Brewing On a Budget? The 5 Best Budget Espresso Machines of 2021

So, you want to enjoy high-quality espresso without visiting Starbucks. Do you also want to make a tasty latte, cappuccino, and macchiato without breaking the bank? Of course, you can do all that with the best budget espresso machine!

A few decades ago, owning an espresso machine was a preserve for the stinking rich. These machines used to cost a fortune, making it almost impossible to dream of making an espresso from home.

That has changed over the years, though, and you can own an espresso maker and start saving time and money by not visiting a coffee shop.

If you’re on a budget, here are some of the best cheap espresso machines to consider:

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Quick Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Budget Espresso Machine

1. Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso Maker

2. Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Maker

3. De’Longhi 15 Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

Summary: Best Budget Espresso Machines

Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso Maker

  • 15 bar pump

  • Auto milk frother

  • One touch control panel

  • Removable water reservoir

Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Maker

  • Very compact

  • One touch brewing

  • Auto off

  • Comes with a capsule welcome kit

De'Longhi 15 Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

  • Stainless steel

  • 2 thermostats

  • Steam dial

  • Adjustable controls

5 Best Budget Espresso Machines

Here’s a list of our top five best cheap espresso machines based on their features and popularity among users. Read through to find the right one for your needs today.

1. Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso Maker

Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker | Café Barista , Silver
$188.99
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07/26/2021 02:43 pm GMT

With the Cafe Barista, you will fill your taste buds with tasty espresso, latte, and cappuccino. This espresso maker does it all, which is why it’s known as the 3-in-1 espresso machine.

There’s a hassle-free automatic frother to froth your milk and get your latte or cappuccino ready. This feature saves the time you could have used to froth the milk manually and eliminates the inconveniences of buying a separate frother.

Both the milk and water reservoirs are easy to fill and removable as well. In other words, you can remove the milk carafe, fill it with milk and refrigerate it then place it directly into the espresso maker.

Likewise, the removable water tank means no filling the tank amidst the brewing process. It also prevents the build-up of bacteria in the water that stands in the reservoir.

Using this machine is child’s play; simply select a double or single shot filter, pick your grounds, and fill the water (and milk) reservoir. Next, choose brew and you are done.

There’s a one-touch control panel that lets you select from a double or single shot of the espresso, latte, or cappuccino.

What We Like

  • Easy to use
  • Comes with a recipe book
  • It has an automatic milk frother
  • Removable milk and water reservoirs
  • Makes espresso, latte, and cappuccino
  • Cleanup is a snap
  • Heats up fast

What We Don’t Like

  • Using hard water can reduce the machine’s lifespan. Instead, stick to filtered (not distilled) water and descale after a couple of months.

Verdict

If you’re looking for the best budget espresso machine that can do pretty much everything efficiently and is easy to use, give Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista a shot.

2. Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Maker

Nespresso Essenza Mini Original Espresso Machine by De'Longhi, Red
$120.20
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07/26/2021 02:46 pm GMT

Not only will this espresso maker be a beautiful piece on your counter, but it’s also compact and portable to move it with ease. 

It can fit anywhere in the kitchen, saving you valuable counter space.

Imagine buying the best inexpensive espresso machine that also saves energy. It’s a win-win, right? In one-touch, the water in this coffee machine hits the serving temperature right below 30 seconds. In addition, the energy-saving mode automatically turns off the machine after it runs for 9 minutes.

You may be new to the world of coffee brewing, but with this mini espresso maker, you’ll start making barista-style drinks each time. 

Not to mention, the one-touch operation and optimal extraction system can deliver a pressure of up to 19 bars. In a nutshell, the resulting drink is genuine espresso with crema to leave a delicious after-taste on your taste buds.

The machine comes with a complimentary welcome gift consisting of Nespresso capsules with a distinct aromatic profile.

The Essenza Mini Machine comes with two programmable cup sizes (Lungo and Espresso), making it a fantastic coffee maker for all your single-serve requirements.

What We Like

  • Compact design
  • Fast heat up
  • One-touch operation
  • Energy saving
  • Optimal pressure helps to make heavenly tasting espresso

What We Don’t Like

  • Since the machine is lightweight, it jolts a little bit when lifting the lever, spilling some water from the reservoir

Verdict

If you have a busy counter space but still want to enjoy tasty espresso, consider investing in the Essenza Mini Machine.

3. De’Longhi 15 Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

De'Longhi EC155 15 Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker, Black
$102.91
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07/26/2021 02:50 pm GMT

Are you that espresso lover who doesn’t want to spend ages preparing your favorite drink? The 15 Bar Pump is the solution. It makes espresso brewing fast and simple.

If you like espresso, chances are you also have a penchant for espresso’s cousins – latte and cappuccino. Good news for you, as this machine can make all three.

Who said affordable doesn’t mean longevity? The De’Longhi 15 Bar Pump is not only inexpensive, but it’s here to prepare you delicious coffee for years to come.

And what’s the reason behind its durability?

The machine parts, such as the boiler, are made of stainless steel, which can withstand daily use and high temperatures.

And you know the role of pressure in determining the flavor of your coffee, right? We’re talking of up to 15 bars of pressure. You’re going to feel the difference with every sip.

This best affordable espresso maker caters to the different needs of users. Do you like the one-shot espresso? It comes with a holder for that.

Do you enjoy two-shot espresso? The 15 Bar Pump delivers that too. Are you into easy serve espresso pods? No problem.

Additionally, there’s no waiting between cups. The Advanced Cappuccino System helps to maintain the best brewing temperature, giving you a reason to brew cup after cup, fast.

 What We Like

  • Easy to operate
  • Easy to clean
  • Sleek design
  • Self-priming operation
  • Three-in-one filter holder

 What We Don’t Like

  •  The machine vibrates when brewing, which requires you to hold the cups so the espresso can pour in.

 Verdict

The 15 Bar Pump brews delicious espresso and does it quickly. It’s sleek and durable too. Who wouldn’t want to own such a machine without spending a fortune?

 4. Mr. Coffee Automatic Dual Shot Espresso and Cappuccino System

Mr. Coffee Automatic Dual Shot Espresso/Cappuccino System
$91.62
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07/27/2021 11:04 am GMT

Who else enjoys a dark, rich espresso brew? Who wouldn’t?

But such a brew doesn’t happen by accident. You’ve got to use the right espresso maker for it, and that’s where Mr. Coffee Automatic Dual Shot comes in.

The brewing process uses powerful pressure from the 15-bar pump system.

Well prepared cappuccinos and lattes can make your day (or morning). But nothing makes a latte or cappuccino cup more enchanting than that creamy froth at the top.

No, you don’t have to purchase a separate frother to make this happen. The frothing arm on the Automatic Dual Shot does all that for you.

Oh, and it gets better:

The cappuccino and espresso maker has double and single-cup portafilters that deliver tasty coffee each time. And there’s a tamping
tool to even the layer of your coffee grounds within the portafilter.

Making coffee with this machine can’t get any easier. The removable water reservoir makes refilling and cleaning a breeze.

And you don’t have to keep monitoring the brew until it completes. Use that time to check your IG feed instead. Meanwhile, the indicator light shows when the process completes.

What We Like

  • 15-bar pressure pump for a rich, creamy coffee
  • The frothing arm steams milk quickly, creating a foamy layer
  • Fast brewing time
  • Removable water reservoir
  • Using and cleaning the machine is a walk in the park

What We Don’t Like

  • It lacks precise temperature controls

Verdict
We highly recommend the Automatic Dual Shot for anyone looking for a reliable and straightforward machine that makes great-tasting coffee.

5. Capresso 303.01 Espresso and Cappuccino Machine 4 Cup

Capresso 303.01 4 Cup Espresso and Cappuccino Machine
$59.99
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07/26/2021 02:48 pm GMT

Housed with both stainless steel and plastic, Capresso 303.01 is the best cheap espresso machine for your needs if you want to spend less than $60.

First, if safety is your concern when working around the kitchen, you should keep this unit handy. 

It comes with a built-in safety valve in its boiler cap to prevent hot steam from escaping. So, your skin or eyes are safe when using this machine.

The glass carafe can brew up to four cups of espresso at once. This saves time when you want to brew several cups at once.

The included carafe also makes it easy to fill. Simply use this carafe to pour the required water volume into the coffee maker’s boiler.

The Capresso 303.01 works quickly too. The powerful boiler reduces warm-up time to below two minutes. The result is 2 – 4 lattes or cappuccinos in less than 5 minutes.

Most importantly, the steam/coffee selector allows you to control both steaming and brewing. As a result, you can adjust the espresso strength to suit your taste.

What We Like

  • Heats up fast
  • Safe to use
  • Large capacity carafe
  • Easy to control coffee strength
  • Frothing capability
  • Extremely budget friendly

What We Don’t Like

  • The frother can be hit or miss, works great sometimes but, not always

Verdict

Capresso 303.01 is perfect for those who want a super budget-friendly espresso machine that brews quickly.

Best Budget Espresso Machine what to consider when shopping

What to Look for When Shopping for a Budget Espresso Machine

While saving money is crucial when purchasing an espresso machine, that’s not the only factor to consider. 

You also need to ensure that your espresso machine meets the quality standards so it can brew you a mighty cup of java.

Here are some of the things to keep in mind when shopping for the best budget espresso maker.

Bars of Pressure

In a nutshell, a bar is a measure of pressure. In other words, one bar of pressure equals the atmospheric pressure (or the weight of air) at sea level. 

For instance, a 7 bar espresso machine can generate pressure equivalent to 7 times the atmospheric pressure at sea level.

In an espresso maker, the bar refers to the force or pressure that pushes water through the coffee grounds.

As water moves through the grounds, it extracts oils, flavors, and various soluble components from the grounds. 

Consequently, the espresso and all these ingredients come out through a spout to a cup below.

What’s the Ideal Pressure for an Espresso Machine?

The best espresso makers have 9 bars of pressure. However, some people claim that coffee makers with 7 to 8 bars are even much better.

Why?

Well, the thing is, anywhere between 7 and 9 bars is excellent for optimal espresso extraction. The extraction leads to a rich, balanced, creamy, and tasty drink.

Therefore, if you want your espresso to have a quality crema at the top or an aromatic, golden, and flavourful cream that tops a cup of freshly brewed espresso, then you should consider pressure bars when buying your coffee maker. Ideally only espresso machines able to yield between 7 and 9 bars.

Below 7 Bars of Pressure

The espresso might come out under extracted and weak. A pressure of fewer than 7 bars won’t let air and water pass through the grounds with a powerful force to extract flavors and oils effectively.

7 to 15 Bars of Pressure (Recommended by Baristas)

If you’re looking for a rich and creamy espresso, then ensure your machine has between 7 and 15 bars of pressure.

Typically, if you prefer great, rich tasting espresso, you shouldn’t go for anything less. 

The best espresso makers have 15 bars of pressure, which gives the machine an adequate range for the initial kick of 10 to 11 bars. As the brewing progresses, the range may drop to 9 to 10 bars.

Above 15 Bars of Pressure

This pressure range may result in over extracted and burnt espresso. 

While this won’t happen all the time, it may be a potential waste of money. The reason is espresso makers rarely use over 11 BARs of pressure.

Quality of Design

A budget espresso may have a variety of features, but it’s important to consider how useful those features are. 

Here are some of the features you need to keep an eye on.

Size

Do you have a small kitchen? Consider a compact espresso machine that will take a small surface area on the countertop.

On the other hand, if your kitchen is spacious, don’t mind the size of the machine. 

Just ensure it’s not too heavy to move around during kitchen cleaning or arrangement.

Portafilter

This is where your coffee goes before brewing. 

Given that the tamp and grind of the coffee are essential, the portafilter’s design greatly determines the espresso quality that semi-automatic machines produce.

Portafilters are of two types:

Pressurized Portafilters

They range between 49 mm and 54 mm in diameter and have an aluminum construction. 

These Portafilters don’t allow water to flow out of them until the right pressure amount has developed. In other words, you can make espresso without worrying about the tamp pressure and grind fineness. The only downside? They destroy crema quality.

Commercial Portafilters

They have a wider diameter – 58 mm that offers a wider surface area for extracting the espresso. 

They rely on grind finesses and tamp pressure to give the resistance to water flow. However, if you use them skilfully, they deliver an espresso whose quality matches that from top notch coffee shops.

Portafilters should consist of forged brass to make them durable and retain more heat.

Group Head

This component is the one where the portafilter is attached. 

High-quality group heads are usually designed from brass to enhance heat distribution and reduce hotspots for consistent temperature. These features are essential for brewing top grade espresso.

Water Reservoir

Opt for an espresso machine with a removable water tank. Not only does this feature save your prep time (you don’t have to keep refilling the tank), but it also allows you to remove all the water from the tank to prevent bacteria build-up.

Therefore, always ensure the reservoir is large enough for your needs and easy to remove.

Shot Capability

A perfect espresso shot is usually considered as one fluid ounce. It’s important to note that a fluid ounce is typically 30 mL, which is different from an ounce by weight that is 28g.

The fluid ounce refers to the volume of the water that goes through the espresso. The coffee weight needed for a single shot is usually 7g and 14g for a double shot.

It’s possible to adjust this up to 9g for a single shot and 18g for a double shot, depending on your espresso machine and coffee strength.

On average, a double shot takes 28 to 30 seconds to brew and most machines have a calibration that lets you apply a specific pressure amount (measured in bars) to a particular water volume that’s resisted by coffee grounds in the portafilter.

Generally, very fine grounds will offer a higher resistance to water flow. On the other hand, coarse grounds allow water to pass through quickly leading to an under-extracted brew.

In sum, ensure the machine you choose can pull a single or double shot without any problems.

Frothing Capability

Many brands create espresso machines that can brew other espresso-based beverages, such as macchiatos, lattes, and cappuccinos. 

If you prefer these drinks, ensure you buy an espresso maker that has a built-in frother for frothing milk.

Be sure that some cheaper machines may lack the frother, making them suitable for brewing espresso only. That’s OK if you aren’t interested in other drinks.

But, if you find a machine that comes with a frother, you’ll save money, as you won’t need to purchase a separate milk frother.

Ease of Use

When buying the best budget espresso machine, you probably won’t find one with sophisticated features. It might not have multiple dials, buttons, and knobs to perform several functionalities. That said, go for a coffee maker that is easy to operate.

Ease of Cleaning

Sure, well-prepared espresso is delicious, but what most new coffee lovers don’t know is that brewing espresso can be messy. 

The accumulation of residue and grounds can impair performance and add a bad taste to your beverage.

Part of brewing quality coffee is to keep the espresso machine clean. Therefore, do your due diligence to find the best inexpensive espresso machine that won’t take the entire day to clean.

The cups, frothing equipment, water receptacle, and other parts exposed to moisture should undergo proper cleaning and be dried after usage.

In addition, be sure to use the right soap for cleaning the machine parts. If not rinsed properly, the harsh soap can add an awful taste to the drink.

Don’t Forget to Factor in the Grinder

Have you ever asked yourself why espressos don’t all taste the same? 

Well, other than developing a skill set for brewing good espresso and using the right ingredients – good water, and fresh, roasted coffee. Another key component comes into the picture: the grinder.

While some espresso machines come with a built-in grinder, others, especially low-budget machines, require that you purchase a separate grinder.

A grinder is crucial because it enables you to grind espresso beans and make espresso from freshly ground beans. This freshness plays a significant role in the ultimate flavor of your drink.

Besides, a grinder allows you to choose the correct grind settings for the espresso, which also determines the drink’s quality.

Therefore, when purchasing a budget espresso machine, be sure to factor a separate grinder in your budget.

Resource: The 10 Best Manual Coffee Grinders

Considerations to Make When Purchasing a Grinder

When buying a grinder for your espresso machine, keep the following things in mind:

Blade or Burr

These are the two major types of espresso machine grinders. Blade grinders are easy and cheap to operate. To use them, just press a power button.

The only thing you can control is time. The longer it takes to grind the beans, the finer the grounds produced. 

The only downsides of blade grinders are that first, it’s noisy due to the motor-rotating blades. Secondly, the blades’ rotating speed generates heat that could possibly impact the flavor of your coffee.

Unlike blade grinders, burr grinders produce finer grounds of coffee. While burr grinders are costly, they are more consistent and produce uniform grinds.

Grind Size Adjustment

This feature is all about the number of controls on the grinder to give you the type of grinds that can make a quality espresso shot. This setting can be stepped or stepless.

Most budget grinders are stepped, which means they come with distinctive settings that you may click to switch from coarse grinding to fine, espresso friendly grinding. 

However, a stepped grinder has limited control options. You may only use it to control aspects, such as the grinding time.

Nevertheless, most stepped grinders have several adjustments that can provide the desired quality for a superior quality espresso shot. Beginners should opt for stepped grinders.

Stepless grinders, on the other hand, lack set points for determining grind fineness. However, they give you an infinite number of possibilities to control the espresso quality.

A stepless grinder would be great for an espresso machine. But, replicating the settings over and over can be tricky.

Doser vs. Doserless

The role of a doser compartment in a grinder is to capture the correct quantity of ground coffee to go to the portafilter. 

In other words, a doser ensures that the amount of ground beans is sufficient for a variety of espresso shots.

If you’d like to use the espresso machine in a commercial setting, then consider a grinder with a doser. 

However, if you’re a homebrewer, a doser isn’t that necessary unless you’re brewing, say 7 shots in a row.

A doserless grinder also saves you from unused powder waste and cleaning time.

Consistency and Precision

A perfect espresso shot results from very fine coffee grinds (about 14g) into which hot water passes through in a shorter duration. 

Therefore, it’s best for a grinder to deliver a high degree of consistency in the coffee grounds to ensure consistent extraction.

If the extraction takes place poorly or at very high temperatures, the results will be a bitter espresso shot. In addition, the espresso won’t have the sweet aroma typically found in fresh coffee. 

That said, get a grinder with high precision settings.

Cost

The grinder’s time depends on the motor size, the grinder size, and whether it’s a burr type or blade grinder. As a rule of thumb, the grinder’s price should be between 30 and 50 percent of the cost of the machine.

If the grinder’s cost is equal to the espresso machine cost, then the grinder’s performance is likely to exceed the espresso machine’s capability. 

Similarly, a pricey espresso maker paired with a less expensive grinder won’t let you optimize the espresso maker’s performance.

Should You Consider ESE Pods?

ESE is the short form for Easy Serve Espresso. It’s the alternative of grinding espresso beans or using conventional coffee pods, such as Nespresso or Tassimo.

ESE Pods do not look like K-Cups and because of that the word pod can be confusing. They resemble tea bags that contain coffee rather than tea. 

So, is it worth purchasing coffee pods for your espresso machine or should you just use the other methods to make espresso, lattes, or cappuccino?

Well, as their name suggests, ESE pods are a super-easy way to brew espresso, but they need an espresso maker to work well.

As earlier mentioned, buying the best budget espresso machine often means they don’t come with a coffee grinder. In a nutshell, you will have to purchase your own grinder to grind the beans on your own and ESE pods solve that problem.

Grinding Whole Beans vs. Using ESE Pods

Grinding whole espresso beans have the benefit of freshness in the resulting drink. But, there are only two shortcomings: the grinding process takes time and there’s a mess that requires cleaning afterward.

Therefore, if you want a convenient way to make your espresso without worrying about the mess, you may want to use ESE pods. 

All you need to do is pop the pod or bag into the portafilter and place it into the machine normally.

Important Considerations Before Using ESE Pods

Before you start using ESE pods, you should consider a couple of things. To begin with. ESE pods have 7g of coffee that is suitable for a single espresso.

But, most people prefer a double espresso, as that gives you a reasonably strong drink. This means you’ll be using two ESE pods which brings us to the cost consideration. 

Convenience always comes with a cost. There’s no fuss or muss with ESE Pods but, they do cost slightly more than purchasing espresso beans and pre-ground espresso

Another convenience of ESE Pods is, brewing time is not a major issue. You just need one or two pods for every coffee you brew.

Toss them in your espresso machine and the process will take approximately one minute.

Does Espresso from ESE Coffee Pods Taste Better Than Freshly Ground Coffee?

The taste of coffee from ESE pods can’t be better than freshly ground beans. So, whether you grind your own beans or use fresh pre-ground coffee, the flavor will be excellent. 

Let’s be real, nothing tops the taste from freshly ground beans

However, if you choose to use ESE coffee pods, then go for those pods that have been wrapped in foil to lock in the freshness. Otherwise, you risk making stale espresso and we can guarantee you won’t like the taste one bit.

Final Word

Making excellent espresso doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You can find an inexpensive espresso machine and enjoy a delicious shot at home.

When shopping for one, just be sure to consider factors, such as frothing capability, bars of pressure, footprint, construction materials, ease of cleaning and use.

We hope our list helps guide you down the path to finding the best budget espresso machine for your needs. Cheers to affordable espresso from the comfort of home!