The Best Espresso Machine Under $200

The Best Espresso Machines Under $200
Choosing the best espresso machine under 200 dollars isn’t a simple decision.  There are a number of factors to consider – reliability, design, ease of use, capsule or ground beans, and the size of the machine are just some of the considerations.

For many 6:00 AM warriors, an espresso machine is a staple in their home. There’s nothing quite as comparable as taking that first sip of coffee to add that boost of confidence before the morning is fought. I owe just about every one of my work days to my espresso machine because without it I don’t think I would ever leave my bed. That’s why I find it important that you get the most out of your espresso machine, so before you buy one of your very own, be sure to know what to expect.

What to Expect from an Espresso Machine
Espresso is made by forcing an intense pressure down upon coffee grinds as hot water helps cook and extract a more concentrated form of what we know as “shots.” Espresso is highly versatile, having the ability to be used in a variety of different coffee drinks that your machine can produce. As the espresso pours out you’ll notice white foam known as “crema”, which is a sweet liquid that is obtained from the oils and natural goodness from within the coffee beans.

A machine can be your best friend and one of the most frequently used devices in your kitchen – mine certainly is. Some machines offer a wide variety of options to control how you want your espresso brewed. Controlling qualities such as brew temperature, specialty drinks, and water pressure are things that ensure you get the best out of each cup. This is important for deciding on the best espresso machine under $200. So exactly which drinks can these machines make?

  • Espresso Shot – This is your traditional concentrated form of coffee which comes in single or double shot, usually served without milk or foam.
  • Cappuccino – Often served with double espresso, this coffee lover’s personal favorite requires frothy milk made with pressurized steam.
  • Latté – A relative of the cappuccino, this is espresso served with steamed milk and a thick layer of foam on top.
  • Macchiato – A mix of strong and sweet, a macchiato is usually served with one shot of espresso and some steamed foam poured over it.
  • Mocha – A variant of the macchiato with a chocolate flavor.

Ratings – Best Espresso Machine Under 200 Dollars
(Scroll down for detailed reviews on each machine listed here)

Machine Name:
Flair Espresso Maker
Gourmia GCM5500
Nespresso Vertuo
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista
Nespresso Pixie
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Pros:Beautiful design. Small. Makes amazing coffee and has a nice, simple manual press.Small machine that is simple to use and takes up almost no counter space.Nice, simple design. Fits almost anywhere. High quality capsule based coffee.Provides a lot of different option when it comes to specialty drinks. Makes excellent tasting coffee.The most inexpensive machine on the list. Fits just about anywhere and is super light. Has the ability to remember how much espresso to brew for your favorite mugs. Very reliable.
Cons:Manual press can get tedious. Need to purchase separate milk frother for specialty drinks.Very noisy. Not a great looking espresso machine.Brewing can last a long time - more than a minute.A little bulky and overly technical for the casual espresso drinker.The Nespresso Pixie brews great tasting espresso, but not as great as most on the list.
Capsule or Ground Beans:Ground BeansCapsuleCapsuleGround BeansCapsule
Milk Frother:NoYesNoYesNo
Coffee Quality:10/108/109/1010/107/10
Machine Reliability:9/108/108/109/109/10
Look and Design:10/106/1010/107/108/10
Value:9/107/108/106/1010/10
Overall Rating:10/107/109/108/109/10

Best Espresso Machine Under 200 Dollars – Detailed Reviews

Flair Espresso Maker Review – Check Price at Amazon
For those of looking to break into the world of espresso, and are looking for a manual press as opposed to a capsule based machine, the Flair Espresso Maker is the perfect espresso maker to get you started. It’s also ideal for espresso pros who need an elegant espresso press for their home. One thing I loved right off the bat about it was its sleek and throwback design of more traditional espresso manual presses. It’s compact and easy to disassemble, which makes it ideal for those who travel a lot and never want to be too far away from their machine.

There’s nothing to plug in, all you really have to do is add the ground coffee to the portafilter, add boiling water to the chamber, attach the brew head, and start pressing. Most manual presses I have come across have been stingy and hard to move, which is usually a sign of adding too many grinds, but this wasn’t always the case with other machines just because of how weak and easy to break they were. The Flairs handle, however, feels genuine as you push down for those 20 to 30 seconds.

While I was pressing down I felt a sense of accomplishment for being responsible for brewing my own cup of espresso. As it pours you can really see the power of the extraction process as crema started to form from all the oils and natural tasting essences that were drained from the beans and into your glass. The taste is the real kicker – it tastes like an espresso you would have at a fine dining establishment of coffee shop.

One of the biggest drawbacks comes from the lack of specialty drinks options.  The Flair makes espresso, and that’s it.  That’s not a bad thing by any means, but for those looking to wake up to a cappuccino before work, you won’t find that with the Flair unless you purchase a separate milk frother, which is inexpensive and useful (check price here). There is a bit of work that goes into each cup as well, something I personally didn’t mind the first few times, but after having to consistently add the grounds, tamper the beans, add the boiling water, to then pull down the handle press I found myself wishing for a button to press instead.

Still, the Flair Espresso Maker is arguably the best home espresso machine under 200 dollars and I highly recommend it. The only reason not to purchase this machine is if you prefer a capsule machine. It’s that good.

Gourmia GCM5500 Review – Check Price at Amazon
Have you ever wanted a personal barista in your home brewing you all the espresso drinks you love? Another great addition to the Gourmia family comes with the GCM5500 One Touch Automatic, an espresso machine that is a jack of all trades and master of all. Something I personally enjoy about this machine that some of its competitors don’t offer is the milk frother that comes attached to it. Pour the cold milk into the frothing chamber and let the espresso machine work its magic.

This is another compact machine that’s quite light and fits in just about any corner of your kitchen countertop. There are four big, blue buttons on the machines head that let you select a specialty drink of your choice: a latte, an espresso, a double espresso, or a cappuccino. As long as you keep the machine plugged in for at least 10 minutes ahead of time, the machine should already be warmed up and ready to go.

So how does the actual espresso taste? This machine uses espresso capsules, which you drop in from the top of the machine. Once you select your beverage, the solid blue ring turns into a blinking one to signify that it’s currently brewing. After the brewing process is complete (which takes a few seconds up to a minute), the milk begins frothing (assuming you requested a drink that requires frothed milk).  The milk frother doesn’t take too much time, and it adds the right amount of milk for your desired drink. The drink tastes great – it’s my favorite tasting capsule based machine.

Something that bothered me was how loud the actual machine was as it was brewing my espresso. Now, this is to be expected from most automatic machines, but personally, I found this one to be a little hard on the ears. It can be annoying if you have a small home or share it with a light sleeper. The upkeep, surprisingly, isn’t too bad. All that really needs to be done is to pull out the filter from underneath the machine, which will catch any drinks or grounds, as well as your capsule.

This machine is definitely a great automatic machine. The Gourmia GCM5500 is a quality machine for any avid espresso lover – the best home espresso machine under 200 Dollars that’s capsule based.

Nespresso Vertuo Review – Check Price at Amazon
I am someone who can really appreciate an espresso maker that is dedicated to its craft, and I think I found that quality in this machine more than anything else on the list. Now, I actually received the bundle box Nespresso capsules instead of the standard, which really only has the main difference of supplying you with what is essentially a starter pack of flavors and guides. There are so many flavors it’s delightful to keep trying new ones, while at the same time sticking to your favorites.

One neat feature I loved was the ability to adjust where you wanted to place the water filter that’s located in the back. I am someone with constant clutter on my counter so having the option to choose where to place something as bulky as a water filter is a real convenience. In fact, the overall size of the machine is sleek and well-thought out so it can be placed just about anywhere.  The size and flexibility of this machine is one of my favorite features – it stands out in smaller kitchens where larger machines simply couldn’t thrive (or fit).

This is a capsule-based machine again, but without the option to choose a style of specialty drink.  However, it does come with a milk frother, so you’ll be able to add steamed milk and foam if you prefer a cappuccino, macchiato, latte, or other type of espresso based drink with milk.

You’ll also have the option of buying pods that vary in intensity, strength, and flavor. The kind of brew you’re looking for depends on how much water you add to the container in the back, so this does require some knowledge of strength differences a casual coffee drinker may not know the first time around.

I found the actual brewing process to be rather slow compared to most others on the list. Clocking over a minute for my first espresso, which pales in comparison to the 30 second average of most other capsule based machines. The unit does come with an intuitive milk frother as well, something I found myself using for most of my drinks. The espresso is top-notch as expected, so good that I spent more time with this machine than the Gourmet.

I would recommend the Nespresso Vertuo for more serious espresso drinkers that want a capsule based machine and are looking to upgrade their current machine.

Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista – Check Price at Amazon
This is as technical as it gets as far as espresso machines go. Mr. Coffee is the more advanced side of espresso brewing, and provides several more options than most other machines offer. There’s just so much to dive into so we’ll just start with its overall presentation, and then work into how it actually fairs against its competitors.

You’re going to notice this isn’t your grandma’s espresso machine – this beast is massive and for my smaller counter tops I would often set it down on the ground or store it away when I wasn’t using it. It’s a very reliable brewer with tons of options when it comes to extracting your shot. Nothing is complex at all, although it may look like it at first.  All you really need to do is tamper your grinds down into the container and lock it in place above your cup.

A lot of the options I hardly used just simply because of how simple of an espresso drinker I am. I do like that you can customize a lot of your espresso experience with the milk frother adjuster and size portion buttons. The noise level isn’t too loud, but can definitely wake the house up at certain points in the morning.

Mr. Coffee takes coffee grounds, which I personally prefer over capsules because of the flavor combinations you can get from the grounds themselves. I also enjoy choosing a variety of ground coffee from my local coffee distributor. That means each cup of espresso I had was excellent, every single time. This is a machine that can definitely be your best friend when it comes to brewing your shot just because of how easy it is to get the grounds to your cup. Although it may look scary, it’s really not all that hard to understand.

Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista is a great home espresso machine under 200 dollars for any serious espresso drinkers. It’s a machine that’s very durable and has longevity that will last for years.

Nespresso Pixie – Check Price at Amazon
Finally, an espresso maker that’s light, cheap, and brews great tasting espresso. I found myself bringing this machine just about everywhere in my house because as long as you have a place to plug it in, it fits in any space. The water tank on the back of the machine may be small in size, 24oz, yet it still yields 8 or 9 cups before it requires a refill.

I would put the Nespresso Pixie in the running for the best espresso machine for under 200 dollars because of how it can fit into just about anyone’s budget, and on any surface. This is another great starting machine because of how easy it is to use for anyone looking to get into the espresso scene. Although this is a capsule based machine with a wide variety of flavors, I found each sample excellent and charming.

One neat feature that comes along with the Nespresso is its ability to remember a specific brew size for your favorite mug. I sometimes like to use certain mugs for certain days, so all I have to do when brewing my cup is to hold down one of two buttons (single or double shot) and once I let go the Nespresso pixie will remember that serving size next time around.

Much like the other Nespresso espresso machine on this list, the Pixie has a very simple design. It reminds me of a Kurig because of how similar both machines are when it comes to inserting the capsules. This is the best espresso machine for somebody looking to convert from K-cups to espresso.

The Nespresso Pixie gets the job done fast, with quality above all else.

In Conclusion
When deciding on the best espresso machine under 200 Dollars, consider what your level of espresso drinking is. Some beginners looking to break into the lifestyle of espresso making should stick towards machines like the Nespresso Pixie just because it’s inexpensive and is a simple capsule based machine.

For more serious espresso connoisseurs, try out and experiment with the other models like Mr. Coffee or Flair, as they offer the best tasting espresso out of the bunch. The Flair, in particular, is a wonderful machine that’s stylish, inexpensive, and provides an outstanding shot of espresso every time. Regardless of your experience level, espresso making is an intuitive practice for just about every type of coffee drinker.