Best Espresso Maker Under $100

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You can make espresso at home with a great machine for the money.

You can make espresso at home with a great machine for the money.

When your morning cup of joe isn’t quite enough, and you’re craving a beautifully crafted espresso drink, save a trip  to the coffee shop (and a few bucks) by making one at home! While there are many high-end, expensive brands of espresso makers on the market, there are plenty available that will give you a perfectly crafted espresso drink every time.

In order to find the best affordable espresso maker for your kitchen, there are a few elements to explore. I’ll tell you what to look for, and I’ll recommend a few top picks for your next cappuccino. 

Type

There is a huge variety of types of espresso makers. These include semi-automatic, automatic, lever and moka, steam, and more. Steam espresso usually gives you the best results, allowing you to use pressure to push water through the coffee grounds, creating a strong, well-rounded espresso.

Get yourself this Mr. Coffee Dual Shot Espresso machine
and start making cafe-quality lattes at home!

Boiler

There are also three different types of boilers to consider when shopping for espresso makers. These are double or dual boilers, single boilers, and heat exchangers. Dual boilers are a favorite, as they provide the best temperature control and consistency, along with the ability to steam milk at the same time as pulling espresso shots. This combination lets you create beautiful lattes and hone your barista coffee art skills. 

This DeLonghi has 2 thermostats — one for water and one for steam.
Perfect espresso every time.

Size/Design

Many high-end espresso makers on the market are made with aesthetically pleasing mindset, rather than efficiency. You’ll want to consider how much counter space you have before choosing a model. A standard espresso machine in this price range is about 12” x 10” x 8,” so keep that in mind as you’re shopping. Also check out the differences between standard boxy designs, or more modern models and try to picture which would work better with your other kitchen decor.

The perfect espresso starts with perfectly ground beans. Check out my picks for the best burr coffee grinders.

Why pay somebody else to make that americano? Make it yourself with your own machine!

Why pay somebody else to make that americano? Make it yourself with your own machine!

Bar Pressure

Along with boilers and types, bar pressure is another element of the espresso machine that you’ll need to look into. Bar pressure is essentially how much force or pressure is exerted to push the steam and water through the coffee grounds. This measurement typically ranges from 9-18 bars, but you really don’t need more than 9. If a machine charges more for a higher bar pressure, it might not be worth it.

Take your espresso with you.
Here are my favorite coffee thermoses for work.

Water Source

Make sure to look into what water source the espresso machine requires. Some need to be manually filled with water, and others need to be plumbed into your water system. Others actually have the capacity to do both, which may be the best option if you plan on moving any time soon. Consider which of these three options would be the most beneficial for your home when shopping for your espresso maker.

Ease of Use

When it comes to espresso makers, ease of use is possibly the most important factor to consider when deciding on your final model. In terms of cleaning, beginner-friendly features, and wait time, this element can make or break your purchase.

The Hamilton Beach espresso maker is easy to clean and use,
with intuitive controls and removable drip trays.

In terms of cleaning, make sure your model has an easy to clean drip tray. Some even have two. You’ll also want to look for a removable frothing tip and nozzle, as well as a removable filter for easy cleaning. 

Roast your own coffee beans…with a popcorn maker!

Self primer?

Also consider how much time you’ll have in the morning or how patient you are when it comes to brewing time. Self-priming operations usually have shorter wait times, whereas with the models you prime yourself, you may have to wait up to 20 minutes for your espresso.

Espresso pod compatibility

If you like the coffee pod model, some espresso makers also have compatibility with ESE (easy serving espresso) pods. Look for an espresso machine with this feature if you’d like to make the brewing process even simpler.

This machine from DeLonghi is compatible with pods and regular espresso grounds.

Durability

There are two primary elements to consider when looking at the durability of your espresso maker model – the building materials and the warranty. Your boiler especially should be stainless steel. Stainless steel is extremely durable and also holds heat well, helping water in your boiler to heat up quickly. The more stainless steel in other parts of your espresso machine, the better, although this may drive up the price. Also make sure that the manufacturer provides a warranty on your espresso maker to get the best value for your purchase.

Wrap up

With just a little money up front, you can start making your own coffee drinks at home. No more paying for overpriced coffee shop drinks. I say use some of that money you save to buy high-quality beans. Your morning espresso will be even more amazing.

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Additional Resources

Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: Philipp V. and cahadikin