Can you get good espresso with a machine under a 100 pounds? Something you hear coffee people say all the time, is that the Grinder is way more important than the espresso machine And if you gave them a superb grinder and cheap espresso machine They’d make better espresso than if they had a great machine and a cheap grinder What I want to know is just how cheap you can go in the espresso machine If you’ve got a good grinder and still get something drinkable Here are five different espresso machines each under 100 pounds and one good level grinder starting here with the Swan Retro. That was 90 pounds, the DeLonghi is the most expensive of the bunch at $99.99 scraping in by a penny. The Krups 90 pounds. The AmazonBasics 65 pounds That’s… that’s cheap But not as cheap as the Andrew James, which came in at 60 pounds. When you buy an expensive coffee machine, you’re buying precision consistency and control that is not present.
I suspect on any of these things. One more minor frustration, Is that four of these five machines have what are called pressurized Porta filters. Now, these are portafilters designed Presuming that you at home can’t grind coffee and you’re probably buying coarsely ground pre-ground coffee Typically, pressurized portafilters work well with coarsely ground coffee, they don’t make particularly good tasting coffee But they do make fluffy fluffy crema most of the time I’ll see if I can hack my way around them. We’ll see what we can do to get the best out of them First up is the Swan. The build Cheap, plastic everywhere. Two of the buttons when you push them they stay depressed in, suggesting that they are on.
Except the power button, which doesn’t do that, which is confusing The temperature gauge seems nice, but goes in 40 degrees Celsius increments But it is not particularly stable in terms of temperature. It has a pressurized portafilter We’ve got this additional piece screwed to the bottom, and it has a little extra filter inside it I don’t know why this is there. I don’t like it It also has a little rubber gasket inside the brew basket.
I don’t want rubber inside my brewing environment, I’m just not a fan of that. So can this pull good espresso? Loading, this is not much fun. I think you’re supposed to use the spoon it comes with Which is a shape that makes me slightly uncomfortable. And at the bottom of this is a tamper, which I would say is deeply unpleasant to use It takes about 12 grams in the portafilter, and the best shots that I got out, were about 40 grams of liquid But pretty fast shots too. You might get some nice fluffy crema but the coffee itself tastes Fine but a bit dull. If you try to pull a “normal” shot Let’s say 12 in 30 grams out in 28 seconds It tastes very weak, very hollow, very empty Something goes wrong in the brewing process and I don’t really understand what it is.
But it just doesn’t work It seems like pressurized portafilters Especially in this one don’t like finely ground coffee, slow traditional espresso. If you were going to turn this into a milk drink Maybe it would be okay, but in terms of good espresso No, I could not get good espresso from this coffee machine Next up is the DeLonghi now. This was the most expensive of the five and it comes with a proper basket This means that I can put properly ground, finely ground coffee into it It means that I in theory could make good espresso.
This basket sits in a very annoying way in this portafilter. It drops in some little tabs lined up and it sits inside But it will always just fall out So like all the other portarfilters; it has this little flip thing to hold it in place when you knock it out That is very unpleasant as an experience. The machine itself is a challenge you have a ready light, and that’s it. There’s no gauge. There’s no information there You just have to hope that you’re getting a pleasant temperature. It’s very noisy, the whole machine shakes It doesn’t feel particularly well built.
The design of the interior of this makes it very easy for liquid to be retained inside the portafilter. That over time will dry crust on That’s a weird little design flaw. The tamper on this thing is mounted to the machine. Ergonomically, that’s a mess I don’t like having to put my hand on top of a wall mesh machine to push down again. So I’ll pull something pretty traditional 14 in 28 to 30 grams out in about 25 to 30 seconds. Somewhere in that ballpark is what I think we’ll get Yeah, it’s okay for $99.99 If you’re willing to put in the effort, you might get some okay results. The shots looked good, tasted okay Good espresso, not great espresso is possible here next up is the Krups and this cost 90 pounds just like the Swan the first one we looked at and the portafilter is identical and so I thought This was going to be a bit of dejavu. Oh wait, you thought I was going to say dejabrew? but I didn’t because I don’t hate you on me This current made good coffee for one simple reason the way that it disperses water from the group head is all messed up I don’t know if I have a defective machine or if this is common to all of them But let’s brew, some coffee anyway 12 grams is really all it can take and like this one, it comes with your little tamper scoop thing.
This one’s a bit more charming It could have a little Pixar movie about it one day but still broadly unpleasant Now this growing setting is the same one that I used for the DeLonghi so with a proper basket. The grind setting doesn’t really matter here because most of the water is going to go through a giant hole in the middle of the puck That jet of water Digs a hole in the coffee and creates a massive channel. You cannot have an even extraction here That smells bad No, that’s just that’s extreme channel flavor where it’s hollow and it’s empty and it’s sour and it’s bitter It’s just disgusting No So now the AmazonBasics espresso machine.
Amazon will have watched closely to see what people are searching for, see what they’re buying Then they’ll get their own version of that thing done and just push it to the top of the search rankings Cut to the front of the line and capture the sale This machine seems in many ways almost identical to the Krups But they’ve just made it cheaper. This little dial is cheap and awful The whole machine actually just bends. And it has the same problem as the Krups.
Once you get up to, you know High temperatures inside the machine, you get this jet of steam that punches out aggressively into the coffee and you get channeling and it makes terrible tasting coffee. Now, with both the Krups and this one you probably if you cared enough Could pull enough cold water through it that you bring the temperature of the unit down? You see the coffee already like go off and try and catch it before it overheats But I still would say it’s not worth your time and effort. This is just like pulling shots with the Krups It digs the same giant hole in the coffee. It is a waste of time. It is a waste of money It makes me very sad that this was built in the first place Thanks Jeff.
So we end with the Andrew James 60 pounds. What do you get for your money? you get a power light that never comes on ,you get a heating light that never goes off, you get a quite a drip your little group head, but it does at least distribute water properly and quite gently However, like many other machines it’s a pressurized portafilter. There’s no fancy extras here There’s just a little pinprick hole underneath the basket. As for coffee, It’s about what you’d expect at this point in the video It doesn’t make very good coffee It wants you to pull those coarse-ground faster longer shots, because it’s a pressurized portafilter. If you try and brew something slower with a finer grind a more akin to real espresso, it will disappoint you.
I struggled to make coffee with it I didn’t really enjoy it. But to talk more about it, feels like I’m rehashing two or three of the machines, We’ve already talked about. Would I recommend spending 60 pounds on this? No, I would not. To wrap things up Let’s answer the two big questions that I have at the end of this The first one is the easy one. If I had a 100 pounds to spend on a coffee machine to make something like espresso Which one of these would I buy, and the answer is very easy The DeLonghi was head and shoulders above the rest. simply because it didn’t have a pressurized portafilter It was frustrating and cheap and plasticky and Inconsistent, but it was the best of these ones tested by a long way But the second question, I think is more important. If I have a 100 pounds Is that enough money to buy a good espresso machine? And for me the answer is no while you can get some ok coffee out of the DeLonghi, it will be frustrating and finicky and he won’t particularly enjoy the experience of making coffee every morning.
I would hold off I would wait. I would save a little bit more I think it’s worth spending more money to get something better down the line. In future I plan to look at a load of different machines and try and find what I think is the bare minimum to have good espresso at home Not just good tasting espresso But to have an experience to have a hobby of espresso making that you actually enjoy As much as the drinks themselves. That I think is really super important if espresso at home is gonna be a thing That is a regular part of your life. Otherwise, these things just become late-night impulse purchases Oh, I kind of like the idea of coffee I pick one of those up use it for a week or two and into the cupboard it goes Never to come back out again. That I don’t want. That’s not what I want for people at home for espresso Now I say thank you to my Patreon for supporting me Let me go out and buy these things. They’ll be offered up to my Patreon first if they don’t want them, that I’ll give them to charity and make sure they end up in some sort of a good home, if possible.
but for now Well, that’s it I’d like to know do you have one of these machines? were you tempted? did you make a purchase? Have you had a better experience with some of the cheaper machines than I did? Did you manage to get something good out of the AmazonBasics machine or even the Krups? I would love to hear from you down in the comments below Please let me know. But for now, I’ll say thank you so much for watching and I hope you have a great day.