Best Espresso Machine Under $500: The Complete Guide

best espresso machine under $500

There’s a common misconception that coffee machines are no good if they’re not expensive. If you don’t own a De’Longhi that costs more than $1000, you can’t drink good coffee! Well, that’s not true. You can enjoy a tasty espresso every morning without paying more than $500. You can even get a De’Longhi or a Breville in that price range with all the extra features you need, including the milk frother. So what is the best espresso machine under $500?

You’ve come to the right place!

Follow this article to find the best espresso machine under $500 from my list below.

In a Hurry? Here Are Our Top Picks

The Best Espresso Machines Under 500$ Reviewed

Getting an inexpensive machine doesn’t mean you’re ready to sacrifice quality. Your machine of choice should still make great coffee, and its components should be of high quality, so it doesn’t stop working after a couple of months.

With these considerations in mind, I rounded up the best espresso machines in the market in your desired price range.

Gaggia Carezza De LUXE Espresso Machine – Best Overall

With its retro aesthetic, ease of use, and various features, the Gaggia Carezza is hard to match, especially in this price range. Its advantages significantly outweigh its disadvantages, and it makes some great coffee.

The maker is compact, making it ideal for small kitchens and offices. Additionally, it’s equipped with a pressurized portafilter that brews on 9-bar pressure for optimal output and creamy texture. Not to mention, there’s a preinfusion function that soaks your coffee grounds evenly before the brewing starts, resulting in exceptional extraction.

Better yet, the Carezza comes with an auto shut-off function for safety and energy efficiency. When you leave it for nine minutes without turning it off, it goes into an idle mode to stop consuming electricity. Once you turn it on again, it heats up instantly.

There’s a cup warmer on top of the maker to keep your cups ready for the coffee at all times. Plus, there’s a Panarello wand for milk frothing, so you can make lattes and other milk-based drinks quickly and effortlessly. You can remove it and use the stainless steel arm under it to create art on your coffee foam.

If you don’t want to froth milk, you can use the wand for hot water dispensing instead.

The Carezza’s water tank can hold up to 47 ounces, which is enough for a small family to drink coffee each morning. For a single user, it’s more than decent; you won’t have to frequently refill as the way it is with other makers. That’s why it’s our top choice for best espresso machine under $500.

The water level is visible, so you know when you have to refill without any guessing. On top of that, the tank is compatible with the Mavea Intenza water filter in case you want to ensure a perfect taste without any health hazards.

Pros

  • Automatic shut-off function for safety and energy efficiency
  • 9-bar pressurized portafilter for optimal extraction
  • Milk frother wand included for high versatility

Cons

  • Some users complained that it’s hard to take apart and clean.

Breville BES810BSS Duo Temp Pro Espresso Machine – Runner Up

If you’re an avid coffee lover, you’re probably already familiar with the name Breville. The company is known as one of the best coffee machine manufacturers around the globe. It promises durability and high quality, and it delivers just that.

The Duo Temp is one of Breville’s best makers yet. Despite the affordable price, the machine is made of brushed stainless steel that doesn’t rust or show scratches. And, it’s compact enough to fit on any kitchen counter, no matter how small.

The Breville maker comes with a steam wand that provides foam for making lattes, cappuccinos, and similar drinks. It acts a bit slow, but it does its job just fine. The slow action actually helps you gain control over the entire process, which isn’t necessarily a trade-off.

The water reservoir holds up to 61 ounces, which is more than enough for a family of coffee lovers. Not only that, but the reservoir also has a built-in filter to ensure the taste comes out exquisite.

All of the Breville’s internal parts are as polished and of high-quality as its exterior. The 1600W thermal coil is made of stainless steel, eliminating the chance of it wearing out anytime soon. It heats the water in a few short minutes, triggering the automatic purge cycle to start and adjust the machine’s temperature once again for the next cup.

The whole process only takes a few minutes, which is excellent news if you’re always in a hurry to have your espresso. Another great choice for the best espresso machine under $500.

Pros

  • Steam wand included for frothed milk
  • Large water reservoir with a built-in filter
  • Low-pressure preinfusion for optimal extraction

Cons

  • Some users complained about the machine’s noise.

Nespresso by De’Longhi Lattissima One Original Espresso Machine – Best for Capsules

When Nespresso and De’Longhi decide to manufacture a machine together, you expect nothing less of the Lattissima. The maker excels in all categories. Looks? Check. Functionality? Check. Great taste? Check.

If you prefer capsules over coffee grounds, this may be the machine for you. It features a single-serve system that’s easy to use for everyone. All you have to do is fill the milk jug, run the frother, and enjoy your coffee. The frother will pour the milk right into your cup, ensuring a fresh taste in every cup.

The Lattissima is fully equipped with a 19-bar high-pressure pump, giving you complete control over the consistency and texture of your coffee. On top of that, it has a 40-second function that heats the machine up in 25 seconds for espresso and 40 seconds for milk-based drinks.

The Lattissima’s water reservoir has a capacity of 33.8 ounces. It’s not as large as the Breville Duo Temp’s tank, but it’s ideal for a single user. You won’t have to refill it frequently if you use the machine alone, and since it’s a single-serve maker, it’s targeted at single users.

The best thing about the Lattissima, other than its low price, is its versatility. You can use it to make espresso, lattes, cappuccinos, or any other milk-based drinks. As long as you have some Nespresso pods, you can enjoy some luscious cups of coffee.

If you’ve never tried Nespresso pods before, the machine comes with a complimentary gift of 14 capsules. This way, you can try each one and determine your favorite for the next purchase. A solid entry for the best espresso machine under $500.

Pros

  • Elegant, sleek design with compact dimensions
  • Easy to use with only a few controls
  • Milk frother included

Cons

  • Some users reported the milk frother is a bit flimsy.

Flair Signature Espresso Maker – Best Manual Maker

To make coffee manually is to get full control of the whole process. You get to live the experience like a real barista, and tasting the output of your own hands has an unmatched feeling. If you’re a fan of manual coffee makers and their allure, you’ll love this Flair espresso maker.

Everything about the Flair is special, starting from its unconventional design and up to its high functionality. It’s pretty easy to figure out how to use it because it doesn’t have a lot of features. Too many features can prove hard to deal with. With the Flair, you only have one setting to use.

If you want a machine that makes only espresso, you won’t see this as a downside.

The Flair doesn’t have any electrical components, making it easy to assemble and disassemble to clean. It arrives in a custom case that’s padded to protect the components. This way, you can easily travel with it without the risk of breaking its parts.

Moving on to functionality, the Flair is equipped with a stainless steel tamper and a patented pressure gauge that gives you full control over the pressure of your brew. If you have a burr grinder, it’ll go perfectly well with the manual maker.

The Flair maker is designed so that it’s completely detachable. You can take the brewing head off, which is a rare quality in manual coffee makers. That way, you can rinse it after every use without the hassle of getting the entire thing wet. Our top choice for best best espresso machine under $500 that’s manual.

Pros

  • Fully portable design with a custom case included in the purchase
  • Detachable head for easier cleaning
  • Pressure gauge included to let you control the pressure of your brew

Cons

  • The portafilter may create a mess when you disassemble the head.

Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine – Best Components

If you’re looking for functionality and durability, and you don’t mind the machine’s looks, the Gaggia Classic Pro may be the one for you. It lacks a bit in design, but it makes up for it with its exceptional quality and high durability. You’d have to use it for ages before seeing signs of wear and tear.

The Classic Pro has commercial components, which means it’ll give you cafe-grade coffee. For one, there’s the commercial-grade steam wand that gives you full control over milk frothing. You can also use it to make latte art, thanks to the tight microfoam it creates.

Then, there’s the brass 58-mm portafilter that’s commonly found in cafe machines. There’s also the dual heating system that gets the temperature ready for brewing in around five minutes. You’ll get a perfect cup of coffee in no time, thanks to the Classic Pro’s smart design.

The espresso maker has a simple control panel that’s easy to use. It only contains three buttons for brewing, steaming, and power. Each button has an indicator light, so you know when your coffee is ready and when it’s ready to brew.

Unlike similar inexpensive machines, the Classic Pro doesn’t make any noise while making coffee, all thanks to the mounting of the vibration pump. It’s designed to dampen the noise of the brewing, so you don’t bother your family members when making your coffee each morning.

The machine is made of brushed stainless steel, which is one of the best materials for coffee machines because of its high durability. Its water tank also has a capacity of 72 ounces, which is more than what most machines on this list offer. Another great choice for the best espresso machine under $500.

Pros

  • Highly durable components and construction material
  • No noise while brewing to avoid bothering your family members
  • Commercial-grade components for high-quality espresso

Cons

  • The machine sometimes leaks because the valve is non-durable

Buying Guide: What to Consider When Buying

If this is your first time buying an espresso machine, you’ll need some help learning about the features you need to consider. In the end, with the low price range, you have to be more careful because there will be more trade-offs.

Here’s a roundup of the essential features to consider before determining your favorite espresso maker.

Type of Operation

Are you a fan of innovative technologies and smart features, or do you prefer an old-fashioned manual maker?

If you can’t decide, here’s an overview of each type to help you.

Manual

Manual coffee makers all have a lever that you raise to pull the shot. When you raise the lever, the hot water goes into the coffee-making chamber, where it meets the coffee grounds, and magic happens.

With manual coffee makers, the user gets to control all aspects of the process. He controls the pressure, the flow rate, the portion size, the temperature, and the pre-wetting duration. For that, the user needs to have skills and experience, or he’ll need some time to get used to the mechanism.

Automatic

Automatic machines handle the coffee-making process for you. All you have to do is to set the controls to your liking, add the coffee grounds or capsules, and wait for the coffee to come out.

This way, the machine controls the whole process.

Automatic machines are easier to use, and they result in the same taste and texture every time, so you don’t have to do a lot of guessing. They’re the better option for users in a hurry or users who just want a good cup of coffee every day. If you want to enjoy the process and control it, manual machines are your go-to.

Milk Frother

Coffee lovers don’t only drink espressos. They enjoy the occasional latte or cappuccino, and for that, they need a milk frother. Instead of buying a frother separately, aim for a machine that already has it. This way, you froth milk as a part of the coffee-making process, and you don’t have to pay extra money for a separate one.

Most espresso machines have steam wands for that purpose. They’re very easy to use, resulting in an airy foam on top of your cup. Some wands can even be used to make art, such as the one on the Gaggia Carezza machine.

Ease of Use

If you don’t have enough experience with coffee machines, you’ll need a maker that’s easy to use and simple to figure out. Otherwise, you’d spend a lot of time each morning trying to get coffee, and you’d spend much more time trying to adjust the settings to get your preferred taste.

Some models, like the Nespresso De’Longhi Lattissima, have a simple interface and only a few controls. This way, anyone can use it, even if they haven’t used espresso makers before.

Typically, models with more programmable settings are easier to use because you can adjust everything with a press of a button.

Needless to say, when looking for a machine that’s easy to use, manual makers are out of the question.

Ease of Cleaning

Some espresso machines are a pain to clean. No one likes to take a coffee maker apart to clean it, only to find a mess everywhere. Before choosing an espresso maker, make sure that it’s easy to use and convenient, so you don’t spend a long time trying to clean it.

Typically, stainless steel is easier to clean than plastic, and detachable parts make your mission way easier.

Tamper

If you’re not familiar with espresso machines and their parts, the tamper is the cup-like component that has a wand coming out of it. It’s responsible for pressing down on the grounds, getting the air out of them.

The quality of the tamper is essential for the taste of your coffee. If the hot water goes into the portafilter, and it’s not properly rid of the air, the coffee will taste bitter.

Size

A lot of users don’t pay much attention to the coffee maker’s size because it doesn’t affect its functionality. However, if you don’t have enough space for the machine, you’re rendering it useless. Many espresso machines are larger and bulkier than they should—if you don’t have enough space, you should stray far off those.

The smaller size will likely mean a smaller water tank, but at least you’ll have enough room on your kitchen counter for the machine.

The Final Verdict

In my opinion, the best espresso machine under 500$ on my list is the Gaggia Carezza De LUXE, without a doubt. The machine has everything you may need in an espresso maker, including high-quality materials, a steam wand, and easy controls.

On top of that, the machine features a retro aesthetic that’ll look good on any counter. For the price it comes with, I’d say it’s quite the bargain. We hope you enjoyed this article on the best espresso machine under $500.

Stay caffeinated friends!

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