Best Espresso Machine Under 300 Dollars Review

If you’re like most Americans, then you’re probably drinking coffee by the pot from a drip-brew coffee maker.  It’s one of the most ubiquitous small appliances in the nation.

Increasingly though, specialty coffee drinks have been gaining in popularity here, thanks in no small part to the explosive growth and popularity of Starbucks.  Because of that, increasing numbers of people are turning away from their old, reliable drip-brew machines, and looking to replace it with a proper espresso machine.

There’s just one problem – Espresso machines are expensive!  Much more so than the drip-brew model you’ve got sitting on your counter right now.

That’s why we’ve scoured the internet, searching for the best espresso machine under 300.  Whether you’re on a budget, or just looking for a low-cost way to begin exploring the world of flavors that awaits, you’re going to love this review!

Before we begin, let’s take a top-level view of the models that are available in this price range.  As you might expect, the machines offered here are somewhat limited in terms of functionality, but any of them would serve you well!

Best Espresso Machine Under 300 Dollars - Overall Best

Last update: October 23, 2019 8:21 am

RATING

RECOMMENDED FOR

Singles. Small households with only one coffee drinker. Purists may find it too minimalist for their liking, and it’s too small for power drinkers.

PROS

Also accepts pods! Dual milk frothing system.

CONS

Fairly small water tank.

More Specifications...

Best Espresso Machine Under 300 Dollars - 2nd Pick

Last update: October 23, 2019 8:21 am

RATING

RECOMMENDED FOR

People on a budget, who still want to get the coffee shop experience at home, anyone who doesn’t mind letting their inner Barista out to play and experiment. NOT recommended for purists, power coffee drinkers, or people looking for maximum convenience. This is just not that machine.

PROS

Delivers basic functionality for a song.

CONS

Fairly small water tank – Boiler is a bit inferior and doesn’t heat as quickly.

More Specifications...

Best Espresso Machine Under 300 Dollars - 3rd Pick

-18% DeLonghi BCO430
$204.11 $249.95
Buy this item
Amazon Amazon.com
Last update: October 23, 2019 8:21 am

RATING

RECOMMENDED FOR

Anyone who loves specialty coffee drinks.

PROS

Largest water tank in its class.

CONS

None to speak of.

More Specifications...

Best Espresso Machine Under 300 Dollars - 4th Pick

Last update: October 23, 2019 8:21 am

RATING

RECOMMENDED FOR

Provisionally recommended for (some) casual coffee drinkers.

PROS

A surprising number of programmable buttons. Offers more programmability than any other machine in its class.

CONS

Fairly small water tank - Boiler is a bit inferior to the others in this category. Doesn’t heat as quickly.

More Specifications...

OUR PICK


OVERALL BEST Best Espresso Machine Under 300

Espresso Machine Under 600 Dollars

Last update: October 23, 2019 8:21 am

Last update: October 23, 2019 8:21 am

-18% DeLonghi BCO430
$204.11 $249.95
Buy this item
Amazon Amazon.com
Last update: October 23, 2019 8:21 am

Last update: October 23, 2019 8:21 am

RATING

4.3125/5

4/5

3.75/5

3.75/5

PRICE

$$$

$

$$

$

​STYLE

STYLE

Semi Automatic, Combination

Semi Automatic

Semi Automatic, Combination

Super Automatic

DIMENSIONS

10.6” x 12.2” x 12”

12” x 14” x 12.2”

14.5” x 11” x 12.8”

14” x 7.75” x 11.75”

WEIGHT

15.4 pounds

9 pounds

14.2 pounds

14 pounds

​RESERVOIR SIZE

RESERVOIR SIZE

35 Ounce

32 Ounce

40 Ounce

34 Ounce

​BOILER

BOILER

Single, aluminum lined with stainless steel, Thermoblock

Single, aluminum lined with stainless steel, Thermoblock

Single, aluminum lined with stainless steel, Thermoblock

Single, aluminum lined with stainless steel, Thermoblock

​ADJUSTABLE COFFEE SPIGOTS?

ADJUSTABLE COFFEE SPIGOTS?

No, uses Portafilter

No, but the platform holding the cup can be raised or lowered which accomplishes the same thing.  Uses a portafilter

No, uses Portafilter

No, but it does have a fold out platform to accommodate smaller cups

​NUMBER OF GRIND SETTINGS

NUMBER OF GRIND SETTINGS

NA – No Integrated Grinder

NA – No Integrated Grinder

NA – No Integrated Grinder

NA – This is a Pod-Based Machine

​MILK FROTHING TECHNOLOGY

MILK FROTHING TECHNOLOGY

Auto-Frother And Steam Wand!

Auto-Frother

Steam Wand

Auto-Frother

HAS CUP WARMING TRAY?

Yes

No

Yes

No

PROS

Also accepts pods! 

Dual milk frothing system

Delivers basic functionality for a song

Largest water tank in its class

A surprising number of programmable buttons.

Offers more programmability than any other machine in its class

CONS

Fairly small water tank

Fairly small water tank – Boiler is a bit inferior and doesn’t heat as quickly

None to speak of

Fairly small water tank - Boiler is a bit inferior to the others in this category.  Doesn’t heat as quickly

EXTRAS & NOTES

NA

NA

Incorporates a 10-cup drip brew coffee maker

NA

​RECOMMENDED FOR

RECOMMENDED FOR

Singles.  Small households with only one coffee drinker.  Purists may find it too minimalist for their liking, and it’s too small for power drinkers.

People on a budget, who still want to get the coffee shop experience at home, anyone who doesn’t mind letting their inner Barista out to play and experiment.  NOT recommended for purists, power coffee drinkers, or people looking for maximum convenience.  This is just not that machine.

Anyone who loves specialty coffee drinks

Provisionally recommended for (some) casual coffee drinkers.

8.6

TOTAL SCORE

DeLonghi EC860

This DeLonghi EC860 is a great, really interesting machine. It’s a semi-automatic, but has a lot of features you normally only find in a super automatic. Combine that with its modest price, and there’s a lot to like here.
Recommended for: Singles. Small households with only one coffee drinker. Purists may find it too minimalist for their liking, and it’s too small for power drinkers.


Reservoir Size

7

Overall Brew Quality

9

Customization Options

9

Ease of Use

9.5


The Delonghi EC860 is an interesting machine because absent an integrated grinder, it qualifies as a semi-automatic, but it’s got several features that you typically only find on super automatics, which gives you increased functionality and convenience.

As such, it’s no great surprise that it appears at or near the top of other “best espresso machine under 300 reviews” we’ve seen elsewhere on the net.

The EC860 Dedica exists at the extreme upper end of the price band we’re looking at, and a big part of the reason why is that in addition to having a surprisingly robust set of features, it also has a thin sheen of stainless steel on its front face, where most machines at the low-end of the price scale are constructed entirely of ABS plastic, which just isn’t as sturdy, durable, or long lasting.

It’s also surprisingly small, which makes it easy to find a permanent home for it, even if you have a small kitchen and only limited counter space.

Major Strengths

There’s a lot we like about EC860, but in our view, here are the reasons it deserves top billing on our list:

  • It gives you all the essential tools you need to create virtually any specialty coffee drink you can imagine, for a surprisingly low price.
  • It’s made by a company with a stellar, longstanding reputation for quality.
  • The ability to adjust the boiler temperature via three levels
  • The ability to change the machine’s auto shutoff timer via three levels (15 minutes, 75 minutes, or three hours) – something quite rare in machines at this price point!
  • A feature allowing you to program the water level of the shots you create – and, since the unit relies on a portafilter, you can set the shot strength by varying the amount of coffee you load into it.
  • The presence of a cup warming tray – This is also quite rare at the low end of the pricing scale, and is incredibly important in terms of mitigating heat loss, especially when preparing milk-based drinks.

As good as these things are, there are two features that make the EC860 stand out from the crowd.

The first is the fact that you can use pods if you want to, thanks to a specially designed portafilter basket.  This is a huge win, given the popularity of pod-based machines, and gives you the best of three different worlds:  Semi-automatics, super automatics, and pod-based machines

Often, you can get killer deals on specialty coffee pod packets, which gives you a great opportunity to try new flavors, and this machine allows you to do that, which is exceptional.

In our view though, the best aspect of the EC860 is the fact that it gives you the option of using the auto-frother if you’re in a hurry or a steam wand for those times when you want to dazzle your friends with your growing Barista skills and exert more control over the drinks you create.

Note:  if you make use of the auto-frother, the machine provides one-touch convenience (once the portafilter is loaded, of course), as the milk spout can be angled so that the steamed milk and foam dispenses straight into your waiting cup as it sits beneath the portafilter.

Having said that, this machine does have one potential drawback, that being its relatively small water tank.  Offering just a 35-ounce capacity, if you’re a power drinker, you’ll find yourself having to refill the reservoir far more often than you’d wish to.

An Image of Delonghi Ec860 Espresso for Best Espresso Machine Under 300 Dollars

On the other hand, most of the machines offered at this price range suffer from the same limitation, so by comparison, this one isn’t half bad.


8.0

TOTAL SCORE

Mr. Coffee BVMC ECMP1000

This Mr. Coffee BVMC ECMP1000 a hidden gem in the world of semi-automatic espresso machines. It’s basic, well-priced, and with it, and a bit of Barista skill, you can make any drink you can imagine.
Recommended for: People on a budget, who still want to get the coffee shop experience at home, anyone who doesn’t mind letting their inner Barista out to play and experiment. NOT recommended for purists, power coffee drinkers, or people looking for maximum convenience. This is just not that machine.


Reservoir Size

6

Overall Brew Quality

10

Customization Options

6

Ease of Use

10


This machine is a pleasant surprise, and very nearly won top billing as the best espresso machine under 300 dollars.  The main reason is its incredibly low price.  Although it narrowly missed winning top honors, it is far and away the best value for the money in this price range, which makes it well worth considering.

It has other strengths besides that, of course, including:

  • An extremely minimalist design aesthetic, giving you all the basic functionality you need to make a broad range of drinks while maintaining simplicity of use.
  • Incorporates an auto-frother for super easy and convenient milk foam, although this will be the reason that coffee purists reject the model – also produces surprisingly good foam, and features an adjustment dial that allows for at least some fine-tuning.
  • Incredibly easy to clean and maintain.

It’s got three issues worth mentioning.  The first is, of course, a relatively small water tank, which is the norm for machines in this price range.  The second though is that the manufacturer skimped a bit on the boiler.

It’s not awful, but you will find it to be a bit slower heating than others on our list.  This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but it will mean that the drink making process will take slightly longer, so plan accordingly.

An Image of BVMC ECMP1000 Espresso Machine for Best Espresso Machine for Under 300

Finally, rather than using a telescoping coffee spigot, which would be impossible, since the model relies on portafilters, the platform you rest your cup on can be raised and lowered to accommodate different cup sizes.

This isn’t as efficient or as elegant a solution as telescoping coffee spouts, but it’s a decent workaround under the circumstances.


7.5

TOTAL SCORE

DeLonghi BCO 430

The DeLonghi BCO 430 is an excellent combination coffee machine, ideal for home use, and an excellent pick for those with limited space.
Recommended for: Anyone who loves specialty coffee drinks.


Reservoir Size

7

Overall Brew Quality

8

Customization Options

5

Ease of Use

10


Although this model didn’t win top honors, it’s got all the basics covered, is well priced, and has one feature that we think is absolutely spectacular.  It combines a fully functional espresso maker with a 10-cup, drip-brew coffee maker.

This is ideal for people who are just beginning to explore the world of specialty coffee drinks, because after all, you may find that you don’t like making specialty coffee drinks at home as much as you thought you did. 

Further, you might want to retain a foot in both worlds, because let’s face it, sometimes you just want a good, old fashioned cup of Joe!  Sure, specialty coffee drinks are fun, but why not retain the ability to have both?

Another point in the Delonghi BCO 430’s favor is that it’s got the largest water tank in its class, making it the natural choice for power drinkers, and has no weaknesses to speak of in its design. 

Well, that’s perhaps overselling it.  Obviously, there’s plenty of room for improvement, but anything we’d suggest adding or changing would take it out of the entry-level price range and make it a more expensive machine.

An Image of Delonghi BCO 430 Espresso Machine for Best Espresso Machine Under 300

7.5

TOTAL SCORE

Cuisinart Buona Tazza EM 600

The Cuisinart Buona Tazza EM 600 is a pod-based super automatic machine that falls short of greatness. It’s an extremely inexpensive option though, and may be a good fit for some users, although even then, there are better, more robust machines on the market for not much more money.
Recommended for: Provisionally recommended for (some) casual coffee drinkers.


Reservoir Size

7

Overall Brew Quality

7

Customization Options

6

Ease of Use

10


On our list of the best espresso machines for under 300, the Cuisinart is unique, as it is the only model on the list that’s a super automatic, pod-based model.

Keurig launched the very first pod-based machine, and in doing so, wound up creating a whole new industry inside the specialty coffee ecosystem.

There are a few problems and limitations with these types of machines, not the least of which is the fact that the price per cup of coffee tends to be marginally higher.  There’s also the issue that most models (including this one) use proprietary pods, and it can be difficult to find third-party pods that will work.

That makes you beholden to the manufacturer for your coffee fix and limits you to whatever types of drinks they have on offer.

On the other hand, the companies that make and sell pod-based machines have a good reputation for offering a wide variety of drinks, and not just coffee.  You can purchase specialty teas, hot chocolates, and blends that you can’t get anywhere else.

If you’ve got your heart set on a pod-based machine, the Cuisinart is an excellent choice, because it’s available at a significantly lower price than many of the others on the market today.

That said, it’s not without its weaknesses.  In addition to suffering from the same problem with a small water tank, its boiler is somewhat on the weak side and is a bit slower to heat than other models on our list.  As with the Mr. Coffee model, this isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but it is something to keep in mind.

It also doesn’t have a telescoping coffee spigot, and it could.  Instead, the model relies on a fold-out platform to accommodate smaller cups.  This is a huge deal, but it is decidedly inferior to the telescoping action so commonly seen in other models.  It’s unclear why Cuisinart opted for this “solution” to a problem when the industry standard solution is superior.

Finally, the Tazza doesn’t come with a cup warming tray, so if your drinks aren’t hot enough, then about your only choice is to put some water into whatever cup you intend to brew in and heat it in the microwave to pre-warm it.

On the plus side, the Cuisinart has more programmable buttons than any other machine in its class, which allows for more convenience of operation.  Also, the auto- frother's dispensing spout is designed so that it can be angled into your cup, which means you can make milk-based drinks with one-touch convenience.

An Image of Cuisinart Buona Tazza EM-600 for Best Espresso Machine Under 300 Reviews

It’s by no means a perfect machine, but its low price and the fact that it’s pod-based makes it a compelling addition to our list.


A Few Words About Grinders

One thing you’ll note about all four of these machines is the fact that they all lack an integrated grinder.  That’s one of the necessary tradeoffs at this price point, and as such, is hardly surprising.

Since that’s the case, you’ll need to buy one separately, whichever machine you settle on, unless you select the Cuisinart machine, which is entirely pod-based, or unless you plan on buying the EC860 and using pods exclusively with it.

With that in mind, here are our recommendations where grinders are concerned:

  • Steer clear of blade grinders.  These are extremely inexpensive but don’t grind your beans as much as smash them to pieces, which results in a highly inconsistent grind, which can likewise make the flavor of the drinks you create inconsistent.

While blade grinders represent a step up from using pre-ground coffee, they’re still not a good fit.  After all, if you’re going to spend a few hundred bucks on a decent espresso maker, why would you want to pair it with a sub-par ten-dollar grinder?

  • Think twice about stainless-steel grinders.  If you’re a casual coffee drinker, you can probably get away with using one, but they do suffer a potential drawback.  When you use them, especially if you’re making multiple drinks in rapid succession, the metal can heat up, which can burn your grounds and ruin the flavor of whatever drink you’re making.
  • Your best bet is a ceramic burr grinder because they get around the potential heat problems of stainless-steel.  Our recommendation is to get the best one your budget will allow for.

Best Espresso Machine Under 300 Conclusion

And there you have it.  Our top pick for the best espresso machine under 300 is the EC860, by Delonghi, but all of the machines listed here are worthy of your consideration for different reasons.  Here are some reasons to consider the other models we’ve talked about:

As the lowest priced unit on our list, the Mr. Coffee BVMC ECMP1000 is the ideal choice for people on a tight budget.

The Delonghi BCO 430 is the best choice for power drinkers, offering the largest water reservoir in its class.  In addition to that though, it’s also a combination machine, merging specialty coffee capabilities with a 10-cup, drip-brew coffee maker, giving you the best of both of those worlds.

Best Online Offers for the Best Espresso Machine Under $300

Last update: October 23, 2019 8:21 am

Finally, the Cuisinart BuonaTazza EM-600 is the lowest priced pod-based machine we could find on the market today and is the only super-automatic on our list. If you’ve been dying to own a pod-based machine, then this one will give you an opportunity to explore that world without setting you back nearly as much as some of the more popular machines.

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