Best Espresso Machine Under 500 | Best 5 For Your Money In 2016
With so many brands and models on the market today, what is the best espresso machine under $500 or what are some of the close contenders? We have finalized 5 for under $500 your consideration so look no further.
A budget below $500 bucks and under is a good start because machines over this amount start to have more bells and whistles, swivels and dials, and require a bit more time and research before you decide on a more pricey machine. Machines under the $500 range tend to require more manual work in producing a cup of espresso so you’ll mostly find semi-automatics here.
Here is what we reveal: Did you know you could get a super-automatic espresso machine in this price range? Check out the Philips Saeco Xsmall HS8745/47 now.
However, if you are looking for more automation, beverage options, and sophistication, check out our best espresso machines under $1,000 – the perfect guide or best fully automatic espresso machines reviews that has an introductory section helping you understand the different categories of espresso machines.
The 5 models you can find in this article are some of the best models that offer consistently high ratings, great ease-of-use and convenience, outstanding results and finesse which is what matters the most. They tend to deliver stellar user experience and fewer problems.
The truth is, even the higher-end super-automatic espresso machines may have some problems. Some people end up getting lemons but most retailers and online retailers have at least a one-year warranty and offer free exchanges if it’s a faulty part or manufacturing issue.
So, regardless of make and model, you are bound to find someone who has found a problem with a machine they received. I’m sure you’ll agree, this applies to all goods we buy today.
- 1 Breville BES840XL The Infuser Espresso Machine
- 2 Philips Saeco Xsmall HD8745/57 Espresso Machine
- 3 Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine
- 4 Breville 800 ESXL Duo-Temp
- 5 DeLonghi ECP3630 Espresso and Cappuccino Machine
Breville BES840XL The Infuser Espresso Machine
The Breville BES840XL, dubbed, “The Infuser”, comes highly recommended and is one of the best machines in this category. It offers the best features for its price that any person who loves espresso will certainly enjoy.
This model weighs 17 lbs and measures 10.2” x 12.5” x 13.2” and it’s quite similar to the other machines in this category. So, you can place it almost anywhere in your kitchen with relative ease thanks to this compact size.
What does the “Infuser” Part Mean?
Breville didn’t name this machine the “Infuser” for no reason. It actually stands for the pre-fusion function that adds low water pressure when the extraction process begins in order to expand the ground coffee. This actually causes more pressure in the grouphead to enable a better extraction of all the coffee oils, taste, and aroma. Breville also added a stainless steel thermocoil boiler which uses 1600W that maintains water temperature at a steady level. This is also instrumental in the coffee extraction process.
The Infuser also integrates a nice auto-purge function that will keep the water temperature at a certain level after the steaming process is complete. This way you know the espresso is extracted properly and with the right results. They also added in the Italian pump which has a 15 Bar pressure and that does offer the necessary pressure and complete flavor extraction.
Although these features are great for the veteran espresso drinkers but they can be great for a rookie as well. The machine can automate many of the processes, or it can allow you to maintain a good hands on experience, it all comes down to you.
Other Notable Features
Some of the other features that you can find here are a 61 fl. oz. (1.8 L) water tank as well as a drip tray which can both be removed. You also get a stainless steel portafilter of 54 mm and Proportional-Integral-Derivative (PID) water temperature regulation technology. This technology is rather complicated for those who aren’t fluent in mathematics but Wikipedia does offer a lengthy account for those interested in how PID temperature controllers work in espresso machines as well as household and industrial appliances in general.
What Is A Dry Puck?
A dry puck just means the used coffee grounds that is in a shape of the puck. It is easier to dispose of a puck that’s dried out more versus one that is still quite wet and breaks into pieces, dropping bits of ground coffee everywhere as you dispose of it.
This machine integrates a dry puck feature that does a very good job when it comes to removing all the extra water from the coffee beans that are found in the filter basket. The pressure gauge, a hot water outlet, steam wand and a few other features complete the pack and they make the experience better by allowing you to monitor the pressure levels, not to mention the machine also enables you to froth milk like a true barista.
Why Is There Plastic In The Portafilter? Is it BPA free?
The package also includes a 54mm tamper that is magnetically stored in the espresso machine. There is black plastic insert in the portafilter that is designed to reduce heat dissipation.
It works like this:
If the freshly brewed espresso contacts the stainless steel portafilter that is cold and not pre-warmed (using the cup warmer for example), this could lower the temperature of the espresso to a noticeable point.
This is especially useful for those who like their espresso drinks really hot. All plastic parts that come in contact with water and coffee in this machine are BPA free, according to Breville. So you don’t have to worry about that.
Like most models in this range, this model does not feature an integrated grinder. Breville offers a selection of high-quality burr grinders that are inexpensive. But if you do want an integrated grinder, The Barista Express model is a little bit more expensive but honestly well worth the investment if you can afford to spend a bit more.
The Water tank is another minor complaint. Some customers have echoed a smaller 61 fl. oz vs 67 fl. oz on some other similar models in this range. You might not think the 6 fl. oz is a lot but it is a little more than 2 shots of expresso.
Lastly, the smaller size of this machine means that when you fit the portafilter into the grouphead, the machine may move sideways, depending on your strength and the surface you sit the machine on. Some customers have found they had to put one hand on the machine to keep it slightly depressed as they fit the portafilter into the grouphead with the other hand.
The Bottom Line
This is a great entry-level espresso machine that is well priced and That being said, other customers who own this model have given an average rating of 4.5 / 5 stars on Amazon, which is proof that a lot of owners are pleased.
Some of the best features for this espresso machine include:
- The pre-infusion feature adds a low water pressure when the extraction process starts.
- The device delivers a 1600w thermocoil heating system for stable water temperature control.
- It can also maintain the water temperature at a specific level after steam thanks to the auto purge function.
- Thanks to the 15 bar Italian pump you obtain complete control over this device not to mention that there are automatic and manual, programmable volumes.
- There are many accessories like the water filter with holder, stainless steel jug, dual and single wall filter baskets as well as cleaning tablets and disks, not to mention the cleaning tool.
Philips Saeco Xsmall HD8745/57 Espresso Machine
Made in Europe, the Philips Saeco HD8745/57 can be considered one of the best espresso machines under 500 dollars. It features a stainless steel boiler and a 15 Bar pump and loaded with features.
Three Reasons It Is Probably The Best:
- The Philips Saeco name is a promise of quality design and construction.
- It is the only machine in this category that actually houses a built-in grinder.
- This machine is classed as a super-automatic (because of the one-button operation).
Built-In Grinder; Other Models Here Do Not Feature This
And not just any grinder, a ceramic grinder. Ceramic is stronger than steel so is more durable and long-lasting. One other feature of this grinder is preventative overheating so your coffee will not taste burnt. You can also adjust the grinder with 5 grind settings from coarsest to finest. Usually, darker roasts should be more coarse while light roast blends should be set at a finer grind level for a powerful tasting espresso.
Is The Machine Stainless Steel? How Big Is It?
The image on the right doesn’t do it justice. This machine measures 15.2 (W) inches x 16.7 (D) inches x 15.3 (H) inches (38.6 x 42.4 x 38.8 cm) so it is a little larger when compared to the other models. It also weighs 8 kg (17.6 lbs) so it is quite sturdy. Parts of the machine is stainless steel, such as the drip tray. But the main body is plastic.
What Kind Of Beverages Can It Brew?
This machine is equipped with a classic milk frother and panarello for more craftsman-type frothing. Choose from espresso, cappuccino, cafe creme, espresso macchiato, latte macchiato, frothed milk, and hot water. For espresso-type beverages, a special pre-brewing function is available to enhance the taste and aroma.
Is It Hard To Maintain?
Philips Saeco made this machine quite easy to clean and maintain. It has an automatic rinse cycle and also performs automatic descaling. The removable brew group can be rinsed with water and re-inserted into the machine. With so much automated, it is misleading to think there isn’t much to maintain. There is, and other customers have commented that the machine does require time and effort to maintain, like many other top-rated espresso machines.
But in between, you get to enjoy an awesome brew.
Do not forget, this machine does not have the portafilter and related filters to clean after each use! Did we mention this machine has dishwasher-safe parts?
The water tank on this machine is on the smaller size at 33.8 fl. oz. (1L). If you plan to brew a lot of beverages, expect to refill the water tank more frequently. Also, the machine may look like its stainless steel from the image but it’s actually plastic. This may be a turn-off for some people. There is another color option for the main body in black, though.
Some people have also commented on how the drip tray fills up quickly. Like almost all home espresso machines, this is considered normal operation and unless you have a commercial machine with waste water drainage attached, this should be considered part of regular maintenance.
This is a quality machine for someone looking for a taste of the super-automatic category by a reputable manufacturer, yet paying a lot less than it deserves. It features a one-button operation with a built-in grinder to make it easier to operate and a little less to maintain than a semi-automatic.
Here is a summary of the notable features of this machine:
- Classed as a super-automatic machine that has a built-in ceramic grinder .
- 1400 W power (uses a little less power than some competitors in this class); 120 volts.
- 15 Bar electric pump for consistent brewing quality.
- Removable brew group for easy cleaning using water to rinse out.
- Automatic rinse cycle and descaling.
- High-quality stainless steel boiler.
- Built-in ceramic grinder for long-lasting operation and no more “burnt” coffee taste.
Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine
Many consider this machine as being the best espresso machine under 500. This is one of Gaggia’s best selling espresso machines of all time.
Given its popularity, we investigated further and provided an in-depth review of the Gaggia Classic 14101 Espresso Machine and encourage you take a look if you are serious about one for your home. If you know or read about this machine before, you know about its popularity.
Although we won’t review this all time classic machine here, trust that many espresso enthusiasts have been made extremely happy and satisfied with one in their home.
If you don’t have time for the in-depth review, then here are some of its great features:
- It integrates a removable water reservoir with 72 ounces.
- The housing is made out of stainless steel.
- The commercial-style grouphead and portafilter are made out of brass and plated with chrome which increases the stability of the brewing temperature; espresso made better!
- Hot water dispenser and a 15 Bar pump.
- Frothing wand with Turbo-Frother.
- Double and single shot filter baskets made of stainless steel.
- Integrated measuring scoop.
Breville 800 ESXL Duo-Temp
Has your old coffee machine overstayed its welcome and no longer working properly, if at all? The Breville 800 ESXL, dubbed the “Duo Temp”, is a great replacement and upgrade. This machine is “Die Cast” designed and measures 13″ (W) x 15″ (D) x 16″ (H), so finding a space for this machine shouldn’t be a problem for most kitchens.
What is the Duo-Temp?
Espresso extraction and the steam wand use different temperatures. The Duo-Temp feature is pretty much a purge function that automatically readjusts the water temperature after steaming. Some machines require you to do this step manually.
Other Great Features:
The machine features a 15 Bar Italian-made pump (electric) and also houses a Thermoblock boiler for rapid pre-heating.
The pre-infusion function of this machine is designed to help you get the most of out of your pre-ground coffee by extracting all the oils and flavor.
Using something called the Triple Prime™ Pump, three separate bursts of hot water moistens the ground coffee in the portafilter. This causes the coffee to expand creating more pressure inside the portafilter resulting in a fuller extraction.
But that’s not all. Breville decided to go a bit further with this machine and added dual wall filters. As you might have guessed, the filter itself is designed with two filters. How this works is the second filter beneath the first filter only has a small hole for the espresso to exit. So the pressure within the brew head is further increased and adds to that already fuller extraction from the Triple Prime Pump process.
The only question that remains from this is how much more oil, aroma, and flavor can still be extracted? Aside from espresso experts and connoisseurs who may offer different opinions about this, most espresso drinkers should trust they are getting the most value and flavor from this machine.
Is the Water Reservoir Also At The Back?
This machine stores a 75 fl. oz (2.2L) water tank accessible in the front of the machine. This is great for many who plan to put this in the kitchen because you don’t have to worry about the height of your cabinets.
Many machines, especially those in the fully and super-automatic espresso machine category, have their water reservoirs in the back of the machine. This makes it more challenging to refill the water tank in certain kitchen configurations.
Another neat thing about the water reservoir is that you can tell when to refill with water because the water indicator is also in the front.
What Size Tamper for Breville 800 ESXL?
A plastic coffee scoop aka “Measuring/Tamping Spoon”, the bottom of which acts as a tamper, is supplied with the machine. If you really feel the need to get a stylish tamper, then just note the filter size is 53mm. But, there really is no need because as you have read about, the dual filter is a pressured filter. Save your money.
Is this Machine Difficult to Maintain?
Breville packs this machine with the tools necessary for cleaning this machine. The portafilter, filters need to be rinsed with water after each use. The grouphead itself along with the shower screen should also be wiped with a damp cloth.
Like most espresso machines, you can manually purge the machine by placing an empty filter in the portafilter, then inserting the portafilter into the grouphead, and proceeding with an extraction.
Breville recommends the drip tray be removed and cleaned after each use. It also has an indicator to tell you when to do it (for those who hate being reminded, this indicator can be removed).
There are a few other care and cleaning routines that should be observed but one last one that deserves a mention is the decalcification. Breville recommends this every month to avoid a build-up of minerals and outlines a clear step-by-step process on how to do so.
The Breville 800 ESXL Duo Temp is a great and inexpensive espresso machine for those with no or little barista experience. It is also great for those looking for a replacement for their old and faltering coffee or entry level espresso machine.
Here is a quick glance of its features:
- “Duo-Temp” technology to let you brew another cup right after steaming.
- Rapid heating with Thermoblock boiler.
- 15 Bar electric pump.
- Dual wall filters combined with Triple Prime™ Pump for maximum flavor and aroma.
- Front-accessible water tank with level indicator for easy refill.
- Die-Cast made with stainless-steel housing.
DeLonghi ECP3630 Espresso and Cappuccino Machine
The DeLonghi ECP3630 15 Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino machine is the successor to the popular DeLonghi EC702 Espresso Maker. This machine is considerably smaller and lighter yet packed with features like its predecessor.
If you are looking for an entry-level espresso machine, add this one to your list for consideration.
Compact Design, Great Features
The unit may be small but that doesn’t mean you can’t brew like a barista. Using 1100W, it powers a 15 Bar electric pump and has a self-priming function to reduce initial warm-up time.
The 37 fl. oz (1L) water tank is on the small side, but take into account the size of this machine. There is a handy water level in the front so you will always know when a refill is needed. The water tank is removable from the top, but this shouldn’t be a problem for most kitchens given this machine’s lower height at 11.9″.
You have the option of brewing one or two espresso shots with high-quality crema, thanks to the double wall filter. Easy serve espresso (ESE) pods can also be used. All this made possible with the special 3-in-1 filter holder.
Can this machine froth milk?
This machine features two separate thermostats to control water for espresso and steam for milk temperatures. It is also equipped with an option for milk or cappuccino steaming options for just the right rich and creamy froth.
So does this machine only brew small cups?
De’Longhi is one step ahead on this front. Despite the smaller size of the machine, they developed a two-tier removable drip tray that allows you to use larger cups or mugs (max 5″). You can also immediately brew another cup thanks to the Rapid Cappuccino System.
This machine is relatively easy to maintain, given its smaller size. For those who are looking for an inexpensive upgrade from a basic coffee maker, this elegant yet robust machine will make a barista out of you in no time. Here is a snapshot of some of its features:
- 3-in-1 filter for one, two espresso shots or ESE pods.
- Rapid Cappuccino System for non-stop brewing.
- Rich and creamy froth achieved with the “hot milk” or cappuccino” selector.
- 15 Bar pressure for quality espresso.
- Smaller and compact design for kitchens large or small.
- Great for those looking for an affordable entry-level espresso machine.
Whatever you choose, the best espresso machine under 500 should really be a machine that caters to your needs and taste. Just because it has a lower price tag than those bordering upwards of $1,000, doesn’t mean it can’t deliver a great cup of espresso! Furthermore, the brands featured on this review are all considered to be the top brands in the world of espresso machines.
About This Research and Review:
* More than 35 project hours* invested researching and producing this article.
* The Research & Analysis component of the project is usually a combination of:
- Analyzing country-specific appliance manufacturer’s / authorized distributor’s documentation and websites.
- Cross-referencing e-retailer’s listed specifications of the appliance against the manufacturer / authorized distributors.
- Only Assessing Verified customer reviews and comments (positive & negative) from reputable e-retailers.
- Physical inspection of the small appliance where possible / available.
* Stated hours may increase due to our constant checking for manufacturer’s updates, news, etc.