Do you crave the taste and bold flavor of espresso brewed fresh at home? You don't have to break your budget to get an espresso machine that will make delicious shots of espresso right in your kitchen. With our roundup of the best espresso machines under $500, you can find one that fits both your budget and lifestyle. Whether you’re a regular cappuccino lover or ready for some more advanced features such as milk frothing capabilities, we’ve got seven top picks for mid-range price! Browse through our comprehensive list to find out which model suits you best.
Top 5 Best Espresso Machines Under $500
1. Breville Infuser
When it comes to espresso makers, I always have high expectations. So when it came time to purchase one for myself, I knew I had to look for something special. After doing some research, my top pick became the Breville Infuser. Besides producing a flavorful espresso shot due to its pre-infusion system and PID – a technology that maintains an even water temperature – the machine has outstanding durability and longevity as well. With 1600w thermocoil, you can be sure that you won’t have any problems with your purchase for many years to come.
Equipped with an auto-purge function, this espresso maker allows you to adjust the temperature between steaming and brewing so that you get the optimal temperature for both actions. Not only that, but it also comes with a single or double shot option along with volumetric control with preset. You can reprogram the drink volume and manually override the settings to ensure that you get your espresso just right.
The convenience and flexibility of the steam wand on the Infuser are unbeatable. It swivels 360 degrees so it can fit in a variety of sizes, making it easy to tackle any kind of milk-based drink. Be it a classic latte or a cappuccino, this steam wand facilitates easy frothing with precision, so you can be confident that your beverages will look and taste great every time. Although this machine may not come with an integrated grinder, its quality of performance far outweighs its few shortcomings.
Pros and Cons
Breville's Infuser espresso machine offers some great features, such as a 30 second heat up time, 360-degree swivel steam wand, and a 61 oz. water tank with a 54 mm stainless steel portafilter and tamper. However, there are some drawbacks as well - the Breville Infuser is missing a grinder, making it not ideal if you want freshly ground coffee.
Additionally, this appliance has a large footprint that takes up quite a bit of counter space. Lastly, the Breville Infuser can be quite noisy in operations.
2. Gaggia Classic Pro
Gaggia Classic Pro is the perfect espresso machine for coffee connoisseurs on a budget. It packs in an impressive set of features for less than 500 dollars, including a stainless steel body, a commercial steam wand, and a 58mm portafilter which comes from Gaggia's own commercial espresso machines.
The portafilter lets you make more flavorful espresso shots with its larger and flatter puck. The heating system is powered by Gaggia's single boiler system which helps to create consistent heat and temperatures for espresso shots. Although it does take about five minutes for Gaggia Classic Pro to heat up, but once heated the combination of 58mm portafilter and boiler helps to ensure consistently brewed tasty espressos each time!
The Classic Pro's three-way solenoid valve is a great feature. It releases the pressure from the group head when you're finished brewing, allowing for quick follow-up brews when making coffee drinks for multiple people. As such, it’s ideal for newcomers to make espresso and cappuccinos fast and easy. Since there's no PID temperature control, though, you'll need to practice your “temperature surfing” or find a modification kit to get the perfect cup more efficiently.
The Gaggia Classic Pro is a popular semi-automatic home espresso machine. Its highlights include a powerful steam wand with two holes that point horizontally, making it slightly harder to produce microfoam by creating a vortex and stretching the milk so desired by latte art connoisseurs. Fortunately, this makes up for its impressive noise-dampening technology and great build quality; the original design was introduced in 1991, and you can still find used ones that are working like new today!
Pros and Cons
It is an excellent entry-level espresso machine that offers some of the best features like 58mm portafilter, improved boiler system for more consistent extraction, and easy to use controls. Although Gaggia Classic Pro doesn't have PID temperature control, its short height for brew head makes it hard to fit cups underneath thus posing a bit of a challenge for people looking for precise results. Additionally, Gaggia Classic comes with a plastic tamper which needs to be replaced if you're looking to extract maximum flavor from your coffee grounds.
3. Breville Bambino Plus
The Bambino Plus certainly packs a punch when it comes to brewing quality coffee despite its smaller size. Its most powerful feature is the thermocoil heating system, along with its easy-to-use controls that allows for precise temperature regulation and optimum results. But the real star of the show is the automatic steam wand which comes with preset options for texture and temperature for an effortless microfoam creation.
The Bambino Plus is a real do-it-yourselfer’s dream come true. With its streamlined design and intuitive controls, this espresso machine takes all the guesswork out of making a perfect cup every time. All you have to do is place the milk container on the tray, press the button with the preset option you want, and the machine will do all the work. Thanks to temperature control sensors on the drip tray and Breville’s advanced Thermojet heating system for espresso brewing, it adapts according to your preferences quickly and efficiently.
If you’re looking for a machine with exceptional temperature control and flavor, then you cannot go wrong with the one equipped with PID and pre-infusion. The PID makes sure there is consistent heat during brewing, and the pre-infusion ensures all those yummy flavors are fully extracted from the grounds. Having both pressurized and non-pressurized baskets further allows you to customize your experience if you use already ground coffee or freshly grind your own beans.
Pros and Cons
Breville Bambino Plus has a lot to offer coffee connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike. It boasts a large water reservoir, an automatic milk frother with three temperature options, low-pressure pre-infusion, and single and double-wall filter baskets. On the flipside, Breville Bambino Plus does not include a grinder or hot water outlet. This lack of those two components may limit the range of drinks you can create with Breville's system, but the machine is still well worth considering depending on your preferences.
4. Breville Bambino
The Breville Bambino may be the no-frills option of Breville's espresso machines, but that certainly doesn't mean it lacks in quality. Using low-pressure pre-infusion and high-pressure extraction to give an amazing flavor, the Breville Bambino produces great espressos with a fraction of its more pricey Plus cousin - making it a great option for those on a budget. Normally, the Breville Bambino would be our go-to recommendation if you're after value, but since this list has a $500 budget we suggest opting for the Plus version with its added features.
Breville's Bambino and Bambino Plus both offer a 3-second heat-up thanks to Breville's advanced PID control system, ensuring consistency and optimal water temperature. Breville Bambino is smaller in size though (7.7 in x 12.6 in x 12.2 vs. 9.6 in x 16.3 in x 16.9) with a modest reservoir capacity of 47oz compared to the 64oz of the Plus version.
However, when it comes to steam wands, Breville has opted for two different approaches; Breville Bambino has a manual wand with one hole whereas Breville Plus features an automatic four hole wand that can steam 20 seconds faster than Bambino.
With the hot water dispenser now included, you can easily make a variety of hot drinks without having to switch machines. Its impressive range of cappuccinos, lattes, and teas is sure to be appreciated by both avid coffee lovers and those who just want a quick pick-me-up.
Pros and Cons
It has all the basics you could ask for, such as its steady hot water output, an advanced PID temperature control - allowing for precise temperatures - and fast heating time. It's not without a few minor flaws though; the steam wand can take longer than usual with its one hole design, and it doesn't come with a grinder to give you ultimate barista status at home. Nevertheless, Breville still manages to deliver on quality.
5. Flair Pro 2
Flair Pro 2 has been a great hit amongst baristas with its human-powered 9 bar pressure and manual brewing process. With Flair Pro 2, the user has ultimate control over the espresso shot - from start to finish. This gives baristas the ability to accurately control pressure, shot time and other elements that contribute to a flavorful espresso without any electric energy driven push.
The Flair Pro 2 is the ultimate tool for manual espresso machines, allowing users to achieve meticulous perfection with a slow and steady pour. This model comes equipped with a pressure gauge, enabling pre-infusion, pressure profiling and real-time control. Enthusiasts can rejoice: Flair Pro 2 offers full control over pressure, a must in order to get the professionally-crafted espresso brew you desire. Many other machines are set to over nine-bars, making it unattainable for coffee artisans.
Its filter basket may be small at 46mm, but the pressure control makes up for it. This espresso machine is lightweight and sturdy with a secure lever arm and base, plus a convenient silicone handle grip to prevent slipping when pressing the coffee. Its flat portafilter construction allows for even water flow through all layers for better extraction, which leads to tastier espresso.
Although the Flair Pro 2 is quite impressive when it comes to making espresso shots, one downside that users should be aware of is the fact that it can't brew any milk-based drinks. As this machine is manual, you won't find specialty drinks like lattes or cappuccinos on the menu.
Pros and Cons
Flair Pro 2 is a great choice if you’re looking for a professional yet portable manual espresso maker; it features a custom pressure gauge, silicone handle grip, and a convenient travel case. Setting up Flair Pro 2 is a breeze, and any removable parts are safe for the dishwasher. However, Flair Pro 2 does come with some drawbacks; it lacks the steam wand many other models have, and the 46mm portafilter may be too small to ensure an optimal espresso extraction.