Updated on December 10, 2020 by Lyric Fergusson
Espresso is a classic coffee form. This perfectly concentrated shot gives you an instant boost of energy. And, it is the base of many delicious milky coffee beverages. I myself cannot go a week without ordering at least one cappuccino. But, ordering a cappuccino or latte every week (or day!) is not necessarily the most financially-wise thing to do.
Luckily, home espresso makers are a thing. They come in both semi-automatic and automatic styles. While many espresso machines come with a lofty price tag, there are quite a few out there that are very affordable. These machines provide high-quality espresso shots, fantastic alone, or with steamy milk. Yes – most espresso makers come with a steam wand.
Here are our reviews of the top 7 espresso machines that won’t break the bank!
Best espresso machines under $100
Why it’s great: When it comes to espresso, Italians know what’s best. De’Longhi has a long and reliable history of making espresso machines. The best part is that they do not just produce commercial machines – De’Longhi makes home espresso machines too!
This De’Longhi espresso machine boasts 15 bars of pressure, just like top-tier commercial espresso machines. It maintains stable temperatures with its durable stainless steel boiler. This results in a smooth and silky shot, just like your favorite coffee shop’s espresso. Plus, the machine has two filters for double espresso shots. This is fantastic for when you have guests or are just dealing with a truly exhausting day!
Keep in mind: This semi-automatic espresso machine does come with an attached manual milk frother.
Good for: Those who love a classic Italian espresso shot.
Why it’s great: Owning an espresso maker does not mean you have to give up tons of counter space. This machine proves it! Its narrow design lets you place it anywhere, as long as you have an outlet nearby. And, quality is not sacrificed for size with this espresso machine. In fact, this machine brews espresso in around 22 seconds, an optimal extraction time. It can also make espresso shots for more than one person. This little machine pulls up to 4 espresso shots. The coffee conveniently pours directly into a carafe, where it will stay warm. This gives you time to froth milk with the machine’s steam wand.
Keep in mind: This espresso machine only has 3.5 bars of pressure. If you are looking for silky crema with your espresso, you should consider machines with a higher pressure.
Good for: Those with limited counter space.
(Best professional quality)
Why it’s great: This espresso machine makes you feel like a true barista. With 20 bars of pressure, it pulls a neat and concentrated double espresso shot with smooth crema. This quality goes for its milk frother too, which has its own separate temperature gauge. This way, you have control over all the details of your espresso drink.
Apart from quality, this espresso machine is pretty easy to maintain. In particular, it has a removable water reservoir. Water quality is very important in espresso. Therefore, having convenience when thoroughly cleaning your water tank is definitely a plus.
Keep in mind: Despite the intensity of this espresso machine, it has a space-saving design. It is tall and slim, making it easy to place between appliances on your countertop.
Good for: Those who are serious espresso drinkers.
(Best for families)
Why it’s great: This espresso machine has a straightforward design that’s great for a bustling household. It has reliable 15 bar pressure that cranks out traditional espresso shots at the touch of a button. With a 40-ounce water tank, you can continuously make espresso for multiple people without having to refill.
For those still new to espresso, this machine is great. It has 3 convenient buttons to adjust your espresso shots. And, it has a separate steam wand to create creamy espresso drinks.
Keep in mind: This is a wider-bodied espresso machine that takes up more countertop space.
Good for: Large families or roommates who drink lots of espresso.
Why it’s great: For those looking for a no-hassle espresso maker, this is your machine. It is completely automatic. No need to grind coffee beans or fill a portafilter – simply place a Nescafe Dolce Gusto capsule inside and press a button. It’s that simple.
What we love about this machine is its high-pressure system. It operates at an awesome 15 bars, providing silky espresso shots with ease. And, don’t worry about whether you need a milk frother – there are Nescafe pods that make all sorts of drinks. That includes both hot and cold beverages, making this machine fantastic all year long.
Keep in mind: This machine requires specific Nescafe Dolce Gusto capsules. These are sold separately. The machine will not work with other brands or with your own coffee.
Good for: On-the-go espresso coffee drinkers
Why it’s great: Espresso lovers rejoice – this machine is ready to provide endless shots of espresso with ease. With just a turn of a knob, you can pull thick espresso shots with this machine’s dependable 15 bars of pressure. It also has a double portafilter and ample 42-ounce water tank, fantastic for homes or offices with those who drink a great deal of espresso. This water tank is removable, helping you to keep your water always clean.
Keep in mind: At right under $100, this espresso machine is a steal. It has more than the standard espresso features you require. Did we mention it even has a warming tray for cups too?
Good for: Individuals who want an easy to use espresso machine that lasts.
(Best portable espresso machine)
Why it’s great: Forgot to make espresso at home? No need to run to your nearest coffee shop with this gadget. This handheld espresso maker provides you with iconic espresso shots anywhere you go. We are not joking – this little machine bears up to 18 bars of pressure. That’s more than most at-home espresso machines!
This portable espresso maker can easily slip into your bag. It requires no batteries or electricity – just your favorite coffee and boiling water. We love bringing this accessory on our travels, especially when camping is involved. It also makes a great work desk companion. Who doesn’t want espresso always in reach?
Keep in mind: This little espresso maker needs hot water to operate, as it does not use any electricity.
Good for: Travelers or anyone who wants espresso wherever they go
FAQs about espresso machines
1. What is espresso?
An espresso is a form of coffee that results from a uniquely high-pressure system. This system pushes hot water through ground coffee beans, producing a short and concentrated coffee. Italians believe that’s how espresso got its name – for these coffee machines “express” coffee by way of a super high-pressure system.
2. What kind of coffee do you use for espresso?
There are all sorts of coffee you can use for espresso. Typically, dark roasts are used as they create the rich flavor Italian espresso is known for. But, you can really have some fun experimenting with coffee types. Just remember to use finely ground beans. If you freshly grind them, even better.
3. How do you fill your portafilter?
This is easier than you think. First, the amount of coffee depends on the size of your filter basket. Typically, home espresso makers have a single filter basket, which holds around 11 grams of coffee. You will need to fill the portafilter with a “mountain” of coffee, with its peak just passing the rim of the filter. Then, you will need to level out the coffee, either by gently tapping your portafilter or using your finger. The last step is tamping your espresso, by pressing it down and condensing your grounds. This is essential for maximizing the extraction of your espresso.
4. How fast does espresso brew?
Espresso brews pretty quickly. This will vary by machine, as each has a boiler that takes its own amount of time to heat up. When it comes to extraction, your espresso should take anywhere from 20 to 30 seconds. If your espresso takes longer, it can have an undesirable astringent flavor.
5. Can espresso machines make drip coffee?
Yes, some machines do so. However, if your machine does not make drip coffee, you can easily make a classic americano with an espresso maker. All you need to do is add hot water to your desired amount of espresso.
6. How do you best maintain your espresso machine?
The best way to ensure your espresso machine lasts is through daily maintenance. Make sure you wipe down every accessory you use, especially your steam wand. If you have time, rinse out your portafilter and filter basket with hot water. Then, wipe these guys down so that they are ready for their next use. When it comes to giving a thorough internal clean to your espresso machine, we suggest following your specific machine’s instructions. Each has its own nuances, and you do not want a general cleaning solution to ruin a perfectly good machine.
7. Do you need to heat the milk before frothing?
No! The steam water produces enough heat to warm up milk to the proper temperature.
Investing in a home espresso maker is nothing, but smart. It’s an easy way to save money on coffee! While espresso may sound fancy, the best espresso machines are not wildly expensive. Some of the most reliable espresso machines are actually just under $100. Why not treat yourself to the luxury of a perfect espresso each morning, Italian style? You may even learn a few tricks and become a barista yourself. If that doesn’t appeal to you, there are great automatic espresso machines that keep things hassle-free. No matter what you choose, a home espresso machine will provide you with endless espresso drinks that you, your family, and friends will love.