On the hunt for the perfect but affordable at-home espresso machine? Rather than scour the internet for hours, check out these top seven picks for the best espresso machine under 500.
We researched over a dozen products and found the Breville Bambino Plus to be the best espresso machine under $500 in 2022.
The Breville Bambino Plus is user-friendly and relatively intuitive, so even newbie espresso machine users should be able to figure it out quickly. And the flavor of the coffee is exquisite, leaving nothing to be desired in terms of taste.
It works seamlessly with all espresso types, from oily Italian to Nordic roasts. Whatever beans you fancy, this machine will turn them into a delectable espresso. It’s a versatile espresso machine for veteran brewers and inexperienced espresso drinkers.
Keep reading for a closer look at this top pick and the six runner-ups!
All Breville espresso machines use four key elements to deliver impeccable coffee: the correct dose of ground beans, precise temperature control, optimal water pressure, and smooth micro foam milk. The Breville promises barista-quality espresso and coffee and delivers on these promises.
There are some issues concerning the flexibility of the components and the compact size. However, many appreciate how neatly this can fit on a counter without being a monstrosity in your kitchen. And the lack of flexibility with certain parts is easy to get used to.
Volumetric Shot Control: With the Bambino Plus, you don’t have to stress about using too much or too little in every cup, as the volumetric shot control system ensures each cup is consistently perfect. With just one touch, you can choose between one and two shots, and the machine will portion everything precisely, taking out some of the guesswork and measuring.
9-Bar Extraction: To achieve the perfect cloud of caramel-colored espresso, the Bambino Plus starts with low-pressure pre-infusions and finishes the brew with a high-pressure 9-bar extraction process using a high-end 15-bar Italian pump.
Stainless Steel Portafilter: The 54-millimeter stainless steel portafilter is one of the most luxurious features of the Bambino Plus. It delivers optimal flavor in every cup using dual and single-wall filters. The portafilter ensures every cup consists of 18 grams of espresso, the perfect amount for a strong but tasty cup of coffee.
Auto and Manual Milk: Not everyone is a master at creating that velvety foam on top of their cappuccino. And if you want that barista-quality microfoam but don’t have the skills, the machine can do it for you!
It has three adjustable milk temperatures and three levels of texture, allowing you to customize your coffee, just like Starbucks does. But if you’re a frothing expert, you can switch to manual and do your thing.
Thermojet Heating System: When mornings get hectic, waiting for your espresso machine to warm up can seem never-ending. But with the thermojet heating system of the Breville Bambino Plus, the machine reaches the ideal brewing temperature in just three seconds, if not faster!
PID Temperature Control: The PID temperature control makes it easy to heat your water to the ideal temperature for espresso. You don’t need to monitor the temperature. It will automatically heat water to 200°F, so you get a consistent cup of espresso every day.
Compact Size: As mentioned, this espresso machine is powerful but has a slender build, so it can easily fit on your kitchen counter between other appliances.
Nine Color Options: Along with the impressive features and power, the Breville Bambino Plus also comes in nine different colors, allowing you to choose a machine that complements your kitchen instead of settling for a less-than-ideal color.
- Works with all sorts of espresso
- Compact and sleek design
- Many style options to choose from
- Choice of automatic or manual milk frothing
- Heats in three seconds
- High repair fees
- Locking portafilter is difficult
- Small dip tray
- Top of the budget
In second place is the De’Longhi EC685BK Dedica Deluxe espresso machine. While most people love this tiny but powerful espresso machine, it isn’t the easiest choice for newbies because the controls can be complicated, and the frothing feature requires some skill.
This machine certainly has more issues than the Bambino, but for most customers, it provides perfectly brewed coffee every time with little effort.
The machine is not ideal for making fancier drinks, like lattes or specific milk drinks. But if you just want fresh espresso, this is more affordable than the Bambino.
Thermoblock Heating System: The thermoblock heating system should keep the water at the perfect temperature for espresso. Some customers say it’s hard to heat the water, but most have no issues with it. However, this machine takes a few minutes to heat water, so it’s not as speedy as the Bambino Plus.
15-Bar Professional Pump: A 15-bar professional pump is practically the best pressure system you can find in a home espresso machine; expect the espresso to be a beautiful nutty color every time.
Professional Filter Holder: The high-quality filter holder for ground coffee can hold one or two cups worth of coffee or a single E.S.E. Pod. Many people struggle to secure the filter in place when using grounds, so many customers note it’s easier to go with the pods. But if you’re a purist and grind your beans fresh every day, these challenges might mean you’ll have to adapt.
Adjustable Milk Frother System: Unfortunately, this machine does not feature an automatic frothing function, so you have to create that silky foam on your own. If you have any barista or frothing experience, the adjustable frothing feature is easy to use and effective.
But if you have no idea how to froth milk, you’ll have to deal with a slight learning curve before you have foamy cappuccinos.
Intuitive Control Panel: The machine has three illuminated buttons to brew espresso and an On/Off button with automatic stand-by, helping you save energy and money in your home.
The intuitiveness of this machine is up for debate, as some users find it easy, while others say it’s an uphill battle to operate. Because of this discrepancy, this is likely not the best choice for someone’s first at-home espresso machine.
Double Drip Tray: The drip tray has two options for height, so if you want to brew larger drinks in tall cups, you have the option to do this. The two-level cup holder houses glasses and tall cups up to 13 centimeters for long coffees and milk drinks.
Slim Design: The Bambino Plus is compact, but this machine is even slimmer, so it’s excellent for someone with little counter space who wants a tiny but effective machine.
Cup Warmer: A minor feature, but certainly a bonus. You can place your cups and mugs on top of the espresso machine, keeping them warm and ready whenever you decide to brew espresso.
- Super slim build
- High-end manual milk frother
- Filter holder for grounds and pods
- Double dip tray
- High-quality pressure pump
- Sometimes leaks
- Short lifespan
- Pressure problems
- Confusing instructions
The Gaggia Classic Pro is an all-around wonderful espresso machine. The only real cons about this product are the price and the size. Unlike most espresso machines on this list, this one is slightly bulky and takes up more counter space.
However, it’s still smaller than many espresso machines and is about the size of a classic coffee maker. But every promised feature lives up to its reputation. Gaggia prides itself on producing authentic Italian products that do espresso justice.
Commercial Steam Wand: Some manufacturers rave about the quality of their steam wand, only to disappoint customers in the end. But Gaggia doesn’t disappoint with this machine’s steam wand. The steam wand is flexible and easy to use if you have experience frothing milk. It has a two-hole tip for making silky smooth milk and high-quality microfoam.
Mechanical Rocker Switches: The durable rocker switches make the machine feel like an authentic coffee shop piece of equipment. The switches use the same material as commercial-grade espresso machines, making it easy to flip the controls. While the manufacturer boasts about these high-quality switches, they aren’t super exciting for customers.
Stainless Steel Body: The entire machine body is brushed stainless steel, so it’s durable and built to last years and years. The machine is a one-piece 17-gauge brushed stainless steel design, so there are no thin steel or plastic components that can break easily.
Commercial Portafilter: The machine features a 58-millimeter chrome-plated portafilter made of brass. It weighs a whopping one pound, making it heavier and more durable than most at-home machine portafilters.
15-Bar Italian-Made Ulka Pump: As mentioned, Gaggia focuses on using Italian-crafted and designed components so you can have the perfect Italian espresso right in your kitchen. The powerful pump makes each shot smooth and creamy with luscious caramel color.
Five Color Options: This machine comes in five colors, so you have some personalization options. They have a lovely blue and bold red that can complement your kitchen beautifully.
Cup Warmer: It has a cup warmer on top to keep all your mugs and cups gently warm, so your espresso stays hotter for longer, enhancing your overall coffee experience.
- Fulfills expectations
- Focus on Italian quality and components
- Five style options
- 15-bar Italian pressure pump
- Durable and long-lasting body build
- Stellar milk frothing wand
- Slightly bulky
- Top of the budget
The Gevi Compact Professional can make coffee, espresso, tea, and more, making it one of the versatile espresso machines for your home. And it’s also the most powerful on this list!
However, all the power seems to run down the machine quickly, as it doesn’t last more than a few years for most users. But it’s the most affordable choice by far.
The Gevi machine is ideal for a household that only occasionally enjoys espressos but is not the best option for consistent, everyday use.
20-Bar Pressure Pump: The Gevi espresso machine has an impressive 20-bar professional pump and 1350W motor, making it the most powerful espresso machine on this list. But maximum power doesn’t always mean the best espresso.
Adjustable Espresso Amount: Customize your preferred amount of espresso, whether you like it muddy or watery, by using the adjustable espresso amount feature. Not everyone enjoys their coffee or espresso the same, so this machine allows you to personalize each brew.
Steam Wand: The machine’s steam wand is decent and gets the job done, but it’s not excellent for velvety microfoam. While you get the frothy texture, the foam bubbles are bigger than you might want. You can still make cappuccinos and lattes, but if soft, silky foamed milk is sacred to you, other machine options on this list may suit you better.
Built-in Pressure Gauge: The 20-bar pressure pump is powerful, so the built-in pressure gauge is helpful so you know when the pressure is at the ideal level and if anything begins to malfunction with your machine. Unfortunately, customers report the gauge is entirely necessary, as the super-powerful pump can be inconsistent.
Hot Water Function: The hot water function allows you to make standard coffee with this machine, too, whether it’s a long black coffee or other hot drinks like tea. While this is a small function, it helps you make a wide array of drinks rather than just espresso-based beverages.
Compact Design: The Gevi is one of the slimmest espresso machines, rivaling the Dedica Deluxe, so it works well in smaller kitchens with limited counter space.
- Works with grounds and pods
- High 20-bar pressure pump
- Coffee and espresso capabilities
- Super affordable
- Ideal for many different drinks
- Poor durability
- Inconsistent pressure
We can compare this Breville to the Bambino Plus. However, this one falls short in a few categories. One of the most notable differences is the lack of automatic frothing on the Duo Temp, so you must learn to froth your own milk.
This product also doesn’t last as long as the Bambino. Nevertheless, it’s a fantastic machine that many at-home espresso drinkers swear by. But like the Bambino Plus, it barely falls under the $500 price point.
Maintenance Indicators: If you struggle to remember when to clean your espresso machine, this Breville has maintenance indicators to tell you when it’s time to perform some routine upkeep. And the indicators expressly point you to what component needs attention.
Auto Purge: The automatic purge function is part of the temperature control system, but it’s not implicit. This handy feature purges the heating system after every espresso shot. This function ensures that each shot brews at the ideal temperature, which prevents the machine from burning grounds if you brew multiple shots in a row.
Manual Milk Frother: The milk frother on this machine works beautifully, but it is manual. So if you don’t know how to foam milk to a lovely texture and don’t care to learn, this isn’t the best espresso machine for you.
Magnetic Tamper: This feature is unique, as none of the other espresso machines on this list feature a tamper to pack your espresso grounds into the portafilter neatly and gently. A tamper helps improve the water distribution when it runs through the espresso, so you get an evenly brewed drink.
Temperature Controls: The machine uses quality temperature control. It performs low-pressure pre-infusion for the most flavorful espresso shots. And the 1600W Thermo coil–integrated stainless steel water path ensures the water temperature is ideal for an espresso before brewing.
Intuitive Interface: While this machine is high-performing, it’s easy for newbies and experienced espresso makers to use. The buttons and user interface are straightforward.
- Easy to use
- Excellent temperature control
- Tamper included
- Easy maintenance monitoring
- High-quality stainless steel design
- At the higher end of the budget
- Not long-lasting
The Calphalon Temp IQ espresso machine is a brilliant choice for people who want to brew multiple espresso shots. The double stream and auto-shot dispenser make it easy to brew two equally perfect shots.
The manufacturer boasts a high-quality and effective steam wand for frothing milk, but some customers find this feature disappointing. Despite its false promise of foamy milk, it delivers spectacular espresso with a rich flavor and gorgeous caramel color.
Cappuccino lovers should look elsewhere, but for an easy-to-use double shot machine, Calphalon is excellent.
Quality Steam Wand: Unfortunately, customers report this steam wand does not live up to the manufacturer’s promises. It’s meant to provide creamy froth and microfoam milk, but many say the foam is thin with large bubbles rather than the silky texture most people want.
15-Bar Italian Pump: Another espresso machine with the almighty 15-bar Italian pump. As mentioned with the Dedica Deluxe, this is the crème de la crème of pressure pumps, so your espresso will come out creamy and decadent, as it should.
Auto-Shot Control: The auto-shot control makes it easier for you to create the ideal espresso every time. The control system dispenses the correct amount of water for either one or two espresso shots. Manual machines leave you to guess or measure the grounds, which can lead to coffee that’s too strong or too weak.
One Touch Espresso: Some espresso machines require several settings before starting your espresso. But with the Calphalon, just press one button and let the machine do the rest, making your morning less crazy.
Temp IQ System: The Calphalon’s most prominently advertised feature is the Temp IQ technology. It combines different temperature control technologies to ensure correct and consistent water heating. The Temp IQ system combines thermoblock heating technology, PID temperature control, and pre-infusion for exquisite espresso shots.
Café-Sized Portafilter: The 58-millimeter portafilter guarantees balanced water dispersion and robust flavor, so no cup is too strong or too weak for your tastes. The portafilter is the standard cafe size, so you can make more than one espresso shot at a time and still have evenly soaked grounds.
Cup Warmer: Another cup warmer! Not the fanciest or most necessary feature, but a lovely bonus for anyone who likes to sip their espresso from a toasty warm mug.
- Three-year warranty
- Enlarged portafilter
- One-touch espresso shots
- Superb temperature control system
- 15-bar Italian pressure pump
- Steam wand for foaming milk
- Messy filter stream
- Frequent repairs needed
- Disappointing steam wand
7. Flair Pro 2
If you’re an experienced espresso aficionado, the Flair 2 Pro is one of the best manual espresso machines on the market and has a reasonable price tag. Manual machines require a bit more elbow grease, but purists swear it delivers the best cup of espresso imaginable.
So if you have the time and will to make espresso manually, you’ll love the Flair 2 Pro. Many customers note that the flavor from this machine is unmatched, offering a delightful coffee experience that will spoil you.
Bottomless Portafilter: Bottomless filters offer better flow dynamics for a creamy cup of coffee. While this is a cool feature, it’s not vital. Bottomless portafilters help the brewer identify why the coffee isn’t brewing right. But if you have no problems, the feature is not too useful.
Removable Stainless Steel Spout: Most espresso lovers know the espresso filter spout can become dirty, leading to an unhygienic espresso machine and a breeding ground for bacteria. The removable stainless steel spout on this machine makes it easier to keep everything as clean and pristine as possible. And the stainless steel material is easy to clean!
Silicone Handle Grip: As mentioned, manual espresso machines require more effort than just pushing a start button. The Flair 2 Pro features a silicone handle grip for better brewing ergonomics. The grip allows you to brew consistent and pure espresso every time.
Gauge Silicone Protective Wrap: There is a protective silicone wrap around the pressure gauge to improve gauge durability. This feature is minute but worth mentioning.
Portable Design: Unlike automatic and most manual espresso machines, the Flair 2 Pro has a unique portable design so that you can bring your favorite coffee everywhere.
Expand Capacity: The machine also has a capacity option for brew ratios, allowing you to make larger cups or smaller shots, depending on what you prefer or what drink you want to make.
Stainless Steel and Copper: This machine uses the highest quality and most durable materials to ensure it lasts you a lifetime. The entire machine is stainless steel, including the filter spout, handle, and two-piece dip tray. In addition, the portafilter base is copper-plated, making it resistant to wear and tear, even if you travel with the machine.
- Durable and long-lasting build
- Protective and functional silicone features
- Excellent customer service
- Not automatic
- No milk frothing function
- Requires some practice
Guide To Buying the Best Espresso Machine
Before purchasing an espresso machine, know what product is best for you. We put together this buyer’s guide to espresso machines to help you choose the ideal product for your home.
Types of Espresso Machines
There are three types of espresso machines to choose from:
Super-Automatic: Super-automatic espresso machines grind beans, tamp grounds, and brew the coffee with the push of a button. None of the machines on this list are super-automatic, as these typically cost over $500.
Semi-Automatic: Most picks on our list are semi-automatic, meaning you grind the beans, and the machine does the rest!
Manual: Only the last option on our list, the Flair 2 Pro, is manual, meaning you have to push the handle to brew the espresso and add pressure.
What To Look For in an Espresso Machine
When shopping, keep an eye out for the following features most people want in their espresso machine. Consider what your coffee needs are and choose a machine with appropriate features.
Managing the temperature of water in your espresso machine is complex and challenging.
Unless you’re an experienced barista who wants to do things the old-fashioned way, ensure your espresso machine has a temperature control system, like the thermoblock technology, PID temperature control, and thermojet heating, which are found in the products on this list.
A milk frother function is not necessary, but many people like it. If you like straight espresso shots, you don’t need one. But if you make cappuccinos, lattes, and similar drinks, you will need a quality milk frother.
Pay attention to the other features, such as maintenance indicators, auto-purging, removable spouts and tanks, cup warmers, auto-shot controls, and tampers. Not everyone will care about all these features, so consider what’s most important to you and choose a machine accordingly.
No one wants a cheap espresso machine that breaks after making three shots. But you can buy a quality espresso machine for under $500.
While all seven options are superb, the Breville Bambino Plus steals the show as the best espresso machine under $500 with its automatic frother, powerful pressure pump, and impressive heating system.
We recommend the Breville Bambino Plus for both serious and casual espresso makers, as it checks nearly every box and stays within a reasonable budget.
Now that you have picked your espresso machine, head over to our brewing guide on how to make the best espresso at home.