Looking to 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. Whether you’re replacing an old machine or simply like the idea of enjoying top-notch coffee at home, you’re in the right place to find the best espresso machine in 2023.
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 the control and the associated joy of making your own, perfect coffee.
The Best Espresso Machine 2023
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 from around £200 upwards.
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. Ultimately, it’s all about the coffee. The right bean & grind followed by top-notch extraction separates the good from the average. There’s a long list of details that add up to make this happen, including pressure, temperature & functional design.
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 & keep clean. Then it’s about what fits in your kitchen. A huge machine that dominates the entire countertop (for most of us) isn’t a good option!
Think about how involved you want to be? For some pulling an espresso is an art, but for others, it’s simply about making a decent 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. Read on to see which is the right espresso machine for you…
Budget Espresso Machine De’Longhi Dedica
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.
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 1.1 litres, 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 £174.99
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Bean 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 doddle to use. Above all else, owners love this machine for the coffee it makes.
The best coffee starts with quality beans. And there’s no need for a 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 the grind is adjustable. Plus, there’s an option to use pre-ground coffee, should you desire.
Beyond pulling the perfect espresso, there’s a decent milk frother. This means cappuccinos, lattes, americanos and flat whites are all good options. Plus, this all-in-one machine can also top up your drink with hot water.
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 £305.05
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Best Espresso Machine Sage 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. The next step is to tamp 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.
Once you have the perfectly loaded dose, the portafilter locks into place and at the press of a button the right volume, pressure 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.
Our Verum long-term test model is now seven years old and used daily, it continues to deliver the same great coffee it did on day one. It’s a pleasure to use and the coffee is wonderful.
Sage Barista Express | Verdict Price £598.00
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What Else Do I Need to Know?
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 beans you buy in the supermarket 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.
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UK Verdict 2023
Coffee shops are expensive. A couple of quid every day soon adds up. Buy one of our recommended machines and you’ll soon be enjoying wonderful coffee at home. Plus, you’ll save a small fortune.
If you’re short on worktop space and working on a tight budget, the De’Longhi Dedica is hard to beat – Great coffee, well built & affordable. Spending more gets you the Sage Barista Express. The coffee quality & consistency this machine delivers will impress you daily for years to come!
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