Are you an espresso connoisseur? Do you enjoy brewing your own coffee? If the answer is yes, you’ve landed on the right page.
Hand-operated espresso machines may not be the easiest to use. Still, they have an air of class and elegance about them that makes all the hard work worth it.
In this post, we’ll review the five best budget manual espresso machines on the market. You’ll also find a buying guide to help you find the right one for you.
Are you in the mood for a good cup of espresso? Then, let’s get started!
At a glance
Manual Espresso Machines: Buying Guide
Brewing your coffee in a manual or lever espresso machine offers better customization. You can tweak each detail in your brewing process based on how you want your coffee to taste.
Manual espresso machines get a bad rap for being difficult to use. Yet, tweaking and experimenting with your coffee is a fun part of the process. Then, as you gain more experience, your coffee becomes richer and fuller.
If you’re just learning the basics of espresso-making, go for the machine with the most straightforward setup. Once you’ve mastered that, you can move on to more complex machines.
Technically speaking, simple machines last longer than machines designed with complex mechanisms. So, it goes to show that a lever espresso machine can last for many years.
To make sure your machine lasts a lifetime, choose one made with high-quality, durable materials. This can be either brass or chrome, or both.
Almost all lever espresso machines use 100% manual power, making them extremely energy-efficient. In addition to being good for the environment, many are also lightweight and portable. This means you can take them on picnics, campsites, the beach—you name it!
The 5 Best Budget Manual Espresso Machines
Now that you know what to look for in a manual espresso machine, it’s time for some shopping. Here’s a list of our top five choices.
Flair: Best Overall
- HANDCRAFT SHOTS OF ESPRESSO - With the Flair Espresso Maker, you have a complete manual espresso machine that can produce professional quality shots of espresso from your home, or wherever you are. Add 60ml of boiled water and a dose of up to 18 grams to yield a 40 ml shot with beautiful crema. A burr grinder is essential for use with this product.
- FULLY MANUAL & COMPLETELY BEAUTIFUL - The Flair is a 100% human-powered, manual espresso press. There are no plugs or electronics, meaning the Flair, which was designed from the ground up, will look beautiful in any coffee station or kitchen.
- EASY TO CLEAN - The Flair Espresso Maker is the only manual espresso maker with a completely detachable brewing head. This patented design allows for users to completely remove the brewing head, separate the parts, and rinse under cool water.
- BUILT TO LAST - Now with an upgraded, stronger base, post and lever! Made from durable materials like cast aluminum and stainless steel, you can be sure your manual espresso maker, by Flair, is built to last. Both the aluminum press stand and the stainless steel brewing head are backed by a 3-year warranty.
- FULLY PORTABLE - All Flair Espresso Makers come standard with our precision cut and padded carrying case meaning you can take your manual espresso maker anywhere you’d like.
Sleek and seamless are just two ways to describe the Flair manual espresso maker. It’s also well-designed with a durable build and rubber base to minimize slipping.
One feature that caught our eye is its easy-to-use mechanism. Start by inserting the grounds and filling the chamber with hot water. Then, press on the piston lever to produce a cup of creamy espresso.
Its 2-ounce water capacity makes a single cup in under 60 seconds. If you like taking your coffee maker with you everywhere you go, the Flair is a perfect choice. It weighs a mere five pounds. Plus, it comes with a padded carrying case for easy storage and portability.
- Simple, user-friendly design
- Piston lever results in the ideal amount of pressure
- Not dishwasher safe
Staresso: Best Value
- 【RICH & THICK CREMA FOR REAL ESPRESSO】: Restore the classic taste. STARESSO portable Espresso maker can also make milk froth while making authentic espresso. When the frothed milk is ready you can make Cappuccino with Espresso. Manual Espresso with Rich & Thick Crema, the rich taste makes you feel like you are in a cafe on the streets of Italy.
- 【COMPATIBLE WITH COFFEE CAPSULES】: One cup, two usages. Taking into account the needs of different scenarios. No need to use other accessories, many brands of coffee capsules and ground coffee can be used directly with STARESSO portable Espresso maker.
- 【PORTABLE & NO NOISE】: Can be used in any scene. STARESSO portable Espresso machine is only the size of a mineral water bottle and weighs 1.1 pounds. But it can hold 11g of roast fine ground coffee, and the serving cup has a precise scale and can make 100ml of Espresso. No need for electricity, no noise, be your barista anytime, anywhere, whether it is school, office, or camping, you can enjoy delicious handmade espresso.
- 【PRESSURIZED EXTRACTION】: Easy to get started. Every time STARESSO portable Espresso machine is pressed, there is a pressure of 15-18 bar, and the built-in 15 bar pressure valve can easily meet the requirements of Italian extraction.
- 【NEW MATERIAL & DESIGN】: Not easy to crack. The newly upgraded stainless steel inner tank, food contact, safe and non-toxic, and effectively prolong the service life. Anti-skid pads are added inside and outside the Serving cup holder, making STARESSO portable Espresso maker more reliable to use.
If you’re looking for a well-designed manual espresso maker, look no further than the Staresso. The main body of this FDA-approved machine is made with BPA-free, dishwasher-safe materials. The pump and coffee chamber are top-quality stainless steel.
We like how lightweight and portable this machine is. Weighing almost one pound, the Staresso has a capacity of three ounces. That comes to about two shots of espresso.
Another feature we like is it’s compatible with both ground coffee and Nespresso pods. Add your coffee choice, water, and give the lever a slight pump. The patented pumping system gives the right amount of pressure for making rich, smooth espresso.
- Compact and portable
- Works with ground coffee and Nespresso pods
- Small parts can be hard to clean fully by hand.
Elektra Microcasa: Best Portable
- All Chrome lever espresso machine
- Pressure gauge
- Chrome Eagle
The innovative Gevi Hand-Press espresso maker is sleek and stylish. With just a press of your finger, you can make a smooth, rich espresso using either ground coffee or Nespresso capsules.
We were impressed with its compact, on-the-go design. It’s also low-maintenance, making it easy to clean and store.
The water tank is made of ABS thermoplastic material, whereas the coffee cup is made of high-boron silicon glass. The cup features two stainless steel rings, one at the rim and one at the base of the glass. Plus, its double-wall vacuum offers thermal insulation to protect your fingers from scalding.
- Stylish, on-the-go design
- High-quality glass cup with thermal insulation
- ABS water tank isn’t as durable as other manual espresso machines
La Pavoni EPC-8: Best Design
- Ideal for making coffee specialty drinks at home
- Sturdy all-steel construction under heavy chrome plating
- Comes with tamper, screen, screen holder, measuring ladle, and cappuccino attachment
- Also includes instructional video for getting started
- Measures 11 by 7 by 12 inches; 1-year warranty
The La Pavoni EPC-8 isn’t just a coffee maker; it’s a stunning work of art. It features a nickel-plated chrome finish and stainless steel heating elements. These heavy-duty materials offer an elegant appearance, as well as many years of use.
It comes with a screen holder, cappuccino attachment, tamper, and measuring ladle. The unit itself has an easy-to-read water-level gauge. Plus, the internal thermostat monitors brewing temperature and steam pressure.
The La Pavoni needs electricity to heat up the water. Once the water is hot enough, use the manual lever to create smooth and frothy espresso. The water tank holds enough water to make up to eight 2-ounce shots.
- Sturdy design
- It comes with handy accessories to make a variety of coffee drinks
- Water-level gauge
- Requires electricity
Rok: Best Lightweight
While this machine may look austere, it’s actually pretty functional. It’s also lightweight, weighing just seven pounds. The one downside of being compact is that its water tank can only make two shots of espresso.
We like that it’s made from hand-polished metal. Plus, its rubber feet keep it standing firmly, so there’s no risk of any slipping or sliding on the countertop.
The pressure chamber is BPA-free insulated glass. So, you’re completely safe even when brewing super hot espresso shots.
- Lightweight and portable
- Durable metal build
- BPA-free safety glass
- Small water tank
Our Top Pick
These five best budget manual espresso machines are top of the line. Yet, if we had to choose just one, we’d go with the Flair espresso maker. Its simple, classic design makes it perfect for espresso lovers of all kinds.
The Flair has superior features at a rather affordable price. Then, there’s its ergonomic, durable design that makes it a great addition to any kitchen.
If you’re looking for a low-cost, user-friendly machine, we suggest the Staresso espresso maker. The patented pumping system ensures perfect espresso shots every time.
This espresso maker is perfect for on-the-go espresso. Its compact design guarantees you’ll never have to go without your coffee!