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Best Espresso Machines: 10 Top Coffee Makers for 2019
Best Espresso Machine

Best Espresso Machines:
10 Top Coffee Makers for 2019

The average American spends over $14 at coffee shops each week! While home espresso makers are an investment, they are cost effective in the long run as well as convenient. If drinking a latte will still in your pajamas sounds like a good idea, read on.

As with any investment, it’s important to make sure you’re getting the best espresso machine for your personal needs. Below, you’ll find reviews for ten of the top machines as well as a comparison chart and buyer’s guide. Sorry, Starbucks; we’re staying home this morning.

Comparison Chart

NameTypeFrotherGrinderRating
Breville BES870XL Barista Express
Editor’s Choice 2019
Semi-AutomaticNoYes9.7/10CHECK PRICE
Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine
DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica
Patented Frother System
Super-AutomaticYesYes9.5/10CHECK PRICE
Nespresso Pixie
Most Convenient
Super-AutomaticNoNo9.3/10CHECK PRICE
Gaggia Brera
High Quality/Reasonable Price
Super-AutomaticYesYes9.1/10CHECK PRICE
Rancilio Silvia
Commercial Grade
Semi-AutomaticNoYes9.0/10CHECK PRICE
Jura Ena Micro 1
Great Minimalist, Small Footprint
Super-AutomaticNoYes9.3/10CHECK PRICE
Breville BES980XL Oracle
Best Brand Overall
Semi-AutomaticYesYes9.2/10CHECK PRICE
KitchenAid KES0503ER Nespresso
Most Convenient
Semi-AutomaticNoNo9.0/10CHECK PRICE
DeLonghi ECAM22110SB Compact
For Skilled Users
Super-AutomaticYesYes9.2/10CHECK PRICE
Mr. Coffee ECMP1000
Best on a Budget
Semi-AutomaticYesNo9.4/10CHECK PRICE

1. Breville BES870XL Barista Express – Editor’s Choice 2019

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The Rundown

The Breville Barista Express has definitely earned its place on our list, so much, in fact, that we’ve crowned it to be our editor’s choice.  At a reasonable price-point considering its quality and laundry list of features, the Barista Express is perfect for those who are interested in investing in the art of espresso making without paying over three times as much for its nearly-commercial Breville brother (the Breville Oracle, which you can also find reviewed on this list). As we talk about when reviewing the Oracle, you really can’t go wrong with Breville for any kitchen appliance. In our experience, they are durable and built to last. We’ve had the same Breville toaster oven for over half a decade, use it daily, and have never had one issue with it. This company definitely takes their appliance-making seriously.

Following suit with the quality they’ve come to be known by, this Barista Express is no exception. It was truly designed with the consumer in mind, using only high-quality materials with the end goal of a product that is as sturdy as possible. We are confident that this unit will last as long as our time tested toaster oven. The folks at Breville truly considered everything, and included no-slip feet on the machine to keep it from sliding across the counter when the burr grinder is activated. Another practical element has to do with espresso machine maintenance, which personally is my least favorite thing to think about. But the Barista Express makes it simple with its hideaway storage compartment for the included cleaning tools and a removable drip tray. And all of this very practical functionality is not at the expense of aesthetics. It’s a beautiful stainless steel casing that comes in three super cool color options: black sesame, cranberry red, and stainless steel. This would certainly fit right into any kitchen! And in case something does go wrong with it, Breville includes a one year limited warranty with the option to purchase an extended warranty.

We love that the Barista Express (and many of the other units in our espresso machine reviews article) takes the extra step (and the extra appliance out of your kitchen) by integrating the grinder directly into the machine. What’s especially great about this particular grinder and machine is its remarkable speed, allowing you to go from beans to espresso in under a minute. You wouldn’t even be to the front of the Starbucks line in that amount of time. The unit also comes equipped with a 54mm stainless steel portafilter (the component of the machine that holds the ground espresso beans [coffee grounds] prior to and during the brewing process) with commercial style spouts. Once the portafilter has been inserted into the cradle, the hands-free grinding cradle will automatically dispense only the indicated amount of freshly ground espresso into the filter. And at the end of brewing, the portafilter has the perfect and very easily disposable coffee puck. That precision without having to do any of the precise work is what makes this machine worth every penny.

This grinder, with all of it’s impressive features, is vital to your resulting espresso because ground beans actually start to lose their flavor after just five minutes of being ground. If you’re investing a decent amount of money in an espresso machine to have higher quality coffee, it makes sense that you would want to take the other small steps to ensure the best cup. The grinder allows for adjustable grind size and grind amount with easy-to-use selector dials. Users can choose various grind settings from fine to coarse and adjust the amount of freshly ground espresso dosed into the filter basket. Together with the above mentioned coffee grinder, the Barista Express makes this process as easy as can be by providing a hopper that holds a whopping half pound of beans, which means less refilling. The hopper includes a locking system that makes removal, storage, and transfer of the coffee beans as easy as possible. Obviously concerned with ample storage, the unit also has a 67 fluid ounce (2L) removable, top-fill water tank with a handle and (get this) a replaceable water filter to reduce impurities and scale. The water filter helps with both flavor and machine maintenance, both of which we hugely appreciate.

Other cool features that this machine is equipped with include the 15 Bar Italian Pump and 1600W Thermocoil heating system. This system is definitely built with power. But with a lot of power comes a great need to regulate that power. Breville kept this in mind when they installed a high-end espresso pressure gauge, which monitors espresso extraction pressure. This helps keep the bitter out of your drink. You’ll also find a thermocoil heating system made of integrated stainless steel, which accurately controls water temperature. Together with the thermocoil, the Barista Express has a very impressive auto purge function that automatically adjusts water temperature after steam for optimal espresso extraction temperature. While we won’t spend too much time reviewing it here, Breville machines have a reputation for making great foam, and the Barista Express is no exception. Its 360-degree swivel action steam wand makes for effortless (and always delicious) milk texturing. And the hot water spout is a super cool addition that you won’t find on many espresso maker.

On the more practical front, the control panel is very easy to use. It includes a volumetric control with preset 1 and 2 cup volumes, manual over-ride, or re-programmable shot volumes. We especially love that this machine actually manages its own maintenance! The removable drip tray is partitioned for both wet and dry spills and when either is full an “Empty me!” indicator lights up. Similarly, a “Clean me light” tells you when a cleaning cycle is required as well as the included cleaning kit. If all of that wasn’t cool enough, there’s actually an automated cleaning cycle to clean the insides of the group head. Call us nerds, but these might be some of our favorite features.

Perhaps what sets this machine apart from all the others, is the fact that it is perfectly suited for both a novice or more advanced espresso maker. Complete beginners can use the two dual-wall, pressurized filters that regulate pressure and help optimize extraction in order to easily pull a perfect shot of espresso. Ready to take some of the training wheels off? More experienced baristas can use two single-wall, non-pressurized filters that allow more freedom to experiment with different grind sizes, grind amounts, and tamping pressure (or they can splurge for this $22,000 espresso maker). All of these are included with the unit itself. The unit’s filter size button allows you to indicate whether you are using a single- or double-wall filter basket and the grinder will automatically dispense the required amount of ground coffee for the appropriate filter type. For the more advanced barista, a 54mm tamper is also included with magnetized storage on the unit itself.
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Pros

  • Durable and sturdy with a beautiful design and three color options
  • Incredible amount of both technical and more practical features
  • Meets the needs and desires of both beginners and more advanced baristas

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Cons

  • What some see as a positive (filter choice depending on experience level) may be too complex for the person who simply wants a good cup of espresso

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The Bottom Line

This unit is built to last and actually grows with the baristas experience and confidence level. There’s the simple, straight forward approach or the more complex and creative approach. Regardless of your experience level, you get it all in a single purchase-price. At its price-point, we don’t believe you’ll find a better espresso machine.

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2. DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica – Patented Frother System

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The Rundown

For the purist (these are actually made in Italy!) who wants to try their hand as a barista but doesn’t want to pay an arm and a leg, the Magnifica by De’Longhi may be the best espresso machine for you. This unit is small but mighty, with an incredible list of features that make it simple and easy to prepare cappuccinos and lattes anytime. Although it is a full-size automatic machine, its streamlined and compact design (17 x 13 x 18 inches) allows even those with far too many kitchen appliances (guilty!) to permanently keep it out on the counter. We also love that although it’s a compact machine, it has a 60-ounce removable water tank with a handy water-level indicator. Not having to fuss with refilling water too often is a definite plus. The Magnifica features the smallest removable brewing system available on the market. Not only is this a space saver, but because the boiler is so compact, the excellent heat distribution guarantees a perfect espresso at the ideal temperature every time (more on that later).

Our favorite feature has to be their patented “Cappuccino System” frother. Where other systems might fall short of that deliciously foamy top on your latte from the coffee shop, the Magnifica’s frother definitely delivers. And, even more importantly, it does so without extra steps and effort. DeLonghi boasts that you simply place your cup under the nozzle and you’ll have silky, frothy milk a few seconds later. For those intrigued by process, the frother mixes steam and milk to create the evenly-textured foam. It also allows you to adjust the froth level between a light cappuccino foam to a thick, creamy latte froth. Yum!

We also love the versatility that the Magnifica provides. Espresso. Coffee. Whole beans. Ground coffee… You get to choose! Not every person wants espresso, which makes this machine the perfect party pleaser. Remember when I said I was guilty of having far too many kitchen appliances? The Magnifica is the great because I don’t also have to buy a coffee maker. And everyone loves a two-fer. The ability to use your own beans ensures the freshest espresso/coffee and also is an opportunity to save money—unless you have a taste for those premium beans, which we totally get.

Either way, the patented “Direct-to-Brew” system grinds beans instantly before brewing, using a professional-quality, conical low-pitch burr grinder (even the most delicious espresso is not worth waking up the baby) with adjustable grind fineness. As the name suggests, it grinds beans to whatever fineness you choose depending on which drink you want, delivers it directly to the system and then brews your drink; doesn’t get much more easy-peasy than that. Adding to this, the “Direct-to-Brew” system also ensures that everyone is getting the freshest drink possible; no stale coffee around here, please. The unit has a 7-ounce removable bean container, so find your favorite and store them directly on the machine. That’s a space saver! DeLonghi does recommend the use of illycaffe for superb-tasting espresso.

Let’s talk more about how we choose our drink. The unit’s front panel includes a user-friendly rotary and push control panel. They control the on/off switch and cappuccino system and they also allow you to adjust the quantity of water and coffee to suit everyone’s tastes. Whether you want your espresso long or short, your coffee weak or strong, the Magnifica lets you choose. The machine even self-adjusts for one or two shots of espresso. You also get to decide the size of your beverage. Its patented cappuccino system rotates 180 degrees and the coffee spigot has an adjustable height, allowing for any size milk container; the coffee spigot height can be adjusted and the cup tray can be removed to accommodate any size of cup or mug.

Even more exciting, this espresso machine is programmable! Once you find your perfect drink size, strength, foam, etc., you can program it into the machine. Tomorrow, simply push the button and go! Think that’s luxury? Check this out: The Magnifica provides an exclusive cup tray warmer. That means it warms your cup up before use so that your drink will stay warmer longer. Who needs heated towels when you can have heated mugs? Does it get any better than that? And don’t worry, the three-hour automatic shutoff makes it so you can set it and forget it without worrying if you left it on.

One of the best parts of investing in a topnotch brand like DeLonghi is that you’re going to get a consistent brew every time. Even more impressive is its instant reheat function that heats the core of the unit. This means that the machine is always at the ideal temperature for espresso, no matter how long the interval is between brews. So whether it’s a busy morning with cup after cup or a long evening party with interspersed use, your machine will always be ready to brew. Even more impressively, the special Rapid Cappuccino System allows you to brew cup after cup instantly.

Lastly, let’s discuss the part that nobody wants to talk about: cleaning your espresso machine. As with any quality machine, maintenance is key. But because the Magnifica has a stainless-steel removable double boiler, it is very durable and the inside can be cleaned easily. There are also rinse and decalcification auto programs (keyword “auto”). And, as mentioned before, the drip tray is removable for easy washing. What we really love is the opportunity to use De’Longhi’s specialized call center, as they’ll help you both setup and maintain your machine (866-528-8323 (LatteBest)). They also provide a one-year limited warranty with the option to purchase an extended warranty.
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Pros

  • Small footprint but huge functionality
  • “Direct-to-Brew” system that grinds beans instantly before brewing
  • Instant reheat function that allows you to make cup after cup without waiting
  • Warming and removable cup tray

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Cons

  • Requires regular maintenance
  • Only use beans with less visible oil, usually a medium roast, for superb grinder performance

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The Bottom Line

For a lower price, the Magnifica delivers on almost all the features you would get with other machines nearly quadruple the cost. It’s easy to use, produces amazing product, and provides you with a ton of versatility—all in a compact, easy-to-use unit.

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3. Nespresso Pixie – Most Convenient

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The Rundown

Say hello to the Keurig of espresso. Just like Keurig is the go to for instant coffee from capsules, Nespresso has the same reputation for espresso with its high end technology. And the Nespresso Pixie definitely lives up to the name; if you don’t believe us, just see what a contributor from NYMag.com has to say about it being an excellent gift. For the avid espresso lover who just doesn’t have the time to fuss with tamping, frothing, and coffee beans, the Pixie is for you. It’s quick, it’s mess free, and it’s tasty. Because it functions with capsules, there’s no messing with grinding coffee or even buying coffee beans. You simply and easily insert the Nespresso capsule, and a few seconds later you’ve got delicious espresso. Better yet, the unit holds up to 10 used capsules. So no having to throw away your capsule right after use—or worse, get rid of someone else’s used capsule before brewing your own cup.

What we love most about the Pixie and one reason why it made our list is its super cool avante-garde design. At only 12.83 x 4.33 x 9.25 inches, you would barely notice this on your countertop. It has a convenient power cord storage, and no cords on the counter is a definitely plus. As beautiful as the Pixie is, I would definitely want it out for parties and everyday alike.

Don’t let its small size fool you into thinking that it’s not functional. It has a wide range of advanced features, including programmable buttons for espresso (less water) or lungo (more water) and the specific beverage volume of choice. Since we’re purchasing this unit primarily for its convenience, this programmability is key. Its foldable drip tray allows for small or big cups (especially for those lungos). Equipped with a wide range of advanced features, the Pixie machine is energy efficient, including an auto power off, with a surprisingly compact design. And even though it’s one of the smallest units on our list, it still boasts a 24 ounce water reservoir with backlit LED water level detection indicators.

Most importantly, this Pixie offers a big punch with its “Compact Brewing Unit Technology”. More specifically, the Pixie has at its center a thermoblock heating element. This means that it draws water from the reservoir in an espresso maker and heats just that amount, versus heating up the full container of water, making preheating quick at 30 seconds or less. And when you have a machine for convenience, quickness is key.

For those who are wondering if good espresso can really come out of a capsule (we were too), it can (heck, even NBA players rely on Nespresso machines before big games)! We’re just allowing Nespresso to take the work off our hands by grinding the beans and then hermetically sealing (meaning an air-tight seal) it in their capsules. What we love the most is that the capsules are actually recyclable. Also, if you choose to join the Nespresso Club, they offer a capsule recycling service for your convenience (in the United States only). Even better, when you purchase the Pixie, you’ll receive a 16 capsule starter pack.

Most admirable about Nespresso is their goal to restore, replenish and revive environmental and human resources. They aim not only to deliver an amazing cup of coffee, but to create a greater value for society and the environment. This “Positive Cup” vision is lived out in Nespresso’s commitment to sustainability in coffee sourcing and consumption. Finally, the unit comes with a one-year warranty from the date of purchase and registration, with the option to purchase an extended warranty.
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Pros

  • Small footprint makes this machine well suited for smaller kitchens that don’t have a lot of counter space
  • Heats up very quickly, i.e. making coffee is quite fast
  • Stylish design
  • Coffee is high quality and hot, with excellent crema (the delicious thin layer of foam on top)

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Cons

  • Smaller water reservoir means more frequent refilling
  • Only compatible with Nespresso pods (or the reusable pod)

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The Bottom Line

It’s quick, pretty, cost effective and produces good quality espresso. For the consumer who wants convenience and quality, the Nespresso Pixie is for you.

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4. Gaggia Brera – High Quality, Reasonable Price

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The Rundown

Traditional Italian espresso in a new, compact, and affordable design. The Gaggia Brera features an elegant brushed stainless steel front panel and a very small footprint (10 x 15.5 x 11.5 inches) that is much more space efficient than most machines in its class. We also love that this cute little compact comes in two colors to fit your fancy: black or silver.

As a super-automatic espresso machine, the Gaggia Brera is very easy to use. In fact even the complete novice who has never made espresso before wouldn’t have any issues learning how to use the Gaggia Brera and creating delicious beverages. Although the technology is advanced, the interface is simple with push button operations, LED icons and a simple display. And with a few pushes of those buttons, you can adjust the fineness of your coffee grounds and choose between three espresso strengths: light, medium, and strong.

This careful design goes further into its low energy consumption, standby mode after one hour of idle time, and a programmed red LED light notification to alert users to maintenance needs. Finally, it is outfitted with removable parts located in the front of the machine to make cleaning and maintenance a breeze. It is clear that this unit was carefully designed for the budget conscious espresso lover. In that same vein, it also comes with a one year parts and labor warranty with the option to purchase an extended warranty.

Despite its small stature, this super-automatic has incredibly advanced technology that gives it rightful standing as one of our top ten picks. A key feature of this technology is the pre-infusion brew system. Before actual brewing, the machine grinds, tamps and pre-soaks the coffee grounds in order to extract the most aroma and flavor from the coffee beans. The Gaggia Brera is also outfitted with a mavea water filter that takes water through four stages of filtration to remove impurities and reduce scale build up. This means that your espresso will taste better and there will be less maintenance on the unit after use. Finally, the milk frother works on “Rapid Steam Technology”, meaning there’s little to no wait time for milk steaming.
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Pros

  • Budget friendly
  • Compact and user-friendly design
  • Advanced technology that produces quality espresso

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Cons

  • Relatively small water reservoir that will need to be refilled every 4-5 shots
  • More plastic parts; not as durable as some other models on our list

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The Bottom Line

If you are looking for a high-quality machine on a budget, then the Gaggia Brera is a great choice. A very good entry level machine for those who are new to the game and don’t want to pay for all stainless steel and a laundry list of features, but are still looking for quality.

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5. Rancilio Silvia – Commercial Grade

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The Rundown

Straight from Italy, the traditional Rancilio Silvia is made for you with two things in mind: product durability and espresso quality. With very minimal maintenance, this machine should last for years. With a cast iron frame and all stainless steel side panels, you don’t have to worry about plastic wearing down on the Rancilio Silvia! It’s also not going to move around your counter during brewing; everything will certainly stay in place. All of the switches and mechanical components are solid and long lasting. The internal plumbing is solidly assembled, and the lines from the boiler are brass and copper. In addition to sturdiness, this espresso machine has a classical linear design that would make a great addition to nearly all kitchens.

The second aim for this machine is to produce the most excellent shot of espresso. For that reason, the unit comes with many commercial grade features. For one, its commercial grade group head (the area where your portafilter attaches to your machine) ensures excellent heat stability and therefore premium extraction quality. As we’ve learned, perfect and consistent temperature is a necessity for topnotch espresso extraction. The machine also features a patented ergonomic 58mm portafilter (the component of the espresso maker that holds the ground espresso beans [coffee grounds]) for superb extraction. And the 58mm size allows for a healthy amount of coffee grinds. These are actually the very same portafilters used on Rancilio commercial machines. While seemingly a small and insignificant piece of the machine, it makes quite the difference. And the fact that the Rancilio invests in a commercial grade portafilter means that the resulting product is going to have that same level of excellence. Finally, the unit boasts a 3-way electric solenoid valve that opens to allow water to flow through the group head and coffee. When the brew switch is turned off, it immediately releases the pressure on the grounds and the excess is dropped into the drip pan, resulting in a compact puck of brewed grounds that can easily be knocked out of the filter.

The single boiler of the Silvia has the largest volume capacity of any home machine in its class—it holds a remarkable 0.3 liters (12oz). With chrome plated brass, the boiler produces outstanding steaming power and remarkable recovery time between shots. You’ll also find a  32 ounce removable, top-filling water reservoir that can actually be removed and/or refilled at anytime during brewing. Once espresso brewing has been completed, you’ll be able to use the included stainless steel steam wand that allows for a complete range of motion. The wand is mounted on a ball joint so it swivels where you want it to and not just out to the side, which is what you’ll find with some other machines. This is especially useful for tight spaces. You can control the steaming power of the wand with a commercially designed steam knob.

Other cool features included with the unit itself are a 7 gram coffee scoop, a plastic tamper and two filter baskets (single and double). Although there isn’t quite the laundry list of features on the Rancilio Silvia, it intentionally has a very simple operation. As a result, very few things can go wrong or malfunction.
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Pros

  • Extremely sturdy and durable
  • Simple, straightforward, and traditional
  • Produces excellent espresso
  • Minimal maintenance

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Cons

  • Very heavy and not easily moved
  • Doesn’t include all of the features (e.g., integrated coffee grinder, auto-brew) that you’ll find in similarly priced models

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The Bottom Line

This machine is basically like taking a commercial unit straight out of a coffee shop and into your kitchen. It may not have the bells and whistles like some of the others in our best espresso machine article, but it’s going to give you killer espresso and it’s going to last you for years to come.

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6. Jura Ena Micro 1 – Great Minimalist, Small Footprint

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The Rundown

Super compact, super simple, the Jura Ena Micro 1 is for the espresso purist who wants the process clean but the flavor complex. Not for those who are looking to experiment with frothy drinks or latte art, but instead for the espresso connoisseur who can really taste the quality. Made in Portugal, this machine was designed with two very specific goals in mind: to make the perfect one cup of espresso and to be as small as possible. We have to say, they definitely achieved that goal! Reduced to the absolute minimum footprint possible, the Micro 1 is even smaller than the other compact unit on our list. It sizes in at 9 x 12.7 x 17.5 inches (versus 9.4 x 13.8 x 17 inches for the DeLonghi Magnifica Compact).

Considering how small it is, it’s quite impressive that the Micro 1 still contains an internal multi-level grinder. That, paired with its micro brewing unit—which is small but mighty—results in one of the best cups of espresso you can have this side of Italy, let alone from the comfort of your own home.

Going hand-in-hand with it’s amazingly compact design, we love the super simple touch panel with three programmable cup sizes (ristretto, espresso, and lungo) and two aroma levels to choose from. The unit has an aroma-preservation cover which keeps coffee beans fresh. Paired with the integrated grinder, the Micro 1 definitely delivers the freshest and purest cup of espresso.

The unit includes an intelligent preheating feature which ensures that each cup of espresso is the perfect temperature and is topped with a delicious, slightly sweet, feather-light crema. In fact, we think that the crema (that sweet creamy thin top layer) is actually the most ideal with this particular machine.

On the more practical side of things, we love the machine’s ability to dump out the “puck” of coffee grounds (what’s left in your machine after brewing) into an internal bin. Clearing a bin every once in awhile instead of having to empty out the puck every time is something we can definitely get behind. This machine also comes with an energy save mode, auto-off function, and Zero-Energy switch. Adding to this, the Portuguese unit comes with a 2-year (or 6,000 brews) limited warranty, which is twice as long as most machines on the market.

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Pros

  • The most compact unit on our list
  • Focused only on espresso brewing and, as a result, brews some pretty unbeatable espresso
  • One touch and super quick

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Cons

  • Much less versatility in beverage options
  • Less overall functionality

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The Bottom Line

This machine is definitely for the purist who doesn’t need all the bells and whistles and isn’t looking for a frothy drink. It’s also for those short on countertop space, or who just don’t love a lot of kitchen appliances out.

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7. Breville BES980XL Oracle – Best Brand Overall

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The Rundown

As we alluded to in the first Breville review, for those who are ready (and ready to invest) for the best of the best, the Breville Oracle is simply it. First a short word on Breville. We love Breville. Every kitchen appliance we’ve ever gotten from Breville (most notably their amazing toaster oven that I use more than my actual oven to cook dinners) has been built to last, intuitive, and is of the highest quality. For this reason and so many more, it’s really no wonder that Breville makes our list twice.

Given the price point, this machine isn’t for the novice or just casual espresso drinker (unless he or she has the expendable income and simply wants the foremost, of course). Newsweek claims that “The machine suits the espresso lover who knows great coffee when she drinks it and wants a professional-quality cup of coffee for little work – and doesn’t mind the price tag.” We’ll get into the specifics of each of these, but first just take a look at the laundry list of just a few of the uber impressive features that come with this Ferrari of espresso makers: integrated Conical Burr Grinder, Stainless Steel Dual Boilers, Triple Heating System, a Heat Exchanger, Over-Pressure Valve, and Electronic PID Control.

Ok, now for some specifics (for those of you who geek out on this sort of thing like we do):

  1. Integrated Conical Burr Grinder: We’ve seen this in a few of the other machines on this list. First things first, it’s in the espresso machine, meaning no extra machine to keep around and the highest freshness since beans are ground immediately before brewing. As for the “conical burr” part, just think about the machines at coffee shops that grind to your specification when you buy whole bean coffee. This particular conical burr grinder is more like the one at the coffee shop and less like ones in lower end models. It automatically grinds, doses and tamps 22 grams for a double shot. Not only is that precision amazing, it also makes the whole process a whole lot less messy.
  2. Stainless Steel Dual Boilers: Stainless steel is definitely the gold standard when it comes to kitchen appliances. But why do we need two boilers? One is a brew boiler and the other a steam boiler. The former maintains a consistent brewing temperature and the latter reaches a higher pressure that is ideal for frothing milk. Yes and yes.
  3. Triple Heating System: This 15 bar pressure system means more power and increased heat retention, which seems to be the name of the game for high-end espresso making.
  4. Heat Exchanger: Most units come with either a boiler system or a heat exchanger. The Oracle has both. Without getting into the scientific specifics of which I am actually not entirely sure, the heat exchanger is basically one more safeguard in maintaining the perfect brewing temperature. With the double boiler, it also allows the user to brew and froth milk simultaneously. We’re all about shaving as much time off of the process as possible!
  5. Over-Pressure Valve: Also known as the Expansion Valve, this isn’t the sexiest or even the most-important sounding feature of this machine. However, it’s more important than you might think and a lot of lower end models don’t have it. In fact, it’s usually only present in commercial machines. Without regulating the powerful 15-18 bar pump, bitter flavors can find themselves in the end product. This valve allows for truly low pressure pre-infusion, which gradually increases the pressure to gently expand the grinds for an even extraction and nearly perfect cup of espresso.
  6. Electric PID Control: This is a fancy name for (and, to be honest, it’s probably a little fancier version of) a digital thermometer. This regulates both boilers to make sure that water is delivered at precisely the right temperature, which is essential for extracting maximum flavor potential.

Okay, enough nitty gritty. What does this mean for the user? It means that you get, with the push of a few buttons (or no push if you’ve already programmed it in) automatic grinding, dosing, tamping and milk texturing. It is the full process of espresso making without any shortcuts; and the best part is that you don’t have to do any of it. The Oracle can extract espresso and texture milk simultaneously, so you go from beans to macchiato in less than a minute.

You may be thinking, “Okay this all sounds well and good, but is the coffee really that much better?” Breville would argue that it really, really is. They have even more crazy features that make this cup of espresso the best one you’ve tasted yet. There are different “pre-infusion durations” (coffee soaking time) and water temperatures for different coffee origins and flavor profiles. It also has an adjustable grind size and tamp force to deliver a precise dose every time for every kind of beverage.

They don’t even call it frothing, but instead “Hands-free milk texturing” and “Micro-foam Milk”. The unit actually purges the leftover automatically (always yes for less mess!) and can adjust milk temperature between 130F – 150F. Like your lattes extra hot like me? No problem with the Oracle. It can even adjust milk texture from a “latte” style to a “capp” style in order to support different brands and types (nonfat, nondairy, etc.) of milk. And this micro-foam is at the level of what you would get at a coffee shop and makes for much better latte art, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Lastly, the Oracle boasts its “One Touch Americano”. This is an innovative feature that delivers a double espresso with (as the name aptly describes) one touch, through a dedicated spout and fills the cup with hot water. This is the the same way it would happen with any good commercial machine.
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Pros

  • Incredible functionality paired with approachability and convenience
  • Topnotch espresso quality
  • Versatility in products (every type of espresso, every type of milk, every combination you can think of)

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Cons

  • At this price point, this is a true investment
  • May be more bells and whistles than necessary for someone who just wants a good cup of espresso

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The Bottom Line

You’re definitely paying more for this machine, but with the extra money comes extra quality and convenience. This machine has more functionality and power than any other machine in our article; it really is the best commercial functioning non-commercial machine that we’ve found.

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8. KitchenAid KES0503ER Nespresso – Most Convenient

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The Rundown

Very similar to the previously reviewed Nespresso Pixie, the Nespresso by KitchenAid is, again, perfectly suited for those who love espresso with low effort and little time. What you get with this unit that you don’t get in the Pixie is the iconic KitchenAid silhouette as well as the reliability that comes with the KitchenAid name. In fact, this Nespresso machine includes KitchenAid’s fabulous “1 Year Hassle Free Warranty” which isn’t quite as limited as some of the other limited warranties. Just as many kitchen warriors have found with other KitchenAid products (most notably the incredibly popular stand mixer), this company stands behind their products and is willing to follow through. Aesthetically, we love the timeless look of this unit as well as the fact that you can get it in a whopping six different colors: empire red, candy apple red, frosted pearl, medallion silver, sugar pearl, and onyx black. There’s no kitchen color scheme that one of these wouldn’t fit right into.

As with the Nespresso Pixie, the KitchenAid version has an easy loading capsule system with a very sleek looking lever for the capsule door. Where the KitchenAid may edge out the Pixie is in its all-metal, die cast construction. This unit was built to last and, as previously mentioned, the warranty backs that up. With a slightly larger footprint than the pixie (coming in at 8.2 x 13 x 13 inches), the KitchenAid can also hold more used capsules (14 instead of 10) and nearly twice as much water (44 ounces versus 24 ounces). For this reason, this option in our two best nespresso machines may be better suited for a larger family or for those who entertain large groups. It’ll suit everyone’s flavor (whether ristretto, espresso or lungo) preference with its adjustable cup shelf, accommodating bigger mugs for more liquid.

Very similar to the Pixie, the KitchenAid is incredibly user friendly. It arrives to your kitchen with six pre-programmed strength settings; you simply choose your favorite and push a button. And even though it’s a bigger unit, it still heats super fast—in under thirty seconds. We also love that the KitchenAid takes out any guesswork with its LEDs that indicate machine status. It has the same 19 bar pressure system that delivers delicious espresso and crema. It boasts compatibility with 22 Grand Crus (flavors) of Nespresso. And, just as with the Pixie, the unit comes with a 16 capsule starter pack. Finally, all of the features of joining the Nespresso club, including capsule recycling, is available with the KitchenAid as well.

Lastly, but not less importantly, we love the energy efficiency of the KitchenAid model. Like the Pixie, it has an auto power-off mode. This is perfect for the family who plans to use this on their way out the door for work and school. Additionally, this durable and powerful unit actually boasts reduced power consumption with an A-40% ranking. That’s good for the earth and your energy bill!

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Pros

  • Easy and quick to use
  • Strong and iconic frame
  • Larger water and capsule storage
  • Low power consumption

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Cons

  • Larger footprint than the Nespresso Pixie
  • Only compatible with Nespresso capsule
  • Still a pod system, which isn’t for everyone

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The Bottom Line

This unit is great, again, for those who want the deliciousness of espresso without the hassle of having to make it from actual coffee. The high-quality capsule system keeps things simple and the machine has very low maintenance. Great for those with a large family or who entertain.

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9. DeLonghi ECAM22110SB Compact – For Skilled Users

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The Rundown

As you have noticed, this is the second DeLonghi unit to make our best espresso machine list. The reason is pretty simple, as DeLonghi is a leader in this market. Their mission has always been “to offer consumers innovative home appliances with a distinctive combination of style and performance”. They achieve this goal with intentional and intuitive research and commitment to “improving the comfort and quality of daily life.” Perhaps the most compelling for us American consumers is that De’Longhi is an Italian family public company, which is a huge selling point in the world of espresso.

This unit has everything the original Magnifica provides and offers a few additional benefits as well. For this reason we think this unit is perfect for the espresso lover who may be a bit more advanced with their barista skills and wants to take their game to the next level. As with the Magnifica, the design is compact. As its name describes, it’s the Magnifica…just more compact, with its 9.4 x 17 x 13.8 inch footprint (versus the Magnifica’s 17 x 13 x 18 inches). Despite its even smaller stature, it does everything (and more) that the Magnifica does and actually boasts all of the features of any full-size automatic machine. All those features just fit better on your countertop even easier now.

As with the Magnifica, this machine prepares the gamut of drinks from espresso to cappuccino to latte to even macchiato. Throw in a few flavored syrups and you can open your own coffee shop from the comfort of your own kitchen. Similar to the Magnifica, this unit includes an integrated burr grinder with adjustable settings and grinds fresh beans every time to ensure maximum freshness. If you so choose, you can also use pre-ground in the second chamber. This espresso maker also ups the game with an added “aroma button”, which time-releases water to saturate coffee grounds a little at a time to extract a fuller flavor. You can bet you’re going to get your money’s worth from those quality coffee beans you invested in. (Reminder: DeLonghi recommends illy coffee beans, and we admit we love them too!)

Other consistencies between the Magnifica and this machine include the integrated manual frother with adjustable foam and thickness as well as the “Rapid Cappuccino System” which maintains the optimal temperature so you can brew cup after cup instantly. Adding to this, just like the Magnifica, you can program your perfect, customized drink: from type to size to froth consistency. That’s exactly what we’re hoping for in the morning: no thinking, no fuss; just waking up to the perfect cup. Finally, the De’Longhi’s specialized call center is again available for help in setting up and maintaining your machine at 866-528-8323 (LatteBest).

However, this espresso machine really takes it to the next level (in addition to its elegantly compact design) with a few intuitive and user-minded features. First of all, it includes a built-in water filtration system. That way, you get the benefits of flavorfully filtered water but the convenience and cost effectiveness of using only tap water. Secondly, the menu is even more user friendly with a push button control panel; adjusting your perfect drink in the menu settings is even simpler with this machine. Thirdly, they placed all of the removable parts front-accessible so that cleaning and maintaining the machine is even easier. And they’ve even added indicators to tell you when it’s time to clean the machine. Most exciting for us? All of the parts are dishwasher safe! Yes, yes, yes. Finally, this brilliant little unit actually saves up to 77-percent energy with its energy-saving switch.

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Pros

  • Extra compact design
  • Simple but advanced functionality
  • Built-in water filtration, coffee grinder, and milk frother
  • Energy efficient

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Cons

  • Still requires maintenance (although DeLonghi has made it as easy as possible…really)
  • Slightly higher price point

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The Bottom Line

DeLonghi really thought through how to get as much functionality and simplicity in the most compact design. This machine has everything you could want for a fairly affordable price tag. This unit is perfect for the at home espresso enthusiast who is ready to take it to the next level.

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10. Mr. Coffee ECMP1000 – Best on a Budget

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The Rundown

One of the cheaper options on our best espresso machine list (and at the complete opposite end of the spectrum of this Jet Engine Espresso Machine), this is definitely the machine for those who are just starting to try their hand at being a barista. It offers many of the options of the rest of the competitors listed, at perhaps a slightly lower quality. But for just over a hundred bucks, it may be worth it to take a test drive on this particular machine.

The Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista is a semi-automatic 3-in-1 espresso, cappuccino, and latte maker. It has an impressive 15-bar pump system that offers a significant amount of pressure and results in delicious espresso. This impressive system makes the Cafe Barista the fastest beverage preparation time of all Mr. Coffee Espresso Makers. Whether you want a single or double shot, this espresso maker delivers with minimal wait.

As with learning any new appliance, simplicity and approachability are key. Nobody (or at least most people) learns how to drive in a Lamborghini. What we love the most about this machine are the incredibly user-friendly controls that even a novice (such as myself) can master. The product boasts a simple “one-touch” control panel with indicator lights that highlight your selection, both of which take the guess work out of everything. Also included with the machine are a single shot filter, double shot filter, measuring scoop tamper, and coffee recipes; truly everything you need to learn how to make amazing espresso in one box.

As with a few of the other machines on our  list, the Mr. Coffee includes an automatic milk frother. As an avid orderer of lattes, that is a definite gold star in my book. It also has a water reservoir and a separate milk reservoir, each removable and easy to fill. We also love how the cup tray is adjustable, allowing for any size of espresso cup or latte mug. And because making espresso can be messy, this unit includes a drip catcher to minimize spray. Better yet, it’s removable to make cleanup a breeze.

At this price point, you really can’t get any better than the Mr. Coffee. It comes from a reputable coffee brand that has specialized in only one thing (brewing coffee) for almost 50 years. We love that you can choose from three different colors (white, silver, or red) and that they provide a one-year limited warranty with the option to purchase an extended warranty. It’s almost a risk-free purchase.
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Pros

  • Significant features at a lower price point
  • Great for a busy family; easy to function and prepares quickly
  • High quality espresso and lattes
  • Small footprint with various color options

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Cons

  • Milk frother can be difficult to clean
  • Might lose pressurization over time

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The Bottom Line

This is the go-to option for any new barista, whether yourself or as a gift. This would also be perfect in a vacation home or somewhere it might not be getting used everyday. Low cost and a great deal of features in a cute little package.

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Best Espresso Machine Reviews Buyer’s Guide

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Buying an espresso maker is an exciting, but also slightly intimidating process; just ask Tom Hanks, who knows a thing or two about purchasing espresso machines. With a large number of styles and options—and a usually rather large price tag—it’s hard to know where to start your search. In researching a large number of machines and compiling our list, we came across certain styles and features that we think are important to consider when deciding on the perfect machine for you. Hopefully, the following will help in your decision making process and get you one step closer to a perfectly pulled shot…from your own kitchen!

Espresso Machine Type

Manual/Piston

Manual machines (or piston machines) are definitely a work of functional art. They are beautiful and give the operator complete control of the process, from grinding the beans to tamping the grounds, to setting the machine and actually “pulling” the coffee. Because these machines tend to be difficult to learn how to use (not very well suited for the novice or even intermediate home-barista), we haven’t included any manual espresso maker on our list. They require a significant amount of physical strength, a perfectly ground consistency, and an adept hand at using the machine to result in a good finished product. While pulling espresso from this machine is definitely a badge of pride, we don’t include it in our top ten list since it will meet the needs of only a very small population of people.

Semi-Automatic

Semi-automatic machines take the guess work out of the “pull” by using an electric pump where a manual level would be. This pump precisely creates the pressure to force the water through the grounds, depending on what setting the operator has punched into the machine. Because everything is automated, this pressure system is much easier to use and much more consistent than manual levers. Semi-automatics have the advantage of being operated by a one-touch system. The user can start and stop the process automatically and even preprogram beverage volumes. Or, if he or she prefers, the operator can choose to start and stop the extraction process, controlling the water amount and brew duration.

Semi-automatics have direct water lines or larger water reservoirs (as is the case for all of the machines on our list) than manual machines. For this reason they are much more useful for serving multiple people at once or even commercial use. What we like about them over the manual machines is their efficiency, their consistency, and the fact that you don’t need a tremendous amount of experience to operate it well.

Super-Automatic

Super-automatic machines have the highest level of programmability and the ability to pull espresso with the least amount of manual control. These machines allow you to brew a drink with truly one push of a button. Many have built-in grinders (more on that below) and other features that allow the operator to go from bean to brew with one touch. Super-automatics have truly given us push button espresso technology. They are built and programmed to grind a specific amount of coffee beans, tamp the ground coffee into the filter, brew the specified amount of espresso, and then dump the used ground coffee into a self-contained disposal bin. Many even have features to indicate when coffee beans need to be emptied, water refilled, or the machine cleaned or maintained. Many give the option of preprogramming favorite drink profiles. They allow the average person to have cafe quality drinks with zero experience. This is a huge plus for many, which is why so many super-automatics have made our best list. But for those who want a bit more of a challenge, we recommend semi-automatics, which are also represented on our list.

Size and Storage

Machine Size

Throughout the various espresso machine reviews above you’ll see a range of machine footprints, from larger to extremely compact. Adding features (like a grinder and frother—more on each of those to come) definitely add bulk to your machine but may free up counter or cabinet space by eliminating extra appliances.

Water Reservoir

One of the biggest complaints about espresso machines is having to refill the water tank too frequently. For that reason, having a reservoir with a large volume is a definite plus. We talk about this in each review and also note whether or not the reservoir tank is easily accessible, removable, and top loading—all of which will make your life a lot easier.

Coffee Bean Hopper

For those machines that do come with a grinder, make sure to check out whether or not the machine has storage space (and how big) for the beans itself. Also note if the hopper is removable (easier for reloading) and if it loads from the top.

Grinder

There are definitely two camps about whether or not a built-in grinder is the way to go. On the one hand, it eliminates an extra appliance and that saves on space and, in most cases, money. It also ensures the precisely correct grind for the machine and the particular beverage. On the other hand, built-in grinders make for a bulkier and pricier machine. They also can prove difficult to clean and if they break, the whole machine might be rendered useless until you fix it. A lot of times built-in grinders will only grind for that specific machine; so you may still need to buy an extra appliance if you want to grind fresh coffee for french presses or other uses.

Steamer and Frother

Many of the considerations that you’ll make about whether or not to have a built-in grinder apply to a built-in steamer and frother. They do add size and potential malfunction to the machine, but they also add incredible convenience and variety. Instead of only being able to pull espresso or make an americano, you can now create cappuccinos and lattes.

If you do opt for the built-in steamer and frother, things to look for include temperature retention and frother wand head rotation. Some of the best machines will have separate steamers just for the milk, which makes for efficient machines and delicious froth. A durable frother wand head is key, and ideally one that has 360 degree motion. Also check to make sure that your steamer/frother can handle whatever your milk (whole, skim, nondairy) you prefer.

Heating Element

In order to get the best espresso, the correct water temperature and temperature consistency are key. Below are a few different heating element types you might find in espresso makers. All four types are represented in our espresso machine reviews article since we review an assortment of machine types and price points.

Thermocoil

Most machines utilize one to two boilers (more on that below), but some don’t have a boiler at all. Instead they use a thermocoil (sometimes called thermoblock) element that flash heats the water on demand. The benefits of this kind of heating is system is that it’s fast. You get your espresso quickly and you can make subsequent beverages without having to wait. Some have found that a thermocoil system does not heat up the water high enough and they require occasional descaling.

Single Boiler

Single boilers are very commonly found in semi-automatic machines. The machine has only one boiler with two different thermostats. One thermostat is for brewing the espresso and the other is for steaming the milk. Because these temperatures are quite different, the thermostat brings the water up to the temperature needed for brewing and then down to the correct temperature for steaming. This works quite well, but does make it so that the machine cannot brew and steam at the same time. And there is a bit of a delay between brewing your drink and steaming/frothing your milk. The good news is that a single boiler is less expensive.

Single Boiler with Heat Exchanger

The presence of a heat exchange—a coiled tube that runs from the water reservoir through the boiler and finally to the portafilter (where the coffee grounds are and brewing occurs)—allows the machine to brew and steam simultaneously. Cold water gets heated in the tube to the correct temperature for brewing and the temperature inside the boiler is correct for steaming. This heating element works quite well, but adds maintenance because scale can build inside the tube. Without regular descaling, the heat exchanger tube can completely built up, blocking the coil and rendering it useless.

Double Boiler

As its name describes, these machines have two separate boilers, one set for brewing espresso and the other set for steaming milk. There is a great amount of accuracy and consistency with a double boiler, making them the most desirable. However they are also the most expensive.

Pump and Pressure Gauge

A powerful pump is what provides enough pressure to push the water through the coffee grinds and make a nice, strong cup of espresso. However, with a lot of power comes a great need to regulate that power. This is where a pressure gauge is helpful. The gauge monitors and regulates the espresso extraction pressure. This consistency and accuracy of pressure makes for the smoothest cup of espresso, with the least amount of bitterness.

Energy and Safety

Many of today’s espresso makers, including those in our best espresso machine article, are incredibly energy conscious. Look for machines that have low energy consumption and auto-off functions. That way, you don’t have to worry about an electrical fire or a huge electric bill.

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One response to “Best Espresso Machines:
10 Top Coffee Makers for 2019”

  1. Leas

    This is a very thorough article on some of the best coffee makers of 2019. I like the Breville Barista Express as it can be used by both beginners and more advanced baristas. For me, its durability is what sets it apart from the others.

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