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    The 7 best espresso machines of 2024, tested and reviewed

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    The best espresso machines simplify the brewing process, so you can enjoy cafe-quality drinks at home.

    Isabel Fernandez/Insider

    Cafe-quality drinks at home call for an espresso machine, and finding the best espresso machine for your needs depends on a few things. If you like to linger over the process (or are a pour-over coffee maker loyalist), grind your beans fresh, and have a flight of demitasses, you’ll love a more manual operation. But if you’re just looking for a latte on the way out the door, an automatic machine saves you time and energy.

    For our guide to the best espresso machines, we consulted experts, held taste tests, and inspected every inch of each machine. Our favorite is the Gaggia Classic Evo Pro because it gets you involved in the brewing process without being over complicated. If you have a small kitchen and a busy schedule, the Cafe Affetto is our best automatic pick. The coffee quality can be inconsistent, but it’s the easiest way to make espresso at home.

    Read about how we test kitchen products at Insider Reviews.

    Our top picks for espresso machines

    Best overall: Gaggia Classic Evo Pro – See at Amazon

    Best for beginners: Breville Barista Express Impress – See at Amazon

    Best automatic: Cafe Affetto – See at Best Buy

    Best upgrade automatic machine: Jura Z10 – See at Amazon

    Best pod machine: Nespresso Pixie – See at Amazon

    Best stovetop: Grosche Milano – See at Amazon

    Best portable: Flair Espresso – See at Amazon

    Best overall

    The recently improved Gaggia Classic Evo Pro is a no-frills, affordable machine for people who are serious about espresso. Don’t let its straightforward interface and simple design fool you: this is the best at home espresso machine that can pull a full-bodied, flavorful shot.

    With only three buttons to control it, we found the machine simple to operate. Beyond the built-in steam wand, there are no real extra features. In the same vein, the machine doesn’t do much to hold your hand so there is a serious learning curve when dialing in parameters and figuring out how to pull a proper shot. But once you get used to it, the Classic Evo Pro produces stellar espresso. 

    Beginners can learn by doing with the Gaggia Evo Pro, and experts will be satisfied by the brew quality.

    Isabel Fernandez/Insider

    The current model has a few notable upgrades, though they weren’t immediately apparent when we did a side-by-side comparison. Gaggia has gotten rid of the chrome plating in the older models and replaced it with a new group head made entirely of brass. Plus, the included portafilter is now made of stainless steel. The new boiler has a non-stick coating on the interior, which should help to avoid scaling and any leaching of minerals from the aluminum.

    To make the best use of this machine, we firmly believe a dedicated espresso grinder and one of the best tampers are both needed. The Classic Evo Pro comes packaged with a flimsy, plastic tamper that is a few millimeters short of properly fitting the portafilter, so we highly recommend an upgrade.

    Read our full review of the Gaggia Classic Pro, including detailed specs.

    Best for beginners

    In our quest to find the very best espresso machines for beginners, we’ve run tests on most of Breville’s espresso machines. While the Barista Express Impress may not be the fastest or most feature-equipped, it is the first machine you can operate from start to finish with one hand, mess-free. 

    Espresso is an inherently involved affair, from burr grinders whirring and overflowing, to gadgets galore and the occasional spewing portafilter (user error). But I’ve been using the Barista Express Impress, writhing baby in arm, without so much as a lone ground to wipe away. 

    This is thanks to the assisted tamping and dosing system. The portafilter sits beneath the grinder, which doles out your grinds with a dosing button through a shoot (25 grind sizes, adjustable and programmable for single and double shots). 

    Breville is not the first brand to develop a tamp-assisting function, though it is the smoothest and the easiest to use.

    Owen Burke/Insider

    Breville’s proprietary “Impress” Puck System differentiates this machine from the original Barista Express. The built-in tamper operates via a lever on the left-hand side — it’s precalibrated and turns at precisely seven degrees, leaving a clean, even finish atop a perfectly formed puck. 

    The Express Impress also comes with all of the features and accessories you’ll find in any Breville machine: 15 bars of pressure (you only really need nine), a 67-ounce water tank (enough for a week’s worth of espresso), a convenient water spout, a half-pound sealed bean hopper, a steaming wand, a frothing pitcher, two double-walled and two pressurized portafilter baskets (a single- and double-shot size of each), and the Razor leveling tool. You’ll also find a brush with a clog-clearing pin and some descaling tablets.

    There isn’t another machine that is as easy to operate one-handed or mess-free. You’d have a hard time finding all of the quality features in this package tidily wrapped in stainless steel, ready to adorn any countertop in style.

    Read our full review of the Breville Barista Pro espresso machine, where we compare it with the Express Impress.

    Best automatic

    An automatic espresso machine lies somewhere between a pod machine and a semi-automatic one; you can control the grind size and the extraction time, but the process isn’t fully hands-on. The Café Affetto is the best automatic espresso machine because it is cheaper, smaller, and better at making espresso than most of the others we’ve tried. 

    You’re not going to get the best grind with the Café’s built-in grinder, but you can still use freshly roasted beans and get a shot of espresso (or something close to it) at the push of a button. Two standout features make this one of the best super-automatic espresso machines: the options for an Americano (or long black) and a custom “my cup” setting.

    The Café Affetto is a great introduction to making espresso, and is significantly cheaper than most other automatic machines.

    Isabel Fernandez/Insider

    We frothed both whole milk and almond milk and noted that the frother worked every bit as well as those on most semiautomatic machines. We also like that the wand is removable and washable. Oftentimes, automatic machines will have a milk pitcher and hoses that you insert into the machine. This keeps everything very tidy and behind the scenes, but it’s too easy to forget the milk when it’s out of sight and end up with a rancid mess. This much more traditional layout, where the frother is directly attached to the body, is far more error-proof.

    Read our full review of the Cafe Affetto and find out why we recommend it for beginners.

    Best upgrade automatic machine

    Jura’s Z10 is the best automatic espresso machine we’ve tested out of well over a dozen: it actually makes espresso and not a watered-down version. That’s largely thanks to Jura’s “product-recognizing grinder” (PRG), which automatically monitors grind size and adjusts in real time. However, it is a luxury espresso machine, coming in at around $4,000.

    The machine is fully customizable, offering 24 pre-programmed espresso-based drinks and eight cold-brew-based beverages. However, we think calling it cold brew is a bit of a stretch. Instead of steeping the grounds overnight, the machine produces coarse grounds, steeps them briefly in cold water, and then brews using pressure, creating something like nitro brew.

    The Jura Z10 is considerably more attractive than your run-of-the-mill automatic espresso machine, but that should be a given, considering the price tag.

    Owen Burke/Insider

    The Z10 is also compatible with an app (J.O.E.) so that you don’t even have to set foot in your kitchen to brew — just make sure there’s a cup in place ahead of time. You can set specialty preferences from your Apple Watch.

    Apart from the price, the real drawbacks are the size (over a foot wide and tall), the fact that the bean hopper is on top (so this likely isn’t fitting beneath a cabinet) and that the Cool Control and Stainless Steel Milk Pipe are sold separately and take up even more counter space. But then, anyone looking at a fully automatic espresso machine worth its weight and footprint can expect as much, whether it has a four-figure price tag or not.

    Read our full review of the Jura Z10 and see why it’s the only automatic machine to win us over.

    Best pod machine

    If you’re looking for the best espresso machine that uses pods, look no further. Turn the Nespresso Pixie on, pop in a pod, press a button, and in under a minute you will have an espresso-like drink, foamy crema and all. The Pixie has just two settings: one for espresso and one for a lungo, which is just a long, or more diluted pour of an espresso. 

    The coffee quality that comes from a Nespresso machine is unmatched by any other in the pod-coffee world.

    Isabel Fernandez/Insider

    Nespresso claims that this machine offers 19 bars of pressure, but our TDS readings fell consistently around the 5% to 7% mark, which is just shy of espresso. In other words, you can’t expect “true” espresso from this machine, but you can count on a strong, frothy drink. That is, in fact, quite a feat. And with the added convenience and price point for the machine, we were willing to make an exception.

    Further to that point, the machine is primed within 25 seconds. To save energy, it turns itself off automatically after nine minutes. These espresso machines come with a one-year limited warranty through Breville, but I have personally (and simultaneously) owned two for more than five years and haven’t had a single problem to date.

    Read our full Breville Nespresso Pixie review, or check out our guide to the best Nespresso machines.

    Best stovetop

    Grosche’s Milano is the most durable and functional food-grade aluminum Moka pot we’ve tried yet, thanks to its thick frame and a sturdy silicone handle that’s much less likely to melt than many other options on the market. This is a big reason why it’s the best stovetop espresso maker we’ve tested. 

    Moka pots are designed to be placed above an open flame, and unless you’re working over an electric or induction stovetop, you need something that’s built to stand up to the heat, especially if your handle gets a little too close to your heat source. 

    Our reporters trust Grosche as the brand coming closest to a Moka pot built for the long haul.

    Owen Burke/Insider

    The Milano has a silicone gasket, which won’t wear out as quickly as rubber ones and helps create better pressure when brewing. The low memory of silicone (you won’t start to find creases in it as you would with natural rubber) makes this gasket not only last longer, but create consistent pressure for a brew much closer to espresso.

    You can choose the size best for your household, from 1-, 3-, 6-, 9-, and 12-cup models. Just know that “cup” here is not relative to either an 8-ounce cup or a demitasse (as espresso is generally measured), and its capacity falls somewhere between the two.

    Read our full Grosche Milano Stovetop Espresso Maker review.

    Best portable

    Manual espresso makers like the Flair Espresso are not only affordable, they offer more control than most budget machines that don’t allow you to adjust temperature or pressure. 

    Just know this before buying: using the Flair is slightly more time-consuming than making espresso with a machine by about two minutes. And, you’ll still need a grinder. Again, though, if time is a real constraint, you may want to look to pod machines, or perhaps the Breville Barista Pro, which offers a relatively quicker shot.

    Unlike most of the machines we tested, the Flair comes with an impressively long five-year limited warranty.

    Isabel Fernandez/Insider

    When I mentioned the Flair to Dan Kehn, former SCAA judge and founder of Home-Barista.com, he agreed that it’s an excellent bet for anyone new to the espresso world who wants to learn how to pull a full-bodied shot. Why? Again, it’s about control. You pour water directly from a kettle and adjust the pressure manually until you get a steady golden flow of thick, crema-rich java. Machines in the same price bracket as the Flair often start out with excessive pressure and end a little on the light side. 

    What makes this device relatively foolproof is the fact that the cylinder has a maximum water capacity of 60ml, so controlling extraction time for somewhere between 30 and 45 seconds (for espresso and more concentrated ristretto, respectively) is actually much easier, and you can get the hang of maintaining the right pressure pretty quickly. This maker weighs just under five pounds and it’s portable, which means you can use it anywhere so long as you have a way to boil water. 

    Read our full Flair Original Espresso Maker review.

    What to look for in an espresso machine

    Espresso machines are expensive by nature, so make sure you consider all the factors when purchasing one.

    Isabel Fernandez/Insider

    Cost: First things first, for most of us. What do you want to spend? This will eliminate a lot of potential considerations right away. For a quality machine that can build and maintain pressure and is designed to be both upgraded and repaired, you want to budget somewhere in the $500 range. Beneath that, we recommend a fully manual device or machine, or a stovetop Moka pot.

    Size: A home espresso bar can pretty quickly overwhelm a kitchen. Consider the footprint of the machine you’re looking to buy relative to the countertop space you have. If you’re short on space, consider a pod machine or manual model. 

    Pressure: Any good espresso machine is going to be able to not just reach the required eight bars of pressure to make espresso, but maintain it. Beware machines that boast pressure levels. The cheapest of machines can reach 15 bars of pressure, but how well they maintain it is the key to a great cup of coffee.

    Heating time: If warm-up time feels like a large consideration to you, consider a pod machine, or a semi-automatic Breville model. Otherwise, most espresso machines take at least a minute to heat up, and some manual options can take as long as 10 or 15 minutes.

    Types of espresso machines

    TypeKey featuresBest forManualHand-operated with the physical pulling of a lever, and may not contain their own heating element and/or boilerMaximum control over brewing process, potentially less consistent resultsSemi-automaticControls its own pressure while you control the extraction time via a switchIdeal for home use, balancing control and automationFully automaticMaintain its own pressure and shot time, often programmable and include milk attachments for cafe drinksEspresso at the touch of a button, beginner-friendlyPodSubset of fully automatic machines that use pre-filled pods of espresso groundsMost efficient and convenient

    How we test espresso machines

    To test brewing consistency, we pulled four shots in a row from every machine.

    Isabel Fernandez/Insider

    To gauge a machine’s performance, we put each through the following tests. In addition, we factored in pricing to determine a machine’s overall value.

    TDS measurements: We wanted to make sure we were getting true espresso, which is generally agreed to be at least somewhere between 7% and 12% total dissolved solids (TDS). Getting more involved, you’ll find some baristas reaching extraction percentages in the 20% range, but we stuck with the basics. To measure TDS, we used a device called the Atago Pocket Barista, which gave us concrete proof that some machines are better able to churn out a thicker, richer, more viscous potion without over-extracting than others. Taste tests: We held several side-by-side blind taste tests and used the freshest roasts we could get our hands on from Atlas Coffee Club, Stone Street Coffee Company, and Counter Culture Coffee. These taste tests involved dialing a grinder to prepare grounds for 30-second extraction times, then having five participants taste shots from four machines that became our final contenders.Consistency: We spent dozens of hours grinding and pulling shots from more than 10 pounds of fresh coffee beans. We paid close attention to the consistency of brewing to see if we could pull the same four shots in a row.

    Who we consulted

    Lance Hedrick, Head of Sales at Arkansas’ Onyx Coffee Lab, runner-up at the 2020 United States Brewers Cup Championship, and a professional coffee trainerDan Kehn, a former SCAA Barista judge and founder of Home-Barista.comPeter Giuliano, co-owner of Counter Culture Coffee and director of the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA)Chi Sum Ngai and Kaleena Teoh of Coffee Project NYJordan Rosenacker of Atlas Coffee Club

    What are the different types of espresso?

    Normale, or standard espresso: A standard espresso is the most traditional form of the drink, and it’s usually defined by a 1:1.5 or 1:2 ratio of input (coffee in grams) to output (what ends up in your cup/demitasse), or by size at about one to 1.5 ounces (30ml-45ml).Ristretto: A ristretto is a 1:1 or 1:1.5 input-to-output ratio, or about three-quarters of an ounce (20ml to 25ml), and an even more concentrated version of espresso.Lungo: A lungo is a slightly diluted espresso, somewhere between three and four ounces (90ml to 120ml), which is between a normale and an Americano.Americano, or long black: An Americano is a shot of espresso diluted with hot water to fill out a cup.

    Espresso machine FAQs

    Brewing espresso at home is a learning process, but we think few things are as rewarding.

    Isabel Fernandez/Insider

    Do I need an espresso machine?

    Of course not, but there are few things as rewarding in the world of home coffee as achieving an immaculate shot of velvety espresso all on your own. On the flip side, if you need something quick and easy on your way out the door in the morning, consider the Nespresso system.

    How do you clean an espresso machine?

    Because all espresso machines are made differently, you’ll want to defer to the brand in order to properly clean your specific machine. The most essential tasks are regularly flushing and descaling with something like Urnex Cafiza powder, purging the steam wand, and backflushing on occasion. 

    A few basic tips and tricks, though: Running the machine without the portafilter in place helps flush the group head and keep it grit-free; Cleaning the drip tray regularly will keep mold, bacteria, and even fruit flies at bay; purging the steam wand after each use will keep dairy and non-dairy milk alternatives from getting stuck and developing bacteria; cleaning the water basin (if it’s not built-in) will keep your coffee tasting its best and the machine running smoothest.

    Will customizing my machine help me make better espresso?

    Yes, things like after-market shower screens, portafilter baskets, and bottomless portafilters (Lance Hedrick of Onyx Coffee Labs recommends this one) will help you achieve better shots and understand how and why your shots are coming out the way they are.

    Changing out shower screens and portafilter baskets will also change the pressure and flow of your group head and offer a real upgrade to any machine. Hedrick recommends IMS for baskets and shower screens, and they’ve done well by us, too.

    Why are espresso machines so expensive?

    An espresso machine contains a powerful motor that pumps near-boiling water through a chamber and out the group head at high pressure. Everything needs to be expertly sealed so that it can contain piping-hot water under immense pressure, or the machine won’t work at all.

    Can you make regular coffee with an espresso machine?

    The closest thing you can get to drip coffee with an espresso machine is an Americano, or a long black. Simply pull a shot of espresso and then add whatever amount of hot water to fill out your cup. But you may want to save your money and buy one of the best coffee machines. Consider a stovetop Moka pot to have on hand for an espresso-like drink.

    Best overall: Gaggia Classic ProBeginners can learn by doing with the Gaggia Evo Pro, and experts will be satisfied by the brew quality.

    Isabel Fernandez/Insider

    Pros: Affordable, compact, simple design, produces full-bodied shots

    Cons: No dedicated hot water spout, could have fewer plastic parts, learning curve, portafilter basket sticks in group head if you don’t remove while hot

    Editor’s note, July 17, 2023: We’re in the process of testing the newest version of this machine, the 2023 Gaggia Classic Evo. Based on our initial research, the design and function of the Classic Evo is nearly identical to the Classic Pro, except for a few internal changes. We’ll report back when we’ve completed our testing.

    The Gaggia Classic Pro is slightly less forgiving than our recommendation for the best espresso machines with a built-in grinder, but it’s also markedly more capable of producing a flavorful, nuanced shot.

    If you’re just starting out, this is about as basic as the best espresso machines get without compromising quality. There are three buttons with corresponding lights (letting you know when the machine is primed) and a steam valve. The fact that there’s no room for adjusting can seem a bit limiting at first, but fewer variables are a good thing for the budding barista.

    It’s a single-boiler model, which means it’s going to take a while to switch between pulling shots and priming the steam wand (although this shouldn’t be a problem if you’re only making a few drinks at once). And while Gaggia claims that this machine puts out 15 bars of pressure, you really only need six to nine to achieve espresso.

    It also includes a small dosing spoon and a plastic tamping device, which — I have to admit — feels a little cheap considering that the Classic Pro used to come with a nicely weighted stainless steel tamper. That being said, you don’t need to put much muscle behind tamping in the first place, and those plastic parts do get the job done.

    Read our full review of the Gaggia Classic Pro, including detailed specs.

    Best affordable automatic machine: GE CaféThe Café Affetto is a great introduction to making espresso, and is significantly cheaper than most other automatic machines.

    Isabel Fernandez/Insider

    Pros: Space-conscious design, built-in grinder, great frother

    Cons: Grinder isn’t high-quality, doesn’t achieve true espresso (but better than pod machines)

    An automatic espresso machine lies somewhere between a pod machine and a semi-automatic one; you can control the grind size and the extraction time, but the process isn’t fully hands-on. 

    What we like about General Electric’s Café over the half-dozen other automatic machines we’ve tried is that it’s significantly cheaper, about half the size, and makes something much more akin to true espresso. 

    You’re not going to get the best grind with the Café’s built-in grinder, but you can still use the freshly roasted beans of your choice and get a shot of espresso (or something close to it) at the push of a button. Two standout features that make this one of the best espresso machines we’ve tried are the options for an Americano (or long black) and a custom “my cup” setting.

    We frothed both whole milk and almond milk and noted that the frother worked every bit as well as those on most semi-automatic machines. We also like that the wand is removable and washable. Oftentimes, automatic machines will have a milk pitcher and hoses that you insert into the machine. This keeps everything very tidy and behind the scenes, but it’s too easy to forget the milk when it’s out of sight and end up with a rancid mess. This much more traditional layout where the frother is directly attached to the body is far more error-proof.

    Best with a built-in grinder: Breville Barista Express ImpressBreville is not the first brand to develop a tamp-assisting function, though it is the smoothest and the easiest to use.

    Owen Burke/Insider

    Pros: Can use with a single hand, mess-free, tamp-assist, built-in pressure gauge

    Cons: Dialing grind doser takes a little time, built-in grinder burrs can stick a little, probably not repairable outside of a two-year limited product warranty

    In our quest to find the very best espresso machines with a built-in grinder, we’ve run tests of most of Breville’s espresso machines. While the Barista Express Impress may not be the fastest or most feature-equipped, it is the first machine you can operate from start to finish with one lone hand, mess-free. 

    Espresso is an inherently involved affair, from burr grinders whirring and overflowing, to gadgets galore and the occasional spewing portafilter (user error). But for the past month or so, I’ve been using the Barista Express Impress, writhing baby in arm, without so much as a lone ground to wipe away. 

    This is thanks to the assisted tamping and dosing system. The portafilter sits beneath the grinder, which doles out your grinds with a dosing button through a shoot (25 grind sizes, adjustable and programmable for single and double shots). 

    Breville’s proprietary “Impress” Puck System differentiates this machine from the original Barista Express. The built-in tamper operates via a lever on the left-hand side — it’s precalibrated and turns at precisely seven degrees, leaving a clean, even finish atop a perfectly formed puck. Credit where it’s due: Breville is not the first brand to develop a tamp-assisting function, though it is the smoothest and the easiest to use.

    The Express Impress also comes with all of the features and accessories you’ll find in any Breville machine: 15 bars of pressure (you only really need nine), a 67-ounce water tank (enough for a week’s worth of espresso), a convenient water spout, a half-pound sealed bean hopper, a steaming wand, a frothing pitcher, two double-walled and two pressurized portafilter baskets (a single- and double-shot size of each), and the Razor leveling tool. You’ll also find a brush with a clog-clearing pin and some descaling tablets.

    There isn’t another machine that is as easy to operate one-handed or mess free. You’d have a hard time finding all of the quality features in this package tidily wrapped in stainless steel, ready to adorn any countertop in style.

    Read our full review of the Breville Barista Pro espresso machine, where we compare it with the Express Impress.

    Best portable: Flair EspressoUnlike most of the machines we tested, the Flair comes with an impressively long five-year limited warranty.

    Isabel Fernandez/Insider

    Pros: Budget-friendly, portable, comes with a case, five-year limited warranty

    Cons: Takes longer to prep a shot, not great for making more than one or two espressos at a time

    Manual espresso makers like the Flair Espresso are not only affordable, they offer more control than most budget machines that don’t allow you to adjust temperature or pressure. 

    Just know this before buying: using the Flair is slightly more time-consuming than making espresso with a machine by about two minutes. And, you’ll still need a grinder. Again, though, if time is a real constraint, you may want to look to pod machines, or perhaps the Breville Barista Pro, which offers a relatively quicker shot.

    When I mentioned the Flair to Dan Kehn, former SCAA judge and founder of Home-Barista.com, he agreed that it’s an excellent bet for anyone new to the espresso world who wants to learn how to pull a full-bodied shot. Why? Again, it’s about control. You pour water directly from a kettle and adjust the pressure manually until you get a steady golden flow of thick, crema-rich java. Machines in the same price bracket as the Flair often start out with excessive pressure and end a little on the light side. 

    What makes this device relatively foolproof is the fact that the cylinder has a maximum water capacity of 60ml, so controlling extraction time for somewhere between 30 and 45 seconds (for espresso and more concentrated ristretto, respectively) is actually much easier, and you can get the hang of maintaining the right pressure pretty quickly. 

    This maker weighs just under five pounds and it’s portable, which means you can use it anywhere so long as you have a way to boil water. And, unlike most of the machines we tested, the Flair comes with an impressively long five-year limited warranty.

    Read our full review of the Flair Original Espresso Maker.

    Best pod machine: Breville-Nespresso PixieThe coffee quality that comes from a Nespresso machine is unmatched by any other in the pod-coffee world.

    Isabel Fernandez/Insider

    Pros: Easy, convenient, affordable, small footprint

    Cons: Pods can get expensive, on the lower end of espresso, pod grounds are not fresh

    If you’re looking for the best espresso machine that uses pods, look no further. Turn the Nespresso Pixie on, pop in a pod, press a button, and in under a minute you will have an espresso-like drink, foamy crema and all. 

    The Pixie has just two settings: one for espresso and one for a lungo, which is just a long, or more diluted pour of an espresso. Take it easy on this espresso machine and don’t demand more than a few shots at a time, and it will last you. 

    Nespresso claims that this machine offers 19 bars of pressure, but our TDS readings fell consistently around the 5% to 7% mark, which is just shy of espresso. In other words, you can’t expect “true” espresso from this machine, but you can count on a strong, frothy drink. That is, in fact, quite a feat. And with the added convenience and price point for the machine, we were willing to make an exception.

    Further to that point, the machine is primed within 25 seconds. To save energy, it turns itself off automatically after nine minutes. 

    These espresso machines come with a one-year limited warranty through Breville, but I have personally (and simultaneously) owned two for more than five years and haven’t had a single problem to date.

    Read our full review of the Breville Nespresso Pixie espresso machine or check out our guide on the best coffee pod machines.

    Best luxury automatic machine: Jura Z10The Jura Z10 is considerably more attractive than your run-of-the-mill automatic espresso machine, but that should be a given, considering the price tag.

    Owen Burke/Insider

    Pros: Fast, dynamic, highest-quality espresso we’ve tried from an automatic machine

    Cons: Large, milk accessories sold separately

    Jura’s Z10 is the best fully automatic espresso machine we’ve tested out of well over a dozen: it actually makes espresso and not a watered-down version. That’s largely thanks to Jura’s “product-recognizing grinder” (PRG), which automatically monitors grind size and adjusts in real time.

    The machine is fully customizable, offering 24 pre-programmed espresso-based drinks and eight cold-brew-based beverages. However, we think calling it cold-brew is a bit of a stretch. Instead of steeping the grounds overnight, the machine produces coarse grounds, steeps them briefly in cold water, and then brews using pressure, creating something like nitro brew.

    The Z10 is also compatible with an app (J.O.E.) so that you don’t even have to set foot in your kitchen to brew — just make sure there’s a cup in place ahead of time. You can set specialty preferences from your Apple Watch.

    It’s also considerably more attractive than your run-of-the-mill automatic espresso machine, but that should be a given considering the price tag. Apart from the price, the real drawbacks are the size (over a foot wide and tall), the fact that the bean hopper is on top (so this likely isn’t fitting beneath a cabinet), and that the Cool Control and Stainless Steel Milk Pipe are sold separately and take up even more counter space.

    But then anyone looking at a fully automatic espresso machine worth its weight and footprint can expect as much, four-figure price tag or not, and again, this is the best coffee you’re going to get at the touch of a button.

    Best stovetop: Grosche MilanoOur reporters trust Grosche as the brand coming closest to a Moka pot built for the long haul.

    Owen Burke/Insider

    Pros: Sturdy, high-quality parts, great for gas, electric, and camp stoves

    Cons: Not great for induction stoves, corrosive, not dishwasher-safe

    Grosche’s Milano is the most durable and functional food-grade aluminum Moka pot we’ve tried yet, thanks to its thick frame and a sturdy silicone handle that’s much less likely to melt than many other options on the market. This a big reason why it’s the best stovetop espresso maker we’ve tried. 

    Moka pots are designed to be placed above an open flame, and unless you’re working over an electric or induction stovetop, you need something that’s built to stand up to the heat, especially if your handle gets a little too close to your heat source. 

    The Milano has a silicone gasket, which won’t wear out as quickly as rubber ones and helps create better pressure when brewing. The low memory of silicone (you won’t start to find creases in it as you would with natural rubber) makes this gasket not only last longer, but create consistent pressure for a brew much closer to espresso.

    You can choose the size best for your household, from 1-, 3-, 6-, 9-, and 12-cup models. Just know that “cup” here is not relative to either an 8-ounce cup or a demitasse (as espresso is generally measured), and its capacity falls somewhere between the two.

    We still wish that someone — anyone — mass-producing Moka pots these days would conjure up something that’s definitely fireproof (as was once a requisite of the humble little device). Still, Grosche is the brand coming closest to a Moka pot built for the long haul.

    What to look for in an espresso machineEspresso machines are expensive by nature, so make sure you consider all the factors when purchasing one.

    Isabel Fernandez/Insider

    The order of the most important considerations when buying an espresso machine is highly subjective, but here are the main factors to consider when choosing your machine:

    Cost: First things first, for most of us. What do you want to spend? This will eliminate a lot of potential considerations right away. For a quality machine that can build and maintain pressure and is designed to be both upgraded and repaired, you want to budget somewhere in the $500 range. Beneath that, we recommend a fully manual device or machine, or a stovetop Moka pot.Size: A home espresso bar can pretty quickly overwhelm a kitchen. Consider the footprint of the machine you’re looking to buy relative to the countertop space you have. If you’re short on space, consider a pod machine or manual model. Pressure: Any good espresso machine is going to be able to not just reach the required eight bars of pressure to make espresso, but maintain it. Beware machines that boast pressure levels. The cheapest of machines can reach 15 bars of pressure, but how well they maintain it is the key to a great cup of coffee.Heating Time: If warm-up time feels like a large consideration to you, consider a pod machine, or a semi-automatic Breville model. Otherwise, most espresso machines take at least a minute to heat up, and some manual options can take as long as 10 or 15 minutes.

    How we test espresso machinesTo test brewing consistency, we pulled four shots in a row from every machine.

    Isabel Fernandez/Insider

    To gauge a machine’s performance, we put each through the following tests. In addition, we factored in pricing to determine a machine’s overall value.

    TDS measurements: We wanted to make sure we were getting true espresso, which is generally agreed to be at least somewhere between 7% and 12% total dissolved solids (TDS). Getting more involved, you’ll find some baristas reaching extraction percentages in the 20% range, but we stuck with the basics. To measure TDS, we used a device called the Atago Pocket Barista, which gave us concrete proof that some machines are better able to churn out a thicker, richer, more viscous potion without over-extracting than others. Taste tests: We held several side-by-side blind taste tests and used the freshest roasts we could get our hands on from Atlas Coffee Club, Stone Street Coffee Company, and Counter Culture Coffee. These taste tests involved dialing a grinder to prepare grounds for 30-second extraction times, then having five participants taste shots from four machines that became our final contenders.Consistency: We spent dozens of hours grinding and pulling shots from more than 10 pounds of fresh coffee beans. We paid close attention to the consistency of brewing to see if we could pull the same four shots in a row.

    Who we consulted

    To determine non-negotiable espresso machine features and narrow down my list of recommendations, I asked these coffee professionals to lend their expert advice: 

    Lance Hedrick, Head of Sales at Arkansas’ Onyx Coffee Lab, runner-up at the 2020 United States Brewers Cup Championship, and a professional coffee trainerDan Kehn, a former SCAA Barista judge and founder of Home-Barista.comPeter Giuliano, co-owner of Counter Culture Coffee and director of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA)Chi Sum Ngai and Kaleena Teoh of Coffee Project NYJordan Rosenacker of Atlas Coffee Club

    What do I need to make espresso?

    Fresh coffee beans: The first thing you can do to make sure you’re making good coffee is to get the freshest whole beans you can find. If you’re buying months-old coffee and putting it through an espresso machine, you’re going to get a limited amount of the coveted foam, or crema, or any of the nuanced flavors associated with espresso.

    A burr grinder: The coffee grinder you choose is possibly more important than the espresso machine or coffee maker itself. In our guide to coffee grinders, we like the Baratza Sette 270 for espresso.

    Mineral water: The best water for making espresso, according to Lance Hedrick, is distilled water with an added mineral solution like this one from Third Wave Water. Otherwise, any charcoal water filter will do.

    An espresso machine: You need a machine that can build and maintain even pressure between about six and nine bars. Machines can get expensive, but consider something pared-down, like our top recommendation, the Gaggia Classic Pro, or something completely automatic.

    What are the different types of espresso?Normale, or standard espresso: A standard espresso is the most traditional form of the drink, and it’s usually defined by a 1:1.5 or 1:2 ratio of input (coffee in grams) to output (what ends up in your cup/demitasse), or by size at about one to 1.5 ounces (30ml-45ml).Ristretto: A ristretto is a 1:1 or 1:1.5 input-to-output ratio, or about three-quarters of an ounce (20ml to 25ml), and an even more concentrated version of espresso.Lungo: A lungo is a slightly diluted espresso, somewhere between three and four ounces (90ml to 120ml), which is between a normale and an Americano.Americano, or long black: An Americano is a shot of espresso diluted with hot water to fill out a cup.
    Espresso machine FAQsBrewing espresso at home is a learning process, but we think few things are as rewarding.

    Isabel Fernandez/Insider

    Do I need an espresso machine?

    Of course not, but there are few things as rewarding in the world of home coffee as achieving an immaculate shot of velvety espresso all on your own. On the flip side, if you need something quick and easy on your way out the door in the morning, consider the Nespresso system.

    How do you clean an espresso machine?

    Because all espresso machines are made differently, you’ll want to defer to the brand in order to properly clean your specific machine. 

    The most essential tasks are regularly flushing and descaling with something like Urnex Cafiza powder, purging the steam wand, and backflushing on occasion. 

    A few basic tips and tricks, though: Running the machine without the portafilter in place helps flush the group head and keep it grit-free; Cleaning the drip tray regularly will keep mold, bacteria, and even fruit flies at bay; purging the steam wand after each use will keep dairy and non-dairy milk alternatives from getting stuck and developing bacteria; cleaning the water basin (if it’s not built-in) will keep your coffee tasting its best and the machine running smoothest.

    Will customizing my machine help me make better espresso?

    Yes, things like after-market shower screens, portafilter baskets, and bottomless portafilters (Lance Hedrick of Onyx Coffee Labs recommends this one) will help you achieve better shots and understand how and why your shots are coming out the way they are.

    Changing out shower screens and portafilter baskets will also change the pressure and flow of your group head and offer a real upgrade to any machine. Hedrick recommends IMS for baskets and shower screens, and they’ve done well by us, too.

    Why are espresso machines so expensive?

    An espresso machine contains a powerful motor that pumps near-boiling water through a chamber and out the group head at high pressure. Everything needs to be expertly sealed so that it can contain piping-hot water under immense pressure, or the machine won’t work at all.

    Can you make regular coffee with an espresso machine?

    The closest thing you can get to drip coffee with an espresso machine is an Americano, or a long black. Simply pull a shot of espresso and then add whatever amount of hot water to fill out your cup.

    But you may want to save your money and buy a regular coffee machine. Consider a stovetop Moka pot to have on hand for an espresso-like drink.

    Read the original article on Business Insider

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