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The 6 best espresso machines for aspiring home baristas

Taking charge of your caffeine fix at home? These are the best at-home espresso machines to turn you into your own barista.

Published Jul 25, 2023
6 min. reading time
three hands holding two lattes and an iced coffee
Photo: Unsplash / Nathan Dumlao

For serious coffee lovers, that first sip of coffee in the morning is, well, everything. It warms the soul and provides just the right amount of energy to begin tackling the day.

Since it’s such an essential part of your morning routine, why not upgrade from that hand-me-down drip coffee maker? Owning one of the best espresso machines can take that morning cup of joe from forgettable to fantastic.

Our top choices include options for everyone — from experienced home baristas to espresso newbies. Keep reading to find the best espresso machine to craft top-notch espresso drinks, just like they do at your favorite local coffee shop. We can smell the rich roast aroma already.

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Browse the best espresso machines

Breville Bambino Espresso Machine
Our favorite espresso maker overall
Breville Bambino Espresso Machine
Nespresso VertuoPlus Coffee Maker and Espresso Machine
Best automatic espresso machine
Nespresso VertuoPlus Coffee and Espresso Machine
$149.99 at Target
silver and black Farberware 1.5L 20 Bar Espresso Maker with Removable Water Tank
Best budget-friendly option
Farberware 1.5L 20 Bar Espresso Maker
$65.97 at Walmart
Gevi Espresso Machine with two espressos and a latte
Best for beginners
Gevi Espresso Machine With Milk Frother
$116.99 at Walmart

Our favorite espresso maker overall

  • Dimensions: 12.5 H x  7.75 W x  12.75 D in

  • Reservoir size: 48 ounces

  • Brew time: 6 seconds

Pros & Cons
  • Suitable for beginners

  • Compact and easy to store

  • Dedicated hot water button 

  • Features only basic temperature adjustments

  • No automatic steam wand

If visions of complicated-to-use, countertop-hogging appliances with loud grinders have stopped you from purchasing your first espresso machine, that’s about to change. Our top choice for the best overall espresso machine features a small, compact design, is perfect for beginners — and still boasts loads of functionality.

The Bambino has a two-button control scheme for streamlined operation. Breville’s Thermojet heating system speeds up warming, providing you with steaming espresso shots in mere seconds. And with its classic, one-hole steam wand, frothing milk for coffee drinks is fast and easy — while the pressurized and unpressurized baskets allow you the freedom to use either coffee beans or pre-ground coffee. 

Best automatic espresso machine

Nespresso VertuoPlus Coffee Maker and Espresso Machine
Photo: Target
  • Dimensions: 12.8 H x 5.6 W x 16.2 D in

  • Reservoir size: 60 ounces

  • Brew time: 15 seconds

Pros & Cons
  • Café-grade coffee at the touch of a button coffee .

  • Aluminum pods are fully recyclable 

  • Energy-saving automatic shut-off

  • Only compatible with Nespresso pods

  • Automatic machine may be too simple for coffee enthusiasts

Nespresso takes all the guesswork out of making barista-grade coffee with the automatic VertuoPlus by De’Longhi. At the touch of a button, coffee drinkers can make four cup sizes each morning: 5 ounces, 8 ounces, single espresso and a double option. And its capsule basket takes large pods for coffee or small pods for espresso drinks.

At 7,000 rotations per minute, the Nespresso capsule perfectly blends coffee to create a perfect crema for larger cup sizes. Plus, a new feature of this model is that it has a movable water tank, allowing more flexibility if you have limited countertop space.  

Best budget-friendly option

  • Dimensions:11.81 H x 8.94 W x 10.79 D in

  • Reservoir size: 50.72 ounces

  • Brew time: N/A

Pros & Cons
  • Budget-friendly price

  • Easy-to-clean removable drip tray

  • Features beginner-friendly controls 

  • Plastic pieces can be fragile

  • Some reviewers dislike steam wand function

What brews all of your favorite espresso drinks — and costs less than $100? This value-for-money Faberware espresso maker. Its die-cast aluminum boiler heats water to just the right temperature, while both its single and double stainless steel filters allow you to choose your desired drink size.

With built-in protection against overheating and over-pressure, this machine ensures espresso drinks come out perfectly each time. It also includes a high-pressure frothing wand to steam milk for finishing cappuccinos and lattes with foam.

Best for beginners

Gevi Espresso Machine with two espressos and a latte
Photo: Walmart

Gevi Espresso Machine With Milk Frother

You save $49.00 (29.52%)
  • Dimensions: 13.78 H x 9.06 W x 14.17 D in

  • Reservoir size: 40.58 ounces

  • Brew time: 45 seconds

Pros & Cons
  • Compact design for even small kitchens

  • Suitable for beginners and experienced baristas

  • Intuitive controls

  • Some reviewers say machine leaks

  • A few reviews reported issues with milk frother

Not experienced with using an espresso machine? No worries. The Gevi Espresso machine features both automated and customized controls to suit your skill level. With a 4.7-star average rating from over 2,500 reviewers, this machine is a favorite among at-home baristas — thanks to its user-friendly design and outstanding functionality. Featuring an advanced Thermoblock Fast Heating System, this maker produces café-grade espresso in just 45 seconds. Not only is it speedy, but it has adjustable settings that allow you to make however much espresso you want: single shot, double shot or custom size. Finally, its intelligent temp control system comes with two separate thermostats to allow for better temperature adjustments for hot water or steaming milk, while the removable drip tray allows for brewing into larger mugs.

  • Dimensions: 12.4 H x 5.5 W x 16.9 D in

  • Reservoir size: 37 ounces

  • Brew time: Differs depending on capsule


Pros & Cons
  • Recyclable coffee pods

  • Automatic shut off for energy savings

  • Includes a complimentary starter set of capsules

  • Exclusively works with Nespresso Vertuo capsules

  • Does not include milk frother

Are you a fan of the Nespresso brand? Then, you’ll love the Nespresso Vertuo Next Coffee and Espresso Machine, a more compact version of the coffee giant’s Vertuo by De’Longhi. It weighs just over eight pounds and features a tiny footprint of just 5.5 inches wide. Despite its more compact setting size, you still have the choice of 5-ounce and 8-ounce coffee sizes, as well as single and double espresso settings. Using an advanced barcode-scanning system with the capsules — and an easy one-touch brewing system, this maker allows you to make the perfect coffee effortlessly. And its Centrifusion technology blends coffee with water rapidly to produce a flavor-rich brew.

Best manual espresso maker

  • Dimensions: 7.5 H x 4 W x 4 D in

  • Reservoir size: 6 cups

  • Brew time: 5 minutes or less

Pros & Cons
  • Produces classic Italian-style brew

  • Easy to store

  • Simple preparation method

  • Longer brew time

  • Not dishwasher safe

The Moka pot offers a traditional Italian brew that requires no buttons or user interfaces. It features a safety valve and an ergonomic handle. Simply measure your espresso and fill the reservoir with water up to the safety valve. Heat on the stove and listen for the patented gurgle to know when it is finished.

This is a classic espresso maker that doesn’t need to take up space on your counter. There’s virtually no learning curve, just one great espresso drink after another.

Is an espresso machine worth it? Here’s what to know

If you’re on the fence about whether to buy an at-home espresso machine, these are some commonly asked questions worth considering. 

Is espresso better than coffee?

Espresso isn’t necessarily better than regular coffee. They both use the same beans but a different grind. Drip coffee and espresso makers use different brewing methods for different flavor profiles. Espresso is sometimes labeled as "stronger" than coffee, meaning a bolder, richer flavor.

Well-prepared espresso tastes less acidic than drip coffee and blends well with the drinks you know and love from your favorite coffee shop. Thanks to a full-bodied finish, drinks made with espresso have a more complex flavor. Trust us, there's a reason those drinks cost more than your average house drip.

How much should you spend?

As your skills and taste develop, spending more on a luxury espresso machine can be worth the cost — think several hundred to over $1,000. That being said, you can easily get excellent entry-level espresso machines including our top choices. Beginners can get a satisfactory machine with basic setting options for around $100 or even a little less for automated choices. Don't shy away from starting with a budget espresso machine. They can still make great coffee.

an aerial view of a coffee with a flower motif on a plate with a teaspoon
Photo: Pexels / Tyler Nix

Cheap vs. expensive models: What’s the difference?

More expensive machines offer more customization choices. For example, you'll have total control over temperature settings. They also provide functions like pre-wetting, which ensures water evenly soaking the grounds. If you've been making your own espresso for a while, you may notice these subtle differences.

Budget-friendly machines may not provide such advanced features, but they still create great cups of espresso for beginners and those with entry-level espresso experience. 

What is the average lifespan of an espresso machine?

Budget-friendly machines can last quite a while, five years or longer, with good care. Higher-end models can last for decades. 

Which espresso machines get our vote?

Of all the espresso makers on our list, three qualify as the best espresso models on our list. If you still aren't sure which to choose, we recommend investing in one of these.

  • Breville Bambino Espresso Machine: This machine offers the biggest bang for your buck with a good blend of automatic and manual controls. It provides the best foundation to begin making cappuccinos,  lattes (and more!) from home. 

  • Gevi Espresso Machine With Milk Frother: If you’re a beginner at making espresso, this top-rated machine features both automated and customized controls to make it an easy process.. Plus, it's budget-friendly and compact in size.

  • BIALETTI Moka 6 Cup Express Espresso Maker: If you want your espresso without all the fuss, the simple Moka pot is the way to go. You can store it in your cabinet and pull it out when you need a quick espresso fix. Plus, there's just something special about the traditional Italian way of doing things.

Prices updated on 08/03/2023. We are not responsible for any changes to the prices mentioned above.

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Written by
Elizabeth Wallace

Elizabeth Wallace is a Guest Contributor. For Smart Shopper, she specializes in writing shopping content within Home & Garden, Tech, Parenting and more.

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