The best budget espresso machines with 20 bars should offer room for taller glasses, be of metal construction, indicate warning signals that a descale is due, and boast easily maintainable designs among other barista boons. Plus the final espresso quality itself should be strong and not bitter among other nuances. They should offer handy features like safety shut-off temperature features, quicker espresso production, warming plates and take up small footprints on your counter top than the flotsam.
Extra interesting features could include single and double shot portafilter baskets, a one year warrantee and a look that will leave your guests purring.
Read until the end to see which brands pepped us up with a sterling coffee and which manufacturers failed to smell the coffee – if any.
Firstly, lets pour over what is a bar of pressure and how 20 bars differ from the standard 15 bars.
What is a Bar of Pressure?
A bar stands for barometric pressure which you may have become familiar with pumping your tires. This is also the pressure exerted on grounds of coffee inside an espresso machine. One bar is the pressure of air at sea level; 20 bars is the weight of pressure exerted at sea level times 20.
A 20 bar espresso machine will pump more pressure through coffee so the result is a quicker made espresso. Espresso aficionados often underline budget machines don’t reach 15 bars or 20 bars of pressure, claiming they often produce about 10 bars of pressure. Contention exists between aficionados whether 20 bars of pressure is better than 15 bars.
20 bars will produce a faster espresso with crema, though some experts claim less pressure is better for extracting more oils and flavors with a slower process.
The Gevi espresso machine 20 bar is designed for the learner barista or for those who like a bistro style espresso in the comfort of their own home. With two separate thermostats for frothing steam and the other for espressos the Gevi reaches an auto temperature for both uses, namely 197 F for espressos and 212 F. The gauge on the front tells you when you’re reaching optimum temperature which is only useful if the machine’s pressure is too high.
Following a favorable trend for narrow and tall espresso machines like the trailblazing De’Longhi Dedica, the Gevi is only 16.1 x 13.58 x 7.4 inches, (though the Dedica is narrower at less than 6 inches wide). The Gevi only comes in one color, though looks great with its chrome-like finish and is built to last, being made of stainless steel.
With high watts of 1350W you can make a single shot of espresso in 45 seconds which is fast compared with most 15 bar machines like the Dedica. The low-pressure ‘prepreg‘ gradually increases the pressure releasing a piecemeal amount of water into the grounds before letting out steady flow to gain a strong espresso.
The good news is you can opt for manual control over the volume of espresso or click for a double shot or single by pressing the handy button down at the top.
Like the Dedica, this gleaming device, has the useful feature of being able to pour its espresso into tall espresso glasses with handy removal of the first drip tray. Great if you like a large latte.
The Milk Frothing Wand
Milk steaming and frothing is controlled by the knob on the left flank of the machine. A 360 degree rotatable frothing wand does not have the muti-options (steam or froth) of the De’Longhi Dedica wand, though the rubber grip will stop the risk of scalding and overall is foolproof to dunk for velvety froth making.
Dunking it in to a pitcher of milk lower will create hot milk, bring it near the surface for thick and velvety froth. The included nozzle is a nice touch which delivers a thicker foam for cappuccinos.
What Do You get?
A useful array of espresso machine additions such as a plastic tamper with a scoop, two high pressure baskets (single and double) plus a novel nozzle attachment for your frothing wand.
The frothing nozzle is removable and is easy to clean in a sink with soap as is the drip tray. Run a descaling solution through the machine a few times a year is advisable. Cleverly, the machine tells you its due a descale when all the lights flash in unison.
- Tall glasses use
- Control over shot sizes
- Stainless steel
- Descaling reminder
- Nespresso capsules compatible & good, thick crema
- If counter top space is of real concern the GEVI is narrow but not as narrow as the Dedica.
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The Bonsenkitchen 20 Bar utilizes powerful 20 bar technology which speeds up the making of cups of Joe as I touched on before. What is clear is that I found the Bonsenkitchen creates a great espresso with crema in less than 45 seconds.
Taking only 30 seconds to ready itself thanks to a thermo block heating system, which is prevalent on machines twice and thrice the price tag, the Bonsenkitchen is a very able espresso machine for making cappuccinos or lattes at home.
The gurgling and humming of this espresso machine sounds like the pitches of machines you’d hear in your local upmarket cafe, though you gape at first, realization soon sets in that the thermoblock hissing won’t wake whoever’s sleeping in the next room and can soon become as much as homely as the meowing of your cat or bubbling of a kettle.
Designed for the beginner barista who likes the taste of a very professional tasting espresso, the Bonsenkitchen is only 6.1 inches wide so it won’t take up a lot of room on your counter. The machine looks great with black flanks and chrome colored accents. However, there is a touch too much plastic in comparison with others on this list.
Tips of the day
- Always purge the steam wand after use and wipe with a clean cloth to avoid bacteria and limescale build up.
- If all the lights start flashing don’t panic it means the machine is due a descaling.
- Use a fine ground coffee
The built in frothing wand is a no frills wand with a useful rubber grip to prevent scalding. Hold it deep into a steel pitcher and milk for steaming and bring nearer the surface to make a creamy froth. The froth level is decently thick for this price bracket..
A removable, clear water tank is standard on the best espresso machines these days and with a capacity of 1.25 liters you won’t have to think about refilling it after every other cup.
A good feature I’ve harked on about before when commenting about other machines, is the double trip tray. This great feature allows you to pour larger espressos into tall glasses as opposed to always settling for espresso coffee glasses.
A removable drip tray, warming plate and frothing wand means the Bonsenkitchen is easy to clean. These parts can be cleaned in the sink with detergent and hot water.
Things We Liked
- Good quality, rich final espresso
- Fast warm up time
- Double drip tray for tall glasses
- Overall plastic design
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The Gevi Espresso Machine 20 Bar is a good looking, affordable espresso machine with a milk frother wand. Donned in white it’ll sit well in every color schemed kitchen that goes with white – that’s every kitchen. Described as a simplified version of an espresso machine you’d find in a bistro.
Its white panels with faux chrome accents bestows a handsome look on this compact machine while 3 main buttons couldn’t be simpler to use.
With 1350W the Gevi heats up in a very fast 25 seconds and is ready to start brewing. Temperature control is a common feature in machines at this level and is a welcome touch that means you don’t have to think too much first thing in the morning.
Press one of the 3 main buttons at the front for ‘1 cup’, ‘2 cups’ or for ‘manual control’ over the size of your shot (a feature which is most welcome). At 8.89 inches wide the Gevi white is a touch wider than some machines on this list but what’s a couple of inches between friends.
While there is no double drip tray for taller glasses, a handy feature is the visible liquid feature which allows you to clearly see when the drip tray is full. Auto shut off after 15 minutes is a nice safety feature which Gevi says is for saving energy. The high pressure shut off, too is very valuable control in the case of a malfunction.
The frother wand is made from stainless steel so it won’t rust any time soon. Able to rotate 360 degrees it’s a good way to bubble up froth for cappuccinos or lattes. The steam wand can reach 212 ℉ so please place in a steel pitcher before turning on. The froth is certainly as thick and creamy as that of bistro machines.
- Dimensions: (W x H x D): 22.6 x 35.2x 36.6 cms/8.89 x 13.85 x 14.4 in, weight: 3.3 kg.
Multi functions such as espresso serving size is a nice touch as are fool proof lights, and portafilter baskets for either 1 or 2 shots of espresso.
Things We Like
- Great budget price
- Rapid readiness
- Looks great
- Plastic design
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At first glance the Yabano offers the standard two cup warming plate, milk frother wand, clear water tank and collection of portafilter extras. The temperatures for frothing steam and espressos are auto set so why have a steam gauge? The answer is it lets you know if blockages are imminent in an emergency.
Compact and small at 16.1 x 13.58 x 7.4 inches, the Yabano really does look as if its a mini version of an espresso machine you’d see in a bistro. There are no flashing lights here, like you’d get on the Gevi 20 bar. 4 main buttons (without lights) are for single cup, double, steaming froth and on/off.
A slight downside of this budget machine is that making hot beverages back to back often means waiting; the steamer is liable to shut off and then you have to get the milk up to temperature. However, the final result is a rich crema and flavorsome espresso. A highly able milk frother delivers half and half hot milk/froth without boiling it.
So simple to use, the Yabano comes from a stable of easy to use espresso machines, that are well built. Simply pour your grounds into the portafilter basket, tamp them flat and twist into the machine and choose your size of shot. Within 45-60 seconds your espresso will be ready.
- Removable frothing wand and drip tray make it easy to clean.
Things to Like
- Warming tray
- Auto shut off
- Stainless steel
- No tall glasses option
- Not as slim as the De’longhi Dedica
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The Laekerrt wouldn’t look out of place in the stylish office of a Scandinavian architect with its navy blue steel looks and faux leather looking cup mat, portafilter handle and wand grip.
Its good to see a manufacturer not towing the usual line of a chrome finish. At only 6.65 inches across the Laekerrt won’t take up much space on your counter top and thus won’t need putting back in its box after each go if you have a small kitchen.
A removable water tank easily clicks into place and is transparent so you can see how much water is left. Performance wise a 1350W heating system and 20 bars of high pressure means you’ll get an espresso in less than 45 seconds.
4 ubiquitous buttons light up in front of the warming tray in a useful way if you wake up and its dark. Opt for one cup, two cups, frothing option and on/off.
After about 300 cups of coffee its advisable to descale the machine. The self cleaning option pumps the descaling solution through every nook and cranny. Meanwhile you may wash the drip tray easily in warm water and soap.
Ideal for a beginner espresso user due to its pre-controlled temperature settings, simple frother wand and easy cleaning, this attractive espresso machine is straight forward. Two independent thermostats means your water for frothing reaches a higher temperature, working in concert with the espresso boiler.
With no nasty surprises, this is good for people who want a bistro style beverage in the comfort of their own home. The frother makes plenty of steamed milk suitable for lattes while a longer dunk of the wand provides decent density milk froth for a bistro style cappuccino.
It should be noted that the Laekerrt is not whisper quiet, though home espresso machines never are. However, the machine isn’t loud enough to wake the family in the next room. And with the production of rapid cup of coffee the hum of the Laekerrt only lasts barely 40 seconds which is then indicated by 3 subtle beeps to inform you your drinks are ready.
Two espresso glasses can be filled at the same time so your partner won’t be disappointed in having to wait around for a second round of humming and dripping.
What you get
- 2 filter baskets, tamper with powder scoop. An attractive double cup mat.
What is There to Like
- An automated temperature setting for milk froth and crema.
- A stylish and narrow design
- Fast crema
- No place for a tall glass.
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Each of best budget espresso machines with 20 BARS have able frothing wands which create a good level of thick froth and steamed milk ideal for lattes or cappuccinos (see our gingerbread latte recipe with froth).
Though the Gevi 20 bar, is not 6.6 inches wide like the Laekerrt, its 7.4, , the Gevi 20 bar’s overall narrow, tall and importantly stainless steel build looks the bees knees on a kitchen counter, boldly stating it will be churning out good quality espresso for years to come. At these economical prices and narrow footprints who could argue that a 20 bar espresso machine shouldn’t be as much as a fixture in your kitchen as a toaster of kettle?