Last Updated 02-08-2019

10 Best Espresso Machines 2019

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.

The Best Espresso Machines

1.
De’Longhi Dedica Style Traditional Pump Espresso Machine

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 BES810BSS the Duo Temp Pro – Best for Coffee Flavour

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

3.
BEEM Germany Espresso & Cappuccino Maker – Best Value

Specifications

  • Type: Automatic
  • Pressure: 19 bar
  • Coffee: Ground

Able to make an espresso in under 30 seconds, this is a speedy machine with lots of extra features to give you the option of something more than an espresso every so often.

Heating up is quick too, so you don’t have to worry about preheating anything or switching it on ages before you want to use it. The size of the espresso you choose comes in three settings – single, double or fully personalised if you like something a bit weaker or somewhere in between.

The drip tray, milk tank and water tank are all easy to remove and clean so you can keep on top of it between uses, and they’re also pretty easy to all put back together too, so you don’t have to put it all off to another day.

We loved the fact that, for the price, there is a cup warmer too which will prevent the contents cooling down as quickly. Regarding temperature, the espresso is served at a universally-accepted optimum heat but still wasn’t that hot, so this machine is best for anyone who makes a brew and drinks it almost straight away rather than leaving it to sit while you get ready.

The instructions included are, if anything, a bit overcomplicated. We found we barely had to look at them to set everything up as it is pretty self-explanatory, so great for anyone who has never had a coffee machine previously.

Removing the portafilter is a bit difficult the first few times as it requires a lot of force, so the appliance can wiggle around as you attempt it, but on a positive note at least it means everything is securely in place!

Reasons to Buy

  • Simple user interface is automatic Temperature is one of the lowest of those reviewed
  • Good to keep clean
  • Milk frother is automatic

Reasons to Avoid

  • Temperature is one of the lowest of those reviewed

4.
Smeg ECF01BLUK – Best Design

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

Reasons to Avoid

  • Pricey for the functions

5.
Krups XP344040

Specifications

  • Type: Steam and Pump
  • Coffee: Ground
  • Pressure: 15 bar
  • Water Tank: 1.1L

With the ability to heat the water in under 40 seconds, the perfect cup of coffee can be ready in under a minute and consistently hot from the first go.

First of all, it is very compact, so good for any small kitchens or those limited on bench space as it doesn’t take up a lot of room. Using the appliance is super easy, with a single front-control knob controlling the one or two shot/cup amounts, and a simple power button to press to get everything going. Choose between the coffee, steam or warming the cup holder to get going.

A universal filter holder comes with two filters included, a one and a two cup, so you have not only the right amount of coffee but also fewer extras to look after and care for. We loved the fact that the appliance has an integrated smart storage area at the back of the machine for these, so everything is kept in one place and safe.

Now for the slight niggles. The milk frother is one of the least powerful we reviewed, so it takes a while longer to properly froth the milk, which isn’t great as the steam cuts out after about 90 seconds as a safety measure. Pressure can’t be adjusted, and the liquid has to be held in a particular place for the frothing to be most efficient. We found its best to hold it just below the surface of the milk rather than well into the jug.

The boiler also seems to drain excess water into the overfill tray, so it needs regular emptying. Overall cleaning is also a strain, as it doesn’t all come apart (only the tip of the milk wand is removable, for instance).

If ease of use is your thing and you only want espressos, then this is a great model. But for the price, some things could be improved.

Reasons to Buy

  • Good usability
  • Storage area

Reasons to Avoid

  • Milk frother could be better

6.
De’Longhi Icona Vintage Traditional Pump Espresso

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

7.
La Pavoni Professional Lusso PL – Best High End

Specifications

  • Type: Lever
  • Coffee: Ground
  • Pressure: 0.7-0.8 bar
  • Water Tank: 1.6L

For those who like to put maximum effort into their coffee making for maximum return, the La Pavoni range of coffee makers is pretty unbeatable.

There’s no denying it looks fancy. In fact, it’s nothing like any modern coffee machine, thanks to the point the design hasn’t changed much over the past 100 years. So if you’re a believer that the old classics still function better than any new appliances will ever do, it is a great choice – La Pavoni’s are built for a lifetime of service.

It is bound to look great in any kitchen, with the exposed boiler, pressure gauge and the chrome colouring with a sturdy build.

Using it isn’t just a case of pressing a few buttons and having a cup of coffee appear before your eyes. It takes a lot of practice to get things just right, particularly with the milk frother, but when everything is in place, it will produce some of the best coffee you will have ever tasted.

If you are used to modern, quick appliances, it could get a bit time-consuming and frustrating. There isn’t a cup heating function, and it takes about two run-throughs to get heated up, but then again it isn’t meant for those in a rush. Also, bear in mind that the exterior gets very hot, so it isn’t a machine to have around if you’re prone to accidents or there are little ones about.

This machine has a large number of enthusiasts, and it is so clear to see why. It may be expensive, but if you’re serious about your coffee and want something that won’t break down within a few years, then it is a great investment that you will have so much fun using.

Reasons to Buy

  • Unique design and function
  • Traditional coffee making modernised

8.
Francis Francis X1 Ground Coffee Machine – Best for Colour Choices

Specifications

  • Type: Manual
  • Coffee: Ground
  • Pressure: 18 bar
  • Water Tank: 1.2L

For something that looks really different, this Francis Francis model for Illy isn’t only a striking orange colour but is the perfect mix of retro look and function.

Also available in yellow, almond, stainless steel, black, red and blue, it is the choice if you want to add some personality to your kitchen appliances.

It can produce espressos and also froth milk, to open up your coffee choice. With the ability to make two espressos at once, and a generous water tank, even if you are entertaining it will be able to handle the demand.

However, the brass boiler isn’t the most effective at heating up the water, so when preheating from cold, you’ll have to prepare your schedule to make time. Once it does heat, the temperature of the coffee is really good and will stay warm for a little while.

The temperature gauge will let you know when it is ready to go, and the addition of it only adds to the looks. It also beeps when ready, in case you are too busy doing other things to keep an eye on it.

In terms of the size of the cups you can fit under the pourer, you are quite restricted. The space between the filter basket and base is quite minimal, so latte glasses are a definite no. Opt for big wide mugs if you’ll regularly be having milk-based drinks.

There is another version available which will accept ESE pods rather than ground coffee, and they don’t look any different, but we like the idea of ground coffee as it means less waste, so this would be our choice.

Reasons to Buy

  • Easy rocker switches to choose coffee or steam
  • Stunning colours and design
  • Cup storage on the top of the machine

Reasons to Avoid

  • Espresso produced is thin and a bit watery

9.
Cooks Professional Espresso Maker – Best Affordable

Specifications

  • Type: Automatic
  • Coffee: Ground
  • Pressure: 3.5 bar
  • Water Tank: 400ml

A great example of cheap and cheerful, this Cooks Professional model is a steal for under £100 – although there are some signals that this is the case, unlike with the Morphy Richards Accents.

It is great for anyone with a low budget, who can’t be bothered altering loads of settings before the coffee is made, or who isn’t a frequent coffee drinker. The single dial on the side is simple enough to navigate in terms of choosing the right settings and functions, and there is an automatic milk frother function to make things easy enough on this front.

There is no gauge to tell you how much water is left in the tank, which is frustrating, especially as the tank is so small. You can get about three espressos out of it before having to refill. To put more water in, you unscrew the lid at the top of the appliance and use the jug provided.

Pressure is low, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing and just means coffee will come out of the appliance a bit slower, but you won’t get the coffee-shop quality taste at the end which so many others boast.

But for the price, it does the job. Don’t buy if you’re overly sensitive to being able to taste when coffee isn’t quality, but for anyone who makes a big mug with milk in the morning before they go to work, it is a good option for a good price.

Reasons to Buy

  • Price Design looks more expensive
  • Design looks more expensive

Reasons to Avoid

  • Taste isn’t top-level

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

Which is the best espresso machine for me?

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

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 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.

Can I froth other milk types?

Whether it be oat, almond, soya or coconut, the ability for a milk arm to cope frothing thinner milk varieties can be very hit and miss. As an espresso machines primary function is not to froth milk but rather to create the base for a coffee, they may be less able to cope with this than the bean to cup models.

It would have to be something you test, though. There are a few models in our list with really effective milk froth arms.

 

Share

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email