My first espresso machine, budget €180

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.

Postby Irene » Oct 12, 2017, 10:53 am

I want to buy my first home espresso machine. My budget is ~ €180 and after a little research I am totally confused. I want to drink a decent cup of coffee but without breaking the bank. I usually drink double espressos and sometimes a cappuccino. I was thinking delonghi ec156 or ec685. Which of these 2 would you recommend? Are there any other suggestions?

User avatar

Postby slipchuck » replying to Irene » Oct 12, 2017, 11:44 am

What is your budget for a grinder? Unfortunately the amount of money you want to invest is rather low. Nepresso with the pods might be something to look into.
If you plan on buying a grinder and spending a little more this machine would likely serve you well

Good luck!

“There is nobody you can’t learn to like once you’ve heard their story.”

User avatar
Team HB

Postby TomC » Oct 12, 2017, 12:02 pm

Irene wrote:... Are there any other suggestions?

Welcome, Irene.

Id honestly suggest a good hand grinder and a moka pot before recommending the plastic-laden machines at that budget level that break down too quickly.


Postby Irene » Oct 12, 2017, 1:09 pm

I already have a pezzetti moka pot but I am not so pleased with the result. Actually I wasn't thinking of buying a grinder.. I was thinking of buying coffee beans (250 gr) and the shop will grind them for me.
My thoughts are: Buying an espresso machine for my morning coffee before going to work (a quick shot) and another one for the afternoon.. And after a year or so if I want to upgrade I will then search for a better machine+grinder. I am a beginner so I want experimenting first without spending a lot of money....

User avatar

Postby slipchuck » replying to Irene » Oct 12, 2017, 1:28 pm

If you buy your beans fresh from a local roaster then get them to grind them, freeze it as soon as possible and the results would be pretty good. Much better than store bought beans

“There is nobody you can’t learn to like once you’ve heard their story.”

Nick Name

Postby Nick Name » Oct 12, 2017, 4:40 pm

You should get better results if you buy yourself a reasonable grinder not a cheap espresso machine. You can not get a good espresso machine within your budget - unless you manage to score a great deal on a used machine.

Have you searched the forum for tips on how to improve your moka pot coffee? Nevertheless, a good grinder is the key to good coffee. There is no workaround for that.


Postby Irene » Oct 12, 2017, 5:54 pm

I'll search the forum for tips on how to improve my moka pot coffee as a first step..
Thank you all for the advice!


Postby HH » Oct 13, 2017, 7:00 am

Hey Irene,
I was having a think about your espresso set up and wondered whether you had considered a flare espresso maker? I haven't used one myself, but it has got some good reviews and looks like it can make very good espresso for the price. It won't steam milk, but you could buy a standalone steamer if you wanted. Have a read through the following thread, it may be worth a look.

User Experience: Flair Espresso Manual Lever

This would still leave you with around 60usd for a grinder, which should be enough to get an Aergrind when it is released, but for now stick with coffee ground by your friendly local roaster and you should be all set.


Postby Irene » Oct 13, 2017, 7:12 am

I've never heard of the flare espresso before.. I'll check it on the forum.
Thank you Henry

Nick Name

Postby Nick Name » replying to Irene » Oct 13, 2017, 2:58 pm

Just be aware that the cheapest option of Flair is about 135€. With postages and taxes (VAT) I believe the 180€ is pretty much gone. Still, if you manage to save some extra for a grinder (like f.ex. Aergrind which actually is about 85€ plus postages - 60€ was only for Kickstarter backers), you can achieve something great.

One option is to look used machines from the eBay ( should provide the best chances) or...

Get an already refurbished vintage machine from
Not exactly for 180€ but pretty close (the cheapest ones are usually open boiler machines and thus not able to steam milk). And you would still need a grinder capable of espresso grinding.