The 9 Best Espresso Machines of 2023

Some might say the types of espresso makers are expensive, more expensive, and most expensive, but that’s not (entirely) the case. For most shoppers, you should have no problem finding a model that meets your needs without breaking the bank. Here are your choices:

Manual: They may take a little extra effort to master, but manual machines easily offer the most customization of any other espresso makers. To operate, you’ll need to deposit your grounds into a portafilter, or group handle, then attach it to the brew head and pull a lever to pour water onto the grounds. (Ever hear that phrase “pulling a shot”? This is where it comes from!) These models need to be calibrated, so if you don’t have the bandwidth for regular maintenance, this probably isn’t the option for you.

Automatic: Unlike manual machines, automatic makers brew espresso using a button instead of a lever. These programmable models are much more consistent and require less guesswork, making them a great option for beginners who want to graduate to a “true” espresso machine, but aren’t ready to go full throttle. Note that some automatic machines don’t do all the hard work for you; you might still need to grind and tamp your coffee beans.

Semi-Automatic: As RuPaul says, “You better work”, and if you want to reap the rewards of making your own espresso, a semi-automatic machine may be just what you’re looking for. These models offer more consistency than a manual machine, but still require a bit more of a learning curve than an automatic option. You’ll still need to keep an eye on your brew and grind and tamp your own grounds, but this is a great choice if you want a little more precision with its controllable settings and lever-free design.

Super-Automatic: We get it, sometimes we don’t want to lift a finger when making our coffee either. Luckily, super-automatic espresso makers exist. These machines have all the convenience: programmable settings and the ability to measure, grind, and tamper your beans. But they come at a cost. (Literally, they’re the priciest option out there.)

Capsule: Great for beginners or those looking for a more low-maintenance (and low-cost) at-home espresso maker, capsule systems use pre-measured containers like K-cups or Nespresso pods to dispense that sweet, sweet bean juice. In addition to offering more versatility, they’re a breeze to operate and are relatively consistent between drinks. However, the capsules themselves can be pricey, and because they’re filled with pre-ground coffee, you don’t get all the benefits of freshly ground beans.