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Are you tired of waking up and having to leave your house to get a good shot of espresso, latte, or an americano?
What if I told you, you could enjoy a cafe-quality espresso in your home without breaking the bank. This is why we felt the need to put together a review of the best espresso machine under $200
Although it might seem like a big expense if you calculate all the cups of coffee you have every day, the cost comparison favors an in-house espresso machine.
● Best Automatic Milk Frother Espresso Machine — Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista
● Best Coffee Capsule Espresso Machine — Nespresso Original
● Best 3-in-1 filter Espresso Machine — Cuisinart EM_100
● Best Overall Espresso Machine — De’Longhi A-3220
|Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker, Red - BVMC-ECMP1106||Prime||Buy Now|
|De'Longhi ECP3220R 15 Bar Espresso Machine with Advanced Cappuccino System, 11.4 x 9.5 x 14.2 inches, Red||Prime||Buy Now|
|Nespresso Citiz Coffee and Espresso Machine by DeLonghi with Aeroccino, Black||Prime||Buy Now|
|De'Longhi ECP3420 Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine, 15", Black||Prime||Buy Now|
|Capresso 124.01 Ultima Pro Programmable Pump Espresso Machine||Prime||Buy Now|
The Best Espresso Machines For Under $200
UPDATE: You’re going to notice that some of these machines are a little over 200. They actually range from $127.00 to $240.00.
You probably think what the hell since the title says under $200.
When I originally did this review, all of these machines were under $200; the prices since then have gone up a tiny bit.
I tried to remove the espresso machines that were over $200 and replace them with cheaper models.
The problem is that the machines I would’ve replaced them with, in my opinion, are pieces of crap (I really wanted to use another word) and are not worthy of being in your home.
So, I decided to keep my original list that I actually feel comfortable recommending, and I hope this doesn’t lead to anyone feeling misled.
My very first choice is Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista because it gives you 15 bars of pressure.
If you know anything about espresso, you know the importance of the right pressure, along with temperature, extraction time, and the perfect tamping; this machine takes care of all of these factors for you except the tamping.
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista is a semi-automatic machine designed specifically for your perfectly brewed espresso.
It not only gives you espresso but also allows you to make Cappuccino and Latte since it has a built-in frother.
The machine has a one-touch brewing action that is very user friendly (for double shots, click the button twice). It also automatically froths your milk and makes the coffee for you.
This is an easy-to-use and by far the simplest machine you’ll find on the market.
● Removable water reservoirs, trays, and milk containers make it easy to clean.
● The machine is simple to use because of its one-touch technology.
● It gives you both single and double shots.
● It comes with two filters (single and double).
● Automatic milk frother.
- This coffee machine doesn’t give you tiny bubbles for the perfect Latte.
- comes with a plastic tamper, you will want to buy a metal tamper
|Voice command||Touchscreen, Dial|
|Item Weight||10.37 Pounds|
Dimensions 11.22 x 8.86 x 12.60 inches
The De’longhi A-3220 espresso machine is one of the best coffee makers for its low price. It comes with many features and a manual frother.
While a manual milk frother might seem like a chore, it allows you to create a more textured froth an automatic frother and it is oddly satisfying when you get the perfect froth.
This espresso machine also has 15 bars of pressure.
The De’longhi machine has an internal water reservoir that fits perfectly in the system without spilling any water. Additionally, you can easily remove it for cleaning (refer to the manual).
● This espresso machine heats up pretty quickly.
● It has easy switches to operate the machine.
● De’longhi also has a heating stand/top to heat your cups/glasses.
● It has removable trays that come handy while cleaning.
● The milk frother is able to
● This machine doesn’t measure water per shot, and you manually have to stop the machine, or it will keep on pouring.
● It’s hard to attach the portafilter to the machine. It takes a little time to learn where the locking mechanism is.
|Item Weight||10.8 Pounds|
|Item Dimensions LxWxH 11.4 x 9.5 x 14.17 inches|
Another espresso machine under $200 is Nespresso Original; the Nespresso Original’s coffee capsules are sealed with pre-ground coffee for a quick, convenient espresso.
This machine picks up its game with a 19-bar extraction pump, giving you single-serving coffees and espresso with the perfect flavor profile and texture.
Coffee capsule machines usually cost $300-$400 for their efficiency, but Nespresso Original offers these services at a significantly lower price.
Nespresso Original is a compact machine and can fit easily on your kitchen counter. In addition, it comes with a unique ‘aeroccino 3’ milk frother, which is not attached to the coffee machine directly.
The espresso machine and aeroccino 3 share the same stage but can work simultaneously, which you don’t naturally see in other coffee makers.
Why? Other coffee makers first pressure the ground to make crema and can only froth the milk or vice versa.
Nespresso gives you the convenience to have them both function together, giving you the crema and frothed milk at the same time.
● You can use different brand capsules with this original line of Nespresso coffee makers.
● It comes with a free welcome kit of different-flavored Nespresso coffee capsules.
● You can use different sizes of cups with the machine. It provides two platforms, one for espresso and one for lungo (5 ounces).
● The machine heats up pretty quickly. It only takes up to 25-30 seconds, which is ideal for heating your espresso/other coffees.
● You don’t need to tamp or measure your ground because it comes with measured capsules.
● Unfortunately, the coffee capsules are pre-ground and won’t give you its natural aroma and texture.
● It’s a single serving coffee machine and is not meant for larger groups.
● The machine is very loud while extracting the crema.
|Item Weight||8.92 Pounds|
Dimensions – 14.60 x 8.61 x 10.90 inches
Another De’longhi espresso coffee maker makes the list for its affordable price yet excellent services.
The ECP 3420 model is similar to the 3220 De’longhi machine but at a cheaper price.
This machine comes with a manual frother, which isn’t as convenient as an automatic frother but does give you more control over the texture of the milk.
The tray size is comparatively bigger and can hold two cups together. The system is easy to clean. The water reservoir goes inside the system and can hold upto 37 oz of water.
Another feature for its great price is the rapid cappuccino system that maintains the optimal temperature giving you brewed coffee cups back to back.
● It comes with two baskets for your portafilter for single and double shots.
● The tray can be removed to adjust a bigger sized cup. There is a tray beneath the tray.
● It has a stainless steel boiler.
● The system takes a little time to heat up.
● The cup warmer isn’t fast enough.
|Item Weight||4.9 Kilograms|
|Item Dimensions LxWxH||9.6 x 7.25 x 11.9 inches|
Capresso 124.01 is your single/double touch, easy-to-use espresso coffee machine with simple instructions mentioned right at the front.
All you need to do is fill the water reservoir, measure coffee in your portafilter, and start.
Bonus: you don’t need to tamp your grounds in the portafilter with this product. It automatically does that once you lock the portafilter into the group head.
Capresso 124.01 is a semi-automatic machine with a 15-bar extract power pump giving you a great textured crema in your espresso. It brews you not only the perfect espresso but also a great cup of cappuccino.
This machine heats up in about 5-10 seconds and does all the work from extracting the crema to steaming your milk very fast.
Another great feature is a double-walled sieve; The only flaw is it can get hard to clean a double-walled sieve, but it saves you the cost of a lousy grinder.
● Capresso has a beautiful design that looks great on your kitchen counter.
● It has a 34-ounce water reservoir.
● Automated tamping is a great benefit that is practically unheard of at this price point.
● The double-walled sieve makes it hard to clean. It’s worth it though
● The steamer/frother leaks water. (To avoid leaking, switch on your steamer in an empty jar to get rid of the remaining water.) This sounds worse than it is, not a deal-breaker.
|Item Weight||5.44 Kilograms|
Dimensions – 10.50 x 12.25 x 14.00 inches
Another De’Longhi hitting the list. There is no doubt that De’ Longhi makes some of the best coffee machines.
This ECO310R comes with many unique features that your average machine won’t give you. Its 3 filter addition makes you brew one-shot espresso, two-shots espresso and the third filter lets you brew espresso pods.
People who enjoy brewing pods will love this machine because it works fine with all three settings.
Your De’Longhi ECO310 espresso maker has a stainless steel boiler that gives you the desired temperature for different brews.
Another unique feature that puts De’longhi ahead in the game is its dual thermostat feature that separately heats water and milk to get desired cappuccino and espresso results.
ECO310R also comes in a beautiful bright red. If you enjoy different colors, this will be perfect. This model also comes in milky-white color.
● It heats up quickly, giving you your favorite coffee in a couple of seconds/minutes.
●Comes with a built-in cup warmer.
● It doesn’t make much noise while extracting your espresso.
● The milk-frother is stronger and creates a really nice texture
● You might find it difficult to operate this machine for the first time, even with a user manual.
Dimensions – 10.24 x 11.42 x 14.96 inches
This is, by far, the most beautiful machine under the $200 budget. Klarstein has a compact, elegant design that should fit easily into your home.
Passionata comes with a 20-bar extraction pump, single and double filters, and a water reservoir of 43-oz capacity. This machine has 1340 watt of power to heat the unit up pretty quickly.
This espresso machine has two color variations; the red one comes with a 20-bar extraction pump and the silver one comes with a 15-bar extraction pump. It is also easy-to-use, and easy-to-clean with removable trays.
● It has an automatic pressure release.
● Stainless steel grids
● This machine comes with slip-resistant rubber pads.
● The milk frother has a removable nozzle.
● It might get a little challenging to aerate the milk properly with Klarstein Passionata.
● The body is not entirely steel, and that might disappoint buyers.
|Item Dimensions LxWxH||7.87 x 11.81 x 13.78 inches|
Nespresso EN124SAE is a coffee capsule machine without a frother (you can add the aeroccino 3 milk frother to the cart but the price would increase.)
If a milk frother is a necessary piece of equipment for you, this machine might not be the one for you.
But if you are happy without a milk frother, this Nespresso is one of the cheapest options available. Its compact size will meet your space demands in the kitchen, and it is easy-to-clean as well.
The model is very similar to the one we discussed earlier (Nespresso Original). It also comes with a removable capsule dispenser.
This machine also offers you espresso and lungo sizes with a one-touch system.
The machine is straightforward to use. All you’ve got to do is fill the water reservoir, add the single-serving Nespresso capsule, and click the button. Your coffee is ready!
● It automatically alerts you when your water reservoir is empty.
● This machine also turns itself off after 9 minutes of inactivity, which is a great way of saving power!
● 19-bar power pump to extract the best crema.
● It heats your coffee quickly in 25 seconds (the optimal timing for espresso).
● They give you 16 free Nespresso Capsules. Every capsule has a different taste and aroma.
● Many of the oils get lost, and you don’t get the real thick oil crema for your espresso.
● If the capsules are not in the right shape, the machine won’t accept them.
|Item Weight||8.28 Pounds|
Dimensions – 12.6 x 4.33 x 9.25 inches
My favorite choice will go with Yabano because of its long and yet compact body. While it takes the least space on your counter, it’s tall enough to accommodate big cups.
Additionally, there are two drip trays in this machine, the one on the top is easily removable to fit an even larger cup. It comes with a 15-bar extraction pump and a visual pressure gauge.
Yabano is easy to use with a display control panel that offers a professional cup of espresso in a couple of seconds.
Another unique feature of this espresso coffee maker is its dual thermostat; it heats milk and water separately to get better results.
Plus, the frother allows you to adjust different foam and steam levels to create a variety of espresso, Cappuccino and Latte.
● The machine heats up faster and automatically stops once done.
● It can give you a dryer foam to microfoam, depending on your choice.
● It also offers you an espresso, cappuccino, latte with a feature that allows you to try different aromas and coffees.
● 2-in-1 filter: The automatic flow-stop feature dispenses just the right amount of espresso, delivering one shot or two.
● The milk frother doesn’t go up & down and only slides right to the left.
● The manual is a little hard to understand.
Dimensions – 16.26 x 13.86 x 7.91 inches
Another genuine product with multiple features for your perfect espresso at a very reasonable price is Cuisinart EM-100.
This machine has 3 filters; one for the 2 shots of espresso, another for one shot of espresso, and the last one for espresso pods.
It has a 15-bar extraction pump and one of the largest water reservoirs of 53-ounce capacity. It also has a big drip tray that allows you to adjust 2 cups at a time comfortably.
● Their manual is very detailed and descriptive. The manual also gives you clear instructions on how to operate this espresso coffee maker and also gives great tips to brew coffee, steam milk, etc.
● Produces quality crema.
● Unfortunately, this doesn’t heat your espresso to the prime, only ever warms the coffee.
● The foam might not be of your taste if you are making a latte.
Questions To Ask Before Buying An espresso machine Under $200
You already know that you love espresso, but how do you decide which machine is the right one for you?
Unless you spend close to $1000, you will not find a machine that includes all your wants and needs.
But you can find the model that will more than exceed your expectations by asking a few questions that will decide your likes, dislikes, what you’d want in an espresso machine, and wouldn’t want.
The deciding factor will always lie with the features that you can live or can’t live without.
These Q&As will help you find the right choice with these right questions before making the purchase.
Is it Expensive?
The very first factor before buying an espresso machine is if it’s in your budget.
Espresso machines have a wide range of prices; they can range from $100- $700. The questions that matter are – what is your budget and is the machine worth your money?
Quality espresso machines can cost a fortune but, every machine with a different price tag will have different features.
For instance, an expensive machine worth $700 will have a grinder included but do you need that grinder?
If you already have a quality grinder, why would you spend more money on it?
If you are not a professional barista but still have a profound love for coffee, an entry-level espresso machine would be a great start.
They are affordable and might only cost you $175-$250 with qualifying features.
How Easy Is It To Use?
Most of these coffee machines are really easy to use. They have simple visuals and buttons to guide you through. However, if you’re a novice, make sure you read through the manual to use it properly.
What is an Easy-To-Use espresso machine?
A user-friendly brand is one where you only need to plug it in, fill the water reservoir, put coffee in it, click a few buttons, and froth the milk.
Higher-end models need you to calibrate the amount of pressure used, the water temperature, water hardness, grind size, frothing temperature, milk texture, and you have to automate cleanings.
The models on this list don’t have all the bells and whistles of these more expensive brands, so you don’t have to worry about all of these features.
You will still need to read the manual and understand how to clean it and use it correctly.
Is It Easy To Clean?
To sustain your espresso coffee machine longer, you need to keep it clean.
A clean machine will give you better-tasting coffee and a longer lifespan. So, before buying your espresso machine, ask yourself if you can easily clean it or not.
Unlike coffee grinders, espresso machines won’t have static grounds, but they will have coffee residues everywhere, like the portafilter, the double-walled sieves, or even single-walled sieves.
Truth be told, espresso machines are effortless to clean. You don’t have to clean the motors, the burrs, just the external wares.
Since the portafilter and the milk frother will have liquid running through them during every use, a quick rinse is vital to avoid accumulation.
Just quickly run your portafilter, sieves, and the nozzle under running water until it seems clean.
You will have clear instructions for cleaning the machine in the manual.
Does It Come With A Portafilter?
Before we begin, let’s conclude what exactly a portafilter is and what it’s used for. A portafilter holds the coffee ground to prepare your daily espresso.
It has a basket that holds one-shot/two shots of coffee ground. It also has a handle that makes the functioning easy and two openings at the end of the basket that the coffee pours through.
Once you fill the ground in your portafilter, it is then attached to your machine and pressurized to make espresso. Finally, the boiled water goes through the ground coffee to extract the espresso.
There are espresso coffee makers that do not come with a portafilter. These espresso machines are called Coffee Capsules and super-automatic espresso machines.
A coffee capsule machine doesn’t require you to fill the portafilter with ground coffee. Instead, it comes with pre-packed ground coffee capsules and has an outlet where you can put them to prepare the coffee. These outlets are usually present at the top of your machine.
The capsules look like small aluminum containers completely sealed and packed. To operate, put the capsule in the outlet, switch on the button, and you will have your coffee ready without having to use the portafilter.
The question is – do you want a machine without the portafilter?
Although, If you are someone who enjoys freshly ground coffee rather than pre-ground, you’d want a machine with the portafilter.
And if you don’t mind pre-ground coffee, a coffee capsule machine is a much cheaper choice for you. It saves time, and it also doesn’t require much effort in brewing coffee.
How Many Bars Of Pressure Does It Use?
The ideal bar pressure for any coffee machine would be 7 to 9 bars. But, it is said, 9 bars of pressure is perfect for brewing espresso coffee.
But if this is the case, why do companies promote 15 bars and even higher bar pressures? It can be a little debatable.
While some individuals/experts argue that companies only ever represent higher bars to trick buyers into paying more than the money required, some mention the benefits of higher bars and their use.
A higher bar, i.e., 15 (or above) in your domestic/semi-professional machine, works to maintain a 9-bar pressure throughout the coffee-making process.
It means your machine initiates 15 bars of pressure to open up the water outlet’s valves and let the water pass through these valves, but it then reduces down to 9-bars for brewing.
These entry-level espresso machines also use a higher bar indication because of their durability.
Since these machines are not professional, their bar pressure will wear down sooner or later; 15 bar pressure helps it last longer.
How? Because even though your machine mentions 15 bars of pressure, they only use 9 bars, thus protecting your machine from overuse.
The availability of extra bars doesn’t let the machine wear off easily.
Does It Make Double Shots?
Espresso machines will either give you single-serving or double servings and never more than that.
A double-shot espresso machine will come with two filters, one for a single shot and the bigger one for two shots.
Almost all the coffee machines come with both filters. A bigger espresso machine will always have double shots, but you might only get single-serving coffees in one go if you are buying a compact size espresso coffee maker.
If you are an individual who enjoys drinking coffee alone, a single-serving coffee or single-shot coffee machine will do just fine at a cheaper cost.
Most of the espresso machines with a portafilter will give you double shots even with the compact size.
On the other hand, a Nespresso capsule product/coffee capsules will always give you single-shot coffee with one capsule capacity at a time.
How Durable Is It?
Can you get durability with an entry-level espresso machine?
Well, the answer can highly depend on the brand you are choosing.
A well-known brand like Mr. Coffee, De’longhi will give you a durable product, but how long will it last? The statistics say a fully automatic machine will last for 10 years.
A semi-automatic machine, if kept in the right condition, will last longer.
A couple of factors that decide your machine’s durability will be;
● The quality of your machine’s construction and its body. If your machine’s body is made up of stainless steel parts, it will last longer than your average plastic body.
● Although it is hard to get a complete stainless steel exterior and interior body in an entry-level espresso machine, look for a machine that will provide you with stainless steel interior parts, if not the exterior body.
● Ensure the water boiler, portafilter, and frother rod are all made up of stainless steel to avoid corrosion and rust in your brewed coffee. If they are not stainless, the steel will corrode with time and won’t last long.
● The condition in which your espresso machine is kept plays a big role. If it’s cleaned regularly and stored appropriately, it will last significantly longer.
Does It Froth Milk?
Almost all espresso machines come with a milk frother; some milk frothers automatically froth your milk, and others require manual action.
Aerating and steaming your milk is called milk frothing. A manual frother will allow you to create your desired froth with dryer foam or micro foam, depending on your needs.
An entry-level espresso machine might not automatically froth milk. However, many professional baristas would want to froth manually because it gives you more control over the foam’s texture and temperature.
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista is one of the best espresso machines under $200 if you want an automatic milk frother. Furthermore, Nespresso Original also comes with an aeroccino 3 automatic frother.
If you enjoy different froths for different brews, go with a manually-frothing espresso machine instead of an automatic frother because the quality of an automatic frother might not satisfy you.
Does It Come With A Tamper?
When you fill your portafilter with ground coffee, you need to tamp it.
Tamping the ground coffee means pushing it down with minor pressure to level the coffee ground evenly.
A tamper is a flat circular disc attached with a handle for proper functioning. The circular disc is the same size as your portafilter.
A good tamp will distribute the water evenly in the ground coffee, and a bad tamp will distribute the water unevenly, leaving your coffee either too strong or too weak.
You don’t need to put too much pressure while tamping.
A light pressure that evens out your coffee ground is fine. Next, look for visible gaps or cracks; if they still exist after tamping, shake your portafilter and tamp again.
Usually, an entry-level espresso machine will come with a plastic tamper that is not of great quality; you can easily buy a stainless steel tamper online that will better tamp your coffee down.
Please note: Coffee capsule machines won’t come with a tamper because they do not need tamping or a portafilter.
Do You Want To Make Latte And Cappuccino As Well?
An average espresso machine will always give you cappuccino if not a latte.
Your quality cappuccino and latte will highly depend on the milk frother because both the drinks are milk-based.
A cappuccino will require one/third of espresso, one/third of steamed milk and, one/third of foamed milk.
On the other hand, a latte will require one/sixth of espresso, four/sixth steamed milk, and one/sixth of foamed milk.
So, does your entry-level espresso machine create quality froth?
I’d suggest you go with a machine that requires manual frothing. Automatic frothing might not give you the desired bubble sizes for your cappuccino and latte.
On the other hand, a manual frother will allow vortex action, creating different bubbles with different hand techniques.
Another factor that creates quality frothed/steamed/foamed milk is the temperature. If your machine allows you to set the temperature for the milk, that machine is for you!
Does It Have An In-Built Grinder?
Now, this is something you won’t get in an espresso machine under $200.
If you want to have a machine with a built-in grinder, you will need to increase your budget.
An espresso machine with a built grinder will cost you $500-$2000 or even more.
So, if you’re on a tight budget, you can buy both the espresso machine as well as the coffee grinder separately at a much lower price.
What’s The Warranty?
Most of the average espresso machines will have a warranty of a year or two.
If your machine breaks down before its warranty date, you can get it serviced, repaired, or even changed (if the damage is unfixable).
The truth is that to get an espresso machine under $200, the manufacturers are going to use cheaper materials on certain parts of the machine.
This can cause certain things to break, and this is why it’s so important to have a good warranty.
Is It Programmable?
A lot of machines will allow you to program different settings so that you can tweak the flavor and texture of your drinks.
If you want a machine that is programmable you’re going to have to be ready to sit down and read a manual to make sure you’re doing everything the right way.
I prefer machines that allow me to customize the brewing process, but others are more comfortable with a plug and brew approach.
You have to decide for yourself what you would rather have.
What Is The Brew Temperature?
The ideal brew temperature for espresso coffee is 190-205 degrees Fahrenheit. Brewing temperature and drinking temperature are two different things.
While your espresso machine will brew water into coffee grounds at a minimum of 190-205 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature will be lost while dripping the coffee into the cup.
The ideal drinking temperature should be 160-185 degrees Fahrenheit to enjoy the sweet aroma and flavors of your coffee. Too hot coffee (190-200 degrees Fahrenheit) will scald your tongue and won’t allow taste buds to detect the coffee’s taste.
Some entry-level espresso machines might take a couple of cups to get to the right temperature. Also, many machines need deep cleaning with vinegar to start offering the right temperature.
What Are The Different Types Of Espresso Machines?
There are four types of espresso machines meeting your caffeine demands using different tiers of technology.
These are namely; manual espresso machines, semi-automatic machines, fully automatic machines, and capsule machines.
Every espresso machine has different features.
While a manual/piston espresso machine or semi-automatic machines give you complete control over your coffee, automatic/super-automatic espresso machines do the complete work for you with zero personal/manual involvement.
But which one’s the best choice for you?
Do you prefer enjoying the manual work while making your morning espresso, from grinding to applying the pressure, or do you want your coffee without the hassle?
This detailed list of all the types of espresso machines will let you choose what you truly want and desire while brewing.
1. Manual espresso machines
Although manual espresso machines fell out of popularity long back, a true barista’s heart will always love these traditional manual/piston machines.
This type gives you the complete liberty to brew your own coffee from scratch.
You grind your own beans, tamp your ground coffee, pull the lever, apply the pressure, and brew your perfect cup of morning coffee.
These machines were the first and foremost traditional methods to brew your coffee.
It is a piston-driven machine that requires the brewer to pump the lever manually. The lever then puts pressure on the coffee ground and gives you the most authentic tasting coffee.
Why are manual/piston espresso machines not in operation anymore? These machines require precision and focus, and if you are a novice coffee lover, it will take forever to brew your first cup.
Manual espresso machines underwent many inventions of power-pumped espresso machines.
The human species has always put comfort and technology before anything, so why not replace the manual work with a single-touch button to get your morning coffee?
Unfortunately, there are not many brands that still manufacture piston-based espresso machines.
2. Semi-Automatic espresso machines
Every Barista that you’ll meet will suggest a semi-automatic espresso machine, and all for good reasons.
A semi-automatic espresso machine gives you the authority to program your coffee the way you like it.
You ground, decide the shots, tamp the coffee, add desired milk to the coffee, and brew your own flavor.
While semi-automatic machines give you some action, they can easily program an automatic coffee with a single-touch system.
These machines also have automatic/manual frothers depending on your needs. All in all, they are affordable, functional, and brew good espressos and espresso-based drinks.
There are multiple varieties to choose from when getting yourself a semi-automatic machine.
3. Automatic & Super-Automatic espresso machines
There is not much difference between a semi-automatic and a fully automatic espresso machine. However, an automatic machine does have some excellent features that semi-automatic machines can’t give to you.
A fully automatic espresso machine knows how much water it needs for the preferred coffee and when to switch off once the shots have been prepared automatically. It also automatically froths your milk as well.
Of course, with extra features, automatic machines cost a little more than any average semi-automatic machine but is it worth it? This depends on a couple of factors;
● Are you an individual who might skip/forget to switch off your espresso machine while pulling the shots?
● If you want advanced automatic frothing, you might not enjoy semi-automatic machines.
● If you are always short on time or running for your chores, every automatic action is worth your penny because time is precious!
Super-automatic espresso machines add functionality to your coffee set up by adding an inbuilt grinder with your machine.
You don’t need a portafilter or tamping for these super-automatic espresso machines. Instead, these machines grind their own beans.
You click the espresso/cappuccino (single/double) button, and the machine starts functioning.
It first grinds the beans and then automatically measures the coffee ground and brews your tasty coffee in a couple of seconds.
If you have a free budget and if you think this does seem like a healthy investment for you, then go for it!
4. Coffee Capsules
Coffee capsule machines are a new advancement in the espresso world. However, they are similar to automatic machines since they don’t require a portafilter, tamping, or manual coffee ground measurement.
Add the coffee capsules to the outlet and start the machine; your coffee is ready! A coffee capsule is a small, sealed cup that is packed with pre-ground coffee.
While people don’t enjoy pre-ground coffee, some cannot afford to grind the beans either due to a busy schedule or due to the unavailability of the grinder itself.
Coffee Capsules vary in price ranging from $100-$200.
These coffee capsule machines give you a quick morning coffee without needing a grinder and an almost automatic experience at a very low price.
So, if you don’t have a grinder and cannot afford one at present, coffee capsule machines are always there for you!
What Are The Differences between An Affordable Espresso Machine And An Expensive One
- The number of boilers – More expensive models will have one boiler for the brewing process and another to steam and froth your milk. If you only have one, you’ll have to make your coffee than froth your milk.
- The boiler’s material – High-end models will have boilers made out of stainless steel or copper, and the cheaper versions will be made out of aluminum. Better materials like steel and copper will give you a stable temperature, which gives you a richer, silkier espresso.
- A larger boiler – This makes it possible to make more shots or froth more milk at one time. It’s purely for convenience.
- A larger portafilter – This can let you make larger single or double shots, and some people swear that it gives you a richer flavor, but I don’t see it myself.
- Tri valves – Also known as 3-way valves, allow any pressure that isn’t released during the extraction period to safely release so that it doesn’t cause any damage to the machine over time.
- A metal steam wand – Budget espresso machines will sometimes make their steam wands out of plastic or resin; they tend not to be as effective and harder to clean.
- Able to be plumbed – Some models will let you run a water line to them so that you don’t have to manually fill up the water reservoir and another line to let the tray drain automatically.
- Rotary pumps compared to vibrating pumps – the biggest difference with this is a cheap espresso machine will have a vibrating pump, which works just as well but is a lot louder. I have heard people who repair and restore espresso machines say that rotary pumps are more susceptible to breaking if they run without any water in the reservoir.
- How programmable it is – Some espresso machines allow you to customize every aspect of the brewing process. For example, the Breville oracle lets you program the volume of the shot, the volume of water used, the water hardness, water temperature, espresso temperature, milk temperature, milk texture, Grind size, and clean settings. Other more affordable models will only allow you to look at a few settings, and that’s all.
- Digital display – I actually like the non-digital machines’ look more, but many people like the look and think there is easier to use. If this is something, you want then be ready to spend a little more money.
Why Are Espresso Machines So Expensive
The main reason why the higher-end machines cost so much is due to the materials used.
More expensive models use the highest quality materials like stainless steel, brass, and copper, while your more affordable models use metal, plastic, and lower grad copper and brass.
Some models cost more because the research and testing are done on them last for hundreds of hours to ensure that your purchase is made of the highest quality and will have a longer lifespan; this costs money and is seen in its price tag.
What Is The Best Price Range To Stay Within To Receive A Quality Machine?
This is a matter of opinion, but I would recommend not to go below $150.
When you start to get cheaper than this price point, you’re starting to look at many plastic external and internal parts.
This isn’t a good feature, and it will probably end up breaking within the first year of use.
Spending an extra $50 or $60 will give you more durable parts and a longer lifespan; this will also normally mean a better warranty.
Why Are Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines Best For This Price Range?
● If you are someone who enjoys brewing your own coffee, a semi-automatic machine gives you the liberty to program your own cup with some of the best features at a very affordable price.
● You can decide the water quantity with every shot and can stop the machine manually.
● Along with multiple programmable coffee options, there are many automatic features as well. For example, this machine tells you when to refill your water reservoir; some machines even tell you when to clean, etc.
● The manual temperature and pressure gauge allow you to brew coffee at your desired temperature. It also lets you decide the water and coffee content according to your choices.
● Their bar pressure ranges from 9-15 bars of extraction pump.
Is a semi-automatic machine the best option for you?
If you are someone who enjoys experimenting with coffee, or if you want to garnish your skills as a barista, or if you enjoy the whole brewing process, then this machine is for you!
Semi-automatic espresso machines need instructions, attention, and time, so if you have a couple of minutes on your table, enjoy the whole process from grinding to brewing, many people enjoy the experience of making their coffee as much as drinking it.
Benefits Of Capsule machines If You Are On A Budget
● Coffee capsule machines are your automatic machines that require zero effort and time while brewing your cup of espresso.
● Coffee capsules, unlike semi-automatic machines, don’t consume much of your time; a single press can give you your cup of coffee without even measuring and tamping your coffee grounds.
● The coffee capsules come in different flavors. Just put the capsule in the outlet, press the button, and taste new flavors every day.
● Nespresso Coffee Capsules machine gives you a welcome kit of 16 different coffee flavors for free with every purchase.
● You won’t need to invest in a grinder with these capsule machines. ● At $200, you can buy a great coffee capsule machine with great features and a free aeroccino 3 milk frother.
Do You Need An Automatic Milk Frother
This article repeatedly talks about the importance of a manual frother for your barista techniques. Still, if you are fairly new to making your own coffee, you might want an automatic frother.
An automatic frother steams the milk for you and adds it in your coffee.
For instance, if you choose a cappuccino, the automatic milk frother will add one/third steamed milk and then one/third foamed milk.
If you don’t know how to froth, steam, and foam your milk with the manual frother, or if you are short on time, you will need an automatic milk frother in your machine!
But if you want to try and test your barista skills and if you want to polish your frothing game, go with a manual frother.
Pros And Cons Of Milk Frother
Like any other machine in the world, an automatic milk frother also has its pros and cons, but the question is, can you live with those cons?
And are the given pros enough for you to spend the extra money for a milk frother?
What exactly should you expect from a milk frother? Is it quick functioning that you are looking for, or are you looking for barista’s style foam/steam and bubble formation?
● It saves you time.
● Automatic milk frother measures the milk required for the particular coffee, and you don’t have to manually stop it.
● The milk frother decides the temperature for your espresso-based coffees.
● You don’t get desired bubble sizes, i.e. micro, macro, tiny or big bubbles.
● The steamed milk might not taste like your cafe’s coffee with an automatic milk frother.
● The biggest flaw is that you cannot manually froth your milk.
What Expectations Should You Have For An Espresso Machine Under $200
● These machines work wonderfully for an entry-level option, providing you with great flavored coffee and multiple features at low prices.
● You would save a lot of money that is wasted at cafes.
● These espresso machines provide you with a chance to learn new coffee techniques, practice your barista skills, and give you the freedom to brew your own cup your way!
● These machines would be half-stainless steel and half plastic or might be completely plastic. Unfortunately, some of them aren’t aesthetically pleasing, and you need to look out for plastic interiors and try to avoid them.
● They might display higher bar extraction pumps, but the bars may decrease in pressure quality after a couple of years.
● These machines might not heat your milk and water enough. So, you will have to warm it for yourself sometimes.
Are Budget Espresso Machines Worth Buying?
A hundred times YES!!
Budget-friendly espresso machines save you a lot of money while also giving you your coffee every morning without the hassle of having to leave your house.
I personally would say these espresso machines are a great purchase because they really do make a great cup of coffee at a low cost. If you are starting your novice coffee journey, these machines are the best fit for you!
How Many Bars Of Pressure Do You Need For An Espresso Machine?
Every machine that you will come across will give you 9-15 bars of pressure.
At most, your perfectly-brewed espresso needs 7-9 bars of pressure to extract a rich, dense crema.
Does your coffee really need 15 bars or more pressure as advertised in the product? No, but your entry-level espresso machine will last longer.
If your pump is 15 bars, your machine won’t exhaust itself completely, because although it would only ever use 9 bars, the 15-bar pressure will protect your original 9-bar pump.
What Is The Easiest Type Of Espresso Machine To Use?
My answer would go with super-automatic and capsule machines.
You don’t need to measure anything, and you don’t need to set the temperature or the pressure gauge either. Just click one button, and the machines will do it all for you!
On the other hand, automatic and semi-automatic will ask you to customize the coffee, grind and measure the coffee ground, tamp it, adjust the portafilter (which can be a hassle in itself), froth the milk, switch off the machine before your cup overflows, decide the water content and what not!
That’s a lot of work if you are not fond of the whole process, but you will be able to get a richer flavor and silkier texture if you have more options to customize.
How do you prefer your espresso coffee? I personally enjoy a freshly-ground hot espresso. With the winters coming, don’t miss out on your steamy cappuccino/latte and get yourself one of these best espresso machines under $200 right now.
If you have come this far, I can understand your love for espresso, and trust me, you are missing out on a lot without an espresso machine.
Want to level up your coffee game with professional skills? Start with going through these entry-level espresso machines and then switch to an expensive one. Also, before buying, don’t forget to ask yourself the questions mentioned above.
If you have other references for espresso machines or a small product review, do let us know in the comment action down below.