Best Espresso Machines Reviewed and Tested

There is no better way to start the day than a cup of freshly brewed fragrant coffee. But how do you make sure it is a treat you do not miss out on particularly when time is of the essence as you prepare for a busy day ahead?

The answer to that question can be found in the ideal espresso machine. Getting the one which will suit your needs will ensure you make every moment count while also treating yourself to your favorite beverage too.

Our Top 3 Picks

Mr. Coffee ECMP1000
  • Mr. Coffee ECMP1000
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • High pressure
  • Price: See Here
Nespresso Inissia
  • Nespresso Inissia
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Compact brewing
  • Price: See Here
Bialetti Moka Express
  • Bialetti Moka Express
  • 4.2 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Unique design
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Espresso Machines


1. Mr. Coffee ECMP1000

Created to ensure anyone can enjoy gourmet coffee right at home, this espresso maker is not only versatile but really easy to use making it ideal for beginners and more skilled brewers. It also comes with 15 bars which will guarantee an efficient brewing process to produce great tasting results.

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Features and Specifications

Manufacturer: Mr. Coffee
Product Dimensions: 12 x 14 x 12.2 inches
Weight: 9 pounds
Color: Chrome and black
Category: Kitchenware


Compared to other coffee machines, it is actually of an average price. As a result of this and its qualities, it is a great bargain for anyone who is fond of gourmet coffee and would like to enjoy it whenever they can.


If you are a fan of professionally prepared coffees, but have always felt reluctant to make similar brews at home because you feel you lack the knowhow, the Mr. Coffee ECMP1000 will be the ideal espresso machine for you. Thanks to its control panel it will provide you with great tasting coffee ensuring you get to enjoy the full coffee shop experience at home.
  • Suitable for espressos, cappuccinos and lattes.
  • 15 bar pump system for making delicious espressos
  • Automatic milk frother
  • Capable of providing double and single servings
  • Slightly loud
  • A significant amount of effort required to fit in filter and milk tank

2. Nespresso D40-US-BK-NE

Are you a fan of the espresso and all its varieties and would love to have an appliance which is compact, affordable and highly efficient? The Nespresso Inissia Espresso Maker might be just what you need.

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Compact brewing unit technology

Thanks to the Nespresso Inissia Espresso Makers design it is especially efficient and does not require warming up before it is used. What’s more it also includes a pump which has an impressive pressure of 19 bars. As a result it will brew your espresso in 25 seconds and provide great results every time.

Features and Specifications

Manufacturer: Nespresso
Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 4.7 x 9 inches
Weight: 5.3 pounds
Color: Black
Category: Kitchenware


This espresso machine comes with an impressive pressure value compared to a number of more expensive models. It is also moderately priced and quite efficient. These qualities and much more make it a great bargain for any espresso fan.


Fast, energy efficient and compact not to mention moderately priced, this option is every espresso enthusiast’s dream. It is also really compact and comes with an ergonomic handle for added safety. However its lack of durability and noisy operation do detract from what makes it an otherwise excellent choice of espresso machine.
  • An impressive brewing time of 25 seconds
  • 19 bar pump system for making delicious varieties of espressos
  • Compact design
  • Capable of providing double and single servings.
  • Energy efficient.
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Unit is rather noisy when operated
  • Is slightly lacking in durability

3. Bialetti 06800

In this era of automated appliances it is worth remembering that the traditional means of doing things still remains as efficient as ever. And that that is where the Bialetti Moka comes in. Designed by the Italian manufacturer Bialetti, it provides espresso fans with the opportunity to experience the flavor of traditionally brewed Italian coffee using the moka, Italian kitchenware which is used for brewing espressos.

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A unique design for even heat distribution

When it comes to brewing an espresso, heat distribution is everything. And thanks to the octagonal shape of this coffee pot, you will be certain of experiencing just that each time you brew your espresso so that it turns out full of flavor. This kitchenware item also includes a patented safety valve and is really easy to clean.

Features and Specifications

Manufacturer: Bialetti
Product Dimensions: 4 x 5 x 6 inches
Weight: 1.1 pounds
Color: Silver
Category: Kitchenware


The espresso maker is really inexpensive which no surprise is since the item itself is a manual one. It also comes with great features to ensure consistent results and is a great bargain which will enable you to discover authentic Italian coffee.


This option is a must have for any espresso enthusiast who wishes to enjoy the traditional Italian espresso brewed using the moka. However it is worth noting that close monitoring is required to achieve optimism results and that the item may only be washed by hand.

  • Unique design which ensures even heat distribution
  • 2 year warranty
  • Heat must be monitored during use to prevent contents burning

4. Breville BES870XL

When it comes to brewing gourmet coffee in the comfort of your own home, nothing beats using fresh coffee beans to make your brew. Especially when you can be certain of getting amazing results every time with minimal effort. If you are a beginner when it comes to espresso making or even a skillful barista you will love the the Breville BES870XL Barista Express which has been made with coffee enthusiasts in mind.
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Integrated conical burr grinder

The Breville BES870XL includes a conical burr grinder which is extremely efficient at grinding the coffee beans to ensure maximum flavor. It also includes a half-pound bean hopper which has a locking system and which makes it possible to store and transfer coffee beans with ease. Controls which make it possible to choose the smoothness of the ground coffee are also provided.

Features and Specifications

Manufacturer: Breville
Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 12.5 x 15.8 inches
Weight: 23 pounds
Color: Silver
Category: Kitchenware


This is one of the most expensive models available on the market. However considering its impressive range of features it is hardly surprising. Its high level of efficiency as well as really useful features make it a worthwhile purchase for fans of fresh, tasty coffee.


Certain espresso machines have been made especially for people who take their coffee seriously and the Breville BES870XL is one of them. If you like the idea of being able to grind your own beans to ensure extra freshness and flavor, in addition to other outstanding features, you will find this appliance to be a worthwhile investment.

  • A highly efficient grinding system
  • A 360degree swivel action steam wand
  • A 15 bar pump
  • Slightly loud
  • A significant amount of effort required to fit in filter and milk tank

5. Ninja Coffee CF091

Espresso machines are meant to provide you with a choice in flavor and even size. It is also an added bonus when they add a nice modern touch to your kitchen. The Ninja Coffee Bar Glass Carafe System (CF091) promises to deliver on all these points and more and its key features have been provided below to enable you decide if it actually does.
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Custom brews

This appliance comes with the options of allowing you to brew Classic, Rich, Over Ice or Signature brews enabling you to enjoy different varieties of coffee. That way you can treat yourself to a richly, flavored cup of coffee, or an iced drink which will retain its full flavor, in addition to other options which are available for you to try out any time you choose to.

Features and Specifications

Manufacturer: SharkNinja
Product Dimensions: 15 x 11.3 x 16.3 inches
Weight: 12.7 pounds
Color: Silver and black
Category: Kitchenware


This espresso machine is slightly pricey when compared to other appliances. However it does provide you with a wide range of options in terms of varieties of coffee brews and will also look great on your kitchen counter. These features make it a worthwhile addition to your kitchenware collection.


The Ninja Coffee Bar Glass Carafe System will function as a mini automated barista, providing you with a range of hot and cold drinks which are all full of flavor. Just as importantly it is also really easy to use and clean ensuring you will benefit from a great all round experience. These qualities and more make it the ideal choice of coffee maker for starting your day in spite of its price.
  • Built in frother
  • 6brew sizes
  • Pod single serve and carafe coffee system
  • Advanced thermal flavor technology
  • Auto iq one touch intelligence
  • Slightly costly

6. Wacaco MPGR100

Imagine if you had the ability to make your brew of choice anywhere, anytime you chose to, without any hassle or fuss at all. It does actually seem pretty amazing and almost unbelievable doesn’t it? But it really isn’t since dreams can come true. Thanks to the Wacacaco Company Minipresso you can really enjoy your espresso on the move.
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The Wacaco Company maker is highly efficient and does not require any batteries or electric power since it has to be operated manually. It is also really easy to use thanks to its intuitive design and comes with and integrated scoop which lets you add coffee to the filter basket.

All these qualities mean it is perfect for taking on a trip and capable of providing you with the perfect espresso no matter where you are.

Features and Specifications

Manufacturer: Wacaco Company
Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 2.8 x 2.4 inches
Weight: 10.4 ounces
Color: Black
Category: Kitchenware


It is averagely priced and costs more than most coffee makers at the lower end of the pricing scale. Its price in addition to its convenience, user friendliness and great results in terms of brewed coffee make it worth getting for anyone who loves to enjoy coffee on the go.


If you want to enjoy the luxury of a flavor filled rich espresso at work, on a trip, while camping, this espresso maker is the perfect espresso machine for you. Thanks to its compact size and weight which makes it easily portable, its user friendliness and ability to provide just great tasting coffee it will prove a worthy investment for you.
  • Small compact size
  • Capable of providing high quality espressos
  • Great value for money
  • Easy to use
  • Difficult to clean
  • Capable of providing only limited amounts of coffee

7. Breville BES840XL

Every fan of good coffee deserves to have an espresso maker which will provide them with the full coffee house experience in the comfort of their own home. If you have ever wished you had your own automated barista right at home with you, you may find that the Breville BES840XL is the answer to your wishes. We have outlined its key qualities to enable you decide if it ticks all the right boxes.
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Efficient steam wand

Everyone who loves milky coffee will love this feature since it means extra special lattes and cappuccinos. This wand is actually made from stainless steel, is capable of swiveling 360 degrees and even accommodating different sized frothing jugs.

Espresso gauge

The point of having your very own coffee machine is to make sure you continuously get to enjoy tasty brews whenever you want to. The espresso gauge ensures that is the case by enabling you to monitor the extraction pressure of your espresso so that it will turn out just right.

Features and Specifications

Manufacturer: HWI/Breville USA
Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 12.5 x 13.2 inches
Weight: 17 pounds
Color: Silver
Category: Kitchenware


In terms of coffee machine, the Breville BES840XL is quite pricey. However it certainly won’t break the bank and is likely to prove highly cost effective in the long term since it will provide you with the full range of all your favorite coffee based drinks with the added convenience of enjoying them in the comfort of your own home.


If you have longed for the full coffee house experience with having to endure lengthy queues at your neighborhood coffee shop, you will love the Breville BES840XL. Especially since you will be able to brew whatever you want to your exact specifications. Its excellent range of functional features in addition to the above, make it worth investing in.

  • Replaceable water filter
  • Stainless steel steam wand
  • A dedicated outlet for instant hot water
  • Thermocoil heating system
  • One of the heaviest models in this category 
  • A very costly coffee maker

8. Hamilton Beach Model 40792

For a long time, it has seemed that the only way to enjoy the full benefits of excellent coffee is by splurging on a really pricey espresso machine. Thankfully Hamilton Beach has stepped in with its 40792 Espresso & Cappuccino Maker which is not only moderately priced but equipped to provide great results.
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A 15 bar Italian pump

The 40792 includes a pump which is capable of exerting 15 bars of pressure, providing it with the full force and steam required. That means you can look forward to the perfect espresso with a rich crema and full flavor.
Your perfect cup with minimal effort

This espresso machine will ensure you get it right every time by achieving perfect results. And it is all thanks to its patented slide and lock feature which ensures that each brew can be made by locking the filter holder on the side and simply flicking the lever.

Features and Specifications

Manufacturer: Hamilton Beach
Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 9.7 x 11.7 inches
Weight: 9.4 pounds
Color: Black
Category: Kitchenware


In terms of price, this option is actually quite cheap. Its low-cost and the special features it comes with such as its 15 bar Italian pump, its patented lock and slide filter in addition to its removable water filter and drip tray make it an excellent choice for anyone who believes in starting the day with a hot, delicious mug of coffee.


Compact, versatile and competitively priced, the 40792 seems to tick all then right boxes especially since it is also easy to use. That said, it seems to be slightly less robust and slower than more expensive models. However, its features and low price make it a suitable bargain if you are interested in purchasing an espresso machine for short term use.

  • Removable parts which are easy to clean
  • 15 bar Italian pump
  • Patented lock and slide feature
  • Less robust than other more expensive models
  • Works with less speed than costlier models

9. Delonghi EMK6

Certain appliances do a great job of combining the traditional with the modern. If you are a fan of the traditional Italian moka or would simply love to experience the country’s authentic espresso provided by a more modern version, the Delonghi EMK6 might be just what you are looking for.

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A robust appliance with efficient safety modes

The Delonghi EMK6 has been designed to give you your money’s worth in terms of its durability thanks to its robust boiler. The boiler also shuts off automatically to prevent overheating and will switch off when the coffeemaker is separated from the base.

Features and Specifications

Manufacturer: DeLonghi Kitchenware
Product Dimensions: 10.4 x 8.1 x 5.5 inches
Weight: 2.9 pounds
Color: Black and silver
Category: Kitchenware


This is one of the cheaper models of espresso machines available and includes a wide range of features which will ensure that the process of brewing your espresso is not only as convenient as possible but also as close as possible to the Italian traditional moka style. These qualities make it quite attractive to anyone interested in enjoying a traditional Italian espresso with a modern twist.


This espresso machine has been equipped with the required features to provide an authentic Italian experience of one of the nation’s most famous brews. Light, robust and versatile, it seems to live up to its promises and is also rather inexpensive. However it does tend to lose pressure during brewing and is also difficult to clean due to the wires at the base. These drawbacks however do not prevent it from being an excellent option for any fan of a tasty well brewed espresso.
  • Transparent container which makes it possible to view the brewing process
  • Safety automatic shut off which will prevent contents from burning or overflowing
  • Robust appliance
  • Slightly difficult to clean
  • May also leak

10. Barista Express

Fans of well brewed coffee have claimed that you do not need to break the bank to purchase an espresso maker worth having since cheaper models may also come with a few pleasant surprises. It would seem that the Barista Express Machine belongs to this category of coffee machines which come with an impressive range of features.
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A prompt and efficient appliance

It includes a powerful 800W steamer which will brew your traditionally European cappuccinos and lattes in no time at all. What’s more, a drip tray that can be removed is included as well as a nozzle making it easy to clean as well as a glass decanter with a cool touch handle.

Features and Specifications

Manufacturer: Unique Imports
Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 8.5 x 10.2 inches
Weight: 4.8 pounds
Color: Black and silver
Category: Kitchenware


This is one of the 5 cheapest coffee makers available in this list. However this low cost is reflected in its lack of durability. On the plus side, it is rather quite fast and efficient when brewing beverages.


Cheap, efficient and slightly fragile, this espresso machine seems to prove fans of inexpensive espresso machine is right to a certain extent.

However its fragility is one drawback which may mean investing slightly more to obtain a more durable option might be a more practical option.
  • One year warranty
  • Measuring scoop provided
  • Removable drip tray and nozzle
  • Great value for money
  • Unsuitable for heavy use

Criteria for Evaluation

The espresso makers on our list are wildly different. Some are suited for travel, and others can serve multiple guests. It’s difficult to tell what some of them even are, judging by appearances alone. In order to fairly evaluate these different machines, we applied the same set of criterion to them all.

The individual criteria are listed below, and in-depth explanations follow. If you have any further questions, be sure to check out the FAQ at the end of our article.

Quality of Materials and Construction

You can often tell what kind of materials a machine is made of based on its price. Sturdier materials, like stainless steel and other metals, cost more. On the other hand, the more plastic an item contains, the cheaper it may be sold.

Although every item has different qualities, and core performance isn’t directly tied to materials, quality construction makes all the difference. It’s also true that weaker materials break under far less strain. This increases the chances of broken products arriving at your home.

In fact, since it doesn’t fit tidily into any of our other criteria, shipping damages fall under this consideration. Packaging is a reflection of a manufacturer’s investment in a product.

Poorly packaged espresso machines usually come from manufacturers with poor customer support and little interest in the performance of their products. The stronger the materials, the better the construction, and the safer the shipping arrangements, the higher a product will rate in this category.

Ease of Use

The more hassle a user must engage in to get a good cup of coffee, the lower a product will rank in this category. Considerations include things like ease of access to the water reservoir. How easy is it to pour water into? Is it easy to spill? Are measurements clearly marked on the machine so it’s easy to make the right amount of espresso?

using espresso maker

The milk frother needs to be a convenient length, and it can’t just send all the milk spewing out of the cup.

Multiple preparation options make the machine easier and more convenient. Machines that can provide one or two cups at a time also increase an espresso maker’s ease of use score. It’s easier to make two cups at a time rather than one at a time if you’re entertaining. Noise is another concern in this category.

After all, if your partner is still in bed when you need to grab your coffee and go to work, silence is golden. Cleanup falls under maintenance, which we’ll describe in more detail below.

Core Performance

Core performance is all about how well a product fulfills its intended use. In this case, this criterion is all about how well an espresso maker makes espresso.

Core performance includes some secondary factors in this case, however. Since espresso machines typically make other drinks, like lattes, these secondary functions also count towards core performance.

After all, people rarely buy espresso machines to make espresso alone.

find the best espresso machine

One of the most important aspects of core performance in this instance is speed. Most consumers take their coffee in the morning. During the daily juggle of preparing for work, taking care of family, and preparing the morning meal, people need a machine that makes espresso quickly and with relatively little effort. While people still expect to have to froth the milk themselves, they shouldn’t have to babysit the machine throughout the entire process.

Core performance addresses the quality of the final drink as well. While the type of beans used will obviously make a big difference in this category, the espresso maker should easily get hot enough, and be well-sealed enough to get a strong, dark brew.

If your espresso maker leaves you with coffee that could have come from a percolator, then it has failed core performance entirely.
Other traits that count against core performance include nuisances like coffee grounds in the cup with the espresso. If an espresso maker requires a ridiculous amount of beans in order to meet core performance criteria, then is also loses some points. Highly breakable parts technically belong in the materials and construction category, but they influence core performance ratings, too.


Any kitchen appliance you use every day needs to be extremely easy to clean. Regular cleaning increases the lifespan of essentially any kitchen product, and it prevents a lot of bacteria, mold, and other undesirables from making a home in the same containers you use to make food. However, cleaning isn’t always easy.

An espresso machine has a lot of moving parts and deep troughs. Since it uses electricity to function, you can’t just chuck the entire thing in the dishwasher, either. The best way to clean most of these devices to wipe down the exterior and accessible interior spaces with a damp towel.

To get an optimal maintenance score, however, an espresso machines needs at least one or two removable parts. These are often cups used to hold espresso grounds, drip trays, and even water reservoirs. The more of these a machine boasts, the better its maintenance score will be.

Design also plays a role in maintenance. If there are small joints in the area where you insert the grounds, they will inevitably prove tricky to clean. They’ll also get dirty just about every time you use the machine. A sleek finish isn’t just nice to look at. It’s also nicer to clean. Since coffee is highly acidic, good, easy maintenance prevents your brew from slowly eating away at your machine’s looks.

5 Tips to Make a Mean Italian Coffee

how to make italian coffee

Italian coffee is a favorite around the world, but making this particular kind of brew can be tricky, especially for beginners. It’s the polar opposite of Americano, which literally waters down espresso. In order to help you master your coffee making skills, here are five tips for making a great cup of Italian coffee.

Pick the Right Machine

There’s more than one way to make great Italian coffee, but you need to know in advance what you want to make. Moka pots are the low tech, traditional stove-top percolators that most Italians actually use to make regular coffee. The coffee they make is what Americans would consider espresso, and they may actually use espresso grounds to make it.

By far the simplest way to make espresso is to buy an espresso maker and master it through practice and experimentation. Still, some people enjoy the simpler process of making coffee with espresso grounds in a moka pot.

espresso maker

Keep in mind that if you plan on drinking anything besides a simple Italian coffee, you’ll either need the attachments that come with an espresso maker, or you’ll have to buy additional tools. At the top of this list is a milk frother.

You may also want to buy a canoical burr grinder so you can buy whole beans and grind them fresh at home. Most espresso makers come with the tools you’ll need to make lattes and cappuccinos, but you’ll probably have to buy a grinder separately. Selecting the right tools is essential to making a mean Italian coffee, so take your time when you go shopping. This is the foundation of your new coffee habit, after all.

Use the Right Kind of Grounds

The beans are the greatest determining factor in the flavor and quality of your coffee. When you’re looking to make an Italian coffee, it’s best to look for espresso. Italian style coffee uses extremely dark roasts. The beans must be ground extremely finely, too.

As we mentioned in the previous tip, you may want to invest in grinder. While there’s nothing wrong with using pre-ground espresso, purists almost always insist on grinding whole beans fresh at home. A regular grinder is fine for percolated or French press techniques, but Italian coffee is closer to espresso. Bladed grinders can’t always grind the beans as evenly or finely as they need to be.

coffee grinder

The best grinders are burr grinders. If you cannot afford a grinder for whole beans right now, then make sure you buy the right kind of ground beans at the store. When in doubt, go with espresso. Pre-ground coffee labeled as espresso will have the right grind and roast. If you’re buying whole beans, choose from the darkest roasts available.

Use Cold Water

It’s tempting to put hot or warm water into your machine to speed up the process, but that’s never a good idea. For one thing, it throws off percolation time and temp in moka pots. It can also confuse espresso making machines. Great Italian coffee needs specific temperatures in order to create the right kind of brew. Any kind of espresso machine or percolator is designed for cold water. This gives the beans time to brew, and it’s easier to reach the planned temperatures.

This is all doubly true in the case of espresso and Italian coffee. The final brew isn’t just darker; it’s thicker. Cold water gives the process enough time to extract solids from the coffee, which give espresso its thicker consistency. Without this, espresso ends up looking and tasting like a drip coffee maker’s version of dark roast. Some things cannot be rushed. No matter how much of a hurry you’re in, always go with cold water.

Don’t Pack Your Grounds

making espresso

Whether you’re using a fancy machine or a traditional moka pot, don’t pack your grounds. We’re trained to pack things that look like coffee grounds from our days of home economics cooking classes. You’re supposed to pack brown sugar, for instance. You should only fill the grounds chamber on any type of coffee maker to the top, however.

Level off the top with a straight edge, but don’t tamp the grounds down. This alters the consistency of the brew, because the hot water cannot flow through at the usual speed. In the worst case scenario, this could actually flood your machine. The best case scenario involves a bitter brew, which is a tragedy in and of itself. In either case, packed coffee grounds often create a sludgy beverage that wouldn’t qualify as a traditional espresso or any other type of Italian coffee.

Break Down Your Sugar Before Filling the Cup

Not many people like straight espresso. Most like sugar, even if they prefer their coffee black. While you can put sugar into your Italian coffee after it’s poured, that’s not really the best way to do it. That technique will never give you that sugary foam that sits at the top of your drink, either. The trick to putting sugar into Italian coffee is to put a few drips of the coffee into the sugar first.

If you’re using a moka pot, you can add a few drips as soon as it starts to percolate. Then you return the pot to the stove to finish percolating while you turn your sugar into cream.

It’s a great time management strategy and ensures everything is fresh and ready at exactly the right time. If you’re using an espresso maker and can’t use that trick, however, all is not lost.

Simply add about a tablespoon of the espresso the sugar as soon as it’s ready. Stir the espresso and sugar mixture until the sugar breaks down. It should look almost like a light, tan cream, even though there’s no dairy involved. Once this concoction is ready, you can add the rest of your espresso the cup.

These tips will help you master the art of making Italian coffees much more quickly. You can avoid weak and sludgy brews, add sugar like a pro, and start on the right foot with the right equipment. Of course, the ultimate tip is to take time to sit back and enjoy your perfect Italian coffee.


Q: Are portable espresso machines available?

They may not be the most efficient solution for daily use, however, especially if you need to make espresso for multiple people. After all, portable appliances have to be small. They’re usually battery powered, too, and they can drain those batteries quickly. If you plan to take a portable espresso maker camping, make sure you take along lots of extra batteries, or you may be stuck carrying an appliance through the wilderness that can’t even help you get up and moving in the mornings. Nothing makes for grumpy campers like a lack of good coffee.

Q: Can I use regular coffee grounds in my espresso machine?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is no. First of all, understand that espresso beans don’t come from a different plant or region. They are just prepared a little differently. Espresso must be very finely ground in order to do well in espresso makers. The beans also need a very dark roast in order to deliver the kind of strong flavor drinkers expect. Regular grounds won’t do as well, but they could still potentially work in your machine. The resulting drink won’t taste much like espresso, though.

Q: Do I need to buy whole beans and a grinder to make good espresso?

This is ultimately a question of taste and lifestyle. Many coffee enthusiasts refuse any kind of coffee, espresso or otherwise, if it hasn’t been made from freshly ground beans.

Depending on the brand, roast, and brew time, even a casual drinker may be able to determine the difference between freshly ground whole beans and pre-ground coffee. On the other hand, there are lots of people who just don’t see – or taste – a difference.

The best way to figure out which you prefer to experiment. That’s the advantage of buying your own machine, after all: freedom.

The next question to address is lifestyle. A lot of people simply don’t have time to stop and grind beans every morning. It’s a very noisy process, too, which makes it difficult to prepare beans early in the morning.

Time and noise restraints mean lots of people who insist on whole beans in general often compromise with pre-ground espresso.

The good news is that there’s a happy medium. You can get the best parts of whole bean flavor without grinding fresh coffee beans every morning.

Many specialty coffee shops offer free grinding for any purchased coffee. This is a common practice in major chains and gourmet boutiques alike. By buying coffee as you need it, you can have fairly freshly ground beans every day.

You can also buy any coffee at the store, take it home, and grind it all at once. Coffee keeps its flavor well in the freezer. If you prefer to grind your own beans, then just grind a week’s worth in advance and store them in the freezer.

Before you rush out to buy coffee beans, however, there are some espresso basics you should know. Espresso requires an extra fine grind.

When espresso goes into the machine, it should look almost like powder. While you could probably have this done at a store, not all home grinders can process beans finely enough for espresso.

This also contributes to part of the reason why even the greatest coffee snobs are willing to buy pre-ground espresso. When in doubt, remember that espresso is more about roast that freshness. So long as the initial roast is good, you’ll enjoy a great cup of espresso in the end.

Q: Is an espresso maker safe for kids to use?

This depends a lot on the age of the kids in question. If you have small children, then no. Unlike coffee percolators, espresso makers require handling while they’re still dangerously hot.

Although the likelihood of an adult being burned is low, the chances are much higher for a child.

You can safely help a child pour in water and slide in grounds to either type of machine, but keep kids well away from espresso makers during the actual espresso-making process. Espresso makers are like pressure cookers for coffee.

If you have older children, and you’re considering teaching them the fine art of coffee-making, then the decision is really up to you.

The chances of injuries are much lower, and the greatest danger is faces by your machine. After all, even the best students make mistakes, and a mistake with an espresso maker may result in a broken machine.

Espresso makers are often the most expensive countertop appliance in a consumer’s kitchen, so assess the risks carefully before you give any responsibilities to children.

Q: How much skill is required to make great coffee from espresso machines?

Most good food appliances provide features which are suitable for both beginners and more experienced coffee enthusiasts.

However certain items which are manually operated may require some level of skill which can easily be acquired through the continuous use of the product.