The Best Espresso Makers to Buy, According to Our Test Kitchen
A great shot of espresso is all about the crema, that light-colored top layer of frothy goodness. It forms when air bubbles—created during the high-pressure brewing process—combine with oils in the finely ground coffee.
"The ideal way to drink espresso is to stir the crema into the shot, instead of sipping it off the top," says Sum Ngai, co-founder of the Coffee Project NY, a New York City training campus for baristas. This gives your shot more body as the crema mixes with the flavorful coffee underneath.
For home baristas, a good crema comes down to the right machine. Here are the espresso makers our Test Kitchen likes best (and if you're looking for other coffee machines, check out the best drip coffee makers).
Best Espresso Makers
Alessi Pulcina 3-Cup Moka Pot
Invented in Italy in the 1930s, moka pots are small, two-chambered espresso makers that brew on your stove top. Here's how they work: Fill the base chamber with water, insert the metal filter and ground coffee, screw the top on, then wait for gurgling. As the water begins to boil, it rises through the grounds into the top chamber. This pot's unique shape makes it a true work of art for your kitchen (Buy it: Amazon, $74).
Breville Bambino Plus
Of all the higher-end models we tried, the Breville Bambino Plus delivered the best espresso and crema. It also impressed our testers with its 3-second heat-up time from a cold start, plus presets for 1- or 2-shot cups. The step up in price means you get features like a steam wand for frothing milk that allows you to make more than just espresso. Latte, cappuccino or macchiato, anyone? (Buy it: Williams Sonoma, $499)
For more on our favorite kitchen tools, check out Ask The Test Kitchen.
This story originally appeared in EatingWell Magazine May 2020.