Skip the coffee shop and be your own barista! Check out our picks for the best small espresso makers that will fit perfectly in a tiny kitchen.
Here at Champagne Tastes, we have strong opinions about our coffee.
For the record, we don’t have strong opinions about your coffee: this is a judgment-free zone.
Over the years, we’ve used and researched lots and lots of espresso makers.
For the most part, traditional espresso makers have a few things in common.
They’re typically massive, complicated machines. Seriously, most of them are huge!
If you, like me, have limited counterspace (and just limited space in general), this can be a problem.
Espresso makers can also be prohibitively expensive, even if you’re adding up all the money you’ll save by skipping the coffee shop prices.
Happily, however, that’s not always the case.
Here are our top pics for our favorite small espresso makers (at all budget points).
Our Favorite Small Espresso Maker Setup
First, I’ll start with our favorite espresso setup.
This is the espresso machine (and accessories) to buy if you want a traditional-style espresso machine.
As in, you want to use coffee grounds (not pods) in a machine to brew the coffee and froth your milk.
We own and use this chic De’Longhi EC680M Espresso Maker on a daily basis.
It’s easy to operate, has held up to daily use for over two years, and makes a delicious espresso with a foamy crema.
While it’s not a tiny appliance, at just under six inches wide it fits easily onto our counter.
This is a semi-automatic espresso maker, meaning it does a lot of the work for you. So you don’t need to be a trained barista to use it.
If you want to see the Delonghi machine in action, check out this YouTube review.
We use the matching De’Longhi Dedica Conical Burr Grinder to finely grind our beans about once a week.
If you’ve got the space, set the grinder on the counter next to your espresso machine and grind fresh beans each day!
Your espresso maker will likely come with a lightweight, plastic tamper. Use the scoop (if you want), but you’ll want a different tamper.
Instead, you’ll want to grab a heavy metal coffee tamper to help get the best brew.
I also recommend buying a coffee knock box for your used espresso grounds. A knock box allows you to “knock” the coffee filter and easily remove the used grounds.
We use this Breville mini knock box.
You’ll also want a milk frothing pitcher.
This is, no surprise, the pitcher that you’ll heat the milk in.
Finally, this machine (like most traditional espresso makers) requires occasional descaling. We use the De’Longhi EcoDecalk descaling solution.
Special Mention: Breville’s Small Espresso Maker
If you’re looking for more customizable espresso-maker features, check out the Breville Bambino.
This machine is slightly larger than the De’Longhi, but still small.
The Breville Bambino offers more milk frothing options, a larger water tank, and more temperature control.
It’s also quite a bit pricier, so we opted to use the De’Longhi in our kitchen.
Our Favorite Pod-Style Espresso Maker
If a traditional-style espresso machine seems intimidating, I recommend checking out a Nespresso machine.
Over the years, I’ve been very pleased with Nespresso machines.
They make consistently delicious espresso automatically. Meaning you need zero barista skills.
We own a simple Nespresso machine, but friends of ours use a Nespresso Lattissima and I think it is fabulous.
The Nespresso Lattissima makes a perfect latte every time.
Small Espresso Maker on a Budget
Are you on a tight budget?
For the tightest budget, try swapping espresso for French Press coffee. It’s strong, smooth, and a great alternative in lattes and cappuccinos.
That said, with a small budget you can still have amazing espresso by using a moka pot.
If you’re on a shoestring budget, check out a traditional stovetop aluminum moka pot.
For just a little bit more money, you can swap aluminum for a stovetop stainless steel moka pot.
Finally, if you’re in a situation where you don’t have a stovetop available, check out this (fairly inexpensive) electric moka pot.
Keep in mind that a moka pot won’t have milk frothing options, so you’ll need to pick up a separate milk frother to make your morning latte.
Espresso on the Go
Another fun option is a portable hand-pump espresso machine.
My husband and I take this Wacaco Nanopresso with us when we go camping, and it is fantastic.
It works with both coffee grounds and Nespresso capsules.
Keep in mind that you’ll need a way to boil water to use this espresso maker. We typically use a backpacking stove, but you could definitely use a tea kettle or a microwave.
Espresso Machine Extras
When you’re using an espresso maker, it’s important to use finely ground coffee (unless you’re using pods).
Typically we grind our own coffee, but if we want a pre-ground mix, I usually opt for Illy espresso grounds.
Finally, grab some fun espresso cups to make your coffee even better!