Looking for the best espresso machine under 400 dollars but you are being overwhelmed with all the choices? Thinking about getting a semi-automatic machine or a prosumer machine? Here we have made an article that will help you decide which machine to get depending on what you need it.
Factors You Need to Pay Attention to
You can find lots of good machines on the market currently, but it doesn’t mean that if it fits your friend that it will fit you too. The first thing before making any decisions you should do is to consider what will you use the machine for. To make it a little easier, we have made this list for the things you should pay attention to when looking for the best espresso machine under 400 dollars.
- The quality of the espresso
- The preparation time of the coffee
- Installation site
- Available labor
- The consumers you are targeting
- Will you prepare latte or other drinks
- Personal preferences
- Price above everything else
In order to help you, first, we need to know where will you be using it.
Choosing the Best Home Espresso Machine under 400 dollars
If you are a regular customer at the café near your home, then an espresso machine for your kitchen is a good idea. The first thing you need to ask yourself is the amount of time you are ready to dedicate to each cup of espresso. There are different things you need to look for when buying an espresso machine.
Every espresso machine will need proper maintenance like cleaning the drip tray, filling the water tank, emptying the capsules, removing the coffee grounds, etc. But you should decide if you are willing to clean a brew group that is detachable or not.
You can find machines that are equipped with detachable brew groups that are often very easy to clean and inspect. Also, there are other machines that have brew groups that are built-in. These ones are actually designed to clean themselves automatically. With these ones it can be a problem if something goes wrong because they are harder to repair.
If you are more of a hands-on person, then get the one that has removable parts, but if you don’t like cleaning, then get the one that will do the job for you.
Another thing you should take into consideration is the pressure of the pump. This particular feature is responsible for the extraction of the flavor from the coffee, as well as for the quality of the foam. Go for a machine that has nine or more bars.
The pressure that is needed for the extraction is created by the pull of a lever in this type of machine. These types of machines have great design and would look great in your kitchen, but they require lots of work and effort. Because of that, you probably don’t want this as an everyday machine.
These are the types of machines you can find in cafes. It is a professional-grade machine that has a steam wand and one group head. Espressos made by these machines are fantastic, just like in a café. But, the important thing to remember about these ones is that they are extremely difficult to use.
When using these machines, there are numerous factors you need to control, just like a barista does: tamper pressure, grinder regulation, amount of grounds, etc. This machine will need you to invest your time in learning how to use it. You may even enjoy this. And if that is the case, then go for it and buy this type of machine.
On the other hand, if you just want an easy and quick drink every morning, then this is not the machine for you.
If it is too hard to use a prosumer machine, consider getting a semi-automatic one. These ones are built to make the brewing process a little easier.
Semi-automatic machines offer you features like temperature control, pre-infusion, pre-grinding, programmable buttons, and digital displays. You can just choose the program and then press a button. With this machine, you are still in control, but it is harder to mess up.
Capsule Machines and Fully Automatic Machines
These are the types of machines that do all the work for you. Just make sure they have water and coffee and just push a button. With them, you won’t have any control over the extraction process, but still, they make decent espresso with minimum effort.
Capsule machines are made to almost entirely avoid human error. You just have to fill the water tank, put a coffee capsule in the machine and push a button.
You won’t have to worry about the messy grounds because they don’t leave them, but you have to have in mind that these capsules have a great impact on the environment because they are made for single use. Some producers are introducing biodegradable and recycled versions, but still, do you really need capsules? Many automatic machines are really easy to clean because they don’t make such a mess.
These types of machines are disliked in the coffee industry because when using them you are limited to only the capsules that are specially made for the model you have.
Nevertheless, just follow these few tips we gave you, and you won’t mess up the search.
Now, have a look at some of our best picks of the best espresso machines for under 400 dollars.
Not impressed with the fancy and new technology? Do you like to detest flimsy plastic and solid brass metal? Are you secretly in love with everything from the ’90s?
Then you should not look further than this machine. The design of this machine hasn’t changed a bit since 1991. It either means that the company is lazy, or that they just did it perfectly the first time.
Judging by all the reviews from some severe coffee lovers, it is the case that they did it correctly. It lives to its name, being a real classic from the ’90s.
This is probably the cheapest and smallest machine for espresso that can still be labeled as a true authentic model. And that is because this machine has a commercial portafilter (58mm) that is made out of chrome-plated brass.
If you like drinking espressos made the authentic Italian way, then this is the machine for you. Plus it is on a budget which is another good thing about it.
Another good thing about this machine is that it has a removable drip tray which makes it easier to clean. This machine wasn’t made for filling up larger cups, but you can overcome this problem by just removing the drip tray and then it can fit. It seems a little bit like a hack.
We don’t advise you to make Americanos with this machine since it doesn’t produce long drinks directly because the steam output just spouts steam, not water. Still, this machine has cool features like the cup warmer which makes sure your coffee doesn’t turn cold.
People who are used to some fancier coffee machines will be disappointed by this one. But we haven’t even gotten to the best part yet, which is the reservoir design. On the top, you can find a plastic flap that is used to cover a chute that is leading straight to the water tank, which lets you open it up without moving anything at all.
If you want to give it a proper refresh or clean, you only have to pull it out right after removing the drip tray. The worst thing when refilling water tanks is that you have to move the whole machine, but you won’t have this problem with the Gaggia Classic.Pros:
- Decent value
- Fantastic taste of coffee
- Industrial design
- Easy to clean
- Handy water tank
- Not the most user-friendly
- Not flexible
We can’t overlook the Dedica when looking at some fantastic budget espresso machines. At this point, when mentioning budget espresso machines, you can’t think of any other than the Italians.
This machine is one of the brand new models that this company can offer. Even though it is new, it has become prevalent because of its ultra-slim countertop footprint. It is the kind of machine that you can easily get your girlfriend to get for you.
The steaming and espresso also work amazing. Still, don’t count on winning any barista competitions with this espresso machine, but it is fantastic for home or office use.
Because of the slim look Dedica has, the company had to remove the steam wand from the front to the side of the machine. The buttons used to select options such as double or single espressos and the steam are moved from the front panel to the top side of the machine, while you can find the button for power hidden on the bottom of the machine.
But, the looks aren’t the best thing about this machine. What makes it truly attractive is the flavor of the coffee that it creates. There is a lot of features that are responsible for this ability. You can use the options buttons to set how hard you want your water to be, or even for how long you want your machine to be on.
This fantastic machine also has a safeguard for the boiler which can stop the coffee from scorching, and it also has a drip tray that is removable which means that it is easy to clean. This drip tray can also fit larger cups which is essential for the coffee lovers.
The brewing complex of this machine is quite complex while its looks are simple. Like with other espresso machines that are driven by a pump, brewing isn’t a convenience but a ritual.
The whole process of brewing begins by you pressing a button for the double, single ore ESE filter. Then you put in your coffee which will be filled with ground coffee, and it will be tamped down until its level using the separate presser.
When you are moving the filters in and out, you have to make sure that your fingers are out of the way, because it can be a bit tricky because the fitting is tight. Then, you will have to select two or one-shots setting button, and the coffee will dispense smoothly and quickly.
For drinks that are longer, you can use the steam wand which is located at the side, and it can be used to produce foam for cappuccinos. When you want to clean the machine, all you have to do is to remove the outer cover which will reveal a rubber spout which makes it easy to remove and spot any residue.Pros:
- A barista-style espresso machine
- Slim dimensions
- Variable settings
- Some boiler overheating issues
- Not usable for beginners
Saeco HD8656/47 X-Small Vapore Espresso
This is the most expensive one on our list, and it is a super-automatic espresso machine. It might be costly, but it is well worth the money you are spending. It weighs 15.7 pounds, and its size is 15.2 x 16.7 x 15.3 inches. It is made to fit on any countertop in your kitchen, but yet it is very durable.
Regarding the aesthetics, it looks very cool with its exterior of matte black and gives a fantastic stylish look to your kitchen. The best thing this machine offers is that you can customize both the strength and consistency of your drink.
Philips named its features in some fancy names, but anyhow, all of them are doing a great job in extracting the taste and aroma from the ground beans into a fantastic espresso. This machine has a great pre-brewing system, which can extract flavors from every granule of coffee by injecting hot water into the coffee beans.
The X-small has an integrated Panarello steam wand which is used as a hot water dispenser and a milk frother, like most of the machines in this price range. And because of this, it can make other hot beverages like hot chocolate or tea.
The unique thing about this machine is that it has a built-in grinder made out of ceramic for producing freshly ground coffee beans. Also, it has a 15 bar pump which helps extract the flavor out of the coffee beans. Other than these, this machine has a drip tray that is very easy to clean. The brew group is impressive on this device, and it allows you to dispense, tamp, and brew in only one brewing cycle. The boiler is made out of stainless steel, and you get a bean container that holds 180 grams.
The only complaint that was made about this espresso machine is the noise it produces while grinding the coffee, it can be annoying, but that depends on your sensitivity to sound.
The X-small has a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.Pros:
- Has five grinder settings
- Brews two cups simultaneously
- Ceramic grinders
- Panarello steam wand
- Extracting 100 percent flavor
- The only thing customers have complained is the sound it makes when it grinds the coffee beans
Breville Duo-Temp Pro
At first look, this machine has a great resemblance to the Breville Infuser. This machine is equipped with the Breville touch, and it features various user-friendly options and accessories that make brewing at home a lot easier and more enjoyable. In comparison to the Infuser, the Duo-temp has just one dial that has to be flipped between steaming and brewing whereas the other one has two buttons. Never mind this little downside, the Duo-temp is equipped with some awesome features that you can find on the Infuser.
You can also find other machines at this price point like the Saeco Venezia, but it doesn’t even come close to the Breville. The Duo-temp is equipped with both a non-pressurized portafilter and a pressurized portafilter this way making it easier for beginners to get the hang of the machine. In order to return the temp back down from steaming to brewing, this machine has the ability to purge water through the Thermocoil boiler.
The coffee this machine makes is fantastic. A good thing with this machine is that it doesn’t take long to brew an espresso because it is equipped with a pre-infusion time and the Rancilio Rocky grinder. The pre-infusion time is controlled by the machine because its only control is the dial that switches between steam or brew water and also the select button for hot water or steam. This may seem limited, but it is perfect for beginners who need some help at getting their skills sharper.
As we have already mentioned, this machine has a purge option which is amazing for a machine at this price. Due to the fact that this machine has only a single boiler, brewing and steaming can’t be done simultaneously. When you finish steaming, just flip the dial and you will hear when the machine is purged, and this way its temperature is decreased.
And let us not forget about the fantastic traditional steam wand this machine has. This is a feature that is a bit hard to learn at first, but when you do, you will quickly see it pay off. This machine uses a thermocouple heater and because of that, it will take some time for the steam wand to heat up, which is also good for beginners, giving them time to hone the skills.
Not only is it well equipped but this machine also looks amazing. Made out of stainless steel, it has a fresh style and it would look amazing in your kitchen.Pros:
- Auto-purge option
- PID for easier temperature regulation
- Traditional steam wand
- It takes some time for it to heat up
- Can heat milk unevenly
DeLonghi Nespresso Latissima Touch
This is a machine produced by DeLonghi, and it was introduced back in 2007. But since then, this machine has just gotten better. It is a great device for brewing milky coffee. This machine uses Nespresso pods and it has an automatic carafe for milk foaming. With this impressive machine, you can brew ristrettos, espressos, latte macchiatos, cappuccinos, and lungs by just a touch of a button.
As for the design of this machine, it looks amazing. It has a coffee outlet that is built-in the machine while the milk carafe has its own place on the platform. This machine is also equipped with an additional drip tray that is hidden inside the machine, meaning that it has an incredibly sleek appearance. It is also equipped with a container where you can store your capsules.
The design of this machine is fantastic. It has a cable that is flexible and can be stored bellow the machine, which means that you can put it either close or far from the socket. It is also equipped with an additional drip tray which can be used as a platform for coffee cups.
The weight of this machine is 4.5 kilos. Other good things that this machine has are the ability for its thermoblock to heat up in a matter of seconds. As for the cleaning, this machine has alerts for descaling and milk carafe and also it has an auto switch-off option.
When using this machine, be sure to get familiar with the instructions that are provided to you. Some of the buttons can be a bit sensitive which means that hovering above them can activate them. It is turned off by the push of a button which is located on the back of the machine.
This machine offers you a max of 19 bar pressure. The drinks that this machine makes have smooth taste with a good, strong aroma and plenty of depth of flavor.Pros:
- Good value for a pod and milk machine
- Fresh milk foam
- One-touch drinks
- Tricky to refill water tank
- Restricted to compatible pods
If you are looking for the best espresso machine under 400 dollars, then this is the one for you.
It can be a tough job of finding the right espresso machine that you need because of the vast number of them that exist. But, the main thing you need to pay attention to is their quality of build and also your commitment you are ready to give to your coffee. Also, when looking for an espresso machine you have to buy one according to your time, if you are in a hurry, then it is better to get a super-automatic one, but on the other side if you like messing around with your coffee and experimenting, then you should go for a semi-automatic one.