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Home espresso coffee machine reviews

With so many designs, features and technologies on offer, which espresso machines will deliver the perfect cup of coffee at home?
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01 .Introduction

Nuova Simonelli Oscar Professional manual coffee machine

We have test results for 35 home espresso machines, a range of manual, semi-automatic and capsule machines priced from $70 to $2499. We also check out the much-anticipated Breville The Oracle – the first “automatic manual” machine.

On this page, you'll find:

Through our rigorous testing, we reveal which coffee machines:

  • make the best-tasting coffee
  • are easiest to use
  • make the best-frothed milk
  • are able to maintain consistent coffee temperature over consecutive cups.

Australians love our coffee – possibly a little too much. According to Appliance Retailer magazine, a staggering 36% of us consume five or more cups of coffee a day. But whether or not we’re drinking too much, it’s certainly important to us that we drink good coffee, and that’s where these machines come in.

With so many designs, features and technologies on offer, you need to make time to research before buying an espresso machine. Think about what kind of coffee you're after and which model will give you the results you want.

We cover four types of coffee machine in our testing:

  • Capsule machines are designed to capture and convert the hearts of instant coffee lovers as well as those who value ease of use. With a variety of brands available at a range of prices, and the emergence of these machines in supermarkets, this category has gone from strength to strength and in July 2013 was worth $100 million, according to GFK sales data. These machines use a coffee capsule filled with enough coffee for a single shot. Simply insert the capsule and the machine pierces it to allow hot water to flow through and make the shot.
  • Manual and semi-automatic machines are for those who want the hands-on experience to make their own coffee exactly how they like it. Semi-automatic machines will automatically cut off the flow of coffee once a preset amount has been poured into the cup, while with a manual machine you have total control and need to cut the flow of coffee yourself.
  • Hand pump machines We've tested one hand pump machine, which works on the same principles as a manual machine except that you need to use a pump action to push the water through the ground coffee.
There are also automatic machines for those who want convenience with the ability to experiment with their own beans. We've tested these machines separately.

A 30mL shot of espresso forms the base of any coffee. You should use fresh coffee beans and grind them just before use, which means you'll need a coffee grinder

Video: How we test espresso machines

CHOICE takes a close look at the next generation of espresso machines and talks about what to look for in a good machine. For more information see our latest test results.

Models tested

  • Breville Cafe Venezia BES250
  • Breville Professional 800 Collection 800ES #
  • Breville The Barista Express BES860 (A)
  • Breville The Barista Express BES870 #
  • Breville The Dual Boiler BES900 (A)
  • Breville The Dual Boiler BES920 #
  • Breville The Infuser BES840
  • Breville The Oracle BES980 #
  • Bugatti 15-Diva CM
  • DeLonghi EC860.M
  • DeLonghi Genio EDG455.B Nescafe Dolce Gusto #
  • DeLonghi Icona ECO310.W
  • DeLonghi Nespresso Lattissima+ EN520.S
  • DeLonghi Nespresso Pixie & Aeroccino 3 EN125.RAE #
  • DeLonghi Nespresso & Aeroccino 3 EN110BAE #
  • Electrolux Lavazza A Modo Mio ELM5250S
  • Expobar Office SA
  • Expressi K-fee (Aldi)
  • Gaggia Classic II 2013 #
  • La Pavoni Eurobar EBR24A (A)
  • La Pavoni Stradivari Lusso V230 STL
  • Map Bella SO4 Caffitaly System
  • Map Luna Caffitaly System #
  • Map S02HS Perfecto Caffitaly System
  • Nuova Simonelli Oscar Professional #
  • Philips Saeco Poemia HD8327
  • Rancilio Miss Silvia V3
  • Saeco Via Venezia Inox
  • Sunbeam Cafe Crema II EM4820
  • Sunbeam Café Espresso II EM3820 # - Product recall (see below)
  • Sunbeam Cafe Series EM6910
  • Sunbeam Cafe Series EM7000
  • Sunbeam Espresso Vita EM6200
  • Sunbeam Piccolo Espresso EM2800 #
  • Woolworths Caffitaly Coffee Machine S14
# Newly tested models.
(A) Discontinued.

Product recall: The Sunbeam Cafe Espresso II EM3820, sold between February 2013 and March 2014, has been recalled. Check the three-digit product code which appears on the label. Only product codes 033, 103, 113, 153, 293 and 323 are being recalled. If you have one of these machines stop using the machine and unplug it from the wall.
Contact Sunbeam on 1300 882 570.

Defect details: Movement of the milk-frothing wand may cause abrasion of wiring inside the machine, resulting in failure of insulation. This gives rise to the risk of electric shock.

How we test

Our tester, Peter Horvath, scores each of the coffee machines on:
  • Taste (rated in a blind taste test by three coffee experts). Peter uses a premium coffee for our taste test.
  • Ease of use (including ease of programming, controls, group handle/filter and refilling with water and coffee)
  • Frothing milk for lattes and cappuccinos
  • Coffee temperature consistency over consecutive cups

To remove any factory smells and tastes, Peter pumps a litre of hot water through each of the machines, then makes 12 cups of espresso coffee (not for testing), one after another.

Capsule machines for these machines Peter chooses the capsule flavour that best resembles an espresso shot. He tries most (if not all) of the flavours supplied for a particular machine before he chooses which capsule will be used for the test.

Choose right: coffee machines

Meet our experts

For our taste test we've recruited the expert palates of David (left) and Matthew (middle) Gee from Barista Basics and our home economist, Fiona Mair (right). They taste a 30mL shot of espresso from each machine in a blind taste test and assess each shot by looking at the colour and thickness of the crema, the aroma, flavour, mouthfeel and aftertaste. We use a reference machine to check the consistency of our taste testers. Peter uses single wall baskets where supplied (double wall if no single is supplied) and an ECM grinder to get the right grind.


For more information on coffee products, see grinders and coffee roasters.


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