Best Small Espresso Machine 2021; Compact Model Reviews
Here in this article “Best Small Espresso Machine” we’ve rounded up 14 best compact espresso makers of various types, specifications, and budget. Below, you’ll find in-depth reviews of each, as well as an elaborate buying guide to pick out your favorite.
We wanted to find the best small espresso machines available to home brewers who do not have much space for a larger appliance or are looking for a compact espresso machine as their personal choice. At a comparatively small size, we hoped to find a machine that could pull a shot that—if not as high-quality as one served at a prized Italian cafe or as high-dollar as a Beverly Hills coffee shop’s—would have nuanced flavor, the right amount of brightness and acidity, and very little bitterness.
It turns out, this is possible. We arduously tested 21 leading countertop models and found the 14 best small espresso makers that are worth their price tags. Ahead, we’ll dive into each of these winners and explain exactly what makes them stand out from the crowd. Also, don’t forget to check out the elaborate buying guide at the end of the article.
With so many options to choose from, we thought we’d make your buying decision a little easier by sharing our list of best mini espresso machines. From single-cup brewers to bean-to-cup automatic espresso machine, there’s something here for everyone.
|TopTop Top Top Top||Nespresso Creatista Uno by Breville||Best Overall||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top Top Top||Hamilton Beach Espresso Machine||Best For Office||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top Top Top||Delonghi ECAM22110B Super Automatic||Best Automatic||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top Top Top||SOWTECH 3.5 Bar Espresso Maker||Best Budget Pick||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top Top Top||Breville the Bambino Plus||Best For Home||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top Top Top||Nespresso Essenza Mini Original||Best Pod Machine||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top Top Top||Mr. Coffee Café Barista||Best With Frother||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top Top Top||Saeco PicoBaristo Super Automatic Espresso Machine||Best Super Automatic||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top Top Top||De'Longhi Dedica Deluxe Automatic Espresso Machine||Best For Beginners||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top Top Top||Cuisinart EM-100||Best Professional||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top Top Top||Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine||Best Semi Automatic||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top Top Top||De'Longhi Espresso and Cappuccino Maker||Best For Small Cafe||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top Top Top||Breville Vertuo||Best With Capsules||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top Top Top||Capresso 303.01||Best 4-Cup||Buy on Amazon|
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Small Espresso Machine - Buying Guide
- 2 Features To Consider In A Good Small Espresso Machine
- 3 Compact Espresso Machine reviews
- 3.1 Best Overall
- 3.2 Best For Office
- 3.3 Best Super Automatic
- 3.4 Best Budget Pick
- 3.5 Best For Home
- 3.6 Best Pod Espresso Machine
- 3.7 Best With Frother
- 3.8 Best Bean-To-Cup
- 3.9 Best For Beginners
- 3.10 Best Professional
- 3.11 Cuisinart EM-100
- 3.12 Best Semi Automatic Espresso Machine
- 3.13 Best For A Small Cafe
- 3.14 Best With Capsules
- 3.15 Best 4-Cup Espresso Machine
- 4 Types of Espresso Machines
- 5 Tips on How to Brew Espresso at Home
- 6 Conclusion
Best Small Espresso Machine - Buying Guide
Of course, the best home espresso makers can vary as much as your local cafe’s drink menu — so whether you’re looking to pull the perfect double shot or want to whip up a homemade latte, you’ll want to invest in a machine that’s just right for your needs. That’s why it’s good to know some of the basics when it comes to the types of espresso machines and their features and benefits.
Features To Consider In A Good Small Espresso Machine
The first step to making espresso is finely grinding whole coffee beans, and that’s where a burr grinder comes in. The best ones will ensure an even grind so that your espresso has the best crema (that decadent top layer of oils and fats) and flavor.
Whether you’re concocting a classic cappuccino with dairy milk or an oat milk latte, you’ll need a frother for that. Some espresso machines come with a built-in steam frothing wand, but not all include a frothing pitcher.
Some steam wands are operated by a button; others require you to turn a knob controlling the volume of steam that passes through the wand and into your milk. Some milk frothing systems pull milk through a valve that froths and heats them as they pass through it, allowing you to pour the milk directly into the drink.
The piece that holds the filter basket, which you typically lock in place before pulling a shot. Portafilters come in various sizes, from 40 to 60 mm. This matters if you’re buying spare filter baskets, or when you buy a tamper.
The piece inside the portafilter that holds the ground coffee. Many espresso machines have interchangeable filter baskets for different sizes (and strengths) of espresso shots. Some also have a filter basket designed to hold an ESE pod.
The tamper is a tool used to evenly compress the espresso grinds into the basket (aka portafilter) of the espresso machine to make a high-quality shot of espresso.
The best espresso machines often come with a tamper. With others, you may need to buy one. You can even buy a nifty spring-loaded tamper that puts just the right load on your coffee grounds to ensure they’re packed just right.
Automatic and manual settings
Presets are great when you want consistency and are short on time. For those who want a more personalized cup, manual settings will let you customize your coffee strength and more.
Compact Espresso Machine reviews
Nespresso Creatista Uno
The Creatista Uno comes with the usual assortment of coffee options for black coffee, and the build quality of the machine is frankly excellent. It looks great on your kitchen counter, and being built by Sage (Europe) and Breville (North America), definitely has a distinct premium feel about it.
The top of the Creatista Uno is designed to be extremely simple to use. There are three buttons on the left for a small/medium/large espresso drink (black coffee), and on the right you have three more options that dictate how you’d like your milk prepared by the automatic steam wand.
This is undoubtedly one of the best compact capsule espresso machines. Just flip open the handle, drop the capsule in and then you can choose from the three types of coffee on offer to match the capsule type: ristretto (25ml), espresso (40ml) or lungo (110ml). You can reprogramme the dispense amounts manually if you’d like a bit more or a bit less coffee for each button.
When it comes to milk, there’s a little more control. Using the controls on top you can choose the milk temperature (high, medium or low) and the froth amount (high, medium or low). The latter controls how much air the steamer wand puts into your milk.
It’s worth experimenting with the controls to get your milk the way you want, and adjusting based on the type of drink: a cappuccino, for example, benefits from more foam.
Creatista Uno has the best heat performance with a heat-up that only takes about three seconds.
The company Nespresso includes prepaid envelopes to mail the capsule back to them. The aluminum is separated and recycled and the coffee grounds are composted. Thankfully, nothing goes into a landfill.
Honestly, Nespresso makes it incredibly easy to use. If mailing is not your thing, you can always drop off the capsules at your local store.
- Great looks
- Easy to use
- High-quality automatic milk frothing
- Small used capsule container
Best For Office
Hamilton Beach 40792
The Hamilton Beach 40792 Espresso and Cappuccino Maker is both a user-friendly and economical choice for high-quality café style drinks. A high-power 15 bar steam pump gives you full control and high-grade extraction for the best shots you’ve ever pulled.
A maneuverable steam wand allows you to froth your milk at the consistency you desire, and a water container located at the back of the unit detaches easily for cleaning and refilling purposes. This unit also comes with a warming base to keep cups warm and a detachable tray for easy clean-up.
A button and knob on the front of the unit tells you whether it is on or off, or whether you want to steam milk or draw a shot of espresso. It’s that simple.
This Hamilton Beach espresso maker is affordable, provides you with great tasting espresso, lattes, and cappuccinos that will help make you look like a pro in front of all your friends and family.
What’s really great about this nice little machine is the fact that you can use your favorite coffee pods or just use your favorite ground coffee.
Make anything from a simple shot of espresso to a rich and creamy cappuccino in your own kitchen, with the push of a button and the turn of a knob. Powered by 15 bars of steam power, you can easily extract all the best parts of the espresso bean. In no time, you’ll have a strong shot of espresso with rich, thick foam to top it off with.
An added safety feature of locking in the filter will help reduce the risk of accidents and clean up is a breeze with a detachable drip tray and water tank.
- 15 bar Italian pressure pump for excellent extraction and rich crema
- Patented Slide and Lock filter holder makes setup easy
- Removable water reservoir and drip tray
- Swiveling steam wand for steaming and frothing milk
- Works with espresso pods or ground espresso
- Selector dial for espresso and steam functions
- Cup warmer
- Indicator lights
- No integrated grinder
- No integrated hopper
Best Super Automatic
DeLonghi Compact Espresso Machine is one of the best small automatic espresso machine with grinder, which means you can make a cup of coffee by simply pressing a button.
It is also a versatile machine, capable of making a shot of espresso, a cappuccino, or even a standard cup of coffee.
In addition to a compact, easy to place design, the DeLonghi is a relatively quiet machine.
It’s been designed with the similar features as a full size automatic machine, but in a compact and streamlined design to make it easily fit on your home’s kitchen countertops.
The machine comes with a front-mounted water reservoir that holds 60 oz. of liquid.
The tank is detachable and can be refilled with water directly from the tap. It is easily accessible from the front panel and allows monitoring the level of water.
It comes integrated with a 8.8 oz. bean hopper and a silent grinder which has a total of 13 powerful controls and settings.
These settings allow you to adjust your coffee to your preferred taste.
With the integrated frother unit, you can create a variety of authentic Italian drinks.
The machine’s thermoblock boiler is made from stainless steel which conserves energy and quickly heats fresh water for the steaming and brewing process.
The DeLonghi Compact Espresso Machine features an easy to use rotary and push button control panel which includes a convenient selector dial that allows you to choose the strength of your coffee.
There are four buttons that are pre-set for a single shot of espresso, a double, one long coffee, and two long coffees.
All four buttons can be reprogrammed to whatever quantity of water you prefer.
Additional features include 4 programmable temperature settings, energy-saving auto shut-off, instant reheat, and a counter for the number of cups brewed.
When you use the Delonghi Compact Espresso Maker, you do not just get to make your favourite drink consistently and automatically. But you also can get it done quickly because the water heat up time is about 60 seconds.
Even if you need to make multiple cups, there is no need to wait between cups because its Rapid Cappuccino system keeps the water temperature at the optimum level.
Topping up the coffee beans, filling up the water tank and emptying used coffee grounds can be a time-consuming chore.
But this is kept minimal with its huge 60 ounces water tank, 8.8 ounces bean hopper and a large coffee ground container which can store used coffee grounds for 14 espresso shots.
- Compact size
- Fast operation & heat up time
- Self cleaning
- 4 options of the cup sizes
- Integrated burr grinder
- Single thermoblock
- Short manual milk wand
Best Budget Pick
Sowtech Espresso Machine
The Sowtech Espresso Cappuccino Machine is easy to use, featuring a single knob for all your espresso needs. It makes a rich-tasting espresso without any difficult contraptions, hard-to-understand manuals, or any fancy machines.
The Sowtech Espresso Machine uses stainless steel accents throughout its compact design, saving you a lot of space in the kitchen. Smaller and lighter than your usual espresso machine, it is perfect for small kitchens, single apartments, offices, and during travels.
It also features a removable and washable drip catcher that collects coffee drips and keeps your space clean and tidy, to avoid messy clean-ups later.
The Sowtech Espresso Machine can deliver all your needs with its simple, 4-step design that provides the perfect tasting espresso in just a few minutes.
Everyone has preferences, and the Sowtech Espresso Machine understands that, so feel free to make you foam, your way. Using the frothing arm, you can make creamy froth to top off your cappuccinos and lattes.
This machine is no doubt one of the best cheap small espresso machines currently available.
With the powerful 3.5 bar pressure, you can make 1- 4 cups of rich, tasty espresso or cappuccino. It’s easy-pour glass cup is also made to make your life easier, clearly marked to serve the perfect amount every time.
The temperature of this machine is extremely consistent. The machine will heat up to just below water boiling temperature and stay there. It doesn’t overheat, nor does it go cold if you aren’t using it consistently.
If you prefer a white coffee or cappuccino, the Sowtech steam driven is still more than capable of satisfying this request. Perhaps as a by-product of consistent temperature, the Sowtech espresso maker produces good quality, consistent steam with good pressure. This makes producing good quality micro-foam very possible.
The machine comes with a unheard lifetime warranty. This is extremely unusual for an espresso machine in this price bracket.
Making an espresso or a cappuccino should be a delight with the Sowtech Espresso Machine in your kitchen. It delivers excellent tasting beverages with just a few simple steps, it is a well designed and compact machine for anyone who has limited kitchen space, and it’s easy to use.
- Automatic temperature control
- Free from complicated switches
- Frothing can be done manually
- Solid with lightweight
- Single knob operation
- Not for heavy use or a larger family at home
Best For Home
Breville Bambino Plus
The Breville Bambino Plus is constructed of the Breville-standard stainless steel, which means it is significantly more durable than its plastic competitors.
This machine is one of the narrowest & compact espresso machines. So it’ll fit in even if you are pretty tight on counter space. Additionally, the water tank has a respectable 64 fl.oz. capacity, so you thankfully won’t be refilling it after every other cup you brew.
The Bambino Plus includes an automatic steam wand for microfilm milk texturing. You can adjust both the milk temperature and the texture as you please.
This machine has a 54mm porta-filter with a 19 gram dose, which means you’ll get a full dose of flavor. Breville is known for having consistent, high-quality shot pulling capabilities.
Beyond the dosing, the Bambino Plus has a pre-infusion function. This feature gradually increases water pressure, gently allowing the grounds to expand and creating an even extraction.
When brewing, you can select a single shot or a double shot. Additionally, there are controls for the steaming, milk temperature, and texture level.
The Bambino Plus comes with a 54mm Tamper, the Razor™ precision dose trimming tool, a 16 oz stainless steel milk jug, 1 & 2 cup dual wall filter baskets, and cleaning tools.
The Bambino’s most unsurprising feature is its ability to pull a great and consistent shot. Breville has proven themselves capable of making machines that do the hard work of temperature and pressure control for us, and this machine doesn’t step away from that. The 3-second heat time is pretty amazing, too.
- Great build quality
- Compact design
- Steam wand with temperature sensor
- Simplicity of design – only five buttons
- Competitive price
- Does not include a grinder
- Only comes with dual wall baskets
Best Pod Espresso Machine
Nespresso Essenza Mini
The smallest and simplest automatic single-serve Nespresso Essenza Mini is a reliable espresso machine at home. It’s affordable and quick to make you a good-tasting espresso with luscious crema in minutes. Easy to operate and maintain, very reliable to make espresso or lungo.
It’s also designed to be pretty zippy. The machine’s ready to brew its first cup of the day in just under 30 seconds. That’s great if you’re in a hurry in the mornings and don’t have time to wait around.
If you’ve only got a little bit of kitchen space for new appliances, the Essenza Mini is a very good option. The dimensions are 3.3 (W) x 12.9 (H) x 8.0 (D) inches -that’s extremely narrow!
Just be aware that you’re limited to using Nespresso pods with the Essenza Mini.
Unlike some other single-serve machines, there’s no – official – way of using your favorite ground coffee. That means you’ll have to commit to buying more pods over time.
This machine’s 19-bar pressure pump lends the power needed to puncture the Nespresso capsule and release the grinds and aroma. It’s a lot of power for such a small machine and helps water flow evenly through the coffee grounds in the capsule for a rich aroma and intense flavor.
The Nespresso Essenza Mini works well for beginners who do not want to spend hours learning how to operate a complicated espresso machine. Because the Essenza Mini uses capsules, brewing espresso is as easy as placing a capsule in the machine and pushing a button. There are two programmable settings to make the process even simpler.
The Nespresso Essenza Mini is one of the best small single-serve espresso machine that uses capsules to brew espresso. It has a sleek minimalist design and promises easy operation that delivers full-bodied flavor in every cup, along with a strong aroma and rich crema.
The Essenza Mini reaches ideal brewing temperature in less than 30 seconds. You don’t have to wait long to enjoy your espresso, which makes this machine a convenient option for a quick jolt when you are short on time.
The Essenza Mini includes several environmentally conscious features. It has an eco-mode for low energy consumption, as well as an automatic energy-saving function. It also shuts itself down after nine minutes of inactivity to save energy.
- Brews tasty coffee
- Heats up very quickly
- Compact size; easy to take on the go
- Brews espresso and lungo
- Easy-to-use controls
- Easy to clean
- Only brews Nespresso pods
Best With Frother
Mr. Coffee Café Barista
The Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista automatically pulls shots of espresso, steams milk, and creates cafe-style coffee drinks at the push of a button. The coffee machine also has a removable milk reservoir that’s refrigerator-friendly for easy storage.
This is a semi-automatic, 15-bar espresso machine. It features a one touch control panel, so you can easily brew plain espresso, lattes, or cappuccinos with single and double shot options for each. The milk frother is automatic, so you don’t have to worry about jumping into the world of latte art and milk frothing if you aren’t ready yet.
The Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista is a solid bargain buy, but naturally exemplifies the validity of the tradeoff between price and quality.
Like with all inexpensive espresso machines, you as the barista are going to find yourself sacrificing some of the consistency of your espresso and coffee drinks.
The buttons on the front of the machine are clearly labeled with the corresponding drink, and there are manual and automatic options.
The milk reservoir conveniently fits within the unit, and it’s removable, so leftover milk can be stored in the fridge when not in use. The frother also has a clearly labeled knob that controls how much froth goes into each drink.
Like most home espresso contraptions, the Cafe Barista comes with a portafilter for both brewing shots and loading the machine with grounds.
It’s essentially a metal filter attached to a sturdy handle that you must lock tightly into place under the Cafe Barista’s brew head. Mr. Coffee also includes two filter baskets to choose from, for single and double shots.
- Affordable price
- Most parts are suitable for dishwashing
- Heats up in 3 minutes
- Modern design
- Removable frother allows you to store the extra milk elsewhere
- Easy to understand controls
- Cannot accommodate tall cups
- Works loudly
The sleek and stylish Saeco Picobaristo is a small super-automatic espresso machine that leaves nothing to chance. With a built-in ceramic burr grinder and milk frother, you can enjoy your favorite espresso beverage at just the touch of a button.
It is no doubt one of the best bean to cup compact espresso machine with grinder on our list.
The compact Saeco PicoBaristo does everything that a mid-range automatic espresso machine can and should be able to do. The PicoBaristo is very intuitive and simple to use, with its touch buttons on the right and left sides of the display.
The machine has an automatic milk frothing system, which includes a milk container that latches onto the machine’s front. You can also plug in a small, black hot water spout into the same location if you want to use hot water instead of milk.
What sets the Picobaristo apart from the competition is its patented Aquaclean filtration system. This innovation keeps mineral build-up inside the machine to a minimum, meaning less tiresome descaling and purer water for great tasting espresso.
If you’re looking for a superautomatic espresso machine without the usual maintenance hassles, the compact Picobaristo delivers.
It can make eight different types of espresso drink, as well as a simple glass of warm milk or hot water, and each one is completely customizable.
Whether your drink is a cortado or a latte, you can choose between five brew strengths and three temperatures as well as adjust the drink size.
This espresso maker, which is also one of the best home cappuccino machines, is equipped with a built-in ceramic burr grinder, which every coffee enthusiast knows is the best way to grind your beans for optimum flavor. The grinder has ten different grind size options, which is more than many higher-priced models and provides yet another way to customize your brew.
You can set and save your most important beverage adjustments, such as how much espresso and how strong you want it.
Its large-capacity water tank and bean hopper mean less time wasted refilling, and its equally large-capacity ground coffee bin means fewer trips to the trash.
And when things are getting too empty or too full, this coffee machine’s easy-read LCD screen warns you. Never again will the water tank run dry, causing potential damage. The water reservoir can be removed, for easy filling at the kitchen sink.
The Picobaristo is also fast. Thanks to quick heat boiler technology, there’s no extra waiting for that precious first cup or the ones that come after. It only takes about two and a half minutes from turning it on to savoring that first shot.
There is also a bypass doser which allows you to introduce grounds without using the bean hopper. This will be a great convenience if someone in your household prefers pre-ground beans or drinks decaf, for example. Like its espresso maker, the Picobaristo’s milk frother is fully automatic as well, so it’s easy to use. It’s also very useful in creating latte art.
- Well made, space saving design
- Nice-looking, compact body
- Classy design
- Available in plastic or stainless steel
- Not too loud
- Automatic milk foam
- Simple to use
- Removable brewing unit
- 10 coarseness settings on the grinder
- No separate user profiles
- Some water in the milk frothing system
Best For Beginners
De’Longhi Dedica Deluxe
The De’Longhi EC685M offers a manual latte brewing experience in a small package, and makes some pretty tasty espresso shots too.
The EC685M makes a great entry level espresso machine, if you want to try out making cafe style coffee at home. It is a good looking, sleek machine that you can probably find space for in your kitchen.
The machine has an adjustable frother to alter various levels of steam and milk to make different flavors of coffee. It has an auto-shutdown feature that conforms to whatever espresso volume could be filled over your cups.
If you have large and tall cups, then don’t panic, this latte machine has a double dip tray to help you with that.
The Delonghi Dedica Deluxe EC685M can also be used with ground espresso as well as ESE (easy-to-serve) pods, meaning it is perfect for a first time user.
Ground espresso is probably the choice you ought to end up making, as it’s cheaper. But it’s nice to have the option for ESE pods when you’re in a rush so that you don’t make a mess.
The Delonghi Dedica Deluxe EC685M has stainless steel casing and has been designed with the beginners in mind. The machine is slim line and sleek looking, and doesn’t take up too much space on your counter.
The top of the machine can be used as a cup warmer which we always like and it looks elegant in the kitchen.
There are three buttons on the top for single shot, double shot and steam, but it doesn’t feel overly plastic or engineered, which is often a problem with cheaper machines.
The back of the machine houses a removable water container that can hold enough water to make several beverages. The steam spout is located on the right side of the body, with an on/off dial above it. Directly on the spout is a rubber switch, which determines how much foam your milk will have when you steam it.
The front of the machine has a metal portafilter that looks and feels like a professional-grade filter. It has a good weight to it and makes you feel like a real barista when you’re using it.
The EC685 comes with three filter baskets, a removable drip tray and stand, and a plastic scoop/tamper.
- Stylish and compact
- Utilizes both ground espresso and ESE pods
- Convenient way to have a variety of espresso drinks at home
- No grinder
The Cuisinart EM-100 Espresso Machine is a great combination of stainless steel style and easy operation at an affordable price.
It is capable of making 1 to 2 cups of espresso; whether it’s from a coffee pod or from ground coffee. It is also compact, space saving and portable with its 9 lbs. Weight.
If you are looking for a best value small espresso machine, then Cuisinart EM-100 is the one for you.
This versatile espresso machine pulls a great shot thanks to its powerful 15 bar pump. A cup heating tray on the top of the machine will make sure you have plenty of warm cups on hand, making it great for entertaining.
With the Cuisinart EM-100 Espresso Machine, you can also create cappuccinos, lattes, and more using its stainless steel steam wand and included milk frothing pitcher.
A large, removable 53oz water reservoir means there’s plenty of time between refills, and a removable drip tray helps make cleaning easy.
With the Cuisinart EM-100, you have the choice to brew using ground coffee or pods. This machine comes with single shot, double shot, and ESE pod baskets, so you have a variety of brewing options to meet your needs.
It features a stainless steel steam nozzle. A stainless frothing cup is also provided in each Cuisinart EM-100 espresso machine package. Its Portafilter holder comes with a locking mechanism that provides easy pumping out of wet grounds after every use.
The Cuisinart em 100 espresso machine comes with a 53 ounce water reservoir that has a nice fitting lid and is easy to remove for quick filling and easy and fast clean up.
The 53 ounce water reservoir is sufficient for making 25 espresso shots before having to refill.
It has a very nice sized warming plate for your cups to ensure that they are at the ideal temperature for your favorite hot coffee beverage, especially for your espressos.
The Cuisinart 100 houses a stainless steel wand for frothing or steaming in addition to a dedicated pitcher for the job.
To steam milk, simply turn the small dial to steam icon and allow the unit to reach the appropriate temperature and enjoy cappuccinos, lattes and hosts of other milk based variants form the comfort of your home.
The home espresso machine comes with a tamping tool which makes it easier to compact the grinds with the right amount of pressure. Simply add grinds to the basket and tamp with the supplied tool, for a perfect extraction.
- Decent espresso for its price
- Compact design but still has good weight
- Large water reservoir for its size
- Requires you to manually time extraction
- A bit loud
Best Semi Automatic Espresso Machine
Gaggia 14101 Classic Semi-Automatic
The 14101 Classic is straight out of Italy, designed by one of the most trusted names in espresso, Gaggia. Using the industry standard 58 mm filters typically only found in higher-priced models, you can make a fully brewed, professional tasting rich espresso right in the comfort of your own home.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Gaggia Classic 14101 is that it’s ruggedly built. While it’s true that it does have a few black plastic highlights, the casing is brushed stainless steel, which makes it a durable, attractive, if somewhat unassuming machine.
Complete with stainless steel housing, a 17 ½ bar pump, high-voltage boiler and an independent expansion valve, this can be one of the best small professional espresso machine for a coffee shop.
On top of that, there’s a 3-way solenoid valve that instantly releases the pressure from the brass group head, giving you instant access to the porta-filter for immediate re-shot filling. And as if that weren’t fast enough, you can make two shots of espresso at once while still warming up hot water for tea, an Americano or frothing crema while warming up your cup for the most authentic espresso you’ve ever had.
The Gaggia Classic 14101 Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine features a single aluminum boiler, lined with stainless-steel.
While we would have loved it to be a small dual boiler espresso machine but those are virtually impossible to find in entry level machines.
The Gaggia 14101 Classic also does not have a telescoping coffee spigot. It uses a porta-filter, which you manually load your grounds into. The coffee is dispensed beneath it.
The Classic doesn’t have an auto-frother, relying instead on a Pannarillo wand for steaming milk. The good thing about that is the fact that it gives you incredibly fine-grained control over the quality and quantity of the foam you produce, and the temperature of the milk.
A true espresso is served in a preheated cup and the Gaggia gives you a cup warmer big enough to preheat 5 cups at once. Since the heater is passive, it doesn’t take any extra power, instead working on the residual heat created in the boiler.
The removable drip tray collects spillages and liquids thus keeping your countertop mess free. It also makes the cleaning process easy.
- Powerful pump and high-voltage boiler make this a good quality machine
- Stainless steel looks sleek and is durable and easy to clean
- Includes filters for both ground coffee and espresso pods
- Milk frother wand is interchangeable with other Panarello wands
- Parts are easy to remove for cleaning
- Price point is great for the quality
- Power plug sticks straight out from the back of the machine, so you can’t push it up against the wall.
- The included tamper feels somewhat cheap and light.
Best For A Small Cafe
This machine is perfect for someone who desires the convenience of having a very easy-to-use espresso and cappuccino machine at home or a small cafe.
The De’Longhi EC155 is equipped with a stainless steel boiler, which is monitored by an integrated thermostat separate from the thermostat that measures the temperature of milk when frothing.
Perfect for lovers of espresso, americanos, and cappuccinos, the De’Longhi EC155 also creates two kinds of coffee beverages, brewing a straight espresso or a cappuccino, depending on what you’re in the mood for.
Espresso is extracted using the 15-bar pressure pump to get quality, balanced espresso every time you brew.
Aside from the easy operation of the brew cycle, the self-priming system creates a smooth start-up without needing to prime manually, meaning the process is automatic, convenient, and hands-off. Just turn it on, start your brew, and stop it once you have the desired amount of espresso.
This machine is no doubt one of the best basic small and compact espresso machine. The De’Longhi is compatible with E.S.E. coffee pods as well as with normal ground coffee, so you can choose the coffee type that best suits your convenience.
The De’Longhi EC155 comes with a built-in swivel jet frother. The frother is connected to the cappuccino maker just next to the portafilter and designed with a natural angle for milk steaming and frothing.
The brewer is equipped with a cleaning light to let you know when your machine is in need of descaling.
The dual function filter holder also makes cleaning out the portafilter easy. Keeping your portafilter and tamper clean is important to the longevity of the machine and the quality of your brew.
- 15 bars of pressure
- Uses pods or grounds
- Swivel jet frother
- Great value
- Good for espresso beginners
- Includes cup warmer
- Mediocre form factor quality
- Steam dial operation is required to use frother
Best With Capsules
Nespresso Vertuo is a single-serve home espresso machine that can be used to brew gourmet traditional coffee.
With a nice variety of features and a sleek, modern design, the Nespresso Vertuo will look great on your countertop and function twice as well.
The Nespresso Vertuo is one of the best compact espresso machine and it is a single-serve machine that makes one cup of java at a time. Instead of brewing an entire pot, you simply stick in a “pod” for making either coffee or delicious espresso.
It’s sleek, it’s pretty self-contained, and there are few kitchens, living rooms or offices you couldn’t sneak one of these into.
Each purchase of the Nespresso VertuoLine comes with 14 complementary pods, and they offer a range of flavors, textures and aromas.
One of the benefits of a single-serve home espresso machine is that you can experiment with different blends without worrying about the possibility that you’ll hate something and waste an entire pot on it.
It offers three adjustable cup heights to accommodate small espresso cups, standard coffee mugs, and larger travel mugs.
The machine defaults to 1.35 ounces for espresso and 7.77 ounces for coffee, although you can customize these settings to anywhere from 0.3 ounces to 17 ounces. A single button controls the entire espresso machine, and you can adjust the settings via a combination of different button presses.
A latch at the top locks the pod into place and releases it smoothly into the disposal bin after it brews your drink.
VertuoLine takes 15 to 20 seconds to preheat. During the brewing process, the pod spins rapidly due to Nespresso’s trademarked Centrifusion Technology. That tech is supposedly what creates the decadent crema layer of foam. VertuoLine will automatically power down after 9 minutes.
Nespresso-branded Vertuo pods come in five sizes of varying levels of intensity and flavors. This is a good thing.
The different pod sizes mean that while the machine is using the same amount of water for each pod, the different pod sizes determine the intensity of flavor. Espresso, being the strongest, is followed by a double espresso, Gran Lungo (5 oz.), Coffee (7.77 oz.) and Alto XL (14 oz.). There is also a line of pods for milk-based drinks, crafted for milk.
- Excellent Espresso +”Double Espresso” pods
- The Aeroccino milk frother severely froths and warms the milk
- Crema coffee is the best
- Brew 5 different single serve coffee cup sizes
- 40 oz. water removable water tank
- Fast heat up time – 15 seconds
- The water isn’t hot enough, compared to other home cappuccino machines
Best 4-Cup Espresso Machine
The Capresso 303.01 4-Cup Espresso and Cappuccino Machine is a breath of fresh air for coffee enthusiasts who may have grown tired of sifting through exorbitantly priced, high-end espresso and cappuccino machines in order to find a compact espresso machine that’s affordable but effective and easy and enjoyable to use.
To begin with, this one of the best compact espresso machine comes in at only 7 lbs, which makes it easy to handle and move around. The espresso and cappuccino machine is also 9.8″ x 7.5″ x 13.2″ in dimensions, which assures you that it will fit snugly on your kitchen countertop, coffee table, or dining table.
The Capresso 303.01 comes with a swivel frother with adjustable steam output, which enables you to steam milk in mere seconds. It also has a powerful steamer/boiler, which not only warms up in just 2 minutes, but also makes up to 4 cups of coffee in less than 5 minutes.
This espresso machine from Capresso is also user friendly. It features a coffee & steam selector which lets users switch from brewing coffee to steaming milk.
It also has an adjustable coffee strength to set your coffee according to your desired strength; and a swivel frother for matching the amount of milk that needs to be frothed.
Other great features of this Capresso 303.01 espresso machine include a built-in valve, safety boiler cap, a filter holder, protective thumb guard and an illuminated ON/OFF switch – all for the user’s convenience.
Cleaning will never be a problem too as this machine comes with a removable drip tray. Its glass carafe is also dishwasher safe. This espresso machine also features stay-cool handles for safety and a drip free spout for mess-free operation.
- Safety boiler cap
- Adjustable steam output
- Easy to fill
- Powerful steaming
- Small footprint
- Extra steam pressure build-up
Types of Espresso Machines
You can go with a steam-driven option like a stovetop or electric espresso maker (which don’t require any moving parts), or you can go with the more popular pump-driven machine. Below are some of the most common types of espresso machines.
Super Automatic Espresso Machine
Also known as ‘fully automatic machines’; one-touch operation is what these machines are all about. Many let you program in your preferences in coffee strength and milk frothing, but typically you do that once and then select your programmed drink later with no fuss. For lazy, time-poor types, these are your go to.
Semi Automatic Espresso Machine
With this type of espresso maker, it’s on you to grind the beans, tamp the grounds into the portafilter, turn the machine on, and turn it off when your shot is ready.
Automatic Espresso Machine
This type of machine will do the brewing for you, but you’ll also need to grind your beans and tamp them down first. You won’t need to stand by as it will automatically turn off when your espresso is done.
Pod Espresso Machine
Pod espresso machines exemplify ease of use. Fill up the water tank, pop in a pod and hit the button. In seconds flat, you’ll have consistently great espresso. Where a pod-based coffee machine uses hot water and a coarse grind, pod-based espresso machines call for a finer grind and shoot boiling water at speed through tightly-packed grinds.
Travel Espresso Machine
Also known as manual espresso machines or portable espresso makers. Great for people with tiny kitchens or living life on the move in an RV or a van, many of these don’t require electricity for the ultimate in portability. They vary greatly in espresso quality however, so make sure you spend time choosing wisely.
Tips on How to Brew Espresso at Home
Once you’ve settled on which espresso machine to invest in, here are some practical tips and things to know about how to use your new appliance. Of course, you’ll read your machine’s instructions, but beyond that, these tips will help you brew espresso that’s consistently delicious.
- Always preheat your machine.
To make sure you get the best brew, preheat your machine, cup, and portafilter. This can take up to 25 minutes, but it’s extremely important. When everything is preheated and ready to go, no flavor is lost throughout the brewing process.
- Use soft or filtered water.
Espresso is made of 98 percent water. To ensure the best brew, you need the best water. Not only will hard water lead to a poorer tasting espresso, it will also damage your machine and create limescale buildup inside over time. The solution is simple: use filtered water.
- Steaming milk is a fine science.
Before steaming your milk, turn on your steamer briefly to get rid of any potential leftover condensation. Next, dip the tip of the wand just underneath the surface of the milk and begin frothing. The ideal temperature for frothing milk is 139 to 149°F. At that temperature, all the fat within the milk has turned to liquid and will not adversely affect your foam. Below that temperature range, your foam will fall apart. Above that temperature range, you risk burning the foam.
We hope you find the best small espresso machine for yourself. Now all you need to do is learn how to use your machine to brew damn fine espresso – then drink and enjoy your cup of joe. Once you have chosen the best compact mini espresso machine for your needs you’ll go to sleep each night with a smile on your face knowing what the next morning holds – that’s right-freshly brewed, high quality espresso.