10 of the best espresso coffee machines to buy in 2021

07 April 2021

espresso coffee machine

Coffee can make mornings a little bit easier. And by investing in a quality espresso machine, you can whip up your very own barista-style brews without even leaving your kitchen.

A fancy coffee from a local cafe is a little luxury that lots of us love but it can soon become a pricey habit. The good news is that at-home espresso machines are now so advanced that you can easily create barista-style lattes, flat whites, cappuccinos and more from the comfort of your own kitchen.

However, even if you’ve had a caffeine fix, the sheer range of machines on offer can be baffling, from basic stovetop espresso makers to bean-to-cup espresso machines with added extras like grinders, cup warmers and milk frothers to consider.

Whether you want a simple upgrade from the instant coffee you’ve got in the cupboard, or you fancy starting your day with some latte art, our list has you covered.

Here are the best espresso makers and espresso machines to buy in 2021.

1. Best overall espresso machine: Dualit 3-in-1 Espressivo Coffee Machine DCM2X

“Vote here for Dualit Espressivo. I like the look of it and it's quick and easy to use and makes a great crema.”

1. Best overall espresso machine: Dualit 3-in-1 Espressivo Coffee Machine DCM2X

When you wake up with bleary eyes and all you want is a good coffee, you’ll definitely want an espresso machine that is easy to use. The Dualit Espressivo is a great choice – you can use pods or ground coffee in it and the machine has a bit of extra height meaning it’s good for mugs as well as smaller cups. If you’re feeling fancy, the steam wand will let you make lattes and other milky coffees too.

Its hot water function will keep any tea drinkers in the house happy, and its sharp stainless-steel design means it won’t be an eyesore on your countertop either.

Key specs

  • Dimensions: 45 × 39.5 × 75cm
  • Capacity: 1500ml
  • Milk frother: Yes
  • Coffee grinder: No
  • Cup warmer: Yes
Buy now from Amazon

2. Best budget espresso machine: Beko CEP5152B Barista Espresso Machine

“Beko makes a variety of coffee styles and strengths very well. Does milk things too but I recommend it for black coffee.”

“Thought it might be ‘cheap’ but coffee is actually slightly better than sister's much more expensive machine (that broke after 3 months).”

2. Best budget espresso machine: Beko CEP5152B Barista Espresso Machine

The Beko CEP512B Barista Espresso Machine packs in a lot of features for comfortably less than a hundred quid. There is a steam wand to get creative with lattes and the rest, as well as a cup warmer to give your mug a warm hug.

It gets the basics right, with the 15 bar pressure pump giving coffees a nice ‘crema’. There is one drawback to be aware of (especially if you’re using the machine when you’re half asleep) – it doesn’t have an ‘auto off’ setting for espressos so make sure you turn the machine off when you’ve filled your cup!

Key specs

  • Dimensions: 32 × 19 × 31.5cm
  • Capacity: 1200ml
  • Milk frother: Yes
  • Coffee grinder: No
  • Cup warmer: Yes
Buy now from Amazon

3. Best budget stovetop espresso maker: Godmorn espresso maker

3. Best budget stovetop espresso maker: Godmorn espresso maker

Stovetop espresso makers make it possible to create really good coffee at home, even if you don’t have the space or inclination to put yet another bulky gadget on your kitchen counter.

This Godmorn espresso maker does so with a minimum of fuss – and will set you back less than 20 quid. You can use it on an induction cooker or a gas hob, with its extraction pothole making the coffee more mellow when its brewing, maximising the aroma and taste of your drink.

Key specs

  • Dimensions: 10 × 10 × 20cm
  • Capacity: 300ml
  • Milk frother: No
  • Coffee grinder: No
  • Cup warmer: No
Buy now from Amazon

4. Best espresso machine for style: Smeg Traditional Pump Espresso Coffee Machine

“I’ve got one, love it, couldn’t recommend it enough.”

4. Best espresso machine for style: Smeg Traditional Pump Espresso Coffee Machine

There’s no denying that Smeg makes some of the most eye-catching kitchen gear you can buy – and its ECF01 espresso coffee maker is yet another beautiful product.

Of course, looks alone wouldn’t be enough to recommend a coffee maker – thankfully, the Smeg delivers plenty of features too. It has a 15 bar pump that can make a single or double espresso using either ground coffee or paper pods, and a milk wand to get creative.

It does cost more than some other machines that have the same technical capabilities, but if you’re a Smeg aficionado, this is a great choice.

Key specs

  • Dimensions: 33 × 14 × 30cm
  • Capacity: 1000ml
  • Milk frother: Yes
  • Coffee grinder: No
  • Cup warmer: Yes
Buy now from Amazon

5. Best stovetop espresso maker for style: Bonvivo espresso maker

5. Best stovetop espresso maker for style: Bonvivo espresso maker

If you’ve decided a stovetop espresso maker is what you need, the chances are you will tuck it away in the cupboard when you’re not using it. The Bonvivo espresso maker might make you think twice. With its striking silver or copper-chrome finish, it’s way more attractive than your average coffee pot.

The Bonvivo is suitable for gas, electric, ceramic and induction hobs, as well as open fires, and will make up to 180ml of coffee (3-4 small cups) in one go. Just be aware – particularly if you use a gas cooker – the finish could become slightly blackened over time.

Key specs

  • Dimensions: 13.5 × 9.5 × 18cm
  • Capacity: 180ml
  • Milk frother: No
  • Coffee grinder: No
  • Cup warmer: No
Buy now from Amazon

6. Best stovetop espresso maker for easy cleaning: KitchenCraft espresso maker

6. Best stovetop espresso maker for easy cleaning: KitchenCraft espresso maker

You can rely on this six-cup espresso coffee pot to last and last. It’s made of aluminium so as well as being durable, it’s also a strong heat conductor, which means your coffee brews more quickly. Note that it won’t work on an induction hob.

The no-fuss design means you don’t need to use any paper filters when brewing your coffee and the top and bottom parts of the body separate for easy cleaning (handwash only).

Key specs

  • Dimensions: 14 × 10 × 18.5cm
  • Capacity: 290 or 470ml
  • Milk frother: No
  • Coffee grinder: No
  • Cup warmer: No
Buy now from Amazon

7. Best low maintenance espresso machine: De'Longhi ECP 31.21 espresso maker

7. Best low maintenance espresso machine: De'Longhi ECP 31.21 espresso maker

It will come as no surprise to see this popular Italian brand on the list and this traditional pump machine delivers great coffee. You can choose to use either ground coffee or E.S.E (easy serve espresso) pods and the tank can hold a litre of water, so you won't have to constantly refill it. If you like long coffee drinks as well as espresso shots, its two-tier drip tray means you can fill mugs as well as small cups.

If you feel like practicing your barista skills at home, the De’Longhi ECP has you covered. It features a steam arm so you can also create lattes and cappuccinos alongside your perfect espresso.

Key specs

  • Dimensions: 24 × 18.5 × 30.5cm
  • Capacity: 1100ml
  • Milk frother: Yes
  • Coffee grinder: No
  • Cup warmer: No
Buy now from Appliances Direct

8. Best quiet, manual espresso maker: AeroPress espresso maker

8. Best quiet, manual espresso maker: AeroPress espresso maker

Making the ‘perfect’ coffee is a subject of endless debate but there are plenty of coffee aficionados that believe the AeroPress to be one of the best tools for the job. Its ‘total immersion brewing process’ makes smooth, delicious and full flavoured coffee, without bitterness and with low acidity.

The AeroPress isn’t as quick to use as some of the fancier machines, and it isn’t as pretty either. But its lightweight design means you can use it when camping or travelling, as well as at home. It’s totally silent too, so you might be thanked for your choice of coffee maker by anyone who’s still in bed when you’re brewing up!

Key specs

  • Dimensions: 12.7 × 12.7 × 29.2 cm
  • Capacity: 1-3 cups
  • Milk frother: No
  • Coffee grinder: No
  • Cup warmer: No
Buy now from Amazon

9. Best bean-to-cup espresso machine: Sage Barista Express

“We have a Sage Barista Express that we’ve had for a good few years now and it’s been so worth it, especially with DH and I stuck working from home these past few months. It’s pricey but we’ve saved so much on takeaway coffees as we prefer the homemade ones so it’s kinda balanced out.”

9. Best bean-to-cup espresso machine: Sage Barista Express

If you take your coffee really seriously, then it’s worth thinking about a bean-to-cup coffee machine – it’s the closest you will be able to get to a proper barista-style coffee at home.

The Sage Barista Express is a serious bit of kit (with a price tag to match) – but it comes with built-in coffee dosing and grinding, designed to grind the beans right before the extraction process.

There’s an analogue pressure gauge, giving you more control of the type of crema, as well as temperature control to maintain water within 1 °C and a micro-foam capable steam wand, for latte art.

All in all, you should be able to make a barista-style coffee – from bean to espresso – in less than a minute, without leaving your front door. Not bad at all.

Key specs

  • Dimensions: 33 × 31 × 40cm
  • Capacity: 6000ml
  • Milk frother: Yes
  • Coffee grinder: Yes
  • Cup warmer: Yes
Buy now from Amazon

10. Best espresso machine for auto milk frothing: Breville One-Touch VCF109 Coffee Machine

10. Best espresso machine for auto milk frothing: Breville One-Touch VCF109 Coffee Machine

If you love a latte, or can’t go without a cappuccino, the Breville One-Touch VCF109 could be a great addition to your kitchen. It has simple one-touch settings for espressos, lattes and cappuccinos, with the automatic milk frother giving you a foamy top to your coffee on demand.

The integrated milk tank can be removed and stored in the fridge when you’re not using it, and it has a smart one-touch cleaning setting too – so you should be able to spend more time enjoying your coffee and less time tidying up.

Key specs

  • Dimensions: 31.5 × 22.6 × 28.9cm
  • Capacity: 1400ml
  • Milk frother: Yes – automatic
  • Coffee grinder: No
  • Cup warmer: No
Buy now from Currys PC World

How to choose the best espresso machine

The big decision to start with is whether you want a countertop espresso machine, or a simple stovetop espresso maker (sometimes called a moka pot). Both will be a step up from instant coffee, but a specially designed espresso machine will come with many more features that can get you closer to a barista-style coffee, if that’s what you’re craving.

The main things to look for are what type of coffee the machine takes (ground coffee, beans, or pods, or all three) as well as the pressure that the pump can create (measured in ‘bar’) – this is what creates the smooth ‘crema’ you see on top of a good espresso. Some come with cup warmers and milk frothers, but you will pay more for the privilege.

Custom espresso machines are a lot more expensive (they go up to almost £700 on our list). But if you want a cappuccino with micro-foam milk and a cup warmer, you might think it’s worthwhile!

How to use an espresso machine?

The simplest machines on our list work using a simple one-touch push button, where you can select the type of coffee you want (i.e. espresso, cappuccino or latte) and the machine will do the rest.

Some of the fancier models have settings that allow you to adjust the pressure and temperature of the water, to get things just as you like them, as well as milk frothers to create the perfect milky coffee.

And when it comes to stovetop models, it’s usually as simple as filling the bottom compartment with your desired ground coffee and letting the steam pressure of the pot filter your coffee once its warmed up on the hob.

How to clean an espresso maker

It’s worth reading the manual for your espresso machine to see whether you can use a one-touch cleaning setting to push warm water and detergent through the machine to clean the inner workings. Beyond that, the things to look out for are whether the removable parts (like the jug or water tank) are dishwasher safe or not – this usually depends on the type of material they’re made from.

Stovetop ‘moka pot’ espresso makers are usually handwash-only, so try to choose one with a detachable base, as this will be easier to rinse out.

What’s the best espresso machine? (overall winner)

The Dualit DCM2X 3-in-1 Espressivo Coffee Machine is the best espresso machine to buy for 2021 as it has plenty of features for a mid-range price. You’ll be warming your cups, pouring your espresso shots and foaming your milk for cappuccinos in no time with this machine. And its sharp stainless-steel look will suit almost any kitchen.

How we chose our recommendations

Because we know that there’s nothing like a real recommendation from a real parent, we first headed to the Mumsnet forums to find out which espresso makers discerning Mumsnet users had bought. We compiled a list of fans they recommended, noting how effective they found them, and whether they were particularly good for any certain needs.

We then did some research across the wider web, looking at which espresso makers had won accolades or been featured in ‘best buy’ lists across websites and print media, and what customers’ reviews said about them.

Having collated all that information, we picked the espresso makers we thought would make the best buys in several interest categories.

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