Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
"It's affordable enough for beginners but even long-time espresso drinkers will enjoy the bold taste."
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Mr. Coffee ECMP50 Espresso Maker at Ebay
"For an affordable espresso machine, it includes all the basics and the ability to pull two shots at once."
Best Value: SOWTECH Espresso and Cappuccino Maker at Walmart
"This device is compact, affordable, and a great way to experiment with espresso."
Best Portable: Wacaco Nanopresso at Amazon
"The Nanopresso is a fascinating little machine that allows you to make espresso anywhere you go."
Best Personal: Bella Pro Series Espresso Machine at Walmart
"For the price, this machine has the flavor and crema of other espresso machines under $100."
Best Stovetop: Bialetti Moka Express at Amazon
"Use the Moka Express on your stove or take it camping to brew espresso."
Best Frother: Hamilton Beach 40715 Espresso Maker at Walmart
"The milk frother has a long reach and it's easy to clean."
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.
We detail each item’s key features, weigh pros and cons, and even include a few outside-the-box options. 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 under $100.
Best Overall: Capresso EC50 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 enough 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.
- With a simple front-facing dial, the EC50 is intuitive and an excellent option for those looking to brew espresso for the first time.
- The removable 42-ounce water reservoir makes it easy to fill the machine before brewing and to clean the tank afterward.
- 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.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Mr. Coffee ECMP50 Espresso Maker
Many parts are dishwasher-safe
Awkwardly-placed frother tube
Mr. Coffee offers a variety of espresso machines that use either steam or a pump. This model uses the 15-bar pump system, which produces a better espresso, more like traditional espresso machines.
For an affordable espresso machine, it includes all the basics and the ability to pull two shots at once is convenient. It is very similar in almost every feature to the De'Longhi with the exception of the pump.
- A frothing arm opens up the possibility for milk-based espresso drinks, like lattes and cappuccinos.
- The 40-ounce water reservoir ensures water is always available and the drip tray catches any splashes and spills.
- Single and double shot portafilters are included so you can make either size quickly.
Best Value: SOWTECH Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
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 8-ounce glass 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.
- Can brew one to four espresso shots (up to 8 ounces total).
- While not the strongest milk frother you can find, it can whip up lattes, cappuccinos, and other milk-based coffee drinks.
- The drip catcher can be removed for easy cleaning. However, it is not recommended to put pieces in the dishwasher.
Best Portable: Wacaco Nanopresso
Messy and lots of cleanup
Significant effort for single espresso shot
The Wacaco Nanopresso is a fascinating little machine 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.
- 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.
"This little espresso maker is ideal for campers and frequent travelers, but for the best results you will need access to hot water." — Derek Rose, Coffee and Tea Expert for The Spruce Eats
Best Personal: 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 is a good value for the casual espresso drinker.
For the price, the espresso from this machine is surprisingly impressive. It has the flavor and crema of other espresso machines under $100.
- A very simple machine that still requires a bit of a 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 carafe is included, so you don't have to worry about finding demitasse cups to fit under the portafilter.
- The built-in milk frother lets you enjoy lattes and cappuccinos as well.
Best Stovetop: Bialetti Moka Express
Available in multiple sizes
Easy to use
Great budget option
Clean after every use (hand-wash only)
Not real espresso
These are also known as moka pots. Bialetti is one of the founding companies of this style and Italians have been enjoying this coffee since the company introduced it in 1933.
Technically not espresso, the coffee that comes out of a moka pot is rich, flavorful, and showcases a great coffee bean. The water pressure and absence of crema is the only real difference.
- Moka pots are extremely convenient, compact, easy to clean, and affordable.
- Available in 1-12 cup sizes. The three cup 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.
"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." — Derek Rose, Coffee and Tea Expert for The Spruce Eats
Best Frother: Hamilton Beach 40715 Espresso Maker
Compatible with E.S.E. pods
Plastic smell for first few uses
Prone to leaking
Also with a 15-bar pump system, you'll find this Hamilton Beach machine to be comparable with the Mr. Coffee model. It is well made and easy to use.
Two brewing heads do make this machine an interesting find because you can make two cups of espresso at the same time. Make sure your espresso cups are small enough, though, because it is a tight fit.
- The option to use espresso pods, as well as ground coffee beans, is convenient, particularly if you don't want to fuss with a coffee grinder.
- The milk frother has a long reach, giving you a great froth. It's also easy to clean with a cup of soapy water.
- Also with a 40-ounce reservoir, you can add water without turning off the machine. There's no need to wait for it to warm up again (though you should give it a minute anyway).
While prices vary on the Capresso EC50, it's one of the best espresso makers you can find around the $100 mark. It allows users to pull two shots of espresso at once, and a built-in milk frother can whip up lattes and cappuccinos. The SOWTECH Espresso Maker (view at Walmart) is a cheaper alternative, better suited for personal use and saving counter space.
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.
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 at the ready.
Ease of Use
Some espresso machines are simple to use, while others include many different settings to help you fine-tune your brew. No matter if you like experimenting with different features or if you’re happy to simply add coffee and let the machine do the work, there’s an option for you — just think about what you prefer.
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 that is between 195 and 205 degrees. If none of these solutions solve the problem, the machine may have a more serious internal issue.
What coffee beans do you use for an espresso machine?
The truth is that you can use any kind of coffee beans to brew espresso. There is no inherent different between coffee beans and espresso beans. So, why are some beans even called espresso beans or labeled “espresso-style?” The answer is that roasters and experts know what characteristics make coffee beans most suitable for espresso, or drip coffee, or cold brew, and so on. For example, espresso tastes best when brewed with dark-roast beans that have a shiny, oily surface. Another detail to keep in mind, especially for those who buy pre-ground coffee, is that the beans need to be finely ground to produce bold espresso with a thick body and crema.
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 edited by Derek Rose, the coffee and tea expert for The Spruce Eats. He researches a variety of 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 and the Bodum Brazil French Press.