The 5 Best Espresso Machines in 2022

What else we tested

Owen Burke/Insider

What else do we recommend and why:

Less than $500

Breville Bambino ($299.95): Breville’s newest addition, the Bambino, is its most streamlined offering. If that’s the extent of your budget and you want a real machine (as opposed to a device), that’s the best you’ll get. Breville cut a few corners here because they had to, and the concessions we noted over the Bambino Plus (which we favor) are: an aluminum portafilter (as opposed to the more heat-resistant steel ), pressurized portafilter baskets (for good fresh coffee and draft, you’ll want non-pressurized ones), puts less pressure than the Plus. You can still make great espresso with this machine, you just need to order a few extra accessories to do so.

Breville Bambino Plus ($499.95): If you already have a grinder and are keen on a Breville machine but can’t quite get into the Duo Boiler, it’s basically the Barista series but without the built-in grinder.

AeroPress ($29.95): Aeropress is a great coffee-making tool that many coffee snobs keep on their kitchen counter, where it is their only coffee-making device. What you get from an Aeropress is something like a finely pressed French press coffee with a generous layer of foam, but it’s not quite an espresso. For many, this simple little plastic device will suffice. Plus, its portability makes it convenient for outdoor use.

Less than $1,000

Breville Barista Express ($699.95): It was almost a cross between the Express and the Pro, and while we lament the loss of the pressure gauge on the Pro in favor of an LCD interface, it’s a faster, smoother machine. That being said, if you want to save a few hundred dollars (the price varies a lot on this machine), the Barista Express is a great alternative.

De’Longhi La Specialista ($798.90): A very close competitor to the Breville Barista Express, the De’Longhi La Specialista is designed almost identically but comes with built-in sabotage which removes a lot of the potential for user error, which we like, but a lot of people prefer to use a groomer and/or a leveler. Still, it’s about the same price and comes with a three-year warranty instead of the one-year warranty offered by Breville. This is another machine to seriously consider.

Flair 58 ($575.00): The Flair’s 58 is a newer, sturdier version of Flair’s previous models, and the best manual machine we’ve tried, but it will cost you. That said, if you’d rather get extremely obsessive and don’t want to spend too much money, the Flair will outperform our recommendations above, and we highly recommend ordering one.

Gaggia Brera ($449): We found this automatic machine to be pretty good, but its shots don’t compare to those of the Gaggia Classic Pro due to the built-in grinder that allows for minimal adjustments. Still, if you want an all-in-one automatic machine that can do it all when it comes to espresso drinks, it’s significantly more affordable than most of its competitors, and passable, if big and clunky.

La Pavoni Europiccola ($925): Lever machines with built-in boilers are some of the best on the market for two reasons: they’re affordable (compared to commercial machines) and they’re built like tanks, so they’ll last just about anything. The problem is that it’s a real challenge to learn how to make a good espresso from any of these things, and it takes time. If you’re willing to go through the motions, we recommend it, but you’ve got a long way to go.

Less than $2000

Breville Dual Boiler ($1,599.95): We’ve used this machine a few times and pros like Lance Hedrick of Onyx Coffee Lab and Dan Kehn of call it Breville’s magnum opus. Like all of Breville’s newest and most advanced machines, it offers some of the fastest heat-up times, and it’s highly tweakable, so you can adjust the brew temperature and even (thanks to a hack) the brewing pressure.

What we do not recommend and why:

Over the past few years, we’ve tried a dozen of the most popular espresso machines and another handful of Nespresso and Illy pod machines. Since there are currently more options when it comes to third-party pods and refillable capsules for Nespresso machines (currently there are no Illy refillable capsules), you should opt for Nespresso. The model we recommend above is among the most affordable, and there’s no point in splurging when deciding to buy a pod machine. If you want frothy drinks, consider investing in a separate, easier-to-use frother and to clean.

Breville Bambino Plus ($449.95): This machine worked almost as well as the Breville Barista Express or Pro, but it didn’t seem to hold as much power and is designed more for those coming out of a capsule machine. Considering the price and difficulty of repairing an out-of-warranty Breville machine, we think the Gaggia Classic Pro is a better bet. However, we are testing the new Bambino (not to be confused with the Bambino More we discuss here) and we will discuss our findings in the next update.

Cuisinart EM-200 ($249.95): This machine almost made espresso, but we couldn’t produce the thick elixir we got with machines $450 and up. If you’re going to exceed around $200, it’s best to go with a manual device or a pod machine. That said, some might find it passable in a cappuccino or latte.

De’Longhi Stilosa ($99.99): This machine replaced the De’Longhi 155 15-Bar, which produced decent frothy coffee. However, like the Cuisinart, the Stilosa delivered something a little more watery than espresso and more akin to French press or AeroPress coffee. Like the Cuisinart EM-200, it may be okay in cappuccinos or lattes, but a pod machine or manual device will get you better espresso for the same price.

Rancilio Silva Pro PID ($1,690): This is a professional machine for the home, but just like a professional race car, it works best in the hands of a pro, and might be something you’re better off working on, not starting. It also didn’t seem to let lighter roasts shine, which we consulted our expert, Dan Kehn, who agreed. Still, it’s a powerful machine that will eventually get you some superlative shots, albeit with lots of practice and bad espresso down the drain.

Smeg ($514.95): It’s a cute little machine and certainly has counter appeal, but it pumps out more watery hits than we’d like, and for the price it’s just not competitive.