Friday, June 2, 2023
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Best Espresso Machines for Home Use.

Coffee Blog » Best Espresso Machines for Home Use.

Best Home Espresso Machines UK.

Are you trawling the web trying to figure out which are the best home espresso machines in the UK, or which espresso machine is best for home use? If so, you're not alone – and if not, then how the heck did you end up here?? ;-).

While the past couple of years seems like a strange dream, and thankfully we're not still in that same situation of being trapped at home awaiting Bojo's next perplexing statement, I don't think we are or will ever be “back to normal”. It seems to me that we've stepped out of our partial captivity and into a brand new world, and this includes (but obviously isn't limited to) home espresso machines, and office espresso machines too, which I'll get to shortly although this post is mainly about espresso machines for home use.

There were two huge developments throughout this period (I'm sure there were more than that actually) that are proving to be permanent changes, which are the massive growth in Zoom (and other video conferencing platforms), and the massive and seemingly permanently increased popularity of home espresso machines.

Before March 2020 I'm fairly certain that most people were aware that they could buy an espresso machine and make their own espresso and espresso-based coffees, including latte, Americano, flat white, cappuccino, etc., from home. What I think people came to realize, however, is that home espresso is far more accessible than they previously thought, and that not only is it affordable, but it can lead to saving money!


This rise in popularity of espresso machines isn't limited to home use, the number of home office and office espresso machines being purchased has gone through the proverbial roof, too.

The growth of home office coffee machines won't come as a surprise to you given that so many people are continuing to work from home either partially or full time, but what you may be surprised by is the rise in companies opting to install high-end coffee machines for their staff.

While some businesses, in certain industries, have realized that keeping the majority of their team working from home most of the time just works for them, there are particular industries and types of companies that need/want their team back in the building, and installing a capable espresso machine has proven to be a great way to tempt people back into the office.

If you've ended up on this post because you're searching for a machine for an office, and it's a bigger office so you may be looking at something like 20-30 coffees per day or more, you'll probably be looking for a commercial machine – drop me an email, and I'll point you in the right direction.

I know you're probably chomping at the bit, and you may be thinking “Kev, shut it, just show me the machines”, I will do shortly, but you'll thank me for giving you this food for thought, first, about ensuring you know what kind of espresso machine user you are, so you can make sure you're buying the right type of machine.

The thing is, there is a heck of a lot of choices, as you'll already be aware of – in fact, you probably ended up here because you needed some help choosing, and you thought I may be the person to help you with this, and I am :-), but what many people don't get (as it's not obvious to the uninitiated) is that this isn't just a choice in machines, it's a choice in machine types.

If you were looking for a car, for example, you'd probably know what gearbox you want – manual or automatic? Can you imagine searching for a car, and only finding out when it's delivered that you've bought a manual but you drive an auto, or vice versa? While this probably doesn't happen often with cars, it happens fairly regularly with espresso machines, as I know from some of the emails I get.

So here's a very quick way to make sure you're going to end up with the right kind of espresso machine:

If you want espresso and espresso-based cafe favourites (cappuccino, latte, etc) made from fresh coffee beans and convenience is high up on your list of requirements, but not to the degree that you'd want to go for a pod machine vs using fresh coffee beans, then you're a bean to cup machine user.

Bean to cup machines have integrated grinders, and they produce the espresso with something called a brewing unit, vs traditional espresso machines which have a group and a portafilter (filter holder).

The cup quality isn't likely to be quite on par with that of a home barista machine in the hands of a seasoned home barista, but the average coffee drinker is usually more than happy with the cup quality of most bean to cup machines.

The good news is that you have a lot of choice, the entry-level is relatively low cost, and the machines towards the entry-level are usually just as good where espresso quality is concerned. The much more expensive options tend to be loaded with features but are usually no better for cup quality.

The polar opposite of the bean to cup user is the home barista. Home baristas are people who want perfection where coffee is concerned, and being a home barista is a hobby, it's not just a means to an end, it does require quite a bit of investment of time, effort, and money.

If you're a home barista, you'll either want an espresso machine with a stand-alone coffee grinder – or you'll want an integrated grinder espresso machine, like the Sage Barista Express and Barista Pro, both of which feature below.

Just keep in mind that an integrated grinder espresso machine isn't the same as a bean to cup espresso machine, because while they do have an integrated grinder, they don't have a brewing unit, and the espresso side of things features the traditional group and portafilter.

Best home espresso machines with grinder set up review

If you don't really see yourself as a home barista, you don't fancy weighing your coffee beans, or the thought of coffee as a hobby makes you pull a funny face (unless that's your normal face, in which case, apologies) then there are other options in between bean to cup and traditional espresso machines. Which option you'd go for would depend on your palate and your budget.

If you're on a tight budget, from around £80-£200, which would rule out bean to cup machines, then pressurized basket home espresso machines are a way to make home espresso and espresso based coffee shop favourites which will be very similar in quality to most domestic bean to cup machines.

These machines aren't usually sold specifically as “pressurized basket” machines, but nearly all of the machines at this kind of price will be this kind of machine, and a tell-tale sign is that the phrase “15 bars of pressure” is used as a boast in the sales blurb.

This is nothing to boast about ;-), and I think in most cases this is actually a mistake. One of these brands (and I'm not sure who did it first) listed 15 bars of pressure as a pro in the blurb, and most of the others followed suit. The fact is, however, this is simply the capacity of the pump, and you wouldn't usually want to create 15 bars of pressure in the basket.

Whether or not these machines actually lack an over-pressure valve so they are actually delivering 15 bars of pressure, I'm not sure. It would seem a strange thing to do, to want such high pressured water to blast the coffee to oblivion, but some of these machines do appear to blow craters in the centre of the puck of coffee, whether this is purely pressure related or a combination of this plus poor temperature regulation, I'm not sure.

Anyway, if you see an espresso machine selling for somewhere between £80-£200, and you see “15 bars of pressure” being used as if this is a selling point, then you'll be looking at a pressurized basket domestic espresso machine. 

They are based on traditional espresso machines, but they're cheaper, and they have pressurized baskets, vs the standard baskets that traditional home barista machines would have. This is a negative where cup quality is concerned, vs a traditional machine with a capable grinder in the hands of a skilled barista or home barista, but it's a positive where ease of use and convenience are concerned, as using a machine like this really doesn't require a lot of skill.

It's worth keeping in mind that the entry-level home barista espresso machine below including the Sage Bambino Plus and the Gaggia Classic pro, comes with both standard baskets and pressurized baskets, so the user can decide which way to go.

I'm not going to include the cheaper domestic pressurized basket espresso machines in this post, but for the best of that type of coffee machine see:

Best type of coffee machine review

If you have the palate of a home barista but want the convenience of a bean to cup machine, then the Sage Oracle was made for you, as these machines automate the most difficult, geeky stuff.

Home barista-quality with almost bean to cup convenience does sound like a marketing slogan, and marketing can usually be taken with a large pinch of salt, but I can tell you from personal experience that it's actually a fair assessment of these machines, and this comes from fairly extensive experience with the Oracle machines.