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.
Editor’s Note: When we first wrote this article back in 2014, the Jack Stonehouse 15 Bar Espresso and Cappuccino Coffee Maker Machine was a bestseller on Amazon UK, and was our choice of coffee machine for beginners because of its ease of use. Sadly this popular machine is no longer available on Amazon. As of August 2019 we have updated the article with the latest highly rated coffee machines available today.
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
The Swan SK22110CN Retro Pump Espresso Coffee Machine in cream is highly rated on Amazon UK with an RRP of £88.99, however it is often on special offer and can be found today for just £85.99. 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.
However 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 have a long history of making coffee machines and the De’Longhi Traditional Pump Espresso Coffee Machine EC146.B is very similar in spec and price to the Jack Stonehouse machine above. Also like the Jack Stonehouse coffee machine it has an RRP of £99.99 but is currently on offer with a deal price of £72.97.
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.
Morphy Richards Accents Espresso Coffee Maker
Finally we look at the Morphy Richards Accents Espresso Coffee Maker is another similarly priced coffee machine with an RRP of £109.99 which takes it above our £100 threshold, however this coffee machine is almost always on offer, and its current price is Out of stock. It has the same features as the previous two machines and we think this machine looks a little more modern than the others mentioned here. It is available in two colourways: Pebble and Black/Stainless Steel.
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.
Morphy Richards claim this coffee machine 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. Happy reviewers say that you can use a good size cup with the removable drip tray and they like its looks but some people have had trouble making hot coffee, and others have complained that the machine smells of plastic at first. Long term durability also seems to be a problem as more complaints are appearing as owners find their coffee machines failing after a few months.
Both the Morphy Richards Espresso Maker and the Jack Stonehouse Coffee Machine are good coffee makers with very comparable owner reviews. If you are looking for your first espresso machine, you might be better with the Jack Stonehouse as it is easier to use. It has also been a best seller for a long time, but this might be because of its bargain price. The De’Longhi Espresso Coffee Machine comes third in our comparison simply because of the mixed reports on its quality and ease of use.
Note: At the time of writing there is a newer version available (with no reviews yet) but it might be worth looking at: DeLonghi EC 146 Coffee Maker with Cappuccino System with an RRP of £99.99 but currently priced at £83.98.
I hope that you have found this article useful and informative and have learnt something different about the espresso coffee machines available under £100. Please look out for our future articles on the other types of coffee machines available.
Espresso Coffee Machine Accessories
Here are some accessories for coffee machines that you might find useful: