The Mr. Coffee Café Barista is a great place to start when looking for a new espresso machine. Its price and performance are well-rounded to suit beginners and experts alike. As an alternative, the Ninja Specialty Coffee is one of the most versatile brewing devices on the market, capable of making rich coffee concentrate or a full pot of drip.
One of the best parts about buying an espresso machine, aside from the tasty coffee, is the variety of options to choose from. Products range from bare-bones budget picks to thousand-dollar devices that can make specialty drinks with the touch of a button. The sheer number of options shouldn’t feel overwhelming, though—it simply means there’s a great espresso maker out there for everyone.
A universal buying tip when starting out is to narrow down your price range. Then consider the features you want and, perhaps just as importantly, the features you can live without. Many prefer machines with attached milk frothers so they can make lattes and cappuccinos. Others only drink straight espresso. From there, it’s easier to tackle smaller considerations: How much space does this machine take up? How hard is it to prep and clean?
To help you make an informed buying decision, we sent espresso makers to our expert food writers. They spent weeks testing the items in their homes and judged each one on its ease of use, ease of cleaning, heat-up time, and brew quality.
From ristrettos to red eyes, we’ve got you covered. Here are the best espresso machines to buy.
Mr. Coffee Café Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
Easy to use
Nice variety of drinks
Difficult to clean
Mr. Coffee has long been a well-known source for affordable drip coffee makers, but it's no slouch in the espresso department either. The brand designed this highly rated espresso machine complete with a milk frother so you can have cappuccino or lattes at home any time you want. You can use any coffee beans you like, whether you grind them fresh or buy them from the store. The water and milk reservoirs are both removable for easy filling and cleaning, and a touch panel makes it simple to select the drink you want. You can also customize your drink or choose the manual setting for even more control. The machine automatically goes to sleep after 15 minutes of non-use, saving you power.
The Café Barista received high marks in our testing process, particularly because of its ease of use and overall design. Our reviewer wrote that the machine is both sleek and modern looking, and that it easily fits in with the rest of her kitchen appliances. She also noted that all of its parts are labeled clearly and removable, which is convenient for cleaning and refilling.
Price at time of publish: $250
Grounds or Pods: Grounds | Frother/Steamer: Yes | Grinder: No | Dimensions: 12.6 x 8.86 x 11.22 inches | Wattage: 1,040 | Voltage: 110 to 120
"Compared to some of the cheaper alternatives, [the Café Barista] wins out because it is semi-automatic. With this machine, it’s easy to make cappuccinos and lattes at the touch of a button." — Cheyenne Elwell, Product Tester
Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker
Integrated hot and cold milk frother
Removable water reservoir
Coffee concentrate, not real espresso
Not fully programmable
Ninja has created a bevy of appliances in the food world, from blenders and air fryers to coffee makers. The brand's Specialty Coffee Maker is a highly versatile option that we tested ourselves and recommend to customers looking for a do-it-all device. It has six brew sizes ranging from four ounces of coffee concentrate to a full carafe of drip coffee. Our reviewer said that the icons for different sizes of cups and other containers are easy to understand and that the panel lights up to show you which you chose.
Make sure to note that this isn't a true espresso machine, as it brews coffee concentrate instead. The concentrate is a worthy substitute, though, mimicking espresso thanks to its super-rich taste and thick consistency. Our product tester called the concentrate strong and tasty. Paired with a fold-away milk frother, you'll be able to make your favorite coffeehouse drinks and more. Even iced coffee is just the touch of a button away.
You can purchase this machine with a glass carafe or a thermal stainless steel one, both of which hold up to 50 ounces, or roughly 10 cups. The Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker is also certified by the SCA Golden Cup Standard, which is an extensive set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality of at-home brewing.
Price at time of publish: $164
Grounds or Pods: Grounds | Frother/Steamer: Yes | Grinder: No | Dimensions: 12 x 8.8 x 15 inches | Wattage: 1,500 | Voltage: 120
"Most people will enjoy the coffee from this machine, with the understanding that it’s not going to brew a cup of true espresso." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine
Doesn't fit tall coffee mugs
Nespresso has made its name as the go-to capsule espresso maker. The machines are easy to use, the capsules are recyclable, and the flavor is highly praised by users. This is one of the smallest Nespresso machines you’ll find, built to fit a slim space with the water reservoir behind the machine where it’s out of the way. On top of that, it comes at a budget price. After testing the product, our reviewer called it a small but powerful machine and an excellent option for anyone who desires good espresso at home with limited space.
The machine only needs 25 seconds to heat up, and it turns off after nine minutes to save energy. It makes two sizes of coffee: espresso (1.35 ounce) and lungo (5 ounces) so it’s not as versatile as larger, more expensive machines, but it still makes a great cup. As an added bonus, our product tester said the item requires minimal cleanup when you're finished brewing.
Price at time of publish: $170
Grounds or Pods: Pods | Frother/Steamer: Available in bundle deal | Grinder: No | Dimensions: 3.3 in x 12 in x 8.03 inches | Wattage: 1,255 | Voltage: 110
"The Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine makes full-flavored espresso and provides a beautiful crema on top of each cup every time." — Cheyenne Elwell, Product Tester
Breville The Barista Express Espresso Machine
Reliable steam wand
Potential learning curve
Requires regular cleaning
Espresso aficionados will tell you that the brew is best when the beans are ground fresh, and the Barista Express makes that easy with an integrated conical burr grinder. We tested the product firsthand and found its many customizable settings convenient, especially regarding the grinder; our reviewer was able to adjust the grind size, grind amount, and tamp to get the perfect espresso shot. While there may be a learning curve involved, it's worth it in the end, as the Barista Express is one of the best at-home espresso machines on the market.
The water tank includes a carbon filter to remove impurities from the water before brewing, and it holds two liters of water, so you’ll have enough to make espresso for a crowd before you need a refill. When you’re not making espresso, you can use the grinder on its own for your French press or cold brew coffee.
This 15-bar pressure machine has two presets for standard shot sizes, but you can override those for custom amounts, if you prefer. The steam wand finishes your beverage with exquisitely steamed milk for all your favorite coffeehouse drinks. Our reviewer wrote that the steam wand conveniently moves in all directions, allowing you to angle the wand off to the side to move your milk jug up and down and properly steam the milk.
Price at time of publish: $750
Grounds or Pods: Grounds | Frother/Steamer: Yes | Grinder: Yes | Dimensions: 12 x 11 x 13.5 | Wattage: 1,500 | Voltage: 110 to 120
"After we figured out our settings, each drink we made was effortlessly delicious and comparable to something made at our local coffee shop." — Cheyenne Elwell, Product Tester
Nespresso De'Longhi Lattissima Pro
Multiple functions for coffee and more
Nearly hands-off operation
Pods cost more than ground coffee
It couldn’t be any easier. The Lattissima Pro uses convenient Nespresso capsules, so there’s no need for messy grinding and tamping. In addition, the frother smoothly prepares milk for layered coffee drinks. This machine uses 19 bars of pressure to achieve the best flavor whether you want a simple shot or a cozy cappuccino. The proprietary heating system takes cold water to the ideal brewing temperature in just a few seconds, so you don't have to wait for the machine to heat up. Our reviewer corroborated this after testing, saying that the Lattissima Pro heats quickly. She also said it has virtually no cleanup, making it one of the most efficient espresso machines around.
The detachable milk container lets you store your milk in the refrigerator between batches of coffee, and the auto-clean feature keeps the foamer clean. Our tester noted that the container can be washed by hand or in the dishwasher and added that hand washing is easy enough too. Coffee styles are pre-programmed, so you don’t need to remember settings—just choose ristretto, espresso, lungo, cappuccino, latte, steamed milk, or hot water with the press of a button.
Price at time of publish: $650
Grounds or Pods: Pods | Frother/Steamer: Yes | Grinder: No | Dimensions: 10.8 x 7.6 x 13 inches | Wattage: 1,300 | Voltage: 200
"What you’re buying with this machine is simplicity and the ability to make a variety of coffee drinks as well as hot water and perfectly heated milk with a touch of a button." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Bialetti Moka Express Espresso Maker, 3-Cup
Coffee has versatile flavor and body
Easy to use regardless of experience
Compact and portable
Cheaper than electric coffee makers
Uses a lot of grounds
Handle gets hot
Buying a coffee maker can be a headache, but the decision is much easier when a product has been trusted for as long as the Bialetti Moka Express. This small and simple device was invented almost a century ago and has been popular ever since because it lets owners make espresso-like coffee from home. Technically speaking, the Moka Express does not brew "real espresso," as it cannot produce the same amount of pressure as a commercial espresso maker. That said, moka pots are still considered a type of espresso maker (specifically a stovetop espresso maker) within the coffee industry.
Our tester found that when using high heat on a coil burner and medium-ground coffee, it only takes three minutes to brew a lighter coffee. On medium heat with a fine grind, it takes almost 10 minutes to get rich, espresso-like coffee to drink on its own or as part of latte or cappuccino.
This moka pot is made from polished aluminum in a classic octagonal shape that will look good on your stovetop or table—however, it's small enough to store in a cupboard if that's preferred—while the shape also helps diffuse heat. It has a patented safety valve for protection and is easy to disassemble for cleaning; although, hand-washing it after every use can be a pain.
One of the only qualms our tester has with the Bialetti Moka Express, which he's owned for more than two years now, is that the handle can get hot, so you may want to use an oven mitt or towel when removing it from the burner.
Price at time of publish: $45
Grounds or Pods: Grounds | Frother/Steamer: No | Grinder: No | Sizes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 12, or 18 espresso-sized cups | Dimensions: 4 x 9 inches (6-cup model)
"Even though it's not a true espresso maker, the Moka Express brews coffee that's strong enough and thick enough to mimic the real thing. It's an affordable way to add variety to your coffee routine." — Derek Rose, Product Tester
Breville the Barista Express Impress
Helpful and accurate tamping system
Built-in adjustable burr grinder
Breville looked to capture and improve upon one of its most popular espresso makers with this new model, the Barista Express Impress. It has a similar design to its predecessor, the Barista Express, with a brushed stainless steel exterior and comparable though slightly larger dimensions. The Impress also retains handy features like a steam wand, top-loading burr grinder, and 2-liter water tank. But the main enhancement Breville made is in the machine's precision and ease of use.
Users can now avoid a whole lot of guesswork in the espresso-making process thanks to the Impress Puck System. After the portafilter is secured into the group head, the machine indicates how much coffee to dose (or add) with a light-up display that turns green when the right amount is reached. From there, users pull a surprisingly satisfying lever that tamps the espresso puck with exactly 22 pounds of force; the tamp even turns seven degrees to replicate exactly how baristas make espresso. This new system means espresso will turn just how you like it every single time.
As an expected drawback, the Barista Express Impress is one of the most expensive espresso makers on our list. That said, the machine has a two-year warranty and should last long, long beyond that time frame. It's a workhorse of a machine that's highly approachable to coffee lovers who want to make delicious espresso with less effort.
Price at time of publish: $898
Grounds or Pods: Grounds | Frother/Steamer: Yes | Grinder: Yes | Dimensions: 13 x 15 x 16.1 inches | Wattage: 1,850 | Voltage: 120
"Whole milk or a reduced fat milk is good, but whole milk for sure is the go-to. For milk alternatives, we have oat milk. They have the three things we want to intermingle for the best foam: sugar, proteins, and fats." — Paulo Asi, Director of Training at the Seattle Barista Academy
Coffee Gator Espresso Machine
Fast heat-up time
Reservoir placement saves space
Not the strongest steam wand
Measuring a mere 5.5 inches wide, the Coffee Gator Espresso Machine is slim enough to slide between your cookbooks, canisters, and miscellaneous kitchenware. Its height of 10.3 inches provides plenty of space beneath most cupboards, and the removable water reservoir means no cramped and awkward pouring. The best part? This small brewer has a small price to match.
One of our expert coffee writers tested this espresso machine firsthand and praised its quick heat-up time (roughly 20 seconds), the strong espresso it brews, and of course its compact design. Our reviewer used the item for several weeks, experimenting with a variety of coffee beans, and said the machine consistently produced delicious espresso shots topped with a rich crema.
He added that the machine is a great choice for beginners because it’s so easy to use, along with its entry-level price tag. Cleaning is straightforward, too: All you have to do is rinse the portafilter, which comes with three different filter baskets, and the detachable drip tray. Routine descaling–the process of removing mineral buildup caused by water contact–is also recommended.
Price at time of publish: $150
Grounds or Pods: Grounds | Frother/Steamer: Yes | Grinder: No | Dimensions: 12.4 x 5.5 x 10.3 inches | Wattage: 1,150 | Voltage: 120
"It's a simple, reasonably priced device that brews strong espresso in seconds." — Derek Rose, Product Tester
Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine
Excellent drink quality
Compact and durable
No PID controller
Espresso lovers looking for the full barista experience should consider the Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine. It's been around for more than 20 years, bringing commercial-quality espresso to home kitchens. This isn't some oversized and unwieldy machine, however. At just 9.2 inches wide and 11.4 inches long, it's well suited for countertops. It's easy to use for a manual espresso maker, too. There are four simple buttons on the front display, one of which has a light to indicate when the machine is finished heating up. The 67-ounce water tank is also removable for easy filling and cleaning.
The Silvia has been so popular for so long that Rancilio developed alternative models: the Silvia Pro and Silvia Pro X. Each has its own benefits, but we highlighted the original Silvia because it's timeless and well rounded. That said, the newer models have dual-boiler systems that heat up water for espresso and steaming separately, as well as PID controllers to maintain water temperature better. If these are must-have features, you may prefer the Pro or Pro X, both of which are more expensive than the Silvia.
Price at time of publish: $830
Grounds or Pods: Grounds | Frother/Steamer: Yes | Grinder: No | Dimensions: 11.4 x 9.2 x 13.4 inches | Wattage: 1,000 | Voltage: 120
Flair Signature Espresso Maker
Cleaning after each use (hand-wash only)
Similar price as electric espresso makers
An espresso maker unlike any other, this item is portable and doesn't require electricity, so you can get your daily caffeine anywhere from the kitchen to that cozy cabin in the woods. Simply pack the filter with ground espresso, pour hot water, and use the manual lever-pull system to make a delicious espresso shot with a rich layer of crema. A ratio of 18 grams of coffee for 60 milliliters of water is recommended, but you can play with the proportions to achieve your ideal flavor and consistency.
Customers say it's easy assemble and use—though, there are several small pieces to keep track of—and most love the eye-catching design. While you can find many electric espresso makers in the same price range, the Flair Espresso Maker suits the coffee enthusiast who appreciates the simple beauty of a good cup of espresso.
Price at time of publish: $250
Grounds or Pods: Grounds | Frother/Steamer: No | Grinder: No | Dimensions: 14 x 10 x 4 inches
Other Options We Tested
- Breville Dual Boiler Espresso Machine: This high-end espresso maker comes from a trustworthy brand name, but the item's performance didn't quite justify its hefty price tag. Setup and maintenance are pretty time consuming, so consider this an option best suited for die-hard espresso lovers.
How We Tested
The majority of espresso makers featured in this article were tested firsthand by our expert food writers. Our reviewers spent weeks evaluating the machines in their kitchens to see how they performed with everyday use. After sufficiently testing all aspects of the machine, from setup to post-brew cleanup, our writers submitted feedback about what they liked and disliked. They also rated each machine on the following features: ease of use, ease of cleaning, heat-up time, and brew quality.
What to Look for in an Espresso Machine
Ease of use
Some espresso machines are simple to use, while others include many different settings to help you fine-tune your brew. No matter if you like experimenting with different features or if you’re happy to simply add coffee and let the machine do the work, there’s an option for you — just think about what you prefer.
A machine with built-in frothing capability gives you a wide range of fancy coffee drinks that you can create, but it also gives you one more thing to clean and maintain. Do you need to froth milk? Does the versatility offset the extra cleaning? Also, since there are separate devices that can froth milk, you may want to buy a machine without this capability and then decide later on.
"Frothed milk is basically folding air in or incorporating air to create an airier texture in your milk. Whereas steaming milk could mean frothing too, but it usually means heating it up, basically like you’re microwaving the milk." — Paulo Asi, Director of Training at the Seattle Barista Academy
A very large machine will likely make a permanent home on your counter, while a very small machine can easily be moved in and out of storage. Mid-sized machines can be moved if you need the counter space. Consider how much room you have, as well as how portable you’d like your machine to be.
What are bars of pressure?
Espresso drinkers often see machines advertised as “15 bar” or “20 bar” and wonder what the designations mean. For starters, a bar is a unit of pressure. The more bars an espresso maker has, the more pressurized the water that passes through the coffee grounds. Early in the 20th century it was discovered that espresso tastes best when brewed with 9 bars and water at 195 to 205 degrees. Although it sounds contradictory, an espresso machine actually needs a 15-bar pump to brew with 9 bars. Many customers then naturally wonder if larger pumps are better, and the answer, surprisingly, is no. All you need is a 15-bar pump for delicious espresso; anything higher produces the same quality.
Why is my espresso weak?
Weak espresso can be caused by a number of factors. Fortunately, it’s usually easy to identify and remedy the main culprit. Start by checking the roast date of your coffee beans. If it’s been weeks since roasting, they have likely lost their flavor. Another common issue is, simply, not using enough grounds. It’s recommended to use roughly 15 grams of ground coffee for a double shot of espresso, but experiment on your own if this still doesn’t suit your taste. Weak espresso can also be caused by using grounds that are too coarse or not thoroughly tamped; make sure to use finely ground coffee that’s firmly packed into the portafilter. A final issue to look out for is low water temperature. An espresso maker needs to heat the water up to 195 to 205 for ideal extraction.
What is a portafilter?
A portafilter, also referred to as a “group handle,” is the handheld basket that attaches to an espresso machine’s group head in order to brew. The term will frequently appear when searching for espresso machines, particularly manual devices. Portafilters are typically made of stainless steel, although some cheaper espresso makers come with plastic ones. They can also be pressurized, which is the easiest to use for beginners, or non-pressurized, which is great for those who want more hands-on control over their espresso.
"The point of tamping is to remove any air pockets and give yourself a uniform density in your puck so that the water goes through evenly. Once you get that compression and once the coffee starts pushing back at you, that’s really all the pressure you need." — Elika Liftee, Director of Education at Onyx Coffee Lab
What coffee beans do you use for an espresso machine?
Technically, any kind of coffee bean can be used to make espresso, but certain types produce better results. The first factor to look out for is the roast. Espresso usually tastes best with dark roast coffee because darker beans are sweeter and less acidic than light ones. When you come across bags of coffee labeled “espresso roast,” it’s typically because the beans have been roasted at high temperatures for a long time. A second factor, especially for those who buy pre-ground coffee, is grind size. Very finely ground coffee is needed to achieve the flavor and body of a good espresso shot. Too coarse and your espresso will be weak, watery, and lack crema. There’s a chance your go-to coffee beans can brew multiple kinds of coffee, including espresso, especially if it’s a French or an Italian roast. When in doubt, see what brewing method the brand recommends.
Morgan Eckroth, the Content Marketing Specialist at Onyx Coffee Lab, gave us a few more tips for choosing the best coffee beans, saying:
“When I go shopping for coffee, some of the priorities I look for are, number one, if its whole bean. Whole bean is always going to taste better. The next thing I usually look for, if possible, is to find a local roaster. That usually implies that the coffee is fresher than something that’s being shipped across the U.S. And the other thing that’s a high priority for me is looking at the roast date. Usually what I look for is, hopefully, something roasted in the last week.”
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
This piece was written by Derek Rose, the coffee and tea expert for The Spruce Eats. He researches a variety of coffee products, from measuring scoops to commercial espresso machines, and interviews field experts for their insight. He has used the Bialetti Moka Express for several years and recommends it as a low-cost alternative to an espresso maker. He also tested and recommends the Coffee Gator Espresso Machine, which appears on this list. Derek received an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University and a BA in Communications for Marist College.
The author of this article spoke with Elika Liftee, the Director of Education at Onyx Coffee Lab, and Morgan Eckroth, the Content Marketing Specialist at Onyx Coffee Lab, to gain more insight on espresso and espresso machines. Elika is a two-time winner of the US Brewers Cup and Morgan is the 2022 United States Barista Champion. Onyx Coffee Lab is a café and roastery based in Rogers, Arkansas.
Paulo Asi, the Director of Training at the Seattle Barista Academy, was also interviewed for this piece. He has worked in the coffee industry for more than 12 years. Founded in 2013, the Seattle Barista Academy is a multi-dimensional program that trains baristas who are committed to the professional preparation of espresso drinks.