Last updated on February 1st, 2020
Today we’re going to show you the best espresso machines for home use that cost less than $300!
We all love our fresh brewed coffee, right? We wake up in the morning, get ready for work, put a K cup in the Keurig maker and start our day with that fresh cup of hot coffee. Or maybe you’re the type that leaves early for work so you can stop at Starbucks and spend $5 a day on your morning coffee. Well, maybe you won’t have to make that extra stop at Starbucks anymore.
What if you don’t want coffee at all? Maybe you might want an espresso … perhaps? Espresso machines have been around for a while and many people around the country enjoy a fresh espresso first thing in the morning.
Now, going to your local barista might cost an arm and a leg after awhile if you’re always grabbing one before work.
This is why the at-home espresso maker was created. Now we can all make a fresh cup of espresso by ourselves whenever we want! The problem is, there are a ton of espresso machines on the market that come in all shapes, sizes, and price points.
You can get espresso machines for $200 and you can also get espresso machines for upwards of $2,000! Crazy how expensive they can get, right? So let’s get on with this review so you can see some of the best espresso machines for home use!
How Do Espresso Machines Work?
Built-up of copper tubing, stainless steel boilers, precision software, and tough hardware, espresso machines are finely tuned and engineered with precision. Have you ever looked at the inside of an espresso machine?
Inside you will find what looks like a spider web of metal and wires. At its core, most espresso machines all do the same thing, they force hot water through some finely ground coffee.
So you might be wondering, how do espresso machines work exactly? Well, with most modern espresso machines, water travels through four different phases before it even hits your cup. It all starts with the water source, then it moves through the pump, then onto the boiler before reaching the group head or steam wand.
Here’s a simpler explanation. Espresso machines brew coffee by forcing pressurized water at a boiling point through a chunk of ground coffee and a filter. This process produces that thick, concentrated consistency making it an “espresso”.
Types Of Espresso Machines
Throughout the years there have been many different designs of machines to produce espresso. Of these machines, they all share common parts or hardware as well. Below is a list of the four different types of espresso machines that have been around since the mid-1900s.
Post-Driven Espresso Machines
The post-driven design uses a level which is pumped by the operator to pressurize hot water, which then gets sent through the coffee grounds. The post-driven design isn’t used very often in the modern era, although you can still find some local shops that still use them.
There are actually two different types of post-driven machines. There are manual piston machines, and spring piston machines. With manual piston machines, the operation directly pushes the water through the coffee grounds. With a spring-piston design, the operator works to tension a spring which then delivers the pressure for the espresso.
Steam-Driven Espresso Machines
Steam-driven espresso machines operate by forcing water through the coffee by using steam or steam pressure. These were the first types of espresso machines that were used back in the old days (except they were much larger back then).
The steam-driven design is still used today in lower-cost machines since they do not contain any moving parts or hardware. In addition, steam-driven machines do not produce as high of a pressure for extraction in comparison to pump-driven machines which we will talk about below. This type of machine is considered a “lower quality” machine in a modern sense.
Air-Pump-Driven Espresso Machines
This is your most common type of espresso machine these days. These types of machines use compressed air to force the hot water through the coffee grounds. The hot water is added from a kettle or a thermal flask. The compressed air comes from either a hand-pump, CO2 cartridges, or an electric compressor.
One of the main advantages of these air-pump-driven machines is that they are much smaller and lighter than electric machines. They are often handheld and portable as well.
Difference Between Espresso And Coffee
I’ve heard this question many times from many different people. They always ask – “What is the difference between espresso and coffee, considering espresso has coffee in it?”. Well, yes coffee is the extracted liquid that comes from the bean, but it’s all about the preparation.
Think about it this way, there are many different ways to prepare coffee. There is french-press coffee, pour-over coffee, stovetop percolator coffee, and many more. A key thing to note, all espresso is coffee, but not all coffee is espresso. Espresso isn’t a different type of coffee bean or anything.
What is the difference between espresso and coffee?
When it all comes down to it, the preparation of espresso is what makes the big difference between the two. Other methods of brewing take time because they rely on the slow filtering of hot water that runs through your coffee grounds. What this means is, you have to wait several minutes before you get your fresh cup of coffee.
As stated earlier in the article, espresso machines pressurize and shoot hot water through finely-ground coffee beans that are packed into chunks. This method gives you a caffeine-packed shot of coffee in less than 45 seconds.
On the other hand, coffee takes more than 45 seconds and a cup of coffee has nowhere near the amount of caffeine that espresso has.
With coffee, you have to wait several minutes just for the water to push through a filtration system and into the coffee grounds. Of course, this process has gotten better over time with the use of Keurig maker’s, but a cup of coffee with a Keurig still doesn’t pack a caffeine punch as espresso does.
Top 5 Best Espresso Machines For Home Under $300
These espresso machines that we tested and reviewed performed above our expectations and we may have had too much caffeine on this day! Below are our top 5 best espresso machines for home use under $300!
1. DeLonghi Espresso Machine
Enjoy delicious espresso made your way with De’Longhi’s pump espresso and cappuccino maker. You can choose to brew ground espresso or E.S.E pods with the unique patented dual filter holder. The Sempre Crema Filter, used with two measures of ground coffee, enhances the brewing process to produce a perfect crema.
The E.S.E. (Easy Serving Espresso) Filter, used with pods or one measure of ground coffee, makes espresso preparation simple and convenient. Either way, the choice is yours, making your espresso truly made to order. You can enjoy espresso or cappuccino without worry with two separate thermostats that control water and steam pressure, so you can make both espresso or cappuccino at the perfect temperature.
If you prefer cappuccino you’ll enjoy using the easy-to-use patented cappuccino frother, which includes a special chamber that mixes steam and milk to create a rich creamy froth achieving perfect drinks every time.
Other highlights include self-priming operation to eliminate pesky start-up preparation, a unique no-drip design, so you don’t have to deal with messy cleanup and a durable, high-quality stainless steel boiler to ensure many years of delicious espresso.
- Pump driven and 15 bars.
- Input power is 1100 watts. Note: if the pump is excessively noisy at times, it may be caused due to an empty water tank that can be corrected by refilling the tank. (we ran into this during testing)
- Use pods or ground coffee with the convenient patented filter holder.
- Craft cappuccinos or lattes with the patented easy to use frothier.
- 44 oz. and a 1.3-liter removable water tank.
- One of the all-time best espresso machines for home!
2. Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista
Craft delectable, robust coffeehouse-quality espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes with the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista. Featuring an electric 15-bar pump that creates powerful pressure to extract bold, rich flavors during the brew.
Anyone can become a cafe expert with the simple-to-use espresso maker. One-touch controls let you choose between single or double shots and automatically froths milk with an adjustable control knob.
The milk reservoir is removable to store leftover milk not used during the brew in the refrigerator, so you just fill it and let the Café Barista determine the amount needed. A recipe book is included to easily create impressive coffee drinks or inspire you to invent original recipes all from the comfort of your home
- Semi-automatic 3-in-1 espresso maker, cappuccino maker, and latte maker.
- 15-bar pump system brews rich-tasting espresso coffee.
- Trouble-free automatic milk frother removes the guesswork.
- One-touch control panel for drink selections.
- Easy-fill, removable water, and milk reservoirs.
3. Breville Cafe Roma Espresso Machine (Most Popular)
The thermoblock heating system extracts espresso at the perfect temperature. A full 15 bars of pressure maximizes crema for a rich, barista-style aroma and taste. This machine is our most popular model on our website because of it’s fair price point and ease-of-use.
- Stainless-steel espresso machine with a 15-bar thermoblock pump.
- Dual-wall filter system for excellent crema; froth enhancer, cup-warming plate.
- Accessories: Stainless steel frothing pitcher Tamping tool/measuring spoon/cleaning tool.
- Removable drip tray and grid; Frothing jug included as well.
- 40.6 oz (1.2-liter) removable water tank.
4. EspressoWorks All-In-One
The EspressoWorks All-In-One 15 Bar Thermoblock espresso machine is ready to use in under 45 seconds. With its stainless steel finishes, this powerful machine looks great in any kitchen and will enhance your entire espresso, cappuccino and latte experience. The 15 Bar Pump creates the perfect crema, and achieving a bold taste has never been easier.
The All-In-One set includes all accessories to get you started – electric grinder, portafilter, stainless steel frothing cup, measuring spoon and tamper. No need to purchase any additional accessories. The machine is powerful, yet compact and sits comfortably on any countertop. With our auto-off feature, the machine will turn off after 25 minutes of non-use – no need to worry about plugging and unplugging your machine!
- Just Add Beans! With the advanced Thermoblock fast heating system, you can always expect precise temperature and instant steam from the EspressoWorks All-In-One Set.
- Conveniently monitor water levels of the front-view transparent tank which has a 1.25-liter capacity.
- A handle is included on the tank for easy removal for cleaning and refilling.
- Has a detachable frothing device and removable drip tray to ensure hassle-free cleaning.
- Enjoy great tasting Italian Espresso, Americano & Macchiato. Stainless Steel milk frothing cup included for easy preparation of Lattes and Cappuccinos.
- Two stainless steel portafilter baskets included for the option of pulling a single shot or a double shot during each extraction.
5. Mr. Coffee Espresso Machine
Skip the trip and forget the long lines at Starbucks and easily create extraordinary coffee drinks at home with the Mr. Coffee One-Touch CoffeeHouse. With a simple press of a button, you can make espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes within minutes. Choose from a single or double shot of espresso and then let the automatic milk frother steam the milk of your choice into a light and airy foam.
- 19 Bar Italian pump delivers ideal pressure to extract robust coffee flavors.
- Easy 1-button interface takes the guesswork out of controlling the espresso maker.
- Select single or double shots of espresso with a simple 1-button press.
- The thermocouple heating system evenly heats the water for piping hot drinks.
- Automatic milk frother whips any milk into a light, creamy froth.
- The removable milk reservoir is easy to fill, clean and store leftover milk in the fridge.
- Cup tray adjusts to conveniently fit tall and short mugs.
Espresso machines can really give you that boost that you’re looking for in the morning. Not only do they give you a very fast cup-of-joe, but they also provide you with a ton of caffeine and in some of our lives, but this is also a good thing.
The espresso machines that we tested above are all great machines and we couldn’t have been happier with them. The other ones that we tested were great as well but, some were hard to clean and others felt too “cheap”.
If you have any questions about any of these machines, feel free to leave a comment below. Or, if you would rather contact us directly, feel free to use our contact form on our contact page and we will respond to your email in a timely manner.