What is the best espresso machine for under 500? If you are looking to take your espresso-making to the next level, you’ll be able to find a good machine in this price range as it gives you a bit of room to work with.
There is nothing like drinking a great homemade espresso, americano or even a cappuccino that you’ve fine-tuned to perfection. Getting the bean size and extraction just right is an art in itself, it’s a fine balance that can be achieved through patience and practice.
But if you’re not the patient type some machines deliver great quality espresso without the fuss, so don’t worry, you don’t need a qualification to make a solid espresso.
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Some of the machines we’ve looked at have a list of commercial-grade features that are great quality and easy to use. Others are specifically made for the coffee brewer that enjoys a fully customisable cup. Let’s take a look:
Our 6 Top Picks for Best Espresso Machine Under 500
Buy Sage in the UK
The Breville Duo-Temp Pro Espresso machine creates cafe-quality coffee using digital PID temperature control and powerful steam. This machine delivers well-balanced flavour as it gives an even extraction by using low-pressure pre-infusion, something usually found in commercial machines.
We believe this is the best machines around at this price point. It delivers great coffee every time. The steam wand works perfectly and you can extract one or two cups of espresso simultaneously.
Note that Breville is sold as Sage in the UK. It’s exactly the same machine but branded under the name Sage. We’ve inserted the UK specific links for you on this model below.
Find the Sage Duo Temp in the UK here.
- Low-pressure pre-infusion for a well-balanced coffee
- Built-in maintenance indicators
- High powered steam
- 61-ounce water tank capacity (1.8 litres)
- Checking the water levels and re-filling the water tank can be a bit of a pain due to the tank’s location
The Gaggia Classic Pro is a semi-automatic machine that delivers a range of commercial espresso machine style features, making it a durable option and one of our top picks on this list.
The machine houses a commercial-grade steam wand that produces tight microfoam for impressive latte art. It also has a 3-way solenoid valve that relieves pressure off the coffee for a dry and easily discardable puck.
You will also find a commercial-style portafilter that is the same size as commercial machines and commercial quality filter baskets.
With this machine, Gaggia offers true Italian craftmanship, delivering great quality espresso coffee time-after-time.
- 3-Way solenoid valve
- Commercial-grade steam wand, portafilter and filter baskets
- Fast heat-up within 30 seconds
- Large water tank capacity of 2.1 litres
- Checking the water level is challenging as the tank sits right at the back of the machine
Brew like a Pro with the DeLonghi EC860 espresso maker. It makes barista-quality espresso without the fuss or fine-tuning mentioned earlier.
Whether you prefer single or double espresso, cappuccino or late this machine can make the perfect brew every time. It has an integrated milk carafe with a clean function for making lattes and frothed milk for cappuccinos.
The control panel is quite straightforward, the panel has 4 drink options that can be adjusted to your personal taste. The dropped drip tray accommodates larger cups, which is definitely a plus.
The water tank holds 35 ounces (1 litre) and is positioned at the front of the machine, making it easy to remove and re-fill.
It’s an automated dream machine, definitely our favourite when it comes to easy brewing without fiddling and fine-tuning.
- Easy to clean
- Super fast and no waiting between cups
- Accommodates larger cups
- Needs a bit of patience to calibrate correctly
Another great machine by Gaggia this is a super-automatic bean to cup machine, which means it will grind your beans as well as brew an espresso. You can use both pre-ground or whole bean coffee with this high-tech model. The machine is nice and compact with a front-loading water reservoir that holds 1.2 litres which means you can neatly slide it under your kitchen cabinets.
The Gaggia adapting system lets the machine learn from your coffee, adjusting how the grinder works to accommodate your favourite beans. The grinder only has 5 grind settings, which can be limiting,
Rapid steam means that the steam will heat up in under 10 seconds – now that’s quick! The interface is simple to use, allowing you to brew and create a whole list of drinks from a basic brew to a completely custom version.
- Affordable for a super-automatic machine
- Adjust the coffee grind as well as the strength
- Integrated coffee grinder
- They recommend against using dark or oily beans which isn’t ideal if you like dark roast coffees
- The grinder only has five grind settings, which is limiting
With a simple press of a button, this Mr Coffee espresso maker can not only make a good tasting espresso it will also chomp out cappuccinos and lattes without a fuss. Choose from a double or single shot of espresso and let the milk frother do its magic automatically.
This machine has a 19 bar Italian pump that provides a good amount of pressure to extract a dark, robust espresso brew with beautiful crema. The milk reservoir holds 650ml and is easy to refill from the front of the machine.
This machine takes both small and larger mugs (if you remove the bottom tray).
- 19-bar machine
- Automatic milk frother
- Adjustable cup tray for tall and short cups
- Takes time to learn and figure out the functions
Nespresso Inissia by Breville is a nifty little pod machine with fully automatic operation and patented extraction system. Brew two different cup sizes, Espresso and Lungo (5oz). The water tank holds around 1 litre of water so can make a few cups in one go. This machine comes with a starter set of Nespresso capsules.
You can connect to the machine with your smartphone via the Nespresso app to schedule your morning brew, which is a nice touch. Its flat wall design makes it sit nicely on the kitchen counter, pressed up against the wall. This is a great machine if you love the taste of Nespresso, but note you’ll be locked into using Nespresso pods with this machine so make sure you love the taste before you leap in and buy.
Keep in mind that pod machines create a lot of waste, and even though some pods can be recycled. The whole process can be a pain to do even for the most esteemed eco-worrier that will walk/cycle the extra 20 miles to a recycling point.
Not creating waste to start with is probably better given our current situation with climate change and so on. But waste aside, the Inissia is a solid Nespresso capsule machine.
You can learn more about Nespresso and their pod flavours via the linked post.
- 19-bar machine
- Used capsule capacity of 10-12 pods
- Automatic off mode after 9 minutes
- Only uses Nespresso pods so you can’t make a traditional espresso with ground coffee with this machine
This machine is priced a little over $500 which is why we listed it last, however, if you can stretch your budget a tiny bit this machine can be worth the effort.
The Breville Infuser sports a 1600 watt thermo coil heating system with integrated stainless steel water coil so that you can accurately control water temperature for both single and double shot espressos.
Similar to the Duo Temp machine listed above, it pre-infuses ground coffee with low, steady water pressure before extraction, gently expanding the grind before stepping up the pressure. This gives a more even extraction and more balanced espresso flavour.
If you’re an aspiring barista or avid coffee enthusiast this machine allows you to control the volume of each pour at the touch of a button. You can adjust the pressure to produce the perfect brew, allowing you to fine-tune each coffee like a true barista.
It also produces cafe quality microfoam similar to the Duo Temp.
As mentioned earlier Breville is sold under the brand name Sage in the UK, to find this machine in the UK visit Sage UK here.
- Precise and fine-tuned espresso extraction, adjustable in 4⁰F increments and pressure gauge that guides you to the right extraction
- Maintenance indicators are really helpful
- Control the volume of each pour with the touch of a button
- Large 1.8-litre water tank
- Operation can be on the louder side of the noise spectrum
Buying an espresso machine is a deeply personal decision, one that might come with a cheeky overspend in the budget department as you’re swayed by all the bells, whistles and swanky features that you may or may not need.
To confuse things more there are different types of machines, all with their own unique features and complications. Let’s have a look at the types of machines available to you in this price range.
TYPES OF ESPRESSO MACHINES UNDER 500
Bean to Cup – Super Automatic Espresso Machines
Bean to cup machines is also called super-automatic machines. These gadgets take care of the entire process for you. From grinding the beans right through to brewing the espresso. It will automatically pour the right amount of water, ready for you to get on with your day.
The only downside from these machines is that the lower end models often have a limited number of grind settings, this can be a pain if you’re hoping to make a range of different types of coffees or if you’ve got separate coffee gadgets such as a french press that aren’t attached to the machine. But if you’re only making espresso, specifically for the machine then you should be fine with fewer settings.
Other than limited settings you’ll need to replace the entire machine if the grinder fails, which can be expensive. We’re not massive fans of these machines for this reason and would recommend buying a separate coffee grinder, but it doesn’t say that you can’t make a stellar espresso with one of these gadgets.
Manual Espresso Machines
Manual espresso machines, also called lever espresso machines, can normally be found in two variations; spring piston machines and direct lever machines.
These machines can frustrate and infuriate the inexperienced barista. But they can also make some of the best coffee you’ve ever tasted. Lever machines are very hands-on, which means you need elbow grease to operate them, but can fully control the outcome of the drink.
We’ve not listed manual machines on our options above as these machines can be quite pricey, however for a manual espresso machine under 200 visit the linked post.
Semi-automatic machines are usually the ones you will find in restaurants or coffee houses. Contrary to the old-style manual machines where you have to pull the shot with a lever, the semi-automatic version will do this with the press of a button.
Using a semi-automatic still allows you to control the amount of water used for your cup so these will generally not have an auto-off switch. You’ll therefore need a bit of skill to know when to do what. But you should be able to figure this out quite quickly. You don’t have to be a qualified barista to operate a semi-automatic machine, but it takes a bit of practice at first.
Automatic Espresso Machines
Automatic machines are very similar to the semi-automatic versions. You grind the coffee, tamp and press the button to get going. The difference is that an automatic machine will stop the water flow by itself based on an internal timer. It’s not a massive difference, but can be handy if you’re prone to forgetting to turn the machine off letting it overflow and creating a big fat mess.
If you’re one of those people who like to get creative, then this machine is probably not for you. But if you are more of a perfect precision every time kind of person then give it a go.
Pod machines are normally fully automatic, all you have to do is insert the pod and perhaps press a few buttons. So again if you like your coffee exactly the same every time or you have lots of disruptions while you’re making your perfect brew then a pod machine could be for you.
We’d recommend before you buy the machine to check the pricing of the pods and the taste of that particular brand as most machines can only work with brand-specific pods. So if you opt for a machine with relatively expensive pods that has a taste you don’t like you’ll be locked into them until you replace the machine.
Last update on 2022-07-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API