Are you a beginner in espresso making and looking for your first espresso machine? Here’s where you find it.
Believe me, you don’t want a $600 machine that ranks No.1 in every chart in the espresso machine market. Those high end beauties were made for the more seasoned and experienced users, with enough quirks to confuse and plenty of superior features a beginner won’t appreciate.
You want something that is inexpensive, basic and yet makes good espresso with crema; something that is easy to figure out, and slowly build your passion towards espresso making. Something that isn’t shoddy and lasts until you are ready to upgrade to something more advanced.
I’ve actually got two candidates here, and here they are!
Best Espresso Machine Below $100: DeLonghi EC155
This was the espresso machine that I bought for my assignment-filled, sleepless college days. The espresso that it makes is lovely crema-topped stuff, thanks to its 15-bar pump pressure. Pump driven espresso machines always bring out the true flavor in the espresso beans.
This machine has a small footprint, and will sit compactly in a small kitchen with little space to spare. There’s nothing fancy about it; it has all the basics and there is nothing to set or program, so you can focus on the barista skills like getting the tamp right and frothing the milk correctly.
I suggest buying a better tamper to replace the included one which is only plastic, unless you are using pods, which work with this machine too.
You’ll also need shot glasses for this espresso machine, and transfer the espresso into cups for cappuccino or lungo afterwards. It’s a small inconvenience, but for an attractive price under $100, nobody complains too loudly.
Best For Serious Beginner: Gaggia 14101 Classic
The added value is in the stainless steel boiler and exterior, the brass components, and the 17-1/2 bar pump. The machine also heats up fast and prepares shot after shot without having to wait a long time.
The downside is probably the much higher price, which binds you to the machine for longer than you might want to, but having said that, you might not want to replace this machine after all. If you are interesting to know more, Gaggia Classic also featured as our Best Value Semi Automatic Espresso Machine.