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Spending more time at home means you’re probably missing caffeinated drinks that are more interesting than a drip or French press coffee. Maybe you got creative and figured out how to make cold brew at home. Or maybe now you know how to make lattes at home using things you have on hand, like a moka pot or an Aeropress.
But all of that work to satisfy your craving for cafe-quality cappuccinos, lattes and other espresso-based drinks might have you wondering: Are home espresso machines worth it?
Even though many coffee shops are open again, it still might be time to choose an espresso machine for your home. If you aren’t going to be commuting to your office for a while, you may not feel like going out of your way to get your daily caffeine fix. Or maybe you’re just looking to save a little money in the long run.
Espresso machines work by forcing pressurized near-boiling water through compacted, finely ground espresso beans. It results in a thick, perfectly brewed shot of concentrated coffee called espresso that is often paired with frothed or steamed milk for some of the most common espresso drinks.
Because of the way they’re designed, these machines are often more expensive than other coffee equipment.
Why do espresso machines cost so much?
These fancy machines are often made with stainless steel, brass and other high-quality metals to ensure stable cooking temperatures. Espresso machine features — like built-in grinders, automatic milk steamers and milk frothers, auto-cleaning capabilities and adjustable brewing settings — all factor into the cost. The fancier the features, the higher the price tag.
Espresso machines range in price from about $100 and $1,000, so it might be confusing to figure out which espresso machine is best for home use — especially if you’re a beginner. And even though you could argue that an at-home espresso maker will probably pay for itself after a few months of skipping takeaway $5 oat milk lattes, the sticker shock is still a valid concern.
You can find more affordable espresso machines if you’re willing to skip certain built-in features (like by buying a separate grinder and milk frother) and overlooking other perhaps unnecessary ones (like adjustable brewing temperature). Semi-automatic or manual espresso machines — like this Sowtech espresso machine and the Nespresso Vertuo espresso machine by Breville — are typically more affordable.
To help you find the best and most affordable espresso machine for your home, we’ve rounded up several top-rated options for under $300. You’ll find something to suit every brew and budget.
Don’t forget to browse out some of the espresso machine accessories you’ll need to brew the perfect shot. Our experts recommend a Burr grinder rather than a blade grinder for a fine espresso grind, a separate milk frother or a milk frothing wand if you skip that feature in your machine, flavored syrups for coffeehouse favorites and a perfect latte mug.
Take a look below: