The Best Coffee Machine in Australia for 2022
Or how to quit your daily café-coffee habit (by enjoying it at home instead).
Some things are best left to the pros. This includes any type of electrical work, hair cuts (here’s looking at you, lockdown hairdressers) and trying to whip up a 3 layer rainbow cake for your bestie’s birthday. However, a decent cup of coffee should be achievable for everyone. Enter an espresso machine. It’ll help you enjoy barista quality coffee without the café price.
The best home coffee machine is easy to use and quickly and consistently delivers great coffee. From automatic to manual, here are the best espresso machines in Australia, chosen from hours of research. This includes independent testing and real Aussie consumer insights.
How we picked
Turns out Aussies are obsessed with coffee. This was reflected in the huge number of coffee machines that CHOICE, Australia’s leading consumer advocacy group, has tested. We started there and chose the models that were easily available in Australia.
To narrow our long list down, we turned to ProductReview.com.au, Australia’s first consumer opinion website. We wanted to see which coffee machines are most loved by Australian coffee drinkers. Normally, we struggle for multiple reviews. Not this time. A lot of coffee machines have well over 100 reviews which meant we were spoilt for choice.
We took a quick look at Canstar Blue, an Australian consumer review and comparison website. They’d recently run a coffee machine brands survey. This gave us an idea of the brands Aussies trust and rate, but not specific models.
Armed with all this information, we set about selecting our shortlist. We did this by focusing on certain functionality. The machines needed to be simple to use and quick – we know that for most people, it’s about grabbing a quick coffee on the way out of the door. We were less focused on technology as that doesn’t always equate to better results for you – anyone understand what a 15-BAR pump does?
We wanted a range of types, from manual machines to semi-automatic and fully automatic coffee machines, to cater to different types of coffee lovers. We also aimed for a range of brands and prices, from the affordable to the blow-the-bank. You’ll note that we haven’t covered the pod espresso machines in this guide – you’ll find these in their own dedicated guide.
Best coffee machine for most
Choose this if
The perfect cup of at-home coffee is in your hands with the Breville the Barista Express, thanks to 1-touch buttons, manual or semi-automatic operation and a built-in grinder. Create latte art with the steam wand or simply enjoy a custom coffee. It’s well-loved by Aussies and comes in under $1,000.
What we love
Easy to use
Thanks to its 1-touch labelled buttons.
Breville reckons it’ll whip up your coffee in less than 1 minute.
Single and double shot
Whatever type of caffeine fiend you’re feeding, you’re covered with both single and double shot options.
You’re not limited to espresso cups, it’ll handle much bigger ones too.
Manual or automatic operation
You can either let the machine do all the hard work, or you can get increased control by choosing a manual coffee machine mode.
Built-in burr grinder
To deliver the right amount of coffee, whenever you need it.
Create café-quality barista art at home – or just enjoy beautifully frothy coffee.
It’s available in stainless steel, red or black to suit all tastes and kitchens.
Which means you won’t be constantly refilling.
It has almost 600 consumer reviews, making it a well-loved bit of Aussie kitchen kit.
The not so good bits
For almost $1,000, we’d expect to see a better warranty than 1-year. At least it’s a repair one, and not a replace.
Breville the Barista Express espresso machine lets you make café-quality coffee at home, quickly and easily. It promises from bean to espresso in under a minute – ideal for those busy mornings. Even better than that, you have full control over how your coffee tastes and how much work you want to put in.
That’s because it’s a semi-automatic coffee machine, which allows you to choose semi-automatic or manual operation. It’s packing some high-end features. This includes an integrated burr grinder which grinds on-demand to deliver the right amount of coffee for your taste. It has a grind size dial, which gives you control over the grind size, whichever bean type you’re grinding. It also boasts a steam wand so you can indulge in some latte art.
It doesn’t skimp on the basics either, like the cup warming plate and hot water function to prewarm your cups. It can handle large cups, so you don’t always have to use espresso ones.
You can produce single or double shots, and it has a generous 2L water tank capacity and 250g bean hopper capacity. The labelled touch buttons are user friendly and easy to use.
It has almost 600 reviews on ProductReview.com.au – the largest amount we’ve seen so far – giving it an impressive 4.4 stars. It’s also been tested by CHOICE and Breville is the 5th most popular Canstar Blue brand, with Aussies loving its taste quality.
All this, for under $1,000.
Best value coffee machine
Choose this if
Whipping up café-style coffee at home needn’t be difficult, as the Sunbeam Mini Barista Espresso Machine proves. With 1 dial and 2 pre-set shot sizes, it has everything you need, including a steam wand. Loved by Aussies, it has a small RRP to match its small footprint: just $299.
What we love
Easy to use
Simply turn the 1 dial to what you need, and the machine will do the rest.
It prides itself on its ability to deliver 1 or 2 shots perfectly, every time.
58mm size group head
Which is commercial coffee machine size, even though it’s a ‘mini’ machine. This allows for a good range of grinds.
Which means it takes up less bench space.
For producing frothy milk.
To avoid constant refills.
RRP $299 makes this a very affordable home espresso machine.
Loved by Aussies
So much so, it’s a recent ProductReview.com.au award winner.
The not so good bits
No built-in coffee grinder
Which means you’ll need to buy ground coffee or a separate grinder, rather than freshly grinding your beans.
It only has a 1-year warranty and no repairable parts.
For a simpler espresso machine, try the Sunbeam Mini Barista Espresso Machine EM4300. It’s packing less features than our winner but has a much lower price, just RRP $299.
Because of the lower price, it’s much easier to use with just 1 dial. Its biggest selling point is its auto shot control. Pre-set 1- and 2-shot measures means you get the right amount of coffee, every time. Plus, you can make 2 cups of coffee at once.
As the name implies (‘Mini’), it has a smaller footprint than our winner. To compensate for this, it has a 58mm size group head like you’d find in commercial coffee makers. This larger size accepts more grinds and helps ensure an even extraction for great tasting coffee.
Like our winner it has a steam wand for perfectly frothed milk, a cup warming plate and 2 litres of water capacity. It’s a ProductReview.com.au award winner 2018, which means it’s been well-rated by the ProductReview community. Currently it has over 160 reviews, where it’s got 4.2 stars. Aussies love how easy it is to use and how good the coffee it makes is.
It’s also been tested by CHOICE and Sunbeam is the 6th most popular coffee machine brand, according to Canstar Blue. It got 4 stars for taste quality and ease of cleaning, and 3 stars in all other categories including value for money and reliability.
Related: The Best Pod Coffee Machine
Best for small kitchens
Choose this if
If space is an issue, meet the Breville the Bambino Plus. This compact espresso machine consistently delivers great coffee, quickly and easily. Even though it’s small, you can still make 1 or 2 cups and choose your froth and milk temperature. It also has an automatic steam wand for barista-quality micro-foam.
What we love
If space is an issue for you, you’ll love the Bambino Plus’ small footprint.
Easy to use
Thanks to the well-labelled buttons, simply select your cup size and it’s good to go.
It has 3 different froth and milk temperatures to make your coffee just as you like it.
Large water tank
At 1.9L, the generous capacity means you won’t be constantly refilling it.
Automatic steam wand
For barista-quality milk frothing.
It has a 3-second heat up time to get you your coffee, pronto.
When you’re done with the steam wand and return it to its position, it’ll automatically ‘purge’ (i.e. blow out any milk stuck in the wand).
You’ll be proud to display it on your kitchen bench.
If something goes wrong within 2 years, Breville will repair it for you. We think this is great for the price.
The not so good bits
No built-in grinder
Which isn’t surprising, given it's a compact home coffee maker.
If space is an issue for you, meet the Breville the Bambino Plus. It’s a lot more compact than the Breville the Barista Express. But it still packs in some great tech. Even though it’s small (it measures 19.5cm W x 32cm D x 31cm H), it can produce 1 or 2 cups of coffee. This makes it ideal for solos, couples or young families.
Plus, the water tank capacity is 1.9L to help avoid constant refills. This is nearly the same size as the Breville the Barista Express’ 2L. Which is impressive considering how much smaller it is.
The focus with the Bambino Plus is getting you coffee, quickly and easily. The well-labelled buttons let you choose 3 froth and milk temperatures to make your coffee just as you like it. It takes just 3 seconds to heat up. It also comes with an automatic steam wand to add cafe-quality micro-foam.
We love it so much, one of the Cosier team has a Bambino Plus in their own home. Trusted to consistently deliver the morning coffee, they rave about its looks and compactness. From their experience, it produces a good shot if the grind is correct. They’ve been most impressed by the steam wand, both using it manually and automatically. If space is limited, the Bambino Plus is a great choice.
We’re not the only ones who love it. The Wirecutter has it as their budget pick. They reckon: “This potent little machine is fast and easy to use, and it will impress beginners and experienced baristas with its consistent espresso shots and silky frothed milk.” Aussies rate it too. It gets over 4 stars on ProductReview.com.au. It’s also been tested by CHOICE and even comes in under $600.
Related: The Best Reusable Coffee Cup
If you’re happy to splash out on more than our Sunbeam best for budget pick, a good alternative is the Sunbeam Café Series EM7000. It’s RRP $899, making it about $50 less than our Breville winner. For the extra money, you’re getting extra good looks. It’s stainless steel and looks highly professional.
The functionality is like our Sunbeam budget pick. But rather than a dial, you have 1-touch labelled buttons which allow you to choose manual machine mode or from 3 pre-set programmes. Like our runner-up, it offers 1 or 2 shot options and a steam wand. For coffee geeks, it has milk temperature and pressure gauges so you can get it just right. It also offers an energy saving eco mode.
Even though it’s bigger than the Sunbeam budget pick, it still has the same 58mm commercial size group head. It does have a larger water tank though, at 3L compared to our runner up’s 2L. Plus it’s over double the price of our runner-up but it still only has a 1-year warranty, although it is repairable.
It’s been tested by CHOICE and has over 200 happy Aussies on ProductReview.com.au, who give it 4 stars.
If you want to get hands-on with your coffee making, meet the Little Guy Home Barista Kit. It’s a compact and portable espresso machine, making it ideal for travel, especially camping trips. Because of its simple design, it has no moving parts meaning very little servicing is required. The Little Guy reckons this is a ‘lifetime investment’. Which isn’t bad for the price: $699.
There’s no 1-touch functionality, buttons or dials here. Instead, you fill the boiler with water, add your ground coffee and pop it on the induction top (more on that in a bit). Eight minutes later, your espresso will be ready – so it’s not quick. Even though it’s small, it has a built-in steam wand too. Which means it’s got everything you need for good coffee.
The Little Guy states that it doesn’t work reliably on standard induction cook tops. Instead, you’re urged to consider buying the Little Guy Induction Top instead, which is an additional $199. This brings your total investment to $900. The Little Guy is keen to point out that this induction top is multi-functional, with 5 heat settings. It could be handy for small kitchens or when travelling.
CHOICE has dedicated an entire article to the Little Guy with the key outtake being: “Our out-of-the-box verdict is that while The Little Guy produces OK to good espresso, its taste won't quite blow you away. And although it looks good, it's quite an expensive piece of gear.”
It has well over 150 reviews on ProductReview.com.au – most of these are 5 stars. This means, regardless of what CHOICE reckons, Aussies love it. They rave about its consistently perfect espresso and long-lasting nature.
Back to a Breville coffee machine. This time, it’s the most expensive coffee machine we reviewed by a long way and the very opposite of The Little Guy. For RRP $3,799 you’re getting what Breville claims is “the next generation super automatic espresso machine”.
This means every step is automated, thanks to the touch screen which allows you to select your favourite drink before the machine does the rest. Although it has 5 pre-set programmes, you can adjust the coffee strength, milk texture and temperature to suit your tastes. You can create and save up to 8 personalised coffees and you can have 1 or 2 shots. The steam wand is also automated – select how frothy and hot you want it and it’ll adjust its speed accordingly. Apparently, it also cleans itself.
The built-in burr grinder does everything for you – grinds, doses and tamps 22g of coffee beans. The dual boiler means you can make coffee and froth milk at the same time, speeding up the process.
As you’d hope for this price, it has a 2-year repair warranty. It currently has less than 50 reviews on ProductReview.com.au, which isn’t too surprising given its a high end espresso machine, but it does have almost 5 stars. It’s a ProductReview 2019 award winner and has also been tested by CHOICE.
If space is an issue, or you’re a fan of retro-styling, then the Smeg ECF01 is a good choice. RRP $499, it’s a slimline manual espresso machine that’s easy to use. It has a 1-cup and 2-cup button and steam button for the steam wand. And that’s it.
Because of its small size, it only has a 1L water tank although it can handle latte-size mugs as well as espresso size. It does have a cup warming plate. If you’d rather have some control, there’s a flow stop function which customises your coffee length.
As it’s a Smeg, it offers a range of classic colours, including black, white, blue, red and cream. It comes with a 2-year warranty. It’s been tested by CHOICE and has 60 reviews on ProductReview.com.au, giving it around 4 stars.
At RRP $159, the Sunbeam Cafe Espresso II is the most affordable coffee machine we reviewed. It’s also one of the most basic, both in looks and features. Forgive us: it looks like it belongs in an '80s office. It has 1 dial, which you switch to make espresso or steam. It can produce 1 or 2 cups and it has a steam wand and warming plate. It holds 1.7 litres of water and the group head size is domestic – not the large 58mm commercial size of our 2 other Sunbeam picks.
Because of its smaller size, it can’t accommodate large cups. It has a 12-month replacement warranty, has been tested by CHOICE and has over 60 reviews on ProductReview.com.au, where it gets around 3.5 stars. It's also an Amazon's Choice for espresso machine.
The bottom line
A daily takeaway coffee habit adds up. Enter a coffee machine: great tasting coffee, at home. The best espresso machine is easy to use and quickly produces a decent coffee that’s comparable to what your favourite barista makes. It allows you to get as hands-on as you want, or to push a button and let the machine do all the hard work. You can even indulge your inner barista with some latte art.
We think the Breville the Barista Express is Australia’s best home coffee machine. Quick, it promises beans to espresso in under a minute. The labelled touch buttons are user friendly while its built-in burr grinder perfectly grinds your coffee beans on demand. The generous 2L water capacity avoids constant refills. It has a huge number of positive Aussie consumer reviews and it’s even been tested by CHOICE. All this, for under $1,000.
If you’d rather spend less, consider our runner-up, the Sunbeam Mini Barista Espresso Machine EM4300, RRP $299. With just 1 dial, it’s incredibly easy to use and it prides itself on delivering the right amount of 1- or 2-shot coffee, every time. Although it’s ‘mini’ it still boasts a commercial size group head, which accepts more grinds. Like our winner, it has a steam wand, cup warming tray and 2 litres of water storage. It’s a ProductReview.com.au award winner 2018 and it’s been tested by CHOICE.
For smaller kitchens, we reckon you can’t go wrong with the Breville the Bambino Plus. Don’t be fooled by its small footprint, it packs a lot in. This includes producing 1 or 2 cups of coffee, a 1.9L capacity water tank and 3 froth and milk temperatures. The automatic steam wand can create cafe-quality micro-foam and latte art. Heating up in just 3 seconds, it consistently and quickly produces great coffee. We’re not alone in loving it. The Wirecutter has it as their budget pick and it gets over 4 stars on ProductReview.com.au.
Types of coffee machines
There are 3 types of espresso machines - automatic, manual and semi-automatic.
Getting a coffee from an automatic coffee machine is easy. Simply put your cup under the spout, press the grinder button and then press a few more buttons to select the strength and volume of your coffee. Fancy (read: expensive) ones will even automatically froth your milk for a cappuccino or latte. They’re the easiest espresso machine to use and use freshly ground beans for great taste. The downside is they’re normally more expensive, heavier and bigger than other machine types.
Manual espresso machines get you hands-on with your coffee. Which means a steeper learning curve than an automatic as you start to learn your dosing from your tamping. Pop ground coffee (normally manual coffee machines don’t have a built-in coffee grinder, like an automatic) into the group head (more on that below) then set the machine to work. Once your cup is full, you’ll need to stop the coffee flow yourself.
A semi-automatic espresso machine is similar to a manual machine. The difference is that it automatically cuts the coffee flow for you. It’s the best of both worlds: control over your coffee taste without having to stop the flow yourself. You’ll have to invest some time in learning and experimenting with a semi-automatic.
Ok, technically there are 4 types of espresso machines. Because there are pod coffee machines too. A pod coffee machine is very hands-off. Put in your pod or capsule and the machine does the rest. It might have an integrated milk frother too.
Capsule coffee machines are easy to use and care for and are normally compact, making them ideal for smaller kitchens. The pay-off is coffee that doesn’t taste quite as delicious as from other machine types. There’s also the environmental impact of what happens to the used coffee pods / capsules, plus the ongoing costs of buying these (they’re not cheap).
What we looked for
Every coffee machine we reviewed had a steam wand. Which makes sense as most of us enjoy the café-style frothy foam, so we’d like to recreate that at home.
By warming your cup, your coffee should stay warmer for longer. Most of our reviewed models offer this feature.
You should be able to choose a single or double shot option. Most machines make 2 espressos at once, but they might only grind one dose of beans, making for a weaker coffee. If you’d like to make 2 cups, avoid machines that make 2 at the same time. You want a fresh dose of beans for each cup.
Rather than having to buy ground coffee or a separate grinder, the most expensive models have a grinder built-in. This delivers you freshly ground coffee exactly when you need it.
If it’s got a built-in coffee grinder, it might be adjustable. This means you can change the size of the grind to best suit the bean for barista-like results (maybe).
What’s a group head?
The group head (or ‘group’) is on the front of espresso machines. It’s a metal attachment the portafilter (see below!) is locked into. Basically, it’s where water meets coffee and espresso is made.
What’s a portafilter and what size should I get?
The clue’s in the name: it’s a portable filter. It’s what you grind fresh coffee beans into (or place already-ground beans in) which then gets placed into the group to brew espresso.
In commercial espresso machines, portafilters are normally 58mm. For home espresso machines, portafilter dimensions tend to be around this size, or a little smaller, like 53mm.
When it comes to the size of portafilters, the smaller it is, the less room you have to put coffee in it. Will you notice the taste difference between a coffee made in a 58mm or 53mm portafilter? Probably not (unless you’re a true coffee connoisseur, in which case, hats off to you).
What’s bar pump pressure?
To explain this fully, we’d need to give you a physics lesson. We’re not going to do that. Let’s just say that bars are a measurement of pressure. And to extract the best possible flavour from your coffee grounds, a certain amount of pressure needs to be applied to them. Too little pressure? Expect weak espresso. Too much pressure? Expect bitter espresso.
Most commercial espresso machines boast 9 bars. Some people (passionately) argue that 15 bars is the sweet spot. Others reckon 7-9.
More pressure doesn’t always mean better tasting espresso. Sure, the shot quality might be better but you also need other stuff. Like coffee beans ground to the right size, a decent skill level and a quality machine.
What's the difference between a filter and espresso coffee machine?
You’ll most likely spot a filter (or drip or drip filter) coffee machine in a 90s office, anywhere in America or in the lobby of fancy hotels over here. With a filter coffee machine, you put a paper conical filter in it then add ground coffee and water. Wait a few minutes, then coffee steadily drips down into a removable carafe. When it’s done, you grab the carafe, pour out your brewed black coffee and add whatever milk / sugar / syrup you want to it.
Which means it’s a simpler bit of kit than an espresso coffee machine with its different grinds, shot sizes and milk wand.
It also means that in a filter coffee machine, water runs through the ground coffee thanks to gravity. In comparison, espresso coffee machines use pressure to push water through the ground coffee. So, a filter coffee machine takes longer to whip up your coffee (thanks gravity).
What’s the taste difference between gravity-fed coffee and pressure-fed coffee? Some pros reckon filter coffee is smoother, cleaner, sweeter and lighter than espresso, which can be bolder and more intense.
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