The $65 Espresso Machine That Is Getting Me Through Quarantine

updated Apr 24, 2020
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Cup of espresso and custard tarts
Credit: Aila Images/Stocksy

At $5 per cup, my beloved daily oat milk latte would cost me around $100 per month at a coffee shop. Multiply that by the three adults in my household (my partner and daughter both love lattes as much as I do), and we are getting close to the price of leasing a car. We aren’t coffee connoisseurs or bean snobs by any means, but we do love our daily coffee fix. So, a few months ago, we decided we needed to figure out how to get our daily lattes without breaking the bank.

That meant a home espresso machine was in order. This would be our first home machine, and we weren’t quite ready (read: willing) to spend multiple hundreds or thousands of dollars for a top-of-the-line machine. I wanted something inexpensive that would pull a shot and steam my milk while also taking up very little counter space in our tiny Brooklyn kitchen.

Credit: Amelia Rampe

We searched the internet for an espresso machine that both pulled shots and steamed milk, had decent reviews, came at a price that wouldn’t make me blush, and didn’t require the maintenance of a Ferrari. My husband found the Sowtech. With more than 3,000 mostly positive reviews on Amazon and a price point well under $100, we decided that it was worth a try. If we didn’t like it we could always return it.  

Buy: Sowtech, $65

I didn’t realize when we bought the machine how much it would come to save the day during quarantine. (Mostly because I didn’t know we’d up in quarantine.) Since social distancing has gone into effect, my husband has been buying espresso beans at the grocery store and bringing them home to our sweet Sowtech machine. We’re lucky enough to be able to be working from home these days — and to be having as many espressos as we want.

The machine takes about 90 seconds to build pressure and heat up and then you’re ready to pull your shot. Then you switch over to the steam mode, so you can steam your milk, which takes around 45 seconds. The machine does a great job of foaming the milk and, after a few minutes, you’re ready for your afternoon coffee break. I have had a latte almost every single day during quarantine — in the safety and comfort of my own home. It’s a little daily pick-me-up that I get to look forward to, which really means a lot to me during these uncertain times.

My only complaints? The steam knob is a little finicky. Make sure it is fully off or it will continue to steam. You can pull up to four shots at a time; you just may need to refill the reservoir and you’ll have to be careful while you do it, as steam will rush out if you unscrew the cap too quickly. And the machine doesn’t come with a steaming pitcher for frothing the milk. But at the price point, none of these issues were deal breakers by any means.

I loved my inexpensive espresso machine months ago and now I love it even more. I definitely recommend it to anyone looking to (lightly) invest in a machine. That said, I do know that Amazon is experience shipping delays (and Amazon is the only place I’ve seen this particular machine), so I give you this until your machine can arrive: How To Make a Latte at Home Without an Espresso Machine.

What tools or gadgets are making your days a little better or easier while you’re staying at home?