Updated: May 3, 2021 by Owen Richardson
If you’ve taken a look at some of our all-in-one coffee maker picks on our home page, or simply gone shopping for an espresso machine, you know how expensive home espresso makers can get.
While most of our espresso machine recommendations are quite pricey, we wanted to devote a special guide to inexpensive options for the many buyers who won’t be able to afford or justify a premium machine.
Without further ado, we present our guide to the top espresso machines under $200! We’ve compiled a few affordable options that still deliver quality results. Plus, we’ve put together a buying guide to help you find your ideal, inexpensive espresso setup.
Here are our top three affordable espresso machines:
Best Cheap Espresso Machine Under $200 Reviews
- The Original Bialetti Moka Express Made in Italy 9-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker with Patented Valve
- Delonghi EMK6 Alicia Electric Moka Espresso Coffee Maker
- Nespresso Inissia Espresso Machine by De’Longhi
- Nespresso Vertuo Evoluo Coffee and Espresso Machine by De’Longhi
1. The Original Bialetti Moka Express Made in Italy 9-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker with Patented Valve
Our first recommendation for espresso isn’t actually a machine. It’s a stovetop manual espresso maker! The Bialetti Moka Express is an absolute classic in the coffee world, and we still think it’s the best manual espresso solution by far.
These Italian-made brewers are inexpensive, very well-made, and as user-friendly as handmade espresso gets. You can get them in a range of sizes, too!
The Bialetti Moka Express comes in a range of sizes: 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 cups respectively. That’s using a demitasse measure which is coffee-speak for espresso cup size. 2oz. is a demitasse, so each serving comes out to about half a normal “coffee” cup, or a quarter of the size of the average 8oz American mug.
We suggest the 3-cup model for most solo drinkers, especially if you want to make ordinary coffee as well as espresso in this. The 6-cup version is ideal for brewing for two. For households or guests, you might want to go for something larger. Just make sure you’ll be making a consistent amount every time!
All of them are extremely inexpensive. Even the full 12-cup version doesn’t cost more than a basic drip coffee maker.
Having been around since the 1930’s, Bialetti’s are still made entirely in Italy. They’re made from high-quality aluminum with a mirror polish. Other manual espresso makers have sketchy metal components which flake or leach chemicals into your espresso. These are entirely food-safe and built to last.
The finish on the aluminum looks fantastic, and you can’t get any more distinctive than the octagonal boilers on these. Bialetti’s are an instant visual cue that you’re in a real coffee lover’s home! They’re also now available in a few different bold colors, if you’re not a fan of the original silver.
These are super easy to use! The three main components fit together like a sort of Russian doll, with the boiler and brewing chamber screwing together at the middle of the body.
To make espresso, you take the components apart. Then, you fill the boiler (at the bottom) with cold water, to just below the patented safety valve. Using slightly coarsely-ground espresso beans, you fill up the little brewing funnel, and fit in on top of the water. Once you screw on the top part of the maker, you’re in business!
As your Bialetti sits on the burner, brewed espresso will flow into the top chamber with a super fun gurgling sound. Stir it gently, and once the vessel is full, you’re ready to pour! The whole process only takes around 4-5 minutes.
You can use a Bialetti to make ordinary coffee as well as espresso. The results are comparable to a good french press, if not better! Just use slightly coarse grounds, and follow the same process used for espresso.
There are a lot of nifty little design features which make these more enjoyable to use than other manual makers. The handle really does stay cool, and the top flips easily open for you to stir or check whether the pot is fully brewed. The Bialetti’s also pour the easiest, thanks to the clever little spout design.
Most importantly, Bialetti’s patented safety valve keeps your brew from exploding out of the boiler. That’s a very real hazard with some other manual stovetop brewers!
These espresso makers are very reliable. We’ve been using the same one for years, and it still works flawlessly. They’re also covered by a 2-year warranty.
The smaller sizes are ideal travel companions! They’re sturdy enough to take a few bumps, and easy to use with any stove design.
Like any manual maker, you do have to have a bit of technique to get the best results. Be prepared to make a few learning curve batches while you get the temperature and grounds just right. You’ll probably need to fiddle with your burner slightly to find the best heat setting. Too hot, and you’ll end up with a burnt taste and aroma.
Bialetti’s can’t go in the dishwasher. These are to be hand-washed.
You should ideally use filtered water with these. Hard water can cause buildup or corrosion issues with aluminum, so it’s best to use filtered if you can. If not, boiling vinegar in the chamber will usually dispatch any buildup quickly.
You’ll need to grind your beans separately, as with any manual setup.
If you’re going to use your Bialetti for coffee as well as espresso, make sure you like a strong, robust brew! The results are much more french press than drip maker or pour-over.
The mechanism only works when it’s filled proportionally to the maker. So, you can’t make a half-batch in one of these. That’s why it’s important to think about what amount you’ll actually drink each time, and buy the appropriate size.
There are a lot of Bialetti knock-offs out there. Be careful to avoid them! Make sure the seller you go through is an authorized dealer, or you could end up with something very sketchy.
This won’t work on induction cooktops. They’re still fairly rare, but as they become more common, it’s something to be aware of.
2. Delonghi EMK6 Alicia Electric Moka Espresso Coffee Maker
This little De’Longhi is essentially an electrified version of the Bialetti. We recommend it to anyone who wants to make espresso quickly and affordably without needing stovetop access. It’s just as easy to use, and it’ll work anywhere you can grab a free outlet.
It uses the same basic “moka” design as the Bialetti. There’s a bottom boiler compartment, a funnel component where the grounds go, and an upper chamber where the brewed espresso emerges. The brewing process is exactly the same as with a Bialetti, only without worrying about finding the right burner setting.
It has a similar safety valve as well! We’re not sure how De’Longhi have worked around the Bialetti patent, since this one is suspiciously similar. Legal matters aside, we’re actually glad it’s so similar, since it works just as well as the Bialetti’s!
The key difference between the De’Longhi and the Bialetti is the heat source used to power the boiler. Instead of being set on a stovetop burner, this little gadget has a heating element at the base. You just plug it into an electric outlet, and it switches on like an electric tea kettle!
The De’Longhi’s boiler portion is made of aluminum for longevity. It’s very, very similar to the Bialetti’s, with a multi-sided design and polished finish. The top section is plastic. We like that it’s transparent. You can see how far along the brew is, without losing heat by opening the lid!
All the plastic components are BPA-free.
Unlike the Bialetti, the De’Longhi can be used to make different amounts of espresso! There are filter adapters which you can use interchangeably to make either 3 or 6 cups at a time.
The boiler unit detaches from the base for pouring. That makes it as convenient to use as the stovetop competition.
It shuts itself off automatically when the brewing cycle is finished, as well as when you remove the unit from the base. There’s also an indicator light in the base to let you know when the element is on
It’s covered by a 1-year warranty.
As with a Bialetti, you’ll need to grind your own beans to use this one.
Purists might not like the plastic upper portion of this one. It’s all BPA-free, and the aluminum part handles the boiling part of the mechanism, but don’t get this one if you’re against having plastic in your espresso machine.
Quality control isn’t all that great on this one. Most De’Longhi’s are made in Italy to a pretty good standard of quality control, but this one’s made in China and there are a few duds in the mix. Most buyers haven’t reported any issues, but you definitely want to get yours out and test it before your return window closes.
Leaks are the most common issue. The connections and gaskets aren’t as good as a Bialetti.
This electric boiler also doesn’t have as great a reliability record as Bialetti’s. It’s all built very lightly, and as with electric tea kettles, the heating element in one of these won’t last forever. If you run into trouble outside the return window, you have to send the machine back on your dime.
This is twice as expensive as an equivalent Bialetti.
In short, if you have a stove readily available, just get the stovetop Bialetti. If you don’t, this is the next best thing.
You can technically use this one to make coffee as well as espresso, but we can’t say we’re all that impressed by the results. The De’Longhi is a faster brewer than the Bialetti, and it definitely does best with espresso.
3. Nespresso Inissia Espresso Machine by De’Longhi
The De’Longhi Inissia is an espresso machine that uses Nespresso pods. It’s the cheapest automatic system we recommend for espresso. This system will brew both espresso and caffe lungo from pods.
The De’Longhi is quite affordable, but still provides excellent functionality and reliability. It’s ideal for one or two people who want something quick and convenient. We suggest it to anyone who doesn’t want to make espresso by hand, but can’t pay more for the Evoluo below!
It’s by far the cheapest Nespresso system available. The Inissia is a smaller, entry-level version of De’Longhi’s Nespresso pod system coffee makers. While many of the more expensive De’Longhi’s cost several hundred dollars, this one won’t even put you out $150!
It’ll make espresso and lungo from start to finish. You can also brew for Americano, lungo, and latte, cappuccino, and macchiato, as long as you have some other way to froth milk. The extraction system delivers 19 bars of pressure, and works a lot like an industrial espresso pump (only on a small scale).
All you have to do is load a pod, and press one button. Espresso and lungo each have their own dedicated buttons on the top of the machine, so you just choose which one you want, and you’re in business.
It makes excellent crema, despite the lack of frother onboard.
It’s very compact. At 12.6” x 4.7” x 9”, this won’t take up much more space than the average drip coffee maker. That’s despite the fact that it does a lot more for you!
The Nespresso system is the only pod format we recommend, and this is the least expensive way to get into it. We’ve found that Nespresso have the best options as far as flavors and varieties, and the tastiest overall roasts. They use better beans than K-cups, and the extract system gives you better results. They also have a nice range of sizes available.
One of our favorite features of the Nespresso pods is that they’re recyclable, too!
It takes less than a minute for the machine to brew from a pod. Water preheats in less than 30 seconds, and then the brewing takes about the same amount of time. In any case, it’s one of the fastest on the market! Since there’s also a pump involved, you still get a lot of flavor extraction.
The flip-up handle makes it easy to load and secure pods.
The buttons are also more sophisticated than they look. As well as giving you easy access to your two beverage options, you can adjust your preferred coffee amount, and the machine will dispense to your liking. That makes it easy to get each drink made to fit your favorite mugs!
While there’s plastic casing on the outside, the Inissia does have more metal internal components than competing models at this price. All the plastic components are BPA-free, too.
The machine switches itself off after 9 minutes of inactivity, to save you money on electricity.
You get 16 sampler pods in the box, so you can figure out which Nespresso varieties are your favorites.
Just like the larger De’Longhi systems, the Inissia makes cleanup easy. It only needs to be cleaned occasionally, and it discards its own pods so you can quickly reload and make another batch. The used pods are stored in a compartment so that you can dispose of a bunch at once.
The 24oz. water tank also gets you a lot of mileage per refill.
It has a removable drip tray so you can scrub things out in the sink.
The instructions aren’t the most helpful. Think of IKEA instructions, only much less clear. Thankfully, the company has also produced a number of very user-friendly instructional videos. They’re all on YouTube, and they’re the best way to get acquainted with this one.
It can be a bit loud when the pump is working. This wouldn’t be ideal for a cubicle or somewhere else where quietness is an important factor.
While you can certainly brew your coffee base for things like macchiato and latte, this machine won’t add any milk or froth for you. If you want something to do those things for you, you’ll have to pay quite a bit more.
Unlike the more expensive De’Longhi’s we recommend, this system is made in China. It has some quality control issues, and isn’t the most reliable system on the market. It’s lightly made compared to the more expensive options from De’Longhi. Having said that, it’s far better than anything else for the price.
If you like the small size of this model and the simple functionality, but want better build quality and reliability, there’s a Swiss-made, mostly metal version called the Pixie. It’s more expensive, so we haven’t included it in our main picks.
4. Nespresso Vertuo Evoluo Coffee and Espresso Machine by De’Longhi
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Our top pick for an espresso machine in the budget bracket is the De’Longhi Nespresso Vertuo Evoluo. It’s a larger, more sophisticated system than the Inissia. This one’s also made entirely in Europe! It’s heavier-duty, and has an improved reliability record.
Like the Inissia, the Evoluo has one-touch operation. You just load your pod and press a button to brew! It’s actually simpler than the Inissia, since there’s only one button on the machine! How does that work, you ask?
The Evoluo is designed to work with the barcodes on Nespresso’s Vertuo pods. It uses a scanner to recognize the brew you’re using, and adjusts its internal settings automatically. So, you don’t have to adjust size or settings as you make pods! The machine will configure itself to get the best results with whichever pod you’re using.
It’ll take two different capsule sizes, to brew two cup sizes. The larger coffee capsules will brew to 7.7oz. coffee cups, while the smaller espresso pods will come out to around 1.35oz. With the Inissia, you can adjust the size, but you’re using the same size pods. The adjustments are all manual. With this one, size is just one of the factors the machine will automatically adjust as it brews!
If you want to modify the amounts yourself, you can do that as well.
As with the Inissia, the Evoluo takes less than a minute from starting preheating to the end of the brewing cycle.
This one is from the Vertuo line. Vertuo capsules have a different extraction system to the traditional Nespresso pods. They actually spin at up to 7,000rpm as they’re extracted, blending coffee grounds with hot water at super high speeds and with a lot of force. The results are much more flavorful, and a more efficient use of the grounds in each pod.
The crema is pretty unbelievable from a pod machine, especially without adding any dairy.
There are 10 coffee varieties and 4 espresso options to choose from, so it’s pretty easy to find something you like. As with the Inissia, the Evoluo comes with a starter set of pods.
It comes in three color options: graphite, black and red.
All the Evoluo’s have durable metal housing as well as more internal metal components than the Inissia. That’s what you’d expect from something made in Europe. It’s more reliable over the long run, and has much better quality control out of the factory than the Inissia.
Its larger size comes with a few convenient benefits. The jumbo water tank holds 54oz., so you can go a long time between refills–much longer than using the Inissia! The spent pod compartment is also a lot larger than the one on the Inissia. The Evoluo’s holds 17 at a time.
It has the same power-saving feature as the Inissia, as well as recyclable pods. Both are key features which make the Evoluo much more environmentally-friendly than other pod systems.
The Evoluo’s automatic cleaning cycle between pods is very thorough. It’s much better than the cycles on Keurig’s, which often mix up flavors and contaminate your different cups.
This one is very nearly too expensive to include here, and that’s without ordering your first batch of pods.
Even the best pod system can’t really compete with fresh-ground espresso. This is by far the best system you’ll find in the budget range, but the more expensive machines that grind your beans for you or take grounds manually will give you better taste results in the end.
The original VertuoLine models had some issues with heat. In our experience, the new versions don’t suffer from the same problem.
Just make sure you get the current model instead of the older one. We know that it’s often tempting to save money by grabbing an older model, but it’s definitely not worth it in this case.
As with the Inissia, this one does’t have a built-in milk frothing system. If you want to be able to make more elaborate coffee-based drinks, you should get it in a bundle with De’Longhi’s Aeroccino:
Which of these affordable espresso makers should you bring home?
The Bialetti’s are good options for anyone with access to a stove and a grinder. They’re super user-friendly, and they make great espresso. You can also use them to make coffee, with results that compare with any french press. The best part is the price! These are by far the most affordable way to make tasty espresso.
They do take a bit more effort to use than a pod system, though. They’re also not practical if you don’t have a stovetop to use. Remember that you’ll need to factor in the cost of a grinder, too, if you don’t already own one.
The De’Longhi Alicia is our pick for anyone who’s up for saving money by making manual espresso, only without a stovetop. This one is excellent for apartments, offices, and wherever you want to make small amounts of espresso.
It’s a lot more expensive than the Bialetti’s, though, and not the most reliable appliance in the world. Don’t get it if you have stovetop access and could use a Bialetti.
The De’Longhi Inissia is our cheapest recommendation for a pod system. The Inissia makes both espresso and coffee from pods, better than anything else for the price. Its pump system does a remarkably good job creating crema and rich espresso flavor for the price. It’s not as sturdy as the Evoluo, though. It’s also not as sophisticated in the automatic features department.
The De’Longhi Evoluo is the best you can do in the budget range, if you’re looking for an automatic espresso machine rather than a manual maker. It’s very sophisticated, and couldn’t be more convenient to use. The Nespresso pods are much higher-quality than the competition, and the centrifugal brewing system does an excellent job extracting flavor.
This will cost you much more than any manual maker, though. It’s even more if you get it bundled with the milk frothing system. You should also know that no pod system can compete with a manual or fresh-ground machine-brewed espresso for flavor richness.
|Bialetti Moka Express||$||Manual|
|Delonghi EMK6 Alicia||$||Pod|
|Nespresso Vertuo Evoluo||$$||Pod|
|De’Longhi with Aeroccino||$$||Pod|
Affordable Espresso Machines Buying Guide
While it can be tough to shop with a tight budget, we also find that it’s helpful to have a determining factor like price to narrow down your options! With that in mind, here’s our simple guide to finding your ideal espresso machine under $100!
Pick your format
This is one category where price makes your choice a lot simpler! The only espresso options under $200 are manual brewers and pod systems. Full pump espresso systems and deluxe all-in-one coffee stations cost at least $500. So, figure out whether you want to use a manual maker or an automatic pod machine!
Manual espresso makers are the cheapest way to go. They also produce some of the best results, short of a complete system that uses fresh grounds (which would cost you well over $500). They’re designed to use fresh-ground beans, so they’ve already got a big advantage over pods in the flavor department.
The downside of manual espresso makers is pretty obvious: you have to do a lot of the work yourself. You should plan on grinding your own beans, measuring your grounds and water, and spending about 5 minutes per batch.
An automatic pod system is much faster to use than a manual espresso maker. These machines will have a hot cuppa for you in under a minute, as opposed to 5 minutes plus grind time for most manual systems. All you have to do is pop in a pod and press a button. You’ll get impressive crema, and have to do next to no cleaning.
Even the best pod systems can’t quite compete with manual brewers in the flavor department, though. No matter how well the pre-ground beans are sealed, they won’t exude as rich a flavor as beans ground right before they’re brewed. These systems are also much more expensive than manual brewers. You’ll have to decide if the time they’ll save you is worth the extra cost.
Set your budget
Manual options for making espresso are all under $75. Some are as cheap as $20! So, if you’re on a very tight budget, they make the most sense. With that said, you’ll need to figure in the cost of a grinder if you don’t have one. If you’re a particularly busy person, you may also want to weigh the cost of spending time using a manual maker.
Decent pod systems start around $100. These are the more expensive way to go, but if time is money in your world, they could definitely pay for themselves eventually. You’ll have to see how expensive the pods are, though, before you make your decision.
Be frugal, but don’t skimp
What we mean by that is, you want to save money, but you don’t want to cut any corners. Even if you’re looking for a great bargain, be sure to buy from reputable brands who use quality, food-safe materials.
You don’t want to save a few dollars only to end up with a crappy espresso maker that leaches chemicals into your brews or creates noxious fumes when you plug it in. That might sound a bit alarmist, but there are some seriously sketchy machines coming from anonymous factories in China these days that you don’t want to go anywhere near.
Be sure you’re getting something with a warranty, too! If you’re on a tight budget, you definitely don’t want to have to replace your machine in a hurry. So, be sure you’re covered for at least a few years of use.
In short, don’t be tempted by something so cheap that it’s disposable! It’s better to buy something with fewer features but better build quality than to go for something with lots of gimmicky features but all-plastic construction.
We hope budget-minded shoppers have found this guide to the best affordable espresso machines helpful! You can check exact prices for any of our recommendations by using the links in our reviews.
If you’re not sure whether you want to spend a bit more for a more expensive machine or choose one of these affordable picks, you might consider giving our main espresso machine guide a read! You can see how our picks under $200 compare to the higher-priced options!
Or, if you’re interested in more of our insightful reviews and recommendations, head to our homepage! We’ll help you find the perfect grinder to go with your manual espresso maker, or your ideal new coffee maker!