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Buying a good expensive espresso machine might not be easy but if you pay a lot, you can reasonably expect good results. When shopping for something cheap it’s actually much more difficult to get something good. So to help you, here are some espresso machines that are cheap and provide good value for money.
Here are the four best espresso machines that don’t break the bank. Which one is best for you depends on what you expect from an espresso machine. All the four machines recommended have a slightly different use case. Keep reading to find out which one works for you.
4 Best Cheap Espresso Machines
These are machines that make real espresso from ground coffee so no cup machines. Espresso machines are not cheap in general but the ones recommended here are low end machines that still make good coffee. They’re not the absolute cheapest you can get but in my opinion these are well worth their money and not expensive in the world of espresso machines.
- Breville Bambino
- Breville Barista Express (Refurbished)
- Gaggia Classic Pro
- Gaggia Brera
The Breville Bambino (Amazon) is the ‘starter’ espresso machine to go for. For a lot of people this is their starting point into the world of making espresso at home.
It’s a good choice for a few reasons;
- Makes decent espresso out of the box
- Fits upgraded portafilters/baskets
- Looks good
- Comes with all the accessories you need to get started
- PID for constant water temperature
- Quick to warm up
It’s also really easy to use. There are four buttons: Single shot, Double shot, Hot water and steam. That’s it. making espresso doesn’t get much easier than this.
All in all a good package for the money. Buying new you can find good deals sometimes but since this is a common starter machine, it’s worth checking local second hand sites/groups. Some people will upgrade or discover espresso is not for them and sell. It can be used with pre-ground coffee (in the pressurized basket) but to get the best results, you want to freshly grind beans which means you do need a separate grinder.
The Breville Bambino is for people that want a cheap, compact yet capable and easy to use espresso maker that can be used with either pre-ground coffee or a separate grinder.
Breville Barista Express
The Barista Express (Amazon) is a very popular espresso maker. It makes good espresso, has a decent built in grinder and is easy to use while still leaving some room for dialing in and using some skill to make the best espresso possible.
The base model might not be considered cheap anymore but you get a package that is very complete and brews good espresso. This is a machine you can get good coffee from for many years. This is a very popular machine for a reason. You get a lot of bang for your buck.
The Barista Express has a built in grinder which means fresher, better espresso without having to buy a separate appliance. A separate grinder that can grind espresso well would cost at least $100 for a hand grinder and $200 for an electric grinder.
The Breville Barista Express is for people that want a high quality, complete espresso machine that brews great espresso easily while still looking and working like a classic espresso machine. You want to use freshly ground beans but don’t want a separate grinder.
Don’t want to be bothered with portafilters, weighing grounds, etc? You need a super-automatic espresso machine like the Gaggia Brera (Amazon). These machines make you a cup of espresso with the push of one button and all you have to do is put water and beans in the top.
Super-automatic espresso machines are usually quite pricey because they are more complicated than the machines listed above. You have to pay a little extra for
In this price range, the espresso you get from one of the other machines in this list will be better, however, if you are willing to take a less tasty cup for convenience, the Gaggia Brera is a great machine to buy.
The Brera makes great espresso for a super-automatic in this price range. It looks and feels high quality. There are only five buttons which makes it super easy to use. For milk drinks, you’ll have to manually steam your milk which can take a little practice.
The Gaggia Brera is best for people that want good espresso with the single push of a button while not breaking the bank.
Gaggia Classic Pro
The Gaggia Classic Pro (Amazon) machine is loved by the enthusiast/coffee nerd crowd since its fully manual and because of it’s modification potential. You have to start and stop the pump yourself which means you have a lot of control over your espresso shots. This is a good thing if you want to tinker and experiment to get the best espresso you can. But on the other hand you need more skills to get it right.
Other reasons why it’s quite popular are;
- High build quality
- Very modifiable. There are many mods available
- Good espresso for the money.
Especially with some modifications this machine is considered to punch above it’s price class. You do have to spend some money on modifying the pressure valve and PID temperature control.
For more machines like this, click here to find the best ones.
The Classic Pro is the machine you buy if you want to make making espresso your hobby, not if you just want to have an easy, good cup of espresso. People that don’t want the hobby side of things, the Breville Bambino or Barista Express are better choices. Those have better steam wands to make milk drinks as well.
Are cheap espresso machines any good?
Of course there are espresso machines that are cheaper than others. Do expensive machine make better espresso and can you make good espresso with a cheap one?
There are cheaper espresso machines that do a good job. However, the high end machines are not so expensive just because they’re made from nice shiny metal. There is actually a lot of engineering that goes on inside that shiny exterior that makes a difference.
There are quite a few coffee machines that claim to make espresso for domestic use that aren’t actually capable to brew real espresso. They use lower pressures and the pressure/temperature of the water is not as consistent. Usually these entry-level machines don’t offer any control over the brewing process and these machines are made to work OK in most circumstances. That means no control over many factors that change the taste of espresso. For most people that’s actually good because they don’t want to think about brewing coffee. However, in most cases you won’t get the best espresso and these machines certainly don’t brew coffee shop quality espresso.
Cheap espresso machines will brew espresso but you won’t get the same quality as you would get from a good coffee shop.
If you want a simple but good espresso machine that makes high quality espresso but also requires some skill on your part, expect to pay at least $400
What’s The Cheapest Way To Make Real Espresso?
If the low-end espresso machines are not a surefire way to make a good cup of espresso, is there a good way to make espresso without breaking the bank? Of course it all depends on your budget what breaking the bank means but there are ways to make good espresso for less.
Manual espresso maker
the cheapest way to brew good espresso at home is with a manual espresso maker. That means you have a big lever you have to pull to create your own pressure.
However, lever espresso makers aren’t necessarily cheap. There are huge differences between lever machines. Some are just as expensive as a high end automatic machine.
Flair is a brand that makes very affordable (starting at about $125) lever espresso makers. These are just a press. They don’t have a boiler or pump or any electronics. There are only a few moving parts and most of the parts are made from metal. This makes the flair presses a whole lot easier and therefore cheaper to produce.
The Flair espresso makers do have their downsides as well. There is no built in boiler so you’ll have to use a separate kettle but most kitchens will already have one of those.
You’ll also have to preheat the press by pouring hot water into it and pressing it out without coffee grounds. Because a normal espresso machine will heat up the group head, it keeps the temperature of the water more consistent and higher so the extraction of the grounds is better and more consistent. The Flair presses just use a tiny amount of water so pouring hot water in a cold filter basket will cool it down too much too quickly to brew good espresso. So that does get a bit tedious if you make more than 2/3 cups a day.
Also the cheapest model Flair (the NEO) is built more for people who are just getting into making espresso at home. Because of that it has a flow restricted filter basket. That type of basket tries to keep the flow the same no matter what kind of pressure and grind size you use. That makes it easy and less picky in regards to grind size but it also takes some control away. If you want simple espresso without much to worry about, the Flair NEO will work very well.
If you want something with more control but that also put higher demands on your skills and coffee grinder, check out the Flair Classic and PRO2
Second hand espresso machines are also an option. Keep an eye out for a second hand Gaggia Classic Pro. That’s a good home espresso machine that’s well built and has a large fan following because it’s good for the price. The new price is about $500. The second hand price depends on age, condition and included accessories. For $200 you should be able to find one in good condition. With a few extra filters and other accessories $250 isn’t a bad deal.
While that’s certainly still a lot more than a simple drip coffee maker, you can’t expect to brew any kind of espresso for $25, let alone good espresso.