The Best Home Espresso Machines

Published on 11/27/2023 · 13 min readExperience barista-level coffee at home with our guide to the best home espresso machines, featuring top brands, brewing options, and customizations!
Eric T, Coffee Expert
By Coffee Expert Eric T

Photo by Eric T.

If you love espresso and lattes and are tired of spending all that money at drive-throughs and cafes, maybe it’s time to dive into the world of home espresso. Making espresso drinks at home can be fun, rewarding, and save you a ton of money. With the average latte going for around $6, your investment in home coffee could pay for itself.

I’m Eric - it’s nice to meet you. My job here at Curated is to help coffee lovers find the best equipment for their needs and budget. There are hundreds of options for home espresso setups, and it can overwhelm even the best of us. After years in the coffee industry and hundreds of conversations with java lovers, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite espresso machines for your countertop. Of course, I’m happy to give you personalized advice as well, and you can connect with me or a fellow Coffee & Espresso Expert here on Curated for a chat!

What Makes an Espresso Machine “The Best”?

In this article, I am focusing on machines that can make great espresso and smooth silky milk. I’m also featuring models that cost $1,000 or less. To be honest, there is no “Best Espresso Machine.” But there could be a machine that is best for YOU. A great home espresso machine should have these features:

  • Quality extraction - a pump that creates consistent pressure to get the best flavors out of your coffee beans.
  • Ease of use and consistency
  • Longevity (you’ll want to keep your machine around as long as possible)
  • Good milk texture

The Types of Espresso Machines

Photo by Eric T.

In the home espresso maker market, there are a bunch of labels for machines that you will bump into. The main types of espresso makers that you may be considering are:

  • Manual: A machine that uses a combination of manpower and physics to create pressure and extract that delicious espresso from your coffee grounds.
  • Super Automatic: A latte at the push of a button! These machines grind the beans, make the shot, and often steam the milk for you. You are in charge of the cleaning and maintenance.
  • Semi Automatic: A traditional cafe-style machine that is very hands-on. You will prepare the shot and steam the milk. These machines often have timers that will stop the pump for you when the espresso is ready. Some models have added features like automatic steaming or tamping assistance.
  • Prosumer: These machines are of the highest quality and usually require the most hands-on approach and expertise. Essentially, it is a cafe-quality machine that is small enough to fit on your kitchen counter. They are often the most expensive.

The Best Home Espresso Machines

Best For Beginners: Breville Bambino Plus

Photo courtesy of Breville

The Breville Bambino Plus is a great option for a new home barista. It is a simple machine that is easy to learn on and makes cappuccinos that taste great! With a three-second heat up time, forgiving 54mm portafilter baskets, and an automatic steam wand, you can quickly learn to make flavorful espresso and froth silky milk. When paired with a good grinder you can have a full cafe setup for a fair price.

  • Build Quality: You get a lot of plastic in the body of the Bambino Plus. However, it’s what’s inside that counts. Internally, the quality is excellent for the money; a 15-bar Italian espresso pump creates just the right amount of pressure. The steam wand is built well and has a smart design. The grouphead is snug and creates a strong seal for proper extraction from the portafilter. The portafilter itself feels a little cheap but still does the job. Breville brew baskets are well-machined and are worth hanging onto even if you upgrade the handle.
  • Accessories: The Bambino Plus has a starter kit right in the box. This includes both pressurized (for beginners or for pre-ground espresso) and standard filter baskets in both single and double sizes. The tamper works fine, but could use an eventual upgrade. You’ll also find a milk pitcher and some cleaning accessories.
  • Features: The Bambino Plus has a boatload of features: A PID temperature regulator, push-button programmable volumetric shot control, low-pressure pre-infusion, and a three-second heat-up time. The water reservoir is 64oz, which is big enough that you won’t need to refill it daily. The Plus also has an auto-steaming milk frother for those who want some ease of use in their latte routine. A three-way solenoid valve allows an auto-purge function of the steam wand.
  • Performance: Once you learn the basics, The Bambino Plus can pull great shots with beautiful crema. The 54mm portafilter baskets are key here. With a deeper and narrower bed for your espresso puck, it leaves less room for error and prevents water from channeling. The auto-steamer froths the milk to a creamy texture, and both milk temperature and froth levels are adjustable. This is a premium function that really makes the Bambino Plus stand out. The auto-purge, too, is a nice touch and keeps the inside of your steam wand from getting yucky.

The Breville Bambino Plus is at the intersection of value, convenience, and quality. This semi-automatic machine doesn’t take up much counter space but still looks good in your kitchen. If you want café level espresso shots but aren’t looking for a new hobby, this machine will make your morning cappuccino routine a breeze. The added automatic steam wand frees your hands for breakfast prep, and the three-second ThermoJet heating system means the machine is ready when you are. Pair it with a good grinder and you are on your way!

Best Manual Espresso Maker: The Flair Pro 2

Photo courtesy of Flair

If you are an espresso hobbyist and love to play around, the Flair Pro 2 is worth considering. Thanks to the included pressure gauge, this 100% manual espresso machine gives you full control over the espresso extraction. Even advanced techniques like pressure profiling are possible. This hobby machine isn’t as convenient as a semi-automatic espresso machine, but the potential for quality espresso is amazing!

  • Build Quality: With the pressure being produced manually, this machine has to be built well. All of the components of the machine are strong and durable. The brew chamber and portafilter are stainless steel. There are a lot of parts to this espresso press; all fit together nicely – But be careful not to lose anything!
  • Accessories: For the barista on the go, The Flair Pro 2 comes with a travel case. The included stainless steel tamper fits your hand well. Other accessories in the box include: A dosing funnel, a rubber cap for protecting your counters when preheating and, most importantly, a pressure gauge. The pressure gauge will let you keep track of the pressure as you extract your espresso. You can also play with different pressures at different times.
  • Features: Full, manual control: This is the main feature that the Flair Pro 2 offers. Small and easily disassembled, this compact press is designed for travel. For those who don’t trust others to prepare their coffee, a machine like this is nice to have as a companion. The extraction pressure comes from your arms, so you are part of the machine. With some patience and practice, your espresso could go toe to toe with a multi-thousand dollar machine.
  • Performance: The skill level of the user is key for performance. A careful, precise, and knowledgeable home barista will delight in the quality of the Flair Pro 2. Not only that, but it’s a great machine to learn all about espresso extraction and become a master of the basics in a tactile way.

This manual espresso maker is best for the espresso-obsessed person who wants a hobby in addition to their machine. For many of us, this lever machine is a bit too much work for our morning routine. However, it can make wonderful espresso and is a delight to use! A great hobby machine or travel companion for a coffee geek.

Best Automatic Espresso Machine: Philips 4300

If you are ready to quit pod machines but want something quick and convenient, a Super- Automatic is a good fit. These can come with price tags from the mid-hundreds to the muti-thousands. With such a range, it can be confusing. Which machine will make good espresso but not break the bank? For under $1,000, it’s hard to find a better automatic espresso machine than the Philips 4300. It offers a number of convenient features, a nice selection of drinks, and good quality beverages.

  • Build Quality: Being made in Romania, this Philips is a hidden gem. The machine is primarily plastic but still feels sturdy and looks sleek. The touchscreen is responsive and operates well. The LatteGo milk system is easier to clean than the milk frothers on most automatic machines. The built-in grinder, too, is up to snuff.
  • Accessories: You won’t need anything but some coffee beans, some milk, and a cup to use your Philips 4300. As an all-in-one machine, everything you need is built in.
  • Features: Many features are packed into this model. User profiles allow you to save your settings so you can have your latte your way, and your roommate can program their own. The brew settings and ratios of milk and coffee are all easily adjusted via the touchscreen. The ceramic burr grinder has 12 adjustments, so you can find the sweet spot for your coffee grind.
  • Performance: With eight coffee drinks to choose from and customize, this machine won’t leave you bored. The LatteGo milk system will froth milk in a classic foam style but does so consistently and quickly. A shot of espresso from a super-automatic won’t beat a more manual-style machine, but is still very enjoyable.

With the convenience, variety, and quality of the Philips 4300, you won’t miss the café drive through. At the push of a button, you can have a café au lait, a latte, and more. It even makes a traditional cup of coffee.

Best All-In-One Espresso Machine: The Breville Barista Pro

Photo courtesy of Breville

An all-in-one espresso machine adds the convenience of an incorporated grinder to a semi-automatic machine. This is a good option for those who want a cleaner look on their countertop or to streamline their coffee setup. The Breville Barista Pro stands out from the pack through its great features, high performance, and quality.

  • Build Quality: Like all models in the Barisita line, the Pro has a very sturdy build. The stainless steel model looks great and feels professional in many ways. From the roomy drip tray with its stainless steel cover to the steam wand with its 360° swivel, the folks at Breville make sure you get your money's worth.
  • Accessories: The Pro comes ready to go! All the standard equipment you need to make espresso is in the box. Both pressurized (for beginners or for pre-ground espresso) and standard filter baskets are included in both single and double sizes. There’s also a magnetic tamper that can be hidden away, a milk pitcher, a water filter, and some cleaning accessories.
  • Features: With a three-second heat-up time, adjustable brew temperature, incorporated grinder with 30 settings, low-pressure pre-infusion, and programmable volumetric shot times, the Barista Pro is packed with features that outclass its price tag.
  • Performance: You can make some good double shots and creamy cappuccinos on this all-in-one. The grinder has enough settings to find the right grind size and the sweet spot for your espresso. Once dialed in, the shots are as tasty as any you will find in a coffee shop. The steam wand, though less powerful than machines with a boiler, can create a great texture for your cortado.

It is easy to keep things simple and make great coffee with the Barista Pro. Those with basic barista skills will find it intuitive to use and get good performance from this machine. An espresso hobbyist may not want to be limited by its incorporated grinder, and the limited power you get from a thermocoil machine like this. But if you want to recreate a cafe experience and not overthink your equipment, the Breville Barista Pro is a solid choice.

Best Single Boiler: Profitec Go

The Profitec Go is different from the other machines on this list. It features a traditional boiler for producing hot water and steam rather than heating on demand like the Breville Bambino Plus. The advantages of a boiler include more steam power and an experience closer to a cafe style machine. Profitec is a German company that builds machines by hand. You will find the Profitec Go to be well designed, beautifully built, and high performing.

  • Build Quality: As the Profitec Go is hand built, there are nothing but positive things to say about the quality. It is sturdy and of high quality both inside and out. There is very little plastic on this machine, excluding the water tank. The internal water pathway is all metal, and the boiler is made of brass. The steam wand has a sleek S shape and moves on a swivel like butter.
  • Accessories: Included with the espresso machine are a portafilter, a single and double-sized basket, a blind basket for backflushing your machine, and a tamper. The included tamper is a classic style and is very well made. The portafilter is also extremely nice. No cheap parts here.
  • Features: The Profitec Go has an adjustable PID controller with a digital interface. This also doubles as a shot timer. One other cool thing about the PID display is that it actively shows the current temperature rather than just your setting. The brew pressure, too, is easily adjusted with the turn of a screw.
  • Performance: Single boiler machines require a bit of study to be operated to their full potential. But, once you learn the ins and outs of this machine you will find the steam power and milk texture to be phenomenal. The flavor of your espresso, too, will really shine here.

The Profitec Go is the perfect fit for the home barista who wants a more professional style machine and the power of a true boiler system. The quality and performance of this espresso maker outclasses others in a similar price range, and it looks good too! Move over, Rancilio Silvia, the Profitec Go is here. If this is the machine for you, reach out to a Kitchen Expert!

Find The Right Home Espresso Machine for You

Photo by Eric T.

Which espresso machine do you like best? When considering a new machine, remember that the espresso is just a piece of the puzzle. A good coffee grinder is just as important, and don’t forget the accessories!

The five machines on this list all fulfill different needs for different levels of espresso enthusiasm. If you are leaning towards a single boiler, an all-in-one, or any of the other styles and need some advice, you can reach out and connect with me here or with another Coffee & Espresso Expert on Curated. I look forward to helping you get delicious espresso and creamy cappuccinos in your own kitchen!

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