Want an espresso machine but don’t want to spend a fortune on it?
Yes, it’s possible.
In fact, there are some pretty great espresso machines with more than an affordable price.
And to save you time researching, I’ve made this list with reviews of the best espresso machine under $300 and its close follow-ups.
Let’s dive straight in.
Best Espresso Machine Under $300: Top 7 Picks
- IllyX7.1 iper Black (Best Overall)
- Illy E.S.E.Pod Espresso Machine (Best for Pods)
- Capresso Café TS Espresso Machine (Best Value For Money)
- CapressoUltima Pro (Easiest to Use)
- Capresso EC300 Espresso Machine (Best For Milk-Based Drinks)
- Illy Y3.3Espresso & Coffee (Best for Small Spaces)
- Capresso EC100 Espresso Machine (Budget Pick)
IllyX7.1 iper Black
There are tons of reasons why you might want this espresso machine, but we can all agree looks are one of them as well. The eye-catching look of this espresso maker was inspired by the iconic Italian design used roughly 60 years ago.
This retro-looking machine features a model control panel with soft-touch buttons that are intuitive and simple to use. Each button has an icon indicating what’s for, so there’s no way you can mess up your brew.
This machine looks like a regular espresso maker, but it actually uses capsules. However, instead of simply popping a capsule into its designated slot, you add it to the holder that works just like a portafilter.
What you get is the authentic espresso brewing experience, without the learning curve.
It’s quite a bummer that you can’t use fresh grounds with this coffee maker. But the coffee beverage you get with Illy espresso pod comes pretty close to the cafe-quality espresso. It’s rich, full-bodied, and with just the right amount of crema.
This model also gestures a Pannarello-style steam wand to create a frothy cappuccino or a creamy latte.
- With a 15-bar pressure pump, this coffee machine achieves a very flavorful cup of espresso
- A Pannarello-style steam wand allows you to make cappuccino or latte at home
- Illy capsules are also very affordable, so the total cost of using this machine is pretty low
- Auto-stop feature controls cup volume, preventing spillage
- The spout is set low, so you can’t place a tall mug underneath
Illy E.S.E. Pod Espresso Machine
In terms of design, this is quite a simple espresso machine. There are only two brewing buttons available – one for regular espresso, and the other for lungo. I mean, this espresso maker really makes a manual obsolete.
But simple doesn’t mean plain when it comes to brewing quality. This machine uses ESE pods, which are perfectly dosed and tamped to create a flavorful cup of coffee. Since they’re nitrogen flushed, the pods stay fresh for quite some time.
What’s also great about these pods is that they’re fully compostable.
This is a pretty fast espresso machine. Not only does it heat up practically instantly, but it also brews an espresso shot in just 30 seconds. This is especially handy if you’re brewing coffee for the entire household.
Once used up, the capsule is ejected into the used capsule holder. The holder can contain up to 9 capsules before it needs to be emptied. This is not really a necessary feature, but nice nonetheless.
The only bad thing I can find about this model is the lack of a steaming wand. But if you prefer plain espresso, then this is a model worth considering.
- A control panel is simple and intuitive to use
- The adjustable cup platform allows you to pour coffee directly into your favorite mug
- Uses fully compostable capsules, so you’re not creating additional waste
- Heats up instantly, so you don’t have to wait for your first cup
- Doesn’t feature a steam wand, so you can’t make milk-based drinks
Capresso Café TS Espresso Machine
With a large touchscreen panel and sleek design, this espresso machine really looks like a high-end model. But some of its features actually make it perform like one as well.
One of those features includes the 15-bar pump that creates that perfect layer of crema. Another one is the Thermoblock heating system. This system allows the machine to quickly achieve the required temperature. This temperature control allows you to continuously brew cup after cup.
What’s also great about this espresso maker is that you can use both capsules and ground coffee. So whether you prefer the quality of grounds or the convenience of a coffee pod, you can choose and switch between the two.
The touchscreen panel is pretty straightforward and easy to use. I guarantee you that you won’t ever need a manual for this machine. A nice detail is the extraction timer that monitors how long your coffee is brewing.
What’s annoying about this model? The low spout. This means you can’t pour coffee directly into your favorite tall mug, which can be annoying when making a latte.
- You can use both coffee grounds and pods in this machine, depending on what you prefer
- A 50-ounce water tank means you don’t have to refill it that often
- The machine shuts down after being idle for a while, saving you energy
- A Panarello-style wand lets you make a frothy or a creamy foam
- Only small cups can fit under the spout
Capresso Ultima Pro
The Ultima Pro is one of those models that makes brewing coffee quick and easy. No need to flip through manual pages to decipher what to do. An intuitive control panel consisting of five buttons with icons makes everything straightforward.
What I especially like about this espresso maker is the self-tamping portafilter. This is especially handy for those wanting to avoid the learning curve of brewing an espresso drink. This way, your coffee grounds are always properly tamped for optimal extraction.
This machine features a Pannarello-style wand that allows you to make perfect foam without much effort. Or, if you want an Americano instead, you can use it to dispense hot water into your cup.
The beauty is in the details. I really like how this espresso maker has integrated storage under the lid, where you can store the sieve or measuring spoon.
One thing to keep in mind with this machine is its size. It’s slightly wider than most models in this price range, which can be an issue with small counter spaces.
- The control panel features illuminated buttons with icons for easier operation
- The self-tamping portafilter assures coffee grounds are evenly spread every time
- A large warming tray keeps your cups at the proper temperature
- Integrated storage allows you to have all coffee tools close at hand
- Takes a bit more space on your counter compared to most models on this list
Capresso EC300 Espresso Machine
If you prefer milk-based espresso drinks, then this machine might be the one for you. The dual wand has two different positions. One is to steam a creamy foam for a latte, and the other is to make a rich froth for a cappuccino.
Of course, the drink wouldn’t be the same without a 15-bar pump, and that’s something this espresso maker doesn’t lack. With adequate pressure, this espresso maker manages to achieve that authentic layer of crema you want in your cup.
With a single knob dial, there’s not a lot of room to mess brewing up. You either turn it left to brew or right to steam. Once done, the knob should be turned back to the original position – and that’s it.
The 42-ounce water tank is on the larger side. You can make espressos for days before you need to refill it. Since it’s transparent, you can easily monitor the remaining amount of water.
Overall, this is a great machine. I only wish the spout was higher so that a taller mug can be placed underneath.
- A dual frothing wand allows you to make perfect foam for the drink you’re making
- You can use both coffee grounds and pods, depending on your preference
- A large water tank allows you to make tons of espresso shots before it needs refilling
- Dor the price it retails at, this espresso maker is definitely worth every penny
- Can’t fit a tall mug underneath the spout
Illy Y3.3 Espresso & Coffee
Illy Y3.3 comes in a pretty compact size. It has dimensions of 3.9×11.7×10 inches, so it’s great for small spaces like dorms and RVs.
This espresso maker works with capsules, so brewing is a rather mess-free process. After making a cup, the capsule will drop into the bin that holds up to seven capsules before you need to empty it.
Thanks to the adjustable platform, you can place a large mug underneath and pour coffee directly into it. Or, if you’re using a demitasse cup, you can place it higher to prevent spilling.
The machine is pretty simple when it comes to brewing options. You can either make espresso or regular coffee, there’s no third option. There’s no frothing option available.
For someone who likes lattes, this is quite a downer. But, if you like to keep it simple, you will like that it’s pretty straightforward.
- The adjustable platform allows you to place a cup of any size underneath the spout
- With just two buttons available, the control panel is very straightforward
- The used capsule bin can hold up to seven capsules before it needs to be emptied
- A compact design makes this machine ideal for small spaces
- No frothing wand for making milk-based drinks
Capresso EC100 Espresso Machine
This model by Capresso is the perfect example of an espresso maker that brews decent coffee but doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
The stainless steel-lined Thermoblock system is pretty fast and efficient, heating up the machine within a blink of an eye. It also allows you to brew one cup after another without waiting in between.
This machine features a 15-bar pressure pump which creates that authentic crema every true espresso has. You can use either coffee grounds or capsules, depending on the style you prefer.
Even though this is a rather compact machine, it has quite a large water tank. With a 46-ounce capacity, you can brew espresso for the whole week before you need to refill it.
Although it’s not a necessity, having a warming tray does have its perks. A warm cup is almost a prerequisite for keeping espresso hot. And without a warming tray, you’d have to warm your cap manually by rinsing it with hot water.
For the price this machine sells at, I was quite surprised to see it features a steam wand. It’s somewhat short but makes a decent foamy or velvety steamed milk.
- The Thermoblock system heats up the machine in no time
- This is one of the most affordable espresso makers you can find on the market
- A whopping 46-ounce water tank means you don’t have to refill it very often
- You can choose between velvety and frothy steam settings
- The steaming wand is somewhat short
A Buyer’s Guide to Espresso Machines Under $300
Generally, espresso machines in this price range don’t have tons of bells and whistles that make a certain model stand out from the crowd.
But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other factors you need to consider when buying, in order to find the best possible product for your needs.
Here are some things you need to consider when buying an espresso maker for under $300.
Type of the Machine
The first thing to make up your mind about is the type of machine you want. Luckily, there are usually just two options to choose from.
In this price range, espresso makers will be either semi or fully automatic.
By semi-automatic espresso maker, I mean a machine that requires quite a bit of input from your side. This means anything from tamping coffee to manually steaming milk.
Generally, this type of espresso machine has quite a bit of a learning curve to get your cup just right. But once you get the hang of it, it allows you to modify your drink up to your preference.
A fully automatic espresso machine will do everything for you, from grounds to cups. It’s a simple, hands-off brewing method that doesn’t require you to have real barista skills.
Grounds or Pods
Aside from this category, there is something else to keep in mind when buying an espresso machine.
There’s roughly 50% of espresso makers within this budget use coffee bean grounds to make an espresso. The other 50% use capsules.
Back in the day, I’d say that coffee grounds will always give you a much better cup of coffee. But with so many options available today, you can find both bad and good quality ground coffee beans. The same goes for capsules.
Plus, with a 15-bar pressure pump, both types of machines will create a perfectly extracted cup of coffee.
It’s hard to deny the convenience of using coffee pods. They’re mess-free and extremely easy to use. But at the same time, they also mean creating more waste. That is unless you consider getting ones that are either recyclable or compostable.
Drink Option & Quality
Don’t expect a coffee maker in this price range to offer a lengthy menu with different espresso-based drinks. But you can definitely find models that offer more than just plain espresso.
Not that there’s anything wrong with espresso. But sometimes, we want a coffee drink we can sip on for a longer time.
If that’s the case, then consider a coffee machine that also offers the option of making lungo or, in some cases, Americano.
Certain models might also let you tweak your coffee settings, including the amount of water used and extraction time.
Do you like lattes or cappuccinos?
If so, then it’s definitely worth considering getting an espresso machine with a milk frother.
In most cases, you’ll see machines with a Pannarello-style frother. This type of steaming wand is rather easy to use and creates a pretty decent foam. It allows you to choose between a cappuccino milk froth and a latte foam, and the only thing you need to do is hold the pitcher steady.
There might be a few models in this price range with a regular steam wand. While this type of milk frother requires a bit of practice to master, it allows you to tweak your foam just how you like it. Plus, you can make some nice latte art with it.
To Sum Things Up
This list of good espresso machines under $300 is proof that you don’t need the fortune to make nice coffee.
Amongst them, IllyX7.1 iper Black is the model that stands out as the best espresso machine under 300 dollars.
Not only because it has a unique retro look, but because it’s super simple to use.
What’s more, it makes a delicious espresso. And all that from coffee capsules!
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