The 8 Best Espresso Machines to Buy in 2018

Shop for the best machines for making espresso drinks at home

Espresso face
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As a coffee nut, coffee-shop lover, and former professional barista, I don’t normally make recommendations for home espresso equipment. Not because I don't want you to have delicious espresso at home, but because it takes a lot of practice and a lot of burned fingers to learn to make espresso well. Many people invest in an espresso machine like they invest in the exercise equipment that becomes a very expensive coat rack: If you're going to buy it and never use it, you're almost always better off going to the local café.

That said, there is a true magic to having espresso at home, making yourself a cappuccino in your pajamas, and avoiding awkwardly waiting around the end of a bar with a cluster of strangers, all desperate to grab the first latte that hits the counter. Espresso is hard, but that doesn't mean it's impossible—especially if you're easy to please, ready to practice, and up for a good culinary challenge. There are lots of resources available online for learning how to make good espresso: Look up videos on YouTube, read articles and DIY books, and don't be too shy to ask your favorite barista for pointers—many of us love getting geeky on the technical stuff with our favorite customers.

Whether you want equipment fit for the pros, a combination piece for indecisive mornings, something nonelectric, or a machine that will take care of the details you're too tired to worry about, we've got a list of the best options at every budget and every level of interest and expertise.

And don't forget that to make truly great espresso drinks you need to grind your coffee fresh. So make sure you've checked out the best coffee grinders to buy as well.

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  • 01 of 08

    Best Overall: Breville BES920XL Espresso Machine

    Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine
    Courtesy of Amazon.com.

    Yes, this espresso maker from Breville has a high price tag, but compared to some of the other machines on the market (like the $4,500 La Marzocco Linea Mini, which is a barista favorite) this machine is actually a steal. Plus, it’s reliable, durable, and produces consistently great coffee.

    Dual-boiler espresso systems are undoubtedly the gold standard for home or commercial equipment: They allow the machine to maintain the optimum temperature for simultaneously brewing espresso coffee (195–205 degrees Fahrenheit) as well as for creating steam (closer to 250 degrees Fahrenheit), which means no waiting around, watching your crema disappear while you wait to steam milk. The Breville also has programmable options for softly pre-infusing the coffee, and has a control valve that monitors extraction pressure—two things most home machines don't feature. If espresso is your go-to coffee every day, this is the machine for you.

  • 02 of 08

    Runner-Up, Best Overall: Mr. Coffee ECMP1000 Café Espresso/Cappuccino System

    Mr. Coffee ECMP1000 Café Barista Premium Espresso/Cappuccino System, Silver
    Courtesy of Amazon.com.

    A best seller in its category, this espresso maker from Mr. Coffee has all the bells and whistles you could want out of a machine. Besides espresso, you can also make cappuccino or a latte at the touch of a button. There’s an adjustable cup tray that lets you change the height based on the size of your cup, and the milk and water reservoirs are removable for easy refill and cleanup. A drip catcher will keep things clean if anything spills over, and the machine comes with a single shot filter, double shot filter, measuring scoop, tamper, and coffee recipes.

    Most people who have this in their homes are happy with it thanks to how easy it is to use and how delicious the coffee comes out. One person said they didn’t know how they managed without it. Some people did have issues with it breaking sooner than they would have liked, but they majority of those who own it were satisfied with the quality of the product.

  • 03 of 08

    Best Combination Machine: Ninja Coffee Bar Glass Carafe System

    Ninja Coffee Bar Glass Carafe System (CF091)
    Courtesy of Amazon.com.

    Espresso is wonderful, but if you also like regular coffee with breakfast or decaf with dinner, this machine can do it all – and you can use your own coffee rather than proprietary pods or cups. Not only does this make a variety of coffee types, it also brews coffee in a large variety of sizes, from a cup to a carafe and four sizes in between, so you can make just the right amount, whether it’s just for you, or whether you’re serving company

    This machine has the proprietary Auto-iQ system for the perfect drink every time, and it has advanced thermal flavor extraction so you won’t suffer from weak coffee when you’re looking for a rich brew. It also has a built-in frother so you can froth hot or cold milk for your fancy brews.

    This also includes a 22-ounce thermal travel mug so you can take your coffee with you. This coffee maker has a lot of settings, but I’ve found that once I used it a few times, it was simple to understand and easy to set for the brew and size I wanted.

  • 04 of 08

    Best Budget: Nespresso Pixie Espresso Machine by De'Longhi with Aeroccino

    This compact espresso machine boasts a 19-bar high-pressure pump for quality espresso without a huge machine taking space on your counter. It heats to the optimum temperature in just 25 seconds and the machine turns off in 9 minutes, saving electricity.

    This operates with one button and can make two different serving sizes — either espresso or lungo, but it can also be reprogrammed for custom sizes. The folding drip tray easily accommodates different-sized cups.

    To let you know when to refill the water tank, there are red backlights along the sides of the machine. The included Aeroccino provides a finely-textured hot or cold milk froth to add the finishing touch to your coffee.

    This is designed for use with Nespresso capsules; 16 sample capsules are provided, so you can start making espresso right away.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Best Stovetop: The Original Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker

    Made in Italy by a company that has been manufacturing coffee makers for over 80 years, this espresso maker takes less than five minutes to produce up to 3 demitasses (2 ounces) cups of espresso. It is made from polished aluminum in a classic octagon shape that will look good on your stove or table, while the shape also helps to diffuse heat perfectly. It has a patented safety valve for protection and is easy to disassemble for cleaning.

    Making espresso is simple — just fill the lower pot with cold water to below the valve, insert the funnel and fill with ground espresso, then screw the upper part onto the base. Then, just heat until the water boils and coffee comes through the center post. When the top pot is full, the coffee is done.
    This is available in other sizes to fit your caffeine requirements.

  • 06 of 08

    Best Pod: Gourmia GCM7000 Multi-Capsule Espresso Machine

    Making the perfect espresso can be a labor of love, but not everyone who wants to drink espresso wants to do all that labor. Pod-based machines make it easier, but then you have fewer type of coffee to choose from. This machine solves both of those problems since it has adapters for most of the popular pods, including Nespresso, Dolce Gusto, K-Fee, or Verismo by Starbucks, and you can also use your own fresh ground coffee.

    There are two programmable buttons so you can choose the size of your espresso shot and your preferred temperature, and the machine will remember what you like. This provides up to 19 bars of pressure and heats quickly, so your morning brew will be both easy and delicious.

    The drip tray is adjustable to accommodate different cups, and the tank holds 1 liter of water, so you won’t need to refill often.

  • 07 of 08

    Best Dual-Shot: Mr. Coffee Automatic Dual Shot Espresso/Cappuccino System

    No one wants to wait in line for espresso, right? This machine lets you make two shots at once, so you can make drinks for two in half the time, and you can choose a single- or double-shot portafilter for different serving sizes. The machine has a 15-bar pump system and a frothing arm to make a creamy froth for your cappuccinos and lattes. An indicator light lets you know when the process is complete.

    The thermal block heating system speeds the heating, while the removable drip tray is easy to keep clean. This includes a tamper so you can make sure the coffee is evenly distributed in the filter for the best results. The water reservoir holds 40 ounces, so you won’t have to refill often.

  • 08 of 08

    Best Manual: Flair Espresso Manual Press

    With nothing to plug in, you can bring this espresso maker anywhere, and the detachable brewing head makes the head easy to heat before brewing, and super-easy to clean when the coffee is done.

    The stand is aluminum and the brewing head is made from stainless steel for light weight and durability. When you want to take your brewing on the road, this comes with a handy carrying case.

    This comes with everything you’ll need except the coffee beans including the funnel and measuring cup/tamper. If you want to fasten the post to the base more permanently, it also includes a bolt, washer, and wrench.

    For multiple shots of coffee in quick sequence, you can purchase extra portafilters to make the process fast and easy.