Being able to make espresso in the comfort of your home is a great feeling. It’s really easy to do so and will also save you from having to spend money at a coffee shop. It’s very possible to get coffee shop results with an espresso machine under $200. Before we get into the reviews, here are a few things I think you should consider before making your final choice out of some of the best espresso machines under $200.
- De’Longhi 15 Bar Pump Espresso Maker
- Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
- De’Longhi ECP3420 Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine
- Espresso Machine & Cappuccino Maker w/ Milk Steamer – My Pick
- Bonsen Kitchen 20-Bar Espresso Machine
Considerations When Choosing an Espresso Machine
Espresso Machine Types
Steam-driven – With a steam-driven espresso machine, you have pressured steam that forces water to go through coffee grounds. While they still can produce crema, they don’t have precision when it comes to temperature control. And, without enough pressure, you end up with strong coffee that isn’t exactly espresso.
Pump-driven: Using an electric pump, a pump-driven espresso machine can generate pressure without relying on steam. This offers better pressure control and makes a really good shot of espresso.
Features to Look for When Choosing an Espresso Machine
Semi-Automatic vs Super-Automatic
When choosing an espresso machine there are several types, but on this list are only going to be semi-automatic and super-automatic. Depending on how much effort and work you want to put into making espresso will affect your choice in an espresso machine.
Semi-automatics require more work to be put in to get an espresso shot compared to a super-automatic. A few things you might have to do include: tamping your beans, grinding your beans, steaming your own milk, and stopping the brewing process to end extraction.
A super-automatic will do everything above that you might have to do with a semi-automatic. Most super-automatics will have pre-programmed buttons that’ll make you specific drinks, like a latte or cappuccino.
You always want to think about the mechanics of any espresso machine. Pump driven machines will typically win out over a pressure-driven one. This is due to having the best temperature and pressure control to create a really true espresso drink. In comparison, a steam-driven machine can make a really good cup of coffee.
Single vs Double Shot
Every machine has the ability to produce a specific number of shots, either double or single shots. You might want to look into whether It’s important to think about how you will use the machine. If you plan to use it when guests are over, you will want to purchase a different type of machine than the one you will only use in the morning. When serving guests, you will want a double shot machine to shorten the waiting time while a single shot is perfect for morning use.
Temperature control is also a major consideration. Depending on the type of espresso you are making, some will brew at a lower temperature than others. For example, a classic European espresso is typically served at a lower temperature than an American espresso will. It’s also important that you can change the temperature on the machine that you have to accommodate various espresso types.
This De’Longhi is a semi-automatic espresso machine that makes espresso at 15 bars of pressure. You can use ground coffee or pods to brew your shots. This machine can pull two shots of espresso at the same time.
It comes with a few features, including: a steaming wand for your milk, a thermostat for water and steam pressure, and two metal filters for your espresso grounds. The machine also has a built in tamper to make it easier for you as well. The water reservoir is easy to remove, fill up, and reattach to the machine.
This espresso machine is really beginner friendly, which I like. It gives you some control over the brewing process, while not completely leaving everything for you to do.
An issue with this machine is that it doesn’t like too fine grounds. If you decide to pick up this machine you’ll want to use a slightly coarser grind. You’ll still get some pretty tasty espresso from it.
|Heats up pretty fast, in about 15 minutes||The frother could be better|
|Has a built in tamper that works pretty good||Doesn’t like when you use fine grounds, have to use something a little coarser|
|It’s great for people who are just starting to make espresso at home||Space for pulling shots is only big enough for shot glasses|
The Mr. Coffee Espresso Maker is a 3-in-1 semi-automatic machine. It has pre-programmed buttons that’ll make you espresso shots, lattes, or cappuccinos. Super handy if you don’t want to do too much work for a drink in the morning.
This machine comes with a water reservoir and milk reservoir. It’ll steam and froth your milk for you, a very convenient feature. One thing about the milk reservoir you should know is that it should be cleaned after use everyday, even if you store it in the fridge.
It is semi-automatic so you will have to tamp your own coffee grounds. The portafilter can be tough to get off of the machine after being in the locked position.
Overall, I would say this is a pretty solid machine. It’s more on the super-automatic side with the pre-programmed buttons which isn’t a bad thing. You still have a little control over your espresso pulls with the tamping though.
|The brewing process is quiet||Hard to find a cup size that fits just right for the milk frother|
|Has a really helpful self cleaning cycle function||The position for lock and unlock on the portafilter can be tough|
|Super easy to operate, your drinks can be made with just a touch of a button|
The next De’Longhi we have on the list is the ECP3420. Like the previous model you can either use pods or ground coffee. You can pull either one or two shots with it. The rapid cappuccino system will maintain a good temperature so that you can continually pull espresso shots.
A big difference between this one and the previous one, is that the bottom tray is removable. The removable tray gives you a lot more room to fit larger cups. The max height for cups it can take is about 5 inches. This machine will also self-prime, so you’ll have to do less when it’s starting up.
This machine is pretty lightweight, you might need two hands when operating it, so that it doesn’t move around. Another small issue is that the frother could be longer, so you’ll either need to pour milk up higher or hold up the cup the entire steaming process.
|Brews espresso very quickly||Very lightweight, you might need 2 hands to operate it|
|Can fit a variety of cups, up to 5 inches||The frother wand is kind of short|
|The markers are very easy to see on the water reservoir|
I consider this pick the ultimate beginner espresso machine bundle. Included with this espresso machine are: 2 porcelain cups, a stainless steel milk pitcher, a measuring scoop, coffee bean grinder, tamper, and a portafilter. This is pretty much everything you’ll need to start your espresso making career.
You can make pretty decent single or double espresso shots from it. It comes with a removable water tank that has a handle. This machine is semi-automatic, so you’ll have to do some things when using it.
A couple things to note about this machine that could be slightly annoying. The first thing is that you can’t steam milk and pull shots at the same time. The second is that it will not automatically stop at the perfect amount of espresso, you’ll have to stop it yourself. It is a semi-automatic after all.
The grinder that comes with this is a blade grinder that will not give you consistently even grounds. I would suggest getting a burr grinder, so that you can have that perfect and evenly sized grounds. You can still use the grinder for spices or other uses.
|They have very good customer service||You have to manually stop your machine when pulling shots|
|You can make pretty good espresso from your home||You can’t pull espresso shots and steam milk at the same time|
|Fantastic machine for beginners, since they include extra accessories that you won’t have to get separately|
This no-leak, high-performance espresso machine has a 1.25-liter tank capacity. Ideal for home use, the Bonsenkitchen 20-Bar Espresso Machine comes with a milk frother wand and a sturdy stainless-steel body. With a stylish design, this machine is a great addition to any kitchen décor.
Offering two separate temperature control systems, the Bonsenkitchen 20-Bar Espresso Machine allows you to control the steam and water pressure separately. With the professional 20 bar Italian pump, you can prep your coffee to your preferred taste thanks to the adjustable controls. The swiveling steam wand can be controlled by the adjustable steam feature so you can heat or steam milk for lattes and cappuccinos.
Super easy to clean, the Bonsenkitchen has a removable drip tray that allows larger cups to easily fit under the trip. Offering a perfectly balanced taste, the temperature control technology is able to regulate the water precisely and allows for perfectly balanced coffee extraction giving you consistency and control.
Preventing aluminum oxidation to make the water healthier, the Thermoblock System uses an aluminum alloy that includes a stainless-steel heating channel. This is an easy to clean cappuccino machine that allows you to remove the filter, high-pressure funnel, water tank, and collecting tray to clean them separately. You can make as many as 10 cups of espresso. The Bonsenkitchen is ideal for apartments, offices, and homes saving you energy and time with fast and consistent cappuccinos.
|Has two separate control systems||It can get pretty noisy|
|A very easy machine to use and clean||The instructions aren’t too clear|
|It stops aluminum oxidation making your drinks healthier|
Other Considerations & Tips
What makes an Espresso Machine the Best?
To brew up a flavorful and robust cup of espresso, the best espresso machine will create the distinguishing crema layer on the top. By forcing hot water through a coffee ‘puck’, you get just the right amount of pressure and temperature to extract the perfect cup of espresso with the maximum amount of flavor.
The difficulty lies in maintaining the ideal temperature and pressure to get efficient extraction. Remember that if you have just the slightest change in the pressure or temperature, you can totally change the taste. Maintaining the temperature and pressure is also what will affect the price of an espresso machine.
You also want to look for a machine that has the ability to froth milk. When you have a machine that includes a milk frother, it’s one less too that you have to buy, and it will always be ready for you to use. However, this is just another part of the machine that needs to be cleaned, so try and find something easy to maintain.
Nine pressure bars are usually considered the ideal amount of pressure to make the perfect cup of espresso. There are, however, others that think you need at least 15 bars. You can find good quality espresso machines with 15 bars of pressure for under $200. How much pressure you need in your machine really depends on your preferences and the flavor you are trying to create.
Any coffee machine can be a pain to clean, and this includes many of the better espresso machines under $100. Having an espresso machine that is simple to take apart and comes with parts that you can either clean easily or wash in the dishwasher is always nice.
No one wants their coffee machines to break down quickly, so look for an espresso machine that has a durable and long-lasting design. The material the machine is constructed out makes a big difference. If you have the choice, go for steel since it won’t stain or corrode.
When choosing the heating type for your espresso machine, you have two options either thermoblock or boiler. A thermoblock can usually heat a block of aluminum that is equipped with a channel cut into it. As the water passes through this channel, heat is then transferred to the water. Not only is it energy efficient since it only heats the water needed for an espresso, but a thermoblock heating system is also capable of brewing espresso quickly.
The thermoblock has the disadvantage of holding inconsistent temperatures. The actual temperature is affected by the ambient temperature.
In comparison, a boiler heating system is similar to the more traditional method of heating up a pot of water, which just happens inside the machine. One of the benefits of the boiler system is its ability to heat the right amount of water for several servings of espresso that is both consistent and the perfect temperature.
There are also disadvantages to the boiler system including wasted heated water if you don’t need to have several beverages right away. The water is kept by the machine to the preferred temperature as long as the machine is on. Another disadvantage is that, if it can steam milk also, it can’t steam milk and brew espresso simultaneously. Don’t worry though. There are some machines that come with a double boiler system that can work around this issue, so make sure you do your research to make sure that the milk is ready at the same time as the espresso.
My Favorite Espresso Machine
My pick for best espresso machines under $200 is going to be the Espresso Machine & Cappuccino Maker w/ Milk Steamer. I just love that it’s so friendly for people who are new to making espresso. It provides you everything you need to start making espresso from your home in this bundle.
What’s included is a tamper, portafilter, measuring scoop, coffee bean grinder, 2 porcelain cups, and stainless steel milk pitcher. For getting all these extra accessories, I think it’s well worth the price and it still comes in under $200. You can make pretty good tasting espresso from this machine.