Last Updated 09-07-2020

10 Best Espresso Machines 2020

Should you prefer the superior taste, quality and morning kick which an espresso provides you with over a large, milky coffee, then an espresso machine is probably high on your wish list.

They are one of the easiest ways to make shot coffee, which can also be used as a base for a wider variety of coffee drinks. Many include a milk frother and steamer, so the option is always there.

Finding the best espresso maker for you depends on your budget, the space you have in your kitchen and how you like your espresso, as well as how ready you are to take the time to make it. We have rounded up ten of the best picks right here to make your choice a lot easier.

Our Top Picks

Image Product Details
Sage The Barista Pro™ SES878SST4GEU1
  • Type: Pump
  • Coffee: Fresh Ground or Beans
  • Pods Pressure: 15 bar
  • Water Tank: 2L
Check Price
De’Longhi Dedica EC685M
  • Type: Pump
  • Coffee: Fresh Ground or ESE Pods
  • Pressure: 15 bar
  • Water Tank: 1L
Check Price
Breville All-in-One Coffee House
  • Type: Pump
  • Coffee: Fresh Ground or Dolce Gusto Pods
  • Pressure: 15 bar
  • Water Tank: 1.5L
Check Price

The Best Home Espresso Machines

1.
De’Longhi Dedica EC685M

Specifications

  • Type: Pump
  • Coffee: Fresh Ground or ESE Pods
  • Pressure: 15 bar
  • Water Tank: 1L

Not only the best overall espresso machine we have reviewed, but also one of the most space-saving for anyone who isn’t sure how a coffee machine will fit into their kitchen.

The 15 bar pressure is the perfect amount for producing coffee-shop style espressos, and a slight crema is formed to add to the taste. If you occasionally fancy something other than espresso from time to time, there is a dedicated milk frother for the production of cappuccinos, lattes and flat whites. You don’t have to be a barista to be able to work it either, with it only taking less than a minute to froth and warm the milk.

Sometimes, design is just as important as the coffee produced, and the design of this model is sleek, modern and looks a lot more professional than the price would suggest. Available in four colours – Black, White, Red and Silver – it can either blend in with the rest of your appliances or opt for something which will add a bit of a pop.

The only slight gripes we have with it are both to do with the milk frother. It is shorter than some other models, which could be problematic if you like to use a deep jug, and it is also limited to use time-wise. In the manual, it states only to use it for a minute or so, and when we attempted to go over this, it shut itself down. This is a great safety feature to stop it overheating and isn’t unique, but could still be time-consuming if you regularly have guests over.

Other than this tiny little issue, it is otherwise a fabulous little machine from one of the leading names in the coffee world. We had high expectations, and they set the bar high.

Reasons to Buy

  • ‘Super Compact’ size
  • Quick to use
  • Good colour selection

Reasons to Avoid

  • Short milk froth arm

2.
Sage The Barista Pro™ SES878SST4GEU1

Specifications

  • Type: Pump
  • Coffee: Fresh Ground or Beans
  • Pods Pressure: 15 bar
  • Water Tank: 2L

Sage constantly bring out some of the best home gadgets around. Their other coffee machines always feature in our Top 10’s, and this one is no different. It sold out within days of being brought onto the market and still remains in incredibly high demand.

One of the newest from them, it is for those who love proper coffee from baristas but want to be able to indulge in that luxury at home from time to time. A new digital interface gives you all of the data you need, from the grind size chosen to how many shots are being poured.

That’s right – the grind size. Because this espresso machine actually has a built-in grinder so you can freshly prepare beans for your espresso, rather than using ground coffee which is already losing its freshness. The beans are ground right into the tamper, so you are good to press it and go.

It takes just three seconds to heat up too, so when your brain is screaming for coffee, you don’t have to put up with it.

Reasons to Buy

  • Huge water tank for an espresso machine
  • Touchscreen controls and information
  • Choice of classic colours

Reasons to Avoid

  • Price – but worth it for speed and freshness

3.
Breville All-in-One Coffee House

Specifications

  • Type: Pump
  • Coffee: Fresh Ground or Dolce Gusto Pods
  • Pressure: 15 bar
  • Water Tank: 1.5L

This product blew our mind a little bit when we first saw it, and trying to categorise it after we got our heads around it was a challenge in itself.

It is an espresso machine, able to make two cups at once. But it is also a filter machine with a 10-cup capacity carafe, and it has a built-in milk frother for those luxurious milky drinks. You can also use over 40 varieties of Dolce Gusto capsules in it if you don’t want to bother cleaning out the grounds, so there is absolutely no way you’ll be stuck for choice.

The 15 bar pump gives good crema as well as a quality espresso. It auto-detects the appropriate fittings for the coffee you are making, displaying only the appropriate options on the touch screen. So, it isn’t as complicated as it sounds on paper at all. The cup stand can be raised so there is little splashing when using smaller cups, and it can also accommodate travel cups or carafes if you’re off on a day out.

Many people have commented that it gives the same flavours as a bean to cup machine, and due to the higher pressure compared to a pod machine, it makes capsule coffee taste miles better than pod machines too. You would expect this all to come at a price, but it is fab value, which makes it all the better.

Reasons to Buy

  • 3-in-1
  • Delivers coffee at a good temperature
  • Automatically caters to chosen coffee type

Reasons to Avoid

  • Takes up a lot of counter and storage space

4.
Sage BES810BSS the Duo Temp Pro

Specifications

  • Type: Automatic
  • Coffee: Ground
  • Pressure: 9 bar
  • Water Tank: 1.8L

If you like your coffee hot and your past coffee machines have disappointed you, then this Sage model has put optimum temperature control right at the front of its list of priorities.

Electronic PID control optimises the temperature for the perfect cup each time and ensures the heat is always balanced throughout the mug as well as consistent, from the first espresso to the last.

Most people have problems with milk-based coffees, as the temperature of the milk brings down the heat in the coffee resulting in a brew which gets cold within minutes. Sage realise that 93 degrees is the perfect temperature for coffee, but 130 degrees is the best for hot milk. The coffee grounds would get burnt at this temperature meaning a bitter taste, so the Duo Temp Pro flushes itself with cold water to eliminate this problem.

Want your coffee always to last that bit longer? The cup warmer function will help the coffee stay at the right temperature and make sure it doesn’t start to cool as soon as it is poured.

Water pressure builds up to expand the grounds, rather than ejecting it at full barista-level force immediately.

The temperature, although optimum for taste, was still a little bit cold for those of us who like our coffee tipping boiling point. And it was quite noisy as well. But the look, care and consideration which has gone into creating the product is top-level, and the feel is really high-end.

Reasons to Buy

  • Great tasting coffee
  • Generous water tank size

Reasons to Avoid

  • Steam wand is not the most powerful

5.
Sage The Bambino Plus SES500BSS

Specifications

  • Type: Pump
  • Coffee: Fresh Ground
  • Pressure: 15 bar
  • Water Tank: 1.9L

Great at turning coffee grounds into a brilliant barista drink, with an added milk frothing jug in case you want a bit of something indulgent.

This wand can add crema, froth milk or add latte art to your cup. The Thermojet technology heats up the coffee grounds in just three seconds, and there is digital temperature control so you can ensure the coffee is always served at the right temperature.

There is a generously sized water tank to say it is called the Bambino, and the whole body is made from stainless steel so is high quality. The three settings are Single espresso, Double espresso and Automatic milk texturing, so even if you often ask for a double shot, you are covered.

The drip tray is removable, so you can put big mugs under the spout, and descaling and cleaning programmes will ensure it remains running well throughout its lifespan.

Reasons to Buy

  • Milk frothing is simple
  • Pre-infusion for better tasting coffee
  • Can still be tailored to suit tastes

Reasons to Avoid

  • Quite a long drop for coffee to cup

6.
Smeg ECF01

Specifications

  • Type: Automatic
  • Coffee: Ground or ESE Pods
  • Pressure: 15 bar
  • Water Tank: 1L

For that classic 1950’s retro design, you can’t beat anything by Smeg.

With a milk frothing wand, you aren’t limited to just espressos, with cappuccinos and lattes also being within easy reach. It is super quick and simple to use and only requires a quick wipe after use to keep it clean.

The ability to be able to use both grounds and paper-type pods will appeal to a lot of people and is also great for anyone who loves having great tasting coffee but sometimes needs a bit of convenience and a mess-free brew.

For anyone who likes large mugs too, the drip tray stand is removable to accommodate these. Thermoblock technology allows the appliance to warm up really quick, so it is always ready to go when you need it the most, and to make your coffee even hotter, just preheat the cup on the flat surface at the top of the machine.

It was one of the most comfortable water tanks to remove and refill, with a nice wide opening and a compact shape. Even when full, it is simple enough to slot back into place and keep secure. The capacity will make about 8 espressos before needing to be refilled, which is generous for an espresso machine.

The frother can only be used for about a minute before shutting down, which stops it overheating, so this needs to be taken into consideration when preparing your milk-based drinks. Despite this, it is a really effective frother, which seems to hold itself well even when added to drinks.

Reasons to Buy

  • Retro look
  • Easy to keep clean and refill
  • Great tasting quality produced
  • Choice of colours

Reasons to Avoid

  • Pricey for the functions

7.
De’Longhi Icona Vintage

Specifications

  • Type: Pump
  • Coffee: Fresh Ground or ESE Pods
  • Pressure: 15 bar
  • Water Tank: 1.4L

With a patented dual function filter holder, this espresso machine can take both ESE pods and grounds, meaning you can make your coffee just how you like it. And it very much looks the part, too.

The cappuccino system means it mixes steam, air and milk to producing a rich creamy froth and crema, which is just the way most people like their espressos. It also means it is great to use as a base if you want to make a taller coffee.

There are two separate thermostats so you can control the temperatures of both the water and steam, which gives you a great option to make your coffee just how you want it. Self-priming technology means it is always ready to use without you lifting a finger too.

Other special features include a cup warmer base so the coffee stays hotter for longer, a removable drip tray and water tank for easier cleaning and upkeep, and a water tank capacity indicator so you can see when it needs topping up. Two espressos can be made at any one time, so it is ideal if you have a full household as well.

Reasons to Buy

  • Style
  • Easy to adjust temperatures and pressure
  • Matching toaster and kettle available if you want the set

Reasons to Avoid

  • Pressure of water coming through can sometimes be weak

8.
Swan Retro SK22110BLN

Specifications

  • Type: Pump
  • Coffee: Fresh Ground or ESE Pods
  • Pressure: 15 bar
  • Water Tank: 1.2L

Brilliant retro design and ready to go in minutes – this isn’t just an espresso machine to make your kitchen happy, but which will also ensure you get that caffeine fix before it is too late.

A generous 1.2L water tank gives you enough scope to make one or two cups at a time, whether you are feeling generous enough to make one for someone else in the household or whether you know you’re going to need a double shot hit. You can use ground coffee or ESE pods, and a professional coffee presser will ensure it is a perfect cup with even coffee.

Available in all of the typical retro colours from cream to blue to green, it will be able to match those fellow Swan or Smeg kitchen items down to the ground. A temperature monitor will ensure you get the coffee just right for the bean being used, and there is also an added milk frother as a bonus to help you create absolute works of art.

 

Reasons to Buy

  • Colour options
  • Compatible with ground and ESE coffee

Reasons to Avoid

  • Milk wand is quite short

9.
AmazonBasics Espresso Coffee Maker – Best Budget

Specifications

  • Type: Automatic
  • Coffee: Ground/Pods
  • Pressure: 15 bar
  • Water Tank: 1.25L

Perhaps not the first brand or name you would go for when choosing a new coffee machine. But AmazonBasics is a range of items which are affordable, simple and actually get great reviews.

Well under £100 with enough left over to completely kit out your coffee station if needed, this espresso machine may be basic but still does a good job. The 15 bar pressure is just perfect, and as a bonus, it is also compatible with pods if you want something a bit less messy.

You get high-pressure steam for the perfect frothy cream, and it is reliable against protection from overheating and over pressurising.

It is quite compact so good for smaller kitchens which may not be able to fit larger machines. The lack of bells and whistles when it comes to controlling will also please some. The milk wand is a little short and it does feel and look a bit reflective of the price but knocks out a good cuppa which is the main thing.

Reasons to Buy

  • Price
  • Easy to control
  • Takes up just 19cm of space

Reasons to Avoid

  • Doesn’t look top range

10.
ROK Espresso – Best Manual

Specifications

  • Type: Press/Manual
  • Coffee: Ground
  • Pressure: N/A
  • Water Tank: 400ml

For anyone looking for a non-electrical method of coffee preparation in their home or something for a caravan/holiday apartment which won’t add to the bills, we have included this as a bonus pick.

Not only is it completely manual, but it also looks the part. Made from high-quality aluminium and polished for shine, all you need to do is pre-boil the water for your espresso. Pop the grounds in the coffee filter and pour the water into the dedicated chamber, then raise the lever arms to let the water pour down and filter through, then push down the arms again to create the pressure to brew your espresso.

That is it. No pressing buttons or changing settings, just a simple operation to make quality espresso. Want more than an espresso on the odd occasion to treat yourself? There is a milk frother included so you can open up your coffee world to lattes and cappuccinos with ease.

It is the perfect item if you really enjoy the traditional ritual of coffee making and like to put a bit of effort into your cup and treat yourself.

With the fun and manual operation comes a bit of mess and temperamental results. Grinds occasionally go a bit astray, and it does take a lot more precision than automatic machinery, but it is to be expected. You need to sort out your favourite bean/grinding method or pre-ground variety, as well as to tamp the coffee correctly and using the right speed to press, which can take a lot of experimentation and dud results at first.

But for a product which will no doubt give you a lifetime of results, a few weeks of getting to grips with the ROK Espresso Maker will surely seem worth it in the end.

Reasons to Buy

  • Great design idea
  • Splitter included to make two espressos at once
  • Milk frother, scoop/tamper and storage tin included

Reasons to Avoid

  • Will take a bit of time to get perfect

Espresso Machine Buying Guide

How to find the best espresso machine

There are several factors to consider before you buy an espresso machine, including:

  • How many cups will you want to make at any one time?

  • Is milk frothing important to you?

  • How do you want to be able to control it?

  • Do you want to be able to use ESE pods?

Some will make two cups at once, whereas others will make only one. There are some milk froth arms which are better and stronger than others, and easier to use. Controls vary between switches, buttons and levers, and there are both manual and automatic machines (with the former needing monitoring for water levels). Most modern coffee making appliances will take ESE pods, but a lot of traditional styles won’t.

There are other factors too, such as price, the space available in your kitchen, the size of the water tank and even the colour and general style. Our top pick is a pretty good option to tick all these boxes.

Descaling your espresso machine

Before you buy, you also need to think about the other items and equipment you’re going to need. One big item is descaler.

Most can be descaled with dedicated tablets, following the manufacturer’s guidelines. Every appliance will be different, so there is no definitive answer, nor is there an absolute time scale in which this must be done.

Some machines may need descaling every two weeks, whereas others may be every two months. It all depends on how frequently it is used and your water type. Most manufacturers usually recommend using bottled, filtered water and keeping on top of the cleaning of the machine to prevent any problems arising sooner than they should.

FAQs

Espresso machine or bean to cup?

There are a lot of similarities, so it is easy to get confused. First of all, the main difference is the amount they pour. An espresso pours the strong base, and a bean to cup can usually pour up to Americano size.

The majority have a milk frother and will make espressos, lattes, cappuccinos and macchiatos. It all boils down to how you like your coffee.

Espresso machines are mostly dedicated to the job their name suggests. They focus on the base of the coffee, and the milk frother is almost like an added bonus which means you can turn your espresso into another form of coffee if you wish. The taste of the espresso is usually superior, and some will make two at a time.

Bean to cup machines are more substantial when it comes to their milk frothing capabilities, as they’re designed to make milk-based drinks primarily. They’re usually easier to use too.

Another big difference is the price and the type of coffee they use. Bean to cup machines are much more expensive in general, and will only take coffee beans. Espresso machines can start at around £40, will take ground coffee and sometimes ESE pods.

In the end, espresso machines are for anyone who really likes their coffee base to be quality.

What is an ESE Pod?

ESE stands for Easy Serving Espresso pods. They have paper filter covers and are used in non-grinding espresso machines.

Each has 7g of coffee packed inside, which is enough for a single serving. They were developed in 1989 to make espresso preparation at home seem a lot easier, so are great for anyone who doesn’t like mess and laborious cleaning.

Not all espresso machines are compatible with ESE pods, and plastic pods (such as those used with capsule machines).

Do I need a coffee bean grinder?

If you’re going to be using your espresso machine with ground coffee as opposed to ESE pods, you will either need a grinder for fresh coffee beans or will need to buy it freshly ground.

The ideal grind is quite fine. This reduces the speed that water flows through the coffee, resulting in more pressure being needed and a stronger taste.

A benefit of a grinder is that the beans will be fresh when they go in the machine, whereas pre-ground coffee has already started losing its taste. There may also be the option to change the grinding level if you want something a bit more coarse for fuller flavour.

There is no need for a grinder, though. Pre-ground coffee is widely available in supermarkets and shops, from brands such as Illy, Lavazza, and Nescafe.

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