Pull the perfect espresso at home. Whatever type of coffee you enjoy, there’s a whole new level of gratification in pulling your own espresso. Beyond trying different beans, there’s pleasure in tweaking the variables and perfecting the techniques.
Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned barista, keen to learn or simply want great coffee at home, you need to start with the best espresso machine.
There are so many ways to make coffee. Filter coffee machines deliver volume, pods are hassle-free but only a true espresso machine will give you control and the associated joy of making your own, perfect coffee.
How to choose the best espresso machine
Having moved beyond a filter machine & decided that pods aren’t right, you’re on track to order a real espresso machine. There are 100s of espresso machines to choose from, ranging from a few hundred quid to the thousands. Few of us can afford the top end or have the physical space for such a machine. What’s good is that there are excellent options for around £200 to £600.
Verum has focused on researching the best affordable machines with the view of recommending models that make wonderful coffee but don’t break the bank.
Starting with a long list of models, we crunched specifications, compared features and gauged owner opinion. Clearly, it’s all about the coffee. The better the espresso extraction, the better the machine. There’s a long list of details which add up to make this happen, including pressure, temperature & functional design. Beyond great coffee, there are three further aspects to consider.
We all like different types of coffee. Therefore the right machine must be adaptable to what you want. The second is about longevity. The right models, deliver wonderful coffee day after day & year after year. With this, it must be easy to descale & clean. Then it’s about what fits in your kitchen. A huge machine that dominates the entire countertop isn’t a good option. Plus, how involved do you want to be? For some pulling an espresso is an art, but for others, it’s simply about making a drink. Also, is a milk wand important & do you want an integrated grinder (more on this later)?
To summarise, the four principle considerations are espresso quality, adaptability, longevity & physical size. The details that add up to deliver these principles makes for a long list. To save you time & money, read on to see which is the best espresso machine for you.
What are the best coffee machine for home use?
- De’Longhi Dedica Style: The recommended models below start from around £200. This gets you a great manual espresso machine. It’s affordable, has a small footprint and will make everything from espresso to cappuccino.
- De’Longhi Magnifica: Spend a little more for a bean to cup machine. The Magnifica will grind the beans, tamp the grind & deliver wonderful espresso.
- Sage Barista Express: If you want wonderful coffee & barista control, then check out the Sage. Whichever machine you opt for, you’ll soon be enjoying wonderful coffee at home.
Best Affordable Espresso Machine
De’Longhi Dedica Style EC 685
Make great (& affordable) espresso. The De’Longhi Dedica Style is a traditional pump machine that makes a wonderful espresso with the perfect crema. Plus, the adjustable steam wand means you can easily and quickly transform your espresso into a cappuccino, macchiato or latte.
Control is everything. Tamp the grind, set the temperature and choose your coffee length – The De’Longhi Style delivers 15 bar pressure through a traditional portafilter to give you the perfect espresso.
Best small espresso machine
This well-built coffee machine is only 15cm wide – it fits & looks great on most worktops. The narrow design does mean the water tank is only 1.1litres, which is a small compromise for the small footprint.
To make superb espresso, you will need to use freshly ground beans. The Dedica Style doesn’t have a bean grinder – this is an advantage and disadvantage. Ultimately, you will need a grinder but having a separate device gives you more flexibility in terms of worktop space and product durability.
If you want decent coffee at home & would rather avoid spending big, choose the De’Longhi Dedica Style.
De’Longhi Dedica Style | Verdict price
£220 £190 | Check the latest price on Amazon
Best beans to cup coffee machine
De’Longhi Magnifica S
The De’Longhi Magnifica S is a true bean to cup machine that makes wonderful coffee. It does everything well – grinding beans, extracting the perfect espresso and frothing milk. Plus, being easy to adjust & easy to clean, it’s a joy to use. Above all else, owners love this machine for the coffee it makes.
What coffee do I buy for an espresso machine?
The best coffee starts with the quality beans. And there’s no need for separate grinder here. Inside this compact machine is a conical grinder that delivers the precise quantity of freshly ground coffee for each cup. Adjusting the strength is easy too. Simply turn the central dial to increase or decrease the quantity of grind and therefore the strength. As you’d expect, the size of grind is adjustable. Plus, there’s an option to use pre-ground coffee, should you desire.
How to make the perfect cappuccino
Beyond pulling the perfect espresso, there’s a decent milk frother. This means cappuccinos, lattes, americanos, flat whites are all good options. Plus, this all-in-one machine can also top up your drink with hot water.
How do you clean an espresso machine?
Keeping a coffee machine clean on the inside, is essential for consistent quality coffee. What’s good about this De’Longhi is that this is made easy. The water tank, drip tray, grounds container & infuser can all be removed to wash under the tap. Flushing & descaling are also straightforward & prompted by a warning light.
Whatever type of coffee you like, the De’Longhi Magnifica S delivers. Plus, it’s super easy to use, meaning wonderful & consistent coffee at home.
De’Longhi Magnifica S| Verdict price £345 | Check the latest price on Amazon
Best Espresso Machine
Sage BES875UK Barista Express
The Sage Barista Express does everything, brilliantly. It puts you in control of everything, plus there’s lots of clever technology to help you prepare the perfect coffee.
Great coffee starts with great beans. The conical burr grinder allows you to adjust the grind size and quantity (dose) of coffee. The adjustments allow you to fill the stainless steel portafilter to the right level – every time. Next step is to tamper your freshly ground coffee and check the level with the clever razor trimming tool. As an aside, the tamper is held neatly in place by a magnet, which helps keep everything tidy.
What is the best manual coffee machine?
Once you have the perfectly loaded dose, the portafilter locks into place and on the press of a button the right volume and temperature of water deliver a precise extraction. Beyond the perfect crema topped espresso, there’s a hot water dispenser and steam wand that offers the opportunity to heat and texture milk for the perfect cappuccino, macchiato or latte.
The Barista Express from Sage is 41cm wide and roughly the same in height and depth. It’s a well built, quality machine with a 2-litre water tank and a 450g bean hopper. As with all coffee machines, you’ll need to clean & descale it regularly but with this as a given, there’s everything to like about the Sage Barista Express.
What is the best barista machine for home?
If you want good coffee with zero fuss take a look at the best pod machine. However, if you want wonderful coffee, at home, choose the Barista Express.
Sage Barista Express | Verdict price £550 | Check the latest price on Amazon
Great coffee starts with great beans
Great coffee starts with great beans. The flavour and intensity of your coffee is a personal choice and one to take pleasure in. There are lots of different beans and roasts. That said, regardless of your chosen bean, check the roasting date on the packet.
What roast date means & why it’s important
Most supermarket coffees don’t give a roast date. Ideally, you should be using beans that were roasted 2-6 weeks previous to grinding for the freshest coffee. There are lots of good suppliers out there ranging from your local independent coffee shop to online roasters.
Choosing the right coffee bean is a personal choice and although Verum hasn’t conducted our normal level of product research to find the best beans, an in-house favourite is Modern Standard. They’re definitely worth a try.
Recommended Espresso Machines
Great (& affordable) espresso machine
De’Longhi Dedica Style | Verdict price
See price on Amazon
Best bean to cup Coffee machine
De’Longhi Magnifica S | Verdict price £345
See price on Amazon
The Barista Express does everything, brilliantly
Sage Barista Express | Verdict price £550
See price on Amazon
How much do you spend at a coffee shop?
Coffee shops are expensive. A couple of quid every day soon adds up. Buy the best coffee machine to use at home & you will not only enjoy better coffee, but you will also save money. As a rough guide, daily coffee at Starbucks costs £1000 a year!
There are plenty of good espresso machines costing much more than the above recommendations. Spending more gives you dual boilers, higher pressure and fancy features, but for the home kitchen, the models recommended above tick all the boxes. Most importantly, they make great coffee.
Want hassle free espresso at home?
If you’re thinking hassle-free good coffee, then choose the De’Longhi Magnifica S or take a look at Verum recommended a capsule/pod machine. These will give you excellent espresso at the press of a button.
Ultimately, if you want to make wonderful coffee and like the idea of pulling your own espresso, choose the Sage Barista Express.