There are countless ways to prepare a great cup of coffee. One among them is the tried and true espresso, known for its intense flavor and high caffeine content. While you can prepare this coffee shop favorite at home with a French press, the best results usually come from a designated espresso machine.
But which espresso machine is the best espresso machine under $500? The problem inherent to answering that question is that high-quality espresso machines can be costly. This is why we have taken the liberty of compiling this list. Here are our top picks for the best espresso machines under $500.
Read on for a curated selection of our favorite machines for 2022 and a buyer’s guide to hunting down the best espresso maker for you.
Our Top Pick
- The Breville Bambino Plus delivers third wave specialty coffee at home using the 4 keys formula and is part of the Bambino Series that offers the faster way to professional results at home in a compact footprint: serious espresso, serious value
- DOSE CONTROL GRINDING: Achieve a consistent and balanced espresso using the right amount of ground coffee; The 54mm porta-filter with 19 grams is the key for full flavor and cafe quality coffee
- OPTIMAL WATER PRESSURE: Low pressure pre-infusion gradually increases pressure at the start and helps ensure all the flavors are drawn out evenly during the extraction for a balanced tasting cup
- FASTER HEAT UP TIME: Innovative ThermoJet heating system achieves the optimum extraction temperature in 3 seconds
- PRECISE ESPRESSO EXTRACTION: Digital temperature control (PID) delivers water at precisely the right temperature, ensuring optimal espresso extraction
- AUTOMATIC MICROFOAM MILK TEXTURING: The automatic steam wand allows you to adjust the milk temperature and texture to suit your taste; Delivering barista quality microfoam that enhances flavor and enables creation of latte art
- COMPACT FOOTPRINT: Espresso machine with a width of 7.7 inches, the Bambino Plus easily fits on your countertop without compromising on the 4 keys formula for third wave specialty coffee
- AUTO PURGE: The Bambino Plus Espresso Machine automatically purges the heat system after steaming, ensuring your next espresso is extracted at the right temperature
- WARRANTY: 2 Year Limited Product Warranty; Power: 1560 Watts; Voltage: 110 to 120 Volts
Our top pick for the best espresso machine under $500 in 2022 is the Breville Bambino Plus. Though this machine’s pricing is just under the wire at $499.95, it is well worth the price.
The Bambino Plus is tricked out with fantastic gadgets and accessories to help take your morning brew to the next level. It consistently produces rich, full-bodied, and complex espresso and a variety of third-wave specialty coffee drinks.
We consistently rate coffee machines on what they can make first and foremost, rather than how they look. However, we are pleased to note that the Bambino Plus boasts a sleek design and a simple interface (and it also comes in a variety of attractive colors).
But what exactly makes the Breville Bambino Plus our favorite under $500 espresso machine for 2022? We’ve got plenty to say on the subject:
What Makes the Breville Bambino Plus the Best of the Best?
The Breville Bambino Plus has won our hearts! Here is what makes it the best espresso machine under $500:
High Powered Brewing System
The Bambino Plus is chock full of powerful and high-quality mechanisms. Perhaps most impressively, it has a 15-bar Italian espresso pump. Pump espresso machines are known to create the highest quality espresso shots. Likewise, 15 bars of pump pressure is widely considered to be the gold standard for making the best possible espresso.
The Bambino Plus’s proprietary ThermoJet heating system is also fantastic. It works extremely quickly, reaching the best extraction temperature in just 3 seconds. This machine’s Proportional, Integral, Derivative (PID) temperature controller perfectly regulates the temperature, flow, pressure, and speed of water throughout the extraction process.
Barista Quality Milk Texturing
As we said before, you can make espresso at home with a coffee press, but you will need more than that to create your favorite specialty drink. That is where the Bambino Plus and its automatic steaming wand come in.
The Bambino Plus’s steaming wand boasts powerful steam pressure at 266˚F, which ensures superior quality microfoam milk every time. It also operates hands-free, making it the perfect accessory for latte foam artists (or anyone who doesn’t have time to sit around frothing up milk).
The Bambino Plus has three discrete settings for both milk temperature and milk texture, allowing you to create your perfect specialty drink every time.
Small but Mighty
Something we adore about the Bambino Plus is its size. Many home appliances are big and unwieldy, taking up tons of precious counter space. Fortunately, this coffee maker is compact and sleek without sacrificing power or durability.
The Bambino plus has an impressive 64 fluid oz. capacity. It is made entirely from stainless steel, but it weighs in at just 14.4 lbs. Its dimensions are 7.7″ x 12.6″ x 12.2″ (WxDxH), which means it takes up no more space than the average coffee machine.
This machine’s specs are undoubtedly its main selling point. However, the Bambino Plus also comes with an array of excellent accessories that push it over the edge.
Along with the usual fare like filter baskets and a 54mm tamper, the Bambino Plus also comes with the Breville Razor, a stainless steel milk jug, and several cleaning tools designed especially for this machine.
Having these accessories on hand streamlines the process of making your daily espresso that much more. The individualized cleaning tools will also save you a lot of time and aggravation when it comes to maintaining your espresso maker.
Best espresso machine under $500 – Our Honorable Mentions
While we think the Breville Bambino Plus is the best espresso maker in its price range, it has some steep competition. Here are six honorable mentions for the espresso machine blue ribbon. Consider these #2-7 on our unofficial countdown of the best espresso makers under $500.
#2. De’Longhi Dedica Manual Espresso Maker
The De’Longhi Dedica Manual Espresso Maker is our second-best espresso machine under $500, but that is a big compliment when your competition is the Breville Bambino Plus. Like the Bambino Plus, the Dedica Manual has a 15 bar pump, a compact design, and a sleek stainless steel body that you can order in 8 unique colors.
The Dedica Manual also has a 3-in-1 portafilter, a 13cm double drip tray, a manual milk frother, and a Thermoblock heating system that consistently reaches the perfect temperature in under a minute.
What Makes the De’Longhi Dedica Manual Espresso Maker Special?
All in all, the Dedica Manual is pretty similar to the Bambino Plus. Something that sets the two apart, however, is the price point. The Dedica doesn’t come with as many accessories as the Bambino Plus. Its milk frother is also less advanced. However, the better part of $150 gets shaved off the bill in exchange for that.
For some, the Bambino Plus’s specialized cleaning tools, fancy accessories, and hands-free milk frothing wand will be worth the extra cash. Still, if you are frugal and do not mind putting in a little extra time on your daily cappuccino, the Dedica Manual will serve you just as well as the Bambino Plus.
If you’re a hands-on espresso fan on a budget, the De’Longhi Dedica Manual Espresso Maker might be your perfect match.
#3. Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Maker
- 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
The Gaggia Classic Pro espresso maker is a fantastic machine. Designed and made in Italy with strong commercial parts, the Gaggia Classic Pro offers a cafe-quality experience for a mere $449.
The Gaggia Classic Pro is equipped with a 15-bar pump (an Italian pump) and a professional quality steam wand that allows it to produce lattes, cappuccinos, americanos, affogatos, and more.
Why We’re Gaga for the Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Maker
The thing that makes the Gaggia Classic Pro truly special is the quality of its parts. Unlike many home espresso makers, the Gaggia Classic Pro has a genuine boiler. It also has a 58 mm chrome-plated brass portafilter (unlike the typical 54 mm filters found in competing machines) and a 72 fluid oz water reservoir.
This espresso maker makes commercial quality beverages and is sturdy and built to last. If you take proper care of your Gaggia Classic Pro, it will continue to produce high-quality beverages for years and years. You may never have to set foot in a Starbucks ever again!
If you want a professional quality espresso machine for under $500, then you will be hard-pressed to find a better product than the Gaggia Classic Pro.
#4. Breville Duo-Temp Pro
- 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
- WATER TEMPERATURE: The 1600W Thermocoil–Integrated stainless steel water path accurately controls water temperature
- MANUAL MICROFOAM MILK TEXTURING: A high power 1600W element delivers sufficient steam to create microfoam that enhances flavor and enables you to produce latte art at home
- 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
- MAINTENANCE INDICATOR: Espresso Machine that lets you know when it needs a clean; The cleaning and drip tray alerts make routine maintenance low-maintenance
- INCLUDED ACCESSORIES: Razor Dose Trimming Tool, 1 cup & 2 cup Single & Dual Wall Filter Baskets, Stainless Steel Milk Jug, Allen Key, Water Filter Holder and Water Filter
- WARRANTY: 1 Year Limited Product Warranty; Power: 1600 Watts; Voltage: 110 to 120V; Capacity: 61 oz Water Tank
Here is another fantastic espresso machine from Breville. Like the Bambino Plus, the Duo-Temp Pro offers exquisite microfoam milk texturing and a sleek stainless steel body. It also comes with its Razor trimming tool, manual tamper, and stainless steel milk jug.
The Duo-Temp Pro is not quite as flashy as the Bambino Plus. It comes with fewer accessories and more modest features, but it is still every bit the high-quality espresso maker its cousin is.
Why We Recommend the Breville Duo-Temp Pro
The Duo-Temp Pro is more straightforward than most of the machines on our list. We regard it as a high-quality beginner espresso maker. It has fewer fancy features than its cousin, the Bambino Plus, but this makes it perfect for someone who may be new to making specialty third wave beverages at home.
The Duo-Temp Pro has a few built-in mechanisms to help keep this machine running at maximum efficiency. The auto-purge maintains the heating mechanism automatically (as the name suggests), and the maintenance indicators always alert you when it needs a little bit of upkeep.
The simple interface, auto-purge, and built-in maintenance indicators make the Duo-Temp Pro easy and stress-free to use. This is exactly what makes it the best beginner espresso maker under $500.
#5. De’Longhi Manual Espresso Machine
- Pump driven and 15 bars
- Automatically self-primes; Water level indicator: Yes
- Use pods or ground coffee with the convenient patented filter holder. On/Off switch- Yes
- Craft cappuccinos or lattes with the patented easy to use frothier
- 44 oz. and 1.3 litre removable water tank. Never install the appliance in environments where the temperature may reach 0°C (32°F) or lower (the appliance may be damaged if the water freeze)
- Water level indicator
The De’Longhi Manual Espresso Machine is a stripped-down version of its fancier sibling, the De’Longhi Dedica Manual Espresso Maker. Like the Dedica, the De’Longhi Manual has a 3-in-1 filter equipped to create single and double-shot beverages.
The De’Longhi Manual also comes with a built-in manual milk frothing wand and two thermostats, which allow the steam and water pressure to be controlled separately.
What Makes the De’Longhi Manual Espresso Machine a Great Value?
What the De’Longhi Manual lacks in fancy features, it makes up for with a wallet-friendly price tag. At $250, this machine is by far the least expensive entry on our list. Of course, that’s not all it is. The De’Longhi Manual’s simplicity does not take away from its overall quality.
It may be a simple product, but the De’Longhi Manual is still a high-quality espresso maker equipped with the tools necessary to create delicious specialty drinks. Like any top-tier espresso machine, this bad boy packs 15 bars of pump pressure.
The De’Longhi Manual’s simplicity combined with its top-of-the-line machinery will appeal to no-frills espresso fans who prefer a cup of rich black coffee to a specialty latte or cappuccino.
#6. Nespresso Lattissima Touch Espresso Maker
- Note: 1)Too coarse a grind, too little coffee, or insufficiently tamping the grounds before brewing can all lead to inadequate pressure for a proper brew. 2)It is important to note that the amount of espresso extracted will vary depending on the grind size and amount and reprogramming may be needed when the size and amount are adjusted
- 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
The Nespresso Lattissima Touch Espresso Maker Costs just under $500, and it can do nearly everything the Bambino Plus does. This Italian-made machine comes with a milk frother made by De’Longhi, and it’s equipped to make six different specialty beverages.
The Lattissima Touch has a lot of features to recommend it, but it also has a few quirks that hold it back from being truly great. For starters, this machine is the only one on our list that is made from plastic instead of metal.
It also packs a whopping 19 bars of pressure, which is a little too much in our opinion. Despite this, the Lattissima Touch offers a few unique benefits as well.
The Perks of the Nespresso Lattissima Touch Espresso Maker
The Lattissima Touch’s biggest claim to fame is its versatile interface. This machine not only makes six unique drinks, but it can make each one in under 40 seconds at the touch of a single button!
The Lattissima Touch is also extremely small and lightweight. It is the ideal espresso maker if your number one concern is storage space. Weighing in at 10 lbs. and standing no taller than 8.08 inches, the Lattissima Touch is the perfect addition to any kitchenette, break room, or dormitory. It is also easily disassembled for quick cleaning and easy storage.
If you’ve got limited space, there is no better espresso machine for you than the Nespresso Lattissima Touch.
#7. KitchenAid & Nespresso Espresso Maker
- Compatible with Espresso pods in over 22 Grand crus available through the espresso Club.
- 6 preprogrammed settings for Espresso just how you like it.
- Heats up and ready to brew in under 30 seconds.
- 1. 3 L removable water tank
- Adjustable cup shelf accepts large or small Espresso cups and folds up for your convenience.
- Simply pour hot or cold in the milk in the frother and press the button.
KitchenAid and Nespresso– two heavy hitters in the kitchen appliance game– unite seamlessly to bring us the KitchenAid and Nespresso Espresso Maker. This machine has that classic KitchenAid look that all foodies love, and it is made of the same super sturdy die-cast zinc as a KitchenAid standing mixer.
One major drawback of this product is its lack of a built-in milk frothing wand. However, a great perk of purchasing the KitchenAid and Nespresso Espresso Maker is that it is frequently sold in a bundle with the Aeroccino 3 milk frother, a high-quality Nespresso gadget that usually retails for $100 on its own.
Why We Love the KitchenAid & Nespresso Espresso Maker
Like the Nespresso Lattissima Touch Espresso Maker, the KitchenAid and Nespresso machine boasts 19 bars of pump pressure.
As we said before, 19 bars may be overkill, but the KitchenAid and Nespresso machine also comes equipped with six pre-programmed volume settings, which allow the user superior control over their espresso’s strength and flavor.
This machine is the bulkiest on our list. This means it’s a little tougher to store, but it also has the most impressive capacities. The KitchenAid and Nespresso Espresso Maker can store a whopping 1.3 liters of water in its reservoir, and it can hold up to 14 capsules in its capsule container!
If you are a pump pressure control freak or a KitchenAid superfan, then this machine is sure to please you.
So that was a lot of information just now. After all that talk of specs, accessories, pump pressure, and milk frothers, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed! Use this FAQ to help sort out what specifications and features are the most important to you.
What to look for in your…
Bars of Pressure
The right pressure is essential to creating the right texture for your espresso. Bars are the units used to measure that pressure. One bar is equivalent to about 1.47 lbs. of pressure per square inch.
Too much pressure will be a waste of energy, and too little will negatively affect the texture of your espresso. It may also result in less crema (the golden-brown cream that floats to the top of a high-quality espresso). We recommend a machine that uses between 9 and 15 bars of pressure to create the perfect espresso.
Semi-automatic vs. Automatic
Semi-automatic and automatic espresso machines can both make barista-quality coffee. The main difference between the two is a matter of control versus ease of use.
Semi-automatic espresso makers require a bit of practice to get the hang of using them, but once you’ve figured them out, they afford you greater control over the finished product. Likewise, automatic espresso machines require no skill; they do everything for you at the press of a button, but that means you have no control over the timing of the shot.
The size of an espresso serving is a more delicate consideration than the size of a regular cup of coffee. With the latter, your only real concerns are “will this fit in my cup?” and caffeine intake (how much of this can I drink before my heart explodes?) When it comes to espresso, however, you may run the risk of ruining your drink if you have the wrong sized cup.
For a no-frills shot, we recommend an espresso cup with a capacity between 2-3 oz. Using a cup any larger than that will cause your crema to dissolve and your beverage to get cold too fast.
Built-In Milk Frother
This element won’t be a concern for you if all you’re looking for is a shot of straight espresso. For those of us on the hunt for lattes and cappuccinos, however, this feature is an essential consideration.
On their own, milk frothers can cost $100 or more. Unless you already have a handheld milk frother at home, an espresso machine with a built-in attachment will be much more valuable to you than one without it.
Ease of Cleaning
This one is a no-brainer. If you plan to use your espresso maker a lot, you’re going to want a machine that is easy and quick to clean. Otherwise, it will be a pain to use, and you’ll enjoy it less. Given that espresso makers are luxury items, the last thing you want is for your machine to be more trouble than it’s worth!
Ease of Use
What constitutes an “easy to use” espresso maker depends on what you want from your machine. If you’re inexperienced with brewing espresso at home, you may prefer a user-friendly automatic machine. Likewise, if you’re a control freak when it comes to your coffee, you might find the involved process of using a semi-automatic more satisfying.
Our best espresso machine under $500 is, without a doubt, the Breville Bambino Plus. It ticks all our boxes: it makes high-quality coffee, it’s easy to clean, simple to use, and equipped to create a variety of specialty drinks.