Home espresso machines have risen in popularity over the past ten years, as consumers become increasingly enamored with producing specialty beverages in the comfort of their own home. However, the price range for espresso machine is quite huge, generally from $50 – $2000.
The purpose of this article is to help people that aren’t on a huge budget select a good quality espresso maker. I will discuss all the things you should consider when trying to pick the best espresso machine under 200.
Pump Versus Steam Driven Espresso Machines
The first consideration you need to make is what will be powering the espresso brewing process. In this category, there are generally two types of machine you can choose from: steam-driven or pump-driven.
Basically, a steam driven espresso maker generates large amounts of steam within the machine. This steam becomes pressurized and then forced through the espresso grounds, thus generating a shot of espresso. These machines are generally cheaper and easier to use.
However, for today’s standards, steam-driven espresso machines are usually incapable of producing a proper shot of espresso. This is because they simply cannot generate enough pressure from steam alone to extract the most flavor. While their low cost may be tempting, I would tend to recommend a pump-driven espresso machine.
A pump-driven espresso machine uses a motorized pump to generate enough pressure to brew a shot of espresso. The amount of pressure a machine generates is measured with a special pressure rating system. Generally you will want to aim for a machine that generates at least 9 or 10 bars of pressure. Any less than that and the espresso will not be strong enough
Espresso Machine Components
One thing that you have to be particularly aware of when locating the best espresso machine under 200 dollars, is what the machine is made out of.
Obviously with a lower price tag, many company’s will try to increase their profit margins be using cheaper materials. Probably the cheapest material of all is plastic. However, plastic is not a great thing for espresso machines for several reasons.
First of all, plastic does not last that long. Over time the plastic can get warped and eventually the machine may stop working. Also, plastic has a distinctive smell and taste which can often find its way into your beverages, thus ruining otherwise good shots of espresso.
Although a small amount of plastic is okay for an espresso machine, you should really make sure that at least the steam wand and portafilter are made out of stainless steel.
Conclusion: Buying Recommendations
Keeping the above recommendations in mind will help you get the most bang for your buck when selecting the best espresso machine under 200.
One final note I will mention is to ensure you do proper research before investing in a new machine. Have a look at online reviews and browse through customer reviews. Often places like Amazon provide detailed customer feedback for most espresso makers on the market. This feedback can be a good gauge as to whether a particular machine will work for you.