Choosing the best Italian espresso machine might initially seem confusing, but we’re here to help today.
Since the first espresso device was patented by an Italian back in 1884, these machines have been honed over the years with the addition of steam wands, pressure release valves, and portafilters.
By the time Gaggia invented an improved method of control with the spring-piston lever, the art of espresso was perfected.
Whatever type of machine you choose, making espresso is straightforward. All you need is water heated to between 190F and 200F pumped through a disc of coffee at a pressure of at least 9 bars.
All of the espresso machines we review today enable you to do all this and more, so how do you determine which is the right type of espresso machine for your needs?
Well, focus on the following pointers and you’ll have no problems finding the most effective Italian espresso machine for your needs:
OK, if you bear these elements in mind on the buying trail, you should have no problems finding the right espresso maker for your needs.
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The 8 Best Italian Espresso Machines
1. Our #1 Pick:DeLonghi Magnifica Espresso and Coffee Machine
If you’re looking for an espresso machine for less than 4 figures, you don’t have a great deal of choice, but the DeLonghi Magnifica should certainly be on your shortlist. You’ll get a great bargain without needing to compromise on quality.
You obviously can’t expect the rugged and heavy-duty nature of a commercial machine at this price point so be aware of your intended usage and expect 2 to 3 years of service before encountering any meaningful problems.
There’s a conical burr grinder onboard with 13 grind settings or you can switch to using pre-ground coffee when the fancy takes you. There’s no substitute for grinding your own beans but there’s also a place for pre-ground.
With both rotary and push buttons, the Magnifica is a classic given a modernist tweak. You alter the intensity of your drink using the main dial while surrounding buttons allow you to choose between long and short shots along with attending to various other settings.
Programming your Magnifica is a breeze. With dual output, you can save time and effort by pouring a pair of espresso simultaneously.
If you enjoy longer drinks, the manual steam arm will help you conjure up the perfect froth.
For a compact, pocket-friendly espresso machine from a household brand, the DeLonghi Magnifica is of one of all-time favorites.
2. Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine
The legendary Rancilio Silvia, a staple in many households the world over.
Encased in stainless steel and packing brass components, the Silvia can handle a few knocks. Lifespan is exceptional so consider this an investment that will deliver a fantastic return.
This commercial-grade espresso machine is ideal for the home but also man enough for duty in a small coffee shop.
The single boiler gives you all the power you need for lip-smacking espresso at the push of a button.
Extraction is smooth and consistent so you can enjoy gourmet coffee without stressing yourself about getting the variables right.
If you like longer drinks as well as your espresso, the steam wand helps you expand your repertoire by topping your drinks with froth.
For a heavy-hitting espresso machine at a great price from a brand you can trust, the Rancilio Silvia is a must-try if you’re a real coffee hound. This machine is a superb option if you’ve always fancied treating yourself to the iconic Rancilio Classe but can’t quite stretch to that price tag.
3. Bialetti Express Moka Pot
The first thing to clear up is that a moka pot does not make authentic espresso as you cannot generate enough pressure using this device. That said, the rich and intensely concentrated coffee you can make in the Bialetti Express comes very close to a traditional short shot like the Italians drink it.
This is a stovetop device that works well on both gas and electric cooktops. You can use this moka pot on induction cooktops, too, but you’ll need to pick up a separate adapter to achieve this.
Using this thing couldn’t be easier once you get to grips with assembling and disassembling it. Fill the boiler with some filtered water up to the safety valve, top up the filter with some ground coffee, close the pot without tamping the coffee, and pop it on the stovetop. When you hear the moka pot begin to gurgle, your espresso-like drink is ready to pour.
Don’t be tempted to wander off while your moka pot is brewing, though. If this thing boils over, it can make quite a splatter over the kitchen walls!
Even if you still like the idea of buying a semi-automatic espresso machine, this moka pot from industry heavyweight Bialetti is well worth considering as a secondary device. The compact form factor means it also makes a wonderful travel companion.
4. DeLonghi Espresso Machine
If you’re looking for an authentic espresso experience, a semi-automatic machine offers the ideal meeting point of convenience and control.
Before priming up your DeLonghi, consider grinding some fresh beans directly before brewing for the tastiest espresso.
This machine has a pump capable of delivering up to 15 bars of pressure, more than enough for a genuine espresso. It is the force of this pressure that leads to the characteristic espresso extraction.
Both the water tank and drip tray are removable to streamline cleaning. Aside from occasionally descaling the machine, there is minimal upkeep required.
The DeLonghi is a great choice if you love drinking single or double shots of espresso neat. Beyond this, you can also use those shots as the foundation for longer creamy coffees like latte and cappuccino. This machine comes with a manual milk frother bundled, so you can take full control over the ratio of milk and foam, creating specialty coffees on demand as well as outstanding espresso.
For anyone looking for convenience uppermost, this machine might be rather too involved. For those who want to embrace making espresso like an Italian barista, though, there is no substitute for a semi-automatic machine.
5. Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine
Gaggia is a powerhouse brand with a deep bench of authentic Italian espresso machines. How does the Classic Pro shape up, then?
Well, this is one of the most affordable ways to buy into the Gaggia brand, but you still get that rugged brushed stainless steel build married to impressive performance. Choose from a handful of vibrant colorways to mesh with your kitchen décor.
This is a semi-automatic espresso machine, so it makes a smoother fit for more experienced practitioners than absolute beginners.
Running very quietly, you’ll find the Gaggia super-simple to use with some simple rocker switches in place of a complicated interface.
As you would expect from this eminent brand, you get many commercial-grade parts on this machine, even though it’s intended for the home kitchen.
A rotating steam wand allows you to finish off your espresso with complete control.
The only gripes we could unearth among predominantly positive user reviews concerns build quality issues developing over time. We feel you need to keep your expectations reasonable when you’re buying any entry-level product. Overall, you’re getting one of the best budget Italian espresso machines out there from a brand you can rely on.
6. Gaggia Brera Espresso Machine
Next up in our quest for the best Italian espresso machines is a surprisingly inexpensive offering from the legendary Gaggia.
Although there’s a lot of steel, the plastic diminishes the Brera somewhat. Rest assured, though, build quality doesn’t suffer and the overall feel is solid rather than cheap. This model is available in either black or silver to suit.
Another bean-to-cup machine, you’ll get a ceramic burr grinder allowing you to adjust the grind to suit your palate. This type of grinder prevents too much heat and friction which can scorch and spoil your beans. It also spares you from needing yet another accessory in your crowded kitchen.
Make no mistake, you’ll get perfectly drinkable coffee using the grinder although results are rather disappointing. If you bypass this and pop in some pre-ground, though, the Brera returns a genuinely excellent espresso so we recommend this approach.
You’ll get automation and tech without usability suffering.
If you want to branch out beyond espresso, you can top your longer drinks with some first-rate froth.
There’s a double-up option if you insist on your espresso super-strong.
If you’re looking to buy an entry-level super-automatic espresso machine and you don’t want to be stiffed in terms of quality, check out the Gaggia Brera and you’ll be visiting Starbucks less and less, but without missing out on your favorite brew.
7. Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Espresso Machine
As we near the end of our Italian espresso machine reviews, we have a first-class offering from Nuova Simonelli in the form of the Oscar II. How does this model shape up, then?
Well, as you would expect from this upscale brand, you’ll need to dig deeper for the privilege. While it’s not as expensive as a commercially-rated unit, it’s not cheap either.
This uprated version of the outgoing classic comes with a new and improved chassis. Improvements are also evident in the steam wand, the timed dosage function, and the steam lever.
Under the hood, you’ll benefit from a commercial-grade group head built to withstand plenty of sustained use.
If you frequently make a wide variety of coffees, both long and short, you’ll find this machine leaves you wanting. If you are a committed lover of espresso, by contrast, you’ll wonder why you didn’t treat yourself to the Nuova Simonelli years ago.
To get the most from this machine, you will need a third-party grinder. Grinding your beans directly before brewing will give you the freshest tasting coffee. The minimal effort returns huge dividends.
Although you could hard plumb this unit into your kitchen, most consumers prefer to use the onboard water reservoir.
Compact and space-saving, you can easily slot this espresso machine under your kitchen cabinets.
As long as you can stretch to the price tag, you’ll be rewarded with one of the best Italian espresso machines out from one of the most reputable brands in the industry.
8. DeLonghi Espresso Machine
To round out our showcase of the best Italian espresso machines, we have a sleek super-automatic from kitchenware specialist DeLonghi.
As with all super-automatics, you get a conical burr grinder onboard, giving you a true bean to cup experience, even if you’re a complete novice at pulling shots.
The slick stainless steel finish looks great on the kitchen counter, and it also ensures your machine can withstand some rough and tumble.
You can pull a single or double shot of espresso to taste, or you can choose to use pods for single-serve convenience. Anyone looking for maximum versatility will be delighted with the DeLonghi.
Thanks to the manual frother thrown in, you can make longer and creamier coffees using espresso as the rich base.
Like all the best Italian espresso machines, this model couldn’t be easier to clean and maintain. It’s also incredibly simple to use, making this one of the best all-rounders on our shortlist.
Temperature maintenance is first-rate, so you won’t be faced with any tedious waiting around between brews.
Packing a pump capable of generating 15 bars of pressure, you have more than enough firepower on demand for a truly delicious espresso every time.
Aside from some isolated gripes about build issues and lifespan, the vast bulk of consumers sing the praises of this highly effective Italians espresso machine from DeLonghi. See if it makes the right choice for your kitchen.
1) How does an espresso machine work?
Espresso machines might look complicated but they are quite simple in terms of design and execution. Hot water is forced through a puck of tightly packed and finely ground coffee under high pressure. The result is a coffee that’s rich and intense but without any bitterness. The best espresso is topped with a very thin layer of foam known as crema. Variables impacting the quality of the espresso in your cup include the amount of coffee, the level of compaction – tamping – as well as the water temperature, length of extraction time, and amount of pressure.
2) What does the term bar refer to on espresso machines?
This refers to the bars of pressure (PSI) needed to produce a great shot of espresso. With a lever-based machine, you pull the lever to apply the correct amount of pressure. Electric espresso machine use an internal pump to generate pressure. These pump-based machines offer pressures from 3.5 bars through to 19 bars. You can monitor the pressure on the gauge to help you pour the best shot.
3) What is the optimum pressure for making espresso?
Most baristas agree that 9 bars is the optimum pressure for a shot of espresso. By delivering 9 times the weight of the air in pressure on water over a minimal area for 25 to 30 seconds is recognized as the gold standard for espresso. As with all aspects of making coffee, though, what counts is dialing in your own preferences and sticking with them.
4) What is the right water temperature for making espresso?
Use bottled or filtered water to make espresso. With 90% of the contents of your cup being water, it makes sense to use the best you can find. In terms of temperature, the best Italian espresso machine should heat your water to between 190F and 196F, ideal for espresso.
5) How can I clean an espresso machine?
If you fail to keep your espresso machine clean, this will impact the quality of the coffee in your cup. As oils and grounds accumulate, the brewing process is impaired. If you use your espresso machine daily, you should clean it monthly. Clean then rinse all the filters, as well as the portafilter, after every use. Use some hot water and a mild detergent. Either detach and clean the group head, ort use a brush to remove any grounds if you cannot remove it. Run some hot water through the machine without using a filter. You should also clean the frothing wand after each use to avoid any milk building up and going sour, tainting your drink and spoiling your espresso.