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Wouldn’t it be amazing to wake up every morning to the aroma of your very own espresso machine brewing you a fresh cup of deep dark joy? Nowadays, it is quite easy to find the best espresso machine under $300 for you, whether you be a busy student, a freelancer who has clients over for business meeting or simply a lover of gourmet coffees who likes to have more than one cup of java a day.
To create this article, we’ve considered several essential features each espresso machine possesses. We looked at the pressure it uses it create a cup of perfectly brewed coffee. We also checked whether a model uses ground coffee, ESE pods, or capsules. Inclusion of a frother will allow you to not only make espressos, but also cappuccinos, lattes, and other beverages. Finally, the dimensions will tell you where you can put your new appliance while the warranty period determines how long you’ll be covered should something go wrong.
If you are in the market for a new home espresso machine, we have done your homework for you by highlighting the five top models currently available. We also wrote in-detail reviews of each product with information from manufacturer websites, product descriptions, and consumer reviews to find the best espresso machine under $300 to fit your lifestyle. The buying guide at the end of this thorough review will further assist you in your shopping.
More features: 3-in-1 filter holder; adjustable bottom tray for taller cups
If you want to duplicate the same experience you would have at your local coffee house you could buy this stainless pump style espresso machine, which can make any type of gourmet café beverage you like, including single or double espresso, cappuccino or latte. However, just because it is a pump machine, it does not mean that that you will be spending any time second-guessing how much freshly ground coffee to fill it with. There is a holder for one shot, another to make a two-shot espresso and yet another to hold an espresso pod. This machine is manual, but it guarantees to deliver the exact same amount of espresso with each shot, so each of your creations will be as consistent as those at the coffee shop. You can also customize the type of foam or froth you want to top your flat whites, cappuccinos, and lattes using the hand steamer.
This machine is our Editor’s Choice because it has so many great features including an adjustable bottom tray that can be removed to accommodate a larger cup or thermos, a sleek space-saving design, and a generous snap-away water tank. Customers were happy with how easy the stainless steel parts were to remove and clean, but there were several reviews remarking on hot the parts became while the unit was in operation. Customers who bought the machine loved that it only took 40 seconds to get started up to make perfect cappuccinos every time.
More features: programmable; removable 57.5-oz. water tank; 5 coffee cup sizes
This stylish espresso maker has a unique sleek design with a curved space-age flair which automatically brews single serve coffee cup sizes, including single shot and double shot espressos at the touch of a button. The coffee capacity ranges from Espresso at 1.35 oz. to Alto at 14 oz. This best home espresso machine under 300 dollars is limited in only one way, and that is you can only use the Nespresso capsules in the machine. This unit comes with a Welcome kit consisting of twelve Nespresso Vertuo capsule each with its own sensational aroma and flavor.
One of the advantages of buying a Nespresso VertuoPlus is that it qualifies as being a “smart Nespresso machine,” meaning that it uses a patented centrifusion technology that utilizes bar codes to produce the perfect crema for every cup, no matter what its size is. This particular machine comes with its own Aeroccino 3 milk frother, to help you create the perfect cappuccino or latte as well, and if you are fond of making iced coffee with cold foam, then this is the machine for you. People who bought this automatic espresso machine remarked on the generous capacity of the 60-ounce tank, yet there were some complaints that if even slightly misaligned with its connectors to the unit’s base, it could leak. Some customers also thought that the $1.00 cost per pod to make a coffee was almost as expensive as buying a coffee at a local café.
What are its best features?
Very easy to clean
Makes drinks of different sizes
Consistently perfect taste with every cup
Makes cold foam for iced coffee
What could be improved?
The unit can leak at the base if the parts are not connected securely
More features: adjustable cup tray; removable 22-oz. milk reservoir
This powerful automatic coffee maker has a 19-bar Italian pump that delivers both single or double shots of espresso with a simple one button press. It comes with an old-fashioned spigot style automatic milk frother that whips any type of milk into the desired creamy froth. The 650 ml milk reservoir can be easily snapped off the unit so that remaining milk can be stored in the fridge. The unit also comes with an adjustable cup tray that can easily fit everything from short mugs to taller thermos style coffee holders. If you love to wake up to the bracing smell of a barista style quality espresso being brewed in the morning then this is the machine for you, because it has an automatic timer as well.
People who bought this machine from Mr. Coffee noted that it makes great cappuccinos and lattes using nut milks and coconut milk as well. It also got points for heating up very fast and being impressively easy to clean. The unit itself was also effortless to put together, but some consumers complained that the instructions that came with this automatic coffee maker were a bit vague and that there were no measuring lines on the milk or water reservoirs to help estimate liquid capacity. One consumer noted that the machine is very loud and that it works better with wide-mouthed cups rather than narrow-mouthed ones.
More features: comes with a grinder, measuring spoon, filter, frothing cup, and 2 espresso cups
This seven-piece espresso and cappuccino maker is so complete that you could probably open your own coffee shop with it. It has all kinds of built-in features such as a steamer and frother. It also comes with much high-quality stand-alone accessories such as a coffee bean grinder, portafilter, milk frothing cup, spoon, tamper, and even two cappuccino cups. Its square design takes up a little more counter space at 9.75 x 11.5 inches, giving it an important presence on your kitchen counter that tells your guests, “I love caffeine.” This is the perfect machine for those that have clients to their home, have a lot of group meetings, or are just in a hurry every morning as the unit heats up in just 45 seconds before it’s ready to do wonders allowing you to make two cups of cappuccino or espresso at a time.
The unit is semi-automatic meaning you can control the intensity and amount of espresso poured into your cup all by yourself, which allows for maximum customization.
This is an old school machine with a 15 bar pump pressure system that has stainless steel inserts for both single or double shots. The frothing device and drip tray are removable and very easy to clean. Consumers remark on how powerful the brewing and pressure power is on this machine. People also noted that the appliance made better espresso and cappuccinos if the coffee used was medium to ground coarsely. Many buyers also commented on the impressive and fast customer support that was there to quickly replace small damaged parts such as the rubber tip of the milk-steaming nozzle.
More features: removable 64-oz. water reservoir; cup-warming plate
This versatile espresso machine, that boasts a professional grade level of 15 bars of pressure, allows you to use both ground coffee and pods. You can even use your espresso machine as an aromatic alarm clock that wakes you up to the smell of brewing java the morning since it’s programmable to start brewing whenever you want. The cup size can be pre-programmed to be either 1.5 or 3 ounces. The attached stainless steel steam nozzle is easy to clean with a purge of steam, and the interlocking portafilter detaches effortlessly with a quick left turn and allows you to deposit used espresso grounds in the garbage. This easy-to-clean unit includes a massive 69-ounce removable reservoir and comes with accessories such as a tamping tool and stainless steel frothing cup.
According to the company, the inner boiler in the unit is made of aluminum and is not the best choice for those trying to avoid consuming this metal due to health or memory problems. Another issue to note is that the finer the grind of the coffee is, the less actual liquid this machine will produce, so it is best to use a medium or coarse grind with it. This espresso machine is also very loud, and the steamer makes the high-pitched wheezing even noisier. There were several complaints that the plastic connector on the steam wand has been known to fall off. However, many consumers compared the operation of this espresso machine under $300 to professional models that cost $400 or more and noted that it performs just as well.
Why is it special?
Can be used with both ground coffee and pods
Easy to clean
Large 69-ounce reservoir
What are the flaws?
Reportedly, steam connector often breaks
Things to Consider
Aside from simply loving a cup of espresso, whenever and wherever you want, buying an espresso machine can save you a lot of money. Considering that the cost of buying that daily cup of espresso at a café or restaurant can be anywhere from $3.00 to $8.00 and that this does not include the tip to your barista, your espresso machine might very well pay for itself in a month or two. The guide below is designed to further assist you in your search for the ideal unit.
Features to consider while choosing an espresso machine
The theory is that the more pressure bars the espresso maker possesses, the more it will taste like it was made by a barista in a real Italian coffee house. Most espresso machines under $300 have a pressure rating of 15 bars, but our Mr. Coffee One-Touch CoffeeHouse Espresso Maker that is number three on our list has a pressure bar rating of 19 bars. True commercial machines used in coffee houses feature a rotary coffee press, not a vibratory one, but the heavier the pressure, the more likely you are to create an espresso drink that tastes like it was produced in a real coffee house.
If a commercial rotary press is used to make the espresso in coffee houses, then no more than 15 bars of pressure is needed to make a great cup of pressure simply because it is so powerful.
Water reservoir capacity
The water reservoir capacity of an espresso maker matters if you want to serve up several espresso-based drinks at once, or if you simply do not have the inclination to fill up a smaller reservoir on a daily basis. The espresso maker with the largest reservoir capacity on our list is the Cuisinart EM-200, which has a removable 64-oz. water tank allowing you to make espressos for a week straight without having to change the water.
However, true coffee gourmands will tell your that the reservoir size does not matter unless you are having a party and serving several people, as a great cup of espresso should always be made with fresh filtered water every day. If a large capacity isn’t what you’re after, check out our review of the best single serve coffee makers, designed with more individual use in mind.
K-Cup pods vs. Nespresso capsules vs. ground coffee
If you drink your espresso black, you don’t need an attached or accessory milk frother when you buy an espresso machine. However, four of our top five choices do come with an attached milk frother which allows you to make other espresso-based drinks such as cappuccinos, lattes (and if lattes are your thing, we recommend checking out our review of the best latte machines) and flat whites. The Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe Coffee and Espresso Machine comes with a separate cup-shaped unit called the Aerocinno Milk Frother that retails for about $100 if bought on its own and it allows you to make both cold and hot froth for your caffeinated drinks.
If you have less counter space, then you might want to buy a smaller or more compact espresso machine such as the rectangular Cuisinart EM-200 or the towering tube-shaped Delonghi EC680M that is designed to nicely fit into a kitchen counter nook. Most espresso machines for under $300 are smaller than the pro models you find in cafes, so it’s usually effortless to accommodate even an appliance like the Nespresso Deluxe Coffee and Espresso Machine, which comes with a separate cup-shaped milk frother and a tall tubular glass water reservoir on the side.
At the very least, any espresso machine bought for under $300 should have a one-year limited warranty, but some, like our Editor’s Choice in our top five espresso machines, has a two-year limited warranty. The Cuisinart EM-200 even offers an impressive three-year limited warranty. Make sure that the warranty covers steamer nozzles and plastic parts, as they are most likely to snap off or break.
Additional features to look for when shopping for an espresso machine include a push button control panel, a timer to allow you to program that first cup of java in the morning and an adjustable cup tray that lets you to fit taller cups and small coffee thermos’s beneath the coffee and frother spout. Some units, such as the EspressoWorks All-In-One Espresso Machine & Cappuccino Maker, also come with their own accessories including a coffee grinder, measuring spoons, frothing cup, and espresso cups. The Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe Coffee and Espresso Machine on our top five list also comes with a sampler of twelve Nespresso coffee capsules, which is a nice bonus to have.
Some safety tips
Here are some vital safety tips for using espresso machines.
As the stainless steel parts on most espresso machines can heat up within 45 seconds, be careful not to burn yourself by touching metal parts while the unit is in operation.
Never point the milk steamer towards your hands or face.
Clean or purge your steam wands daily to prevent bacteria build up from milk.
Empty the drip tray regularly to make sure that coffee or water does not spill onto the electrical cord.
The standard pressure for espresso machines is 9 bars, but most home machines offer between 15 and 19 bars that are operated via a vibratory pump. These pumps are the mechanisms that allow the machine to produce crema, even with stale coffee or pre-ground beans. The higher the bar number, the more crema the pump will produce under any circumstances.
If you buy an espresso machine with an attached milk steamer you can easily make a latte or cappuccino. Some espresso machines come with stainless steel milk steamer cups or even a fully automated frother as part of the package.
Home espresso units tend to be quieter than those intended for commercial use. The loudest part of the espresso process is the grinding of the fresh coffee beans, and a grinder may or may not be included with the machine. Also quite noisy are milk steaming nozzles, which often make a loud hissing or sucking noises as they foam milk for cappuccinos or lattes. Some machines gurgle quietly or make quite hissing and clicking sounds as they automatically press the liquid through the coffee grounds, but most make no sound at all.
Our Editor’s Choice, the Delonghi EC680M got top marks at 9.9 out of ten because it is compact and clean looking and its narrow tubular shape does not take up much counter space. We also liked the fact it takes both ground and ESE pods as well as that it had a generous two-year warranty.
Our second choice, the Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe Coffee and Espresso Machine with a rating of 9.8 is about as great it gets when it comes to espresso machines and “touch and go” push-button technology, offering five coffee cup sizes, a separate easy-to-clean frother and a selection of twelve gourmet Nespresso capsules so that you can decide what your favorite flavor is before you buy a flat of them at the Nespresso store.
Our third choice, the Mr. Coffee One-Touch CoffeeHouse Espresso Maker features 19 bars of pressure for making double or single shot drinks, comes with an attached milk frother, adjustable drip plate (to accommodate larger sized cups and thermoses) and a removable 22 oz. milk reservoir that can be stored in the refrigerator when not in use.