The math on fancy espresso machines checks out if you use your machine frequently, but there’s still a substantial upfront investment. Fortunately, with these four espresso makers you don’t need to invest hundreds of dollars to get a decent shot. Add your own burr grinder and a milk frother, and make delicious coffee drinks at home without ceding your counter space to a machine you might only use a few times a month.
People obsessed with getting the perfect crema from their espresso maker should skip the AeroPress. For everyone else, choose from an array of online tutorials, consider trying out different filters, and find the beans and grind that work for your taste. While you will totally immerse your grounds in water to get your shot, the AeroPress does it rapidly to avoid bitterness from the long steeping times required of a French press. This clever gadget is small, portable, BPA-free, and also makes regular coffee.
If you’re going to craft the perfect espresso with separate tools rather than one big fancy machine, you might as well lean into the art of it all. This beautiful aluminum moka pot can be used on gas, electric, and camping stoves (but not induction stoves) to brew three cups (5 ounces total) of rich stovetop espresso. Don’t be fooled by the design—the handle is made from heat resistant, rubber-coated plastic and is not actually wood. This is a good thing.
This electric espresso maker can actually make it possible to avoid your housemates before you’ve had your morning caffeine fix. You can watch the clear plastic container of this model fill with up to six cups of Italian-style espresso in just a few minutes. It may be true that espresso is best when enjoyed quickly, but with this electric pot you can keep your espresso warm for thirty minutes if your mornings are a bit chaotic. For safety reasons the machine shuts off when done, or when the body is removed from the base.
There’s no denying the convenience of a pod-based espresso machine. This stylish mini espresso machine weighs about 5 pounds and somehow looks both futuristic and retro at once with its grill-like front, sleek lines, and classic red color. It heats up your water in less than 30 seconds, uses a 19-bar high pressure pump for quality extractions in 1.35-ounce or 5-ounce sizes, and works with a variety of Nespresso capsules (just be sure to recycle them). This one also comes with an Aeroccino milk frother to turn your shots into lattes and flat whites.