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Best espresso machine 2022: Make barista quality coffee at home

The Gaggia Classic, Delonghi Dedica Style EC685 and the Sage Bambino on a red background
(Image credit: TechRadar)

The best espresso machine will deliver strong punchy coffee to kick-start your day in the best way possible. Drip coffee is all well and good, but it doesn’t have the intense flavor and aroma that you get from barista style coffee. So unless you’re a fan of going to the local drive-thru coffee place in your PJ’s, you’ll need an espresso machine in your kitchen to provide that early morning caffeine hit to get you out the door.

Whether you prefer a milky latte, foamy cappuccino or straight intense espresso, it all starts with one of the best espresso machines. And while some people enjoy the ritual of preparing the perfect coffee to savor as part of a mindful morning routine, for others, convenience and speed is the name of the game, so it’s important to get the coffee machine that fits your lifestyle, routine, and how much effort you’re prepared to put in.

There are lots of styles of coffee maker to choose from, one of the best best bean-to-cup coffee machines will deliver the freshest coffee without the need for a separate bean grinder, but these machines are often bulky and expensive. On the flip side, a speedy single serve or pod coffee machine is a quick, easy, and mess free way of getting your morning cup of joe by popping in a coffee capsule and hitting the start button, but this isn’t the machine for coffee connoisseurs. Discover more on the differences between these coffee makers by reading how coffee makers work

 Espresso is the short intense shot of coffee that’s the base for most drinks on offer in your local coffee shop. Add steamed milk and you can create almost any drink from the menu, so long as you’re prepared to develop a few skills to get it right. For barista-endorsed tips on creating the perfect coffee, read our article how to make coffee-shop worthy drinks at home, or discover the game-changing coffee maker trick that will ensure you never drink bitter espresso again.  

 So to get your favorite coffee without having to head down to the local coffee shop, we’ve tested a range of espresso machines from brands such as Gaggia, DeLonghi, Nespresso, and Sage (known as Breville in the US and Australia), assessing how well each brews espresso to help you decide which is the best espresso machine for you. There’s a range of prices, but if you’re looking to grab a bargain, you can also check out our roundup of the best cheap coffee maker deals and Nespresso machine sales.

Best espresso machine 2022

the Gaggia Classic coffee machine being used to brew two cups of espresso

(Image credit: Gaggia)
Best overall

Specifications

Number of filters: 3
Steam wand: Yes
Water dispenser: Manual
Water tank: 2.2 quarts / 2.1 liters
Dimensions: 8 x 9.5 x 14.2 inches / 23 x 38 x 24cm

Reasons to buy

+
Full manual control over brew
+
Can pour two espressos at once
+
Built-in steam wand

Reasons to avoid

-
Some dripping after espresso is poured
-
Expensive compared to the rest of the market

If you’re looking for the best espresso machine you can buy right now, and money is no object, then the Gaggia Classic is the ideal choice. 

It comes with single and double espresso filters, as well as a crema perfetta filter. Gaggia says it will produce a shot of coffee with a thick crema, without having to experiment with the coffee grind size, making it ideal for those who want to learn how to use an espresso machine, before attempting to play barista. It also offers full manual control over how much water is dispensed, allowing you to create the volume of coffee you want. 

On test, we were impressed that the coffee was rich and intense. With all three filters, it had a stable crema that reformed when sugar was sprinkled on top. The built-in steam wand ensures you can make milk-based coffee drinks too. However, this is the most expensive espresso machine. 

Read our full review: Gaggia Classic (opens in new tab) 

De'Longhi Dedica Style EC685 on a white background

(Image credit: De'Longhi)
Best budget espresso machine

Specifications

Number of filters: 2
Steam wand: Yes
Water dispenser: Automatic or manual
Water tank: 1.2 quarts / 1.1 liters
Dimensions: 12 x 5.9 x 13 inches / 30.4 x 14.9 x 33cm

Reasons to buy

+
More affordable than most espresso machines we’ve tested
+
Takes Easy Serving Espresso (ESE) pods and ground coffee
+
Simple to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Can’t make espresso straight after steaming milk
-
Tricky to fit two cups under spout

If you want a true espresso machine that lets you experiment with tamping the coffee and dispensing the water, but you’re on a budget, then the De’Longhi Dedica Style is one of the more affordable espresso machines in this category. 

Simple to use, it takes ESE pods as well as ground coffee, which means it can be used to make decaf coffee, too. On test it created an intense espresso with a stable crema. It can brew two single espressos at the same time, but placing two cups under the spout on such a compact machine did prove tricky. 

We were disappointed by the fact the machine can’t make espresso straight after steaming milk. As such, if you're planning to make several coffees with milk, then you'll need to brew all of the espressos before starting on the milk-based drinks. We also experienced some dripping after espresso was poured. 

Read our full review: De'Longhi Dedica Style EC685 (opens in new tab)

The Sage Bambino espresso machine ready to brew coffee

(Image credit: Sage)
Perfect for small spaces

Specifications

Number of filters: 4
Steam wand: Yes
Water dispenser: Automatic or manual
Water tank: 1.5 quarts / 1.4 liters
Dimensions: 7.7 x 12.6 x 12.2 inches / 19.5 x 32 x 31cm

Reasons to buy

+
Automatic or manual brewing
+
Extremely compact
+
Built-in steam wand and milk jug included

Reasons to avoid

-
Some dripping after espresso is poured
-
Lacks a razor tool bundled with other Sage coffee machines 

If you’re tight on space then the Sage Bambino offers similar features to the Gaggia Classic above but with a more compact footprint, and a slightly more affordable price tag too. 

On test, we found the Sage Bambino – known as the Breville Bambino in the US and Australia – created coffee with body and a thick crema. We were also impressed that it offers a choice between manual and automatic water dispensing. 

Simple to use, the Sage Bambino comes with a built-in steam wand, plus a milk jug in the range of accessories with which it ships, meaning you really take on the role of the barista as soon as the coffee machine is out of the box. However, we did find there was some dripping after the espresso had been poured – and, unlike other Sage/Breville-branded coffee makers, this one lacks the razor tool that can smooth off the coffee in the filter.

 Read our full review: Sage Bambino (opens in new tab) 

The Nespresso Vertuo Next being used to brew a coffee on a white background

(Image credit: Nespresso)
An easy-to-use espresso machine

Specifications

Number of filters: n/a
Steam wand: No
Water dispenser: Automatic
Water tank: 1.1 quarts / 1 liter
Dimensions: 5.6 x 16.9 x 12.4 inches / 14.2 x 42.9 x 31.4cm

Reasons to buy

+
Mess-free
+
Can create five different sized drinks 

Reasons to avoid

-
Pods are expensive 
-
Lacks a steam wand
-
No manual control of water volume

If you’re looking for an effortless way to make espresso at home, the Nespresso Vertuo Next ticks all the boxes. This is a single-serve coffee machine, and as such makes far less mess than a traditional espresso machine, as the ground coffee is contained within an aluminum capsule. 

It has the ability to create five different-sized drinks – and, during testing, the Nespresso Vertuo Next produced smooth coffee, topped with a thick crema that reformed even after we stirred in some sugar.

The espresso machine reads a barcode on the side of the capsule that offers information on how much water should be used and how long the brewing process should take. This makes it one of the simplest coffee machines to use. However, this also means you have no control over the brewing process. 

We were disappointed that there’s no steam wand for texturizing milk, so you’ll need to purchase a separate milk frother from the brand if you’re sold on the rest of the Vertuo Next’s features. It's also worth noting that the pods can work out more expensive than buying ground coffee. 

Read our full review: Nespresso Vertuo Next (opens in new tab) 

The Smeg ECF01 ready to brew an espresso on a white background

(Image credit: Amazon)
The best espresso machine for color choice

Specifications

Number of filters: 3
Steam wand: Yes
Water dispenser: Manual
Water tank: 1.1 quarts / 1 liter
Dimensions: 16.5 x 5.9 x 13 inches/ 42 x 14.9 x 32.9cm

Reasons to buy

+
Stylish design 
+
Smooth coffee with an impressive crema
+
Takes Easy Serving Espresso (ESE) pods and ground coffee

Reasons to avoid

-
Tricky to fit two cups under spout
-
Relatively small water tank

If you’re after an espresso machine that has style and substance, the Smeg ECF01 Espresso Maker is perfect. The retro-style design is available in an array of colors, so you’re sure to find one to suit your home decor. The Smeg produces a rich, intense shot of espresso with a thick, stable crema. 

We like that this coffee machine allows you to control how much water is dispensed, and will even remember your preferred volume, automatically dispensing at that level the next time a coffee is brewed. However, with no guidance available on brewing espresso, the ECF01 isn’t suitable for complete novices. 

In addition, with just a 1.1-quart / 1-liter water tank, this is one of the smallest capacity espresso machines we’ve tested, so if you’re looking to make several coffees at the same time, it may not be the model for you. We also found its compact size meant it was tricky to fit two espresso cups under the spout at the same time. 

Read our full review: Smeg ECF01 Espresso Maker (opens in new tab) 

The De’Longhi La Specialista Arte EC9155MB on a white background

(Image credit: De'Longhi)
Best premium espresso machine

Specifications

Number of filters: 2
Steam wand: Yes
Water dispenser: Automatic or manual
Water tank: 2.6 quarts / 2.5 liters
Dimensions: 14.37 x 15.87 x 11.22 inches / 28.5 x 36.5x 39.9cm

Reasons to buy

+
Produces smooth, rich espresso
+
Integrated grinder
+
Built-in steam wand

Reasons to avoid

-
Some dripping after espresso is poured
-
Only some components are dishwasher safe

Love the idea of intense espresso with a thick rich crema, but don't want to invest in a separate bean grinder? The De'Longhi La Specialista Arte EC9155MB is the ideal buy as it comes with an integrated grinder that which can hold 0.55lb / 250g of beans at a time. It lets you customize the coarseness of the grind from eight levels to ensure you brew the perfect coffee for you every time. 

On test, we were impressed that the coffee was rich and intense, with a stable crema that reformed when sugar was sprinkled on top. There's also a built-in steam wand, which enables you to make milk-based coffee drinks too. 

However, we were disappointed there was some dripping once espresso had been brewed, and unlike De'Longhi's more affordable Dedica Style machine (above), it can't be used with pods. It's also a little tricky to clean as only some components are dishwasher-safe. 

Read our full review: De'Longhi La Specialista Arte EC9155MB (opens in new tab)

The Wacaco Picopress hand pump espresso maker next to its case on a white background

Image Credit: Wacaco (Image credit: Wacaco)
Best espresso machine for on-the-go

Specifications

Number of filters: 1
Steam wand: No
Water dispenser: Manual
Water tank: 0.1 quarts / 0.08 liter
Dimensions: 4.17 x 3.07 x 2.8 inches / 10.6 x 7.8 x 7.1cm

Reasons to buy

+
Makes smooth espressos
+
Can be used on-the-go
+
Compact design

Reasons to avoid

-
Small capacity
-
No way to texturize milk

If you’re looking for a way to make good-quality espresso on the go then the Picopresso is ideal. This espresso machine uses hand-pump power – rather than batteries or mains power  – so it can accompany you anywhere, as long as you have access to boiling water and ground coffee. 

It’s aimed at coffee aficionados, leaving the tamping and water volume up to you, which means it isn’t suitable for complete beginners unless you're happy to experiment. On test, we were very quickly able to create coffee with body and a stable crema using this compact device, which cleverly slots together so there’s no chance of losing any accessories in your bag. 

However, with just a 0.1-quart / 0.08-liter water tank, it can brew only small quantities of coffee in one go, plus there’s no way to texturize milk. Nevertheless, if you’re a fan of weekends away, the Picopresso does at least mean you won’t need to go hunting for a coffee shop to get a barista-worthy hot drink. 

Read our full review: Wacaco Picopresso (opens in new tab)

How we test espresso machines

We take testing espresso machines seriously and put each machine through its paces to see if it’s able to live up to its promises. We assess the quality of espresso produced by each machine, analyzing the flavor of the final drink; we look for a rich, intense shot of coffee that doesn’t taste bitter or burnt, along with a thick, stable crema that reforms after sugar has been sprinkled on it. 

The temperature of the espresso is also measured, checking for consistency from one cup to another, and we assess the noise level of the machine, too. If it has a built-in steam wand, we evaluate its ability to texturize both dairy and plant-based milk, looking for tiny bubbles that create a rich, smooth texture. Again, we assess whether its noise level is acceptable. 

We also evaluate how easy an espresso machine is to set up and use, whether it offers enough manual control for those who want to take on the role of barista, plus how much space it will take up on your kitchen counter. We consider if the water tank is removable for easy refills, and how the machine looks as a whole.

Best espresso machine FAQs

What to consider when buying a an espresso machine

When it comes to choosing an espresso machine, there are a number of things to consider. 

First, decide if you want an espresso machine that offers manual control over dispensing water, or if you want a machine that takes on that work for you; the latter is probably better for those new to playing barista. 

Next consider if you want a machine that can be used with ground coffee, single-serve pods, or a mixture of the two. Coffee pods are less messy than using ground coffee, and can be handy if you occasionally want to make decaf coffee using the machine – but they don’t produce the thick rich crema you get with freshly ground coffee. 

If you regularly make espresso for a couple of people at the same time, look for a coffee machine that has a double spot on the tray and can fill two separate cups at the same time. Meanwhile, if you like longer coffee drinks with milk, such as cappuccinos and lattes, choose an espresso machine that has a built-in steam wand, or factor in the cost of a standalone milk frother. 

Finally, take note of the size of the espresso maker to see if you have sufficient room for it on your kitchen countertop – or, if you plan to store it away in a cupboard, consider its weight to see that you’ll be able to easily lift it. 

How do I make an espresso?

Once you have the best espresso machine for you, it’s also important to know how to make an espresso. Espresso is made by passing water at high pressure through compacted ground coffee. 

However, a set ‘recipe’, which usually refers to a ratio and brewing duration, is usually given by the roaster (the brands that roast and blend coffee beans). The most common recipe is 1:2 in 25 to 35 seconds, which effectively means turning each gram of ground coffee into 2g of liquid espresso in that time period.  

How compacted the ground coffee is will affect how quickly or slowly the espresso brews. If the coffee is too tightly compacted, it will take longer to brew and will be too strong; loosely compacted coffee means it will be dispensed too quickly, and will subsequently be weak. Prefer cappuccino, latte, or a flat white? Find out how to make your favorite coffee in our article. 

How is an espresso machine different from a coffee machine?

An espresso machine differs from other types of coffee machines because it uses pressurized hot water which is passed through a disc of compacted coffee grounds, called a puck. It's possible to adjust the volume of water that's passed through the grounds as well as how tightly compacted the coffee is to adjust the strength of the hot drink brewed. 

Single-serve coffee machines, or pod coffee machines as they're sometimes known, still use pressurized hot water, but the coffee is contained in a capsule or pod. The coffee machine punctures the capsule several times to allow the water to flow through the coffee ground to brew the drink. However, while some single-serve coffee machines let you adjust how much water is used to create different volumes of coffee, it's not possible to tweak how compacted the grounds are. 

Finally, drip coffee makers pass hot water through coffee grounds that are hardly compacted at all. It's not at the same pressure as when using an espresso machine and there's no set volume of water used. Instead the brewing takes place until the water tank runs dry or the coffee maker is switched off. This creates more traditional filter coffee rather than espresso.

Carrie-Ann Skinner is Homes Editor at TechRadar, and has more than two decades of experience in both online and print journalism, with 13 years of that spent covering all-things tech. Carrie specializes in smart home devices such as smart plugs and smart lights, as well as large and small appliances including vacuum cleaners, air fryers, stand mixers, and coffee machines. 


When she’s not discovering the next must-have gadget for the home, Carrie can be found cooking up a storm in her kitchen, and is particularly passionate about baking, often rustling up tasty cakes and bread. 

With contributions from