The 6 Best Small Espresso Machines for At-Home Indulgence

The best models, from press-of-a-button perfection to a fully hands-on experience.

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Best Small Espresso Machines of 2023

Best Buy

Many of us start our day with a nice pot of coffee, but there’s something equally lovely about an espresso as a midday pick-me-up, or perhaps as an after-dinner finish. While conventional espresso machines can be bulky, complicated, or expensive, small espresso machines have a minimal footprint and are often as simple to use as pushing a button. 

“Espresso machines may be categorized into three basic modalities: manual, semi-automatic, and fully automatic,” says Heather Calatrello, owner and head roaster at ShedLight Coffee. “For those seeking a truly hands-off brewing experience, fully automatic machines are the way to go. For most home coffee brewers, however, a semi-automatic machine will tick most of the boxes for ease of use and affordability.”

Whichever your preference, a small espresso machine should reliably produce great results, all without the fuss and space requirements of a conventional machine. With Calatrello’s help, we’ve rounded up the six best small espresso machines on the market.

Best Overall

Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe by Breville



Pros: An easy-to-use machine with built-in pod storage.

Cons: It’s only compatible with Vertuo pods.

Also a top pick in our selection of best Nespresso machines, the Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe is our choice for best overall small espresso machine thanks to its price point and versatility for brewing both coffee and espresso. 

While it does operate exclusively with Vertuo pods, there’s a wide variety available, and the VertuoPlus offers built-in pod storage. Choose from two sizes of coffee or two sizes of espresso, and your beverage is ready with the touch of a button. Settings include 5-ounce coffee, 8-ounce coffee, single espresso, and a double espresso.  This is a compact, user-friendly, high-quality machine for anyone looking for espresso with ease at home. 

Price at time of publish: $170

  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 16.9 x 12.4 inches
  • Type: Automatic
  • Coffee source: Pods
  • Milk frother: No; sold separately

Best Value

De'Longhi Stilosa Espresso Machine

De'Longhi Stilosa Espresso Machine


Pros: A great value for those who don’t mind a manual machine.

Cons: The plastic body isn’t as luxe as some other models.

If you’re up for a manual espresso machine, the De’Longhi Stilosa is a great budget buy. This small machine lets you pull either a single or double shot of espresso, there’s a built-in milk frother, and its dual-level cup holder accommodates taller mugs. 

While there will be a bit of a learning curve if you’re not already familiar with espresso machines, the no-frills design of this De’Longhi will have you up and running in no time. The package includes everything you need to get started — just add espresso grounds.

Price at time of publish: $115

  • Dimensions: 8.07 x 13.5 x 11.22 inches
  • Type: Manual
  • Coffee source: Grounds
  • Milk frother: Yes

Best Splurge

Philips 3200 Series Fully Automatic Espresso Machine with LatteGo

Philips 3200 Series Fully Automatic Espresso Machine with LatteGo


Pros: This is a versatile, totally automatic machine that makes a great coffee.

Cons: It’s pricey for a small machine.

When it comes to fully automatic espresso machines, “we particularly like the Philips 3200,” says Calatrello. This do-it-all machine has settings for five different coffees, including espresso, coffee, Americano, cappuccino, latte macchiato, and hot water.

The Philips 3200 even has a built-in grinder so you can enjoy the freshest possible coffee with each use, and you can make up to 5,000 cups without descaling thanks to Philips’ own AquaClean filter. This machine is a splurge compared to some other models on our list, but if you’re looking for a compact, super-automatic model, this is the one to spring for.

Price at time of publish: $1000

  • Dimensions: 17 x 10 x 15 inches
  • Type: Automatic
  • Coffee source: Grounds
  • Milk frother: Yes

Most Versatile

Breville The Barista Express Espresso Machine

Breville The Barista Express Espresso Machine


Pros: A quality semi-automatic machine that’ll leave you feeling like a barista.

Cons: Splurgey price point.

“Semi-automatic machines will do some of the work (as the name implies), but still allow the user some control over the process,” explains Calatrello, who recommends the Breville Barista Express for home coffee brewers.

This machine has the look of a classic espresso machine and features a built-in milk frother, grinder with 16 settings, and programmable options to allow you to set your preferences with grind size, water temperature, and brew volume. The Breville Barista Express is a bit of a splurge in terms of price, but it’ll keep espresso fiends happy for years to come, thanks to its versatility for either auto or manual operation.

Price at time of publish: $705

  • Dimensions: 12 x 11 x 13.5 inches
  • Type: Semi-automatic
  • Coffee source: Grounds
  • Milk frother: Yes

Best Portable

AeroPress Go Portable Travel Coffee Press

AeroPress Portable Travel Coffee Press


Pros: A portable, versatile kit that comes with everything except coffee.

Cons: There might be some trial and error as you figure out coffee/water ratios.

Whether you’re out camping or keeping a secret stash of espresso at your desk, the Aeropress Go is the top-recommended choice for portable coffee making. A 10-ounce capacity means you can brew as little coffee as you like, including a quick hit of espresso.

The Aeropress Go kit comes with everything you need, and it’s so easy to use that the only real thing you’ll need to figure out is your preferred grounds-to-water ratio. This kit is purposefully designed so that everything stores away nicely within the mug and lid — no counter space required.

Price at time of publish: $40

  • Dimensions: 4.75 x 4.75 x 11.75 inches
  • Type: Manual
  • Coffee source: Grounds
  • Milk frother: No

Best Stovetop

Bialetti Moka Express Espresso Maker

Bialetti Moka Express Espresso Maker


Pros: An iconic espresso maker that still holds up today.

Cons: The aluminum-developed flavor isn’t for everyone.

The classic Moka pot is still a great way to brew quality espresso at home. There’s no fancy machine needed for this method, just pop the Moka Express on your stovetop and let the heat work its magic. 

This may not be the ideal choice if you’re looking for a versatile machine that can whip up barista-style espresso drinks, but if you’re a less-is-more type, it’s hard to beat the ease of use and small size of the Moka pot.

Price at time of publish: $41

  • Dimensions: 5.51 x 3.94 x 6.69 inches
  • Type: Manual
  • Coffee source: Grounds
  • Milk frother: No

Our Favorite 

The Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe Coffee and Espresso Machine by Breville is an ideal choice if you’re looking for simplicity and sleekness. For a proper splurge, we like the Philips 3200 Series Fully Automatic Espresso Machine with LatteGo.

Factors to Consider


Whether you opt for manual, semi-automatic, or fully automatic, consider which machine type you’re most likely to actually use. Would you rather push a button or two and have a nice espresso, or are you up for the whole barista experience each time you want a coffee? Manual will, by trade, require more effort, but some people prefer it.


What’s your favorite coffee drink? If you’re a black-coffee-only, sip-your-espresso-straight-up kind of person, finding a machine with a built-in milk frother probably doesn’t need to be your top priority. If you want to spice up your morning coffee with a frothy latte or cappuccino, consider a machine with various settings. 


“Pressure is necessary to produce the rich crema that is only found in espresso,” says Calatrello. “This pressure refers to atmospheric pressure and is measured in bars. There are many machines that advertise 15-, 18-, or even 20-bar pressure, but in reality, nine bars is the perfect amount of pressure for espresso.”


Espresso machines can be bulky. Make sure you shop according to your available storage or countertop space.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How do you use an espresso machine?

    Each machine will operate a bit differently, so be sure to consult the instruction manual to make sure you’re able to make the most of your espresso machine. Pod and capsule machines will typically operate by the push of a button after you’ve dropped in your pod of choice, whereas more conventional machines will require a more hands-on approach. With a manual machine, you will have to measure and grind your beans, add water to the machine, tamp the grounds to lay flat in the bed, reassemble the machine with the grounds-filled lever, and pull your first shot. Machines will, of course, vary, so be sure to read the instructions fully.

  • How do you descale an espresso machine?

    Again, check your instruction manual first, but you can typically run a descaling solution (or a 50/50 mixture of water and distilled vinegar) through the machine every month or two — depending on how frequently you use your machine — to keep it in great condition.

  • What size grind is best in an espresso machine?

    “For espresso, you want a fine grind,” says Calatrello. “The ground coffee will look a little finer than table salt. This grind size will work for espresso machines as well as stovetops (Moka pot) and Aeropress coffee makers.”

  • How much caffeine is in a shot of espresso?

    There’s approximately 63 mg of caffeine in a shot of espresso. Typically, an 8-ounce cup of coffee offers around 96 mg of caffeine, making a single cup of coffee stronger than a single shot of espresso.

Our Expertise

This article was written by Summer Rylander, a food and travel journalist who has written about food, beverage, and cooking products for Food & Wine, Allrecipes, Serious Eats, and The Kitchn. She made her selections based on in-depth research and conversation with coffee roasting expert Heather Calatrello. 

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