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Consumer Reviews

Commit to better coffee this year with a new espresso machine

To make a cappuccino at home, top espresso with equal parts steamed milk and foamed milk.

Make delicious espresso with these 3 excellent espresso machines

Many people need a jolt of caffeine to jumpstart their day and often stop by the nearest cafe on the way to work or school. However, with an espresso machine, you can save time and get your caffeine fix whenever you want.

An espresso machine can be expensive, but it's convenient and can help you save money in the long run. Our experts tested the Nespresso Vertuo Next Coffee and Espresso Machine and highly recommend it because of its dual coffee and espresso functions, sleek design and consistent quality results.

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What to know before you buy an espresso machine

Size

If you’ve been to a coffee shop, it’s hard to miss the gleaming multi-cup espresso machines that dominate the kitchen space. However,  you may not want to sacrifice some prime real estate on your countertop for a shiny new machine. Most countertop espresso machines are compact enough for the average kitchen.

Servings

One reason those fancy machines at the café are so big is that they can make several coffee drinks at once. Unless you're serving an especially high-volume household, you may be all set with a single-serving espresso machine. However, several well-made home machines, including the Calphalon Temp iQ, can brew two shots at a time.

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Espresso machine features

Coffee-bean grinder

The well-outfitted espresso machines on the market have built-in coffee bean grinders so that your favorite beans go straight from grinding to brewing with no lag time. That direct transfer results in the freshest and most robust flavor. Machines without a grinder require you to pack pre-ground espresso into the brewer.

Milk frother

Unless you already have an electric milk frother at home or prefer to buy one separately, you may want an espresso machine with a built-in frother. This allows you to brew fresh espresso and airy foam milk simultaneously, so your drink comes out at the perfect serving temperature.

Espresso machine cost

If you're looking for a single-serve espresso machine, you can find a solid machine for $100-$200. However, some high-end models with premium features can cost up to $350.

Espresso machine FAQ

How do you clean an espresso machine?

A. It depends on the model but in general between every use you should remove used espresso grounds and rinse out the basket. Every few weeks, give your machine a deeper clean and use a small brush to scrub the basket that holds the coffee grounds. If your machine has a milk steaming arm, flush it with hot water.

What type of beans do I need for brewing espresso?

A. It's not an important consideration since what matters most when making espresso is how you grind the beans. You'll need to grind beans into a fine powder for the best flavor, and smoothest finish and then use a flat-pressing tool to compact the grounds in the portafilter basket of your espresso machine.

How does an espresso machine produce a creamy layer on the surface?

When the machine shoots highly pressurized water through the compacted beans, you get that light, bubbly top layer on your espresso known as crema, which is the sign of a well-made cup.

Best espresso machines

Best of the best espresso machine

Nespresso Vertuo Next Coffee and Espresso Machine: available at Amazon

Our take: This high-end espresso machine has a sleek design and is approved by our expert testers thanks to its revolutionary brewing system and tasty frothy coffee.

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What we like: This machine can make 5, 8 and 18-ounce cups and has single and double espresso shot functions. It comes with a complimentary starter set of Nespresso capsules and an Aeroccino milk frother that provides smooth hot or cold milk froth for your various coffee recipes.

What we dislike: Cleaning the water chamber is simple, but our experts found cleaning the rest of the unit frustrating as it requires descaling after just two or three uses.

Best bang for your buck espresso machine

De'Longhi Espresso and Cappuccino Maker: available at Amazon

Our take: This machine is excellent for beginners and offers superb value by brewing delicious, flavorful espresso at an affordable price.

What we like: This machine is easy to set up and clean when you're done. You brew two shots of espresso side-by-side, and it maintains its optimal brewing temperature between cycles, so there's no downtime between brews. It also has a smaller footprint than other more expensive options.

What we dislike: The machine does not have a built-in bean grinder. Also, the water reservoir only has a one-liter capacity.

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Honorable mention espresso machine

Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe by De'Longhi: available at Amazon

Our take: This minimalist, sleek and small espresso machine is ideal for making drinks quickly without the added steps of grinding beans or frothing milk.

What we like: Nespresso makes high-quality drinks with the touch of a button and uses pods. This machine allows every household member to select their favorite brew, from a bold single shot to a rich 14-ounce coffee. The machine also takes up minimal counter space and is quiet and easy to clean, thanks to a removable water reservoir.

What we dislike: Users will need to purchase Nespresso pods separately from the machine, which can be hard to find in stores. The machine also does not have any built-in milk-foaming abilities.

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Kevin Luna is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

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