(Last updated in November 2016.)
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 burr or blade coffee grinders. 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, some don’t so you can use a separate method for milk. But 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.
Other types of coffee machines include Capsule Coffee Machines, Bean-To-Cup Coffee Machines and the more traditional filter coffee machines. If you are interested in the Capsule Coffee Machines please see our Product Comparison: Three Capsule Coffee Machines under £100 to find out which one we think is best.
We have chosen three manual espresso coffee machines all to suit a budget of up to £100. The Jack Stonehouse 15 Bar Espresso and Cappuccino Coffee Maker Machine is a bestseller on amazon.co.uk usually £79.99, currently at the time or writing there is a special offer and it is reduced to £49.99. (Update 2016: It is still a top seller and has a standard price of £49.99).
This coffee machine has a 1 litre water tank and accepts full size cappuccino cups or two espresso cups. 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 perhaps you should consider a more traditional filter coffee machine that caters for larger cups.
The Jack Stonehouse coffee machine is described as being simple to use with an easy to use filter handle and tamper with single or double cup filters. This machine is great for making cafe lattes or cappuccinos as its steam arm and steaming functions mix steam, air and milk to create the perfect frothy coffee in your home.
There have been some problems with this machine, some people have reported that it started leaking after only two months of use. This could just be a problem with a particular batch of machines, but those complaining to the manufacturer do not feel that their problems will be solved. Others think that some of the parts seem plasticky and of inferior quality, and that it is a noisy machine.
Reviewers of the Jack Stonehouse coffee machine overall are happy with machine saying 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.
The Delonghi EC146.b Espresso Coffee Machine (a newer version of the EC245 originally reviewed – edited 2016) is very similar in spec and price to the Jack Stonehouse machine. It is currently on offer and can be purchased for £58.99. (Approx £15 saving on the original price quoted – edited 2016).
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, 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 only a few problems reported with this machine, some have had machines that have leaked from the reservoir or the espresso arm, but again this could be a faulty batch. Some people have found it more difficult to understand how to use this machine and have needed advice, 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 this coffee machine.
The Morphy Richards Accents 47586 Espresso Maker is another similarly priced coffee machine at £64.99, with the same features as the previous two machines. We think this machine looks a little more modern than the previous two and comes in a stunning red colour as well as black and stainless steel in a slightly newer model. (Update Nov 2016 – Red in the older model is currently more expensive).
The Morphy Richards coffee machine has a slightly larger water tank at 1.25 litres which it claims will make 8 espresso cups of coffee. It has a filter that allows you to make one or two cups at a time, and a milk frother to make cappuccinos and other milky drinks. It also allows the use of the ESE pods if you find those more convenient.
The Morphy Richards Espresso Maker claims to be extremely easy to use with one touch buttons that can be pre-set so that the next time all you need to do is press the buttons. Reviewers say that you can use a good size cup with the removable drip tray, and there are no problems with faulty machines. Some people have had trouble making hot coffee, and have complained that the machine smells of plastic at first. However overwhelmingly most reviewers are very pleased with this machine for the price.
The Morphy Richards Espresso Maker is a great coffee machine and although the Jack Stonehouse coffee machine is the best seller on Amazon, we think that the Morphy Richards coffee machine is better simply because of the lack of problems reported with it. If you are looking for your first espresso machine, perhaps you would be better with the Jack Stonehouse as it is easier to use, but you might be unlucky with the machine you receive, but then again, many people have had no problems with the Jack Stonehouse. The Delonghi coffee machine comes third in our comparison simply because of the mixed reports on its quality and ease of use.
I hope that you have found this article useful and informative and have learnt something different about the espresso coffee machines. Please look out for our future articles on the other types of coffee machines available.
Here are some accessories for coffee machines that you might find useful: