Our Pick Of The Best At Home Coffee Machines

Our Pick Of The Best At Home Coffee Machines

If you're a coffee lover who craves the purest form of java, then you're in for a treat with the best espresso machines out there.

Picture this: a perfect shot of espresso that hits all the right notes - rich in flavoUr, tantalizing aroma, and a satisfying body. No burnt or bitter aftertaste, just a smooth finish topped with a velvety layer of crema. And let's not forget the importance of speed, quiet operation, and an easy-to-use control panel that feels like second nature.

But here's the million-dollar question: how do you know if you're getting all of that in one package?

That's where we come in to lend a helping hand.

We've gone the extra mile and tested a range of espresso machines to find the true champions that deliver on all fronts. We brought these machines home, set them up, and brewed numerous espressos to put their speed, consistency, temperature, and flavoUr to the test.

If a milk frother was part of the deal, we gave it a whirl to ensure it produced thick, velvety milk with just the right amount of bubbles. We also considered user-friendliness, including the layout of the controls and easy access to the water tank. And let's not forget about noise levels and overall bang for your buck.

After careful consideration, we've compiled our results to bring you the crème de la crème of espresso machines.

So, without further ado, let's dive right in!

SAGE BAMBINO PLUS

SPECIFICATION:

DIMENSIONS: 32cm x 30cm x 19.5cm

CAPACITY: 1.8L

REMOVABLE WATER TANK: Yes

PRESSURE: 15bar bump

STEAM WAND: Yes

GRINDER: No

ACCESSORIES: Tamper, Trimming Tool, Milk Pitcher, Cleaning Tools

OUR THOUGHTS:

During our testing, the Bambino Plus really impressed us with its performance. This little powerhouse consistently delivered top-notch espresso, and with the additional of the automatic steam wand, it adds that perfect professional touch, taking your coffee experience to the next level. Plus, with a lightning-fast three-second heat-up time, you'll be sipping on a flawlessly brewed shot in the blink of an eye.

Now, let's dive into the features that make the Bambino Plus shine even brighter. Like many of the best espresso machines, you have the flexibility to adjust the espresso settings to your liking, whether you prefer a shorter or longer shot. But what really caught our attention were the remarkable adjustable pre-infusion settings. Oh, and did we mention that you can customize both the temperature and texture of the milk? You can effortlessly create the most luscious micro-foam for your cappuccinos and lattes – it's a game-changer.

Now, a minor let down: the portafilter can sometimes stick after pulling a shot. We've encountered this issue too, but fear not – it's nothing major.

It's worth noting that if you're a hands-on coffee enthusiast who loves to tweak each cup to perfection, you might find the compromise of consistency a bit challenging. However, for the majority of people, the guarantee of getting the same rich and nuanced drink every single time is well worth it.

All in all, the Bambino Plus is a rockstar in the world of espresso machines. Its consistent performance, impressive customization options, and speedy operation make it a delightful addition to any coffee lover's kitchen.

 

SAGE BARISTA EXPRESS

SPECIFICATION:

DIMENSIONS: 38cm x 33cm x 41cm

CAPACITY: 1.75L

PRESSURE: 15psi

REMOVABLE WATER TANK: Yes

STEAM WAND: Yes

GRINDER: Yes

ACCESSORIES: Tamper, Trimming Tool, Milk Pitcher, Cleaning Tools, 4 x Baskets

OUR THOUGHTS:

Calling all coffee aficionados who crave customization at its finest! Look no further than the impressive Sage Barista Express. This machine not only boasts a stunning stainless steel finish, but it also delivers outstanding performance. During our tests, we were consistently blown away by the high-quality flavour, rich texture, and luscious layer of crema that this espresso machine consistently produced. It's a real winner!

Speed is on its side too, although it does require a quick 1-2 minute warm-up initially. But here's where the Sage Barista Express truly shines: customization. With precision control, you can adjust the coarseness of the grounds and the quantity using two separate dials, allowing you to fine-tune your perfect settings. And with four portafilter baskets at your disposal, effortlessly switching between single and double shots is a breeze, offering both single and double-walled options for those using pre-ground coffee. We also appreciate the clever magnet placement on the underside of the control panel that holds the tamper in place, keeping things neat and tidy.

The Sage Barista Express goes above and beyond by including a built-in steam wand for crafting lattes and cappuccinos. Our experience with steaming milk was delightful, resulting in creamy, foamy goodness with just the right amount of froth. And for those tea enthusiasts out there, this machine even dispenses hot water directly from the steam wand. It's versatility at its finest!

Now, it's worth noting that the Sage Barista Express is not the most petite machine out there, so it will occupy a fair amount of precious counter space. Additionally, we did notice the absence of a low-water warning, which is a minor drawback, but certainly not a deal breaker. If you're willing to invest in a machine that offers both stunning aesthetics and exceptional performance, the Sage Barista Express is the one to get.

 

KITCHENAID SEMI AUTOMATIC

SPECIFICATION:

DIMENSIONS: 28cm x 33cm x 15cm

CAPACITY: 1.5L

REMOVABLE WATER TANK: Yes

PRESSURE: 15 bar pump

STEAM WAND: Yes

GRINDER: No

ACCESSORIES: Milk Pitcher, Coffee Scoop, Tamper, 4 x Baskets

OUR THOUGHTS:

Prepare to elevate your kitchen's style with the sleek KitchenAid Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine. The design will complement any modern kitchen, boasting a compact form that weighs just 15 lbs, making it a breeze to move around.

During our rigorous testing, we were delighted to discover that this machine consistently produced nothing short of delicious espresso. Ground coffee transformed into a flavourful elixir, adorned with a tantalizing layer of crema and a mouthwatering aroma. Operating this espresso machine is a piece of cake, thanks to its four buttons that put you in control of everything – from the shot size to the water hardness level and temperature. The inclusion of a convenient clean cycle ensures effortless descaling, maintaining the machine's performance over time.

This versatile espresso machine goes beyond just pouring espresso; it can also produce steam and boiling water through its steam wand, allowing you to froth milk for those lattes and even pour hot water for a soothing cup of tea. While it may take a bit longer to reach the desired final product, the results are more than satisfactory.

Our only real concern with this espresso machine is that appropriately sized espresso cups may vibrate out of place during the pouring process. To counter this, you'll either need to hold the cup in place (which isn't ideal) or opt for a larger, heavier cup to avoid this minor inconvenience. Apart from that, we loved the design of this machine. However, it's important to note that the exterior of this machine is made of plastic, which may come as a surprise from a brand known for its quality.

All in all, the KitchenAid Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine is a great choice. Its stunning design and impressive functionality make it a valuable addition to any coffee lover's kitchen. It allows you to immerse yourself in the espresso-making process, creating a truly personalized experience. Just be mindful of the vibrating cup issue and the plastic exterior.

 

PHILLIPS 3200 SERIES LATTEGO

SPECIFICATION:

DIMENSIONS: 25cm x 37cm x 43cm

CAPACITY: 1.8ml

REMOVABLE WATER TANK: Yes

PRESSURE: 15 bar pump

STEAM WAND: Yes

GRINDER: Yes

ACCESSORIES: Scoop and Water Filter

OUR THOUGHTS:

If you're willing to invest in quality, the Philips 3200 Series is a machine that truly delivers. This espresso machine grants you the power to create barista-level coffee with just the touch of a button. With a range of settings at your disposal, including espresso, hot water, cappuccino, coffee, latte macchiato, and americano, you'll have endless options to satisfy your cravings. What's more, you can even customize your selection by adjusting the strength, size, and amount of steamed milk to achieve your ideal cup.

During our own hands-on experience, we were pleased with the taste of the coffee produced. It possessed a good flavour profile without being overly bitter. However, we did find that the coffee could have had a stronger taste, even when we adjusted it to the finest grind setting. Additionally, the quality of the crema fell a bit on the thinner side. As a result, we wouldn't recommend this machine to those seeking a bold and robust coffee experience.

Our findings were similar when it came to steaming milk. While the milk held its form reasonably well, it lacked the density we were hoping for. Nevertheless, the overall performance of the machine was satisfactory. What truly stood out was the straightforward operation, making it incredibly user-friendly. Plus, the attachments are easy to remove and clean, with the added convenience of certain parts being dishwasher-safe, such as the LatteGo components. If simplicity is a priority for you, this machine offers a nice package.

While the Philips 3200 Series may come with a higher price tag, it presents an opportunity to explore the realm of professional-grade beverages without leaving the comfort of your own kitchen. Just be aware that it may not deliver the boldness some coffee enthusiasts seek. With its user-friendly operation and easy maintenance, this machine is a solid choice for those who value simplicity above all else.

 

ESPRESSO MACHINE FAQ

IT IS WORTH IT?

Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned coffee enthusiast, investing in an all-in-one home setup brings tremendous value. Today's best espresso machines are designed to cater to various skill levels, allowing you to embark on a journey of experimentation and gradually build confidence with each brew.

However, if simplicity and convenience are your top priorities, and you prefer a no-fuss cup of coffee without the need to grind your own beans, fill brew baskets, tamp, pre-infuse, or froth milk, then sticking with a drip machine or pod coffee maker might be more suitable. Brewing from an espresso machine does require a little extra effort, not to mention the occasional cleaning that can be a bit finicky.

Ultimately, the decision comes down to your preferences and the experience you're seeking. An espresso machine opens up a world of possibilities, giving you the freedom to customize your brewing process and explore a wide range of flavours.

But if you prefer a simpler coffee routine, there are other options available that can still deliver a satisfying cup of joe. It's all about finding the perfect match for your personal taste and lifestyle.

WHAT TYPE SHOULD YOU BUY?

When it comes to selecting the best espresso machine for your needs, there are three key factors to consider: kitchen space, budget, and desired level of involvement in the brewing process. Let's break it down and explore the different types of machines so you can make an informed decision.

1. MANUAL:

These exquisite, albeit pricey, machines feature a lever that you manually pull to extract a shot of espresso. While manual espresso makers offer complete control and the ability to craft your ideal cup, they also carry a higher risk of user error. As such, they are often preferred by professionals or dedicated coffee connoisseurs.

2. SEMI AUTOMATIC:

This type, equipped with an electric pump, is the most popular choice. Semiautomatic machines allow you to grind and tamp the coffee yourself while ensuring a consistent flow and pressure through the electric pump. You have control over the quantity of espresso in your cup by manually stopping the extraction process. Most semiautomatic machines feature a steam wand for milk frothing and heating, and some even have built-in grinders. Models without built-in grinders tend to be more compact and affordable, making them an excellent choice for those on a budget.

3. FULLY AUTOMATIC:

With a fully automatic espresso maker, the machine takes care of almost everything, including water measurement. Simply fill it with beans and press a button, and the machine will deliver your preferred drink, be it an espresso or a latte macchiato. Many fully automatic machines offer customization options for grind size, temperature, strength, and volume. They typically come with steamers and burr grinders. Keep in mind that fully automatic machines tend to occupy more space in your kitchen and come with a higher price tag due to their advanced features.

4. CAPSULE / POD

These machines offer the ultimate convenience. Just insert a coffee capsule, press a button, and enjoy a cup of espresso topped with a layer of crema. Capsule machines require minimal effort, as you only need to keep a supply of coffee capsules and fill the water tank. There are various configurations available, with or without built-in frothers or steam wands. While not as expensive as fully automatic models, capsule espresso makers still provide a convenient brewing experience.

Additionally, when shopping for an espresso machine, pay attention to the Bar Pump Pressure. This pressure is crucial for extracting flavours from finely ground coffee. Most machines, including our top picks, have at least a 15-bar pump, surpassing the 8 to 9 bars considered sufficient.

Many espresso machines come with additional features and accessories, such as burr grinders, steam wands, scoops, and tampers, to help you achieve precise measurements and enhance your brewing experience. Keep an eye out for these extras when making your decision.

By carefully considering your space, budget, and desired level of involvement, you can find the perfect espresso machine to bring the joy of café-quality beverages right into your home.

Back to blog