Top 10 Manual Espresso Coffee Machines

Espresso machines are still the queen of the party (despite the strength of modern and attractive pod coffee machines), so many consumers are still dying for them. And our readers are no exception.

Now that you’ve decided to buy an espresso machine for your home, it’s time to find out about all the options on the market. And let’s start by offering the updated ranking of the best espresso machines in 2020 (according to real data from Amazon, updated daily).

And now that you know which is the best espresso machine of the moment, it’s time to go deeper into different aspects. Let’s go there!

The best espresso machine: which one to buy in 2020?

Manual espresso machines are still a strong point for expert tasters and espresso lovers at home. Despite the ever-increasing possibilities afforded by super-automatic coffee machines, the opportunity to control every parameter of the extraction by hand with precision is something that baristas and good coffee lovers still value above all else.

This is why manual espresso machines, or armoured coffee machines, are still the queens of the market, and good example of this is the De’Longhi Dedica, which is at the top of the sales lists year after year.

De'Longhi Dedica Style, Traditional Barista Pump Espresso Machine, Coffee and Cappuccino Maker,...
  • 15 BAR PRESSURE to create your perfect espresso with a rich aroma and a nut coloured cream on top
  • MILK FROTHER: Froth or steam milk with the Adjustable Cappuccino System to create frothy cappuccinos, macchiatos or caffè lattes
  • CUSTOMISE ESPRESSO: Thanks to the professional barista technology, you can control every step of the Coffee-making process, from tamping your ground Coffee to setting the temperature and length
  • HOME COMFORT: At only 15 cm wide, it’s our slimmest design yet, offering a small footprint and big features
  • EASY TO CLEAN: Manual descaling system will keep your machine running smoothly so you can always enjoy your favorite beverages

The sales of manual espresso machines is booming and shows no signs of slowing down. When we climb up to the highest level, their level of sophistication and technology equals them even in price with the most popular automatic coffee machines. So, in this article, we are going to shed some light on the question of, which is the best manual espresso machine? Which is the best espresso machine for home?

A good manual espresso machine can cost from 200 pounds upwards, as you can see from our final list. And we don’t just mean a Saeco manual espresso machine, a Krups manual espresso machine, or a Delonghi manual espresso machine (to name a few well-known brands).

This segment is home to real jewels from little-known brands. Armoured coffee machines that are an absolute reference in the sector, but that due to their high cost and exclusivity are only accessible to a very specific public.

To get the most out of them, you should buy a good coffee grinder and always use freshly ground coffee.

Best of all, the manual espresso machines are not at odds with the economy, and you can find models of enormous performance in everyday life at a very affordable price. For example, an 15-bar manual espresso machine like the Swan Espresso Machine is in the range of 100-120 pounds. Even less, if you get a good deal.

Swan Espresso Machine, 15 Bars of Pressure, Milk Frother, 1.2L Tank, Scandi Style, SK22110GRYN,...
713 Reviews
Swan Espresso Machine, 15 Bars of Pressure, Milk Frother, 1.2L Tank, Scandi Style, SK22110GRYN,...
  • High Performance - 15 bars of pressure and a self-priming system means the Swan Nordic Espresso maker is always ready to make delicious coffees in minutes.
  • Generous Capacity - 1.2 litre detachable water tank and with room to make either one or two cups at a time, there’s plenty to go around off just one heating. Perfect for impressing guests, or making...
  • Barista Style Coffee at Home - Compatible with Easy Serve Espresso (ESE) pods and ground coffee, using the professional spoon and coffee presser you can create professional barista style coffees in...
  • Milk Frother - Whether you fancy an espresso, cappuccino, latte or flat white, the traditional milk frother allows you to create that delicious drink in no time. The steam pressure control lets you...
  • Stylishly Simplistic and Functional - The Scandinavian inspired Nordic Espresso maker in a sleek slate grey with stainless steel and wood accents, looks great in any home. Its minimalist look fits...

So the question is…

Manual or automatic espresso machine?

Well, the answer depends, above all, on the profile of the end-user.  Buying an espresso machine is not an exact science, but depends on many factors.

More experienced users will undoubtedly opt for the former, while super-automatic ones are more popular if you do not have barista skills and just want to enjoy the best coffee effortlessly. Strictly speaking, they are probably the best coffee machines on the market, but purists and experts will always prefer a manual.

1. Manual espresso machines: they allow you to control the entire espresso extraction process, and are cheaper.

2. Automatic espresso machines: they are much more complete, and allow you to make brews at the touch of a button.

As you can tell from the title of this article, we are going to focus only on the manual ones. To buy an automatic espresso machine you already have a similar guide on this website.

Below we show you which manual espresso machines have been the best in recent years, according to the sales lists on our portal. In other words, find out which are the best espresso machines, or the best espresso machines without capsules.

The best manual espresso machines in 2020 (according to us)

Here is a more detailed overview of the models that we believe are the best-armoured espresso machines of 2020 that can be bought in Europe today.

As you can see, our criteria do not necessarily match those of consumers or actual sales lists. This is logical: we try to be guided by quality arguments, while sales, in the end, are very much dependent on price and brand popularity.

It is a subjective, unordered list that takes into account several criteria. The most important is the performance and quality of the final result (the espresso) but in some cases it can influence the design or the price/quality ratio to tip the scale towards one coffee machine or another. If we had not done so, we would have a list of 20 or 30 models, and thus we would not be helping you to find your perfect espresso machine.  Quite the opposite.

Let’s get started!

When we talk about something as generic as the best coffee machines of 2020, we can include dozens of models. We can also omit or leave out some of them, but what we can assure you is that all those on this list deserve to be described, in other words: they are not all the same, but they are all the same. Let’s get started:

1. Illy X7.1

The Illy X7.1 is a real monster, an outstanding espresso machine that not only draws attention for its design and colours, but also its versatility. It is essentially a pod coffee machine (like all Illy brand machines) but in one of its versions, called the Illy X7.1 Grinded, it also allows the use of ground coffee or ESE single-dose bags to prepare the espresso, just like a traditional manual espresso machine.

illy Coffee Maker Machine X7.1, Iperespresso Capsule Pods Coffee Machine with Milk Steamer, Red
63 Reviews
illy Coffee Maker Machine X7.1, Iperespresso Capsule Pods Coffee Machine with Milk Steamer, Red
  • COFFEE MAKER MACHINE: Introducing the illy X7.1 espresso coffee machine. Beautifully designed to work with illy Iperespresso capsules, you can enjoy a full-bodied espresso in the comfort of your own...
  • MILK STEAMER: The X7.1 coffee machine features a Pannarello steam wand that froths milk with ease. Create a wonderfully creamy cappuccino or latte in no time
  • COFFEE CAPSULES: Designed to work with illy Iperespresso coffee capsules to create a true Italian experience, right at home. The illy signature blend is celebrated the world over as the pinnacle of...
  • SLEEK DESIGN: The beautiful X7.1 coffee maker machine in red will make a bold statement in any kitchen. Its round yet slender shape was inspired by iconic Italian 1960's design and the modern control...
  • WHY ILLY?: Unlike conventional one-stage systems, the innovative Iperespresso capsule system uses a patented two-stage process to create intensely aromatic,full-bodied espresso with rich, long-lasting...

2. Delonghi EC-820

Many of the best coffee machines on the market belong to this Italian manufacturer. The model EC-820 is the top of the range of Delonghi manual espresso machines, above even other popular and most sold references such as the Delonghi EC-680.

This Delonghi EC820 Automatic Cappuccino is an espresso machine without plastic, which maintains all the qualities of the lower models, starting with the characteristic stainless steel housing, compatibility with ESE single-dose or 15 bar pressure. It differs from them above all in the steamer with automatic cappuccino preparation system.

De'Longhi Pump Espresso Coffee Machine - Black
390 Reviews
De'Longhi Pump Espresso Coffee Machine - Black
  • High performance
  • Easy to use
  • High quality
  • Make and enjoy perfect espressos, cappuccinos and lattes
  • Thermoblock heating system makes this machine ready to use in just 40 seconds

3. The Pavoni Domus Bar

As you can see in the photo, having a LaPavoni Domus Bar at home is the closest thing to enjoying a professional coffee machine like those in the hotel business. Its numbers are scary: 3.5-litre capacity, pressure gauge to calibrate the pressure, boiler with three thermostats, well, and its price is also scary, but that’s another matter.

Moreover, the Pavoni Domus Bar is the only manual espresso machine with an integrated grinder in this ranking.

4.  Lelit PL41

Lelit is one of those manufacturers of espresso machines specialized in premium models, which are not known by the general public due to their exclusivity and the high price of their products. This Lelit PL41 is one of the few coffee machines capable of competing with the Rancilio Silvia (which we also talk about in this article). It has a giant tank of almost 3 litres capacity, and in some versions it supports the use of ESE single-dose. Its boiler can store up to 300ml of water.

The quality-price ratio of this model is incredible, but you can always go up a step and acquire an even superior machine, such as the Lelit PL62. In any case, a domestic espresso machine that could be considered “top of the range“. The best of the best, as long as you can afford it.

LELIT PL41EM Semi-Professional Machine – Ideal for Espresso, Cappuccino and Coffee Paper Pods,...
  • ONLY FOR COFFEE LOVERS - Lelit PL41EM has been designed and produced for the true coffee lovers, ideal for those who like to make espresso coffee, gound at home and then enjoy it directly in the cup...
  • ESPRESSO COFFEE AND CAPPUCCINO AS IN THE BAR- thanks to the professional group, the steam and hot water wand, Lelit PL41EM allows you to extract perfect espresso coffee, froth the milk to get...
  • PROFESSIONAL GROUP - the professional assembled on the Lelit PL41EM guarantees a constant temperature throughout the entire dispensing process, for perfect extraction
  • BUILTED IN STAINLESS STEEL - buit entirely of stainless steel, an indestructible material that ensures that the machine lasts a long time
  • ENTIRELY MADE in ITALY - all Lelit machines are entirely designed and manufactured in Italy, using professional bar technology and components

5.  Riviera & Bar CE442

There aren’t many French espresso machines on the market, but this Riviera&Bar CE 442 enters this select premium Olympus in its own right. The Riviera&Bar CE 442 is a manual 19 bar espresso machine. It is built entirely of stainless steel, and has a capacity of 1.2 litres. It includes pressurized filters, and anti-drip tray with adjustable height.

6.  Graef EN 702

Another coffee machine that makes good use of the saying “big donkey”, whether you walk or not. Do you need to prepare large quantities of coffee every day? Are you going to give your espresso machine intensive use? Well, here’s the Graef ES702, with its 2.5-litre water tank, its integrated professional pressure gauge and its endless list of accessories: cleaning sets, filters, presser, stainless steel milk jug, complete with German warranty.

7.  ECM Mechanika IV

Another one of those wonders halfway between the domestic manual espresso machine and the professional coffee machine. The ECM Mechanika IV has a separate 0.75-litre boiler and a 3-litre water tank. Its entire construction is based on metal components, both outside (stainless steel housing) and inside (copper conductor and pipes). It costs around 1000 pounds, but be assured that this is not a manual espresso machine in use.

8.  Rommelsbacher EKS 2000

The Germans and the Dutch are a European powerhouse when it comes to espresso and coffee machines, both automatic and manual espressos. The German company Rommelsbacher is one of the leaders in this last segment, and the EKS 2000 model is its best example. It has 19 bar pressure, a water filter, a fairly large cup preheating space, and a generous 1.5-litre water tank (transparent and visible from the outside).

9.  Gaggia Classic

The Gaggia Italians are another of the great, immovable references in the manual espresso machine segment.

Their most prized and beloved coffee maker is the Gaggia Classic, which has practically all the virtues that an expert in the field can ask from an Italian espresso machine in his home. Steel casing, 1-litre tank, extreme reliability (never fails, temperature accuracy of extractions is absolute), compatibility with ESE single-dose machines.

Gaggia RI8327/01 Gran Manual Espresso Machine, 1 Litre, 950 Watt, 15 Bar - Stainless Steel
77 Reviews
Gaggia RI8327/01 Gran Manual Espresso Machine, 1 Litre, 950 Watt, 15 Bar - Stainless Steel
  • Built-in accessories storage
  • Perfect crema filter
  • Cup warmer
  • Ground coffee & ESE pods
  • Metal pannarello

10.  Rancilio Silvia

Surely, and in the opinion of many, the best espresso machine in the market and the leader of this ranking for many reasons. The Rancilio Silvia is an icon, a reference in the sector for many years. Steel housing, brass internal components (boiler, filters), 2.5-litre water tank, triple thermostat, all the elements and details are designed to ensure a perfect coffee temperature at every extraction and at any time.

Rancilio Combo1 set
7 Reviews
Rancilio Combo1 set
  • Rancilio Combo1 set
  • Silver

As we said before, this is a selection of 10 models in which we have taken into account the price factor to prioritize some coffee machines over others.

If we abstract from the cost of each machine, we could also cite among the best some semi-professional coffee makers, such as the New Simonelli Musica, the Rocket Espresso Appartamento or the Marzocco Mini (one out of the ordinary, but too expensive to recommend to an average user profile).

Comparison of espresso machines: A machine for every case

Although they are all “manual espresso machines”, this is a very broad term that covers many different types of espresso machines, and many users do not know this.

We are going to try to do our bit by trying to shed some light on this issue and making a simple classification.

Cheap espresso machines

This is probably the most popular segment among consumers. They are the best value for money espresso machines, and usually do not exceed 80 or 90 pounds in price. Below that figure, we can talk about very economical machines. Naturally, we cannot expect dazzling performance and no great displays of manufacturing materials in return.

Medium range espresso machines

These can be placed in the £100-200 price range, and are the perfect choice for a slightly more discerning consumer profile, who intends to use their machine on a daily basis. The perfect balance between quality and durability.

In this range, Delonghi espresso machines are top of the range in terms of both quality and variety of options in their catalogue.

High-end manual espresso machines

Here we are already talking about the best manual espresso machines over 200 pounds, and with no price limit. We can find machines on the market for thousands of pounds. In this guide to the best top-of-the-range espresso machines, you’ll find more information to read.

Capsule espresso machines

Didn’t you know? Almost all pod coffee machines are espresso machines, as they use this extraction method to make espresso coffee. The difference to arm coffee machines in this case is not the method of production, but the way the raw material is inserted (ground coffee on the filter holder in one case and single-dose pods in the other).

We already have a guide to pod espresso machines on our website, so we will not go into further detail here.

Best old manual espresso machine

The Oster Prima Latte was the best-selling manual express on our website a few years ago. It is a very popular coffee maker throughout Europe thanks to its milk container and its specialisation in making lattes and cappuccinos. It is still a regular on the sales lists year after year, it does not seem to pass the time.

Oster Prima Espresso/Latte Milk Frother with 15 bar
332 Reviews
Oster Prima Espresso/Latte Milk Frother with 15 bar
  • Espresso Coffee Machine with Milk Frother
  • Removable Milchbehältnis
  • 15 bar

The Delonghi EC-680 was the queen in the past. Like the Oster, it is a coffee machine with a huge acceptance and is still Delonghi’s best-selling model for this segment today. Its spectacular design with stainless steel and its compatibility with ESE single-dose coffee machines are particularly noteworthy. Over time it has been replaced by its successor (very similar), the Delonghi Dedica EC-685.

De'Longhi EC680M Espresso, Stainless Steel, Metallic
2,580 Reviews
De'Longhi EC680M Espresso, Stainless Steel, Metallic
  • Brew like a pro: Whatever your preference – single or double espresso, cappuccino or latte – the machine brews authentic barista-quality beverages just like you enjoy at your favorite coffee...
  • Your foam, your way: A manual frothier mixes steam and milk to create a rich, creamy froth for evenly textured drinks – just the way you like them. Input power (W): 1300
  • One espresso shot or two: The three-in-one filter holder, included with the unit, has a holder for one espresso shot, a holder for two shots, and one for an easy-serve espresso pod – whatever your...
  • Accommodates taller cups: If you’d prefer a larger size beverage, no problem. The bottom tray of the unit is easy to adjust or remove to fit taller cups. Removable water reservoir is available
  • Sleek space-saving design: With a sleek profile, compact design and narrow footprint, each model fits beautifully on a kitchen countertop – without taking up too much space.

Other of the winners was the Saeco manual espresso machine hd8323/12, better known as Saeco Poemia. This is an old school espresso machine whose appearance takes us back in time. Its reliability, however, is not affected in the least and it has an increasingly affordable price in its favour.