Home World Cuisine The Best Espresso Machine for Every Skill Level (2024), 28 Tested and Reviewed

The Best Espresso Machine for Every Skill Level (2024), 28 Tested and Reviewed

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The rest of the experience was terrific. The shots were flavorful, the steam wand created a smooth blanket of foam with both dairy and nondairy milks, and the hot water dispenser was convenient to use. If you stay away from light roasts you will be more than happy with this machine.

Breville Barista Express Impress

Breville Barista Express

The Breville Barista Express is a very good machine but it lost out to the Solis, not only because of our general caution around built-in grinders, but because the steam wand wasn’t quite as powerful as the Barista Perfetta’s. Also, though this can be corrected with an after market tamper, the tamper that comes with Breville machines is much lighter weight (not great for a tamper) than what comes with the Solis. Ultimately we think you can get a better package that takes up basically the same amount of space and costs almost the same amount of money getting a Solis, along with a good stand-alone grinder like this KitchenAid.

Breville Infuser

The Breville Infuser is basically the Barista Express without a built-in grinder. It brews just like the Express and the Express Impress; it has a pressure gauge and a hot water dispenser separate from the steam wand for making Americanos (or tea if that’s your jam). But like Barista Express its steam wand is less powerful than the Solis’s and didn’t produce quite as high a quality foam. Also it has a much larger footprint than the Solis. If we can get the same coffee in a smaller package, we’ll take it.

Breville Infuser Espresso Machine

Lelit Victoria

Lelit’s mid-level machine produced espresso that we thought was almost as good as what we got from the Mara X, it also came with features the Mara X didn’t like a digital PID and a shot timer. However we had a hard time getting much texture into milk from the steam wand. This is also a single boiler machine, so there is a delay of close to a minute when switching between brewing espresso and steaming milk. Looking at machines in this general price range we’d go for the Diletta Mio.

Lelit Victoria Espresso Machine

Delonghi La Specialista Arte

Operationally this Delonghi has the same features as a Breville Barista Express but it comes with a number of nice design touches that make it more user friendly. First, a screw-on dosing funnel attaches to the portafilter and fits comfortably into the built-in grinder, which makes it very clean to use (not many stray coffee grounds). It also has a small step that you can place on the drip tray if you’re brewing into a shot glass instead of a mug, which again, makes it cleaner to use (no coffee splashes). The coffee was very tasty and the steam wand performed well, though not quite as well as the Solis or the Breville machines. The timed dosing took a little trial and error to figure out—ultimately we had success with it set around 18. The other thing to be aware of is that Delonghi’s portafilters are a slightly different size than other similar machines; they are just a touch deeper and narrower, which means a standard 54mm tamper won’t work and you will need to use the (quite substantial) one that comes with the machine.

De’Longhi La Specialista Arte

Gaggia Classic Pro

With its black and stainless-steel body, the Gaggia Classic Pro has that Italian café look about it, but it’s not just beautiful on the outside. It’s a nice machine and was the only one we tested in this price range that came with a commercial-size 58-mm portafilter. The problem is that the cheap plastic tamper the machine came with is actually too small for the portafilter. The espresso came out just slightly under-extracted, although it’s hard to know whether that’s because it was challenging to tamp correctly or because of something in the machine itself. Also, unlike everything else we tested in this price range, it has manual controls meaning you have to start and stop every shot with a switch. That’s not a deal-breaker (a lot of great prosumer machines have the same set up), but it is one more step in the process.

Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine

Cuisinart Espresso Machine

The Cuisinart Espresso Machine performed surprisingly well for a semi-automatic machine that costs under $200. It produced a shot with good crema, although it only had pressurized filter baskets, so it was kind of cheating to get it. Like the Gaggia, the Cuisinart has manual controls (it has a dial instead of a switch) to start and stop each brew. The steam wand was quite powerful, but hard to control, leading to more foam than we’d like. But all in all, this is much more than we’d expect from a machine in this price range.

Cuisinart Espresso Machine

DeLonghi 15 Bar Espresso and Cappuccino Machine

The acidic coffee (sans crema) from the DeLonghi 15 Bar Espresso and Cappuccino Machine is what it tastes like if you buy a semi-automatic machine for under $100. The steam wand was hard to move out of the way during brewing and produced very firm, almost merengue-like foam. If you’re focused on this price point, get the Nanopresso.

Delonghi 15 Bar Espresso and Cappuccino Machine

DeLonghi Dedica Deluxe

The DeLonghi Dedica Deluxe was probably the most disappointing machine we tried, not because it performed the worst, but because of the huge mismatch between its quality and its $300-plus price tag. From the body to the portafilter, it feels pretty flimsy, and the default brew setting filled the espresso cup so high it was impossible to move without spilling. The coffee was surprisingly flavorless; the espresso reminded us of a so-so pod machine. If you are considering the DeLonghi Dedica, we think you might actually be happier with the Nespresso machine passionately argued for by senior staff writer Emily Farris.

Hamilton Beach Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

The Hamilton Beach Espresso and Cappuccino Maker: Yikes. Hamilton Beach makes a lot of budget-friendly appliances we like (its electric kettle for example, is excellent). This is not one of them. The coffee was watery and yet there was a mysterious crema on top so thick it was almost a mousse. It was incredibly hard to remove the filter basket from the portafilter to clean, because no matter how hard we knocked on the knock box, we couldn’t dislodge the coffee, which had not formed into a puck. The steam wand: Oy. It heated the milk so unevenly, we couldn’t get it heated all the way through without badly scalding part of it.

Hamilton Beach Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

Flair Pro 2

We’ll admit that it isn’t exactly fair to compare the Flair Pro 2 to most of the other machines in this test because it is a fully manual lever machine. After some messy rounds of trial and error we were able to pull truly delicious shots of espresso with this, but in the meantime we made a bit of a mess with coffee splattered around the kitchen. The trick, should you go this route, is to allow for a short period of pre-infusion by not pressing the lever too hard (the included pressure gauge helps with this). The Flair does offer excellent portability, though, so if you’re looking to take good espresso (better, really, than the Wacaco—the other manual espresso maker we tested) on the road and don’t mind the learning curve associated with this machine, this is a smart choice.

Flair Espresso Maker PRO 2


Like the Flair Pro 2, the 9Barista is a manual espresso maker that makes truly delicious espresso. Unlike the Flair Pro 2, the 9Barista was incredibly easy to operate. It looks a bit like a Mokapot redesigned by someone from the MoMa store and it makes much better coffee. If you want to go the manual route, this was our favorite machine. it will look beautiful sitting on your stovetop, which it may have to do because it is quite heavy. Our only quibble is that we had a hard time knocking the ground coffee out of the filter basket. Half the time we had to dig it out with a metal chopstick.

9Barista Espresso Machine

Jura E8

Of all the fully automatic machines, the Jura made the best espresso, full stop. We drank it side-by-side with the Breville Barista Express Impress, and the Jura’s flavors were a little muted in comparison, but they were all there. We know plenty of people who actually prefer a slightly toned down espresso shot. It also got high marks for its many milk drinks (as long as they were made with real cow’s milk; as we noted above we had issues with oat milk). The texture of the milk in our flat whites and cappuccinos was thicker and smoother than what we got from any semi-automatic machine.

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