Finding The Best Espresso Machine For Your Budget
Unfortunately for my wallet, I started drinking fancy espresso drinks at local coffee shops when I was only 16 years old. So for my 17th birthday, my grandparents bought me a simple cappuccino maker. This was almost two decades ago, but Mr. Coffee still sells a version of that first espresso machine I had in the late 90’s. It sells for $29.99 on Amazon, holds enough water in its reservoir for one or two drinks, and is powered solely by steam. For a 17 year old, it was a beautiful and amazing thing, but as an adult, I felt it was necessary to have a real pump-driven espresso machine. So I did some research. I ended up purchasing a Delonghi from ebay for $75. It is a $200 machine, and I cannot pass up a good deal. The machine has been serving me well for about 2 years now. But for this review, I have chosen the best espresso machine from 3 different price points--one for the dreamers, and two for more realistic coffee lovers.
My Dream espresso machine, if I had the money, would be the Breville Oracle Espresso Machine. I have always wanted a machine with a built-in grinder (I have a Capresso grinder that I use and love with my Delonghi, but it’s just not the same.). The Breville Oracle automatically grinds, doses and tamps the espresso, which would make it so easy to make my beloved mocha cappuccinos! Furthermore, it’s a dual-pump; mine is a single-pump. The effect of this is that you can brew the espresso and steam the milk simultaneously, cutting the time in half for making a great cup of coffee. There is so much to love about the Breville Oracle Espresso Machine, and there should be: It sells for $1999.95 on Amazon. I will not be able to afford this one any time soon.
A more reasonably-priced option for most espresso lovers is the KitchenAid Pro Line Series Espresso Maker. This one lacks a grinder, which will likely set you back another $100-$300 (See my review of grinders), but it does have the dual-broiler feature for brewing espresso and steaming milk at the same time. I tend to trust the KitchenAid brand of small appliances (I love my KitchenAid Mixer!), as I imagine most people do, so this one is an obvious choice for someone who has the cash, but is newer to the market. The KitchenAid Pro Line Series Espresso Maker sells for $998.90 on Amazon, making it about half the price of the Breville Oracle.
For those like me on more of a budget, I have to recommend my Delonghi 15-bar Pump Espresso Maker. It is a single-pump, which means that you cannot brew espresso and steam milk simultaneously, but for the price, this is a great little machine, and it has lasted me quite a while, with no sign of letting up. As I mentioned before, it does not have a built-in grinder, so that will be an additional expense, but I am pretty convinced that the Delonghi is the best value espresso maker at such an entry-level price point, so you will have a little cash to spare. Currently, the Delonghi 15-bar Pump Espresso Maker is selling on Amazon for $199.95
A note: If you are new making your own espresso at home, do not think that you can get by without a grinder and simply purchase pre-ground coffee. It doesn’t work that way. Grinding fresh beans has the single biggest effect on the taste of any coffee drink, so please do yourself a favor--if you cannot afford to buy a machine with an attached grinder, purchase a grinder separately.