For many people making espresso sounds like an otherworldly pursuit best attempted only by professional baristas with ungodly amounts of expensive equipment. Luckily for coffee lovers all over the world, access to good, homemade espresso is easier than ever. The best cheap espresso machines on the market make it possible to make delicious, affordable espresso in your kitchen–any time!
And really it’s not that much of a miracle. When it comes down to it, making espresso is a straightforward process that involves simply forcing hot, pressurized water through ground coffee. Achieving adequate heat and pressure, however, requires the help of an espresso machine.
Historically these machines have always been quite intricate and expensive. But like most things in the world, innovation and mass production has slimmed down both production complexity and the cost to consumers. Today it’s possible to get your hands on a machine that will make you decent espresso for less than $200.
And with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best cheap espresso machines of 2020.
Editor’s Pick for Best Cheap Espresso Machine — Café Barista by Mr.Coffee
The Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista can easily make lattes, cappuccinos and, of course, espressos. It can produce up to 15 bars of pressure, and it comes with a milk reservoir and automatic milk frother.
Cheap Espresso Machines: A Comparison of our Favorites in 2020
The 10 Best Cheap Espresso Machines: Reviews
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso And Cappuccino Maker
If you’re looking for something that won’t break the bank but will still pull a decent cup of coffee, then the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker is the answer. This machine will produce most styles of coffee effortlessly and will even top it off with foamy cream.
The Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista can easily make lattes, cappuccinos and, of course, espressos. It can produce up to 15 bars of pressure, meaning you won’t have to worry about generating enough force for a decent brew. It also comes with a milk reservoir that can be easily removed and stored in the fridge to preserve whatever leftover milk it contains. It’s bigger, fancier, and more gadgety (is that word?) brother of the Mr Coffee Cafe 20 ounce Automatic Espresso and Cappuccino Machine. It has a lot of the same functionality, but with less of the work, as you no longer need to froth the milk yourself.
Unfortunately it’s not all smiles and rainbows. While the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista automates much of the coffee-making process, it’s not always uniform in its execution. We found that it sometimes struggles to achieve consistent temperatures and can even get clogged if very finely ground coffee is used. So that’s a good tip for future use, make sure you use grounds of the correct consistency (that’s medium, in case you didn’t know).
Pros and Cons
- Affordable price and solid build quality.
- Automates much of the coffee-making process.
- Inconsistent temperature during use.
- Can get clogged quite easily.
Here’s a video of how the Mr. Coffee Café Barista Espresso And Cappuccino Maker works:
How to use the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso And Cappuccino Maker:
- Before you use the machine for the first time, it has to be primed.
- Decide on what size shot you want – single or double – then insert that filter cup into the portafilter. Then, fill it with the coffee grounds of your choice and tamp it into place.
- Snap the portafilter into place on the machine. You’ll know it’s in place when the handle is aligned with the lock icon on the machine.
- Next, fill the water reservoir to the max line, then slide it onto the back of the machine.
- If you want to brew a cappuccino or latte, add milk to the milk reservoir then attach it to the machine. You’ll know that you’ve accomplished this when the lights on the front of the machine begin to pulse.
- If you’re brewing into a small cup, use the height adjustment to try to keep your mug as close to the portafilter as possible to prevent spillage.
- To start brewing, place a cup under the portafilter and aim the milk frothing tube towards it.
- Using the frothing knob to determine the type of beverage you want to make.
- Finally, choose your preferred coffee and size by pressing the button on the front of the coffee maker, and the machine will take care of the rest.
De’Longhi BAR32 Retro 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
At first glance, the De’Longhi BAR32 Retro 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker looks as though it might have been salvaged from your grandmother’s house. With its rotary dials in lieu of a digital display and its somewhat twee design, this espresso machine feels as though it comes from another era.
But the BAR32 is anything but old fashioned. Designed to look retro and hip, this cheap espresso machine has all the inner workings of a modern appliance.
As evidence of this, the BAR32 takes pods as well as ground coffee. Its steam wands can make lattes and cappuccinos by the dozens, and the 35oz water tank holds enough liquid for five shots of espresso. And unlike an authentically vintage coffee maker which requires a fair amount of elbow grease for operation, the BAR32 primes itself.
Designed to be easily cleaned, this machine is just slightly more expensive than other espresso machines on this list. That being said, we find that this is an ideal entry-level coffee machine for those who don’t quite want to commit themselves to be a full-time barista but still enjoy a quality home-brewed cup of coffee in the mornings. If you want something a bit fancier, then we recommend the Mr. Coffee Café Barista Espresso And Cappuccino Maker.
Pros and Cons
- Cool retro design.
- Great pressure and ease of use.
- Making a double espresso as opposed to a single can be a challenge.
- Steam wand has the tendency to leak.
We found this video by Seattle Coffee Gear really insightful. It’s all about the De’Longhi BAR32 Retro 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker:
How to the use the De’Longhi BAR32 Retro 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker:
- The BAR32 is wonderfully simple to use – everything is controlled by a single knob on the front of the machine that lets you toggle operation between the steam wand, portafilter, and just regular hot water.
- The water reservoir sits at the back of the coffee machine, and there’s a built-in tamper on the front so that you can tamp your coffee grounds in the port filter.
- You can control the steam wand using the black dial on the top of the machine. Just turn it clockwise to adjust the intensity of the steam.
- Once you’ve filled your portafilter and tamped your grounds into place, simply lock it into place and follow the instructions above.
- If you’re frothing milk, we found that dipping the wand about a third into the milk is the best position to achieve the richest, creamiest foam.
Espresso Machine 3.5 Bar 4 Cup Espresso Maker
You might be mistaken for thinking that the more affordable Yabano’s Espresso Machine can’t throw down with the rest of the contenders on this list. But like the proverbial dynamite in a modest parcel, Sowtech proves you don’t have to be big to deliver results.
At the core of its operation, Yabano’s cheap espresso machine relies on simplicity. With just a single knob for all your espresso requirements, operating this espresso maker is child’s play. It’s design is likewise stripped back yet elegant, and overall it has no trouble delivering a tasty, rich shot of espresso.
However, it’s not perfect. The steam wand struggles to heat milk consistently, and this may be enough to raise a number of eyebrows among consumers. However, for the price on offer it’s understandable that it’s unlikely to be a perfect machine. Also, we found that having to use a single water reservoir in order to pull espresso shots and power the steam wand is a bit frustrating. It means that you’re constantly filling it up in between uses.
- Extremely affordable.
- Very easy to use.
- Lacks certain features due to its simplicity.
- Doesn’t always heat milk consistently.
To show you how it works, Alex Zander shared this on their YouTube channel:
How to use the Espresso Machine 3.5 Bar 4 Cup Espresso Maker:
- To get started, pour water into the top of the machine, making sure to fill it all the water to the top.
- Next, fill your portafilter with ground coffee, tamp it down, then snap it into place.
- Select the type of coffee you want by turning the dial on the side of the machine. Once you turn the dial, the coffee will start to brew.
- If you want to use the steam wand to make a latte or cappuccino, just place the wand in your milk and turn the knob to the steam setting.
Nespresso by De’Longhi EN85B Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine
If having enough space in your kitchen has been the factor keeping you from buying a cheap espresso machine, then you no longer have an excuse. The Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine is the ideal piece of equipment for tiny kitchens. It’s surprisingly affordable too.
Nespresso has a long history of making quality coffee equipment, and the Essenza Mini is no exception. With a beautiful, sleek design, this cheap espresso maker is not only functional but would look great on any kitchen counter.
It’s also very easy to use thanks to its one-touch programmable button. After selecting your option you can expect it to heat up and deliver an espresso in less than a minute.
The machine does have its drawbacks, however. It relies solely on Nespresso pods, meaning you’re beholden to Nespresso’s products for your morning brew.
This machine is simplicity itself, and if you’re someone who likes a quick shot of espresso in the morning before heading out to work, this is for you. Not being able to switch coffees can be slightly frustrating, but we still found that the espresso was strong, tasty, and – the main selling point of this machine – convenient.However, if you like milkier coffee, then you may want to consider a different espresso machine. The lack of a steam wand means that lattes and cappuccinos are off the table unless you have a separate device. If this is important to you and money is no option, then the Lattissima Pro, the Essenza Mini’s big brother, might be better suited to your needs.
- Small economical design; fits in any kitchen.
- Quite affordable.
- Only makes espresso.
- Relies entirely on Nespresso pods for coffee.
A YouTube channel called Caffeine Adventures uploaded a tutorial video for the Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine:
How to use the Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine:
- First, turn on the machine and let it warm up for 30 – 40 seconds before use.
- Fill the water reservoir at the back of the machine.
- Once the machine is warm enough, lift the lid, insert a Nespresso pod, then close the lid again.
- Place a mug below the coffee spigot, then select the size of the espresso shot you want to brew by pressing one of the buttons on top of the machine. You can choose between 1.7 ounces or 3.2 ounces – so basically a single or double espresso shot.
- And that’s it!
Capresso 303.01 Espresso Maker
Another mini espresso maker that won’t break the bank, the 303.01 Espresso Maker by Capresso weighs just 7lbs. It has a low price compared to other machines here, but the price doesn’t mean low quality, however, as the 303.01 hits where the other espresso machines miss.
The 303.01 gives you an impressive amount of control over the type of brew you’re making. It not only makes shots of espressos, but can crank out cappuccinos just as easily. It also features an adjustable steam wand which makes frothing milk a breeze.
For all its merits, however, the 303.01 also suffers from a few drawbacks. The machine itself requires quite a lot of attention while in use, and so isn’t as effortless as others on this list. A few consumers have also commented that the milk wand isn’t as consistent as it should be. That being said, it’s an excellent choice if you’re new to brewing your own coffee at home and aren’t too concerned about the finer details of coffee brewing just yet. Once you have more confidence, you might want to graduate to one of the more sophisticated machines in the Capresso range. The E300, for example, is a way more heavy-duty machine but with similar easy-to-use functionality.
- Makes both cappuccinos and espressos.
- Extremely affordable.
- Steam wand is inconsistent.
- Requires a lot of attention during the brewing process.
Here’s a video about the Capresso 303.01 Espresso Maker by jjmonns on YouTube:
How to use the Capresso 4 Cup Espresso Maker:
- Fill the water reservoir by removing the cap on the top of the machine. Once the reservoir is full simply screw the cap back into place.
- You can switch processes by using the sliding dial on the front of the machine – slide it to the left to activate the steamer and slide it various degrees to the right to choose the amount of coffee you want to brew.
- If you activate the steam wand, you can control its intensity using the knob on the size of the machine.
- To get started with a shot of espresso, fill the portafilter with ground coffee, tamp it down using the spoon/tamper combo that comes with the machine, then lock it into place.
- Place your mug below the portafilter, then slide the dial on the front of the machine to the right to the desired size of coffee you want. We recommend doing this before turning on the machine, as once it’s one it will start brewing right away. Doing it this way means you have everything set up before the coffee starts brewing.
- Once your coffee is done, you can easily clear the portafilter simply by bashing out the spent coffee then rinsing it under a tap. The machine has a lot of stainless steel parts so it’s really robust and easy to clean.
Premium EspressoMaker PEM350
If you’re really trying to save money then you probably can’t do much better than the Premium Espresso Maker PEM350. This is the cheapest espresso machine on our list, so don’t expect any miracles.
The PEM350 will do exactly what it says on the box – that is, make a shot of espresso – but it won’t do much else. It is singularly designed to do one thing, and it executes that function pretty well.
But for this price there will always be drawbacks. To start with, it’s not the prettiest machine in the world. But if you value strong coffee and looks are of secondary concern to you then this shouldn’t disappoint you too much.
It also tops out at 5 bars of pressure when brewing. This is a problem because ordinary espresso requires at least 9 bars of pressure. So although this little machine can actually pressurize its water, it’s not enough to deliver the same quality of espresso you would find in a coffee shop (or with a more premium model of the espresso machine).
Because of this, we found that the coffee brewed was actually more like drip coffee than espresso. We actually tried to get to a thicker consistency by packing in more coffee into the portafilter. However, this just resulted in a really bitter, acidic shot that was pretty hard to drink.
On top of that the steam wand isn’t the most effective milk frothing tool in the world, and tends to clog up pretty easily. The machine itself can also be quite tricky to use at times. That being said, this is a list of the best cheap espresso makers, so it’s understandable that this machine is not Michelin quality.
- A very cheap espresso machine.
- Makes a decent shot of espresso.
- Steam wand is not very effective.
- Can be quite tricky to use.
MorganDrinksCoffee put together a pretty cool video about the Premium EspressoMaker PEM350:
How to use the Premium EspressoMaker PEM350:
- Using the PEM350 is pretty simple. You can switch between different modes using the knob on the side of the machine. Choose between the steam wand, brewing function or turning the machine off by turning the knob back and forth.
- Add water to the espresso machine by removing the lid on the top of the machine. There aren’t clear instructions on how much water the machine can actually hold, but we found that it’s best to just fill the reservoir with the amount of water you need per serving.
- Next, fill up the portafilter with ground coffee. Like most espresso machines, a medium to fine grind should work, but there are no instructions on what the optimal grind is. The machine doesn’t come with a tamper, but it does come with a flat-bottomed spoon that you can use to flatten the grinds. Use the little catcher on the portafilter to keep the whole thing together, then snap it into place.
- Place the carafe below the portafilter, then turn the knob on the side to the brewing function to start the process. This machine is a bit slow so it should take around 2 minutes or so before coffee begins to flow into the carafe. Don’t try to steam any milk at this phase as we noticed that if you do, the coffee will stop brewing.
- The carafe is marked with different volumes, so once you have the desired amount you can turn the machine off and your coffee is ready to serve.
Barsetto Espresso Machine 15 Bar Coffee Machine, Stainless Steel Coffee Brewer with Milk Frother Wand
If you’re looking for an all-rounder that stands out in terms of price, performance and aesthetics, then it has to be the Barsetto Espresso Machine. Not only does this beautiful piece of equipment make a delicious espresso, but it’s also amazingly simple to use. This functionality and ease of use is available for the very reasonable price point.
Let’s talk about features. The Barsetto Espresso machine does more than simple espresso shots; it also has the ability to make creamy and luxurious lattes and cappuccinos. Its 15 bar pressure system means that the shots of espressos it does make are of the highest quality.
It also features a double-spout espresso system for making two shots of espresso simultaneously.
The stainless steel construction of the Barsetto Espresso Machine not only makes for an aesthetically-pleasing appliance, but also means it’s durable and easy to clean. There were some problems, however. We found that after using the machine a few times water started to leak from the tank if you didn’t empty it fully. On top of that, you have to manually stop the brewing process, which can be a little bit annoying if you’re used to just pressing a button and getting your coffee made.
- The best all-rounder budget espresso machine.
- Makes a variety of different coffee styles.
- Tends to leak if too much coffee is used.
- Steam wand sometimes leaks.
To see it in action, here’s a tutorial video from Smart Choose on YouTube about using the Barsetto Espresso Machine 15 Bar Coffee Machine:
How to use the Barsetto Espresso Machine 15 Bar Coffee Machine:
- Like other machines on this list, the Barsetto Espresso Machine is filled up with water using the reservoir on the back of the machine. It can be unclipped, filled up at a tap, and then reinserted into place.
- Once the machine is on, the LCD display will start flashing to let you know that the machine is heating up. When the icons stop flashing, the machine is primed and ready to brew.
- Use the knob on the side of the machine to switch between the steaming and brewing functions. Just be aware, once you turn the knob, the process will start immediately, so be ready with your portafilter or milk carafe.
- Fill the portafilter with coffee – about 7 grams is the recommended amount for this machine – and tamp it down sufficiently. Then, lock it into place in the coffee machine.
- You can brew two cups of espresso simultaneously, or one big mug. So depending on your preference, place your mug(s) on the drop tray below the portafilter.
- Once everything is primed, turn the knob to the right to activate the brewing function, then press the buttons on the front of the machine for either a single or double shot of espresso.
- After the coffee has finished brewing, turn the knob back to the “O” position to let the machine cool.
Mueller Espresso Machine
If ground coffee isn’t your thing and you prefer the ease and convenience of coffee pods, then the Mueller Espresso Machine is the piece of equipment your kitchen needs. Capable of producing up to 20 bars of pressure, this smart and robust espresso machine delivers creamy espresso with intense aromas every time.
Functionality aside, the Mueller Espresso Machine is also a delight to look at. With sleek, clean surfaces and a compact frame, this is Italian engineering at its finest. It’s small stature means it will fit in even the most economical of kitchens.
It’s also very easy to use. The whole machine is controlled with a one-touch button that lets you choose between two different serving sizes. The only downside to the whole contraption is that it tends to be a bit on the noisy side.
- Svelte Italian design.
- Able to produce 20 bars of pressure for intense espresso.
- Very loud during operation.
- Reliant on pods.
STARESSO Manual Espresso Maker
Up until now we’ve only spoken about the traditional best cheap espresso machines, that is, ones that run on electricity. But the STARESSO Manual Espresso Maker flips the conventional espresso machine narrative on its head and operates entirely using manually-generated pressure.
The way it works is quite ingenious. The top of the STARESSO is a manual pump that you can prime with up to 20 bars of pressure. This pressure is then applied to either ground coffee or pods, forcing water through the coffee to produce an espresso shot complete with crema.
The whole device weighs less than a pound and is small enough to take it with you on any sort of travel. It’s modular design also makes it very easy to clean. We played around with it quite a lot and had a lot of fun making coffee with it, and, unlike the PEM350, we found that the coffee it made actually pretty good and strong. It’s not true espresso in the sense that it’s not produced by an electric espresso machine, but it’s not bad at all. One annoying feature is that you have to unpack, clean, and repack the entire contraption every time you want a new cup of coffee, so it’s not really recommended for families or groups. That being said, if you find yourself traveling a lot or want some espresso-style coffee during a camping trip, you could do worse than this little guy.
- Extremely portable design.
- Doesn’t rely on electricity for operation.
- Requires quite a lot of effort to produce an espresso.
To show you how it works, Morning Coffee on YouTube:
How to use the STARESSO Manual Espresso Maker:
- To get started, separate the collection carafe from the water reservoir and manual pump by unscrewing it.
- Unscrew the bottom section of the water reservoir and the pump and you will discover a filter and a little basket for holding coffee grounds. Fill this with your desired coffee, tamp it down, then reattach it to the reservoir and pump.
- Boil some hot water and then pour it into the water reservoir.
- Next, screw on the lid and pump handle, and then attach this to the collection carafe.
- Now it’s time to pump the espresso. In general, we found that the faster you pumped, the stronger the resultant brew.
- Once you’ve finished pumping, unscrew the bottom carafe and enjoy.
Hamilton Beach Budget Espresso Maker
The Hamilton Beach Budget Espresso Maker is proof that true Italian quality doesn’t necessarily have to break the bank. With the ability to produce up to 15 bars of pressure, the Hamilton is capable of serving up delicious espressos, lattes and cappuccinos.
The Hamilton is built compactly so as to fit on any kitchen counter, and its snap-and-lock portafilter system is designed for easy and fast usage. It comes with a built-in cup warmer that will keep your mug warm until serving time, and can also be easily cleaned. It also comes standard with a measuring spoon that doubles as a tamping device. Since the machine doesn’t have any sort of built-in tamper, it’s quite a handy little tool.
- Quality espresso machine for the price.
- Removable parts making cleaning the machine easy.
- Makes limited servings of espresso.
Here’s one of the brand’s promotional videos on how to grind coffee beans with the Hamilton Beach Budget Espresso Maker:
How to use the Hamilton Beach Budget Espresso Maker:
- The operation of this machine is quite standard. Fill up the reservoir in the back with water and then clip it back into place.
- Pack the portafilter with coffee of your choice and desired grind size, tamp it down, then lock it into place. Use the slide and lock lever on the left of the machine to secure the portafilter.
- Switch between brewing and steam functions by using the large dial on the front of the machine.
- When you’re ready to start brewing, turn the dial to the left, and place a mug beneath the portafilter.
- Next, press the on button on the front of the machine the brewing process will start.
- While you’re waiting, you can also warm your cups by putting them on top of the coffee machine.
- After 15 or 20 seconds, your espresso should be ready.
Honorable Mention: The Handpresso
Like the STARESSO the Handpresso doesn’t require any power to produce a shot of espresso. It looks and functions like a bicycle pump, and so requires a bit of elbow grease to build up to up to 16 bars of pressure. Once the pressure has been built up, simply press the infusion button to force hot water though the coffee grounds.
The Handpresso is definitely not made for serving large groups of people. It takes a lot of effort and a couple of minutes to produce one shot of espresso. That shot is also going to be smaller than one produced by conventional espresso machines.
The quality of that shot is also questionable. A traditional espresso machine is undoubtedly going to produce a richer and creamer shot. That being, the Handpresso’s main draw is its portability.
It may not produce the most intense coffee in the world, but it will produce it – anywhere you go. However its hefty price tag might not be enough incentive for some people.
- Extremely portable.
- Can produce quite a large amount of pressure.
- Espresso isn’t as strong as traditional espresso.
Criteria for Choosing the Best Cheap Espresso Machine
Espresso machines come in a variety of different shapes, sizes and build qualities. It’s therefore important to be clued up about what you’re buying before you make the decision to part with your money. Let’s take a look at some of the most important things that make the best cheap espresso machine.
Espresso machines deal with a lot of heat and pressure. Because of this, a machine designed poorly or with inferior materials could become dangerous. Always ensure that the espresso machine you’re buying is solidly built and made of quality materials.
If it’s too cheap, or looks extremely cheap, it probably is and is worth avoiding.
Ease of Use
Espresso machines in a coffee shop contain numerous valves, buttons, portafilters and dials – they’re complicated. Because you’re going to be buying a more budget espresso maker, you’re not going to want something even remotely complex. When it comes to cheap espresso machines, simple and easier to use is always better.
The name of this article is “Cheap Espresso Machines” and that means that price is going to be a large determining factor is the espresso machine you choose. That doesn’t mean you should go for the cheapest option you can find. Remember, price is often indicative of quality, and just because you see a bargain doesn’t always mean it’s the best option.
How Easy it Is to Clean
Something that not many people take into account when buying an espresso machine is the ease with which a person can clean it. Having an easily-cleanable espresso machine will make a world of difference when you constantly have to break it apart and unclog it. It’s advisable that you keep this in mind when determining what espresso machine you want in your kitchen.