The 3 Best Espresso Machines For Beginners
For coffee lovers, there’s nothing quite like the taste of an espresso drink in the morning — and the best espresso machines for beginners can bring the barista experience right into your own home.
But what is espresso, exactly, and why can’t you prepare it with a regular coffee maker?
Unlike a drip coffee maker, an espresso machine uses extra pressure to pull the flavor out of the beans in just seconds. When you’re shopping for an espresso machine, look for options that can produce at least nine bars of pressure during extraction, which is the optimal amount for an espresso shot. (Beware of picks that call themselves espresso machines but can only produce three to four bars of pressure — they won't be up to snuff.)
What features should a beginner look for in an espresso machine?
Some features to look for in an espresso machine (beyond nine bars of pressure) include a touch screen display that guides you through the process of making different drinks or simple, intuitive buttons that won’t confuse you while you learn. A machine that grinds fresh beans is more likely to produce high quality espresso (though you can also buy grinders separately or use pre-ground beans), but if the idea of dealing with messy grounds is overwhelming, you can opt for one that calls for easy-to-use espresso pods instead. If price is an inhibiting factor for you — especially if you just want to test out a life of espresso machine ownership and are hesitant to invest in a pricier model — you’ll be pleased to know that there are options under $100.
From a touch-screen machine to options that are compatible with pods, here are the best home espresso machines for beginners. They’re one-stop shops for learning how to make high-quality espresso at home, even if you have no idea what you’re doing (yet).
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1. The Overall Best Espresso Machine For Beginners
It may be on the pricier side, but the Breville Barista Touch Espresso Machine is worth it because it's hands-down one of the best options for an espresso newbie. The beautiful stainless steel machine produces the ideal nine bars of pressure in extraction and features an intuitive touch-screen display.
This model is especially great for beginners because it comes with a pre-programmed drink menu, which includes espresso, latte, cappuccino, flat white, and Americano. Once you've selected your drink of choice, simply follow the three steps outlined on the display: Grind, Brew, and Milk. The machine does the work of grinding the beans, pulling the espresso, and steaming the milk for you; the only truly manual part of the process is physically tamping down the grinds before brewing the espresso (which, in my experience, is an easy task).
When you've successfully graduated from preparing the default drink options, you can start experimenting and customizing everything from the amount of beans the machine grinds to the temperature of the milk. Once you've created a beverage that tastes just right, name it and add it to the menu — you can add up to eight personalized drinks so that it's a snap to recreate your favorites again and again.
The Breville Barista Touch Espresso Machine comes with a one-year warranty, but if you buy on Amazon there's an option to add a three- or four-year protection plan at an additional cost.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: “Breville has made it about as easy as it can be. Once you get the grind dialed in right and the dosage, it's very easy to tamp and draw a fantastic tasting espresso. Love the LCD screen and the simplicity of use. The machine looks beautiful from all sides too.”
2. The Best Budget Espresso Machine For Beginners
Priced at less than $100, this 15-bar De'Longhi manual espresso machine is a total steal for beginners. This machine gives you the flexibility to use ground espresso beans or, if you'd prefer to skip the grinding and tamping step, pop in convenient Easy Serving Espresso (ESE) pods. You can make one or two shots of espresso at a time and use the manual frother to steam milk for a latte or cappuccino.
It’ll take some practice to master if you’ve never made espresso before. But at this price, I’d recommend it to beginners who want to test out preparing espresso on their own before investing in a pricier model. It comes with a one-year warranty.
One thing to note: The machine doesn't come with a built-in grinder — if you don't have one on-hand, make sure to snag one of these great espresso grinders separately.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: “For the price, it surprisingly makes really good coffee. [...] The frother works amazingly, such a cool feature. I'm new to espresso, so I'd say it's the perfect machine for beginners.”
3. The Best Pod Espresso Machine For Beginners
Pod coffee machines are known for their convenience, and this De'Longhi Nespresso Lattissima Plus espresso machine is no exception. It produces 19 bars of pressure and is incredibly easy to use. All you have to do to make a drink is fill the water tank and milk tank, insert a capsule, and press one of two coffee settings, then one of three milk quantity settings.
Unlike the other options on this list, this machine froths the milk and deposits it in the cup for you. The drip tray can be adjusted to accommodate taller cups and an auto shut-off timer conserves energy. It comes with a set of capsules to get started (though you'll eventually need to buy more) and is covered by a one-year warranty.
If you don’t need a milk frother, save some money and consider opting for the much cheaper Nespresso by De'Longhi EN80B Original Espresso Machine instead, which is a more bare bones fan favorite.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: “This machine makes everything effortlessly. It makes great coffee, as you'd expect from Nespresso, but it's also simple to use and incredibly easy to keep clean.”