Here is the Best Espresso Machine under $200 of 2017

Finding the best espresso machine under $200 can be a daunting task, as this is a category with a huge offering. While it certainly it possible to find a few good espresso machines (as I will show you), there's also a lot of poorly built rubbish to find. Luckily, after sifting through many products, I found you the best home espresso machine under $200, with one of them even being under $100.

For $200 you get a decent, entry-level espresso machine, without many frills or gimmicks. It will help you in improving your barista skills, even if you're just starting out. Just don't expect the espresso to be consistent each and every time. At this price level you are missing features like proper heat management, and a pressure gauge, for example. 

For this article I will be focussing on semi-automatic espresso machines. These offer a perfect combination of control and usability, as well as the ability to extract a good espresso. Semi-automatics are the professionally looking machines, where you grind the coffee separately into a portafilter. This will be explained further on.

Best Choice:
Mr. Coffee Café Barista

Best Home Espresso Machine under $200

In this article you will find, of course, the best espresso machine under $200. I will also show you a cheaper alternative, along with its difference compared to the #1. In addition to these two devices, you will also find a more expensive espresso machine, which is the winner of our "Best Espresso Machine under $500" (article is expected soon) category. This specific device offers a few important upgrades over the #1 under $200, so you can confidentially decide if spending more money on your espresso machine is worth it. 

So I hope you will enjoy this article, and find your best home espresso machine under $200. If you have any questions, please let me know if the comments, so I can try to help you even better.

NEW: The Best Espresso Machines of 2017 for Any Budget


Whether you want to spend only a few hundred dollar for a budget espresso machine, or want to go all the way to get the best of the best, we got you covered! In our new series we focus on the best espresso machines for any budget, including cheaper and higher-end alternatives. Check out the full series:

Overview of the Best Espresso Machine under $200 for 2017


In this article you will find the best espresso machine under $200, along with its pros & cons. You will also find a cheaper alternative, along with a comprehensive report of how it differs from the #1. I have also included the #1 Espresso machine under $500, to show you what you can get if you raise your budget.

Best Choice:
Mr. Coffee Café Barista
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista

Best Overall Choice for Espresso Machine under $200

Entry-level

  • Competitive price
  • One-Touch Cappuccinos
  • Small footprint
  • Inconsistent heat
  • Questionable durability

Price:

$$

Budget Choice:
De'Longhi EC155
DeLonghi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

Best Budget Choice for Espresso Machine under $200

Entry-level

  • Very low price
  • Tiny footprint
  • Ability to use pods
  • Too small
  • Lots of vibration

Price:

$

Best Choice under $500:
Breville Barista Express
Breville Barista Express BES870XL

Best Overall Choice for Espresso Machine under $500

Prosumer

  • Built-in grinder
  • Good heat management
  • Pressure gauge
  • Bit messy
  • Quite noisy

Price:

$$$$$


This article can be found under:

First published: 2/23/2017
Last update: 2/23/2017


How did I research the Best Espresso Machines under $200?

The goal of each of the reviews on Let's Grind Some Coffee is to do an insane amount of research, so you don't have to anymore. We work with a number of talented and experienced writers, who know what they're talking about. Each writer is responsible for conducting his/her own research, so there's no miscommunication possible. When doing this article I owned the Breville Barista Express BES870XL. For the other products I used product reviews, customers comments, and instruction videos and manuals.

Click to learn more about our review process


What is the Best Espresso Machine under $200?

Not every coffee maker is capable of making an espresso, which requires the right amount of pressure along the proper heat. An espresso machine is a device well-optimized for doing just that, making espressos. The most popular espresso machines are the so-called semi-automatic espresso machines. These devices use an eye-catching portafilter, which you fill yourself with ground coffee.

The "semi" part applies to the machine delivering the right pressure, in comparison to a manual espresso machine, where you need to deliver the pressure yourself by using a lever. There are also super-automatic espresso machines. However, these are far more expensive than a semi-automatic, and not all capable of making a true espresso, especially the cheaper ones.

Now we've got that out of the way, let's have a look at the best home espresso machines, and their pros & cons.

Coffee 101:
Manual, Semi Automatic or Super Automatic Espresso machines?

These terms are applied to show the amount of labor involved when making coffee. A manual espresso machine requires the most effort, where the super-automatic is fully hands-off.


Overall Best Espresso Machine under $200 | Mr. Coffee Café Barista ECMP1000

The Café Barista is one of the most popular semi-automatic espresso machines in the world. Because of its built-in milk frother, it is sometimes classified as a super-automatic. While this isn't the proper classification, it does show how versatile this tiny espresso maker is.

The Mr. Coffee Café is known for its good espressos, which isn't an easy achievement in this price class. Its consistency, though, is what you can expect from a low-cost espresso machine.

It's not totally hit-and-miss, but you can expect an espresso to be a bit sour now and then. Just make sure to properly pre-heat, which means having the device warm up long enough, and running water through its portafilter before making coffee.

A nice feature is the auto shut-off function, to prevent it from running indefinitely (until your out of water).

The reason it is #1 on this list is because of its One-Touch Cappuccino functionality, which works pretty well. Making milk foam isn't an easy task, and especially low-cost devices don't really stand out on their steam wands (too dangerous, not enough pressure, etc.).

Coffee 101:Cappuccino or Latte?

A cappuccino consists of 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 milk foam. A latté is also 1/3 espresso, but has more steamed milk and just a layer of milk foam.

The Café Barista solves this by integrating a milk frother, and let you choose between a cappuccino or latte. Many users testify that it produces a good cappuccino, as it does a good job of making the right amount of milk foam. It's more difficult to clean than a regular steam wand, though. Be sure to follow instructions as otherwise, milk residue will build up.

A reason of concern is its durability. The main reason these devices that are kept under $200 is because many manufacturers are saving on low-quality build materials. The price point of the Café Barista just doesn't allow for the sole use of high-quality materials. This means it can break within a few years, or lose pressure gradually until it becomes unusable.

However, it is an excellent device to start learning to make espresso. So when it does break, it might be a good reason to upgrade your gear and buy a higher quality espresso machine as its successor.

Pros & Cons

  • Makes a good espresso and cappuccino, with auto-shutoff.
  • Small footprint, but with enough space under the portafilter/milk pipe to fit a travel cup (not possible with #2).
  • One-Touch everything, from espresso to cappuccino.
  • Inconsistent heat, be sure to properly pre-heat
  • Durability issues due to lower quality build materials, with the possibility to break within a few years.
  • Built-in milk frother requires thorough cleaning to prevent milk residue building up.
  • The included tamper is made from plastic, which can easily break. Luckily, you can get a decent tamper for under $10 (this one).

We got a more detailed review of the Mr. Coffee Café planned in the near future.


Best Budget Espresso Machine under $200 | De'Longhi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

With thousands of (mostly positive) reviews, the DeLonghi EC155 is also a very popular espresso machine. It is a tiny device, but it is featuring a 15 Bar pump so that it can give quite a punch. You can also use E.S.E. pods with it, in case you're not into grinding coffee yourself.

It has no buttons, just a simple switch to select the mode you need; Hot water, steam, and preheat. There's also a switch on top of the device, to open or close the steam outlet. It features a steam wand, with and odd looking, pretty huge (plastic) tip.

You can steam milk with it, but don't expect it to make fine enough milk for some latte art. This is basically it, a no-nonsense espresso machine with just the bare necessities.

So why isn't it the best espresso machine under $200? Well, for starters, it uses too much plastic. Even the portafilter is mostly made of plastics. Heat and pressure are notorious for breaking things in the long run. Since the portafilter it getting both at the same time each and every time you make coffee, it could easily break. You can remove the plastic from both the portafilter and the steam wand if you're skilled enough.

Also, because of its size, you can only fit a small espresso cup under the portafilter. So if you're making a cappuccino, you can't pour in the coffee during extraction, as the larger cup won't fit. A travel cup won't fit as well. You can remove the water catcher to make up some extra space, but it's there for a reason.

Same goes for the steam wand, which is too short and placed too low. Most people suggest raising the device by placing something underneath, like a book. This does, however, make it a bit more unstable, as it only weights 6.7 pounds. Especially when you use the attached tamper on the right, be sure to hold it steady is it can easily flip aside. You're better off buying a separate tamper by the way, like this one. Another side effect of its low weight is that it vibrates a long during extraction, up to the point where your coffee cup can bounce off.  

It does what it needs to do, and you can make a good espresso with it. However, its inconveniences lead it to be #2 on this list, and its $50 (MSRP) lower price tag makes it a good budget alternative. I would advise getting the Café Barista, though, as it gives you a much better value for its money (along with a much easier way of making cappuccinos).

Pros & Cons

  • About the cheapest espresso machine, you can get.
  • Does a good job of making espresso, and makes decent milk foam.
  • Tiny footprint, although that's also one of its flaws.
  • Not much room for bigger cups.
  • Low placed, too short steam wand
  • Plastics everywhere, even the portafilter.
  • Vibration during extraction process.

Best Espresso Machine under $500 | Breville Barista Express BES870XL

Now that you know what is the best espresso machine under $200 let's have a look at what you can get if you raise your budget. Granted, the Barista Express is over twice the cost of the Café Barista. While it's MSRP is actually $599,95, you can often find the stainless steel model under $500. But even at $600, this magnificent device gives you a whole lot of bang for the buck.

The Barista Express has a high-quality built-in coffee grinder, which could easily cost $200 if bought separately. It also features PID temperature management, for consistent heat distribution throughout the device. The Barista Express features a pressure gauge (which isn't common for this budget), to help you in getting the right pressure for espresso (very important). There are all features professional devices have, and something you won't find on the cheaper espresso machines.

It has programmable buttons with auto shut-off at your own pre-defined times, along with a pre-infusion mode to gradually increase the extraction pressure.

The steam wand is one of the most user-friendly ones you will find on any device, allowing you to make fine enough milk foam for latte art. It also has a hot water pipe, so you can make Americanos (2/5 espresso, 2/3 hot water) right away.

And since I mentioned the (over) use of plastics in the #1 and #2, let's focus on that as well. This is where you can really see the price difference. The Barista Express is mostly made of steel, at least in all parts where heat and pressure is used. Not everything is metal, though, which is mostly done to keep the weight down, but you will only find it in the lesser stressed areas (like the bean hopper). This all leads to a better durability, that is if you maintain your device accordingly.

All of these professional features make for an excellent espresso and cappuccino. The Barista Express is responsible for delivering my personal daily fix (actually several times a day). I absolutely love it, and so does everyone who has coffee at my place. It's a very user-friendly espresso machine, with a moderate learning curve. It is definitely worth the extra money compared to the Café Barista.

If you want to learn more about the Breville Barista Express and its professional featured like PID, please read my very detailed Barista Express review.

Pros & Cons

  • Built-in coffee grinder, saving you space and money.
  • Professional features like PID temperature control, pre-infusion, and a pressure gauge for getting the right extraction pressure.
  • Hot water pipe for making Americanos.
  • User-friendly steam wand for easily making fine milk foam.
  • The built-in grinder is a bit messy, with some of the grinds flowing over the portafilter.
  • All steps are a bit noisy; you can't hold a proper conversation when making coffee (but you should focus on the process anyway).

Rounding up

So there you have it, the best home espresso machine under $200. Even though I decided to feature only a select number of espresso machines, I have seen plenty of them. At this price point, many devices simply aren't good enough to be worth your money. By selecting just one "best" device, along with a budget choice, I hope that I made your decision making a whole lot easier.

By adding a higher priced espresso machine, I wanted to show you what is possible if you decide to raise your budget if that's possible of course. But even if $200 is all you want to spend, you can be assured that you're getting a good espresso machine.

If you have any questions, please let me know in the comment section. I am also more than happy to know if I helped you in making your decision, and which device you end up with.
Thank you for reading this article!
Jacco, Chief Grinder