Best Espresso Machine Under $500 - 2017 Reviews and Top Picks

Finding best espresso machine under $500 is no easy task, however the espresso machines listed below pass all the tests for quality and consistency for espresso enthusiasts.

For home baristas, having a budget up to $500 shows that you are serious about your espresso, and if you are willing to spend this much then what you are looking for is a machine that reliably allows you to pull only high quality espresso shots, let alone those coveted God shots. If you aren’t sure if you should be spending this much money on an espresso machine – take a look at how much you are spending at coffee shops each month.

Usually, the result will convince you it is time to invest in an espresso machine. Check out the table below for our top picks.

Why Espresso?

The simple answer – espresso is unbelievably enjoyable if you already love coffee. If you like coffee but want to kick it up a notch, the logical step is indulging in espresso.

On its own, a shot of espresso is quite the caffeinated drink. In fact, it boasts the highest concentration of caffeine. But that is not why you drink espresso – it is mostly about the taste and texture. This is why espresso is the base for more indulgent coffees such as caffe lattes, macchiatos, cappuccinos, café mochas, etc. Getting a great shot of espresso means that producing these types of drinks at home is easier than ever.

Because of the highly-concentrated taste, espresso is one of those things where you need to figure out for yourself what your preferences are. The right espresso machine has enough flexibility for you to refine your palette while at the same time giving you subtle guidance on how to most effectively make a good shot of espresso.

One purchase you should consider – porcelain espresso cups, they are the perfect accoutrement for all espressos.

#1 Breville BES840XL

There is a reason why this machine is at the top of the list of anything that involves the best espresso machines, and that is because the Breville BES840XL is unbelievable in its ability to consistently produce the best shots of espresso time and time again. When you are looking for good espresso from home, this machine is so good that you will swear you have been transported to some Italian bistro.

So why is the Breville considered to be the best? Well, this machine is uncanny in its consistency and that is mainly because it does an exceptional job keeping the water at the right temperature (for espresso, the ideal temperature is between 195 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit). With low water pressure at the beginning of the extraction along with easy to understand controls, you will quickly get the hang of using this particular machine for your espressos.

Because the Breville has a bunch of removable parts, cleaning the machine is easy. As with any espresso machine, it is imperative to clean it so that you never have to worry about the flavor being contaminated. Breville makes it easy to remove the different attachments including the water tank and drip tray. Because they are safe for the dishwasher (provided they are on the top rack) you are not spending undue time scrubbing each attachment.

The biggest problems people have with the Breville come from enormously high use. The stream rings will have a propensity to fail and some have reported problems with the pump failing after a while. However, as long as you refrain from abusing the unit and keep it cleaned and well maintained, these are issues that probably will not affect you right away, if at all.

Ultimately, the Breville is the best in its class, and time after time home baristas come back to this device because of how consistently it produces the best shots of espresso.

Pros

  • Removable tank and drip pan make for easy cleaning
  • From start to finish, the process for making espresso is efficient and easy to follow
  • Unbelievably reliable with controlling water temperature

Cons

  • This may not be a unit that is good for every day making of espresso
  • Steam rings have a propensity to fail roughly every 18 months

#2 Gaggia Semi-Automatic Espresso Maker

When you think of a smart looking device that can help you keep a dinner party going and keeps the guesswork out of a complex process, the Gaggia Semi-Automatic Espresso Maker is exactly what you have in mind. This device is quite stylish and allows you to keep the party going with minimal interrupts and fuss while you wait for espressos to be made.

The more understated features are the materials used to make the filters. The brass with chrome plating provides an impressive consistency with keeping the temperature where it needs to be for optimal espresso making, and the cup warmer means you don’t have to worry about your espresso going cold if you have to attend to other matters. The removable tank holds an impressive amount of water and is easily refillable – no struggling with the sink hose here!

There are some issues, however, with the Gaggia. For the enthusiastic home barista, there are not too many options to customize your espresso, so while you may enjoy the convenience and the look of the Gaggia, after a while you could end up being bored by doing the same old espresso pulls. A more serious issue is there have been reports of ruptures in the tubing going from the pump. This is enough of an issue that there are YouTube videos of Gaggias pouring out water. Make sure you regularly check your Gaggia to ensure that pinholes don’t become more problematic.

Ultimately, despite its issues, the Gaggia is a very good way to make espresso. It takes the guesswork out of making the shots, and allows you the ability to entertain more efficiently.

Pros

  • Allows you to make multiple drinks in a short period of time
  • Stylish and sleek, this device never looks out of place
  • Unbelievably consistent temperature during the entire brewing process

Cons

  • Not for baristas looking to really expand their skill set
  • The hose is prone to leaking and rupturing, be sure to check on it regularly

#3 De’Longhi EC702

In our modern lifestyle convenience is one of the most critically important components to any endeavor. When it comes to espresso, this is no different, and having the ability to get a great espresso without endeavoring much in the way to extraneous effort is certainly part and parcel of this important consideration and why the De’Longhi EC702 delights espresso enthusiasts.

Though it looks to be a very serious and complex device, the De’Longhi is actually all about simplicity. In fact, it is one of the few espresso makers that offers the capability for both ground coffee beans or the highly convenient pod systems. The best part is you suffer no lack of quality from using either system. De’Longhi engineered them to work seamlessly through their unique filter. Convenient? Heck yea!

When you get to the making of the espresso, De’Longhi also takes the guesswork out of it. The device self-primes and you can enjoy their easy espresso system to make consistent pulls every time. All you have to worry about is having a cup ready for your espresso drinks. The pod system also allows you to entertain seamlessly instead of having to spend lots of time having to work the machine to please your guests.

That being said, there are some issues with the De’Longhi that need to be addressed. The biggest one is durability. The De’Longhi does not last long – and this is possibly due to it being one of the lower cost espresso makers. The bottom line is there are plenty of stories of this unit failing within 18 months of purchase. Going along with that, because this unit does so much, it has lots of extra parts, and those parts tend to fail. It is not unheard of that the coffee drip function will stop working while the espresso keeps on going. This is why this unit is not necessarily recommended for people who are more enthusiastic baristas.

At the end of the day, the De’Longhi is great if you need convenience and something that can do multiple things, but reliability is an issue with a budget espresso machine.

Pros

  • Pods or grounds does not matter, this espresso machine can do it all
  • Unlike more expensive espresso machines, this one has very simple controls allowing convenience and efficiency
  • One of the best values on the market for all aspiring baristas

Cons

  • Tries to do too much and in doing so, doesn’t get everything exactly right
  • This device seems very cheaply made – thus the price – and perhaps that is why many people are reporting that it is failing

#4 Mr. Coffee ECMP 1000

Of course, what would a review of espresso makers be without the ubiquitous brand that we all know and love – Mr. Coffee. As one of the venerable manufacturers of coffee makers, it only makes sense for Mr. Coffee to venture into the realm of espresso, and in this case they have done it the way they always do – providing a quality product at an affordable price.

So why do people love the Mr. Coffee ECMP 1000? Because like everything else, it keeps things simple. Take the milk frother – the Mr. Coffee uses a reservoir that is removable instead of the wand. This is well-liked my many customers because its removable and therefore easy to clean. The same thing holds true for the water reservoir – it is also removable and easily washable. Same with the drip pan. That makes cleaning the unit very easy so that instead of spending a lot of time maintaining the device, you can enjoy it more.

As far as the production of espresso, it is exceptionally easy. Just as simple as hitting a button means that you can have the type of espresso that you would enjoy. Once again, this is a hallmark of Mr. Coffee – keeping things simple, and that is why this device is perfect for the budget conscious. The machine also comes with great accessories including espresso recipes so you can easily get started making great drinks.

The downside to the Mr. Coffee is the same as all the budget espresso makers, however in the case of this device the reservoir plug has been known to fail. The last thing you want is having to clean up a fair amount of water because of a plug being dodgy.

The Mr. Coffee is perfect for someone who is not as enthusiastic of an espresso drinker because of the budgetary considerations.

 

Pros

  • Fantastic espresso maker based on the price
  • Not only do you get a solid espresso maker, you get tons of accessories that allow you to really enjoy making espresso
  • The detachable parts make for easy cleaning and can be easily replaced if they fail

Cons

  • The plug on the reservoir seems to have some issues with failing, be aware
  • Because this is a less expensive model, it is more prone to failure

The Espresso Process

The big difference between espresso and drip coffee comes from how the water is filtered through the grounds. The most important thing is having the finest possible grind for your espresso. When this happens, you can have an easier time forcing the water through and getting the most concentrated cup of espresso.

However, there’s more to it than just forcing the water through, there needs to be the right temperature and pressure. This will lead to a fuller, more concentrated espresso along with having the right level of crema topping it.

Having the right espresso machine means you get this process consistently repeating itself and thus, getting a great cup of espresso.

Conclusion

Getting the best espresso machine isn’t necessarily cheap, but when you make the investment, you end up rewarded many times over. The machines profiled here fit the bill to get you the espresso drinks you love, including lattes, macchiatos, ristrettos, and much more. Be sure to understand your needs and comfort level, and you will greatly enjoy the benefits of espresso in your home!

Jill Scott
 

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