Gourmet’s Guide to the 11 Best Capsule Espresso Machines

Ah, espresso. That rich, dark elixir has the power to transform a sluggish morning into a day of opportunity. If you’re anything like me, the thought of a warm, aromatic shot of espresso is sometimes the only motivation to roll out of bed.

Over the years, I’ve tried almost every brewing method, from the traditional Italian Moka pot to the high-tech super-automatic machines. But nothing quite hits the spot like a capsule espresso machine.

There’s something uniquely satisfying about popping in a capsule, pressing a button, and being rewarded with a perfect shot of espresso. It’s an experience that combines convenience, consistency, and quality into a single, compact machine. And let’s not forget the hypnotic hum as the machine as it works its magic, a sound that might as well be the theme song for coffee lovers around everywhere.

Let’s start by understanding what it takes to become one of the best capsule espresso machines and why it might be the missing piece in your coffee routine.

Editors Choice
Nespresso Inissia
9.7
  • Barista grade delivers up to 19 bars of pressure
  • Quick startup, ideal water temperature is reached in 25 seconds
  • 24 ounce water tank
  • Adjustable cup size with folding drip tray
  • programmable Espresso and Lungo buttons
Small Profile
Lavazza Mini Single Serve
9.5
  • Standby Eco Mode
  • Transparent Water Tank (Capacity: 23 fl oz / 0.7 l
  • Capsule Drawer holds up to 5 exhausted capsules
  • Two adjustable heights to fit multiple cup sizes from espresso cups to mugs
  • Brew either an Espresso or Lungo
Most Customizable
NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto
9.1
  • Specialty coffee brewing with a small footprint
  • Choose from authentic Espresso, Americano, Cappuccino, Latte, and more
  • Simple toggle-stick control
  • 15 bars of pressure allows high level extraction

1. Nespresso Inissia Espresso Machine by De’Longhi

Benefits:

  • Compact and stylish design: Fits perfectly into any kitchen
  • Fast and efficient: Ready to brew in just 25 seconds
  • High-pressure pump: Delivers barista-style coffee every time
  • Energy saving: Automatically switches off after 9 minutes
  • Versatility: Accommodates larger cup sizes and comes with a variety of capsules

Compact, lightweight, and equipped with an ergonomic handle, this little gem is a versatile kitchen companion.

Its tiny footprint is a dream come true for those of us with limited counter space. It tucks neatly into a corner of my kitchen, adding a touch of elegance without clutter.

The simple, one-touch operation is pure genius. With just a push of a button, the machine whirrs into action, creating an exquisite espresso that trumps other capsule machines. I loved the comforting and familiar whirring hum that signals the start of my brew.

The taste is divine. The Inissia brews a barista-style coffee, rich and full-bodied, with a delightful crema that lingers on the tongue. Each sip is a sensory journey, transporting me to a quaint café in the heart of New York.

But what truly sets this machine apart is its quick pre-heating time and the folding drip tray. The former ensures I get my caffeine fix without having to wait too long, and the latter accommodates different cup sizes, allowing me to switch between a robust espresso and a mellow lungo with ease.


2. Lavazza Mini Single Serve Espresso Coffee Machine

Benefits:

  • Professional and efficient
  • Compact and stylish
  • Convenient transparent water tank and capsule drawer
  • Versatile brewing options
  • Adjustable tray height to accommodate different cup sizes
  • Standby eco mode for energy efficiency

From the moment I unboxed this sleek, compact machine, I was charmed by its exclusive, elegant blue color. It’s not just a capsule espresso machine, it’s a stylish addition to my kitchen counter. Plus, the small footprint is a premium for those of us who value counter space.

Now, let’s talk about the taste. The first sip of espresso made from the Lavazza Mini was delightful. It was like a delicious hug in a mug, warming me from the inside out. The aroma that filled my kitchen was heavenly – rich, robust, and utterly enticing. This machine truly makes a delicious cup of espresso.

But what about the practicalities? The Lavazza Mini is fast, intuitive, and easy to use. Even refilling the 23 fl oz water tank, though a bit fiddly at first, became second nature after a few uses.

With a start-up time of just 28 seconds, I had my morning espresso fix in less time than it took to check my emails!

A feature that really sets the Lavazza Mini apart is the adjustable cup rack height. Whether I’m in the mood for a small, intense shot of espresso or a larger, more mellow lungo, this machine caters to my every whim.

It’s the ideal blend of style, convenience, and, most importantly, delicious coffee. I can’t recommend it enough.


3. NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto Coffee Machine Genio 2

Benefits:

  • Perfectly fits any kitchen or office
  • Variety of high-quality capsule flavors
  • Simple interface with a toggle stick and LED display
  • High-pressure system ensures optimal flavor, aroma, and body
  • Nespresso hermetically sealed capsules keep the coffee fresh

I’ve had my fair share of machines, but this one certainly stands out.

The first thing to note is its compact size. Its small footprint means it will fit snugly on any counter – perfect for a cozy kitchen. But don’t let its size fool you; this machine packs a punch!

One of the things I absolutely adore about the Genio 2 is its simplicity. There are no bells and whistles here, just a straightforward, efficient coffee capsule machine that does its job exceptionally well.

The user interface is easy to navigate. A toggle stick lets you control the size and intensity of your coffee. The LED display matches the bars on your Dolce Gusto capsule, making it simple to use.

And the best part? It can make both hot and cold iced coffee drinks.

And then there’s the taste. The caramel latte – oh, divine! It’s rich, creamy, and full of flavor, a true delight for the senses.

The Genio 2 also has a futuristic design that I find adorable. Chic and stylish, it adds a modern touch to my kitchen decor. Plus, it brews both hot AND cold without having to purchase separate “iced coffee” capsules.


4. WACACO Minipresso NS Portable Espresso Machine

Benefits:

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Sleek and simple aesthetics complement its functionality.
  • Delivers consistent, barista-rivaling espresso
  • Ease to use manual espresso system
  • Compatible with Nespresso capsules
  • Designed for hassle-free cleaning
  • Rugged enough to withstand the rigors of travel and outdoor use

Oh, the joy of sipping on a freshly brewed espresso in the middle of nowhere! That’s the charm of the WACACO Minipresso NS Portable Espresso Machine. As an avid coffee lover and outdoor enthusiast, I’ve been thrilled by the convenience this little gadget offers.

Let’s start with portability. The Minipresso NS is light as a feather and compact enough to fit into my backpack. It’s my trusty companion on camping trips, vacations, and even to work. Its brilliantly executed design is simple and sleek, making it not only a functional piece but also a stylish one.

Moving onto the piece de resistance – the espresso itself. This machine makes consistent and quality espresso shots. The taste is fantastic, rivaling any barista-made cup. Every sip is an adventure, rich and robust, with a delightful crema that lingers on the tongue.

The Minipresso NS is also easy to use. With Nespresso-compatible capsules, preparing an espresso is as simple as popping in a capsule, adding hot water, and pressing the pumping knob. And the best part? It’s just as easy to clean.

One thing that surprised me was how rugged this little machine is. Despite its petite size, it’s incredibly durable and able to withstand the rigors of travel and outdoor use.

But the real magic of the Minipresso NS lies in the experience it offers. Imagine waking up in the great outdoors, the air crisp and fresh. You set up your portable kettle, pop a capsule into the Minipresso NS, and soon, the familiar aroma of espresso fills the campsite. It’s not just about making coffee; it’s about creating moments.


5. Instant Pod, 3-in-1 Espresso Capsule Coffee Maker

Benefits:

  • Compatible with K-Cup pods, Nespresso capsules, and ground coffee.
  • Adjustable brew strength
  • Café-quality espresso
  • Includes a reusable pod for brewing your own coffee.
  • Convenient large water reservoir and easy cleaning
  • Comes with an app full of coffee recipes

The Instant Pod, a multifunctional coffee maker, offers versatility and convenience in one sleek machine.

Let’s start by discussing the remarkable 3-in-1 functionality of this device. It offers the versatility to brew K-Cups, Nespresso capsules, and traditional coffee grounds, giving you endless options to satisfy your coffee cravings.

The Instant Pod delivers an espresso shot that’s as robust as my old Nespresso machine. The taste is exquisite, creamy, and coated in a delightful crema.

One feature that really stands out compared to others on this list is the large water reservoir. It means less time filling and more time brewing – a godsend for those busy mornings when every second counts.

I’m also impressed by the swift heating of the Instant Pod. Gone are the days of waiting for my coffee to brew. With this amazing machine, it’s ready in an instant (get it), steaming hot, and bursting with delightful flavor.

The cherry on top is its small footprint. Despite its 3-in-1 functionality, it doesn’t hog up counter space. It’s versatile, compact, and sleek, adding a modern touch to any kitchen.


6. Ninja CFN601 Espresso and Coffee Barista System

Benefits:

  • Brews espresso, lungo, over ice
  • Brew a single cup or a 12-cup carafe
  • Adjustable cup tray and used capsule storage bin
  • Convenient features: Delay brew, keep warm, and cleaning functions

This machine is a master of versatility. It’s not just a capsule espresso maker; it’s a full-on home coffee solution. You can choose to use capsules or ground coffee, and both yield equally tantalizing results.

With a 19-bar pressure system of the Barista Plus Technology, it delivers an ultra-flavorful espresso with silky-smooth crema.

One of the standout features is its small size. It’s larger than other machines on this list, but it still fits snugly on my countertop. But don’t be fooled by its size – it comes with a substantial water capacity that means less time refilling and more time caffeinating.

I also appreciate the effortless cleaning process. The self-clean function is truly a lifesaver, making maintenance easy. It has a fast and thorough cleaning function depending on how much descaling is needed.

The design is sleek and modern. While it makes some noise, it’s not too loud, which is great when the rest of the house is still asleep.

But what truly sets the Ninja CFN601 apart is the quality of the coffee. It’s piping hot, robust, and full of flavor. Whether it’s the first cup of the day or an afternoon pick-me-up, this machine never fails to deliver a perfect brew.

Introducing the Ninja CFN601 Espresso & Coffee Barista System – a small yet mighty coffee maestro that is as versatile as it is efficient. This compact powerhouse is not just another espresso maker; it’s a comprehensive barista system that is compatible with both capsules and ground coffee. With its 19-bar pressure system powered by Barista Plus Technology, it crafts an espresso so flavorful it might just (mentally) transport you to a quaint Italian café.

And the best part? Its size is perfect for any countertop, making it a convenient choice.


7. Cuisinart EM-15 Defined Espresso Machine

Benefits:

  • Brews both single and double espressos
  • Customize espresso volume, brew temperature, and standby time
  • Works with Nespresso OriginalLine capsules
  • Auto-eject function holds up to 12 capsules.
  • Delivers delicious espresso with 19 bars of pressure

With its powerful 19-bar pressure system, every cup is a sensory masterpiece, bursting with rich flavors and crowned with a velvety crema.

By far, the best feature of this capsule espresso machine is its ease of use. With a single button press, I had delicious espresso in less than a minute. It’s perfect for a fast-paced morning or grabbing a cup between meetings.

Despite being a powerhouse, it doesn’t take up much counter space. It’s small and sleek but still has a solid build that’s attractive and functional. The machine is also remarkably easy to set up, which is always a bonus.

Being able to craft single and double espresso drinks is another selling point. Whether you’re in the mood for a single shot or need to make an extra large latte, it’s got you covered.

It also has an auto-eject system that makes emptying used capsules nice and easy. Speaking of cleanup, this machine is incredibly low maintenance – all you need to do is give it an occasional wipe-down, and you’re good to go.


8. STARESSO Classic Portable Espresso Machine

Benefits:

  • Manual functionality means no need for batteries or electricity
  • Compatible with both capsules and coffee grounds
  • Unique pressure regulator lets you tailor your coffee extraction
  • Comes with everything you need for a great coffee experience
  • Staresso is dedicated to creating eco-friendly products

If I’m out camping, surrounded by nature, and all I need is a perfect cup of coffee to complete the scene. That’s where the Staresso Classic comes in. It doesn’t need batteries or electricity – just my hands and my love for coffee. In just 1-2 minutes, it makes delicious espresso, no matter where I am. It’s freedom in a cup!

The 2-in-1 design is another standout feature. Whether you prefer capsules or fresh coffee grounds, the Staresso Classic is ready. The coffee basket holds up to 10 grams of coffee or 5-6 grams per capsule, and the water tank can hold up to 80 mL of boiling or ice-cold water.

Whether you’re in the mood for a hot espresso or an iced one, this machine delivers. Making anywhere between 30-50 mL of crema-topped espresso.

But what really sets the Staresso Classic apart is the control it gives you over your coffee brewing. With its unique pressure regulator, you can extract rich, fruity flavors from your coffee, achieving a golden extraction rate.

The package comes with everything you need for a great coffee experience. The removable parts make cleaning a cinch, and the movable pressure valve ensures no coffee grounds are stuck inside and don’t shake out.

What’s more, Staresso is committed to sustainability. Their goal is to create eco-friendly products that encourage greener lifestyles. As someone who cares about the planet, this was a big plus to me.

The STARESSO isn’t just an espresso machine. It’s a versatile beast that can also make a mean cappuccino. And for its price point, you’re honestly getting a lot.


9. ChefWave Espresso Machine

Benefits:

  • High-quality 20-bar pressure pump for a rich, flavorful brew
  • Automatic capsule ejection and dishwasher-safe components
  • Compatible with Nespresso Original Line Capsules and other branded capsules
  • Ideal for smaller spaces and mindful energy consumption
  • Includes a capsule holder for easy storage

The machine comes with everything you need right out of the box to start making capsule espresso, starting with the Italian-made 20-bar pressure pump. It even comes with double-walled demitasse espresso cups.

With two programmable brew sizes, Espresso (1.3 oz) or Lungo (3.75 oz), you’re ready for short or long days.

Cleanup, which is often the bane of my coffee-loving existence, is simple. Post-brew, the capsule gets automatically ejected and stored.

The capsule container, drip tray, and water tank are easy to remove and dishwasher safe (bonus). No more scrubbing and fussing.

As a Nespresso enthusiast, I was thrilled to find that this machine is compatible with Nespresso Original Line Capsules. But it’s not picky – it plays well with other branded capsules too.

Plus, its fast heat-up system reaches brew temperature in under 30 seconds. That’s faster than it takes me to peel a banana.

Size-wise, this espresso machine is a blessing for those of us with limited countertop space. It’s compact, lightweight, and energy-saving. And with an automatic 2-hour shut-off and standby mode, it won’t be draining power when you’re not using it.

And as a bonus, it comes with a capsule holder. No more rummaging through random kitchen drawers for your favorite flavor – everything’s neat and tidy.

When it comes to the ChefWave Espresso Machine, it’s like a teleportation device for your taste buds, delivering the authentic and rich flavors of a classic Italian espresso right into your home kitchen. This machine packs a genuine Italian-made 20-bar pressure pump that promises a coffee experience so authentic you’ll be questioning whether you’re really standing in your own kitchen.


10. Bestpresso Espresso Machine Single Serve Coffee Maker

Benefits:

  • High-quality 19 BAR pressure pump for a rich, flavorful brew
  • Works with both Bestpresso and OriginalLine Nespresso capsules
  • Heats up in just 25-30 seconds.
  • Removable parts make cleanup easy
  • Automatic shut-off feature saves energy

The cornerstone of this machine is its robust 19 BAR pressure pump, hailing all the way from Italy. Consistent high ensures even extraction, delivering a cup of coffee that’s rich, robust, and full of depth.

This machine is compatible with Nespresso Original capsules, which means you have a plethora of flavors to choose from. Whether you’re in the mood for a dark roast or a light, fruity blend, the Bestpresso is ready.

The design is familiar, elegant, and contemporary. This machine adds a touch of sophistication to any kitchen counter. It’s compact, so it doesn’t take up much room, but it still manages to make a statement. The machine comes in black, white, and red – I personally went for the red one, and it’s a stunner!

The Bestpresso is also programmable with one-touch buttons, making it incredibly easy to use. Just pop in your capsule, press the button, and wait for your delicious espresso to be brewed.

But there’s a bonus: this machine comes with a free box of coffee pods. Not only do you get a fantastic espresso machine, but you also get to try some of Bestpresso’s own coffee.

However, it’s worth noting that while the flavor is good, it might not match up to the Nespresso brand in terms of taste. But, considering the competitive price of the Bestpresso machine and capsules, it’s a small compromise.


11. KOTLIE Single Serve 4-in-1 Espresso Coffee Machine

Benefits:

  • 4-in-1 Functionality: K-Pods, ESE Pods, Nespresso capsules, and even fresh ground coffee
  • Quality Brew: The espresso brewed is hot, tasty, and full of depth, catering to a high-quality coffee experience.
  • Self-cleaning function, saving time and effort post-brewing
  • Compact and sleek design
  • Lightweight and portable, making it easy to move as needed
  • Ideal for individual use or small groups

This dynamic powerhouse hosts a remarkable 4-in-1 functionality. It seamlessly accommodates K-Pods, ESE Pods, Nespresso capsules, and even fresh ground coffee. It’s the perfect choice for households with diverse coffee preferences or for those adventurous days when you feel like trying something new.

The espresso this little beauty brews is hot, tasty, and full of depth.

I particularly value the self-cleaning function, a feature that I truly admire. Being a coffee lover who dreads the post-brew cleanup, this is an absolute blessing. It not only saves me valuable time and effort but also allows me to fully enjoy the delightful experience of sipping my freshly brewed coffee.

The KOTLIE machine is compact and sleek, fitting nicely on my kitchen counter without cramping my style. It’s also lightweight, making it easy to move around if needed.

However, keep in mind that while the KOTLIE is a fantastic machine for individual use or small groups, it may not be the best for larger gatherings due to its single-serve design. But for daily personal use, it’s more than adequate.


Best Capsule Espresso Machines

Understanding Capsule Espresso Machines

The capsule espresso machine is a modern marvel of caffeinated convenience.

Picture a fancy espresso machine. Now, shrink it down, make it sleeker, and add a slot for a small plastic or aluminum capsule. That’s your capsule espresso machine in a nutshell.

Don’t let its modest size fool you. Inside that petite package is a world of high-pressure brewing and precision extraction.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Insert the capsule: The first step is popping your chosen coffee capsule into the machine. Each capsule is sealed to preserve the freshness of the coffee inside, ensuring you get a perfect brew every time.
  2. Brew under pressure: Once the machine is closed, it pierces the capsule, and hot water under high pressure – usually around 19 bars (that’s nine times the pressure of a car tire) – is forced through the coffee grounds.
  3. Extraction and Ejection: The pressurized water extracts the rich flavors and aromatic oils from the coffee, dispensing a shot of espresso straight into your cup. After brewing, the used capsule is automatically ejected into a waste container inside the machine.

Voila! You’ve got yourself a cup of espresso, all without leaving the comfort of your kitchen.


Benefits of Using Capsule Espresso Machines

You might wonder, “Why should I switch to a capsule espresso machine?”

  • Consistency: With a capsule espresso machine, every cup is as good as the last. No more worrying about grind size, water temperature, or extraction time. The machine takes care of it all.
  • Convenience: Pop in a capsule, press a button, and presto! You’ve got a fresh espresso in seconds.
  • Variety: From robust espressos and creamy lattes to exotic blends and decaf options, there’s an espresso capsule for every mood. Some machines even offer tea and hot chocolate capsules!
  • Compact design: These machines are designed to fit snugly into any kitchen. And their sleek designs are sure to add a touch of elegance to your countertop.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Capsule Espresso Machine

Searching for the perfect espresso machine is like trying to find that perfect pair of jeans. You know, the ones that fit just right, make you feel amazing, and are worth every penny?

Quality of Espresso

First and foremost, we’re here for the coffee. The quality of the espresso is the heart and soul of any coffee machine. Look for a machine that delivers a consistently good shot – rich flavor, full body, and that lovely layer of crema on top. Remember, the best machine will make you feel like you have your very own barista at home!

Machine Size and Design

Consider the size of your kitchen and where you plan to place your machine. Some machines are compact and sleek, while others might take up more counter space. And let’s not forget about aesthetics – your machine should be a joy to look at every morning.

Type of Capsule Compatibility

Not all capsules are created equal. Some machines use specific types of capsules – Nespresso Vertuo, Nespresso Original Line, Soft Pods, ESE Pods, Keurig K-Cup, K-Free, Lavazza, Vittoria, and more.

Make sure to choose a machine compatible with your favorite type of capsule.

  • Nespresso Vertuo: Nespresso’s modern capsule design uses a barcode to detect each coffee blend’s unique parameters for the perfect cup.
  • Nespresso Original Line: The original Nespresso pod design uses the same capsule for all coffee, cocoa, and tea.
  • Soft Pods: These capsules are typically found in supermarkets, and they come in a variety of flavors. They are even compatible with some espresso machines.
  • ESE Pods: Compatible with most espresso machines, these pods contain pre-ground coffee that is easy to use.
  • Keurig K-Cup and K-Free: Pre-packaged capsules that come in a range of flavors.
  • Lavazza: A variety of proprietary capsules that offer high-quality espresso.
  • Vittoria: A selection of pre-ground coffee and specialty blends in capsules.

Ease of Use

I don’t know about you, but I’m not exactly at my brightest first thing in the morning. That’s why ease of use is key. Ideally, I want a machine that’s as simple as pop, lock, and espresso.

Price

Price is always a crucial factor. Like any investment, you want to make sure you’re getting good value for your money. Don’t just go for the cheapest or the most expensive model; consider what features and benefits you’re getting for that price.

Brand Reputation

Brand reputation can tell you a lot about the quality and reliability of a machine. Do some research, read reviews, and see what other users have to say. A company with a strong reputation for customer service is always a plus.

Additional Features

Finally, consider any additional features that might tickle your fancy. Some machines come with built-in milk frothers for your lattes and cappuccinos. Others have programmable settings for customizing your brew. These extras can turn a good coffee experience into a great one.

  • Double Boiler: Machines with a double boiler can brew espresso and steam milk simultaneously. This makes them perfect for cappuccino lovers who don’t want to wait between brewing and frothing.
  • Programmable Settings: These allow you to customize elements like the strength of your brew, water temperature, and even the time your machine turns on in the morning. It’s like having a barista programmed to remember your favorite order.
  • Water Filter: Some machines come with a built-in water filter system, which can improve the taste of your espresso by purifying the water that goes into it.
  • Cup Warmer: An often overlooked feature, a cup warmer can pre-heat your cups. This ensures your freshly brewed espresso doesn’t cool down too quickly once poured into the cup.
  • Auto Clean Function: This feature makes the cleaning process much easier and more efficient. Some machines even have a descaling mode, which helps prolong the life of the machine.
  • Energy Saving Mode: An eco-friendly feature that allows the machine to consume less power when not in use, saving you some bucks on electricity over time.

Buying a capsule espresso machine is a personal decision. What works for me might not work for you. So do your research, and above all, trust your gut (or, in this case, your taste buds).


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a capsule espresso machine?

A capsule espresso machine is a type of coffee maker that uses pre-packaged pods or capsules filled with ground coffee. The machines are designed to extract the coffee from these pods, delivering a consistent and hassle-free espresso at home.

Are there different types of coffee pods for capsule espresso machines?

Yes, there are different types of coffee pods compatible with different machines. For instance, Nespresso machines use Nespresso pods, and some machines like the Instant Pot Multi-Pod Single Brew Coffee and Espresso Maker are compatible with both Nespresso capsules and K-Cup Pods.

Can I make other types of coffee with a capsule espresso machine?

Yes, some machines are versatile and allow you to make different types of coffee. For example, the Lavazza Capsule Coffee Machines offer many solutions to prepare professional-level specialty coffee drinks at home.

About the Author Kris Silvey

About the Author Kris Silvey

As a semi-professional at-home barista and full-time software engineer, my love for coffee borders on obsession. By combining my passion for coffee with an engineering mindset, I strive to perfect my brewing process and share that knowledge with each of you.

Why you should trust us

Here at Elevated Coffee Brew, we believe in making sure our readers have access to the best and most accurate information. That’s why we do our due diligence when researching each piece of coffee gear and coffee bean for every article. We take pride in being thorough, and go the extra mile to ensure we deliver the highest quality content.

 

Sometimes, we like to get our hands dirty and actually try out the item ourselves. Other times, if necessary, we reach out to professional baristas with extensive experience who can offer their input on a particular product or technique. Ultimately, our goal is to find the best items that will make you a great home barista!

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