Best Espresso Machines Under $500

Making great espresso at home needn’t cost a fortune. The $500 price point is a sweet spot for home baristas, affording highly capable espresso machines that have everything needed for great-tasting drinks.

Here are the best espresso machines under $500 (and some guidance on how to choose one).

Our top picks at this price point are the Breville Duo Temp Pro and the Breville Bambino Plus. If you are a total beginner and want the easiest option, go with the Breville Bambino Plus. But if you fancy yourself more of a barista and like the idea of having more control, then the Breville Duo Temp Pro is for you.

Here’s a quick overview of all the machines we considered.

Best Overall
Breville Duo Temp Pro Espresso Machine
Best Runner Up
Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine
Most Stylish
Smeg Espresso Machine
Best Super Automatic
Gaggia Brera Super-Automatic Espresso Machine
Best for Pod Users
Gaggia Classic Evo Pro
Best Manual
Flair Espresso Maker PRO 2
Breville Duo Temp Pro Espresso Machine,61 Fluid Ounces, Stainless Steel, BES810BSS
Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine,64 Fluid Ounces, Brushed Stainless Steel, BES500BSS
Smeg Espresso Machine, 1 liters, Black ECF01 BLUS
Gaggia Brera Super-Automatic Espresso Machine, Small, Black, 40 fl oz
Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Evo Pro, Small, Brushed Stainless Steel
Flair Espresso Maker PRO 2 (Black) - An all manual lever espresso maker with stainless steel brew head and pressure gauge
$499.95
$499.95
$529.95
$449.00
$431.86
$325.00
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
Best Overall
Breville Duo Temp Pro Espresso Machine
Breville Duo Temp Pro Espresso Machine,61 Fluid Ounces, Stainless Steel, BES810BSS
$499.95
Amazon Prime
Best Runner Up
Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine
Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine,64 Fluid Ounces, Brushed Stainless Steel, BES500BSS
$499.95
Amazon Prime
Most Stylish
Smeg Espresso Machine
Smeg Espresso Machine, 1 liters, Black ECF01 BLUS
$529.95
Amazon Prime
Best Super Automatic
Gaggia Brera Super-Automatic Espresso Machine
Gaggia Brera Super-Automatic Espresso Machine, Small, Black, 40 fl oz
$449.00
Amazon Prime
Best for Pod Users
Gaggia Classic Evo Pro
Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Evo Pro, Small, Brushed Stainless Steel
$431.86
Amazon Prime
Best Manual
Flair Espresso Maker PRO 2
Flair Espresso Maker PRO 2 (Black) - An all manual lever espresso maker with stainless steel brew head and pressure gauge
$325.00
Amazon Prime


Best Overall Espresso Machine: Breville Duo Temp Pro

Breville Duo Temp Pro Espresso Machine,61 Fluid Ounces, Stainless Steel, BES810BSS
  • Please refer to user guide or user manual or user guide (provided below in PDF) before first use
  • AUTO PURGE: The Duo-Temp Pro Espresso Machine automatically purges the heat system after steaming, ensuring your next espresso is extracted at the right temperature
  • The Breville Duo Temp Pro lets you create third wave specialty coffee at home; This espresso machine ensures balanced flavors from even extraction using low pressure pre-fusion, managing sweetness, acidity and bitterness for the perfect cup every time
  • PRECISE ESPRESSO EXTRACTION: Low pressure pre-infusion helps ensure all the flavors are drawn out evenly during the extraction for a balanced tasting cup

PROS

  • Highly capable machine
  • Adjustable temperature
  • Preinfusion programmed
  • Hot water spout
  • Standard steam wand
  • Well made
  • Competitive price

CONS

  • No fancy aesthetic (common)
  • Not the most beginner friendly

Who Should Buy: The Breville Duo Temp Pro deserves to be on everyone’s shortlist, as it’s capable of delivering a great experience for both newer and experienced baristas. No other machine on this list will have such wide appeal.

The Breville Duo Temp Pro is everything that a semi-automatic espresso machine (the most common type) should be. You have a high degree of control over both pulling espresso and steaming milk, with all of the help that you’ll need from the machine itself.

Pulling shots on this machine requires you to fully prep the puck, and lock the portafilter into the group head. You can select the water temperature or use the default setting, and the machine will use a low-pressure preinfusion that’s built into its brewing process. The preinfusion used is particularly adept at compensating for pucks that might not be perfectly ground or tamped.

A single knob controls both pulling shots and steaming milk. Turn it to the left once your grounds are ready, to control how long hot water flows through the grounds. Turn it to the right when you want to steam milk.

The steam wand is a standard one with a single-hole tip. It jettisons high-pressure steam for rich microfoam, or there’s a toggle for when you want an americano (or even tea).

All of this is from a company that’s well-known in the home espresso space. Breville machines are some of the most common in kitchens, and they have a long track record of durability. This machine should last for years, both because it’s well made and because it has the features you’ll want. The longevity and a comparatively lower price than most on this list also make the Duo Temp Pro the best value espresso machine for less than $500.

The one downside of the Breville Duo Temp Pro is that it’s not the most beginner friendly. If you’re inexperienced and want something that’ll have you making great drinks out of the box, look at the runner-up from Breville Instead.

If you do like the Duo Temp Pro, also look at the Breville Infuser espresso machine. It didn’t make the list because it’s usually ~$600, but is a similar model with slightly more features. You’ll likely be happy with either one.

Runner-Up for Best Overall Espresso Machine: Breville Bambino Plus

Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine,64 Fluid Ounces, Brushed Stainless Steel, BES500BSS

  • ThermoJet heating system
  • Auto and manual milk with powerful 266°F steam
  • Professional-style 54mm stainless steel portafilter
  • Low pressure pre-infusions, followed by a high pressure (9 bar) extraction
  • Compact footprint

PROS

  • Best steaming function
  • Extremely beginner friendly
  • Starts up in seconds
  • Preinfusion
  • Well made

CONS

  • Limited adjustments for pulling
  • No fancy aesthetic (common)

Who Should Buy: If you’re looking for an espresso machine that’s easy and/or convenient to use, the Breville Bambino Plus is almost certainly the best choice. No other machine meets the needs of a newer barista as well, and the ability to prep grounds and manually steam will ensure you enjoy using this model even after you’ve practiced a while.

The Breville Bambino Plus deserves placement right alongside its Duo Temp Pro counterpart, and either could’ve taken first place as best overall. The only reason why the Bambino Plus is named runner-up is because experienced baristas write these lists, and the one writing this list happens to personally prefer the Duo Temp Pro’s greater controls.

If you’re newer to making espresso beverages, the Breville Bambino Plus is the clear frontrunner for you to look at. It easily could’ve been “best espresso machine for new baristas” or “best espresso machine for steaming milk,” if it wasn’t so great overall. The whole package makes it the runner-up for best espresso machine overall.

The most intriguing feature of the Bambino Plus is its steam wand, which is the best of all machines listed thanks to its settings. You first can choose to steam milk yourself, or to have the machine automatically steam the milk for you (which it does very well). There’s also a selection of three different steaming modes that’ll vary the ratio of milk to foam, allowing you to make cortados, cappuccinos and lattes without any experience.

The metal steaming pitcher also sits on a temperature sensor that indicates when the milk is properly warmed. Milk temperature is as important as aeration, for a sweetness develops between 130-140°F (55-60°C). Just make sure the steaming pitcher is fully on the temperature sensor, or else the automatic steaming function could heat milk so much that it boils over.

Espresso pulling is much more limited in its features, with you doing little more than prepping the puck and selecting a single or double shot. Built-in preinfusion and a PID switch ensure the shot will be pulled well, but can’t be adjusted on this model.

Some baristas appreciate the ThermoJet system that has the machine ready to pull shots in seconds, but that’s a non-factor to someone who rated another machine higher because it has more settings to spend time changing.

Like Beville’s other machines, the Bambino Plus is made well, and should last a long time. It costs more than the Duo Temp Pro, but still is a great value if you’re looking for a good espresso machine below $500.

Most Stylish Espresso Machine: Smeg Espresso Machine

Smeg Espresso Machine, 1 liters, Black ECF01 BLUS
  • Thermoblock Heating System
  • 15 Bar Pressure
  • 1-cup Button; 2-cup Button; Steam Option
  • 1L Removable Water Tank With Optional Water Filter

PROS

  • Stylish retro look
  • Multiple color options

CONS

  • Limited adjustments
  • No PID or preinfusion
  • Pricey

Sometimes it’s more about looks than substance. That’s when the Smeg Espresso Machine gets noticed.

A retro look that’s available in six different colors ensures that the Smeg Espresso machine literally stands out. It has an avant-garde design from the 1950s, and comes in both neutral (black, white) and noticeable (pale blue, sage green, light pink, bold red) colors. Few other models are as chic as this one looks.

It’s almost all about looks, however, since there’s little of notable substance. A group head pulls shots after you prep the grounds, and a steam wand steams milk. That’s the extent of any more meaningful things that this machine has to offer.

Who Should Buy: Feel free to get the Smeg Espresso Machine if you have a retro-styled kitchen that it’ll match the color of. Otherwise, you’re apt to find this an expensive date that holds little interest for you after only a short time.

Best Super Automatic Espresso Machine: Gaggia Brera

Gaggia Brera Super-Automatic Espresso Machine, Small, Black, 40 fl oz

  • Designed and made in Italy
  • 1.2 L water tank
  • Coffee grinder
  • 15 bar pressure
  • Milk steaming

PROS

  • Built-in grinder
  • Automatic steam wand
  • Hot water spout
  • Extremely convenient to use
  • Beginner friendly
  • Well made

CONS

  • Limited adjustments
  • No PID
  • Only basic preinfusion
  • Not hands-on
  • No fancy aesthetic (common)

Who Should Buy: If you want an extremely convenient and fast way of making espresso beverages, the Gaggia Brera is the best choice. No other espresso maker under $500 is as easy to use, especially since the grinder is built in. The built-in grinder might also make this a contender if you don’t already have an espresso grinder and don’t want to buy a separate one.

The Gaggia Brera is the closest you’ll find to a super automatic espresso machine for less than $500. It won’t pour the milk into the espresso for you, but that’s the only thing a superautomatic would do that this doesn’t. Aside from filling the hopper and steamer, the Brera takes care of almost everything for you.

The Brera’s grinder isn’t only built into the machine, but uses a patented Adapting System to adjust grind size to accomodate your beans. The system automatically assesses bean size and density, and then adjusts the grind accordingly for excellent extraction. While the system’s name might not be original or good, the feature certainly is.

In addition to grinding, the machine will also automatically pull shots and steam milk for you. You just have to fill the hopper and pitcher. There’s no dosing, tamping or other prepping. Just combine the milk and espresso when everything is done (you can practice latte art if you wish).

If you don’t want something with milk, there’s also a hot water dispenser for making americanos.

Don’t expect the best-tasting espresso from this, as features like a PID switch and advanced preinfusion are lacking. Do expect the most convenient good-tasting beverage, though.

Best Espresso Machine for Pod Users: Gaggia Classic Pro

Sale
Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Evo Pro, Small, Brushed Stainless Steel
  • Solid Steel Housing, Made in Italy
  • 9 Bar Espresso Extractions
  • Stainless Steel 58mm Commercial Portafilter
  • Commercial Three Way Solenoid Valve
  • Commercial Steam Wand

PROS

  • Works with ground coffee and pods
  • Beginner friendly
  • Several color options
  • Well made

CONS

  • Limited adjustments for pulling or steaming
  • No programmed preinfusion
  • No PID switch
  • No fancy aesthetic (common)

Who Should Buy: Only consider the Gaggia Classic Pro if you like espresso, and brew from both grounds and pods. It excels at accepting both and making true espresso. Otherwise, you’ll probably be happier with a different model.

The Gaggia Classic Pro is, well, a classic among home espresso machines. The machine lacks several desirable features that others on this list have, but its basket makes the Classic Pro well-suited for a specific demographic.

The Classic Pro’s basket is pressurized (or double-walled), which allows the machine to use coffee that’s not specifically ground for espresso. Traditional espresso requires fine grounds, as these provide the resistance that builds up the pressure needed for pulling espresso. With a pressurized basket, a double-wall filter creates the pressure that’s needed for pulling shots. Coarser grounds can be used since they don’t have to provide the same resistance.

The basket is therefore able to work with espresso-ground coffee, fine- and medium-ground coffee, and compatible espresso pods. Most pod machines aren’t able to brew true espresso because they don’t use pressure when pulling shots, and extremely few can accept pods and also make espresso from loose grounds.

Other than the multi-function basket, the Classic Pro has limited features. A steam wand froths milk just fine, and a button for pulling shots does that just fine too. You won’t find a specialized steam wand, PID switch or programmed preinfusion, though.

The only other major variable you can choose is color: stainless, red, blue, black or white.

Best Manual Espresso Machine: Flair Pro 2

Flair Espresso Maker PRO 2 (Black) - An all manual lever espresso maker with stainless steel brew head and pressure gauge
  • HANDCRAFT SHOTS OF ESPRESSO - The Flair PRO 2 is a 100% human-powered, manual espresso press. With the Flair Espresso Maker, you have a complete manual espresso machine that can produce professional quality shots of espresso from your home, or wherever you are. Add 70ml of boiled water and a dose of up to 24 grams to yield up to a 56 ml shot with beautiful crema. A burr grinder is essential for use with this product.
  • COMPLETE BREW CONTROL - The Flair PRO 2 features a custom pressure gauge with an Espresso Zone between 6-9 BAR, exactly that needed to create cafe-quality manual espresso extractions. The pressure gauge allows for immediate visual feedback while pulling shots with the Flair manual espresso press. Each Flair PRO 2 manual espresso maker is also capable of handling various brew ratios from 1:1, 2:1 and 3:1, ensuring that you can extract exactly the espresso you want, right from your home.
  • MAJOR BREWING UPGRADES - The Flair PRO 2 features three upgrades over Flair’s other manual espresso makers including a removable stainless steel spout, an enhanced all-stainless steel bottomless portafilter with improved flow dynamics, and a silicone lever grip for better brewing ergonomics.
  • EASY TO CLEAN & PORTABLE - The Flair Espresso Maker is the only manual espresso maker with a completely detachable brewing head. This patented design allows for users to completely remove the brewing head, separate the parts, and rinse under cool water. This design also means the Flair PRO 2 can pack into an included, precision cut carrying case, meaning you can take your espresso anywhere you’d like.
  • BUILT TO LAST - Now with an upgraded, stronger base, post and lever! The Flair PRO 2 is made from durable materials like cast aluminum and stainless steel, so you can be sure your manual espresso maker, by Flair, is built to last. Both the aluminum press stand and the stainless steel brewing head are backed by a 5-year warranty.

PROS

  • Most hands-on pulling experience
  • Opportunities to practice and perfect skill
  • Compact and portable
  • No electric connection needed
  • Simple and well-made machine

CONS

  • No milk frother
  • Water must be heated separately
  • Time-consuming
  • Not beginner friendly

Who Should Buy: The Flair Pro 2 is a clear choice if you want to perfect your barista skills so that you get the best espresso possible. Just be sure you have time to put in the practice that’s required for perfect extraction. You might also look at the Flair Classic, but the Pro 2 comes with a larger basket and pressure gauge that are both well worth paying more for.

The Flair Pro 2 is an entirely manual machine, and thus provides an entirely different experience. You do everything when using the Flair — including pulling down to provide the pressure needed for brewing espresso.

The workflow with a fully manual machine requires that you grind, dose, tamp and load as you normally would. You then pull a lever down, which is what forces water through the grounds to pull the shot. Thankfully, the leverage means you don’t have to bench 300 pounds to brew espresso.

No other machine listed gives you such an opportunity to practice pulling espresso, and no other machine will produce the same quality of espresso once you’re skilled. Espresso from the Flair can rival (and beat) espresso from machines that are in the four figures.

The major limitation of the Flair is its steam wand — or lack thereof. No water heater means that you have to heat water separately, and can only pull espresso with this. That’s great for making americanos and double shots while camping, but isn’t so great if 12-ounce latest in the dining room are more your thing.

Best Compact Espresso Machine: Calphalon Compact Espresso Machine

Calphalon Compact Espresso Machine, Home Espresso Machine with Milk Frother, Stainless Steel
  • Space-Saving Design: Works like a professional coffeehouse machine, but with a sleek and slim design profile that takes up less space on the kitchen countertop. Exterior Finish: Stainless Steel. Filter type: Reusable
  • Intuitive Control Panel: Makes barista-quality espresso for lattes, cappuccinos, cortados, and more at the touch of a button
  • 15-Bar Italian Pump: Delivers optimal flavor extraction from coffee grounds for bold, espresso brew
  • Thermoblock Heating Technology and Low-Pressure Pre-Infusion: Evenly heats water for consistently great-tasting, flavorful espresso​​
  • Convenient Volumetric Control: Dispenses the perfect amount of espresso​​ every time for single or double shots of espresso

PROS

  • Extremely compact size
  • Affordable Price

CONS

  • Limited adjustments
  • No PID or preinfusion
  • No fancy aesthetic (common)

Who Should Buy: Consider the Calphalon Compact Espresso Machine if you have very little space. It won’t take up much room or much of your budget. In fact, you can purchase this and a Kindle for less than $500 — then you can ditch those hardback books that are so big.

The Calphalon Compact Espresso Machine is less than 6 inches wide (and much less than $500).

This model makes all sorts of compromises in the name of compactness and budget. Even without a PID switch, preinfusion program or panarello steam wand, however, it brews serviceable espresso and froths milk pretty well.

If you want espresso while living in a camper, small apartment or tiny home, the Calphalon model will give you good drinks without taking up to much counter space. At just 6 inches wide, it’s narrower than the series of Harry Potter books on your shelf.


What to Look For in an Espresso Machine Under $500

You won’t be looking at entry-level espresso machines that make compromises. At the $500 price point, you should expect all essential features, solid build quality, and a machine design that’s tailored to your preferred way of making espresso. Some specific features to be aware of:

Temperature

Most of the models listed at this price point have PID switches, which scale heat as necessary to maintain a constant water temperature. The main exceptions are manual machines. A PID switch is one of the most important features that differentiate mid-tier machines from entry-level ones.

Preinfusion:

Many (but not all) of these machines have built-in preinfusion, which is when low-pressure water soaks the grounds before actually pulling the shot. Preinfusion helps reduce channeling and provides more even extraction. A good preinfusion can help compensate for imperfectly prepared/tamped grounds, and it’s essential to maximizing flavor even when grounds are perfectly prepared. Prioritize a model that has preinfusion.

Changing Settings:

These machines allow you to adjust water temperature, preinfusion and brew time to varying degrees. Some models allow you to change all of these settings, others allow you to change only one or two settings, and still others have entirely preset parameters that can’t be changed.
Consider how much control you want over the brewing process, and how convenient you want pulling espresso to be. There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer here.

Steam Wand:

A few models at this price point come with a panarello steam wand. Whereas a traditional steam wand injects steam into the milk, a panarello wand is engineered so that it combines the steam with air.
A panarello steam wand makes it easier to create rich microfoam without much experience. It doesn’t offer the same level of control over the steaming process as a traditional steam wand does, though.
You may want a panarello steam wand if you’re new to making espresso drinks, and especially if you like rich, frothy cappuccinos and lattes. You may want a traditional steam wand if you want more control over steaming, which can be helpful when making latte art.

Heating System:

Most of these machines have a standard single boiler. Some have a heating system that starts up faster but produces slightly less pressure. Manufacturers and reviewers might tout either version, claiming that more steaming pressure makes better frothed milk, or that a faster start-up time is more convenient.
Don’t prioritize one heating system over another. Both are perfectly capable of steaming milk well, and either will have your machine running by the time you prep grounds and pour milk. The selling point for either system really is a moot point.
(No models at this price point have a double boiler. Double boilers are usually only found in commercial and the most expensive home espresso machines.)

Overheating:

Almost all home espresso machines are prone to overheating if you make many shots in a row. Even if they keep the water temperature stable, the group head will become hot and increase brewing temperature.
The easiest way to counter overheating of the group head is to use a machine for 1-2 shots, and then let it cool down. You can turn the machine off, or the group head might cool sufficiently while you’re steaming milk. If you want to pull several shots in a row, cool the portafilter in ice water as you prep each puck.

Most machines at this price point are built by established manufacturers of espresso machines, and have a good overall build quality. Unless otherwise noted, no models are prone to frequent breakdowns (which isn’t necessarily true for cheaper entry-level models).

Note on Portafilters and Grinders

Almost all of the models at this price point have a standard portafilter (size varies). Standard portafilters require coffee that’s ground for espresso. Make sure you have a decent espresso grinder (not just a coffee grinder), so you can adjust grind size as needed. The grind is one variable you can control with almost every machine.

As a general guideline, you can expect to split your budget 70/30 for an espresso machine and grinder. Most of the machines in this range are $400-$500. One option is to stretch your budget to $600 so that you can get a good machine in this range and a decent espresso grinder for `$150. Another option is to get an espresso machine now, and purchase ground coffee until you’re able to invest in a grinder.

(Pressurized portafilters that allow you to use standard ground coffee aren’t common on these machines, and the few that have one don’t produce as great espresso.)

Looking for a different price point? We’ve got you covered: