Best Espresso Machines Under $200 in 2017 –  Reviews & Buying Guide

espresso in the makingHave you noticed? People are slowly shifting from brewing pots to brewing single serves. The increasing popularity of single serve drinks sold at coffee chains is inspiring home brewers to think of coffee in new ways.  Come on, admit it – when you think coffee, you think espresso, latte, and cappuccino, right?

And, wouldn’t you love to make these specialty drinks at home? Well, you may be thinking, “Of course, I’d love to brew my own espresso. But, won’t that be difficult and expensive?” No, it’s not as expensive as you think.

However, the market is full of products that make promises that they can’t deliver. So, you should be able to sort through the pile of sub-standard products and get to the ones that deserve your attention.

With the help of our recommendations for the best espresso machine under $200, you can find the right machine to suit your needs and budget. Who knows, this could be the origin story of the next great coffee chain. So, let’s get started.

Our Top 5 Espresso Machine Picks under $200

MODELPRODUCT DIMENSIONS
ITEM WEIGHT
USER RATINGPRICE
Mr. Coffee ECMP50
Mr. Coffee ECMP50
11.4 x 13.7 x 13 inches
1.2 pounds
3.8/5
$
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DeLonghi EC702
DeLonghi EC702
11 x 9.1 x 11.6 inches
13.4 pounds
3.5/5

$$$$$
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DeLonghi EC155
DeLonghi EC155
8 x 11 x 10 inches
6.7 pounds
3.7/5
$$
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Nespresso Inissia Espresso Maker
Nespresso Inissia Espresso Maker
12.6 x 4.7 x 9 inches
5.3 pounds
4.5/5
$$$
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Mr. Coffee ECMP1000
Mr. Coffee ECMP1000
12 x 14 x 12.2 inches
9 pounds
4.2/5
$$$$
Check Latest Price on Amazon

We know you’re eager to know the top products in this space. So, we’ll start the article with reviews of espresso machines under $200. After that, the section on the factors to consider when buying an espresso machine under $200 will take you through valuable insights related to the purchasing process.

#1 Mr. Coffee ECMP1000 – Our Top Pick

Mr. Coffee ECMP1000The Mr. Coffee ECMP1000 is an Amazon bestseller and has hundreds of five-star reviews to its credit. This semi-automatic espresso, cappuccino, and latte brewer comes at an affordable price. But, it has an even mix of advantages and disadvantages. So, let’s take a closer look.

To begin with, the simple interface allows you to select a single or a double shot of espresso, cappuccino, or latte. After entering your preference, the programmed settings take over. Even the milk frother automatically adds steamed or frothed milk in proportion to your selection. After brewing, the auto clean function purges the milk frother. Then, you can store the milk carafe in the fridge or clean it.

But, the automation ends there. You still have to manually grind, dose, and tamp coffee because this machine uses a portafilter. To get the most out of the equipment you should purchase a grinder. You will also need a high-quality tamper because the one that comes with the machine is made of plastic. Also, the portafilter and the filters are not dishwasher safe.

Since the machine uses a single boiler for pouring and steaming, the total brewing process takes more time than a machine with a double boiler would. And, most of this machine’s parts are made of plastic. So, durability is an issue, especially when the warranty is only for a year. Overall, we feel that the machine is good for its price. But, if you have a higher budget, there are better machines available.

Pros

  • Bestseller on Amazon
  • Reasonable price
  • Pre-programmed beverage selection
  • Automatic milk frother
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Manual grinding, dosing, and tamping
  • Single boiler
  • Inconsistent temperature
  • Mostly plastic parts
  • Only a year’s warranty


#2 DeLonghi EC702 – The Runner-up

DeLonghi EC702The DeLonghi EC702 is a semi-automatic espresso, cappuccino, and latte brewer. Unlike the Mr. Coffee ECMP1000, which has an automatic milk frothing function, the EC702 has a manual frother. For this reason, the EC702 comes with a bit of a learning curve. Now, let’s look at some more strengths and weaknesses.

First, the strengths. The EC702 has separate thermostats for brewing and steaming. Thus, the switching time between brewing and frothing is less and the temperature remains consistent. The brew group works at 15-bar pressure, which ensures the best extraction. The portafilter comes with a single shot filter, a double shot filter, and a tamper. And, the machine works on pre-ground coffee or ESE pods.

Now for the weaknesses. The most frequent issue customers raise relates to the steam wand positioning and capability. It’s difficult to use and does not produce a rich foam by default. Customers have also found the machine hard to clean. Also, the machine is mostly made of plastic parts. So, don’t count on it for years of trouble free service.

With additional equipment, such as a grinder and a sturdy tamper, and some skills, the machine can produce good espresso and milk drinks. But, if you’re looking for something that works great out of the box, the EC702 is not the right machine for you.

Pros

  • Reasonable price
  • Thermostat for brewing and steaming
  • Consistent temperature
  • Built-in cup warmer

Cons

  • Steam wand position
  • Steam wand strength
  • Hard to clean
  • Only a year’s warranty
  • Mostly plastic construction


#3 DeLonghi EC155 – Best For The Money

DeLonghi EC155The DeLonghi EC155 is a low-cost semi-automatic brewer that makes both espresso and milk-based drinks. This compact and stylish unit is a bestseller on Amazon and has more than three thousand favorable reviews. But, every product comes with its strengths and setbacks. So, let’s explore the EC155’s strong and weak points.

Economy is perhaps the most important strength of this product. The next is its ability to brew excellent espresso. The machine is also easy to clean and maintain. But, it does require regular maintenance to perform at its peak. The portafilter, single shot filter, double shot filter, and tamper come with the machine. So, you have everything you need to start brewing. And, you can use ESE pods or ground coffee to brew drinks.

Although the EC155 makes great espresso, the steaming wand is too short, and it’s difficult to work with large quantities of milk. So, you may struggle to make barista-style cappuccino and latte. Also, there’s not enough space under the group head to accommodate tall cups.

In the light of the merits and demerits of the product, the EC155 is best suited for exclusive espresso drinkers. Those who favor milk drinks will not appreciate the frother on this model. But, this product is very economical, allowing you enough money to spare for a good burr grinder. And, trust us, EC155 and a burr grinder is an amazing combination.

Pros

  • Very economical
  • Popular and Amazon bestseller
  • Makes excellent espresso
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Compact

Cons

  • Difficult to use frothing wand
  • Cannot fit tall cups
  • Not great with milk drinks


#4 Nespresso Inissia Espresso Maker

Nespresso Inissia Espresso MakerNespresso Inissia Espresso Maker is another Amazon bestseller. But, this machine deals with coffee brewing in a totally different manner. You don’t have to mess with portafilters. So, no more grinding, dosing, and tamping. Instead, the machine uses Nespresso coffee capsules. However, this machine makes only espresso. To make milk drinks, you’ll have to buy a milk frother separately. But, you can buy the Nespresso machine and the milk frother for less than $200.

What we love about the Nespresso system is its hassle-free approach to brewing coffee. Fill the reservoir, load the capsule, place a cup under the spout, and press a button – that’s all there is to it. After brewing the espresso, the machine ejects the used capsule into a built-in collector without any fuss or mess.

When you buy the machine, you get a welcome pack of 16 capsules. You also get a menu indicating the flavor of each capsule. After trying the flavors, you can buy the flavors you like from Nespresso. The capsule-based system is the machine’s greatest strength and weakness. If you’re out of capsules, you can’t use the machine. So, you should plan ahead and maintain a good stock of capsules.

In our opinion, this is a fantastic option for people who don’t want to mess with grinders and portafilters. It makes excellent espresso. And, if you buy a milk frother, you can enjoy a wide selection of milk drinks too. We’ve also written a buying guide on nespresso machines if you’re looking to buy a decent nespresso machine.

Pros

  • Very economical
  • Easy to use
  • Compact
  • Lots of flavor choices

Cons

  • No milk frother
  • Used only with Nespresso capsules
  • Prepares only one serve at a time


#5 Mr. Coffee ECMP50

Mr. Coffee ECMP50The Mr. Coffee ECMP50 is a low-cost semi-automatic espresso and cappuccino brewer. Again, this is a machine that would leave espresso fans happier than cappuccino fans. But, that generally seems to be the trend for budget-friendly machines. So, let’s look at the specifics of what’s to like and not to like about this brewer.

The ECMP50 works like any other semi-automatic brewer. This means you manually have to dose and tamp a portafilter for a double shot or single shot. Then, the machine goes to work and prepares your espresso. But, this model has a thermoblock heater and not a boiler. So, expect inconsistency in temperature.

Thermoblock systems also take longer to switch between brewing and steaming. Overall, the brewing time on this machine is long. You might have to wait a little. It’s a good thing you can brew two cups in one go. Although a thermoblock steaming wand is nothing to boast about, it is a nice thing to have.

But, since this machine is priced so low, you can build on your purchase. For instance, you can get a burr grinder and a milk frother to make up for limitations on the variety of drinks you can make on the ECMP50. However, you will still have to deal with a long waiting time and you’ll have more equipment to clean.

Pros

  • Very economical
  • Good for espresso
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Thermoblock system
  • Long brewing time
  • Needs a better steam wand


Factors to Consider When Buying an Espresso Machine Under $200

Shopping for a coffee machine under $100 is easy because you’re mostly looking at drip coffee makers. But, when your budget extends to $200, semi-automatic coffee makers enter the fray and all hell breaks loose. So, is there a way to make good decisions amidst the chaos of options? Yes, and we will show you how. Before we begin, let’s look at the different types of coffee machines available in this range.

Which type of coffee machine should I buy?

Within the $200 price range, coffee machines come in two main types: drip brewers and semi-automatic brewers. Let’s see how the two types fare against each other under different considerations:

  • Cost: Drip brewers are more economical than semi-automatic brewers because they involve fewer components, capabilities, and features than semi-automatic brewers do.
  • Taste: When it comes to the taste, semi-automatic machines produce better tasting coffee than drip brewers do.
  • Variety: A drip brewer can make a pot of coffee and that’s it. Semi-automatics, on the other hand, can make espresso, latte, and cappuccino depending on the model.
  • Serve: A drip brewer prepares multiple cups in one go. A semi-automatic, however, prepares only one or two serves in a single brew.
  • Ease of Use: Drip brewers often have just one button that turns on or off. In semi-automatics, the brewing process is more complex than throwing a switch.
  • Size: Drip brewers are compact, and you can move them around between use and storage without any issues. A semi-automatic machine stays put where you put it. And, it occupies more space than a drip brewer does.
  • Cleaning: Since a drip brewer has very few parts compared to a semi-automatic, the drip brewer is easier to maintain.
  • Control: A drip brewer offers very limited control over how the coffee tastes. But, a semi-automatic, depending on the model, provides a lot of control over the brewing process. So, there’s a lot you can do to improve the flavor of the drink.

In summary, drip brewers are cheaper and easier to use and maintain than semi-automatics are. However, the semi-automatic makes better coffee and offers more variety than a drip brewer. From our perspective, there’s more to brewing coffee than pushing a button and waiting for a pot of coffee. And, if you have a $200 budget, you should spend it on a semi-automatic. With that in mind, let’s look at the important features you should consider.

What are the factors I should consider before buying a semi-automatic brewer?

As the name suggests, a semi-automatic brewer automates a part of the brewing cycle. More specifically, it is the pouring part of the cycle. This means that you should manually dose and tamp the portafilter. So, both you and the machine share the responsibility of brewing a great cup of coffee. With your skill level set aside, let’s see what are the signs of a good semi-automatic:

  • Temperature Control: Maintaining the temperature between 195° F and 205° F is one of the hardest things to do when brewing manually. But, a good quality coffee maker can do this effectively with the help of a thermostat.
  • Boiler Type: Semi-automatics under $200 come with a single boiler or a thermoblock heating system. A single boiler system is more effective in controlling temperature than a thermoblock system is. But, thermoblock machines are cheaper than single boiler machines.
  • Steam Wand: If the steam wand on the machine is no good, you will have to limit yourself to drinking espresso or buy a separate milk frother. Some semi-automatic machines have an automatic milk frother. This is an extremely useful feature to have.
  • Auto-Purging Steam Wand: You should wipe the wand clean with a cloth and purge the wand with steam after every use. Sometimes, you may forget to purge. This omission leads to malfunction. To avoid this, buy a machine that has an auto-purge system or at least a purge reminder.
  • Programs: Some machines have pre-programmed settings for different drinks, such as espresso, cappuccino, and latte. Most machines allow you to select between a single shot and a double shot.
  • Brew Pressure: To make a good espresso, you need at least 10 bars of pressure. Most of the good machines produce around 15 bars of pressure.
  • Build Quality: Coffee machines in this price range typically have a majority of their parts made of plastic. This reduces the longevity of the machine. If you want something more durable, you should look at pricier models.
  • Size: Since coffee machines have heating elements, it should have enough clearance on all sides to ensure proper ventilation. So, make sure your counter can accommodate the machine while providing the necessary clearances.
  • Accessories: A semi-automatic is not a standalone purchase. You’ll mostly need to buy a steel tamper, appropriate cups, milk frothing pitcher, and even a grinder.
  • Cleaning and Care: A semi-automatic coffee machine requires regular maintenance. Failing to follow the maintenance schedule as explained in the product manual can lead to premature breakdown. Worse, it may void the warranty.
  • Warranty: For a $200 machine, you need at least a year’s warranty. But, we would prefer a two-year warranty. Also, check the process of claiming the warranty. If it involves you covering the shipping charges, it’s not a great warranty offer.
  • Customer Support: If you’re new to using a semi-automatic machine, you may face problems that the manual does not tell you how to troubleshoot. In the case of such events, a strong customer support network can help you get through your issues.
  • Service: Before you buy the product, you should check where you can get it fixed in case you face any issues. If there’s no service center near your location, you’ll have to keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best.

So, if I am buying one, what are my options?

You can refer to our top 5 espresso machine picks under $200 and select a product that meets your requirements. But, if you want to do research on other options, we recommend you look at products from DeLonghi, Keurig, Nespresso, and Mr. Coffee. But, make sure you objectively compare the pros and cons of the products based on the factors discussed here.


Conclusion

An entry level semi-automatic isn’t as capable as super-automatics and commercial semi-automatics. But, if you’re on a $200 budget, buying the Mr. Coffee ECMP1000 is the best way to spend it. We love this model for its automatic milk frother.

However, if you’re not excited about brewing coffee with a portafilter, the capsule-based Nespresso Inissia offers a viable alternative. Also, you get the added advantage of brewing multiple flavors.

The Nespresso is an example of how companies are pushing boundaries in the field of brewing coffee. Thanks to advancement and innovations, the market has a lot of good quality products at various price points.

If you have a discerning eye, you can easily spot the winners in every price category. We hope that this article helps you develop that skill and that you start your barista journey at the earliest.