Licensed Q Arabica Grader, M.A. Journalism
- January 17, 2020
So you want to drink epic espresso shots without paying a fortune? Make fancy, frothy cappuccinos from the comfort of your home?
If you had asked me twenty years ago I would have said ‘fuhgeddaboutit’, but luckily we live in exciting coffee times.
Yes, today you can get an inexpensive espresso machine that is capable of making a decent shot; however, you will have to live with a few sacrifices.
Here’s my top recommendation when it comes to budget espresso machines under $100. Read on for the full scoop.
My top pick:
|De’Longhi BAR32 Retro 15 BAR…||1,161 Reviews|
|Cafflano Kompresso (Hand Carry…||11 Reviews|
|Mr. Coffee Automatic Dual Shot…||2,062 Reviews|
|Nespresso Essenza Mini…||1,307 Reviews|
|Capresso 303.01 4-Cup Espresso…||914 Reviews|
Let me be straight with you: espresso is not a cheap hobby. If you want to do it right, you’d have to spend a lot more than 100 dollars.
If you’re in a period of your life, however, where the wallet only allows for a less than an ideal machine, then I’m not going to judge you. To be honest, I have been there myself not that long time ago.
The good thing is that these insanely cheap espresso machines typically come with a pressurized portafilter which tends to be a lot more forgiving than a real grand cru portafilter. In that sense, you could get away with using an entry-level grinder. It’s not an optimal solution, though.
To be honest, most regular grinders just won’t make the cut when it comes to espresso.
For that reason, I’d recommend going for an espresso machine that can accommodate the so-called ESE pods. Yes, these aren’t exactly going to impress your most judgemental hipster friends, but they will make your life easier when you realize that your grinder doesn’t perform that well in the ultrafine spectrum of things.
Also, they tend to be quite a bit cheaper than Nespresso capsules and have more of a ‘genuine’ espresso feeling, since you insert the puck in the portafilter.
This model from Italian Delonghi was one of the first espresso machines I owned. In a nutshell, this is a bang for the buck kind of device.
The design is cute and appealing, and it does deliver at least the required 9 bar pressure to produce a genuine espresso.
This machine works very well with ESE pods and is capable of creating crema packed shots.
It heats up in a matter of minutes, and it’s quite easy to clean with its removable drip tray. The steam wand also works okay, and you’ll be able to produce decent lattes and cortados.See more reviews
When most people think about espresso, they also think about big and bulky machines taking up half of the kitchen counter. If that sounds like less than ideal, you’ll like the small Cafflano Kompresso.
It makes excellent espresso! It’s portable! And it’s cheap! The primary drawback is likewise very apparent. First of all, it’s manual so you’ll have to do everything by yourself. It also doesn’t do anything related to milk.
However, if you just want the occasional fun, espresso shot without breaking the bank, this is a great option. Check out my in-depth review if you want to know more.See more reviews
What is a roundup review of the cheapest espresso machines without a mention of the good, old Mr. Coffee?
Of course, this classic budget brand also has an option for the people who prefer their coffee extracted under pressure as opposed to just plain gravity.
This model claims to use 15 bar, which is more than enough for a real espresso shot.
It also has a frothing arm so you can milk-based drinks like cappuccinos or lattes. This machine has more than thousand user reviews on Amazon, and the majority is very positive.See more reviews
I will never consider Nespresso to be real espresso. The whole experience is just a bit too easy and hands-off. But maybe that’s just me.
Anyway, this kind of coffee has its upsides, too. It’s a very consistent way to get pretty good (though not epic) espresso shots, and it doesn’t require much regarding cleaning and preparation. Now that serious coffee companies like Colonna have started to produce capsules it’s also become a more fun option.
Delonghi produces this machine in collaboration with Nestlé. It’s a wonderful, little machine and the cost is ideal. One thing to keep in mind with Nespresso, though, is that while the devices are cheap, in the long run, that extra cost is added to the capsules.See more reviews
You want it cheap? Look no further. This model is so cheap it’s almost suspicious. Is Capresso part of a money laundering scheme or what is going on?
Anyway, this espresso machine does the basics and in fact, has many of the same functions as the Delonghi Bar 32. However, many customers complain that the espresso isn’t quite hot enough. All things considered, at an item this cost you can’t expect a ton. It’s also not suitable for ESE pods. For these reasons, I recommend going for something like the Delonghi instead.See more reviews