Best Espresso Machine For Beginners: Top 10 Picks

In a hurry? Our top choice is the Breville Barista Express.

Getting started in the espresso world is challenging as a beginner.

Choosing the right home espresso machine can be tough with all the options.

What’s the best espresso machine for beginners?

From home baristas to casual latte drinkers, I’ll break down the best choices and features of home espresso machines to help you make your decision.

Let’s jump in!

Best Espresso Machine for Beginners: Our Top Ten Choices

Breville Barista Express

The Express is a super capable espresso machine for home enthusiasts. It features an integrated burr grinder, digital temperature control, and manual milk steaming.

The grind function allows you to choose the exact dose for your espresso. You have control over how much coffee you put in the filter. This is huge for dialing in espresso to your specific taste.

The digital temperature control lets you pull shots at the right heat, giving you even more control over extraction. But even using the default settings, you’ll find consistently great results.

The water tank holds up to 67oz of water. That’s plenty to make a few drinks in a row without needing to refill. You can brew many drinks for friends and family without waiting.

Because this is a fully manual machine, you do need some knowledge of coffee extraction and milk texturing. But it’s the best option on this list for a beginner looking for a totally integrated coffee machine. 

You don’t need to buy a dedicated grinder, the brew process is forgiving, and there’s room to learn and grow as you use this machine.

Pros

  • Integrated grinder with grind size dial allows precise dialing of your coffee
  • Digital temperature control gives you more power over your shots
  • Manual milk steaming so you can create your perfect espresso drink
  • The large water tank means you don’t need to refill it often

Cons

  • Single boiler means more time between drinks
Check Current Price

Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine

The Bambino Plus is a compact espresso machine that still produces quality espresso. 

With the automatic milk steamer, you don’t need to know the science of milk frothing to still get good espresso drinks.

The Bambino Plus has a 1.9-liter water tank, so you can make about 15 drinks before you’ll need to refill. That’s for single espresso shot drinks. This coffee machine can also brew double shots.

The biggest upside to the Bambino is the ThermoJet heating system. The heating system is ready to brew in just three seconds so you won’t waste time waiting around. 

The Bambino, though compact, is still capable of reaching up to 15 bars of pressure. That’s plenty of pressure to consistently produce tasty espresso. The compact design also means it fits even in small kitchens. 

It doesn’t have an integrated grinder, which means you would need pre-ground coffee, or a separate grinder. The Bambino Plus has a slightly larger portafilter that makes dosing your coffee easy. It’s a forgiving machine that takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation.

Pros

  • The heating system means you’re ready to brew in about 3 seconds
  • Hands-off milk steaming takes the work out of goof microfoam
  • Up to 15 bars of pressure, which ensures quality extraction for your coffee
  • The 1.9-liter water tank is plenty for making around 15  drinks in a row

Cons

  • No grinder means you have to use pre-ground coffee or buy a separate grinder
  • The single boiler means waiting between brewing espresso and steaming milk, and more time between drinks
Check Current Price

Breville Barista Touch Espresso Maker

The Barista Touch is an easy to use fully integrated coffee machine. Don’t be scared off by the intense look. The touchscreen display will walk you through the entire process. 

It has an integrated grinder and a big 67oz water tank that allows for about ten drinks before you’ll need to refill. The milk steamer is automatic, so you don’t need to know the specifics of frothing for good results.

What I like most about the Barista Touch is the easy programming. The touchscreen display has digital temperature control for both espresso and milk. You control each aspect of your favorite drink and can save up to 8 settings.

There are 5 pre-programmed drinks that you can choose from. The machine will walk you through how to brew them for consistent results. If you’re looking for a hands-off espresso, this machine probably isn’t for you.

The Barista Touch is a great option for beginners who want to learn how to create espresso drinks. Simply follow the guides on the display and gain an understanding of espresso drinks. Then go into the programs and customize each part.

Pros

  • An integrated grinder means no need for a separate appliance
  • The heating system is ready in a few second, so you don’t have to wait long between drinks
  • The digital temperature  changes how hot your coffee and milk is, giving you more control over your drinks 
  • Save up to 8 personalized drinks for easy brewing

Cons

  • Requires some work, so not ideal for a complete beginner
  • The automatic milk frother reduces some control over your drinks
Check Current Price

Gaggia Classic Pro

The Gaggia Classic Pro is powerful and resembles professional machines. It has a 58mm portafilter (most consumer machines only have 54mm portafilters) so you can perfect your dose. It features a commercial-style steam wand for maximizing your milk steaming and a huge 72oz water capacity.

The ease of use makes this a great beginner’s machine. Three switches operate the power, brew, and steam wand. The machinery takes the guesswork out of your espresso brew. The pump reaches up to 15 bars, and the portafilter holds an 18-gram coffee dose, which makes for a cafe-style shot.

While there isn’t an integrated grinder, the Classic Pro is compatible with pre-ground coffee and single-serve pods. You don’t need to buy a dedicated grinder if you don’t have one already.

The only downside for beginners is the fully manual steam wand, so you’ll have to learn how to froth milk if you decide on the Classic Pro.

The Classic Pro is perfect for someone looking for a great espresso machine without all the extra features.

Pros

  • Built with components you’d find on Gaggia’s cafe machines, which gives you consistently great resultsThe 74oz water tank means you can brew many drinks before needing to refill
  • The 58mm portafilter ensures you have a good 1:1.5 ratio for espresso, the ratio used by most cafes
  • Intuitive switches make this machine easy to use for everyone

Cons

  • A fully manual steam wand means you’ll need some knowledge of steaming milk
  • The single boiler takes a while to heat up, meaning more time between drinks
Check Current Price

Delonghi EC680M Dedica

The Dedica is a great beginner’s espresso machine with a sleek design able to brew single and double shots of espresso.

It is capable of reaching 15 bars of pressure and has a Thermoblock heating system that is ready to brew in under 40 seconds. 

It’s only 6 inches wide, so it will fit in almost any kitchen. The Dedica is compatible with pre-ground coffee and single-serve pods, meaning you don’t need a separate grinder to use it.

I really like the simplicity of the Dedica. It’s perfect for people who want tasty espresso without much hassle. The steam wand is fully manual, so you’ll need to know a little about steaming milk. But it does have adjustable settings to help you perfect your milk for lattes or cappuccinos.

There aren’t too many frills on this machine, but the simplicity makes it a great option. It’s perfect for someone who isn’t looking to master the art and wants a great espresso every now and then.

Pros

  • Up to 15 bars of pressure means you’ll get cafe-style espresso, with good texture and nice crema
  • The heating system is ready in under a minute, so you won’t spend time waiting for the machine
  • Compatible with single-serve pods and pre-ground coffee so you don’t need a separate grinder
  • Only 6 inches wide, it will fit in any size kitchen

Cons

  • Manual milk frother means you’ll need to know a little about how to steam milk
  • Its simplicity means there isn’t as much room for growth if you want to master espresso
Check Current Price

SOWTECH 3.5 Bar 4 Cup Espresso Maker

The SOWTECH espresso maker is half espresso machine and half coffee maker. It produces up to 240ml of coffee per brew and has a steam wand that can foam milk.

The single knob selector is easy to use, and the carafe ensures you use the right amount of water.

I like the SOWTECH for its capacity. It will brew up to 4 cups at a time, making it perfect for someone looking for more than just a double shot. It is also a small machine that fits most kitchens.

Because it only reaches 3.5 bars of pressure, you won’t get true espresso. Instead, you’ll get rich, strong coffee like a percolator or French press. The coffee will still taste great, but be aware that it won’t have an espresso texture.

This isn’t a good option for connoisseurs because it won’t produce the style of espresso you get from cafes.

The SOWTECH is perfect for someone not looking to get deep into espresso. It’s great if you’re looking for a budget-friendly brewer that can steam milk.

Pros

  • The single knob selector makes this machine user friendly
  • The carafe ensures you use the right amount of water every time, and doubles as an insulated serving decanter
  • The small design saves space in your kitchen
  • Budget-friendly, you’ll get good coffee without breaking the bank

Cons

  • It doesn’t have enough pressure to create true cafe-style espresso
  • Not compatible with single-serve pods
Check Current Price

Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

The Cafe Barista is a great budget-friendly semi-automatic espresso maker. Featuring an automatic milk frother and brewer, you don’t need to do anything except fill the filter and press a button.

You can choose between single and double shots of espresso, as well as cappuccino and latte milk frothing.

It has up to 15 bars of pressure, meaning you’ll get cafe-style espresso from this machine. While it doesn’t have a grinder, you can still use pre-ground coffee. 

I like the Cafe Barista because it takes a lot of the work out of creating espresso drinks. The water and milk reservoirs are removable for easy cleaning. The milk reservoir has a lid, so you can store leftover milk in the fridge directly in the reservoir.

The Cafe Barista is perfect for someone looking for quick and easy lattes and cappuccinos. This is great for beginners who want espresso drinks at home without the hassle of being there for every step. It’s a great machine at a friendly price.

Pros

  • A semi-automatic machine does a lot of the work for you, so you don’t need to put much effort in to get a great drink
  • 15 bars of pressure ensures you get true cafe-style espresso every time
  • Removable water tank and milk reservoir make cleaning super easy
  • Simple controls and display make this intuitive and easy to use

Cons

  • The milk frother on the Cafe Barista can be inconsistent
  • Can only produce espresso, lattes, and cappuccinos, removing some versatility
Check Current Price

Rancilio Silvia

The Silvia is Rancilio’s home espresso machine with all the Rancilio technology in a smaller design. You get all the benefits of professional equipment in your kitchen.

The Silvia features a manual, professional-style steam wand. But it’s still easy to use with the modulating steam knob. The steam wand is the same one you’d find on Rancilio’s cafe machines, giving you consistent milk. 

It has a full-sized portafilter and a powerful steel boiler. The 58mm portafilter makes it easy to dose your coffee into a 1:1.5 coffee to water ratio, the same ratio used by most cafes. The steel boiler won’t wear out quickly, which gives the Silvia longevity and better temperature control.

The control switches are tactile and easy to understand and use. The steam wand is controlled by its own knob and is a 2-hole wand so you can be precise in your milk steaming.

I’ll be honest, though, this machine takes some knowledge to use at its full potential. First of all, you’ll need a good grinder to pair with this machine. Using pre-ground coffee would be fine, but you won’t get the results this machine is capable of. You’ll also need knowledge of milk steaming and espresso ratios. 

This machine is ideal for someone with some barista training or home knowledge. If you’re looking for a reliable and consistent machine you can practice on, this machine is perfect. 

Pros

  • 58mm portafilter lets you dose your coffee like most good cafes
  • Simple control switches make this machine intuitive and beginner-friendly
  • The 2-liter water tank means you don’t have to refill it often and can make many drinks
  • The steam wand is professional quality so you can get great milk texture for every drink

Cons

  • No pressure or steam gauge, so you have to wait to be sure you’re ready to brew or steam
Check Current Price

Gaggia Accademia Espresso Machine

The Accademia is a great fully-automatic machine that has pre-programmed drink options. But each aspect of your drink is customizable.

It has an integrated grinder as well as a milk frother and carafe. This machine stands alone, so you don’t need any other appliance.

It has seven one-touch drink options. Those drinks are customizable to your preferred temperature, milk froth, and coffee strength.

The selling point for the Accademia is automation. All you have to do is choose your drink. For someone looking for a quality automatic espresso maker, this is ideal. It takes all the guesswork out of your favorite drinks.

You can still play around with the taste and styles of coffee. A selector knob lets you decide how light or strong you want your espresso, milk foam, and temperature.

The Accademia is perfect for someone who wants a little control over their espresso drinks without having to do much work in the process. Simply make decisions and let the machine do the work.

Pros

  • Fully automatic machine, all you have to do is select your drink and wait
  • An integrated grinder means you don’t need to buy a separate appliance
  • 8 pre-programmed drink options that you can customize give you control over the final product
  • The removable brew mechanism and milk reservoir make cleaning a breeze

Cons

  • Not a lot of control over extraction for someone who wants a more hands-on machine
  • It’s a bulky machine that will take up a lot of counter space in your kitchen
Check Current Price

Capresso EC300 Espresso Machine

The Capresso EC300 is a capable espresso maker that features single or double espresso options and a manual steam wand.

This Capresso reaches 15 bars of pressure to ensure you have a creamy espresso. The control knob is super easy to use. It has a 42oz removable water tank that makes filling and cleaning quick and easy.

The simplicity is a big upside to the EC300. It does espresso well and works with pre-ground coffee. That’s important because it doesn’t have a grinder, so you’d need to buy one to use freshly ground coffee. Although it isn’t compatible with single-serve pods, it comes with a scoop to help you dose your coffee.

I would recommend this machine to someone looking for an easy entry into manual espresso brewing and milk frothing. 

It’s budget-friendly for the quality of the espresso, and you can get great results as a beginner. That being said, there’s room to improve your espresso drinks with a little more knowledge later on.

Pros

  • It reaches 15 bars of pressure so you get cafe-style espresso every time
  • The intuitive control knob makes it beginner-friendly and hard to mess up
  • A removable water tank makes cleaning and filling super easy
  • A budget-friendly buy for someone just getting into espresso brewing

Cons

  • A single boiler means you can’t brew espresso and steam milk at the same time
  • The steam wand is fully manual, so you’ll have to learn how to froth milk to your taste
Check Current Price

How to Choose the Best Beginner’s Espresso Machine

As a beginner, there’s a lot you need to consider before buying your first home espresso machine.

With so many different machines out there, it can be hard to narrow down your options.

From how much you’ll need to learn to steam wands, I’ll break down the most important aspects to consider.

How Much Do You Want To Learn?

Be honest with yourself about how much you already know about espresso, and how much you’re willing to learn.

Do you know the proper ratios for brewing espresso? Do you know how to froth milk correctly to achieve microfoam? Do you know how to dial in espresso from the ground up?

If you already know these things from watching videos or a little barista training, go for a more hands-on machine. The same is true if you’re excited to learn these things.

You’ll go through a lot of coffee when first starting out as a home barista. Make sure you have time to dedicate to learning before going for a fully-manual machine.

Coffee is always about personal preference. It’s alright if you don’t want to learn all those things. That’s where semi- and full-automatic espresso machines shine. These machines do a lot of the work for you. The only thing you need to worry about is what drink you want.

Pressure

Bars are how much pressure the espresso machine pushes through the coffee.

Each bar is equal to normal atmospheric pressure. If you stand outside in the fresh air, you’ll experience one bar of pressure.

Nine bars is the sweet spot for espresso. 

Why do machines advertise 15 bars of pressure? 

Think of it like a car. When driving around the city, you wouldn’t floor the pedal because the car easily reaches the speed limit without much effort. 

An espresso machine is similar. Even though a machine might be capable of reaching 15 bars of pressure, it will rarely use them.

Using a piece of a machine’s power makes it run smoothly and consistently. It won’t wear out the internal components because it can reach 9 bars easily.

If you’re looking for cafe-style espresso, find a machine that is at minimum capable of 9 bars, but 15 bars is preferred.

Steam Wands

Both manual and automatic espresso machines can have manual or automatic milk frothers. 

Some manual espresso brewers have automatic steam wands. These machines are perfect for someone who wants an occasional latte but doesn’t want to steam milk. These machines tend to be cheaper, making them great for the budget-conscious.

If you expect to take a deep dive into the espresso world, then lean more towards a manual steam wand. It might take a while in the beginning, but once you get it down you’ll open a whole world of milk textures.

If you just want a morning coffee, trend more for an automatic steam wand. You’ll still get great texture, but you won’t have to worry about doing it yourself.

Boilers

Home espresso machines are broken down into single and double boilers. Single boilers have one heating system for brewing espresso and a separate one for steaming milk.

Having a double boiler comes in handy when you expect to make many drinks in a row. While this can be a nice feature, it adds quite a bit to the price.

Single boiler machines are still very effective. The only downside is that you can’t brew espresso and steam milk at the same time. That said, as a beginner, don’t worry about finding a double boiler unless you plan on becoming a serious home barista.

For pretty much any beginner, finding a quality single boiler is a great first machine and will serve you well for years to come.

FAQs

Is it worth it to have an espresso machine at home?

It can be awesome to have an espresso machine in your kitchen. Generally, if you think you’ll enjoy having an espresso machine at home, it’s probably worth it.

How many bars should a good espresso machine have?

You need at least 9 bars of pressure to create good espresso. Look for a machine that is at minimum capable of reaching 9 bars.

Why are espresso makers so expensive?

Espresso machines have a lot of technology on the inside. From pressure pumps and steam wands, each aspect of your machine has technology behind it.

A general rule of thumb when it comes to espresso machines is that you get what you pay for.

Final Thoughts

You need to find a coffee machine that will allow you to grow into whatever kind of espresso drinker you wish to become.

Deciding between manual and automatic machines is the biggest choice to make. The easiest way to decide is to think about how much you want to learn.

Regardless, you’ll need a machine that is easy to use, allows you some control over your espresso, and produces great coffee.

My top choice for beginners is the Breville Barista Express. It’s a fully-integrated machine so you don’t have to buy a separate grinder. It’s sturdy enough to last many years and easy to use. It has the option to take as much or little control over the espresso as you want.

The Barista Express is a machine that will grow with you on your journey.

Photo of author
Craig Carey
Craig spent a year as a barista in Denver's specialty coffee world. He spends his days rock climbing, cycling, drinking espresso, and hanging around the Rocky Mountains. He still lives in Colorado.