If you have made it far enough to be reading this article about the best espresso machine under $500 then you are at an exciting stage in your coffee journey! At this price bracket you are moving beyond entry level machines and can expect the basic features of mid-level espresso machines. Here at The Coffee Folk this is our favorite price bracket. In fact the machine we recommend is the one we used every morning for a decent couple of years and absolutely loved it.
This price bracket is what multiple coffee gurus have called the sweet spot for home brewers.
At this price range you are investing in a high quality espresso machine which doesn’t break the bank. This article will review what we think are the best espresso machines under $500 for 2022.
Our recommendation is that The Breville Infuser is the single best espresso machine in this price range. The Infuser has state of the art features, is of the highest quality, and best of all produces a superb shot of espresso. If you are willing to invest in this price bracket then you really can’t go beyond this coffee machine.
Things To Consider When Buying An Espresso Machine
The world of espresso machines can be rather daunting at first look. There are a stack of different machines with different features, each claiming to be the best! So here are a few tips and explanations to help you find the right espresso machine for you.
Different Types Of Espresso Machines
What To Look For In An Espresso Machine
Because the goal is to invest in an espresso machine that you can use regularly (we use ours at least daily), it is important to get a machine that is easy to operate and maintain. Different things that come into this include the size of the water reservoir and drip tray (who wants to be filling up the water every second coffee!?), how easy the buttons or interface are to use, how easy the machine is to clean, and how long you may have to wait between extracting your shot and steaming the milk. Find a machine which suits your needs and which is going to help and not hinder your love of good coffee.
Finally, if you want to know how to use to best use one of these bad boys see our Beginners Guide To Espresso
Best Espresso Machines Under $500
Breville Infuser – The Best of the Best
The Breville Infuserhttps://thecoffeefolk.com/breville-infuser-review/ espresso machine really is in a league of its own in this price bracket. It is reliable, consistent, loaded with high-end espresso features, and most importantly makes a delicious shot of coffee. In fact we loved this machine so much that when we first heard about it we went out and brought one and never looked back.
What really sets this espresso machine apart is a few top line features which significantly shape the quality of the coffee shot. These include an adjustable PID controller (basically an instrument which carefully regulates water temperature and can be adjusted in 2F brackets), an auto-purge function which automatically adjusts the temperature of the water after steam for optimal extraction, and most importantly the pre-infusion function from which this machine gets its name.
The pre-infusion function means that the ground coffee is first soaked in water at low pressure before the pressure is increased for a crema-rich shot. The low pressure pre-infusion allows the ground coffee to expand and ensures a consistent infusion for a well-balanced brew. It also comes with single or double shot buttons with a manual override for further control.
It is worth noting that if you are convinced of the merits of this machine, then you should at least consider the Breville Barista. While slightly over $500, it is basically the Infuser with an inbuilt ceramic burr grinder which is super convenient. Worth at least thinking about…
We believe the Breville BES840XL Infuser is the best espresso maker under $500 and we feel sure that you will come to love it as much as we do. If you are still not convinced then feel free to read our extended review of the Infuser here. Again we do feel that the Infuser represents the best espresso machine at this price point.
Gaggia Classic Pro – Tested and Tried
The Gaggia Classic Pro has been loved and trusted for almost 30 years now. It is sturdy, reliable, and can be trusted to make a great shot of coffee and to last. Gaggia have been in the coffee industry for over 70 years and it shows. The standouts of this machine are its commercial grade quality as well as its design which is built for longevity. This means that the grouphead and portafilter are both made of heavy duty brass which stabilizes temperature as well as lasting a long time.
Other features include a 58mm commercial size grouphead, a 72 oz. water reservoir, a 17.5 bar boiler, and the solenoid valve which allows for a quick turnover between shots. The Gaggia Classic Pro is not as customizable as some of the other machines on this list but isn’t meant to be.
The Gaggia Pro also features a commercial style steam wand allowing you to produce some quality steamed milk. The only downside is that this machine is a single boiler so you can’t brew your espresso at the same time as steaming your milk.
This espresso maker is really about one thing which is making a great shot of black coffee. So if you are looking for a coffee maker that allows for customization and lots of features then this might not be the coffee machine for you. But if you are looking for a high quality machine which will last, is easy to use, and makes a great shot, then this model is a real contender.
Breville Bambino Plus – Best for the Money
The Breville Bambino Plus is another solid offering from Breville. This sibling of the Infuser is feature packed! It seems that the rationale behind this particular espresso machine is less money on build quality so that more money can be spent on features. And it does boast some seriously impressive features. These include pre-infusion, PID temperature control, and a steam wand that can be used automatically and hands free (a feature that is unheard of at this price point).
Like the Infuser it boasts a 54mm portafilter and comes with both single and double shot baskets. However, it does only come with double-walled baskets. These are great for beginners and very forgiving, but for espresso enthusiasts they won’t cut it. It has 15 bar pump pressure, and it even has a rather remarkable 3 second heat up time due to its thermo-jet technology!
Overall, we are very impressed with the Bambino Plus, it is clearly superior to its predecessor the Bambino and would be a superb fit for some people. Especially, if you want good espresso but are less interested in learning the skills, then the automatic milk frothing would be a life saver! For a more in-depth review see our article here.
Flair Pro 2 – Best Manual Espresso Maker
This is the only manual espresso machine on this list and probably won’t be a great fit for MOST people. However, for the true espresso enthusiast, this would be a superb option. The Flair range of espresso machines are all lever machines with a proven and trusted track record.
They are somewhat fiddly to pull a shot (as are most manual machines), but they can make absolutely delicious coffee. The Flair Pro 2 is stunningly beautiful and comes with a pressure gauge, a heavy duty frame, and drip tray. It also has a larger overall capacity than many other Flair models. The downside to all manual espresso machines is that they do take more effort and also don’t include a steaming wand. So for any milk based drinks you will need to purchase a separate milk frother like the Nanofoamer.
However, the quality and beauty of this machine is outstanding. It is not for everyone, but if you are even vaguely interested in manual espresso machines, then the Flair Pro 2 ought to be a serious consideration. See our article on Flair espresso machines here for a more in depth look at this type of machine.
De’Longhi Dedica – Espresso with Style
The De’Longhi Dedica espresso machine is all about compact elegance and quality espresso. Like Gaggia, De’Longhi have been in the industry for years and know how to make espresso machines that brew great coffee. At the cheapest price on this list, the De’Longhi Dedica is especially good for the home brewer on a budget who cares about the quality of the coffee but is less concerned with other bells and whistles. It is also worth noting that while quality trumps aesthetic appeal, aesthetic appeal does count for something. This machine simply does look good and graces any benchtop.
And the Dedica is more than simply a pretty face. While not as customizable as some of the other machines, it can make a balanced shot of coffee. It has programmable single and double shot buttons as well as portafilter baskets for both ground beans and ESE pods. The De’Longhi Dedica is an elegant and affordable coffee maker for the home brewer.
Gaggia Brera – All in One
The Gaggia Brera is a bit of an outlier on this list as the only super automatic espresso machine. And the reason for this is that generally good super automatics are expensive. But the Gaggia Brera is an outstanding exception.
This machine makes a great cup of coffee at the push of a couple of buttons. Basically, you put in whole beans and the machine grinds them for you (with five different grind settings available), tamps it, pre-infuses the grind, and then pours the extracted coffee through the group head. It also comes with a Panarello milk frother so you can froth your own milk.
The Gaggia Brera is a great option if you are looking for an all-in-one machine that will give you quality espresso without all the effort of semi automatics.
The Verdict- The Best Espresso Machine Under $500
After reviewing a number of machines, we recommend that the best espresso machine under $500 is the Breville BES840XL Infuser. We have owned and loved this machine. It is powerful, comes with a great track record, is loaded with high end features, and best of all makes a superb cup of coffee.
So whether you are just entering the coffee scene or are a brewing veteran we think that the Breville Infuser could be a terrific next step on your coffee journey.