Most espresso machines don't come with everything you need, so you end up buying a bunch of accessories to actually make your coffee. Not so with the Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine.
It comes with a stainless steel conical burr grinder, a 1/2 pound sealed bean hopper, a 54mm tamper, a steaming wand for frothing your milk, and a frothing pitcher. The only thing you need to buy is the espresso beans. The user manual is very detailed, so you should be able to follow its instructions without too much trouble.
Based on our testing, learning how to use the machine is well worth the effort, and the result is absolutely beautiful tasting coffee. It’s actually really easy to use, and you’ll have the process down after two or three attempts.
The Barista Express espresso machine uses a 15 Bar Italian Pump and a 1600W Thermocoil heating system to make rich espresso. Since it's a semi-automatic machine, the Breville automatically adjusts water temperature after steam to extract the most flavor out of your beans. The machine also has a 67 fl.oz (2L) water tank with a nice handle for easy removal, and it comes with a replaceable water filter.
The built-in burr grinder is high quality, and you can easily adjust the grind size and amount with a dial on the front of the machine. You can choose to use either a single- or double-wall filter basket, and the grinder will automatically adjust to give you the right about of coffee grounds for your brew. Reviewers love that it comes with the grinder and praise its quality.
If you push the 54mm stainless steel portafilter into the hands-free grinding cradle, the grounds will go right into the filter. The grinder shuts off when it's done, too, so you don't have to worry about figuring out if you've got the right amount. Finally, the included 54mm tamper ensures that your grounds are evenly pressed, so you get the most out of your beans.
When it comes to deciding how much espresso you want to make, you can choose between two presets for 1 and 2 cup volumes. Alternatively, you can manually override the settings and choose your own amount of espresso.
The Thermocoil heating system controls the water temperature, and you can watch the espresso machine's pressure gauge. If you want frothy milk on top of your espresso, you can use the 360-degree swivel steam wand to whip up some foam in the included milk pitcher.
A removable drip tray catches any excess, so you don't end up with a huge mess on your hands. You do have to clean that part every day. Breville's machine will also tell you when it needs a thorough cleaning, and it comes with a special cleaning kit. Follow Breville's very detailed care and maintenance guide to keep your machine in working order.
The machine comes with a one-year warranty in case of issues. User reviews on Amazon are very positive, and most people had a very easy time making high-end espresso with the machine.
Across the web, expert reviewers from Best Products, Digital Trends, Coffee Lounge, Coffee Maker Picks, and Espresso Perfecto all highly recommend this machine.
If you're inexperienced, it's a good machine to learn with, and if you're interested in fiddling around with settings, you can do that, too. It's an all-around great espresso machine, according to several reviews by experts and everyday users.
The best part about this machine is that it comes with everything you need (except the beans). You don't have to spend an extra $100+ on a good grinder or $25-$100 on a milk frothing pitcher and tamper. You will pay a bit more for it than other machines on this list, but it's well worth it — especially now that this machine costs $559.94 instead of $999.99.
Pros: Built-in burr grinder and frother, makes great crema on your espresso, it's relatively easy to use, lovely design, and a one-year warranty
Cons: Expensive, but it's on sale!
If the Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine's price tag scared you off, don't worry. The Gaggia Classic Semi-Automatic Espresso Maker is another great choice with a much lower price point.
In our testing, this machine was one of the best value-for-money espresso machines, and while it takes a little getting used to, learning how to use it is well worth the effort.
It has classic Italian good looks, and it comes from a trusted company that started in Milan back in 1938. The Gaggia Classic is made out of high-end materials, and it shows. It's a classy, durable machine with chrome-plated marine-grade brass 58mm portafilters and grouphead. The housing and two filter baskets are made of stainless steel.
The machine comes with a coffee tamper, a 7-gram measuring scoop, and an instructional CD. You will have to buy the milk frothing pitcher if you want milk foam on your espresso. We recommend this pitcher from Rattleware. The machine's Pannarello steam wand should froth your milk decently. It can even dispense hot water for tea or Americano coffee.
You'll also have to buy your own coffee grinder, which can be expensive. To save money, you can try this $40 manual Hario Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mill, but if you want a high-end one, you should consider the Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder for $129.00
The Gaggia Classic has a 3.5oz boiler with two external heating elements, a removable 72oz water reservoir, and a 55-watt electric pump. You can control power, steaming, and brewing with simple rocker switches on the machine.
Espresso Perfecto calls the Classic "a quick and snappy machine." The 17-1/2-bar pressure pump is more high-end than most other espresso machines on this list. Its three-way solenoid valve makes it easy to pull shots of espresso quickly because it releases the pressure from the group head right after you're done making the first shot.
That way, you can remove the portafilter and get ready to pull your next shot. It's a helpful feature for when you need to make espresso for more than one person.
Although it's very easy to use — you just fill the portafilter with grounds, attach it to the machine, and press the button to start — The Gaggia Classic isn't as flexible or intuitive as the Breville Barista Express. The user manual is less detailed, too, so you have to have a basic idea of what you're doing or browse the internet for tips. The machine has a one-year warranty if you run into problems.
It's a bit tricky to clean, too. You have to disassemble it a bit to get at the water filter and clean it. Critics don't recommend the frothing steam wand, either, because it makes inconsistent milk foam. If you're unhappy with the milk foam the steam wand makes, you can read our full guide on the best stand-alone milk frothers here.
Regardless of the negatives, user reviews on Amazon are mostly positive, and several experts also recommend the Gaggia Classic, including The Wirecutter, Espresso Perfecto, Fresh Presso, Best Products, and Coffee Lounge.
Pros: Beautiful classic design, makes great espresso for half the price of our top pick, some accessories included, and it has a one-year warranty
Cons: No built-in grinder, the milk frother isn't the best, and the manual is a bit confusing
Not everyone can afford a top-of-the-line espresso machine, but there are some good options out there for less than $100. The De'Longhi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker is the best of the sub-$100 category with its easy-to-use design and tasty espresso.
It's a basic machine that gets the job done, but it has great Italian design and it's made by a brand that's a household name in Italy.
You get a manual milk frother and a built-in tamper along with the machine, so you do have to buy your own grinder and milk frothing pitcher if you want foam on top. Many reviewers and users complain that the tamper and milk frother aren't that great, though, so you may end up buying those, too.
You can check out our best milk frothers here. Some of you will stick with the machine's frothing wand, but you'll still need a milk frothing pitcher, so we recommend this one from Rattleware. Should you want a better tamper, we recommend this one from Rattleware. To save money on the coffee grinder, you can try this manual Hario Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mill, but if you want a high-end one, you may pay more than $200 for it.
Regardless of whether you buy extra accessories, it's still very affordable, and you're really buying this machine for the espresso. The De'Longhi delivers in that regard. It's a 15 bar machine with a self-priming function, so you don't have to go through the hassle of prepping the machine. The 35oz water tank is removable for cleaning and it has a drip tray to catch spills. and a durable, high-quality stainless steel boiler to ensure many years of delicious espresso.
Although the machine may not be entirely stainless steel like the high-end machines on this list, it does have stainless steel where it counts: the boiler. The 3-in-1 filter holder lets you choose between has a holder for one espresso shot, a holder for two shots, or one for an espresso pod.
De'Longhi offers a one-year limited warranty and you can check the user manual for extra details.
User reviews on Amazon are mostly positive and it's the number one best-seller on the site for semi-automatic espresso machines. Experts from Best Products, Coffee Lounge, Fresh Presso, and Coffee Maker Picks all recommend the De'Longhi EC 155 Espresso and Cappuccino Maker as a great budget option.
Even if you end up buying everything we recommend for the De'Longhi, you'd still pay a mere $168.47, which is very affordable for an espresso machine.
Pros: Affordable, relatively easy to use, offers real espresso machine performance for less than $100, and it makes good espresso
Cons: No built-in grinder, tricky to clean, built-in milk frother and tamper aren't the best
True espresso purists may shudder at the thought of popping coffee in a pod and pressing a button to extract espresso from it, but convenience is king these days. Nespresso made espresso pods popular, and now they're everywhere. If you want to go that route, the Nespresso VertuoPlus Coffee and Espresso Maker by De'Longhi is the best one.
The first thing you need to know is that the pods are expensive. If you buy 30 pods, you'll pay nearly $40 — That's a lot more than a bag of good espresso beans. However, if ease-of-use and convenience are more important to you than money, the Nespresso VertuoPlus espresso machine will be worth its weight in gold. Just don't forget to recycle!
The Nespresso machine takes all the grinding, tamping, and measuring out of the equation. You just turn it on, pop some pods in, and press the button to make espresso. It has a fast pre-heating time, and the pump offers 19 bar of pressure. The water tank has a 40-ounce capacity.
It's very easy to clean and reviewers on Amazon just love the simplicity of the Nespresso. Espresso experts are less enthused, but they'll still recommend Nespresso as a good capsule machine. Trusted Reviews gave it a good score as did TechRadar
Amazon lists it as the number one best-seller in espresso machines, and it is a good deal. However, you can probably do better with the other options on our list if you're willing to put in a bit of effort for better espresso, and the De'Longhi EC 155 Espresso and Cappuccino Maker is actually cheaper.
Pros: You don't have to do anything, pods are easy to buy online, fun flavors, easy to use, and it's inexpensive
Cons: You have to recycle the pods, pods are expensive, and it's not the best espresso you can make at home
Looking for an awesome espresso machine that leverages the latest and greatest tech to provide an excellent user experience? The Breville Barista Touch takes the Barista Express to the next level, giving you the ability to create and save drinks, and use the touchscreen to control the various aspects of the machine.
The machine comes with a built-in grinder that delivers the right amount of ground coffee for any recipe. It has a super short three-second heat up time, which means you get your shot of espresso that much faster.
Perhaps the best thing about the Barista Touch is how easy it is to use. You can make drinks from a list on the machine or you can create and save your own favorite recipes. The machine does most of the work for you so you get the perfect drink every time.
Breville’s beautiful sense of style is evident in the espresso machine’s design. The brushed metal look should fit in any home and add a bit of glamor to your countertop.
Expert reviewers and buyers alike love this espresso machine. BravoTV wrote a review explaining why it’s worth the money even though it’s pricey. Indeed, when you do the math to calculate just how much money you spend over the course of a year on espresso, cappuccinos, and other high-end coffee drinks, you’ll see just how much money this admittedly expensive machine will save you in the long run.
And at least it’s less expensive than the $2,500 Oracle Touch. — Christian de Looper
Pros: Beautiful design, all-in-one style, excellent quality drinks
Being a full-blown espresso fiend, my quest for the perfect espresso is never-ending. I’ve generally been pleased with the $5,000+ machines from which my café shots come, but getting anywhere near that quality at home has been a constant challenge. Sure, I am, on occasion, impressed with my successes while working with my simple stovetop Bialetti Mokka Pot or GROSCHE stovetop espresso machine.
I originally liked the Flair as a potential portable espresso maker for camping, and perhaps for a camper van, but it quickly found a home on my kitchen counter and hasn't left since.
Pulling a shot of espresso with the Flair is something of a chore in the beginning, but it really only takes somewhere between three and five minutes. If you’re used to using any type of espresso machine or pot, you’ll pick it up quickly. The first piece of advice I’ll give you is that an investment in a burr grinder is going to make your life with the Flair a lot better, and your grounds more consistent.
I started out with a regular blade grinder, ground my beans a little too finely after a few shots, and found that I couldn’t get it to operate as easily. I pulled a little harder, and then harder still, thinking I might unclog it. At some point I decided, out of curiosity, to put the balance of my bodyweight down on the thing, at which point the copper-colored part of the stand snapped. If I had read the instruction manual or even the little warning sticker on the machine, I would have realized that half of my bodyweight was easily the contraption’s limit and well above the pressure required to pull a good shot anyhow.
Since receiving a replacement part, I’ve been a little more cautious, and ultimately, the issue was that sometimes I was grinding my beans too finely, preventing me from pulling a shot at all. Suffice it to say that investing in a burr grinder was the best move.
The most unique thing about the Flair is that it comes with a detachable brewing head, which you can also buy separately so if you're pulling shots for a few people, you can stack them up and not have to clean and tamp shots between pulling each one.
Reviews around the worldwide web are favorable. Home Grounds is a fan, and Amazon is full of high reviews. There are only 50 Amazon reviews, but they average out to an impressive 4.6/5 stars. — Owen Burke
Pros: Affordable, produces thick and cream-rich shots, easy to clean, looks beautiful on the counter
Cons: It can be a bit of a pain to reload it if you’re making espresso for more than just yourself (but this will more or less be the case with any single-cup espresso machine)
You might be a little intimidated at first: This is your step up from the Flair, but keep in mind that operating this machine and its attached boiler and steamer still requires a bit of work. Your tamping and grinding skills are still at play, and only practice will get you to the point of being able to pull a good shot more often than not.
There are several companies making lever espresso machines, but La Pavoni has been making them for more than a hundred years, and we like to think the company knows what it's doing. La Pavoni lever machines are built like tanks, using hardly any plastic, save for the boiler cap, handle, and steam knob, which can be swapped out for wood. This makes cleaning a cinch, and it also means that these things are built to last. So long as you don’t do anything catastrophic, you’ll most likely be passing it on to future generations.
But, until you pass your La Pavoni on down the line, it probably won’t be doing much moving. At 14 pounds, the best thing to do is pick a convenient, aesthetically-pleasing perch atop a kitchen counter and never really move it. This is not a portable machine by any stretch, and if you’re looking for something you can tuck away, this is not it.
In short, take even moderately good care of your La Pavoni and it will likely take excellent care of you and yours for decades to come. — Owen Burke
Pros: A classic design that’ll look good in any kitchen, few plastic parts
Cons: Not cheap, takes a little time to perfect pulling a shot
Espresso machines aren't the easiest things to clean. Every machine is different, but CoffeeLounge has some great basic tips for beginners that should apply to most machines.
Some machines come with all the accessories you need to make espresso, but others don't. Check to see if your machine includes any accessories before you buy them. You will need a grinder to have freshly ground espresso, a milk frother or a milk frothing pitcher if you like foamy milk for cappuccinos or lattes, and a tamper to press down the coffee grounds before you make espresso. We explain why you need each one and recommend which ones to buy below.
If your machine doesn't have a grinder built-in and it doesn't use pods, you'll need to buy a grinder. Burr grinders are best, and you should try to get the most powerful one you can find. It's key to have evenly ground coffee that's meant for an espresso machine. You'll get the most flavor and crema out of perfectly ground beans.
Here's a budget option: Buy the Hario Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mill on Amazon for $39.49
Here's a top-of-the-line option: Buy the Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder on Amazon for $129.00
You'll need a milk frothing pitcher for most of these machines and a milk frother for others on this list.
If your machine doesn't have a steam frothing wand, you can read our full guide on the best milk frothers here.
If your machine has a steam frothing wand but no frothing pitcher, you can buy the Rattleware 20-Ounce Latte Art Milk Frothing Pitcher on Amazon for $14.10
The tamper is a nifty tool that evenly presses your grounds so you can make the most out of your coffee beans while making espresso.
Here's a high-end option: Buy the Decent Espresso Tamper on Amazon for $140
Here's a more affordable option: Buy the Rattleware 53-Millimeter Aluminum Tamper on Amazon for $22.95
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After hours and hours of research, testing, and countless ensuing caffeine overloads, these are the best stovetop espresso makers we've found to make strong, delicious coffee right at home:
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Pod machines bring speed, convenience, and consistency to the coffee making process.You're not going to get the best shot of espresso or cup of coffee ever made, but you will get a nicely made drink that tastes good with minimal effort.
We've spent countless shaky, teeth-gritting hours testing all the coffee and espresso pod machines we could get our hands on to find the best.
Here are the best pod machines you can buy: