A hundred bucks is enough to get you an espresso machine these days. With Christmas coming up, the budget shopper’s question is naturally, which cheap espresso machine is going to please my espresso-loving relative the most?
Have no fear, I’ve done the legwork for you by slumming it through all sorts of cheap espresso machines. Jokes aside, it’s entirely possible to net yourself a great espresso machine relatively cheaply.
The question, of course, is which option is the best despite the confines of your budget.
The Nespresso Inissia
The Inissia is an excellent choice for anyone looking to get into the cheap espresso machine market.
The Inissia is a very high quality, visually appealing, and very easy to use machine.
Most of the time, the Inissia delivers a cup of espresso that is superior to a casual barista at Starbucks, and it’s as easy as pushing a button, waiting fifteen seconds, then pushing the same button again, with your cup ready to accommodate the piping hot espresso that will soon be emitted.
Maintenance is quick and easy, and there’s no invisible costs associated with the Inissia.
The relevant anti-mineral de-scaling kits and wash cycles have recipes included in the machine manuals, and are not required to be bought separately, as with some other espresso machines.
This means that you can do the wash maintenances on your Inissia whenever you need to without having to worry about spending more money on cleaning kits. With that being said, the Inissia may not be the bargain that it appears to be.
The machine itself is cheap, but the pods required to fuel the machine’s ability to output espresso are not.
The price per pod varies, but in general, you can expect to spend your Inissia’s cost for every 60-80 pods you go through.
On the bright side, the pods rock, and the Inissia works really well for being so inexpensive. If you’re looking to skimp, you can also buy off-brand pods on the internet, which are a bit cheaper.
They aren’t always as tasty as the Nespresso originals, but hey, it’s not a sin to put cheap coffee pods inside of your cheap espresso machine.
It’s also not unheard of to make your own customized pods with your own beans these days.
It’s a bit more work, but the pods themselves can be re-used after you’ve consumed the espresso inside.
Of course, they probably won’t keep nearly as well as the real thing, but it is proof that pod based espresso machine systems don’t have to be vastly more expensive.
Further supporting the Inissia’s contender as a low-budget option is Nespresso’s extensive warrantee and willingness to assist with user issues.
Not every espresso machine manufacturer is so forthcoming about replacing faulty units and helping the users with issues, nor is every manufacturer willing to extend their generosity to the peripherals that come with the machine.
Mr Coffee Automatic Dual Shot
The Mr Coffee espresso machine is tried, tested, cheap, durable, and acceptable.
Sure, the pumps and heating element won’t exactly make it to the intensity required to produce a cup of Espresso that would be at home in Rome, but it’ll definitely work well enough to get you out the door in the morning or through a sleepy sunny afternoon.
A basic level of espresso know-how is necessary to make the cup really sing at the end of the process.
Cleaning the Dual Shot isn’t hard, but it does require a couple of moments after every shot. Other than that, the Dual shot can get the job done.
The MiniPresso GR
Wow, this thing is cool! Who would have thought that you could get a cheap and effective espresso machine that’s shaped like a giant vitamin pill?
Definitely not me, that’s for sure. The MiniPresso looks darn cool, and makes an effective cup of espresso with a little of the user’s manual involvement.
Requiring the user to manually plunge their own espresso shot is a neat quirk, and is an enjoyable part of the espresso making process.
As far as user friendliness goes, there’s very little to mess up, and few buttons to press.
Frighteningly few, in fact. Just imagine your relative unwrapping the MiniPresso on Christmas day—and imagine their shock! There’s a lot of utility and value in this tiny package.
Excelvan Steam Espresso Coffee Maker
An interesting little unit, here. While definitely a budget option, the Excelvan seems to make up for its humble technical specifications with a larger capacity than the other machines listed so far.
That’s right, this little guy can make four cups at once—no more waiting for each shot to slowly extrude then starting the process over again like the other machines.
Capacity is paired with easy cleaning, easy maintenance, and some cool glassware that comes standard with the unit.
While its heat and pressure abilities are not very strong, the Excelvan makes up for it with reliability.
It also won’t take up too much space on the countertop. Its exterior is effective, and screams “appliance”.
Thankfully, it would be as at home in an office or kitchen as it would a dorm room or boat.
But which should I buy?
Well, that’s up to you. My suggestion, however, is to think to yourself about how much of a consideration your budget is.
If your budget can accommodate regular purchasing of pods, grab the Inissia. If it can’t, and mobility isn’t a concern for you, grab the Mr. Coffee.
For mobility, the GR has everyone else beat, though its espresso will not impress fanatics.
The Excelvan is a good choice for areas where countertops may be crowded, but capacity and speed are needed.
Over all, I suggest purchasing the Inissia.
The Inissia also comes in a large package with a lot of peripherals and add ons, which while not necessary, really improve the experience of having and using one, and are notably absent from the other machines on this list.