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Best Italian Espresso Machines

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Italian Espresso Machine Buying Guide

If you want to greet the day with a hearty, “Buongiorno,” you first need to wake up to a rich cup of Italian espresso!

Make 2020 the year your dream of owning an authentic Italian espresso machine becomes a reality. Maybe you’ve been working from home more than ever, maybe your favorite coffee shop had to shut down, or maybe you’ve got a stimulus check still burning a hole in your pocket.

Whatever the reason — you’re here so we’re going to lay it all on the line. Here’s why these 12 products have topped our review list and buying guide.

We’ll cover the key features of each one so you can decide which is the best Italian espresso machine for your home. Check out our FAQ section to brush up on your barista terminology, you’re really going to need it now!

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Not every choice on this list will be a shiny several-hundred-dollar espresso machine (though some are and they are great). Some, like our best choice pick, are stovetop espresso makers!

You may know them as Moka pots. They are wonderful for those of us who want to indulge in luxurious coffee without firing up an entire machine.

Stovetop espresso is delightfully simple to brew. Fill the bottom reservoir with water, the filter basket with fresh-ground coffee, screw the top on, and bring to a boil.

It produces 6.8 ounces at a time. Which is enough for four single espressos. Split it between two people and add extra hot water for cafe Americanos.

Also works well for Cuban style coffee if that’s your passion.

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If you’re ready to get serious about your morning cup (and invest serious dollars), this one’s for you!

We know you. You’re like us. The desire to be the barista, at home and for your friends, pumps loudly through your veins.

Answer the call to caffeinate by bringing home a Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine. (Wow, that name is a mouthful, right?) Which is appropriate if you’re interested in making coffee with good mouth-feel.

Breville’s machines bring cafe-quality specialty espresso drinks into your home. Wake up to perfectly-extracted espresso shots and lattes with silky-smooth microfoam. Live your best life of third-wave coffee with a compact footprint — without leaving the comfort of your own kitchen.

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Available in three classic colors (and a variety of sizes!), you won’t find a better deal than this Grosche Milano stovetop espresso maker.

Budget-friendly meets quality design who is close friends with functionality. A Moka pot is an easy, convenient way to achieve espresso-like beverages without the price tag of a full-scale machine.

If you don’t need all the bells and whistles, you just want a good cup of coffee — this is the way! It’s easy to use, easy to store, easy to transport, easy to disassemble, and easy to clean.

Often Moka pots lead to hot handles and burnt fingers. To address that issue, Grosche added a unique soft-touch burn guard handle and knob to their product.

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A compact, easy-to-use option for your consideration is the Sowtech 3.5 bar Espresso machine. It fits any kitchen and can make up to four cups of espresso at a time.

Plus, it froths milk, it’s the whole (tiny) package!

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If you’re ready to run with the big Barista dogs, check out this 15-bar espresso machine by Calphalon. The Temp iQ espresso maker boasts Thermoblock heating technology and a PID temperature control system.

With this machine, optimally-extracted espresso with delightfully frothed milk lies at your fingertips. Hit us back after you’ve crafted your first cappuccino if you want to drop us a “Thanks a latte!”

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This Delonghi Dedica espresso machine is tiny but mighty! You’ll love being greeted by its sleek, space-saving design on your countertop every morning.

Craft lattes and cappuccinos with its powerful 15-bar pressure pump. 3-in-1 portafilter holder is ESE pod-compatible for ultimate brewing convenience.

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This classic Italian style stovetop espresso maker from Zulay is the essence of affordable. Pick one up, put on some Italian love songs, and boom — your morning routine just got way more romantic.

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This machine looks endearingly boxy like a robot from the ‘80s. But its user-friendly display and Pannarello wand root it firmly into the year 2020.

You can use pre-ground or whole bean coffee in this super-automatic espresso machine from Gaggia Brera. The steaming wand doubles as a hot water dispenser for your Americanos or even a cup of tea.

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What do we love about the EspressoWorks Cappuccino Maker Barista bundle set?

That it’s an all-in-one seven-piece set, of course!

You get the machine, a stainless steel frothing pitcher, scoop/tamper, portafilter with single and double baskets, two porcelain cups, and even a 120-volt electric coffee grinder.

Pick up a bag of your favorite beans and you’re ready to roll!

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This mini espresso machine is both cute and delightfully portable. Unless you don’t like cute things, then we mean it’s classy and charmingly portable.

Staresso uses BPA-free material and this espresso maker is Nespresso pod-compatible.

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Breville BES840XL/A Espresso Machine

Another awesome espresso machine from Breville, the Infuser coffee maker has unique features. One of which is its pre-infusion function. This function applies low water pressure to bloom your coffee grounds before extraction.

With 15-bars of pressure, this is a great espresso machine for a confident home barista!

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Affordable. Easy to use and clean. Dependable. This Moka pot from Zulay is basic, but not boring.

A true classic stovetop espresso maker, made of premium aluminum. It fits every budget, makes five cups at a time, and will serve you well for many years to come.

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Types Of Espresso Machines Compared

Use the following in-depth answers to better help you select the proper espresso machine for your home brewing needs. 

Did you know there are several different types of espresso machines? You do now!

They are:

  1. Semi-automatic – The most common style found in most cafes. These provide heated water, you control the tamping, extraction, and, of course, the grinding.
  2. Automatic – Like the semi-automatic except the machine controls the extraction time for you now. Automatically cutting the flow of water.
  3. Super-automatic – With this machine, your job has been downsized to “button pusher.” Get this machine a cape, cause it really is super!
  4. Manual lever – Less common these days, but it operates by a *drumroll* manual lever! That you raise and lower to push the water through the coffee.
  5. Espresso pod machines – best for those who want caffeine quick and less hands-on experience. Insert espresso capsule, push a button, done!
  6. Portable espresso makers – the best choice for those on-the-go or with compact kitchens.

We think semi-automatic to automatic is where it’s at, personally!

What to Look for When Buying Your Espresso Machine

If you’re going all out on a new espresso machine, this list is very important to consider first. 

You want a machine that meets all your needs and lasts as long as possible, don’t you?

Make sure it ticks all the boxes that matter to you:

  • Price
  • Durability (not to mention warranty!)
  • Ease of use
  • Accessories/cleaning kit included
  • Style (will it look good on your countertop?)
  • Does it have a grinder/do you need one?
  • Quality of steaming wand
  • Water storage capacity
  • Size (will it fit your home?

If you check this list and find you care more about price and where to store it and less about having the fancy stuff like big water tanks and a steaming wand — a Moka pot might be more your speed at this time!

Benefits Of Using An Espresso Machine

There are a few benefits to switching from “regular” coffee to espresso. Or even from kicking your drive-thru addiction and brewing at home!

The first benefit is: saving money! And that’s a big one, who doesn’t want that? Unless you get too fancy with it, then your new espresso hobby could swing the other way!

Another benefit could be if you’re trying to cut back on caffeine. It’s easy to do if you change your normal eight-ounce mug of brew over to a one espresso shot latte. 

Other benefits include it’s tastier and more fun to make than automatic drip. Also, having an in-home espresso machine is convenient

Time is precious and every second counts. Why wait in a noisy line when you could be sipping slowly on your couch and indulging in some light reading before work instead?

Espresso Barista Terminology 101

Let’s go over some of the terms you might have encountered for the first time in the above reviews:

  1. Bar. You may see 15-bar listed as a key feature. Espresso machines use steam pressure and it’s measured in bars. The industry standard for espresso makers is 9-bar. If you’re well-seasoned, you may want to jump up to an 11 or even 15-bar espresso machine.
  2. Crema. This term refers to the foam on the surface of your freshly-pulled espresso shots. Heaven.
  3. Extraction. Refers to the extracting flavors from the coffee during brewing. Under extracted coffee tends to taste sour while over-extracted gets bitter and astringent.
  4. Pitcher. The jug for steaming/frothing your milk of choice!
  5. Portafilter. The attachment with the filter baskets to hold your grounds.
  6. Tamper. Used for packing the espresso grounds into the portafilter basket. 

Now you’ll sound like a total pro when having coffee chats with your buddies.

Espresso Machine FAQ

Common questions surrounding espresso machine usage.

What beans should I use?

You can choose a bag of coffee beans marked espresso. Often these are blends of several different Arabica (and sometimes Robusta) beans. You can use any medium to medium-dark roast that you like for your own espresso needs. 

Just try to use the freshest beans possible and grind right before extracting!

How important is a grinder?

Some would argue the grinder is the most important part of the coffee brewing process. The perfect coarseness can make or break a brew’s extraction.

If you don’t want to buy a machine with its own grinder, standalone options are easy to come by. Available in electric or manual versions. Opt for burr over blade for the most consistent grind.

Why are espresso makers so pricey?

Espresso machines are big pieces of equipment with a lot of complex parts. Every fancy feature (digital displays, temperature gauges, etc) is reflected with a bit of a price increase.

So, if you want the ability to pull shots while steaming milk at the same time you’ll need two boilers. Resulting in a higher cost. 

If you want to keep the price low, opt for a super-automatic machine or a stovetop maker.

Can you make espresso without a machine?

While it won’t be authentic espresso, you can use either a Moka pot or an Aeropress to achieve a similar coffee drink.

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