Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

What are the Cheapest Espresso Machines Worth Buying

Simple, rich, and freshly-brewed. Life is good.
Simple, rich, and freshly-brewed. Life is good.

Do you have the need for speed first thing in the morning?

I don’t!

Unless we’re talking a hit of espresso with a smooth hazel crema. Check out my favorite espresso machine at Amazon.

And, don’t write off that double shot of espresso with a Grappa after a meal! Now that hits the spot every time!

OK, so you’re here because you’re looking for the cheapest espresso machine but you don’t want a piece of junk. Right?

Well, we get it. We’ve brought you the crema of espresso machines so you can get what you want without breaking the bank.

Nice, right? So let’s get down to business…

You can still enjoy a freshly-brewed coffee by getting your own coffee maker!

Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker

Nespresso BEC430TTN Pixie Espresso Machine by Breville, Titan

See the Nespresso Pixie Espresso Machine at Amazon

The Nespresso Pixie is a gorgeous looking espresso maker to invite you into the world of Nespresso.

And you can see from its stylish design that it’s from somewhere in Europe. Switzerland, to be exact.

It’s a compact little machine with a footprint of 12.83 by 4.33 by 9 inches. So it’s perfect for a smaller kitchen and even a dorm room. And the drip tray folds up making it even smaller.

What else is perfect for a dorm room? This mini fridge.

But don’t be fooled by its small stature! This little machine has a bar pressure of 19 bar.

So what does that mean?

Well, the perfect bar pressure to pull the perfect espresso is around 9. It’s basically the rate at which you’re pushing the hot water through your compact ‘puck’ of coffee.

At 9 bar pressure, you’ll be pulling your espresso at around 2 to 3 oz in 30 seconds.

On one of those fancy commercial machines, you’d have a pressure gauge to see this happen.

According to the experts, anything over 9 bar pressure is a bonus. But since this baby is small, I think having that extra pressure is a good thing. Even although you might not need it.

The water tank is removable so it’s easy to fill up and it can hold 24 oz of water.

This espresso machine runs on a pump system and it has a thermal block. This means it heats up fast. And according to the Nespresso the Pixie heats up in 30 seconds and you’re good to go for a delicious brew.

Of course, it’s got the standard LED light indicators. So you know what where your machine is in the process of heating and brewing. And to give you a heads up when the tank needs refilling.

Tip: High-quality water will improve the aroma of your espresso. If you can, use filtered or reverse osmosis water.

And remember the folding drip tray I mentioned?

Well, it’s not just a space-saving design!

It also makes it possible for you to brew in a larger cup or ‘lungo’. And it’s as simple as lifting the drip tray and hitting the correct button which is clearly marked.

Also, you don’t need to remove the used capsule after each use. The Pixie can hold up to 10 used ones. A nice feature if you’re a lazy coffee drinker like me!

I like the Pixie. But like with anything, there are a few gripes I have.

I’m old school so I like pulling my espresso with freshly ground beans. And the Pixie won’t let me! This is a dealbreaker for me.

But you might prefer the idea of pods. If you do, the Pixie won’t mind!

Also, there’s no frother. I’m not too phased about this because this is an espresso machine, no a cappuccino maker.

Espresso is meant to be enjoyed black!

But I know a bunch of people who would love the choice of both. If you’re one of those people, the Pixie is not for you.

But from my research, here’s the most worrying problem I’ve noticed…

A lot, and I mean A LOT of customers have complained about a mysterious leaking.

Apparently, it’s not from the tank. So it might be a flaw in the design or some machines were made on a Friday! LOL!

OK, granted, not all customers had this problem. And Amazon is really good about issuing refunds. So my advice is, try the machine out immediately to make sure your machine doesn’t leak.

Overall the Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker is a great little machine with features I like. You’ll have your first hit of caffeine while reading the headlines before work.

It’s definitely worth considering but it’s not the cheapest.

It’s also got a 1-year warranty which you can rely on if something goes wrong. Just make sure you register your machine on their website as soon as it arrives.

A nice touch is when you buy this machine you get 16 complimentary pods. So you get to experiment to find your favorite before ordering more. Although, decaf is not included with the free pod collection.

See the Nespresso Pixie Espresso Machine at Amazon

DeLonghi EC155 Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

De'Longhi EC155 15 Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker,Black

See the DeLonghi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker at Amazon

Everyone knows DeLonghi. They make everything from heaters to vacuum cleaners and air conditioners. So it makes sense that you’d find them in the kitchen, pulling espresso.

This DeLonghi EC155 is a little more like the barista style machines you see at your favorite cafe. And it has more functionality than the Nespresso Pixie I reviewed before.

It’s not a small machine. Its footprint is 11 by 8 by 10 inches. And it weighs over 6 lbs, so not something you’re going to take out of your cabinet every morning.

Its bar pressure is 15 which is standard for espresso makers. But like I mentioned earlier, you only need about 9 bar to make a good espresso.

Like most espresso machines, the water tank is removable making it easy to refill. And this one can hold 35 oz of water. Way more than the Pixie.

There’s nothing worse than waiting ages for your first hit of caffeine in the morning. It’s damn painful!

So DeLonghi designed this one with a pump and thermal system. It heats up lightning fast. According to DeLonghi, you should have your espresso in one minute.

But, what I really love about this machine is its versatility.

I need my caffeine fix to be hot as hell. If it’s not, I’m peeved for the rest of the day.

But my hubby likes his the way normal people do.

Like java piping hot too? Check out this post to find the best coffee cup to keep coffee hot.

So I like the 2 separate thermostats. You can brew 2 shots at the same time at the temperature that’s right for you.

If you like to decide in the morning whether you want espresso or cappuccino you’ll be happy to know the DeLonghi EC155 has a frother too.

And my favorite feature of all is you can choose to use either pods or freshly ground beans. I prefer ground beans, but every so often when laziness kicks in I like to pop in a pod for convenience.

And yes, it has all the standard things like lights to keep you in the loop and a drip tray.

So, I’d be lying if I said this machine is perfect. But then again, nothing is.

Check out this post if you’re looking for the best French press for tea.

So here are the flaws this half Italian gal found…

From my research, I’ve found that a few customers complained about the leaking water tank. Although this seems to be a trend with ALL espresso makers. The tanks don’t seem to fit as snug as they should.

But a couple of reviewers gave a very simple solution. Just give it a little bang and it pops into place.

Not ideal I suppose, but who hasn’t banged an appliance into submission before?

Another issue is people have noted that the tamper included with the machine is rubbish.

But seriously! Who actually uses a tamper? I’ve never seen one used on my trips to Italy. If the Italians don’t use them then why should we!

In my house, we just use a soup spoon. Does the trick perfectly. And it avoids compacting the grind too much.

The frother also got a lot of people complaining it’s too short. OK granted, this can be a pain. But DeLonghi is an Italian brand.

And one reviewer rightly pointed out that in Italy a cappuccino is a shot of espresso with a tiny bit of foam. So, of course, they use only a small frothing pitcher.

If you own espresso shot glasses they will not fit under the spigot. This is something some customers were not happy about.

But hey! It’s an excuse to get your hands on some genuine espresso cups. We love ours and don’t sip espresso from anything else.

You can pick up some beautiful sets from Amazon without breaking the bank.

Despite its little quirks, I like the DeLonghi EC155. It’s versatile, giving you the option to make espresso or cappuccino.

You can use pods or ground beans. And my favorite feature is the 2 thermostats so you can please the pallet of everyone in your home.

And not forgetting its 1-year warranty and its very affordable price.

See the DeLonghi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker at Amazon

Check out this quick video by DeLonghi to see how easy this baby is to set up.

Saeco Poemia Top Espresso Machine

See the Philips SAECO Poemia Espresso Machine at Amazon

The Saeco Poemia is by far the smallest espresso machines made by Saeco. And it’s also in the most affordable price class.

The machine’s body is made from plastic with a stainless steel casing. Which is a standard design with all non-commercial home espresso machines.

It’s a nice looking machine that’ll make you feel like a barista in your own kitchen.

Once you make that perfect latte, keep it hot with an insulated tumbler or check out these mugs especially for keeping coffee hot.

Like I mentioned the Poemia is the smallest machine Saeco makes. But it’s not a sissy! It stands 12.6 inches high and weighs a whopping 10 lbs.

So unless you want a warm-up workout before your caffeine boost, you’ll need to give this espresso a spot to live on your counter and leave it there.

Like most other home espresso makers the Poemia has a 15 bar pump. There’s no pressure gauge so you can’t see this.

But it’s not really important. As long as you’re getting 9 bars, you’ll be pulling perfect espresso in seconds.

The Poemia has a 42 oz water tank and it runs on a pump system which means it heats up super fast. And it’s got all the must-have lights to let you know where it’s at with heating.

It’s worth mentioning that you can’t brew and steam at the same time.

And if you want to switch from steaming to brewing you’ll need to flip the dial to ‘brew’ and cool it down.

The machine does all the hard work by pulling cold water from the tank.

It only takes a few seconds and voila!

You’re ready to brew.

But, my favorite design feature is the portafilter system. So what does that mean?

Well, it means your grind doesn’t have to be perfect to get a good espresso. If you buy pre-ground sometimes the grind is not fine enough.

But the portafilter will compensate for this. Nice touch if you ask me!

Also, you don’t need to tamp your coffee because the portafilter does it for you. But if you like the nuances of making coffee there is a tamping tool on the back of the scoop that comes with the machine.

So, if I’m talking about tamping then it means this machine can handle ground beans and pods. I love this feature too!

Love cold brew? Check out this post on the best grinder for cold brew.

And to top it off it’s got a double and single basket for brewing. So you can make 2 espressos at the same time!

Just remember this machine doesn’t turn off automatically. So keep an eye on it or your drip tray will be filled with coffee.

The frother is a pannarello style one. And it makes pretty decent froth. But don’t expect Starbucks-like froth. For that, you’ll need the standard kind.

From my research, I’ve noticed that most customers are happy with the quality of the espresso they pull from this machine.

But there have been a few complaints and they are all rather similar…

First, more than a handful of customers complained that the frother stopped working after a while.

But, a buck gets ten they didn’t read the manual properly. If they did they’d know there’s a tiny pinhole on the frother which is where the air gets sucked in to froth the milk.

If that pinhole is blocked, you won’t get any air injected into the milk and so no froth will develop.

Sticking with the frother here, it is a little tricky to get a frothing pitcher under it. And once your milk is frothed it’s even harder to get it out. So stick with a 12 oz pitcher and don’t overfill it and you’ll be golden.

Similar to the DeLonghi EC155 I picked up complaints about mysterious leaking.

But in general, most of the complaints were about the machine suddenly dying and no longer working after a few months.

Although it’s a very reasonable price, there’s no way around this, it’s a dealbreaker for me.

See the Philips SAECO Poemia Espresso Machine at Amazon

Mr. Coffee Automatic Dual Shot Espresso & Cappuccino System

Mr. Coffee Automatic Dual Shot Espresso/Cappuccino System

See the Mr. Coffee ECMP50 Espresso/Cappuccino Maker at Amazon

Next up is this espresso and cappuccino machine by Mr. Coffee.

This machine has no fancy dials or buttons. Instead, it’s just got a button for pulling espresso and one for frothing.

Easy as pie to operate and you still get that barista feeling. I like easy as pie!

It’s a decent size standing at a height of 11.42 inches. And it weighs almost 9 lbs. So, if you have a small urban kitchen, but if you love your espresso, you’ll make a plan!

It also has a 40 oz water tank which is pretty big for this machine.

As standard with these home espresso makers, this one by Mr. Coffee has a 15 bar pump system and a thermalpressure block.

In a nutshell, this means it heats up fast. You can have a single shot of espresso ready in 20 seconds flat. And for a double shot, 40 seconds!

Yup, that’s pretty fast in my book.

And it scores a couple of brownie points there. I mean, it’s just torture to wait around for that first fix of crema in the morning. Right?

Like I mentioned earlier this machine has what it needs to do the job the way it’s meant to be done. So I’m not too phased that it doesn’t work with pods.

I’m a freshly ground kinda gal. So if you like to make your java fix with pods look at something like the DeLonghi EC155 instead.

And yes, it has all the lights you need to know when it’s ready and when it’s on the steam or brew setting.

The portafilter comes with a single or double basket so you can pull a single or a double shot for yourself. Or pull a shot each for you and your significant other!

But one of the main features I love is the fact that the frother rotates away from the machine. This might sound like a silly thing for me to get so excited about.

But it’s not…

Because this is where most other machines fall short. It’s usually near impossible to get a decent sized froth pitcher into place. But like I said, this one rotates, so you can get your pitcher under the frother without spilling.

I also particularly like the frother because it’s a standard one. And in my opinion, this makes a much better froth than the pannarello of the Saeco does.

I’m a gadget geek and this is a small feature I’m going to geek out over. But…

The spoon this machine comes with has 3 functions. It’s a scoop, it’s a tamper AND you can use it to take apart your frother to give it a good clean.

A clean frother is essential to making that lush froth so I think this handy tool is a nice touch.

I also like the fact that this machine is automatic. This is a nice feature for me since I get sucked into the news headlines and sometimes forget I’m pulling my morning fix.

So if you don’t like ending up with soupy watered down espresso and an overflowing drip tray, you’ll be happy with this feature too!

OK, so there’s a lot about this espresso and cappuccino machine from Mr. Coffee that I like.

But from my research, there are a few complaints worth mentioning here…

Some customers had the bad experience of getting a machine that was DOA. Of course, Amazon has great customer service and you’re guaranteed of a replacement.

There were also a few complaints about leaking. But I’ll bet it’s because the water tank was not placed into the machine correctly. So just make sure the tank clips into place and you’ll be fine.

Also, if you tamp your grind too much, it will affect the brewing. So you’ll need to experiment there. But if you’re an espresso connoisseur like I am, you know it’s all about experimenting!

All-in-all I like the Mr. Coffee automatic Espresso and Cappuccino machine.

You can pull one shot or two. It’s got an amazing frother. There are no annoying dials to turn this way and that. And a 40-second wait for a double shot of espresso is way better than waiting at Starbucks.

Without a doubt, you get so much more from this machine than what the price suggests. So, in my opinion, it’s a definite contender as one of the best, cheapest espresso makers worth buying.

See the Mr. Coffee ECMP50 Espresso/Cappuccino Maker at Amazon

Here’s a video from Mr. Coffee. Check out how easy it is to pull espresso with this machine!

Love a good latte? Make it fancy with the best milk frother for latte art.

Hamilton Beach 40792 Espresso & Cappuccino Maker

The Hamilton beach cappuccino maker is user-friendly, and it delivers quality espresso drinks. It features the following.

  • It has a detachable water reservoir that is transparent enabling you to monitor the water level easily. Also, the reservoir is big enough to hold water thus you don’t need to refill it when making espresso.
  • It has an adjustable steam wand that you can use to froth, steam, and blend to your desired espresso flavor or you can even turn it into latte or cappuccino. Also, it comes with cup warmer that heats your coffee as you wait for the cappuccino maker ready for brewing.
  • It has a tamping and combination tool that enables you to measure the coffee grounds required correctly for your espresso machine and tamp them to make the desired espresso you want.
  • It can brew four ounces at a time, and you can brew two cups at once with a button push and turn of dials. Its tall enough to hold taller glass if you want to make four ounces t once
  • Using this machine, you can use both the espresso pods and coffee grounds because it comes with two port filters holders that you can use depending on whether its pods or grounds. You can set the temperature using the manual controls and set it between the steaming mode or brewing.
  • It comes with indicator lights that let you know when the machine is connected to a power supply with a polarized plug that enables you to connect to an electrical socket one way.

Check out the Hamilton Beach 40792 Espresso & Cappuccino Maker at Amazon

My Favorite Picks

My number one choice for the cheapest espresso machines worth buying is the DeLonghi EC155 Espresso and Cappuccino Machine.

It makes the job of pulling cafe quality espresso easy.

It’s got a decent sized water tank and you can pull a shot of espresso in under a minute.

You’re not bound to just making espresso because it’s got a frother too. So cappuccino’s are on the menu too. And the frother is the real McCoy so it makes luscious foam.

And you’ve also got the choice between using fresh grinds or convenient pods.

The 2 thermostats are also a big plus for me. If you like your shots hot as hell like I do you can’t go wrong with this DeLonghi.

Also, DeLonghi is also a well-known household name so it goes without saying that you get a 1-year warranty with your machine. Which is something I value highly.

My next choice is the espresso and cappuccino machine by Mr. Coffee.

It’s a simple and easy to operate machine and it makes a great espresso.

Like the DeLonghi, it’s got the kind of frother I like to make light puffy froth. And as a major plus point, it’s more flexible than the DeLonghi’s so you won’t struggle to squeeze your pitcher under it.

20 seconds to pull a single shot and 40 seconds for a double is a big winner in my book.

The reason it’s second on my list is that it doesn’t have the versatility of the DeLonghi. You don’t have the option to use pods for those lazy mornings.

That’s not a problem for me. But with the DeLonghi, you get that extra choice in the same price range which I think is great value for money.

And Mr. Coffee also has a bunch of neat how-to videos. Which is great if you’re new to the luxurious world of home-brewed espresso.

Here’s a cool how-to video on how to make the best froth…

Third on my list is the Nespresso Pixie. The only reason it’s number three is because it only takes pods. But if that’s your thing then the Pixie is for you.

Also, it’s not the cheapest of the bunch I’ve reviewed here. But it’s one of the most affordable Nespresso machines. It also comes with a 1-year warranty and 16 Nespresso pods to get you experimenting.

In all honesty, the Saeco doesn’t even make my list. But I guess I have to mention it here. I don’t think it’s worth the money at all.

There are too many complaints about it being faulty and it sure as sugar ain’t cheap. It’s proof that price doesn’t always equal quality.

Want to go a totally different direction? I found the best high-end dual boiler espresso machines too. Here’s what I found out.

How Does an Espresso Machine Work?

Hot (but not boiling) water is forced under pressure through ground coffee beans to give an extra special flavor.

An espresso machine will use this process to produce a dark brown color and a satisfyingly creamy head or crema. Whether you plan to enjoy it black, or want to add some sugar and skimmed milk, having a coffee maker at home lets you save money.

And avoid having your name misspelled at Starbucks.

Turn your kitchen into a cafe with the best espresso maker!
Turn your kitchen into a cafe with the best espresso maker!

Frequently Asked Questions

I want to purchase an espresso coffee maker. Are they the same in terms of quality, operation and efficiency?

The espresso machines are not the same. There are two different types of Espresso machine, i.e., the lever operated and pump powered device. If you’re an experienced espresso maker, you can use the lever-operated machine. The lever-operated machine is hard to run, and you require significant time and technical skills to operate it if you want to make a perfect espresso. However, the pump operated machine is more comfortable to run, and they require fewer skills compared to the lever powered. The machines available on the market have multiple capabilities in that you can make coffee, espresso and lattes. Some can even make chocolates. Research has shown that most of the machines that specialize in making espressos are more expensive than the multi-purpose machines and it takes more time to learn how to operate it.

What is the difference between espresso and coffee?

The espresso is a type of coffee that is prepared by passing hot water or steam through packed, finely ground roasted coffee beans. Coffee is brewed by running hot water through ground up coffee beans. Both sound like the same technique, but the underlying difference is that the espresso is made by passing pressure of hot water or steam, thus removing the natural flavors swiftly than the normal brewing method like drip brewing.

How can I clean my espresso machine?

The cleaning process of the espresso machines differs widely depending on the type of the machine you have. As usually instructed, the espresso machines should never be immersed in a dishwasher for a cleanup unless specified by the manufacturer. I would advise you to wipe the parts of the machine with a damp cloth and be careful when wiping the steam wand since as a general rule, it should be cleaned when hot and you therefore expose yourself to steam which can burn you.

How will I know my espresso is perfect for consumption?

A properly made espresso has a crème in it. It’s a smooth and fluffy layer of brown and creamy foam that forms on the drink. The formation of cream is as a result of perfectly brewed espresso. When pounds of pressure is used to draw out the oils, flavor, and essence of the coffee, the gases are evenly distributed in form of crème.

Recently I purchased an espresso machine but, unfortunately, I don’t know how to operate it. How do you use the machine?

The pump powered espresso machine use a capsule that contains finely grounded coffee beans. The pod is inserted in the brewing chamber, after putting some water in the device, and from the various brewing options, you choose what your machine is capable of producing. Depending on the machine that you’ve, determine the variation that best suits the operation you intend to perform.

I have tried making espresso several times but the results are pretty bad. Does it mean I can’t make a tasty espresso?

Having failed several times doesn’t mean that you’ll never be good at making espresso. Making espresso is an art that requires several years of practice, patience and trial, and error. It can be even more difficult when experimenting with various techniques, grinds and different machines. However, when you get it right, you’ll be the talk everywhere you go.


Figuring out which espresso machine is worth your money is daunting. There are so many choices and wading through the specs takes hours!

So, you’ve seen what’s out there, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s value for money and quality.

Now you’re armed with everything you need to shop with confidence and choose the best espresso machine for you. So you’ll be pulling shots of espresso like the barista in your favorite cafe.

Got extra coffee beans or grind? Follow my tips to store coffee for long-term freshness.

If you like a course grind on your beans, check out this post on the best grinders for coarse coffee grounds.

Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: Michelle T. and Scott S.

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