Last updated: September 7, 2020

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You are probably among the millions of Americans who need a freshly brewed coffee to start the day off. If that’s the case, you may have a time problem. We live at such a hectic pace these days that few people have the time to prepare a good breakfast at home before starting their daily routines.

Luckily for us, we can count on a great morning ally to enjoy a hot and delicious coffee every morning: the espresso machine. If you still don’t know what this fabulous invention is, then you’ve come to the right place. In the following guide, we will tell you everything there is to know about these revolutionary coffee makers. Let’s get started!

Key Facts

  • The use of espresso machines was originally exclusive to cafés and bars. However, this type of coffee machine has now established itself as a common and popular household appliance in American homes.
  • The espresso machine allows you to make a high-quality coffee every morning in no time. Besides, these appliances are more comfortable to use than people might think, and you can prepare various types of coffee with them.
  • You will have to consider a series of critical factors to choose the best espresso machine for your needs and make a successful purchase. These include the design, pressure, capacity, and dimensions of the device.

Our Selection: The Best Espresso Machines on the U.S. Market

The world of domestic coffee makers has evolved dramatically in recent times. So much so that even the professional espresso machines used in cafés have entered our homes. The wide array of options on the market means that you can choose that which best suits your needs, but this decision can be harder than you think. Have a look at our very own selection of the most popular espresso machines available out there:

Best Espresso Machine: Amazon’s Choice

DeLonghi is an Italian brand that needs absolutely no introduction, with its coffee makers being recognized the world over. This Amazon’s Choice in the category is an affordable espresso machine with 15 bars of pressure and the ability to make espresso, cappuccino, and latte. In addition, the dual filter holder allows you to use ground coffee as well as coffee pods.

Best Value-For-Money Espresso Machine

The right balance between affordability, versatility, and ease of use, this espresso machine by Mr. Coffee comes with a water tank of 54 fluid ounces and an automatic milk frother to prepare your favorite latte or cappuccino. If you like to play around with coffee, you should know that this model is delivered with a recipe book to create a variety of coffee-based drinks.

Best-Selling Espresso Machine

This Amazon Best Seller by Sowtech is incredibly affordable, but don’t let its low price fool you. You will still get a delicious coffee in the morning with this extremely compact espresso machine. With 3.5 bars of pressure, it can brew up to 4 cups at a time and is very easy to use and take apart for cleaning.

Best Espresso Machine for Professional Baristas

We couldn’t pick a selection of products without including a Breville model. Often found in cafés and bars, this brand is a household name in the coffee-making game. While its price is certainly prohibitive, the Barista Express espresso machine is everything you’ve ever dreamed of if you want a café-quality drink when you wake up in the morning – in less than a minute.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Espresso Machines

Now that you’ve discovered at the most popular espresso machines on the American market, let’s get down to what truly matters: why are they so trendy? Should you buy one for your home? In the section below, we will answer the most frequently asked questions regarding these coffee machines so you can make a truly informed decision when the time comes.

barista

An espresso machine is the perfect device to enjoy a variety of coffees from the comfort of your own home.
(Source: Vadim Guzhva: 37463857/ 123rf.com)

What is an espresso machine exactly?

Let’s start by clarifying what an espresso machine is precisely and what it can do. You’ve probably seen the coffee machines they use in bars and cafés, right? Well, an espresso machine is the same device that you can use at home. The main advantages of these coffee makers are the following:

  • They allow you to use the ground coffee that you like best from your favorite brand.
  • The quality of the coffee they make is excellent and offers an exquisite aroma and flavor.
  • You can prepare different types of coffee.
  • They prepare your coffee in no time at all.
  • Ground coffee – or beans, if it includes a grinder – is very affordable.

What types of espresso machines are there?

Regardless of the multitude of models that are available on the market, we can identify three main types of espresso machines:

  • Semi-automatic espresso machines: You can control every parameter: the amount of water, coffee, or milk you put in each cup.
  • Fully automatic espresso machines: These models are easier to handle than the previous one because their entire process is automatic. All you have to do is enjoy your freshly made coffee.
  • Super-automatic espresso machines: They also integrate an automated cleaning process and can generally make more types of coffee. They are the easiest to operate.
Maquina de café

Most espresso machines have several preset programs for processing the different varieties of coffee.
(Source: Andrew Mantarro: UBEkXAS4pW0/ unsplash.com)

What is the difference between an espresso machine and a pod coffee maker?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions when talking about espresso machines. While people often mistake this type of device for pod coffee makers, there are quite a few differences between the two. You can compare them in the table below:

Factors Espresso machine Pod coffee maker
You can control the amount of coffee Yes No
You can use any coffee brand Yes No
The user is involved in the preparation of the coffee Yes No
Quality of the coffee Professional Medium
Dual option (use of both ground coffee and pods) Yes No
Cost of the coffee Low High
Coffee-making speed Fast Fast

As you can see, an espresso machine and a pod coffee maker are fairly different appliances. The only real similarity they share is the speed at which they can brew coffee. That being said, choosing between the two will be a piece of cake if you’re a true lover of quality coffee.

How do I prepare coffee with my espresso machine?

As we mentioned earlier, using an espresso machine is extremely straightforward, and your coffee will be ready in no time. Here are the basic guidelines for brewing a delicious cuppa in the morning:

  • Fill the water tank of the espresso machine. Experts recommend doing this with bottled water, although this depends on the quality of the tap water in your area.
  • Prepare the porta-filter (or filter holder) by placing the filter first (metal grid).
  • Regarding quantities, the general rule is to use seven grams of ground coffee (two teaspoons) for each cup of coffee that you want to prepare. However, you should always follow the instructions of your espresso machine’s manufacturer. Remember to press the coffee thoroughly in the filter holder.
  • Put the filter holder back in place.
  • You can now select the program you want and wait for your coffee to pour into your cup.
  • Don’t forget to clean all the parts after each use.

Did you see how easy this was? You can enjoy a freshly brewed, high-quality coffee in just a few minutes and six little steps. Please note that these are general guidelines and that your manufacturer’s instructions should always take precedence.

What types of coffee can I make with an espresso machine?

Are you worried about being able to make your favorite coffee with your new espresso machine? Don’t be, because you can make just about any coffee with this appliance:

  • Espresso
  • Cappuccino
  • Americano
  • Latte
  • Mochaccino
  • Caramel Macchiato

In fact, the majority of models come with several preset programs for processing the different varieties of coffee – all in a single device and in record time. If you haven’t tried any of these coffees yet, an espresso machine is the perfect device to do so from the comfort of your own home.

How should I clean my espresso machine?

If you want to enjoy a quality coffee for years to come, you have to keep your espresso machine in optimal condition. This is why cleanliness is fundamental. Believe it or not, cleaning this type of coffee maker is very simple. But before we show you how to do it step by step, you need to know the different parts of your espresso machine:

  • Brew group: This is the main structure of the coffee machine where the internal piping is located.
  • Heat exchanger: Also called a boiler, this container is where the milk or water is heated to make coffee.
  • Porta-filter or filter holder: This is where you place the filter and the ground coffee.

Let’s now have a look at how you can clean each of these elements:

  • You are advised to clean the brew group after each use, with a more thorough cleaning every few months. For daily cleaning, remove it and rinse it with hot water only.
  • Once again, rinsing with hot water is enough to clean the heat exchanger. Besides, you may need a small tool such as a needle to completely remove coffee stains from the pipes.
  • Cleaning the filter holder is the most important task you have since this part is most in contact with your coffee. Experts recommend against leaving the porta-filter in place after use. Once you have prepared your coffee, rinse it with water, dry it thoroughly, and store it separately.

In addition to these guidelines, you can’t forget to decalcify your appliance. Ideally, you should use a descaling agent specifically designed for espresso machines once a month. All you have to do is run the liquid through all the pipes by pouring it into the filter holder and starting the machine.

Andrea IllyChairman of Illycaffè & Grandson of its Founder

“Espresso consumption is an aesthetic experience, like tasting a vintage wine or admiring a painting.”

Buyer’s Guide

Now that all your doubts have been resolved, we’re sure that you feel confident enough to go out there and purchase the right espresso machine for your home. But before you do so, we still have a few last tips to offer for when you’re buying your new appliance. Let’s have a look at a series of criteria that could really make a difference:

Type

The very first question you should ask yourself is: what kind of espresso machine do I want to buy? Keep in mind the different types that are available to you – semi-automatic, fully automatic, and super-automatic. This is a matter of personal use and taste, so choose wisely.

It is, above all, about finding the most comfortable machine for you to make your mornings that much smoother. While semi-automatic models allow you greater control over aspects such as coffee and water quantity, automatic machines operate entirely on their own. They generally offer the possibility of making a wider variety of coffees.

Pressure

Once you have selected the type of espresso machine that best suits you, you will realize that you still have a lot of options to choose from. To further narrow down your search, you should then look at the pressure of the appliance. As you probably know, this type of coffee maker works using an internal pressure system, and it is fundamental that you take this criterion into account.

Depending on the specific model, you will have anywhere between nine and nineteen bars of pressure – the latter being the highest available. That being said, the most common espresso machines for domestic use offer fifteen bars. This will be more than enough to brew a high-quality coffee every morning.

Capacity

Here is another crucial aspect that you shouldn’t neglect. Be careful not to mistake capacity and size, which is the next criterion that we will discuss. The capacity refers to the amount of water that you can pour into your espresso machine’s tank. Models on the market generally come with containers of between 12 and 100 fluid ounces.

To choose the right capacity for your home, all you have to do is think about how many people are going to use the espresso machine. It is mostly a matter of comfort and practicality, because more people use it, the more water it will require. A tank with a larger capacity means that you won’t have to fill it up so often.

Cafetera vintage

If you want to enjoy a quality coffee for years to come, you have to keep your espresso machine in optimal condition.
(Source: Mike-Marquez: gOROUFiJ8qU/ unsplash.com)

Size

Size naturally matters when it comes to household appliances. Most people like to keep their espresso machines in the same place all the time – whether it’s on their kitchen counter or a sideboard. This is why you need to think about that location before choosing your new coffee maker.

Luckily for you, we can now find very compact espresso machines that are much smaller than the classic ones used in cafés. If you’re still hesitating between a couple of models after all the criteria we have analyzed, you should turn to aesthetics and opt for the model that you find most appealing.

Cup Height

To make the perfect purchase, you may also want to check the height of the cup. What do we mean by that? Coffee lovers generally have a favorite cup or mug that they like to use each morning to drink their favorite beverage. Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon for people to purchase a new espresso machine and realize that their beloved mug doesn’t fit under it.

So if you like to have your coffee in a tall cup or glass, we encourage you to check the maximum cup height that the coffee maker offers. Your mug should fit easily in a stable position to avoid possible spillage. Once you’ve taken care of this aspect, you’ll be truly ready to find the perfect espresso machine.

Taza de cafe

Nowadays, manufacturers create very compact espresso machines for domestic use.
(Source: Sebastian Dumitru: e9dliGDwE8I/ unsplash.com)

Summary

Life can be so easy when we have the right tools to enjoy every minute of it! Having your own espresso machine at home means that you won’t have to rush in the morning. No more “I don’t have time to make coffee, I’ll just buy one on the way”, no more starting the day off on the wrong foot. You can now enjoy a freshly brewed coffee from the comfort of your own home.

Regardless of the type of espresso machine you opt for, you will make high-quality coffee in no time at all. This is why these appliances have become so popular in American households, and their users wouldn’t go back to a traditional coffee maker for anything in the world. If you haven’t tried them yet, what are you waiting for?

We hope that you found our guide on espresso machines informative and helpful. If so, feel free to share it on your social media, and leave us a comment in the section below!

(Source of featured image: Nathan-Mullet: oSTcH3VxKYU/ unsplash.com)

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