Sick of killing your wallet for your favorite coffee? Don’t you think it might be better to make your favorite coffee in the comfort of your home and avoid the obnoxious busybody lines? But wait, are you worried it will break your bank to get a high-quality espresso machine?
Well, don’t worry! You’re not alone here. Most people are under the impression you have to be a trained barista to operate the complicated and expensive machines at the coffee shop. Those things must be over $1000, right?
Now, don’t tell the coffee chains we told you this, but, there are several home brewers on the public market for $200 or less! And many of them do most, if not all, of the work for you!
Okay, now. I know what you’re thinking. What quality of machine can I buy for that little? Well, unfortunately, it won’t come fully automated or have very many advanced features, but that doesn’t mean it won’t give you the best home-brewed espresso. It will be especially excellent for a beginner to grasp the bases of home brewing.
What Can You Expect?
Okay, so at the $200 and under price mark, you are looking for a beginner’s machine. This means that you are just starting your journey into the world of espresso craft. There are some espresso machines for even less in some places, but, you must know, the lower the price marker goes, the more likely you are to run into some issues with inferior materials or missing features for your favorite beverage.
The wide range in prices is influenced by many factors, such as:
- Differing levels of pressure
- Amount of features
- Level of customizability
- User-friendliness of the machine
For the best results at the beginning of your espresso-making journey, we recommend that you buy a mid to high-quality coffee bean grinder to pair with your espresso machine. Pre-ground beans tend to lose flavor, aroma, and strength over time. Some work must be put in for a top-quality, economical, delicious espresso shot.
Top 5 Best Espresso Machine Under $200
Best Choice – DeLonghi EC702 15-Bar-Pump Espresso Maker
The DeLonghi EC702 is a highly user-friendly espresso machine aimed toward newbies to the home coffee craft scene.
Looking for an affordable alternative to the Starbucks drive-through? DeLonghi made this machine for you with high quality and consistency in mind. Key features include a stainless steel boiler, separate steam, and water thermostats, and a user-friendly button panel.
DeLonghi takes all of the guesswork out of priming your machine with its convenient Preheat button. Once primed, fill the basket with either a pod or ground coffee, because yes, this one does both!
Once you’re locked and loaded, wait for the “OK” light to turn green and press Brew!
But don’t walk away just yet! This model does not have an autofill feature, so you will need to press Brew once more to stop the flow when your cup is filled to your desired level.
Steam any milk or milk substitute of your choice with the press of a single button. The pitcher can steam up to 3.5 oz at a time. Just place the filled pitcher underneath the frother and turn the steaming knob counter-clockwise about half of a full turn before dipping the tip of the wand in the milk. While some consumers like to measure out the temperature to exactly 140F, many homebrewers are content with just the heating until they can feel the warmth of their desired intensity.
Display & Control
DeLonghi features a small and efficient panel on the front, left side of the machine. At the top, the Power button can be found, followed by Brew, and then Steam. Each button is coupled with a light to make it clear and easy to tell what features are ready for use. For the additional convenience of use, the steaming knob is located right above the frothing wand on the right side of the machine.
DeLonghi is a wonderful brand, and the model EC155 takes that a step farther. They have taken the liberty of adding a warming tray to warm the cups before actually adding the hot coffee, thus preventing possible cracks in a cold mug from sudden heat contact. The EC155 model also comes with a built-in plastic tamper for packing the espresso into the brewing cup. Some users, however, prefer to use the back of a spoon for a tighter pack.
How to Clean
To keep everything nice, shiny, and working smoothly, make sure to clean the drip tray, frothing wand, and group heads after every use. Starting to lose the “new machine” shine? Just wipe the exterior down using a damp cloth.
As for more periodical maintenance, around every 200 brews, make sure to clean the filter holder and the boiler outlet. If you live in an area with hard water, make sure to descale as well. For details on how to do this and the best supplies for the job, you are going to need to reference the user manual.
- Dual filter, for use with pods or grounds
- Pump driven system, for high levels of consistency
- User-friendly interface
- High-quality stainless steel boiler, for long-lasting durability
- 44 oz removable water tank, for easy filling and cleaning
- Large drip tray compared to similar models
- Built-in cup warmer
- Frothing clip to help hold pitcher still
- Self-primes in just 3 minutes
- Cup clearance is only 2.75 in
- Some inconsistencies in the brewing stream
- The filter basket does not lock in place, so you must turn the lever to dump used coffee grounds
- Hard to access built-in tamper
Best Super-Automatic Espresso Machine – Mr. Coffee Cafe
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista is the machine for those who wish to have coffee shop-styled drinks, in the comfort, and affordability of their own homes. Streamlining the brewing process, Mr. Coffee saves time. And honestly, who has time to waste between waking up and that first cup of your favorite brew?
All you have to do is the portion, tamp, and brew! Mr. Coffee even froths and steams the milk for you, while it brews! A dream come true for milky coffee lovers!
- 15-bar pressurized pump, guaranteeing the thick crema and flavor that make espresso drinks the decadent treats they are
- Adjustable cup clearance, using only a simple cup tray step for small espresso cups that can be pushed in for latte cups
- Customizable volume control, giving the user the power to dictate their preferred water to espresso ratio for both single and double shots
- Dishwasher-safe parts, saving even more time
- Removable water reservoir, allowing for easy clean-up and quick fill-up
- Removeable auto-frother, saving time by frothing while it brews and saving milk because leftovers can be stored in the fridge for the next day
Process of Coffee Making
Designed with an automatic milk frother, Mr. Coffee does much of the work for you here. All you have to do is load the machine and press the Start button.
With a convenient Froth Control Knob, you have all of the options for a custom brew. There is also a cappuccino setting if you would like to try the standard blend. Want a larger cup for an all-nighter? Just press the Cappuccino button twice for a double.
Would you prefer to have a latte? There are also presets for those that work in the same way! Mr. Coffee thought of everything with this lovely espresso machine.
Want some more frothy steamed milk? Just hold down the Cappuccino button for 3 seconds to start the flow, and press again to end the flow when it’s milky enough for you.
This machine can also just be run to froth milk. Give that a try for your next hot cocoa or chai tea!
The 15-bar pump, which is well over the minimum for a delicious espresso, brews one cup per minute, thus making Mr. Coffee an excellent choice for families or those in a hurry!
Cleaning and Maintenance
Cleaning is a breeze! Everything but the filter and the water reservoir can go straight into the dishwasher. The other two parts only need a quick wash in warm water. Mr. Coffee keeps easy maintenance in mind when it comes to their designs!
- Luxurious design, adds flair to any countertop
- User-friendly control panel, easy to read with indicator lights
- The detailed instruction manual makes brewing easy even for the newest baristas
- Easy cleanup
- Customizable brewing and experimentation are possible
- Low price for all of the features available
- The milk reservoir must be pushed in very firmly, or there may be leaks
- Specifications on the water and milk reservoirs, power cable, and the diameter of the portafilter basket are impossible to find on the packaging
Best Manual Espresso Machine – Flair Manual Espresso Maker
The cheapest high-quality, durable espresso maker is the Flair Manual Espresso Maker. However, as stated, this is a manual machine, so you will have to be more involved with the brewing process than with some other models.
Being a manual brewer, the Flair has a higher learning curve than the automatic brewers. Thankfully, there are instructional videos that can be viewed to aid new users with their first brewing, and of course, practice makes perfect. Once you have grasped the basics of the Flair, you can then begin experimenting with your very own custom brews.
Flair is the go-to eco-friendly machine because it doesn’t use batteries or electricity. Instead, the only things you need are your own two hands and a way to boil water.
The Flair is the perfect machine for campers who cannot live without their espresso in the morning: easy assembly and disassembly, easy to clean, and even quite the portable device. Anywhere you can heat water; you can use the Flair.
This unique machine features stainless steel, a removable, brewing head, and easy-to-read instructions, as well as a carrying case, this can honestly be a very dependable machine. If you are an ecowarrior or just someone who loves brewing with your own two hands, this is the machine for you.
Best Pod Espresso Machine – Nespresso Vertuo Evoluo Coffee and Espresso Machine
Patented Extraction Technology
Nespresso makes brewing easy, especially for espresso brewing newbies, with their patented technology called Centrifusion. Sound familiar, yeah? A centrifuge is what they use in a vast majority of medical labs to separate the different components of blood and stuff, but what does that have to do with coffee? Well, Nespresso’s technology takes brewing to a whole new level. As soon as you close the machine and start brewing, the pod rotates around 7,000 times per minute! The rotation infuses the coffee grounds and the water for a stronger brew, with a richer crema than ever before.
Featuring a more modern design and shape, the Evoluo exclusively uses pods made for both espresso and large sizes. The pods bear a barcode on their rims that provide the machine with all the information needed for brewing what they are meant for automatically. This makes Evoluo the most automatic of the devices on this list.
With a 54 oz integrated water tank, I believe it is safe to say, the Evoluo more than makes up for the fact that it lacks a refill light. Due to the high tech, grooved design, some users have difficulty knowing exactly how much water remains in the tank, but this is a small con in light of some of the other features this machine has to offer.
Now, aside from its high tech design, this eco-friendly model also has a shut-off feature that will cause it to shut down after being idle for 9 minutes. No more wondering if you forgot to turn off the coffee machine after you have already gotten to work!
Controls and Use
With minimalist controls, the Evoluo bears only a power button. To turn off manually, just hold this down for 3 seconds. The brewing chamber is locked with a chromed latch for your convenience and safety, and it’s locking closes the circuit that powers the Centrefusion. Once the brewing has been completed, unlocking the latch causes the machine to drop the used pod into a built-in basket.
The unique design of the multi-leveled drip tray allows for a wide range of cup size. Instead of just allowing for latte or espresso, the Evoluo can accommodate everything from a demitasse to a travel mug!
- High-quality brewing
- Automated by bar code scan
- Modern design
- 15-sec heating
- Automatic shut off
- Largely used pod bin when compared to other machines of the same size
- Need to purge air pockets before first use
- Lower brewing temp than some other machines
- Vertuoline pods only
If you are looking for an affordable machine that will blend with the modern kitchen, the Evoluo may be precisely what you were looking for. There are a few cons, of course, but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily deal-breakers. I personally find the coffee this machine brews to be right at drinking temperature, so if you are also a person who usually has to let it cool first, this is the brewer for you.
The built-in barcode reader can read both coffee and espresso pods, making this perfect for the primary coffee drinker who wants to dabble with espresso mixes. For cappuccinos and lattes, however, you will need to buy a milk frother separately.
Can’t find your preferred espresso flavor made for the Evoluo yet, but really like the idea of pods? Try out the Nespresso Inissia! There are dozens of flavors for that model, and it can even use off-brand pods for even more variety.
Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine Option – Breville ESP8XL Cafe Roma Espresso Maker
As you may be able to tell by this point, finding an affordable, milk frothing, and user-friendly home brewer is no simple task. The Breville ESP8XL Cafe Roma Stainless Espresso Maker is $200, and it combines all of these crucial features.
This machine has a built-in milk frother, meaning it is an all in one for any drink that starts with a shot or two or seven of espresso. This makes it the perfect kitchen accessory for the student or any human that has to be awake early in the morning or late at night.
- 15-bar pressurized pump
- Cup-warming plate
- Dual-walled filter system
- Thermoblock pump
- Stainless steel design
- Removable drip tray
- 28oz water tank
Ease of use
Boasting a low learning curve, the Breville ESP8XL only has a power light and a water heating light. Selecting your preferred brew is as simple as turning the dial to your choice. The only thing that needs careful maintenance is the drip tray. Make sure to keep that clean. It is removable, so a quick rinse with an occasional wash should be just fine. The water tank also features a window on the side so you can easily see when a refill is needed.
A well-made espresso can set the pace for a good day, and Breville makes sure to give you the best so that you can do your best. The company knows that temperature and pressure are the two most critical factors that make the difference in a great start to your day and a disappointment.
With dimensions of only 9x9x10, the Breville is a medium-sized machine. With a polished stainless steel exterior, it looks professional and will be sure to keep its space on your counter for many years.
What else to expect
For your convenience, Breville includes two espresso cups and a frothing pitcher so that you can start brewing right out of the box. The user interface is also equipped with lights to let you know when the machine is heating and ready to brew.
- Stainless Steel
- 15-bar pressurized pump
- User-friendly interface
- Dual-wall filter for both easy brewing and quick frothing
- Easily clogged filter
- Low cup height clearance
User-friendly to even the most novice of us, the Breville Cafe Roma is a wonderful starter machine. It has all of the essential features and a simple interface. This machine includes a milk frother, making it an excellent choice for latte and cappuccino lovers as well.
Which Machine to Pick?
Now that you have seen our top picks for under $200, you may be having a hard time choosing which one is for you. The truth is the only one who can tell you that is you. Consider your individual needs to help:
- Where will you be keeping your machine?
- How much space do you have?
- Will you be traveling with it?
- Do you prefer to use pods or grounds?
- Do you need a milk frother?
- If you need a frother, does it need to be automatic?
After you can answer these questions with certainty, you will have a much clearer picture of what sort of machine you need. Remember that we advise picking up a grinder if you are using grounds because these devices don’t start coming with their own grinders until the $500 range.
Whatever you find to be right for you, we are happy to help you start your home brewing journey.