Best Cheap Espresso Machines 2017 UK


First of all an apology to the manufacturers for referring to their products as among the best cheap espresso machines. Cheap is a bit of a dirty word, that I would usually prefer to replace with “budget”, “affordable” , “low cost”, or “inexpensive” – it is a word people tend to use when searching for affordable consumer espresso machines though.

I refer to these as “consumer” espresso machines by the way, there are also machines that are known as “prosumer” which are home espresso machines that are based on commercial espresso machines, and which come with a much more hefty price tag. 

The one thing I would say first to anyone considering buying a cheap espresso machine, is to just keep in mind that you’re not going to quite get professional speciality coffee shop espresso with a low cost consumer espresso machine, regardless of what the sales stuff might say, it’s just not fair to expect this from machines at this cost. If you want to have a look at some more serious espresso machines see my latest espresso machines reviews post.

The one exception to this, from my recent experience, is with a used pre-2009 Gaggia classic. If you read my Gaggia classic review, you will see that you can pick them up used for around £100 on average, and while they might not quite be prosumer machines in certain respects, they are in a different league to most of the current consumer espresso machines in my opinion. While some of the latest consumer espresso machines look really nice – I would also consider having a look at a second hand Gaggia classic and modding the steam wand (costs £12, takes 5-10 mins and anyone can do it) as I discuss in my recent review.

I’m only listing machines within this post which have a decent number of reviews on Amazon which have a review score of four stars or above, so this is what I mean in terms of “The best”. When you search Amazon by average review rating, you will see that some have full 5 stars from just one or two reviews, I’m discounting any products which have a high rating from a few reviews, and I’m discounting any products which appear to have healthy overall reviews but which I believe to be poor quality machines due to a recurring theme in the negatives.

What I mean by that is that often the 1 and 2 star reviews are from people who’re just being daft and don’t realise that they need to tamp the coffee, or don’t realise that they need to try different grinds to dial in with each bean and have just tried pre-ground coffee bought in a shop meant for cafetière’s and then have returned the machine without any further thought. Sometimes though, I can see one or two recurring themes in the 1 and 2 star ratings which gives me the impression that there is a problem with the machine, and when this is also coupled with recurring complaints about how customer services deal with the issues, I just haven’t bothered to include the product, since this post is about the best affordable espresso machines, so I’m not including any machines that I suspect may be lumps of crap.

When I say cheap / affordable, I’m talking about £70  to £150, which is what I personally consider to be a low cost espresso machine. Also, I’m talking here about manual espresso machines, and not bean to cup or pod machines.

Like I said earlier though, don’t expect amazing results from this price range, I would expect great results from a £1000 – £2000 prosumer espresso machine, which isn’t actually that expensive comparatively speaking,  you can easily go up to about £5k or even higher with the top end prosumer machines. For a budget espresso machine at £under a hundred or a few hundred, personally I would be happy with “OK” espresso personally.

Morphy Richards Accents 172004 Espresso Machine

Morphy Richards 172002 Accents Espresso Machine

This is the best selling cheap espresso machine on Amazon. 

Features:

Dimensions: 22 x 28.8 x 31.5 Cm
Water tank: 1.25 L (removable)
15 bar pump pressure
Dual cup dispense
7 g and 14 g filter holders
Pannarello steam wand
1,000 watts
2 year warranty

Blurb:

The Accents espresso coffee maker will look good and sophisticated in all kitchens with it’s sleek design and compact size. This machine is one for those who appreciate the experience of coffee drinking and enjoy those barista techniques. Lattes, cappuccinos, mochas and many more of your favourite drinks are now achievable at home by using the espresso dispenser and accompanying milk frothing function.

Easily Accessible Water Tank

With a 1.2 L capacity tank, it can make up to eight espressos at a time making it good for a large family or entertaining with friends. The tank can be easily removed to fill up or filled in-situ for your convenience.

Easily Accessible Water Tank

Variable Steam Control

Steam Wand

Espresso Dispense

Amazon Reviews: 4.3/5 from 183 reviews. 

Best Review: 

After 5 months this has been a fantastic machine which has been churning out coffee that’s as nice as it was on day one.

I’ve been on r/coffee via Reddit where the consensus is that if you don’t spend over £500 on an espresso machine then you might as well not bother – This absolutely does the trick.

The milk frother is great (I have taken off the plastic housing) and can make some super frothy cappuccinos!

Definitely worth your pennies if it’s this or £300+

Worst Review:

Disappointed. Bought 4 different types of coffee and pods aswell but it doesn’t matter what type of coffee we use, none of the coffee produced is drinkable. Every coffee tastes like plastic. The ‘hot water ready light’ doesn’t work – it never comes on. Extremely hot water leaks as the coffee is dispensed. Not a good purchase.

Note About the Reviews: 

The bulk of the reviews are 4 star (44) and 5 star (113) , only fourteen 1 star reviews and five 2 star reviews, which I think is very good going for such a low cost machine. Looking at the difference between the positive and the negative reviews, I would assume that the majority of the negatives are regarding faults. If you’re buying via Amazon, then you have the amazon returns window which is usually 30 days, however if you contact Amazon support you can sometimes get this extended. After this time it’s a case of contacting the supplier or manufacturer to start the warranty return process. It’s a pain having to do this, and none of us relish the experience, but when you’re going for anything at the budget range I think you just have to remind yourself that there is always a certain percentage of faults, and it’s likely to be higher on budget machines than it is on higher cost machines. All machines are sold with warranty though, so it’s not the end of the world, it’s just a pain. If your machine does develop a fault just after the 2 year warranty has expired, then that’s always a pain too – but 2 years of coffee making out of an £80 machine isn’t at all bad when you think about it. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that Amazon offer a three year extended cover on certain machines, including this one. Click here to see the listing, and then in the top right hand corner just above the add to basket icon, you’ll see a tick box saying “include Amazon Protect 3-year Breakdown & Accident Cover”, so if you want to be covered for up to three years, for an extra £12, that’s an option. 

There are also some comments about not enough clearance to fit taller mugs under, and I see comments like this fairly often for reviews of espresso machines. It seems that some heathens are trying to pour espresso directly into tall cups! ;-). Espresso is usually pulled into an espresso cup or glass, which are very small, and then poured into a taller cup for example of it’s to make an Americano or Latte.. With a filter coffee machine yes you would expect tall clearance to have your coffee drip into a carafe or a large mug, but this isn’t how espresso machines are designed. No problem if you want to pull your espresso shot into your coffee cup, but for most espresso machines this will involve either putting your mug in at an angle, removing the drip tray, or getting a shorter mug ;-).

 

Price:

 

RRP £79.99, and it’s available on offer for even less here on Amazon – this is what I call a cheap espresso machine, and given the reviews, I think unless you’re unlucky and end up with a faulty one (in which case hopefully you can return it within the Amazon returns window and just get another one) you can’t really go wrong at this price.

 

De’Longhi Dedica EC.680.M Espresso Machine

AlsDelonghi c680 espresso machine.o see the updated version of this machine, the Dedica EC. 685.M

Features: 

Dimensions: 14.91 x 32.99 x 30.51 cm
Water tank: 1 L
Ready to use in 35 seconds
Anti drip
Pannarello steam wand
1350 watts

Blurb:

 

 

  • Its simple and contemporary form is sleek and slim and with its Thermoblock boiler, this pump espresso coffee machine will enhance performance, quality ease of use and customisation for all your hot beverages
  • If you prefer herbal or fruit teas, this machine can also dispense hot water with its fast heat-up time of 35 seconds
  • With its flow stop function you are able to consistently personalise your coffee
  • Manual milk frother allows you to mix steam, air and milk, produce a rich, dense and creamy froth
  • Removable drip tray with water level indicator

The Dedica (EC680) from De’Longhi is a must for any budding barista taking their first step into domestic pump espresso machines. You can make an array of hot beverages, and using the manual milk frother you can make the perfect lungo, latte, cappuccino, or other milky drink. It produces 15-bar restaurant and coffee house standard coffee in the comfort of your own home.

All aspects of a typical professional pump espresso machine (like the ones you see in your high street coffee bar), such as grinders, filter holders, and steam pipes, are found working inside the De’Longhi Dedica EC680. The traditional milk frother allows you to impress your guests by manually frothing the milk whilst making them the ideal cappuccino or latte.

Easy to Clean

Removable drip tray with water level indicator allows you to maintain the machine with ease. It has a descaling alarm to help you keep it in the best shape.

Easy to Use

You’ll find the easy-to-use control panel with 3 illuminated buttons very user friendly.

The flow stop function allows you to pre-set and store the quantity of coffee in the cup.

Level of Convenience

It can either be used with ground coffee or Easy Serving Espresso (ESE) pods and comes with 3 interchangeable crema devices for 1 or 2 cups simultaneously.

If you wish to create milky coffee drinks, then the manual milk frother gives you that flexibility.

The filter holder is equipped with 3 interchangeable stainless steel filters to prepare one or two coffees.

Amazon Reviews: 4.4/5 from 307 reviews. 

Best Review: 

I already have one of these and only bought this because it was on a one day offer, which made it very good value.
This machine will make you coffee as you’d buy it from Costa, & it’s almost foolproof, but, and this is why it only gets four stars, just sometimes the steam button malfunctions. As this happens on my original machine I conclude it is an inbuilt fault. If it happens just ignore it and continue as normal….works for me.
Another tip is to experiment with your coffee grind, too fine and you’ll get little coffee, too coarse and it will be light on flavour.
Besides making great coffee time and time again, apart from making coffee almost automatically, you only have to froth/heat the milk, it even tells you when it needs cleaning.
I can thoroughly recommend this machine.

Worst Review:

Bought brand new…..Was looking forward to getting this … water has been leaking everywhere from the very first day. Delonghi after sales in the UK is equally unimpressive having been forever on hold listening to recording that the website FAQ will answer my questions. Thanks for nothing basically. Without doubt the first and last de longhi product I buy.

Note About the Reviews: 

 

213 five star reviews, 48 four star, 12 three star, 12 2 star, 22 1 star, so not bad over all.

It does sound like there have been some faults with this machine, which is to be expected with any machine but there’s a higher chance when at the budget price range. I have to say though there does seem to be quite a lot of anger towards the way De’Longhi handle warranty returns, which would put me off slightly, but this is one of the reasons I like buying from Amazon, as you have the Amazon returns window – so if you have any concerns within the first 30 days that you might have been sent a duff unit, just click the return button on Amazon and get another one sent out. 

Among the folk who haven’t been unlucky enough to receive a faulty machine, 

Price:

 

RRP £79.99, and it’s available on offer for even less here on Amazon – this is what I call a cheap espresso machine, and given the reviews, I think unless you’re unlucky and end up with a faulty one (in which case hopefully you can return it within the Amazon returns window and just get another one) you can’t really go wrong at this price.

 

 

 

 

 

Going back to the looks again, I really like the look of this machine, very pretty indeed. It’s available in red or black too, but I think you’re mad if you don’t go for silver, personally. I’ve watched quite a few videos of this machine in action, and it really does look good, in particular I like the look of the stainless steel portafilter.

The only thing that does catch my eye in a negative way with this machine is that fat stubby looking steam wand, and this is something that reviewers have mentioned; however, it’s a metal sheath that makes it fat, it can be easily removed from what I’ve read, and it appears to work much better without it. These fat sheaths they add to the wand are designed to make it easier for the novice home barista to froth milk, and while they may be OK for creating a texture of some kind, I don’t believe they’re the best when it comes to creating great milk texture for pouring latte art. Anyway, from what I’ve read, this silver sheath can be removed, and it works OK without it apparently. I’m not sure if the steam wand on this machine can be replaced with the Rancilio Silvia wand as with the Gaggia classic, I’d have to have a look.

A cup wamer on a budget espresso machine!

The water tank is 1 litre, which is about standard, and I see someone has mentioned in the questions and answers that the capacity from the portafilter to the drip tray is about 8cm. This seems about standard to me, and an average fluted shaped latte mug would be taller than this so I could understand people being confused about this if they thought it was the done thing to make espresso directly into such a vessel, but it’s not… just go to your local Costa, or if you’re lucky enough to have a local indie artisan coffee shop, go there, and you won’t see them making espresso directly into tall mugs, they make the shot in small espresso mugs or glasses and then decant.

There’s a cup warmer on the top, which I think is always handy, you won’r fit lots of cups on there but maybe a few espresso cups or a couple of cappuccino cups?

You can use both ground coffee and ESE pods with this machine, and you can make one or two at a time.

Apparently it has a warm up time of just 35 seconds, which sounds very impressive!

There are four 1 star reviews on Amazon, but I’m discounting all of them – as far as I’m concerned there are no actual 1 star reviews… What I mean by this, is that people have mistakenly given the machine a 1 star review. One person appears to have bought a Eu machine with a Eu plug, and slags off the machine with a 1 star review based on that. Another person clearly just hasn’t read the instructions, one person complains that it’s making the espresso too slowly and therefore sent it back, without realising that they simply needed to adjust their grind size… and one person says it’s too fiddly, which taken in context with all the other reviews on the contrary tells me that this is probably someone who’s come from using a pod machine perhaps and isn’t used to the manual aspect of using a proper espresso machine.

The only recurring negatives that I can see from the reviews really are that the portafilter is a bit on the stiff side to put into the machine, and that the steam arm is too big. The steam arm can be sorted by removing that metal sheath as I’ve mentioned, and I’m not sure about portafilter stiffness, I don’t see anyone in any of the videos I’ve watched struggling to put the portafilter in, so maybe it’s just a bit stiff to begin with and then loosens up with use?

96 of the 132 reviews are 5 stars, and most buyers just can’t sing the praises of this espresso machine enough.

Warranty: 1 year.

 

Andrew James 15 Bar Pump Barista Coffee Maker

Andrew James Espresso Machine.I’ve mentioned this espresso machine in previous posts, as it seems to be a good machine for the money from what I can see. OK I don’t think it’s quite as sexy looking as the De’Longhi, but it’s £85…  and it has a 1.7 litre tank, and a 2 year warranty, and it has an overall 4.3 star rating on Amazon from 95 reviews, so it has to be listed among the best budget consumer espresso machines in my humble opinion.

It’s 1100 watts, which is about the norm for machines of this price bracket.

Size: 27.5 x 31.8 x 20.7 cm

Again as with the De’Longhi the steam arm seems to have a bit of a strange fat pannarello pipe thing on it, but apparently this can simply can be removed too. This machine also has a cup warmer on the top, and I’m assuming that with these machines they’re ambient warmers, using the heat produced from the boiler, which would make sense.

62 of the reviews are 5 stars, and many of the reviewers are clearly in love with their machine, there are a handful of negatives, but nothing that particularly worries me – again, did I mention that this machine is £85?…

A lot of the bad reviews I read of espresso machines are clearly from people who misunderstand what making espresso is about; if you think that you’re going to buy an espresso machine and be making perfect espresso’s immediately without any learning curve, I think you’re in for a surprise, especially if you’ve never owned one before.  If you have the budget for the Sage Oracle, or a bean to cup machine such as the Jura Impressa, then that’s a different matter, but if you’re looking to spend somewhere between £50-£150, then you’re going to be getting a manual espresso machine so there’ll be a bit of a learning curve, so don’t send your machine back if you’re not making coffee shop quality espresso within the hour ;-). Also I think people just expect too much from such inexpensive machines, as I mention in my post about consumer vs prosumer espresso machines, there is a big difference, and it’s really not fair to get the same from an £85 machine as you would from a £1200 machine for instance.

The other option of course is to go for a Nespresso machine or another pod / disc machine such as Dolce Gusto or Tassimo, with a machine like this there is no learning curve really, just slide in a pod then press the button. See Nespresso Compatible Pods & Speciality Coffee?

Warranty: 2 Years.

 

Delonghi ECZ351.BG Scultura Traditional Pump Espresso Machine

Delonghi ECZ351BG.

This is another pretty looking espresso machine.  It’s available in a few different colour options, this one is ‘Champagne”, they also do it in white, grey and black.

It looks like a really good quality machine for the cost, and OK it has a £199 price tag which prices it out of this price range usually, but it’s currently on offer on Amazon at £149.99.

As with the EC.680.M, there’s that fat metal sheath again on the steam wand, but I’m assuming that it can simply be removed as it can on that, to make it more conducive to getting the milk swirling and therefore the creation of microfoam.

It has a 1.4 litre tank capacity which puts it in second place in this post in that regard, and it’s 1100 watts which is about standard in this price range. It takes ESE coffee pods as well as ground beans.

Size: 30.5 cm x 38.2 cm x 24.2 cm

It has a 4.2 rating out of 37 ratings, 24 of these are 5 star, and among the 1 and 2 star are a couple of silly ones, including simply “so far so good” which seems odd for a 2 star review. As with the other machines, there are quite a few people complaining that you can’t get standard mugs under the portafilter, and I have left a comment on one of these to point out that standard mugs are 9-10 cm, and are not going to fit in most espresso machines, and the idea is to pour your shot of espresso into a small vessel such as an espresso mug or glass, and then decant into a larger mug if not drinking as espresso.

There are also a few lost points due to people rating the supplier rather than the product, for instance one person got the wrong colour sent to them… I think people should be taught at school about leaving product reviews ;-), when you’re reviewing a product, it’s the product you need to review, you can review the seller (many products have various sellers) separately based on their service and whether they sent the product to you on time and in one piece etc., that shouldn’t form part of the product review.

Warranty: 1 Year

 

Delonghi Espresso Pump Machine ECC220W

Delonghi Espresso Pump Machine ECC220

I was pondering about whether or not to include this machine as it doesn’t have as many Amazon reviews as the others, but after reading all the reviews I decided it deserved to be included. It only has one 1 star review, and that review was based on the materials used being too lightweight. It has no two or three star reviews, two four stars, and 10 five star reviews all from verified purchases, so regardless of the quantity that’s a good star ratio, and I can see from all of the reviews that this is a decent machine for the money.

I also read other reviews online, and watched YouTube reviews and read the comments from reviewers a while after the review, and I read mainly positive stuff.

The one in the photo is the white one (obviously), they also do them in various other colours.

It has a 1 litre water tank, and the power is 1100 watts.

It has a steam arm for frothing milk of course but what the heck is that on the end of it? I do believe that as with the other machines with fat attachments to the steam wands, that this can be removed, and I do think it would need to be in order to make decent microfoam, but I may be wrong who knows – I just can’t see how you’d get the milk swirling in a jug with a big attachment like this, and I can imagine that what you would end up with is huge bubbles.

I noticed on one of the video reviews that there is a guy who makes custom steam wand attachments for this machine, I’ve contacted to ask him if he still makes them, and he’s replied to say he does. His name is Matt Winser, and you can contact him at [email protected]. He told me that he makes the wand attachments from food grade Delrin, and that currently he only makes them for the Delonghi machines, but that he’d be happy to look at making custom wands for other machines also.

It has a built in tamper, which I suppose is handy in case you lose your tamper (pun intended). In terms of aesthetics, I think it’s quite pleasing to the eye; OK it appears to be mainly made of plastic, and the portafilter is made of plastic and pressed Aluminium, and that doesn’t float my boat as much as some of the others which have more metal in them, especially the EC680.M, but it appears to be a nice looking machine.

Size: 27 x 24 x 30.5 cm

Warranty: 1 Year

So there we go, that’s my list of what I believe so far from my investigating, to be potentially the best cheap consumer espresso machines on the market currently.

As I said earlier, if you’re considering spending this kind of money and you want really good espresso, I’d have a read of my Gaggia classic review, in which I discuss the idea of buying a used pre-2009 model for around £100 and adding a professional steam wand, which will give you a cracking machine – I know because this is exactly what I’ve done recently.

One thing I just want to finish with is to once again make reference to all the complaints I’ve seen about nearly all of the espresso machines regarding the clearance under the group head not being enough once the portafilter is inserted, to fit taller mugs.

With most budget espresso machines (and many not so budget machines also) you don’t have a great deal of height under the group head, and this isn’t a design flaw, I assume it stems from the fact that you would usually pull a shot of espresso into a small vessel, either a short espresso cup or glass. If you’re making a coffee which requires a tall mug, then you can just pull your shot into a small espresso mug or glass and then pour this into the taller mug. Actually some Baristas who use machines which cost several thousands of pounds, which do have much higher clearance, put in raising blocks which they put their mugs onto so that the coffee isn’t pouring over such a distance and ruining the crema / splashing all over the place.

Life is like a box of chocolates, so follow me on Twitter, and that’s all I have to say about that.

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