Having an espresso machine at home can elevate your morning coffee routine well beyond ordinary drip. Some espresso machines let you control everything from grind size to water temperature, while others make the process fully automated from bean to cup. If you’re looking for a way to reduce your trips to the coffee shop, a feature-packed espresso machine can satisfy even the most particular coffee palates.
Types of espresso machines
While all espresso machines feature a filter and boiler for forcing hot water through coffee grounds, the rest of the machine’s engineering can vary dramatically. Different categories of espresso machines also require different amounts of effort, which is something to keep in mind if you’re operating it first thing in the morning.
Manual espresso machines, also known as piston machines, are pumped by hand in order to create the pressure needed for espresso extraction. These traditional machines aren’t common anymore due to the amount of work involved, but they can still be found if you’re interested in controlling every step of brewing.
Automatic, semi-automatic and super-automatic espresso machines are much more common. They take care of most, if not all, of the work.
- Automatic and semi-automatic: You’ll usually have to grind the beans and tamp the grounds yourself, but extraction can be accomplished with the push of a button.
- Super-automatic: This kind can prepare the grounds, tamp them and brew your drink all by itself. They’re highly convenient, but they may limit how much control you have over the brewing process.
Espresso machine features
Most espresso machines are equipped with a milk frother to help produce drinks such as cappuccinos. Most have a steam wand, while others produce heated milk from a specialized dispenser. Some espresso machines also provide a steaming jug, so you can master frothing milk and pouring latte art.
Some high-end espresso machines have an assortment of smart features, such as adaptive temperature control and smart tamping. Some machines automate these features with simple one-touch controls, while others offer manual controls, letting you customize your brewing preferences.
Espresso machine accessories
If your espresso machine doesn’t come with these accessories, make sure you order them so you’ll have everything you need on hand to enjoy making espresso.
- An espresso tamper helps compress the grounds in the machine’s filter basket for consistent flavor extraction. If your machine doesn’t come with a tamper, make sure the one you buy is the right size for the filter basket.
- Espresso cups sized to enjoy single or double shots are a must-have for both sipping fresh-brewed espresso and creating specialty drinks. Double-walled glass cups are popular, but stainless steel and ceramic cups are also available.
- A coffee scoop is essential for measuring out portions of espresso grinds. However, some espresso machines come equipped with built-in grinders that dispense the optimal amount of consistently sized grinds each time you brew.
Best super-automatic espresso machines
This comprehensive, high-quality machine features a built-in grinder, steam wand and settings to brew perfectly extracted single or double shots. Helpful features, including a pressure gauge, a cleaning alert light and tamper storage, make this machine innovative and user-friendly.
Sold by Best Buy
It has a lot in common with the Breville Barista, but the Oracle offers even more features, such as automatic tamping and a dual boiler for brewing espresso and steaming milk simultaneously. The touchscreen lets you customize temperature, select drink presets and more.
Best semi-automatic espresso machines
Packed with smart features and helpful automation, this is about as close to a commercial espresso bar as you can get. It features an integrated coffee grinder, smart tamping, active temperature control, dual heating for coffee and milk and more.
You can brew one or two perfect shots of espresso with this straightforward machine. It features a warming tray to prep cups, and its large portafilter helps extract maximum flavor. It also comes with a steaming jug, tamper and cleaning supplies.
Sold by Amazon
Best automatic espresso machines
Not interested in a machine with a steep learning curve? This fully automatic model combines De’Longhi’s expertise with easy one-touch operation that lets you create seven beverages with the push of a button.
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This automatic model lets you customize your drink or choose from presets for five different drinks. Special filters let the machine go longer between cleaning. It also includes a built-in ceramic burr grinder and the LatteGo system, which foams and dispenses milk in a container that can be stored in the fridge.
This feature-packed machine is user-friendly, thanks to one-touch preset buttons for both brewing espresso and frothing milk. It heats up in less than 40 seconds and brews espresso from a built-in burr grinder with 13 grind settings. It can even brew iced coffee.
Six preset specialty drinks plus eight coffee strength levels let you easily customize your espresso drinks. Its pulse extraction process forces water through the grounds at short intervals to fully develop the espresso’s flavor.
Worth checking out
- The Breville Barista Pro Espresso Maker features an LCD display for detailed brewing progress.
- You can prepare two specialty espresso drinks at once with the Miele CM6350 Coffee Machine.
- The budget-friendly, compact Hamilton Beach Espresso Maker brews from either ground coffee or coffee pods.
- The automatic Gaggia Anima Coffee and Espresso Machine alerts you when it needs to be descaled or refilled.
- The all-in-one Ninja Espresso & Coffee Barista System can brew espresso drinks, iced coffee and more.
- Sleek and high-tech, the GE Profile Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine syncs with an app for drink customization.
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