If you love drinking espressos on the go, our guide to the best mini espresso machines might be able to help. If you have an espresso-drinking habit, chances are you’re spending a lot on takeaway coffee. Grabbing an espresso on the way to work every day is easily done but can become an expensive habit over time. If you want to save money, you might have considered buying an espresso machine.
However, espresso machines can be a big investment – and they can be bulky, taking up a lot of space in your kitchen. If you live in a tiny home, you’re traveling in an RV, or you just haven’t got much kitchen space, you can still enjoy an espresso machine – there are lots out there that are designed to be slimline and compact.
Plus, the good thing about having a coffee machine at home is most of them are pretty versatile, so you can enjoy other types of coffee as well as espressos.
We’ll cover these in our guide, looking at each model’s features, and their specifications, and their pros and cons. Hopefully, you can find the best mini espresso machine for you. Firstly, here’s an overview of the main features of the models we’re looking at today.
Best Mini Espresso Machines – an Overview
|Model||Size||Color Options||Coffee Types||Capacity|
|NESCAFE Dolce Gusto Esperta 2||6.5 x 10.8 x 11.7in||Black/Chrome||Capsules: espresso, latte, cappuccino, macchiato, mocha hot chocolate||1 pod/1 cup|
|Moocoo Manual Espresso Maker||8.3 x 2.8 x 2.8in||Black||Capsules or grounds: espressos, americanos, lattes, cold brews, cappuccinos, ice-cream coffee||1 pod/1 cup|
|STARESSO Portable Espresso Machine||2.8 x 2.8 x 9.6in||Black||Single/Double Espresso, Cappuccino, Latte||1 pod/1 cup|
|Nespresso by De’Longhi EN85RAE Espresso Machine||8.1 x 12.8 x 4.3in||Red||Espressos, cappuccinos, lungos, lattes||1 pod/1 cup|
|Breville-Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine||12.9 x 3.3. x 8in||Black, White||Espresso, Cappuccino, Café Latte, Lungo||1 pod/1 cup|
What Should I Look for in a Mini Espresso Machine?
There are a few things to consider when looking for a mini espresso machine.
Obviously, the first concern you might have is the size. If you have a small kitchen or you want to take your espresso machine into your office, the size will be a big concern.
The machines on this list are very small, so perfect for squeezing into tiny spaces. They’re also light, so if you want to use them in different rooms of your house or take them to work and bring them home again afterward, you should be able to do so easily.
Some mini espresso machines allow you to make coffees on the go – they are designed to be used without electricity, although they do require you to prefill with very hot water. This could be a good option if you’re on the go or you want to have fresh coffee at work.
They also work well for vacations or camping trips. You might find that they don’t make espressos to the standard you would expect from a traditional espresso machine, but it could be a good compromise if you travel a lot.
The standard capacity for a mini espresso machine is one capsule at a time, so you can’t make multiple coffees without refilling the capsules. Some machines store a few empty capsules for your convenience.
Capsules or Grounds?
Capsules have a few advantages. They’re handy, easy to use and store, and require no clean-up (other than throwing them away afterward).
However, they do come at an environmental cost, although some companies have a recycling program for used coffee capsules. They also tend to be more expensive. Even portable machines can use capsules.
Some machines allow you to use grounds. These tend to be cheaper. If you like, you can buy whole beans and use a separate grinder to grind them fresh each day.
Do you just want to make espressos, or do you want to make other drinks, too? Some are more versatile than others, but most espresso machines offer different types of coffee, so you can make macchiatos, lattes, and cappuccinos with the same machine.
Check which capsules/grounds your machine uses to make sure you can get the drink you want. Typically, you can make:
You may come across something known as ‘bars of pressure’. This measures atmospheric pressure – one bar is equal to the amount of natural pressure at sea level.
The general standard is 9-10 bars for a good espresso. The word espresso in Italian means ‘pressed-out coffee’, so the pressure is important when it comes to espresso making.
However – more bars do not necessarily mean better quality. Some coffee experts believe that higher bars do not mean much, and the greater the pressure, the faster the machine may wear out. So even if a machine says it has 20 bars of pressure, that may not be the optimum pressure for the perfect espresso.
The great thing about a mini espresso machine is the low price point. Compared to bigger models, they tend to be pretty cheap, especially portable models. This is great if you’re on a tight budget but still want to save money on your takeaway coffee habit. Generally, you can expect to pay under $200 for a mini espresso machine, but this can vary.
Some models come with built-in safety features, like automatic shut-off. This is helpful if you’re in a rush and you forget to switch off the machine. It also helps to save energy. Portable espresso machines tend to come with an insulated cup to prevent you from scalding your hands.
5 of The Best Mini Espresso Machines on Market Today
NESCAFE Dolce Gusto Esperta 2 – Best All-Rounder
This compact single-serve model has a lot going for it. It uses a pressure-based system with 15 bars of pressure. It uses Dolce Gusto Capsules exclusively, so this is something to bear in mind. The capsules are hermetically sealed – supposedly, this locks in more flavor, as it prevents humidity and oxygen from damaging the coffee.
The great thing about this machine is the versatility. You can make espressos, black coffees, lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, mochas, and even hot chocolate. You can also choose to make hot or cold drinks. The controls are easy to use, with a LED display that makes controlling the machine simple.
It also switches off automatically after five minutes which is great from an energy-saving perspective. The only issue with this one is that the water tank can be difficult to pull out. Some users found it difficult to locate the capsules, having to visit different stores to find them – they are available, but might not be in your local store. You can check the latest price for it here.
- Size: 6.5 x 10.8 x 11.7in
- Capacity: 1 pod/1 cup
- Coffee Type: Espressos, black coffees, lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, mochas, hot chocolates
- Compact size
- Easy to use
- Shuts off automatically after 5 minutes to save energy
- Lots of drinks available
- The water tank is hard to pull out
- Can be difficult to find the capsules
Moocoo Manual Espresso Maker – Best Espresso Maker for Camping or Vacations
For such a small machine, this one packs a lot of power, with 20 bar advanced pumping technology. It mitigates some of the force behind this however during extraction, meaning you should get a perfectly made espresso every time.
It’s very safe to carry around, thanks to the microfilter holes which prevent grounds from leaking and the impact-resistant outer wall. It’s also designed to have anti-scalding properties. To use it, you simply pour milk into the cup, place the pressure rod into place, and press it down repeatedly to create froth.
You can choose to use capsules – as well as espressos they offer americanos, lattes, cold brews, cappuccinos, and even ice cream coffee. You can also use grounds if you prefer. Some users prefer the taste of grounds using this model.
The disadvantage of this machine is that it won’t produce coffee-shop-perfect espressos that you may expect from other machines, which is the trade-off for having a portable model requiring no batteries or electricity.
They do suggest using it in a stable environment for your own safety – so a bumpy bus ride might not be the best place for it. You’re better off using this if you travel, for example, if you go camping often or you’re traveling in an RV. You can see the latest price for it here.
- Size: 8.3 x 2.8 x 2.8in
- Capacity: 1 cup
- Coffee Type: Espressos, americanos, lattes, cold brews, cappuccinos, ice-cream coffee
- Portable – you can take it anywhere
- Versatile choice of drinks using pods or grounds
- No need for electricity or batteries
- Needs to be filled with hot water/milk each time you want a fresh coffee
- Doesn’t make coffee-shop standard espressos
STARESSO Portable Espresso Machine – Most Stylish Portable Espresso Machine
Like the Morocco espresso maker, this is another great portable model. It weighs just 0.97lbs, so you can carry it around with ease – but it can hold up to 80ml of water and 0.53oz of ground coffee. It offers 15-20 bar pressure. It looks great – with a sleek black casing, it’s definitely one of the better-looking models out there.
It is compatible with capsules – you can poke a few holes in the bottom of the capsule and you’re good to go. It suggests using Nespresso capsules, so this is a good option if you love NESCAFE and want to have a good coffee on the go. It’s also compatible with ground coffee.
It’s designed to be simple to use. Just fill the coffee basket with grounds (or a pod with holes poked in), put the basket in the bottom cap, screw it tightly shut, add water, release and press the plunger, and you’re all done. Again, it doesn’t make a perfect espresso that you might be able to make with a larger espresso machine.
It’s made from BPA-free material. It also comes with a 2-year warranty if you encounter any problems. The parts can be easily cleaned using water. Users really enjoy the taste of the coffee they can make using this model – some even said the coffee tasted better than traditional coffee machines they have tried. They do suggest using the pods for maximum flavor and less hassle. You can check the latest price for it here.
- Size: 2.8 x 2.8 x 9.6in
- Capacity: 1 cup
- Coffee Type: Espressos, americanos, lattes, cold brews, cappuccinos
- Looks stylish
- Compatible with Nespresso pods
- Can use grounds too
- Versatile – can make different types of coffee
- Doesn’t make the same standard of espresso as bigger machines
Nespresso by De’Longhi EN85RAE Espresso Machine Bundle with Aeroccino Milk Frother – Best Value for Money
This stylish, 19-bar pressure model looks great in red or black – it has an interesting design but saves space on your worktop. It weighs 5.1lbs, so although you cannot use it on the go, you could still take it into your office and bring it home afterward with no problems.
It comes with the Aeroccino 3 milk frother – this allows you to get more of a professional, coffee-shop style finish to your cappuccinos and lattes. The machine itself is efficient. It uses a one-touch system and raises the temperature to the right amount in under 30 seconds. It automatically shuts down after 9 minutes, too, keeping you safe and saving energy.
It has an adjustable cup size with two programmable settings – espresso and lungo. You can also pour your drinks over ice to create the perfect iced coffee.
Plus, each espresso machine comes with a capsule welcome kit – so you can try each flavor. Users enjoy the quality of the coffee, but some have experienced issues with parts wearing out more quickly than they would expect. You can check the latest price for it here.
- Size: 8.1 x 12.8 x 4.3in
- Capacity: 1 pod/1 cup
- Coffee Type: Espressos, lungos, cappuccinos, lattes
- Looks stylish
- Very compact
- Great-tasting coffee
- Comes with a frother in the bundle
- Parts may wear out eventually
Breville-Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine – Best Low-Budget Espresso Machine
If you’re on a budget but you want a decent espresso machine, this is a good choice. It may not look as aesthetically pleasing as some of the more expensive models, but it does the job well.
It has a 19-bar high-pressure pump and only takes a few seconds to heat up, perfect for those extra busy mornings. It’s really easy to insert the capsules too. It has two programmable coffee settings, with an automatic flow-stop for lungo and espresso making.
It comes with an eco-mode for low energy consumption after three minutes, and an automatic energy-saving function that switches the machine off after nine minutes of inactivity.
It’s also simple to clean, with a removable water tank. It makes good coffee – users praise the flavor of the Nespresso capsules – and they like how quickly it heats up. The only downside is that it can be difficult to tell when the capsules are clicked in properly. You can find the latest price for it here.
- Size: 12.9 x 3.3 x 8in
- Capacity: 1 pod/1 cup
- Coffee Type: Espressos, lungos, cappuccinos, lattes
- Low price point
- Easy to use
- Only takes a few seconds to heat up
- Eco-mode saves energy
- Can be difficult to click the pods into place
Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about mini espresso machines:
Answer: Yes, they’re just as safe as bigger models. Most of them come with automatic shut-off, so if you forget to switch them off after use, they will switch itself off instead.
Answer: That depends really – we think they’re definitely worth it if you want to save money on coffee-shop espressos, or if you want to enjoy coffee on the go. If you don’t think you’ll use it more than once a week or so, it may not be worth the initial expense.
Answer: If you’re grinding your own beans or using pre-ground beans, you will probably see beans labeled as ‘espresso beans’. If not, Lavazza beans work beautifully in espressos (but again, they’re usually labeled Lavazza Espresso Beans).
Answer: When hot water hits coffee grounds at high pressures, the water emulsifies the oils in the coffee and becomes saturated with CO2. This creates lots of tiny bubbles, which make up the crema. Perfect if you want to try to create foam art in your morning cappuccino.
Answer: That depends on the model you’re using. In a capsule-based machine, you simply pop the capsule in and press the buttons as instructed. Travel machines are slightly different – you usually fill one compartment with water or milk, fill another compartment with coffee grounds or a pod, and plunge the lever down. Each machine should come with detailed instructions.
Conclusion: Which Mini Espresso Machine is the Best?
So, which mini espresso machine would we recommend? Any of the models on this list would be a good choice if you’re after a decent espresso, but don’t have a lot of space to work with.
If you want to be able to make fresh coffee on a long commute, the STARESSO Portable Espresso Machine is great. It looks stylish, and it’s very light, so once you’ve finished your coffee, it won’t be bulky or difficult to carry. It works really well with capsules, so if you enjoy the flavor of capsules over grounds, it works well – but you can use grounds if you prefer.
However, overall, we’d go for the NESCAFE Dolce Gusto Esperta 2. It ticks all the boxes: it looks great, it works very easily and quickly, you can get different capsules for a variety of coffees, and it has a great safety shut-off after five minutes of inactivity. If you’ve got a small kitchen but you want a nice espresso in the mornings, it’s a really good choice.
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