Best Cheap Espresso Machines

Table of Contents

Top Budget Espresso Machines

Espresso machines have a reputation for being expensive, and this can prevent some people from even considering one for their home. 

The truth is, you can find home espresso machines that are both high-quality and affordable if you know where to look. 

Let’s check out some of the best options on the market today and talk about what you should expect from a cheap espresso machine.

Product Ranking

The De’Longhi ECP3120 produces a full 15 bars of pressure, especially impressive given both the affordable price and the compact size. This compact espresso machine will fit in any size of kitchen and produces delicious shots and frothy steamed milk. We also love the versatility, with the option to brew one shot or two from ground coffee, or to brew from a Nespresso pod.

Key Features:

  • Easy to customize to match your tastes
  • Manual, adjustable steam wand
  • Compact, space-saving design
  • Adjustable tray fits both small and large mugs
  • Good pressure and temperature control during extraction
  • Brews from ground coffee or pods
  • Water reservoir detaches for easier filling

Specifications:

  • Brand/Model: De’Longhi ECP3120
  • Weight: 11lbs
  • Dimensions: 9.6” X 7.25” X 11.9”
  • Pressure: 15 bars
Product Ranking

The durable stainless steel housing of Breville’s The Infuser Espresso Machine is a testament to its rugged build and durability. You’ll find the same high-level craftsmanship within, including a theromocoil heating system and a variable pressure system with a  pre-infusion function. The result is this Breville espresso maker produces some of the best shots you’ll find for the price.

We also appreciate the steam wand design, which is easy to use and gives excellent steam pressure. The auto-purge function is helpful, too, making sure both the steam and the group head maintain the right temperature.

Key Features:

  • High-powered thermocoil heating for more consistent extraction
  • Pre-infusion stage for better extraction
  • Large reservoir doesn’t need filling as often
  • Steam wand is easy to use
  • Built-in tamper
  • Delicious espresso with rich, balanced flavor
  • Customizable dosing and shot volume

Specifications:

  • Brand/Model: Breville BES840XL/A
  • Weight: 17lbs
  • Dimensions: 13.7” X 11.5” X 13.2”
  • Reservoir capacity: 61oz
  • Pressure: 15 bars
Product Ranking

If you want the best bang for your buck, the Sowtech Espresso Machine is among the most affordable espresso makers you’ll find. It can brew 1-4 cups at once and includes a manual steam wand. Along with that, the compact size is perfect for spaces like tiny homes and RVs.

You do sacrifice some pressure with the Sowtech Espresso Machine. It only reaches about 3.5 bars, which is on par with most manual espresso makers and not enough to produce much crema. Still, it’s impressive for the price, and the included accessories make it an even better value.

Key Features:

  • Super-compact so you can use it in any space
  • Easy single-knob control
  • Excellent value
  • Brews up to 4 servings at once
  • Comes with filter and carafe included

Specifications:

  • Brand/Model: Sowtech CM6811
  • Weight: 5lbs
  • Dimensions: 10.6” X 7.7” X 13.8”
  • Pressure: 3.5 bars
Product Ranking

If you’re looking for an affordable pod brewer, the Nespresso Inissia by Breville checks all the boxes for a pod brewer. It both gets up to temperature and brews drinks quickly. We also love the design, which keeps the profile narrow and makes it easy to access the controls. The user-friendly, smart design of the Nespresso Inissia also includes helpful features like automatic shutoff, adjustable brew volume, and programmable cup size.

Key Features:

  • Options for brewing lungo shots or iced espresso
  • Narrow profile takes up less counter space
  • Energy-saving auto-shutoff after 9 minutes
  • Reaches brewing temperature in 25 seconds or less
  • Choice of cup sizes
  • Water tank is removable for easier filling and cleaning

Specifications:

  • Brand/Model: Breville BEC120TTN1AUC1
  • Weight: 5.3lbs
  • Dimensions: 12.6” X 4.6” X 9.1”
  • Reservoir capacity: 24oz
  • Pressure: 19 bars
Product Ranking

You can feel how solidly the De’Longhi Dedica is built when you use it. If you want an affordable espresso machine that will stand up to heavy use, this is a great choice. We also love the espresso flavor, which has the rich taste and silky crema you want in an espresso shot.

The design of the steam wand makes it a bit tricky to get finely-textured microfoam but we like the way it’s positioned on the espresso maker, so your mug won’t get in the way of your steaming. Overall, this isn’t the best espresso maker if you want to practice latte art, but it’s a top choice if you’re looking for taste and build quality at a great value.

Key Features:

  • Rugged and durable stainless steel construction
  • Brews ground coffee or pods
  • Accommodates a wider range of cup sizes
  • Manual frother produces well-textured milk
  • Excellent espresso flavor
  • Narrow 6” profile
  • Heats up in 35 seconds

Specifications:

  • Brand/Model: De’Longhi EC680M
  • Weight: 9.3lbs
  • Dimensions: 13” X 5.9” X 13”
  • Pressure: 15 bars
Product Ranking

Want an affordable bean-to-cup option? This EspressoWorks All-In-One Espresso Machine includes a grinder, tamper, and everything else you need to make delicious café drinks. The thermoblock heating system and professional-style pump combine for consistently even, full extraction. We also love convenient design elements like the one-touch power button and cup warming tray on top of the machine. 

Key Features:

  • Comes with grinder included
  • Durable stainless steel construction
  • Both single and double shot baskets included
  • Thermoblock heating system and high-pressure pump
  • Water tank is removable with carrying handle
  • Warming tray on the top of the machine
  • Auto-shutoff after 25 minutes

Specifications:

  • Brand/Model: EspressoWorks AEW1000
  • Weight: 9.7lbs
  • Dimensions: 9.75” X 9” X 11.5”
  • Reservoir capacity: 50oz
  • Pressure: 15 bars
Product Ranking

The design of the Calphalon Temp iQ Espresso Machine mimics that of high-powered commercial machines. It uses an Italian-style pump and PID-controlled temperature for consistent espresso extraction. In addition, the 58mm portafilter fits the perfect amount of grounds for rich, full-flavored shots.

We’re also fans of the steam wand on this model. Its tip is more similar to what you’ll find on commercial machines and makes it easier to texture milk correctly. Overall, a very user-friendly way to make great tasting café drinks.

Key Features:

  • Dial interface is user-friendly
  • 15-bar Italian-style pump
  • Good temperature control
  • Built-in cup warming tray
  • Café-sized portafilter gives better extraction
  • Powerful steam wand makes creamy microfoam

Specifications:

  • Brand/Model: Calphalon BVCLECMP1
  • Weight: 15.2lbs
  • Dimensions: 13.9” X 11.6” X 15.3”
  • Reservoir capacity: 67oz
  • Pressure: 15 bars
Product Ranking

The De’Longhi ESAM3300 has an integrated grinder that dispenses straight into the portafilter so you don’t have to worry about tamping or dosing. This is a great choice for inexperienced home brewers since you don’t need any expertise to make delicious shots. Choosing your shot volume and grind level is as simple as turning a dial.

The manual milk frother on the De’Longhi ESAM3300 pulls out from the machine to give you more room to work, but tucks in by the group head to be out of the way when it’s not in use. We also like the removable water reservoir and brewing system, which makes it a lot easier to clean and maintain.

Key Features:

  • Built-in grinder with direct to brew system
  • Adjustable manual milk frother
  • Brew unit is removable for cleaning
  • 3-hour automatic shutoff
  • Adjustable grind level and shot volume
  • Heats up in 1 minute

Specifications:

  • Brand/Model: De’Longhi ESAM3300
  • Weight: 23.1lbs
  • Dimensions: 11” X 15.3” X 14.4”
  • Reservoir capacity: 60oz
  • Pressure: 15 bars
Product Ranking

The Nespresso Essenza by De’Longhi is an economical choice, both in terms of cost and counter space. This is one of the smallest espresso machines capable of producing full espresso brewing pressure. Even better, you can brew by pressing a single button, and still get your choice of regular or lungo shots. If you want a pod brewer that will fit in any space or budget, the Nespresso Essenza is a top pick.

Key Features:

  • Only 30 seconds to reach brewing temperature
  • Turns off after 9 minutes to save energy
  • Ultra-compact design
  • Two programmable shot volumes
  • Easy one-touch operation

Specifications:

  • Brand/Model: De’Longhi EN85B
  • Weight: 4.4lbs
  • Dimensions: 4.3” X 12.8” X 8.1”
  • Reservoir capacity: 20oz
  • Pressure: 19 bars
Product Ranking

Here’s a compact choice for those who want to brew from ground coffee. The Gevi 2-in-1 is one of the most affordable espresso machines to offer full temperature control of both the steam and the brew. Its professional pump produces rich crema on shots and the potential for ideal texturing of your milk. Home baristas will love the versatility and performance of the Gevi 2-in-1.

Key Features:

  • Large removable water tank
  • Professional Italian ODM pump
  • Adjustable temperature control with easy to read gauge
  • 3-in-1 portafilter brews 2 cups at once
  • High-powered steam wand for making microfoam

Specifications:

  • Brand/Model: Barsetto 5403
  • Weight: 2.35lbs
  • Dimensions: 7” X 5.75” X 7.9”
  • Reservoir capacity: 50oz
  • Pressure: 15 bars
Product Ranking

The Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker is another excellent choice for espresso beginners thanks to its automatic milk frother. Just choose latte or cappuccino from the control panel and the machine does the work for you. You can still control the froth using the adjustment knob but you don’t need training in how to texture milk. We also like that it’s easy to refill the machine and that the milk reservoir comes off so you can chill it when it’s not in use.

Key Features:

  • Automatic milk frother with knob adjustment
  • Easy to select drinks on the control panel
  • Milk and water reservoirs are both removable
  • High-powered electric pump
  • Choice of single or double shot brewing

Specifications:

  • Brand/Model: Mr. Coffee BVMC-ECMP1000-RB
  • Weight: 10.4lbs
  • Dimensions: 11.2” X 8.9” X 12.6”
  • Pressure: 15 bars
Product Ranking

For dorm rooms, RVs, and other tight spaces, the compact build of the Yabano Espresso Machine is ideal. It’s one of the more affordable options you’ll find, too. We recommend this one more for beginners than espresso experts. While it doesn’t reach a full 9 bars of pressure, it provides a relatively consistent extraction and flavor quality. It’s also easier to clean and operate than many espresso machines and comes with a carafe for brewing into.

Key Features:

  • Super-low price
  • Makes up to 4 cups at once
  • Built-in manual steam wand
  • Compact, lightweight build
  • Easy to clean and use
  • Comes with carafe included

Specifications:

  • Brand/Model: Yabano
  • Weight: 4.7lbs
  • Dimensions: 13.5” X 10.7” X 7.7”
  • Pressure: 3.5 bars
Product Ranking

This all-inclusive set from EspressoWorks comes with a grinder so you can go from whole beans to brewing without buying any extra equipment. The biggest difference between this unit and the EspressoWorks model above is that it has an automatic milk frother. Just hit start and it steams and foams your milk for you.

In terms of drink quality, the EspressoWorks Barista Bundle produces drinks that are acceptable, if not phenomenal. You don’t get quite the same controlled, rich espresso extraction you’ll find on other machines. For convenience, though, it really can’t be matched.

Key Features:

  • Grinder included
  • 10-piece set includes everything you need to make espresso
  • Removable water tank with carrying handle
  • Automatic milk frother with steam control knob
  • Brews both single and double shots

Specifications:

  • Brand/Model: EspressoWorks All-in-One
  • Weight: 11.6lbs
  • Dimensions: 8.5” X 10” X 12”
  • Reservoir capacity: 47oz
  • Spec: ...
Product Ranking

Here’s another great option if you want full control over your steaming and brewing. The Barsetto Espresso Machines Coffee Machine has adjustable temperature control and an easy to read thermometer display to confirm the brew temp. You can also adjust the level of steam pressure on the wand, making it easier to finely texture milk for lattes. The large water reservoir can brew up lots of shots before you need to refill it, and the heavy-duty stainless steel construction gives it good long-term reliability, too.

In terms of drink quality, the EspressoWorks Barista Bundle produces drinks that are acceptable, if not phenomenal. You don’t get quite the same controlled, rich espresso extraction you’ll find on other machines. For convenience, though, it really can’t be matched.

Key Features:

  • Easy to read temperature gauge
  • Adjustable brewing and steaming temperature
  • Manual steam wand with pressure control knob
  • Water tank removes for filling
  • 2-year manufacturer’s warranty included

Specifications:

  • Brand/Model: Barsetto 5403
  • Weight: 12lbs
  • Dimensions: 10.4” X 9.25” X 7.3”
  • Reservoir capacity: 50oz
  • Pressure: 15 bars
Product Ranking

The affordable and compact Aicook Espresso Machine has similar strengths and weaknesses to the other 3.5-bar machines above. It’s easy to use, doesn’t take up much space, and lets you brew espresso and steam milk quickly. The main downside is the espresso doesn’t taste as full and rich as what you get from higher-pressure machines. Design-wise, the steam wand is a bit difficult to control, as well, though it’s easier to use if you remove the carafe from the drip tray.

In terms of drink quality, the EspressoWorks Barista Bundle produces drinks that are acceptable, if not phenomenal. You don’t get quite the same controlled, rich espresso extraction you’ll find on other machines. For convenience, though, it really can’t be matched.

Key Features:

  • Included carafe and filter
  • Brews 1-4 cups per batch
  • Easy to use and clean
  • Fits easily on any counter
  • Heats quickly

Specifications:

  • Brand/Model: Aicook CM6816
  • Weight: 3.8lbs
  • Dimensions: 10” X 7.7” X 13.1”
  • Pressure: 3.5 bars
Product Ranking

This eye-catching espresso maker from De’Longhi will look fantastic in any modern kitchen. The flow stop feature gives you fully-automatic operation, giving you a consistent shot volume and preventing messes and overpouring. The advanced heating element gets to brewing temperature in around 40 seconds and maintains it through the brew.

The De’Longhi Dedica strikes a good balance between convenience and authenticity. It brews aromatic espresso in both single and double shot sizes. You also get the choice of brewing from Nespresso pods if you don’t want the hassle of grinding beans and steaming milk.

Key Features:

  • Automatic flow stop limits messes
  • Illuminated control panel
  • Narrow 6” profile
  • Delicious espresso with rich crema
  • Brews single shots, double shots, and pods
  • Heats up in 40 seconds

Specifications:

  • Brand/Model: De’Longhi EC680R
  • Weight: 9.3lbs
  • Dimensions: 13” X 5.9” X 12”
  • Reservoir capacity: 34oz
  • Pressure: 15 bars
Product Ranking

The most common complaint against super-automatic machines is that you don’t get enough control over your drinks. The Philips Carina can be both programmed and adjusted on the fly so you can customize the brew and milk. Use the presets to save your ideal temperature, milk texture, and shot volume for consistently perfect lattes and cappuccinos every time.

We also like that the Philips Carina is compatible with the AquaClean smart water filter. Using this filter, you can brew up to 5,000 cups before you need to descale. That cuts down on both maintenance and wear and tear, extending the working life of the machine.

The De’Longhi Dedica strikes a good balance between convenience and authenticity. It brews aromatic espresso in both single and double shot sizes. You also get the choice of brewing from Nespresso pods if you don’t want the hassle of grinding beans and steaming milk.

Key Features:

  • Programmable touchscreen display
  • Ceramic burr grinder with 12 fineness settings
  • 3-level temperature adjustment
  • Removable water tank
  • Compatible with AquaClean smart water filters

Specifications:

  • Brand/Model: Philips EP1220/04
  • Weight: 18lbs
  • Dimensions: 9.5” X 17” X 14.5”
  • Reservoir capacity: 51oz
  • Pressure: 15 bars

Buying Guide & FAQ

3 Types of Espresso Machines Compared

The design of the espresso machine has changed quite a bit since it was first invented in the late 19th century. Understanding how the mechanism inside an espresso machine works can help you better understand what makes one model different from another.

Steam-driven Machines

The first espresso machines used steam to generate the pressure required for extraction. In these machines, water is brought to boiling in an airtight tank. As the pressure builds, it forces water through the ground coffee.

This is similar to how a stovetop espresso maker brews coffee and has the same main disadvantages. First, the water can easily get overheated and burn or over-extract the coffee. Second, it doesn’t generate as much pressure, usually only around 1-1.5 bars, which is much lower than the recommended 9 bars for modern espresso.

Lever-driven Machines

Lever-driven machines are also called manual espresso makers because they require the user to exert force and generate pressure. With a lever-driven machine, the barista controls everything from the length of pre-infusion to the rate of flow and the shot volume. As a result, these machines need more training but can also produce some of the best espresso.

You can also find portable lever-driven or manual espresso machines designed for home use. These often generate less pressure than full-sized machines but can be a convenient way to brew espresso on the go since they don’t require electricity to operate.

Pump-driven Machines

You’ll see pump-driven machines used in the majority of modern coffee shops, and this design is also used by most home machines. Developed in the sixties, these machines use an electric pump to push the water through the coffee. Electronic control provides a higher, more consistent pressure.

Pump-driven machines are further broken down into 3 categories based on the level of automation. In a semi-automatic machine, electronic control is only used for the pump and temperature, with the rest of the process controlled by the barista. Fully-automatic machines also control the shot timing and volume. Super-automatic machines do everything for you, from timing the shot to steaming the milk.

Most baristas prefer semi-automatic machines because they give a nice balance between convenience and customization. For a beginner, a super-automatic machine is a convenient way to make café drinks without extensive training, though it won’t give you a chance to work on your steaming and brewing skills.

What to Look For in an Affordable Espresso Machine

Some compromises are to be expected when you’re shopping for affordable espresso machines. The extraction depth and steam wand control of a home machine won’t ever quite live up to what you get from high-end commercial models.

So what do you want out of a home espresso machine? Here are the key features to consider.

Temperature Control

Water temperature is important to the quality of the espresso. Machines with dual temperature control use separate thermostats for brewing and steaming for more precise control. A more powerful heating element will also heat up faster so you can start brewing more quickly.

Pressure

A true Italian-style pump can produce as much as 19 or 20 bars of pressure and will have no problem maintaining a consistent 9 bars during the brew cycle. Cheaper steam-driven machines can only achieve 3-4 bars, on par with stovetop espresso makers.

Water Reservoir

The larger the reservoir capacity, the less frequently you have to fill it. Removable reservoirs are convenient because you can take them to the faucet, limiting spills during filling.

Steam Wand and Frothing

Most espresso machines come with a frother but not all of them can make café quality foam. For the best milk texture, look for one with a narrower tip that can be used to create true microfoam.

Level of Automation

If you want the true barista experience, a semi-automatic machine has the hands-on feel you’re looking for. Those who don’t know how to steam milk (and don’t want to learn) will find a super-automatic machine or pod machine more convenient.

Benefits of Owning an Espresso Machine

  • It saves you money in the long run. An espresso machine is a larger one-time investment, but consider how much you spend at the coffee shop in an average week. If you can make lattes at home instead, the espresso machine could pay for itself in just a few months.
  • Enjoy your favorite drinks at any time. Instead of driving to the café every time you want a latte, you can just go down to your kitchen and whip one up yourself.
  • You can experiment with new drinks. A lot of people stick to what they know at cafes because they don’t want to get something they won’t like. With a machine at home, you can play around with new flavors without wasting money.
  •  They’re perfect for entertaining. Espresso is one of the fastest brewing methods around. While you can brew up a pot of drip coffee pretty fast, too, espresso machines let you quickly make drinks to order for your guests.
  •  They make more than just coffee. A steam wand can be used to make frothy hot chocolates and tea lattes, and it’s a quick way to heat up winter drinks like apple cider. Most also dispense hot water for everything from tea to oatmeal and instant soup.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Espresso Machines

Advantages of Espresso Machines

  • Speed. Espresso is the fastest brewing method. It takes 20-30 seconds to brew a shot, compared to 2-3 minutes for pour-over or 5-6 minutes for drip brewing.
  • Flavor and texture. Moka pots and AeroPresses imitate the strength and viscosity of espresso but they’re not exact reproductions. Only an espresso machine can generate the 9 bars of pressure required for an ideal espresso shot.
  •  Milk steaming. Stand-alone frothers mimic the texture of steamed milk but the only way to get finely-textured microfoam is with a steam wand. No other brewing method comes with this option.

Disadvantages of Espresso Machines

  • High cost. Even a “cheap” espresso machine is an investment compared to manual and drip brewers.
  • More maintenance. Espresso machines require periodic descaling to prevent build-up in the lines. The brewing mechanism, grind spout, and other internal components will need regular maintenance, too, and the machine can break down if you don’t keep up with it.
  •  Required expertise. Super-automatic machines take a lot of the effort out of espresso brewing but you’ll still need some coffee knowledge to get consistently good results.

Coffee Machine Lifespans and When to Upgrade

With the proper maintenance, an automatic espresso machine can last 10 years or more. This makes them a good long-term investment if you’re willing to commit to a regular cleaning routine.

Along with following the recommended maintenance schedule, keeping your machine powered down when it’s not in use is the best way to extend its lifespan. Allowing electricity to flow continuously through the motor leads to needless wear and tear. If you often forget to turn your machine off, an automatic shutoff feature is something you should look for.

Even in ideal conditions, an espresso maker will wear out eventually. Signs it’s time to upgrade include low pressure, inconsistent water temperature, or problems with the flow of water to the group head. If your coffee maker is 6 years old or more, it’s probably better to upgrade than to attempt repairs.

Espresso Making Basics

There’s a lot of confusion about what espresso even is and this has led to a mystique about the complexities of the drink. The truth is, though, espresso is affected by the same factors that influence any brewing method. The difference is that the quick brewing time and concentrated brew bring out issues with the water and beans more than other methods.

The perfect espresso shot is a convergence of these factors:

  • Roast level. Great espresso starts with choosing the right beans. Both medium and dark roasts can taste great on espresso, though you want to avoid extremely dark Italian or French roasts. These beans are too oily and tend to taste bitter and burnt on espresso.
  • Grind level. Espresso requires a fine grind—the finest setting on most home grinders. For the best results, specialty espresso grinders have multiple micro-adjustment levels so you can adjust your grind in response to the ambient humidity and roast level of the bean.
  • Water quality. Filtered tap water is ideal for espresso. Both hard water and distilled water can give coffee a flat taste. Hard water also leads to scale build-up within the machine, so filtration is key for both maintenance and flavor.
  • Water temperature. The ideal range for brewing espresso is between 195°F and 205°F. Too low and it won’t fully extract the flavors; too high and the grinds can scorch, making your espresso bitter.
  • Pressure. The pressure inside the group head should be between 9 and 10 bars throughout brewing. Consistent pressure ensures the grounds are extracted evenly across the filter. This pressure is also what traps escaping gas in the brew, forming the crema that’s a hallmark of quality espresso.
  • Extraction time. If all of the above factors are within the right parameters, you’ll get 1-1.5 ounces of espresso in 20-30 seconds. This is the ideal length of time for an even extraction.

The more time you spend with your espresso machine, the better you’ll be able to troubleshoot your brew and fine-tune these parameters to your ideal tastes. You don’t have to leave your espresso brewing to the experts. All it takes is the right machine and a bit of knowledge to craft delicious drinks at home.

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