Subscribe to our magazine
Save 42% & receive a £10 M&S e-gift card!
The VonShef espresso machine packs 15 bars of pressure into its small footprint. At under £80, it's an affordable option for small kitchens.
Its simplicity is the VonShef espresso machine’s greatest strength. Within a tiny footprint, it packs 15 bars of pressure for making strong single and double espressos with one portafilter basket, plus a steam wand for heating milk.
There are two settings (coffee and steam wand), which are button-controlled. Just press the power button beforehand so the two can preheat.
There are a couple of quirks that justify this machine’s low price. The portafilter drips when the milk steam wand is in use. And the wand itself is not that powerful, so the VonShef espresso machine is best suited to coffee drinkers who prefer lattes and flat whites to frothy cappuccinos.
But it’s a small piece of kit, barely larger than a kettle. It’s also simple to operate and, because you manually start and stop it, there's scope to personalise your coffee.
The power button preheats the machine, so it’s best to press it in advance of filling and tamping the portafilter basket (easy to do, thanks to an included plastic scoop). The lights will go green once the VonShef is ready to go. From then, the portafilter locks into place easily and intuitively.
The steam wand is positioned quite low, so works best in shallow mugs. But it's easy to control, thanks to the pressure dial. We removed its plastic head (it twists off for easy cleaning) to expose the metal wand, which gave us a better range of movement. As a result we easily achieved the 'whirlpool effect', which indicates that the milk is heating evenly.
Even with the head on, the milk frothed nicely for a latte – but it was hard to achieve the full frothy cappuccino top. We found the steam lasted longer if kept on half power. Remember to keep a damp cloth to hand for wiping down the milk steam nozzle every time.
Lattes, espresso and flat whites are easy to make with this machine, and the resulting espresso had an impressive silky crema. It’s not the most balanced shot in flavour, but as long as you wait for the machine to fully preheat and change the water in the plastic tank daily, an enjoyable espresso is pretty much guaranteed.
This would be a great, affordable machine for anyone with limited kitchen countertop space. Especially if you're looking for an espresso maker that allows you to steam your own milk.
It’s 850 watts, so less powerful than most espresso machines we've tested. It explains why the steam wand quite literally ran out of steam when heating a large quantity of milk. But remember, it does sport an impressive 15 bars of pressure for pulling through espresso. If you don’t mind emptying the removable drip tray regularly, then this machine is a good value-for-money option.
VonShef 15-bar Espresso machine specifications
Ground capacity: single and double filter
Average pressure: 15 bars
Water capacity: 1.5 litre
Dimensions: 360 x 350 x 340 mm
This review was last updated in February 2021. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.