Espresso Machine Test 2021 | Pay Attention to this When Buying an Espresso Machine.

Espresso Machine Test 2021 | Pay Attention to this When Buying an Espresso Machine.

Espresso machines now belong in every well-equipped kitchen. The number of household appliances sold has grown steadily over the past year. The selection of machines from different manufacturers is now correspondingly large. We have written this espresso machine guide / espresso machine test 2021 so that you don’t get lost in the espresso machine jungle.

Here you can find out what is important when buying an espresso machine. We have put our focus on affordable espresso machines for home use. Here you can find a couple of espresso machines for less than $ 400 that we can recommend.

If you are looking for an espresso machine for the office , then you can use our inquiry form and receive 100% free and non-binding customized offers. 

Fully automatic coffee machines are not covered here because, in our opinion, they do not produce the same espresso quality as an espresso machine with a portafilter.

This comprehensive espresso machine guide is intended to help you find your way through the whole technical jumble. And of course, we will also introduce you to our purchase recommendations. Once you’ve read the article in full, you will likely have a better basis for your purchase decision. We address the following topics:

Basic Considerations Before Buying an Espresso Machine

If it is clear to you that you want to buy an espresso machine, then you should always think about the following questions before buying:

 Do you want to use the machine exclusively for making espresso ?

 Would you like to produce creamy milk foam for milk beverages in addition to espresso?

 What demands do you have on your future espresso machine in terms of usability, durability and perfectionism?

 What role does the design of the machine play for you?

 How often are you likely to use your machine?

 Would you like to prepare coffee specialties for many people at the same time ?

Great espresso machine = great espresso?

When we talk to beginners about the preparation of espresso , we are often asked which espresso machine makes really great espresso? Our answer usually causes a bit of astonishment among our interlocutors: Because the espresso machine is not the only one responsible for an excellent espresso: it is rather an interplay of the machine, espresso grinder and quality of the espresso beans .

Our recommendation: You should always give the espresso grinder at least the same weight as the espresso machine. We would even weight the importance of the grinder a little higher: You can prepare better espresso with a high-end grinder and a low-quality espresso machine than with a cheap grinder and a high-priced professional espresso machine. 

So, when buying an espresso machine, always budget for a good espresso grinder. As a rule of thumb, the cost of a good grinder should be 30-50% of the purchase price of an espresso machine. In our opinion, this mill is a real insider tip: The Eureka Eureka Mignon Silenzio.

In the event that you are actually looking for an espresso machine with an integrated grinder, we recommend that you take a closer look at the Sage portafilter machines. 

Best espresso machine under $500

Here you will find a selection of some machines that don’t cost a fortune, but in our opinion really produce a good espresso.

Gaggia New Classic

With the Gaggia New Classic you can feel like a real barista at home. With this entry-level machine, you can feel like the espresso professionals do. Beautiful machine with ingredients on board that have been tried and tested for decades!

De’Longhi Dedica 685.M

With a width of only 15 cm, the De’Longhi has an extremely compact design and thus transforms even smaller kitchens into Italian coffee bars. The machine delivers good results for the comparatively low price.

How does an espresso machine work?

In the first step, water is heated to a certain temperature in a kettle. The hot water is then pressed through finely ground coffee at a pressure of about 9 bar, which is located in the clamped portafilter.

In the end, the result is the small concentrated drink, which is crowned by a fine layer of foam and is known worldwide as espresso. You can read in detail how to prepare a perfect espresso in our step-by-step instructions for preparing espresso .

In general, machines differ in the way they generate pressure, the heating system and the type of preparation (ground coffee, pods or capsules). In espresso machines that are designed for the budget, a distinction is made between Single circuit machines, dual circuit machines , dual boilers and thermal block machines . We’ll introduce you to the different types below.

Espresso machines for the office

Are you looking for an espresso machine for the office? Then use the form below, which we developed together with tradingtwins GmbH, a TÜV-certified company. Here you can enter your company data and your individual requirements (number of colleagues, average cup dispensing per day, type of company) in the form. You will then receive tailor-made espresso machine offers for companies completely free of charge and without obligation. For rent, lease or buy.

What different types of espresso machines are there?

In the following, we will introduce you to the four systems and their advantages and disadvantages in detail.

Single circuit machines

Already in advance: For anyone who only wants to make espresso with an espresso machine, single-circuit machines are generally a good choice because they are cheaper than dual-circuit machines or dual boilers and deliver very decent espresso quality.

If, on the other hand, you want to regularly prepare milk drinks with a single-circle machine, you will reach the limits of the machine relatively quickly. Why? In single-circuit machines, the water heated in the kettle is used both to prepare the espresso (the so-called brewing process) and to generate the steam to froth the milk .

Basically, different temperatures are required to generate the steam and to prepare the espresso. The ideal brewing temperature for an espresso is between 88 ° C and 94 ° C. The temperature of the water for the production of steam, however, must be between 110 ° C and 130 ° C.

With single-circuit machines, the different temperatures are regulated by using different thermostats, which can be switched into the heating circuit.

In single-circuit machines, there is only one water cycle – that’s why we have the name “single-circuit machine” for this type of construction. In this water circuit, the temperature must be adjusted by heating or cooling in order to achieve an optimal result for drawing off espresso or producing steam.

Structure of a single-circuit machine

Structure of a single-circuit machine (source: own illustration based on the graphic from the book “Faszination Espressomaschine” by Dimitrios Tsantidis p. 121)

For example, if you want to prepare a cappuccino with a single-circuit machine, you have to wait a short time after drawing off the espresso until the water in the kettle has reached a temperature of 110 ° -130 ° C for the production of steam.

And the cooling of the water circuit for another espresso is again associated with waiting time. Because you don’t want hot water at 110-130 ° C to burn the ground coffee in the portafilter, do you? If an espresso is brewed with water that is too hot, it tastes extremely bitter and is also poorly digestible.

Temperature surfing with single circuit machines

As described above, the basic problem with single-circuit machines is that the boiler water can have a range of possible temperatures that can be up to 10 ° C and more. The temperature is different each time an espresso is brewed, which means that it is very difficult to reproduce a consistently high espresso quality.

You can bring about a solution to the problem through “temperature surfing”. Temperature surfing is a method used to influence the brewing temperature in single-circuit machines.

In practice, it looks like this: Before each espresso brewing, you make an empty brew (empty brew = let water out of the brewing group) until the temperature in the kettle drops so far that the heating starts again. Then you wait for the heater to turn off again. That is when your machine has reached a reproducible brewing temperature.

If the temperature is now right for your personal taste and the espresso bean you are using, you can start drawing off straight away. In the event that the water is still too hot, you will have to wait a certain time for the machine to cool down further. If the water is too cold, you have to heat the machine further using the switch for steam generation.

We admit that temperature surfing is really for the adventurous espresso maker. Obtaining espresso and milk foam is much easier with dual-circuit machines and / or dual boilers.

Our purchase recommendation for single-circuit machines

Gaggia New Classic Edelstahl

MODELGaggia New Classic stainless steel
MACHINE TYPESingle circuit system
WEIGHT8.0 kg
POWER1200 watts
HOUSING MATERIALstainless steel
PRICEapprox. 568 $

 At the current price of the Gaggia Classic at amazon *

Gaggia Classic – single-circuit machine

Would you like to find out more about the Gaggia Classic? Leave your e-mail, we’ll send a document in which we test our Gaggia Classic.

Rancilio Silvia

MODELRancilio Silvia
MACHINE TYPESingle circuit system
WEIGHT14.0 kg
POWER1100 watts
HOUSING MATERIALstainless steel
PRICEapprox. 700 $

 At the current price of the Rancilio Silvia at Amazon*

Bezzera Unica PID MN

MODELBezzera Unica PID MN
MACHINE TYPESingle circuit system
WEIGHT18.0 kg
POWER1500 watts
HOUSING MATERIALstainless steel
PRICEapprox. 1170 $

 At the current price of the Bezzera Unica PID at Amazon*

Thermoblock machines

Thermoblock machines belong to a subgroup of single-circle machines. The advantage of thermoblock machines is that they are ready for use after a few minutes (1-2 minutes).

With thermoblock machines, the water for making espresso is not heated in a kettle, but pumped through a long pipe. The pipe is wound up in a spiral and built into an aluminum block. Compared to kettle machines, which require 10-20 minutes to warm up or longer before the first espresso can be extracted, the advantage of the short warm-up time cannot be denied.

Structure of an espresso machine with a thermoblock

Structure of an espresso machine with a thermoblock (source: own illustration based on the graphic from the book “Faszination Espressomaschine” by Dimitrios Tsantidis p. 109)

When things have to be quick in the morning, but you don’t want to leave the house without your beloved espresso, a thermoblock machine is your friend and helper. Another advantage is that these systems are less prone to limescale, because the water is drained back into the tank from the thermoblock after the espresso has been drawn off.

A disadvantage of thermoblock machines is that the brewing temperature is highly dependent on the flow rate. If the water flows through the ground coffee too quickly, which is the case with beans that are ground too coarsely, the water will not get hot enough. If the water flows through too slowly because the beans were ground too finely, the water will become too hot and will burn the espresso.

Another negative thing to note about most thermoblock machines is that the frothing of milk does not work as well. The steam generated is relatively humid and the pressure is not particularly high. Foaming takes a correspondingly long time. The frothing aid creates voluminous milk foam, but not the creamy microfoam that is required for latte art .

Our purchase recommendation for thermoblock machines

Krups XP 3440 Espresso-Automat Calvi

MODELKrups XP 3440
MACHINE TYPEThermoblock machines
DIMENSIONS (WIDTH X HEIGHT X DEPTH)14.3 x 28.6 x 30.8 cm
WEIGHT4.4 kg
POWER1460 watts
PRICEapprox. 152 $

 At the current price of the Krups XP 3440 at amazon *

De’Longhi EC 685.M Dedica

MODELDe’Longhi EC 685.M Dedica
MACHINE TYPEThermoblock machines
DIMENSIONS (WIDTH X HEIGHT X DEPTH)14.9 x 33.0 x 30.3 cm
WEIGHT4.2 kg
POWER1350 watts
PRICEapprox. 175 $

 The current price of De’Longhi Dedica on amazon *

QuickMill Orione 3000

MODELQuickMill Orione 3000
MACHINE TYPEThermoblock machines
DIMENSIONS (WIDTH X HEIGHT X DEPTH)25.0 x 38.0 x 25.0 cm
WEIGHT9.2 kg
POWER1080 watts
HOUSING MATERIALstainless steel
PRICEapprox. $ 680

 The current price of the QuickMill Orione 3000 at amazon *

Dual-circuit machines

Two-circuit machines are espresso machines that have two water circuits at different temperatures. A water circuit is required to produce steam for frothing milk. The second water circuit is responsible for the production of brewing water for making espresso. With the help of these two water circuits, you can draw off scalding water and froth milk at the same time – without the annoying waiting time . Compared to single-circuit machines, this is the most serious difference.

If you want to prepare a lot of milk drinks like cappuccino, we definitely recommend buying a two-circuit machine. The system is designed as follows: A large boiler is built into two-circuit machines in which water is heated to 110 ° -130 ° C. This water is used to draw off hot water and to produce steam to froth the milk. A small water chamber, a kind of pipe, is embedded in this boiler. This is the so-called heat exchanger. In the Anglo-American language area, two-circuit machines are therefore called “heat exchangers” (HX).

This heat exchanger plays a central role in two-circuit machines: When an espresso is extracted, cold water is pumped from the water tank or the fixed water connection through the heat exchanger located in the much hotter steam boiler. The water is heated to the desired brewing temperature. The heat exchanger is designed in such a way that the water stays in the heat exchanger at the best possible flow rate until it has reached the right brewing temperature (88 ° – 94 ° C).

How a two-circuit espresso machine works

How a two-circuit espresso machine works (Source: Own illustration based on the graphic from the book “Faszination Espresso Machine” by Dimitrios Tsantidis, p. 129)

However, dual-circuit machines have a small weak point: If the machine is switched on for too long after an espresso has been dispensed, then the water in the water chamber of the heat exchanger gradually takes on the boiler temperature, which is clearly too hot for an espresso. Therefore, if the machine is switched on for a longer period of time, you should always drain the water before using it again until it no longer comes out of the brewing group in a steaming manner.

Single circuit or dual circuit? We’ll explain to you what the differences between single-circuit and dual-circuit espresso machines actually are.

Draining water from the brew group that is too hot is also known as “cooling flush”. As a rule, you should leave a maximum of half a cup to a cup of water out of the brew group during the cooling flush. This means you can be sure that the water has been completely drained from the heat exchanger. In this case one speaks of a so-called empty reference.

In practice, it has proven useful to drain the empty coffee directly into the cups that you plan to use for the next espresso. This creates a synergy effect because you preheat the cup directly.

Our purchase recommendation two-circuit machines

Bezzera Magica S

MODELBezzera Magica S.
MACHINE TYPETwo-circuit system
DIMENSIONS (WIDTH X HEIGHT X DEPTH)32.0 x 44.0 x 45.0 cm
POWER1350 watts
BREW GROUP∅ 58 mm (E61)
HOUSING MATERIALstainless steel
PRICEapprox. 1200 $

 The current price of the Bezzera Magica S on amazon *

Do you want to learn more about this machine? Definitely read our Bezzera Magica espresso machine test!  

Rocket Mozzafiato Type V

MODELRocket Mozzafiato Type V
MANUFACTURERRocket espresso
MACHINE TYPETwo-circuit system
DIMENSIONS (WIDTH X HEIGHT X DEPTH)28.0 x 40.0 x 42.0 cm
POWER1200 watts
BREW GROUP∅ 58 mm (E61)
HOUSING MATERIALstainless steel
PRICEapprox. $ 1700

 The current price of the Rocket Mozzafiato Type V at Amazon*

Dual boiler

Dual boilers are espresso machines that have two separate boilers: a relatively smaller boiler for drawing off espresso and a mostly slightly larger boiler for drawing off hot water and steam. The advantage of this design is that it avoids the problem of the brewing water overheating when the machine is at a standstill.

Structure of a dual boiler with two separate boilers

Structure of a dual boiler with two separate boilers: a smaller boiler for drawing off espresso and a slightly larger boiler for drawing off hot water and steam (source: own illustration)

In addition, with most dual boiler machines you can regulate the temperature in both boilers separately. This opens up completely new possibilities for home baristas who like to experiment, e.g. if you want to minimize the sour or bitter notes of your espresso by adjusting the temperature.

If you don’t need steam for milk beverages for a longer period of time, you can simply switch off the hot water boiler on most machines and only switch it on again separately when you need milk foam for cappuccino or latte macchiato .

If you are thinking about purchasing a dual boiler, you will have to dig a little deeper into your pockets compared to single-circuit machines and two-circuit machines. This design represents the upper end of the espresso machines available on the market.

We are of the opinion that the purchase of a dual boiler is worthwhile, especially for espresso and milk drink lovers, because these machines simply have new dimensions of capacity (the endless and simultaneous dispensing of espresso and steam at high temperature constancy) and control (manual setting of the Temperature in the boilers).

Our purchase recommendation for dual boilers

Profitec Pro 300

Profitec Pro 300 Espressomaschine

MODELProfitec Pro300
DIMENSIONS (WIDTH X HEIGHT X DEPTH)25.5 x 38.5 x 41.5 cm
POWER1200 watts
HOUSING MATERIALstainless steel
PRICEapprox. 1600 $

 The current price of the Profitec Pro 300 at Amazon *

Tip: You can find our Profitec Pro 300 test here.

Rocket Espresso R58 V2 Espressomaschine

MODELRocket Espresso R58 V2
MANUFACTURERRocket espresso
DIMENSIONS (WIDTH X HEIGHT X DEPTH)31.0 x 41.0 x 44.0 cm
POWER1400 watts
BREW GROUP∅ 58 mm (E61)
HOUSING MATERIALstainless steel
PRICEapprox. 2400 $

 The current price of the Rocket Espresso R58 at Amazon*


DIMENSIONS (WIDTH X HEIGHT X DEPTH)35.7 x 37.7 x 45.3 cm
WEIGHT32.3 kg
POWER1600 watts
HOUSING MATERIALstainless steel
PRICEapprox. $ 5000

 The current price of the LA MARZOCCO Linea Mini at CoffeeCircle *

Hand lever machine

As early as 1961, the hand lever machine began to move into households with the Europiccola from La Pavoni. This type is considered the archetype of espresso machines and is known as the purist among espresso machines. The principle is as follows: when the lever of the machine is pulled up, water is drawn from the kettle into the piston. When you then press the lever down, the hot water is pressed out of the piston through the ground coffee in the portafilter. Through this process, the espresso is made.

The hand-lever machine most sold in households is certainly the La Pavoni espresso machine Professional. Hand lever machines like the La Pavoni Professional, which produce espresso according to the principle described above, unfortunately have a few disadvantages. We list some here:

  • The operation of such a machine requires a lot of patience, experience and muscle strength
  • The grinding degree and the dosage must be set even more precisely than with other espresso machines
  • A sufficiently large water tank is missing – you have to refill water frequently, which turns out to be quite annoying, especially when supplying a larger company with espresso
  • In order to fill the kettle with fresh water, you must first let the pressure out of the kettle
  • The machine heats up quite a lot after several draws. You have to plan the waiting time until the water temperature has leveled off again between 88 ° -94 ° C.

Against the background of the points mentioned above, every espresso preparation with the La Pavoni can be a risk for your guests. 

But there are now hand lever espresso machines such as the Bezzera Strega, which combine the technology of modern espresso machines of the 21st century with the tried and tested hand lever system. With these machines, you can also get a grip on the “challenges” mentioned above.

Because the pre-infusion (pre-brewing) is not controlled via the line or boiler pressure, as is usual with classic hand-lever machines, but is done with the help of a commercially available vibration pump. With a little practice, even the ambitious home barista can manage an amazingly constant espresso dispensing.

Important components of an espresso machine and terms simply explained

An espresso machine consists of many components. We briefly explain the most important terms and functions to you below:

Brew group

The brewing group is the heart of every espresso machine. Your task is initially to transport the water from the kettle to the ground coffee in the portafilter so that the water temperature remains as constant as possible. The brewing group then distributes the evenly tempered water over the coffee grounds.

A constant water temperature is one of the most important factors for the perfect extraction of an espresso. It is therefore not surprising that the construction of the brew group is the secret of every espresso machine manufacturer and that this is where the greatest structural effort is made.

The brewing group is heated by a separate circuit, the so-called thermosiphon. Hot water is fed to the brew head, which is mostly made of chrome-plated brass. The water loses some heat to the brew head and flows back into the brew kettle due to this temperature difference.

Pre-infusion (pre-brewing) and FAEMA E61

In the brew group area, Faema has been setting the standard with the E61 since 1961. What is special about the principle of the E61? Thanks to a sophisticated structure in the brew head, a small amount of water is left on the coffee grounds with little pressure before the actual pressure build-up.

This process is known as pre-infusion. The pre-infusion has the effect that ground coffee is moistened, “gently” swells and solidifies before the actual pressure build-up begins. The decisive advantage of pre-infusion is that flavorings in the coffee grounds are better extracted. The success of the E61 meant that all brew groups that work according to the same principle are called E61, including those built by other manufacturers.

Espresso machine pump types

As you probably know, a pressure of 9 bar is required to extract espresso. This pressure is generated in most of the espresso machines available today using electric pumps. The first known machine with an electric pump was the Faema E61 from 1961. Today there are two different types of pumps on the market: the vibration pump and the rotary pump.

Vibration pump

Due to its compact size and low price, the vibration pump has established itself in most household machines. It was invented in the 1970s by the Ulka company. The pressure build-up is generated in a vibration pump with the help of a vibrating piston. The oscillation and vibration of the piston can be clearly heard and felt. This is why vibration pumps are stored in flexible rubber sleeves so that the vibration is not transmitted too strongly to the housing. You can still hear the sound of the vibration. Vibration pumps are not designed for continuous operation in the catering industry because they can easily overheat during longer periods of operation.

Rotary pump

Compared to vibration pumps, rotary pumps are significantly quieter and more robust in their construction. Rotary pumps impress with their greater capacity, their smoothness and their efficiency. In particular, you have to supply several brewing groups in catering machines with constant pressure. A decisive advantage is that the maximum pressure is available immediately. Unlike vibration pumps, the pressure does not have to be built up by the counter pressure of the portafilter in the coffee grounds. One disadvantage is that rotary pumps are more expensive than vibratory pumps.

Rotary pumps are usually installed in most catering establishments or in high-priced household espresso machines such as the Rocket Espresso Dual Boiler R58

Pressure relief valve

The ideal brewing pressure of an espresso machine should be 9 bar. The pressure relief valve, also known as an expansion valve, is used to regulate the maximum brewing pressure. The valve is usually adjusted to 10 to 12 bar. So that the pressure does not increase excessively after an espresso has been brewed, the pressure relief valve opens briefly and directs the excess water back into the tank. This reduces the pressure again and prevents the pump, boiler and lines from being damaged.


The pressostat controls the heating in heat exchangers and measures the pressure in the boiler. If the pressure drops, the pressostat ensures that the heating is switched on. At approx. 1 bar pressure in the boiler, the water has a temperature of approx. 120 ° C.

The hysteresis

Hysteresis is the range of possible water temperatures in the boiler of single-circuit machines. A large hysteresis stands for a wide range of possible temperatures. Too large a range is not optimal because it makes it difficult to reproduce consistently good espresso quality. The temperature just fluctuates too much. You can only remedy this with the help of a PID control (see explanation below) and temperature surfing.

Automatic shutdown

If the water tank is empty and espresso is being drawn off, the kettle may overheat and material may be damaged. It is therefore always important to check the water level in the tank before using the machine. You can be on the safe side if you choose an espresso machine that switches off automatically when there is a lack of water in the tank. Especially with machines with a small water tank, you should check whether the machine has this function.

Learn about the kettle of an espresso machine

Kettle material 

The kettle in espresso machines can be made of copper, brass, stainless steel or aluminum. We advise against buying a machine with an aluminum kettle because aluminum oxidizes and your espresso can have an unpleasant metallic aftertaste.

Kettle size

There are differences in the kettle size that you should know: Small kettles heat up faster. Machines with small tanks are therefore ready for use more quickly. A disadvantage of smaller boilers is that they are more prone to temperature fluctuations. Large kettles have the advantage that they provide more space for espresso and steam. In addition, the water vapor is drier, which has the advantage that the milk does not water down as much.

PID control

In high-priced dual boilers, the brewing temperature can often be set electronically in one degree steps using a PID control (the abbreviation PID stands for proportional-integral-differential). The PID control is a very precise measurement and control technology that uses an algorithm to determine the heating time required to keep the brewing temperature constant. A PID control is especially useful if you want to tease out certain acids in an espresso, for example, by manually adjusting the brewing temperature up or down.

Milk foam preparation with the steam wand of an espresso machine

Fresh whole milk with a fat content of 3.5% is essential for many delicious coffee specialties such as cappuccino , latte macchiato , flat white , caffè latte or milk coffee. Espresso machines can not only produce espresso, but are also designed to froth milk for coffee specialties with the help of a steam wand.

Basically, the bigger the kettle from which the steam is drawn, the more volume and steam pressure you have when frothing milk . Conversely, the disadvantages of small boilers are that less volume is available for steam production. The full steam pressure can only be called up in the first five to ten seconds. Smaller boilers are built into most entry-level machines.

The manufacturers try to counter the problem of the small volume with the help of a foaming aid. Here air is sucked in through a small hole in the upper part of the spout by the escaping steam and directed into the milk. If this hole remains above the surface of the milk, the foam rises up in the jug by itself.

Frothing aids usually produce more voluminous and firmer milk foam, which is well suited for latte macchiato. The milk foam required for latte art , which is fine-pored and consists of micro-fine bubbles, cannot be produced really well with a frothing aid. To do this, you need constant steam pressure power, which dual-circuit machines or dual-boiler espresso machines offer you.

If you want to find out more about the topic, we recommend our comprehensive advice article “ Frothing milk ”.

Espresso machine cleaning & care

The regular cleaning and care of an espresso machine is essential because the special preparation method (finely ground espresso beans are pressed through a sieve with very high water pressure) oils, fats and waxes are extracted from the coffee grounds and are deposited on the contact surfaces of the espresso machine.

If you give your machine regular attention, you can not only save high maintenance or repair costs, but you will also be able to enjoy your espresso completely undisturbed after many years. Basically, all parts of the machine that come into contact with the oils and fats in the coffee grounds must be cleaned regularly. These include the brew group, the brew head filter and the portafilter. You should also descale your machine at times.

A detailed article on how to proceed with cleaning will be sent to you. Please sign up to our Newsletter.