When you think espresso, you think Italy. So, of course, Italian brands make some of the best espresso machines.
But how do you know which offer true Italian craftsmanship and which are just trading on their heritage to sell a product? You ask us!
We’ve done the research and promise these 8 best Italian espresso machines will have your kitchen feeling just like a Roman cafe.
The 8 Best Italian Espresso Machine Brands in 2020
Sure, there are a lot of great espresso machine models. Still, Italy is the homeland of espresso, so it’s no surprise that there are a lot of Italian brands making excellent espresso machines (1). Want to know which are the best?
Keep reading for the 8 best Italian espresso machines this year, whether you want a super-automatic that does it all or a semi automatic that lets you be in charge.
Our favorite Italian espresso machine in 2020, and one of our favorite DeLonghi espresso machine models, is the De Longhi Magnifica’s latest iteration. This super-automatic espresso machine takes all the guesswork out of making great espresso. At the same time, it offers enough customizable options to guarantee you’re getting exactly what you want.
One way it stands out from some of the less expensive options on this list is its double boiler system. Having separate boilers for pulling espresso and steaming milk means you can do both simultaneously, and both boilers come to temperature in under a minute.
Your morning just got a lot more efficient!
The built-in pro-quality conical burr grinder offers 13 grind settings, more than enough to dial in the perfect shot. If you’d instead use pre-ground coffee, perhaps for a late evening decaf, a bypass doser is available.
It takes just the press of a button to make a single or double espresso. In fact, the brew head adjusts itself automatically depending on your choice. You can customize the strength and size of your shot, and once you know what you like, the machine will store your preferences for future use.
The milk frothing is done manually with a steam wand. This is the best method for high-quality milk froth, and it gives you ULTIMATE CONTROL over the texture of your milk. Just be aware that it might take a little practice to master.
On the opposite end of De Longhi’s line-up from the Magnifica is the Dedica.
It’s a far more basic model, with a low price to match, but don’t let that dissuade you. I might lack some of the bells and whistles, but it has everything you need for an incredible espresso.
We love the compact size and fun style of this little brewer. At less than 6 inches wide, it will fit comfortably IN ANY KITCHEN.
But this is no flimsy toy.
It’s sturdy and durable thanks to its stainless steel construction, a welcome surprise at a low price.
And despite its small size, the Dedica has an impressive clearance between the brew head and the drip tray. This is something that’s often overlooked by manufacturers. With Dedica, you can easily fit a large cappuccino mug and a digital scale, a clear sign of DeLonghi’s years of design experience.
Not surprisingly, there’s no built-in grinder in this budget model, but it does come with a 3-in-1 filter basket. It allows you to pull either a double or single shot using any freshly ground coffee. Or you can use an ESE pod. These are a bit more expensive, but they are an excellent time-saving option that ensures consistency.
It’s a fully automatic Italian espresso machine, which means it’s equipped with a flowmeter to monitor the progression of your shot. You’ll need to grind, dose, and tamp, but pulling the shot is out of your hands. However, you will need to get a little more hands on to froth milk because the steam wand is manual.
Gaggia is an iconic name in Italian espresso machines, known for their exceptional quality, classic design, and simple operation. In fact, Gaggia is credited with ushering in the modern era of espresso (1).
With high pressure and golden crema, Gaggia’s lever machine marks the birth of the contemporary espresso.
They’ve always emphasized striving for great espresso above throughout history, and it shows in their exceptional machines.
The Gaggia Brera super-automatic is blessed with Gaggia’s unique Pannarello steam wand, which uses an intake hole to siphon air directly into the milk. This gives an incredibly rich and velvety foam, which is why we love this machine for milky drinks. It’s simply the best cappuccino system on this list.
Though not a dual boiler, Gaggia uses “rapid steam” technology in the Brera to temperature in 10 seconds.
Gaggia brera super-automatic espresso machines include a HIGH-END built-in grinder.
But what’s even more Impressive is the patented Adapting System. The grinder actually learns your coffee beans and adjusts the grind fineness accordingly. That means you’re going to enjoy better espresso with less work. Hard to complain about that!
Another example of their smart design strategy? Both the water tank and dregs bin are accessible from the front. This is especially convenient if you keep your machine under a cupboard, which is a popular choice thanks to the Brera’s compact frame.
The Rancilio Silvia is a home machine with a commercial model’s soul, and that combination has made it a consistent top seller for over two decades. Rancilio Silivia is like an Italian cousin of Breville espresso machines.
Want to pull espresso shots LIKE A REAL PRO? This is the machine for you.
The 2020 model has a few handy updates. Our favorite, given the times, is its improved energy efficiency. The newer brass boiler is 8% more efficient in standby mode than older versions. It’s also equipped with a commercial-style 3-way solenoid valve, which relieves excess pressure and makes your espresso puck dry and easy to clean up (2).
Rancilio is a well-known manufacturer of commercial espresso machines, and they’ve put some of the same design and construction strategies to use in the Silvia. It’s sturdier than most home espresso machines, with a stainless steel casing and brass components, but it’s still surprisingly compact in its overall dimensions.
Its sturdy design keeps it nicely rooted on your counter and means it’s built to last. In fact, many of the original 20-year-old Silvias are still churning out fantastic espresso.
This is a semi-automatic machine, so that it won’t do all the work for you. Instead, this is an opportunity to be more involved in the process and master the art of espresso.
It might take a little more practice, but the reward is some of the best espressos you can get from a home machine.
There’s an articulated steam wand for milk frothing so you can froth at any angle and a manually adjustable knob to get that perfect milk texture. However, there’s no hot water wand (something to consider if you love Americanos or tea).
The second Gaggia Italian espresso machine on our list, the Classic Pro, is what I ALWAYS recommend to friends looking to try their hand at espresso making for the first time.
It’s affordable and easy to operate, but it’s still a huge step up from a cheap plastic machine at the local box store.
As with any semi-automatic espresso machine, this one will take a bit of practice before you dial in the perfect grind, dose, and shot timing. But if you’re new to home espresso, that’s part of the fun. And it’s that degree of user control that allows you to make the best espresso.
I’m not the only one to rave about the Gaggia Classic Pro; it has long been a favorite Italian espresso machine for home use. Now the 2020 model has some very cool updates.
Instead of the Panarello wand, it has been outfitted with a commercial grade steam wand, which lets you generate tighter microfoam more suitable for latte art. The stainless steel frame and user interface have been updated for a more streamlined look and simpler operation.
The pump mounting is also quieter. And who couldn’t use a little more quiet first thing in the morning before caffeine?
Dual heating elements get the boiler to temperature super fast, perfect for rushed mornings. You’ll have an espresso in your hands in no time and be steaming milk just seconds later. Like the Silvia, the Classic Pro also features a commercial-style 3-way solenoid valve for less sloppy mess after brewing.
Want to know a great money-saving trick? Instead of buying both artwork and an espresso machine for your kitchen, just buy the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II.
It’s a high-end Italian espresso machine that doubles as a piece of modern art. Its shiny chrome exterior and futuristic style are as much a conversation piece as it is a coffee machine.
The Oscar II is the updated version of Nuova Simonelli’s Oscar, a wildly popular machine designed to bring professional quality espresso to the home brewer at a very reasonable price point. This new model is more durable, lighter, and faster to heat than its predecessor.
It’s a fully automatic machine, so once you dial in your grind, you can set a timed dosage and let the Oscar II do the work for you. The interface is incredibly simple, just two buttons: one for a single shot and one for a double shot. Once you’ve mastered the grind and tamp, a perfect espresso is just a button press away.
The steam wand is extra-long and articulated, so it works with any frothing vessel. More impressively, it’s controlled by a manual steam lever that lets you regulate the steam flow. This is a signature of commercial-grade machines, and lovers of latte art will be impressed.
Do you dream of having your home barista waiting in your kitchen every morning? Well, this super-automatic Italian espresso maker is pretty much that. And it doesn’t even expect tips!
Thanks to the automatic milk frothing, which uses De Longhi’s patented LatteCrema system, you can get a cappuccino or latte just the way you like it at the touch of a button. You can customize your drink’s strength, temperature, and milk-to-espresso ratio, and the Eletta will remember your preferences.
It’s like you’re a regular at your own kitchen coffee shop.
Despite all that programmability, Eletta’s is straightforward and easy to use. All you need to do is make sure there are beans in the hopper and water in the reservoir, and your robot barista will do the rest.
The integrated burr grinder means you’re getting freshly ground beans every time, and it can be adjusted to suit your coffee beans. The Eletta has a massive roster of 11 different drinks, all customizable. And 7 of these are available with the press of a button: a single espresso, double espresso, coffee, cappuccino, latte, macchiato, and hot water.
The milk carafe is detachable so that you can store it in the fridge in between uses, and it auto-cleans after each use, running hot steam through the plumbing to ensure no milk is left behind. If you’re not a fan of automatic frothing, you’ll be happy to learn that you can use a manual steam wand instead.
Like the Eletta, Saeco’s Incanto super-automatic Italian espresso machine with milk carafe is a ROBOT BARISTA masquerading as an espresso machine.
The Incanto is about half the price of the Eletta and lacks some of the functionality. Still, we love it as a remarkably affordable way to get a consistent latte or cappuccino at the touch of a button.
A lot of the cost savings comes from its mostly plastic construction, but this won’t affect your espresso’s quality. And they’ve made the wise choice to keep the front face is robust stainless steel, which ensures durability and gives it a premium look.
The built-in grinder is a ceramic burr grinder. This is a high-quality option, known to produce nicely even grounds for the most flavorful espresso.
This machine includes Saeco’s popular AquaClean filtration system. This filter not only ensures fresh-tasting water for your brew but guarantees you’ll have to descale this espresso maker far less than competitor models.
Thanks to the automatic frothing, the Incanto can offer one-touch milky drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, one of the least expensive models with this functionality. If you crave a morning cappuccino, but not all the steps it takes to make one by hand, this machine has you covered. And in the not-too-long run, it will undoubtedly save you money over a daily coffee shop visit.
NOTE: In Europe, the Incanto has been upgraded to the new Philips 5000 series brewer. Aside from having slightly different dimensions, the main upgrade is to the automatic milk frother. The new LatteGo system froths faster and is easier to clean.
How to Choose the Best Italian Espresso Machine
|De Longhi ESAM3300 Magnifica|
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|De Longhi EC680M Dedica|
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|Gaggia Brera Espresso Machine|
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|Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine|
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|Gaggia Classic Pro|
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|Nuova Simonelli Oscar II|
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|De Longhi ECAM45760B Eletta|
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|Saeco Incanto Carafe|
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Given that Italy is the birthplace of espresso, it should come as no surprise that Italian brands make some of the world’s best espresso machines. They have high standards to uphold.
Even Starbucks founder Howard Schultz holds the region in high esteem (3).
I think Italy is such a special place. I am so respectful of the Italian coffee heritage and the Italian culture.
So what’s the best way to bring that Italian coffee culture into your home? This buyer’s guide is here to walk you through it, so you’ll be drinking morning cappuccinos and afternoon espressos like a true Italian.
Speaking of Italian coffee culture, did you know there’s a way of drinking coffee like an Italian? Oh, yes.
The Balance Between Control, Consistency, and Convenience
Espresso machines can be either manual or automatic. The difference between the two is that a manual espresso machine requires you to generate the 9 bars of pressure needed to make espresso by hand, using a pump or lever. In contrast, an automatic espresso machine has a mechanical pump to do the job for you.
We’ve confined this list to automatic espresso machines, which are much easier to operate and more common for home use. There are three styles of automatic espresso machines for you to choose from.
- Semi-automatic espresso machines take the most skill and allow the most user control. You will grind the beans, fill and tamp the portafilter, and be in charge of timing the shot. These tend to be the least expensive options.
- Fully automatic espresso machines remove the need for shot timing. Instead, a flowmeter monitors the water passing through the espresso puck and stops the shot automatically.
- Super automatic espresso makers are basically robot baristas. All you need to do is keep the bean hopper and water reservoir full, and you can have an espresso at the touch of a button. Some even have automatic milk frothing. These tend to be the most expensive options.
As a general rule, less automation and more user control mean the espresso machine is more challenging to master. However, it has the potential to yield better results.
Adding automation ensures consistency by eliminating the room for error, but it also limits the room for expertise.
That’s why you’ll see super-automatic coffee machines at a Starbucks, but not at your local artisan coffee shop.
To Grind or Not To Grind?
A big factor dictating an espresso machine’s cost is whether or not it includes a built-in grinder.
We always recommend that you grind your coffee beans right before you brew. This guarantees the freshest and most flavorful cup. To do this, you can either buy a machine with a built-in grinder or buy a separate burr grinder to pair with your espresso machine (4).
The former’s advantage is that it saves counter space, makes your espresso preparation more efficient, and could save you some money. The advantage of the latter is that you’ll have more flexibility. You can use the separate grinder to prepare other coffee styles, and you can opt for a brand specializing in grinders.
Because they are Italian in origin, ESE (easy serving espresso) pods are compatible with many espresso machines made in Italy. Conceived by famed Italian coffee brand Illy, the pods are designed to make espresso as convenient and consistent as possible, and they succeed on that front.
They don’t match freshly ground beans in terms of quality, but they are undeniably convenient. And unlike K Cups or other similar single-serve products, they don’t come with negative environmental consequences (5).
Does Size Matter?
Is bigger better when it comes to espresso machines? Not necessarily.
Yes, the larger machines tend to have more fancy bells and whistles. And some of these can be pretty handy. For example, dual boiler machines are larger than single boilers, allowing you to steam milk and pull espresso at the same time.
But as a general rule, the size of a machine is unrelated to the quality of espresso it can make. Just look at what an experienced barista can do with a little La Pavoni manual machine. So if you don’t have a lot of room in your kitchen, don’t feel like you’re doing yourself a disservice by buying a compact espresso machine.
In fact, a lot of the volume of most coffee makers comes from the size of the water reservoir. Sure, a large water tank is practical because you won’t have to refill it as often, but as chores go, pouring some water in your coffee machine isn’t so bad.
So look for an espresso machine that fits your kitchen, and I promise your espresso quality won’t suffer.
Italians love espresso, which means Italian brands know a thing or two about building a great espresso machine. Indeed, every espresso maker on this list is well-deserving of a place in your kitchen.
Our top pick is the new and improved DeLonghi Magnifica, a real crowd-pleaser. This dual boiler super-automatic espresso machine made in Italy has everything you need to get your morning off to the right start.
Espresso machines are expensive because of the quality of their components. So it is often worth shelling out the extra bucks for a great model.
More expensive machines are usually stainless steel rather than plastic, so they’re more durable, and they have more precise controls. That means more accurate and consistent pressure and temperature, a surefire way to make better espresso.
The best coffee beans for espresso are the ones that taste the best to you. There’s no need to look for beans, specially labeled as espresso beans.
If you’re unsure where to start, try a flavorful and full-bodied medium roast with chocolate and nut flavors, like a Colombian or Costa Rican single origin. These tend to be crowd-pleasers.
To generate a true espresso with that characteristic thick crema, you need 8 or 9 bars of pressure (6). You can rest assured that every machine on this list produces more than enough pressure to hit this benchmark.
Other pressure-style brewers, like the Moka pot or Aeropress, max out around 2 bars of pressure. That’s why they make an espresso-like strong coffee rather than real espresso.
- Stamp, J. (2012, June 19). The Long History of the Espresso Machine. Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-long-history-of-the-espresso-machine-126012814/
- Technical Principles of Valves. (2019, April 17). Omega. Retrieved from https://www.omega.ca/en/resources/valves-technical-principles
- Barry, C. (2017, February 28). Starbucks ready to give Italy a shot, CEO Howard Schultz says. Retrieved from https://www.pressherald.com/2017/02/28/starbucks-ready-to-give-italy-a-shot-ceo-howard-schultz-says/
- Rossi, R. (2017, December 15). A Brewer’s Guide to Choosing a (Good) Grinder. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2017/12/a-brewers-guide-to-choosing-a-good-coffee-grinder/
- By the way, what are ESE pods? (2016, November 14). Cafe Liegeois. Retrieved from https://en.cafeliegeois.ca/blogs/actualite-nouvelles-cafe-liegeois/by-the-way-what-are-ese-pods
- Nosowitz, D. (2012, June 12). FYI: WHat is Espresso? Retrieved from https://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2012-06/fyi-what-espresso/