Wouldn’t it be wonderful to wake up every morning to the aroma of your own espresso machine brewing you a fresh cup of black coffee? These days, it’s pretty easy to find the best espresso machine under £300 for you, whether you’re a busy student, a freelancer entertaining clients for business meetings, or simply a gourmet coffee lover who likes to have more than one cup of coffee a day.
To create this article, we looked at several key features that every espresso machine has. We looked at the pressure it uses to create a perfectly brewed cup of coffee. We also looked at whether a model uses ground coffee, ESE pods or capsules. The inclusion of a frother will allow you to make not only espressos, but also cappuccinos, lattes and other drinks. Finally, the dimensions will tell you where you can place your new machine, while the warranty period determines how long you will be covered in case of problems.
If you’re in the market for a new espresso machine for your home, we’ve done our homework by presenting the five best models currently available. We’ve also written a detailed review of each product using information from manufacturers’ websites, product descriptions and consumer reviews to find the best espresso machine under £300 to suit your lifestyle. The buying guide at the end of this in-depth review will help you make your purchases.
If you want to replicate the experience you would have in your local coffee shop, you can buy this stainless steel pump espresso machine, which can make any type of gourmet coffee drink, including a single or double espresso, cappuccino or latte. However, just because it’s a pump machine doesn’t mean you’ll spend your time wondering how much freshly ground coffee to pour into the machine. There is a holder for one shot, another for making a two shot espresso and yet another to hold an espresso pod. This machine is manual, but it guarantees to deliver exactly the same amount of espresso with each shot, so each of your creations will be as consistent as the coffee. You can also customise the type of froth you want on your flat whites, cappuccinos and lattes using the manual steamer.
This appliance is our editor’s choice because of its many features, including an adjustable bottom tray that can be removed to accommodate a larger cup or thermos, a sleek and space-saving design, and a generous removable water tank. Customers were pleased with the ease of removal and cleaning of the stainless steel parts, but several reviewers noted that the parts became hot when the machine was in use. Customers who bought the machine loved the fact that it took only 40 seconds to turn on and make perfect cappuccinos every time.
- 15 bar
- ground, ESE pods
- 13 x 5.9 x 13 inches
- Limited to 2 years
- 3-in-1 filter holder; adjustable bottom tray for taller cups
Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe coffee and espresso machine
This elegant espresso machine has a unique and stylish design with a curved space flair that automatically brews single serve cups of coffee, including single shot and double shot espressos, at the touch of a button. Coffee capacity ranges from 1.35 oz espresso to 14 oz alto. This best home espresso machine under $300 is limited in only one way, which is that you can only use Nespresso capsules in the machine. This machine comes with a welcome kit of twelve Nespresso Vertuo capsules, each with its own sensational aroma and flavor.
One of the benefits of buying a Nespresso VertuoPlus is that it is described as an ‘intelligent Nespresso machine’, which means that it uses patented centrifugal technology that uses barcodes to produce the perfect crema for every cup, no matter what size. This particular machine comes with its own Aeroccino 3 milk frother, to help you create the perfect cappuccino or latte, and if you like to make iced coffee with cold foam, then this is the machine for you. People who bought this automatic espresso machine noted the generous capacity of the 60-ounce reservoir, but some complained that if its connectors at the base of the machine were slightly misaligned, it could leak. Some customers also felt that the cost of €1.00 per pod to make a coffee was almost as expensive as buying a coffee in a local café.
- not specified
- Nespresso pods
- 13.2 x 9.1 x 12.8 inches
- Limited to 1 year
- programmable; 57.5 oz removable water tank; 5 coffee cup sizes
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Breville Prima Latte II espresso machine
This powerful automatic coffee maker has a 19 bar Italian pump that delivers single or double shots of espresso at the touch of a button. It is equipped with an old-fashioned automatic milk frother, spigot type, which allows you to froth any type of milk to the desired creamy foam. The 650 ml milk tank can be easily removed from the machine so that the remaining milk can be stored in the refrigerator. The machine is also equipped with an adjustable tray that can be adjusted to fit all types of cups, from small cups to large thermos-type coffee holders. If you like to wake up in the morning to the invigorating smell of barista quality espresso, then this is the machine for you, as it also has an automatic timer.
People who bought this machine from Mr Coffee noted that it makes excellent cappuccinos and lattes with nut milk and coconut milk. It also gets points for being very quick to heat and impressively easy to clean. The machine itself is easy to assemble, but some consumers complained that the instructions supplied with this automatic coffee maker were a little vague and that there were no measuring lines on the milk or water tanks to help estimate the liquid capacity. One consumer noted that the machine is very noisy and works better with wide spout cups than with narrow spout cups.
- 19 bar
- 13.7 x 10.9 x 15.5 inches
- Limited to 1 year
- adjustable cup tray; removable 22 oz. milk tank
adjustable cup tray; removable 22 oz. milk tank
Espresso and cappuccino all-in-one machine EspressoWorks
This seven-piece espresso and cappuccino machine is so complete that you could probably open your own coffee with it. It has all sorts of built-in features such as a steamer and a frother. It also comes with high-quality stand-alone accessories, such as a coffee bean grinder, filter holder, milk cup, spoon, tamper and even two cappuccino cups. Its square design takes up a little extra counter space with its 9.75 x 11.5 inch dimensions, giving it a prominent presence on your kitchen counter and telling your guests, “I love caffeine”. It’s the perfect machine for those who entertain guests at home, have lots of group meetings or are just in a hurry each morning, as the machine heats up in just 45 seconds before making wonders, allowing you to make two cups of cappuccino or espresso at once.
The machine is semi-automatic, which means you can control the strength and amount of espresso poured into your cup yourself, allowing for maximum customisation.
This is an old school machine with a 15 bar pump pressure system that has stainless steel inserts for single or double shots. The frothing device and drip tray are removable and very easy to clean. Consumers notice how powerful the brewing and pressing power is on this machine. They also noted that the machine produced better espresso and cappuccino results if the coffee used was medium or coarse ground. Many buyers also commented on the impressive and fast customer support service that was on hand to quickly replace small damaged parts such as the rubber tip on the milk spray nozzle.
- 15 bar
- Ground coffee (grinder included)
- 11.5 x 9 x 9.75 inches
- Limited to 1 year
- Comes with grinder, measuring spoon, filter, frothing cup and 2 espresso cups
This versatile espresso machine, which boasts a professional-grade 15 bar pressure, allows you to use both ground coffee and pods. You can even use your espresso machine as an aromatic alarm clock that wakes you up in the morning with the smell of brewing coffee, as it is programmable to start brewing when you want. The cup size can be pre-programmed to be 1.5 or 3 ounces. The stainless steel steam nozzle is easy to clean and the portafilter detaches effortlessly with a quick left turn and allows you to dispose of used espresso beans in the trash. The easy-to-clean unit includes a huge 69-ounce removable reservoir and comes with accessories such as a tamping tool and a stainless steel frothing cup.
According to the company, the unit’s internal boiler is made of aluminium and is not the best choice for those trying to avoid consuming this metal due to health or memory issues. Another point to note is that the finer the grind of the coffee, the less liquid the machine will produce, so it is best to use a medium or coarse grind. This espresso machine is also very noisy, and the steamer makes the high-pitched whistle even louder. Several people complained that the plastic connector on the steam wand has been known to come loose. However, many consumers have compared the operation of this sub-€300 espresso machine to professional models costing €400 or more and have noted that it performs just as well.
- ground, pods
- 10.6 x 9.2 x 12.8 inches
- Limited to 3 years
- 64 oz. removable water tank; hot plate for cups
Features to consider when choosing an espresso machine
We’ll start with the features you need to pay attention to when choosing the best espresso machine for your lifestyle, whether it’s a manual espresso machine, a semi-automatic espresso machine, a fully automatic machine like the Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe coffee and espresso machine, a virtually professional quality coffee machine with 19 bars like the Mr. Coffee One-Touch CoffeeHouse Expresso Maker, or a machine that comes with enough accessories that you can practically open your own coffee, as is the case with our Mr. Coffee One-Touch CoffeeHouse Expresso Maker. Coffee One-Touch CoffeeHouse Expresso Maker, or a machine that comes with enough accessories so that you can practically open your own coffee, as is the case with our EspressoWorks all-in-one espresso and cappuccino machine.
The theory is that the more pressure bars the espresso machine has, the more it will taste like it was made by a barista in a real Italian café. Most espresso machines under £300 have a pressure rating of 15 bars, but our Mr. Coffee One-Touch CoffeeHouse espresso machine, number three on our list, has a pressure rating of 19 bars. Real commercial machines used in coffee shops have a rotating, not vibrating, coffee press, but the higher the pressure, the more likely you are to create an espresso drink that tastes like it was made in a real café.
Water tank capacity
The water tank capacity of an espresso machine is important if you want to serve several espresso drinks at once, or if you simply don’t feel like filling a small tank every day. The espresso machine with the largest tank capacity on our list is the Cuisinart EM-200, which has a 64oz removable water tank allowing you to make espressos for a week without having to change the water.
However, true coffee lovers will tell you that the size of the tank doesn’t matter unless you’re hosting a party and serving several people, because a great cup of espresso should always be made with fresh filtered water, every day. If a large capacity isn’t what you’re looking for, check out our review of the best single-use coffee makers, designed for more individual use.
K-Cup pods, Nespresso capsules and ground coffee
In general, the “older” the coffee maker, the more likely it is to have variable stainless steel slots that allow you to choose whether or not you want to make single or double shot espresso. For example, the EspressoWorks All-In-One Espresso Machine & Cappuccino Maker can only make espresso with grounds. Some machines, such as the Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe coffee and espresso machine, only use their own branded pods (Nespresso pods in this case), while others, such as the Delonghi EC680M, can switch between using grounds and pods.
What drinks can it make?
When choosing an espresso machine, you may want to consider whether the machine is versatile enough to make several styles of coffee, as is the case with the EspressoWorks all-in-one espresso and cappuccino machine.
If you’re drinking your espresso black, you don’t need a milk frothing attachment when you buy an espresso machine. However, four of our top five picks come with a milk frothing attachment that allows you to make other espresso drinks like cappuccinos, lattes (and if lattes are your thing, we recommend checking out our review of the best latte machines) and flat whites. The Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe coffee and espresso machine comes with a separate cup-shaped unit called the Aerocinno Milk Frother which costs around $100 if purchased on its own and allows you to make cold and hot froth for your caffeinated drinks.
If you have less counter space, it’s best to buy a smaller or more compact espresso machine, such as the rectangular Cuisinart EM-200 or the imposing Delonghi EC680M tube-shaped machine, designed to fit perfectly on a corner of a kitchen counter. Most espresso machines under £300 are smaller than the professional models found in coffee shops, so it’s usually possible to effortlessly fit a machine like the Nespresso Deluxe coffee and espresso machine, which has a separate cup-shaped milk frother and a large tubular glass water tank on the side.
At the very least, any espresso machine bought for less than £300 should have a one-year limited warranty, but some, like our editor’s choice in our top five espresso machines, have a two-year limited warranty. The Cuisinart EM-200 even has an impressive three-year limited warranty. Make sure the warranty covers the spray nozzles and plastic parts, as these are the most likely to come loose or break.
Other features to look for when buying an espresso machine include a push-button control panel, a timer to allow you to program the first cup of coffee in the morning, and an adjustable cup tray that allows you to place larger cups and small thermos jugs underneath the coffee and foam spout. Some machines, such as the EspressoWorks all-in-one espresso and cappuccino machine, also come with their own accessories, including a coffee grinder, measuring spoons, frothing cup and espresso cups. The Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe coffee and espresso machine in our top five list also comes with a sample of twelve Nespresso coffee capsules, which is a nice bonus.
Some safety tips
Here are some essential safety tips for using espresso machines.
As the stainless steel parts of most espresso machines can heat up in 45 seconds, be careful not to burn yourself by touching metal parts when the machine is on.
Never point the milk steamer at your hands or face.
Clean or purge your steam wands daily to avoid bacteria build-up in the milk.
Empty the drip tray regularly to ensure that coffee or water does not spill onto the power cord.
Our editor’s choice, the Delonghi EC680M, scored the highest score of 9.9 out of 10, as it’s compact, has a sleek look and its narrow tubular shape doesn’t take up much counter space. We also liked the fact that it accepts both ground and ESE pods, and its generous two-year warranty.
Our second choice, the Breville coffee and espresso machine, with a 9.8 rating, is about as good as it gets when it comes to espresso machines and touch-and-go technology, offering five coffee cup sizes, a separate easy-to-clean nozzle and a selection of twelve gourmet Nespresso capsules so you can decide which flavour you like best before buying a batch from the Nespresso shop.
Our third choice, the Mr Coffee One-Touch CoffeeHouse espresso maker, offers 19 bar pressure for making double or single shot drinks, comes with a milk frother, an adjustable drip plate (to fit larger cups and thermos jugs) and a removable 22oz milk tank that can be stored in the fridge when not in use.