Nothing quite beats being able to make whatever type of espresso drink you want from the comfort of your home. But getting to that point can be quite a financial investment.
Although the espresso machine world has erupted with a plethora of options for at-home machines, not all machines are created equal, and often times the best ones come with a hefty price tag.
But don’t worry! You can keep it budget friendly and still get the features you want for your at-home café corner.
We’ve researched and reviewed some of the best at-home espresso machines that are under $300 while also giving you pointers for finding the best match for you!
At a Glance: Best Espresso Machines Under $300
Quick Summary: Best Espresso Machines Under $300
|Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine
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|Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Machine
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|Gevi 20 Bar Compact Professional Espresso Coffee Machine
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|Cuisinart EM-200NP1 Programmable 15-Bar Espresso Make
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|De'Longhi 15 Bar Espresso Machine
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|EspressoWorks Espresso Machine And Cappuccino Maker
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|Flair Signature Espresso Maker
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|Alessi Stovetop Richard Sapper Espresso Maker
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Best Espresso Machines Under $300
We’ll start with two of our top recommended automatic espresso machines for those who want to do the least amount of tinkering.
Then we’ll follow those with the semi-automatic machines, where you control the grind, the pressure, the heat, and more. These are the best kind for the coffee enthusiast who enjoys the process!
Lastly, we’ll round out with manual espresso maker recommendations for the espresso nerds who want to break a sweat for a flawless espresso shot!
Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine
Nespresso delivers a quality automatic espresso and coffee machine that does not disappoint in flavor or consistency.
Although the espresso is brewed with pods – and you can only use Nespresso pods at that – it still delivers a rich and full-bodied espresso with a delicious crema on top, which isn’t something you’ll get with other pod espressos.
Paired with the milk frother, that can heat or keep cool to froth, you can make both single and double espressos, lattes, cappuccinos plus drip coffee as well.
Although grinds in a pod aren’t quite the same as freshly ground beans, it is an incredibly convenient and quick way to get a good quality espresso drink each morning.
Simply push a button and your java will be done in under two minutes!
This automatic espresso machine is easy to clean and maintain and has a one-year warranty. It’ll take up about one cubic foot on your counter while being under 9 inches tall, with a sleek and modern look.
Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Machine (Best Value!)
Although this espresso machine isn’t as simple as a click of a button like the Nespresso, it is fairly simple, straightforward, and involves very little work from you, making it a great entry-level espresso machine.
With easy-to-read settings, this automatic espresso machine will heat and froth the milk to a preprogrammed setting as well as automatically pull a single, double and long espresso shot.
All you have to do is fill the basket with grinds and tamp. But with their additional tools of a coffee scoop and tamper, this is made easy too.
Although this Mr. Coffee espresso machine is user-friendly and easy to control, it can be a bit inconsistent.
The espresso shots don’t always pull evenly and the milk frother can produce very foamy milk, even for lattes.
However, for the price point and ease of use, we think this espresso machine is worth every penny.
Gevi 20 Bar Compact Professional Espresso Coffee Machine (Our Top Pick)
It’s hard to say what we like most about this machine – its size, its efficiency, or its quality.
Measuring 15.9″ long and 13.4″ high, this sleek semi-automatic machine is compact, only weighs 10 lbs, but has some really neat features for such a small machine.
With 20 bars of pressure and a thermablock heating system that allows the machine to heat up quickly, you can have a quality latte produced in a matter of minutes.
Gevi was able to incorporate a low-pressure pre-infusion feature (not something often seen at this price point) that helps pull a beautiful shot with some crema.
The steam wand allows you to produce good quality microfoam, although the pressure is a little weak and it tends to drip when not in use.
This machine does not include a grinder or milk pitcher but does come with a coffee scoop, tamper, and two different-sized baskets, allowing for a single or double shot.
The interface is very easy to navigate, with the pressure reader being directly on the front making it easy to read and control.
Gevi has also included de-scaling and water level alerts, so you’ll always know when to refill and when to clean.
Cuisinart EM-200NP1 Programmable 15-Bar Espresso Make
This semi-automatic espresso machine is programmable for easy and consistent use, or you can manually program it to find exactly what you like.
With the programmed settings, you can get a single (1.5 oz) or double (3 oz) espresso shot using grinds or an espresso pod in the three chambers.
The portafilter holder features a snazzy lock to ensure you’re not losing your filters in the trash when discarding the used grinds.
Cuisinart includes a stainless steel milk pitcher that fits perfectly with the steamer wand, as well as a coffee scoop and tamper.
The pressure of the steamer isn’t what you’ll get with a more expensive machine, but it is workable and can create good foam. The detachable water reserve, which can hold up to 64 oz, makes it easy to fill and snap back into place.
Consumers found this machine sufficient in pulling a good quality espresso shot with crema when using freshly roasted and ground beans with a burr grinder.
With a limited three-year warranty and excellent customer service, Cuisinart has made an excellent entry-level espresso machine that is easy enough to learn, clean, and brew from.
De’Longhi 15 Bar Espresso Machine
De’Longhi is well-known in the espresso machine world and has many great models available.
The thing we love about this model, outside of the excellent price and one-year warranty, is the simplicity of the interface and the speed of heating.
With just two nobs for adjusting settings, this machine makes it easy to find your settings and produce similar results, daily.
The removable water tanks hold 37 fl oz and most users report being able to produce two espresso shots back to back as well as the use of the wand for steaming before needing to refill.
The espresso machine comes with an adjustable tray, allowing for tall or short glasses. It also includes a tamper and a three-in-one basket, allowing for single or double shots and also accommodating coffee pods.
One feature to consider is the steamer spout, which features a thicker, cappuccino-styled wand. Although it produces great fluffy foam, it’s a bit trickier to get a more even and smooth latte foam.
EspressoWorks Espresso Machine & Cappuccino Maker (Best Value for Beginners)
If you’re looking for the all-inclusive barista starter pack – look no further. With 7 features included, you get everything you need with one buy.
With a simple-to-use interface, this semi-automatic espresso machine allows you to pull single or double shots, foam milk in the stainless steel pitcher, and even includes a grinder.
It’s important to note that the grinder is a two-blade grinder which doesn’t give as consistent a grind as a burr grinder, which will impact the quality of the espresso shots.
Most users reported that the taste and flavor of the espresso pulled are delightful and getting a crema layer on top is definitely possible.
The water tank has a 1.25 L capacity, making it easy to pull multiple shots in a row and also use the steamer before needing to refill.
The pitcher that’s provided with the set is only 12 oz and the wand is on the short end, but both are workable and able to produce good-quality microfoam.
Flair Signature Espresso Maker
This manual espresso maker is for the espresso enthusiast who likes style, technique, and consistency. It has a very sleek look that’s available in black, chrome, and white.
Flair really does put a twist to espresso with this completely manual, pressure-operated espresso maker.
You simply put your grinds in and tamp, then fill the upper chamber with water, set the pressure gauge, and then manually press down to get a perfectly extracted shot with a rich layer of crema.
This device is easy to clean and, although it takes up a bit of space when fully set up, the design breaks down easily and can be stored, and transported around in a sleek and secure case.
Although this great design can pour cafe quality espressos, it does have its drawbacks.
It has very little capacity for changing the measurement of the espresso and would need additional appliances such as a milk frother to make anything other than an espresso.
However, if you’re an espresso enthusiast who doesn’t mind cutting the lactose and enjoys a hands-on approach, this might just be the best bang for your buck.
Alessi Stovetop Richard Sapper Espresso Maker
Although not your typical plunger espresso machine, this Alessi Stovetop Richard Sapper Espresso Maker is an Italian-styled Moka pot that you brew directly on a stovetop.
The direct heat makes the water boil up and spill into the upper chamber, making a rich and full-bodied espresso.
Many reviewers say that the flavor brought out using this stovetop espresso maker is better than found elsewhere or with a traditional Moka pot.
The design of this pot is also much more accommodating than a traditional Moka pot as the handles are detachable and the upper half pops off the bottom, rather than needing to be twisted on.
This sleek and attractive little espresso pot is an excellent choice for those who enjoy straight espresso or Amaricano-styled drinks and aren’t looking for the milk component that typical espresso machines may offer.
Types of Espresso Machines
When considering the purchase of an espresso machine the first thing you’ll want to determine is what style you want.
The three main styles of espresso machines are automatic, semi-automatic, and manual.
Automatic espresso machines have all the bells and whistles and usually only need you to push a button to get them going. A fully automatic espresso machine will control the water amount, flow, and temperature throughout the brewing process.
Depending on the type of automatic espresso machine, some also grind, measure, pack, and tamp the coffee beans all within the machine.
Many also have milk features, allowing for the machine to froth and distribute the milk and foam into your drink. A fully automatic espresso machine usually has a much heftier price tag, but it is possible to find more budget-friendly ones that utilize bean pods, like a Keurig.
Automatic espresso machines are generally very user-friendly and make a great option if you just want your coffee the same every day and done quickly.
A semi-automatic espresso machine is the most common and is used by baristas in cafes. This is because semi-automatic espresso machines allow you to have the utmost control of your shots.
These machines allow you to set and control the water temperature and pressure. Although some may have a built-in grinder, you control the amount of beans ground, while also being able to pack and tamp the grinds yourself.
Semi-automatic espresso machines generally include a steaming wand, giving you full control of your foam and milk temperature and texture.
Semi-automatic espresso machines do take a bit of time and effort to learn to work, but are fantastic for coffee enthusiasts who enjoy tweaking their coffee and have the time to play around with their machines.
The last type of espresso machine is the manual espresso machine. These types of espresso machines usually don’t have a water heating source and require a kettle to be used as well.
They rely solely on your strength and control to make the espresso extraction, often done through pressure.
These are fantastic options for using while traveling, but require a bit of a learning curve to nail down and operate. They often are just for espresso as well and don’t include a steaming wand or heating source.
Ease of Use Vs. Learning Curve
Some espresso machines are incredibly user-friendly and only need a button or two pushed to get going. Automatic espresso machines, especially ones that use coffee pods, generally are very user-friendly and intuitive.
The more features you have that you can control, the steeper the learning curve may be.
With a semi-automatic espresso machine, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with how it works and different ways to adjust the machine.
Be sure to consider how much mental effort you want to put into your coffee each morning and whether you’re willing to do all the research or if you just want something easy and quick.
Types of Drinks
Maybe the first thing you should consider before purchasing an espresso machine is what types of drinks you typically have.
Some espresso machines can only pull espresso shots, some only have preprogrammed options, others have a frothing wand, while others don’t.
Consider what elements are essential to getting your perfect coffee.
Size and Weight
Espresso machines are typically much heavier and often bigger than a standard drip pot. You’ll want to consider dimension, weight, and height when looking at machines, to ensure you have the space available.
Keep in mind that if the machine does not include a grinder, you may also want to invest in an espresso grinder, which will take up more room.
Lifespan and Ease of Cleaning
When looking at espresso machines, consider the longevity of the appliance as well as the warranty. Will this be something that lasts you years, or will you need to upgrade within a year or two?
The reality is, cheaper espresso machines tend to be made more cheaply and with materials that may not stand the test of time.
However, with proper care and cleaning, most machines will give you several years of use.
So be sure to consider ease of cleaning, what supplies or tools might be needed to successfully clean the machine, and how much effort you’re actually willing to put in to maintain your purchase.
Additional Tools Needed
Espresso is always best when the beans are fresh and get ground directly before brewing.
When buying a machine, consider the other tools you might need if they aren’t included in the espresso machine itself: a bean grinder, a tamper, cleaning tools, and a milk pitcher for steaming.
You should now have a good idea of what to look for in finding the perfect espresso machine, but let’s clear up any lingering questions you may have.
Is a 9-bar or 15-bar Espresso Machine Better?
Traditionally, espresso machines utilize 9 bars of pressure for pulling an ideal espresso shot, but 15-bar espresso machines have become more commonplace.
They are cheaper to make but are not as good quality as a 9-bar espresso machine. Read more about the difference between 9 bars and 15 bars to learn why.
What Are the 3 Types of Espresso Machines?
You can get a fully automatic, semi-automatic, or manual espresso machine.
Automatic machines are more price-heavy but easy and user-friendly, while semi-automatic machines are more user-involved and allow you to tinker around with your espresso shots.
A manual espresso machine often requires you to use pressure and don’t use electricity.
Can You Make a Good Espresso With a Cheap Machine?
With enough dedication to learning your machine and with good quality beans that are ground evenly, you can enjoy delicious espresso without breaking the bank.
Buying secondhand can also help reduce costs.
With a clear outline of features and considerations to think of and eight great recommendations to start your search off, we hope that you are on your way to getting the best espresso machine for you!