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If you yearn for a fresh-brewed cup of espresso first thing in the morning, but your wallet thinks it’s a vad idea, don’t despair. As espresso machines have increased in popularity, prices have come tumbling down. While you won’t get a top-of-the-line, superautomatic espresso maker on the cheap, it is quite possible these days to buy a decent espresso machine for under $300. If your budget is putting a crimp in your espresso habit, check out these candidates for best espresso machines for those on tight budgets.
With a 15-bar pump and 1,000 watts of power and a price of less than $100, the Delonghi EC155 Espresso/Cappuccino Maker is one sweet little machine. It holds 4 3/8 cups of water in a removable tank, and is ready to start drawing espresso in less than a minute. You can froth your milk without drawing heat off your water because, surprisingly for such an affordable machine, the DeLonghi EC155 has separate thermometers for steam and water. And, to top it off, the portafilter will accommodate ESE pods as well as ground coffee, so you get your choice of convenience there, too. When you factor in price, and what you get for it, the DeLonghi EC155 is easily the best espresso machine for anyone on a budget.
If you’re a fan of single serve coffee makers, The Nespresso C100-US-AERO Essenza Automatic Single-Serve Espresso Machine may be right up your alley. It’s sort of a one-trick pony — you’re confined to the roasts and blends that Nespresso offers in their patented, proprietary coffee capsules. By all accounts, it’s an awesome trick, though, the reviews for flavor for the Nespresso Essenza are over the top. With a 19-bar pump, and an automatic/programmable control, Nespresso makes espresso foolproof, and the 41-ounce water tank gives you plenty of cups of espresso before it needs a refill. It goes from off to ready in just about a minute, and the classic Nespresso futuristic bullet looks great on your kitchen counter. You can buy it as part of a package deal with the Aeroccino froth maker for foolproof frothed milk for just about $249, making the Essenza one of the best espresso machines that are kind to your budget.
Gaggia 102534 Espresso-color semi-automatic espresso machine $199
A Gaggia for less than $200? Yeah, baby! The Gaggia name has been emblazoned on the best espresso machines for nearly a century, and the sleek Gaggia Espresso-Color carries on the tradition in a grand way. The 11,00 watt machine features a stainless steel boiler, a 15-bar pump, chrome-plated brass brew group and portafilter, and removable 5 1/2 cup water tank. To make it even sweeter, the Gaggia espresso machine can fit an ESE coffee pod or your own ground coffee, has a steam wand and a cup warmer and — it’s only real drawback — a plastic case. Even so, it’s a sleek, pretty machine that definitely earns its place among the best espresso machines.
Cuisinart EM-100 1000-Watt 15-Bar Espresso Maker, Stainless Steel
Cuisinart has a name for quality home appliances, though the name doesn’t usually extend to espresso makers. The Cuisinart EM-100 Stainless Steel Espresso Maker definitely lives up to the Cuisinart reputation, though. The 1,000-watt machine features a 15-bar pump that makes a gorgeous cup of espresso. It offers a steam wand, ESE adapter so you can use convenient coffee pods, and a cup warming plate on top. Of all the machines on the list of best budget espresso machines, it’s the one that looks the most like a pro machine, with its heavy steel body and blocky, substantial form. It makes a great cup of espresso — but it can be finicky about the tamp. Though it list for $270, you can often find it online for less than $150, making it an even sweeter deal.
You may never have heard of Lello before, but if this gorgeous hunk of a machine is any indication, you’ll be hearing a lot about the company soon. The Lello 1375 Ariete Cafe Prestige Espresso Maker is, quite simply, one beautiful machine. Made of heavy duty stainless steel with detailing that rivals some of the top names in espresso and cappuccino machines, the Ariete is the type of machine that demands and commands attention on your countertop. It has a 15-bar pump and a 950-watt heater — which should be a drawback but doesn’t seem to be. Despite the lower wattage than most of the best espresso machines in its class, the Ariete heats water to ready quickly, and keeps it there until you want it. At $189, it’s a great espresso machine for the budget conscious beginning barista.