Brewed Coffee Guide

8 Best Espresso Machine Under $500

Dcember 02, 2021 | Kurt Parker

Espresso-Machine

Are you looking for the best espresso machine under $500? If so, you are in the perfect place.

Espresso machines are the darlings of every coffee drinker. Coffee geeks can’t get enough of the illustrious flavors these machines provide.

Of course, you have different options for this device. You can opt for a manual espresso maker. Or, if you want finesse, then you should go for an automatic espresso machine.

But we all know that price serves as the deal-sealer here. That’s why having an option below $500 is indeed appealing. Not too expensive, and not too shabby either.

If you want the best espresso machines but without spending big, check the list below.

Best Espresso Machine Under $500

How To Choose The Best Espresso Machine Under $500?

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Calphalon BVCLECMP1 Temp iQ  – Best Overall

 

 Calphalon Espresso Machine with Tamper, Milk Frothing Pitcher, and Steam Wand

  • Why we love it – It delivers the optimal amount of pressure for flavor extraction. It also excels in producing luscious crema layers for your espresso. Moreover, it has consistent output too.
  • Water tank capacity – 2 liters
  • Pressure – 15-bar
  • Material – Stainless steel
  • Size – 13.9 x 11.6 x 15.3 inches
  • Weight – 14.3 pounds
  • Accessories – Tamper, cleaning pin, and milk pitcher
  • Reviews – 4.5 out of 5

Positive reviews:

  • Many enjoy the compact construction of this machine. People also adore its quick heating time. Of course, its attractive design fits any countertop.

Negative Reviews:

  • Some people noted that its portafilter and steam wand requires priming. Furthermore, they also said that the steam wand might sputter when starting the machine.

The Calphalon Temp iQ is irresistible. It has a simple yet effective mechanism to produce tasty espresso in the comforts of your kitchen. It heats espresso consistently, thanks to its precision heating technology.

Moreover, the device also uses efficient temperature control when extracting espresso. It works hand-in-hand with its low pressure pre infusion technology. As a result, the device can release the full flavor of espresso grounds.

There’s also a 58-mm portafilter in this package. It enables even water dispersion for a more robust espresso. Its steam wand is powerful enough to make frothy and foamy milk! It works well for lattes, cappuccinos, and more!

2. Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine – Second Best Overall

 

Gaggia Brera Super-Automatic Espresso Machine, Small, Black

  • Why we love it – This one is a super-automatic espresso machine. It relieves you from the nitty-gritty of making espresso. It is elegant and fully functional at the same time.
  • Water tank capacity – 1.27 liters
  • Pressure – 15-bar
  • Material – Stainless steel / ABS
  • Size – 12.4 x 10  x 17.5 inches
  • Weight – 22 pounds
  • Accessories – Grease tube and measuring spoon
  • Reviews – 4.2 out of 5

Positive reviews:

  • The Gaggia Brera has an intuitive construction. It has a quiet operation and a user-friendly interface. Moreover, it can use both pre-ground coffee or whole bean due to its bypass doser and ceramic burr grinder.

Negative Reviews:

  • This unit could take space on your kitchen counter. Furthermore, this is only suitable for limited use. It has a small capacity for pucks and water.

The Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine preserves the taste of pre-ground coffee. The ceramic burr grinder maintains the original flavor of the coffee beans and grounds. It doesn’t generate a burnt taste at all.

Aside from that, the Gaggia Brera also features adjustable grinding. Its large knob is easy to use and lets you get your desired results. The only downside here is that you need to change the knob from time to time.

Furthermore, the Gaggia Brera has a front-loading and removal of its pucks. Many people picked this product because of this feature. It lets them have a drink without any waste or mess.

Meanwhile, its Pannarello steam wand ensures delicious espresso drinks. An intake hole sips air into the milk directly to create thick foams. With its rapid steam technology, it can heat espresso drinks in just a matter of seconds.

3. Mr. Coffee One-Touch CoffeeHouse Espresso Maker and Cappuccino Machine – Best for Home Use

 Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Machine

  • Why we love it – This one boasts a 19-bar Italian pump. IIt excels in delivering the correct pressure for flavorsome specialty beverages. Aside from that, it isn’t as expensive as other options here.
  • Water tank capacity – 1.27 liters
  • Pressure – 19-bar pump
  • Material – Stainless steel / plastic
  • Size – 13 x 10.6 x 14.3 inches
  • Weight – 14.2 pounds
  • Accessories – Tamper, scooper, and discs for espresso
  • Reviews – 4.4 out of 5

Positive reviews:

  • This semi-automatic machine works perfectly for espresso lovers. It produces more steam and flavor consistency than its previous model. Moreover, it has minimal drip after each espresso cycle for cleaner results.

Negative Reviews:

  • You need to use your two hands to twist its portafilter. Moreover, it is tricky to clean its milk tank because it’s deep. Few users also said that sliding the milk tank in and out of the machine requires effort.

The One-Touch CoffeeHouse Espresso Maker is a compact machine that produces good espresso. It features 19-bar brewing for more flavor and consistency on its beverages.

At the same time, its one-button control interface ensures simplicity in its operation. Press it, and the machine will make either single or double-shot espressos. It heats water evenly due to its advanced heating system.

Steaming milk with this semi-automatic espresso maker is pleasurable. Its milk frother whips any milk into a fine, rich froth. Meanwhile, its adjustable cup tray handles short and tall mugs.

4. Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro – Most Budget-Friendly

 Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine, Solid, Brushed Stainless Steel

  • Why we love it – The Gaggia Classic can serve as your new espresso creator. It is an entry-level option that delivers coffee shop-quality results. It brews quality and provides a sleek appearance.
  • Water tank capacity – 2.1 liters
  • Pressure – 15-bar
  • Material – Stainless steel
  • Size – 9.5 x 8 x 14.2 inches
  • Weight – 20 pounds
  • Accessories – Basket, tamper, and holder scop
  • Reviews – 4.6 out of 5

Positive reviews:

  • Many find it as a fantastic machine for pulling consistent shots. It is also beginner-friendly due to its special pressure portafilter. You’ll also find its automatic built-in milk frother ergonomic.

Negative Reviews:

  • People noticed that its steam wand has a flimsy plastic case. The same is true with its drip tray.

You can get flavorful espresso with the Gaggia Classic. It lets you brew barista-quality espresso, thanks to its modern amenities.

Examples of these are the commercial-grade portafilter and baskets for single and double shots. Also, it has a 3-way solenoid valve that relieves the pressure from the coffee. Espresso makers in coffee shops have the same feature.

Moreover, its automatic steam wand turns milk into microfoam perfection. The advanced pump mounts of this device reduce noise while it is brewing.

It doesn’t take long for it to create your favorite hot beverages. It comes with a powerful heating element that speeds up its brewing.

Interestingly, the machine’s control panel has three switches. There’s a switch for brewing, steaming, and power. It enables efficient operation with fewer mistakes.

5. DeLonghi ECP3120 – Best For Beginners

 De'Longhi ECP3120 15 Bar Espresso Machine with Advanced Cappuccino System

  • Why we love it – It has a PID temperature control so that your espresso will have consistent results. Furthermore, it has a sleek, space-saver design that fits any countertop.
  • Water tank capacity – 24 ounces
  • Pressure – 15-bar
  • Material – Stainless steel / plastic / aluminum
  • Size – 9.62 x 7.25 x 11.87 inches
  • Weight – 10.53 pounds
  • Accessories – Tamper and 3-in-1 filter holder
  • Reviews – 4.3 out of 5

Positive reviews:

  • Its users said that it creates coffee and espresso with thick crema. Moreover, it is easy to clean and convenient to operate. Of course, its primary selling point is its affordability.

Negative Reviews:

  • Many people say that it has certain limitations. First, its water tank capacity is small. Second, its frothing wand requires a learning curve before you can control it.

This machine caters different preferences. It can make cappuccino, latte, and single or double shot espresso in barista-quality. It is a versatile addition to your kitchen.

The DeLonghi ECP3120 has a convenient cappuccino system. It includes a manual steam wand that produces rich, creamy froth in your milky. At the same time, it has a water tank indicator for quick refills.

Its PID temperature control is indeed helpful. It ensures that your drinks taste the way you want them to be. Meanwhile, you can remove its adjustable drip tray so that you can place taller cups.

This DeLonghi device isn’t perfect, though. As mentioned, its water tank is small. Moreover, it shakes in its brewing process.

6. Nespresso EN80B Original – Most Versatile

 Nespresso Inissia Espresso Machine by De'Longhi, Black

  • Why we love it – Nespresso machines are lovable. This compact unit is no exception, thanks to its simplicity and intuitive operation. It is a home espresso machine that features a patented extraction system.
  • Water tank capacity –  24 ounces
  • Pressure – 19-bar pump
  • Material – Plastic
  • Size – 4.72 x 12.63 x 9.05 inches
  • Weight – 5.3 pounds
  • Accessories – Tamper and 3-in-1 filter holder
  • Reviews – 4.6 out of 5

Positive reviews:

  • One notable aspect of this machine is its lightweight and compact construction. It doesn’t consume space in your kitchen, but it can deliver milk-based drinks graciously. Users also noted that it doesn’t eat up too much power.

Negative Reviews:

  • This affordable machine isn’t as durable as its counterparts. Moreover, people said that it is not capable of making large servings.

You have the assurance that this New espresso machine delivers consistent, tasty results. Its 15-bar pressure ensures that your coffee grounds will emanate in every brew. It also comes with adjustable controls so that you can attain your preferences in your taste.

Similar to other machines here, this one can do both single- or double-shot brews. You can also use it for making soothing latte or cappuccino, thanks to its 3-in-1 filter holder.

Furthermore, it has other ergonomic features, such as its adjustable cup height. It has a removable drip tray and water tank so that cleaning will be a lot easier.

Its  Advanced Cappuccino System technology is also handy. The latter maintains an even temperature so that you can brew one cup of coffee beverage after another. There’s no need for any waiting game.

7. Breville BES810BSS Duo Temp Pro – Best Features

Breville Duo Temp Pro Espresso Machine, Stainless Steel

  • Why we love it – One of the best espresso machines today is the Breville BES810BSS. You can argue about it, but its ability to create specialty coffee is impressive. It has a pre-infusion function that lets it produce well-balanced flavors.
  • Water tank capacity – 1.8 liters
  • Pressure – 15-bar pump
  • Material – Stainless Steel
  • Size – 10 x 11 x 13 inches
  • Weight – 18.9 pounds
  • Accessories – Razor dose trimming tool, single and dual wall filter baskets, milk jugs, water filter holder, and Allen key
  • Reviews – 4.6 out of 5

Positive reviews:

  • Many said that they got their best espresso from this machine. It can create delicious lattes, cappuccinos, and other drinks. Aside from that, people attested that it is a perfect tool for brewing coffee in the comforts of your home.

Negative Reviews:

  • Some users didn’t like the LED indicator for its water/steam. They said that it is too bright for the eyes. But aside from that, this infuser espresso machine doesn’t have notable flaws.

The Breville BES810BSS is one of the best espresso machines under $500 that you can get today. If the basis is price and performance, then this device can satisfy any espresso enthusiast.

The machine is capable of even extraction due to its pre-infusion function. It can balance the acidity, bitterness, and sweetness of coffee grounds for the best-tasting experience.

Moreover, this one features the Thermocoil-Integrated water path. The latter controls water temperature efficiently. It is a unique and brilliant feature even among its counterparts.

Its powerful heating element allows it to create flavorful microfoams. It lets you produce artistic lattes and other coffee recipes in your home. Meanwhile, the device drip tray and cleaning alert tell when they require cleaning.

8. DeLonghi EC685M Dedica Deluxe – Best Semi-Automatic

De'Longhi EC685M Dedica Deluxe Automatic Espresso Machine

  • Why we love it – It is a high-quality semi-automatic espresso machine. It generates well-balanced flavors without being too quirky. It is highly adjustable to cater to individual preferences.
  • Water tank capacity – 1 liter
  • Pressure – 15-bar pump
  • Material – Stainless Steel
  • Size – 13 x 5.9 x 12 inches
  • Weight – 8.8 pounds
  • Accessories – Tamper
  • Reviews – 4.3 out of 5

Positive reviews:

  • Users love the fact that it comes with pressurized baskets. Hence, screwing the shots is quite impossible. Moreover, it doesn’t require steaming techniques since it offers a semi-automatic milk frother.

Negative Reviews:

  • The tamper that comes with it isn’t that good. It seems that it is just a make-shift tamper and not a real one.

This espresso machine under $500 USD is definitely worth checking out. It easily fits even the tightest counters by just being 6-inch wide. Moreover, its exclusive matte finish enables it to become an automatic kitchen attraction.

Its adjustable milk frothing also lets you customize the foam and steam milk levels. For lattes, go with micro foams. Go with dryer foam if you are thirsty for some cappuccino.

The pressure system in the DeLonghi EC685M Dedica Deluxe assures brewing quality. It is full of adjustments to accommodate different coffee drinks. Unlike other machines, this one offers a friendly interface and controls.

It also blooms the coffee’s taste and texture since it is an infuser espresso machine. The quality of its pre-infusion function rivals those from expensive brands. Moreover, it can also dispense the ideal amount of espresso.

How To Choose The Best Espresso Machine Under $500 USD?

choosing espresso machine

Espresso is a favorite coffee of many people. Sipping a cup of this beverage lets you feel the Italian spirit.

But before you can make espresso and milk beverages, you need a special utility. Of course, it would also help if you have experience in making one.

These machines exist to ensure that you can make quality espresso. However, choosing one is not that easy. It is a coffee machine that has several intricacies that you need to understand.

You should know its parts as well. Its pressure gauge, drip tray, and built-in milk frother are among its essential components. Great features such as the pre-infusion function are necessary, too.

Don’t worry, though. We will guide you through these things. In this way, you’ll get your options for the best espresso makers.

Understanding The Grinder

The grinder is an essential aspect of every manual espresso machine. For the best manual coffee grinders, click here.

You see, automatic and semi-automatic espresso machines have portafilters. They don’t always come with a grinder on them.

Grinders are the ones that determine the quality of the extraction process. Your ground coffee goes through here, after all. In fact, many claim that it is more crucial than the entire machine itself.

The following are the considerations when choosing a grinder.

  • Burr quality – Go for bigger ones. They should also be made from steel.
  • Adjustability –  You should be able to adjust the grinder. The best option is a screw-based mechanism. It guarantees comfort and precision in grinding.
  • Dosing – Ground coffee beans go directly into the filter. Hence, the dosing system should be reliable.

A good machine paired with a bad grinder will not yield the best espresso. Your ground coffee deserves to be on a high-quality grinder. There’s no negotiating about this matter.

There is also a noseless coffee grinder listed here.

Choosing The Best Espresso Machines Under $500

Espresso Machine Quality

Next to the grinder is the machine itself.

We’ve mentioned earlier that several components are essential for espresso machines. The quality of these parts can determine the performance of the coffee maker and the flavor of your drinks.

Boiler

A standard coffee machine has a boiler. It serves as its core. Its responsibilities are to produce steam and boiling water.

Boilers with a higher capacity are better than their counterparts. This is due to their stability even in high temperatures.

A boiler may also serve as a hot water dispenser. It must have a good quality so that it produces better brewing results.

Single boiler

Espresso machines with single boilers are for the entry-level. There’s a single heating element that works with the espresso and milk frother. Its primary disadvantage is that it cannot froth and brew simultaneously.

Because of this, using this machine can be time-consuming. Single boilers also have minimal capacity. This means that the efficiency of brewing is low. But if you are into black coffee, this machine should already be enough.

Heat exchanger

Many espresso machines under $500 are using this mechanism.

First off, there are two boilers in this system. A big one is producing steam for milk frothing. Inside it is a smaller boiler that heats up due to the hot water surrounding it.

This design allows simultaneous coffee brewing and milk frothing. Steam is always present, so the boiler doesn’t have to heat up all the time.

Heat exchangers are also large. This enables them to have better efficiency and stability in high temperatures. But this doesn’t mean that this design has no disadvantages.

For instance, heat exchangers are dependent on the steam boiler. If you increase the steam pressure, it will also adjust the temperature for the extract process. In some cases, it may reduce the necessary temperature to froth milk.

Double boiler 

As its name suggests, a double boiler comes with two separate heaters. The first one is responsible for the milk frother. The other one is working to produce hot water.

Having two boilers means that you can adjust the settings of the steam and water independently. It can cater to your preferences in your espressos, lattes, and cappuccinos. Such a design is often present in a super-automatic machine.

Temperature Controller

Coffee extraction requires the correct water temperature. Espresso machines should be able to maintain a water temperature between 196 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. This range is the recommended temperature for the best extraction results. [1]

Low temperatures will not yield successful coffee extraction. Make it too hot, and it will affect the taste of the coffee beans. A good coffee maker should be able to balance these factors.

Pressure Switches

A pressure switch is a type of analog temperature controller. Most of the time, there are no markings on its increments. Hence, you need to make careful and rough adjustments.

You have to practice so that you can set it in the ideal temperature range. Espresso machines like this also need timing for the extraction.

But if you simply want to have an espresso in your home, analog systems should be enough. Rotary pumps and pressure switches are there so that you can do this feat.

PID Temperature Controller

Some of the best espresso machines under $500 have PID temperature control. It uses sophisticated algorithms to manage the heaters. In turn, it ensures efficient control of the temperature.

With a PID temperature control, setting your preferred temperature is not difficult. It provides incremental adjustments of 0.1 degrees Celsius (32.2 degrees Fahrenheit). It is so accurate that many coffee shops will only use machines that have this feature.

At the same time, this digital control helps in saving electricity. It guarantees that the heaters don’t overwork as compared to other machines.

Bars Of Pressure

Pressure of ESPRESSO MACHINE

One of the factors that separate espresso from other coffees is pressure. Any other coffee machine can create brews in no time. Meanwhile, espresso machines use high pressure to produce the iconic crema and rich foam.

But what do bars of pressure mean?

We are sure that you are familiar with the concept of pressure per square inch (PSI). Bars are the same thing. But their use is exclusive for espresso makers.

Interestingly, you can also encounter this term in scuba tanks.

One bar is about the same as the sea level’s atmospheric pressure. Hence, a 15-bar espresso maker can generate pressure fifteen times greater than our atmosphere.

Traditional machines are using steam pressure. Today, rotary or vibratory pumps replaced them. Such technology is present in all super-automatic machines and semi-automatic ones.

How Many Bars For Espresso, Anyway?

When brewing espresso, several factors can affect its flavor. Temperature, time, and ratio are among these things. Even the tamping pressure and grind size may also play a part.

High pressure means fast coffee extraction. Machines with high bars of pressure should be able to give you quick espressos. However, we recommend that the extraction time should be just 20 to 30 seconds.

Many coffee gourmets will tell you that a 10-second espresso shot does not taste good. Balancing all the elements should be the key to the most flavorful espresso.

The ideal machine should have a 9-bar and 15-bar pump. Both the specifications should be able to deliver your desired results.

It’s not surprising that many machines today have high pressures on their labels. But the truth is, they are susceptible to pressure loss. Even a 15-bar espresso maker would still brew with 9 bars.

Other advanced machines have unique controls so that their pressure won’t exceed 9 bars.

Other Considerations

ESPRESSO MACHINE Components

The overall functionality of espresso makers may also rely on the following components:

Dose configuration

With this function, the machine doses a pre-configured water amount. It is also responsible for extracting the coffee at a set timing. Such a feature provides convenience and consistency in your shots.

Pump

This is the one that delivers the water pressure to the machine. You should be able to adjust the pressure that it produces. A pressure gauge may also help you monitor its efficiency.

The pumps are either in the form of a rotary or vibration pump. Between them, vibration pumps produce more noise. Rotary pumps are quieter, but they tend to be costly.

Steam wand

High-quality machines have a sophisticated frothing system. Therefore, the steam wand plays a vital role in producing rich crema.

Ideally, the steam wand should be easy to clean. At the same time, you should be able to change it to achieve different foams.

Interestingly, machines that have double boilers or heat exchangers can froth milk quickly and conveniently. Meanwhile, steam wands on single boilers are a little bit rough.

Brew group

Professional brewers set the standard size of brew groups to 58mm. With a coffee machine like this, interchanging accessories is easy. You can switch different tampers and sieves.

Insulation

Boilers should have insulation to decrease their power demand. At the same time, insulators also enhance their stability in varying temperatures.

Drip tray

Brewing espresso doesn’t leave your kitchen counter spotless. Dreg boxes and drip trays can help you avoid this mess.

Drip trays serve as the basin of the spills while you are brewing. They help you maintain cleanliness in your kitchen. Fortunately, many espresso makers include this accessory in their package.

Frequently Asked Questions

ESPRESSO MACHINE FAQ

Q: How long do espresso machines last?

A: A decent machine can last from 5 to 20 years. Its lifespan depends on the brand, build, and quality. If you maintain the machine properly, it can serve you even longer.

Q: Do espresso makers have built-in filters?

A: Yes, they do have built-in filters. It is a necessary aspect for both manual and automatic models. The filters ensure that you can extract and brew coffee flawlessly.

Q: Are espresso makers expensive?

A: The answer depends on the quality, features, and brand. You can get an affordable espresso machine. But of course, it doesn’t deliver the same performance as their costlier counterparts.

Q: How often should you clean an espresso maker?

A: You should clean the device after each time you use it. You should do a more thorough cleaning every after 250 shots or so. In this way, you can preserve the quality of the machine.

Q: Can you use regular coffee in an espresso maker?

A: Technically, yes. It is possible to pour your regular coffee into this machine. However, the brewed result might be tart and funky. We recommend that you use dark roasts instead.

Q: How to increase the espresso pressure?

A: You can set the grinder’s setting to fine. Moreover, you can increase the amount of coffee. Alternatively, applying more tamping pressure should do the trick.

Final Words

The best espresso machine lets you make cafe-quality drinks in your home. There are many options to choose from. Your budget and preference are the only limits here. If you want the best espresso machine under 200 we also have a list of that.

You have the option to choose a super-automatic machine. If you are tight on budget, a manual model should suit your needs.

In our list here, the Calphalon BVCLECMP1 Temp iQ is the best espresso machine under $500. It has an excellent build and great features. It brews in precise settings without too much waste.

We also encourage you to check other machines here. They have superb qualities that you can get even without spending too much.

If you have the time, you should practice brewing techniques, as well. This would help you create a quality espresso. It will also let you maximize the full potential of the machine.

We hope that you find this guide useful. See you next time. Enjoy brewing!

References:

[1] How to Brew Coffee

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