Last updated: August 9, 2021

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Welcome to our big Italian espresso machine test 2021. Here we present all the Italian espresso machines we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web. We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best Italian espresso machine for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy an Italian espresso machine.




Summary

  • Espresso machines help you make enjoyable espressos easily at home. Basically, espresso machines can be divided into fully automatic coffee machines and portafilter machines.
  • Fully automatic coffee machines work automatically. This means that you can prepare your coffee at the touch of a button within a short time. Since fully automatic coffee makers have an integrated grinder, you do not have to grind your coffee beans beforehand.
  • Screen machines are semi-automatic coffee machines and are usually sold without a grinder. This feature allows you to prepare your coffee individually. However, they are also more time-consuming than fully automatic coffee machines.

The Best Italian Espresso Machine: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying an Italian espresso machine

Advantages and disadvantages of different espresso machines

The portafilter is one of the most widely used espresso machines. Due to its heavy use in the catering industry, it is also called a barista machine. Gradually, however, it is also being used in the home by fragrant coffee lovers to prepare an enjoyable coffee.

Espressomaschine

If you are looking for the original Italian espresso taste, you are well advised to use an Italian espresso machine. (Image source: 123rf.com / 60887988)

Espresso preparation is semi-automatic and requires a certain amount of time, as the coffee has to be ground extra fine before preparation and heating the water can take up to 20 minutes. However, this aspect gives the coffee more aroma and strength. A fully automatic coffee maker, on the other hand, is a fully automatic machine where the coffee is prepared at the touch of a button. The fully automatic coffee maker usually contains an integrated grinder, which shortens the preparation time considerably.

How do I clean an espresso machine?

Cleaning the espresso machine is essential for its long life. It also affects the taste quality of the coffee, as coffee and milk residues build up in the sieve and the steam lance, resulting in coffee that does not taste fresh. Failure to clean the machine can even lead to the development of mould. To prevent this, there are a few important steps you should take. Daily cleaning includes cleaning the steam lance and strainer after each use to continue to get great tasting coffee.

Cleaning the steam lance for frothing milk is done by wiping it with a damp cloth after each use and turning it on once to blow out any milk residue. The filter should then be wiped out and water poured through without using the filter. To remove any remaining coffee residue, you should use a dummy strainer and rinse several times. In addition to these steps, it is important to clean and dry the drip tray. Weekly cleaning involves a longer period of time, as the steam roller of the espresso machine needs to be soaked in water and milk foam cleaner overnight. In addition, the bloom sieve must be soaked in coffee fat solvent. Then you should clean the thread.

The next step is to clean the blind sieve by filling it with a teaspoon of coffee fat solvent and moving it back and forth so that the solvent is distributed in the brew group. Finally, the portafilter and dummy sieve are placed in the coffee fat solvent. After cleaning, you can now assemble all the parts. However, you should make sure that you rinse the espresso machine again with water before you use it again. Cleaning a coffee machine, on the other hand, is much easier because it usually has an integrated rinsing system. This means you can clean the coffee machine in no time at all at the touch of a button.

How does latte art work with espresso machines?

Latte art is part of a wonderful coffee experience. To make art out of coffee, you need a few pieces of equipment: an espresso machine, a frother, a milk jug and large cappuccino cups. We recommend that you use the steam nozzle of a portafilter or a fully automatic coffee machine to froth the milk, in order to achieve a very fine-pored milk foam. The milk jug should also not be too small. The larger the jug, the better the milk foam. Another rule for the best milk foam is that cold milk is needed and it should not be heated above 65 Celsius degrees, otherwise it will scorch. Before you start the process, you should first drain the condensation from the steam lance. The latte art process begins by dipping the nozzle towards the centre of the milk jug and just below the surface of the milk. Then the tap is turned on fully. This begins to draw the air into the milk and small bubbles form. During this drawing phase, the jug should be pulled back again and again. As soon as the volume of the milk has increased by 50 percent, you should start rolling the milk jug. Dip the steam lance into the milk until no more bubbles form. This step is the crucial part that leads to perfect milk froth and ends once the milk has been heated to 65 degrees Celsius. To achieve a finer consistency, you should gently tap the jug on the table or pour the milk into a new jug. This way, the upper part of the foam mixes with the lower part and refines it. The milk foam should then be poured in a swirling flow so that it gets under the crema of the espresso and forms the beautiful art in the cup.

Decision: What types of espresso machines are there and which one is right for you?

To make a good espresso, you need a good coffee machine and quality coffee beans. There are different types of espresso machines, differing in their design and thus taking the coffee experience to another level. But what is an espresso machine and what types of espresso machines are there? An espresso machine is a device for producing fine coffee. As the name suggests, the coffee is prepared at high pressure. The way an espresso is made differs depending on the design and construction of the various espresso machines:

  • Professional coffee maker
  • Fully automatic coffee maker

How does a manual espresso machine work?

In contrast to fully automatic coffee machines, portafilter machines usually work semi-automatically. This allows the user to prepare the espresso individually and thus authentically. However, they also require a certain amount of time for handling and preparation.

Advantages
  • Fresh espresso
  • Different types of espresso
  • Strong and aromatic taste
Disadvantages
  • More time required
  • More practice required
  • More work in cleaning

Unlike fully automatic coffee machines, portafilter machines usually do not contain an integrated grinder, which means that the coffee has to be ground independently before preparation. However, there is also the option of getting a separate grinder.

Advantages
  • Little time required
  • Requires almost no practice
  • Cleaning is easy
Disadvantages
  • Little authenticity in preparing the coffee

During preparation, the ground coffee powder is inserted into the portafilter and then the water is forced through the coffee powder at 9 bar pressure and 90 degrees Celsius. However, the duration of 20-25 seconds must also be taken into account here, which influences the taste of the coffee. You can find portafilter machines in various technical designs based on the circulation of the water within the machine:

  • Single-circuit
  • Double boiler
  • Dual boiler

Single-circuit machines have only one boiler, which is used to heat the water for espresso or cappuccino and to produce the steam for the milk froth. This feature makes the boiler the heart of the portafilter machine. However, as also mentioned previously, heat is a very important aspect in the preparation of coffee and varies depending on the speciality coffee. While espresso should be prepared at 90 degrees Celsius at best, at least 100 degrees Celsius is recommended for steam to create milk foam. This creates a certain waiting time when preparing the coffee, which could be unfavourable in the catering business. Therefore, we think that the single-circuit machines are a good choice exclusively for espresso preparation.

Did you know that pressing the ground coffee into the portafilter is also called "tamping"? Tamping is crucial for a good espresso, because if the coffee grounds are not pressed together evenly, unpleasant bitterness develops in the espresso.

The dual-circuit machine has two boilers, which is a fundamental difference from the single-circuit machine. The first boiler forms the first water circuit with temperatures of over 100 Celsius degrees, which in turn produces steam for the lance. Inside the boiler is a pipe that is connected to the brewing groups. As soon as the water flows through the pipe, it is heated by the heat of the large boiler. The first circuit is surrounded by a small boiler, which forms a small water chamber and is supplied with fresh water through a fixed water connection. Thus, the dual-circuit machine might be a better choice, as it makes it easier to prepare different types of coffee and reduces the time required. The dual boiler, on the other hand, has two separate boilers that allow the user to adjust the temperature and pressure individually. The reason for this is that the flowering group and steam lance can be used independently of each other.

The preparation of the coffee works automatically with the fully automatic coffee maker and is therefore much easier to handle. If this type of espresso machine is more your thing, you can get more information in the guide to fully automatic coffee machines.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate espresso machines

In the following, we would like to show you which criteria you can use to distinguish between espresso machines and help you decide which one is right for you. In summary, these are:

  • Brewing method and duration
  • Size of espresso machine
  • Design
  • Cleaning
  • Extra functions

Type of preparation

Before buying an espresso machine, you should think about how much time you want to put into making coffee. The easiest and quickest way to make a good coffee is to use a fully automatic coffee maker. With the help of a fully automatic coffee maker, you can prepare coffee in just a few minutes at the touch of a button.

Since fully automatic coffee machines usually have an integrated grinder, you do not have to grind the coffee beans before preparation, which is the case with a portafilter machine. Furthermore, the use and location of the espresso machine is crucial. If you want to prepare coffee as a barista, a professional portafilter machine is more for you, as it allows you to adjust the grind, the water temperature and the pressure. These features make the portafilter more complex.

Size of the espresso machine

Another important aspect you should think about is the size of the coffee machine. The type of use and location of the machine play an important role here. If you want to use the espresso machine in the office, large automatic coffee machines are a good choice, as they allow you to prepare several cups at the same time. In addition, the handling and cleaning of the fully automatic machine is easy.

Espressomaschine

Large, professional machines usually score points with a portafilter and/or comprehensive quantity selection. (Image source: pixabay.com / RitaE)

If you want to buy a coffee machine for your home, space in the kitchen plays an important role. If you don't have enough space, it would make sense to buy small machines. Both fully automatic coffee machines and portafilter machines are available in smaller versions. The criterion of the type of preparation could help you decide.

Design

Coffee machines are available in various designs and colours. When choosing the design, the furnishings of the room in which the machine will be used are decisive. So you can choose the colour and material of your kitchen to achieve a stylish and authentic look in your kitchen.

Cleaning

The portafilter machine is time-consuming, both in terms of making coffee and cleaning. It needs to be cleaned daily and weekly to keep it working and not affect the taste of the coffee.

Hannes FendrichKaffeeexperte bei Coffee Circle

Make sure that the portafilter is clean and dry before adding freshly ground coffee. The coffee oils do not like to mix with the stale water in the portafilter. The ground coffee will then no longer compress evenly, resulting in a bitter taste. With a fully automatic coffee maker, on the other hand, cleaning is usually automatic because it has a rinsing system, which is done at the touch of a button. So a fully automatic coffee machine would be the right choice for you if you don't want to invest a lot of time in cleaning.

Cleaning method Description
Daily cleaning After each milk foaming, the steam lance must be washed off and then steamed again. You also need to wipe the strainer with a cloth.
Weekly cleaning Every week the steam roller must be soaked in water and milk foam cleaner. The brewing sieve must also be soaked in coffee fat solvent. You also need to put the dummy filter in the portafilter with a teaspoon of coffee fat solvent and start the brewing process.

Extra functions

The following extra functions of a coffee maker are decisive for the purchase and the price:

  • Preheating function for cups
  • Preheating time of the machine
  • Position of the water tank

All of these functions facilitate the preparation process and are therefore of particular importance for the catering business. Preheating the cups keeps the coffee warm for longer. The shortened preheating time in turn plays an important role for some businesses. Another important aspect is, of course, the location of the water tank. With some coffee machines, the water tank can be removed, which makes operation easier for the user.

Facts about espresso and coffee machines

Which is the smallest espresso machine in the world?

If espresso is not just a passion for you, but an integral part of your life, the world's smallest espresso machine is for you. Handpresso weighs only 400 grams and can make espresso without electricity or connection. So it's perfect at the campsite or on a trip. You need to take Handpresso and espresso pods with you for a perfect espresso experience. The coffee is prepared by pressing the machine a few times by hand, inserting the espresso pod and filling the small water tank with warm water. The only disadvantage of this machine is that you have to heat the water yourself. In terms of price-quality ratio, the world's smallest espresso machine is highly recommended for mobile users.

Which is the most expensive espresso machine in the world?

The most expensive espresso machine in the world is located in New York and Detroit, at the Roasting Plant. The so-called Javabot costs 1 million dollars. This espresso machine has a series of coffee containers that hold fresh coffee beans. These coffee beans are either boiled or roasted and have a unique aroma because they are naturally selected from high-quality varieties. What is special, however, about the most expensive espresso machine in the world is that every time coffee is ordered by a customer, the machine re-roasts, grinds and brews the beans. This gives the customer a unique and high-quality coffee that is also enjoyable.

Which coffee beans are suitable for very good espresso?

To be able to prepare a uniquely enjoyable espresso, high-quality coffee beans are necessary. A good espresso machine alone does not guarantee that the coffee will be perfect. That's why it's worth finding out about the different coffee beans.

Coffee variety Production region Taste
Robusta West Africa and Southeast Asia Strong taste, slightly bitter and somewhat earthy, very caffeinated
Arabica South America and East Africa Strongly fragrant, not very bitter, slightly fruity in taste, not very acidic and therefore more digestible
Liberica East Africa and Southeast Asia Strongly fragrant, not very bitter, slightly fruity in taste, not very acidic and therefore more digestible
Excelasa Mainly around Lake Chad, now also in Southeast Asia Very strong earthy and intense taste. Mostly used in blends
Stenophylla Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast and occasionally in Asia Mild but full-bodied taste with a slight hint of chocolate
Kopi Luwak Indonesia Mildly sweet, slightly chocolaty

Espresso is famous for its strong and slightly bitter taste, besides this characteristic espresso contains a high caffeine content. The bean that most fits this definition is therefore the Robusta coffee bean. It is valued by coffee farmers for its resilience and comes mainly from West Africa and Southeast Asia. However, we also recommend other coffee beans that are also among the best-known varieties:

  • Arabica
  • Liberica
  • Excelsa
  • Stenophylla
  • Kopi Luwak

All of these coffee bean varieties differ in taste and provide a very enjoyable coffee experience. For more detailed information, you can read our guide to coffee beans.

Further reading: Sources and interesting links

[1] http://www.faz.net/aktuell/technik-motor/technik/espressomaschine-im-test-vesuvius-von-ambientespresso-13217948.html [2] http://www.faz.net/aktuell/technik-motor/technik/milchaufschaeumer-jede-menge-schaumschlaeger-1871538.html [3] https://www.focus.de/fotos/die-espresso-maschine-fuer-unterwegs-das-geraet-von-handpresso-ist-speziell-auf-den-einsatz-im-auto-ausgelegt_id_7000668.html Photo credit: pexels.com / Di Bella Coffee

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