Every true coffee lover knows that having a reliable coffee maker is a necessity. Usually, the stability of your morning brew is the only thing you can count on to be the same in your busy schedule.
But sometimes, drip coffee just doesn’t cut it and you need to take it to the next level and bring in a great espresso machine.
You’ve likely seen baristas running frantically around behind the counter of your favorite café as they craft the fancy espresso drinks we all love. Pouring water here, steaming milk there, banging coffee grounds out of filters everywhere, it’s an intense process.
But if you’re looking to expand your coffee making skills or bring your favorite espresso drinks into the comfort of your own kitchen, there are some great options for the novice.
Whether you’ve got a little prior experience or none at all, with the right machine, learning the ropes can be intuitive and pretty straightforward.
The options I’ve compiled below are great picks for any espresso lover, whether you’re looking for the tools you need to improve your technique, or just want automated convenience, all three of these machines are great options at a mid-range price point.
If you’re getting into making espresso drinks in your home, then the DEDICA is a great machine to start with. Not only does this espresso maker come with the basic functions you need to brew great tasting drinks, but it also includes several other bonuses that will take your espresso making to the next level.
One of the great things about the DEDICA is that it packs a lot of value into a little bit of space. At only 6 inches wide, the sleek stainless steel espresso maker will look great on your counter without taking up too much room.
The DEDICA uses Thermoblock technology to heat your water to the ideal brewing temperature in just 30-40 seconds. That’s fast in espresso-world.
The machine’s self-priming heating system means that it will be ready to brew when you are, ensuring a quick and seamless experience. It also includes an automatic flow stop that helps to prevent your brewing process from getting too messy.
The flow-stop feature on the machine will automatically deliver either one or two shots of espresso allowing you to easily customize your drink based on your preferences.
The DEDICA also includes a 15-bar pressure pump and a manual cappuccino system for creating rich and delicious steamed milk froth to add to lattes and capps.
On top of all that, the DEDICA also has a cup warmer on top of it so that your glasses will be warm when you brew the espresso and not lose heat post-extraction.
The cup warmer is surrounded by a ribbon of stainless steel that has an illuminated control panel for brewing your custom beverages.
The De’Longhi EC680M DEDICA will look great in your kitchen without being obtrusive. And aside from just looking good, it also includes all of the options and features you need to quickly brew great tasting espresso drinks.
This is also a top performer on Amazon with a 3.8 out of 5 star user rating.
Whether you’re looking for an espresso machine to experiment with in your home, or a machine that will make you look and feel like a coffee making professional, the Capresso 118.05 EC Pro Espresso and Cappuccino Machine is a solid pick.
The EC Pro includes two different filter basket options you can choose between for both single and double shots.
In order to create a seamless and quick brewing experience, the EC Pro has a water reservoir that maintains heat. The water will stay heated to an ideal temperature for creating espresso drinks so that the machine is ready to brew at a moment’s notice.
The Capresso has a dual brewing nozzle so you have the option to brew either one double or two single espresso shots simultaneously, so that you can craft drinks for two.
If you’re looking to take your brewing to the next level, then you’ll be excited to take advantage of the EC Pro’s bottomless espresso filter. This filter builds pressure based on grind size and tamp, so while it takes more practice, it also allows for more control. And once you’ve mastered the bottomless filter you’ll be able to create hotter brews and thicker crema for your coffee concoctions.
While the double-spout espresso filter is a nice option to have, especially as a beginner, the quality of espresso produced from it won’t be quite as good as the bottomless filter. Think of it more as a pair of training wheels. It’s a great feature as you start out, but you’ll want to graduate to the bottomless filter eventually.
This machine also features a steel swiveling frothing wand for both steaming and frothing for lattes and cappuccinos. It also doubles as a hot water dispenser for Americanos.
Overall the Capresso 118.05 EC Pro Espresso and Cappuccino Machine is a great entry level option for brewing quality espresso drinks at home.
The dual filters and ability to brew two espressos at once, like much more expensive models, providing enough room for a versatile brewing experience while also allowing room for a more expert hand to take control.
The Latissima is another great model offered by longtime industry favorite, De’Longhi.
If you’ve looked at the pictures of the Lattissima, you may have noticed that big box sitting on the front of the machine.
That’s the container for the Lattissima’s built-in hot milk system. The hot milk system is a prime feature that allows you to add delicious steamed and frothed milk to your espresso drinks with just a few pushes of a button. No manual frothing needed.
Convenience is key with the Lattissima. In addition to the incredibly handy and easy to clean hot milk system, the Lattissima includes 3 options for steaming milk and 2 preset options for brewing coffee.
It literally takes just a few steps and you’re brewing espresso and making lattes.
One reason the Lattissima offers such incredible convenience is that it uses coffee capsules for brewing your espresso drinks. Simply place one of the coffee capsules in the tray, set your cup on the adjustable drip tray, and make your milk and coffee selections. The Lattissima will have your beverage brewed and ready to drink in just a few moments.
Once used, the coffee capsules release into a container for quick and mess-free disposal. The milk container that sits on the front of the machine is also detachable. This way you can take it off to store in the fridge or easily remove it for thorough cleaning.
The Lattissima offers an overall easy and low maintenance experience. It’s very similar to a single cup coffee maker, just specialized for espresso drinks instead.
Although the Lattissima offers incredible convenience, it doesn’t provide much room for creativity or versatility on the part of the user. If you’re interested in honing your espresso brewing technique to your friends, then the Lattissima isn’t for you.
Everything on the Lattissima is automated, so you’ll get a great espresso with the touch of a few buttons, but you won’t have much control in the process.
If you need an espresso maker that brews drinks quickly with minimum maintenance, then the De’Longhi EN520T Lattissima + Nespresso Capsule System is a great choice.
I’m a big fan of this mid-range model from De’Longhi. It has all the essentials, some nice upgrade finishes and performs like a champ. It is also designed to look beautiful on your countertop.
Like all of the machines on this list you can expect to see a 15 bar pressure pump for ideal extraction. Included features are automatic self printing, the option to use pods or ground coffee in the convertible portafilter, a top-mounted warming rack for cups, removable 44 ounce water tank, water indicator, and a built-in frothing wand.
The drip tray is removable for easy clean up and the tamper has a convenient little holder integrated into the machine. The overall construction is primarily stainless steel with easy push button starts so operation is simple and quick.
This is a great mid-range machine from a quality brand trusted for excellence.
The Vertuo from Nespresso and Breville is pretty similar to the Nespresso Pixie (see my under $500 article for more on that machine), but takes the Vertuo line of capsules instead of the Original Line and has a different overall configuration.
Like all Nespressos, you can expect sleek, clean styling and a nice, slim profile.
Here is what you can expect from the Vertuo: A simple one touch brewing system, designed for single-serve brewing of either coffee or espresso, a standard 40 ounce water tank, and a super quick heat up time of about 15 seconds. This machine also comes bundled with the Aeroccino milk frother, which stands separately, to make lattes and cappuccinos.
The limited options in the Vertuo pod range are the primary reason this machine doesn’t rank on the same level as the more versatile Pixie.
The Klarstein is a nice little espresso machine worth considering after the super automatic Nespressos.
Here is what you can expect from the Rossa: A standard 15 bar pressure pump, a roomy 1.3quart water tank (enough for about 6 cups), a steam nozzle for frothing milk for lattes and cappuccinos and easy switch button operation.
I’m not a huge fan of the amount of plastic used on this machine, especially the steam wand, but it brews a solid shot of espresso with a decent amount of crema for a reasonable price point.
Illy can always be depended on for quality materials and cool, futuristic styling. The Francis collaboration is a beautiful, compact little statement maker that produces rich, smooth cups of espresso.
With the X7.1 you’ll find an iconic 1960s aesthetic, updated for 2020, a one touch-brewing cycle, capsule-based brewing using Illy’s iper capsule system, a panarello steam wand for milk frothing and auto-stop with selectable volume. It is straight-forward and simple to operate and requires very little input from the user.
This is a great choice if you’re looking for a modern, capsule-based system that produces high-quality espresso without a whole range of frills.
Calphalon is newer to the espresso scene and the Temp iQ is their version of a mid-budget model.
The feature line up is pretty great, including everything you should be looking for at this price point: a 15 bar Italian pump for maximum flavor extraction, a dial knob to toggle between brew and steam options, the ability to select single or double shot brewing, Thermoblock elating technology with pre-infusion to prime the grounds prior to extraction and a removable 2 liter water tank for easy and infrequent refilling.
The top of the machine includes a built-in cup warmer and a stainless steel steam wand makes frothing milk for lattes or cappuccinos easy and tasty.
I’m also a fan of the generous amount of stainless steel used in the overall design and the clean, modern look. The fittings feel like high-quality parts and the overall experience is smooth and intuitive, even for a newbie. Seasoned espresso lovers will appreciate the high-quality experience and effectiveness of the brother and pre-infusion extraction process.
This machine from EspressoWorks is a great starter set for the at-home barista looking for a quick and easy experience without a lot of investment.
The overall quality of this machine is average, which is why it falls further down on our list, especially given the higher price point than some of our other options.
Here is what you can expect from the All-In-One: A standard 15 bar pressure pump, a 45 second heat up, two portafilter baskets in single and double size, a separate grinder (the quality of this piece isn’t what we usually recommend but it is convenient), a manual frothing wand for making lattes and cappuccinos with a stainless steel frothing pitcher (usually these are sold separately from the machine) and two espresso shot cups.
I always like to include a manual option on my round-ups for the coffee enthusiasts on the go who enjoy mixing up their espresso experience. This is a fun little manual press than can be taken along when traveling, camping or tailgating at events.
The feature list on the Flair is minimal due to its simple operation: It’s stainless steel and straightforward to clean, it is easily potable and comes with a small tamper and mini portafilter.
You will need to be able to boil hot water to a specific temp for use with this machine, so keep that in mind. The design is also beautiful, with quality materials and classic styling.
Sipping on an espresso based coffee drink can bring a little extra happiness to any regular day. Whether you choose a machine that allows you to take a hands-on role in the process, or a machine that maximizes the ease of procuring your espresso based drink, you’ll definitely be glad you incorporated the refined flavors of espresso into your routine.
Chatting about coffee is my passion! Leave me a question in the comments, I answer each and every one and would love to get to know you better.
I am a die-hard espresso fan. I love every form of the drink from straight espresso shots to lattes and cappuccinos. I currently use a Breville BES870XL Barista, it is an awesome machine. BUT, my dream machine is definitely an Italian Quickmill Andreja. Those bad boys make badass espresso. I love answering your questions, leave a comment or question below!