Ready to splurge on an espresso coffee machine?
You can’t go wrong by choosing an Italian brand.
After all, who knows espresso best than those who invented it?
Of course, there’s a long list of models on the market, so choosing the right one might seem like an impossible task.
But that’s why we’re here today.
In this article, I’ll show you the best Italian espresso machine there is, as well as a few close follow-ups.
That should help you make your choice on knowledge, not pure luck.
Let’s dive straight in!
Best Italian Espresso Machine – Our Top 7 Picks
- De Longhi ESAM3300 Magnifica (Best Overall)
- Delonghi Italian Espresso Maker (Dedica) (Most Compact Machine)
- Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine (Most Durable)
- Gaggia Brera (Affordable Pick)
- Gaggia Classic Pro (Simplest To Use)
- Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Espresso Machine (Best Design)
- De Longhi ECAM45760B Eletta (Best For Milk-Based Drinks)
DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica
The Magnifica is a mid-range espresso machine that offers tons of customizable options, while still being easy to use.
Since this model features a built-in burr coffee grinder, you can enjoy a fresh cup of java each morning. But if you want to use pre-ground espresso coffee instead, you can do that as well. Just add your grounds to the second chamber and brew it from there.
The control panel is straightforward and simple to use. It allows you to make your drink just how you like it, by adjusting everything from strength to the size of your brew. And since this coffee machine has a fast heater, you can brew cup after cup without waiting.
This machine features a 60-ounce water tank, which allows you to make up to 30 cups of espresso before it’s time to refill. But since the tank is front-accessible, rinsing and refilling are not difficult anyways.
It’s also worth noting that all removable parts of this machine are dishwasher-safe. That’s not usually the case with other espresso makers, and it saves you so much time.
- A by-pass chamber allows you to switch between fresh and pre-ground espresso coffee
- The machine allows you to program your preferences, so that you can make your ideal coffee quicker next time
- All removable parts are dishwasher-safe, which makes cleaning a much easier task
- A warming tray at the top allows you to prewarm your cup before pouring espresso
- A non-adjustable spout only allows you to use small cups
DeLonghi Italian Espresso Maker (Dedica)
Who said you can’t enjoy homemade espresso in your dorm or RV?
You just need a compact coffee machine. And amongst those models with a small footprint, the Dedica really stands out as a powerful machine with great features.
With a 15-bar pressure pump, this espresso maker gives you consistent coffee every time. It comes with three filter holders, so you can choose between a single or double shot, or just use an ESE pod instead.
There’s no wait time with this machine. It heats up after only 35 seconds, so you can start brewing right away. And since it features a fast heater, you can also make one cup after another without waiting.
The Dedica turns off automatically after being idle for some time. This not only saves electricity, but also prevents possible electrical malfunctions. You can set up auto-shutdown to occur after only 9 minutes or as long as 3 hours.
This machine is very easy to clean. Both water tank and drip tray are simple to remove and can be washed on the top rack of your dishwasher. Of course, there’s also a descaling process with a light indicator, which makes maintenance even easier.
- The machine is ready to brew after only 35 seconds from being turned on
- With a footprint of 13 x 6 inches, this model takes up half the space of typical espresso makers
- A Pannarello-style wand makes frothing easy for beginners, since it makes great foam without much effort or skill from your side
- Dishwasher-safe parts make cleaning simpler
- A smaller water tank than on most other machines means you need to refill it more often
Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine
This model by Rancilio is a true definition of a coffee machine that’s built to last. While the frame is made of iron, the body is constructed with sturdy stainless steel panels. This espresso maker can take quite a bit of beating and will last you for decades (if you properly take care of it).
While this is a semi-automatic espresso machine, it’s also an entry-level model. This means it has an intuitive control panel and easy to use features.
There are four switches on the panel, each dedicated to one function: power, shot pulling, hot water and steaming. Each switch also has an indicator light to let you know when it’s ready. It’s so straightworward, I don’t see how doing something wrong is even possible.
Of course, there’s a slight learning curve when it comes to pulling the shot and steaming milk. But it should only take you a few tries until you get the hang of those things.
An ample warming tray on the top of the machine is a nice touch. It allows you to warm up as much as six cups at a time. This comes in quite handy for households full of coffee lovers.
This machine has a 68-ounce capacity water reservoir, so you don’t have to refill it that often. And I’m not going to lie, refilling this machine is a tedious task. It’s located at the back of this 30-pound machine, so you have to move it closer in order to remove the tank.
- The iron frame and stainless steel body make this machine one of the sturdiest models available
- It has a large water reservoir, so you don’t have to refill it constantly
- The user-friendly control panel makes it simple for beginners to use this machine
- A large warmup tray makes it easy to prewarm cups before brewing
- It’s quite heavy, so moving it around is difficult
In terms of cost, this is one of the most affordable machines you can find on the market nowadays. But when it comes to features, this model offers some options you don’t usually see at this price range.
I was really surprised to find out this compact model actually has enough room to fit a built-in grinder in there. What’s more, it also has a separate chamber for pre-ground coffee! This means you can drink freshly ground espresso coffee in the morning, and enjoy a cup of decaf in the afternoon.
Another cool feature is the adapting system that adjusts grinding time based on how strong you like your coffee. This makes any subsequent brewing quick and consistent.
There’s practically no wait time with the Brera. It heats up in less than 30 seconds, so you can start brewing as soon as you open your eyes in the morning.
Since it has a single boiler, you can’t brew and steam simultaneously. But the wait time is pretty negligible, so you can quickly make one cup after another.
With a water reservoir of 40 ounces, you probably don’t have to refill it more than once a week. I also love the fact that the reservoir it’s front-loading, so you can easily take it out without moving the machine.
- A rather affordable price makes this coffee machine great for beginners
- A control panel with push-button controls and an LED display is pretty simple and intuitive to use
- With a built-in grinder and a by-pass hopper, you can use either whole coffee beans or pre-ground coffee
- A compact footprint allows this machine to easily fit under low cabinets and on small counters
- Since it has no descaling cycle, you have to do it manually
Gaggia Classic Pro
If I had to compare this coffee machine to an ice cream flavor, it would be vanilla. It’s pretty straightforward and easy to use, even if you’ve never brewed espresso coffee before.
With only three control buttons on the control panel, there’s no need to flip to the manual for instructions. Each of the buttons has an indicator light, so the machine will let you know whenever each function is ready to use.
Since this is a semi-automatic machine, you need to pull the shot and steam your own milk. This means you’ll have to practice your barista skills a bit. But don’t worry, it won’t take long before you can use this machine to its full potential.
This is mainly thanks to a commercial-grade brew head, filter holder and wand. These high-quality features assure you achieve the right pressure and temperature each time, so there’s very little room to mess your brew up.
It’s also worth noting that this machine comes in several color choices. While most espresso makers come in shades of gray, this model also has some fun options, like red or blue. A great way to add a bit of color to your kitchen!
- With a body made of stainless steel, this machine is built to last
- A dry-puck feature clumps up the grounds for easy disposal
- Whether you prefer grounds or pods, this machine lets you use both
- For a compact machine, this model has quite a large water tank of 68 ounces
- It takes five minutes to heat up, which is longer than most models on this list
Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Espresso Machine
You don’t usually see heat exchange boilers on machines in this price range. These are great because they allow you to simultaneously brew coffee and steam milk. That alone got me intrigued about this model, but it’s definitely not the only thing worth mentioning.
Starting with the body, this machine is made of stainless steel. This means it can last you practically forever, given you take good care of it.
The steam wand on this model is amazing. It’s longer than on most machines and it uses dry steam. Together, these two things give you even more control while steaming. Let’s just say that making microfoam has never been easier.
Personally, I’m a big fan of the dry-puck feature. What this does is it sucks the water out of the filter, so that used grounds clump up. This makes cleaning a piece of cake. Removable parts aren’t dishwasher-safe, but you can easily clean them with a brush and soap.
It’s also worth noting that this espresso maker comes in two versions: plumbed-in or with a water reservoir. This allows you to install this machine in both homes and commercial properties, including offices and small cafes.
- A commercial-grade wand makes it easy to create perfect microfoam
- A dry-puck feature allows you to clean used grounds without leaving a mess
- If the water level is low or the boiler is working for more than 1,5 minutes, it turns off automatically to prevent overheating
- Features a large warmer tray that can fit 12 cups at a time
- It takes about 30 minutes to heat up before brewing
DeLonghi ECAM45760B Eletta
Willing to splurge a bit more on a high-end model?
Then you can get a machine with all kinds of whistles and bells for making perfect milk-based coffee drinks. In this category, there are very few models that can compare with the Eletta by DeLonghi.
If versatility is what you’re after, then you’ll be amazed by all the customizable options this machine has. From temperature and strength to milk-to-espresso ratio, you can program your drink just how you like it.
Since it comes with a built-in grinder, this is actually a 2-in-1 machine. With 13 grind settings, you can really get finicky about your grounds. And if you want to quickly switch to decaf, you can use pre-ground coffee in the second chamber.
This model shines the most when it comes to milk-based drinks. It features a removable carafe, so you can store it in the fridge when you’re not using it. There are a couple of frothing options available, from airy to soft foam, depending on the drink you’re making.
Cleaning features are also worth mentioning. This machine auto rinses every time it’s turned on and off, assuring there’s no residue left after brewing. There’s also a light indicator that reminds you when it’s time to run a descaling program.
- With tons of customizable options, you can personalize each drink to your liking
- The spout is height adjustable with a maximum of 5.5 inches to accommodate taller cups
- The display alerts you when it requires your input, whether it’s to fill a water tank, add coffee beans or empty out the grounds
- The machine turns off automatically after not being used for 30 minutes to save energy
- Quite expensive for an at-home machine
Buying Guide – How To Choose The Right Italian Espresso Machine For You
At this point you should have a general idea of different Italian espresso machines on the market.
The hardest part of the job is choosing between all of those amazing models. But things get much easier if you know what to look for in these machines.
In this section, we’ll go over the features you should keep an eye on when shopping.
Automatic vs Semi-Automatic
First and foremost – how engaged do you want to be in the brewing process?
Automatic machines do everything with a simple press of a button. Whether it’s grinding, tampering, or pulling the shot, it doesn’t matter. You just have to choose your settings, and the espresso maker will do the job for you.
Some machines go one step further. The so-called super-automatic espresso makers do practically everything from start to finish. This even includes frothing your milk.
Having a machine do all the work for you is as convenient as it gets. This allows you to make a consistently good cup of coffee each time, regardless of your skill.
But if you’re an experienced barista, having a fully-automated brewing process might not be as appealing. A semi-automatic espresso maker might be a much better option for you.
This type of machine only does tedious parts, like loading a filter and tampering. What’s more, it gives you a high level of control in pulling the shot, so you can really play around with the final results.
In the case of espresso makers, customizability is in direct relation to the price they’re sold at. Entry-level machines often only feature basic options, such as the size of your espresso shot.
Of course, lack of customizability has its own advantages. If you’re a beginner, or simply like your espresso as if straight from a cafe, this kind of machine does the job.
But if you want to play around with your espresso drink, be ready to spend a bit more on an espresso machine. Most mid-range models let you adjust different settings. These include grind size, brew strength, and temperature.
For a bit more money, you can even choose between different milk-based drinks, and even make your own. In many cases, you might even be able to save your preferences, so that you can replicate them in the future.
Ease Of Maintenance
You’d be surprised how often people underestimate this factor when buying an espresso machine. But the hell begins with the first brewed shot. When it comes to espresso machines, regular cleaning is a must.
Certain parts, like a steam wand or a brewing unit should be cleaned every time you pull a shot. This is because these parts get in contact with coffee and milk, and both are organic matters. This means they can quickly become a great environment for bacterial growth.
Aside from daily maintenance, you also need to clean removable parts on a weekly basis. Then, of course, there’s a descaling cycle that you need to do every few weeks – depending on how hard your tap water is.
Mid and high-range models often have multiple functions that help you with cleaning. At the very least, they usually feature a descaling program that does everything automatically. You just need to start it once the indicator shows it’s time.
Some models go even further, by adding an autoflush feature after every brew, as well as when you turn it on and off. What this does is it assures your steam wand and brew head are absolutely clean and ready for the next brew.
Espresso makers are generally large machines. Many high-end models are designed for commercial use, so they’re too bulky for a regular-sized counter. If you live in a dorm, small apartment, or even an RV, finding a suitable model can be hard.
Before you set your mind on a model, measure your counter space and assure it fits. You should also measure the height of your cabinets, because certain models can also be too hight for your kitchen setup.
Keep in mind that additional features like a built-in grinder or a coffee carafe can also add up to the size of the machine. Smaller espresso makers are often more affordable, so you can save some money by sizing down.
But keep in mind the amount of coffee your household drinks on a daily basis. Smaller machines also mean smaller water tank and hopper capacity, so you might need to refill them more often.
There are different streaming options available, with different engagement requirements. Ultimately, it comes down to how much involved you want to be in steaming milk.
If you only care for the final product, then consider an automatic frother. You just need to press a button and the machine will make the foam.
Most Italian coffee machines feature a manual wand – either commercial-grade or Pannarello. Between the two, the former gives you complete control over how your foam turns out. While that’s great for pro baristas, it might be difficult for newbies to get the hang of it.
A Pannarello wand is more of a beginner’s tool. You still need to use it manually, but it gives you decent results each time. The foam is not as perfect as the one a commercial-grade wand makes. But the result is pretty good for someone that’s learning.
Finally, some models come with a carafe. This type of steamer doesn’t give you much control over the final result, but it does a pretty decent job itself. It’s also quite practical for making drinks like a latte and macchiato.
What’s more, you can remove the carafe and store it in the fridge when not in use. This saves you from getting milk out of the fridge every time you’re making coffee.
To Sum Things Up
No one makes authentic espresso makers like Italians. And amongst a large number of Italian coffee machine models, it’s hard to beat a machine like DeLonghi Magnifica.
It offers tons of customizability, which is something expert baristas can appreciate. But with such an intuitive control panel, even a beginner coffee lover can brew coffee without being overwhelmed by options. And the best thing about it – it’s pretty affordable considering its features.
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