Last Updated on July 16, 2023 by Jorian
Enjoying a delicious espresso doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag.
In this guide, we explore multiple cost-effective ways to brew espresso or an espresso-like beverage, right in the comfort of your own home.
How To Make A Cheap But Good Espresso?
The best way to make an affordable espresso is with a basic espresso machine like a Delonghi Dedica or a manual espresso maker like the Flair.
If you’re looking for the most cost-effective method to create an espresso-like coffee, a Moka pot is your best bet.
There are some other options that fall in the middle, which are discussed below. Let’s look more closely at these ways to make inexpensive espresso at home.
A Real Espresso Needs Pressure To Be Brewed
Creating an affordable espresso at home can be challenging. This is because making authentic espresso requires high pressure, specifically between 7 to 11 bars. Techniques that achieve this pressure tend to be more costly than methods that don’t use pressure, like regular filter coffee for example.
But then again, if you resort to brewing methods that don’t involve pressure, technically, you’re not making an espresso.
However, certain techniques can imitate the taste of espresso quite closely, producing a beverage that almost matches its flavor. While these methods create a strong coffee, they don’t technically yield a ‘real’ espresso.
Without the pressure, you won’t get real crema and the espresso will not taste as full. That being said, let’s explore some cost-effective ways to brew espresso under pressure, as well as other techniques that don’t use pressure but can still resemble an espresso-like taste.
The Cheapest Methods To Make An Espresso:
Here’s a guide to several budget-friendly methods for making good-quality espresso. I’ll detail these techniques in descending order, starting from the most expensive to the most affordable.
A Cheap Espresso Machine
Price: +/- 250$
Pressure: +/- 8 bar
Obviously, I don’t know your financial situation, but if you LOVE espresso and you want to drink it several times a day, spending roughly $250 for a basic espresso machine is very justifiable.
Espresso that is brewed using a dedicated espresso machine just tastes superior to those made with less pressurized methods. Even without an expensive, professional-grade espresso machine, you can still brew a deliciously tantalizing espresso using a more affordable model.
My favorite cheap espresso machine (the one that I started with) is the DeLonghi Dedica. It’s a simple espresso machine that just gets the job done wonderfully. Although a bit more expensive, another great and similar model is the Breville Bambino.
If you’re just starting out with an espresso machine, I recommend starting with a pressurized basket. It helps control the extraction speed, preventing your espresso from pulling too quickly.
Alternatively, you could also buy a secondhand espresso machine, just make sure that it is still in good condition.
A Manual Lever Espresso Maker
Price: +/- 150$
Pressure: +/- 8 bar
A manual lever espresso maker is the next best option. Although it doesn’t have any electronic components, a lever espresso maker can still generate the 8 bars of pressure essential for brewing espresso.
The Flair Manual Lever Espresso Maker is a great option it looks good and it works great.
Compared to a cheap espresso machine, a lever espresso maker produces a less consistent espresso because you have to add hot water and pull the lever yourself, it’s still an excellent low-cost choice for making “real” espresso.
If you’re considering a manual lever espresso maker, it’s crucial to be aware of potential challenges like the espresso puck exploding, a more common issue with this type of machine.
The Wacaco NannoPresso
Price: +/- 70$
Pressure: +/- 18bar
The Wacaco Nanopresso is another type of manual espresso maker. It features a small pump on the side to generate pressure within the device.
According to the manufacturer, it can create up to 18 bars of pressure. While that seems excessive for espresso brewing, in reality, I think some of this pressure escapes, resulting in an optimal 8-9 bars required for a proper espresso.
However, the Nanopresso’s capacity is less than the standard 18 grams of coffee usually needed for a double espresso. This means the resulting espresso may be slightly weaker than expected.
Personally, I prefer the Flair manual espresso maker. The lever allows for better control over the extraction process, and you can dose it with 18g of ground coffee. Making it a superior choice in my opinion.
Price: +/- 40$
Pressure: 0.25 – 0.75 bar
Following on the list is the Aeropress, a hugely popular espresso-making tool with a thriving online community behind it. It’s easy to see why it’s loved – it delivers a decent ‘espresso-like’ brew at a great price.
While it doesn’t generate the high pressure required for a true espresso, it still produces a delicious coffee. Plus, the Aeropress is handy and portable, making it a breeze to bring along on your travels.
The Moka Pot
Price: +/- 20$
Pressure: +/- 1.5 bar
The Moka Pot is a budget-friendly way to enjoy a rich, espresso-like coffee at home. While it doesn’t technically produce a ‘true’ espresso, due to operating at a lower pressure and lacking the signature ‘crema’, it delivers a robust, concentrated brew that closely mimics the flavor profile of an espresso.
Despite not being a genuine espresso maker, the Moka Pot’s merits are hard to overlook. Its design is simple yet effective, requires no electricity, and is significantly cheaper than most espresso machines.
Made from durable materials, it’s a long-lasting investment that can satisfy your espresso cravings without breaking the bank.
The French Press
Price: +/- 20$
Pressure: 0 bar
The French Press is an affordable solution for brewing strong, full-flavored coffee at home.
Though it doesn’t replicate espresso, because it doesn’t utilize pressure to make the coffee but you let the ground coffee sit in the water for a few minutes which results in a less concentrated, crema-less brew.
The brewing process is simple, requiring no electricity or special techniques. With a French Press, you have control over the coffee-to-water ratio and steeping time, allowing for varying brew strengths.
In terms of cost, a French Press rivals the affordability of a Moka Pot (which makes more espresso-like coffee) and is considerably cheaper than an espresso machine.
Cheaper Ground Coffee
Making espresso requires two main things that cost money: a method or machine to brew it, and the coffee itself to be used in the process.
You can find affordable “Espresso grind coffee” at Walmart or Amazon. But be careful, because many coffee bags labeled as “espresso grind” may not truly be fine enough for espresso.
If you’re using a grind that is too coarse your espresso will get under-extracted and taste sour.
You could experiment with different brands until you find one that you enjoy and that has the right consistency (a fine, even grind).
Another option is to buy an inexpensive espresso grinder. When I used my Delonghi Dedica espresso machine, I would grind the beans with a 1Zpresso Q2 X. It’s a handheld grinder that gets the job done and costs no more than $100.
There’s no shortage of affordable ways to create a delightful espresso or espresso-like brew at home.
Each option has its benefits and compromises. Your choice will depend on your budget and how close you want to come to a ‘real’ espresso.
But remember, the coffee you use matters just as much as your brewing method.
So, find the right balance for your palate and budget, and you’ll be on your way to enjoying excellent home-brewed espresso without stretching your wallet.
Thanks for reading!