We know how important coffee is to you; it’s one of the most popular beverages in the world, and many of us need the caffeine hit to not feel like a zombie in the early hours of the morning – or the late hours, or the early afternoon!
Here are 5 of the best budget espresso machines to give you that all-important caffeine fix.
As our coffee tastes have grown, more and more people are eschewing the once popular instant coffees, for the much more flavoursome and fresh coffee beans or grounds. Whereas in the 80’s the extent of coffee in offices would be instant, and in rare cases an always on-the-boil coffee pot, you can now find coffee capsule machines, espresso machines, cold-brew stations and even fully-functioning coffee shops in cafeterias!
So, if you’re in the market for an espresso maker, whether it be at home or in the office, we want to provide you with some information on which ones will best suit your needs.
Your first question may be “what type of espresso maker should I buy?” but there are two questions you have to ask yourself first: “How much space do I have for it to fit into” and “Do I want to use coffee capsules or coffee beans?”.
If space is a premium for you – I.E. it has to fit on your kitchen counter between your microwave and toaster, then your first port of call is likely a coffee capsule machine, as these normally have a very low profile, or a smaller-sized semi-automatic espresso maker. If space isn’t important, then your next choice is the type of coffee.
When it comes to coffee capsules vs. coffee beans, the difference really lies in price, taste and ease-of-use. Beans will require a grinder if you don’t have a bean-to-cup machine, but will be cheaper per-cup than coffee capsules and in some cases, have a better taste as they are fresher. However, capsules only require you to pop them into the machine, press a button, and you get a high quality espresso with no effort. Perfect when you’re still groggy from sleep first thing in the morning!
Learn what you should look out for when buying beans for espresso.
Even more confused than before? Not to worry! Here’s a brief run-down of different espresso machine types and their pros and cons.
These are also known as bean-to-cup machines. These are fully automated machines, where you place the beans into the machine, milk into a separate compartment and a cup underneath the tap, press a button and suddenly – as if by magic; coffee!
Normally, the greatest differences between these models is how each deals with milk froth for your coffee. Some have steam lines where you’ll manually hold the milk jug, some feed the milk through a tube to a frother, and some automate from refrigerated compartments for milk where you can store the milk for a couple of days.
The reasons for why these machines have proved so popular over the past few years are easy to see.
Their ease-of-use and convenience makes them really stand out above all other types of espresso machine. Not only this, but they make consistently good coffee, leaving you as the user with very little to do.
Of all the different types of budget espresso machine, super automaticas do tend to be the most expensive. However it really is a case of you get what you pay for, and with a super automatica you really will be paying for something efficient, easy and excellent.
Also called manual machines, these are the typical machines you see in most chain coffee shops, with a coffee handle and filter and a milk frother. The fantastic thing about these is also the downside to them: You are the barista. How good the coffee is (with the espresso being the exception), all depends on your skills with the milk frother and pulling the coffee – starting and stopping the hot water through the machine.
These machines are normally separated in the industry by how their boiler works. Either SBDU (Single boiler, dual use), in which the same boiler is used for both passing hot water through the coffee grounds and as the steam for heating and frothing milk. These cost less but take time to heat up and cool down between each use function. HX (Heat Exchange), these can brew and steam at the same time, and have a better steam power than SBDU. DB (Dual Boiler) are the final type, these are more expensive than the other two, but can brew and steam at the same time and have very good temperature stability. These are commonly the type used for professional coffee machines you’ll see in coffee shops.
Semi-automatic machines use coffee grounds and aren’t able to grind coffee, so you will have to buy a seperate burr grinder in order to break the beans down into a useable size for the machine. You could use pre-ground coffee, however, this never tastes as good, as inevitably some of the coffee oil would have dried out between the beans being ground and delivered to your machine.
In contrast to super automatica machines, semi-automatic coffee makers give you complete control over the coffee. As a result, you get to have much more choice in regards to coffee strength and volume. This means that these machines will give you the best espresso possible, all while slightly cheaper than their super automatic counterparts.
However be warned: The quality of the coffee they serve will very much depend on your skills as a user, and you will require a burr coffee grinder for the best results.
These machines are the little wonders you see on most home kitchen counter-tops. Open the machine, pop in a capsule/pod, close it, press a button and you have an espresso!
For beginners this is probably the best place to start. Not only are they the cheapest option compared to super and semi automatic machines, they’re easy to clean and very user-friendly.
They are however much more limited in use, with often only brand-specific capsules being compatible with that machine. Capsules can also be expensive, so be sure to do your research into the capsules as well as the machine prior to buying.
So which coffee machine is right for me?
Do you love the idea of making coffee as a skill or a routine? You will want a semi-automatic coffee machine, which lets you learn more about it as you use it and experiment.
Do you want the cheapest option? Get a capsule machine and buy capsules in bulk whenever they are on sale.
Do you want the least effort latte/cappuccino etc.? Buy a super-automatic (bean-to-cup) machine with an automatic milk frother.
Will it have heavy use? Buy a top-range semi-automatic machine, which are built to last for decades and normally have parts and labour warranties.
Do you want an easy coffee hit in the morning? Buy a capsule coffee machine.
We hope this best budget espresso machines guide has helped you, and if you have anymore questions for us, head over to our contact page and get in touch!