Enjoying a daily espresso or latte is one of life's simple joys — but it can be an expensive one, too. (If you want a good cry, take a fast tally of your total annual latte spending.) For that reason, investing in one of the best automatic espresso machines is a wise way to enjoy your morning joe while saving some cash.
There are lots of styles to choose from, but they can essentially be boiled down into two main categories: semi-automatic and fully automatic. The key difference is that semi-automatic machines require you to grind the beans yourself, while fully automatic machines do that part for you. There are also also capsule-style machines (think Keurig or Nespresso) which take the automation a step further, allowing you to simply press a button and wait.
Keep in mind that increased automation will mean decreased control (and what some argue is decreased quality). You therefore need to know your coffee style before you start shopping around. If you enjoy being an amateur barista and want as much control as possible, opt for a semi-automatic style; if you just want to press a button, a fully automatic or capsule machine will be a better fit.
Beyond the level of automation, you'll also want to consider things like materials (your machine should have strong, stainless steel components), capacity (about 1.5 to 2 liters is typically a good size) and grinder type, if applicable (ceramic burrs are generally considered the best).
With these parameters in mind, check out my list below of the best automatic espresso machines.