Espresso coffee machines
Can you make the perfect coffee in your kitchen?
Which type of machine suits you? Here are their pros and cons, plus tips to get you making the perfect coffee at home.
Automatic and automatic-manual espresso machines (also known as “super automatic”) automatically grind the coffee, tamp it, and extract the espresso shot. You fill the bean hopper or add pre-ground coffee, add water to a reservoir and press a button or two. Some models contain an automated milk frothing and dispensing device.
Semi-automatic and manual espresso machines work along similar lines: you pack the coffee into the filter basket, which sits in the portafilter. You then twist the portafilter into the machine. The only significant difference is that manual machines require you to judge the amount of water that flows through the filter basket whereas semi-autos cut off the flow once a pre-set amount is poured.
Capsule machines use hermetically sealed pods of coffee. You drop a capsule in the top, pull a lever and push a switch. The machine pierces the capsule and forces hot water through to make an espresso.
These machines use proprietary systems such as Caffitaly or Nespresso. We don't recommend capsule machines because of the extra waste they create.
Learn more about coffee capsules.
If you’re thinking of buying an espresso machine, here’s what you should consider.
Compare test results and features for all the espresso machines we've tested.
Several types of machine claim to make espresso-based coffee, but only one really can – the pump type. Pump machines operate at higher pressure than steam machines and employ a thermostat to control the water temperature. The pump both makes the coffee and froths the milk.
Pump machines typically have large, removable water tanks that let you make 10 or smaller (demitasse) cups consecutively without having to refill the tank. You can also froth milk for other drinks without making coffee first, as you must with steam machines.
A thermoblock is a metal block through which water passes (and is heated) on the way to the pump. It only holds a little water, so it's supposed to keep a constant water temperature that's not too hot. A boiler, on the other hand, contains a larger body of water. It works in the same way as your hot water tank at home.
We've tested 36 espresso machines.
Find the right one for you.