Top Pick – Overall best features (if your budget isn’t restricted)
Top Pick – Travel espresso machine
For hardcore coffee lovers, there is a certain kind of satisfaction that comes from sipping a perfectly pulled shot of espresso from a cafe. But making your own espresso at home? That’s a whole new level of pride and happiness.
Before we dive into the espresso machines that will allow us to make a cafe-quality coffee at home, let’s answer an important question first: What is espresso?
What is espresso?
Sometimes, there is a bit of confusion even among frequent coffee drinkers that espresso is simply concentrated coffee made through any method. But this is not true. Yes, the Aeropress can create concentrated coffee but it is not true espresso. To put the debate to rest, espresso is made by forcing a small amount of very hot water through finely ground coffee with the mighty help of nine bars of pressure. The result is highly-concentrated coffee that is thicker and more syrupy than your usual cup of joe. And there’s the characteristic layer of crema on top.
Espresso can be drunk alone but it is also the base of most coffee drinks like the latte, cappuccino, cortado, and many others.
Types of home espresso machines
If you’re thinking of buying your first espresso machine for home use but you’re feeling a little intimidated by the options, let’s simplify them according to their types.
Semi-automatic espresso machines
With a semi-automatic, you are still in control of the grinding, tamping, and setting the extraction time but when it’s time to pull the shot, all you have to do is push a button. A lot of home baristas love this option because it allows them to practice the art and enjoy the motions minus manual labour.
Automatic espresso machines
Just as the name implies, automatic machines are well… automatic. It grinds the beans, tamps the grounds into the filter, creates the espresso, and it even froths the milk for you! While this might sometimes feel like a boring option, the beauty in this is that it creates good coffee consistently. It’s also perfect for busy people who want a certain level of control over how their coffee is made without having to perform the steps each time. This kind of convenience comes with a steep price tag though.
Manual espresso machines
These lever-type machines don’t need electricity to operate but their mechanism can still produce the required nine (or more) bars of pressure. This is the cheapest option for home baristas (and quite a space saver too!) but some muscle is needed every time you make coffee with it.
Capsule coffee makers have grown in popularity in recent years because they allow people to make a decent cup of coffee, and even espresso, quickly. Just pop in the pod to the machine, press a button, and enjoy!
For Other Factors to consider when choosing an espresso machine
The Best Home Espresso Machines That You Can Buy on Amazon
|Espresso Machine||Built-in Grinder?||Steam wand?||Features||Amazon Rating|
|Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine||No||Yes||Thermo Jet heating system heats the water in 3 secondsAutomatic steam wand2-litre water tank||4/5|
|Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine||Yes||Yes||Grinder capacity: 250 grams2-litre water tank18 grinder and dose settings||5/5|
|Flair Neo||No||No||Fully manualNo electricity neededPressurised portafilter with Flow Control feature||5/5|
|Sunbeam Mini Barista Coffee Machine||No||Yes||2-litre water tank1-minute heating timeCool touch steam wand||5/5|
|De’Longhi Nespresso Lattissima Touch||No||Yes||6 pre-set recipesThermoblock system heats the water in secondsRapid Cappuccino system texturizes the milk instantly according to recipeAuto shut off feature||4.6/5|
Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine
The Breville Bambino is a semi-automatic espresso machine that’s equipped with a 54mm portafilter that can hold up to 19g of ground coffee and a three-second heating mechanism that lets you make coffee real fast. It’s pretty compact so it’s a great choice for people who don’t have a lot of counter space in the kitchen. It also comes with a milk frother with three heat and foam settings so you’ll have no trouble going from latte to cappuccino without any fuss.
There are a few complaints about this machine including how it’s impossible to attach the portafilter to the grouphead without the whole machine shaking because it is so light, and how the fast-heating feature can sometimes screw up your shots. However, we still think this is a great entry-level machine for people who are learning how to make espresso at home.
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine
Forgive us if this list has more than one Breville but this company does what it does very well. If you have $200 more, you can go from the Bambino to the Barista Express, provided that you have the space in your coffee nook.
The Barista Express has a built-in grinder with a 250g capacity, a 54mm portafilter, a 2-litre water tank, 18 grind settings, and dose control. You can also manually adjust the milk frother/heater with a dial on the side. Amazon reviews for this machine are very positive. There are some complaints about the performance of the grinder – but overall the machine is a great choice for espresso lovers.
Flair Espresso’s newest baby is more compact but delivers the same performance as the original. This fully manual espresso machine is easy to assemble and dismantle, and is an even better space saver than our first option. It comes with a pressurised portafilter that’s designed with flow-control to ensure a fantastic extraction each time. If you’re afraid to lean into this machine, don’t worry — the Flair Neo is sturdy and stable.
Because this machine is fully manual, be prepared to put in some work for your morning coffee. You have to grind your beans — and if you’re planning to make anything other than an espresso you’ll have to texturise your milk — with a separate machine.
The Flair Neo is a wonderful entry-level espresso machine that both newbies and experts will enjoy. It is also a great option for people who want to make cafe-quality coffee in their caravans while travelling.
Sunbeam Mini Barista Coffee Machine
The Sunbeam Mini Barista is a semi automatic machine with a 58mm portafilter, 2-litre water tank, a steaming wand, and 1-minute heating time. Compared with the Breville, that heating time feels like an eternity but hey, this machine is almost $300 less.
When side by side with the Breville Bambino Plus, this machine starts to feel a little plain but performance-wise, it is pretty reliable. And it makes a good quality coffee. The most common complaint about the Sunbeam is that it lasts less than 2 years.
De’Longhi Nespresso Lattissima Touch
This fully automatic capsule coffee machine lets you make everything from espressos to lattes with just the touch of a button, thanks to its Rapid Cappuccino System (AKA automatic milk texturiser). It comes with pre-set recipes but if you are not satisfied with the choices, you can customise!
Like with all capsule machines, there isn’t much to do with the Lattissima Touch which is exactly the point. One feature that we love about this machine that we didn’t find in others is the Auto Shut Off mode — the machine will shut itself off after nine minutes of inactivity, allowing you to save energy. That’s pretty neat.
Our Top Picks for Home Espresso Machines on Amazon
Overall best features (if your budget isn’t restricted). This machine is quick and easy to use and produces great results. Some customers even claim it has them making coffee that is better than their local coffee shop brew. https://www.amazon.com.au/Breville-Barista-Espresso-Stainless-BES870BSS/dp/B00RFAQYF8/
Best Travel espresso machine – Great portable machine. Easy to use.
How to choose the best home espresso machine
Even with a short list of recommendations, we know it can still be tough to pick the best espresso machine for your home. So here are a few things to consider that will hopefully guide you in the right direction.
Size. If espresso machines were the size of a blender, I bet we’d all have one at home. But sometimes, the number one thing that holds you back from making a purchase is the lack of kitchen real estate for a machine. Make sure to choose a machine that you can fit in comfortably to whatever space you have in your kitchen.
Is it easy to clean? That’s a question that you should ask yourself before making the jump. Keeping your espresso machine spick and span is one of the keys to making it last and to making good coffee all the time. Whichever machine you choose should be easy, or at least not too difficult, for you to clean.
Durability. These machines are not cheap! So always take into consideration how long you intend to use the machine for and if the option you have in mind can live up to that.
Water capacity. You want an espresso machine that can help you pump out coffee with minimal fuss — not one that will require you to refill the tank endlessly. Think about how many espressos you and your housemates will want to make in a day before choosing a machine.
Milk texturising features. If you’re planning to make a lot of milky coffees and you don’t have a separate milk frothing machine then you’d want an expresso machine with a steam wand and sufficient heating and foaming abilities. (Unless you’re willing to spend on a separate machine for the milk).
Grinder. Good coffee starts with the right beans ground at the right size. Espressos are made using fine ground coffee. Make sure that if you go for an espresso machine with a built-in grinder that it’s working at a performance that you’re happy with. It would be a bummer to get a bigger sized machine because of the grinder only to not want to use it later on.