10 Best Espresso Machines [2022 GUIDE]


Welcome to the best espresso machines review and buying guide to help make your purchase decisions easier.

Best espresso machine for the money:

Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine

Feature-rich with industrial-strength built, you get the most bang for the buck with this gorgeous espresso machine.

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Best espresso machine for beginners:

De’Longhi Stilosa Manual Espresso Machine, Latte & Cappuccino Maker

Equipped with a milk frother and brews the three basic coffees – espresso, cappuccino, and latte – it is an excellent first machine at a great price.

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Best espresso machine for heavy use:

Philips 3200 Series Fully Automatic Espresso Machine

Capable of five coffee varieties and fully automated functions. This is a super-automatic machine you can depend on to make your favorite coffee drinks cup after cup, at home or in the office.

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Best espresso machine for small spaces:

Sboly Espresso Machine with Milk Frother

Its footprint is easily the smallest of all machines on the list. It performs well, and the milk frother is a bargain for the price.

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Best espresso machine for small businesses:

Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine

This Gaggia machine is well-built with commercial-quality components that will withstand heavy use in the office.

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Best espresso maker for camping & travel:

Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker

The ideal espresso maker on the go. With its range of soothing color options, it is easy to find a coffee companion that suits your style.

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Best semi-automatic espresso machine:

Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine

A semi-automatic espresso machine that has features found on more expensive commercial models. The options of professional-looking colors complete the sleek design that will impress your guests.

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Best super-automatic espresso machine:

Philips 3200 Series Fully Automatic Espresso Machine

It is fully automatic and comes with an impressive range of coffee styles with the touch of a button. The Aquaclean filtration system means you don’t have to descale until you reach the 5k cup mark.

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Best high-end espresso machine:

Jura 15089 GIGA W3 Professional Automatic Coffee Machine

A luxurious espresso machine with an extensive barista and programmable coffees and capabilities that more than meet your needs; a super-automatic machine for coffee lovers who expect the very best.

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Coffee shops and professionally trained baristas create an explosion of exciting and unusual coffee and milk combinations to tantalize our taste buds.

But home machines built on commercial lines now make coffee perfection possible for the enthusiastic home barista.

Easy cleaning features coupled with bean to cup automation mean you don’t need to be a specialist to produce consistently high-quality coffee and other drinks at home or work.


#1 Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine

An entry-level semi-automatic espresso machine has many of the features found on higher-priced commercial models.

The stainless-steel housing looks sleek and professional, and this machine will let you be a wizard of a barista. You remain in control of your coffee production, but the automated features streamline the process.

What you get with this espresso machine:

  • Commercial style 58mm portafilter.
  • Two portafilter baskets – single and double sizes.
  • Option to use pods with the pressurized basket.
  • Three-way solenoid valve controls the flow of water and keeps the brew head dry when inactive allowing you to knock out the puck with ease.
  • 72 oz water tank.
  • Commercial style steam wand ideal for producing micro-foam necessary for latte art.
  • Reasonably small footprint – L9.5 x W8 x H14.2 inches.
  • Quiet in operation with a vibration pump.
  • Dual heating element – hot water in five minutes, steam in thirty seconds.
  • Three rocker switches – power, brewing, and steaming with individual indicator lights signifying readiness.


  • Hard to see the water level due to the water reservoir’s dark tint.

Suitable for:

  • Home baristas who enjoy working with coffee and producing a variety of drinks.
  • Small offices.

#2 Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine

This semi-automatic machine takes you from bean to cup efficiently and with minimum fuss.

If you want to load up your device with the best beans and concentrate on combining coffee and milk for old and new creations – this machine can handle it.

The steam wand produces high-quality microfoam for stylish latte art.

What you get with this espresso machine:

  • Integrated conical burr grinder dispenses the dose (19-22g) directly into your portafilter.
  • Control the fineness of the grind with a simple dial or a manual override.
  • 1/2lb bean hopper.
  • 67oz water tank.
  • Enhanced espresso extraction with digital control of the water temperature.
  • Steam wand with latte art capacity.
  • Settings for one or two-shot production.
  • 15 bar Italian pump ensures the optimum 9 bar pressure extraction for the ideal espresso.


  • Inconsistent built-in grinder.

Suitable for:

  • People who love the taste of freshly ground coffee but prefer an automated process.
  • Small guest houses.

#3 Philips 3200 Series Fully Automatic Espresso Machine

This fully automatic espresso machine is ideal for people who enjoy freshly ground coffee without the fuss.

Some of the standout features include the easy cleaning and maintenance system along with an impressive range of coffee styles available with the touch of a button.

You get to control all the essential factors like the grind, temperature, and volume with intuitive settings allowing you to tweak the coffee to your preferences.

What you get with this espresso machine:

  • Five different coffees (espresso, cappuccino, americano, latte, and macchiato) and hot water available with push-button control.
  • Touch display and control panel.
  • Ceramic grinders are good for 20,000 coffee servings.
  • LatteGo function tops with hot milk foam and is quick to clean. The whole process takes under 15 seconds. You can wash the milk system in the sink or dishwasher.
  • Intensity – three settings.
  • Grind – twelve settings from ultrafine to coarse.
  • Temperature – three settings.
  • Volume adjustment for both coffee and milk.
  • Aquaclean water filter means you only need to descale after 5,000 cups. Alternatively, you can use the automatic scaling alarm without Acquaclean filters in place.
  • Dishwasher safe parts.


  • Cannot froth milk independent of a pre-programmed drink.

Suitable for:

  • Large families.
  • Offices.

#4 De’Longhi Stilosa Manual Espresso Machine, Latte & Cappuccino Maker

The Stilosa is compact and contemporary, letting you make all your favorite barista-style coffees without taking up mountains of time to clean and set up.

This espresso machine is a straightforward model that will brew your coffee and froth your milk. You remain in control of the coffee grinding and mixing your coffee styles.

What you get with this espresso machine:

  • 15 bar pump, delivering the optimum 9 bar pressure of espresso production.
  • Steam wand – manual milk frother.
  • Small footprint: L13.5 x W8.07 x H11.2 inches.
  • Single or double espresso servings – with portafilter baskets and appropriate cup holder.
  • Stainless steel boiler with durable construction and long life.
  • Straightforward to clean.


  • Inconsistent steam wand.

Suitable for:

  • People who like straightforward barista coffee in the classic espresso, americano, latte, cappuccino, and flat white varieties.
  • Excellent for single people and couples.

#5 Jura 15089 GIGA W3 Professional Automatic Coffee Machine

This automatic coffee machine is ideal for the modern home or workplace, offering coffee styles created from the bean. Cleaning and descaling are integrated and require minimal effort from the user.

You can opt for a basic model or accessorize with optional extras to create a professional machine to delight your guests or employees and visitors.

What you get with this espresso machine:

  • TFT display and intuitive control system.
  • Integrated cleaning and scaling system.
  • 169 oz water tank.
  • 35.5 oz bean hopper.
  • Aroma cover to preserve bean freshness.
  • 31 individually programable coffees and a further 12 barista coffees available at the push of a button.
  • Automatic milk frothing, heating, and dispensing.
  • Adjustable ceramic burr grinders.

Optional extras:

  • Active bean monitor.
  • Cup warmers.
  • Milk coolers.

Suitable for:

  • Expert barista at home.
  • Self-service locations in offices and hotels that want to impress.

#6 Breville BES810BSS Duo Temp Pro Espresso Machine

Appliance manufacturers like Breville are pushing the boundaries for achieving barista perfection in a home device.

This compact machine gives you café quality coffee but occupies a surprisingly small amount of room on your kitchen counter.

The bundle contains an impressive array of tools and accessories to get you up and running as soon as you unpack it – just add coffee and milk.

What you get with this espresso machine:

  • A compact (L10 x W11 x H13 inches) espresso machine in brushed stainless steel.
  • 15 bar Italian pump varies the pressure from low during the pre-infusion stage to the optimal 9 bar necessary for the espresso extraction.
  • Choice of one or two espresso shot delivery.
  • 61 oz water tank.
  • Steam wand with latte art capabilities.
  • Stainless steel milk jug.
  • Water filter.
  • Razor tool for expert precision filling of the portafilter basket.
  • Cleaning and maintenance alerts so you can carry out low-level maintenance before an issue develops.
  • An automatic steam purge keeps the brewing water at the ideal temperature for every stage.
  • Digital temperature control creates the ideal coffee brewing and extraction conditions.


  • Loud frother.

Suitable for:

  • The professional coffee drinker at home or in the office.

#7 Calphalon BVCLECMP1 Temp iQ Espresso Machine with Steam Wand

This espresso machine offers excellent temperature control with precision heating technology using a thermoblock and a digital temperature control system (PID).

It has barista features and commercial quality components that create your favorite coffee at home efficiently and pleasantly.

What you get with this espresso machine:

  • 15 bar Italian pump ensures you can apply the optimum pressure to your coffee grind to obtain the best espresso with a rich, intense flavor.
  • Easy dial control for hot water, steam, and single or double shot volumes.
  • Commercial sized 58mm portafilter for bigger doses of coffee and better water dispersion and flavor extraction.
  • Thermoblock and PID temperature control mean you get the correct pre-infusion followed by efficient espresso production.
  • 67 oz removable water reservoir with easy to fill hinged lid system.
  • Cup warming tray.
  • Steam wand for expert milk frothing – including microfoam for latte art.
  • Stainless steel milk pitcher, plus tamper, and cleaning pin.


  • The steam pressure is too strong with no way to regulate it – cannot produce milk foam reliably.

Suitable for:

  • Any coffee enthusiast.
  • Some small business applications.

#8 De’Longhi ECP3420 Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine

An ideal at-home barista espresso machine lets you and your family enjoy a variety of hot milky coffee drinks or neat espresso.

It is an efficient machine that leaves you in control of processing the coffee beans (or buying ready ground) and plenty of room for experimentation with a straightforward steam wand for milk steaming and frothing.

What you get with this espresso machine:

  • 15 bar pump ensures optimal brewing pressure for flavor extraction.
  • Removable 37oz water tank – water level easily visible.
  • Accommodates cups up to 5 inches.
  • Stainless steel boiler.
  • Convenient storage for filters.
  • Single or double shots of espresso.
  • Manual milk frothing with the integrated steam wand.
  • Portafilter accommodates one shot, two shot, and pressured baskets for pre-filled pods.
  • Rapid cappuccino system lets you keep brewing for a crowd.
  • Narrow footprint.


  • Need to manually stop the machine.

Suitable for:

  • Small kitchens, families, and lovers of barista coffee on a budget.

#9 Sboly Espresso Machine with Milk Frother

A domestic coffee machine that allows you to enjoy coffee in its many forms for a fraction of the cost of visiting a coffee shop.

The machine is small, compact, and ideal for people with limited space or continually moving between locations.

A coffee snob may disapprove of the 3.5bar pressure (9 bars is optimum), but this fuss-free machine is quick and produces excellent coffee.

What you get with this espresso machine:

  • Quick brewing of 4 shots of espresso in under 2 minutes.
  • Single knob to control all operations.
  • Lightweight at 3.5lbs
  • Compact: L8.3 x W5.1 x H11.6 inches.
  • Uses medium and coarse ground coffee.
  • Milk steamer produces hot frothy milk in under 40 seconds.
  • Carafe for scale for one to four shots included.
  • Versatile for a range of coffee drinks.

Suitable for:

  • Tight spaces – small kitchens, offices, and even your RV.

#10 Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker

If you like to leave a light footprint on the earth and like to travel, this handy espresso maker allows you to flex some muscles and enjoy coffee wherever you find yourself.

You need hot water and ground coffee, but after that, it is all muscle power.

The design includes a travel cup, and it is super-portable.

What you get with this portable espresso maker:

  • An affordable single-cup espresso maker in a neat compact package with a protective case.
  • Energy-saving – you shake to pump the water.
  • Exercise – tone those forearms while creating your coffee fix.
  • Super-easy to clean.
  • Barista accessories are available for longer shots.
  • Color options: Artic blue, moss green, black, white, and red.


  • Expensive among similarly-sized portable espresso makers.

Suitable for:

  • Backpackers.
  • Campers.
  • Eco-warriors.
  • Personal office use.
  • Students.

Best espresso machine under $1000:

Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine

This Breville bean-to-cup semi-automatic machine is efficient and reliable. Invest in your choice of bean, and you have your top-notch espressos day in day out.

Best espresso machine under $500:

Breville BES810BSS Duo Temp Pro Espresso Machine

A Breville coffee machine that is compact yet has an impressive array of tools and features to consistently fulfill your demands for the highest coffee standard in your cup.

Best espresso machine under $300:

Calphalon BVCLECMP1 Temp iQ Espresso Machine with Steam Wand

Commercial quality components and a unique heating and temperature control system ensure you get top-notch coffee beverages that compare favorably with other famous brand names.

Best espresso machine under $200:

De’Longhi ECP3420 Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine

An ideal espresso machine for the home that does not break the bank. It makes your favorite coffee consistently and reliably, and cleaning up is a breeze.

Best espresso machine under $100:

De’Longhi Stilosa Manual Espresso Machine, Latte & Cappuccino Maker

A straightforward machine that brews coffee and froths milk at an unbeatable price while you control the coffee grinding and mixing styles.

Best espresso machine under $50:

Sboly Espresso Machine with Milk Frother

The best machine for coffee drinkers on a small budget. It performs equally well in the ease-of-use and aesthetics department.

Accessories for Espresso Machine

Best compact coffee grinder for espresso:

HadinEEon Electric Coffee Grinder

This blade grinder is multi-purpose, it will grind your coffee beans, but it will also process spices, nuts and create pesto and sauces.

An affordable coffee grinder is an ideal accessory if your espresso machine doesn’t process the beans for you.

  • 200W motor creates medium coffee grounds in ten seconds. Faster grind time means less heating and static.
  • One button operation with a safety switch.
  • Heat cut-off switch protects the quality of your grind.
  • Stainless steel bowl minimizes friction.

Best handheld electric milk frother:

SIMPLETaste Handheld Milk Frother

Most espresso machines include a steam wand, but if you opt for a model that only brews coffee, a milk frother lets you expand your range of drinks.

This is an ideal accessory for the manually-operated camping espresso maker as it is battery powered.

  • Stainless 304 means you can enjoy an easy-clean rustproof milk frother.
  • One button operation with a comfortable handle.
  • Creates milky forth in fifteen to thirty seconds.
  • Versatile for beating eggs, whisking sauces, and cold drinks like milkshakes.
  • Battery operated, compact, and free from trailing wires.

Best milk frother and steamer:

Miroco Milk Frother Electric Milk Steamer

This electric self-contained milk frother produces three consistent milk textures for the full range of hot and cold milky drinks. It includes safety features like an automatic switch off when your milk froth is ready.

It is ideal for the preparation of more drinks than coffee alone and makes excellent hot chocolate.

  • Four settings – hot milk, cappuccino, latte, flat whites, and hot chocolate are all a button away.
  • Three textures – hot and airy, hot and dense, cold and frothy.
  • Easy to clean non-stick stainless steel cup.
  • Ergonomically designed for one hand to grip.
  • Strix Temperature Controller with automatic switch-off.

Espresso Machine Buying Guide

Types of Espresso Machine

All espresso machines work by introducing hot water under pressure to a coffee bed to extract the coffee flavor from the beans and transfer it into the water. The method of performing this task differs between espresso machine types.

Espresso machines fall into the following categories or types:

  • Electric steam-driven machines.
  • Manual or spring-loaded lever machines.
  • Pump-driven machines (semi-automatic, automatic, super-automatic).

Electric Steam Driven Machines

The water is heated in a sealed tank—some of the water converts to steam that occupies more space than the water. The pressure from the steam forces the water into the brewing chamber and through the coffee.

These machines are super-simple to use and maintain, but the drawbacks to the older steam espresso machines are:

  • The pressure generated is a maximum of 1.5 bars, where you need 9 bars for the perfect espresso.
  • Temperature control is minimal – the water is near boiling as a mixture of steam and hot water, resulting in the bitter taste of over-brewed coffee.

In general, the pressure is too low, and the temperature is too high to produce consistently good coffee. These machines are inexpensive and fast to operate.

The barista can experiment with the coffee grind size to tweak it into making a better espresso with less over-brewing.

Lever Driven Machines

A manual lever-driven machine needs the barista to raise the handle to allow pre-heated water to enter the brewing chamber.

A spring-loaded lever machine requires the handle to be pulled down, compressing the spring and pushing up a piston to let water into the brewing chamber. When the handle is released, the piston forces the water through the coffee bed.

Lever-driven espresso machines are old school and a bit steampunk in operation. The barista controls:

  • Length of pre-infusion,
  • Flow rate, and
  • Pressure

by when they choose to move the lever.

These machines are not ideal for a busy café or restaurant.

Pump-Driven Machines

Most commercial and domestic espresso machines use an electronic pump to drive pre-heated water into the brewing chamber and through the coffee bed.

These machines give consistent temperature and pressure -both essential to brewing the ideal espresso.

There are three basic types of pump-driven espresso machines:

  • Semi-automatic – barista does the grinding, tamping, and set the extraction time. The machine controls the heat and pressure.
  • Automatic – the machine controls the volume of water in each shot. Ideal for a busy shop as the barista doesn’t have to watch the cup and shut off the flow.
  • Super-automatic – the barista presses a button (maybe sets the grind quality). The machine grinds the beans, measures and tamps the right dose of coffee into the portafilter, and carries out the brewing process. These machines do it all and are more popular with the home and office market than the coffee shop with trained baristas.

How to Choose an Espresso Machine?

Before you review specific espresso machines’ features and performances, it is essential to understand why you want an espresso machine and what you expect to get out of it.

You may want an espresso machine for your home, office, or business.

What kind of coffee drinker are you?

Are you the dedicated connoisseur who likes to know and control everything about the process and treats coffee drink production as a hobby?

Or do you simply want a hot coffee to go in the morning produced to barista standards?

Choosing the right espresso machine for you depends on:

  • Time – your available time to put into grinding, tamping, and tweaking your espresso machine will determine how automated you want the process of coffee production.
  • Style – if you are a fan of latte art, you need the steam wand and various milk-related features, but if you drink your espresso as a neat shot, you need fewer functions.
  • Space – do you have room for a large espresso machine, tins of coffee, and other gadgets, or do you need to optimize your kitchen counters’ use?
  • Budget – you can spend a modest amount or a staggering amount on an espresso machine. Your budget may be the determining factor in your choice.
  • Features – make sure you have a short-list of your essential features and your bonus features to help you narrow down your selection to the best model.
  • Ease of maintenance and cleaning.
  • Ease of use – if multiple people are using it, you want the controls to be simple to understand.
  • Purpose – home, office, or commercial.
  • Lifestyle – you may want to reduce your carbon footprint by opting for a refurbished espresso machine or prefer a manual espresso maker that you can take backpacking.

When you know what you want from your espresso machine, you can select the espresso machine that suits you, your family, and your business.

But if you absolutely need an easy-to-operate machine that makes espresso quickly and conveniently, opting for a Nespresso machine may be the better choice.

How to Choose a Commercial Espresso Machine?

You may want a coffee machine to service the needs of a coffee shop, restaurant, guest house, hotel breakfast bar, or to serve coffee to clients in a commercial setting.

The buying guide to choosing a commercial espresso machine is like a domestic buying decision but with some added factors:

  • Volume of production – how many cups of coffee per day or hour, and is the machine robust enough to perform every day.
  • Speed of production – serving coffee to go is different from a leisurely coffee with friends.
  • Noise – the noise level of your coffee machine may impact your client’s experience.
  • Consistency – every cup of coffee needs to be of excellent quality to maintain your business reputation.
  • Staff training – what are the qualifications needs by the staff operating the machine. Some applications involve highly trained baristas, whereas others involve minimal involvement other than pushing a button.
  • Durability – a commercial environment requires a robust machine that will put up with a certain abuse level.
  • Cleaning and maintenance – health and hygiene are part of the commercial package when serving hot coffee.
  • Product lines – of coffee is the main product then producing it may be more of performance art, than if it is the addition to a meal as the customers drink of choice.
  • Self-service – if your espresso machine is accessed by clients directly (a small guest house or breakfast bar in a hotel), you need an espresso machine that is straightforward to operate by the average member of the public.
  • Is it better to buy or rent (cost between $10 to $100)?

For most commercial purposes, a pump-driven machine with automation fits almost every need.

The personal element depends on how much effort your staff needs to prepare and serve the perfect coffee to your customers.

How Much Does an Espresso Machine Cost?

An excellent home espresso machine can cost upwards of $400.

The cost of an espresso machine for home or office use depends on its feature set and build quality:

  • Portable espresso makers – $80 or less.
  • Basic espresso machines without a milk frother – $150 or less.
  • Semi-automatic espresso machines – upwards of $400.
  • Fully automatic espresso machines – upwards of $600.

You can spend a lot less, but what you get out of the machine is not guaranteed to be the authentic espresso with the right balance of bitterness, texture, acidity, and color as defined by the Italian National Espresso Institute.

You will still get a coffee drink, and that coffee drink may meet all your personal requirements.

A commercial espresso coffee machine starts around $2,000 and can cost as much as a car at around $40,000. The price depends on the daily volume of coffee servings:

  • Low volume – 50 cups, expect to pay up to $3,000.
  • Medium volume – 200 cups, expect to pay up to $10,000.
  • High volume – 500 cups, expect to pay up to $30,000 or more.

Why Are They So Expensive?

An espresso machine creates and handles hot water under pressure. Some models also carry out the whole coffee-making process from bean to cup. Plus, this is an industrial process that you can repeat over 500 times a day for a commercial machine.

An espresso machine can be as complicated and expensive as a family car, and the high-end machines are hand-assembled.

Hence, the real questions aren’t why it is an espresso machine so expensive, but how can they make an espresso machine at such a low price compared to the engineering effort?

A machine has to reach certified performance levels to produce certified espresso, which involves extensive and destructive testing.

Plus, although coffee is one of the world’s favorite drinks, the demand for espresso machines is less than the market for household appliances, so the cost to acquire a machine is slightly higher.

How Long Does an Espresso Machine Last?

The lifespan of your espresso machine depends on the type, usage and care, and maintenance. You can expect a lifespan of between 5 and 15 years, with fully automatic espresso machines outliving the other types.

Regular maintenance and cleaning are essential to prolong your machine’s life and preserve your coffee quality.

Should You Buy a Refurbished Espresso Machine?

The obvious benefits of opting for a refurbished espresso machine rather than a new model are that you save money and can get more machine for your budget. Plus, it is an environmentally friendly approach.

How do you make sure that you are getting value for money with a refurbished espresso machine?

By making sure you shop at reputable sites (check the reviews and age) and paying attention to the service history – if you are picking up an ex-commercial model, there should be a record of maintenance, servicing, and the age of the machine.

Many independent café and restaurant businesses fail within the first year (about 60%), which means there are always almost new espresso machines coming onto the secondhand market.

A reputable site selling these machines puts them through a quality check process to let you buy with confidence.

Should You Rent an Espresso Machine?

If you are looking for an espresso machine for a commercial operation, an alternative to a high-volume coffee machine’s capital cost is to lease or rent the machine.

You pay a regular monthly rental, but it keeps your costs down, and if you are running a successful business, your income covers the rental costs with a healthy profit.

Running through your cash flow and return on investment figures may make rental an attractive option in the first year of a business rather than committing to the capital outlay.

It may also make more sense in the long term for savings on tax and maintenance. Ultimately the decision depends on your business finances and approach to risk.

Accessories for an Espresso Machine

These are the must-have accessories for your espresso machine:

  • Grinder – because you need coffee particles the size of table salt grains to make the process work.
  • Milk frother/steamer – if you want to produce latte and cappuccino style drinks.

In addition to the two main bits of kit, many little gadgets and accessories make using your espresso machine more effortless and fun.

  • Push Tamper – you must compact your coffee grains in a process known as ‘tamping.’ The espresso’s skill lies in the tamping quality. A push tamper helps you achieve a quality, firm pack and helps reduce the common barista stresses on the wrist, elbows, and back.
  • Tamping mat – a cushioned layer that gives double protection – your counter and your equipment. Plus, it reduces energy backlash in your arms from the tamping action.
  • Sensitive scale – one that is accurate to a tenth of a gram is best. Espresso is a mixture of science and art – accurate weights and measurements are part of the consistent scientific approach.
  • Knock box – a handy, easy clean receptacle for your used coffee grounds (the puck). Use of a knock box reduces mess and collects your coffee grounds for neat disposal in your compost bin.
  • Shot glasses – not strictly necessary, but an elegant way of adding a shot of espresso to your coffee creations.
  • Specialty cups – if you’ve invested in the machine, why not have the best cups for your coffee style?
  • Specialty milk pitcher – a lot of thought goes into the perfect design of espresso milk pitcher – the swirl, appearance, and uniform consistency of texture. If you are devoting yourself to the art of coffee, you are best using the proper tools for the job.
  • Machine cleaner – a preformulated machine cleaner on hand means you build cleaning your espresso machine into your routine. Remember, a clean machine is a dream machine. Plus, the coffee tastes fresher.
  • At least two microfiber cloths – one for messy spills and drips and one exclusively for your steam wand. You must keep coffee grinds out of the steam wand, and the best way is to have a dedicated cloth that only cleans the steam wand. Using two different colored cloths (white for the steam wand and blue for messy spills) reinforces that message.

What is a Coffee Grinder?

A coffee grinder takes the roasted beans and breaks them up into smaller particles. You need different sized particles for different types of coffee preparation.

Espresso uses the finest grind of coffee to extract the maximum coffee essence from the beans.

There are two types of coffee grinder:

  • Blade grinder – resembles a mini-food processor and has spinning blades that chop the beans into pieces. You keep chopping until the coffee is at the correct particle size.
  • Burr grinder – can be conical or flat. One burr remains static, and the other rotates and acts as millstones crushing the beans into a uniform chosen grain size.

Burr grinders are the preferred commercial method of grinding coffee beans because they have advantages over the blade grinder.

The next difference is the speed of the motor, which can be low speed or high speed.

Most coffee grinders have either a stepped or a variable setting for the fineness of the grind. The stepped control has preset settings for the grind’s quality (coarse, medium, fine), but the variable settings are a sliding scale that you adjust to your preferences.

The final distinguishing feature is the dispensing of the ground coffee, and the machine can be non-dosing or dosing.

Non-dosing is when you pour the coffee grinds into a container and measure the amount you need as a separate exercise. A dosing grinder will dispense a measured amount (or dose) of coffee directly into your chosen receptacle.

How to Choose an Espresso Grinder?

The enemies of coffee grinding for espresso machines is heat and static. Heat starts to alter the coffee’s flavor profile, and static allows the coffee grains to fly about, making a mess and interfering with your ability to create a measured and tamped amount of coffee.

The best espresso grinder produces a uniform fine particle with no heat and static.

Grinding the coffee beans generates heat from the machine, and this transfers into the coffee. Blade grinders need to run for a long time to reduce the coffee beans to table salt texture. This prolonged processing generates heat and creates static.

Blade grinders are not the best for espresso and tend to be multifunctional small food processing machines that can also grind coffee beans.

Conical burr grinders tend to be low-speed grinders, and flat burr grinders operate at low and high speeds.

High-speed grinding is fast (noisier) and efficient. High-speed grinding can generate some unwanted heat and static in the coffee beans.

Low-speed grinding is quieter and causes little or no static in the beans but takes a little longer.

In deciding on the best espresso grinder for you, the factors to consider are:

  • Affordability.
  • Grind mechanism – ceramic burrs are better.
  • Low speed or high speed.
  • Dosing or non-dosing.
  • Grind settings sensitivity – stepped or non-stepped.

Some factors are personal preference, but others like opting for a low-speed ceramic burr grinder impact on the quality of the coffee grind for espresso.

Milk Frother and Steamer

Specialty coffee drinks use thick milk foams to combine with the coffee. A cold or hot milk foam needs air bubbles to turn the milk from a flat liquid into a fluffy foam.

What is a Milk Frother?

A milk frother can be manual, handheld, electric, or automatic. Milk frothers work by incorporating air bubbles into cold or hot milk. Some automatic milk frothers can also heat the milk while frothing it.

What is a Milk Steamer?

A milk steamer uses a different technique to create frothy warm milk. Pressurized steam bubbled through the milk heats the lactic sugar and breaks down fats, changing the milk’s texture into a silky, reflective texture. The burst of fine steam using a steam wand adds air – very fine bubbles, stirring for uniformity and the foam texture.

Steaming is the barista method of taking cold milk and converting it into the perfect ingredient for coffee by careful technique with the steam wand or steamer attached to the espresso machine.

This technique always produces hot milk; if you want cold frothed milk, you need a milk frother.

What Can You Make with an Espresso Machine?

An espresso machine opens up a vast menu of coffee drinks and other beverages for you to explore.

You can use an espresso machine to make:

  • Cappuccino
  • Chai latte
  • Dirty chai
  • Flavored latte
  • Mocha latte
  • Peppermint mocha
  • Matcha latte
  • Iced latte
  • Pumpkin spice latte
  • Vanilla latte
  • Flat white
  • Americano
  • London fog
  • Caramel macchiato
  • Hot chocolate
  • Steamed milk

Making these drinks with an espresso machine is straightforward with the right steps and proportions.

How Does an Espresso Machine Work?

An espresso machine forces hot water through ground coffee. The process varies depending on the machine’s design, but the principles remain the same:

  • Water – a domestic machine producing a few cups a day may use a water reservoir filled from a tap. A larger commercial machine producing hundreds of cups per day may connect directly to the main water supply.
  • Pump – most machines use an electric pump to get the water into the heating chamber and pump the hot water to the brewing chamber.
  • The water is heated in a boiler or a heat exchanger, typically with an electric element. A large boiler takes more energy but supplies more coffee drinks. Commercial espresso machines may have multiple boilers to produce a ready supply of hot water in a cycle and have a separate steam supply for the steam wand.
  • The hot water passes into an area called the Group Head for the final stage of coffee production. This part contains the portafilter with the coffee locked in place, ready for the water to pre-infuse and push through the coffee grounds. A lot of design thought goes into this section, and there are different technologies involved.
  • Other parts of the espresso machine may grind the beans and pack and position the portafilter in more complex models.

How Long Does an Espresso Machine Take to Heat Up?

Fast coffee production depends on having hot water available for the brewing process and the steam wand for frothing and heating milk.

The exact time depends on the machine and the volume of water to heat to temperature. The warm-up time can take between 5-10 minutes or between 20-40 minutes for larger espresso machines. Once running, the heat up time is less.

How to Calibrate an Espresso Machine?

There are parts of the process that you can calibrate – but they depend on your machine and the settings available. Check your owner’s manual for the precise method for your machine.

Elements that you can calibrate include:

  • Grind particle size – if your machine automatically grinds the beans, you often have settings to allow you to fine-tune the grind.
  • Cup size or water quantity – most machines will give you the option to calibrate by volume, weight, or both.
  • Dose – the amount of coffee grind in the portafilter.
  • Temperature and pressure – generally, this is automatic, but some machines may let you tweak these settings.

Maintaining and Cleaning an Espresso Machine

Maintenance involves cleaning and checking parts and functions. Some tasks are daily, quarterly, and annually.

A commercial machine in daily use for a high volume of coffee takes more cleaning and maintenance than a domestic machine, but the principles are the same.

How to Clean an Espresso Machine?

What do you use to clean?

The cleaning kit may come with the machine, but you will need to keep it topped up:

  • Blind portafilter – cleaning blank.
  • Espresso machine cleaning powder.
  • Group head cleaning brush.
  • Milk frother cleaner.
  • A liter cleaning container for soaking parts.

How to Clean the Group Heads with a Backflush?

Do the following steps to backflush an espresso machine:

  1. Replace the portafilter basket with the blind portafilter and fill it with a teaspoon (about 3g or 0.1 ounce) of espresso machine cleaning powder.
  2. Activate the brew cycle for about 15 to 20 seconds, pause for a minute and then repeat. Follow the brew and pause cycle five times.
  3. Remove the portafilter and rinse in the stream of hot water.  Then replace the portafilter without any cleaning powder and repeat the brew and pause process to clear out any cleaning residue.
  4. Fill the cleaning container with clean boiling water. Add two teaspoons of expresso cleaning powder. Then soak the portafilter, portafilter basket, and portafilter blank in the solution for around 15 minutes.
  5. While these are soaking, use the brush to clean the group head’s rubber seal to remove all stray coffee grounds. When clean, run the brew cycle to flush clean with hot water.
  6. Remove the components from the soaking liquid and rinse clean with hot water. Dry carefully.

How to Clean the Steam Wand?

The following steps are for cleaning the steam wand on an espresso machine:

  1. Put 500ml of cold water in your cleaning container and add two tablespoons (30ml) of milk frother cleaner.
  2. Submerge the steam wand in the cleaning solution and run it for 5-second bursts with a pause, seven times.
  3. Wipe the steam wand with a dry cloth and then rerun the process with clean cold water. Again, dry the wand.

Not every machine allows the use of a cleaning solution – check the manual for your machine’s precise cleaning procedure.

This cleaning process is a daily event – preferably at the end of the day to leave the machine clean and fresh for the following day.

How to Clean Mold Out of an Espresso Machine?

A regularly cleaned machine will not develop mold, but if you went on holiday and forgot to clean your machine and mold and bacteria develop, then run a descaling program followed by a rigorous clean.

Use a soft brush and cloth to remove any mold you observe on accessible areas of your espresso machine.

How to Maintain the Water Filtration System?

The best way to maintain the water filtration system on your espresso machine is through the daily backflush, cleaning, and regular descaling once a month or twice a year.

How to Descale an Espresso Machine?

Some espresso machines have an automatic descaling function, and others require a manual process. The precise method for your machine is in the owner’s manual.

Still, all the processes involve introducing a descaling solution to the water reservoir and using a blind filter to backwash the machine with the descaling solution.

After descaling, you must run clean hot water through the system for five to ten cycles to remove all residues from the limescale and the solution.

What Do You Use to Descale?

You can use a descaling product – often in tablet form, produced by the manufacturer. In many cases, this is necessary to avoid losing your warranty and is the most effective method of descaling and maintaining your machine.

DIY descaling solutions involve vinegar or citric acid. Both these are weak acids that dissolve limescale. Never use them without dilution in water because you risk damaging the metal in your espresso machine.

How to descale with vinegar?

Mix up to one-third of vinegar to water to make a multi-purpose descaling solution for your espresso machine.

How to descale with citric acid?

Citric acid is a powder, and the ratio is one to twenty parts water to make a suitable solution that gently descales the espresso machine.

How often should you descale the machine?

The frequency of descaling depends on your coffee machine usage and the hardness of your water. Anything from once a month to twice a year is suitable. Still, regular removal of limescale is essential to prolong your machine’s life and maintain your coffee quality.

Putting an Espresso Machine into Storage

The essential points in storing an espresso machine are to make sure it is clean and dry.

Before storing your espresso machine (or any coffee machine):

  • Run a cleaning cycle and then empty the water reservoir.
  • Dry all machine parts thoroughly.
  • Store it in its original packaging or plastic cover to avoid collecting dust.
  • Use water absorption crystals (in packs) to help maintain dryness while in storage.

When you bring the machine out of storage, run a descaling cycle before using it again for coffee making.

Reuse or Recycle?

When you need to part company with your espresso machine, you can sell or donate it if it is still working.

If it is broken or no longer useful, you need to send it to a recycling center. A large proportion of the espresso machine is recyclable if facilities exist in your area.