7 Best Espresso Machines Under 300$

Finding a machine that gives you the perfect barista-quality espresso or latte at home can often be a difficult task. We are often tempted to get into the Starbucks drive-through line or stop into the local coffee shop on our way to work, so we can start the morning with that perfectly brewed cup of coffee. However, we all know that this habit is costing us more time and money than we should be investing into something as small and simple as a cup of coffee. So why do we do it?

For one reason. Coffee is what holds you together during the weekly work meetings. It is what brings you together into friendship. Maybe it was the first experience you had with your significant other. Either way, coffee is the staple of the American morning.

With the overwhelming amount of espresso machines available to you, it can be hard to choose one that best suits your needs and budget. Espresso machines can be notoriously expensive, making many people hesitant to even begin searching for one. Some can be intimidating as well, with all their fancy knobs and buttons.

The good news is there are some amazing espresso machines under $300 that are efficient, powerful, and easy to use for both beginners and experts. All these machines give you an amazing cup of coffee that tastes like it was handmade just for you by your local barista.

Here are the Best Espresso Machines Under 300$

You may have heard the word espresso and not known what it means. It is a coffee that is made from finely ground beans, water, and steam pressure. Espresso machines are an important part of making this type of coffee because they heat up quickly and make you a cup in just seconds! This blog post will go over some of the best espresso machines under 300$.

Capresso Ultima Pro

This machine is a beginner espresso maker’s dream. It has all the customizable options with little fuss. The stainless-steel inside is lined with Thermablock which creates a perfect crema in each cup. It is fully programmable with single and double shot espresso features, as well as a handle with a double nozzle that can make two espressos at the same time.

It is self-tamping, which means less work for you! With a built-in amazing portafilter, this powerful machine automatically tamps the espresso for a perfect shot every time. The water tank is removable, so no more dragging the whole coffee machine to the kitchen sink every time it needs a refill. The frothing wand is perfect for making lattes and cappuccinos.

The black and stainless-steel design makes it chic and is the perfect addition to any countertop or home coffee bar. Capresso’s Ultima Pro is also made with your busy work schedule in mind, which is why the machine can heat up in just ten seconds.

Weighing just under 12 pounds and sitting at 10.5” x 12.25” x 14, it is a perfect compact size that will not take up too much kitchen or counter space.

What we liked:

  • Affordable
  • Easy to learn all the functions
  • The hidden holder under the lid keeps the measuring spoon from getting lost

What could be better:

  • The water tank is very small
  • Coffee grinder sold separately
  • Does not brew as hot as other machines

K-Café Coffee Maker

Perfect for Keurig users or people looking to get into espresso brewing for the first time. Since the machine can still brew regular coffee with the K-cup option, it is perfect for someone who simply wants to upgrade to a newer machine with espresso-making features.

The K-cafe machine is similar to other Keurig machines, which means many users will quickly learn how to make the perfect espresso. It features four coffee size options (6 oz., 8 oz., 10 oz., and 12 oz.) Along with the wide range of size choices, there are also buttons for “strong” and “shot.”

With a built-in milk frother, users will not have to buy one separately like with some other espresso makers. The preheat and brew time are also quick and efficient. The K-Cafe maker also has one more unique feature- the ability to make any of your drinks cold. Simply select the cold option to enjoy any of your drinks over ice on a hot summer day.

The machine is not compact, but still offers powerful features in a medium-size set up with dimensions of 17.32” x 14.17” x 14.41” and weighing 13.47 pounds.

What we liked:

  • Large 60 oz water tank
  • Auto-off feature
  • Several size options as well as the ability to make iced drinks

What could be better:

  • Doesn’t have a pressure gage
  • Most parts are made from plastic
  • Frother has trouble working with thick creams

Nespresso VertuoPlus Coffee and Espresso Maker Bundle

Nespresso is one of the most popular names you may hear when researching which espresso machine to buy. It has made a name for itself by making small and powerful machines that make the perfect shot of espresso. However, the vertuo coffee machine does much more than just pump out espresso. This automatic coffee maker makes five coffee sizes including a 1.35 oz espresso, a 2.7 oz double espresso, a 5 oz gran lungo, a 7.7 oz coffee, and a 14 oz alto. Perfect for an experienced coffee drinker looking for many options to choose from.

This bundle machine uses capsules made specifically for each brew size. A technology called Centrifusion is used to heat the capsule and extract espresso which is then poured directly into your cup.

The Nespresso Vertuo Machine is 19.45” x 11.5” x 15.67” and weighs about 13 pounds. The bundle includes an Aeroccino Milk Frother perfect for creating homemade lattes and cappuccinos.

What we liked:

  • 54 oz removable water tank
  • All capsules can be recycled
  • Variety of coffee size options

What could be better:

  • Noisy when brewing
  • Some consumers say espressos are not brewed hot enough
  • Only Nespresso Vertuo capsules are compatible with the machine

The Clio Brewer

This brewer is famous for its sophistication and the ability to make a strong dark roast cup of espresso. The crema on top is thinner and silkier compared to other machines. Although specifically made for those who love dark roasts, Clio also makes capsules that are milder. They also have decaf and black tea pods.

All pods can be used to make single espresso, double espresso, or a 10 oz cup of coffee. All can be brewed in 75 seconds or less, which makes this perfect for a busy lifestyle.

The dimensions are 14” x 5″ x 12.5″ making it perfect for a small apartment kitchen or kitchens that do not have too much counter space.

What we liked:

  • The fun red and white color options
  • The ability to make iced drinks
  • Adjustable cup height handle

What could be better:

  • Coffee grinder and milk frother not included
  • Does not have great tasting mild capsules
  • Espresso is not super-hot when brewed

Wacaco Minipresser

This machine is extremely portable and is perfect to bring camping, on vacation, or into the office. It is completely manually operated which means it can be used without a plug or battery.

The only things you need are hot water and ground espresso coffee. Simply use the pump to pressurize the coffee and amazing espresso with crema will be extracted into the waiting cup below.

At only 0.8 pounds and 6.89 inches, this tiny machine packs a powerful option to make espresso on the go. Take it on your next hiking adventure or keep it in the break room at work to have an espresso during lunch hour.

What we liked:

  • The accessibility
  • Extremely easy to use
  • Integrated scoop

What could be better:

  • Does not self-tamper
  • All parts are sold separately

Illy X9 Expresso Machine

From the famous Illy coffee makers, comes an amazingly simple machine. One touch preparation means anyone can use this machine to effortlessly brew coffee through both grounds and pods.

The design of this machine is one of the most efficient on the market. LED lights illuminate the cup during brewing. There is an automatic measurement system, so your cup will never overflow and make a mess.

You can also brew two different cup sizes and program the volume yourself. The pods are extremely consistent with each cup having seven grams of coffee. Their pods are known for being expertly rich and smooth in taste.

It is a decent size for any kitchen with dimensions of 4.8 x 10.5 x 10.6.” It also comes in black and red, so this machine can either blend in with your kitchen or provide a nice pop of color.

What we liked:

  • The water tank can be filled while the machine is already on
  • Small size makes it compact
  • Illy espresso pods are cheaper than other brands

What could be better:

  • Does not include steam wand or froth capabilities
  • Small water reservoir

DeLonghi 15 Bar Pump Espresso Maker

15 bar pumps are considered the perfect pressure to make an amazing cup of espresso and this machine has just that. It also features a dual function filter which makes it perfect for both ground coffee espresso and pods.

This powerful machine also has two separate thermostats making it easy to to control the steam and water temperatures. Your espresso will be the perfect temperature every single time. The heating system is fully automatic and can maintain the optimal temperature between cups so you can brew one after the other.

The jet frother swivels and rotates making it easy to steam milk while the espresso is brewing. It also allows the user to prepare lattes and cappuccinos and immediately clean the wand afterward.

The machine is stainless steel and black giving it a very chic design. It is small at 12.2″ x 19.3” x 15” and weighs just 6.68 pounds.

What we liked:

  • Drop tray and water tank are easy to clean and removable
  • Can use several different brands of pods
  • Coffee is warm but not too hot just after brewing

What could be better:

  • Cup height is not adjustable
  • Steam cup and grinder sold separately

How to choose the best espresso machine for yourself

Every espresso machine comes with distinctive features. Depending on how much coffee you drink and what kind of drinks you want to make, not all these features are necessary. You could save valuable time and money by choosing the simplest machine that still fits your personality and coffee drinking style.

Do you want to make your own espresso or allow the machine to do most of the work for you? If you don’t want to fool with tamping, grinding, or choosing coffee beans; then an espresso pod machine may be better for you. This way you simply select the pods and flavors and let the machine do its thing.

Popular brands like Nespresso, Breville, and Starbucks all have hundreds of pods to choose from including coffee origin, flavor profile, and light roast to dark roast options. Always check to ensure which brands of pods your machine is compatible with before buying.

Do you just want espresso and coffee, or do you want a full barista set up? Many espresso machines come built-in with accessories like a milk frother and coffee grinder. Other machines are sold as bundles with these items.

If you’re looking to make lattes, cappuccinos, or cortados then a milk foamer or frother may be necessary. Coffee grinders are essential for creating the perfect shot of espresso, so if you are not using a pod machine, a coffee grinder is an essential investment.

Buying a bundle is often cheaper than buying each component separately. So, if you know for sure that a milk frother and a coffee grinder is essential for your coffee experience, try to buy everything at one time as a bundle to save money in the long run.

The heating system is also crucial when determining which machine to buy. Some people like their coffee piping hot, while others like to be able to start drinking as soon as it is done brewing.

Double check the wattage and design of your machine’s heating system. This will determine the temperature of the espresso as well as the time it will take your machine to heat up. While a machine that heats up seems like a fantastic perk, these machines often create drinks that cool off very quickly as the initial temperature is 175 degrees instead of 195.

For a busy lifestyle, getting a machine that heats up quickly is important in those early morning rushes to get to work. Try to get a machine that heats up quickly but does not compromise your desired temperature for your perfect cup of joe.

Consider the size of the water tank as well. Some machines come with large reservoirs that only need to be filled a few times a week, while others need to be refilled almost every time the machine is used. Constantly refilling the tank may seem like a huge hassle, but fresh water also means fresher tasting espresso. Even if you do get a machine with a huge reservoir, try to dump out any old water to ensure your espresso is perfect.

If you have a large family or are investing in an espresso machine for the office, a machine with a large tank is best.

Some machines have steam wands, while others come with a separate small device that will froth the milk. Individual milk frothers are often easier to clean and have multiple settings. Steam wands are directly attached to the espresso machine itself and come with a small steel pitcher to steam the milk in. Both are great, but always keep in mind which one is better for your coffee aspirations.

In addition to the many features that a machine can have, the systems also range from manual, to completely automatic.

Types of machines

A manual machine is for more advanced users or people who really want to learn to make espresso and other drinks for themselves. You will need to learn to make espresso using the built-in lever to pull the water down through the coffee. While difficult to learn to use, it is also fully personalized.

Semi-automatic machines are not that different from manual machines, usually. You completely prepare the espresso yourself, but the machine will determine the water level and adjust accordingly. This means less work on your part, but also less options to fully customize how strong or rich your espresso is.

Automatic machines are more programmable and have a button to brew the coffee instead of a lever. You will still need to grind the coffee yourself and tamper it unless your machine is self-tampered.

Super automatic machines will grind your coffee and tamp them for you. Drink sizes are also fully programmable.

Capsule machines already have the portioned espresso in the pod. You only need to insert the capsule and select the coffee size. These machines are for people looking for consistency.

All machines offer their own pros and cons, so it is really your coffee goals that will determine which one you need to buy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are espresso machines easy to use?

The general answer is yes. There are many types of espresso machines that are geared towards beginners. All machines come with instruction pamphlets that will walk you through how to use the machine and all its features. Many consumers also watch YouTube videos to help them learn. The easiest espresso machines to use are often the automatic ones and the capsule ones. It could also be a clever idea to buy an automatic machine at the beginning to get your first taste and experience of espresso, and then upgrade to a manual one later.

How will the espresso taste?

This all really depends on which machine you are using and what type of beans or grounds you have. Many people assume that all espresso is dark, bitter, and rich. This is not necessarily the case. Many espresso machines sell pods or beans that can be milder, light roast, or even flavored. For example, Nespresso capsules are sold in a wide variety with pods that are even flavored, like caramel and vanilla. Of course, if you are more into classical espresso, each machine offers options to get that typical bitter and dark taste as well.

How do machines control pressure and temperature?

Usually, the more expensive machines do a better job of having internal equipment that can regulate these factors. However, the less expensive machines often do not lack total quality. An ideal espresso machine will brew at a pressure of 10-15 bars and at a temperature of 195 degrees Fahrenheit. Always try to get a machine that meets these specifications or as close to them as possible.

Key Takeaways

Each espresso machine is unique, just like each user is unique. The important thing is that your espresso machine can be tailored to your specific needs and desires. Even though your machine will be made with you in mind, always practice some general rules when using your machine to get the most out of it.

-Always allow the machine to properly heat before using. This will ensure you get the ideal temperature for your espresso.

-Use filtered water to make your espresso better tasting and to keep the water tank clean and free of spots. Espresso water tanks can avoid wear and tear when they are filled with soft, filtered water as opposed to regular tap water.

-Practice patience when using the machine. It may take a few tries to get that perfect tasting espresso.

-Try different techniques and brand of pods or beans until you find your favorite.

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