Last Updated: ​7/5/19

The Best ​​​Budget Espresso Machine

​DeLongi ECP 3420
​Top Rated Overall​​​

EP 3420

​DeLongi EC 702
​Best Bang For Your Buck​​​

Best Budget Espresso Machine 1

​ROK Espresso GC
​The Economical Option

Best Budget Espresso Machine 2

​​DeLongi ECP 3420

EP 3420
  • ​Milk Cansiter
  • ​Best Value Overall
  • ​Easy to Use

​DeLongi EC 702

Best Budget Espresso Machine 1
  • ​User Friendly
  • ​Easy to Clean
  • ​Trusted brand

​ROK Expresso GC

Best Budget Espresso Machine 2
  • ​More Control
  • ​Portable Design
  • ​Affordable

In the world of coffee connoisseurs, the terms “budget” and “espresso machine” rarely go hand in hand. The rich, complex flavours we love in espresso are hard to come by using budget machines that sacrifice a lot of important features, such as sophisticated water and temperature control systems. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for these budget machines.

Not everyone is looking for that superb espresso shot every time. Sometimes our simple desire for a decent latte overrides our need for that latte to be the best latte we’ve ever had. Furthermore, budget espresso machines open the door for new coffee lovers to start engaging in previously unrequited barista skills. At the end of the day, making espresso with a machine rather than a button and a pod can be fun and rewarding, even if you might not have the best espresso machine on the block. So for our unpretentious, budget-conscious coffee lovers out there, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite espresso machines under $200.

Why Are Espresso Machines so Darn Expensive?

If you’ve just started searching for your own household espresso machine, you might start to wonder: why are espresso machines so expensive anyway? Espresso machine shoppers will quickly notice that the punchy espresso and silky microfoam from their favourite cafe is not something that can be replicated with any household espresso machine. The reality is that espresso drinks are complex beverages whose texture and flavour profiles are deeply reliant of a variety of factors that include grind size, pressure, temperature, and even how long the coffee is in contact with the water. In order to get all these factors right, a top quality espresso machines a lot of engineering, craftsmanship, and sophisticated systems. There also needs to be a certain skill level coming from the barista in order to really make a high end espresso drink. So while that $4 cappuccino might seem pretty simple, there is actually a lot of science and expensive machinery that goes into making it just right. 

Can You Still Get a Decent Unit on a Tight Budget?

So what does that mean for the barista-to-be on a tight budget? The good news is that there are actually a lot of espresso machines available that can suit any budget. Even if you’re not willing to spend outside double digits, there are espresso machines out there for you. Of course, with great savings come great sacrifice. The main drawback about budget espresso machines is that they have to sacrifice a lot in order to meet tight budgets. Factors such as temperature and pressure regulation, high output, true microfoam and that beautiful crema you get at your local cafe simply won’t be replicated in a budget espresso machine. The upside of all this is that these machines tend to be extremely user friendly, even for the least experienced espresso maker. For example, budget espresso machines will usually use Pannarello steam wands which won’t give you that microfoam, but also don’t require much know-how in order to froth some decent cappuccino milk. So as long as you’re content with a more humble latte, budget espresso machines can be a great addition to any kitchen arsonal.

#1

​DeLonghi ECP3420
Our Top Choice

Best Budget Espresso Machine 5
 Why We Love It

Easy to use and easy to clean.

Who Should Buy This

Those who want no fuss espresso drinks.

Our top choice for a budget espresso machine is the DeLonghi ECP3420. DeLonghi has been manufacturing excellent budget espresso machines for a long time, and they tend to excel and knowing where to take shortcuts and where to make your dollar count. It goes without saying that there will be sacrifices with a machine in this price range, and for the  ECP3420 that includes no milk canister, no water filters, and no mug warmer in this model. The milk canister is a bit of a disappointing omission given that the steam wand is of no use without one, but thankfully milk frothers are cheap and easy to find.

The same goes for the tamp, another surprising omission by DeLonghi. Unlike a milk canister, which can theoretically be replaced with any container you like, you really can’t make espresso without a tamp. That being said, most budget espresso machines come with plastic tamps that we always recommend replacing with stainless steel anyway. For all these omissions, however, DeLonghi still manages to offer multiple filter baskets, a steam wand, and a removable drip tray for easy cleaning or larger cup sizes. If you want the basics without the fuss or the financial burden, the  DeLonghi ECP3420 tops our list.

Pros:

  • User friendly
  • Easy to clean
  • Trusted brand
  • Both espresso and steamed milk options

Cons:

  • No milk canister
  • No tamp
  • Does not include water filters
  • No warmer

#​2

​DeLonghi EC702
Modern Style and Flexible Controls

Best Budget Espresso Machine 6
 Why We Love It

It has a lot of cafe machine features given its price tag.

Who Should Buy This

Those who want flexibility and a more cafe-feel.

The DeLonghi EC702 is a little more flexible than the ECP3420. With this model, you can see that they wanted to more closely replicate the cafe-style espresso machine, and it’s nothing short of impressive that they were able to reasonably do that within this budget. One thing that sets this model apart is the top warmer, which is a great little feature rarely found in budget models. Not only does it look nice, but who doesn’t love a warm mug in the morning? The EC702 also comes with a stainless steel milk canister, a steam wand that includes a positioning handle, and a good sized water tank that’s easy to remove.

As with any budget machine, there are of course some sacrifices in the quality of materials. The tamp, steam wand and portafilter are all made plastic. While tamps are easy (and strongly recommended) replacements, there’s not a lot you can do about the portafilter or steam wand, so you’ll just have to take extra precautions to keep the machine in lasting condition. This model also gives you the option of ordering a set of espresso glasses with the machine. Overall this model gives you a surprising amount of flexibility for a solid, budget espresso machine.

Pros:

  • Top warmer
  • Milk canister
  • Optional espresso glasses

Cons:

  • Plastic tamp, steam wand and portafilter

#​3

​ROK EspressoGC
The Manual Option

Best Budget Espresso Machine 7
 Why We Love It

It’s compact, simple, and can produce better quality espresso than most budget machines.

Who Should Buy This

Those who want a more hands on espresso experience.

Manual espresso machines are not as sought after among the budgeting espresso drinkers, namely because they tend to peak the interest of more invested connoisseurs who are a little more willing to fork over some extra cash for high quality coffee drinks. Manual espresso machines are known for their ability to make superb espresso, but they also require a little more skill and know-how to operate properly and get that great tasting coffee. The ROK EspressoGC is an impressive machine because it opens the door for more control/user involvement on a tight budget. The main difference with manual espresso machines is that rather than relying on a pressure pump, its the user who needs to give the right amount of pressure.

That means these machines are less forgiving, but a lot more fun to use. Their simplicity also means that fewer sacrifices need to be made in order to keep costs down. With a bit of practice, the ROK will produce higher quality beverages than most budget espresso machines can offer. It even comes with a milk frother and a storage container for storing or transporting this compact unit. It does take a little practice to use, and it requires some patience, so it’s not ideal if you want to making drinks for a lot of people. It also has a plastic portafilter spout which will inevitably have a relatively short life span. But overall, the ROK is a great way to get acquainted with a more hands on barista experience and a super low cost.

Pros:

  • Manual espresso means more control
  • Compact design
  • Portable milk frother

Cons:

  • Plastic portafilter spout
  • Requires some skill to use
  • Low capacity

The best Espresso Machines Under $100

For the real penny pinchers out there, we’ve tracked down some of the most affordable espresso machines you can find. While these are great little machines, it’s worth noting that in this price range, your coffee can be a lot of work for low capacity and a pretty significant sacrifice in quality. However, if you’re set on the espresso machine experience but intent on keeping the budget to a minimum, here are some great options:

#​4

​DeLonghi EC155
Best Bang For Your Buck

EC155
 Why We Love It

It’s ultra compact and easy to clean.

Who Should Buy This

Those on a tight budget who don’t want to sacrifice milk frother.

We often consider DeLonghi the masters of the budget espresso machine, so it’s no surprise that this third model made it on to our list. The most impressive thing about the EC155 is that it is one of the most compact, fully functional espresso machines that still has a milk frother. Its small, simple design makes it really easy to store, taking up very little real estate on your countertop, and is also super easy to clean.

One downside is that for such a small machine, between the frother and the grouphead it will require frequent water refills. Budget espresso machines also take more time to heat up, so even though it’s small, it will require some patience if you plan on brewing a lot of drinks with it. This model also has a fairly shallow drip tray that will need to be cleaned out frequently, and it is heavy on the plastic materials. But the fact that DeLonghi has designed a machine of this size and price without sacrificing the milk frother is certainly an impressive feat that any super-budgeter will want to take advantage of.

Pros:

  • Ultra compact size
  • Easy to use and clean
  • Milk frother

Cons:

  • Low capacity
  • Shallow drip tray
  • Plastic materials

#​5

​Hamilton Beach 40714
Most Affordable Option We’ve Found

Hamilton Beach 40714
 Why We Love It

It sacrifices surprisingly little given its price tag.

Who Should Buy This

Those who want the most out of the tightest budget.

The Hamilton Beach 40714 is another impressive model that somehow manages to give users both espresso and milk frothing options at an outstandingly low price. As one of the least costly espresso machines on the market, we were rather impressed with its performance and features. It has an easy-to-fill water reservoir and comes with a combination scoop/tamp. While we are universally unfavoring of the plastic tamps, we did find the scoop/tamp combo a neat little tool that would be perfect were it made of something a little heavier and more durable.

The Hamilton Beach also does not come with a milk canister, so you’ll want to get one of those if you want to take advantage of the milk frother. This model is not the most stylish of the group, but it has an easy to read front end interface that makes it very user friendly. It also has some useful directions for inserting the portafilter, which is a great feature for beginners. So if saving money is your top priority, the Hamilton Beach is about as affordable as you can dream of for a proper espresso machine. 

Pros:

  • Easy fill reservoir
  • Milk frother
  • Combo scoop/tamp

Cons:

  • Plastic materials
  • No milk canister

#​6

​Bialetti 6800
An Affordable Classic

Bialetti 6 Cup
 Why We Love It

It’s the perfect alternative if you’re hesitant to sacrifice coffee quality.

Who Should Buy This

Those who are willing to sacrifice the true espresso machine style for better coffee and more simplicity.

You might be wondering why we’ve added the Bialetti to the list, seeing as it is not actually a traditional espresso machine like the rest of the list. It doesn’t brew true espresso, nor does it come with a milk frothing option. However, it does make a distinctly flavourful coffee and gives users a unique, hands on experience that a lot of people seek when they’re looking for espresso machines. These similarities are what made us put the Bialetti on the list. It’s here for those who may have come in looking for an espresso machine and found that what you wanted was actually something a little simpler.

There are two main advantages to the Bialetti. One is that it is by far the most affordable. This classic coffee machine is a simpler design with less moving parts, thus is can inevitably be less expensive. It’s also a great alternative if you want a unique coffee machine but are not really willing to sacrifice coffee quality. The Bialetti allows you to make strong coffee that is arguably on par with the quality of budget espresso by comparison to ultra high end machines. So for “not espresso but something like it,” the Bialetti is an easy, portable, fun coffee maker.

Pros:

  • Most affordable
  • Portable
  • Easy to use
  • No tamping required

Cons:

  • Not true espresso
  • No milk frother

Which Budget Espresso Machine is Right for Me?

Now that we’ve taken a look at the best budget espresso machines on the market, we’re going to help you decide which one is right for you. In the realm of budget espresso machines, you’ll already be making some inevitable sacrifices for low cost. That makes it all the more important to make sure you know exactly which sacrifices you’re willing to make and why. Exactly how tight does your budget need to be? How knowledgeable are you in the espresso making process? Here are our needs based suggestions:

For the best overall in quality and functionality: DeLonghi ECP3420

Any list of budget espresso machines will always come with some significant compromises, but if you want to minimize those compromises, the DeLonghi ECP3420 is your best bet. This is a machine that comes in at under $200 but still has all the crucial components of an espresso machine, including a grouphead, portafilter and steam wand. DeLonghi is a good brand to turn to for budget machines, because they still manage to produce decent espresso despite the affordable price tag.

For the most flexibility and cafe-style feeling: DeLonghi EC702

We love the DeLonghi EC702 because it boasts the look and feel of a more midrange espresso machine without the higher cost. It has a top warmer and all the necessary accessories like a tamp and milk canister. This machine is great for giving you the most options right off the bat and has a very cafe-eque design to it. It looks great, performs well, and is designed to meet all your basic espresso needs. 

For more involvement and better espresso: ROK EspressoGC

Unlike the other options on our list, The ROK EspressoGC is a manual espresso machine. That means you’ll be doing more of the hard work, but it also means you have a lot more control over the quality of your espresso. With a bit of practice, the ROK is capable of pulling espresso of superb quality for a budget machine that automatic or semi automatic budget machines can’t produce. So for a more authentic feel and less sacrifice in espresso quality, we recommend the ROK EspressoGC. 

For those who want the most out of their dollar: DeLonghi EC155

As the third DeLonghi on our list, the EC155 model is perfect for the serious budgeter. If you really want to make every cent count, the EC155 is a pretty impressive machine. It’s ultra compact and under $100, but still offers both espresso and a milk frother in one machine. For the ultimate bang for your buck, we suggest the DeLonghi EC155. 

For the most budget-friendly option: Hamilton Beach 40714

For the absolute cheapest budget espresso machine without simply wasting your money, you can’t beat the Hamilton Beach 40714. This model is a rare gem because it costs less than some drip coffee makers but somehow still brews traditional espresso and even steams milk. For espressos, lattes and cappuccinos at the lowest cost, go for the Hamilton Beach 40714. 

If you’re willing to sacrifice traditional espresso for better coffee at a lower price: Bialetti 6800

The Bialettie 6800 is not a traditional espresso machine, so why did it make our list? As we’ve noted, trying to get a good espresso machine on a tight budget will inevitably come with some serious sacrifices. Given all that goes in to making espresso, not everyone will be satisfied with the dip in quality you might get with a budget espresso machine. What the Bialetti offers is a strong, unique coffee flavour, lots of user control and a very affordable price tag. So if those are you priorities in a coffee maker, we suggest breaking away from tradition and giving the Bialetti 6800 a try.

What makes a “true” espresso Machine?

To answer this question, you need to know what makes true espresso vs coffee. Espresso refers to the method in which coffee is extracted from ground beans. To make espresso, you need water under a certain amount of pressure applied to a puck of ground coffee. An ideal result is a perfect balance of bitter, sour and sweet. Espresso has complex flavour components like chocolate and floral tones. Poor espresso might be overpowering in one of more of these categories, or it might be severely lacking in balance and or flavour. Everything from the size of the grind to temperature of the water will affect the flavour of espresso. Therefore, a good espresso machine needs to provide at least 9 bars of pressure and have some form of temperature/pressure control for water flow to the grouphead. “Instant” espresso as you get with a pod based machine is not a “true” espresso machine. Not only are the grinds often stale and not the right grind fineness, but there is also no tamping of the espresso and therefore inadequate pressure introduced to the coffee. 

Can I Use Regular Coffee?

Technically speaking, you can use any kind of coffee to brew espresso. The most important factors in making good espresso are 1) the fineness and uniformity of the grinds and 2) the appropriate temperature and pressure applied to the grinds. Some coffee shops or individuals might prefer certain beans for espresso due to their specific flavour (espresso beans are often stronger), but this is largely subjective. You can absolutely pull fantastic espresso from “normal” coffee beans. It just depends on what kind of flavour profile you want to produce. 

Types of Espresso Machines

There are all kinds of espresso machines on the market, each with their own method of producing espresso. Some are more involved, others easier to use, and some are not really espresso machines at all! You can read more about our selection of the best overall espresso machines here.

Manual / Pump Machines

Manual/pump espresso machines come in a variety of designs, but generally use a manual lever or pump rather than an internal pump to apply pressure. These machines are the origins of why we refer to making espresso as “pulling” a shot.They have an authentic, artisanal feel to them, and they require a lot of skill to use properly. The upside is that they give the user all the control and are therefore capable of pulling the most exceptional espresso. The downside is that for the same reason, they are inconsistent and require a bit of expertise. 

Stovetop Machines

Stovetop coffee machines, often referred to as “moka pots” are not technically espresso machines. They are often marketed as espresso machines due to the fact that use pressure to brew coffee, but the levels of pressure produced by these machines are too low to make “true” espresso. Moka pots will produce 2-3 bars of pressure, whereas real espresso requires 9 bars. You can take a look at our review of the best stovetop machines here. 

Electric Machines

Electric machines are essentially the same as stovetops and moka pots, but they can be plugged in rather than placed on the stove. Just like their more traditional counterparts, these electric machines are not technically espresso and the fact they are electric does not change the amount of pressure they are able to produce. They can serve as a simplified counterpart to stovetop espresso machines, but function in the same way. 

Superautomatic Machines

Superautomatic espresso machines are the modern answer to the complexity of pulling espresso. They are the polar opposite of manual/lever style machines. Superautomatics grind, tamp and brew espresso shots with adjustable specifications. They are typically designed for household use, and while they can brew some perfectly delicious espresso at home , they don’t quite compete with semi automatics and manuals run by skilled baristas. You can browse our favourite superautomatic espresso machines here. 

Commercial Espresso Machines

Commercial espresso machines are the real workhorses of the espresso world. These are the machines you’ll find in you favourite coffee shop. They differ from other espresso machines in that they are much more sophisticated, powerful, large, and expensive. They need to be fully plumbed in and are really the only machines capable of producing high end cafe quality espresso and microfoam. If you want to look at our top choices for the best commercial espresso machines, you can read about them here.
Best Budget Espresso Machine
Best Budget Espresso Machine 8

Last Updated: ​7/5/19 The Best ​​​Budget Espresso Machine ​DeLongi ECP 3420​​Top Rated Overall​​​ ​DeLongi EC 702​​Best Bang For Your Buck​​​ ​ROK Espresso

Editor's Rating:
0
>