Espresso is one of the primary sources of caffeine for more than 50 years. It looks like people will have prefer both espresso and espresso-based drinks for decades. If you want to make espresso, cappuccino, latte, mocha, or americano, the first thing you need to do is buying an espresso machine. You can find various espresso machines that have different features in wide range pricing. There are many options for each price. However, not all of them satisfy users’ expectations and provide high quality consumer experience. We look at many different inexpensive options. In this guide, we will try to find and review the top 5 best espresso machines under $300.
1) Best Home Espresso Machine Under $300: Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine by De'Longhi (EN85B)
Nespresso Essenza Mini is the best capsule coffee machine according to our list. It is probably the smallest single-serve espresso machine in the Nespresso product family. It is sleek, slim, and nearly half of other standard espresso makers in dimensions. Its tiny and compact design allows us to use it even in narrow kitchens and limited places. You can place it easily on a kitchen counter or your desk. It is a good choice for entry level home use. Its small size also provides an advantage to use it in a college dorm room. It may not be the best choice for large families and crowded offices.
Nespresso Essenza Mini machine has two programmable cup sizes: Espresso for a shot of espresso and Lungo for a cup of coffee. The 19 bar high-pressure pump extract the aromas of each coffee capsule during the brewing process. It provides enough crema/foam at the top of your espresso. It consumes 1255 W.
In order to make cappuccino or latte, you need to add milk afterward. For this purpose, you can buy Nespresso Mini Essenza bundle with Aeroccino Milk Frother.
You can enjoy rich flavors without using complex and complicated machines. Nespresso Mini Essenza is simple and easy to use.
It comes with sample pods for the first experience. Empty pods drop into the machine’s container. Its capacity is six, and you need to discharge that used pods periodically. One of its cons is that using pods is not the cheapest option for making espresso. For this machine, you need to use appropriate Nespresso pods to make your espresso. On the other hand, the good news is that you can keep and lay aside empty pods after using, and then send to Nespresso for recycling. You can order a Nespresso recycling bag for free to fill it with used pods from this link.
Probably, its price and customer happiness make it a good choice for a gift.
It is one of the best alternatives, especially for beginners and people who want to reach high-quality espresso quickly. Its percentage of 5-star reviews is one of the highest rates in that price range.
2) Best Breville Nespresso Machine Under $300: Nespresso Vertuo Espresso Machine by Breville
Nespresso Vertuo is easy and straightforward to use thanks to its single button. It offers 5 cup sizes: 1.35 oz espresso, 2.7 oz double espresso, 5 oz Gran Lungo, 8 oz coffee, and 14 oz Alto. So, you can use it for both espresso and coffee. Vertuo uses a patented extraction technology, Centrifusion. After inserting the capsule and activating the machine, the capsule spins up to 7000 rotations per minute and blends ground coffee with water to produce your espresso. This method is different than usual; Vertuo does not use pressure to make espresso.
Vertuo also uses a system to recognize each coffee’s blend from a barcode on the capsule. After that, it adjusts the brewing parameters for that.
Vertuo comes with 12 VertuoLine Capsules in the box for the first experience. After using those, you need to buy Nespresso capsules to use this machine. Capsule coffee is an excellent solution to preserve the taste and aroma of coffee freshly. Vertuo automatically ejects the pod after brewing your coffee, so you can put a new capsule when you open the top for a new brewing. It can store 13 used empty capsules in its container.
There are five color options: Black, Chrome, Matte Black, Red, or Titan.
Its weight is 10.85 pounds.
It consumes 1350 Watt.
Vertuo’s water tank is BPA free, and its volume is 40 Ounces.
Some users complain that the coffee is not hot enough. We got in touch with Nespresso to ask that does this model has a problem with heating and should we buy another Nespresso machine instead of this one. They told us, “You are guaranteed a consistently hot cup of Nespresso every time. Routine maintenance, like descaling your machine every three months, will ensure it runs as it should. You can also preheat your cup or steam your milk before brewing if you prefer an even hotter cup of coffee. The models (Vertuo, Vertuo Next, VertuoPlus) all have the same brewing technology, so it is a matter of preference in terms of size and features.”
You can use the Nespresso descaling kit to maintain the proper functioning of your machine and to be sure your coffee experience is the same as on the first day.
3) Best Manual Espresso Maker Under $300:
Flair Signature Espresso Maker
Flair Espresso Maker is the best manual espresso maker in this list (best and only). It is basically a manual press which you can make espresso. Its system is different from automatic espresso machines.
This product is liked by people who want to take control and like spend time on the process of making espresso. If you want to consume your espresso quickly, it is probably not the best espresso maker for you. It offers you more freedom and gives you the ability to control your own espresso’s inputs. There are four main inputs which you can control to feel barista style experience:
Your coffee beans: Do not use grounded coffee, buy whole coffee beans which were freshly roasted within a few weeks. Recommended coffee weight for 45 ml espresso shot is between 13 and 18 grams. You can try and find the best scale for your taste.
Your grinder: Use a burr grinder instead of a blade grinder. Blade grinders cut beans inconsistently, and you cannot select different sizes. You should grind your coffee beans just before brewing. If you grind too fine or too coarse, you can feel the feedback and understand how it is while pressing the lever.
Resistance in your coffee bed: Ensure all grounded coffee is distributed equally and flatten the surface.
Water temperature: Use boiled water. The target range is between 195-205 degrees F. 200 degrees F is ideal.
Crema is a good indicator to measure the success of brewing process. If you can not get enough crema, it means that you need to adjust some of these four inputs and try again until getting perfect result.
It is a portable espresso maker that comes with a padded carrying case. You can take your Flair Espresso Maker anywhere. Moreover, it does not use electricity; because it is a human-powered machine. As a result, it is very quite.
It allows you to press between 6-9 bar, the perfect pressure range for espresso. The pressure gauge provides feedback and shows the best range. You need to press the lever and wait for 30-45 seconds. Your handcraft espresso is ready.
It is much easier to clean than other espresso machines because there are no closed parts which you cannot reach. Every part is open and detachable. You just need to rinse a few parts under cool water after every use.
If you want to make more than one shot in a short time, it may be not easy as some other machines; because you need to wait for cooling the parts to touch, clean some parts, and start all other steps from the beginning.
There are two color options: Black, or White.
Its weight is 7lbs (3.18kg).
4) Nespresso Pixie Espresso Machine by De'Longhi (EN125S)
Nespresso Pixie has two one-touch buttons which can be reprogrammed: Espresso for 1.35 ounces, and Lungo for 2.75 ounces. You can keep pressing to reach your desired amount of water used in your espresso or Lungo.
It has a 19 bar pressure pump to make your espresso. It consumes less energy because it heats up to the required temperature in 25 seconds. Also, it turns off automatically after 9 minutes. Its removable water tank is 23.8 ounces, and the red backlights light up when it needs to be refilled. It consumes 1160W.
It has a compact design. It is easy to use. You need to use the descaling solution every three months (or at least once a year) to be able to use it properly. Aluminum side panels have a good effect on its design.
Nespresso Pixie comes with a welcome kit containing 16 Nespresso Grands Crus capsules.
For this machine, you need to use Nespresso OriginalLine Capsules; you cannot use VertuoLine Capsules. Nespresso offers different capsules for your taste. There are also decaffeinated Nespresso capsules, which are called Decaffeinato or Decaf. In addition, there are some compatible capsules from different brands for it. So, you can find more and probably cheaper choices.
You can buy the bundle of Aeroccino 3 Milk Frother and Nespresso Pixie to make latte and cappuccino. Aerroccino 3 consumes 1260W.
The folding drip tray allows you to use different cup sizes. For instance, you can use larger cups for lattes or cappuccinos.
5) Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine Under $300:
Brewsly 15 Bar Espresso Machine
Brewsly Espresso Machine is best semi automatic espresso machine and it is also the only one in this list. It has one of the best good review scores on amazon among other similar priced espresso makers, excluding manual machines and Nespresso machines. If you do not want to use capsule coffee or manual machines, this machine is one of the best options.
Brewsly 15 Bar Espresso Machine’s body is stainless steel that makes it durable and strong. Also, the stainless steel body is well-designed; it looks more stylish and elegant than its competing products. There is no a lot of espresso machines whose bodies made from stainless steel in this price level. It is a compact-designed machine, and it does not take too much space on your countertop. It has a visual pressure gauge to see its current pressure.
It has dual temperature control, which adjusts the temperature of the water and milk foam separately to ensure both of them are best for your experience.
Its manual milk frothing system creates a rich and creamy foam. You can adjust the foam and steam levels to make espresso-based coffee. You can choose dryer foam for a cappuccino and micro foam for a latte.
It can deliver two shots of espresso at most per each use. This machine comes with a tamper to ensure the ground coffee surface is flat. Brewsly Espresso Machine does not work with pods; you need to use finely ground coffee. Using ground coffee is a cheaper way than using pods.
Its drip tray can be removable to fit taller cups like latte glasses.
The heated cup holder is one of the best functions in this machine. It differentiates this machine from its competing products under 300 dollars. You can keep your cups warm on top of the machine, and you do not need to boil water separately to use for warming your cups.
In this article, we listed the best espresso machines under $300. Firstly, we reviewed Nespresso Essenza Mini. It has a small and compact design. Feedbacks from users shows that users are happy. Secondly, we looked at Nespresso Vertuo. Its brewing method is different than regular espresso machines; it does not use pressure. The capsule spins up to 7000 rotations per minute to brew your espresso or coffee. Thirdly, we focused on Flair Signature. It is a manual espresso machine and best for people who want to spend time on the process. You have much more control than other machines, and you can manipulate different inputs to find your best output. After that, we evaluated Nespresso Pixie. It has two one-touch buttons that can be reprogrammed to reach the desired amount of water used in your Espresso or Lungo. And lastly, we commented on Brewsly Espresso Machine. Its stainless steel body and heated cup holder make it distinctive than other products at the same level.
Finding dozens of good espresso makers under 300 dollars is not easy. However, there are still several useful products. We tried to find and list them for you. Before deciding which machine you will buy, you need to define your needs and expectations. If you are a fast consumer and you want to stable usage and taste, probably Nespresso Machines will be better for you. You can use it on your desk at the office or countertop of smaller urban kitchen. On the other hand, if you want to take control over your espresso’s inputs, manual machines like Flair Signature will be better. If you want to use ground coffee and not use capsule coffee or manual machine, Brewsly 15 Bar Espresso Machine is one of the best alternatives.
There also some expensive and cheaper options. You may want to read our Best Espresso Machines Under $2000 article, if you want to see what you can buy in that price level. On the other hand, in Moka Pot vs. Espresso Machine: Comparisons in 12 Criteria article we compare a way cheaper option -Moka pots- with espresso machines. You may want check it to see what are the advantages and disadvantages, and what are the differences and similarities.
We also compared and analyzed Breville vs. De’Longhi espresso machines for different price segments in another article to decide which one is better. The article includes detail comparisons based to price. You may read to see the winners of each segment.
Whatever machine you use, to get the perfect crema on your espresso you need to use best coffee beans for espresso, and grind them freshly just before use.
Espresso is one of the coffee brewing methods. Espresso machines force hot water into finely grounded coffee for rich aromas. Generally, people drink espresso in different forms like latte, mocha, and americano. All of these forms have the same base: espresso. So, if you have an espresso machine, then you can make espresso. If you have espresso and some additional gadgets like milk foamer, then you can make those espresso-based coffees.