While some espresso machines come with thousand-dollar price tags, there are many affordable alternatives, including ones with built-in milk frothers to make lattes and cappuccinos. This list covers the bargain picks that, despite their low price, can be relied upon to make delicious espresso day in and day out.
Below, we detail each item’s key features, weigh pros and cons, and even include a few outside-the-box options. We even sent a few to our experienced at-home testers to put through the paces. Espresso, and all the wonderful drinks you can make with it, is too great to miss out on, and thanks to these picks below, no one has to.
For coffee lovers on a budget, here are the best espresso machines around $100 or less.
Coffee Gator Espresso Machine
Fast heat-up time
Removable water tank
Intuitive, minimalist display
Portafilter may drip after brewing
Coffee Gator makes an array of affordable brewing devices and coffee accessories, from kettles and canisters to pour overs and French presses. This espresso maker—the first to be manufactured by Coffee Gator—continues that trend. It's cheaper than the majority of options on the market but has the brewing power to compete with machines in higher price ranges. One of our writers has used the Coffee Gator Espresso Machine for more than a year and says it has held up over that time and consistently produced strong shots of espresso.
Another main benefit, especially for those with limited space, is the product's compact design. It measures just 5.5 inches wide, partially due to the removable 44-ounce water tank being placed in back of the machine instead of on the side. The thought put into the design doesn't stop there. The simple, intuitive display features just three buttons on the front (hot water, power, and steam) and a dial on the side to activate brewing, the steam wand, or hot water. The pump is also fairly quiet as far as espresso machines go, so the sound is noticeable but not overbearing.
One thing to watch out for is that water may still be pushed through the portafilter even after you turn the dial to neutral. The water doesn't rush through in a way that dilutes the espresso shot itself, but it can fill up the drip tray quickly and possibly leak. Our product tester said he hasn't had any issues with it making a mess, but noted that the drip tray often has to be emptied after just a few shots.
Price at time of publish: $150
Frothing/Steaming: Yes | Dimensions: 12.4 x 5.5 x 10.3 Inches | Wattage: 1,150 | Voltage: 120 | Warranty: One-year limited
"The Coffee Gator Espresso Machine is still going strong after one year of use, making strong espresso shots in seconds."
Best for Beginners
Capresso EC50 Stainless Steel Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine
Value for money
Great for beginners
Removable water reservoir
Several plastic parts
Mediocre steam/froth wand
The Capresso EC50 Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine strikes a balance between quality and price. It's affordable enough for beginners and consistent that even long-time espresso drinkers will enjoy the bold taste. The ability to make lattes and cappuccinos is a huge bonus, even though some customers say the frothing/steaming wand isn't the most powerful. Overall, it's hard to beat the value for money this device offers.
Another benefit is the simple front-facing dial, which makes this intuitive and an excellent option for those looking to brew espresso for the first time. The removable 42-ounce water reservoir is easy to fill before brewing and to clean afterward. Plus, a frothing sleeve is included to adjust between frothing and steaming milk; the former whips milk for cappuccinos while the latter injects milk with hot air for lattes.
Price at time of publish: $130
Frothing/Steaming: Yes | Dimensions: 11.5 x 7.5 x 11.5 inches | Wattage: 1,350 | Voltage: 120 | Warranty: One-year limited
"Something that you’ll see a lot of with someone who is newer to tamping espresso is you’ll often see them press down heavier on one side. Instead of your puck being flat on top, you’ll see it shift which means water draw through different parts of it.” — Morgan Eckroth, the Content Marketing Specialist at Onyx Coffee Lab
Bialetti Moka Express Espresso Maker
Available in multiple sizes
Easy to use
Clean after every use (hand-wash only)
Not real espresso
Bialetti is one of the founding companies of this style of coffee maker known as Moka pots, and Italians have been enjoying this coffee since the company introduced it in 1933. Technically it does not brew true espresso, as it doesn’t use as much pressure as professional espresso makers, but the coffee is rich, flavorful, and an excellent espresso substitute. The water pressure and absence of crema is the only real difference.
Bonuses include that the item is convenient, compact, easy to clean, and affordable. It's available in 1 to 18 cup sizes; the 3-cup model produces a nice equivalent to a double shot espresso for a single person. Use it on your stove (check compatibility with ceramic and induction stovetops) or take it camping and brew espresso with your propane stove.
Our tester found that "the handle often gets hot to the touch," so you may want to use a towel or oven mitt when taking it off the stove. It's also not the easiest to clean because it requires hand-washing after every use. Aside from that, however, our tester has owned the item for over two years and fully recommends it as an affordable espresso alternative.
Price at time of publish: $50
Frothing/Steaming: No | Dimensions: 7.5 x 9 x 4 inches (3-cup model) | Wattage: N/A | Voltage: N/A | Warranty: Two years
"I wouldn't count on a Moka pot to be the primary home coffee maker for an entire family, but they're great for personal use and, with a separate milk frother, they can make lattes and cappuccinos."
Bella Pro Series Espresso Machine
Stylish overhead cup tray
Non-removable water reservoir
Cheaper feel to it
Extremely small and considerably inexpensive, this little machine from Bella is a nice place to start with espresso at home. It's a good value for the casual espresso drinker, complete with the flavor and crema of other espresso machines under $100.
The Pro Series is a simple machine, but it may require a slight learning curve to pull a nice shot of espresso. The 5-bar pump system is not as powerful as other espresso machines, but it will do the job. A small glass carafe is included, so you don't have to worry about finding demitasse cups to fit under the portafilter. On top of that, the built-in milk frother lets you enjoy lattes and cappuccinos.
Price at time of publish: $50
Frothing/Steaming: Yes | Dimensions: 6.6 x 10 x 11.3 inches | Wattage: 750 | Voltage: 120 | Warranty: Two years
Messy and lots of cleanup
Significant effort for single espresso shot
The Wacaco Nanopresso is a fascinating little device that allows you to make espresso anywhere you go. A reliable travel mug or Thermos will come in handy, especially for those outdoor adventures like camping and hiking, though the cap can also be used as a cup. Simply scoop ground coffee beans into the filter basket, add hot water, and extract fresh espresso by pumping the piston.
The item has 18 bars of pressure and produces just over 2 ounces of espresso. Customers say the results are surprisingly delicious and that the espresso is even topped with a nice crema. After testing the item firsthand, our reviewer gave it mostly positive reviews. The main drawback, he noted, is that the flavor can be inconsistent depending on what grind size you use. The brand recommends a fine grind, but too fine a grind, and the piston becomes hard to press.
Keep in mind that the Nanopresso uses ground coffee to make espresso, but the item can also be purchased with a Nespresso capsule adapter for those who prefer using coffee pods.
Price at time of publish: $70
Frothing/Steaming: No | Dimensions: 6.14 x 2.8 x 2.44 inches | Wattage: N/A | Voltage: N/A | Warranty: One-year limited
"This little espresso maker is ideal for campers and frequent travelers, but for the best results you will need access to hot water."
De'Longhi Stilosa Espresso Machine
Simple, intuitive design
Heats up quickly
Value for money
Some plastic parts
Frother pitcher not always included with purchase
"Stilosa" is Italian for "stylish," and that designation certainly applies to the De'longhi Stilosa, especially if you appreciate simplicity. The display features a lone dial that turns right to brew espresso and left to steam milk—straightforward and great for beginners. The machine itself is slim at just eight inches wide, which adds to the minimalist design and helps save counterspace. There's also a removable 33.8-ounce water tank for added convenience.
Although many of the parts are plastic—a natural consequence of the item's budget price—the Stilosa stands up well to wear and tear and should last for a long time, making it worth the cost. It heats quickly too, so users can sip tasty espresso in just a couple minutes.
Price at time of publish: $120
Frothing/Steaming: Yes | Dimensions: 8.07 x 13.5 x 11.22 inches | Wattage: 1,100 | Voltage: 120 | Warranty: One year
Sowtech Espresso and Cappuccino Machine
Easy to use
Mixed reviews on coffee strength
No automatic shutoff
The Sowtech espresso maker is compact, affordable, and comes with handy coffee tools to get you started, like a portafilter, coffee scoop, and a carafe. It's easy to use, especially for a manual machine, making it a great way to experiment with espresso for the coffee drinker tired of nothing but drip day in and day out.
A single knob on the side of the machine makes it easy to alternate between brewing espresso and steaming milk, as well as turning it on and off. While it doesn't have the strongest milk frother you can find, it can whip up lattes, cappuccinos, and other milk-based coffee drinks. The drip catcher can also be removed for easy cleaning; however, it is not recommended to put pieces in the dishwasher.
Price at time of publish: $90
Frothing/Steaming: Yes | Dimensions: 7.17 x 12.9 x 13 Inches | Wattage: 800 | Voltage: 120 | Warranty: One-year limited
The Coffee Gator Espresso Machine is our top choice because it delivers fast espresso, features a compact design, and pays for itself in no time. For a similar alternative, check out the easy-to-use Capresso EC50.
What to Look for in a Budget Espresso Machine
Single or Double Shot
Each machine will produce a certain number of shots—usually a single or double—and may have a cup capacity. Consider how you will use the machine; if it's mainly for your morning ritual and you seldom serve it to guests, a single-shot machine might be exactly what you need. If you regularly host parties where espresso is served, a double-shot machine will shorten the time you spend making espresso, and it will look impressive on your counter.
"The traditional café dose for a double shot of espresso runs from around 17 to 22 grams, but that’s generally determined by the size of your portafilter basket. So that metal basket that you’re putting your grounds in, if the grounds are leveled that’s effectively the dose that it would be." — Elika Liftee, Director of Education at Onyx Coffee Lab
A machine that can also froth milk widens the range of coffee drinks you can produce, but it’s also one more thing you need to clean and maintain. Since there are separate appliances that can be used to froth milk, the lack of a frothing option shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, especially if you like the rest of the features on the machine. But having a milk frother as part of the machine means that you don’t have to buy an additional tool, and it is always ready.
Ease of Use
Some espresso machines are simple to use, while others include many different settings to help you fine-tune your brew. Whether you like experimenting with different features or you’re happy adding coffee and letting the machine do the work, there’s an option for you—just think about what you prefer.
Ease of Cleaning
No matter how good a machine is, eventually you're going to have to clean it. Many espresso machines come with detachable, machine-washable parts for easy cleaning. Others may only have removable water tanks that require little more than warm water and some soap. Pay close attention to the instructions that come with your espresso machine; many will outline a cleaning processes to flush out the tubes and spouts. Some machines may require more complicated care than others, so if you're not willing to put in extra work, make sure you read up on the cleaning instructions before you purchase.
Why is my espresso weak?
Coffee lovers are all too familiar with the letdown that comes from weak and watery espresso. Many factors can lead to a disappointing shot, but the good news is that the main issue is usually easy to identify. The easiest place to start is to check the roast date of your coffee beans; if it’s been several weeks since they were roasted, the beans have likely lost their flavor. A second common issue is simply not using enough coffee grounds when brewing. The recommended amount is roughly 15 grams of coffee for a double espresso shot. Also, make sure that the coffee beans you use are finely ground and firmly tamped into the portafilter. Grounds that are loose or too coarse will result in thin espresso. One last cause may be that the water in your espresso machine is not getting hot enough. Coffee beans are best extracted with water between 195 and 205 degrees. If none of these solutions solve the problem, the machine may have a more serious internal issue.
"The point of tamping is to remove any air pockets and give yourself a uniform density in your puck so that the water goes through evenly. Once you get that compression and once the coffee starts pushing back at you, that’s really all the pressure you need." — Elika Liftee, Director of Education at Onyx Coffee Lab
What coffee beans do you use for an espresso machine?
The truth is that you can use any coffee beans to brew espresso. There is no inherent difference between coffee beans and espresso beans. Roasters label some beans as "espresso beans" because the characteristics of the coffee make it more suitable for espresso than other brewing methods. So there isn't any coffee that's wrong to make espresso with, just coffee that's better suited for espresso. Dark roasts, for example, are generally preferred over light roasts.
Morgan Eckroth, the Content Marketing Specialist at Onyx Coffee Lab, gave us some more tips for finding the best beans with which to brew espresso:
“When I go shopping for coffee, some of the priorities I look for are, number one, if its whole bean. Whole bean is always going to taste better. The next thing I usually look for, if possible, is to find a local roaster. That usually implies that the coffee is fresher than something that’s being shipped across the U.S. And the other thing that’s a high priority for me is looking at the roast date. Usually what I look for is, hopefully, something roasted in the last week.”
What are bars of pressure?
This phrase pops up all over the place when searching for espresso machines. Some brands say its product has 15 bars of pressure, others say 20 bars, and so on. What does this all mean? Well, to start, a bar is a unit of pressure. The more bars an espresso maker has, the more pressurized the water that passes through the coffee grounds. But this doesn’t mean an espresso maker with more bars is better. In fact, anything higher than 15 bars is superfluous. The reasoning may sound a little tricky, but we’ll break it down. Almost a century ago, coffee experts found that espresso tastes best when brewed with 9 bars of pressure at the group head. To produce 9 bars of pressure, an espresso machine actually needs to have a 15-bar pump. This is why 15-bar espresso machines are the industry standard. If you see a machine advertised as 19 or 20 bars, it still only uses 9 bars of pressure at the group head, exactly the same as a 15-bar machine.
What is a portafilter?
A portafilter, also referred to as a “group handle,” is the handheld basket that attaches to an espresso machine’s group head in order to brew. Most coffee lovers will recognize them as a common tool baristas use when making espresso in cafés. Portafilters are made from plastic or stainless steel—the latter being superior. They can also be pressurized, which is ideal for beginners, or non-pressurized, which allows for more hands-on control when brewing. The purchase of an espresso maker generally includes a portafilter, but customers can always upgrade by buying a separate portafilter.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
This piece was written by Derek Rose, the coffee and tea expert for The Spruce Eats. He researches various coffee products, from measuring scoops to commercial espresso machines, and interviews field experts for their insight. He typically uses non-electric coffee makers at home, alternating between the Bialetti Moka Express, which appears on this list, and the Bodum Brazil French Press.
The author of this piece spoke with Elika Liftee, the Director of Education at Onyx Coffee Lab, and Morgan Eckroth, the Content Marketing Specialist at Onyx Coffee Lab, to gain more insight on espresso and espresso machines. Elika is a two-time winner of the US Brewers Cup and Morgan is the 2022 United States Barista Champion. Onyx Coffee Lab is a café and roastery based in Rogers, Arkansas.