What’s The Best Budget Espresso Machine?
Affordable Coffee Without Breaking The Bank

Hey there, fellow coffee lover. I will talk about the best budget espresso machines in this article for those looking for cheaper options but not sacrificing a quality coffee.

I have already covered the Best espresso machines of 2020 and Top 10 espresso machines under $200

Along with the grinder, scales, tampers, espresso machines belong to the crucial gadgets you should have in your kitchen. Espresso is simply "a miracle of chemistry in a cup."

With espresso shot, your plasma dopamine and serotonin levels rise, and with them, your productivity and mood.  

And with a good espresso machine, you can be a "chemist" at home!

In this article, I will review the 13 best budget espresso machines that are around the $100 or cheaper price range.


What To Look For In A Budget Espresso Machine

How many articles have you gone through so far to find the best budget espresso machine?

Before you go on and aimlessly open a dozen more tabs, to figure out your "type", take a step back and come up with a list of criteria.

No pressure (pun intended) but like any other purchase decision, buying an espresso machine is making a commitment.

You should have a good time with it for a long time.

So, overcome your commitment issue and consider the points below.

Apart from the price, what else should you look for when shopping for a budget espresso machine that is the right fit for you and your kitchen?

Size

How much space does the machine take up? Double boiler types of espresso machines are bigger.

Think in what setting will the espresso machine be used? In an office full of people?

As a household appliance for your family? Do you intend to bring the espresso machine anywhere?

Material

Is the machine mostly plastic (less durable) or are there stainless-steel elements?

Pressure

I recommend not to settle for anything less than 9 bars, even if there is one well-reviewed espresso machines well under this bar pressure, don't be fooled!

First thing in the morning and you have to drink weak and under-extracted coffee because the pressure pump of the espresso machine is too low?

Sign me out. Most manufacturers usually offer 15 bars. Nevertheless, look out for this aspect when browsing espresso machines.

Complexity

Is it manual or automatic? Are you a beginner looking for the best espresso machines that are simple, hassle-free, user-friendly, and do the job?

Or are you going for the best espresso machines designed for those with more experience?

And think about your own lifestyle. Though you're looking for the best cheap espresso makers, you can only "match" if you both "swipe right" at each other.

Take into account how often you will use the espresso machine and the level of convenience you demand. How much work are you willing to put in for a cup of espresso?

Can you only make a single, or double shot as well?

Some espresso machines come with a double shot basket, so take that into consideration if it matters to you.

Bear in mind that a manual coffee maker certainly takes more effort from your side, as you need to tamp the coffee well.

However, the best value brewers on the market are either automatic or semi-automatic espresso machines.

Portafilter

Is the filter basket pressurized or grand cru?

Many semi-automatic espresso machines have a pressurized filter basket that is more forgiving thanks to its design.

Another important question is: Can you use ESE pods with the espresso machine?

ESE pods

ESE pods (meaning Easy Serving Espresso), were developed by the Italian coffee company called Illy.

They look similar to capsules but are not patent-protected, ergo cheaper, easier to get, and more compatible.

They contain ground coffee, but they are made from paper and more ecological than, for example, Nespresso capsules.

And worry not; the paper does not affect the coffee flavor.

ESE pods are very easy to use, you can just insert them into the portafilter without tamping.

If you own a home espresso machine with a pressurized portafilter or see a special E.S.E. sign on the machine or in the manual, it means that you can use ESE pods.

Maintenance

How much maintenance does the coffee machine require?

Does the espresso maker have a detachable brew group with a portafilter or is the machine programmed to clean it itself, automatically?

Additional Features

Envision what kind of coffee you will be making with the espresso maker.

 Just some simple home espresso recipes would suffix?

Or would you prefer to have more tools to whip out more complex recipes?

Especially if you like milky drinks, a milk frother or a steam wand can come in handy.

These espresso machines are called prosumer espresso makers, and I would recommend them for more experienced coffee lovers.

If your espresso maker has a milk frother, it can be even more convenient if the machine has a removable cup holder that lets you use bigger cups to accommodate the thick and heavy foam. Yum!

PS: There is also a non-electric version, too, called stovetop espresso maker.


Difference Between Fully Automatic And Semi-Automatic Espresso Makers

If I need to illustrate the difficulty and fanciness of these espresso machines, it would go like this:

Prosumer machines

 Pro-grade, can be seen at cafes. Good brands of prosumer machines include La Marzocco, Rancilio, or La Pavoni.

Semi-automatic machines

Faster than prosumer machines but still has some programmable functions, temperature control... Some of them come with a coffee grinder, too. Famous brands include Breville, Rocket Espresso, or DeLonghi.

Fully-automatic machines

They minimize the risk of human error by doing everything. You just push one button.

A quite popular subcategory of fully-automatic machines is capsule espresso machines, such as Nespresso. 

If your criteria for the best espresso machine lean more toward capsule coffee makers like this Nespresso Essenza Mini that comes with a free complimentary set of Nespresso capsules,

 I have an article about Nespresso machines for you as well.

In this article, I will talk about non-capsule espresso machines that do the job well, without breaking the bank (though some can still accommodate capsules from brands such as Nespresso). But first:


How To Make Espresso Like A Barista (No Matter The Machine You Use)

How To Make Espresso

  • Make sure that the portafilter is dry and clean. The same applies to the group head - you can rinse to get rid of any old coffee.
  • Pre-warm the espresso machine and cups.
  • Make sure that there is water in the container.
  • Prepare a recommended dose of ground coffee. Ideally use scales.
  • Distribute the grounds in the portafilter. Distribution tools, such as espresso tamper are very handy. Some espresso machines have them, or you can buy a separate espresso tamper.
  • Put the coffee cup under the portafilter. If you have a two-sided espresso machine with double portafilters, you can prepare two cups.
  • When the puck is formed and leveled, insert the portafilter into the machine and start brewing immediately.
  • Check if your machine stops by itself or you need to do it. If the brew time is short, or too long, your espresso will be under-extracted, or over-extracted, respectively.
  • Serve in a ceramic cup or demitasse. Of course, even an inexpensive espresso machine is also able to prepare taller drinks or milky ones - then you need a bigger cup.
  • Throw away the puck, clean the basket, and the group head.

How To Froth Milk

After you have prepared the espresso base in a bigger espresso cup, fill the pitcher with 6 - 8 oz of fresh, cold milk.

In my experience, skim or fat-free milk gives you the most froth and elevates the taste of espresso. 1% and 2% milk will give you less froth, and whole milk even less.

Immerse the frother into the milk by about two-thirds so there is space for the milk to expand. Release the steam into the milk and be careful, it is hot.

Set the pitcher aside in order to let the milk thicken, only then spoon it over the espresso.

If you wish, decorate your coffee drink with powder or sprinkles, cocoa, or cinnamon.

How To Tamp Espresso

Tamping is very important with each machine. You should remove all air without forming "a puck" that is too hard.

How to tamp evenly and consistently in order to achieve the best espresso possible?

  • Measure your coffee.
  • Choose an espresso tamper of the right size.
  • Groom the coffee - make sure that it is even.
  • Always tamp on a flat surface, consistently, for about 15 seconds.
  • After it starts resembling a puck, apply more pressure, about 20-30 pounds.
  • Polish the puck by twisting motion when pulling the tamper up.
  • Wipe excessive grounds from the edges. Some espresso machines come with a handy brush.

How To Clean An Espresso Machine

Last but not least, always clean up after yourself. Follow the manual of your espresso machine. Most machines have similar cleaning process:

  • Disconnect the machine.
  • Clean all parts of the espresso machine with a non-abrasive damp cloth.
  • Rinse the water tank and drip tray.
  • Clean the steam wand, if your espresso machine has one.
  • Decalcify the brew head and frother every now and then with tartaric or citric acid, or a commercial espresso machine decalcifier.

So, Are Cheap Espresso Machines Worth It?

Definitely. An inexpensive espresso machine does not have to equal poor experience.

You might need to skip out on some fancy features, such as grinder or milk frother, but it is worth it.

Just imagine not paying $5 every morning for a takeaway, and making your own espresso.

In the long run, you save money, and the environment, too.

If you look out for factors that are important to you, you will end up with an affordable espresso machine and a quality espresso.


Top 13 Best Budget Espresso Machines In 2021

Product

Main Benefits

Result

Capresso 117.05 Stainless Steel Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine EC50

Capresso 117.05
  • Brand of U.S. leader in home coffee gadgets
  • Stainless; Black design
  • 15 bars
  • Easy to clean
  • Pressurized portafilter
  • Additional features: A milk frother
  • Around 120-150 USD

Best value budget espresso machine

Barsetto Espresso Machines 15 Bar with Adjustable Milk Frother Wand

  • Automatic machine from a less-known brand
  • Polished steel design with clever functions (heated cup plate)
  • 15 bars
  • Quite easy to clean
  • Large water reservoir (1.5L/51oz)
  • Removable cup holder that allows you to use bigger cups
  • Additional features: A manual frother
  • 51mm tamper
  • Around 100 USD

Best cappuccino budget espresso machine

Mr. Coffee Automatic Dual Shot Espresso/Cappuccino System

  • Semi-automatic machine
  • Black design with simple controls
  • 15 bars
  • Easy to clean, mostly dishwasher safe
  • 1L/34oz capacity
  • Tamper + Tamping tool included
  • Additional features: A manual frother
  • Around 100 USD

Best beginner budget espresso machine

De'Longhi Stilosa Manual Espresso Machine, Latte & Cappuccino Maker

  • Semi-automatic machine from a famous brand
  • Compact design - space-saver
  • 15 bars
  • Easy to clean
  • Pressurized portafilter
  • 51mm tamper
  • Additional features: A manual frother
  • Around 100 USD

Best easy-to-use budget espresso machine

De'Longhi 15 bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

  • Semi-automatic machine from a famous Italian brand
  • Sleek design, some parts are metal, some plastic
  • 1L/34oz capacity
  • 15 bars
  • Easy to clean, dishwasher safe
  • Additional features: a manual frother
  • 51 mm tamper, ESE pod-compatible
  • Around 100 USD

Best portafilter budget espresso machine

Amazon Basics Espresso Machine and Milk Frother

  • Basic machine, from Amazon Basics line
  • Black, simple design
  • 15 bars
  • Easy to clean and descale
  • 1.5L/51oz capacity
  • Additional features: A milk frother
  • Around 60 USD

Best basic budget espresso machine

Melitta MEX1B Espresso/Cappuccino Machine (MEX-1B)

  • Famous German brand
  • Oldie but goodie - great if you like vintage design, bad if you want to find spare parts
  • Plastic but sturdy
  • Easy to clean
  • Fragile carafe
  • No extra settings, such as dual heating - pretty basic
  • Additional features: A milk frother
  • Around 100 USD

Best old-fashioned budget espresso machine

West Bend 55100 Machine with Dual Heating System

  • 15 bar pump
  • Plastic body; Steel dual boiler
  • Additional features: A milk frother
    - Pod-compatible
  • Removable water tank - easy to clean
  • Hard to find support online
  • Around 90 USD

Best at-home budget espresso machine

GROSCHE Milano Stovetop Espresso Maker

  • Responsible brand
  • Nice aluminum design, 5 sizes and 4 colors available
  • Around 30 USD

Best manual budget espresso machine (and moka pot)

Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker

  • 18 bars
  • Manual - no need for electricty or batter
  • Ergonomic and light (fewer than 400g)
  • Great for camping
  • Capsule adapter available for purchase
  • Around 60 USD

Best portable budget espresso machine

STARESSO Portable Espresso Machine

  • Manual control
  • 15-20 bars
  • Light, compact and portable
  • Great for office and outdoor
  • Mainly plastic but BPA-free; Some part are stainless steel
  • Compatible with capsules (Nespresso pods)
  • Cold brew and frothed milk drinks are possible
  • Around 60 USD

Best quick budget espresso machine

Flair Espresso Maker - Classic

  • Manual control
  • 12 bars achievable
  • 60ml/2oz capacity
  • Compartments can be disassembled; Portable
  • Classic-looking design; Aluminum
  • One-of-a-kind detachable brewing head
  • Additional features: Custom travel case
  • Around 160 USD

Best low-maintenance budget espresso machine

Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

  • 15 bars
  • Stainless steel
  • Semi-automatic 3-in-1 espresso, cappuccino, and latte maker
  • Double shots capability
  • User-friendly one-touch controls
  • Additional features: Automatic milk frother with adjustable control knob
  • Around 170 USD

Best budget espresso machine with a learning curve

1

Capresso 117.05 Stainless Steel Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine EC50

Heard of Capresso? It is a brand of JURA Inc., the U.S. leader in premium coffee equipment for the home.

EC50 semi-automatic espresso machine with stainless steel body has a 15 bar pump, double portafilter, an effective milk frother steam wand, a cup-warming tray, and a big water tank.

I love that this espresso and cappuccino maker heats water fast, has a self-locking filter (every espresso lover knows that it can be a pain to insert or remove one), and auto-rinse function.

For all of this, plus the elegant stainless steel body of the machine, prepare to pay 20-50 dollars more than most of the list. 

This machine will be worth it. Capresso is one of the best home espresso machines producing quality espresso after all.

2

Barsetto Espresso Machines 15 Bar with Adjustable Milk Frother Wand

Another coffee machine on our list with a milk frother steam wand and 15 bar pump pressure, Barsetto, is great for espresso, cappuccino, latte, or even mocha and macchiato.

The machine heats fast, within 60-120 seconds and thanks to a top-notch Italian pump and a double boiler with two separate thermostats, you can prep two drinks at the same time.

Enjoy a cup of coffee with a nice crema and afterward, do not forget to clean the froth nozzle, as you should with every coffee machine that has a frother. 

Some versions of this espresso machine come with an adapter for Nespresso pods, but according to reviews, it fails to puncture the Nespresso pod.

You still should be able to use softer ESE pods with this espresso brewer. Overall a good 2-in-1 semi-automatic coffee and cappuccino maker.

3

Mr. Coffee Automatic Dual Shot Espresso/Cappuccino System ECMP50

Mr. Coffee with 15 bars of pressure, milk frothing arm, dual espresso shot brewing, and fast heating and brewing has to be on our list.

The coffee machine can save you money and time. You can brew two espresso shots at once, froth milk afterward, and clean it easily thanks to the removable water reservoir and drip tray.

Do not expect any fancy materials with this Mr. Coffee coffee machine, though, (this plastic machine does not look as sturdy as the previous two) or a digital display. 

It has only an on/off button (but no auto shutdown function) and 4 lights indicating what it does, but it does the job well. I also love that the coffee machine comes with a tamping tool.

Even if it is not a metal one, that would provide better consistency. Sadly, the manual does not state if this Mr. Coffee automatic espresso machine is ESE pod-compatible.

Some buyers have also complained that the steam wand that comes with the machine is a bit too short with questionable heating temperature.

4

De'Longhi Stilosa Manual Espresso Machine, Latte & Cappuccino Maker EC260BK

This De'Longhi budget espresso machine has similar features and characteristics as previous ones: a 15 bar pump, manual milk frother steam wand, and double boiler.

You can use ESE pods with Stilosa as well. Portafilter and tamper are more sturdy though.

The boiler is stainless steel. And, the coffee machine is quite compact: 13.5 x 8.07 x 11.22 inches. 

The first product on our list from the same brand measures 12.2 x 19.3 x 15 inches and it is heavier, too.

With Stilosa, you can remove the drip tray, pull bigger espresso shots into bigger cups, and either use a one-shot basket or double espresso shot basket! Great for smaller countertops. Overall good value espresso machine.

5

De'Longhi 15 bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker EC155

This espresso machine and cappuccino maker from De'Longhi Group, originating in Italy, costs around 100 USD, lets you use both ground coffee, and ESE pods, and has a manual swivel frother with a steam dial.

With 15 bar pressure, the De'Longhi EC155 coffee machine is powerful and, thanks to two separate thermostats, also efficient.

You can control both of them separately, and the cup warmer keeps your cups nice and warm.

A dishwasher safe removable water tank and drip tray make the coffee machine easy to clean as well.

I also love the cleaning light that will let you know when the time for descaling is. 

The De'Longhi EC155 semi-automatic espresso machine with a milk frother steam wand is good for both espresso and cappuccino making, even for beginners. Plus, many reviewers love the frother!

6

Amazon Basics Espresso Machine and Milk Frother

I shop on Amazon more than I would like to admit. So, why should you give their branded home espresso machine a try?

It comes with a milk frother steam wand, a 1.5-liter water tank that is easy to remove and clean, and a ceramic cup. I love that it also has safety features, such as overheat or overpressure prevention.

Talking about pressure, the espresso machine is, again, 15 bars ideal for making quality espresso. 

Pluses: it is a cheap espresso machine - around 30-40 dollars cheaper than previous products. 

Minuses: it lacks a nice design and promise of quality that comes with big coffee names, such as De'Longhi or Melitta. Amazon Basics line includes many products, from air fryers to chairs.

Sadly, it is also not capsule-compatible and there is no auto-shutoff function, so you have to stay alert during the brewing process. I would call it an entry-level espresso machine for beginners.

7

Melitta MEX1B Espresso/Cappuccino Machine (MEX-1B)

Melitta is a well-known brand, on the market since 1908. Did you know that even big chains, such as McDonald's' use their machines?

Of course, not this one, MEX-1B espresso, and cappuccino maker is for home use only. It has a plastic body but I love the black design.

Dart Vader vibes, anyone? With a 15 bar pump, nice (although fragile) glass carafe, and frothing feature "the force is strong with this one." 

However, I must emphasize that it is an older model, and finding replacement parts or a new carafe is nearly impossible.

Still, the easy-to-use adjustable knob, froth feature, and the fact that it works without breaking down for years (it is a hype-inducing item in thrift stores and auctions!) make this steam espresso coffee maker an interesting addition to our list. Buy it while you still can 🙂

8

West Bend 55100 Machine with Dual Heating System

Manufacturers of budget espresso machines seem to love the combination of black and silver color.

West Band 55100 is plastic, though, and the silver part that is stainless steel is only a dual boiler. With 15 bar pressure, separate thermostats for water and steam, and a frother it offers good value for the price.

Plus: it is an affordable espresso machine that is also pod-compatible and good for a single or double shot. Minus: It is hard to find an online manual so do not lose it.

9

GROSCHE Milano Stovetop Espresso Maker

Now, something a bit different. This espresso maker is a stovetop one and manual. Not the best way to make espresso but whatever floats your boat, as they say.

Many espresso drinkers use manual coffee makers such as this to prepare it and even prefer them.

GROSCHE is a brand I love, because of their corporate responsibility (safe water project, planting trees, helping communities) and this Milano Stovetop comes in 5 sizes: one cup of coffee, 3, 6, 9, and 12 cups. Great for double-shot lovers. 

The material is aluminum and there are 4 colors available. A small minus: not suitable for induction. Plus: Same as the last product on our list it is suitable for camping and easy to use once you get the hang of it!

10

Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker

Wacaco is famous for making portable espresso coffee makers. This black one operates at amazing 18 bars of pressure while being totally manual - no battery or electricity is needed.

You simply pump it with your hand. Ecologic, easy to use, easy to clean, and dare I say fun, too.

And it includes a cup! Wacaco holds 2.7 oz of water (80ml) and weighs 0.74 lb (336 grams).

It is not compatible with capsules but you can get an additional adapter.

A small minus: it does not come with a protective case, but it too can be purchased.

11

STARESSO Portable Espresso Machine

This is also among some of the best cheap espresso machines that enable manual control and are compact and portable.

How neat! STARESSO really knocked it out of the park with this.

Weighing at only 0.97 lbs (0.4 kg), yet this espresso machine's water reservoir can impressively carry up to 80 ml (2.7 oz), perfect for traveling as long as you have access to hot water. 

With the 15-20 bar pressure and manual operation, you can easily guide yourself through the process of producing barista-level coffee without the need for electricity. 

Though the espresso machine is mainly plastic, it is BPA-free and certain parts such as the pressure pump and the coffee chamber are made of stainless steel to ensure durability.

It's also one of the cheap espresso machines that are compatible with Nespresso pods in addition to ground coffee. What's more, cold brew and coffee drinks with frothed milk aren't impossible with this espresso maker either.

Why spend hours preparing cold brew when you can have some in a few minutes with STARESSO'ss easy-to-use cheap espresso machine?

12

Flair Espresso Maker - Classic

This Flair Espresso Maker is among the less budget espresso machines, but can still be worth your check.

It is designed for those who are willing to put in the work and want complete control over their brew.

As an all manual espresso machine with 60ml (2 oz) of water capacity, the Flair Espresso Maker allows you to unleash your barista spirit and pull delicious and fulfilling professional espresso shots. 

Like the previously mentioned espresso maker, no need for electricity or pods, you are capable of brewing espresso anywhere anytime by disassembling and packing this portable machine in the convenient custom travel case.

Moreover, this classic-looking red and black aluminum espresso maker also comes with a one-of-a-kind detachable brewing head for easy transport and clean-up!

The lever pressure is around 6 to 10, but 12 bar is achievable, according to the brand representative. 

For the best results, Flair also recommends coffee lovers use freshly ground coffee beans and a burr grinder. So keep that in mind before diving in.

13

Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

This 15-bar Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista model is on the more pricey side, the most expensive on the list, in fact.

One of the prominent features that tip the scales is, the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso Maker is made from stainless steel instead of plastic, making it a lot more durable than its aforementioned more affordable cousin.

What's more, it's also a semi-automatic 3-in-1 espresso, cappuccino, and latte maker thanks to the accompanying automatic milk frother with an adjustable control knob that removes all of the hassles and guesswork. 

Double espresso shots are also possible with this espresso and cappuccino machine using user-friendly one-touch controls.

Both the water and milk reservoirs of this Mr. Coffee coffee maker are removable for easy refill, storage, and cleaning. 

Speaking of cleaning, you can't put the water reservoir in the dishwasher and the frothing tube demands regular upkeep as well, to ensure optimal frothing ability.

These can be considered setbacks for those expecting more convenience from a less affordable espresso machine compared to the rest of the list.


My Personal Favorites

I hope you got to know each of the candidates on our list of best budget espresso machines, most of which range between 60 and 150 USD, for your home, plus 4 suitable for outdoors, too.

It's hard to say which one is the best budget espresso machine, but my personal favorites are:

If you haven't found the machine you want and can afford to invest a bit more, check my list of best espresso machines under 200 dollars and maybe you'll find the one! I recommend Mr. Coffee BVMC-ECMP1102 or Klarstein Passionata 20.

If you are willing to spend more, you can look into Breville, one of the best espresso machine brands there is.

So, what do you think? Have you found your budget espresso machine to prepare barista-level coffee at home?