We have reviews here on four top espresso machines that vary in price from just short of $600 down to a little over $110.
The least expensive espresso machine that commands an average rating of over 4 stars at Amazon.com is the Cuisinox Roma Stainless Steel Stovetop Espresso Maker. Cuisinox have so much confidence in it that they give a 25 year warranty.
It comes in two sizes - basically for more than two people and for use by one person only. But don't be deceived by it's low price. Cuisinox have made this possible not by skimping on quality, but simply by doing away with the heating device.
You use your own stove or cooker to heat the coffee. After all, you have a cooker already. You may as well use it to heat up your coffee as well as for all your other cooking, right? That's how the reasoning goes. If you go along with it then this machine may be the one for you.
The Beast from Breville
At the other end of the price range of these top espresso machines is the Breville Barista Express BES870XL. This is a top of the range espresso maker which does everything from grinding the beans to frothing the milk.
Probably the most distinguishing feature of the Barista Express is its 1600 watt thermocoil heating system (coupled with a 15 bar Italian pump), which gives it the power to do just about everything to do with coffee making at the same time.
It replaces Breville's previous model, the 860, being more powerful and versatile. It's semi-automatic, which gives you complete control over each aspect of the coffee-making process if you wish. Or you can leave most of the settings on default.
Perhaps that's the only thing that might put some people off this product - there's such a lot to take in when learning how to use it to its fullest extent. But if you're a barista or studying to become one then you'll be at home experimenting with every setting until you can produce coffees and espressos customized to anyone's exact requirements, just as in a coffee shop.
Two Top Espresso Machines from Nespresso
Finally in this article I want to take a short look at two Nespresso machines - the C60 / D60 and the U D50.
The C60 and D60 are almost identical top espresso machines, with cosmetic differences only, and are both in the $220/$230 price range (though the price of the D60 varies more according to color). They're single serve machines, but give you a large amount of control over the strength and size of your brew.
At a glance you'll know how much water remains in the reservoir and at what stage the machine is in its coffee-making routine. It's fast, easy to clean, and has auto shut-off. But is it for you?
That leaves us with the Nespresso U D50 - a super-easy to use espresso machine that comes with an Aeroccino Milk Frother included. It's less expensive than the Breville or the Nespresso C60 / D60, but more expensive than the Cuisinox Roma.
It's very compact, and you have a choice of three cup sizes, two levels of froth, or no froth at all, and they can all be hot or cold. The only drawback is that you're restricted to using Nespresso's own coffee pods. You can use your own grinds, but it's messy and works out no cheaper in the long run.
Nespresso have concentrated on ease of use with this machine. All you do is put the pod in place and this espresso machine does the rest. The milk frother, too, has a one-touch operation. When your espresso is delivered the pod is ejected into the pod dispensing bin, and that doesn't have to be emptied until it's holding 12 empties.
That's our brief comparison of four top espresso machines to help you decide which one is right for you.