Best Italian Espresso Machines

The Italians are truly among the luckiest people in the world.

They get to enjoy beautiful landscapes, an interesting history, delicious food… and some of the best espresso around.

Even if dropping everything and moving to Milan is out of the question for you, you can still enjoy exceptional espresso from the comfort of your own home. That being said, while brands from around the world have created their own take on the Italian caffeinated classic, nothing can beat the real thing. That’s why we suggest opting for an authentic Italian espresso machine.

If you are new to the world of espresso, it might feel overwhelming to learn the ins and outs of making the perfect espresso shot. Luckily, we have compiled a one-stop guide to meet all your espresso needs, from proper etiquette to finding the absolute best Italian espresso machine:

Proper Espresso Etiquette

Sometimes it can feel as though espresso drinkers are all part of a special club that you have not been invited to. Unfortunately, there do seem to be a lot of unwritten, unspoken rules about the “right” way to enjoy espresso.

It goes without saying that you should do you, and if you want to enjoy espresso in your own unique way, there is nothing stopping you. However, if you want to fit in with the espresso-loving Italians, here are some simple rules you should remember:

Do not linger over your drink

While it is all the rage in North America and the UK to spend the day in a cafe with a laptop, nursing a single latte, this is not how the Italians tend to drink espresso.

For the most part, espresso is something designed to be ordered, made and consumed fairly quickly. In fact, it is normal and almost customary to drink it immediately over the counter it was ordered on. This is partially because the crema, or the oils produced by the coffee will lock in the flavours for just a brief period of time, so it tastes best as soon as it is made.

If you are emotionally attached to the idea that you should bring your drink but to the table, still refrain from slowly sipping on it for a long period of time.

Get Your Measurements Right

Some things are easy to “guesstimate”, although espresso is not one of them. While you might consider yourself to be something of an expert at eye-ing coffee, different beans will have different densities. This means that weight-based measurements are far more accurate than visual measurements.

If your espresso machine does not already have one built-in, a smart investment would be a digital scale to get accurate measurements and delicious drinks, every time.

Refrain From Milk (For The Most Part)

A true espresso is actually never taken with milk-- ever!

If milk is the best part of your coffee, it is possible to add milk to espresso, it will just become another drink all together: the espresso macchiato.

While this is an entirely delicious drink in its own right, if you want to become a “real” espresso drinker, milk will not be an option.

Grind, Brew, Repeat

Espresso, for many people, is not simply an enjoyable treat. It is an entire way of life.

True espresso lovers understand that there is no real alternative to freshly ground beans. To avoid even a hint of staleness in your drinks, you should store beans fresh and grind them daily before brewing.

This might seem like a time-consuming pain, although many espresso machine manufacturers have integrated grinders that will take some of the labour out of your daily coffee fix.

This machine is perfect for espresso lovers with… flexible budgets to say the least.

This De’Longhi machine is one of the pricier options on the market, but has a lot of enviable features, most notably its forty second heating period that allows you to cut down your morning routine.

It is also a great machine for picky espresso fans who want full control over the steam and foam levels. You can even choose between thirteen grinding options for the tastiest brew every morning. Truly, the only thing that could keep an espresso lover away from this machine is the hefty price tag.

Our Favorite Features:

  • The machine offers full control over the steam and foam levels
  • A diverse range of grinding options
  • Fast-heating

Our Biggest Issues:

  • Expensive

Even total newbies to the world of espresso might be able to recognize Gaggia, one of the biggest names in espresso. With a unique logo and utilitarian appearance, this Gaggia espresso machine is actually a lot more affordable than similar machines, despite the fact that it was made in Milan.

Although it could not be considered cheap, for a few hundred dollars this machine can satisfy your espresso obsession two shots at a time for years to come.

Our Favorite Features:

  • More affordable than comparable products
  • Can make two shots at the same time
  • Unique logo gives it an interesting appearance

Our Biggest Issues:

  • Not as sleek in appearance as other machines

Although Rancilio specializes in making industrial machines, the Silvia espresso machine is catered towards home use, and is made right in Italy.

We love the straightforward, beginner-friendly design of this machine, as well as the fact they offer some additional goodies to go with your machine, such as filter baskets and a scoop.

Unlike some competing machines, the Silvia’s drip tray is only intended to accommodate shot glasses. While some machines are compatible with taller mugs or reusable bottles, this machine is ideal for people who are making espresso the old-fashioned way, and intend to drink immediately rather than take their coffee on the go.

Additionally, while this machine is undeniably sturdy and functional, it is not as attractive or sleek as some other machines within the same price range.

Our Favorite Features:

  • The additional accessories included at no extra cost
  • Incredibly durable and long-lasting

Our Biggest Issues:

  • Small drip tray
  • Appearance is lacking compared to similarly priced machines

Another authentic espresso machine made in Italy, this machine functions great and looks great-- and the price tag reflects that.

This Italian-made machine has a sleek, silver design and lots of fancy features including an auto-refilling boiler, but it also comes with a market price of a few hundred dollars. If you absolutely cannot live without the reflective brass look and stress-free semi-automatic functions, it is a worthwhile investment, although other competitors on this list offer similar quality machines for much more wallet-friendly prices.

Our Favorite Features:

  • The sleek and timeless appearance
  • A life-saving auto-refilling boiler
  • Semi-automatic functions are fairly easy to use

Our Biggest Issues:

  • The price is high for its value

Calling all automatic lovers-- if making espresso is your least favorite thing about drinking espresso, this is the machine for you. The machine has seven pre-programmed options, so you are allowed to get picky.

Also, an added bonus is that the drip tray can accommodate a fairly wide range of mug sizes, so if mixing espresso shots with other drinks is your preference, you can enjoy a hassle-free experience.

Our Favorite Features:

  • Easy-to-use automatic features
  • A wide variety of beverage options

Our Biggest Issues:

  • Less than impressive aesthetics
  • Fairly expensive

If you find yourself frustrated at the fact that everything these days seems to be electronic and automatic, this is the nostalgia-inducing espresso machine for you.

This machine has a lot going for it. It has a gorgeous, sleek appearance that is only enhanced by the fact that it is made in Italy. It has an impressive capacity for up to sixteen shots before needing a refill, and the dual froth system is to die for.

The biggest issue with this machine is, despite its classic appearance, the taste of your espresso will be less dependent on the machine itself, and more on your own talent. Manually made espresso is a bit of a learning curve, but if you are excited about the opportunity to master a new skill and impress all of your friends, this machine is probably right for you.

Our Favorite Features:

  • The dual froth system
  • The adorable, classic design
  • The sixteen shot capacity

Our Biggest Issues:

  • Manual espresso takes a certain degree of talent and patience to master
  • More time-consuming than automatic and semi-automatic machines

Our Favorite Machine

Each espresso machine listed above comes with a distinct set of pros and cons, although we definitely have our own favorites.

For automatic machines, the Saeco PicoBaristo is certainly stellar, while the La Pavoni is definitely worth consideration for any espresso drinker who is willing and interested in learning to brew manually.

Ultimately, the De’Longhi is truly a unique and outstanding machine, although we concede that it is not the most accessible option for those with stricter budgets to adhere to.

Choosing The Right Espresso Machine For Your Needs

Still feeling lost?

Here are some suggestions we have to help you navigate the many espresso machine options you have available to you:

Cost

While some might be more fluid than others, everybody has a budget. If yours is on the tighter side, it may be challenging to find a high-quality espresso machine.

Our best advice is to focus on functionality and lifespan over buzzworthy features. You might not get to enjoy custom fourth levels, but by investing in a sturdy machine known for its durability, you can avoid replacing your machine for years (or until you are ready to invest in an upgrade).

Design

Looks matter, especially when it comes to machines like this. No one would want to step off the streets of Rome or Florence and into an adorable little espresso bar… only to find a ratty, unattractive machine waiting for them.

Likewise, you want to come downstairs to your kitchen every morning and feel excited to brew a fresh shot of espresso. You want your friends and family to compliment your magazine-worthy kitchen when they visit. You want to be able to keep your espresso machine sitting proudly on the countertop, not hidden away from view.

Although functionality should come first, it is okay to consider the appearance of your machine. Stainless steel and reflective brass are very popular looks for espresso machines, and in our opinions, the less electronic lights or not-so-subtly labelled buttons, the better.

Authenticity

Many of these machines are more expensive than the machines you could easily find at your local department store because they were imported directly from Europe.

Although it is nice to have an authentic feel, and to support the Italian businesses that have helped make espresso the international phenomenon it is today, there are plenty of acceptable machines made in Asia, North America, and other parts of the world.

If you are looking to reign in on your espresso machine budget, looking for machines made outside of Italy might be a good place to start.

Automation

Everyone is comfortable with a different degree of automation. If you are an espresso beginner, it might be time-consuming to use a manual machine and quite frankly, it will likely impact the quality of your drinks.

At the same time, some people are frustrated by completely automated machines, and prefer the independent and control offered by semi-automatic machine. Your skill level and comfort level are important factors to consider when shopping for a machine. If you do not feel confident enough for a manual brewer, opting for an automated machine could save you stress and time down the line.

We cannot promise that any of these machines could transport you to the Tuscan countryside or the mountainous landscapes of Lake Como, but they can, hopefully, help you enjoy amazing espresso, which is pretty great, too. Although an Italian espresso machine is a hefty investment no matter how you look at it, it is certainly worthwhile for anyone who feels lost without their daily espresso fix.