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Capresso 303.01 Review

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By Matt Woodburn-Simmonds

If you are looking for an affordable way to bring lattes, cappuccinos, and espressos into the comfort of your home, the Capresso 4-Cup Espresso and Cappuccino Machine could be just the ticket. Having put this little steam-powered espresso machine through its paces, we’re sharing all our unfiltered thoughts in this Capresso 303.01 Review.

The Capresso 303.01 is a great example of value for money. However, steam power is no longer the norm as it has a bad reputation for burning coffee and failing to deliver that rich, smooth espresso flavor. So you need to be realistic with your expectations. It’s designed for someone looking for a decent cappuccino on a budget. Not for a true third-wave espresso experience.

Having tested the baby of the Capresso espresso machine range, we’re sharing our experience – the good, the bad, and everything in between. We’ll break down how good the coffee and milk actually are, and how easy it is for novice users. Let’s get right to it:

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At a Glance: Capresso 4-Cup Espresso Machine Review

Capresso 303.01 Espresso Maker

There’s a reason you don’t see many steam-powered espresso machines: they don’t create great espresso.

That being said, if you’re looking to make lots of cappuccinos (or similar) at the same time then this espresso maker will get the job done for you with minimal fuss.

Additionally, the Capresso 4-Cup Espresso & Cappuccino Machine (also called the Capresso 303.01) is super compact and easy to clean.

Yes, the steam can take a little getting used to. But it’s also not as complicated as a manual espresso machine. After a couple of tries, you should have it mastered.

For the price, if you want to be able to make a lot of coffees quickly, it’s tough to beat.


  • Powerful steaming
  • Handles large quantities with ease
  • Easy to clean
  • Carafe is dishwasher safe
  • Compact machine


  • Built-up pressure being released can cause issues
  • Not the best espresso (tastes bitter/ burnt)

Average Rating

  • Espresso Quality: 6/10
  • Ease of Use: 7/10
  • Value for Money: 7/10
  • Overall Rating: 6.5/10
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Key Features Review

1. 12oz Capacity

With the Capresso 4 Cup Cappuccino and Espresso Maker, you can make (you guessed it)… 4 cups (12oz) of coffee at the same time! The powerful steamer heats up in just 2 minutes and can make those 4 cups in less than 5 minutes, making it a pretty good choice for busy home life or for entertaining.

2. Simple Controls

The user-friendly design lets you easily switch between brewing coffee and steaming milk. The swivel frother matches the amount of milk needed for the quantity of coffee being made.

It’s a Panarello milk wand, meaning the milk steamer essentially has a little jacket on which simplifies the frothing process. It does this by reducing the role you play and the control you have. However, in this case, it does create an okay microfoam but it favors big bubbles, more suited to cappuccino foam.

Close up of the Capresso 303.01 Panarello steam wand and carafe
The black cover on the steam wand is the Panarello auto-steam wand to make frothing milk easier (but gives you less control)

3. Steam Powered

Being steam pressured, this Capresso machine packs a powerful punch. The hearty power means you can steam and froth milk with ease. But it’s also no longer the norm (pump pressure is preferable) as it goes from 0 to 100 almost instantly, meaning your coffee and milk tend to end up burnt or bitter-tasting.

Although, the 303.01 does have a steam selector to give you a little more control over the amount of pressure you want to use.

4. Adjustable Strength

The coffee strength can be easily adjusted on a sliding scale to suit your tastes giving you the control to make your espresso or cappuccino exactly how you want to drink it.

Capresso 303.01 in a cloud of steam
There’s a simple sliding scale for how strong you want your coffee

5. Safety Features

The water reservoir has a boiler cap with a gasket and built-in safety valves preventing the high levels of steam from becoming an issue. Plus, the portafilter has a thumb guard.

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Is the Capresso 303.01 Easy to Use?

In theory, yes the Capresso 303.01 is very easy to use. It’s certainly suitable for novice espresso machine users. However, compared to single-serve machines which make coffee at the push of a button, it’s a touch more complex as there are (literal) moving parts.

I’d recommend being patient and expect a few false starts. You’ll need to get the hang of using the machine’s steam pressure and work out your preferred strength settings. But it shouldn’t take too long until you’re drinking espresso and cappuccino just how you like them (as long as you like them bitter).

The glass carafe has handy fill lines to keep you on track. However, it’s dishwasher safe which is great in theory but can also wash away the lines. So I prefer to wash it by hand.

Once you get the hang of using the Capresso 303.01, you’ll have 4 cups of espresso or cappuccino within 5 minutes. This is much faster than other machines at the same price point. But you’re compromising on quality to achieve this so it depends on what you value more.

Close up of the simple dials/knobs on the Capresso 303.01 budget espresso machine
Close-up of the knob for milk frothing and the coffee strength dial

How to Use

The instructions for Capresso espresso machines are relatively easy to follow. However, the following is our brief guide to getting started:

  1. First, fill the water reservoir by removing the boiler cap on top of the machine. Use cold water as it will quickly heat up, producing the required steam. But be sure to screw the cap back on tightly as a LOT of pressure builds up in here.
  2. Fill the portafilter with (ideally freshly) ground coffee for either 2 or 4 cups. Aim for a medium grind and don’t tamp.
  3. Next, twist the portafilter into place. It easily swivels and must lock into position otherwise steam will escape and the pressure won’t build.
  4. Then place the carafe on the drip tray, turn the espresso machine on, and slide the dial to your desired coffee strength. I’d recommend starting at the strongest setting and getting weaker to suit.
  5. You’ll start to hear the steam building up and, after around 3 minutes, brewed coffee will start dispensing into the carafe.
  6. If you’re making espresso, simply turn off the machine when it reaches the desired amount.
  7. If you’re making cappuccino or latte, it’s a little more complicated. You need to slide the strength dial fully to the left as soon as the brewed coffee reaches the first line on the carafe. Then you take a pitcher of cold milk, put it under the steam wand, and turn the dial on the right of the machine. Once frothed, move the strength dial back to where you originally had it and the rest of your coffee will brew.

It sounds more complicated than it really is. But if you’re making cappuccino or latte, you need to do everything in this weird order otherwise you’ll (literally) run out of steam.

Frothing milk is a skill so it might take a little getting used to. You’ll need at least 6oz of milk to fully cover the nozzle but as the wand is short, you can’t do much more than that anyway. It’s designed for beginners and is a little slow, but it will produce frothy milk foam that’s ideal for cappuccino but you’ll not get any latte art-level microfoam.

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Do you Use Grounds, Beans, or Pods?

The Capresso 4 Cup Espresso and Cappuccino maker only works with ground coffee. Since it doesn’t have a built-in grinder, you’ll either need to buy your coffee pre-ground or have a separate coffee grinder.

No matter what style of coffee you’re brewing, you’ll always get better results from grinding yourself over buying pre-ground. That’s why we recommend investing in the best grinder type for your lifestyle.

But I appreciate that’s an extra step (and cost) that might not suit everyone. If you’ve happily been using pre-ground for years, then maybe there’s no reason to spend the extra money.

Machines with built-in grinders tend to cost a heck of a lot more so if you’re looking for a machine that’ll do everything for you, you might need to re-assess your budget. However, the Capresso 303.01 is designed for people looking for quantity rather than quality espresso. And the price reflects that.

You may have a favorite brand of pre-ground coffee you can pick up from the supermarket or buy pre-ground from a favorite roaster. Either will work – the machine isn’t fussy, just the drinker

Psst.. Want to compare the Capresso 303.01 to other 4-Cup Coffee Makers? Check out our rundown of the best options here:

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Design & Build Quality Review

Having a simple design leaves little room for things to go wrong. But, if they do, the Capresso 303.01 is backed up by a 1-year warranty for your peace of mind.

At 13.2 inches tall by 7.5 inches wide by 9.8 inches deep, this is a very compact machine from Capresso. It will fit snugly onto just about any countertop, regardless of how limited you are for space. 

It also only weighs 7lbs. So, it’s easy to move around if you regularly need to move it from the cupboard to the countertop.

I think the simple design looks pretty good. The exterior is mainly matte black plastic which won’t be to everyone’s taste but it won’t stand out either. My only complaint is that it can be quite difficult to keep it looking clean – every fleck of dust shows up (or maybe that says more about how dusty my house is!)

However, it also doesn’t look like a premium machine. If aesthetics are you’re number one concern, I’d recommend looking at a single-serve machine like the Nespresso Pixie (see our Pixie review) – they tend to look the best for the least money.

What single-serve machines lack though is a portafilter which gives it that “barista feel”.

Overall, the Capresso 4-Cup espresso machine is an all-rounder that’s very simple to use. It’s essentially just a pot for boiling water and some hoses. The benefit of its simplicity (other than the low cost) is that it’s unlikely to break or degrade over time.

This is a huge plus point and whilst it is mostly plastic on the outside, there’s nothing to suggest it won’t stand up to prolonged use.

The downside is that steam is, well, hot. So you need to take extra care whilst you’re using it to avoid burning yourself. To help with this, the milk frothing wand tucks nicely out of the way.

Capresso 303.01 Budget Espresso Machine
A simple design means there are less things that can go wrong
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Does the Capresso 303.01 Make Good Coffee?

Every part of this Capresso 303.01 review needs to be viewed with a heavy dose of reality:

Are you going to get coffee comparable to your local coffee store?


(If you do, I’d recommend finding a better coffee shop!)

But it’s also a bargain espresso machine for less than $100.

The best shots we got from this machine were too bitter to really be considered “good”. But good is also subjective. So if you like very bitter, dark roast espresso not dissimilar to Moka-style coffee, you’ll likely enjoy it. Like all things in life, it’s about personal preference (and if all else fails, milk or sugar can mask the harsher burnt flavors.)

Being steam-powered is what makes this machine so cost-effective and it does generate a lot of consistent pressure, which is good.

The downside however is that steam is, obviously, very hot. And it’s this excess heat that can cause the coffee to have a burnt flavor.

Now, not everyone dislikes burnt-tasting coffee. I used to work with someone who wanted their coffee “lava hot”. However, for those who enjoy straight espresso, it can be a bit acrid. And you certainly won’t get the rich nuance from your beans that you would at a lower temperature.

We also didn’t manage to generate any crema for our espresso shots.

Where it excels is comfortably pulling 4 shots of espresso at once at a strength to suit you. The frothing wand also works fine for beginners or casual users. With minimal practice, you should be able to get nice latte or cappuccino milk.

For the price, we think it is a good performer. As long as you like this style of coffee.

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Bells & Whistles

As with most budget espresso makers, there aren’t many extra features to speak of.

Having said that, the Capresso 303.01 does have a milk frothing wand which isn’t standard at the budget end of the spectrum.

As it’s a Panarello wand, it is suitable for beginners. But anyone who has experience with frothing milk will find it restrictive and a little frustrating to use.

That said, it’s still a nice feature if you enjoy café style drinks or want to be able to offer them to your guests.

Close up of the milk frother in use on the Capresso 303.01
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Is it Easy to Clean?

Cleaning the Capresso 4-cup machine is very simple, giving you one more thing to love about this coffee maker. Being a very simple coffee machine, there aren’t too many complex parts to worry about taking apart or cleaning.

This might seem obvious but I’m going to go ahead and say it anyway:

Creating steam is hot business so always, always, always make sure the Capresso 303.01 has completely cooled down before you start cleaning it.

You don’t need any fancy cleaning equipment; hot soapy water will do the trick.

Each of the espresso machine parts can be easily dismantled, making them easy to clean. Both the glass carafe and filter basket are dishwasher safe. However, I’d recommend just washing them by hand to avoid rubbing off the carafe’s fill lines or damaging the basket. You have to wash the removable drip tray by hand anyway.

If you use the milk wand, you’ll need to keep on top of cleaning this as milk can quickly turn nasty. Once cooled, the black frother nozzle pulls off so you can wash thoroughly with hot water. I found it a little awkward to remove and replace – you need to use more force than you think and hold the machine steady with your other hand.

You’ll also want to take a damp cloth to the outside of the machine and the filter screen regularly. I found that every speck of dust clung to the plastic exterior.

Seriously, it’s a dream to keep on top of.

On the inside, there isn’t really anything that can go wrong to make it clog up. An all-around star when it comes to keeping clean.

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The Competition

If our review of the Capresso 4-Cup espresso machine makes you think it’s not The One for you, let’s see how it stacks up against some other top contenders.


The offering that’s closest in price is actually one of our favorite portable espresso makers, the Wacaco Nanopresso.

It’s a little more involved to use as you need to manually build the pressure, similar to using a bicycle pump. But the quality of espresso that’s possible is head and shoulders above the Capresso 303.01. It takes ground coffee or you can buy an add-on to use Nespresso pods if you prefer.

It’s also tiny so you can easily throw it in a drawer or take it on a trip with you. However, it can’t froth milk and can only make 1 espresso shot at a time.

Wacaco Nanopresso and its case sitting on kitchen counter

Espresso Quality: 9/10

Ease of Use: 7/10

Value for Money: 9/10

Overall Rating: 9/10

Or read our Nanopresso review


For an equally simple, traditional espresso machine that has the potential for much better espresso drinks, I recommend the DeLonghi Stilosa.

At full price, it’s a big jump from the Capresso machine. But it’s frequently heavily discounted making it only a touch more expensive. So I’d recommend holding out until it’s in the sale to get yourself an absolute bargain.

DeLonghi Stilosa making an espresso

Espresso Quality: 7/10

Ease of Use: 8/10

Value for Money: 8/10

Overall Rating: 8/10

Prefer to shop direct? Buy Here

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Final Thoughts on our Capresso 303.01 Review

This espresso and cappuccino machine is ideal if you’re in the market for a budget-friendly option that can handle milk drinks with ease. It’s great if you prioritize easily making large quantities of coffee over quality. If that’s you, the Capresso 303.01 should be top of your wish list.

If you aren’t too worried about (or enjoy) burnt-tasting coffee and want to be able to brew 4 espressos at once, then this is a great little machine.

However, if you’re looking for a nice espresso with great crema alongside all the nuance of your single-origin beans, then this isn’t the machine for you. The espresso will be more bitter than you’ll get from other similarly priced machines.

We never managed to make 4 cappuccinos in 5 minutes as Capresso claims (straight espresso was fine). But definitely under 6 minutes so maybe close enough.

So what was our main takeaway from testing and writing this Capresso 303.01 review? It might not be perfect but you’ll struggle to find another espresso maker in this price range that can produce 4 cups of espresso or cappuccino so quickly. You just need to go in with your eyes wide open in terms of the espresso quality.

Don’t forget to Buy Your Capresso 303.01 Today


Matt Woodburn-Simmonds

Matt's coffee obsession started in 2006 when working as a Barista. A tendency to turn up to work hungover kickstarted his coffee journey which quickly turned into a love affair. As he moved on to work as a Restaurant Manager and Sommelier, the obsession continued to grow. Now, his passion is helping others to enjoy better coffee at home.

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