Are you interested in making delicious, coffeehouse-quality espresso at home? If you are, you should know that our espresso machine guide will help you to find the perfect, high-end espresso machine. Once you’ve read our guide, you’ll know which technical features these types of machines typically have, as well as the different types of espresso machines. We’re also going to add some answers to frequently-asked questions that prospective buyers have.
Our goal is to empower you as a consumer and a coffee lover, by helping you to select a designer espresso machine which makes it easy to enjoy the most delicious espresso, right from the comfort and privacy of your own home.
Our comparison guide of popular home espresso machines includes all the leading models. We always add to the guide as new machines are released so, please check back soon. We review coffee makers from Bezzera, Rancilio, Vibiemme, Expobar, Breville and DeLonghi. With an easy to read comparison table of espresso machine details, buyers review comments, recommended prices and more.
We will also be posting a guide to help you make the right decision when choosing which espresso machine is right for you.
Espresso Coffee Machine Summary Table
|Breville BES920XL||When combined with fresh beans and a quality grinder this machine makes a brilliant Espresso.||$$$$|
|Breville BES840XL||Brews a quick espresso with its instant hot water design. One of the smaller semi-automatic machines (10").||$$$|
|De'Longhi EC155||Affordably priced. Small footprint so doesn't use much counter-top space. Makes a great espresso compared to other machines in its price range.||$$|
|Nespresso Pixie Espresso||Very easy to use. Just load a Pod and hit the 'brew' button. Optional milk frother for capaccino lovers||$$|
Best Espresso Machine under 300 – De’Longhi EC680
De’Longhi’s Dedica unit produces possibly the perfect espresso for a low price machine. Whether you’re an espresso, latte, or cappuccino drinker at home, the small 6-inch case only takes minimal space on your kitchen counter-top. I personally like the thermo technology, which assists the machine heat quickly so it’s ready to start in 35 seconds. Solid stainless steel construction and buttons ensure reliable brewing every time with automatic flow stop. Included is a cappuccino milk frother, for Barista quality foam across your favorite milk coffee drinks.
Read more about Espresso Machines under $300 and our leading selection the De’Longhi Dedica EC680
Best Espresso Machine under 500 – Breville BES840XL
Breville’s Infuser Espresso Machine is our choice as the top model under $500. It comes equipped with features that any serious espresso lover will enjoy.
Buyers across the popular retailers rate the Breville 840XL as one of the Best Home Espresso Machines.
Okay, there are higher priced models, and they might have some additional features. But you need to ask yourself, do you need all the bells and whistles in your coffee machine? Once you drop past the $500 price bracket, you’re going to find it difficult to buy a machine that makes a better espresso.
Find more info about Espresso Machines under $500 and our preferred selection the Breville BES840XL Infuser.
Best Espresso Machine under 1000 – Rancilio Silvia
If you’re serious about making your own cafe quality coffee, this is the best price range to find a quality espresso machine. This is the price bracket which I paid for my espresso machine because I wanted the ability to make the perfect espresso. I want the best shot of espresso possible, every time.
Click here to read more about Espresso Machines under $1000.
The answer will depend on your choice and intended usage, kitchen bench space and budget. Read our espresso machine reviews to get a few suggestions about what to expect in each price bracket.
Which Features Do You Need?
Home espresso machines in the high-end tend to be feature-packed. However, you may not be familiar with these features. So, let’s talk about which features you should look for while you’re shopping around.
Before we begin, we should explain that some of these machines cost over five thousand bucks, while others are available for at little as a couple of hundred dollars. Naturally, the machines which cost thousands are going to have special features which the most economical machines may not offer.
In the very high-end price point, you may expect to find an array of practical features, including built-in cleaning, rinsing, and descaling systems which are designed to dramatically reduce the amount of effort that you’ll need to make.
As well, these designs may be equipped with warmers for cups and coolers for milk. While the very expensive designs often do double-duty as commercial espresso makers, some people do choose to buy them for home usage.
A little lower on the price scale, around three thousand dollars, high-end espresso machines typically feature elegant housing made from stainless steel, memory functions, large water tanks which are removable and one-touch systems for making Latte “crema”. They may also come with spouts which dispense hot water for other types of drinks.
Machines which cost five or six hundred dollars or less will still be high-end, but much more affordable. These are common picks for those who want designer performance without the serious financial investment. These types of home espresso machines usually have a high wattage and built-in grinders which allow for the freshest espresso taste.
As well, they may come with adjustable grind settings, bean hoppers, and LCD control panels. Also, almost all will allow users to make milk froth as they brew coffee. Most will feature pressure of around 15 bars.
Now that we’ve discussed some features to watch for, let’s answer some frequently-asked questions from espresso lovers!
Super Automatic vs Pod vs Semi-Automatic Espresso – Which is Best?
There’s no clear answer here, as what is best will depend on your preferences. With this in mind, let’s explain what each type of machine offers.
- A super automatic espresso machine is all about convenience. With this type of machine, you’ll be able to create your preferred size of espresso with just the touch of a button, whether it’s short, long, single or double.
- Pod espresso machines may also be known as capsule espresso machines and they are single-cup brewing styles which allow users to make coffeehouse drinks in seconds. They offer all of the convenience of super automatic styles, without the prep time. Just pop in a capsule or pod and brew!
- Semi-automatic espresso machines are available in manual control and programmable dose styles. The manual models initiate shots and users stop the shots once they decide that extraction is done. The programmable dose style lets users program extractions to halt after particular amounts of time have passed.
Would you like to be your barista at home! The Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines offer just the right compromise between quality and simplicity when making coffee at home. While they might look different, the basic functionality of a semi-automatic espresso machine includes a boiler, portafilter, and a switch or lever to perform the coffee bean extraction. You’ll still grind and tamp your espresso, start the extraction and then steam or froth your milk as necessary.
Semi-automatic espresso machines typically fall into two categories:
- Programmable: These espresso machines allow you to program the extraction to stop after a particular time.
- Manual Control: The shot is initiated, and you stop it once you decide extraction is complete, usually after 20-30 seconds. This offers personalized control over the length of your extractions.
What to Look For When Buying a Semi Automatic Machine
- Materials used
- Switches and Buttons
Call me old-fashioned, but in my experience, mechanical switches have been more reliable than electrical buttons. Considering the temperatures that espresso machines can reach, it makes sense that electrical components will bite the dust sooner than tried and tested mechanical parts. Plus, there’s just something to be said for flipping a Rancilio Silvia’s brew switch.
Also, in most cases replacing a broken switch will be a lot cheaper than replacing an entire circuit board and machine electronics.
We Review the Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines
It’s no secret that we love the quality of Breville Espresso machines at Coffeeholic. Our top pick in the sub-$500 range is the BES840XL, and we’ve also selected a Breville for our leading Semi-Automatic.
Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler
Weighing in at 34 lbs and 16” x 14.2” x 16” in size, the Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine is one of the heavier espresso machines on the market, with sturdy construction and attractive styling which would look great on any kitchen counter top.
Espresso lovers seeking an enjoyable espresso drinking experience, with a discerning palate will be blown away by the Breville BES900XL. This espresso machine comes with a myriad of features that together ensure each cup of espresso is professional-quality.
A few of our favorite features include:
- Dedicated, dual, stainless steel boilers and two pumps: Together these pumps enable the machine to make perfect espresso every time, and also give proper texture to the milk in each cup.
- Programmable functions, which make espresso preparation even easier
- Over-pressure valve: which limits the maximum pressure generated throughout the espresso preparation process to the optimum level, ensuring that the pressure is regulated
- A low-pressure pre-infusion function that increases water pressure gradually to expand the ground coffee beans gently, ensuring full flavor extraction.
Other great features:
- Programmable volumetric control enables the espresso machine to brew with fine-tuned precision
- Pressure gauge that allows you to monitor the pressure generated during the espresso-making process
- Dedicated hot water outlet for making your favorite hot beverages like Americano and for reheating your cup if you let it sit for several minutes
- 58 mm commercial group head with embedded element, which enables the espresso machine to maintain thermal stability throughout the espresso-making process
- Commercial steam wand that can swivel 360 degrees and that lets frothed milk with a remarkably silky texture
- 84 oz. removable water tank with rear-integrated water filter and water level indicator, which makes cleaning the espresso machine itself simple
The rest of the Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler Semi Automatic Espresso Machine’s features are an auto-start function that preheats the espresso machine at a programmed time, enabling it to make espresso machines even faster.
- Audio alerts allow you to keep track of your espresso even if you are away from the espresso machine
- Back-lit LCD that can display shot temperature
- Shot clock, or time, enabling you to monitor the espresso-making process quickly
- Drop down swivel foot for maneuverability
- Single-wall filter baskets for 1 and 2 cups
- Dual-wall filter baskets for 1 and 2 cups; an integrated tamper, which enables you to place the ground coffee beans in the tamper evenly quickly stainless-steel frothing jug;
- Water filter holder; 1-year supply of water filters; cleaning disc and tablets; and cleaning tool and Allen key.
For more information check out this guide.
Volumetric Or Manual?
If you don’t have a lot of experience making espresso at home (in other words, you’re no barista!), you may want to choose a volumetric machine. This will supply a pre-programmed amount of H20 when it pulls a shot. You’ll initiate the shot by pressing a button. Then, it will run until the espresso machine detects the right quantity of dispensed water. After this, the cycle for brewing stops.
A manual style will require you to decide when enough water has been dispensed. You’ll have more control but more responsibility.
Single Boiler, Heat Exchanger Or Twin Boiler?
When you choose a single boiler style, you’ll find that it’s easier to make impressive espresso without needing to spend a lot of cash on the machine. However, this style goes from steam mode to the mode for coffee and this means that the machine has to cool down before espresso extraction may be performed.
With a heat exchanger style, pipes or tubes inside of a boiler are just for espresso extraction. When cold water moves through the exchanger, via the pump, it gets heated up by steam and water within the boiler and then gets directed towards coffee grounds within the portafilter. If you want to make a lot of hot drinks in a row, you’ll find that this style has the heating power that you need.
Double boiler styles allow water to heat at a couple of temperatures. There will be a brew boiler at brew temperature and a steam boiler which is at a steam temperature. This style is convenient but requires more power and usually, costs more.
Why is a Coffee Grinder Important?
You’ll find that selecting a model with a coffee grinder allows you to make the most delectable espresso. Nothing tastes better than fresh-ground coffee beans and having a coffee grinder built-in will allow you to access that superlative fresh taste every single time that you make espresso. Our comprehensive grinder guide will help you to determine which model suits your coffee drinking style.
Now that you know how to shop for an espresso machine, you’ll be ready to compare styles, features, and prices online.
- Espresso Coffee Machine Summary Table
- Best Espresso Machine under 300 – De’Longhi EC680
- Best Espresso Machine under 500 – Breville BES840XL
- Best Espresso Machine under 1000 – Rancilio Silvia
- What to Look For When Buying a Semi Automatic Machine
- We Review the Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines
- Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler