If you are one of the people who believe that ”the stronger, the better,” then you must know that very few drinks are worthy of the caffeine hype. Sure, drip coffee and pods are convenient, but they’ll never be able to compete with cafe-quality drinks.
Now since there isn’t a monthly morning subscription of caffeine buzz yet, you have two options, either run to the cafe every morning or set something up in your kitchen. If you choose the former, good for you. But if you want to switch to the latter, we will help you!
For starters, you need to have an espresso maker that is well within your price range and demands just the amount of time and effort you are willing to put in. Lucky for you, we have a comprehensive list rounded up. The top five espresso machines are under $500, which will help you brew something similar to those cafes downtown. But before moving on to that, let’s get a gist of what we are looking at today.
What to Look For in an Espresso Machine?
A real shot of espresso needs to be extracted under at least 9 bars of pressure and boiling water. So, you are looking for something that takes care of the pressure and the temperature at the very least.
If you have $500 set aside for an espresso machine, you are way above average. A $500 budget will quickly get you a harmony between utility and quality, maybe even something resembling high-end appliances.
A super-automatic or automatic machine carries out the entire process on its own. From grinding to dispensing, all you have to do is push a button and let the machine work its magic. These machines are on the pricier side, but you can still get one, on the compromise of fewer features.
But if you want something more customizable, you can go for a semi-automatic machine. A semi-automatic machine sits well within this price range, and you might even get a few added features with this type. Of course, they demand more effort, but, in the end, you get to control the entire process. All this while taking into account the value for money!
Our Top 5 Picks for the Best Home Espresso Machines Under $500
We have listed what we think might be the best options for you. We ran several tests on these machines then rounded up the top 5 for you. To find the best of the best, we evaluated them on the basis of the ease of use, grinding abilities, pressure and temperature controls, and finally, the durability of the machine. The results were a measure of the time the machine took, the taste and the consistency of the brew, and the drink options it had to offer. Keep reading to discover what our results were.
1. Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine
The first on our list is Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine. Gaggia machines are generally known to have a sturdier build and efficient performance. The one we have listed here is one of the most reasonable super-automatic machines in the market.
It comes equipped with a Pannarello frothing wand, which also doubles as a hot water dispenser. In addition, it offers a 17-bar pump along with five grind settings so you can adjust everything according to your taste. The user interface is relatively simple but accommodating, with LED displays and icons for an intuitive brew.
This machine will streamline your brewing process as both the drip tray and water tanks are well within reach. Another impressive feature is the rapid steam technology. So you don’t need to go back and reheat if your cup gets cold. The machine will do it for you.
If we talk about the capacity, the machine comes with a 40-ounce water tank which is also removable, hence another convenience. There is no portafilter or tamping, so again, you have to push some buttons and leave it there while you get ready for work. In a nutshell, the machine brews you an excellent cup for the price.
Head over to this article for an in-depth review of the Gaggia Brera espresso maker.
- Super-automatic coffee maker
- Simple display UI
- Customizable settings
- No cartridge waste
- Removable water tank and drag box
- Oily beans can clog the grinder
- Small water tank
2. Breville BES810BSS Duo Temp Pro Espresso Machine
Next up on the list is the Breville Temp Pro. This machine is another excellent choice if you are looking for something less automated. The machine has a minimal design with simple controls, but above all, it is known to pull consistent shots time after time.
The machine has a 15-bar pump that ensures a balanced flavor extraction. The pre-infusion functions alter the pressure and adjust it to a specific range for each step in the brewing process. The pressure controls coupled with the temperature management technology enhance the flavor and give you the perfect cup every time.
The machine also alerts you about routine clean-ups. The cleaning is relatively simple, and overall, the appliance is low maintenance. Although this Breville machine is not super automated, and there might be some getting around to using this, it is still very uncomplicated and straightforward to use.
This machine also comes with an auto shut-off that you can rely on when in a rush. Another fun feature is the manual milk texturizer. The machine has a 1600W steamer that creates microfoam on your coffee and lets you experiment with cool coffee art.
- Advanced temperature management system
- Sturdy and sleek design
- User-friendly interface
- Pre-infusion technology
- Easy maintenance and clean-up
- No pressure gauge
- No fine-tuning
3. De’Longhi Nespresso Lattissima One Original Espresso Machine
The machine is advertised with a “One Touch” idea which is all about convenience. It brews you a top-notch espresso with simplicity and practically no effort. The 19-bar high-performance pump takes care of the pressure when brewing, while the single-serve features ensure a hassle-free prep on those early mornings. It gets even simpler. The machine directly froths your coffee into the milk jug, which is dishwasher safe, hence saving you time on those rush hours.
If you are ever in the mood for a cappuccino or latte, the milk frother does an excellent job of creating that silky yet dense crema on top—another point for simplicity.
Lattissima has a very unique but modern design which quickly makes it the star of your kitchen. The body is elegant and doesn’t take much space on your countertop. The good looks and the class that comes with Nespresso are undeniable, but its portability is unmatchable on top of everything. To sum it up, the Lattissima is the most simplistic and efficient machine on our list.
- Seven different drink options
- Simple and fast
- Automatic cleaning and maintenance alerts
- Lightweight and portable
- Solid construction
- Small milk container
- No display panel or LED screen
4. De’Longhi Magnifica, Automatic Bean to Cup Coffee Machine
This machine comes with an integrated grinder having seven different grind settings, so you can customize your coffee however you like. It also has a Panarello plastic frother that can also be used as a steam pipe. It lets you warm up the milk or prepare a creamy, dense foam, whatever you fancy.
On the subject of temperature settings, there are four main adjustments for you to set them according to your preferences. The thermo-block system heats up the water at the right temperature for each drink. Another Impressive feature is the Automatic cleaning technology. The descaling, cleaning, and rinsing programs minimize the hassle during those busy weeks. All you have to do to clean the tray and the ground containers is pop them in the dishwashers, and you are good to go.
Overall, the De’Longhi machine is pretty compact, ideal for small kitchens. The body is primarily plastic, but considering the price, you still get a pretty good deal. It is a bit on the noisier side but gets the job done. So, whether you are looking for a flat white or espresso, this machine, well within the price range, is a steal.
- Powerful milk frother
- Multiple drink options
- Advanced thermo-block boiler
- Excellent burr grinder
- Accessible water storage
- Flimsy drip tray
- Manual milk frother
5. Capresso Cafe Pro Professional Espresso & Cappuccino Machine
If you are an espresso lover, with occasional cappuccinos on the side, Capresso Cafe Pro just might be the machine for you. This beginner-friendly machine helps you prepare that steaming hot cup within a matter of minutes.
The machine comes with a bottomless espresso filter that produces richer and thicker crema, but of course, hot and steamy. You can adjust the grind size and the pressure to customize your brew however you like.
The steam wand is another great feature that makes sure that you get a hot cup every time. And if you are the one to drink several cups throughout the day, this machine is for you. The machine has excellent heating technology and doesn’t offer many struggles on back-to-back use.
This machine is beginner-friendly. The water storage is easily accessible. Another great feature contributing to the simplicity is the light indicators that give you a hassle-free brew every time. Above all, the machine has a sleek yet classic look that sits perfectly on any countertop.
Apart from the features similar to a higher-end device, this espresso maker also lets you create a beautiful micro-foam if you are into coffee art. This is an excellent option if you are looking for a convenient and versatile machine that comes with one too many options.
- Low maintenance
- High-grade steamer
- Compact design
- Unique heating technology
- Plastic tamp
- Loud steamer
An espresso machine might seem like a splurge, but it is a wise investment. From a financial point of view, you will end up saving a lot in the long run as your trips to cafes would cut down, and so will your coffee spendings. Besides, your coffee fix will cost you way less time if you have a set up at your home.
A good machine not only saves you time and money but helps you create your own cafe-grade drinks in no time. Of course, there will be a slight learning curve, but the catch is greater than you think. And on top of everything, you get to geek about coffee when you have your barista set up at home.
So, to round it up, these five espresso machines are our top picks. There are still a ton of options in the market, but the choice depends on your needs and budget. The best choice, of course, depends on what you want but for us, the Nespresso Lattissima did the job. It qualified as the most efficient and versatile machine on the list, under the price tag that it comes with. But if you are looking for something super-automatic, the Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine is your best bet. However, Breville Duo Temp Pro is probably the better choice for you if you are here for a customizable cup.