More than perhaps anything else we examine here, espresso machines need to be looked at from many different angles. True, the best espresso machine is probably sitting in a specialty coffee shop with a Scandi-inspired interior and costs as much as a reasonable used car. But to get the most out of such a machine requires a lot of experience in pulling shots and steaming milk.
The best home espresso machine for you, dear reader, simply can’t make the best espresso in the abstract sense. It has to adapt to your needs. Think about these questions: How much time do you have to prepare lattes, cappuccinos, macchiato and Americans every day? How much effort are you willing to make and how much do you want to learn about how to prepare an espresso? How much space do you realistically have to devote to this thing (trust us, once it’s set, it doesn’t move)? What’s your budget? Rest assured, whatever your answers are, there is an espresso machine out there to make you happy.
The $500 budget range is what I like to consider the sweet spot of the true home barista espresso maker. This is the budget guideline I used when buying my own machine, but ended up spending quite a bit more. I’ll share why below.
Do you know the law of diminishing returns? These high school Econ concepts actually apply to buying espresso machines (thanks Mr. Posner!). After the $500 price tag, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a machine that does a better job of making espresso; what you’ll actually find are machines that have features you don’t really need and have less bearing on the quality of the drink.
The best espresso machine under 500, the Breville infuser is easy to use after a few spins to get the feel of it, can brew any espresso drink you can dream of and makes brewing a satisfying experience and pleasant. It makes a very good tasting espresso that will rival any local cafe. It’s also shiny, stainless, and looks great on a counter, if you’re into that.
1. Breville BES840XL The Infuser Espresso Machine under 500
Breville’s Infuser espresso machine is one of my favorite offerings in this category, and I say that because it’s loaded with features that any serious espresso lover will appreciate and enjoy every day at a really reasonable price.
Weighing 17 pounds and measuring 10.2 x 12.5 x 13.2 inches, the machine is similar in weight and size to most other machines and will fit comfortably on a kitchen countertop, island or coffee bar.
This brewing unit is equipped with several state-of-the-art features for making delicious espresso: a pre-brew function that applies low water pressure at the start of extraction to gently expand the ground coffee beans, ensuring an even and complete extraction, a 1600W heating coil. a system with an integrated stainless steel water coil that regulates the water temperature with great precision, maintaining an ideal range of 195-200 degrees.
2. Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine under 500
The Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine is an affordable espresso machine, but it offers a large list of features for the intermediate brewer.
The Classic weighs 210 pounds and measures 9.5 x 8 x 14.2 inches and is the second largest option on this list. Although it is heavier, it is narrow and looks stylishly minimalistic.
This is a fast and frisky car. It offers a 17 1/2 bar pressure pump (more than you’ll ever need) with a high voltage boiler and a 3-way solenoid valve that depressurizes the group head as soon as the espresso is finished. This allows you to remove the portafilter and cook your next shot in no time; ideal if you cook not only for yourself.
Both the head of the group and the portafilter are made of durable chrome-plated marine brass, ensuring that the temperature created during the brewing process remains stable. I think it’s a pretty cool design feature and attention to detail that I really appreciate.
Best espresso machine under 200
Rich, creamy and quick to drink, an espresso or two can be a great way to start your day. But paying coffee prices or buying a high-end machine may be too much for your budget. Don’t worry, you don’t have to pay thousands of dollars to draw a good espresso.
To save you time in your purchases and your research, we have tested the best models on the market. Keep reading for our ranking of the eight best espresso machines under $200, with detailed reviews comparing price, durability, design, features, and warranty. With the help of our espresso machine buying guide, you’ll be shopping for a model that’s right for your wallet in no time.
3. Mr Coffee ‘Cafe Barista’ Espresso Machine under 200
Our favorite espresso machine was the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista espresso and cappuccino maker. This semi-automatic model with automatic milk frother can prepare espresso, latte macchiato and cappuccino with its 15 bar pressure pump.
This machine is easy to use, with a simple three-button interface and automatic and manual options. It’s one of the more expensive models we’ve tested, but the package includes a portafilter, plastic tamper, and single- and double-shot filters.
The Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista is on the bulky side at 10.37 pounds, but has a generous 54-ounce water reservoir, a convenient shut-off feature, and a removable milk container. This machine has a rather attractive silver and black body, and while it has less durable plastic components, Mr. Coffee offers a one-year warranty.
4. De’Longhi EC155 Espresso Machine under 200
If you’re working on a tighter budget, the De’Longhi EC155 15 BAR espresso and cappuccino pump maker offers excellent value for money. This affordable manual model, weighing just 6.68 pounds, is great for a hands-on brewer. With 15 bar of pressure, a pivoting manual milk frother and a removable 35 ounce water tank and drip tray, the EC155 has an impressive array of features for its low price.
One of our favorite features is the durable stainless steel boiler. Compatible with ESE pods or coffee grounds, the three-in-one portafilter can brew single or double shots. We found the built-in plastic tamper to be a little tricky to use, so you might want to consider supplementing it with a more powerful metal tamper.
5. Nespresso Vertuo Coffee & Espresso Machine under 200
If you’re a fan of disposable Nespresso pods, a Nespresso Vertuo coffee machine and espresso machine might be right for you. This attractive, streamlined model has an intuitive interface and can brew five cup sizes: 1.35 oz, 2.7 oz, 5 oz, 7.7 oz and 14 oz. With a 40-ounce removable water tank, an impressive 15-second heat-up time, and a convenient auto-off feature, this 10.85-pound, high-end machine has quite a few features.
Vertuo uses Nespresso’s patented Centrifusion technology, which spins the capsules over 7,000 times per minute for better coffee extraction. The machine reads the barcodes on the pods to automatically adjust settings so you don’t have to fiddle with settings to make great espresso. This means that it is only compatible with the Nespresso Vertuo line of coffee pods, which can be more expensive. The package includes a welcome pack of capsules and you can order additional capsules on the Nespresso website.
It used to be that making cafe-quality espresso drinks on a home machine took a lot of practice, but the best new models have made the job much easier. Even better, you can pick up a machine capable of making great drinks for well under 500 $. After over 120 hours of research and testing, we believe the Breville Bambino Plus is the best option for beginners and mid-skilled hobbyists. It’s powerful and easy to use, and it’s capable of producing rich, consistent shots and steaming perfectly textured milk. The Bambino Plus also has a sleek and compact design, so it fits perfectly into most kitchens.