The Best Home Espresso Machine in 2023: From Breville to DeLonghi

Even the nerdiest coffee geeks can struggle to choose the best home espresso machine. I've put dozens of espresso machines through their paces to find the best in each category. This guide gives you an overview of brands, models and types available, so you can decide which one is best for your needs.

Flair Classic Espresso Maker

Breville Barista Express

Breville Barista Touch Impress

DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro

Rocket Appartamento

Rancilio Silvia

DeLonghi La Specialista

Breville Oracle Touch

Breville Barista Express Impress

Breville Dual Boiler

Breville Barista Pro

Breville Infuser

Breville Duo Temp Pro

Time and patience required!

Affordable espresso machine

Can produce exceptional results

Clever design

Steep learning curve

Lots of small parts

A solid step in your espresso journey.

Easy to use

Tons of adjustable settings

Great value

Grinder is rather limiting

Not much steam pressure

Breville has done it again!

Intuitive touchscreen interface

Assisted tamping

Easy to use

Limited adjustable settings

A solid upgrade!

High-quality appearance

Steam wand with plenty of power

Heats up quickly

Requires constant cleaning due to splashes when making espresso

It doesn't get much better than this!

Beautiful design

Commercial-grade components

Heat exchanger boiler

Might seem intimidating

Small drip tray

An exceptional machine

High-quality build

Small footprint

Sleek, minimalist design

Slow to heat

Steep learning curve

Wakes you up to the art of good espresso — but makes you work for it.

High-quality, super automatic and espresso-machine combo

Intuitive setting options and functions

Fuss-free, fantastic milk froth

A lot of work to fine-tune settings

The best hybrid espresso machine one the market!

Genuine espresso

Suitable for espresso newbies

Automatic or manual milk frothing

Very high price

Even better than the original!

Intuitive user interface

Stainless steel conical burr grinder

Assisted tamping

Rather bulky

Limited steam power

Simply superb!

Two boilers

Digital PID temperature control

Tons of customizable settings

Supply chain issues have affected the price

A flawed diamond!

30 grinder adjustments

Intuitive digital display

Precise temperature control

Noisy grinder

No dosing funnel

Great if you already own a grinder!

Compact design

Stainless steel housing

Simple user interface

No built-in grinder

Better value for money elsewhere

Small, consistent, simple!

Compact design

Simple, intuitive user interface

Pre-infusion function

Few customization options

Auto shutdown works too quickly

If you’re searching for the best home espresso machine, you’ve come to the right place. I’m excited to share all I’ve learned from dozens of reviews.

In the past, espresso machines had an image problem; consumers saw something labor-intensive and hard to operate. So, they often said: “Thanks but no thanks.” That’s why super automatic espresso machines exploded in popularity – they deliver similar results with far less hassle.

However, as more folks get excited about specialty coffee, the popularity of home espresso machines is on the rise. With that in mind, I decided to update this guide with the latest information. Here’s a rundown on what we’ll explore together:

  • How to choose the best home espresso machine for your needs

  • Which features contribute to producing the perfect espresso

  • How to get enjoyable espresso out of an espresso machine

  • Whether you want a super-automatic or a home espresso machine?

Before we go any further, though, let’s make sure we’re on the same page. Here’s my home espresso machine 101:

Choosing the best home espresso machine is a subjective affair, and depends on price and which features are most important to you. With that said, the DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro and the Breville Oracle Touch are definitely strong contenders.

Absolutely! And not just because of how much money you could save by not visiting the local coffee shop every morning. Seriously, though, as long as you’re willing to put a little work in, learning how to prepare espresso is a hugely rewarding experience.

Again, if you’re looking for full control over every aspect of the espresso brewing process and you love the idea of manually steaming milk, a home espresso machine is the way to go. On the other hand, if you’d rather just press a button and call it good, maybe you should consider a fully automatic machine instead.

Before I give you all the details on my favorites, here’s a bit of background to my approach: much like with my super automatic reviews, if a unit doesn’t make sense for end consumers, I don’t review it.

The very best espresso machines can easily set you back $10,000. Who can afford that in this day and age? In light of such, I’ve set $3,000 as the upper price limit for the average end user. Anything priced north of that isn’t getting a second look.

Our Top 10 Best Home Espresso Machine Quick Picks

Whether you’re ready to spend some serious money, or you’re on a tight budget, you’re likely to be wary of jumping into a purchase. I mean, what if you make the wrong decision?

Don’t worry, I’ll explain everything you need to know before committing later in this guide. Heck, I’ll even give you a checklist to help you figure out whether it’s an espresso machine you actually want.

In the meantime, here’s a top 10 list of my favorite home espresso machines:

Product List Image
Best Entry-Level

Breville Bambino Plus

Compact design

Easy to operate

Automatic milk frother

Product List Image

Intuitive user interface

Stainless steel construction

Thermoblock heating

Product List Image

High-quality construction

Automatic and manual milk systems

Smart tamping

Product List Image

Beautiful design

Heat exchanger boiler

Commercial-grade components

Product List Image
Best Single-Boiler

Rancilio Silvia

Powerful steam wand

Sturdy and durable

Compact and minimalist design

Product List Image

Extremely reliable

Compact design

Easy to use

Product List Image

Automatic or manual milk frothing

Makes excellent espresso

Touchscreen display

Product List Image
Best Entry-Level Hybrid

Breville Barista Express

Great value for money

Stylish design

Easy to operate

Product List Image
Best Manual-Lever

La Pavoni Professional

Sleek design

Small footprint

Easy to clean

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Best With Two Boilers

Breville Dual Boiler

Digital PID control

Intuitive user interface

Two boilers

How to Choose the Right Home Espresso Machine for You

The world has changed. It’s the dawning of a new age for home espresso machines. Manufacturers are constantly launching new prosumer, consumer and entry-level espresso machines into the market. The mid-range price segment is also buzzing with activity.

More and more folks are obsessing over the ideal combination of coffee beans, grind size and pressure. And, they’ve realized the hard truth: even with the best will in the world, a super-automatic machine just isn’t up to perfection.

Enter the hybrid machine. This relatively new category of espresso maker aims to fill the gap between super-automatic machines and professional portafilters.

As for the genuine article, there are tons of different options at a range of price points. What about the perfect all-rounder? The bottom line is there’s no such thing. The myriad of different machines operate on different principles and meet different needs. It’s much like buying a car. A soccer mom, for example, is more apt to benefit from an SUV than a pickup truck.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few things to consider when trying to find the best home espresso machine to fit your needs.


Arne posing with the affordable DeLonghi Dedica Deluxe espresso machine
Arne posing with the expensive and high-end DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro

It’s likely that your budget will be at the forefront of your mind as you search for the best home espresso machine. Of course, there are those lucky enough to consider money as no object. But, I imagine most folks will have a limit as to what they can spend.

How much you can or should spend will also be determined by how much use your espresso maker will get. I like to think about it in terms of how much you’re dropping at the local cafe each morning. Seriously, that morning cappuccino probably costs around $5, which adds up quickly across the span of a month. It could be that a good espresso machine will pay for itself within a year!

Of course, you’ll be spending money on milk and coffee beans. Plus, you’ll likely need to invest in a good coffee grinder unless you’re buying a hybrid espresso machine. Ultimately, though, a home espresso machine can be a great investment that’ll save you money in the long run.

Type of Machine

Deciding on which type of home espresso machine to buy comes down to a number of factors including budget, convenience and skill level. There’s also the question of how much time and effort you’re willing to put in. For example, you might love the idea of a manual-lever machine, but it takes a lot of trial and error to get good results from something like the La Pavoni Professional.

Pulling an espresso shot with the Rancilio Silivia Espresso Machine

Traditional single boiler machines like the Rancilio Silvia take a long time to heat up and can be difficult to handle. However, once you’ve mastered this machine you’ll get exceptional results. Dual boiler machines offer much more flexibility and are easier to use. Still, you’ll most likely have to spend more money for the convenience.

If you’re willing to spend a little more and want an authentic barista experience, a heat exchanger espresso machine like the Rocket Appartamento is the way to go. This type of prosumer espresso machine uses commercial-grade components and will deliver the goods.

Of course, you can always consider a hybrid machine. These things have been gaining a lot of ground recently and for good reason. After all, the best hybrids will hold your hand if you want, or let you take over and get your barista on. While I’ll always advocate for an espresso machine and a separate grinder, hybrids offer an ideal compromise for a lot of people.


We all know how beautiful an espresso machine can be. Let’s face it, the Italians just can’t help but create stylish and attractive things, even when they’re just meant to be functional. Anyway, there’s no shortage of home espresso machines that’ll steal the show in your kitchen. With that said, many of the more budget-friendly options are more utilitarian in appearance.

Regular Coffeeness readers will know that I always prefer a coffee maker with plenty of stainless steel in its construction. Still, if you’re on a tight budget, you’ll likely have to settle for more plastic than metal.

One of the most important aspects to keep in mind is the size of the machine you’re interested in. Don’t forget to take measurements before purchasing. Remember, overhead cabinets could impede your ability to easily remove the water tank. Plus, you will need adequate space beside the machine so you can steam milk comfortably.

Espresso Quality

Closeup of a perfect espresso extraction from the Breville Barista Express

At this point, I should mention that just because you own a $3,000 machine doesn’t mean you’ll get great espresso. There are tons of factors involved in good espresso extraction, including grind size consistency, coffee bean quality and skill level. Most budget espresso machines will only take you so far due to their inherent limitations.

A machine with a pre-infusion function is always preferable. Plus, the more temperature stability the machine can manage, the better. As for filter baskets, there’s a lot of debate about whether bigger is better, but I’d say opting for single-wall baskets is more important. I’ll tell you why a little later.

Milk Frothing System

Making milk froth with a steam wand is no cakewalk, which is why I dedicated an entire section to the subject in my article on milk foam. There, you’ll find all the basic pointers on how to perform the decidedly tricky wand procedure to create a pourable microfoam at just the right temperature.

Frothing milk with the Breville Barista Touch Home Espresso Machine

Despite all the milk frothing finesse I’ve learned over the years, I have to admit that the automatic milk wands on many inexpensive espresso machines and hybrids are amazing! Okay, so they do nothing for developing your skill set. And not every automatic wand produces results that a latte artist would be proud of. But producing froth like the DeLonghi La Specialista is no mean feat!

Which is to say that professional-style milk wands are a hallmark of very premium espresso machines. Mastering the techniques for using one gives you a lot of status among the barista elite. If the thought of having to froth milk this way is one of the reasons a home espresso maker gives you the heebie-jeebies, fear not. The new generation of consumer machines will come to your rescue. And, they’ll do it more hygienically than the integrated system on a super-automatic machine.


I already touched on the importance of pre-infusion when it comes to extracting espresso. That initial dampening of the coffee grounds really helps develop aroma and complexity. Depending on the machine, you’ll be able to control the duration of the pre-infusion, which will only give you more control.

Another feature to look out for is PID temperature control. This is starting to show up on even the most affordable espresso machines and ensures temperature stability. Speaking of temperature, achieving the correct temperature for brewing can take quite a long time, which is why a thermoblock can be an attractive feature. Machines with thermoblock heating will usually be ready to roll in under a minute.

As for the user interface, some of the best espresso machines have little more than a pressure gauge. With that said, I’ve been really impressed by the touchscreen user interfaces on some hybrid machines. These usually offer programmable volumetric control, adjustable brewing temperature, one-touch specialty drinks and much more.

Personally, a gauge that indicates the pressure at the group head is what I always look for. I find this to be the most valuable tool in helping identify issues with espresso extraction.

Our Top 10 Best Home Espresso Machine Picks in Detail

Now that you have a clearer idea of what you’re actually looking for, it’s time to take a closer look at what each machine can do. Oh, and feel free to skip ahead to the model that interests you!

Breville Bambino Plus: Best Entry-Level

great starter machine

Breville Bambino Plus

Pint-sized, pint-priced and practical — but not barista quality.

Beautiful design with a tiny footprint

Automatic milk frothing with temperature sensor

Good espresso

Very easy to operate

Good value for money

Espresso needs improvement

Material quality is less than ideal

The Breville Bambino Plus is a long-time favorite here at Coffeeness. In fact, I recently awarded it the “Best Overall” title in my guide to the best small espresso machines.

The Bambino Plus isn’t just defined by its compact size, though. In reality, this is a powerful espresso machine with a 54mm portafilter and an automatic pre-infusion function.

Costing $499.95, the Bambino Plus isn’t exactly cheap. However, the machine’s solid stainless steel construction and ease of operation make it more than worth the investment.

In fact, as I’ve said elsewhere, the Bambino Plus is ideal for novice baristas looking for something more authentic than an automatic espresso machine.

With that in mind, it seemed like a no-brainer to award the Bambino Plus “Best Entry-Level” espresso machine. Incidentally, I should mention that the Breville Bambino Plus has a fantastic automatic milk frother. Seriously, this steam wand even has a temperature sensor and allows you to adjust the milk texture.

Ultimately, the Bambino Plus will appeal to a wide range of home baristas, especially those with small kitchens and limited barista knowledge.

See Also: Breville Bambino Plus Review 2023

Gevi 20 Bar Espresso Machine: Best Budget Buy

a lot of machine for the money

Gevi 20 Bar Espresso Machine

Compact and affordable.

Compact and lightweight


Intuitive user interface

Thermoblock heating

Some stainless steel

Flimsy plastic tamper

Few accessories included

These days it seems like the market is flooded with affordable home espresso machines. They’re by no means created equally, though, making it difficult to find a winner. Seriously, check out my guide to the best espresso machines under $200 to see what’s out there.

That’s where the Gevi 20 Bar Espresso Machine comes in. Although it costs just $179.99, this espresso maker packs a real punch. I just had to award it the title of “Best Budget Buy.”

For starters, the Gevi 20 Bar is lightweight and compact, making it ideal for small spaces. That’s not to say this machine isn’t powerful, though. Aside from the ample amount of pressure the machine provides, there’s also a thermoblock heating system on board. What’s more, dual thermostats control the temperature of the water for espresso and steaming.

As if all that wasn’t impressive enough, the Gevi 20 Bar Espresso Machine has a prominent LED display, which makes preparing a single or double shot of espresso a breeze. Overall, this home espresso maker is ideal for those on a budget, especially if counter space is limited.

See Also: Gevi 20 Bar Espresso Machine Review 2023

DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro: Best Performing

wonderful hybrid espresso machine

DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro

A solid upgrade!

High-quality appearance

Steam wand with plenty of power

Heats up quickly

Produces fantastic milk foam

Requires constant cleaning due to splashes when making espresso

The DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro is a big, bulky beast of a hybrid espresso maker. I just love it! Costing $1,390.71, the La Specialista Maestro represents a sizable investment. Still, when you consider everything you’ll get from this beauty, I think you’ll agree it’s worth the money.

Featuring a built-in conical burr grinder with eight adjustment settings, dynamic pre-infusion and five adjustable temperature settings, the La Specialista Maestro offers numerous ways to dial in your espresso. There’s even a Smart Tamping Station that ensures the perfect amount of pressure each time. What’s more, there are two independent heating systems – one for brewing and one for milk steaming.

What really impressed me during my hands-on review of the La Specialista Maestro was its automatic LatteCrema milk system. Although there’s also a manual steam wand, I had a hard time beating the automatic system when it came to creating sumptuously silky milk froth.

All in all, the DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro is ideal if you’re looking for lots of the benefits of a super automatic but want more control over your espresso extraction. It’s little wonder I named it the “Best Performing” home espresso machine!

See Also: DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro Hands-On Review 2023

Rocket Appartamento: Best Overall

gorgeous prosumer machine

Rocket Appartamento

It doesn’t get much better than this!

Beautiful design

Commercial-grade components

Heat exchanger boiler

Makes superb espresso

Compact footprint

Might seem intimidating

Small drip tray

If you’re new to the world of home espresso machines, you’d be forgiven for feeling a little intimidated by the Rocket Appartamento. However, this gorgeous work of art is actually really easy to use. Sure, there’s a learning curve involved, but that’s true for any espresso maker. The difference here is that this “prosumer” machine uses high-quality, commercial-grade components, so you’ll be able to get truly fantastic results.

For $1,850.00, the Rocket Appartamento is far from cheap. Still, if you’re set on being able to make professional quality espresso and milk foam, the price is worth it. Plus, the Appartamento is a real thing of beauty, and its retro-industrial vibe will definitely enhance your kitchen.

With its old-school knobs and levers, the Rocket Appartamento offers a tactile and traditional approach to espresso preparation. Other than a pressure gauge to monitor boiler pressure, there aren’t any screens, buttons or dials. Thanks to its powerful copper heat exchanger boiler, you can prepare espresso and steam milk simultaneously. Not to mention how the famous E61 group head ensures consistency.

All in all, the Rocket Appartamento represents a significant jump in quality from consumer grade espresso machines. If you truly want to develop your barista skills, it doesn’t get much better than this!

See Also: Rocket Appartamento Review 2023

Rancilio Silvia: Best Single-Boiler

cult classic

Rancilio Silvia

An exceptional machine

High-quality build

Small footprint

Sleek, minimalist design

Powerful steam wand

Plentiful spare parts

Slow to heat

Steep learning curve

I’ve been a huge fan of the Rancilio Silvia for a long time. First released in the late 90s, this awesome home espresso maker has hardly changed over the years. The machine’s classic boxy design, durable stainless steel housing and commercial-grade group head are all still in evidence, although there have been some improvements to the brewing thermostats.

The Rancilio Silvia is a single-boiler machine with few bells or whistles. That means you’ll need to wait around 20 minutes for the thing to heat up. You’ll also need to learn how to “temperature surf” in order to get the best out of the machine. However, that’s all part of the fun for many home baristas, myself included.

Once you get the hang of using the Rancilio Silvia, it’ll offer a richly rewarding experience. You can get top-notch espresso from this machine. On top of that, the steam wand is as powerful as you could ever want.

Costing $865.00 on Amazon, the Rancilio Silvia represents extremely good value for your money. In fact, it topped out my list of the best espresso machines under $1000. This durable, hard-working espresso machine will last for years. And, if something does fail there are cheap and readily available replacement parts.

See Also: Rancilio Silvia Hands-On Review 2023

Gaggia Classic Pro: Best Value

Italian Classic

Gaggia Classic Pro

Still going strong!

Extremely reliable

Durable construction

Easy to use

Professional steam wand

Rather heavy

Awkward water tank design

Another single-boiler home espresso maker that’s been around for years, the Gaggia Classic Pro is a steal at $451.65. I guess that’s why it earned the top spot in my guide to the best espresso machines under $500.

Featuring rugged stainless steel construction and a sleek, minimalist design, the Gaggia Classic Pro has been serving home baristas well since 1991. Now, that’s what I call staying power!

As with the Rancilio Silvia, improvements have been made over the years, but we’re still looking at essentially the same machine. There’s a commercial-style 58 millimeter portafilter, powerful commercial-style manual steam wand and a generous 72 ounce (2.1 liter) removable water tank.

Although you’ll have to wait for the Gaggia Classic Pro to heat up, the improved aluminum boiler means we’re only talking around five minutes. Plus, when it comes to ease of use, the Classic Pro hits a home run. Seriously, there are three chunky buttons with lights and a steam dial. That’s it. In other words, you can concentrate on the important business of fine-tuning your espresso without any distractions!

See Also: Gaggia Classic Pro Review 2023

Breville Oracle Touch: Best Hybrid

Best hybrid machine

Breville Oracle Touch

The best hybrid espresso machine one the market!

Genuine espresso

Suitable for espresso newbies

Automatic or manual milk frothing

Easy to clean

Very high price

The Breville Oracle Touch is the machine that converted me to hybrid machines. Why? Because it succeeds in finding a reasonable middle ground between automation and the need to learn the ropes. You’re sure to pick up a whole bag of barista tricks – without needing to know every little detail – on your way to making yourself a good cup of coffee.

If you can’t decide between a super automatic and an espresso machine, the Breville Oracle Touch represents the best of both worlds. With its awesome built-in grinder and automatic tamping station, the Oracle Touch is a sophisticated device, to say the least. You can let the machine take care of all espresso preparation variables or take over and do the work yourself.

Thanks to its beautiful touchscreen display, the machine will walk you through all the steps involved in crafting any specialty coffee drink. Oh, and Brevile’s automatic frothing wand is a huge success. Though I was skeptical at first, the results from this thing were nothing short of phenomenal.

Costing $2,390.00, the Oracle Touch is, by far, the most expensive espresso machine on my list. However, thanks to its supreme capabilities, this machine easily justifies the financial investment.

See Also: Breville Oracle Touch Hands-On Review 2023

Breville Barista Express: Best Entry-Level Hybrid

Perfect for beginners

Breville Barista Express

A solid step in your espresso journey.

Easy to use

Tons of adjustable settings

Great value

Stylish design

Solid and well built

Grinder is rather limiting

Not much steam pressure

While I didn’t exactly sing this espresso maker’s praises in my guide to the best Breville espresso machines, I have to admit that the Breville Barista Express is the obvious choice when it comes to picking the best entry-level hybrid machine. What’s more, its $699.95 price tag makes it an attractive proposition for those on a limited budget.

Featuring the Australian manufacturer’s distinctive design aesthetic and clad in brushed stainless steel, the Barista Express certainly looks the part. Not only that, the built-in grinder, with 18 adjustment settings, means this is an efficient and self-contained unit.

Although the Breville Barista Express is ideal for beginners, there’s plenty to keep more seasoned home baristas interested. Thanks to many adjustable settings and parameters, you can really dial in your espresso to perfection. Heck, there’s even a digital PID controller with finely adjustable temperature settings!

Although you’ll likely outgrow the Barista Express after a while, this is a solid hybrid espresso machine that’ll serve you well as you’re learning the ins and outs of espresso and milk steaming.

See Also: Breville Barista Express Hands-On Review 2023

La Pavoni Professional: Best Manual-Lever

A Great Way to Up Your Espresso Game

La Pavoni Professional

A beautiful manual-lever espresso machine.

Heats up in under 10 minutes

Sleek design

Small footprint

Comes with a boiler and pressure gauge

Must cool down before water can be refilled

May overheat after some time

Okay, I admit it. I have a soft spot for machines like the La Pavoni Professional. Since technology has made yanking levers redundant, that probably makes me a bit of a show-off. Plus, La Pavoni is a total diva whose every whim has to be met.

With the right treatment, however, it’s capable of producing espresso of a higher caliber than any other manual-lever machine. In fact, I’d go so far as to say well-extracted espresso from this machine just can’t be beat.

Here’s the thing, at $1,172.20, the La Pavoni professional requires a hefty financial investment. Not only that, it takes a lot of time, effort and patience to master the necessary skills to use this espresso machine. Suffice to say, the La Pavoni Professional isn’t for everyone.

With that said, home baristas willing to dedicate themselves to this machine will be richly rewarded. No other machine gives you such fine control over your espresso extraction. And let’s not forget that the La Pavoni Professional is a truly gorgeous machine to behold. There’s just no way that this beauty won’t attract envious stares from visiting guests!

See Also: La Pavoni Professional Hands-On Review 2023

Breville Dual Boiler: Best With Two Boilers

awesome prosumer machine

Breville Dual Boiler

Simply superb!

Two boilers

Digital PID temperature control

Tons of customizable settings

Rugged stainless steel construction

Intuitive user interface

Supply chain issues have affected the price

During my Breville Dual Boiler review, I positively gushed about how much I love this espresso machine. Seriously, there’s just so much to recommend, and not just the fact that there are two boilers on board.

That being said, having two boilers is a huge advantage. It means you’ll be able to make espresso and steam milk simultaneously. Add in the fact that each boiler is precisely calibrated to the correct temperature and how the group head is actively heated and you know you’re onto a winner!

Other features, such as PID temperature control and volumetric control (by time or shot volume) are the icing on the cake. Plus, thanks to its intuitive user interface, large pressure gauge and multiple adjustable parameters, the Dual Boiler offers plenty for newbies and pros alike. Incidentally, Breville’s powerful manual steam wand really delivers too!

Costing $1,598.45, the Dual Boiler isn’t a budget option. Still, I believe this espresso maker is worth every penny and more.

See Also: Breville Dual Boiler Review 2023

Brand Overview: All Home Espresso Machines Sorted by Manufacturer

Breville Barista Pro Overview

For the most part, espresso machine manufacturers don’t hold back when it comes to releasing multiple variations on a theme. Take DeLonghi, for example. Here at Coffeeness, I’ve consistently expressed my frustration at the way in which the Italian powerhouse adds seemingly endless versions of its super automatics, each with a slightly different (and complicated) model number.

While DeLonghi’s home espresso makers are easier to sort through, there are still tons of machines to consider. Manufacturers like Gevi have jumped on the bandwagon too. Trying to wade through all the options can quickly get confusing.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to give you a quick summary of each brand. In addition to giving you some background on each manufacturer, I’ll offer tips on which machines to consider, as well as the ones that might not be worth your time.

Closeup of the DeLonghi Stilosa making espresso.

I recently updated my guide to the best DeLonghi espresso machines, which helped put a few things in perspective. For starters, I was reminded just how successful the Italian manufacturer is when it comes to releasing popular, affordable and awesome fully automatic coffee makers.

Not only that, DeLonghi has really blazed a trail in the hybrid espresso machine segment. Seriously, the La Specialista series just keeps growing, so DeLonghi must feel like it’s doing something right with machines like the La Specialista Arte.  Other than the aforementioned hybrids, DeLonghi specializes in releasing dozens of budget-friendly espresso machines, some of which actually perform really well.

I just wish DeLonghi would quit referring to these home espresso makers as “manual machines.” They’re not manual, they’re semi-automatic. Every last one of ’em. Anyway, here are a few of the affordable DeLonghi espresso machines I’ve reviewed:

The Gaggia Classic Pro with a freshly made espresso.

Let’s give it up for Gaggia! Without the innovation of the company founder, Achille Gaggia, espresso as we now know it might never have existed. I mean, the guy dreamed up a new way to extract espresso using water pressure, effectively inventing crema in the process. Starting in the 70s, the manufacturer helped popularize home espresso machines, and in 1991 launched the beloved Gaggia Classic.

Let’s just say the company’s appetite for revolutionary espresso makers seems to have waned in the interim. Sure, the Classic Pro is a wonderful machine, but most of the rest of Gaggia’s lineup comprises unexciting machines with panarello wands and pressurized filter baskets. Sure, they look pretty, but you’re better off spending your money elsewhere.

On the flip side, Gaggia’s super automatics are on the up and up. I’ve reviewed several of these and have been consistently impressed. Check out my guide to the best Gaggia espresso machines for an overview of what’s on offer.

I guess the company’s focus is on the lucrative fully automatic sector now that Philips is the majority shareholder. Anyway, in case you’re interested, the Gaggia Carezza Deluxe could be worth checking out.

Closeup of the Breville Barista Touch user interface.

You have to hand it to Breville. The Australian manufacturer has set about dominating a specific niche of the home espresso machine market. They’ve cottoned on to the fact that plenty of aspiring home baristas want more control over their espresso, but like a certain amount of automation too.

Just go and check out Breville’s website; they’re definitely catering to a specific type of “third wave” coffee drinker. Anyway, I’m all for it! Then again, you probably guessed by the amount of Breville espresso machines on my list.

As I’ve said elsewhere, what impresses me the most is Breville’s dedication to constantly improving its coffee makers. Rather than rest on its laurels, the manufacturer ensures its products get better with each new release.

I aimed to include the very best Breville espresso machines above. However, there are plenty of others to consider:

Incidentally, don’t be tempted by the budget-friendly Breville Cafe Roma. It’s best avoided at all costs!

The Gevi 20 Bar Espresso Machine making espresso.

Established in 2017, Gevi is a relatively new name in the home espresso machine world. Based in Hong Kong, the manufacturer specializes in producing affordable machines without skimping on advanced features and materials.

Of course, you can’t expect that a Gevi espresso maker will offer top-notch results, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how good these machines actually are. Seriously, it’s not unusual to find PID temperature control, thermoblock heating and separate thermostats for espresso and steam on a Gevi machine.

I guess this just goes to show that we need to refresh our ideas of what “Made in China” represents. That label no longer automatically means a product is cheap and substandard. In my experience with Gevi espresso machines, it actually means affordable and well-made!

The Rancilio Silvia Pro X espresso machine.

Rancilio has been in the espresso machine business since 1927. The Italian manufacturer spends most of its time developing really high-end commercial espresso machines, and also owns Egro, which produces top-of-the-line super automatics. By that I mean $20,000 machines.

The good news for home baristas is that Rancilio hasn’t abandoned the Silvia espresso machine. Quite the opposite. In 2021, the manufacturer launched a pretty fabulous update called the Rancilio Silvia Pro X, which features in my guide to the best Italian espresso machines.

Featuring two boilers, adjustable PID temperature control and programmable pre infusion, this baby really means business. There’s even a digital shot timer on the front of the machine. The Silvia Pro X ain’t cheap, though. You’ll pay $1,940.00 for the privilege.

If that’s too steep, the Rancilio Silvia with PID might represent a happy middle ground at $1,195.00. This is essentially the good old Silvia with a digital PID installed, so you can monitor temperatures instead of having to guess.

The Rocket Cronometro espresso machine.

Founded in 2007, Rocket Espresso began as a partnership between a New Zealander and an Italian. The company produces a range of drool-worthy prosumer espresso machines as well as some very impressive commercial models.

All of Rocket Espresso’s home espresso machines are made by hand in Milan, and the attention to detail involved is pretty staggering. I guess that explains the eye-watering price you’ll pay for most models.

Seeing as I put a price cap on espresso makers I’m willing to recommend, there are only a couple of additional Rocket models I’ll mention:

The La Pavoni Professional manual lever espresso machine.

La Pavoni didn’t invent the espresso machine, but the company founder knew an opportunity when he saw one. Desiderio Pavoni bought the patent for an early model from Luigi Bezzera, and started producing it commercially in Milan in 1905. The takeaway? These guys really know espresso.

La Pavoni produces some gorgeous semi-professional home espresso machines, but we’re talking serious cash. Although the manufacturer produces more affordable models, they aren’t readily available in North America. Still, if it’s a manual-lever machine you’re after, La Pavoni should be on your radar. Aside from the La Pavoni Professional on my list, there are a few other models to consider:

Home Espresso Machine vs Super Automatic: Which One is Right for You?

Arne preparing a latte with the Jura S8
Pulling an espresso shot with the Breville Barista Express

You guys often ask me which espresso maker I would recommend. Another question that comes up at least as often is whether you should put a home espresso machine or a super-automatic coffee machine in your shopping cart.

The short answer is:

Doesn’t matter – as long as you use decent coffee beans.

For the longer version, you also need to answer this question:

How committed are you to making espresso?

And I don’t just mean in terms of willingness to learn, but also the time, money and patience involved. An espresso machine isn’t just nice to have the way a fully automatic is. To make authentic espresso, you have to use a portafilter. What comes out of super-automatic is espresso-esque. I could go on.

With that in mind, consider buying an espresso machine if one or more of the following statements ring true for you:

  • I like to try out different beans and have high standards in coffee.

  • I only drink straight espresso.

  • I don’t want to have to worry too much about cleaning and maintenance.

  • I want to make a splash on Instagram!

Alternatively, a super-automatic espresso machine might be best if you’re thinking like this:

  • I love espresso and frothed milk drinks but don’t want to have to invest in tons of extra equipment.

  • My family is very coffee-politan — everyone likes something different.

  • I want a quick, no-hassle cup of coffee or latte in the morning.

  • I need a machine for the office.

Incidentally, if you find yourself somewhere in the middle, consider a hybrid espresso machine like the Solis Grind and Infuse Perfetta. In many ways, hybrids are much simpler than super-automatic coffee makers. But they don’t require the same level of expertise as a traditional espresso machine. Naturally, the integrated grinder and, in most cases, automatic steam wand are big pluses. And don’t forget the built-in tamper. Best of all, you can whip up true espresso.

High-Pressure Situation: How a Home Espresso Machine Works

Putting the portafilter into the Breville Barista Pro

I’d need half the Internet to really get into the nitty gritty of espresso machine functioning. And you’d need an engineering degree just to understand me. However, none of that is necessary to get a handle on the basics:

  • Water is heated in a boiler, coil or container, depending on the machine’s design.

  • A high-quality pump ensures that this water doesn’t simply trickle from the spout, but is instead forced out under pressure.

  • The key to achieving this is the portafilter basket. Dosed with an exact quantity of perfectly compressed grounds of the right grind size, it creates resistance from below.

According to the Italians, your machine is only one of five factors needed to create great espresso. They call it the 5M formula:

  1. Miscela (espresso blend): High-quality espresso beans, preferably with a visible proportion of robusta beans for an extra-stable crema. Dosing matters. About a quarter of an ounce or 7 grams to be precise (and you should be) is combined with just under one fluid ounce (25 milliliters) of water for a single shot.

  2. Macinadosatore (grinder): Producing fine enough and consistent enough grounds not only optimizes extraction but also ensures an ideal contact time of around 25 seconds.

  3. Macchina (espresso machine): The machine should ideally produce 9 bars of pressure to force water at a temperature of 201 degrees Fahrenheit (94 degrees Celsius) through the portafilter basket

  4. Mano dell’operatore (user’s skill): Neat leveling and tamping, keeping the machine clean and perfectly adjusting settings are what turn good espresso into great espresso.

  5. Manutenzione (maintenance): Flushing and cleaning your machine.

Although the formula never changes, you can tweak the variables to suit your taste, shot size, choice of blend and machine characteristics.

So you see, there’s more to mouth-watering espresso than just a machine. An insanely expensive professional machine can still produce a foul brew if you neglect the other aspects or use inferior quality coffee beans.

It’s NOT having the flashiest tools that makes a master barista, but knowing how to use them!

What Accessories Do I Need for a Home Espresso Machine?

That little word “need” tells you the whole story: investing in brewing espresso unfortunately doesn’t begin and end with the best espresso machine. After all, unlike with super-automatic espresso machines, not all home espresso makers have a built-in coffee grinder. Which means buying a separate one.

Even if you dodge that bullet by getting a hybrid machine, you’ll notice after a bit of playing around with what comes in the box that something is missing. You haven’t yet reached absolute portafilter nirvana.

Let me help you out with a whistle-stop tour of the most important espresso machine accessories – from the essential to the optional extras:

Or better yet … an exceptional espresso grinder. One of the drawbacks to many entry-level automatic models is that they don’t grind the beans finely enough to ensure sufficient pressure builds up in the portafilter.

Believe it or not, you almost never encounter this problem with good manual espresso grinders like my Comandante (pricey) or the Porlex Mini. But who wants to crank up an arm cramp every time they want a shot of espresso?

Arne looking happy as he holds the Comandante coffee grinder.

Not sure what I mean by an exceptional grinder? Check out these three beauties, all of which feature in my coffee grinder guide 2023. Any of the following grinders are ideal for pairing with a home espresso machine:

For the most part, an espresso-worthy grinder will carry a rather hefty price tag. Based on my long-term testing, I can confidently tell you that the grinders I’ve mentioned are practically indestructible. What’s more, you’ll be hard pressed to find a grinder in this price range that produces a more even grind.

And don’t be so quick to dismiss a separate grinder just because you have a hybrid machine. With a standalone grinder, you can save yourself a lot of the hassle of resetting the DeLonghi La Specialista when, for example, you try out new beans. It’s not essential, but worth considering.

Let me be brutally honest. Many of the espresso makers I’ve tested for you come with a tamper that looks like something out of a Cracker Jack box. Most of them are not ergonomically designed. Plus, they’re too flimsy which is why you can’t generate that all-important surface pressure of about 30 pounds.

Arne holding up two espresso tampers for comparison.

No pressure, no properly packed coffee puck. Insufficient resistance means the water passes through the ground coffee too easily. Not only will your espresso be under extracted, you’ll find a sloppy mess inside the portafilter when you remove it. Bottom line: Tamping saves the espresso!

Things usually go better when there’s an automatic tamping station – a common feature of hybrids. But it doesn’t always produce the level of compaction you want. Or the mechanism is acting up. You get the picture.

A decent tamper is a convenience that needn’t cost the earth. Check out my espresso tamper guide for more information on how to tamp correctly, as well as inspiration for which tamper to buy.

So far, I haven’t settled on a favorite tamper. What matters to me is that the base is made of a very heavy and smooth alloy. The handle should be shaped so it fits perfectly in my hand, allowing me to apply firm downward pressure properly without pain.

So how do you get a used coffee puck out of the portafilter? Espresso machine manufacturers usually step back from the process at this point and leave it entirely up to you. You could bang your portafilter on the edge of the garbage can – ew! Otherwise, you have to find a suitable receptacle lying around the house or buy a knock box.

For your tabletop waste bin to be a knock box, it needs one special feature – the crossbar that you whack the edge of your portafilter against so that the coffee puck pops out in one go.

Considering the beating it’ll take, your espresso knock box should be sturdy and as heavy as possible. A rubber or similar coating on the crossbar also helps dull the noise.

A dedicated knockbox isn’t just a question of hygiene and rounding out your coffee station. It’s also a form of quality control. Observing how the puck comes out of the portafilter and how well it keeps its shape when it lands in the container tells you a lot about how successfully you pulled your shot.

A pile of wet mud that plops into the container is just as bad as a bone-dry briquette that crumbles into dust on impact. The perfect puck remains largely intact before drying out and disintegrating.

Do you need a milk pitcher that handles like a precision tool? Not unless you want to become a master of latte arts. Everyone else should be fine using the jug that arrives with their machine. If the manufacturer didn’t supply one, hop on Amazon and order this stainless steel milk pitcher. It’ll only set you back $11.99, but it’s more than good enough for a home barista.

Beautiful latte art.

Milk pitchers are shaped to facilitate frothing and are totally impervious to heat and steam. Do yourself a favor and stick with the stainless steel variety. Some showoffs like to use glass, but I’d say they’re just asking for trouble.

When your money is burning a hole in your pocket and you’re running out of ideas for what to spend it on, a tamping mat is sure to spark just as much joy as a fancy wooden cleaning brush. Of course, you can also splash out on a drawer base for your coffee pucks. And don’t even let me get started on the most exquisite espresso cups.

But before forking out for toys and accessories, always make sure you’re spending money on choice coffee beans. No supermarket brands, no mass-produced beans of dubious origin. Look for independent roasters who are not only open about their procurement channels and sources of supply but also take pains over the roasting process.

This really is non-negotiable. There’s a good reason that the “miscela” (blend) is what comes first in the 5M formula.

Top Tips for Awesome Espresso

Closeup of a perfectly extracted espresso

I’m not going to waste your time with an in-depth intro to the theory of espresso extraction using a portafilter machine. That would be pretty pointless. Because with these machines more than any other, learning by doing is the only way. And repeat. Over and over again. After all, no two machines – or grinders – are exactly alike.

Instead, here are a few good tips to help you eliminate common mistakes and get you pulling barista-quality espresso faster.

  1. A certain proportion of Robusta beans can be a big help: Although Robusta – in contrast to Arabica – is only starting to gain devotees, it’s by no means new to drinkers of Italian-style espresso. Italian blends often feature fairly high Robusta content. The result? A good caffeine kick and stable crema. Even with a few hiccups in your 5M formula, you can still pull a full-bodied espresso. Check out my Arabica vs Robusta post for a more in-depth discussion.

  2. Learn the operating instructions by heart: With many super automatic machines and other equipment, the functions are self-explanatory or go unused. With a home espresso machine, you need to read the operating instructions carefully and run through the whole procedure a number of times in full.

  3. Start troubleshooting with the grinder: Most extraction flaws are introduced at the grinding stage. Identifying your grinder’s sweet spot – where the grind is fine, but not too fine – can be a drawn out process. If no coffee comes out of the portafilter, it’s probably because the water can’t get through the puck. Start by adjusting the grinder to a coarser setting. In contrast, a quick gush of weak espresso indicates the opposite. Still getting nowhere? Check whether the grinder is up to the job.

  4. Practice with a kitchen scale: Every aspiring barista has to first practice tamping with a kitchen scale. It’s the only way to learn how to exert just the right amount of pressure. Eventually, you can rely on muscle memory. We’ve already seen how optimal pressure is make or break for espresso. So, be sure to get it spot on. Incidentally, using a coffee scale will really help with consistently dosing the portafilter.

  5. Become a clean freak: Below, there are detailed instructions on cleaning a home espresso machine. Commit them to memory and – above all – be a conscientious cleaner. Although the coffee doesn’t pass through a portafilter machine’s innards, limescale and other water-related deposits are a major issue. The more often you clean between extractions, the less likely you are to struggle with limescale and blocked baskets.

What’s the Hoo-Ha Over Dual-Wall Filter Baskets?

Time and again, you’ve heard me be a bit rude about dual-wall or pressurized filter baskets. Which may have given you the idea that not all baskets are equal. A quick way to tell an entry-level espresso machine from a more professional one is by checking the filter baskets – and sometimes the holders.

All you have to do is flip the baskets upside down and feel them:

If the baskets are double walled and have only a few small holes or a single hole at the bottom, they are “crema” baskets for beginners.

A closeup view of dual-wall filter baskets

Baskets with a single wall and a base that looks like a strainer are the professional versions.

As the alternate name “crema strainer” suggests, this is all about producing that hotly debated layer of foam on an espresso. Whether you consider crema important for espresso or not, its presence is a foolproof indicator that your 5M preparation process is gelling nicely.

Achieving the necessary pressure is usually where the wheels come off. To do this, you need to dovetail four of the five aspects: machine performance, puck compression, grind and coffee dosage. Beginner machines and beginner skills often miss the mark on all four.

Which is where double-walled baskets come in. The smaller hole compensates for these shortcomings by creating the necessary resistance to the water. It’s a bit of a cheat to help you pull a drinkable espresso.

Of course, no pro would be seen dead with such things. Proper – perfectly calibrated – machinery and an unfailingly deft touch mean seasoned baristas are aiming for full, even and clean extraction. With a basket that’s up to the task.

Real purists go for the “naked” (bottomless) portafilter without the usual spouts. That way, you can watch the espresso extraction process directly. Some professionals even insist that it’s better for the coffee not to come into contact with too much metal or worse – plastic (cheap machines!).

Rationalizations for this thinking range from hygiene issues, through questionable materials, to how contact with metal reduces the temperature. I like naked portafilters, too. But my priority is a quality basket and a handle that fits perfectly in my palm.

Cleaning & Descaling a Home Espresso Machine: Simple Necessity

Compared to a super-automatic machine, the cleaning list for a semi-automatic espresso machine is an absolute cinch. No milk hoses, no internal brewing group and no built-in grinder to painstakingly disassemble.

Unfortunately, this often lulls people into thinking that the usual flushing between shots is good enough and they can let the deeper cleaning slide. However, they’re forgetting about all the water that’s been used. And where there’s water, you’re going to have to descale.

Depending on the machine, I generally recommend up to six different cleaning steps, which you have to perform with varying frequency and intensity:

Before, between and after each espresso shot

  • Quickly clean and dry portafilter handles and baskets.

  • Remove coffee residue from the brew group and shower screen. Use a special brush, if necessary.

  • Flush the brew group. Let a little hot water pass through the machine without attaching the portafilter.

Before, between and after frothing milk

  • Clean and dry milk pitchers.

  • Quickly purge the wand with steam.

  • Remove milk froth residue from the wand’s exterior with a clean, damp cloth reserved exclusively for the purpose.

Every time the reservoir is empty

  • Briefly rinse the tank before refilling.

At the end of a day’s use

  • Flush and brush the brew group.

  • Deep clean and dry all removable components (baskets, handles, water tank, milk pitcher, drip tray, tamper, knock box, etc.).

  • Allow the steam wand to soak in a glass of water then thoroughly wipe down.

Once a week, depending on frequency of use

  • Backflush the brew group using a blind basket (see below).

Once a month, depending on usage levels

  • Backflush the brew group with a blind basket, using a little .

  • Rinse the brew group thoroughly until the water runs clear.

The key tool for this job is the blind basket, which is a filter basket without any holes. If you have the Breville Bambino Plus, it’s called the backflush disc. Whatever you call it, its job is to stop the water flowing out of the portafilter and keep it in the machine.

I’ve even heard it referred to in German as “letting the machine gargle.” Which is actually pretty accurate. Seeing as the dissolved detergent has nowhere else to go, it circulates around the brew group until it’s spotless.

If that sounds elaborate and complicated, it’s not. Seconds later, you’re all done. Make a habit of it and it soon becomes part of your routine. Cleaning a home espresso machine is really no big deal.

A closeup of DeLonghi descaler

Descaling an espresso machine also sounds like a chore. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do it as often as cleaning and it’s a pretty routine affair. Of course, descaling intervals depend on:

  1. How hard your water is

  2. How often you make espresso

In fact, descaling is easier and the intervals are longer than for a super-automatic. We’re talking once a month or even once a quarter.

Keeping an eye on your machine’s outward appearance will help you gauge things. When you spot mineral buildup in the coffee, on the portafilter handle or in the brew group, it’s almost too late.

For starters, simply put the descaler in the water tank or a bowl and allow all the moving parts to soak for the appropriate length of time. Portafilter baskets and handles should soak for about 30 minutes before being thoroughly washed and dried.

Fill the water reservoir with water and the appropriate amount of , and leave it to stand for a similar length of time. The same goes for steam wand tips (the kind that unscrew) and shower screens.

If you own a manual espresso machine such as the La Pavoni Professional, consider using an eco friendly citric acid descaler. Seeing as the La Pavoni boiler is nickel plated you can use citric acid with confidence.

However, this isn’t a good choice for espresso machines with aluminum boilers because the citric acid can cause them to corrode. Instead, consider using DeLonghi EcoDecalk Descaling Solution, which is a solid eco friendly option.

Verdict: Is There a Home Espresso Machine in Your Future?

Arne with the DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro

If you’ve made it this far, it probably means you’ve decided to skip the super automatics and jump onto the espresso machine train. That’s simply fantastic!

Whether you’re upgrading to a prosumer machine or starting out with an entry-level device, the future will be full of new discoveries. Becoming your own barista can be challenging at times, but the results will be worth it. Pinky swear.

My hope is that you found your new dream machine in this guide. Moreover, I hope you picked up some valuable information about preparing espresso and milk foam along the way.

Feel free to bookmark this page so you can jump back in if you need a refresher. Anyway, I’ll be updating my guide from time to time as more machines hit the market.

That’s a wrap! What’s the best home espresso machine in your opinion? I know you guys love to share your knowledge and experience, so feel free to reach out with any questions or comments!

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