Espresso machines that are on the market for less than $300 have one huge advantage over the more expensive models – they are very affordable. The word ‘affordable,’ apparently, evokes positive emotions in many coffee enthusiasts, and the enthusiasts often decide to give some affordable machine a wholehearted chance.
But how wise is this decision based on the sweet-sounding ‘affordable?’ Should we not mind the qualities of our espresso machines like we mind the quality of our coffee? Let us tell you more about 8 espresso machines under $300 that we think are not only affordable, but also amazing.
#1 Breville Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine – Best Choice
The Breville Vertuo coffee and espresso machine is a Nespresso machine that works with Nespresso Vertuo capsules. ‘To each coffee, its own’ seems to be the motto of the Vertuo, which uses the Nespresso Centrifusion TM technology to read the barcodes on the rim of the Nespresso capsules. This is how the machine brews the coffee in each capsule with the right temperature and water quantity and turns it into a shot of tasty espresso at the touch of a button.
The Vertuo can make espresso, double espresso, gran lungo, alto, and coffee. It comes in a bundle with the Aeroccino 3 milk frother, which means that you can make your coffee sweeter with some hot milk or foam. The machine has a fast heat-up time, and you’ll have to wait for only 15 seconds before the Vertuo is ready to make you a coffee drink. Once it prepares you the coffee that you want, the machine will automatically shut off if inactive for more than nine minutes.
- Single-serve espresso machine
- Works at the touch of a button
- Five cup sizes
- 40-ounce water tank
- Comes in a bundle with the Aeroccino 3 milk frother
- Heats up in 15 seconds
- Uses the Nespresso Centrifusion TM technology
- Automatic shut-off
Makes several coffee drinks
Is very compact
Is very easy to use
Heats up fast and saves electricity
We couldn’t find any downsides for this machine
#2 Sowtech 4-Cup Espresso Maker Cappuccino Machine – Best Value
Saving money is important, and the Sowtech 4-cup espresso maker and cappuccino machine is here to guard your pocket with the lowest price on this list. This machine, is, in fact, one of the best espresso machines on our list of best espresso machines under $100 as well. Such being the case, you can expect the Sowtech to make you a nice espresso with the help of its 3.5-bar pressure pump and the temperature control function available. After it’s brewed, the espresso will start to extract not too fast and not to slow into the coffee carafe that comes together with the machine. This carafe has a water level scale so that you always know how many cups of espresso you currently have in the glass container.
Operating this Sowtech model is very easy since the Vertuo has a single switch knob that puts the machine into several operation modes. Notifying you that the machine is preparing your espresso or steaming the milk is a light indicator placed next to the knob. The Sowtech 4-cup espresso maker comes with a removable drip tray and milk frother which should bring peace in the hearts of people who are worried about cleaning the machine. Besides from being removable, the frother also makes velvety milk foam, perfect for cappuccinos and lattes.
- 3.5-bar pressure pump
- Temperature control function
- A knob to operate the machine with
- Milk frother
- Light indicator for different operations
- Comes with a coffee carafe
Takes very short to brew your coffee
The coffee carafe has a water level scale on it
Mainly made of plastic
#3 EspressoWorks 10 Pc All-In-One Barista Bundle Espresso Machine & Cappuccino Maker – Premium pick
An espresso machine that will work its way to your heart with ease is the EspressoWorks All-In-One Barista Bundle espresso machine and cappuccino maker. This machine will allow you to make coffee your way and let you decorate your drinks with the 16 art stencil templates that come with the All-In-One Barista bundle. To top that, you’ll also get cappuccino and espresso cups to drink your coffee from in the morning or during every other part of the day.
The 19-bar pressure pump on the EspressoWork espresso machine does a great job in making a creamy espresso and the 47-ounce water tank on the machine makes sure you can have a lot of coffee throughout the day without refilling it. Furthermore, with this espresso machine, you won’t have to wake up too early to get it ready for making a shot of espresso—the Advanced Thermoblock Heating System will heat up the water in the tank in 45 seconds. What’s also great about this espresso machine is that it comes with an automatic milk carafe and a grinder, so you’ll never have to even think about buying a separate frother and a manual or electric grinder to have a cup of good-quality espresso.
- Makes single and double espresso shots
- 47-ounce water tank
- 19-bar pressure pump
- Advanced Thermoblock Heating System
- Milk carafe for milk frothing
- Separate coffee bean grinder
- Two cappuccino cups
- Two espresso cups
Brews delicious results
The milk carafe is automatic
Comes with 16 art stencil templates for decorating your coffee
Has a very intuitive control panel
Nothing that worries us when it comes to this product
#4 Flair Signature Espresso Maker
If you really like to have control over the process of making espresso, the interesting-looking Flair Signature espresso maker will give you the pleasure of doing that. This manual espresso maker has a lever that can exert up to 10 bars of pressure on the ground coffee and a 2.02-ounce water cylinder which you’re supposed to fill with hot water. Do this and your espresso will take no more than 45 seconds to extract, which is great if you need to hurry up with your coffee before work.
The base of this manual espresso maker is mostly made of aluminum and stainless steel which makes the machine very durable. Something else that’s made of stainless steel is the tamper that comes with this espresso maker. Affordable machines usually come with plastic tampers, so the tamper that comes with the Flair Signature is quite a nice surprise. Another nice thing about this machine is its padded carrying case that will take all your worries away when you’re about to go on a picnic and need to bring it with you.
- Manual espresso maker
- 6-bar to 10-bar lever pressure
- Comes with a padded carrying case
- Comes with a stainless steel tamper
- Base made of stainless steel and aluminum parts
- 2.02-ounce water cylinder
- 30-45 seconds extraction time
Very easy to clean
Doesn’t come with a burr grinder, you’ll need to purchase it separately
#5 Breville-Nespresso Pixie Espresso Machine
Compact and energy-efficient, the Breville-Nespresso Pixie is here to make you a rich espresso from Nespresso capsules. The espresso or lungo made by this machine are always going to be delicious because of the 19-bar pressure pump that’s within the Pixie. With a pump as powerful as this one, you can be sure that the flavor of the espresso will be great and that the crema will be very thick. Not so bad for an espresso machine under $300.
When it comes to the way it works, we can say that the Breville-Nespresso Pixie is a very easy-to-use Nespresso machine. That said, its capsule chamber is very easy to open, and the machine has only two push buttons which will let you program the volume of the coffee on the fly. The Pixie, furthermore, has a folding drip tray which is great if you want to make coffee in a taller cup.
- Capsule-based espresso machine
- One-touch machine
- 19-bar pressure pump
- 24-ounce water tank
- Espresso and lungo buttons
- Folding drip tray
Programmable coffee buttons
Doesn’t come with a milk frother
#6 Mr. Coffee Café Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
If you are into automatic milk frothers that are actually milk carafes, you might want to open the doors of your home for the Mr. Coffee espresso and cappuccino maker. Press whichever button you want on its highly-intuitive control panel and wait for the machine to make you a coffee drink in no time. The automatic milk frother has a spout that adjusts the frother for frothing the milk for different coffee drinks and the 15-bar pressure pump makes sure that the espresso in your cup is rich and well-flavored.
You can easily refill the water tank of the Mr. Coffee Café Barista once there are only a few drops of water left in it since it’s removable. Furthermore, the machine lets you accommodate shorter and taller coffee cups, so you can definitely experiment with the size of your drinks if you decide to buy it.
- One-touch machine
- 15-bar pressure pump
- Milk frother with adjustable frothing controls
- Removable water reservoir
Great automatic milk frother
Very intuitive control panel
Removable water reservoir
Mainly made of plastic
A bit loud when working
#7 De’Longhi BAR32 Retro 15-BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
There’s nothing old about the De’Longhi Retro 15-bar pump espresso cappuccino maker when it comes to the way it operates. The machine is as easy-to-use as it is affordable, and it only has one universal switch for all the operations the machine can do. This switch lets you control the making of the espresso and the steaming and frothing of the milk. As of how the machine makes your coffee drinks, your espresso will be extracted in either one or two cups and you’ll be able to easily froth your with the help of the swivel jet frother.
The De’Longhi BAR32 Retro will not make you do a single thing to prepare the machine for brewing because it has a self-priming function. Furthermore, with the two thermostats of the Retro, you are guaranteed to have drinks that are as hot as you like them. The Retro is also a great choice if you like having the flexibility of using both ground coffee and pods because it is a machine that works both ways.
- Works with pods and ground coffee
- 15-bar pressure pump
- Filter holder with two functions
- Milk frother
- Two thermostats
There being only one switch dial on the machine makes using the machine easier
Makes single and double espresso shots at a time
Comes with a tamper attached to its body
Predominantly made of plastic
#8 De’Longhi ECP3420 Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine
The last machine on this list the De’Longhi ECP3420 espresso and cappuccino machine. This machine has a 15-bar pressure pump which is great for getting a creamy and rich espresso. The ECP3420 doesn’t have the largest water tank in the world, but the tank is removable and is, hence, easy to clean and refill. There’s nothing else to say about the stainless steel boiler on the machine other than recognizing its great heating capacity and longevity.
The ECP3420 makes things easier for you with the help of its self-priming operation and its easy-to-use switch dials, one for regulating the making of the espresso and the other one for steaming your milk. Yes, this De’Longhi model has an integrated milk frother that will make you silky foam for your cappuccinos and lattes. Furthermore, the machine will let you use cups that are 5 inches tall if you remove the drip tray.
- 15-bar pressure pump
- 37-ounce water tank
- Stainless steel boiler
- Milk frother
- Self-priming operation
- Accommodates cups from 3.5 to 5 inches tall
- Switch dial
- Steam dial
Removable drip tray lets you fit taller cups underneath the portafilter
Convenient Filter Storage
Works with ground coffee and coffee pods
Drinks are not programmable
It’s not a one-touch machine
Are semi-automatic and automatic machines better than manual ones?
This will largely depend on how you want your espresso machine to work. If you are willing to put in some effort and use your machine as a tool to make your coffee, you can go with a manual espresso machine. Otherwise, it is wise to purchase a semi-automatic or an automatic one, especially if you like having your coffee done quickly and at the touch of a button or if you don’t trust your barista skills. So, to put it shortly, both types of espresso machines are great, but which type works best for you depends on you, your skills, and your preferences.
Why is my espresso machine not dispensing coffee or dispensing it very slowly?
This is a problem that people who use espresso machines often experience, especially if they’re new to this. Your espresso machine not dispensing coffee or dispensing it very slowly can be caused by multiple factors. One such factor is the coffee grind. If the coffee is ground too finely and tamped into the filter basket way too tightly, the water won’t be able to flow through and you’ll get no coffee extracted into your cup. However, coffee not being dispensed or being dispensed can indicate a problem with the water supply, the pump, problems with the solenoid valve, scale problems, or problems caused by oily beans.
Why does my machine dispense the coffee way too quickly?
If this happens to you, that’s probably because the coffee you’re using on your machine is probably ground too coarsely. This causes the water to flow through the coffee way too fast and negatively impacts the coffee extraction.
Why does coffee leak from the side of the portafilter on my espresso machine?
This can be caused by at least three things. One of these things is that the group head might have coffee grounds over it and needs to be cleaned. The second thing that could cause coffee leakage from the side of the portafilter is that you’re using old filter baskets. Finally, this can also be the result of old group seals.
Why is there water under my machine?
You should first acknowledge whether the water that you found under the espresso machine is clean or has coffee remains in it. If the water is clean, you will probably need to see inside the machine and check whether it’s leaking from because espresso machines can leak from literally any component that carries water throughout the machine. If the water that you’ve found under the machine is dirty, then the leakage probably has to do with the drain hose or outlet from the drain bowl being blocked and these machine parts should be checked.
Things to consider when buying an espresso machine
Durability – Durability is one of the most important things that you need to consider when buying an espresso machine. This is because you want a machine that will last long and serve you well—one that you won’t have to throw away after the first couple of months you’ve been using it. Machines that are made of stainless steel are always a better choice than machines that are made of plastic parts. However, affordable machines often tend to have a plastic body, and even though this is often considered as a downside, they do tend to last long.
Ease of use – Using the espresso machine should be as easy as drinking your coffee while you’re having your friends over. If you’re having trouble pressing or understanding the buttons on the machine, reaching for the water tank or pulling the drip tray out, you’ll probably end up using the most ordinary coffee pot of all. To avoid that, do some research on the machine that took your breath away and see how easy it is to actually use it.
Pressure pump – A machine with a good pressure pump is something you should always look for when filling the espresso machine void on that kitchen counter of yours. ‘Good,’ in this case, means 9 bars of pressure that the pump exerts on the ground coffee in the portafilter. The pump of an espresso machine is very important for the extraction of the coffee, and if you decide to go ‘pump bad,’ you’ll also end up with a bad espresso shot (translated: very little crema and espresso that can easily be mistaken for tea).
Milk frother – Buying a machine with a milk frother can be great for all those times you want sweet foam on top of that thick espresso, unless you are someone who doesn’t really like milk-based coffee drinks. If you do, however, enjoy the taste of your coffee when it’s mixed with milk, you should take your search for the machine with the best milk frother to a whole new level and see if you prefer automatic milk carafes that froth milk or steam wands.
Programmability – We do trust the best of the espresso machines on the market to make fabulous coffee drinks. However, we do trust ourselves more when it comes to nailing that early-morning coffee that can either make us grumpy or refresh us and make our hearts skip a beat. There’s nothing like programmable coffee drinks that can put a smile on the faces of millions of coffee lovers out there. Therefore, you might want to pay more attention to those espresso machines that have programmable espresso buttons or programmability options overall.
When buying and espresso machine under $300, think about how you’d imagine your ideal, and yet affordable, cup of coffee. Do you see a decent espresso that will make you feel like you’re in an Italian café or do you imagine a cup of coffee with no other words to describe it but ‘ordinary?’ Think about this as you’re processing the information that you’ve just read in this article. And don’t forget that there were multiple good reasons why the Breville Vertuo coffee and espresso machine stands on the top of this list.