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17 Different Types of Espresso Machines for Coffee Lovers

Photo collage of espresso machinesEspresso machines

Table of Contents Show

Quicklist: Espresso Machine Types

  1. Single Boiler
  2. Heat Exchanger
  3. Double Boiler
  4. Pour-Over/Reservoir
  5. Direct-Connect
  6. Volumetric
  7. Semi-Automatic
  8. Super-Automatic
  9. Manual-Lever
  10. PID temperature control
  11. Steam Pressure
  12. Moka Pot
  13. Pump-Driven
  14. Semi-Automatic
  15. Fully Automatic
  16. Super-Automatic
  17. Ultra-Automatic

Most of us love coffee and espresso, but few of us realize the amount of engineering that goes into the machines that make it for us. When I first started making shots in my home, I was absolutely blown away at the different types of espresso machine options there were to consider.

These aren’t just stylistic differences, either. The way an espresso machine is engineered is one of the major factors determining how the actual espresso shots taste.

Now let me make one thing clear. Not all of the attributes types on this list are mutually exclusive. For example, you can have a double-boiler machine that’s also a direct-connect machine, etc. However, breaking it down in this fashion is probably the easiest way to understand all of the major differences you need to consider.

So without further ado, let’s check out all the different types of espresso machines that are out there.

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Different Types of Espresso Machines

1. Single Boiler

 

rocket appartamento side view single boiler

The Rocket Appartamento is an example of a high-end single boiler machine that many prosumers use in their home. It’s also quick enough to work for small businesses.

 

A single boier espresso machine is just like it sounds. It has a single water boiler that’s used for both steaming with the wand and the actual extraction of the beans through the portafilter. Since steaming takes place at a much higher temperature than brewing, it means that you cannot pull shots as quickly as a machine with more than one boiler.

Consider this scenario: You just pulled a shot and now want to steam your milk. You now need to wait a small amount of time for the water in the boiler to come up to steam temperature.

In the reverse, you also have to wait for the water to cool down a little bit before extraction if you decide to steam your milk first. If you extract the beans at too high of a temperature, it will have a negative impact on the flavor.

It’s not all bad, though. Single boiler machines are designed to be compact and efficient. They’re ideal for the home because of their small footprint and lower prices.

Unless you’re an extremely busy café or restaurant, the amount of time you’ll have to wait between steaming and extracting isn’t a big deal whatsoever. But if you’ve got a line of customers out the door, these short wait times can add up and get people frustrated quickly.

Not a good thing when people haven’t had their coffee yet!

2. Heat Exchanger

espresso machine with heat exchanger oscar ii

The Oscar ii by Nuova Simonelli has a heat exchanger which makes it small and convenient with lots of control.

 

Espresso machines with heat exchangers also have single boilers, but they operate a bit differently. The first thing to know is that the boiler holds the water at a high heat so that it’s ready to steam whenever you need it. However, this doesn’t mean that it brews the coffee at that temperature.

When you brew through a heat exchanger, there is a separate tube located within the boiler that feeds the portafilter of the espresso machine. This tube cools the water down to the appropriate brewing temperature of around 195 degrees before it ever reaches the ground beans in the portafilter.

Quick tip: It’s ideal that you flush the temperature inside of the tube before extracting because any residual water in the tube will heat up if it just sits there.

The downside of a heat exchanger is that the user doesn’t have total control of the water that’s used for brewing. You can only change the temperature of the brewing water by modifying the water temperature that’s used for steaming.

These machines are a little bit better for lower-volume commercial operations than a single boiler. However, a double boiler is still ideal because you get the most control and the quickest output.

One of the most popular examples of a high-end machine with a heat exchanger is the Nuova Simonelli Oscar ii. It’s an example of a machine that can be used in a small commercial setting, but also in a home.

3. Double Boiler

dual boiler espresso machine rocket r58

The Rocket R58 is an example of a popular dual-boiler espresso machine.

 

Now that you understand how a single boiler and a heat exchanger works, a double boiler should be really easy to understand. Just like the name sounds, these types of espresso machines have two water boilers: one that’s used for the steam wand and the other that’s used for extracting the shots.

This allows the barista to control the two temperatures independently and really dial in on the temperature they want to brew at. Believe it or not, even slight changes in the water temperature can make a huge difference in the taste of the espresso.

The precise temperature control is also about consistency. If you want to deliver the same results in every cup, you can’t have variations in temperature.

But it’s not all about the flavor. The double boiler system also means that you can brew and steam much faster. There’s no need to do a cooling flush or wait for the boiler to return to an appropriate temperature for brewing. You can be in a constant cycle of brewing and steaming without missing a beat.

This is why most high-end and high-traffic coffee shops will only use double boiler machines.

4. Pour-Over/Reservoir

mini vivaldi pour over espresso machine

Mini Vivaldi by La Spaziale pour-over machine.

 

A pour-over/reservoir machine is what most people are familiar with when they think of a coffee or espresso maker.

But don’t confuse a pour-over espresso machine with a pour-over coffee maker. They are two totally different things.

A pour-over coffee involves taking hot water and pouring it directly over beans that are placed in a filter above a cup or coffee carafe. You’ll commonly see this method done at your local coffee shops and it’s also been adopted by Starbucks.

But when you’re talking about espresso machines, a pour-over/reservoir machine refers to the fact that it has a reservoir which you pour the water into before brewing.

Ideally, this should be water that’s properly filtered/softened to maintain the life of your machine. These types of machines are ideal for home users who don’t want to mess with their plumbing or run water directly to their espresso machine.

5. Direct-Connect

nuova simonelli wave direct connect

 Nuova Simonelli Aurelia Wave machines are high-end direct-connect technology intended for use in high-volume locations.

 

A direct-connect espresso machine allows the user to hook up directly to a waterline. This means that you have access to a constant stream of water, just like the kitchen sink. There’s no need to constantly refill the tank or monitor how much water is left.

For a high-volume operation that serves lots of espresso, this is a must-have. Some more advanced home users will also opt for a direct-connect, but it is generally considered the exception rather than the rule.

It’s important to know that these machines aren’t designed to take the tap water as is. In order to properly maintain a direct-connect machine, you need to have a water softener installed. If you don’t do this, two unwanted things will happen:

For one, the espresso might taste a bit off to some people because of the calcium and other minerals in the tap water. But more importantly, using straight tap water in your machine will cause scale build up over time. This can damage or even completely ruin the machine — which is a real shame because direct connect machines aren’t cheap!

Some direct-connect machines also have the ability to convert to a pour-over machine. Most people wouldn’t ever need something like this, but if you’re someone that owns a food truck or a catering business, you won’t be able to operate the machine unless it has this ability.

You can often buy different versions of the same machine with plumbed and non-plumbed configurations. An example would be the La Spaziale S1 Vivaldi II because it comes in a standard and mini version.

6. Volumetric

la spaziale 2 group volumetric espresso machine

Example of a two-group volumetric espresso machine — the S2 by La Spaziale.

 

Volumetric machines, also referred to as ‘automatic,’ from time to time have a very specific attribute that makes them fantastic for a wide range commercial applications.

They take the complicated process of making espresso and turn it into something that’s simple, consistent and repeatable over and over again. All this while still giving you the flexibility to modify the shot according to your liking.

A volumetric machine will measure the amount of water being dispensed into the group and then stop when the pre-programmed threshold is reached. This water threshold is programmed by the user so you can change the program until you find exactly what you want.

So long as you have your grinder dialed-in correctly, you’ll be able to brew espresso that tastes consistent, shot after shot, once you find the right settings..

7. Semi-Automatic

nuova simonelli appia ii semi automatic espresso machine

The Nuova Simonelli Appia ii has a semi-automatic configuration.

 

A semi-automatic espresso machine starts the brewing process with the push of a button, but doesn’t have the same programmatic function as a volumetric machine does. This means that the user needs to have a little more experience to use it properly, but on the flipside, it allows for more customization on a shot-by-shot basis.

Unlike a lever machine (more information below) all the user has to do to start the extraction is push a single button. No need to use any elbow grease.

If you want to change the amount of water you’re using, you don’t have to reprogram the machine as you do on a volumetric. Simply stop the pump by pressing the appropriate button when you want to cease the water flow.

8. Super-Automatic

nuova simonelli talento super automatic espresso machine

The Nuova Simonelli Talento is a two-hopper super-automatic machine.

 

A super-automatic is an espresso machine that literally does it all. Every part of the espresso brewing process you can think of, besides putting beans and water into the machine, can be done at the push of a single button. Generally speaking, here’s how it works over a broad spectrum of machines:

  • The user selects the size or drink they want and presses the respective button (single, double or even specialty drinks).
  • The machine then grinds the beans, steams the milk (on some machines) and extracts the coffee.
  • The user gets to stand there in awe is a barista-quality drink is prepared right before their eyes.

But do note that there are two types of super-automatic machines: one-step and two- step.

A one-step machine does everything I just described above including the milk-steaming portion. On the other hand, a two-step machine doesn’t handle the milk portion. Usually, people will opt to get a separate milk pitcher to do the steaming on the side. This is ideal if you want to be able to cater to people with dairy allergies or other dietary needs. 

It’s also important to note that some of these machines are far more high-tech than others. There are basic super-automatic machines that will just brew up a classic cup of espresso and nothing else. On the other hand, there are others that have highly diverse menus of different drinks that users can choose from.

Companies like McDonald’s will often use these types of machines at their McCafé locations. This allows them to create a wide variety of different coffee-based beverages without training baristas.

9. Manual-Lever 

victoria arduino manual lever espresso machine

Athena Leva, a manual lever espresso machine by Victoria Arduino.

 

Manual-lever espresso machines are probably the coolest looking ones on the list, but they’re also the hardest ones to use. These machines reflect the traditional way espresso was made and the term “pulling a shot” derives from the action of pulling a lever on one of these machines.

To properly use them requires lots of practice and knowledge about espresso. It’s not as simple as loading up your portafilter and pressing a button.

Here’s a basic overview about how most of these machines work (there are a few different mechanisms, but this is the most common method from brands like Elektra):

  • When the lever is pulled, it begins what’s referred to as ‘pre-infusion’.
  • During this step, the coffee inside of the portafilter gets exposed to the water from the boiler.
  • When the lever is released, water is pumped more strongly through the portafilter which is when you start to see the coffee going into the cup.

One interesting thing about the lever machine is that they don’t make nearly as much noise as the other machines on this list. This is because they don’t have a motor or a pump forcing the water through the portafilter.

These types of machines are recommended for home enthusiasts who love the look or who really want to have total control over the extraction process. Some specialized cafés will use them as part of their aesthetic, but it’s probably not worth it from a business perspective unless you have trained baristas.

10. PID temperature control

quick mill vetrano 2b with PID system

The Quick Mill Vetrano 2B features a PID system to regulate the temperature.

 

The acronym PID stands for Proportional Integral Derivative. It’s a mechanism that has lots of different commercial uses from robotic arms to disk drives. In the case of an espresso machine, it has one simple function: to regulate the temperature.

Without a PID, the heating mechanism inside an espresso machines works much like the air conditioner inside your house. Once your house reaches too high of a temperature, the AC kicks back on and starts to cool it off again.

This can create water temperatures that are inconsistent and unstable — not ideal for making consistent espresso especially if the temperature outside of the machine is unstable.

A PID regularly monitors the water and makes sure that it doesn’t go too hot or too cold. It kicks the heating mechanism on much more frequently to keep the water temperature stable.

Above Image Credits: MajestyCoffee.com

11. Steam Pressure 

Steam Pressure Espresso Machines

The basic stovetop espresso pot uses steam to create pressure on the water and coffee. Historically, there have been different types of steam-based espresso machines, but in modern times, only one is common.

Patiobuddy Moka Pot Stainless Steel Percolator Espresso Coffee Maker for Gas, Electric and Alcohol Stovetop with 4 Coffee Measuring Spoons, 6 Cup

 

The Moka Pot

The Moka Pot is the cheapest way to brew coffee and also doesn’t take up a lot of space on the stove. However, it does tend to produce poor-quality espresso since it doesn’t have a high pressure function.

High-quality espresso uses high pressure — over nine bars — fast extraction with water within a temperature range of 195-200° Fahrenheit. If you use boiling water, as you do in steam pots, the pressure isn’t high enough for smooth extraction. Since it is actually steam, it is too hot already. This can create a coffee mix that is a little harsh and bitter.

A lot of people actually prefer this taste, though, so it depends on your preferences. Many second and third generation European-Americans grew up with the Moka Pot coffee in their grandmother’s kitchen, so they prefer the harsh taste of the coffee.

Many restaurants even replicate the flavor characteristics of stovetop coffee by over-extracting their espresso in their commercial machines. However, they may not always do this on purpose. Sometimes, the staff might be untrained, or the manager might be unaware of how to make the coffee.

One advantage of the steam-based espresso pot is that it is much smaller than big espresso machines and doesn’t take up a lot of counter space. You can easily leave it on your stove or pop it in the cupboard.

The coffee pots are also relatively inexpensive and are a great solution for a college student on a budget in a cramped apartment who just wants a home espresso machine.

For people who need the caffeine buzz (a.k.a. college students), it should be noted that over-extracted espresso in boiling water does indeed have a higher caffeine content as well — making it the perfect solution for caffeine-cravers.

Many Moka Pots are also quite aesthetically pleasing and come in all sorts of sizes and colors. It also makes a pretty decent shot of espresso, so you won’t have any worries if all you want in the morning is a burst of caffeine to get you through those initial hours.

12. Pump-Driven Espresso MachinesPump-Driven Espresso Machine

Espresso machines have a pump installed to help brew coffee at the right temperatures. It is sometimes taken for granted that when people talk about an espresso machine, they’re referring to a machine that is plugged into a wall. However, that isn’t always the case.

Espresso machines have become synonymous with pump-driven espresso machines in the last few years. These pump-driven espresso machines produce the right pressure from nine to 15 bars.

They have an electric pump that can help baristas pump out high-quality espressos. The machines have a single-boiler attachment in which the water is heated to the perfect temperature for ideal extraction. It usually hits the 195-200° Fahrenheit range, not boiling at 212° Fahrenheit, which results in good espresso.

The coffee makers also have options to produce steam since espresso machines need steam wands for steaming milk and frothing for lattes and cappuccinos. If you opt for more affordable models, they will have one boiler element that will turn the water to steam.

The espresso machine is designed to take steam from the top of the boiler while the water is taken from the boiler itself so that the temperatures are correct.

The water from the boiler is usually a little hotter than you would normally prefer for espresso extraction. These types of espresso machines will still make excellent coffee and will be more affordable, too. However, if you can afford the better, more expensive espresso machines with two heating elements, you should invest in them.

They have water reservoirs and boilers so that you can make coffee at the right temperature. The boiler’s heating element produces steam for use in lattes and cappuccinos. The second heating element heats the cooler water in the water tank to the right temperature.

Some coffee shops and restaurants have commercial espresso machines that have multiple group heads. The extraction temperatures are set differently for each group so that they can be used for different purposes.

This feature is used for roasts or custom blends of coffee that needs to be extracted at different temperatures — ones other than the typically set temperature. Espresso bars and coffee shops use one of the groups to extract a custom blend that they are known for, while the other group is usually used for their house blends.

There are many types of espresso machines with electric pumps that are available in the market for the purpose of making espressos. They all have varying features and result in different types of coffee.

They also come at drastically different price points, which is why it is important to learn more about them so that you can get the right one.

13. Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines

Ascaso Dream Up V3 Strawberry Gum PID Wood Handle Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine - w/Ascaso Cup & Saucer

 

Semi-automatic espresso machines have a small lever or switch which can be used to turn the espresso extraction option on or off. To get good coffee from this espresso machine, you have to load the portafilter with a ground filter.

After tamping the coffee in, proceed to lock the group handle into the group head. Place your favorite mug under the portafilter and push the switch or lever on the front panel. This will start the extraction process, and the coffee will begin to pour into the mug.

14. Fully Automatic Espresso Machines

 

DeLonghi ESAM 6900.M Delonghi ESAM6900 Prima Donna Exclusive Fully Automatic Espresso Maker with Lattecrema System, Stainless Steel (Renewed)

 

Fully automatic espresso machines were first patented by Italian barista Achilles Gaggia (working at his family’s coffee bar, Caffè Achille, in Viale Premuda, Milan) in 1938.

They are the same basic machine as the semi-automatic kinds but contain a microprocessor. This can be programmed to extract any particular volume for special espresso drinks that need specific amounts of coffee.

They have multiple buttons instead of just one switch to turn on and turn off the espresso extraction process. Each button is designed for a different drink size. For example, you can use different buttons for espressos, doppios, ristrettos and Americanos.

For this, you need to program the machine and then load and tamp the portafilter with your choice of ground coffee. You will get fresh coffee at the press of a button, which is simple and gives you consistent results.

If you can afford it, this type of espresso machine is truly the best thing to have. It is great for office environments where a lot of people will be using the espresso machine.

Even if a lot of people don’t know how to use the coffee machine, they will still be able to get great coffee pretty easily. These machines provide ease of use and create perfect shots without much effort.

For commercial espresso use, the automatic machine is one of the best types of espresso machines to get. This is especially useful for bars, restaurants and coffee shops that may not have fully trained baristas. Managers can also preprogram the sizes of the shots so that the quality and quantity of the coffee is uniform.

15. Super-Automatic Espresso Machines

Buona Mattina Super Automatic Cafe Quality Espresso, Latte, Americano and Cappuccino Machine with Whole Bean Grinder and Milk Frother, White

Click image to check price

The common names for super-automatic espresso machines include espresso centers or espresso and coffee centers. Espresso centers have all the features you find in fully-automatic machines but with some additional features.

They have built-in coffee grinders that use the roasted coffee beans of your choice rather than the weaker, store-bought, pre-ground coffee. Also, instead of using the time-consuming way of grinding the beans separately, the machine does all the work for you.

With a simple push of a button, you can choose the coffee drink size that you want, and the machine will do the rest. It grinds the coffee beans to the correct granularity for your preferred beverage option, tamps and loads the porta-filter, and then extracts the coffee at the right water volume and temperature.

Super-automatic machines also make a larger variety of drinks than fully automatic espresso machines. The machine is equipped to make great plain coffee, as well as a mixture of various espresso extractions.

These machines also have a lot of nice features. For example, the flat top of the espresso machine may come with a heating tray where you can store your espresso cups. The machine will pre-warm the cut so that the coffee doesn’t cool down after pouring it.

Other machines also have chutes that you can pour already ground coffee in, which can allow you to bypass the internal coffee grinder of the machine. This is great in case someone wants decaffeinated or pre-flavored coffee drinks or espressos. You can get great coffee and put the machine to good use by using whole beans through the coffee grinder.

Experts suggest that flavored coffee beans should never be used in the machine since they can leave the flavor on the grinder blades, affecting all coffee blends in the future. Instead, pre-flavored coffee should be bought in the form of coffee grounds or grinding should be done separately beforehand.

If you plan on doing this, use a bypass chute machine instead. For commercial use, it is recommended that two separate coffee grinders are used for unflavored and flavored coffee blends.

The only thing that super-automatic espresso machines don’t do by themselves is steam and froth the milk for lattes and cappuccinos. You will still need to steam and froth the milk with the frothing wand and then pour it into the coffee cup to mix with the espresso extraction.

16. Ultra-Automatic Espresso Machines

Ultra-automatic espresso machines are known for simplifying the brewing process to almost nothing. They have all the features of a super-automatic espresso machine with one addition; they also froth and steam the milk automatically.

This is a relatively new model of coffee machine for office and home use but has been part of large commercial espresso machines in vending areas and cafeterias for ages.

They have mechanisms to keep the milk refrigerated and come in all sorts of price ranges for home, office and commercial use. All you need to do is to put the roasted coffee beans of your choice into the hopper and the milk in the cool milk reservoir.

The espresso machine will make all the drinks you need automatically with pump machines, including lattes and cappuccinos. The only thing these machines don’t do is latte art, but even that will probably be around in a few years.

17. Lever Espresso Machines

Astoria CMA Rapallo 2 Group Lever Operated Piston Espresso Machine 220V, 4400W

Lever-based espresso machines are commonly known as piston-driven, lever or piston espresso machines. They are designed with an internal piston that pushes against the water to create extraction pressure on the water. The pressure is exerted manually by a human pulling the lever, which is why they are known as manual espresso machines.

These are old world, traditional coffee machines that need some practice to operate properly. They were originally produced by La Pavoni, who released a line of premier products with their own training videos. Although it takes a little practice, this kind of espresso machine produces extremely high-quality pulls. 

There are plenty of coffee lovers who believe that the shot produced by this type of coffee machine is better than the ones pumped out by other espresso machine variants. Many coffee purists have custom pulls to extract the espresso.

By varying and tailoring the pressure with which they pull the coffee in the manual machines, they can get the coffee to exactly how they like it. Basically, it allows you to make the perfect espresso. Many are able to create really smooth coffees like ristrettos with the help of these machines.

The lever machines still need to be plugged into the wall because they have electric boilers. You will also need to fill the boiler to the right levels, or you will find that the coffee machine won’t operate correctly.

Despite the learning curve and the strength needed to utilize these coffee machines, they have few parts, are easy to maintain and operate silently. Many of them are designed as really beautiful machines that give your bar, dining room or kitchen an extra pop of color.

The first thing you need to consider when you are buying your own espresso machine is the budget. You also have to consider how serious you are about the quality of espresso that you want to produce. A higher-quality espresso machine can cost upwards of a thousand dollars, but the coffee it makes will also be worth it.

The last thing to keep in mind is that if you spend more money on a topnotch espresso machine, it can also take up a lot of space on the counter for the machine itself, the coffee grinder, coffee storage and other attachments like coffee tampers and frothing pitchers.

The best thing to do is to research all your options and consider it seriously before buying the espresso machine you have your heart set on.

Photo of espresso maching pouring espresso

Top Espresso Machine Brands

Breville

Source: Breville

Breville has a reputation for making a variety of high-quality kitchen appliances that are well-designed and aesthetically pleasing. Founded in Sydney, Australia in 1932, founders, Bill O’Brien and Harry Norville, combined their last names to create the Breville brand.

The company started out making radios and even made mine detectors during the Second World War, but these days they focus on high-end kitchen ware, including “machines for every espresso lover.” 

The Breville line features 11 different machines from the top-end Oracle Touch,  “a next generation fully automatic espresso machine,” through to the budget-conscious Bambino. Six of their machines come with built-in coffee grinders.

De’Longhi

Source: De’Longhi

The Italian appliance manufacturer De’Longhi is known for its Dinamica and Magnifica lines of automatic espresso machines, as well as the La Specialista and Dedica series of manual machines. Like Breville, they also make their own Nespresso machines.

The La Specialista series of machines, Maestro, Prestigio and Arte, is where De’Longhi brings the professional barista experience into home kitchens with features such as Sensor Grinding Technology, Smart Tamping Station, Active Temperature Control, LatteCrema milk frother and LatteArt Steam Wand.

Nespresso

Source: Nespresso

Nespresso, part of the Swiss company Nestlé, are the originators of the single-portion coffee concept.

Although disposable coffee pods seem like a recent phenomenon, the idea has been around for decades. In 1975, Nestlé employee Eric Favre discovered a coffee shop in Rome that was doing more business than all of the others in the area.

Curious about their success he started studying their methods. Favre figured out that even though they used the same machines as other coffee shops, they pumped the piston multiple times rather than just once, which pushed more water and air into the grounds and released more flavor into the coffee. The process also produced better crema.

The single-portion system was patented in 1976 but marketing the idea proved difficult.

It didn’t catch on until the 1990s when the company began prioritizing capsules for consumers over machines for businesses — targeting everyday coffee drinkers rather than commercial coffee shops.

Today, Nespresso has more than 700 boutique stores in 68 countries.

Best Type of Espresso Machines for Various Needs

Best Beginner Espresso Machine

Breville Barista Express

Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel, BES870XL

The Breville Barista Express is an amazing little espresso machine that includes a dose-controlled integrated grinder with the capacity to produce a delectable brew — from bean to espresso, in less than a minute.

The digital temperature control of the Barista Express provides precise espresso extraction, which allows you to create the perfect espresso every time. With a powerful steam wand and a tank that holds 67 ounces of water, the Barista Express can make a few brews without a refill or the need to wait.

This espresso maker from Breville is an excellent choice for beginners because, while it is manual, there is a great opportunity to learn how to make your perfect espresso.

Best Home Espresso Machines

Gaggia Classic Pro

Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine, Solid, Brushed Stainless Steel

The Gaggia Classic Pro is an entry-level, powerful, semi-automatic espresso machine. The Gaggia brand began from the humble beginnings of a Milan, Italy, café owner.

The Classic Pro is easy to use, with simple, intuitive switches to operate its essential functions — power, brew and steam. Its steam wand is a professional grade which helps ensure you maximize milk steaming.

The Classic Pro does not include a grinder but works well with single-serve pods or pre-ground coffee. With a water tank that holds 74 ounces, you can brew many drinks before you need to refill the tank. The portafilter is 58 millimeters, which helps create the espresso ratio that most cafés use in creating a delectable brew.

Best Espresso Machine for Small Office

Breville Barista Touch Espresso Maker

Breville Barista Touch Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel, BES880BSS

The Barista Touch Espresso Maker offers barista-quality performance. The Touch Espresso Maker provides a touchscreen display, including a menu of five espresso, café favorites, and automatic milk-texturing settings.

The espresso maker, with a three-second heat-up time, has a built-in grinder that creates the perfect brew fast. The Barista Touch has a 67-ounce water tank that can make about 10 drinks before refilling.

The Touch Espresso Maker has a compact footprint for tight spaces in small offices. This machine is customizable, allowing for the saving of up to eight settings. Note that the machine’s milk steamer is automatic.

Best Espresso Machine for Lattes

Philips 3200 Series Espresso Machine LatteGo

Philips 3200 Series Fully Automatic Espresso Machine w/ LatteGo, Black, EP3241/54

The Philips 3200 LatteGo offers an innovative espresso machine that is controlled by a digital touch panel. There is a one or two-cup setting for espresso, latte macchiato, cappuccino, americano or coffee.

The all-in-one machine grinds and brews and then tops your drink with an automatic dollop of foamy milk. The water tank in the Philips LatteGo holds 50 ounces.

There are available adjustments to the bean grinder, the temperature, volume, and strength of the brew — including how much foam you would like. Each of the parts is dishwasher safe.

Best Budget Espresso Machines

De’Longhi Stilosa Espresso MachineDe'Longhi Stilosa Manual Espresso Machine, Latte & Cappuccino Maker, 15 Bar Pump Pressure + Manual Milk Frother Steam Wand, Black / Stainless, EC260BK

De’Longhi’s Stilosa requires independent measuring, grinding, and tamping, but after one or two tries it is easy to create the perfect espresso, cappuccino or latte.

Its contemporary design is also compact, which allows the espresso machine to fit in tight spaces. The espresso maker is preprogrammed to brew directly into a travel mug — making one or two cups at the same time.

Best Espresso Machine for Small Coffee Shops

Breville Bambino PlusBreville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel, BES500BSS

The Bambino Plus from Breville consistently makes a perfect cup of coffee — with minimal effort. This espresso maker is beautifully designed and only needs three seconds of heat-up time before it is ready for a single or double-shot pull.

The automatic frother creates impressive results, as it allows for adjusting the foam’s temperature and texture and includes an automatic switch-off.

The Bambino Plus’s water reservoir holds 64 ounces, which allows for several brews before refilling. The Bambino Plus is available in seven colors and includes a ThermoJet heating system to reach optimal temperature in only seconds.

 

Parts of an espresso machine

Parts of an Espresso Machine illustration

Expresso Parts lists the 18 parts of a machine you need to know in their Barista Basics Tutorial series.

homestratosphere.com

Where to Buy

Big Box Stores

A red expresso maker with a cup of coffee.

We’ve come to depend on big box stores for more than just lumber and garden seeds. Today’s big box stores sell everything from smart and fitness watches to small amounts of food to DVDs to espresso machines. Be prepared to pay up to the hundreds to thousands (yes, thousands) of dollars for a machine that makes the espresso and froths the milk properly.

You’re looking for a near-professional cup of espresso at home, so brace yourself for sticker shock. Bella, Breville, Phillips, De’Longhi, and Jura, just to name a few top brands of espresso machines, can be found in:

  • Sam’s Wholesale Club
  • Costco
  • Bed, Bath, and Beyond
  • Best Buy
  • Home Depot
  • Lowe’s
  • Target
  • Walmart

 

Department Stores

A multiple espresso coffee maker.

Espresso machines aren’t small like their automatic drip coffee maker brothers. Make sure you clear enough counter space for your new espresso machine. Some machines are small, like Mr. Coffee, but they don’t tend to have the milk frother or the coffee bean grinder. The machines that do it all take up a lot of counter space, so slide the bread machine further across the counter.

Amazon, eBay, and other online shopping sites like Etsy and New Egg have all but shut down the big department stores of our childhood. Fortunately for us, we can still drop in to buy our sizable Nespresso, La Pavoni, or KitchenAid brands of espresso machines at JCPenney, a few Sears stores, or:

  • Kohl’s 
  • Macy’s
  • Bloomingdale’s
  • Nordstrom
  • Neiman Marcus
  • Burlington
  • Belk
  • Saks

 

Specialty Stores

A person making an espresso on a coffee maker.

Today’s brick-and-mortar businesses are established by those who saw a need and moved to fulfill it. Small businesses and medium enterprises stocking every item known to man (and some that aren’t)  can be found to carry Bialetti Venus, Flair, La Specialista, and Bunn brands of espresso machines.

These specialty stores will also carry separate grinders and milk frothers if you buy a brand that doesn’t do it all. These specialty stores are:

  • Williams Sonoma
  • Restaurant Supply
  • Crate and Barrel
  • Cooks Direct
  • Chef Store
  • Home Goods
  • HH Gregg

 

Online Stores

A modern espresso coffee maker and a glass of coffee.

When you decided to buy an espresso machine for your home, you researched the brands, any extra equipment you’d need, whether the frother would use oat or almond milk, and how to clean and descale the espresso machine.

Once you got over the eye-popping prices, you settled on a brand out of those like Rancilio, La Marzocco, Calphalon, Sage, or Gaggia Carezza. Then you began searching the Internet for a place to buy it. Allow us:

  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Etsy
  • Wayfair
  • Overstock
  • Espresso Outlet dot net
  • Wholelattelove
  • Majesty Coffee
  • Chris Coffee
  • Clive Coffee (all of these except one are dot coms)

 

Discount And Outlet Stores

A coffee maker and a cup of coffee.

Each city and town has its own version of discount stores, clearance stores, and whole malls dedicated to outlet stores (usually found on Interstate exit ramps.) For example, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Maryland offer shoppers Ollie’s and Big Lots discount stores as well as outlet malls of all sizes and brands.

Other stores carrying espresso machine brands such as VertuoPlus Deluxe, Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker, and Cuisinart are:

  • Family Dollar (located mostly on the East Coast and sparsely in the West)
  • T J Maxx (located almost everywhere)
  • Fred’s (generally located in the South)
  • Rose’s (generally located in the South)
  • Burlington Outlet Stores (located mostly on the East Coast and sparsely in the West)
  • Goodwill and Salvation Army stores (located almost everywhere)
  • Thrift stores (located everywhere)
  • Marshall’s (located almost everywhere)

Frequently Asked Questions

How do espresso machines work?

Espresso machines work by forcing hot water through coffee beans at high pressure. This process produces a strong, concentrated coffee that is full of flavor. Espresso machines come in various styles and can be manual or automatic.

What espresso machines does Starbucks use?

Starbucks uses automatic espresso machines to grind the beans and force hot water through them at high pressure. These machines are straightforward to use and produce consistent results. In comparison, manual espresso machines require more skill and knowledge to operate correctly.

Can espresso machines make regular coffee?

Espresso machines can make regular coffee, but it will not be as solid or flavorful as authentic espresso. Add more water to the brew to make regular coffee with an espresso machine.

Are espresso machines worth it?

Espresso machines can be expensive, but they are worth it if you enjoy drinking espresso. It can also save you money in the long run because you will no longer need to buy coffee at a café.

Why do espresso machines have two spouts?

Espresso machines have two spouts because they can produce two espresso shots at a time. This option is convenient if you want to make a double espresso or if you want to share it with a friend.

How long do espresso machines last?

Espresso machines can last for many years with proper care and maintenance. Descaling the device regularly and cleaning it after each use is essential.

Do espresso machines grind the beans?

Some types of espresso machines have a built-in grinder, but most require you to grind the beans separately. Use a high-quality burr grinder to achieve a consistent grind size for the best results.

Do espresso machines need filters?

Espresso machines need filters to keep the coffee grinds out of the espresso. They usually made these filters of paper or metal and need to be replaced regularly.

What is the difference between manual and automatic espresso machines?

Automatic espresso machines are easier to use because they grind the beans and force hot water through them at high pressure. Manual espresso machines require more skill, giving you more control over the final product.

Do espresso machines make cappuccino?

Espresso machines can make cappuccino, but you must add milk to the brew. There are many recipes for cappuccino, so experiment to find one you like.

Do espresso machines make lattes?

Espresso machines can make lattes, but you must add milk to the brew. There are many recipes for lattes, so experiment to find one you like.

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