Trusty Joe’s Top Picks
In a hurry? Here’s a glimpse of the two best products you can get.
If you’ve got a bit more time you can find the full reviews and buying guide below.
How to pick the best cheapest espresso machine
If you’re anything like me, coffee’s more than just an afternoon pick-me-up. It fuels your entire day.
When you’re at home, you likely brew the same old plain coffee from a pot, but when you’re out and about, you love to treat yourself to a delicious espresso or cappuccino. I know I do!
However, the cost for those fancy cafe drinks can really add up and put a serious dent in your wallet. Nevertheless, they sure are yummy and hard to resist.
In the past, there wasn’t much you could do to satisfy those caffeinated cravings at home. The home espresso maker just didn’t exist.
Fortunately, we now live in a time where you can enjoy that luscious aroma, texture and delicious taste of a hand-crafted latte or macchiato in the comfort of your own house, using your own machine.
Buying an inexpensive espresso machine is one of the best things a coffee lover like you can do. It offers the convenience of espresso drinks right from your own counter-top and saves you a fortune from having to go to your local cafe.
But how do you find an espresso maker that’s cheap, yet still good enough to take up valuable kitchen counter space?
That’s where I can help!
As your trusty companion, I’ve put more than 30 espresso makers to the test and guzzled more shots of coffee than I can count. All for the sake of putting this guide together to help you find the best cheap espresso machine for your home.
We’ll start by going over the important features you should consider and then I’ll show you my top five picks and what makes them so great.
Features to look for in a cheap espresso machine
Before we jump into the list of reviews for the best budget espresso machine, there are a few things you’ll want to take note of when buying your own.
Paying attention to these features will help you find the perfect espresso maker for your needs.
Uses coffee grounds or ESE pods
In the world of cheap espresso makers, you’ll find there are two types:
- machines that use coffee grounds
- and machines that use easy serving espresso (ESE) pods
This may not seem like a big deal at first, but in the long run, it can make a huge difference in your overall happiness with the product.
If you like the idea of grinding your own coffee beans (or using espresso powder from a can) and tamping the shot filter yourself, then you should get the best cheapest espresso machine that allows it. The process of tamping espresso is not hard, but it does require a bit of preparation and clean up.
If you’d rather not deal with the hassle of espresso grounds, then a machine that uses ESE pods would be a better fit. ESE pods are pre-measured capsules of coffee that you pop into a holder for a quick brew. No preparation is involved and cleanup is a cinch. If you’ve ever used a Keurig machine, it’s the same concept.
But what if you want the option of using both powder and pods? Is that possible?
While most cheaper espresso makers are designed to accept only one form or the other, there are a few products out there that can handle both.
3 out of 5 best inexpensive espresso machines I review below offer you this convenience.
Includes a milk frother
You can’t make a cappuccino, latte or Americano without adding milk. And that’s where a milk frother comes in.
Not all products include this handy feature, so you’ll want to decide if it matters to you or not before making a purchase.
A milk frother heats up, steams and foams milk so you can brew more than just espresso shots. And it comes in two types:
- a frothing wand, which you operate by hand and gives you total control over the steaming process
- a built-in reservoir, which works automatically to froth the milk for you
When comparing cheap espresso machine reviews, you’ll want to keep those options in mind because it determines how involved you’ll be with the milk frothing process, if at all.
Unlike loose coffee grounds that you use in a coffee pot, espresso is a finely packed powder. This compactness prevents water from just being able to drip through it to make a drink. Water has to be forced through espresso using pressure.
In barista talk, “9 bars” of pressure is the minimum spec you need to brew high-quality espresso. Any lower and it will be too weak. Any higher and that’s more crema on top.
All of the products recommended below have at least 15 bars of pressure for the best-tasting beverages.
Water capacity and removable tank
Having to refill the water tank after every brew can get really annoying, really fast. When shopping for a cheap machine, you’ll want to know how much water can fit in the reservoir.
More water is always better and a removable tank makes refilling and cleaning a breeze.
All of my top picks below have a generous amount of water capacity so you can brew cup after cup after cup!
I once bought an espresso machine that wouldn’t fit underneath the cabinets above my kitchen counters, so I had to return it.
It wasn’t the product’s fault, it was mine. When I renovated my kitchen I accidentally hung the wall cabinets an inch too low over the counters. Needless to say, the machine was too tall to slide back into the corner.
Don’t let an easy mistake like this happen to you. Take a measurement of the spot where you want to place the machine (width and height) and then compare it to the dimensions of the product you like best to ensure it will fit.
To make this simple for you I’ve supplied the exact dimensions for each of the espresso makers below.
The Top 5 Products
During my research, I uncovered a lot of good (and bad) products when putting together this list of budget espresso machine reviews.
Despite my caffeine jitters, I was able to narrow it down to the top five winners for you. There’s something for everybody here, from aspiring baristas who want cheap and delicious hand-crafted drinks to ESE pod lovers who want a quick cup without much fuss.
I hope you find the best inexpensive espresso machine for your home among this list.
This is the best cheap espresso machine and the same one I personally use at home.
Because it lets you tamp your own coffee grounds and has an automatic milk frother that does the whole frothing job for you. Plus, you can adjust the amount of foam it adds to your cup.
The water capacity of the removable tank just enough, too. You can brew about 14 small cappuccinos or 7 large ones before having to refill it. The retractable cup tray also makes room for taller mugs.
If you’re in the mood for just straight espresso, it gives you the option of using a single shot or double shot basket.
This machine is foolproof, yet offers a lot of variety and value for the home brewer. If this sounds like what you’re looking for, you should give it a try!
This is my second favorite espresso machine.
What makes it so great is that it uses ESE pods. That alone makes it fast, easy to clean up and super convenient to have in your kitchen. Plus, Nespresso pod flavors are some of the best!
The removable water tank is a wonderful touch, as well as the foldable drip tray for brewing larger cups. You can get about 24 single shots or 12 double shots of espresso out of this low-cost machine.
I only wish it had an onboard milk frother. Then I could easily top off my cup with creamy foam and would love it even more. Nespresso does make a stand alone milk frother canister, called the Aeroccino, as an add-on for about $20. Or you can buy a hand-held steaming wand for under $10.
You might want to think about picking one of those up if you do go with this espresso machine. Then you can craft all sorts of delights!
Are you looking for a pro-style espresso machine that doesn’t break the bank? Then you’ve found it!
This sleek stainless steel device may have a small footprint, but it packs a lot of power.
It offers more manual controls than any other product on this list. If you’re an aspiring home-barista, you’ll fall in love with this espresso maker!
My favorite feature, and probably yours too, is that it gives you the best of both worlds for home brewing. It accepts both ground coffee beans and ESE pods.
A frothing wand on the side lets you steam milk to your exact liking. The water reservoir can also be removed and has enough capacity to brew up to 32 single or 16 double shot drinks.
A final stand out feature is that the top of the machine acts as a warming tray for pre-heating your cups. What more could you want?
I love to find a bargain and I bet you do too.
This is the cheapest espresso machine I have ever reviewed and it doesn’t disappoint.
You can enjoy both ground espresso and ESE pods, as well as single or double shots. A milk frothing wand is also included for you to brew up specialty drinks.
The removable water tank makes refilling and cleaning easy to do, and gives you about 35 single and 17 double shots to sip on.
The only clunky thing about this machine is the small profile. Yes, the drip tray is removable to allow larger cups, but it’s hard to get them in and out because of the design.
This product is made to enjoy the small espresso cup experience, not fill American size mugs with lattes. So, keep that mind when making a purchase.
My final recommendation for the best budget espresso machine is this handy product right here.
At first glance, it doesn’t seem like it offers much more than the other machines on this list. It takes ESE pods and coffee grounds, has a removable water reservoir, brews single and double shots of espresso, and includes a milk frothing wand for crafting cappuccinos, mochas and lattes.
The biggest advantage, however, is that the removable drip tray has enough room for two cups. This means you can brew two drinks at once.
None of the other espresso makers in this price range offer that option and it’s quite convenient. That feature in and of itself makes it a top choice for me! How about you?
These are just a few articles I found that relate to inexpensive espresso machines.
- Coffee Beans vs Ground Coffee (Coffee.org)
- How Does Pressure Affect Espresso Quality? (PerfectDailyGrind.com)
- 8 Ways to Froth Milk (ThePioneerWoman.com)