Best Espresso Machine Under $500: Reviews & Buying Guide
Whether you are a professional barista or a newbie in the caffeine consumption market, it is undeniable that the image of authentic, stylish coffee is often inseparable from an espresso machine: quality coffee beans, freshly ground, tightly packed and brewed under a pressurized beam of hot water.
Distinguished from ordinary coffee makers, espresso machines bring out the aroma, the body and the classic “crema” that will strike you in one sip. Machines like these can range from $139 to $3000, so if you are an espresso lover without a fortune to waste on the high-ends, here are our top three choices of “Best Espresso Machine under 500” that might help you out.
Top Rated Espresso Machines For Under $500
2 Single Wall (Commercial)
Gaggia Classic Semi-Automatic
2 Single Wall (Commercial)
DeLonghi America EN750MB
2 Single Wall (Commercial)
Here are some questions you might wonder before buying an Espresso Machine:
How Many Types of Espresso Machines are Available?
There are two main types of Espresso Machines on the market: Super-automatic and Semi-automatic.
Super-Automatic are, straight up, for the lazy but still fancy. Known more commonly as the “Nespresso”, fully-automatic espresso makers come in highly fashionable designs, some even have a touch-pad.
You only need to do as little as plugging in your machine. Most of them come with ground coffee “capsules”, the magical flan-like package that will serve you restaurant quality coffee with the push of a button. Basically, these machines do everything for you.
The downside of this type is that they remove the authenticity of the espresso making process. Some idealists refuse to call the product of these machines real coffee.
Although the reality is not that extreme, it is agreeable that these pre-made capsules create a flatter, more commercial flavor of coffee and its specialties. But with the price of under $500, one can hardly find a better deal.
Semi-Automatic are the type commonly used in modern coffee shops and restaurants. Instead of doing it all for you, these machines only assist your experience of making espresso and other drinks.
Some come with a built-in grinder but if not, you should have a good coffee grinder by its side to preserve the freshness of coffee beans, which is crucial if you want the perfect aroma to appear in your cup. You will need to have some skills to be able to work with these machines but the products are worth the while.
How to Choose The Best Espresso Machine?
There are five major factors that need to be considered when buying an Espresso Machine, presumably Semi-Automatic.
1. Temperature Stability
For the best quality coffee, you will need an internal boiler that can maintain a temperature between 93 – 96 degrees Celsius. The boiler also needs to be leak-proof, which means you should look for a consistent, one-part item, made out of durable material like stainless steel.
2. Pressure Level
Some manufacturers promise that their water pressure pump could reach 15-bar and more, which is simply unnecessary. A level of 9-bar is an acceptable standard to look for.
3. Water distribution
It is very important that the water reservoir is easily accessible and can hold enough water for your number of coffee cups in a day (60 – 70 oz.). Some machines come with a water filter, which is a great bonus.
4. Ease of Maintenance
Owning such a machine ensures that you need to invest time in cleaning and maintaining it. To make this process easier and time-saving, a machine designed for convenience should be the best.
Look for those that come with cleaning kits, removable drip tray, water reservoir and froth wand. They should be safe for dishwashers and made out of either good quality plastic or stainless metal.
We love things that look clean and symmetrical, even for machines. When looking for a specific type of espresso model, you should consider your kitchen/bar settings first. Is it sleek and bright? Does it feel modern and clean? Then go for a machine with a shiny metal exterior, brushed silver, metallic appearance.
If your intended environment tends to be a little warmer, more subtle and rustic, a darker machine will fit in well. If you favor colors or want your machine to be the highlight of your internal design, there are machines that come in shades of red and more.
What are the Key Components of an Espresso Machine?
For Super-automatic machines, the key components are not to be worried about. They come in handy enough to ensure your best comfort.
However, for those who prefer Semi-automatic machines, here are the items you want to pay attention to:
- Boiler: the thermo-coil controls the temperature of the water, which control the quality of the brew directly.
- Portafilter and filters: these are your toys to play with levels of pressurization in your coffee ground.
- Froth wand.
- Tamper and utensil kit.
- Maintenance kit.
- Drip tray.
- Water reservoir.
- Control board and plug.
Where to Buy Espresso Machines at the Best Price?
Although nothing can compare to a trip to the stores or wholesale supermarkets, you will need to pay for the display services, which makes online purchases your best buy.
It is the twenty-first century, where everything you want is at a finger’s reach. There are providers who guarantee fast delivery, return policies and good customer care that put your satisfaction at heart.
What are the tips in using Espresso Machines?
Tips for using Super-automatic Machines:
- Make sure you purchase from a reliable manufacturer, with guarantees and good customer care service.
- Follow the instructions/manual, especially on how to clean your machine properly.
- Store your capsules close-by and make sure you do not run out of them.
Tips for using Semi-automatic Machines:
- Clean your machine daily, so as to prevent residue that might cause burnt flavors in your coffee.
- Always let the machine warm up before use, which usually takes around 10 minutes.
- Replace water daily and check your water filter regularly.
- Be careful while using, since both the brewing process and the milk frothing process involve high temperature, highly pressurized liquid.
- Know your machine well before using by reading the instructions/manual.
- You can find more tips on making great espresso here
*Watch how to use an espresso machine in this video here.
Top 3 Best Espresso Machine Under $500 Reviews
This is by far the best espresso machine under $500. The Infuser has a lot of features for this price point.
With the price of under $500, this machine’s capacity would be perfect for a small coffee shop or an office. It can go from 8 – 10 cups per use without changing the flavor of the coffee.
It has an easy-to-use control board with a visible pressure meter. The buttons are programmable so you will be able to control your desired temperature, which is rarely seen in machines this inexpensive.
Usually, the pressure rises slowly at first to ensure that all the gaps inside the coffee layer are filled and the coffee is well-moistened before high-pressure extraction.
In the package, you will find four different types of portafilter baskets, ranging from non-pressurized to pressurized. If you are a starter or moving on to higher levels, this machine will help you experiment.
The BES840XL is the upgraded version of the BES830XL and fixed its only problem of unstable temperature by recruiting a new stainless steel, whole-part cylinder heating core. This upgrade will take away your worry about irregular batches of coffee or the leakage that risks ruining your machine.
Although what I love most about this machine is its magnet tamper that sticks onto the machine when you do not need it. We are all tired of finding our tampers sometimes in the messy countertop and the Breville BES840XL gets that off our shoulders for good.
Inside the drip tray, there is an automatic pop-up sign that says “Empty me” when it’s full. Such a lovely feature!
The water reservoir sits at the back of the machine and can hold up to 63 ounces. It is easy to remove and easy to refill. Anytime the water inside the boiler runs out, our machine will automatically pull water out from the reservoir to stop overheating.
In the steaming process, unlike many other machines where steam is pre-made and stored inside, BES840XL creates steam at your order. As a result, the process takes longer but the steam will flow more steadily, enables a better control while frothing.
In general, this Breville sweetheart is suitable for both beginners and professionals who don’t have much money to spare. It does not consume much space, which is perfect for small kitchens or crowded bar countertops.
To sum up, here are the noteworthy features of the Breville BES840XL:
BREVILLE BES840XL HOT FEATURES LIST
- Four filter baskets in the package
- Visible, programmable control board
- Stainless steel thermo-coil boiler
- Built-in PID to monitor temperature
- Pre-infusion function
- Built-in tamper
- 15-bar Italian pump
- Slower steam strength for better control
- Stainless steel exterior
- Compact size (12.5 x 10.25 x 13.25 inches)
For family or personal use, Gaggia Classic follows most of the recommendations in the Semi-Automatic section. Easy to use, easy to clean. Its capacity runs well for your weekly morning coffee and its price certainly surpasses your one- year-long investment in Starbucks.
The control board cannot be more simplified: one power button, one to brew and one to steam. The excess water is always removed after every batch through a Chrome tube that goes straight to the drip tray. The reservoir holds about 30 ounces of water, enough for personal or family use.
The stainless steel cylinder core heats up fast, in around a minute, which is ideal if you need a few quick shots in the morning. But the disadvantage is that it will not be so exceptional in frothing.
The frothing wand is pre-installed, not flexible, which may dismay some professional users. However, the wand is fixed in a standard position so it is generally easy to use. Though the steam for frothing is not outstanding, it does not stop you from having a delicious cup of latte. The wand can be removed easily for cleaning The portafilter for this model is standard, light and easy to hold.
It comes with three filter baskets, both pressurized and non-pressurized. There is also a two-way pin in case you don’t need your coffee to exit from the classic two sides.
In short, this is an economical choice that promises you a fresh espresso shot with good body. The only disadvantage is that the water reservoir takes two step to remove because it lies behind the drip tray, but in return, it can be refilled from the top so you don’t need to pay attention too much to this part.
The appearance is pretty decent: solid stainless steel mixed with plastic covers. It does not look expensive, but rather effective and family-friendly. A “classic” choice for its price.
To sum up, here are the noteworthy features of the Gaggia 14101:
GAGGIA 14101 CLASSIC HOT FEATURES LIST
- Simple, easy to use
- 17 ½ - bar pump
- Easy to clean steam wand
- Fast-heating core
- Classic, Durable, Stainless steel cover
- Compact size (13 x 25 x 12 inches)
With its glamorous design and sensor touch display, the price is absolutely a bargain. This super-automatic model of Nespresso makes drinking coffee a new luxury. The premium brushed stainless steel cover makes it look minimal but sophisticated. Every angle, every straight line is well-placed and creates a distinguished symmetrical pleasure for the eyes.
The touch-pad control system is easy to use or program, with six presets from ristretto, espresso, cappuccino, latte to hot water for tea. With no effort, you own a cup of premium coffee with the bonus of grace and style that cannot be obtained elsewhere.
The coffee capsules are guaranteed to be top 2%, high-quality coffee. The recyclable aluminum packages come in different colors, fit perfectly into the top section of the machine. De’Longhi EN750MB then uses pressure to extract coffee out of these capsules in its cappuccino making process.
The most beautiful and visual process created by this machine is its milk-frothing process. Milk is stored in a container that serves both as a regular bottle in your fridge and also an automatic frothing system when installed into the machine. You can control the desired density that you want your creamy froth by turning the button on top of this bottle. And they say luxury is always expensive.
The only inconvenience is the purchase of capsules, which will happen more regularly than buying new packs of coffee for coffee makers or semi-automatic machines. But you get to choose from a wide range of flavors and they also look very fashionable.
This machine, if you purchase new, will come with a “Welcome selection”, which allows you to try out many different flavors and decide on your favorites. Whether it is the classic strong, condensed espresso or a vanilla infused cup of cappuccino, De’Longhi Nespresso will get it for you in less than a minute.
This speed and quality are rarely seen in Nespresso machines in this price range. Undoubtedly, whoever invented machines like this has set out a new era of experiencing coffee.
To sum up, here are the noteworthy features of the DeLonghi EN750MB:
DELONGHI AMERICA EN750MB HOT FEATURES LIST
- Great capsule system and refill delivery service
- A sea of choices with the capsules
- Premium exterior with convenient milk holder
- Touch-pad control
- 6 pre-programmed drink settings
- Decent size for your countertop (7.6 x 10.79 x 13 inches)
At the end of the tour, if a choice is utterly compulsory, I would go for the Breville BES840XL. It is a great deal, undeniable: sleek design, great capacity, a range of filters and compatibility for both housing and commercial environment. I enjoy the process of making coffee enough to prefer the semi-automatic models but also not too professional of a barista to invest a few thousand dollars into espresso shots.
With Breville, I would sleep well knowing that this guy would take care of my first dose of caffeine in the morning without leaving me homeless for the month. But that’s just my pick. Your choice is in your hand. Depends on your situation, I hope that a star on this list of best espresso machine under 500 will be of assistance to you, in the name of love for good quality coffee.
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