A budget of $500 can get you a machine that makes a good shot of espresso. We’re no longer looking at entry level options, and the focus can completely be on the quality of espresso we want. This budget range is a bit of a sweet spot for home buyers. The machines no longer rely on plastics and other cost-cutting techniques, and there are plenty of companies that offer their best espresso machines under $500.
In Search Of Outstanding Espresso — Best Espresso Machine Under $500
Sure you can always get something more expensive, and perhaps with more features. And there are several amazing espresso machines that are priced higher. However, this budget range offers great harmony between pricing and utility. We can even afford to be a bit snobbish at this point, and really hone in on our desired functions for the machine.
The Construction Question
For a budget of $500, we expect the machine to last. This has to be a machine that goes on for years. That is one of the reasons why most machines in this range give up plastic parts and move on to better alternatives like stainless steel.
Most of the machines are built to be sturdy; that’s a characteristic you’ll see in most of the machines at this range. Classic favorites for espresso machines are practically built like tanks. You can tell by looking at a classic like the Gaggia 14101 that it’s a machine built for years.
Machine Operation — Automatic Versus Semi-Automatic
Espresso machines in this price range generally are automatic/super automatic or semi-automatic. The difference is the level of involvement for the user in making their espresso. In a semi-automatic, the user controls the extraction time.
For fully automatic machines, everything is handled by the machine. Both of these features are pretty standard across all machines, and you can even find them on espresso machines under $100.
Extra Features For Espresso Machines You Can Consider
Espresso machines in under $500 price range will have a lot of features to offer. Of course, they vary by model and offering, but there are a fair bit of choices to consider. Typical optional offerings include machines with integrated grinders for your coffee, a steam wand for frothing your coffee, temperature controls, Bluetooth and app control of your espresso machine.
Extra features are icing on the cake. You can get some great features on a budget like on espresso machines under $200, but it pays to look for higher-end options on more expensive models.
Temperature And Pressure For Your Espresso
An espresso should be made under at least 9 bars of pressure. Similarly, for best extraction, the temperature of the water should be at 190-195 degrees Fahrenheit. The real test of an espresso machine is not the capability to reach this pressure and temperature but to maintain it while the espresso is being poured.
Once extraction starts, the temperature as well as pressure can drop. A good quality espresso machine takes precautions to prevent this from happening. It is also helpful to pre-heat the cup so heat from the coffee isn’t lost when it reaches the cup.
Maintenance, Cleaning, And Warranty For Espresso Machines
All espresso machines need maintenance and cleaning. Some make it remarkably easy, others might take some effort. Personally, I put more faith in machines that are easy to clean. Having dishwasher safe parts for the water reservoir and drip tray is a real convenience.
Warranty and how well the company honors it is something to look at with a bit more interest. Not only is it important to consider what the warranty on offer is, but also the track record the company has on dealing with warranty issues.
Best Home Espresso Machine Under $500 — Our Top 9 Picks
Gaggia 14101 Classic Semi-Automatic Espresso Maker. Pannarello Wand for Latte and Cappuccino Frothing. Brews for Both Single and Double Shots
1. Breville BES810BSS Duo Temp Pro Espresso Machine
Breville BES810BSS is pleasantly surprising in its skill of making great espresso. It has a 15 bar pump to keep the pressure going and draws enough power to take water to the right temperature. The interesting part is how the Breville Duo Temp handles both these things.
The machine has a pre-infusion function where it starts with a lower pressure to allow the coffee to bloom. Then the pressure is increased to the required levels and water is poured through the coffee. Cutting edge PID temperature management technology ensures that temperature stays at the right level and you get consistent, good quality espresso shots every time.
Breville Duo Temp Pro has a manual steam wand for frothing. Its maintenance indicator lets you know when it is time for routine maintenance and cleaning. The machine has a 61-ounce water tank and draws 1600 Watts of power.
|Great looking design||Takes time to heat up|
|Duo Temp and PID temperature management ensure coffee does not have a burnt taste||Has a relatively large footprint, so not suitable for smaller spaces|
|Pre-infusion gives coffee great taste||Steam wand can heat unevenly|
2. Gaggia 14101 Classic Semi-Automatic Espresso Maker
A tried and tested workhorse, the Gaggia 14101 Classic has long been one of the most popular espresso makers. It is packed in a rugged stainless steel housing with brushed exteriors, puts up 17.5 bars of pressure, and has excellent temperature control.
You will notice that the easy to use controls have switches. That’s because this design has been in production since 1991. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Gaggia 14101 is a classic not just in name, but also in function.
The machine includes a pannarello wand and a commercial-style portafilter. It can work with classic ground coffee but is also compatible with ESE pods for added versatility. Gaggia Classic has an excellent build quality and you can expect it to last for years.
|Excellent, rugged construction that is built to last||Very slow to heat up and can take a while to get ready|
|Good temperature and pressure control||Even if a classic, the design can feel dated|
|Versatile machine works with pods as well as ground coffee|
3. Breville BES840XL/A the Infuser Espresso Machine
The beautifully made Breville Infuser Espresso Machine impresses with its looks and its functions. It is available in three colors, the classic look of brushed stainless steel, cranberry red, and black sesame.
Espresso duties for this Breville machine start by gently infusing the coffee to let it bloom. After that, its 15 bar pump kicks in and raises pressure to 9 bars, maintaining consistency to brew delicious espresso. The PID temperature control system keeps water at the right temperature, and you get a consistent shot of espresso.
Slightly more advanced than its sibling, the Breville Duo Temp Pro we saw earlier, the BES840XL/A gives you more options for brewing espresso, and draws more power at 1700 Watts. You can set the machine to single or double shot, and watch it work its magic. I’m quite enamored by the dial on this espresso maker, and see it as an excellent design choice!
Additional features include a steam wand, maintenance indicator, and relative ease of cleaning the espresso machine.
|High powered machine makes espresso at the right pressure and temperature||Wider profile gives it a large footprint, so the machine requires a relatively larger space|
|Great looks and design||Takes time to heat up|
|Pre-infusion allows coffee to bloom and have a balanced taste|
4. DeLonghi EC685M Dedica Deluxe espresso
DeLonghi has practically earned itself a name for producing budget coffee machines that make decent coffee. While DeLonghi isn’t exclusively bound to budget choices, this one does happen to be our budget choice for best espresso makers under $500.
The DeLonghi Dedica Deluxe has a simple, classic-style design that is pleasing in its minimalism. It has a fairly small profile, so you don’t have to worry about the machine taking too much counter space. The pump and the temperature management work pretty well and you will have a good cup of espresso, or a double shot if you prefer. It won’t quite match the more expensive machines on our list, but it is excellent value for money.
It heats up pretty fast, and 40 seconds is all it takes. DeLonghi EC685M Dedica Deluxe also includes an adjustable frother, auto and manual flow stop so you can control your coffee length. It works with ground coffee as well as ESE pods and has an adjustable dual drip tray so you can place a larger cup for your latte.
|Small profile does not take much counter space||Can overheat after dual shots and needs time to cool down|
|Great value for money||Has trouble with finely ground coffee|
|Quick heat up means the machine is ready for action in seconds|
5. Breville-Nespresso USA BEC720BLK Nespresso Expert
Second of our budget options, the Breville-made Nespresso Expert is a nice-looking espresso machine with simple controls. It runs off classic Nespresso capsules and works to extract the wonderful flavors and aroma from the coffee to pour it into your drink. It offers four cup sizes, progressively increasing from ristretto at 0.85 oz, espresso, lungo, and finally, americano at 5 oz.
A great feature about the Breville Nespresso Expert is the Nespresso App that lets you control the machine with your smartphone. You can schedule your next brew, set personalized settings, and perform other management functions. The app connects to the machine via Bluetooth and makes magic happen!
Breville Nespresso Expert heats up and starts pouring your drink in under 30 seconds, and its auto-shutdown function switches off the machine after 9 minutes to save electricity.
|Easy to control directly or via app||App control can be iffy|
|15 bar pump brews espresso at the right pressure||Poured drink can sometimes be at lower than optimal temperature|
|Great variety of flavors with Nespresso Capsules||Brewing limited to Nespresso capsules only|
6. Saeco HD8645/47 Vapore Automatic Espresso Machine X-Small
Philips Saeco X-Small Vapore is a super automatic espresso machine that takes on all the work to deliver an excellent shot of espresso. The machine has an integrated grinder with five settings so all you have to do is pour in some beans. All you have to do is press a button, and the machine will handle most of the work.
When necessary, the Saeco X-Small Vapore runs an auto-clean cycle to clean up the machine. A quick heat boiler ensures you don’t have to wait too long for your drink. Plus, its “X-Small” compact design means it won’t gorge on counter space in your kitchen.
|Simple, convenient operation||The grinder is very noisy|
|Easy to clean and simple maintenance||Small water tank will often need your attention|
|Quick heating system prepares your espresso in seconds|
7. DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica Super-Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine
DeLonghi Magnifica has a bit of a reputation of being magnifique. I think it is the best super automatic espresso machine you can get in this range. If you are considering the super-automatic way, you certainly should look at the DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3300.
Its direct-to-brew system works system starts with a steel burr grinder that grinds coffee beans immediately before brewing. If on occasion you prefer to use pre-ground coffee, the machine has a bypass latch you can use to pour in coffee grounds of your choice.
DeLonghi Magnifica generates 15 bars of pressure and ensures your espresso has at least 9 bars available.
This is a super automatic machine, so there is nothing for you to do except ensuring that it has water, coffee beans, and is plugged in to power! Although if you want greater control, the machine will let you choose your preferred drink strength and cup size. It can save customized settings so you will have your preferred style always available.
It has a pretty versatile frother as well. All you have to do is pick a setting, and it will start work on your cappuccino and creamy latte. Other features include a maintenance indicator and easy cleanup.
DeLonghi has recently updated the Magnifica, and the changes may not exactly be pleasing. The greater use of plastic could make the machine less reliable as compared to previous models. In any case, the DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300 continues to be a popular model that enjoys excellent ratings from more than a thousand review on Amazon.
|Compact and good looking design||Can get noisy|
|Integrated grinder, high pressure, and optimal temperature||Use of plastic in newer models may make it less reliable|
|Easy controls, maintenance, and cleaning|
8. Francis Francis for Illy 216557 X1 iperEspresso Machine
This is a machine with delightful retro-futuresque design. While there is no direct relation, I can practically picture James Spader as Raymond Reddington start off one of his famous soliloquies about this espresso maker. Cue stoic but confused look from Dembe.
Francis Francis has been around for a long time, and has built a solid reputation. Although, where this machine is concerned, they too seem to have fallen for the distasteful grab that is locking espresso machines to proprietary pods. The Francis Francis for Illy iperEspresso 216557 works exclusively with iperEspesso capsules. While the capsules themselves aren’t bad, the whole proprietary system seems rather unnecessary.
This machine has an all metal body with a powder coat epoxy finish. No chance of plastic parts affecting the taste of your espresso, unless of course, if that comes from the capsules. It is a semi-automatic machine, and all you need to do to start brewing your espresso, is (literally) flick a switch. Its powerful 19 bar pump ensures you have the right amount of pressure available to brew your espresso.
A dial at the top of the iPerEspresso Machine keeps you informed of the temperature so you can brew your preferred time and temperature. The machine includes a pannarello wand and is easy to clean and maintain.
|Powerful 19 bar pump ensures espresso is brewed at the right temperature||Works only with illy’s iperEspesso capsules so buyers are locked in with purchase|
|Great looks and design||Takes some time heating up|
|Easy to clean and maintain|
9. KitchenAid KES0504ER Nespresso Bundle
Another machine with classic looks, the KitchenAid KES0504ER Nespresso Bundle has more than just appearances working for it. Like other Nespresso machines, this is a single-serve espresso maker that works at the touch of a button. You get to choose six cup sizes, and the adjustable shelf makes it easier to place cups suitable for espresso shots or latte.
This particular model also includes a milk frother, which can be a bit of rarity in Nespresso machines. And of course, you will be locked in with purchasing Nespresso Capsules for this machine to work.
The KitchenAid KES0504ER has a 1.3-liter water tank, and is pretty quick to prepare your espresso. You can expect the drink to start pouring within seconds. It’s easy to clean and maintain. As an added bonus, the all metal die cast construction makes the machine quite sturdy and dependable.
|Excellent looks and great design||Can get noisy|
|Great variety of flavors available through Nespresso capsules||Consumers are locked on to purchasing Nespresso capsules exclusively|
|Has a small footprint and does not hog counter space|
Best Espresso Machine Under $500 — Our Verdict
Having a $500 budget opens up quite a few possibilities in purchasing the espresso machine of your choice. Having a great cup of espresso at your beck and call certainly is a pleasure worth investing in. If you’re partial to super-automatic machines, our recommendation would be DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica. For those who enjoy the convenience of single shot app-controlled smart machines, the Breville Nespresso Expert is a great option. And if semi-automatic is more your style, Breville BES810BSS Duo Temp Pro might just be the espresso machine you’re looking for.