So you’re in the market for a new espresso machine. Whether you intend to put the machine at home or in your office, the 200 dollar price point you may have set is something that won’t break the bank. Sure, the espresso machine you’ll probably get won’t be features-rich but it should be good enough to satisfy your espresso fix.
As you will learn after reading the reviews of the five best espresso machines under $200, the budget you’ve set will yield you a reliable and functional espresso machine.
What Is Espresso?
Espresso is a particular type of coffee ‘pulled’ from an espresso machine. It is a highly concentrated kind of coffee that is served in ‘shots.’ It is loved by many people for its full and rich flavor. It can also be used in creating other coffee types like the latte, cappuccino, cafe Americano and the notorious Red Eye.
Kinds Of Espresso Machine
There are different kinds of espresso machines such as:
1. Steam Driven
The first kind of espresso machines invented, this was popular from the turn of the 20th century and until the late 1940s. You’ll be surprised to learn that there are still some small cafes that use this kind of espresso machine. But these models won’t produce the type of espresso consistency you want, so I guess this isn’t the kind of espresso machine you would likely get.
2. Piston Driven
Invented after the World War II and still widely used up to this day, it has a level that is pulled to come up with a perfect creamy shot.
3. Pump Driven
Invented in the 60s, this kind of espresso machine was responsible for the surge in popularity of espresso. It uses electricity to deliver an excellent espresso brew.
There are four pump-driven espresso machines. The automatic pump driven is ideal for novice users because there’s no need to adjust the brew, broiler temperature, pump pressure, water, and the number of cups to be filled. You simply push a button to choose what you prefer among its options. This kind of espresso machine also has an integrated coffee grinder.
The semi-automatic pump-driven espresso machine has some automatic features. It may be tedious, but this is the most in demand. It gives users full control over their espresso. This is also the kind of espresso machine I would recommend to those who want to go through the joys of espresso making. The only real problem with this type of machine is that it doesn’t come with a coffee grinder.
Fully automatic or super-automatic espresso machines are likely to be out of your budget as these are very expensive. It is designed for people who want to satisfy their coffee fix in a hurry.
Finally, air-pump driven espresso machines are the newest kid on the block. It is portable and thus ideal for espresso lovers who don’t have a lot of space. It can also be used for camping and picnics.
Things To Consider When Buying An Espresso Machine
Here are the factors that you need to take into account when shopping for an espresso machine:
1. Ease Of Operation
Espresso machines with programmable settings are ideal for novice users. You’ll want an espresso maker that you can operate with the press of one to two buttons.
2. Ease Of Cleaning
Here’s one thing to remember when shopping for an espresso maker--- the more components that the machine has, the more parts you’ll have to clean. So if I were you, I’d look for a machine with very few moving parts.
Espresso makers made of metal are more likely to last long, aside from maintaining heat. Manual espresso machines are less prone to repairs compared to automated models with many electric or moving parts.
The rule of thumb here is pretty simple--- the longer the warranty coverage, the better.
This is important if you live in a condominium or apartment, where space is a premium.
Aside from a coffee grinder, some of the features that you should look for in an espresso machine are water filter, cup warmer, programmable settings and frothing wand.
Top 5 Espresso Machines Under 200 Dollars Available Today
Now let’s go to the meaty part of our post, where I list down five of the best espresso machines that you can get for 200 dollars. I’ll also share my pick later in the article.
#1 De’Longhi Nespresso Inissia Espresso Machine
This item has most of the things you want in an espresso machine. It’s easy to use with a one-touch operation. It has an energy saving mode that automatically switches it off after nine minutes. And it’s has a small footprint thus you should be able to find a space for this machine in your kitchen.
This is also the kind of espresso machine that you’d want when you are in a hurry. In just one touch of a button and 25 seconds, this machine can make the water reach the ideal temperature to make up to 9 cups of coffee. You can also adjust the size of the cup with the programmable Lungo and Espresso buttons.
There’s a movable drip tray designed to accommodate large cups while the foldable drip tray is for smaller cups.
#2 Original Bialetti Moka Express
The Italians are known around the world for making excellent coffee. You may not be able to pay an Italian barista to prepare coffee for you, but you can get this Italian-made espresso machine. Bialetti is one of the more respected manufacturers of coffee makers, with more than 200 million units sold since the 1950s.
The good reputation of Bialetti is on full display with this espresso machine. It can produce rich and authentic espresso in just a few minutes.
It’s simple to operate. Add cold water to the lower chamber then insert the funnel and fill it with ground coffee. You will then have to place the unit on top of a stovetop. Heat it until the water boils and the coffee should come out of the center post. Stir the coffee in the upper chamber using a small spoon before serving.
While not dishwasher-safe, the parts of this espresso maker are still easy enough to clean. You should wash it by hand with warm and soapy water before drying it thoroughly with a towel.
#3 MiniPresso GR Espresso Maker by Wacaco
If you want to make and enjoy espresso anywhere and anytime, then this is the model that you should consider getting. This compact and portable espresso maker is 7 inches long and just a pound heavy, so it is very easy to put it in your bag or even desk drawer.
It is a handheld and hand-powered espresso maker that you can turn to whenever you get that espresso craving. The operation is quite straightforward, too. After disassembling the unit, you’ll have to place the filter basket on top then turn it over. Remove the scoop then tap the filter basket on the counter to level the contents. Fill the water reservoir with hot water, invert the unit then place the pre-heated espresso cup before pumping it slowly. In less than a minute you’ll have your espresso.
Aside from being small and easy to operate, this espresso maker is also easy to clean.
#4 De’Longhi Nespresso Inissia Espresso Machine with Aeroccino
This is very much like the other De’Longhi coffee maker although it has an aeroccino which you can use to get a smooth and finely texture cold or hot milk froth for your espresso. The aeroccino is a nice addition to this machine. It works well with both hot and cold drinks although you shouldn’t store it on the base if plugged in as it can decrease its lifespan.
Aside from the aeroccino, there are other great things to love about this espresso machine. The parts are all easy to clean like the tray which you can rinse and the frothier which you can clean with some soap and water.
It is also very compact and lightweight so finding a place for it in the kitchen should not be an issue for most homemakers.
#5 Cafe Barista Premium Espresso ECMP1000 by Mr. Coffee
Now if you really want good quality espresso at home, this is the unit that I would recommend. It is a compact and user-friendly coffee and espresso machine that you would love to have. It’s easy to use with a one-touch control panel that you can turn to when you want single or double shots of espresso. Its automatic milk frother does a great job of frothing up milk for lattes and cappuccinos.
Regarding the espresso taste or flavor, this machine does a very good job. It can produce European-style espressos very quickly. Plus it is very compact and should fit in most kitchens. The silver and black finish of this machine also lets it lend an elegant touch to any kitchen.
Now, which one of these espresso machines would I get if given a chance?
I say the Mr. Coffee espresso maker is the best in this list. It can give you really good tasting espresso in a short time. It’s also user-friendly, easy to clean and compact like the other models.
What about you? Which of these espresso machines appeals to you most? Share your thoughts by writing in the comments section below.