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You may think if you want to purchase an espresso machine you’ll have to empty your bank account, but if you know what to look for it is possible to buy a cheap espresso machine that still has the right elements to give you a great tasting silky espresso.
There are going to be differences between a high-quality, expensive brand and the best affordable espresso machine.
The key is to know what is okay to give up and what factors are a must even when you’re trying to save a buck.
This article will explain what you need to look for in budget-friendly options and how not to be ripped off or find yourself shopping for another inexpensive espresso machine in 6 months.
The Best Cheap Espresso Machines
I made this list for people that want a machine that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg but still values the flavor of a really well made espresso.
For this reason, I have left off machines under $100, Machines that are only ESE compatible, and portable espresso machines.
You will find brands on the list that are ESE compatible, but they also allow you to make an espresso with grounded whole beans.
- Best budget espresso Machine – De’longhi15 bar
- Cheapest espresso machine – Capresso
- Premium Inexpensive espresso machine – Mr. coffee
- Best portable espresso machine – Flair
You can choose to brew ground espresso or E.S.E pods with the unique patented dual filter holder with the DeLonghi pump espresso and cappuccino maker.
The choice is yours, making your espresso truly made to order. If you prefer cappuccino, swivel jet frother makes perfect drinks every time.
Other benefits include self-priming operation, a removable water tank, and drip tray, and a durable, high-quality stainless steel boiler.
With the EC155’s dual-function filter holder, you can use ground coffee as normal or convenient coffee pods for quicker preparation.
The EC155 is easy to clean, with a removable 35-ounce water tank with an indicator light and a removable drip tray. It’s easy to take apart, clean, and reassemble.
- Compatible with ESE pods
- Double steel boilers
- No grinder, but since the unit only costs $100 you may have an extra $50 to buy a grinder.
- The water reservoir is on top; this may be annoying if you’re planning on putting it under the counter, but not a deal-breaker.
Dimensions – 12.20 x 19.30 x 15.00 inches
|Model Name||15 bar Pump Espresso|
With the Mr. Coffee Café Barista, you can make delectable, robust espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes. Powered by a 15-bar pressure pump, it creates powerful pressure, which extracts bold, rich flavor during the brew.
You can become an expert barista with this easy-to-use espresso maker. One-touch controls let you choose from single or double shots, and the adjustable control knob froths milk automatically.
The milk reservoir can be removed to allow leftover milk to be stored in the refrigerator, so you can fill it up and allow the Café Barista to determine the amount.
An easy recipe book can help you create impressive coffee drinks, or inspire you to invent your own, all from the comfort of your home.
- 15 bars of pressure
- Removable milk and water reservoirs for easy cleaning, filling, and storing.
- You have to prime it before the very first use; this does not mean the first use of every day, just the very first time you use it after taking it out of the box. This isn’t a negative, but you have to read the manual and figure out what you’re doing.
Dimensions – 11.22 x 8.86 x 12.60 inches
|Model Name||Cafe Barista Espresso and|
|Voice command||Touchscreen, Dial|
Cleaning is effortless since the machine and its case do not need frequent wiping. Cleaning also requires minimal effort.
The 15 bar pump produces espresso with a soft, creamy taste and thick crema. An added convenience is the advanced cappuccino system, which keeps the milk at the right temperature so you can make cup after cup.
- 15 bars of pressure
- The boiler sustains its temperature so that you can make multiple drinks in a row without losing heat.
- Very easy to clean
- You’ll need to buy a tamper the one that comes with it is a plastic scoop and tamper combo, and this won’t last long
Dimensions – 11.40 x 9.50 x 14.17 inches
|Model Name||15 Bar Espresso and Cappuccino Machine|
|Color||Red, black, or silver|
|Item Weight||10.8 Pounds|
The coffee is amazing once you get the right amount of water, coffee, and the right tamp.
One issue with the machine is the pressurized portafilter is a tad small in capacity. This makes it impossible to make as strong of a cup of coffee without doing a double shot.
- Can choose between a single or double shot
- Manual milk frother for the perfect temp and texture
- The portafilter is a little small, and even double shots are closer to a large single shot.
Dimensions – 9.62 x 7.25 x 11.87 inches
|Model Name||15 Bar|
|Material||Aluminum, Stainless steel, Plastic|
Large water tank in the back, no need to refill after each cup of coffee. -Stainless steel body is easier to clean.
The size is pretty compact and doesn’t take too much room. The time to brew is concise, and the coffee comes out great, strong, and robust.
Contrary to my previous one, the milk foam function works great and consistently, which only worked on a good day.
A decent cup or mug should fit within the drip’s reach.
There is no way for me to change the pressure, so I don’t know why the pressure bar is there.
My milk froth wand would be useful if it could be rotated up and down so that my cup could fit in easier.
- Manual milk frothing takes the guesswork out
- Tray removes so that you can use different size espresso cups
- Milk and the water is heated separately for perfect extraction and milk texture.
- You can’t change the pressure, but there is no need to unless you’re trying to get a particular flavor. If this is the case, you’re going to need a more expensive espresso machine.
Dimensions – 13.00 x 6.70 x 12.00 inches
|Item Weight||8.16 Pounds|
With a simple lever press, you’ll make delicious espresso, topped with thick crema, without the need for a pod or electricity.
You can’t just push the Flair and get espresso out. This product is intended for people who enjoy taking the time to enjoy the process of handcrafting their favorite drink fully.
Before you buy this espresso machine, you should know that you will need a burr grinder and freshly ground coffee beans to make real espresso.
- Portable, this is the only portable espresso maker I would ever endorse.
- The experience of manually pressing your espresso can’t be found or replicated any other way.
- Thick silky crema
- You have to manually make it, if this isn’t your thing then you’ll want to buy another type of espresso maker.
Dimensions – 12″L x 6″W x 10″H
|Color||Black and Red|
|Item Weight||4.9 Pounds|
A fast and powerful machine
In under 5 minutes, two or four cappuccinos or lattes can be prepared using the powerful steam/boiler
Strength can be adjusted
An exclusive coffee/steam selector lets you change your coffee’s strength based on your individual tastes.
Frothers on the Swivel
It’s perfect for making cappuccinos or steaming milk for lattes with its adjustable steam output.
- Very affordable and made with materials that are a lot better than what you normally receive for a machine under a $100
- I would’ve put this last on the list, but I know it will appeal to some people due to the low price tag.
- It’s below my threshold of the $100 mark, but the reviews it received were great. I still am leery about endorsing it, but the lifespan and quality hold up.
Dimensions – 9.75 x 7.50 x 13.25
|Material||Plastic, Stainless Steel|
The Hamilton Beach model compares well with the Mr. Coffee pump system with 15-bar. It is easy to use and well designed.
You can make 2 cups of espresso simultaneously because this machine has two brewing heads. Just make sure your espresso cups are small enough since it fits tightly.
A coffee grinder can be provided if you do not want to use an espresso pod.
A cup of soapy water will clean the milk frother easily, and it has a strong reach, making it easy to make a great froth.
With a 40-ounce reservoir, you don’t have to turn off the machine to add water again. You can add water without waiting for the machine to warm up again.
- Compatible with ESE pods
- You can adjust the steam settings
- Great crema production
- The first time we used it, we sensed a plastic odor, but it went away.
- You need to hand dry the portafilter. Do not allow it to air dry; this can cause mild rusting.
Dimensions – 12 x 9.6 x 11.6 inches
|Model Name||Hamilton Beach Espresso Machine, Latte and Cappuccino Maker with|
|Color||Black & Stainless|
Questions You Should Ask To Find A Cheap Espresso Machine.
You won’t be able to get all the bells and whistles of a top of the line espresso machine when you’re trying to stay within a budget.
But, this doesn’t mean that you can’t find one that performs the fundamentals very well to give you a great espresso; you only need to know what questions to ask before you buy.
How much does it cost
If you’re looking for an inexpensive espresso machine, then the price must be the first factor when choosing whether or not to buy it.
We recommend not to go below $100.00; if you go any cheaper than this, you’ll start to run into brands that are using inferior materials, and you’ll end up paying twice when it breaks in 6 months.
Does it have a grinder
A grinder is a must for two reasons.
To make sure your espresso isn’t over or under-extracted, you need the correct grind size, which is a finer grind.
You won’t find a pre-packaged ground coffee that is as fine as you need, and a manual coffee grinder won’t produce the grind size you need unless you purchase one that will cost more than the espresso machine you’re buying.
The other reason is that you don’t want to use pre-ground store-bought coffee since there is no way to tell when it was roasted, and most of them are starting to oxidize, which will only produce a bitter, foul espresso.
Is There A Warranty
The fact of the matter is that manufacturers make their products more affordable by using cheaper parts and skimming back on the overall quality.
This makes a warranty even more important since there is a greater chance of having some issues down the road.
How easy is it to use
If you’re used to using a drip coffee machine where all you have to do is hit a button to start the brewing process, espresso machines can be a bit of a learning curve for you.
Depending on your budget, you will be able to adjust the grind settings, water temperature, milk temperature, milk texture, water hardness, and the size of your drink.
Even the type of espresso cup you pick to use can determine how well your drink comes out.
It may sound daunting but if you take 10 to 15 minutes and read the manual you will be fine.
Ease of cleaning
One of the quickest ways to ruin your machine’s performance and the flavor of your drink is to neglect routine cleaning and maintenance.
The inside of your espresso machine is filled with tubes and water lines that produce pressure and steam to extract your espresso.
If any of them become clogged or blocked, it will affect how your drinks taste and eventually break your machine.
All machines have a simple way of cleaning them and most of the time it is automated with very little effort needed from you.
Make sure to read the manual and perform the necessary actions when told to do so, and your machine will last years instead of months.
Where is the water reservoir
This is mostly for convenience but a lot of machines will have the water tank in the back, if you’re are planning on placing it under a cabinet then you will need to pull it out every time you need to fill the water up.
This isn’t a huge deal and shouldn’t deter you from buying a machine that you really like.
You also want to pay attention to how big the water tank is.
If you brew a lot of drinks at one time, you will want a larger reservoir so that you don’t have to fill it up halfway through.
Does it steam or froth milk
If your machine has a built-in milk frother this gives you the ability to make cappuccinos, latte’s, and americanos.
This also means that you will need to clean it. This is a very easy process and I’m not bringing it up to scare you I just want to be thorough and give you all the facts.
This isn’t a big deal and shouldn’t sway your decision.
If you find a machine without a frother that you are in love with, you can always buy a separate milk frother, but this will obviously be a separate expense.
Does it come with a portafilter
The portafilter (picture above) is a filter with a handle attached that a lot of times will let you switch out a single or double-shot basket so that you can choose the amount of coffee you’re going to use for a particular drink.
The majority of affordable espresso machines will come with a portafilter, but you will need to make sure since you won’t be able to use the machine without it.
Does it provide a tamper
Some of the more expensive machines will self tamp your grinds but this isn’t going to be an option with a cheap espresso machine.
This means that you will need to manually tamp your grinds, which in some ways is more fun and lets you enjoy the coffee-making experience more.
Tamping is needed to make sure that during the brewing process, your espresso is under or over-extracted.
Can you change between a single or double shot
Even the biggest coffee addicts (like myself) won’t always want a double shot of espresso; I find myself making a single shot after dinner so that I don’t affect my sleep.
This will be the case for your guests. Also, it’s always better to have an option than having to make 2 single shots every time you want a little more.
Have many bars of pressure does it use
I would recommend that you not buy an espresso machine with less than nine bars of pressure.
Extraction happens when pressurized water is pushed through the puck (this is another name for the tamped grinds in your portafilter), so it is important to have a machine that has enough bars of pressure.
A machine that has more than nine bars of pressure doesn’t necessarily mean the machine works better. The flavor of your espresso will change with more pressure, but this will only matter if you tend to prefer espresso from this type of machine.
If you’re used to buying coffee from Starbucks, you may notice a difference, but it shouldn’t be dramatic enough to affect your experience.
How durable is it
High-end espresso machines are going to be made out of materials like stainless steel, high-grade metal, and brass.
These are the best materials to retain heat, limit limescale build-up, and won’t leach metals into your coffee to change the flavor.
To make a budget espresso machine, manufacturers will use lower-cost materials like plastic, aluminum, and lower grade steels and metals.
This can lead to a shorter life span and affect the flavor of your coffee.
You won’t avoid finding some of these materials in your machine since we are looking for more affordable options, but it does make a difference where these materials are used.
For example, if they use plastic for the frame and casing instead of metal, this isn’t a big deal unless you were to drop your machine on the floor, but you don’t want a machine that has a boiler made out of copper instead of stainless steel.
This will make it impossible for the water to reach a certain boiling point and cause under extraction and very bitter espresso to be the end result.
Look to use ESE pods
Easy serving espresso or ESE for short are machines that don’t need a grinder or a tamper since all you use is a portafilter and a pod that already has the correct amount of ground coffee inside measured to give you the perfect single shot of espresso.
These machines can ab be bought at a lower price, and ESE coffee pods are cheaper to buy than whole beans.
This will save you money during the initial buy and in the future when you have to restock your coffee supply.
Cheap Espresso Machines VS expensive Machines
There is a wide range of differences between a cheap espresso machine and a high-end espresso machine.
- 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. The 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, this allows 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 repair and restore espresso machines say that rotary pumps are more susceptible to breaking if they are running 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 do 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.
Are Cheap Espresso Machines Worth Buying
If you do your research and buy the best budget espresso machine, there is nothing wrong with being financially smart.
People tend to run into problems when they don’t look into each brand’s specs and just buy the cheapest machine they see.
I would never suggest that you buy the least expensive option, espresso machines are intricate machines that run off of highly pressurized water to extract the coffee to create your espresso drinks.
A cheap model under $100.00, in my opinion, is a waste of your money and will become a paperweight in under a year.
there are certain parts of the machine that you want made with better quality materials and you won’t find them in options that are this cheap.
I wouldn’t feel safe buying anything under $100.00, and I would recommend that you go a bit higher and start at 150.00, but there are some excellent models in between that have proven to be durable and efficient.
To me, it’s not that much of a difference, and the quality you will receive for only 50 more dollars is well worth it.
How Much Do Espresso Machines Cost
There are residential options that range from $50 to $3,000 and commercial brands can cost more than a car (I’m not joking).
The models you find for less than $100 aren’t true espresso machines to me.
They don’t come with a portafilter or a steam wand; this means that you’re basically making coffee that is a little stronger than your average cup of joe.
As a beginner, you can get a decent budget-friendly unit, and as your experience and tastes grow, you can upgrade to a model that will allow you to have more control and a more refined experience.
What Price Range Should I Consider For An Affordable Espresso Machine
this is sort of an open-ended question since everyone has a different opinion of what a “cheap espresso machine” is.
I love espresso and spent my tax return on a Breville Oracle, which costs about $2,000 and subsequently a fight with your wife.
So if you asked me, a budget espresso machine would cost about $500.
According to my wife, it should’ve cost about $150.
I think the best way to answer this is to tell you not to go below $150, this will ensure that your machine is still made with quality materials and is designed well enough that you won’t find yourself buying another one 6 months from now.
And in case you were wondering, I don’t regret buying my Breville oracle in the least, and I would do it again in a heartbeat if I had to.
Why Do Espresso Machines Cost So Much
The biggest reason for high costs is due to the use of stainless steel, brass, and high-grade metals.
They are also outfitted with temperature regulators to control the boilers’ water temperature fluctuation to make sure the pressurized water is heated enough to extract your espresso properly.
A lot of them have digital displays that you use to program every facet of the brewing process which leads to higher costs.
Some machines let you make multiple drinks at one time and let you adjust the water and milk temperature at each location. These brands are often digitally controlled, made with the highest quality materials, and are very expensive.
Pressure profiling is another feature that will raise the price; this is where you can adjust the pressure the machine uses to push water through the pumps to change your espresso’s flavor.
Some processes behind the scenes can cause you to pay more, like research and development. The more reputable brands put their machines through countless hours of testing, which will add to the price.
Another factor that will raise the amount you pay is the brand’s name. If you buy a Breville, you will be adding a bit t the price tag just for the name, but you will also rest assured knowing that you are getting a high-quality item.
What Does A Bar Of Pressure Mean
Bar is an abbreviation that comes from the Greek word Baros which means weight.
When you’re doing your research on espresso machines your going to see terms like 9 bars of pressure.
This simply means the amount of pressure the pump creates is 9 x 14.7 psi of pressure, or 133 pounds per square inch.
Multiply the number of bars by 14.7, and that is the PSI your machine is producing.
Is 15 Bar Enough For Espresso
Hell yes, it is.
Top of the line espresso machines have 15 bars of pressure.
The lowest I would recommend to have and still extract the proper amount of espresso is 9 bars.
Espresso isn’t only for the rich who can afford machines that cost 1,000’s of dollars.
It is possible to be smart with your money and buy a cheap espresso machine that will brew perfect, rich, silky espresso with crema.
You only have to follow this guide and learn what materials you want it to be built out of and what extras you want your machine to include.