Best Espresso Machine for Beginners: Our Top 5 Picks

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

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Let's face it; when it comes to brewing espresso, not everyone's an expert. That's why I've decided to dive deep into the best espresso machine for beginners.

Let’s face it; when it comes to brewing espresso, not everyone’s an expert. That’s why I’ve decided to dive deep into the best espresso machine for beginners.

These home espresso machines should enable those beginning their coffee journey to conjure up nothing short of liquid gold.

Wanna learn more? Join me on this exploration of the best beginner espresso makers. By the end of it, I’m confident you’ll have settled on one with which you can start to hone your barista chops.

Best Espresso Machines for Beginners at a Glance

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Touchscreen interfac

Assisted tamping

Automatic milk frothing

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Makes excellent espresso

Iconic design

Straightforward operation

3Product List Image

Great value

58mm portafilter

Powerful steam wand

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Compact design

Multiple temperature settings

Adjustable steam wand

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Makes great espresso

Easy to use

Adjustable temperature

Overview: A Beginner Home Espresso Setup

Setting up your first home espresso station means starting with the basics.

First, you’ll need a solid espresso machine. As a beginner, you’ll probably have to choose between semi-automatic and super-automatic machines. In the mix too, are manual lever machine options and dual coffee makers with which you can brew both espresso and drip coffee.

You may also opt for other machines with built-in espresso grinders. If you can’t find or want one, you’ll need a separate grinder. Espresso grinders help turn coffee beans into finely ground coffee right before you pull that shot.

Coffee beans are an integral part of espresso brewing. You should ensure your espresso beans are well-blended and fresh-roasted. A specialty coffee shop should be your first stop.

And don’t forget the accessories. Espresso making, even with the best beginner machines, is an art form. Accessories will help elevate your game, giving you cafe-quality espresso at home.

Breville Bambino Plus vs Bambino

For starters, you’ll need a good coffee scale to calibrate your espresso-to-water ratios. You should also get a good-quality espresso tamper and tamping mat to help you pack ground coffee into your portafilter.

Oh, and before I forget, you’ll need a knock box for your pucks! This bin holds used coffee grounds and will save you a mess in the long run.

You may think brewing water is an unnecessary luxury when making espresso. If you live in a hard water area, trust me, it isn’t. The high calcium and magnesium deposits in tap water will make your coffee undrinkable.

If you can’t (or don’t want to) buy coffee water, any filtered water will do. This includes tap water filtered with an affordable Brita jug; it’ll have you making café-quality espresso drinks in next to no time!

Coffee for Fully Automatic Espresso Machines

Coffeeness Double Wall Espresso Cups, Set of 4

Espresso, ristretto or espresso macchiato have never looked so good.

2.2oz capacity

Heat-resistant borosilicate glass

Double walled

Beautiful floating effect

Shop now

How to Choose the Best Beginner Espresso Machine

Now that we’ve agreed on the basic espresso brewing setup, let’s discuss how to choose the best espresso machines for beginners. Many of you will think it’s all about the price here. But nothing could be further from the truth.

So, what criteria do you need to consider when choosing home espresso machines? Here are a few of my non-negotiables to ensure you make only the best espresso:

Budget

As with any purchase, budget is the first factor to consider when choosing the best espresso machine for beginners. You don’t want to break your budget on your first rig, but you also don’t wanna cheapskate your way into buying a dud.

Budget-friendly machines around the $300 mark should brew good espresso shots. However, they may lack durability, steaming capacity and handy extras like built-in grinders.

In contrast, high-end espresso machines costing $1000 and above may boast more features. For starters, they have a higher quality construction and give you more control over the brewing process. If that’s what you want and it means paying a little more than bottom dollar, then go for this option.

Size and Design

Size and design quality are another essential consideration when choosing the best home espresso machine for beginners. There’s no point investing in an appliance that won’t fit on your kitchen counter. So, make sure to take counter space height, width and depth measurements, especially if you plan on buying a compact machine.

Also, make sure you choose a coffee machine that you’ll genuinely enjoy using. Are you a minimalist? Go for super-automatic machines that suit this aesthetic. Or do you prefer to grind your own espresso beans, brew your own coffee and manually steam milk?Opt for a semi-automatic or manual lever machine that gives you more control over your own drinks.

Functionality and aesthetics aren’t where it’s all at, though. Your machine’s filter basket and portafilter are of supreme importance. Does it come with a single-walled filter basket that allows for a faster, freer flow of coffee? Or does it have double-walled filter baskets that focus the flow, creating beautiful shots full of crema?

It would help if you also considered the durability of your model. A model that will stand the test of time and not fail after a few months of heavy use is always the way to go. In this regard, choose a brand with a solid build quality and a proven track record for reliability.

Reading user reviews like this one should help you make informed decisions before making a purchase.

Milk Frothing System

Breville Barista Touch Cappuccino

The best espresso machine for beginners should not only brew café-quality espresso shots. This machine should also steam and froth milk that’s good enough for espresso milk drinks. 

The classic, a steam wand, attaches to the machine and shoots steam into a hand-held milk pitcher. This type gives you complete control over the steaming temperature and milk foam levels.

Next, you can get a machine with a pannarello wand. This variation of the steam wand features a tiny tip attachment that auto-injects steam into your milk. It’s the perfect choice for beginners who don’t quite have a handle on their milk-frothing technique.

Even easier to use is an auto milk frother, which is typical in high-end automatic espresso machines like the Breville Barista Touch Impress. These systems sometimes even have a milk reservoir and a button to start steaming milk. While convenient, they may not produce as silky a microfoam as manual frothers.

At the end of the day, which frother you choose will depend on your needs, preferences and skill level. Above all, settle on a machine with a milk-frothing system that’ll give you room to grow. This way, you can experiment with different techniques down the road.

Ease of Use

How intuitive is your potential espresso machine? One of the worst mistakes beginner coffee enthusiasts make is buying professional machines they can’t (or won’t) use. All it would do is gather dust on your counter as you rue the money you’ve thrown down the drain.

The best home espresso machine for beginners should have simple setups, intuitive controls and be easy to operate. Remember, as a beginner brewer, you may need more time to navigate the steep learning curve that is brewing good coffee. All you want is a machine that’ll get you your caffeine fix as effortlessly as possible.

Special Features

Finally, when scoping for the best espresso machine for beginners, keep your eyes peeled for special features. These, while optional, will help you elevate your brewing game.

Remember, I’m not talking about commercial-grade or prosumer machines with all the bells and whistles. I’m talking about a few extra features here and there that will make the brewing process more convenient for you.

The first feature you should consider is a decent brewing system. Espresso typically brews at 9-bar pressure. This functionality varies in capacity, with some systems including a useful pressure gauge.

Also, consider the heating system, which may be a thermojet, thermoblock or traditional boiler. Which system you choose can determine whether you can brew espresso and froth milk simultaneously and may also cut down on the wait time.

Another handy extra is a built-in grinder. I mostly advocate for having your own separate grinder to have full control over the grind settings. However, as a beginner brewer, an integrated grinder may be an asset; it may just make the brewing process easier.

Lastly, think about programmable settings, including pre-infusion and precise temperature control settings. These matter if you need your espresso at the push of a button on those hectic mornings.

The 5 Best Espresso Machines for Beginners

I’ve now come to the most essential part of this review: my top picks for the best espresso machines for beginners.

At Coffeeness, I try to make a point of reviewing a coffee or espresso machine I have already tested out. This way, you can be sure you’re getting first-hand advice from me to help you make the right choice.

Without further ado, here are my fave picks for beginner espresso makers to get your morning caffeine fix:

Breville Barista Touch Impress

Sage Barista Touch Impress

PROS

  • Very easy to use
  • Super-fast, consistent heating
  • Touchscreen interface

CONS

  • Tall and bulky
  • Quite expensive 

It’s no secret that Breville wants to come out tops in the world of at-home espresso brewing. The Breville Barista Touch Impress certainly elevates the art of brewing at home. And all for $1,499.95. Quite hefty, you might say, but you’ll soon see why.

This improved version of the Breville Barista Express Impress has an integrated burr grinder and UV-proof bean hopper. A pretty neat setup for enjoying fresher beans and coffee for longer!

Another thing I love about this semi-automatic machine is its patented Puck Impress System. It consistently dispenses an ideal dose with assisted 22-pound tamping pressure. This, in addition to pre-infusion settings and a 54mm portafilter ensures the perfect shot. I must also mention the energy-saving thermojet heating system. These features ensure efficient water heating and a consistent brew at optimal temperature.

And because it can froth milk automatically, and has a hot water dispenser, you can make a wide range of espresso drinks. This beauty will have you brewing everything from lattes and cappuccinos to americanos and long blacks. Add to this the long list of high-quality accessories. I must say for the price, the Aussies went all out!

So, what’s my take on the Breville Touch Impress? In my humble opinion, it’s one of the best beginner espresso machines on the market despite being the only machine on our list over the $1000 mark. Just don’t get this semi-automatic machine if you prefer OCD-level control over your espresso prep!

See Also: Breville Barista Touch Impress Review

Gaggia Classic Pro

Plano general de la cafetera espresso Gaggia Classic Pro

PROS

  • Brews good espresso
  • Iconic design
  • Affordable

CONS

  • Not the best build quality
  • Steam wand has limited movement

Gaggia is a verifiable Italian legend when it comes to espresso makers. They have been perfecting this game since 1938. The Gaggia Classic Pro, priced at an affordable $479.00 continues this proud tradition.

This updated version of the Gaggia Classic is perfect for beginners and experts alike. It has a durable stainless steel construction with a range of color finishes. The user interface with identifiable switches, steam wand knob and indicator light is highly intuitive. However, you may have to do a bit of temperature surfing to get the brewing temp right. It may take a while to master, but at least you’ll get superior shots with nuanced flavors.

While the Gaggia Classic Pro may not have a double boiler system, its 58-millimeter portafilter with a single-wall basket will have you brewing like a top-tier barista. It also has a removable drip tray that ensures easy cleaning. And because the water reservoir is a decent size, refilling between brews isn’t a worry.

In conclusion, the Gaggia Classic Pro is a home espresso machine with prosumer credentials. All the pro features and extras got my attention. This is the machine to get if the Italian classics mean something to you!

See Also: Gaggia Classic Pro Review

Calphalon Temp IQ

Calphalon Temp IQ Espresso Machine Espresso

PROS

  • Brews great espresso
  • Intuitive user-friendly controls
  • Powerful steam wand 

CONS

  • Quite bulky
  • Non-adjustable, preset brewing volumes

The Calphalon Temp IQ is one for the budget-conscious. Coming in at $274.99, its price is nearer to that of portable espresso machines. I really like its sleek stainless steel exterior and decent water reservoir. This capacity makes it one of the best espresso machines for beginners with small households.

The cafe-sized 58-millimeter portafilter with a double-walled filter basket allows for even extraction. Other features that make this a standout machine include its thermoblock heater, PID temp controls and pre-infusion settings. These all contribute to a sweet and crema-licious shot.

The four knob settings (single shot, double shot, hot water and steam) also make this beauty easy to use and clean. What’s more, the manufacturer includes a small milk pitcher, so there is no need to buy one.

You can get this espresso machine in two versions: with or without a built-in grinder. If you have overhead cabinets or prefer grinding your own coffee, I’d recommend the model without.

Overall, the Calphalon Temp IQ is the perfect espresso maker for under $500. Despite its bulky size, its durability and ease of use make it a great choice.

See Also: Calphalon Temp IQ Review

DeLonghi Dedica Deluxe

DeLonghi Dedica Deluxe Overview

PROS

  • Compact design
  • Three temperature settings
  • Good value for money

CONS

  • Inadequate espresso tamper
  • Small water tank 

The DeLonghi Dedica Deluxe is a compact espresso machine. But at the competitive price point of $220.99 can you complain?

Because of its size, this espresso machine understandably features a small removable water reservoir.

Notably, the user interface is very far from what you’d get with super-automatic espresso machines. It features three buttons for single and double shots, steaming and a dial for engaging the frothing wand. The 51-millimeter portafilter is smaller (as expected). I must mention that it has a double-walled filter basket, which I don’t really like.

However, I do like the precise volumetric controls. This functionality allows you to control the amount of coffee yield you get. But whatever you do don’t go gaga over the 15-bar pressure specification. You should note that this is the pump’s maximum output, not the machine’s inbuilt capabilities.

When it comes to temperature controls, I may have a slight bone to pick with this beginner espresso machine. Although it uses a thermoblock heating system for quick brewing, the temperature may still not be hot enough for some.

To compensate for this, the espresso maker offers an upgraded pannarello steam wand that allows users to select for various espresso drinks. It’s perfect for those who prefer a steaming mug of coffee straight out the pipe.

See Also: DeLonghi Dedica Deluxe Review

Breville Bambino Plus

Brevill Bambino Plus Overview

PROS

  • Makes excellent espresso 
  • Incredibly easy to use
  • Compact, kitchen-friendly design

CONS

  • Lightweight construction 

As I mentioned before, Breville espresso machines are gunning for the top home espresso machine position. With this Breville Bambino Plus they do not disappoint!

This mid-range semi-automatic machine certainly has the requisite features for its price point. It features a 54-millimeter portafilter, in keeping with its size, a decent tamper, and a range of accessories.

One of my top picks for the best espresso machine for beginners, the Bambino Plus has an intuitive user interface. This semi-automatic machine also has identifiable brewing buttons, steam wand engagement and detailed programming instructions for making coffee.

In addition, much of this machine’s functionality is automatic. This includes a double-walled filter basket that guarantees a crema to die for and adequate volumetric controls for a single or double shot. This beauty also has an auto-brewing feature, excellent PID controls, and, wait for it, a steam wand that froths milk automatically! Not bad for $499.95.

What’s more, because this bambino (see what I did there?) uses a thermojet heating system, it’ll heat up in under five minutes, saving you energy costs. Worth it, right? It is in my book, especially if you’re just learning how to make espresso.

See Also: Breville Bambino Plus Review

Decision Time: Which Beginner Espresso Machines Make the Cut?

Folks, as we wrap up this review of beginner espresso machines, remember that it’s all about finding the right one for you.

Remember, we’re not looking for high-end café-style or super-automatic machines here. We’re just looking for something that’ll help you brew cafe-quality espresso at home. The key is to KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) and focus on honing your barista skills.

If you follow these principles, choosing the best espresso machine for beginners shouldn’t be a hassle. With the right espresso maker, fresh coffee beans and a little practice, you’ll be pulling pro shots that would make Angelo Moriondo proud!

After reading this guide to the best espresso machine for beginners, I hope you’ll dial in and start pulling delicious espresso shots at home. Which machine from our picks tickles your fancy? As always, I’m waiting for you in the comments section below!

Your coffee expert
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Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

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