 to 10 shots before there’s even a need to refill it. Want to make some creamy froth? The EC155 can accommodate you well enough.
The water tank is 35 ounces and fully removable. So is the drip tray. The tank has indicator lights. So cleaning up is not an issue.
Of course, for that price you can almost expect a few drawbacks. The one most commonly mentioned is the length of the frothing wand (read: it’s short.) Another is the grounds basket. The measurement won’t allow you to use bigger cups, unfortunately. And also, it does have the tendency to make annoying sounds when frothing.
If you don’t mind any of those, then the De’Longhi EC155 15 Bar Pump Espresso Machine is the Best Cheap Espresso Machine you can find.
#5 Rancilio HSD-SILVIA Silvia Espresso Machine
Looking at the Rancilio HSD-SILVIA Silvia Espresso Machine, it’s a bit hard to say if it’s commercial equipment or a home machine. The stainless steel look all over seems to actually sit it right in the middle.
Looking at reviews, and testing the machine out yourself, you’ll find that Rancilio is a widely popular brand. So parts and accessories for any of its product offerings are easily procured. Its fame is also good because the user manual that comes with the Silvia is a hard to understand. So having many people own the same equipment actually means tons of information and guides available online.
The Silvia, unfortunately, isn’t the easiest of espresso machines to use. It’s very finicky. A slight change in the room temperature and humidity can result in really bad espresso shots. Newbies may find themselves throwing more in the garbage than they actually get to drink.
Also, this doesn’t come with a built-in burr grinder and you’d have to purchase one if you want to make some really fresh and tasty cups.
Because of the above, we recommend the Rancilio HSD-SILVIA Silvia Espresso Machine for commercial establishments more than for the home. It is capable of producing good coffee, but it takes a professional hand to keep it consistent.
How the Ratings were Assigned
We have scoured the web and appliance centers. We checked customer ratings and tried the machines out ourselves. We wanted to find and review the best espresso machines before making a purchase. And we want to share these with you and hopefully help you out, as well. In the end, the above five were what made our list of the best.
They were rated according to the following criteria:
- Aesthetics – how well the machine looks and how well it fits into most kitchen designs. We looked at the spout location, where the plug is, even whether the colors work for us or not.
- Grinding capability – not all espresso machines come with a built-in grinder. And seeing as freshly ground coffee beans taste so much better than that in storage, this is a definite plus in the ratings.
- Water storage – how much water the machine holds and whether it’s enough to make at least 8 espresso cups
- Capacity – this covers the quantity of beans and water, both
- Frothing capability – how well the pressurized milk flows from the spout to make good froth
- Cleaning – how easily does it disassemble and reassemble? Would you need to purchase additional stuff to clean it?
- Storage – how easily can it be tucked away when not in use?
Coffee-making is both a science and an art. There are a great many ways to enjoy your cup of joe, but going to a coffee shop to get your daily caffeine fix may be more expensive in the long run. If you truly love your java, consider investing on an espresso machine. They might be a little expensive initially, but will be worth every penny once you have unleashed your inner coffee barista. Hopefully, the above reviews can start you off in the right direction. Cheers!