This is our review of the best espresso machine under 500 dollars.
Looking at espresso machines, having a $500 budget is a sweet spot for entry-level and good-quality gear for home use. We aren’t talking about the best cheap espresso machine, but the best budget espresso machine.
What is the difference?
You can easily find espresso machines for less than 100 dollars, but almost none of them are worth the money. And the worst bit about a cheap espresso machine is that they tend to last for very little time before they stop working.
You won’t find here the best prosumer machines. Yet, we chose pretty good options to accommodate home baristas and espresso enthusiasts on a budget.
We picked automatic, semiautomatic, and manual espresso machines to give you a good balance. Since we prefer semiautomatics, you’ll find more of them. Additionally, the best quality products in this price range are semiautomatic. Fully automatic espresso machines are more expensive, and lever espresso machines are also pricey.
Without further ado, find below our review of the best espresso machines under $500.
Best espresso machines under $500 in 2023
- Breville Infuser Espresso Machine – ⭐ Our Top Pick
- Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine – Best Classic Machine
- Breville Bambino Plus – Best compact espresso machine
- Calphalon Temp iQ Espresso Machine – Espresso machine with the Best Warranty
- Tchibo Fully Automatic Coffee & Espresso Machine – Best single-serve automatic espresso machine
- Flair Espresso Maker PRO 2 – Best Manual Espresso Machine
Types of Espresso Machines
Overall, an espresso machine is very different from a regular coffee maker. There are three types of espresso machines: automatic, semiautomatic, and manual.
Automatic espresso machines are best suited for beginners because they’re easy to use. These machines have built-in grinders; the best among them are programmable, with a menu of coffee drinks with milk. I didn’t find a super-automatic espresso machine that I could recommend for this review. Most high-quality automatic espresso machines are above the 500-dollar mark, including one of my favorites, the DeLonghi Magnifica.
The main advantage of automatic espresso machines is that they’re convenient and can make delicious coffee with the push of a button. Their usual downside is that they tend to be pricey and hard to clean, and many have durability issues. Moreover, you can easily find better coffee grinders that will improve your coffee taste immediately without a significant price difference. Yet, I found an excellent automatic espresso machine without a milk frother for under 500 dollars.
Semiautomatic espresso machines are my personal favorites because they give you an outstanding balance between convenience and the home barista experience. They don’t have a built-in grinder, but they have technical features to make espresso extraction and milk-frothing more reliable.
Finally, manual espresso machines are an excellent option for a more hands-on experience. Depending on the type of machine, you can have more or less variability in espresso extraction. For this review, I included a manual espresso maker, the Flair PRO 2, because other machines like La Pavoni and Elektra are in another league.
Still, Flair products are of good quality, and I can recommend the Flair PRO 2 in this price range without hesitation.
In short, we recommend semiautomatic espresso machines as they provide an opportunity to learn some coffee-making skills. However, consider your preferences before pulling the trigger.
Where to find an espresso machine: The best online stores to buy an espresso machine
In this price range, you can find many good online retailers. Sometimes, big online shops offer you the best price, while more specialized stores have more interesting ones.
Under $500, some brands give you great options too. Some colors and features are easier to get directly from brands.
Find below the best online stores to buy an espresso machine:
- Amazon: it’s good to check prices here before pulling the trigger. Also, Amazon offers products and brands that are hard to get elsewhere.
- Seattle Coffee Gear: for decades, SCG has been a reliable seller, and they have excellent customer service and support.
- 1st in coffee: they have a good product offering. It has outstanding deals for refurbished top-quality automatic espresso machines. Moreover, they have excellent customer service and a “lowest price policy” worth considering.
- Breville: Breville is one of the strongest players in this price range. If you check the Breville store, you’ll notice that they have more colors available for their machines and some cool features like extended warranty and coffee subscriptions.
- DeLonghi: the Italian giant offers good quality espresso machines that are reasonably priced. Indeed, the most affordable machine on our list belongs to DeLonghi. The brand has a decent offering of automatic and semiautomatic espresso machines.
- Williams-Sonoma: although it has a more limited selection of espresso machines, this shop offers some good deals worth checking out.
- Wayfair: it isn’t the first online shop you think about before getting an espresso machine. Yet, it has some cool coffee gear, and they eventually offer attractive prices and discounts.
Espresso machines under $500: Key Features
Technical specifications can be overwhelming. For this reason, we drilled down the key features to decide which is the best espresso machine for under $500.
This is the most important feature of any espresso machine. Espresso machine manufacturers have achieved meaningful technical progress in the past few years to obtain optimal flavor and body.
The best espresso machines tend to include digital temperature control and pre-infusion technology. These features help get a more even and reliable extraction, shot after shot. In other words, the best espresso machines pull the best shots you can get.
A good steam wand is a key to silky cappuccinos, frothy lattes, cortados, and macchiatos. In this regard, the milk frothing capability of the espresso machine is crucial for anyone expecting to serve -and enjoy- milk drinks.
The only machine without a milk frother on our list is the Tchibo automatic espresso machine. The main reason for this is the price range. Good automatic espresso machines with milk frothers are above the price range by a couple of hundred dollars.
Nonetheless, the machines with steam wands can produce barista-grade microfoam in our selection. This means that you can learn to make latte art with these machines. In other words, they require you to texture the milk manually. The only exception here is the Breville Bambino Plus, which includes a hands-free milk frothing option.
Overall the most crucial thing to remember about steam wands is how much you care about latte art and milk drinks.
Design and build quality
Nobody wants an ugly appliance sitting on their countertop. That’s why we picked only good-looking gear with solid construction. Our favorites have a stainless steel finish, and they can come in brushed stainless steel or in different colors.
Additionally, elegance is essential to us, so we did our best to pick espresso machines with an aesthetic appeal. Only the DeLonghi Estilosa, the most affordable of our selection, has a plastic casing, which makes sense for its price.
Water tank capacity
We only include a product without a tank, the Flair PRO 2. Besides that, we didn’t pick any machine with a tank smaller than 33.8 fl. oz (1 l). The water reservoir is relevant for espresso, but it isn’t essential for home use. Most espresso drinks consume a low amount of water (30-60 ml). In other words, the smallest machine on our list can get you between 15-20 drinks with a full tank.
It’s so frustrating to get a piece of gear that doesn’t fit the counter space or the espresso bar. For this reason, we included the dimensions of each machine, as described by the manufacturer.
Remember to check how much room you have available for your espresso machine, and you’ll prevent any headaches from this.
Warranty and Customer service
Some manufacturers have great products and poor customer service. Overall, we avoid recommending products from this kind of company. All the machines in our list come from reputable brands, and we checked customers’ comments, testimonials, and reviews.
If you’re outside the US, we recommend checking technical service centers in your area. Espresso machines are long-lasting products, but they tend to need repairs after a few years.
Most brands offer a product-limited warranty for their espresso machines. We consider it a crucial feature, and for this reason, we included it in our analysis.
Usability and functionality
Pushing a few buttons or pulling the lever provide entirely different user experiences. That’s why we recommend looking at the user interface of each machine in our list and checking which one makes more sense to you.
Overall, we included sensible options with a straightforward user interface.
Maintenance and Cleaning For Espresso Machines
The best espresso machines are easy to clean and maintain. Additionally, they endure years of daily use.
Our selection of the best espresso machines under 500 dollars includes only relatively easy machines to take care of. Additionally, they have good comments from verified owners in major online retailers about their durability.
Our selection: The Best Espresso Machines Under $500
Below you’ll find a concise balance of the pros and cons of the best espresso machines under 500 dollars.
Breville Infuser Espresso Machine – Our Top Pick: Best semi-automatic espresso machine
- Great espresso extraction. The Breville Infuser delivers optimal flavor in every cup. It has advanced features to improve coffee extraction reliability and consistency, like PID temperature control, optimal pressure management, and a 54 mm top-quality portafilter. In other words, the Breville Infuser Espresso Machine is designed with precise espresso extraction in mind.
- Sound milk frothing system. The steam wand replicates the barista experience at a café so that you can practice your latte art skills.
- Excellent feedback and user interface. The panel is straightforward and provides information about pressure extraction.
- Appealing design. The Breville Infuser has a solid and sleek design in stainless steel. Moreover, it comes in three different colors, giving you more space to experiment with your home color palette.
- Pricey. This machine tends to cost a bit more than 500 dollars most of the time. Despite that, I included it in the list because it’s worth considering.
- Space inefficient. The wide profile gives it a large footprint, so the machine requires a relatively larger space.
- 1-year limited product warranty. Surprisingly, competitors and even more affordable Breville’s espresso machines have a more extended warranty. If you buy directly from Breville, extending the warranty is quite reasonable. Still, it’s annoying not having a better one as a default.
Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine – Best Classic Espresso Machine under 500
- Time-tested classic. The Gaggia Classic Pro has changed little since 1991, and it’s a tried and tested workhorse that has been in production since 1991.
- Top-notch construction and durability. The machine has excellent build quality, and you can expect it to last for years.
- Good espresso extraction. It requires some skills to dial an espresso with this machine, but it can deliver great espresso.
- Professional steam wand to froth milk. Unlike previous versions, the Gaggia Classic Pro has a professional steam wand, which is great for sharpening your latte art skills.
- A bit outdated in terms of technology. It comes without PID temperature control, and pressure management is pretty basic. As a result, it’s slower to heat up than most machines on our list, and it’s harder to dial an espresso with it.
Breville Bambino Plus – Best compact espresso machine under 500
- It’s ready to make espresso in seconds. Unlike most espresso machines, the Breville Bambino Plus comes heats in seconds. As a result, you can start your espresso routine without waiting, and it’s smooth to switch from espresso-making to milk frothing.
- User friendly. The panel has a few buttons, and they are intuitive to use. It’s straightforward and requires little effort from you.
- Good customization options to froth milk.
- Compact and well-built.
- Good capacity.
- Comes in a wide range of colors.
- Basic accessories and portafilter. It isn’t surprising to find medium-quality accessories in this price range. Yet, it’s worth noting that if you want to upgrade your game, you’ll quickly replace the default portafilter and tamper.
- Limited features to adjust extraction variables. High-end espresso machines have panels to read pressure and temperature levels. The Breville Bambino Plus has none of this but two buttons to adjust milk frothing variables. It only offers adjustable settings to make single and double espresso regarding extraction.
You can read our comparison between the Breville Bambino and the Bambino Plus for more details.
Calphalon Temp iQ Espresso Machine – Espresso machine with the Best Warranty under 500
- Good espresso. The Calphalon espresso machine produces a good espresso shot. It has a 15-bar pump to deliver enough pressure for maximum flavor extraction, great body, and crema. Moreover, it comes with a 58 mm portafilter, for a more prosumer experience than its competitors. Finally, the Calphalon espresso machine has a PID controller and pre-infusion technology. Both help to produce decent espresso shots, one after another.
- Solid design and construction. The Calphalon espresso machine has some plastic parts, but it has a good-looking stainless steel case. Moreover, according to many customers, it looks robust, and it’s a durable product.
- 3-year limited warranty. Indeed, Calphalon is better known for its cookware and kitchen appliances. But, offering a 3-year warranty for its espresso machine, it’s a meaningful step-up. I like this feature because it tells me that the company trusts the product.
- Superior water tank capacity. The Calphalon Temp iQ has a 67.63 fl. oz water reservoir. I like this feature because it needs fewer refills than most espresso machines. Bear in mind that each espresso is around 1 oz per single shot and 2 oz for double espresso shots. So, this capacity is more than enough to make espresso for a few days.
- Basic user interface. Many people start their journey looking for the most basic features and only focus on espresso and frothing capabilities. Yet, as home baristas advance, most prefer to get some feedback from their machines. The Calphalon Temp iQ doesn’t have any display pressure or temperature levels.
- Big size. Unlike other machines in our selection, the Calphalon Temp iQ doesn’t fit most countertops. It’s the logical downside to its huge capacity. We recommend you measure your home espresso bar well before getting this machine.
Tchibo Fully Automatic Coffee & Espresso Machine – Best automatic espresso machine under 500
- Good espresso. It delivers a full-bodied shot with crema and great flavor.
- Nice bean-to-cup experience. It’s pretty straightforward and convenient to operate this machine. It’s an excellent option for people who prefer a simple workflow to learn barista skills.
- Compact and well-built. The machine has a capsule-style appeal with a sleek design. Additionally, it saves a lot of space compared to other automatic espresso machines.
- Great price. The machine comes with a built-in grinder. It delivers good espresso, so it’s definitely punching above its weight for this price. It’s hard to find an automatic espresso machine in this price range.
- Limited drinks without milk frother. The Tchibo is for espresso lovers who don’t expect to make lattes, cappuccinos, cortados, or flat whites. It only makes black coffee, providing some variations of espresso and Americano.
- A couple of design flaws. It’s hard to clean. Many customers claim that it’s difficult to provide regular cleaning and maintenance. Additionally, it’s cumbersome to refill. Particularly if you place it below a counter, the lid of the water reservoir is hard to handle.
Check our review of the best affordable super-automatic espresso machines for more alternatives.
Flair Espresso Maker PRO 2 – Best Manual Espresso Machine under 500
- Great espresso extraction. It’s fantastic the accuracy and reliability of the mechanics behind pulling a shot with the Flair PRO 2. It’s common to find customers praising the taste and body of the Flair PRO 2, and many would claim that it’s superior to more expensive espresso machines.
- Unique portability and solid construction. In this regard, Flair espresso makers are portable, unlike any espresso machine. Moreover, it includes an excellent case to hit the road or travel with the Flair PRO 2.
- The Flair PRO 2 is more solid and durable, with higher-quality materials than other Flair devices. Some similar espresso-making devices don’t offer the same elegant espresso-making experience as the Flair products.
- Excellent design and space efficiency. The Flair PRO 2 looks great and fits most countertops. It’s definitely slimmer than conventional espresso machines because it doesn’t have a water reservoir or a steam wand.
- No milk-drinks. The major downside to this machine is that it doesn’t include a steaming wand, so milk-based drinks will require an additional purchase of a frother.
- Challenging user interface. The machine has a steep learning curve, but it is well worth the effort.
DeLonghi Stilosa – Best affordable espresso machine under 500
- Incredibly affordable. It’s hard to find an espresso machine of this quality in this price range.
- Good espresso. Most customers praise this machine’s espresso extraction. Hundreds of comments point in the same direction. You can get excellent espresso with this machine.
- Decent milk frother. We found that most customers are happy with the DeLonghi Stilosa steam wand. It offers pretty good results, and it’s easy to use.
- Compact and well-built. The machine fits nicely on most countertops because it’s small. Additionally, it’s well built. It has a stainless steel boiler, and most plastic parts look solid. Sure, we don’t like it to have so much plastic, but it’s almost impossible to find a good machine for this price in stainless steel.
- Two-level cup holder. I like this feature because it accommodates different drink sizes without any hassle.
- 1-year product limited warranty.
- Limited capacity. The water tank has only 33.8 fl. oz (1 l) capacity. Compared to similar machines, that can be too little.
- Plastic construction. We found several options with fewer plastic parts if you have a more generous budget.
- Included tamper. DeLonghi and other manufacturers have this scoop+tamper accessory which is below the standard. It’s better to get a separate tamper because it’s hard to apply pressure properly with this thing.
Best Espresso Machine Under $500 — Our Verdict
Most of the time, our favorite, the Breville Infuser, is slightly above the 500 dollars mark. Still, it’s worth considering it among your options if you want to have a good balance between looks, advanced features, espresso extraction, and milk frothing capabilities.
We recommend the Breville Infuser to home baristas who want to up their coffee game without breaking the bank. Moreover, Breville has demonstrated a solid customer service experience for a while.
For those who prefer a more affordable machine and want a more challenging experience, the Gaggia Classic Pro is the best option. It’s a bit outdated regarding technical features, but it’s a great, durable machine.
You may have noticed that I didn’t include any automatic machine with a built-in grinder and a milk frother. So far, the best affordable automatic espresso machine I found is the Delonghi Magnifica, which is entirely out of the range. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find an espresso machine in this price range that I could recommend.
If you’re looking for more premium espresso machines, but still want to be careful with your budget, check our review of the best espresso machines for under 1000 dollars.
Are More Bars Better?
No. Some manufacturers increase pressure to ensure that extraction will get the required 9-bar pressure for optimal extraction. That said, it’s more common to find higher pressure in espresso machines for home use than in prosumer gear.
In other words, more bars aren’t necessarily better. It’s better to look for additional features like PID temperature control, extraction technology, type of portafilter, and capacity, which can make a difference in your espresso taste and body.
Are Espresso Machines Loud When Operating?
The noisiest task with an espresso machine is milk frothing. Besides that, grinding coffee can be louder, depending on your gear.