Licensed Q Arabica Grader, M.A. Journalism
- December 20, 2019
Ah… The flavor and smell of a freshly pulled espresso shot. Nothing really beats that.
But there is one problem. Espresso gear tends to be expensive. Or at least it used to be.
Luckily, for us coffee lovers the budget market is looking a lot more interesting these days. In this article, I’ll give you my guide to the best espresso machine under 200 dollars.
Here’s my top recommendation. Read on for the full review.
|DeLonghi EC702 15-Bar-Pump…||2,809 Reviews|
|Breville-Nespresso USA…||4,090 Reviews|
|Cafflano Kompresso (Hand Carry…||11 Reviews|
|ROK EspressoGC||346 Reviews|
|De’Longhi BAR32 Retro 15 BAR…||1,158 Reviews|
As you probably know, 200 won’t give you access to the Ferraris and Lambos of the espresso world. Instead, you’ll be looking at entry-level machines.
When we’re talking espresso, you’d broadly speaking be looking at these three categories.
Forget the first one and the third and then focus on the second category; the semi-automatics. This is where we find the best value in this price range.
The espresso machines in this price range are simple machines that brew espresso using a portafilter and steam milk with the attached steam wand. You will either need to buy pre-ground coffee specifically for espresso or get a grind that can go pretty fine (that is what I recommend).
Before I told you about your three options. Well, actually you do have a fourth. I usually don’t like to recommend capsule machines, but in this price range, I think it’s worth considering.
A Nespresso capsule system has some distinct advantages:
That being said, the capsule system is also a lot more expensive in the long run. The small pods at first seem like a good deal, but when you analyze the situation, they are far more expensive per cup.
Also, capsules are bad for the environment, and in my opinion, they take away most of the fun in the brewing process.
Before making any decisions, it’s a good idea to think about what your primary purpose is. Do you want to make frothy cappuccinos or lattes? Do you want an espresso machine with training wheels that will allow you to perfect pulling a shot in a more hands-on way?
In this price range, most machines come with pressurized portafilter which tends to be more forgiving. If you want to practice your home barista skills, it might be worth getting a model that comes with both pressurized as well as a traditional portafilter.
Espresso machines are also famous for being fragile and finicky, so it’s worth getting one from a reliable company that offers a decent warranty.
Okay, this is pretty much the standard home espresso machine under 200. But that’s not a bad thing!
This device has most of the features that a first-time espresso machine buyer could want. It utilizes 15 bar pressure for its shots and heats up quickly.
There is a steam wand so you can make cortados, lattes and flat whites (if you happen to be Aussie).
There is a cup warmer on the top, which adds a nice touch to any machine. Also, it can use ESE pods, which I like.
This is a tried and tested model – more than thousand reviews on Amazon are a testament to that.See more reviews
I hate to go against my advice and recommend a Nespresso machine, but this also shows that there aren’t that many outstanding options in the budget spectrum.
Nespresso capsules are extremely easy and convenient to use. In recent years, after Nestlé’s patent expired, some legit coffee roasters have also started to produce capsules, suddenly making the whole thing more appealing.
If you’re not interested in doing any of the hard work associated with home baristaneering, go for this model. It’s cheap, looks stylish and comes highly recommended by a majority of its many owners.See more reviews
I love, love, love the Cafflano Kompresso. It’s even smaller than an Aeropress, but it actually makes really tasty espresso with true crema.
The good thing about this little fellow (besides the price), is that you can bring it anywhere you go. Heck, you could even bring it on a mountain hike or a plane and get delicious espresso.
The other side of the coin is that it’s not really the best option if you want to be brewing milk-based drinks like a latte at home. You’ll need a seperate steamer for that.
Also, it’s a very hands-on kind of equipment. It does take some time and effort to brew the coffee, so people who aren’t hardcore coffee geek might find the process a bit too involved.See more reviews
Lo and behold! Is it a giant nutcracker?
No, this is one of the latest sensations on the scene for manual espresso makers. The Rok Espresso Maker is 100 percent manual and non-electric. It uses intelligent design to translate leverage into the required 9 bars that lets you pull an epic espresso shot.
If you want to get in close when brewing espresso, this device should be on your radar. The Rok gives you a lot regarding hands-on experience. Also, because the construction is so simple, you get a machine that isn’t likely to break down compared to the error-prone semi-automatic machines.
On the other hand, if you want a convenient coffee experience, as well as the occasional latte or cortado, this model isn’t for you.See more reviews
You can’t talk about budget espresso machines without mentioning Delonghi. This old, Italian brand has plenty of robust models available at dirt cheap prices. For that reason the question many burgeoning espresso lovers inevitably end up starting out with Delonghi. That’s not a bad thing since most of their models offer an excellent price to quality ratio.
Another cool thing is that you can learn a bit of the barista craft by starting out with an under 100 model like this and then graduate to something more substantial.
The Bar 32 Retro has hundreds of very enthusiastic reviews on Amazon, and it lets you brew any kind of espresso-based drink imaginable.
Bonus: Also compatible with ESE podsSee more reviews