Enjoying a hot espresso was once reserved for a visit to a pricey café. Today, however, you can savor café-style coffee in the comfort of your home quickly and conveniently with one of the best automatic espresso machines. These appliances grind the coffee beans, dispense and pack the grounds, brew the espresso, and even clean themselves afterward.
In addition, the latest latte machines and cappuccino makers allow users to craft delicious barista specialties. If you’re curious about kicking your at-home coffee experience up a notch, learn how to shop wisely and why the following devices are considered among the best automatic espresso machines on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: Philips 2200 Series Fully Automatic Espresso Machine
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Nespresso VertuoPlus Coffee and Espresso Machine
- UPGRADE PICK: Saeco Xelsis Super Automatic Espresso Machine
- BEST MIDRANGE: Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine
- BEST FOR ESPRESSO PODS: De’Longhi Nestle Nespresso Coffee and Espresso Machine
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Automatic Espresso Machine
When shopping for the best automatic espresso machine, keep in mind the following characteristics, including size, weight, material, function, grinding, programming, heat-up time, BAR pressure, and ease of cleaning.
Size and Weight
Automatic espresso machines consume quite a bit of countertop space because they contain a water storage tank, coffee grinder, and bean reservoir, all in one machine. They range in size from up to 25 inches long and 20 inches high or less, and they typically weigh between 10 and 25 pounds. For convenience, keep it on the countertop, but to stow your espresso machine in a standard-size cabinet, look for a height no taller than 12.5 inches.
Fabrication material dictates durability and price point. The sturdiest appliances are often made with stainless steel components, both inside and out. Some espresso machines may also feature plastic and aluminum parts.
Automatic espresso machines have a wide variety of functions. Many include a water tank for automatic water heating and dispensing, while some also have a built-in coffee bean grinder that provides the desired coarseness level. Most machines offer a variety of settings to allow users to choose strength, coffee type, amount, and, sometimes, temperature.
Some espresso machines manually or automatically froth milk for specialty drinks such as cappuccinos, lattes, and mochas. Machines with manual milk frothing contain a wand that injects air into the milk, a process that requires the milk to be heated manually. Other machines both heat and froth with no user involvement.
Pod-based espresso models provide a convenient single serving, while other machines accept both pods and grounds or beans and grounds.
Automatic espresso machines contain either a stainless steel or ceramic grinder. Stainless steel can lose its sharpness over time, while ceramic blades usually maintain the same sharpness level over their lifespan. Ceramic grinders also produce less heat, which coffee aficionados say has less impact on the flavor profiles of the beans.
Most automatic espresso machines contain a burr grinder, which uses two blades instead of the single-blade propeller system on a blade grinder.
Automatic espresso machine users typically can set the type of drink, strength, size, and the temperature right on the device’s display. Some espresso makers even let users designate a scheduled brew time.
The best automatic espresso machines heat up quickly and brew espresso quickly. The average time for an espresso machine to heat and brew ranges between 30 to 60 seconds.
BAR pressure in an espresso machine is the amount of atmospheric or barometric pressure required to push water through the coffee grounds. Scientifically, one BAR equals the weight of the air or air pressure at sea level. Each additional BAR over one is a multiplier of this measurement. The best automatic espresso machines produce between seven to 15 BARs of pressure. This sweet spot provides rich, creamy espresso instead of a weak or overly extracted, burned brew.
Ease of Cleaning
Automatic espresso machines are relatively easy to clean. They typically feature a built-in cleaning mechanism that automatically runs hot water through the internal brewing tubes to clean them of debris and coffee oils.
However, some models require additional maintenance. A frothing wand, for instance, must be manually cleaned and steam run through it after each use. Users should periodically wash both the water storage tank and the espresso spouts.
Our Top Picks
These appliances, selected according to the above criteria, are among the best automatic espresso machines on the market today.
The Philips 2200 Series espresso maker has a 12-step grinder adjustment to turn beans into ultra-fine powder or coarse grindings. A convenient touch screen display makes it easy to adjust the strength and quantity of your coffee; choose from 3 aroma strength and temperature settings.
The grinders, made of 100% pure ceramic, should make at least 20,000 cups of fresh coffee. The Classic Milk Frother dispenses steam for easy lattes and cappuccinos. This espresso machine also has an easy-to-clean two-piece milk frother for lattes and cappuccinos. It has dishwasher-safe parts and a removable brew group.
The Nespresso VertuoPlus espresso machine boasts a host of features at an affordable price point. The machine connects to smartphones for easy control and accepts Nespresso smart pods that automatically adjust the brew settings for a consistent cup of coffee with just a touch of a button. It can brew coffee for five different cup sizes: 5, 8, and 14 ounces, as well as a single and double espresso shot.
The machine’s rotating water tank holds up to 37 ounces, and its slim size saves valuable countertop space. Other key features include a descaling alarm, automatic capsule ejection, and a used capsule container. It comes with a separate Aeroccino3 milk frother to make cappuccinos and lattes.
The Saeco Xelsis offers programmability that allows for the customization of milk and espresso volume, temperature, and texture, making it possible to brew 15 unique coffee beverages. The machine lets users program up to six drink profiles. Its LED touch screen display measures 3.5 inches, and double thermo block construction ensures accurate temperature control for milk, steam, and water.
The front-access water tank, which holds up to 67 ounces, has an AquaClean filter to purify water. An adjustable ceramic grinder can hold up to 12 ounces of coffee beans, and a 20-ounce milk carafe is included. This machine weighs nearly 26 pounds.
The Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine has a front-loading water tank that can hold up to 40 ounces, and its separate coffee bean and coffee ground reservoir can store almost 9 ounces of whole beans. It features a built-in ceramic grinder with five settings and a frothing and hot water dispensing wand. Choose brew settings with a user-friendly LED display and illuminated icons.
This 15 BAR machine weighs 22 pounds. This machine also features a rapid steam system that heats up in less than 10 seconds, a drip tray that collects dregs, and a removable brewing interior for easy handwashing.
The single-serve Nespresso model provides quality taste and convenience via patented pod technology that brews with just the touch of a button. A variety of pods are available, as well as five different brew sizes (single shot, double shot, 5 ounce, 7 ounces, and 14 ounce).
The removable water tank at the back of the machine can hold up to 54 ounces, and water heats up in 15 seconds. After brewing, the recyclable pods automatically eject into a storage container. For safety, the machine powers down after nine minutes of inactivity.
FAQ About Automatic Espresso Machines
If you’d like more info on shopping for and using the best automatic espresso machine, consider the answers to these frequently asked questions.
Q. What’s the difference between manual and automatic espresso machines?
The primary difference between a manual and an automatic espresso machine is the method used to pack the coffee grounds and put them into the machine. For a manual espresso machine, you must grind the beans, fill the espresso basket, and pack the grounds before attaching the basket to the brewer. An automatic machine does this process for you.
Q. What kind of coffee is used in an espresso machine?
For the richest and most flavorful shot of espresso, use espresso roast coffee beans, or a dark roast with a fine grind.
Q. How many bars of pressure is good for espresso?
The best-quality espresso machines produce a pressure between seven and 15 BARs.
Q. How long does it take for an automatic espresso machine to heat up?
Most automatic espresso machines heat up in under a minute, but the fastest can get hot in under 30 seconds.
Q. How do I clean an automatic espresso machine?
Many automatic espresso machines have a built-in cleaning mechanism that runs hot water through internal tubes to clean the interior. However, you should wipe and rinse the milk frothing wand and coffee pour spout after each use. You may need to occasionally descale your espresso machine with a specialty machine cleaner. Some machines also have removable internal parts that must be hand-washed.
Q. How long does an automatic espresso machine last?
An automatic espresso machine typically lasts from five to 15 years, depending on how well it’s maintained.