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Espresso machines can be quite an investment, so making a decision on which one to invest in is no easy feat.
They range from professional-quality units to compact devices you can use in your own home. Quality espresso machines all have two things in common, though: they make superior-tasting espresso, and they’re built to last.
Coffee is complicated, so there are many considerations to keep in mind when choosing a machine. In this article I’ll look at several much-loved Italian espresso machine brands and go through the process of choosing an espresso machine that works best for your needs. Eventually, you’ll be able to act as your own barista and save yourself money on overpriced drinks at your local coffee shop.
These are the top Italian brands we’ll be looking at:
If you’re considering purchasing an espresso machine, you’re a coffee lover like I am. A top-quality espresso machine can make your mornings (or any time of day). Be sure to carefully consider which factors you value most in order to brew the best espresso for you.
Why go for an Italian espresso machine brand?
The espresso machine was founded in Italy by Angelo Moriondo, who created the steam machinery specifically to brew espresso. Coffee had been around in Europe long before that, but Italians are the ones who made espresso coffee as we know it today.
Many people who visit Italy will tell you that espresso truly tastes different there. This is due to their preference in taste and the care that they take to produce high-quality espresso.
Coffee is a large part of Italian culture, and their great taste in espresso is evident in the high-quality products coming out of the country.
The prototype for the modern espresso machine was also made in Italy by Luigi Bezzera, and is basically still being used decades later. (See our review of the Bezzera Unica.) These heavy-duty machines are crafted to make the best espresso possible.
With espresso being such a rich part of Italian culture, you can generally trust Italian companies to take extra care in crafting exquisite tools to make it.
Italian espresso machine brands
This brand is responsible for patenting the modern espresso machine which changed the game. They introduced the idea of crema on espresso and continue to create some of the best espresso makers on the market. They manufacture machines that can be used by home users as well as professionals.
Gaggia has four different product lines that make different espresso products. Being the first ones to create the modern espresso machine, the brand continues to use new features and technology to improve their products.
Model we love: Gaggia Classic Pro
A great compact machine for home users.
This is a well known brand that creates high-quality products that are easily attainable by everyone. They make a wide variety of different products relating to coffee and more. They have professional products for commercial use as well as affordable options for everyday users.
The brand is most known for the exquisite design of their products. Not only are they easy to use and functional, they feature a sleek design that can add to any space.
Model we love: De’Longhi Dinamica
A high quality machine that has everything you need in one place.
La Spaziale is a highly awarded brand that focuses on creating high-quality coffee machines at an affordable price.
Many of their products are still handmade in Italy but they are the fifth largest Italian manufacturer of espresso equipment, which goes to show that they have not sacrificed quality as they scale.
In addition to making espresso machines, they have a wide range of accessories so that you can customize your cup of coffee to your liking right from your kitchen.
Model we love: La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi II
A compact, yet professional, machine with dual boilers to brew and steam at the same time.
This brand first released the espresso machine with a vertical boiler. This helped pave the way to the invention for the modern espresso machine.
Rancilio continually adds new innovations to improve their high-quality products. They are known for making commercial grade products that can be used in the home. They have a wide range of products to best fit your needs. This special care in creating top-of-the-line products really shows in the end result of your brewed espresso.
Model we love: Rancilio Silvia
Great compact machine that works like a professional one.
This is a leading brand of professional Italian espresso machines, with meticulous care in sourcing the highest-quality components. Nuova Simonelli products are more commonly used for commercial use, since they’re capable of high volume. However, they do have products designed for more compact use. You are sure to get a high-quality product that matches up to professional quality.
Model we love: Nuova Simonelli Oscar II
Great professional quality espresso machine with a compact design.
This Italian brand specializes in producing high-quality grinders and coffee machines. They are manufactured in Italy, so it ensures high-quality production and materials.
Quick Mill’s philosophy is to make products that are “made to last for years.” Especially with an investment like an espresso machine, you want to ensure that your machine will last. Quick Mill designs their products taking special care to use advanced technologies and long-lasting components to extend the life of their products. All their products are certified and produced in Italy with completely Italian components.
With any product from this brand you are sure to recreate authentic Italian espresso.
Model we love: Quick Mill QM67 Evo
Consistent quality espresso machine designed to last.
You can also check out our post where we compare the Quick Mill Anita and the Rocket Appartamento.
La Marzocco is an Italian brand that specializes in specialty coffee equipment while keeping in mind the people, technology and heritage to bring high-quality products.
The brand patented the first horizontal boiler coffee machine, which still is used today.
They take special care in the design of the products, and their line of machines truly look like a work of art.
La Marzocco machines are now available in the U.S. and they still maintain the quality of the Italian company. They continue to improve their products with the latest innovations and features, yet they still pay attention to sleek and unique design. Not only are you getting a superior machine that makes exquisite espresso, you are also getting a work of art to display.
Model we love: La Marzocco Linea Mini
A great classic espresso machine that is designed for more compact use.
How to choose an Italian espresso machine
It can be hard to determine which espresso machine will work best for you. There are a lot of different options on the market. All espresso machines are an investment, but you can find the best tool for your budget and needs by using these considerations.
Quality espresso machines are expensive. We recommend investing in a high-quality machine that will pay for itself in the long run. You probably don’t need a commercial-level machine for your home setup, but a cheap espresso machine is bound to require more maintenance and won’t last as long as other machines.
Italian espresso machines are usually more expensive because the companies typically manufacture them in house. This ensures a high-quality product. Prices tend to be lowest for semi-automatic machines, which require the most user input, and highest for super-automatic machines that let you relax while the machine does all the work. The price will vary depending on the type of machine.
Although it is a large investment, over the long term your espresso machine will save you money on trips to the cafe for highly priced espresso drinks.
The volume of your espresso machine refers to the size of its reservoir. If you use your espresso machine at home this won’t be such an important factor. For professional use, a larger water reservoir reduces the frequency of tank refills and lets you keep the espresso coming without interruptions.
If you need to make a lot of espresso in a short time, pay attention to tank volume.
The size of the machine doesn’t necessarily determine its quality. Many people believe bigger machines are better. This perception probably arises from the fact that commercial machines tend to be bigger, but manufacturers have started to make high-quality smaller machines for home use.
Determine which size is the best fit for your space, rather than equating size with quality. While bigger machines tend to have more features, many of those features aren’t necessary for home use.
Even compact espresso machines can brew top-quality espresso.
Is having a built-in grinder better?
Some machines include their own bean grinder. Others don’t. Super-automatic machines will have a grinder—at some extra expense.
This is mostly a matter of personal preference. Having a grinder on your machine does make the process easier and quicker. While it’s a convenient feature for home users, it comes at a price.
Even if your machine does not have a built-in grinder, a burr grinder can be small, compact and easy to use on its own.
Always be sure to grind the beans right before brewing for the freshest taste.
Which espresso beans should you use?
Traditionally a darker roast is used for espresso, and to this day it is still what many people prefer.
Since coffee is best enjoyed fresh, the date of the roast also matters. We recommend a roast dating 1-4 weeks before enjoying. This period is the best for fresh espresso and brings you the best flavor in your coffee.
For a more thorough discussion, visit our post that rounds up the best espresso beans.
Drinking espresso like a true Italian
Italian coffee culture is strong. They do things a certain way. Although of course you are welcome to enjoy your espresso however you like, you can embrace Italian coffee culture and pay homage to the birthplace of espresso by doing it the Italian way.