Espresso machines have become trending nor days and everyone trying to get one.
Finding one can be a difficult task but with some basic knowledge and wisdom of how a coffee and espresso machines work, how much they cost, and specific features you get for the money, selecting the right option is easy.
Creamy, bold, and full of flavor— what’s not to love about espresso? But what really sets an espresso shot apart from the regular cup of joe? Its preparation, of course!
Steam heats water to near boiling and the pressurized and forced in under a minute. Then, you will get a steamy, hot shot of espresso in just a few seconds!
But espresso machines are not cheap. At least in the past years, they weren’t.
And when it comes to buying an espresso machine, there’s a huge difference between the more authentic models and the cheap plastic entry-levels.
While it is true that you can still pull an espresso shot on those cheap models, but if you wish to get the flavorful and rich shots, then $500 seems to be a decent point where the invisible line is drawn.
So, if you’re shopping for a good machine on a budget, then you should look at the best espresso machines under $500.
At this price point, you’re justified to have high expectations of purchasing something that is well-built with quality materials, robust, reliable, and is designed to extract barista-approved espressos.
However, you will still need to choose from several models. Not to worry though, we made it easier for you and listed some of the best espresso machines under $500 that we can find!
Top 10 Best Espresso Machines Under $500
- 15-Bar Italian pump delivers the right amount of pressure for maximum flavor extraction and produces a beautiful layer of crema for your Espresso
- Dial interface for selecting steam, hot water, and pre-programmed single and double shots
- 58mm café-sized porta filter holds more grounds and ensures even water dispersion and extraction for robust flavor
- Thermoblock heating technology and PID temperature control delivers even heat for consistently great-tasting Espresso, and pre-infusion gently blooms The espresso grounds for optimally extracted Espresso
- Removable 2.0L water reservoir with hinged lid for easy filling
- Cup warming tray for espresso-ready cups and steam wand froths milk for creating cappuccinos, lattes, and other drinks, just like in coffee shops
- Includes stainless steel milk pitcher, tamper,and cleaning pin (Cleaning Pin located in the 'Accessories' storage area under the Drip tray )
- ✅ Espresso, Cappuccino, Latte & much more instantly! Espresso Machine & Cappuccino Maker ready for use in 45 seconds!
- ✅ ESPRESSO MAKER ALL IN ONE SET - Easy to use 19 Bar Pump Machine with everything needs to become a true Barista
- ✅ LATTE MACHINE WITH MILK FROTHER - Built-in Removable Frother allows you to heat and froth milk to create cappuccinos and lattes.
- ✅ LARGE WATER TANK - 1.4L large detachable water tank with convenient handle to allow for hassle-free refills and easy cleaning!
- ✅ SINGLE ESPRESSO SHOT or DOUBLE ESPRESSO SHOT- Two stainless steel portafilter baskets included for the option of pulling a single shot or a double shot during each extraction.
- Manual Cappuccino System
- Thermo Block Technology
- Automatic Flow Stop
- Maximum cup height : 3.14 inches
- ✅ ESPRESSO and CAPPUCCINO IN 45 SECONDS- The advanced thermoblock heating system allows you to create Espresso, Cappuccino and Latte in seconds!
- ✅ ESPRESSO MACHINE and LATTE MAKER 15 BAR PUMP PRESSURE SYSTEM- Enjoy great tasting Italian Espresso, Americano and Macchiato!
- ✅ SINGLE ESPRESSO SHOT OR DOUBLE ESPRESSO SHOT- Two stainless steel portafilter baskets included for the option of pulling a single shot or a double shot during each extraction.
- ✅ EASY VIEW REMOVABLE WATER TANK- Conveniently monitor water levels of front view transparent tank (1.25L capacity). Handle included on tank for easy removal for cleaning and refilling.
- ✅ OVER 10,000 UNITS SOLD with an Outstanding Customer service team! Available 24/7 to provide personal assistance at any time!
- Nescafe Dolce Gusto Majesto is an automatic capsule coffee machine, designed to perfectly fit your single cup, black and specialty coffee brewing needs utilizing an intuitive touchscreen
- COFFEE HOUSE INSPIRED DRINKS - Explore the wide variety of decadent flavors and coffee house inspired drinks offered by the NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto capsule-based coffee machine. With 17 flavor varieties, choose from authentic Espresso, Americano, Chococino, Cappuccino, Latte, and more.
- EASY INTERFACE - Navigate the touchscreen display by simply dragging and tapping the screen to easily select and make your drink. The touchscreen also allows you to create a customized beverage, as well as provides automatic service reminders and machine care instructions.
- PRESSURE BASED SYSTEM – The Majesto’s 17 bars of pressure allows high level extraction for optimal flavor, aroma, and body delivered consistently in every cup
- ULTIMATE COFFEE FRESHNESS - After spending our time crafting the perfect coffee, we then hermetically seal the capsule to prevent humidity and oxygen from damaging our coffee. This proprietary technology ensures an intensely aromatic and fresh cup every time.
- Rugged Brushed Stainless Steel housing
- Commercial three-way solenoid valve. Capacity water tank - 2,1 liter
- Commercial-style 58mm chrome-plated brass portability and brew group
- Commercial steam wand. Rotating steam want movement type
- Easy-to-use rocker switch controls
- Removable Brewing Unit - Easy to remove, rinse and replace, which helps keep maintenance simple.
- Ceramic Burr Grinder - The adjustable grinder preserves aroma without overheating the beans.
- Energy-saving Mode - The Xsmall enters stand-by mode automatically after one hour.
- Volumetric Controls - Program you preferred brew volumes with two programmable buttons.
- Small Footprint - The Xsmall is Saeco's most compact and affordable machine.
- Seattle Coffee Gear Exclusive w/ 2 Year Philips Direct Warranty! All-In-One - The Carina 1200 grinds, brews, and froths—all in a compact coffee package.
- Panarello Steam Wand - This auto-frothing wand makes the foam for you, while still giving you control over temperature and texture.
- Programmable Drinks - Each drink button can be preset to your favorite recipe, and changed on the fly with handy dose and volume buttons.
- AquaClean Compatible (SOLD SEPARATELY) - Add Philip's smart-sensing water filter to track usage—letting you go up to 5000 cups without the need to descale
- Front Loading Water Tank - Oft-overlooked, the Carina's 1.8L slide out water reservoir is refillable without having to move your machine.
- Pre infusion function applies low water pressure at the start of the extraction to gently expand grinds for an even extraction; Water Tank Capacity: 61 ounce
- 1600 watts thermocoil heating system with integrated stainless steel water coil accurately controls water temperature; Settings: Single or Double Shot Volumetric Control & Manual Over ride. Dimensions : 13.7 x 11.5 x 13.2 inches
- Auto purge function automatically adjusts water temperature after steam for optimal espresso extraction temperature; 15 bar Italian pump provides complete volumetric control preset, manual over ride or re programmable volumes
- Accessories: single & dual wall filter baskets, coffee scoop, stainless steel jug, cleaning disc & tablets, cleaning tool, water filter with holder. Please note: There is a “Black Plastic” insert inside the stainless steel bowl of the portafilter, this is meant to reduce heat loss experienced when espresso hits cold metal also prevents any “splashing” from the dual wall pressurized filter baskets
- PID temperature control that delivers water at precisely the right temperature adjustable in 2 degree Celsius increments; Power 1700 Watts. Voltage: 110 to 120 Volts
- The perfect creamy latte: One button and one capsule - that's all it takes to enjoy a barista-style latte in seconds. Only by De'longhi
- 6 one-touch recipes: Simple one-touch button for Coffee and milk lovers to prepare creamy latte, latte macchiato, cappuccino, warm milk, perfect Espresso or Coffee
- Made in Italy: The lattissima touch's sleek Italian craftsmanship looks fantastic in any kitchen
- Advanced milk frother by De'longhi: An automatic frother creates rich, long-lasting, creamy foam
- Practical design: Sliding drip tray for different cup or glass sizes, removable milk container with rinsing function, illuminated buttons. Input power (W): 1400
- 19-Bar high pressure pump ensures fast heat-up (in less than 40 seconds for milk-based recipes). Easy insertion, automatic piercing and brewing of capsules
- Included Components: Lattissima touch single serve espresso machine
Espresso: What It Is And Isn’t?
First off, let’s clear some misunderstanding:
Despite what is often marketed, espresso is not a type of roast. There is not a specific blend or bean that is espresso.
Espresso is just a preparation method. And it is far more rooted in chemistry than the automatic espresso machines of today let on. It is when highly-pressurized and nearly-boiling hot water is forced through the tightly packed coffee grounds.
The hot water and the pressure forced into the grounds in just a few seconds create the so-loved espresso shots, a 30ml of pure, dark joy.
A Brief History Recap
An Italian named Angelo Moriondo was the first to patent the first espresso machine way back in the year 1884. An interesting tidbit for you:
Moriondo just claims the ownership but a woman named Martina was the one to actually built the prototypes. Moriondo jealously guarded the first machine and tinkering with them, but never mass-producing them, until he died.
After the selfish act of Moriondo, Bezzerra stepped in and improved the designs by adding multiple brew heads, a portafilter, and providing a way to reach the optimal espresso temperature.
After Bezzerra, Desiderio Pavoni added the first pressure valves to further improve the machine. It is where the term “pulling a shot” actually comes from since the motion of pulling the level to express the hot water through the coffee grounds.
How To Find The Best Espresso Machines Under 500?
First off, you need to consider the type of machine you want. At this price point, you got 3 options:
Manual Espresso Machines
The manual espresso machines can be recognized by their horizontal lever positioning. When the lever is raised, the pre-heated water is poured into a chamber where it will interact with the coffee beans.
You can control the duration of the pre-wetting process, pressure, and flow rate by pressing the lever.
Manual espresso machines are used to make real espresso and espresso-based drinks. But before you decide to get a manual espresso machine, you need to know that working with one requires certain experience and skills.
After all, you’re in charge of all processes— the choice of coffee grind, portion size, the temperature, the pressure, and the time of pulling.
Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines
The semi-automatic espresso machines create the right water pressure for you. However, the preparation of the drink is completely controlled by you.
Most common commercial espresso machines are semi-automatic since they combine speed and affordability while also leaving enough control to the taste and flavor of the finished drinks.
Super-Automatic Espresso Machines
The super-automatic espresso machines that are under 500 carry out the whole preparation process (obviously) from the grinding of coffee beans to dispensing the already ground beans to pulling the drink into cups.
The super-automatic espresso machines are mainly used both in catering establishments and everyday life where the drinks need to be prepared in large quantities or if there are not specially trained barista.
They are also suitable for beginners or the busy people who do not have time to tinker on their espresso shots.
The best espresso machine under 500 will usually use either a thermoblock or a boiler system to heat the water needed to pull an espresso shot and for steaming milk.
Boiler systems are usually reserved for the more expensive espresso machine, usually have either double or single broilers. However, you can find an espresso machine under 500 with a boiler system.
Most of the best espresso machines under 500, however, will feature the thermoblock.
It may not be as consistent as the boiler system and won’t allow simultaneous brewing and steaming, but it can have a PID controller in order to work efficiently as a boiler system.
This advanced mechanism can help maintain the temperature within the small range.
Quality of Steam Wand
If you’re a fan of a milk-based espresso drink, then a quality steam wand should be high on the list of requirements for your home espresso machine.
Learning how to create creamy foams can transform your espresso coffee experience from good to great. In order to make microfoam, you will need a high-quality steam wand or built-in frother that can maintain a consistent temperature.
Most of the best espresso machines under 500 features a steam wand hanging to the side. These can be helpful for the beginner espresso brewer or if you do not often steam milk.
The function of the tamper is simple— pressing down on coffee grounds in the portafilter so that no air is left. When the espresso machines pushed hot water into the portafilter with an improperly tamped coffee grounds, you will have a less tasty shot.
Proper tamping can increase your chances of pulling the perfect, dark drink.
Water filters are there to purify and soften water in espresso machines. Despite the various sizes of filters created by manufacturers, the internal structure and its operating instructions are similar.
For all espresso machines, the filter is installed in the machine’s water compartment and can be easily screwed into place.
If there is one, the hopper capacity will tell you the number of coffee beans that you can add to the espresso machine at a time.
The larger it is, the more coffee beans you can add, and the less often you will need to fill it.
However, there’s a downside to the larger hopper though. If you’re alone and just drink a cup or two daily, the coffee beans stored in a large hopper will start to lose their freshness. This changes the flavor of your brew.
Thus, a larger hopper is better for a group of people in your office or home who likes to drink multiple cups of coffee on a daily basis.
Some espresso machines at this price point will come with a built-in grinder, which provides value to the money.
There are 2 main types of grinders— blade and burr. The burr grinders are the best since they produce a high-quality and even ground ensuring, maximum flavor and aroma extraction. Plus, it is relatively quieter than the bladed grinders.
Blade grinders are known for their inconsistent grinds and are usually noisy. However, they are the cheapest options out there that can work with your budget.
Ease of Use
A user-friendly espresso machine makes pulling shots a hassle-free and faster activity, ensuring that you don’t have to waste a lot of time in order to try to get a sip on your daily fix.
The user-friendliness of a machine will be determined by its type, setting, and the displays and controls.
In this regard, the manual models are the hardest to use since it will take some time to master while the super-automatic espresso machines are the easiest to use since you only need to press a button and wait.
The best espresso machine under 500 for home use will not be nearly as large as the commercial models you find in your local coffee shops. The ones you can buy for your kitchen tend to be much smaller so that you can fit them on your kitchen counter among other kitchen appliances.
Still, certain models are slim and can be squeezed even on the tightest spot while others will need a bigger kitchen countertop than usual.
Others will have high clearance and might not be suitable for those with low cupboards, especially if you are adding water to the back of the machine or adding beans to the top-loading hopper.
So, before buying an espresso machine, it’s best that you measure the space you have available and finding one with the features you think can fit that specific area.
The warranty of any appliance or product should cover any problems with the workmanship or parts of the machine. These problems should not be caused by you or the way that you are using the machine, so you should not be the one paying for it.
Most of the best espresso machines under 500 on the list will have a 1-year limited warranty, giving you a full12 months to try it out and make sure that it is working properly.
How To Make Espresso: Step-by-Step Guide
Pulling a great shot of espresso will require the right equipment and skills. Not to worry though, here is a step-by-step guide on how to make your first espresso.
Preheat The Espresso Machine
To get the best out of your espresso machine, you will need to make sure that the entire machine is pre-heated. This will take at least 25 minutes for some machines.
Tip: If you wish to speed up the process, try pulling a blank shot by removing the espresso from the portafilter and pulling the shot straight into your espresso cup, which does a doubly duty, preheating the cup as well.
Measuring and Grinding The Beans
Set the grinder to fine grind size. Place the portafilter on the scale and tare the scale-out. After that, fill the portafilter with at least 20g of ground coffee.
The portafilter should have a recommended capacity. It is important to work within the range they have provided since some portafilters are smaller and larger than others.
Now, if you are lucky enough to have an espresso machine featuring a built-in grinder, then you can just grind into your portafilter.
After that, you will have a little mountain of ground coffee in the portafilter basket. Using your hand, shave away excess coffee.
Tamp The Grounds
You will want your coffee beans to be roughly evenly distributed before you do the tamping. Do this by lightly tapping the sides of the portafilter with your hand.
It’s time to tamp.
The key to tamping is pressing down straight. You don’t want an uneven puck. Plus, you will need to use a bit of pressure. Tamp the coffee grounds until they stop settling, ensuring that you have a level top.
A straight tamp ensures that the coffee is even and helps avoid channeling and, in turn, under, over, or an inconsistent extraction.
Give the tamper a quick spin to polish the tp. Then brush off the excess grounds that are clinging to the side or top of the portafilter and you are ready for brewing.
Pulling The Shot
AS you pull the espresso shot, take note of the time on how long it takes to hit 2oz. Ideally, you will end up 20 – 30 seconds per pull.
If you are in this range, then you just made a decent espresso. Hopefully, it is dark and rich but glorious and sweet. However, in reality, the first shot is just establishing your baseline.
Thus, the next step of…
Dialing The Shot
If you are using an espresso machine with a pressure gauge, then you need to take note of the pressure reached.
This can help in adjusting your next shot if you have too little or too much pressure.
Good espresso machines will provide you an indicator of how well or how poorly extracted your espresso shot is. If you do not have a gauge, then just taste your espresso, and make up your mind. Write it down in a journal.
If your espresso took an eternity to pull, then you will want a coarser grind. If it is pulled too quickly, then you will want to change to the finer grinds.
Also, if your espresso tastes sour then you will want a finer grind. Meanwhile, bitterness indicates that the espresso is over-extracted, thus, you will want a coarser ground.
Now, if you switch between roasts, especially between dark and light, then you will need to repeat the dialing process. The darker roasts are easier to be over-extracted than the lighter toasts and usually benefit from the coarser grind.
At this stage, you can decide whether you want to enjoy the darkness and strength of pure espresso or transform it into a creamier, milk-based coffee. If you prefer the latter, then go to the next step…
Hopefully, your espresso machine will have a steam wand built in it. Otherwise, you will have to use a separate milk steamer in order to steam your milk.
You will start with cold milk poured into a stainless steel milk pitcher. Then turn the steamer wand on briefly in order to eliminate condensation that might have accumulated in the wand.
After that, put the steamer wand tip below the milk surface. Turn the steamer and froth the milk just until it reached the desired consistency. Make sure that the steamer wand is just below the surface for the whole process.
When you have reached the desired frothiness, plunge its tip to the bottom of the milk vessel, then continue steaming until you reach the desired temperature.
After that, wipe the wand down and give it a short purge in order to keep things clean and sanitary.
Tip: The key to foaming your milk is heat. Too much and your milk will taste unpleasant and burnt. Too little and your foam will not stay together.
Also, at the recommended temperature of 139 – 149 degrees Fahrenheit, all the milky fats will have melted into liquid form without destroying the foam.
Maintaining and Espresso Machine
The best home espresso machines are not nearly as complicated and complex as the models that you will see in your local coffee shops.
Of course, you will still need to maintain and clean them in order to keep them running perfectly. In order to do so, you will need to:
- Wipe down the entire machine and running the rinse cycle is there is one included.
- Rinse and empty the drip tray, dregs box, and water tank on a daily basis.
- Purge and wipe down the steam wand after every use. Also, take it apart for a thorough cleaning every day.
- If there’s a removable brew group, then take it apart and clean every piece at least once a month, rinsing it with warm water between thorough cleanings.
- Run the descaling process on a regular basis, especially if you are in an area with high mineral content in the water.
- Remove the beans and wipe down the machine’s hopper with a food-friendly cleaner in order to prevent the oily buildup.
- Scrub the internal areas with a spay sponge on a weekly basis.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are more bars better?
A: The more bar options on an espresso machine don’t automatically mean better espresso shots.
Too little pressure will pull a weak espresso shot, while too much can over-extract it and creating a bitter brew.
The industry standards are getting 9 bars of pressure in terms of making espresso. However, a lot of the best espresso machines under 500 go much higher than this. Most coffee connoisseurs will suggest 15 bars to pull a great espresso shot.
More pressure can indeed help you make better espresso shots, however, other factors such as the right grind size, bean quality, and some skills can make or break an espresso shot.
Q: Can I use regular coffee beans in my espresso machine?
A: Of course, you can! There is no such thing as espresso beans or blends, as mentioned earlier. However, espresso shots mainly use dark roast coffee beans.
Q: Is the best espresso machine under 500 appropriate for coffee shops?
A: It’s unlikely that these espresso machines are suitable for normal coffee shops. However, for the small, starting cafes will definitely find it useful and efficient.
Q: Are espresso machines loud?
A: Espresso machines are not typically loud when you are using them to brew the espresso. They will have some noisy parts, although these are tolerable.
For instance, if the machine has a built-in grinder, then grinding can be noisy. Also, it can be a bit noisy when steaming milk.
Q: What can I expect from the best espresso machine under 500?
A: Espresso machines at this price point can produce decent espresso with some models offering the convenience of a milk frother and a built-in grinder.
Your choice of the best espresso machine will always depend on your situation and preferences. However, your budget is also a crucial factor as you can buy what you can’t afford.
In order to make sure that you strike a perfect balance between cost and functionality, buying the best espresso machines under 500 will be the wisest idea.
Finding the perfect model for you should be easy with our comprehensive buying guide or trust us and choose from our list of the best espresso machines under 500.
Whatever you choose, we hope this article has been helpful in your espresso buying journey. Don’t be shy to voice out your concern.
And please don’t forget to share this article with your family and friends.
Until then, have a strong and energizing day!