Budget espresso machines can also make good quality espresso; here are our experts' favorites.
Espresso machines cost a lot of money. But is it possible to buy a good espresso machine on a budget?
The answer is yes.
Here we will show you the 7 best budget espresso machines that make espresso at the same decent level as expensive devices.
The best part?
We’ve also provided a guide to help you find the best budget espresso machine for your needs.
Our Top Pick
“The De'Longhi was head and shoulders above the rest,” said coffee guru James Hoffman when comparing budget espresso machines. And indeed it is. With the De'Longhi EC155, you get the perfect drink quickly and easily.
Despite its plastic body and compact size, this coffee machine brews rich espresso and also allows you to froth milk for a latte. It fits in even the smallest kitchens, and you can easily take it to your holiday home for the weekend. For the price, it's a godsend!
The Best Budget Espresso Machines Of 2021
- De'Longhi EC155 - Best Budget Espresso Machine
- SOWTECH - Cheapest Espresso Machine
- Mr. Coffee Café Barista - Premium Choice
- Nespresso by De'Longhi - Budget Nespresso Machine
- STARESSO - Best Portable Choice
- Flair Espresso Maker - Best Manual Choice
- De'Longhi ECP3220W - Best Small Espresso Machine
What to Look for In a Budget Espresso Machine
Single or Double Shot
In simple terms, this is the amount of espresso you get at one time. The ability to brew a double espresso eliminates the need to grind and tamp coffee a second time. This is very convenient if you are preparing coffee for two.
Steaming and Frothing Capability
Almost all best cheap espresso machines have a milk frother. Some models have a built-in steam wand so you can make espresso-based milk drinks. Would you like a cappuccino or latte today? Or maybe you're in the mood for macchiato or flat white? Then choose an espresso machine with steaming and frothing capabilities.
There are several types of steam wands. Some are controlled by a button, others require you to turn the knob so you can control the amount of steam that passes through the wand and into the milk. There are also systems that steam and froth milk automatically by stretching it through a valve and then pouring it directly into the drink.
The portafilter holds the ground, tamped coffee in a filter basket. Typically, portafilters range in size from 40 to 60 mm. This information is useful if you are looking to buy replacement portafilters or filter baskets, or when purchasing a tamper.
Water is used to brew milk and to generate steam for frothing milk. If the machine has a self-cleaning function, water will also be taken from the tank for this process. To prepare a large number of drinks without having to refill too often, choose a machine with a large water tank.
Ease of Use
If you want to master the skills of a barista, then choose the best inexpensive espresso machine that allow you to be involved with grinding, tamping, etc. The result will not always be stable if you are new to the art, but you will get better with experience. You will be able to experiment and influence the consistency and taste of your espresso. But if you want the easiest way to make espresso, take a look at capsule espresso machines.
Ease of Cleaning
Every espresso machine needs to be cleaned from time to time. How often depends on the espresso machine itself. But we can rejoice, because almost all budget espresso machines can be easily disassembled and cleaned. Consider machines that have a removable water tank, grounds container, and drip tray, and that have dishwasher-safe parts.
Cheap Espresso Machine vs Expensive
Because both budget espresso machines and expensive ones operate in the same way, the difference in the taste of the resulting coffee is often insignificant.
At the same time, we can't deny that espresso machines of different prices can differ in design, noise, power consumption, additional functions (both useful and not very), ease of operation and maintenance, and reliability.
In some cases, a higher price may be justified, though overpricing of espresso machines by popular brands continues. But overall, as long as you use the same espresso beans, the taste of your coffee will be approximately the same whether you make it in an expensive machine or a cheaper one.
De'Longhi EC155This espresso machine is ideal for all espresso drinkers. With De'Longhi, cheap doesn't mean bad, because the machine really brews the perfect espresso. Key Features
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SOWTECHIf you need an affordable espresso machine, SOWTECH's espresso maker is a great choice. Key Features
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Mr. Coffee Café BaristaYou don't need to be a barista to use this espresso machine. Just press the single or double coffee button and choose between a cappuccino and a latte. The machine will do the rest. Key Features
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Nespresso by De'LonghiThis coffee machine combines ease of use, speed, and reliability. It's an excellent solution for those who want to get good-quality coffee with little effort or time. Key Features
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STARESSOYou can take this espresso maker with you wherever you go. It's so small you can even carry it in a backpack or purse. Key Features
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Detailed List of the Best Cheap Espresso Machines
1. De'Longhi EC155 - Best Budget Espresso Machine
The De'Longhi EC155 is one of the only espresso machines under $100 that can make real espresso. Coffee expert James Hoffman chose it as the best budget espresso machine.
He noted, "If you're willing to put in the effort, you might get some okay results." Yes, you will need some barista skills, but good espresso is possible.
You can watch a more detailed overview in his review video:
Buying the De'Longhi Espresso and Cappuccino Maker is a great way to save money by not having to visit coffee shops. The machine uses a 15 bar pump, so you get a great, balanced espresso every time.
The De'Longhi EC155 has a simple interface. You can control everything with the dial on the front: on/off, steam supply, and water supply.
The EC155 case is made of plastic, but important parts like the drip tray, steam wand, and boiler are made of stainless steel. There are two separate thermostats inside the machine: one for water and one for steam. This keeps the coffee at a stable temperature.
The machine has a built-in, adjustable steam wand for frothing milk. It creates thick, rich foam. Also installed is a plastic tamper, though it doesn't work well. Most likely, you will have to buy a good stainless steel tamper separately.
The machine is easy to clean and has a special indicator that tells you when it needs to be descaled.
2. SOWTECH - Cheapest Espresso Machine
For those who want to brew coffee at home but have a limited budget, the SOWTECH Espresso machine is the best option for beginner baristas.
With this machine, you can prepare an espresso not only for yourself but also for your guests. Thanks to its quick brewing and easy cleaning, you will save time and be able to spend your time chatting with friends over a cup of coffee.
The steam pressure of 3.5 bar allows you to make a good-quality drink. A coffee connoisseur may not prefer it, but anyone else will enjoy this espresso. The machine has enough functions to work well and not cause any difficulties. The SOWTECH espresso maker also features a compact design that is ideal for small kitchens. Plus, it's super affordable.
The SOWTECH machine also has a steam wand that creates thick cappuccino froth. The company cares about its customers, so it provides everything you need so that you can prepare any espresso-based drink at home.
However, latte art will be difficult because the steam wand does not move and the angle cannot be adjusted. If you are looking for the best cheap coffee machine for latte art, then this product is unlikely to suit you.
The temperature of this best budget espresso machine is extremely stable. The espresso maker heats to just below the boiling point of water and stays there. It does not overheat, and it doesn't cool down too quickly between brewing cycles.
Constant water temperature is extremely important for making good coffee, so the SOWTECH 3.5 Bar Espresso Machine is suitable for people who are particularly interested in the taste of their coffee.
3. Mr. Coffee Café Barista - Premium Choice
With 15 bar pressure for high-quality espresso, an automatic milk frother, and intuitive operation with only three buttons, the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker is a great choice. Its body and parts are made of quality materials.
The Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista espresso machine is fairly compact at 12.6 inches tall, 8.8 inches wide, and 11.2 inches deep.
One great feature of the Café Barista is its dedicated milk tank. The tank not only has a built-in frothing wand, but is also removable and can be stored in the refrigerator until the next time you need it.
Like most home espresso makers, the Mr. Coffee machine comes with a metal portafilter attached to a strong handle that needs to be tightly fixed under the brew head. The machine also includes two filter baskets to choose from, for single and double shots. Below the brew head is a pair of retractable drip trays that can be installed to accommodate large or small glasses and cups.
Operating the Café Barista is relatively simple. In addition to the power switch in the lower right corner of the device, there is a control panel with three vertically arranged buttons (Espresso, Cappuccino, and Latte). To the left of each button are indicators for automatic beverage preparation modes.
Pressing the Espresso button once tells the Mr. Coffee espresso machine to prepare one shot, and pressing it twice will give you a double shot. Holding down the key for three seconds puts this best budget coffee machine into non-standard brewing mode, where it will continue to push water through the filter until you press the button again.
The buttons labeled Cappuccino and Latte work similarly, except that a long press starts the manual foaming or cleaning functions, respectively.
If you are wondering, “What is the best espresso machine for home use?”, the Mr. Coffee espresso machine is one of the clear contenders!
4. Nespresso by De'Longhi - Budget Nespresso Machine
Thanks to Nespresso's capsule system, you can forget about the worries of choosing and grinding coffee beans. All you have to do is choose the capsules with your favorite flavors.
The Nespresso VertuoPlus has a futuristic design. On the back there is an adjustable stand with a water tank and a removable container for used capsules
There is only one control—a button to press. There is an LED indicator around the button so you can understand what stage of brewing your machine is at.
This coffee machine only works with capsules from the Nespresso's Vertuo line. They are larger than standard Nespresso capsules, but otherwise look quite similar.
Nespresso capsules have a special barcode that the VertuoPlus reads to choose the required temperature, volume of water, and brewing mode. All you have to do is insert the capsule and press the control button once. It couldn't be easier!
The Nespresso VertuoPlus is a completely new way of making coffee. It uses Centrifusion extraction technology that spins the capsule at speeds of up to 7000 rpm. The system is designed to brew a large cup of coffee, so there is more ground coffee in Vertuo capsules than in classic Nespresso capsules.
You can choose from five volumes: 8 oz. coffee, traditional Espresso, large Alto Espresso, double Espresso, and Gran Lungo.
Cleaning and maintaining the machine is quite simple. Wipe the housing with a damp cloth. The water tank can be washed with a mild detergent.
The inside of the coffee machine is rinsed using a special cleaning mode. You can use a special cleaning agent to descale the system.
5. STARESSO - Best Portable Choice
The STARESSO Portable Espresso Machine is made from a combination of stainless steel and ABS plastic and weighs less than a pound. It comes with a measuring cup, detailed user manual, cleaning brush, spare O-ring, and espresso shot glasses.
At the top of the machine is a stainless steel piston that fits neatly into the lid. To lock the piston in place, push down and turn clockwise. When you are ready to pump the piston, a slight counterclockwise rotation will allow the piston to return to its original position.
The main water chamber holds 80 ml of water, just what you need for one serving of espresso. By unscrewing the top, you can add water to the chamber.
On the underside of the hot water chamber you’ll find a basket for coffee grounds. Once the bottom cap is screwed into place and water is added, the machine is ready to go.
Pumping is relatively simple, given the amount of pressure that the STARESSO Portable Espresso Machine manages to create. Creating an espresso does require a fair amount of pumps, and pumping does make some noise. The noise is not too loud, but it is loud enough to disturb nearby guests if you get up early to brew yourself a cup of morning coffee.
When you first use this best affordable espresso machine, you may feel that it’s very complex to clean with its many components. But cleaning is actually quite simple: A normal rinse under the tap will suffice, and the machine includes a small brush so you can pull the filter out from inside the coffee basket and clean underneath.
6. Flair Espresso Maker - Best Manual Choice
The Flair manual espresso maker provides an elegant way to make your own espresso at home or wherever you are. Years of experience led the company to create a simple lever press that brews delicious espresso with thick crema.
The Flair Espresso Maker is designed for those who want to fully enjoy the process of making their favorite drink. Before buying this product, you should know that for a real espresso, you need an excellent coffee grinder and freshly ground beans.
The machine itself is made from high-quality materials such as stainless steel and aluminum, which ensure consistent product quality. Because the Flair machine has a removable brewing head, cleaning is quick and easy.
Each Flair espresso machine comes standard with an individually matched travel case to ensure safe transportation of the product to work or anywhere in the world.
With this best affordable espresso machine, you can brew 40 ml of professional quality espresso. All you need is the Flair, 60 ml of hot water, and the correct dose of ground beans. In no time at all, you'll be enjoying a delicious espresso with thick crema.
7. De'Longhi ECP3220W - Best Small Espresso Machine
The De'Longhi ECP3220W is a small, semi-automatic espresso machine on a budget that can make lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, or any other espresso-based beverage you desire. It can prepare single and double shots, and it's easy to disassemble and clean.
This De'Longhi espresso maker has a nice, linear design and will take up very little space in your kitchen thanks to its compact size.
The drip tray is removable so you can use both small and larger cups (up to 4.7 inches tall).
This best budget espresso machine is very easy to use. As for cleaning, the case does not require frequent wiping, and the machine is very easy to descale.
The machine heats up quickly, allowing you to brew coffee quickly. Thanks to the 15 bar pump, you get an espresso with a soft, rich taste and dense crema. A nice touch is the advanced cappuccino system that maintains the optimal temperature so you can brew cup after cup and steam milk, too.
However, in order to make a good espresso, you should buy a good tamper and a good milk pitcher.
If you have a small family and don't have any barista skills, then you should definitely take a closer look at this best value espresso machine. No matter your experience level, you'll get a good drink.
Are cheap espresso machines good?
Of course! Cheap espresso machines may well satisfy the needs of many coffee lovers. However, if you are a true coffee lover and you want some features that are not found in budget espresso machines, you should consider buying a more expensive machine.
What should I look for when buying a cheap espresso machine?
When choosing an espresso machine, pay attention to the following characteristics: single or double shot capability, steaming and frothing capability, portafilter, and water tank.
What is the difference between expensive and cheap espresso machines?
Cheap and expensive espresso machines work the same way, though expensive machines may have more features. Overall, as long as you use the same beans, the taste of your coffee will be approximately the same whether you make it in an expensive machine or a cheaper one.
How much does a good espresso machine cost?
Not everyone can afford a top-class espresso machine, for which prices can start at $500. That’s why this article was written: to prove that you can get a good espresso machine without spending tons of money. You can safely buy a machine that costs $100 or even less without regretting its quality.
What price range are budget espresso machines in?
Budget espresso machines cost $300 or less. Mid-range and expensive models usually cost $500 or more. If your goal is a delicious espresso without too much responsibility, then it makes no sense to pay $500 for a machine that lets you regulate water pressure and temperature, strength settings, and other functions. Think about which features are important to you and how much you are willing to pay for them.