I like a good strong shot of espresso, especially when it comes from a simple yet beautiful machine. Old school espresso machines may look like a thing from the past, but they surely make a proper shot of espresso anyway.
From French press coffee makers to travel coffee makers, I really appreciate it when a simple device is able to make something as good as what you can get in an actual coffee shop. It reminds that going back to basics are some times a very good idea.
Choosing an old school espresso machine means fewer features, but the functionality is intact. It gets the job done, and you don’t have to study a 100-page manual to get an idea of the countless features and customization options.
For this buying guide I’ve reviewed some of the most interesting old school espresso machines, and my recommendations are based on how well they perform, the design, the level of authenticity, and how easy they are to clean.
The Top Picks
Flair Espresso Maker
- No cords – 100% hand powered
- Durable parts that detach for easy cleaning
- Carrying bag included
What we like: This is a really nice old school espresso maker, that’s purely made for espresso shots – and nothing else. However, that is also the beauty of it. The simple yet proper design ensures a strong cup of nicely balanced espresso, and there’s really not a whole lot more to it.
The Flair Espresso Maker is delivered in a carrying case, and it disassembles easily for space saving storage.
A perfect choice for those who prefer a quick yet tasty cup of espresso from time to time.
- Requires 60 ml boiling water to brew a 40 ml espresso shot
- 100% manual – no plugs or electronics
- Made of cast aluminum, stainless steel, and BPA-free plastic
- All parts that are in contact with the coffee are either made of stainless steel or BPA-free plastic
- Brewing head is detachable for easy cleaning
- Backed by a 5-year warranty
- Padded carrying case included
- Weighs only 5 pounds in total
- Lever pressure between 6 to 10 bar
- Recommended coffee grounds weight between 13 and 18 grams
La Pavoni Professional PC-16
- Beautiful Italian design
- Professional style espresso machine
- Steam jet for cappuccino
- Perfect for any coffee enthusiast
What we like: This old school espresso maker doesn’t just look beautiful. It makes a perfect espresso shot, worthy of nothing but the best machines available for home use.
The Italian company La Pavoni has existed since 1905, and is specialized in making professional espresso machines for the authentic look, taste and feel of Italian coffee.
It has a pressure gauge that allows you to inspect the water pressure before making your espresso shot, and there’s a steamer jet for that perfect milk foam as well.
And last but not least, it has been made with pride in Italy, and you can tell that it’s professionally made from top to bottom.
Fun fact: James Bond used an espresso machine similar to the La Pavoni Professional back in the 1973 Live and Let Die movie. Check it out on YouTube.
- Chrome base
- Pressure gage and water level indicator
- Steaming jet for milk foam
- 38-ounce boiler
- Makes one or two shots of espresso at a time
- Made in Italy
- Weighs 16 pounds
- Has a simple on/off switch on the left side
- Stylish old school design
- Has a steam option for milk foam
- Works with tall cups and mugs too
What we like: Smeg is known for their classy retry-chic design, and this old school espresso maker is no exception.
Although it has some modern features, we like it because it imitates a beautiful old school look and feel to it.
It extracts the espresso with a 15-bar pressure pump mechanism, and with the 1-liter removable water tank you’re able to make a good amount of shots before having to refill it.
This little machine also comes with a steam jet on the side, so you can make milk foam and create your own coffee specialties from scratch.
If black isn’t your favorite color, don’t worry – the Smeg espresso machine is available in multiple colors.
- Thermoblock Heating System allows for quick heating of the water
- 15-bar pressure pump
- 1-liter removable water tank
- Makes 1 or 2 cups at a time, and has buttons for each option