For all coffee lovers out there.. I know it’s hard for a day to go by without getting your caffeine fix. And since this year doesn’t seem to have started any better than the last year ended, we need to appreciate the little pleasures we can still indulge in.
In my opinion, there’s nothing better than enjoying a nice cup of coffee with a friend and a stimulating conversation to uplift us. Unfortunately, with parts of the world still on lockdown as we speak, it may not be possible to see your friends or colleagues in person for that cup of Joe.
So, what better time than the present to invest in that espresso machine you’ve had your eye on but didn’t think it was a necessary purchase? This way you can learn to make your own coffee at home, which not only saves you money in the long run but also helps you keep your sanity. And you can always invite your friends for a virtual chat while sipping on your favorite mug.
The Difference between Regular Coffee and Espresso
First of all, let me just briefly explain what the difference is between espresso and regular drip coffee. The seasoned coffee drinker knows all this, but for those of you who just started drinking coffee and were always wondering what the fuss was all about espresso, here you go.
Espresso, compared with the regular coffee which you brew in a traditional coffee maker, uses a lot less water and finer coffee grounds. The main difference is a thicker and creamier texture than the regular coffee and the taste is also stronger. What is so cool about espressos is that you can drink it just so, like a shot, or it can be a base for a large array of customizable milk-based drinks such as lattes or cappuccinos.
I really don’t want to go into the whole technique of pressure and temperature adjustment, because, let’s face it, you’re not looking to become a certified barista, you just want to make your own cup at home when you’re in the mood for a little pick me up.
If you are interested in the whole process and are a very detail-oriented person, there are lots of sites where you can go for research. I’m just going to guide you to assess your needs as far as purchasing your own machine. It is quite an investment, so you want to make the best choice without necessarily spending a lot of money.
How to Find the Best Espresso Machine
Now that I’ve explained the difference between regular coffee and espresso, you need to do a little homework before actually pressing that checkout button. I know, it shouldn’t be so much work, but I promise you’ll thank me in the end. After all, it is for your own pleasure!
But before we go any further, ask yourself: what type of espresso machine do you need?
Are you planning to make a long-term investment for yourself and the family, or do you need something simple, without spending too much? Do you love to invite a lot of people over (in normal times, anyway)? Do you want to spruce up your home office and treat your guests while they visit?
And now, what type of Espresso Machine you are looking for:
- Manual espresso machine: the type of machine the more experimented coffee connoisseur will like to invest in, also the more complicated to use. It is just like the ones you see in coffee shops, where you customize every single cup, so it is important to use the best quality finely ground beans. Also, the water is pulled by a lever, so it entails a little expert touch.
- Semi-automatic machine: similar to the manual one in preparation, but the water flow is operated with a button or a dial.
- Automatic machine: a button is used to brew the espresso. The result is more consistent, and you can customize the size of the drink and in most cases you can program it, so easy to use.
- Super-automatic machine: on top of automated and programmable sizes, they can also grind the beans, measure, or even tamp them.
- Capsule machine: the easiest and more consistent of all coffee machines, you insert the pod into its designated slot and the result is fast and requires very little effort.
There are literally hundreds of espresso machines on the market, so we narrowed down the list for you to just 10 options to make things a lot easier when you’re choosing your own espresso machine. Let’s take a look at which ones we recommend:
10. The Best Stovetop: Bialetti Express Moka Pot
I’ve had one of these for years and it’s still going strong. The least expensive coffee maker and, in my opinion, the most reliable option out there, this old-style stovetop espresso maker is a true classic. The only negative feedback this machine will ever get is that if you’re not in the vicinity of a stove, it is pretty much useless.
But at home, when I want a fast cup and don’t want to clean my other machine after use, I always opt for this one. It is fast and very easy to use. Fill the bottom compartment with water, the filter with ground beans, and close it tight. Put it on the stove on medium-high until it boils and voila! The longest part is probably for your stove to warm up, so turn it on before you prepare your pot.
9. Easiest to Use: DeLonghi Magnifica XS Fully Automatic Espresso Machine
This DeLonghi Magnifica model is so easy to use that anyone can master a decent cup of coffee in just a few minutes! It also features a milk frother and it’s pretty easy to clean as well. You can program the size and strength of your cup, so you get it right every time.
Not only it saves you time but space as well, as this fully automatic espresso machine fits nicely on your counter without taking up too much room. A great option for the beginners out there.
8. Best Coffee and Espresso Maker: Mr. Coffee All-in-One Occasions Coffee and Espresso Maker
This coffee and espresso machine is ideal for those of you who want to make both espressos and regular coffee in a thermal carafe. It can also use K-cup pods, which is a godsend on those mornings when you’re in a rush! Who doesn’t like having lots of options? Well, on top of that, this all-in-one coffee and espresso maker also has a removable drip tray, a storage tray, and a steam wand.
Talk about multipurpose! For those of you who like variety, but do not want or have space or money for multiple machines. Why own a whole bunch of different appliances and clutter your kitchen when this one can do everything you need?
7. Best Compact Option: Sowtech 3.5 Bar Espresso Machine
One of the more affordable options on this list, this Sowtech 3.5 Bar espresso maker is one of the most compact espresso machines as well. It’s also very lightweight, so it is very easy to move if need be.
This little machine can make up to four shots of espresso at a time, it comes with a milk frother steam wand and a glass carafe which has the quantities marked, so you know how much coffee to pour into your cup. Beautiful petite machine and very easy to use.
6. Best Option with Automatic Frother: Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
One of the best features of this machine is the automatic milk frother which pours the steamed milk directly into the cup. Most of the other espresso machines come with a steam wand or a separate milk frother, but this one comes with it built-in. Who doesn’t want that?
The programmable one-touch control panel is a lifesaver if you’re in a hurry. It can be programmed to your favorites from cappuccinos, lattes, or just the plain espresso, the choice is yours depending on your mood.
5. Best Affordable Espresso Machine: DeLonghi EC155 Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
If this is your first espresso machine purchase, the EC155 from DeLonghi is definitely a great option. Not only easy on the wallet, but it also offers a lot of nice features for the money. It comes with two thermostats, a small steam wand and a drip tray. You can prepare two cups of espresso at a time and you can use ground beans or ESE pods, which is a nice option to have.
The coffee comes tasting just like you had it prepared by a professional barista, so you’ll enjoy using this machine for years to come. For the price, you cannot go wrong! Definitely worth considering.
4. Best Single-Serve Espresso Maker: Nespresso Vertuoplus Deluxe by Breville
No list would be complete without a Nespresso machine. Since their launch they’ve quickly taken over the market, and with good reason. Nespresso machines are made for people who are on the go, but also appreciate good quality coffee. They revolutionized the coffee pods, as they were first to come up with the idea back in the 1980’s.
This particular machine is one of their most popular models for several reasons. The lid is one of them, which opens with one touch, and you can make your cup by using a single button. The capsule machine has its own system which detects the barcode from the capsule and adjusts itself to brew the perfect cup every time. The pods are also recyclable, so it’s good for the environment as well.
3. Best Large Capacity Machine: DeLonghi 15 Bar EC702 Pump Espresso Machine
DeLonghi has come up with another affordable option and a little bit more user friendly than the real expensive manual machines. Although
manual, you do not need a degree to be able to operate it, but it does allow you to customize each cup to your taste. It has a three-in-one filter so you can choose from one or two shots of espresso, and it even allows you to use coffee pods.
There are two thermostats which allow the water and steam pressure to be controlled separately. The removable water tank allows you to see when you need to add water, and it makes cleaning the machine a lot easier as well. The manual milk frother makes the foam perfect each and every time. Just like you’re in your favorite coffee shop!
2. Best High-End Option: DeLonghi La Specialista Espresso Machine
This semi-automatic machine from DeLonghi is a true beauty. It looks very professional and it also brews the perfect cup every time. Although you might be intimidated by this machine when you first lay your eyes on it, don’t let that fool you. It is easier to use than it looks! This top of the line espresso maker will awaken the barista in you.
It comes with two heating systems, which allows for both coffee and milk to be at their ideal temperature. It also has a separate hot water spout, so you can even make tea if you prefer. The heating tray on top allows for your mug to be warmed to your liking, and the tamping system is mess-free, so less cleaning for you to worry about. And, to top it off, you can grind your coffee as you go in six different sizes.
1. Best All-Around Option: Breville BES870XL The Barista Express Espresso Machine
This gorgeous super-automatic espresso machine is our top pick. Not only does it deliver the best tasting coffee every single time, it is also super easy to use. This third-wave coffee experience is really something special. From the bean grinding to the final result, this machine delivers a top of the line cup from the comfort of your home.
The rich coffee culture is replicated with this machine and if you have doubts, just check out the reviews – they speak for themselves. The integrated burr grinder gives you freshly ground beans directly into the filter for great tasting coffee. The digital temperature control ensures the optimal espresso extraction, so you don’t need to fuss about adjusting it yourself.
The steam wand is automated as well, so it requires little effort on your part when you’re heating your milk for your lattes or cappuccinos. All in all, the best on the market and worth every penny.
We hope you enjoyed this journey through the coffee world. One last little tip worth mentioning: always take the time to clean your espresso machine well after every use, because water calcification does have an effect on the taste. Happy sipping!
- The Difference between Regular Coffee and Espresso
- How to Find the Best Espresso Machine
- 10. The Best Stovetop: Bialetti Express Moka Pot
- 9. Easiest to Use: DeLonghi Magnifica XS Fully Automatic Espresso Machine
- 8. Best Coffee and Espresso Maker: Mr. Coffee All-in-One Occasions Coffee and Espresso Maker
- 7. Best Compact Option: Sowtech 3.5 Bar Espresso Machine
- 6. Best Option with Automatic Frother: Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
- 5. Best Affordable Espresso Machine: DeLonghi EC155 Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
- 4. Best Single-Serve Espresso Maker: Nespresso Vertuoplus Deluxe by Breville
- 3. Best Large Capacity Machine: DeLonghi 15 Bar EC702 Pump Espresso Machine
- 2. Best High-End Option: DeLonghi La Specialista Espresso Machine
- 1. Best All-Around Option: Breville BES870XL The Barista Express Espresso Machine