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.
The Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines
What's great about it: With a durable steam wand that boasts a full range of motion, this semi-automatic espresso maker offers convenience and quality while still allowing you a degree of control over your java. It's constructed with top-grade stainless steel and an iron frame. The 58-millimeter portafilter provides exceptional extraction, and the extra large, 12-ounce boiler is among the biggest of its kind. On top of that, it features a 1.89-liter reservoir that's removable and easy to fill. The only drawback is that some reviewers say the drip tray is small.
What fans say: "Worth every penny. [T]his thing makes every morning a happy morning!! ... Since we both work from home, we figured this was a pretty solid purchase. IT'S THE BOMB DOT COM ... makes the best lattes."
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What's great about it: If you're looking for a semi-automatic option that makes great coffee but doesn't cost a fortune, this two-in-one espresso maker from Barsetto is a wonderful choice. Like my previous pick, it has stainless steel construction, a built-in milk frother, and a high-pressure pump, however, the reservoir is a little smaller (1.5 liters), and the milk wand isn't quite as powerful, according to reviewers. It also doesn't stay hot for as long, so you may need to stop to preheat if you're making double shots. Still, for the price it's a fantastic machine.
What fans say: "If you are thinking of purchasing an inexpensive expresso machine, look no further! This thing is amazing, best value for your buck! ... The milk frother comes as close to a coffee shop as possible. I do remove the black piece because it creates too many bubbles with it. And the machine is super easy to use!"
The Best Fully Automatic Espresso Machines
What's great about it: If you're looking for an option that will grind your beans, too, this fully automatic espresso maker is your best bet. It boasts ultra-sharp, high-quality ceramic burrs with 10 separate coarseness settings. The frothy milk wand is super powerful, and it has numerous automated options, including three temperature settings and five brew strengths. It has a 1.59-liter capacity and, unlike the first two choices, it has a front-loading water container, so it's perfect if you want to slide it underneath a low kitchen cabinet.
What fans say: "Nothing short of amazing. Wish I could find something wrong with it. Cannot. Easy to use. Makes ridiculous coffee/espresso. Foams like a *bucks place. quick, hot, and truly amazing. frother is astounding. quiet too!"
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What's great about it: With more than 1,200 reviews, this fully automatic espresso machine offers many of the same features as my previous choice but at a slightly lower cost. It's built with comparably sturdy stainless steel and has fairly high-quality, sharp conical burrs. The boiler heats up fast, and fans say it makes excellent-tasting coffee. It's a top-loader, so it won't be a convenient choice if you're hoping to store it under low-hanging cabinets, but the machine lands in the same class as the Gaggia with less of an investment.
What fans say: "Best purchase I’ve made. Easy to use. Makes better lattes than any coffee shop. We use this at least 5 times a day, and the whole family loves it. I should have bought this years ago!"
The Best Capsule Machines For Espresso
What's great about it: If your ideal morning espresso routine involves popping a plastic pod into a shoot and pressing a button, look no further than the Nescafé Dolce Gusto Majesto, which delivers strong, delicious coffee without any hassle. It's designed with 15 bars of pressure to extract the coffee from the pod, ensuring a smooth and consistent blend every time. You can use it to make 15 different types of drinks, including espressos, lattes, cappuccinos, and even regular black coffee. It has simple program settings with a touchscreen display, and you can sync it to your Wi-Fi connection to automatically update the software.
What fans say: "Love it. It’s super easy to use. Even my kids make hot chocolate without an issue."
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What's great about it: This is another great option for a capsule-style espresso machine that's a bit cheaper than the previous pick. It features a slimmer design (roughly 5 inches wide compared to almost 14 inches) and more lightweight (7.5 pounds versus 11.9). You can program it to make espresso or lungo-style drinks, and it comes with a welcome packet of 14 capsules in various styles and flavors.
What fans say: "I received a Citiz machine as a gift from someone else, and instantly fell in love with it. It works so well— fill with water, drop in a capsule, and push the button. It heats up very fast, in about 30 seconds. If you run a small cup of water prior to the capsule, it keeps it rinsed out and preheats the cup. Used capsules are automatically dropped into a holding bin. It’s easy to remove and rinse out ... A great little machine that’s so much smaller and easier to use than just about any espresso machine out there."
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