If it's hard to function in the morning without at least one cup of coffee, you're not alone. But daily trips to Starbucks or your local coffee shop can definitely add up. Thankfully, coffee makers exist and they're infinitely better for our wallets. However, sometimes rough days require something a little stronger, like a latte, cappuccino, or a shot of espresso (maybe even a double shot) — and that's where espresso machines come in.
On Amazon, you can find some of the best espresso machines you can use in the comfort of your own home. But before we dive in, we enlisted the help of Matthew Davis, beverage and toast product expert at Breville, to help you decide how to find the best one and tips for making espresso at home.
Video of the Day
What To Look For in an Espresso Machine
"Shop for features that optimize what you as a coffee drinker prioritize," Davis tells Hunker. Overall, you should look out for the grinder, temperature control and stability, pressure, and the right amount of coffee grounds per shot.
According to Davis, grinders play a major role in the quality of the espresso. "Due to the extremely fine grind setting necessary for brewing espresso, you'll want a grinder that has a wide range of grind settings," Davis says. "Stay away from products that keep you in a small window of options." Try to aim for at least 15 grind settings or more.
Temperature Control and Stability
Temperature control and stability — which is also referred to as PID — is another important feature. You're going to want an espresso maker that maintains a temperature of around 200 degrees Fahrenheit, Davis advises.
"Pressure is the essence of espresso, but it is not about getting the most," Davis says. "Stay away from products that claim extreme pressure. Look for a product that maintains nine bars of pressure, as this is the metric we use as an industry to define espresso preparation and the number commercial espresso machines aim for. Again, consistency and control are key."
Coffee Ground Capacity Per Shot
"Home espresso machines are notorious for not using enough coffee for each shot," Davis tells Hunker. "If a double espresso is [approximately] two ounces, then you'll always be using the same amount of water." Shoot for machines that allow for around 18 grams to 22 grams of dry coffee grounds per shot to align with the industry standard.
Tips for Making Espresso at Home
First things first, enjoy the process. "Appreciate that espresso has a rich history and you can explore it at your own pace," Davis says. "Coffee is very familiar to most people, but making espresso is not. That's okay. Choose a path that works for you and don't let coffee become a chore. You have plenty of options and you deserve to find one that feels good."
Second, find a solid workflow, build up your consistency, and keep your counter space clean. "Always keep two towels/rags at your station. One for cleaning and wiping up grinds, and another for only wiping your steam wand," Davis explains.
Third, focus on your preparation. "Getting enough coffee into your portafilter and evenly distributing those grinds before you tamp will make a massive difference. And then make sure you tamp evenly," Davis says. "Don't overthink the pressure of the tamp. Just do it the same each time."
Whether you're trying to upgrade your own barista skills or looking for an easy, automatic espresso maker, here are the best espresso machines on Amazon.
The Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine essentially looks like a mini version of the espresso machines that you see in cafes. This manual, stainless steel option has a built-in conical burr grinder with dose-control grinding, optimal water pressure, and a powerful steam wand for frothing milk to make all the latte art your heart desires.
Best Capsule Espresso Machine
Make espresso in a matter of seconds with the Nespresso Vertuo Next Coffee and Espresso Maker by De'Longhi. Not only is it one of the most compact Nespresso machines, but it also makes coffee with the touch of a button. This capsule-based espresso machine scans each pod to create consistent results every time. Find out even more about the Vertuo Next in our review.
Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine
The Mr. Coffee Café Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker is a semi-automatic three-in-one coffee maker that makes espresso, cappuccinos, and lattes. Complete with a 15 bar pump system, it makes quality espresso with a one-touch control panel. Plus, the milk frother is automatic, so you don't have to stress over the steam wand.
Best Automatic Espresso Machine
When you want to eliminate some guesswork that can come from making espresso at home, try the De'Longhi Magnifica Super-Automatic Espresso and Coffee Machine. It has a built-in steel burr grinder with adjustable settings and manual milk frother but brews coffee consistently (and automatically) to your liking. This machine can be programmed to your preferences, including your ideal espresso strength, beverage size, and more.
Best Mini Espresso Machine
If you're limited on countertop space but can't live without your daily espresso, try the Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine. This extra compact design weighs only 5 pounds and can be moved around your kitchen with ease if needed. It has two cup sizes — espresso and lungo — and is easy to use. Despite the small size, it extracts delicious espresso with cafe-quality crema. It also comes with an Aeroccino 3 Milk Frother, so you can make lattes and cappuccinos.