Best espresso machine for Italian-style coffee

If getting your perks is a pressing issue, this is espresso-ly for you.


by Natalie Knowles |
Updated on

The best espresso machine should be easy to use and create consistently good quality coffee. Espresso comes from the Italian word 'esprimere', meaning 'to press out'. An espresso machine extracts a short, rich coffee by running hot water through the grounds under pressure. There are affordable options, such as the Salter Caffé Barista Pro Espresso Machine, which is a semi-automatic appliance that simplifies espresso-making whilst still giving you control over the brewing. Alternatively, you may prefer the convenience of a coffee machine that uses pods, such as the Nespresso Pixie. Again, it's a doddle to use and brews a delicious, creamy espresso in minutes.

A home espresso machine is a freestanding appliance that sits on a counter with its own water tank, so no plumbing is required, and it's nowhere near as hefty as the coffee machines you'll spot in your local coffee shop. The machine heats the water, making it more energy-efficient than boiling a kettle. The resulting espresso can be a single 40ml serving or a double espresso at 80ml. It's small, but if the beans or grounds are good quality from your favourite coffee subscription service, you'll appreciate the release of aromas and flavour notes - perfect for anyone who loves a good black coffee. You also get a delicious foamy crema on top that contains flavoursome coffee oils.

Best espresso machines at a glance:

Best for Italian-style espresso: illy X7.1 Iperespresso – View on illy
Best high-end espresso machine: Sage Bambino Plus – View on Sage
Best budget espresso machine: Salter Caffé Barista Pro Espresso Machine – View on Amazon UK

For a specialist espresso machine that will form the centrepiece of your home coffee bar, we'd recommend opting for a Sage appliance. Some premium Sage coffee machines have built-in grinders; so you can enjoy an authentic bean-to-cup taste in the comfort of your home. The controls are intuitive, so you can focus on fine-tuning your milk texturing skills with the steam wand. But, cappuccinos and lattes are a whole other story...

However, if you want to recreate those sensational espresso shots you had in Milan – sans the steam and faff – then you may prefer a coffee pod machine. These compact and user-friendly appliances can be as small as a roll of kitchen towel. Fill the water tank, turn it on, pop in a pod and press the brew button. It really is that simple and the quality can be excellent – Lavazza, L'OR and Nespresso are well worth a shot. We've picked out the best espresso machines in our list below.

Best espresso machines

Best for Italian-style espresso

The unique shape of the illy X7.1 Iperespresso is inspired by the 1960s Italian design. With a classic look and modern functionality, the illy X7.1 Iperespresso coffee machine is made from premium steel and has Thermoblock heating technology. It may look vintage, but the buttons are soft-touch control. Prepare a rich illy espresso in style. Alternatively, if you love a frothy coffee, you can customise you drink with the milk frothing wand and make creamy cappuccinos and lattes. With power save, this coffee is energy-saving and automatically descales, too.


  • Classic look
  • Energy saving
  • Automatic descaling


  • Only compatible with Iperespresso capsules

Best high-end espresso machine

Sage appliances elevate making coffee into an art and a science. The Sage Bambino Plus is one of the more slimline coffee machines in their range, but it's packed with high-spec features. This appliance can heat up in just three seconds thanks to the Thermoblock heating system. Add 18g of freshly ground beans to the 54mm portafilter and let the puck pre-infuse with hot water. Extraction happens slowly, under 9-bar pressure, which releases a caramel-coloured crema and complex flavour notes from the espresso. Finally, if you love a latte, there's a steam wand with three adjustable milk temperatures and three levels of texture.

Customer review: "After spending ages watching reviews for coffee machines, I chose the Bambino Plus for its out of the box performance and features. Other machines at a similar pricepoint may need modifications to achieve the same results. I'm able to make a wonderful pre-infused espresso and can leave the automated milk steaming to create frothy milk for a cappuccino, or steam milk for a hot chocolate. The machine is easy to use, easy to clean and making coffees has become my hobby."


  • Compact design
  • 3-second heat-up time
  • Built-in steamer
  • Pre-infuse brewing method


  • Takes a little patience perfecting how to brew

Best budget espresso machine

If you're new to espresso machines, you might be unsure about splurging on a costly appliance, that's why the Salter Barista Pro Espresso Machine is a great budget option. You can savour café-quality coffee at home, at get to feel like a barista. The Salter Barista Pro Espresso Machine lets you craft various authentic coffees. Also, it has a built-in milk frothing wand, allowing you to make creamy lattes and frothy cappuccinos without breaking the bank. It's a small size too, so it won't occupy much counter space in your kitchen.

Customer review: "This little coffee makes such amazing espressos. I actually don't think I had better coffee (with exception of when in Italy). It makes such a good layer of form on the coffee. The milk frother works fine, too. I don't use it very often as I am an not too keen on milky coffee."


  • Easy to use and clean
  • Make two cups at once
  • Durable
  • Compact


  • Small, so two cups means espresso size cups

Best for budding baristas

For simplicity, quality and value for money, the De'Longhi Dedica Style Traditional Pump Espresso Machine lets you control every step of the coffee-making process, from tamping your ground coffee to frothing and steaming milk – just like at your local coffee shop – only this fits on your counter. At just 15cm wide, it’s the slimmest design of all the De'Longhi's machines, yet it has premium features. This espresso machine uses Thermoblock technology to keep water at a constant high temperature to ensure smooth extraction. Brew single or double shots and if the fancy takes you, texture milk with the steam wand.

Customer review: "This a smart wee machine – you can choose between three heat settings for the coffee (Low/Med/High) – default is medium and I've left it at that. You can also set the water hardness through a menu, and a wee bonus, the machine is supplied with a descaler pack. Coffee making – there is some useful info in the instructions that will help you to make coffee to your particular taste. For me, I use Lavazza coffee after trialling many others, and I like my coffee strong – this machine delivers."


  • Doesn't take up too much worktop space
  • Easy to clean
  • Barista-style experience


  • Steaming function takes some getting to grips with

Best coffee pod machine for espresso

Lavazza A Modo Mio Tiny Espresso Coffee Machine is super easy to operate. Use one button to turn it on, turn it off, and make your coffee. If you're a fan of espresso and Americano, you're going to adore this coffee maker. It's got a stylish design that's ideal for small kitchens. The Lavazza A Modo Mio Tiny is special because it brews coffee slowly at a high temperature, bringing out the most flavour. It senses the perfect water pressure for a smooth, creamy coffee, depending on the coffee pod. What's more, the A Modo Mio coffee pods contain just the right amount of coffee that's tightly sealed to keep the grounds fresh. If you like your coffee on the larger side, you can make a mugful by removing the drip tray.

Customer review: "I absolutely love this machine. It’s compact so doesn’t take up much room in my small kitchen. I’m just not good at remembering complicated steps for use and need appliances that have few steps to use and this machine fits the bill. It’s simple and easy for me to remember what to do. I get a delicious cup (or mug) of Lavazza coffee which is, in my humble opinion one of the best tasting coffee around today."


  • Two temperature settings
  • Adjustable cup holder
  • A must for Lavazza lovers


  • Compatible only with A Modo Mio capsules

Best compact espresso machine

With a 20-bar pressure pump this CASABREWS Compact Espresso Machine has professional level extraction for a better brew. It's an Amazon Choice product and reviews have praised its solid build quality, compact size and the steam wand. Depending on the day you have ahead, brew single or double espresso at the touch of a button. The stainless steel casing is easier to clean than plastic appliances and it has a removable drip tray to make the task even easier.

Customer review: "Really nice counter top coffee/espresso machine. Very well made, nice looking and a great size to fit comfortably in any kitchen. It comes with two filters, one for a double shot and one for a single. The water tank is a nice size, easily filled, and the controls are all understandable. It has suction cups on the bottom also to ensure it stays in one place."


  • Strong pump
  • Stainless steel
  • Simple to use


  • Needs a peruse of the instructions in order to use it correctly

Best espresso machine for style

Get steampunk vibes with the Swan Nordic Espresso Machine. The dials and buttons have a vintage feel, but this has 21st-century functionality as it's compatible with ESE pods as well as ground coffee. In addition, it has a milk frother and it can brew two cups at once. The wonderful wooden accents have an understated Scandinavian style and while this is not an overly robust espresso machine, it'll make the morning coffee ritual a wonderful way to start the day.

Customer review: "Makes very nice coffee. First impression is that it feels more light and plastic than it looks. But that's not a big issue. It's not too big which is a good thing for kitchen space but that does mean mugs barely fit onto the tray when the handle is engaged. Making coffee is straightforward but requires a few steps. The machine needs to be prepared: water added to the back, then pumped through to heat the machine. Then the grounds prepared and loaded. This takes about a minute. A packed two portion espresso will take another minute or so to trickle through."


  • Stylish
  • Brews two cups at once
  • Steam wand


  • Some reviews comment that it's a little flimsy

Best barista-style espresso machine for ease of use

A great entry-point coffee machine if you want to learn how to brew like a barista. The Breville Bijou Espresso Machine is a compact appliance, yet it's packed with features, including pre-infusion and a steam wand. Once you've mastered the art of espresso using the simple controls, you can switch to the manual shot function. If you don't want to pay £500+ for a barista-style espresso machine, this Breville is a superb mid-range alternative.

Customer review: "I've been using the Breville Bijou Espresso Machine and am really impressed with it. It's a great little machine that makes excellent espresso, cappuccinos, and lattes. The build quality is excellent. The machine is made of high-quality materials, and it feels very sturdy. It's also straightforward to use. The controls are simple, and getting great results with a bit of practice is easy."


  • Pre-infusion
  • Entry-level to brewing espresso like a barista
  • Automatic or manual extraction


  • Milk wand is temperamental

Best Nespresso espresso machine

Just like a ristretto, this tiny Pixie packs a punch. It's just 11cm wide, so it's ideal if you're limited on space. Enjoy Nespresso Original and third-party pods at the touch of a button. It brews espresso and lungo-size drinks under 19-bar pressure. Additionally, the folding drip tray can accommodate different cup sizes. You get a quality result; achieving the aromas and flavours of a barista-brewed coffee with a decadent crema.


  • Compact
  • Delicious espresso from Nespresso Original pods
  • Powerful pump


  • No customer review

Best for double espresso

For a concentrated and robust brew at twice the size, choose the L'OR BARISTA Sublime Coffee Capsule Machine by Philips. This coffee pod machine takes standard or L'OR XL size pods and can brew double shots of espresso as it has two spouts. It brews quality coffee under 19-bar pressure and is also compatible with 44mm ESE pods. It's worth noting that it's a slightly larger appliance, but will still fit comfortably on a countertop.

Customer review: "Two coffees in the same time as it takes to make one, and I feel the L'OR coffee is better."


  • Compatible with Nespresso Original pods
  • Double spout
  • Makes two drinks at once


  • XXL pod exclusive to L’OR

FAQs: Best espresso machine

Why is espresso different from regular coffee?

Espresso is different from regular coffee due to its preparation. Whilst regular filter coffee is prepared through drip extraction, espresso is brewed by forcing hot water through finely ground coffee beans. This results in a concentrated, rich and flavourful shot with a distinctive crema layer. In addition, lots of accessories are needed in order to make espresso – it's a bit of an art. If you're thinking about becoming a hobbyist barista, there are some essential barista tools you'll need in your arsenal.

Finally – if you don't know your cortado from your ristretto – a helpful guide to the different types of coffee is a must-have, so you can explore the amazing world of coffee-making.

Can I make regular-size coffee in an espresso machine?

When buying a coffee machine, note the difference between appliances that are designed for espresso cups and those that can fit a mug under the spout. If you are looking for mug-size coffee (230ml+) go for a Nespresso Vertuo Next, which is taller and can even accommodate a carafe (500ml).

Alternatively, you can follow the barista method of brewing a shot or two of espresso and pour them into a taller glass, topped up with rich, frothing milk to make a latte.

When an appliance is called an espresso machine it generally implies that it's designed for making small Italian-style coffee.

What brand should I go for?

If you have a budget of £400+ and want the best espresso machine, go for a Sage or KitchenAid appliance. These include bean-to-cup machines that put you in control of the entire process and are a must for aspiring coffee enthusiasts. Nespresso and illy coffee machines range from £100–£600 and have automatic features that make brewing easy and convenient. It's also delicious-tasting coffee.

Mid-range espresso machines are between £100–£250 from Lavazza and L'OR also offer convenience as they are pod-based machines. Finally, if you're looking for the best budget espresso machines, go for Tassimo, Nescafé Dolce Gusto or Salter. These appliances range from £30–£100.

Natalie Knowles is a Homes & Garden Product Writer for Yours, specialising in home appliances. When she's not testing sparkling water makers, she flexes her creative flair as an artist.


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