Breville Espresso Machine HeroSource: Breville

Best Espresso Machines Android Central 2020

A little bit of caffeine goes a long way, and the best espresso machines give you the shot of energy you need to kick-start your morning. The more pro-level machines like the Breville the Barista Express wouldn't look out of place in an actual coffee shop and will give you an authentic espresso, cappuccino, or latte with the tap of a button. The more reasonably priced models brew tasty espresso but may require you to grind or foam by hand.

Best Overall: Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine

Breville Barista Express Espresso MachineSource: Williams Sonoma

This espresso machine is almost like having your own personal barista right in your kitchen. This machine features dose control grinding, where the conical burr grinder grinds on-demand to deliver the right amount of freshly ground coffee directly into the portafilter for your preferred taste with any bean. The digital temperature control delivers water at precisely the right temperature, and the foam steam wand performance allows you to hand texture micro-foam milk. It also has a grind size dial and the capability for hands-free operation. With the grinder, tamper, and steam wand are all integrated, you won't need to worry about any other accessories cluttering up your space.

However, that doesn't mean using the Breville is simple. You'll need to figure out the right coarseness of your grind, learn how to tamp and trim your dose, monitor the pressure gauge, learn how to texture milk, and be rigorous about keeping it clean. You'll want to be patient with yourself if your first few pulls don't taste up to expectations, and use online videos for tips to improve your technique.

For freshly ground espressos at home, you won't find many other machines that match its quality. Plus, you can convert your espressos into Americanos using the hot water dispenser, as well as cappuccinos and lattes.

Pros:

  • Built-in conical burr grinder
  • Automatic dose control for consistent quality
  • Adjustable PID digital temperature control
  • Steam wand with 360-degree swivel
  • Visible pressure gauge for 15-bar pump

Cons:

  • Expensive cost
  • Tricky to master

Best Overall

Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine

Barista toolkit

Pro-level espresso-making at home using fresh coffee beans has never been simpler thanks to Breville's all-in-one machine.

Best Semi-Automatic Machine: Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine

Gaggia Classic ProSource: Gaggia

Automatic espresso machines let you step away and trust that it will brew for the perfect length of time. Semi-autos put that power in your hands, with a switch that lets you turn the pump on to begin extracting then off once you make the perfect shot. That leaves more room for error, but also more room to improve your skills and taste.

The Gaggia Classic Pro competes strongly with our top overall pick from Breville — another semi-automatic — thanks to its professional-quality components, more compact and prettier design, and versatility. You can texture milk for a velvety microfoam perfect for latte art with the new commercial steam wand, and brew espresso with the commercial style 58mm portafilter and included single and double shot baskets. Pre-ground or ESE pods are also compatible with this machine, and the design offers a fresh, modern look, while the improved pump allows for quieter brewing.

Unless you enjoy the convenience of pods, we recommend buying fresh beans and investing in a manual coffee grinder for the best brew. Otherwise, making a good espresso with Gaggia is a simple as flipping a switch.

Pros:

  • Stainless steel, commercial-grade build
  • Works with pre-ground or ESE pods
  • Three-way solenoid valve
  • Excellent steel steam wand
  • Cheaper than the top pick

Cons:

  • No built-in grinder
  • Trickier to master than automatic

Best Semi-Automatic Machine

Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine

With love from Milan

This shiny, well-made Italian model crams coffee-shop quality brews into your kitchen, latte art included.

Best Manual Espresso Press: Flair Signature Espresso Maker

Flair Espresso Maker LifestyleSource: Flair Espresso

The less you pay for an espresso machine, the more you have to handle on your own. So why not go all-in and just do everything yourself? Truly adventurous espresso fans can extract a delicious shot using 6-10 bars of pressure in about five minutes, once they've mastered the steps.

First, buy a reliable conical burr grinder like the Javapress Manual Coffee Grinder, as you'll want to use freshly ground espresso beans; then buy an electric tea kettle if you don't own one already, preferably one with an exact temperature gauge. Then, you simply tamp your fresh grounds, place them in the portafilter, add hot water to the pre-heated brew cylinder, and use about 30–40 pounds of pressure to extract your shot! (Got all of that?) You'll also want one of these milk frothers if you want to convert your espresso into something lighter.

Flair gives your kitchen plenty of, well, flair, but if you don't want to fill your cabinets with other accessories, or bother with manual labor every morning, it may not be your best choice. You can save money on the still-excellent Flair Classic, but we chose the Signature because of its pressure gauge, which gives a visual indicator if you're using too much (or little) force, as well as the included tamper and copper-base portafilter.

Pros:

  • Best espresso taste (if made right)
  • Beautiful, distinct design
  • Gives you full pressure control to suit your tastes

Cons:

  • Requires buying accessories for grinding, water, and frothing
  • Tricky to extract with consistent pressure

Best Manual Espresso Press

Flair Signature Espresso Maker

Do it yourself

This simple-to-use, tricky-to-master machine is built to help you extract delicious espresso for years.

Best Fully Automatic Machine: Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine by Breville

Nespresso Vertuoplus Matte Black Coffee Maker Espresso Mac OSource: Williams Sonoma

With most espresso machines, you need to meticulously grind beans to the correct coarseness, measure and tamp the grounds, and finally extract your brew for the proper amount of time, at the right pressure. This ensures a fresh brew but also is a lot of work every morning, with plenty of room for error. If you don't have the time or energy, choose a pod-based machine that delivers espresso with a single button press.

Breville's Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine with Aeroccino doesn't take grounds at all; instead, you simply insert a Nespresso VertuoLine capsule and the machine will brew your coffee without any monitoring. Unlike other offerings on this list, the Nespresso can brew regular drip coffee with crema to go with your espressos and cappuccinos and can accommodate up to 14-ounce cup sizes. You simply scan the barcode on your capsule and the machine adjusts its settings to deliver the perfect cup or shot.

Of course, its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. It only uses exclusive pods, so if Amazon or Nespresso go out of stock you can't make coffee. While most people love their taste, some find pod-based coffee doesn't live up to naturally ground beans. Because it's automatic, you also can't adjust the water temperature or pressure as you would with semi-auto machines. But these are mainly complaints that caffeine elitists would have, not regular drinkers.

Pros:

  • One-button brewing
  • Also does coffee
  • Variety of unique flavors
  • Aeroccino milk frother

Cons:

  • Pods can be expensive / hard to find
  • No brew customization
  • If you don't like pods, look elsewhere

Best Fully Automatic Machine

Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine by Breville

Convenient & user friendly

Why bother being an unpaid barista at home when you can get delicious coffee from a pod and a single button press?

Best Value-Priced Quality: De'Longhi Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine

Delonghi Stainless Steel Pump Espresso MakerSource: Crate and Barrel

This espresso machine uses 15-bar pressure and a milk frother to ensure quality espresso, cappuccinos, and lattes, and its other features make it a convenient and casual device for drinkers uninterested in advanced features like pressure gauges. It has a second-tier drip tray that can accommodate larger cups, while most other machines annoyingly can't fit anything taller than a few inches. The stainless steel boiling system has a self-priming option that makes brewing fast once you're ready. It works with coffee grounds or ESE pods, and the removable 37-ounce water tank makes it simple to clean and refill quickly.

If you're truly looking to save money, the De'Longhi EC155 is a higher-selling and cheaper model that could fit your needs, with its identical 15-bar pump and capacity to make cappuccinos and lattes. While they're more similar than different, we still suggest sticking with the ECP3420: it has a superior milk frother, accommodates larger cups, has clearer indicators for when it's "Ready" and "On", and has a much more attractive exterior overall. If the ECP3420 is unavailable, the ECP3120 is essentially the same machine without the stainless steel finish.

Pros:

  • 15-bar pump
  • Works with ground beans or ESE pods
  • Reasonable price for quality
  • Second drip tray for larger cups

Cons:

  • Not particularly durable
  • No sophisticated automated features
  • Cheaper models available

Best Value-Priced Quality

De'Longhi Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine

Put some pep in your step

Save money on a reliable 15-bar machine that takes grounds and pods, and makes lattes and cappuccinos as well as espressos.

Best Budget Machine: SOWTECH Espresso Machine

Sowtech Espresso MachineSource: SOWTECH

This 3.5-bar pressure espresso machine can make 1-4 cups (240ml) of espresso coffee and rich, smooth cream. The easy-pour glass cup is clearly marked to serve the perfect amount every time, and this machine delivers rich espresso in just seconds. The stainless-steel compact design saves lots of counter space, and the removable, washable drip catcher collects coffee drips and keeps your brew countertop tidy.

It takes coffee grounds and has no integrated grinder, so you'll want to invest in a manual coffee grinder if you want your espresso to turn out fresh. Plus, its rotating steam wand is great, but for a true froth, you'd also want to invest in a dedicated milk-frothing pitcher. These are fair trade-offs considering the bargain price.

The main drawback of this machine is its pressure level, which is strong enough to make concentrated coffee but technically doesn't have the power to produce "espresso" in the traditional sense. Most espresso machines hit nine bars by default and go up to 15 in the best units, but 3.5 will at least make a tasty brew that works well for a latte.

Pros:

  • Good lattes thanks to steam wand
  • Bargain-priced
  • Takes up little counter space

Cons:

  • 3.5-bar pressure
  • Cheap plastic portafilter

Best Budget Machine

SOWTECH Espresso Machine

Budget friendly

SOWTECH offers the necessities for quick espresso-making for a truly affordable price, despite only hitting 3.5 bars of pressure.

Best Stovetop Moka: Bialetti Moka Stove Top Coffee Maker

Bialetti Moka Aluminum 6 Cup Espresso MakerSource: Crate and Barrel

In response to all the coffee nerds shaking their heads in disgust: we know that Moka is not espresso! But for those who want espresso at home but are overwhelmed by the price of most machines, Moka is the closest alternative in taste at a fraction of the cost. Just keep in mind that this classic, concentrated Italian brew can be just as tricky to extract properly until you have some practice. For example, you need to grind coffee that is neither too fine nor too coarse, and you'll need to find the perfect stove temperature setting.

This little stovetop espresso-esque machine makes 9.2 ounces of Moka coffee — enough for one mug with a little leftover. This machine delivers strong, rich, and velvety coffee and takes less than five minutes to brew on your stovetop. It's made of high-quality, polished aluminum in the classic Bialetti octagon shape. It has a patented safety valve and is easy to clean and disassemble.

Pros:

  • Brews on stovetop in five minutes
  • Snazzy, slim design
  • Cheap for high quality
  • Easy to clean

Cons:

  • Not actually espresso
  • Requires excellent grinder
  • Takes some practice to brew correctly

Best Stovetop Moka

Bialetti Moka Stove Top Coffee Maker

I can't believe it's not espresso

Brew excellent concentrated coffee, Italian style, with a handy little pot instead of a giant, expensive machine.

Channel your inner connoisseur with the best espresso machines

Among the best espresso machines available, you have consistently delicious results but varying methods for achieving it. You can choose a device that takes pods, but automation limits your ability to brew to your tastes or try out fresh beans, and you can never be certain the pod flavors you like will be in stock. You can also take the opposite route and extract your espresso manually. Before taking that route, think carefully if pre-coffee you have that kind of daily morning energy.

Ultimately, we think the semi-automatic route between these two extremes is your best bet, and out of the available machines out there the Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine is your most reliable option if you can afford it. The integrated grinder spares you from doing the process by hand, and the dose controls, temperature controls, and pressure gauge hold your hand through the tricky bits of brewing so your caffeine-deprived brain doesn't make any mistakes.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Nicolette Roux is a master fitness instructor and health enthusiast from sunny Los Angeles.

Michael Hicks got his tech journalism start in 2016, covering emerging tech like VR and self-driving cars before expanding to all things tech. When he's not gaming or reading SFF novels, he writes freelance for Android Central and Windows Central.

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