As far as coffee goes espresso is king in my opinion and no other coffee drink can take its place. The variety of drinks you can produce with espresso is endless, including, macchiatos, lattes, cappuccinos, flat whites and many more with a great variety of types. However, drinking your espresso or your favorite espresso drink every day at your local corner coffee shop can get quite costly, since just a simple espresso costs $2.70 on average in the USA, and that is without the tip. However, there is a cheaper way to enjoy espresso every morning and that is to invest in a quality espresso machine that can brew heavenly espresso and can froth your milk to the creaminess.
Most are deterred from this idea since they are afraid of the high initial cost of espresso machines, and yes if you take a look at some super-automatic machines in the market, the prices are a little scary in my opinion. But there are some nice options that will not cost you a fortune and will deliver you excellent value for the price. Today I’m going to write a general guideline, as to how you should buy an espresso machine under the $300 price. I’m going to tell you what you should be careful about and what are your options in this market, but rest assured, at the end of this article you will be ready to buy an espresso machine, and what is left is to buy your beans and grinder, and get brewing.
What You Shouldn’t Expect
Let’s get this out of the way first, everyone may tell you what you should expect from a coffee machine under $300, but there are several things you should know before buying an espresso machine at that price range. First, off you should know that if a machine in that price promises a fully-automatic performance and sounds too good to be true, it probably is, so steer away from those machines and look at more plausible options. You should also not expect superior back to back brewing performance, since all of these machines have small boilers and run out of the water quickly, so you need to give them time to brew better.
Things You Should Know About Your Next Machine
In my opinion, the most important thing you should check out before buying an espresso machine for your home should be its dimensions, will it fit in your kitchen. Let’s admit it no one likes to remodel and changing the whole layout of your kitchen to accommodate an espresso machine is overkill. You should pay extra attention to the height of the machine, meaning that you have enough space to store it under a cupboard, and you should also be careful to leave some spare space on the front and back of the machine for maintenance and cleaning. While this is not necessary, it is a helpful extra step that will make your job easier in the long run and I am sure that you will thank yourself.
This is maybe the most important factor that you should be careful about before buying an espresso machine, not at this price point but also higher. This factor will affect your espresso significantly, in fact, this will make or break your espresso. Translated from Italian espresso means with pressure, so the whole process of brewing espresso relies on correct and enough pressure, combined with solid temperature. You should be very careful about this and read tons of reviews from buyers about the machine that you are considering, and check what they are saying about the pressure. The machines I will recommend you today are all very solid options and their pressure can pump out excellent espresso.
The Top 7 Best Espresso Machines Under $300
7. Breville ESP8XL Cafe Roma
As far as coffee machines go Breville has established quite a name for itself with its excellent machines, for drip coffee, pot coffee, and even various espresso machines that deliver excellent value for their price. Today we are going to take a look at the Breville ESP8XL Cafe Roma, which is an excellent espresso machine with perfect industrial design, small height, large water reservoir, solid pump with a thermoblock feature and tons of other features that will make you fall in love with this machine.
First of all, I have to speak about the excellent design of this machine, which is pretty industrial thanks to its stainless steel chassis all-around. The whole thing is just about 12 inches tall meaning that it will fit under your cupboards easily, and it weighs just 13 pounds in total. On the front face of the device, you will spot the ‘control panel’ which features a power switch, two lights for power and heating, and a dial for controlling the machine. Going further down you will spot the group head and the steaming want which also has the same design language and look pretty good, and finally, you have the removable drip tray that looks professional.
On the side of the machine, you will spot the removable water reservoir that has a capacity of 1.2 liters and has the same stainless steel design, and if you are looking from the front you can see exactly how much water is left in it. In the package of the device, you will also see a milk pitcher for frothing, tamping tool, measuring spoon, and cleaning tool, which is a nice selection.
The Breville ESP8XL Cafe Roma has a 15-bar thermoblock pump with dual boilers which is the most important feature of this machine. This system heats the water in one chamber and transfers it to the other for brewing. The latter uses the thermoblock system that heats the water independently and it is not as complex as it sounds. One of the most fail-safe methods of pumping out espresso properly.
The espresso came out pretty good, with a nice amount of crema and no signs of over-extraction or acidity. Overall I can quite comfortably say that it is not hard to pump an espresso since the machine doesn’t have complicated controls. The steam wand worked pretty well to my surprise, and it delivered great control over the milk. The maintenance and cleaning process is pretty straightforward as well and it doesn’t require any effort.
6. Hamilton Beach 40792
The American manufacturer Hamilton Beach has always delivered some great kitchen appliances that have won the hearts of so many customers. They have designed and manufactured some drip and pod coffee machines that have been some of our favorites however, they have also made some great espresso machines that can output authentic espresso with nice quality. The Hamilton Beach 40792 is an amazing espresso machine that delivers excellent coffee, great design, plenty of consistency, a nice reservoir and a great Italian pump at the heart of it for amazing power.
First of all, I should mention that Hamilton Beach 40792 is an incredibly attractive and pretty compact machine, and it has the same design language that every single Hamilton Beach appliance has. It has a matte-black plastic construction with a stainless steel front panel and a red band running underneath it. On top of the device you will spot the cup warmer that works pretty good, going down you will spot the control panel that has the power button and the dial for controlling the device underneath it. Alongside the group head, you will spot a lever that is used for fastening the portafilter to the group head, and on the other side, you will see the steaming wand. On the bottom, you will spot the removable drip tray which does a good job of keeping things clean.
In the package of the device, you will spot the measuring scoop which has the tamper on the other end, single and double filters for the portafilter, and the removable drip tray. The water reservoir is removable as well for easy fill-up and to keep things cleaner in general. Overall this coffee machine is extremely easy to use and will deliver you an amazing coffee-making experience that will make your mornings easier than ever, as you won’t have to worry about any tedious process you have to undertake.
This Hamilton Beach espresso machine uses 15 bars of pressure to make out excellent espresso with great crema and just the right amount of sweetness and acidity. No signs of over-extraction for properly ground beans, I found the steaming wand pretty easy to operate as well as it allowed me to properly steam the milk to create a silky smooth texture to create latte art as well.
5. Capresso 118.05 EC PRO
The Capresso 118.05 EC PRO is one of the most impressive machines under the $300 price and it comes with a great set of features that will leave you pleased every single time. The Swiss manufacturer has delivered some pretty capable models through the years and this is maybe is one of their most versatile models since it comes with an amazing boiler, an amazingly durable construction, professional brewing experience, and tons of other features.
The Capresso 118.05 EC PRO has the looks of a simple commercial-grade espresso machine with absolutely no-frills, ready to get its hands dirty and no fancy details at all, and it functions that way s well. It is pretty similar in function to the company’s other espresso machines but I like this one better since it is pretty substantial and it won’t give up for a long time, meaning that it will pump out coffee for you for years at end thanks to its heavy-duty stainless steel body that measures 11x12x8-inches and weighs about 6 pounds in total. But don’t worry as it can fit flush in every single kitchen design-wise, and it will not look out of place.
The biggest feature of the Capresso 118.05 EC PRO is that it has a 15-bar pressure pump that ensures that every cup of coffee comes out perfect. During testing, I noticed that every cup of espresso came out with a nice amount of crema and the taste was delicious, extracting all the flavors and aromas from the selected beans, just like a powerful commercial-grade dual boiler espresso machine would.
On top of that, the Capresso 118.05 EC PRO is very easy to use and you don’t need to go through complicated processes since this is a no-frills machine. It is also extremely consistent in its operation and you can make espresso after espresso without any problem since it could heat up pretty fast. The steam wand was also excellent and you couldn’t find a better way to make milky drinks. I simply have nothing but praise for this amazing machine.
4. DeLonghi ECP3420
The DeLonghi ECP3420 is a pretty affordable home espresso machine that can pump out good espresso day after day. It is one of the best from Delonghi and if you want the most bang for your buck in an espresso machine the DeLonghi ECP3420 is the right pick for you. This espresso machine can deliver you a genuine espresso machine without paying the big bucks and if you want to make milky espresso drinks, it can do those as well thanks to its amazing steaming wand, all supported by its amazing 15-bar pressure pump.
The initial first impression I had with the DeLonghi ECP3420 was pretty good as it has a pretty cozy and simple design that isn’t as complicated and industrial thanks to its great combination of plastic and stainless steel. It will sit excellently on every single kitchen design in my opinion and it is also pretty compact and has a small footprint, as it measures 9.6×7.2×11.9-inches in total and weighs 11 pounds, and as you can notice it isn’t very tall meaning you can place it under low-clearance cupboards. The water tank of the device has a pretty good capacity of 37-ounces, and you can easily remove it from the back of the device to fill it up properly. On the front panel of the device, you will spot the control dial and that is used for brewing coffee and on the side, you will see a dial for adjusting the intensity of the steam wand. The bottom aluminum unit of this machine can also be removed to accommodate larger cups.
It is also pretty easy to use and it doesn’t require much effort to make a good cup of espresso, you just need to fill the portafilter with ground coffee measured with the measurement spoon and tamp it properly. Afterward, you can place it in the group head and rotate the dial to start the brewing process. However, you cannot brew espresso and froth milk at the same time, and I would recommend you to brew the coffee first and then froth the milk.
The cleanup process of this machine is pretty quick and fast. However, I will recommend you to clean it up every single time, since it will start getting messy and will not clean up as easily as it would if you would have practiced regularly.
3. Delonghi EC680M Dedica
Next up I have another Delonghi on this list, and this is one of the best semi-automatic espresso machines in the market, the Dedica. This machine is pretty small and compact but delivers amazing pump espresso experience, it is also very user-friendly and you can also use Delonghi espresso capsules for an easier brewing experience. But overall this excellent machine delivers the best possible espresso-making prowess than any other semi-automatic machine.
The Delonghi EC680M Dedica doesn’t have the most traditional design, in fact, it employs a more modern design, which was necessary thanks to the compact footprint of this machine, for example, the control for the steam wand is placed on the side of the device. On the chrome strip at the top of the device, you will spot the controls of the device including the single shot, double shot, and steam button options. The power button is on the bottom of the right side and completes the sleek and minimal look of the device.
But this device is not just a pretty face as it is a very powerful machine and the whole process of making espresso is not as easy as you would think, but the machine values quality over quantity. The whole process starts with the selecting of the filter, and after you do that place coffee in the filter with the measuring spoon and then tamp it properly. Afterward, you will place the handle in the group head and select the single or double shot depending on the filter to brew coffee. The steam wand works properly as well and you can clean it up instantly after every use, with a simple wipe.
From all the semi-automatic machines that I have tried in this price range, the Delonghi EC680M Dedica was definitely the most capable of them all since it could deliver solid espresso with lots of crema and amazing flavor. The smells were all there and if you really want to drink espresso every morning this is the very best.
2. Flair Espresso Maker
As I told you earlier espresso is made with pressure, hot water, and finely ground coffee, so you can make one using the old methods of brewing. What do I mean by that is that you can use an excellent manual espresso maker from Flair. This espresso maker is not for those that are short on time in the morning and cannot be bothered with extra steps, however, if you have a little time in hand and want a great espresso experience, the Flair Espresso Maker is the perfect device for you.
The Flair Espresso Maker has a very interesting design made out of three major parts, including the base of the mechanism, the level and the main mechanism and the portafilter part which is where you place your coffee and hot water. It is all a portable package, since it can be easily disassembled into the three major parts and some smaller parts, and placed in its padded carrying case to take to camping or on your hikes, it is really great and when you combine it with a great hand grinder you can make excellent espresso on the wild. This mechanism is built to last, since it is made from ultra-quality materials like cast aluminum and stainless steel, and the whole chassis is backed with a 5-year warranty.
Like I said, in the beginning, this is not the easiest espresso maker to use since it utilizes some extra steps. First, off you have to place the ground coffee in the portafilter measured with the included measuring spoon, and then tamp it properly with the included tamping tool. After that, you have to seal off the top of the portafilter with the dispersion screen and place the steel or plastic cylinder on top of it and slide it in, and place the whole thing in the brewing platform. After that place a cup underneath it and add hot water. Now comes the interesting part, first off apply some pressure with the lever just until you feel resistance, and stay there for about 5-10 seconds, then after that apply pressure now all the way to the end, not excessively, try to go with the flow until it reaches the end, and your espresso will be ready to serve in about 20 to 25 seconds.
Thanks to the custom pressure gauge you don’t need any guesswork, meaning you can brew espresso in a fast manner since it gives you visual feedback and you can perfectly brew espresso. However the cleaning process is a little tedious and not as easy I would like, and to brew two espressos in a row you have to repeat the whole process, so it is not for those with limited time.
1. Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista
On top of our list, we have a very incredible machine coming from the American brand Mr. Coffee. When I first looked at this machine I was skeptical and I thought that it was too good to be true, however, through thorough testing I noticed that this machine is really an exceptional super-automatic machine that can pump out great espresso and variety drinks properly. It has one-touch controls and its integrated milk frother just takes things to another level, one of the very best espresso machines for its price point, can’t go wrong with this multi-purpose device.
In the design department, the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista doesn’t have the most attractive lines, however, it has some pleasant design language that will make it fit right in most kitchen spaces. It also is pretty compact for a pump espresso machine measuring 12.4×10.4×8.9-inches in total, and it comes in three available paint jobs, including Red, Silver, and White, so you can choose the one that fits your kitchen better. On the front of the device, you will spot the milk reservoir that the steaming wand is attached to, in addition to that, you can remove the reservoir to store it in the fridge to keep the milk fresh. The drip tray can accommodate different cup sizes and the removable water tank is also pretty large at liters.
In terms of controls and ease of use, Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista is very easy to use, in fact, it is the easiest in this article since you can see everything correctly stated on the control panel and there is no guesswork. There are three buttons there, including Espresso, Cappuccino, and Latte button, and as you will see in the user manual just a single press on a button will make on a shot, double press two shots, and a long press custom brewing methods, or cleaning the steam wand.
Interestingly the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista utilizes a vibration pump mechanism, that delivered some solid results and strong coffee with creamy milk. The espresso had some good amount of crema and it was brewed to perfection, with the right amount of sweetness extracted, and no acidity at all. Thanks to its pump the temperature was excellent for brewing espresso as it stayed at more than 94 degrees Celsius once it was ready to go.
If you want an easy espresso experience in your house to invest in this and a quality burr grinder and you won’t have to worry about your coffee for a long time.
There you have it, my coffee-loving friends. If you stick with one of these options I am sure that you won’t be disappointed and you will be able to drink excellent espresso every morning.