Best espresso machine 2019: for taste-packed shots every time

Our best espresso machine selection will help you give your kitchen its very own dedicated coffee corner

Best espresso machine

The best espresso machine can transform your mornings. Not many things beat the smell of fresh coffee in the morning, except maybe the taste of a smooth shot of espresso or a cappuccino just how you like it; especially when it's coming from the best espresso machine you can buy. Whether it's part of a pre-commute morning routine or you’re reluctantly heading back upstairs to commence the working day in your home office, having the facilities to make your own great espresso at home will perk up your morning routine.

So, why not start your morning with a drink brewed in the very best espresso machine you can buy for your home?

Not a big fan of espresso? Find our pick of the very best coffee machines of all types. If you're looking for a bargain, the best cheap coffee machine sales are right here.

What is the best espresso machine?

Buying a barista style coffee twice a day from your local coffee shop will cost around £3 a pop and so at least £30 every working week. That means even the most expensive espresso machine on our list will pay for itself in less than a year. Most users want their espresso machine to produce consistently great coffee, to be easy to use and clean, and not cost the earth. The Nespresso Creatista Uno delivers on all counts, and is our best espresso machine. 

Not got time to read the whole guide? See our top three espresso machine picks below, along with their cheapest prices.

How to buy the best espresso machine

Reservoir

Otherwise known as a water tank, the reservoir on an espresso machine doesn't necessarily need to be large; its size should depend on how many people will be using the machine and how often.

Bar

Essentially the amount of pressure used to push water through the coffee grounds/beans; the higher the number, the higher the pressure. The best espresso is said to be produced at 9 bars.

Does it have a grinder?

Important if you're wanting to use coffee beans, however a grinder will more often than not bump up the price up of a coffee machine.

Size

Available in all shapes and sizes, from the sleek and modern to the traditional and slightly wacky, there’s always the option to choose a machine that fits in your space and is in sync with your existing decor. 

Price

Expensive espresso coffee machines may have a grinder incorporated into their design, with De’Longhi and Sage by Heston Blumenthal giving you the option to grind your coffee beans to your preferred consistency. 

Less expensive espresso machines may lack the capability to grind coffee beans, but there’s a diverse market of pre-ground coffee from around the world to tap into. So, in no way are you compromising on that first sip satisfaction just by investing in the slightly less expensive but ever-so retro Smeg espresso machine that features on our list, for example.

THE BEST ESPRESSO MACHINES

The best espresso machine: Nespresso by Sage SNE500BKS The Creatista Uno

(Image: © Nespresso)

1. Nespresso by Sage SNE500BKS The Creatista Uno

The best espresso machine

Specifications
Best for: Overall quality
Reservoir: 1.5ltrs
Bar: 19
Grinder: No
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use +Quiet+Perfect coffee
Reasons to avoid
-Cost of pods

The Sage Nespresso Creatista Uno capsule coffee machine takes the top spot on our list of best espresso machines for good reason: it makes really tasty coffee, it's really easy to use and clean, and it's a smart addition to your worktops. 

What's it good at?

The crema this machine produces is really good. And it dispenses espresso fast (in just 25 seconds). Perfect if you're impatient for that first shot of the day. It's easy to use, too – and we like that.

What do we like about it?

It's not limited to espressos: there's an automatic steam wand with a choice of three milk temperatures and frothing levels – not something you'd normally see on a capsule coffee machine. Plus, the steam wand purges itself after use so cleaning it isn't an issue.

The adjustable settings mean you can control coffee volume (there are three cup sizes) and milk texture, too. Simply adjust the coffee machine to suit, and it'll produce your perfect cup every time.

This espresso machine has a high pressure (19 bar) pump, but it is quiet when working. There's an energy-saving auto shut-off feature (after nine minutes), too.

What else? 

The 1.5ltr water tank removes easily, which makes cleaning and refilling a breeze, and the metal milk jug is dishwasher-safe. Always a bonus. There's also an indicator that tells you when the coffee machine needs descaling (a fast, easy job). 

What don't we like?

The cost of pods – and the waste issue around them. That said, Nespresso does run a pod recycling scheme.

Shop more espresso machines at Amazon

Best espresso machine for an enthusiast: Sage Barista Express

2. Sage Barista Express

The best espresso machine for the coffee enthusiast

Specifications
Best for: Barista style
Reservoir: 2ltrs
Bar: 15
Grinder: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Soaks the coffee to release maximum flavour +High pressure steam output 
Reasons to avoid
- Takes a while to master 

The Sage Barista Express is a must-buy for real espresso aficionados – and it looks the part, too.

What's it good at?

In a word: espresso. The consistency of the brew really is excellent, and the integrated coffee grinder means that you get the freshest possible quality. Those users who appreciate fresh tasting coffee rate it very highly, and actually enjoy getting to know all the different settings. 

What do we like about it?

Heston Blumenthal is a chef renowned for his wacky recipes, so it’s no surprise that his coffee machine is just as out there, with its ability to grind beans to your preferred consistency, apply just the right amount of pressure for a smooth espresso and steam milk to the perfect level of frothiness. Espresso enthusiasts will love the fact that it has 18 different grind settings. 

The other great thing about this machine is its classic style. Despite its advanced features, it’s very traditional in appearance, with a clean, stainless steel exterior that’ll look great against the backdrop of any kitchen. 

What else?

This espresso machine is for those who take their coffee seriously; for those who love a quick cup on the go, it will be too fussy. 

What don't we like?

Users report that the Sage can get a while to get going the first time round, and that you really need a full water tank to have the best quality espresso. The machine also requires regular maintenance (about every four weeks), so you'll need to be prepared for that.

Shop more espresso machines at John Lewis

Best modern espresso machine: Jura A1 Bean-To-Cup Coffee Machine

3. Jura A1 Bean-To-Cup Coffee Machine

The best modern espresso machine

Specifications
Best for: Modern
Reservoir: 1.1ltrs
Bar: 15
Grinder: Yes
Reasons to buy
+ Minimalist frontage + Programme three different cup sizes 
Reasons to avoid
- Smallest capacity 

The Jura A1 Bean-To-Cup Coffee Machine is a slimline one-cup machine that delivers quality coffee – from espresso to ristretto – fast. 

What's it good at?

Its capacity to freshly grind coffee certainly gives it an edge over many other similar espresso machines. And, you can pre-set three cups and two coffee strengths via the simple operating panel – strong for the morning and perhaps a weaker one for coffees at the end of a meal. 

What do we like about it?

Putting the coffee quality aside for a minute, we love the streamlined looks of this espresso machine – it's pretty compact in size, too, so it shouldn’t take up too much room in your kitchen, perfect if you're squeezed for space. 

There's an automatic energy saving mode with programmable switch-off, too, which means the machine is energy-efficient (even if you're not).

Let's talk science: Jura has worked on perfecting the cutting angle inside the grinding cone so that users can get that a delicious coffee aroma in half the grinding time. 

What else?

There's the Claris water filter which ensures the coffee delivered is as tasty as it can be. The filter works to protect the machine against limescale, too, so maintenance is easier. 

What don't we like?

There is no steaming arm, so it lacks the theatrics of other espresso machines in our list. It also has a small capacity, so expect to refill frequently. 

Shop more espresso machines at AO.com

Best automatic espresso machine: De’Longhi PrimaDonna Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machine

4. De’Longhi PrimaDonna Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machine

Best automatic espresso machine

Specifications
Best for: Automatic
Reservoir: 1.3ltrs
Bar: 15
Grinder: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Sleek, stylish and compact +Automatic milk steaming +Versatile: can make any type of coffee
Reasons to avoid
- Tank capacity is on the smaller side-Very expensive

The De’Longhi PrimaDonna Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machine not only makes a great espresso but cappuccino and latte, too. It's not cheap but it's worth a look.

What's it good at?

Making a latte, cappuccino or macchiato is easy as pressing a button, and you still benefit from the perfectly frothed milk and smooth shot of espresso that espresso coffee machines are renowned for.

What do we like about it?

This espresso machine is a hardworking all-rounder, able to make everything from an espresso to a cappuccino – and even a hot chocolate. Users love how customisable its performance is: tinkle around with the different settings, and it will give you a cup of coffee just the way you like it. 

This espresso coffee machine also blends the convenience of the capsule coffee machine with the authenticity of a bean to cup. The machine can either grind coffee beans or you can choose a pre-ground blend of your choice. We like that.

What else?

With its stainless steel and black exterior, it’s smart, streamlined and will certainly look the part taking pride of place in your kitchen. 

What don't we like?

Some users remark that the default espresso setting produces coffee that's not very hot, but this can be counterbalanced by warming up your milk before adding it to your coffee.

Other than that, the obvious point to think about is the price; however, given the sophistication of this machine, it's still on the affordable side, as many similar machines come with a price tag of over £2,000. 

Shop more espresso machines at Very.co.uk

Best retro-look espresso machine: SMEG Coffee Espresso Machine

5. SMEG Coffee Espresso Machine

The best retro-look espresso machine

Specifications
Best for: Retro look
Reservoir: 1.5ltrs
Bar: 15
Grinder: No
Reasons to buy
+ A range of colours available + Slim, perfect for smaller kitchens 
Reasons to avoid
- No grinder 

The SMEG Coffee Espresso Machine isn't all about good, retro looks – it makes great espresso, and cappuccino lovers will like it, too.

What's it good at?

Milky coffees – the milk frother on this machine is truly great, creating perfectly smooth milk foam in a matter of seconds. Perfection for cappuccino lovers. 

What do we like about it?

What people – and the Realhomes.com team – really love about this espresso machine is its simplicity; it's easy to use and comes without too many component parts, so it's easy to clean, too. 

Not every kitchen has all the space in the world, so this small, yet perfectly formed coffee espresso machine will fit in perfectly, and especially well if retro gadgetry is a theme in your household. 

There is variety of colours to choose from, including black, cream, red and pastel blue. If you're after a retro look, this is the best espresso machine you can buy.

What else?

There is no grinder, so you'll need to buy pre-ground coffee. Reviewers suggest buying coarser ground coffee for this one, as the water may pass straight through finer ground coffee. 

What don't we like?

Some users have pointed out that while the machine itself is quite lightweight, the portafilter (the bit that holds the coffee) is heavy, so you may need to hand stabilise the machine while you're using it. 

Shop more espresso machines at Currys PC World

Best quick espresso machine: Gaggia Naviglio Coffee Machine

6. Gaggia Naviglio Coffee Machine

Best quick espresso machine

Specifications
Best for: Black coffee
Reservoir: 2 cups
Bar: 15
Grinder: Yes
Reasons to buy
+ Includes a grinder and steamer + Completely black in colour+Small and unobtrusive 
Reasons to avoid
-ABS plastic, rather than stainless steel -Quite loud-No water filter

The bean to cup Gaggia Naviglio Coffee Machine is a versatile buy – at an affordable price.

What's it good at? 

In a word: espresso. Reviewers consistently rate this machine very highly for its ability to make a perfect quick cup of the blackest espresso. 

What do we like about it?

There are five settings so you can achieve a pretty perfect blend by adjusting the grind and using the front coffee strength guide. 

The espresso is delivered at a perfect temperature and with a thick, oily crema on top – and the flavour's good. Okay, it's not the BEST on our list, but at this price, you get good quality.

Long coffees are just as good and if you want your coffee longer, you can override the default setting, or use the hot water button to deliver water through the steamer wand instead.

As an ideal all-rounder, with steamer and grinder, we think it's good value – and with a much friendlier price tag than the Sage. 

What else?

If you’re looking for a way to make a quick and efficient coffee in the morning, it boasts a quick heat boiler and many of its elements are dishwasher proof, too.  

What don't we like?

Unlike the Smeg machine above, the Gaggia is not so great at making milky coffees, with users reporting that the steamer performance is underwhelming.

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