Best Espresso Machines Under $300
We review some of the best mid-range espresso machines providing the most bang for your buck.
This is a great range if you are looking for a robust espresso machine, but your budget is still on the tight side.
You might consider investing a little bit extra in your espresso machine if you are becoming more serious about your home coffee brewing. The right kind of espresso machine will make the whole brewing process so much easier as well as more effective.
Now that you are turning into a professional home barista, you need to learn more about maintaining your machine to ensure that you can produce the perfect espresso every time.
How To Take Good Care Of An Espresso Machine
Before we look at the best espresso machines under $300, here are a few basics steps you can follow to keep your espresso machine in tip top condition. Some of the best espresso machines have built-in automatic cleaning processes, meaning you can just push a button and it will clean itself. But there are a few other things to keep an eye on:
Step 1: Regularly Backwash Your Espresso Machine
Why do I need to regularly backwash my espresso machine?
It removes coffee oil and coffee grounds built up in the espresso machine over time.
How often you need to perform a backwash will depend on how frequently you use your espresso machine. We recommend a backwash at least once a month with normal everyday usage.
Before starting the backwash process make sure the water tank is full.
Insert the blind filter into the portafilter. It’s a solid plate that comes with your machine and will prevent water running through the portafilter.
Run hot water through the machine as if you are preparing an espresso.
Run the hot water for about 5 seconds and then let it sit in the machine for about 10 seconds. Afterward, the water will be caught in the drip tray.
Fill your portafilter with a cleaning agent – be sure to check the instruction manual for the specific agent recommended for your espresso machine.
Repeat the process a few times and lastly perform one more backwash with fresh water to make sure the cleaning detergent is rinsed out properly.
Step 2: Brush Down The Basket
Remove your espresso machine’s basket from the portafilter and scrub it thoroughly.
If the basket is a bit tricky to detach, you can use a teaspoon to easily pop it out.
Ideally, invest in a proper espresso machine cleaning brush to scrub the basket. Otherwise, an old toothbrush will also do the job. A custom cleaning brush is often included with the purchase of most espresso machines.
Before placing the basket back, run it under hot water, you can use the machine’s steam wand to do this.
Tip: by using filtered water, you will ensure that your machine’s inside parts remain in a better condition for longer
Step 3: De-grit The Shower Head
The hot metal filter that dispenses the water into your espresso cup also needs a bit of scrubbing from time to time.
Old coffee grounds build up over time and leave bitter oils on the filter, so it needs to be cleaned carefully.
If you skip this step it’s likely your espressos will start tasting excessively bitter for no apparent reason.
Step 4: Clean The Steam Wand
The Steam Wand should be wiped down with a damp cloth after every cup of coffee.
Getting into this habit will ensure that your milk is not burned, or that it sticks to the wand. Burnt milk can be a pain to remove!
Using the damp cloth will make your cleaning process much easier in the long run. You also need to regularly purge your steam wand.
If you invest in a proper espresso machine brush, the brush will possibly have a little pin that you can insert into the steam wand head to clean it even more thoroughly.
Don’t fiddle with the steam wand too much to avoid any accidental damage, instead refer to your espresso machine’s instruction booklet to check for any specific cleaning instructions.
Espresso Machine Maintenance Routine
The best espresso machines even under $300 should provide many years of joyful home espresso brewing experience.
However, the way you look after and maintain your espresso machine will determine exactly how long it will last.
You don’t have to viciously clean it every day, but there are a few routines you should have in place every few months.
1. Clean the Steam Wand
As mentioned above, it is important to clean the steam wand regularly.
Dismantle and properly clean the steam wand with a special espresso machine pipe cleaner. Soak it and scrub it down before placing it back.
2. Make sure that all parts of your machine remain in proper working order.
If your machine suddenly starts making funny noises, you need to attend to this immediately. Check the shower screen of the group head. Backflush before and after you have checked it to make sure that it’s working properly.
If the mesh is damaged or clogged up, it is better to replace it.
If the group head starts leaking when you pull an espresso shot, you may need to replace the machine’s gaskets.
If steam starts escaping the steam wand for more than a second of two after you closed the valve, you need to check it.
If you notice that the steam wand knob is sticky or too loose, the gaskets may need to be changed or the knob rebuilt.
3. Monitor the quality of the espressos
The quality of the espressos produced by your machine should remain consistent.
If they start tasting weird or if you notice that the milk is not properly steamed, you need to check the pressure gauges.
The steam pressure should be about .08 to 1.2 atmospheres. The pump pressure should be roughly between 8 and 9 atmospheres. If the pressure is less or more, the brewing and steaming processes will be affected.
4. Regularly clean your coffee grinder
As soon as the burrs become dull, you need to replace them.
There are commercial grinder cleaners available to do the job properly. The cleaner will soak up the excess coffee oil left behind in the grinder.
Best Espresso Machine Under $300
We review the best espresso machines under $300 on the market today.
Mr. Coffee ECMP1000 Café Barista Premium Espresso/Cappuccino System
You don’t need to know all the intricate details of espresso making, simply push a button and a single or double espresso, cappuccino or latte will magically appear all on its own.
The machine offers you 15 bars of pressure, on par with what you expect from your local coffee house.
The Mr Coffee Cafe Barista Premium features an integrated milk container for all your favorite milk-based drinks such as cappuccinos and lattes.
Use the convenient pre-programmed beverage options to create the perfect drink every time. Or if you enjoy experimenting with espresso making, switch over to the manual mode. A special recipe book is included with 10 delicious drinks that you can easily prepare with the machine.
The automatic and manual options make this machine perfect if you want to ease into the home coffee brewing experience.
Delonghi EC680M DEDICA 15-Bar Pump Espresso Machine
The frothing system creates barista-quality foam, plus it has an automatic flow stop function.
Making use of thermos-block technology, it heats up water in just 40 seconds. It features a unique self-priming system, the machine is always ready for you to make another delicious coffee drink.
This espresso machine automatically produces one or two shots of espresso with the three-in-one filter, so you can effortlessly prepare customized drinks. You can also use easy-serve espresso pods.
Perfect if you want to move over to the manual process of making espressos and cappuccinos, but still want the effortlessness of preprogrammed settings, the intuitive control panel will turn you into an expert home barista in no time!
Capresso Ultima Pro Espresso Maker
As strong as any espresso machine found in a coffee house with a 15 bar pump. The durable design ensures that it will last for a long time.
A professional barista used the machine and gave it the stamp of approval from a professional coffeemaker’s point of view, noticing how quickly it warms up and also appreciating the size of the water tank, meaning you don’t have to refill it after every cup you make.
A great choice if you are looking for an affordable automatic espresso machine that will consistently create a delicious cup of coffee every time.
Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker
It has made espresso-making so much more accessible to the general public.
Easy to use with programmable buttons for espresso or lungo. It’s ready for brewing within 25 to 30 seconds, courtesy of the Thermoblock heating element.
The machine makes use of Compact Brewing Unit Technology, meaning you can easily insert and eject the espresso capsules. It also has handy extra features such as auto power-off, water level detection and convenient backlight indicators.
If you like staying on top of new technology trends, then this could well be the best espresso machine for the money.
You can also buy this model as a bundle with a milk frother – for the ideal espresso combo!
7 Pc All-In-One Espresso Machine Bundle Set
This espresso machine package contains everything you need to become a great home barista – electric coffee bean grinder, stainless steel milk frothing cup, measuring spoon with tamper, portafilter and two ceramic espresso cups.
The machine is ready for use in just 45 seconds, using an advanced Thermoblock fast heating system.
Its unique transparent water tank with a front view makes it easy to keep an eye on the water levels while you are brewing.
This is a great entry-level espresso machine and it’s also very easy to clean. When searching for the best espresso machines under $300, it is definitely a bargain!
We would love to hear your comments or feedback…
What do you enjoy about home espresso brewing?
Do you agree you can get a good espresso machine for under $300? Or is it more about who is preparing the espresso?