At Clive, we are always asked: What is the best espresso machine I can buy? The best isn't always the most expensive. It depends on what type of coffee consumer you are.
The 5 most popular espresso machines by category:
- Money is no object: Dalla Corte Mina
- Under $2,000: Lucca A53 Mini Espresso Machine by La Spaziale
- Most classic looking: ECM Synchronika
- For straight espresso purists: La Marzocco Linea Mini
- For those who want it easy: Breville Oracle Touch
The best "money is no object" espresso machine
By far the best espresso machine at any price is the Dalla Corte Mina. Yes, we hear you sneering, La Marzocco and Slayer fans. We are not saying that those are not amazing machines, and we love to offer them. However, if we had our choice for a home setup and a ton of cash - we would buy the Dalla Corte. It is a drive-by-wire pressure profiling system, which means that it takes the mechanical feedback of the top lever, but digitally produces the pressure profile curve. As such, you can program and play back the exact same shot that was so great. Built like a Sherman tank with all the bells and whistles, including an app, this espresso machine is about as lust-worthy as it gets. Oh, and coffee nerds...it also does pour over with the same programmatic ability. C'mon.
The best "my husband/wife/partner will kill me if I spend more than $2,000" espresso machine
The best espresso machine under $2,000 goes to the Lucca A53 Mini Espresso Machine by La Spaziale. If it can handle the rigors of commercial use, it can certainly handle your kitchen. This espresso machine pulls about 40 shots a day at Clive HQ, all for under two grand. A front-filling water reservoir, huge boilers, generous drip tray and volumetric programming make this the one to beat at that price point. Of course, the mid-century modern looks aren't for everyone. As such, we have added powder-coated all black and all white versions that are crazy cool. You can't buy a better machine for twice the price.
The best "classic looking" espresso machine
We carry a lot of very good looking classic espresso machines. When most people think of a "classic" machine, they are thinking about E61-style group heads (which is the huge brass head that the portafilter is attached to). For E61s, the best is the ECM Synchronika. You are probably saying to yourself, "Of course you would say that - it is the most expensive in the class." That's not why we say it. This machine is beautiful and will last a lifetime. Long term, we will make a lot less money if you buy this machine because you will pass it along to your children and never come back again: Stainless steel boilers, thoughtful design engineering, a single piece, powder coated steel chassis and built for easy maintenance. It's not just a pretty face. This is an heirloom.
The best espresso machine for straight espresso purists
There is no way to argue that La Marzocco isn't the espresso machine for a purist. For Pete's sake, they invented the espresso machine. We love the Linea Mini for purists: a beautiful little machine that is rock solid and pulls an amazing shot. It is, however, $4,500. With huge double boilers, you are paying for a lot of stuff you don't need if you just enjoy a straight espresso. For the more budget conscious, the Special Edition ECM Classika is the perfect little machine to pull. While not a star at back-to-back milk drinks as a single-boiler, it is wonderful at straight espressos in a small footprint. With the good looks of a classic espresso machine in a choice of powder coat finishes - we always recommend this for the espresso purist.
The best espresso machine for those who want it easy
We don't apologize for our aversion to super automatics. Built mostly of plastic parts and sub-par grinders, we just don't think the taste in the cup justifies the price. However, there is one "mostly" automatic that we really like. The Breville Oracle Touch is an amazing machine. It grinds, tamps, pulls and steams with incredible precision. Further, it will guide you through the entire process. The touchscreen interface will save your favorite drinks and also teach you how to make them. It's enough for us to put down our tamper for good. Well, maybe not that far. But it is good enough for us to put in an RV and take the whole show on the road.
Still unsure? Check out our How to Choose an Espresso Machine blog.