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Your Guide to the Best Italian Espresso Machines + Top 5 Picks

Coffee Geek Lab / Your Guide to the Best Italian Espresso Machines + Top 5 Picks

Last Updated: Oct 14, 2020

Best Italian Espresso Machines

Italians surely know a lot about good coffee.

And they also know how to make top-notch espresso machines.

Many of them make more and more people become fascinated with the art of espresso brewing at home. If you are one of those people, check this guide to the best Italian espresso machines and learn how to pick something that would be perfect for you.

Are you ready? Let’s get started!

ProductDetailsRatingPrice
DeLonghi Magnifica Super-Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine (ESAM3300)Best Overall – Editor’s Pick – De’Longhi Magnifica (ESAM3300)
  • super-automatic bean-to-cup design;
  • integrated steel burr grinder;
  • removable water reservoir;
  • includes a milk frother;
  • extractable brew unit for easy maintenance.
9.5Check current price on Amazon
De'Longhi Dedica EC680MBest Compact Italian Espresso Machine – De’Longhi Dedica (EC680M)
  • 15-bar pump;
  • space-saving design;
  • integrated milk frother;
  • works with ground coffee and ease-serve espresso pods;
  • removable water reservoir for easy refills.
9Check current price on Amazon
 Gaggia Classic Pro RI9380-46Best Value Espresso Machine – Gaggia Classic Pro (RI9380/46)
  • reliable stainless steel housing;
  • rotating steaming wand (commercial-grade);
  • comes with a  double-shot filter basket;
  • works with easy-serve espresso pods;
  • improved pump design for quieter brewing.
8.5Check current price on Amazon
Rancilio Silvia Espresso MachineBest for Those Seeking Durability – Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine
  • articulating steam wand for easier controls;
  • ergonomic portafilter handle for more convenient use;
  • commercial-grade materials for increased durability;
  • comes with a quality tamper.
8Check current price on Amazon
De'Longhi La SpecialistaBest Italian Espresso Machine with a Grinder – De’Longhi La Specialista (EC9335M)
  • built-in tamping station for simpler operation;
  • dual heating system for improved temperature control for brewing and steaming;
  • integrated steam wand;
  • fast heat-up;
  • integrated conical burr grinder.
8Check current price on Amazon

Our Reviews of the Best Italian Espresso Machines

Best Overall – Editor’s Pick

De’Longhi Magnifica (ESAM3300)

DeLonghi Magnifica Super-Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine (ESAM3300)
  • 60-sec heat-up time;
  • steel burr grinder;
  • dual thermoblock system;
  • removable water tank;
  • pre-ground coffee bypass function;
  • removable drip tray.

The reason why this model can be called one of the best Italian espresso machines is hiding behind its impressive functionality. The Magnifica by De’Longhi is a super-automatic model, which means it will do all the work for you, including grinding the beans, tamping, and pulling an espresso shot.

The Magnifica is very versatile. It can work with both whole beans and pre-ground coffee, so you can choose whatever you prefer on any given day.

This model is one of the most popular highly-rated espresso machines under $1,000. It brews coffee with just one touch of a button and even allows users to experiment with latte art (as it comes with an integrated milk frother). The Magnifica heats up quite fast, allows for grind coarseness adjustments, and can brew double espressos simultaneously.

ProsCons
Good value for money (highly functional and costs less than $600)May seem too noisy for some users
Works with both whole beans and pre-ground coffee
Sturdy stainless steel construction
Includes a milk frother
Adjustable brew size and grind coarseness
Removable water reservoir for easy refills
Easy to use, would work for all experience levels

The Magnifica is a great option for those who want a highly functional machine for a reasonable price. It brews coffee fast and does all the work, so you can sit back and relax while waiting for your flavorful espresso.

Best Compact Italian Espresso Machine

De’Longhi Dedica (EC680M)

De'Longhi Dedica EC680M
  • 15-bar pressure;
  • integrated milk frother;
  • stainless steel construction;
  • 3-in-1 filter holder (single and double shot, plus espresso pods);
  • removable steel drip tray.

The Dedica deserves to be called one of the best Italian espresso machines thanks to its sleek, space-saving design and consistently good performance.

This model has a rather versatile filter holder. It can brew a single and a double shot of espresso. Plus, it works with the easy-serve espresso pods, which allow for a less messy process and easier cleaning afterward.

The De’Longhi Dedica is a reliable stainless steel machine that uses 15 bars of pressure to pull espressos. Additionally, it can be called one of the most compact latte machines, as it comes with an integrated milk frother. The Dedica is quite easy to use and doesn’t require that much of a learning curve. It’s a great little machine that can satisfy a wide range of users.

ProsCons
Space-saving designThe milk frother might not always show consistent performance
Sturdy stainless steel constructionMight seem too noisy to some users
Versatile in use (includes a milk frother, supports espresso pods, brews both single and double espressos)
Removable water tank for fuss-free refills
Easy to use and to clean

Despite some minor flaws, the Dedica is a worthy find. This little espresso machine can help you become a home barista in no time.

Best Value Espresso Machine

Gaggia Classic Pro (RI9380/46)

Gaggia Classic Pro RI9380-46
  • chrome-plated brass portafilter;
  • stainless steel housing;
  • metal steam wand;
  • 30-second heat-up for the steamer, up to 5-minute heat-up for brewing;
  • suitable for espresso pods.

Another model worth considering is the Gaggia Classic Pro, which offers great value for money. This commercial-style espresso machine uses high-grade materials. However, it’s still relatively affordable compared to many other models with similar construction.

The Classic Pro uses an improved system of pump mounts that allows the machine to brew coffee quitter without sacrificing the quality of the espressos.

This coffee maker has a lot to offer despite its simplistic exterior. It uses heavy-duty materials and promises durability. It has a large 72-oz. reservoir, so you won’t have to refill it too often. Additionally, the machine comes with a commercial-grade steam wand, which makes it suitable for multiple types of coffee beverages.

ProsCons
High-quality components and reliable constructionThe water tank is not removable, which some users might find uncomfortable to fill
Quiet operationThe removable drip tray has sharp edges, so it has to be handled carefully
Larger water tank
Works with espresso pods
Commercial steam wand, works fast and shows consistent performance

All in all, the Gaggia Classic Pro is an excellent espresso machine for both beginners and more experienced coffee enthusiasts. It has a lot to offer and might even pleasantly surprise you.

Best for Those Seeking Durability

Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine

Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine
  • articulating stainless steel steam wand;
  • iron frame;
  • stainless steel side panels;
  • 58-mm portafilter;
  • 12-oz. brass boiler.

Rancilio is the manufacturer famous for their quality devices, and the Silvia is not an exception. This model deserves to be called one of the best Italian espresso machines due to its durable construction and reliability.

Another cool thing about the Silvia is its top-notch steam wand. Allowing for a complete range of motion, this commercial-style steamer allows for fast and consistent milk frothing. This gives users the freedom to experiment with various coffee beverages.

Now, the water reservoir in this espresso machine can be removed or filled from the top, whichever is more comfortable for you. The Silvia has a powerful brass boiler and heats up quite fast. This model can brew single and double espresso shots and comes with a handy tamper.

ProsCons
Heavy-duty materials and durable constructionMay require a learning curve
Rotating steam wand for easier controlMight seem too expensive, especially given the fact that this machine doesn’t have any bells and whistles
Heats up fast
Ergonomic portafilter handle for a better grip
Brews coffee fast and show consistently good performance

All things considered, the Silvia is a perfect option for someone who wants a long-term investment. This espresso machine will serve you for years, offering consistent performance and excellent espressos.

Best Italian Espresso Machine with a Grinder

De’Longhi La Specialista (EC9335M)

De'Longhi La Specialista
  • smart tamping system;
  • conical burr grinder;
  • dual boiler system;
  • sensor grinding technology;
  • temperature control;
  • adjustable steam wand.

Last but not least, the La Specialista also deserves to be on this list. This super sleek machine comes with a built-in conical burr grinder, which means it can turn the espresso-making process into a real breeze for you.

Another cool thing about this model is the automatic tamping station it includes. All you have to do is insert the portafilter, and the machine will add the precise amount of coffee grounds and tamp them accordingly.

This is one of those espresso machines with a grinder that allows for versatility in use without affecting the espresso quality. The La Specialista works fast, supports the proper temperature, and delivers consistently good results. It also includes a steam wand that can be adjusted according to the type of foam you want to achieve.

ProsCons
Quality constructionDoesn’t give you 100% control over the process, which might not be suitable for more experienced users
Built-in conical burr grinderThe grinder isn’t always consistent due to occasional clogging, requires regular cleaning
Automatic tamping for a fuss-free brewing process
Separate heaters (for brewing and steaming) to support a stable brewing temperature
Fast heat-up

Overall, despite some small imperfections, this espresso machine has a chance of becoming your favorite piece of equipment in your kitchen.

What Makes Italian Espresso Machines Special

As you probably know, espresso is a shot of strong, rich in flavor coffee (1). However, it isn’t just any strong coffee beverage. The secret behind a good espresso is in the way it’s brewed, using a high-pressure pump that forces the hot water through the grounds and allows for swift coffee extraction.

That’s what Italian espresso machines are famous for. They typically use around 13-15 bars of pressure, which allow baristas to extract a perfect shot of espresso in approximately 25 seconds. Additionally, Italian-made espresso machines often use heavy-duty, commercial-grade materials and parts. They are reliable in use and tend to work consistently for a long time. 

Don’t worry though: they aren’t too complicated. Most espresso makers come with a simple control panel, a portafilter, a brewing group (where you should insert the portafilter), a drip tray, and sometimes a steam wand for the milk (which might take some time to get the hang of).

Italian Espresso Machine Construction

Source: https://siuchiman.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/i-always-wanted/

Types of Italian Espresso Machines

Let’s admit it: espresso machines aren’t that popular for homemade coffee (yet). They can be challenging to use and finicky to clean, especially if you are a beginner. That’s why many people choose simpler drip coffee makers or pod brewers.

Coffee Machine Market

Source: https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/coffee-machine-market

However, those who appreciate the taste of a real espresso are ready to go through the learning curve and master (or defeat) their espresso machine. Luckily, there are plenty to choose from, so there’s a suitable model for any home barista. 

The most common types of espresso makers are:

  • Manual. Also known as lever espresso makers, manual models are more compact and aren’t that difficult to use. They have a special lever, which you should pull down to force the water through the grounds and extract your espresso. Manual coffee makers are great for those who want to control every step of the process, including the flow speed and the extraction time.
  • Super-automatic. Super-automatic espresso makers do all the work involved in brewing espressos. They grind the beans, fill the portafilter, tamp the grounds, and brew coffee. That’s why they are often called bean-to-cup machines, as such espresso makers go through all the steps to transform coffee beans into a flavorful shot of espresso.
  • Semi-automatic. These might be something in the middle between manual machines and super-automatic models. With a semi-automatic espresso maker, you will need to grind the beans and tamp the grounds yourself, while the machine will take care of the extraction process. 

A quick note: there are also single-serve capsule coffee machines that many manufacturers call “espresso makers”. However, that’s not true. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with capsule coffee makers as those can brew delicious coffee. But that coffee isn’t espresso.

For an espresso, the water has to be pushed through the grounds under pressure. In pod coffee makers, the water simply runs through the grounds that are placed inside the capsule. The process is different, and so is the result.

However, as I’ve said before, there’s nothing bad about using a capsule coffee maker. In fact, you are a fan of the most famous ones – Nespresso machines – you can check out more of them here.

Coffee Machines

Source: https://ao.com/help-and-advice/guides-and-advice/buying-guides/coffee-machines

How to Pick the Best Italian Espresso Machine

Here’s the deal: There are plenty of good espresso machines on the market. But how do you choose just one? How to find what would work for you? Well, to do that, you can answer a few questions that may help you narrow down the list of Italian espresso machines and find the most suitable option: 
  • Semi-automatic or super-automatic? You already know that semi-automatic espresso machines require some effort on your part, while super-automatic models do all the work. However, with a semi-automatic brewer, you will be able to control some steps of the process (like the tamping, the grind coarseness, the extraction time, etc.). With a super-automatic coffee maker, the machine will brew your beverage according to its settings, and you won’t be able to interfere. This option is easier, doesn’t require a learning curve, and could work for an espresso lover with zero brewing experience. Semi-automatic models require a learning curve and would be ideal for an aspiring home barista who is not afraid of experiments.
  • How much are you willing to spend? Espresso makers can vary from as low as $30 and up to thousands of dollars (2). However, keep in mind that most espresso machines under $200 are not likely to be Italian-made. Plus, they won’t allow for too much versatility in use. Therefore, if you are a more demanding user, you will have to splurge a little (or a lot, depending on your preferences). Keep in mind that high-grade Italian coffee makers could cost around $1,000 and more. There are more affordable (and just as good in terms of performance) options, of course, but they might use slightly cheaper components. Also, keep in mind that super-automatic machines are typically more expensive than semi-automatic models. As for manual espresso makers, they tend to be the cheapest ones and would be ideal for shoppers on a budget.
  • Are you ready to splurge on a grinder? If you decide to get a semi-automatic espresso machine, you are going to need a good grinder to go with it. Now, this accessory is extremely important and can cost you quite an impressive sum of money (3). Conical burr grinders are typically the best for espressos as they can guarantee a perfectly even grind and allow for coarseness adjustments. Blade grinders are much cheaper and would work if you are only starting your coffee brewing journey. However, keep in mind that it might be hard to achieve an even grind with a blade model. Plus, the blades tend to heat up in the process and can affect the coffee flavor by overheating the beans. If you do choose a blade grinder, make sure you make pauses during the process to let the blades cool down.
  • Do you need a single or a double boiler? Many Italian espresso machines come with a double boiler system: one for brewing and one for steaming milk. Such construction allows users to make more beverages simultaneously and to steam the milk faster. This option would be ideal for larger families of coffee lovers. However, if you are a solo user (or there are two of you), a single boiler would be enough. You just might have to wait for a bit when brewing beverages for two. 
  • What kind of warranty does the manufacturer offer? A longer warranty will protect you as a buyer, of course. Additionally, an extended warranty period can mean that the machine is quality-made, with durable materials the manufacturer is sure of.
  • What about the water reservoir? You see, some espresso makers can be connected to the water supply in your home, so there will be no need for water refills, which many users prefer. However, a quick word of warning: tap water is not ideal for espressos. If you are concerned with the quality of your beverages, it’s better to pick an espresso machine with a water tank (and use filtered water for your coffee).
  • What materials would be more suited for you? Most high-quality Italian espresso machines use either brass or stainless steel. Brass resists both corrosion and the deep abrasions that often impact the rest of the kitchen. It’s also safe from heat damage and doesn’t require much effort to be cleaned. As for stainless steel, it has a poreless structure and does not absorb moisture. It’s super easy to clean and can resist bacteria and harmful residues.
  • What do other users say? This might seem obvious, but many shoppers forget to read other users’ reviews. So, before purchasing your new espresso machine, make sure you check the online reviews. Other people’s experiences with the brewer you are considering can help you understand how it will perform and hold up with time. The reviews can also warn you about any potential issues you may encounter. And as we know, only an informed shopper can make the best choice possible.

F.A.Q.

How to use an Italian espresso machine?

It might take you some time to get used to your new machine and find the suitable configuration for a perfect shot of espresso, but here’s a simple step-by-step guide you can follow:

  1. Turn your espresso machine on.
  2. Grind the beans finely and measure the needed amount using a digital scale.
  3. Place the ground coffee into the portafilter. 
  4. Tamp the grounds. You don’t have to use too much force, but make sure that the grounds are packed tightly.
  5. Brush off the grounds that may be left outside of the portafilter. 
  6. Attach the portafilter to the group head, press the brewing button. It’s important to pay attention to the extraction time and the flow rate. Typically, 25-40 seconds are enough to get an evenly extracted shot of espresso. However, the numbers may vary depending on the machine model and the size of the dose you are trying to extract. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different settings, grind sizes, coffee amount, and other variations to find what works for you.

What is the difference between the Italian-made and other espresso machines?

Typically, Italian manufacturers use premium quality components for their machines, which results in prolonged durability. Additionally, many people believe that because espresso originated from Italy, Italian machines make beverages that have that exemplary, classic taste.

Conclusion

Buying an Italian coffee maker can help you transform the way you see coffee completely.  Those rich, full-bodied espressos are to die for, so the new coffee machine would be worth every penny. However, to pick the proper model, you need to pay attention to certain factors. Decide how much you are willing to spend and how much control you want to have over the brewing process. Check the warranty and the materials used to make sure your new device will serve you for a long time. And, of course, don’t forget to read what other shoppers have to say about it. As for me, I know exactly what espresso machine I would choose. The Magnifica by De’Longhi is a real gem. It is reasonably priced and super easy to use. Most importantly, it makes excellent espressos. The Magnifica is quite versatile and allows for multiple adjustments while showing consistently good performance every time. I feel like there’s hardly a user who wouldn’t appreciate the countless perks this machine has. Which Italian espresso maker seems the most appealing to you? And what beverages (aside from espresso) do you plan to use it for? Share your thoughts in the comments!

References:

  1. Karim Nice (May 17, 2001). How Espresso Machines Work. Retrieved from https://home.howstuffworks.com/espresso-machine1.htm
  2. Pru Engel (April 07, 2020). Should you buy a home espresso machine? Retrieved from https://www.choice.com.au/home-and-living/kitchen/coffee-machines/articles/is-it-worth-owning-your-own-espresso-coffee-machine
  3. Brian Lam (May 15, 2020). Making Espresso at Home Is Kind of a Nightmare—But If You Insist, Here’s How to Do It Well. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog/making-espresso-at-home/ ​​

Yurii Brown

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