The secret to mastering a perfect cup of joe is to own the best steam wand espresso machine. These are the same machines used by popular cafes that make your daily espresso and charge four dollars for a drink you could easily have made on your own.
But the chances are that not every espresso machine can get you the coffee you crave for. Most coffee machines will end up serving you a very watered-down cup of joe, which will dim your mornings rather than liven them.
That’s why our team of researchers has scoured the web to compile the following master list of the 7 most consumer approved espresso machines available right now.
We’ve made sure to include machines that are suitable for everyday use, are very simple to clean, and of course, are easy to use without compensating the richness of the beverages.
7 Best Steam Wand Espresso Machine
Have you ever noticed that steel pipe on the side of a coffee machine the baristas at cafes use to fluff up milk? That’s what’s known as a steam wand, which is the tool behind the frothiness of your coffee.
For our 7 picks, we’ve made sure that each one has the best steam wand so you can easily replicate the frothy coffees sold at your favorite cafes.
Before we go into our reviews, here’s a short summary of our picks –
- Best Steam Wand Espresso Machine for a Small Kitchen – De’Longhi EC680M Espresso
- Best Steam Wand Espresso Machine for Quick Preparation – Breville BES500BSS Bambino Plus Espresso Machine
- Best Steam Wand Espresso Machine with Quiet Brewing – Breville BES878BSS Barista Pro Espresso Machine
- Best Steam Wand Espresso Machine for Beginners – Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine
- Best Steam Wand Espresso Machine with Stylish Exterior – Breville Nespresso Creatista Single Serve Espresso Machine
- Best Steam Wand Espresso Machine with Low Maintenance – Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine
- Best Steam Wand Espresso Machine for Experts on a Budget – Brim 19 Bar Espresso Machine
De’Longhi EC680M Espresso
Breville BES500BSS Bambino Plus Espresso Machine
Breville BES878BSS Barista Pro Espresso Machine
Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine
Breville Nespresso Creatista Single Serve Espresso Machine
Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine
Brim 19 Bar Espresso Machine
Now that you know what to expect, let’s dive into all our information.
01. De’Longhi EC680M Espresso
Our first pick is the compact and quick to use espresso machine from De’Longhi. We’ve chosen this for first place because it has everything you would need from a coffee maker: it’s easy to use, it works fast, and it makes great coffee.
The EC680M model from De’Longhi is what’s considered a “mini-professional” kitchen tool. It carries out a maximum bar pressure of 15, which is about 6 bars higher than what’s used by most cafes, like Starbucks. With a high bar pressure, you can make the richest espresso right in your own kitchen.
Aside from espresso, you also get the option of making latte and cappuccino. But the choices don’t end there, depending on how strong you like your coffee, you can choose to add single or double shots of espresso and adjust it to your taste. This way, you get to tune the flavors to your preference to achieve your favorite blend.
To top off the richness of your coffee, you can use the frother attached to the side of the unit to work a creamy texture to your drink, mixing steam with milk for foaminess.
Looking past the slight vibrating sounds from the machine and its rare leakages, this is a great espresso machine for making rich caffeinated drinks at cafe-level quality right in the comfort of your home. We recommend this for people who prefer their coffee packed with flavor.
02. Breville BES500BSS Bambino Plus Espresso Machine
If you’re always in a time crunch, an espresso machine like the Bambino Plus from Breville is a necessity to ensure you get your caffeine fix before starting anything productive. This machine is built to make barista-quality espresso in minimal time.
The most notable feature of the BES500BSS model is its quick heat-up time. It has a unique ThermoJet heating system which allows it to heat up in about 3 seconds to thoroughly extract the flavor from coffee grounds.
Plus, a speedy heat-up time is also good for the environment as the unit consumes less energy. So, if environmental consciousness is a part of your ideal coffee maker’s criteria, this is the best bet.
As for the steam wand, it is a hands-free design that lets you create a preferable creaminess with its automatic microfoam technology without requiring your assistance. This way, you can make espresso of coffeehouse quality in minutes with very low effort.
To maximize the richness of coffee, the unit also features a smart optimal water pressure system that gradually builds pressure during infusion to extract flavors evenly. It also has a digital temperature control system that keeps temperatures constant during extraction for rich espresso every use.
We think the Bambino Plus is a great choice for making quick drinks without abandoning flavor and richness. For its fast work, we recommend this unit for coffee-lovers that always tend to run short on time.
03. Breville BES878BSS Barista Pro Espresso Machine
Next on our list is the Barista Pro, that’s also one of our favorites from Breville. Just like our last one, this unit also has a speedy 3-second heat-up time, but it has a number of unique features.
Right out of its packaging, the first thing you’ll notice is the unit’s built-in grinder. This integrated feature lets you make the freshest espresso by making your own coffee grounds from beans in less than a minute. Espresso from whole beans gives a much better tasting beverage than store-bought grounded coffee.
The conical burr grinder also has smart precision to measure sizable amounts of coffee beans and delivers the perfect dose for the most flavorful experience. This means you won’t have to worry about your drink turning out bitter.
Coming to the steam wand, it is operated manually so that you can create your own preferred texture for milk as well as make latte art right in your own kitchen. The steam wand delivers a tasteful frothiness to the milk, as done by baristas in popular cafes.
Another obvious feature of the machine is its interface. It features a unique LCD display with simple illustrations and icons as well as buttons and a dial framing the screen for easy comprehension and control.
This machine is a good choice if you’re looking to upgrade to a more professional espresso machine. It also doesn’t make any irritating humming or vibration noises while brewing, which makes the process much more peaceful.
04. Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine
If you want to go beyond espresso, the Brera Super Automatic is the one to choose. This advanced coffee machine can make all your favorite drinks, including espresso, cappuccino, latte, americano, and even tea.
The wide variety of beverages you can make from this machine is due to its Pannarello steam wand, which is similar to a commercial steam wand but makes the milk frothing process much easier. This wand can also be used as a hot water dispenser, which is why you can also make non-coffee drinks such as tea.
Similar to our previous pick, the Brera also has an integrated grinder that lets you extract rich flavors from whole beans. With the spacious grinder compartment, you can grind up to 250 grams of beans.
What sets this machine apart from our other picks is its user-friendliness. It has an easy-to-understand LCD display with icons to make controls much more accessible. Unlike most high-tech espresso machines, you won’t need to spend too much time understanding the controls, as the unit is built for beginners as well.
If you want a more advanced coffee machine but have little to no experience using one, this machine is a great way to start. Its interface is very simple, and it doesn’t require much learning for initial use, making it a perfect fit for beginners.
05. Breville Nespresso Creatista Single Serve Espresso Machine
From all our picks, the Nespresso Creatista from Breville is the most sleek-looking machine for single-serve beverages. Not only does it make rich flavored drinks, but it has a gorgeous exterior that complements any kitchen.
What stands out the most about this machine compared to the ones we’ve gone through is its stunning structure, which easily makes it the most stylish one on our list. It’s compact with a simple LCD and control layout, which makes it a sleek minimalist kitchen appliance that’s also very easy to use.
This espresso machine can also serve more than just espresso, including multiple caffeinated beverages such as latte, macchiato, cappuccino, flat white, and more. You can easily achieve barista-quality drinks right in the comfort of your home with this all-in-one machine.
The milk frother is integrated and operates automatically, which saves you time while the machine prepares your drink for you. This feature, along with the machine’s single serve design, makes it a helpful tool for coffee lovers that live independently.
While the unit can be an ear sore, we can’t deny its brilliant capability of making rich flavored beverages with minimal effort from the user. All in all, this is an excellent pick for small homes and kitchens that need a touch of style.
06. Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine
If you’re on the search for a machine that requires minimal cleaning and maintenance, this is the best choice. The RI9380/46 model from Gaggia requires little to no upkeep and is another great pick for beginners.
Don’t let the “Pro” in its name intimidate you, this espresso machine is actually very simply designed and easy to use. Its controls aren’t a bunch of mind-bending dials or screens, but rather a set of 3 rocker switches that have icons for each of their uses.
This not only makes controlling the unit easier, but saves time on switching between toggles.
The steam wand is commercially designed and can be used manually to make your preferred textures. Because of its manual operation, you can easily create latte art using the rotating steam from the wand.
As for its maintenance, the drip tray, steam wand, and other components are all removable and can be cleaned with minimum effort. This is good for beginners that may find it confusing to work with espresso machines that have complex self-cleaning systems.
Because of this machine’s simple components and low maintenance, we recommend this for people that prefer an easy-to-use espresso machine that does not demand a lot of upkeep.
07. Brim 19 Bar Espresso Machine
To wrap up our list is the high-powered 19 bar espresso machine from Brim. We’ve kept this one last for all the expert coffee makers that are looking for a professional machine without having to spend a fortune.
The unit is able to make espresso of barista grade quality and intense richness, all due to its Italian high-pressure pump assisted by a gauge indicator, alongside a low-pressure pre-infusion that allows thorough extraction from coffee grounds. It’s also able to keep temperatures at optimum levels so that espresso drinks remain hot.
You can choose to steam or froth milk with this unit, as it comes with two manual wands that can be used to create creamy textures. The steam wand carries a commercial design with a rotating 360 degree motion that allows you to steam milk evenly.
To get the most out of the machine, it also comes with a number of accessories, including 1 and/or 2 cup filters (both pressurized and non-pressurized), a portafilter, a filter cleaning tool, a stainless steel pitcher, and more. With all these accessories at your service, you can enjoy cafe quality drinks without leaving your home.
Although an expert coffee maker would have chosen a machine with an integrated grinder, this one is still able to prepare fresh and rich flavored beverages from just grounds. Because of its complex functions, we wouldn’t suggest this unit for a beginner but rather an experienced coffee maker.
Things to Consider Before Buying
Now that you’ve gone through our picks, you’re one step closer to getting the espresso machine of your dreams. But to ensure you end up with a satisfactory product, there are a few things to keep in mind during purchase. Here’s what you should remember –
Many customers make the mistake of purchasing an intricate espresso machine, thinking it will get them the Starbucks-quality coffee they desire without any hassle. While these high-tech machines are definitely capable of flavorful beverages, learning how to use them is the biggest trip.
If you’re a beginner, always running low on time, or just don’t want to go through the extensive process of studying a user manual, we recommend going for an espresso machine with a simple interface.
Intelligible dials, an interactive touchscreen, and assistive animations and/icons make the coffee-making process much easier, so keep an eye out for these.
Your espresso machine needs to function with acceptable performance in order for your beverages to taste well. A number of things affect the machine’s performance, here are a few examples
- Pressure Levels
Espresso machines use bars (barometric pressure), to exert force on the coffee grounds to extract flavor. If an espresso machine has low-pressure levels, it will result in clumpy coffee grounds or a watered-down drink. So, go for a machine with 9 bars or higher.
- Temperature Consistency
Some machines, especially cheaper ones, tend to lose heat while brewing. While this may not seem like an issue to some people, loss of heat during brewing will essentially waste coffee grounds, as the flavors are not fully extracted.
- Proper Filtration
The performance of the built-in filter of the espresso machine impacts the quality of the drink. With machines that have poor filtration, you will notice a very diluted drink and lots of coffee grounds still remaining unused in the basket. Again, this creates excess waste.
- Durability of Grinders
Most espresso machines will use ceramic or metal grinders, however, these grinders can still be weak or prone to malfunction. A telltale sign of a poorly functioning grinder is finding chunks of uncrushed coffee beans in your drink.
All the machines listed above have great performance. But suppose you have your eye on a different machine. In that case, we suggest going through product specifications and consulting customer service to ask questions regarding performance to determine whether it is good to use.
If you drink coffee regularly or every day, longevity is your top priority. This again depends on the performance of the machine, but you also have to keep alert for certain things like weak grinders, leakages, and overheating, as these reduce the long-term performance of your espresso machine.
Keeping your espresso machine clean can be a hassle, but it doesn’t need to be. If you consider upkeep as an inconvenience, you should go for a machine that self-cleans or has easily removable parts.
We have to warn you though, self-cleaning systems may malfunction and cause a bigger mess. And if you’re a beginner, the self-maintenance controls may be too confusing to work with.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the very best home espresso machine?
The best espresso machine to make beverages at home is the De’Longhi EC680M Espresso, as shown by our list of top picks.
It has all things you need for an everyday use espresso machine, including easy to control settings, intelligible interface, quick heat up and brewing-time, compact build for simple storage, and more.
- Why do some espresso machines have two steam wands?
An espresso machine can have both a milk frother and steamer, such as the Brim 19 Bar Espresso Machine from our list. While steamers use hot steam to stir milk into a smooth texture, a frother gives milk its creamy consistency.
Having both gives the user a wider range of drinks to make, and also allows them to customize their drink to their preference.
- How do you clean a steam wand?
Use warm water and a few drops of white vinegar to clean out your steam wand. If it’s a self-cleaning wand, you should check the user manual of the unit for the cleaning process.
- Do espresso machines need coffee filters?
No, most espresso machines already come with built-in filters.
- What machines does Starbucks use?
Starbucks uses a professional espresso machine called Mastrena, a model from a Swiss label. This machine can cost around $15,000 to $17,000.
Finding the best steam wand espresso machine can be tricky, especially in such a convoluted market. But, we hope we made the search easier for you with the information above. Before you make your final pick, go through our buying guide to ensure you get the right product according to your preferences.