Product Comparison: Three Manual Espresso Coffee Machines under £100

If you love your coffee having a coffee machine at home or work is probably very important to you, but if you don’t know much about coffee and the different machines available choosing the right one can be a difficult task. This review aims to help you understand the Manual Espresso Coffee Machine, whether it’s the right one for you, and which one of the three featured below all under £100, we think is the best buy.

Manual Espresso Coffee Machines explained

There are a few differences between manual espresso coffee machines and other types of coffee machine. The manual coffee machine requires ground coffee ready to add to the machine. So you can use your favourite brand of coffee, trial different flavours, or grind your own beans using a burr or blade coffee grinder. Sometimes the Easy Service Espresso pods (ESE pods) can be used in the machines, although if you want to use ready made pods you are probably better off buying a capsule coffee machine.

The manual espresso coffee machines are manual only in the fact that there is a routine you need to learn in order to make the perfect cup of coffee to suit you. This process involves adding the ground coffee and filters to the machine, tamping down the coffee and pressing the switch to heat up the water and start the process. Some of these machines also come with a milk frother, but some don’t so you have to use a separate method for milk. However for some people the frothy milk is not important. The beauty of these machines is that they are totally flexible, both with the kind of coffee you can use, and also that you can slightly modify the coffee making process to suit your own tastes.

Let’s look at the three contenders in this manual espresso coffee machine comparison shall we?

Swan SK22110CN Retro Pump Espresso Coffee Machine

Swan retro coffee machine in cream
The Swan SK22110CN Retro Pump Espresso Coffee Machine in cream is highly rated on Amazon UK with a price of £89.95. This coffee machine has a 1.2 litre water tank and accepts full size cappuccino cups or two espresso cups. You can also remove the drip tray to use a tall latte glass. This is important if you like a large cup of coffee as some people don’t like the small cups of coffee that most machines provide. The espresso shot of coffee and smaller size cups is what you would normally have in most coffee shops, so if you like a larger mug of coffee you may want to consider a more traditional filter coffee machine that caters for larger cups.

The Swan coffee machine is described as being easy to use although sometimes a little fiddly. This machine is great for making cafe lattes or cappuccinos as it has a steam arm for frothing milk. It is a short arm so not long enough for a 600ml jug. There have been some problems with this machine where a few people have reported that it produced coffee with a taste of plastic. This could just be a problem with a particular batch of machines, as more recent reviews say their coffee tastes fine.

There are many positive comments on this coffee machine with reviewers happy saying that it looks stylish and makes a hot coffee with good pressure. Most people say it is an excellent entry level machine at a good price. We think this machine would suit first time buyers, or those people just learning how to use a manual coffee machine. It is also available in a choice of colours: blue, green, and grey.

De’Longhi Traditional Pump Espresso Coffee Machine EC146.B

De'Longhi Traditional Pump Espresso Coffee Machine EC146.B
De’Longhi have a long history of making coffee machines and the De’Longhi Traditional Pump Espresso Coffee Machine EC146.B is very similar in spec to most other coffee machines in this price bracket. It has an RRP of £99.99 but can be found on offer quite regularly.

The Delonghi coffee machine again has a 1 litre water tank. You are able to make espressos with a perfect barista style crema, or lattes, cappuccinos and any other of your favourite coffee or milk drinks. The removable drip tray allows you to use a large cappuccino cup, or with the tray in place, two small espresso cups. This means if you like a larger cup or a small mug of coffee you will be able to use these, however reviewers say you will not get a normal size mug under it though. This machine is easy to use with a range of functions to help you make the perfect cup of coffee.

There are a few problems reported with this machine where buyers have purchased units that have leaked from the reservoir or the espresso arm. Some people have found it more difficult to understand how to use this machine and have needed advice, whilst others have complained that the coffee is not strong enough and doesn’t have a very good crema. Most say that the milk frother is very good, however people are not convinced on the quality of the machine and its longevity. Generally reviewers like this machine, it works as described and when you get the process correct it makes a hot, smooth coffee with crema. For the price, most people are satisfied with the De’Longhi Espresso EC146.B coffee machine.

Krups Opio Steam and Pump Coffee Machine

Krups XP320840 Opio Steam and Pump Coffee Machine

Finally we look at the Krups XP320840 Opio Steam and Pump Coffee Machine. Krups are another well known name in the coffee machine world so what does this machine have to offer? With an RRP of £149.99, this coffee machine is the most expensive here and is well above our £100 threshold, however it is often found on offer for less than £100 so we have included it. It has similar features to the other machines and is similar in design to the Delonghi coffee machine.

The Krups Opio coffee machine has a slightly larger water tank at 1.5 litres allowing you to make a few coffees on the go. It has 15 bar pump pressure and a steam nozzle to make cappuccinos and other frothy milk drinks. There are one and two-cup filters, so you can balance out the strength and size of your drink, and adjustable manual settings to give you total control of how you want your coffee made. Included is a coffee tamper and measuring spoon.

Reviews are generally favourable with buyers happy with the affordability of this coffee machine and the ease of use, however there have been a few worries about leaky seals, breakdowns and cheap plastic. Previous owners of Krups coffee machines reckon that the quality isn’t as good as it used to be but overall those who have bought this machine are content with their purchase.

The results

There seems to be little to choose between these three coffee machines so for us there is no clear winner. They all have similar specs, are priced similarly and make decent coffee. The Swan coffee machine has a retro vibe going on whilst the Delonghi and Krups coffee machines are more modern, so perhaps your choice will come down to how it looks in your kitchen rather than which makes the best coffee.

If you’re willing to spend a little more the De’Longhi Dedica Style, Traditional Barista Pump Espresso Machine, Coffee and Cappuccino Maker is an excellent option. It comes in four different colourways and is very highly regarded. It’s probably our choice of manual coffee machine but it does have an RRP of £219.00 although you can find it for around £160 when on special offer!

Espresso Coffee Machine Accessories

Here are some accessories for coffee machines that you might find useful: