Looking for an Affordable Espresso Machine for Home?

There’s nothing like starting your day with a warm soothing cup of Espresso, a rich dark blend that wakes up your taste buds, and your spirits, and gets you ready for what lay ahead.

Espresso machines used to be the province of expensive French Baristas and snooty corner coffee shops with twin-tailed mermaids for a logo. Today some of the best espresso machines in the world can be found sitting on shelves in homes and businesses with names like De’Longhi, Cuisinart, and Inissia.

YouTube video

List & Comparison of the Best Espresso Machines:

PhotoProductTank/AutomationDrive/CoffeeDetails
De'Longhi EC155De'Longhi EC155Tank Size: 35 oz
Automation: Semi-Automatic
Drive Type: Pump
Coffee Type: Ground
More Information
DeLonghi EN80BAEDeLonghi EN80BAETank Size: 23.8 oz
Automation: Automatic
Drive Type: Pump
Coffee Type: Nespresso
More Information
De'Longhi BAR32De'Longhi BAR32Tank Size: 35 oz
Automation: Semi-Automatic
Drive Type: Pump
Coffee Type: Ground, ESE pods
More Information
Breville BEC120RED1AUC1Breville BEC120RED1AUC1Tank Size: 24 oz
Automation: Super-Automatic
Drive Type: Pump
Coffee Type: Nespresso
More Information
Cuisinart EM-200Cuisinart EM-200Tank Size: 69 oz
Automation: Super-Automatic
Drive Type: Pump
Coffee Type: Pods, Ground
More Information
Capresso 303.01Capresso 303.01Tank Size: 12 oz
Automation: Semi-Automatic
Drive Type: Pump
Coffee Type: Ground
More Information
KitchenAid KES0504OBKitchenAid KES0504OBTank Size: 1.3 L
Automation: Semi-Automatic
Drive Type: Pump
Coffee Type: Nespresso
More Information
Mr. Coffee BVMC-ECMP70Mr. Coffee BVMC-ECMP70Tank Size: 40 oz
Automation: Semi-Automatic
Drive Type: Pump
Coffee Type: Ground
More Information
EspressoWorks AEW1000EspressoWorks AEW1000Tank Size: 1.25 L
Automation: Semi-Automatic
Drive Type: Pump
Coffee Type: Ground
More Information
Capresso 116.04Capresso 116.04Tank Size: 46 oz
Automation: Semi-Automatic
Drive Type: Pump
Coffee Type: Pods, Ground
More Information

“I have measured my life with coffee spoons.” ~ T.S. Elliot

Coffee has a long and storied history throughout the world, though just how long that story goes back is up to question. I prefer to believe the quaint story of the Ethiopian Goatherd in the 9th century who noticed his goats getting all excited after eating from the plant.

The more likely story comes from the 15th century in Yemen where coffee was an important part of Sufi circles, allowing them to remain alert throughout their rituals.

Throughout the following centuries, coffee would find its way to all corners of the globe and become one of the most popular beverages and a vital part of the economy of numerous countries throughout the globe.

Today you can select from a growing body of coffee selections that come from every part of the world roasted in multiple styles and with a seemingly endless variety of flavors, and that’s before you brew it.

Once brewed coffee can be mixed with sugar, honey, milk, and creamers of any taste you can imagine. Some people like to take their coffee with alcohol, while others like it iced or even blended into a smoothy of sorts. There are the traditionalists who like it black, and those who sweeten and flavor their coffee so much it scarcely tastes like coffee anymore.

As a lover of this fine brew, I decided it was high time I stopped paying $5 a morning for coffee and pick up an espresso machine of my very own. I didn’t want to get too crazy so I limited my spending to $300 and started looking.

What I discovered was that even at that price point there were plenty to choose from and that there were nearly as many types of coffee makers as there were types of coffee. I put together a list of my favorite discoveries along the way, and hope that they’ll help you in your own search for the perfect espresso machine.

Review of the Best Espresso Machines:

1. De’Longhi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

This espresso and cappuccino maker is a great way to start your morning with a delicious espresso. The perfect combination of function and style you have the option of using your own ground espresso or taking advantage of the convenience of E.S.E. pods that fit this device.

Two separate thermostats mean you can tune this device to produce the perfect cup of coffee complete with the jet frother and steam tube. Its self-priming option means it starts up without effort while the removable drip tray and water tank make it easy to clean.

First Impressions

I loved this espresso machine, especially for how easy it was to operate. I previously had a De’Longhi that lasted me for nearly 6 years, so this one already had a strong running start over the non-De’Longhi brands.

The only reason I’m even looking for another one is I was moving and didn’t have room to take it with me, so my parents have a nice espresso machine from De’Longhi and I’m looking for one. The espresso shots out of this one were perfect every time and worked even better than my old model.

Features

  • Swivel Jet Frother
  • Dual Function Filter Holder

Pros

  • Self-Priming Operation
  • Easy to Clean

2. Nespresso Inissia Espresso Machine by De’Longhi with Aeroccino, Black

This espresso machine is lightweight and compact making it easy to fit into even the smallest of apartments. Designed to bring ease to your life and complement your minimalist design it also ensures you always get coffee of such quality it’s like you have a live-in professional barista.

Rapid heating coils ensure the water is ready to create the perfect drink in just 25 seconds, and it saves energy with its 9-minute auto-shut-down feature. Explore the options that Nespresso has to offer with the various aroma packets that come in the package.

First Impressions

This compact little number does a great job of making high-quality espresso in no time at all while leaving you with plenty of remaining counter space. The 25-second heat up time was a little slow for my tastes, just a clear sign that I’ve been spoiled by years of not drinking slow-drip coffee. It’s reliable and makes a tasty cup of coffee, and the aroma packets that come with it are a great way to see what Nespresso has to offer.

Features

  • Up to 19 Bar Pressure
  • 25 second warmup

Pros

  • Fold-up Drip Tray permits larger glasses
  • Energy saving mode shuts down after 9 minutes

3. De’Longhi BAR32 Retro 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

Get a jump on your morning with this compact but high-quality cappuccino and espresso machine from De’Longhi. Combining style and function in a balance of perfect synergy this device will produce smooth and delicious espresso using either the E.S.E. pods that are compatible with this device, or you can select your own espresso ground coffee.

Dual thermostats let you dial in the perfect settings to brew coffee to your specifications and finish it off with the steaming tube and jet frother.

First Impressions

Waking up in the morning to two cups of the delicious espresso is not one of the worst ways to live your life, and this espresso machine from De’Longhi makes it easy to appreciate.

Features

  • Up to 15 Bar Pressure
  • Swivelling Jet Frother

Pros

  • Simple to Clean
  • Autoprimes

4. Breville-Nespresso USA BEC120RED1AUC1 Inissia Espresso Machine, 100, Red

This machine has a great tiny footprint that ensures that you can tuck it into any corner in your home or office. It’s perfect for the coffee lover who’s only looking to make one coffee at a time most of the time but comes with a high-pressure rating at 19 bars.

It has a built-in folding drip tray that folds up and out of the way to provide room for larger cups. No worries about wasting power with its power saving mode that makes it shut down after just 9 minutes of being out of use. Test it out with the 16 packets that come with it for flavor!

First Impressions

It’s great that you don’t have to wait for this machine to warm up before you use it, it’s a great improvement over some models on the market. This means that if you preload your machine the night before you just have to start your day by punching the button and getting about your morning toilet.

When you’re ready to go there will be a hot steaming cup of coffee waiting for you, and that’s perfection incarnate. One of the most clever parts of the design of this machine, however minor, is that when you flip up the drip tray to make a larger cup, it will flip down automatically to catch drips when you move your cup away.

Simple but innovative.

Features

  • Flip-Up Tray For Large Cups
  • Self-Warming

Pros

  • Gorgeous design enhances your decor
  • Small Footprint

5. Cuisinart EM-200 Programmable 15-Bar Espresso Maker, Stainless Steel

This espresso machine can kick your morning off with either a single or double shot espresso without any trouble. Even better you can program it the night before so you start your day with a hot cup of coffee waiting for you.

It delivers 15 bars of pressure for a high-quality cup of espresso with great Crema in 3 ounces or 1.5-ounce cups. Making coffee for a group? No problem, it has a 64 cup reservoir for water that means you can make 20 doubles or 40 singles without needing a refill. This high-class device includes a cup warmer on the top, a drip tray you can remove to clean easily, and much more!

Let me tell you that there is nothing like starting your day with a freshly brewed cup of espresso waiting for you. I even discovered that it motivated me to get out of bed faster since I wanted to enjoy it while it was still warm.

That freshly brewed coffee smell is infinitely superior to the annoying chime of an alarm. I also appreciate that I can preload the coffee and serve up cups at will throughout the day and if you’re a fan of latte’s you’re going to love the milk frother. It’s easy to operate and with a little practice makes evenly steamed milk every time.

Features

  • 15 Bars of Pressure
  • 64 Oz Reservoir

Pros

  • Cup Warmer
  • Programmable

6. Capresso 303.01 4-Cup Espresso and Cappuccino Machine

This elegant black personal barista is a great addition to the personal work or leisure space of the true espresso enthusiast. Once pre-loaded this machine can deliver up to 4 cups of coffee in under four minutes, or you can spread them out throughout the day to keep yourself powering along.

It also has an array of settings to ensure you can custom select your preferred brew of coffee.

First Impressions

I was first struck with the compact nature of this device, but I was worried it was going to be underpowered. Thankfully it only took one espresso to prove that my worries were unfounded.

It’s clearly not meant for high production and wouldn’t be suitable for a large office environment, but it’s perfect for use in a personal space environment.

Features

  • Removable Drip Tray
  • Safety Valve In the Boiler cap

Pros

  • Easy to Clean
  • Built In Steamer

7. KitchenAid KES0504OB Nespresso Bundle, Onyx Black

This Nespresso Espresso machine is a great example of Kitchenaid design and reliability. With its 1.3 liter tank, it can produce multiple coffees before requiring a refill. The frother means you can get your lattes made to perfection without scalding them, while the solid metal construction means that it will go the distance with even consistent hard use.

With just one twist of the front-mounted knob, you can set the strength of coffee you want and walk away to come back to a perfectly brewed espresso.

First Impressions

My experience revealed that this is one of the best of the Nespresso line, with a rapid heat-up time and the ability to pull a double shot with ease. One thing that doesn’t change is the great tasting espresso that comes out of this machine with consistent regularity.

I was really pleased with the results, though ultimately I just didn’t like the overall appearance of the piece. It definitely has the quality of design and durability I’ve come to expect from the KitchenAid brand.

Features

  • Brew Strength Selector
  • Milk Frother

Pros

  • 1.3 Liter Water Tank
  • Solid Metal Construction

8. Mr. Coffee Café Steam Automatic Espresso and Cappuccino Machine, Silver/Black

This is a great cappuccino and espresso machine from Mr. Coffee that ensures that you’ll be enjoying high-quality espresso with every cup. Its design includes a 15 bar pressure system that ensures you’ll get the most flavor out of your coffee.

Capable of producing 20 oz of espresso without refilling the beans or water container you can serve yourself or a pack of friends. Included tamper doubles as a measuring scoop to get the perfect brew every time. Looking for a latte or cappuccino? No problem, just kick up the frother and steam your milk to perfection.

First Impressions

Mr. Coffee has always been a reliable brand, and I knew it was going to perform well even if it didn’t wind up being what I wanted. I was completely correct on this score.

Every cup of espresso that came out of this machine included a beautiful layer of crema that let me know just how well this machine was performing. It’s a cinch to use and would have been a great choice for me in the end.

Features

  • Milk Frother
  • 20 Oz Water Tank

Pros

  • Included Scoop/Tamper
  • Removable drip catcher for ease of cleaning

9. 7 Pc All-In-One Espresso Machine & Cappuccino Maker Barista Bundle Set w/ Built-In Steamer & Frother

The perfect brewing machine comes from EspressoWorks in the form of this All-In-One espresso machine. Powered with 15 Bars of pressure this machine goes from cold to fresh coffee in 45 seconds. The beautiful stainless steel design makes it fit in with any décor and presents a great barista style experience.

Its settings allow it to produce a short or long shot cup, or even two at a time thanks to its dual stream design. Included are set of stainless steel accessories including a frothing cup and filter, as well as two espresso cups that can easily be stored on top.

First Impressions

This really was a high-quality experience and it ended up being the model I bought for my home office, though believe me when I say my wife is in there in the morning for her cup. I loved the fact that I could make a double shot cup, or two cups at once thanks to the way this was designed. It really has a professional quality design that made me proud to buy it, and I discovered that EspressoWorks reputation is well deserved.

Features

  • 1.25L Capacity
  • 15 Bar Pump

Pros

  • Full Set Includes Grinder, Stainless Steel Frothing Cup, Portafilter, tamper, and spoon.
  • Auto-shutdown feature after 25 minutes.

10. Capresso 116.04 Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine EC100, Black and Stainless

The EC100 espresso machine is capable of producing high-quality drinks efficiently thanks to its thermoblock. Built in is a 46oz container for water along with a filter that is self-locking and has a thumb guard. Two crema espressos are able to be made at a time thanks for the dual sieve design.

The frother can be made to produce frothed or steamed milk and has a heavy-duty warming platform made from stainless steel. Thanks to the removable drip tray it’s easy to clean.

First Impressions

This machine isn’t quite the gem it sells itself to be, but it isn’t a bad model either. The space for the cup appeared to be a little shorter than it advertised, but otherwise, everything was in order. It produced espresso quickly and efficiently, and it was really nice to be able to produce two of them at a time.

It just wasn’t as good as the EspressoWorks model, unfortunately. The crema with each cup was absolutely on point, however, and I had no complaints about the flavor or its functionality.

Features

  • 46oz Water Container
  • Pull-out drip tray for easy cleaning

Pros

  • Two-position frother can be used to steam or froth milk
  • Can make two cups at once

FAQ

If you’ve never owned an espresso machine you’re bound to have a lot of questions about how they work. I won’t lie to you, there’s a lot more that goes into making an espresso than meets the eye, and there are a surprising number of options and settings on most machines that won’t be immediately obvious to the new user.

As time goes on you’ll be able to tinker with these settings and figure out how to make the perfect cup of coffee, but I’m just going to start you out on the basics here.

How To Use A Home Espresso Machine

The first thing to do when using a home espresso machine is getting familiar with your device. They’re going to have an impressive array of knobs, buttons, levers, and the like that will make your first time a little nervewracking.

The first thing I’m going to do is introduce you to some of those basic features, though your particular device may not have all of them.

  • Portafilter – This is a combination of a spigot, handle, and brew basket all in one. Espresso that is waiting to be brewed is loaded in here.
  • Grouphead – After being filled with coffee this is where you secure the portafilter. Larger machines, especially industrial ones, will have more than one of these. Group heads contain a rubber gasket and a metal filter that will occasionally need cleaning and maintenance.
  • Steam Wand – The purpose of this gadget is right there on the tin, it produces steam to steam your milk/coffee. There will be lever or knob to regulate how much steam it produces.
  • Hot Water Spigot – A dispenser for hot water for Americanos or tea.
  • Shot Buttons – Every device will have a set of buttons that manage how the portafilter receives and processes water. Most devices have a setting for single and double shots, and single and double long shots. There is typically a button for ‘free pour’ and one to dispense hot water from the aforementioned spigot.
  • Warming Rack – Really high-end models will have a rack on top for warming the mugs prior to using them for coffee.
  • Temperature & Pressure Dial – Not all models have these, and they are typically only meant for advanced users or technicians. If your device has one tread carefully, and maybe get someone experienced to help you alter them.

Now that you know what’s going on with your coffee machine it’s time to start making coffee! You just need to fill the portafilter with the coffee ground to your specifications, which you will then tamp down with the metal tamper until the coffee is tightly packed.

Make sure to clear away any excess grounds from the top of the portafilter before securing it in place in the group head. Look for the slots in the portafilter to line up with on the group head to make sure it seats properly.

If you aren’t the only one using the espresso machine and want to make sure your cup doesn’t overfill just hit the ‘free pour’ button. Once your coffee cup is full to your satisfaction, hit it again to stop the flow of water. You should expect it to take approximately 10 seconds per shot or so.

If you want to steam your milk make sure you use just enough milk for your cup. The purpose of steaming milk is to break down the proteins in it, a second steaming will just burn the milk by scalding it. Before you begin steaming clear the lingering water from the steam pipe by giving it a quick tug.

When you begin steaming your milk you want to try to create a vortex (whirlpool) within the mug to ensure the milk gets evenly heated to about 150f. Be sure to clean the steam wand after.

Now assemble your drink and clean up after yourself you master Barista you!

How Much Does A Good Espresso Machine Cost?

You can typically get a decent quality espresso machine for around $100, though a good quality one will run you $300 or more. Truly exquisite coffee machines can be incredibly expensive but will have the best temperature control, durability, and a sheer number of options available.

For most people, those that fall in between $100 and $300 will be sufficient for your needs.

It’s really more about having the right options than the right price-tag.

What Is The Best Inexpensive Espresso Machine?

If you’re just buying one for the house than I suggest going with the DeLonghi BAR32 you’ll find in the list below. It’s an inexpensive machine that comes with a lot of options and happens to have the respectable De’Longhi name on it.

De’Longhi makes some of the best coffee machines on the market and even this inexpensive number is going to do an exquisite job of getting your morning espresso made perfectly for you.

What Makes Espresso Machines So Expensive?

Espresso machines are just coffee makers that slowly drip hot water through ground coffee to produce a cup of Americano. These devices are precision built machines that work with pressure and temperature in specific tolerances to produce the perfect espresso. Without this precise control of these elements, you wouldn’t be able to get a properly made cup of Joe.

To understand why that’s essential, you’ll have to get a grasp of how espresso is actually made. Unlike drip coffee machines which just let gravity process the water through the grounds, an espresso machine uses pressure to push hot water through a compact puck of coffee in just a matter of seconds.

Rather than the 10-15 minutes, it takes with a standard coffee machine, you’ll get your espresso in just about 15 seconds.

To make this speedy process work the coffee has to be ground to the right consistency, the water has to be at the right temperature, and the pressure has to be exactly right.

In order to maintain this over a long period of time the machine has to be properly made out of durable materials, and that usually means the device is hand assembled. None of that makes for an inexpensive product.

What Is The Best Pressure For An Espresso Machine?

When you’re shopping for an espresso machine one of the first things you’re going to notice is that each espresso machine has a bar pressure rating, often expressed as a range. Every bar of pressure indicates one atmosphere of pressure or the amount of pressure the air puts on you at sea level.

Experts say that the best pressure for an espresso machine is between 7 and 9 bars, with 9 being the most commonly cited sweet spot for truly excellent coffee.

Some machines will cite levels as high as 15 bars, but at this point, they’re really just wagging the dog. The only thing that an espresso machine capable of that much pressure is going to bring to the table is more precise control of temperatures between 7 and 9 bars due to the extra engineering involved.

It will probably also be capable of withstanding longer periods of use as a result. For brewing espresso, however, nine bars are generally considered best.

Is Espresso Stronger Than Coffee?

In a word, yes. A 1oz shot of espresso will contain approximately 40mg of caffeine, whereas a 12 oz cup of coffee would contain 120mg. This means that ounce per ounce, espresso has over 3 times the amount of caffeine as your traditional drip coffee.

In most cases, espresso drinkers get less caffeine per day than the average coffee drinker, especially if they only have one or two double-shot lattes during their day.

However, if you’re one of those coffee drinkers who go for the quad shot in the morning, you’re giving your coffee drinking friends a run for their money.

What Kind Of Coffee Do You Use For Espresso?

Contrary to what most people think there is no one right coffee for making espresso. Instead, espresso can be made from any coffee bean or any combination of coffee beans. While it’s not uncommon for people to use very dark roasts for their espresso that isn’t the only thing that’s usable.

What makes espresso is that it made by forcing pressurized water through finely ground coffee compacted into a puck. This means that any coffee that can be ground to an appropriate degree of fineness can be used for making espresso.

Since every coffee has its own flavor signature, some are more fruity, bright, or acidic it just means that you’re going to get a different coffee experience depending on what kind of coffee you choose.

That being said there are two types of coffee you’re going to want to keep your eye out, these are “Natural” processed coffee due to their ability to hold onto the sweet property of coffee. The other is anything labeled espresso since they are generally good at mixing with milk, making them a great latte option.

Can You Use Regular Coffee In Your Espresso Machine?

Do you remember that scene in Jurassic Park? “You were so busy wondering whether you could that you forgot to ask if you should?” That applies to use regular coffee for making espresso too.

Sure you could put regular coffee into an espresso machine, but you’re going to find it makes weak coffee that just lacks the robust flavor you get with espresso ground.

Is Espresso Bad For Your Heart?

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the health benefits of coffee and its effect on regular drinkers. Insomnia, anxiety, and restlessness have all been cited as the result of drinking coffee in any form on a regular basis.

The news recently has had studies shouting that a single cup of caffeine per day can actually impede the flow of blood to the heart by a whopping 22%. Before you panic over this remember that headlines are the worst form of click-bait, and they don’t tell the whole story.

What was found is that the arteries running to the heart dilate more after a cup of decaf coffee than after a cup of espresso, and blood pressure for the caffeine drinkers was slightly elevated. What about that 22%? It’s the difference in dilation in the artery between the decaf cup, and the caffeinated cup.

An ongoing body of research that both pre-dates the above study and has continued afterward reveals that those consuming between 400-500mg of caffeine a day is perfectly safe and without heightened risk to most people. So take heart, and don’t worry about your heart, coffee is just fine for you.

There you have it, a collection of high-quality espresso machines that are great options for producing your morning cup of Joe with ease. In the end, I decided I really liked the EspressoWorks model. It was just convenient thanks to coming with all the supplies and the ability to make two cups at once. Since I’ve bought it I’ve had no complaints, though I have also taken great care to keep the steam vent and frothers clear.

About the author

Jessica Nickson

Jessica Nickson is a keen home and garden innovator with over 25 years of hands-on experience in, home improvement, landscape gardening and all things appliance related to making life easier and more interesting. You can contact her via e-mail - jessica.nickson.hd@gmail.com.

Leave a Comment