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Updated for 2022
“Which espresso machine can I get within my budget?”
It’s a question we get all the time. Someone’s on a tight budget and they want a recommendation for a lower cost entry-level semi-automatic espresso machine. There’s one very clear standout for capabilities and value for those starting out in home espresso. So today we’ve got our pick for the best value in entry-level home espresso machines.
Since its debut in early 2019, the Gaggia Classic Pro has stunned us with its impressive upgrades including the commercial-style steam wand with a two-hole steam tip, refined rocker switch controls, an updated frame allowing for a more accessible reservoir, and improved pump mounts for a quieter operation. If you’re new to the espresso world, the Classic Pro is the best place to start your journey as a home barista.
Once you’ve gotten comfortable pulling shot after shot on the Classic Pro and you’re ready for a challenge you won’t need to buy a new machine, the Classic Pro is a machine that can grow with you. The Gaggia Classic Pro also comes in a range of different colors, so you can choose an option that complements your kitchen’s style. Over time, you can upgrade your setup with exclusive accessories like a shower screen, baristapro basket, and a group gasket to get better control over your extraction. All of these are ideal for leveling up your home barista skills, so you can start with the basic model of the Gaggia Classic Pro and update it as your skills increase.
The Italian-made Gaggia Brera Cappuccino Espresso Machine is a wonderful choice for an espresso beginner that is looking to expand their knowledge of brewing while still streamlining the espresso brewing process. This machine is extremely compact at just 10 inches wide and 12.4 inches tall, so you can easily add this to your kitchen to start your espresso setup area or add to your existing setup.
The entire espresso brewing process is condensed with the Gaggia Brera Cappuccino – there’s a built-in adjustable grinder and Gaggia’s Capp-in-Cup frothing system that allows you to froth milk and deposit it directly into your cup. To brew a delicious espresso beverage all you have to do is add your coffee beans, fill the milk carafe, and choose the beverage you want. You can customize your beverage’s strength and grind settings and the Brera will adjust to make sure your espresso doesn’t come out over or under-extracted. You also have the option to bypass the built-in grinder and add your own ground coffee if you prefer more exact dosing with your own external grinder.
The Gaggia Brera Cappuccino also has a pannarello steam wand, so if you want a milk beverage that isn’t a cappuccino, you can steam your milk yourself and craft lattes, flat whites, and macchiatos. Whether you’re new to espresso or a seasoned pro, there’s something for you to love about the Brera Cappuccino.
The De’Longhi EC885M Dedica Arte Espresso Machine is an entry-level espresso machine that is perfect if you’re interested in learning more about crafting espresso drinks at home. The included portafilter baskets are designed for single or double doses as well as E.S.E. pods, so you have a lot of flexibility with the Dedica Arte. All three baskets are pressurized, so you have a slightly higher margin for error, which is another way that this espresso machine is perfect for beginners.
This machine also includes a commercial-grade steam wand, so as a beginner you can learn how to steam milk for lattes, cappuccinos, and more. The steam wand can also function as a hot water dispenser for brewing tea or adding to americanos, and this feature makes this small and powerful machine even more convenient for beginner-level at-home baristas.
At just 12 inches tall and 5.9 inches wide, the De’Longhi EC885M Dedica Arte will easily fit anywhere, and the stainless steel and black exterior is neutral enough to match most kitchens. The removable drip tray allows an espresso cup or a mug up to 5.1 inches tall to fit under the portafilter spout. If this is the first machine in your espresso crafting setup, it’s a useful building block and you’ll have many options for grinders, pitchers, and other accessories that will fit.
If you’re looking for an espresso machine that automates the espresso brewing process while still allowing for customization, the Gaggia Cadorna Milk Espresso Machine is a great option. The super-automatic Cadorna Milk can craft 10 pre-programmed beverages: ristretto, espresso, espresso lungo, coffee, americano, cappuccino, cafe au lait, latte macchiato, frothed milk, and hot water. You can brew all of these drinks at the touch of a button with the built-in ceramic burr grinder, unique Capp-in-Cupp system, and programmable espresso, milk, and water ratios.
If multiple people are using your espresso machine, the Gaggia Cadorna Milk allows you to set up to four different user profiles, so you can each keep your custom settings for your favorite drinks separate for stress-free mornings. You can adjust your drink settings including the grind setting, coffee temperature, aroma, and dosage to get a drink that meets all of your preferences and makes your morning that much better.
The intuitive interface on the Gaggia Cadorna Milk includes a full-color screen and backlit buttons that make it easy to view and adjust your drink settings. This espresso machine is designed for ease of use, so whether you’re new to the world of at-home espresso or experienced, you can benefit from this machine. The ability to craft so many drinks at the push of a button can make any morning better.
If you’re buying a semi-automatic machine, you’re going to need a good grinder. Though the Gaggia Brera Cappuccino and the Gaggia Cadorna Milk both have built-in grinders, even those machines have an option to bypass the grinder and add your own dose of coffee, so having a high-quality coffee grinder is key to a great drink.
Here’s a list of our favorite grinders for entry-level baristas on a budget:
The Bezzera BB005 TM is an Italian-made, semi-professional conical burr grinder that comes in a compact design and is sturdy, simple to use and easy to clean.
We hope you find these suggestions helpful when looking for the best equipment to add to your home coffee bar whether it’s you’re just starting your setup or looking to expand on it. For even more in-depth information, take a look at our Complete Guide to Espresso Machines for more details on how espresso machines work.
If you try out any of these machines, make sure to leave a review on the product pages, and if you have any questions feel free to reach out to our customer service team any time. To stay up to date about our latest deals, sales, and products, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and sign up for our monthly newsletter and text alerts!