I’ve spent a lot of time in coffee shops over the years. When I was in college, I was a barista at a local coffee shop, where I learned the ins and outs of our commercial-grade espresso maker and milk steamer.
My love of coffee shops continued later in my 20s when I took a job as a consultant, which allowed me to work from home several days per week. I found that I got more work done if I got out of my apartment and went to local coffee shops to work.
But it got very expensive. Have you ever tried to work from a Starbucks or local coffee shop? A venti cappuccino can easily set you back $5 or more in large cities, and if you’re planning to sit in the coffee shop for a while, you might be expected to buy more than one.
I decided to get an espresso machine for my own use at home. Even though they cost quite a bit up front, the cost is well worth it because of the money you’ll be saving compared to what you would spend at a coffee shop.
Even if you only use it a couple times per week, a good espresso and cappuccino maker will pay for itself within a year.
My 3 Favorite Espresso Makers of 2015
In my opinion, the 3 machines listed below are the best espresso machines for 2015. They aren’t in any particular order, because I didn’t think it was fair to rank such different machines with such different price points.
Take a look at the list and figure out which one works best for your lifestyle.
Krups XP1000 Steam Espresso Machine
The Krups XP1000 is a 4-Bar steam espresso machine. For the price, it has more features than just about any other machine on the market. Versatility is the name of the game here: it can make you an espresso, lungo, americano, cappuccino, or latte.
It has a 3-way knob to allow you to switch back and forth between espresso-making and milk-steaming. It comes with a 2 year warranty, a measuring spoon, and a 4-cup glass carafe.
This is one of the smallest espresso machines on the market, which makes its versatility all the more impressive. Almost no other espresso machines in this price range have milk steamers on them.
The downside to the Krups XP1000 is that the steaming wand isn’t very well positioned on the machine, which may make it a bit difficult if you’re using a tall cup. It works better to use a smaller cup. In my experience, smaller cups usually have enough milk for a good latte or cappuccino anyway.
This machine uses ground coffee, rather than espresso pods. Although regular coffee works fine, you’d do better to buy pre-ground espresso coffee, or grind it very finely yourself. Since espresso is stronger than regular coffee, you’re much better off using a very fine grind.
One of the things I really appreciate about this machine is that it’s much quieter than most espresso makers. Most machines range from “loud” to “obnoxiously loud,” but the Krups espresso machine is an exception. There’s some noise, as with any espresso maker, but not nearly as much.
If you’re looking for a solid machine on a budget, and you appreciate a versatile machine that can make cappuccinos and lattes as well as standard shots of espresso, I think you’ll be happy with the Krups XP1000. It’s the best espresso machine for those who want to spend under $100.
Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker
The Nespresso Pixie is the best espresso machine that Nespresso offers for under $200. If you’ve had Nespresso espresso before, you’ve been missing out. In my opinion, these espresso pods are much better tasting than anything you can find in most coffee shops.
Nespresso does for espresso what Keurig did for regular coffee: they make their own espresso capsules as well as the espresso makers to process them.
The Pixie is made of metal, unlike most plastic espresso makers, so it’s much more durable. It will probably last you longer than most other espresso machines in this price range, provided that you treat it well and clean it regularly.
To me, the best comparison for the Nespresso Pixie isn’t Keurig’s K-cups…it’s Apple’s iPhone. The Pixie is very small and sleek. I think of it as the iPhone of espresso machines, because the people who designed the Pixie clearly cared a lot about appearance, ergonomics, and user-friendliness.
The Pixie can hold enough water for about 12 standard shots of espresso, and it has an indicator for the water level. If you don’t drink espresso very often, you might want to consider changing the water more often than you actually need to, just so it stays fresh. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think espresso tastes as good if it’s made from water that has been sitting in the tank for a week.
Like all Nespresso machines, this one only uses Nespresso espresso pods. When you buy the Pixie, you’ll get about 16 sample capsules free of charge, so that you can try some of the flavors that Nespresso has to offer. My personal favorite flavor is Kazaar; it’s very strong and will certainly wake you up in the morning.
If you order your espresso capsules online, Nespresso will track them for you so that you’ll know when it’s time to descale your machine. You don’t need to do this very often at all; you’d have to drink a lot of espresso before this becomes necessary.
This is a very high-quality machine. Unlike most espresso makers which are manufactured in China, the Pixie is made in Switzerland. Nespresso’s Swiss machines seem to have more precision and endurance than others.
The Pixie doesn’t make cappuccinos or lattes on its own, but you can get the Nespresso Aeroccino Plus Milk Frother to go with it if you want to make those. However, if you’re looking for great espressos and aren’t planning to make a lot of milk-based drinks, the Pixie is a great standalone device.
I do have one small gripe about the Pixie: it’s a bit noisier than your average espresso maker. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but you should be aware of it. In my opinion, it isn’t a huge deal since it only lasts for about 25 seconds while it’s preparing your espresso shot.
The Pixie is the best espresso machine for a single person or a family of 2 who are seeking a middle ground between affordability and quality. It’s definitely the best Nespresso device in this price range.
Nespresso does have another espresso machine, called the Inissia, which is a bit cheaper and less powerful than the Pixie. I wrote a post comparing the Inissia and the Pixie. Check it out to determine which espresso maker is better for you.
In my opinion, the biggest thing to consider is whether you’ll be happy using only Nespresso pods, or whether you want a device that allows you to use some other type of espresso. I think Nespresso tastes great, so I’m a big fan of the Pixie.
If you have a larger family of espresso aficionados, if you’re looking for a machine for your office, or if you don’t like Nespresso pods, you might want something with a bit more power…like the final machine on my list.
DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3300
The DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3300 is the best espresso machine on the market for home kitchens in 2015. Most of the machines with more power than this one are intended for commercial restaurants and coffee shops, rather than home use.
You can make just about every coffee drink in existence with this machine: espressos, lungos, americanos, lattes, cappuccinos…as well as regular coffee.
The DeLonghi Magnifica is different from most other home espresso machines in that you aren’t relying on specially-designed espresso pods, nor are you using pre-ground coffee. Although this machine works with pre-ground coffee, you aren’t getting the maximum use out of it unless you use whole beans.
Espresso and coffee tastes and smells best if it’s freshly ground, so the Magnifica uses a “direct to brew” system. You put whole beans into the machine, and whenever you want an espresso or coffee, it grinds them on the spot.
You can adjust the grind fineness depending on what type of drink you want and how strong you want it to be. So if you want a standard coffee, you can use a coarser grind, whereas if you want an espresso you can use a finer grind.
The best coffee beans to use are non-oily Arabica beans. The Magnifica was specifically designed for this type of bean, and although it works with other kinds, you’re missing out if you don’t use the right type of bean.
You should avoid Robusto beans, which are the kind that you typically find in canned coffee. They are much lower quality and can have a bitter flavor. There are some areas where you can scrimp and save money, but the quality of your coffee beans shouldn’t be one of them.
You don’t need to worry about tamping your espresso, because the Magnifica has an automatic tamper. Personally, this has never been a concern for me since I’m used to tamping espresso from my stint as a barista. However, many people find the tamping process frustrating and time-consuming.
The milk steamer is very convenient and has an excellent design. It rotates 180 degrees, so you can use whatever size milk container you want. This is very different than the Krups machine above. If you like milk-based espresso drinks, the Magnifica is a good machine for you.
The Magnifica ESAM 3300 is a larger machine than the others on this list, which has advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, it has a lot more power and more features. You don’t need to refill the water as often, because it has a 60 ounce removable tank with a water indicator.
On the negative side, the Magnifica consumes a lot more power than the other items on this list, and it can be a bit noisy. It’s not obnoxiously loud, but you might be surprised the first couple times you use it, until you get used to the noise.
One downside to this machine is that some customers have reported that DeLonghi doesn’t have the best customer service. I’ve never had to call them myself, but some people have said that they’ve encountered delays in dealing with them.
The DeLonghi coffee maker is perfect for people who love a wide variety of coffee drinks and don’t mind paying a bit more for a convenient, high-powered espresso machine that will do nearly everything they need it to do.
The bottom line is the DeLonghi ESAM3300 is one of the best espresso machines on the market, and you should get it if you’re looking for perfect coffee drinks.
So there you have it…the 3 best espresso machines in 2015, for 3 different types of customers. The Krups XP1000 is a great budget machine for those who also enjoy steamed milk drinks like cappuccinos and lattes. The Nespresso Pixie is a good choice for homes of 1 or 2 espresso drinkers who just want a great espresso without a lot of hassle. And the DeLonghi ESAM3300 is a great choice for the high-end espresso aficionados who are looking for the absolute best espresso machine, and for large families or offices.
I hope this helps. In the coming weeks, I’m going to be teaching you how to properly make all of your favorite coffee drinks and how to properly use your espresso makers to get the most use out of them, so stay tuned for more updates.