Last Updated on April 3, 2022 by John Moretti
Tasting your first shot of rich espresso is a fantastic way to start your day. Investing in an espresso machine under $500 takes a bit of research, but I have compiled a great list of options that will fit your budget and espresso-making skills. This list includes automatic and manual espresso machines.
Many great espresso machines out there do not need to break the bank but still provide a great tasting espresso experience. The list below will explain all the pros and cons of each espresso machine to help you narrow down the espresso machine that fits your budget but provides the best functionalities on the market.
1. Calphalon BVCLECMP1 Temp iQ
The Calphalon BVCLECMP1 Temp IQ Stainless Espresso Machine is an excellent machine for becoming a more advanced home barista. Although many love automatic espresso machines, some want to improve their skills and get the whole experience of making a good shot of espresso.
The brew head, grinder, and steam wand have the function to brew espresso that is cafe quality and helps obtain the creamy and rich foam when steaming the milk. The machine is also straightforward to clean and can level up your skills the more you practice making perfect espresso with this machine.
- Makes delicious, high-quality café cappuccinos and lattes.
- Makes excellent espresso and creates close to perfect microfoam.
- Milk steaming and excellent espresso, which is inexpensive.
- The machine is very easy to operate.
- You can make two espresso cups at once with the double pouring spout.
- The machine requires more practice than fully automated machines.
- The machine provides no built-in grinder.
- There is no dosing spoon.
- Does not achieve the same cafe quality due to the lack of a built-in grinder, and the machine is a bit slower than the cafe quality barista machines.
This machine is semi-automatic and provides you with very good-tasting espresso and great cappuccinos and lattes. This is a good option for your home kitchen.
2. Nespresso BNV420IBL VertuoPlus
The Nespresso BNV420IBL VertuoPlus Espresso Machine is an automatic machine that provides different measurements of coffee or espresso with a touch of a button. The measures include single and double espresso, Gran Lungo, and coffee. You can create delicious ice coffee by pouring your desired size into a glass with ice.
The Nespresso VertuoPlus is a pod-style machine, and it will extract the perfect flavors depending on the capsule that is used. No matter the coffee capsule you use, the smart technology will create a perfect cup of coffee on any given day.
The VertuoPlus uses capsules to create tasty coffee or espresso, which means you will have to buy capsules regularly if you are a big coffee drinker.
The machine is intelligent and performs differently depending on the barcode on the capsules.
- Delivers rich and full-bodied espresso and coffee.
- It is elementary to operate the machine.
- The machine operates very quietly, which makes it ideal for office use.
- The VertuoPlus has a very big water tank, making several cups before it requires a refill.
- Easy to clean with clear instructions.
- There is no milk functionality in this machine.
- The capsules are more expensive than the original Nescafe capsules.
- It provides an Instant Coffee function that hardcore coffee lovers won’t always like.
- The capsules are large and require more storage space.
3. De’Longhi ECP3420
The fantastic espresso maker is a great starter espresso machine. De’Longhi is famous for its innovative and high-quality technology and for creating delicious rich espresso. You will find the pros and cons below of the ECP3420, and you can decide if this covers your list of requirements.
The machine is also a great entry-level with basic functionalities and a good starting point if you want to get into the espresso and latte world.
- This machine has a perfect price tag that admirers will appreciate.
- It can create self-steamed milk, perfect for lattes.
- It can create single or double shots espressos.
- It contains a big water tank, which means less refilling.
- The quality of the espresso is amazing.
- With a short steaming time compared to other machines, making froth can take a bit longer.
- The machine is very compact, so you can’t pack too much coffee to create a stronger taste.
- The machine requires more frequent cleaning than other models or other brands on the market.
4. Mr. Coffee Espresso And Cappuccino Machine
If you love a great cup of espresso or coffee in the morning, the Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Machine might be for you. This is a great machine if you want to make coffee more professionally at home. It also comes with easy controls to make beginners learn quickly how to make a barista-quality brew.
The Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Machine makes barista-level quality coffee with excellent efficiency and with minimal hassle.
- The machine has a very modern look and feel.
- You can store more milk due to the function of removing the frother.
- The machine can store lots of water, which means less refilling.
- The device can work with any kind of milk, which makes it perfect for those that have dairy allergies.
- It is simple to learn how to make great espresso.
- You won’t be able to make tall cups, which might frustrate a few coffee lovers.
- It can be noisier than other brands on the market.
5. Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro
The Gaggia Stainless Steel RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine is a machine created for those that want to learn to create a delicious espresso. This is not only a good option for beginners, but the machine can make pure barista-level espresso at the most affordable price.
If you want to learn latte art, this espresso machine is the perfect machine to learn. Latte art is tough, but with patience and practice, you will be able to create stunning latte art. The steam wand attached to the machine makes it possible to create detailed latte art, and the steam wand can be heated up in about 30 seconds.
The machine’s boiler can let you create a good cup of coffee in about 5 minutes. This is a good option to have if you are in a hurry to get to your latest meeting or online video call. Other brands on the market can take longer to heat up.
The machine contains 3 switches, which are the on/off switch, the brew switch if you want to start brewing coffee, and the steam switch if you want to heat up the milk.
- The espresso machine comes with a commercial-level steam wand.
- It provides easy-to-use controls, and it is simple to operate.
- It is stainless steel, which makes it durable and sturdy.
- It provides fast heat-up capabilities.
- The espresso machine operates quietly.
- The machine is large and takes up space, which can be a problem if you have limited space in your kitchen.
- The coffee spout is somewhat low, which means you won’t be able to fill larger cups with coffee.
6. Flair Espresso Maker Pro 2
The Flair Espresso Maker Pro 2 is a manual espresso machine that can create delicious espresso with a little bit more effort. If you are looking at brewing fantastic tasting espresso that is affordable, then the Flair Espresso Maker Pro might be for you.
The fact that the machine is manual shows that it is more for espresso enthusiasts as it is designed to focus more on the craft and ritual of making the perfect espresso compared to the automatic espresso machines that focus more on speed and convenience.
It takes a bit of learning to create the perfect shot of espresso, so if you are new to the craft of creating espresso, you might make a few bad batches of espresso until you get past the few failed cups. Practice, and you will appreciate the work and reward after you taste the rich espresso quality.
- The unique and simple design makes it very straightforward to use.
- The piston creates a great amount of pressure for the espresso.
- The cleaning of the manual machine might be tedious as it has multiple parts that need cleaning after a few brews.
- The Flair Espresso Maker Pro 2 can be more expensive than other manual espresso machines in the market.
7. De’Longhi EC680M
The De’Longhi EC680M Espresso Machine is perfect for many users; whether you are a complete beginner or if you have some experience, this is a great machine to have in your kitchen. If you would like to get a barista experience or start learning to brew like a pro, then this machine can get you those results.
The De’Longhi EC680M Espresso machine contains a great combination of technology that makes this a full-featured espresso machine with great results every time. The combination consists of its great frothing technology, Thermo block technology, and the automatic stop flow all work in sync to make a barista-level shot of espresso.
Another benefit about the machine is that you will have great customer service when it is time to replace or repair parts. Some other brands in the market do not provide the same quality of customer service as De’Longhi.
- The machine includes the automatic overflow, which will solve all your previous frustrating overflows.
- The 15-pump EC680M is a true espresso machine.
- The machine is really compact and does not require a lot of kitchen space.
- The EC680M comes with a very slick and modern design.
- The machine can be pricey.
- It does not come with all the coffee features, which might not be suitable for every coffee lover.
8. Gaggia Brera Super Automatic
The Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso and Cappuccino Machine are perfect for convenience instead of full barista control. By just pushing the button, you can get your espresso made very fast, and the machine comes with a steam wand if you want to make lattes or cappuccinos.
The machine is very affordable if you look at all the features, and the high-quality machine comes with a water filter, powerful brew system, and strong pump. The device comes with a ceramic grinder, which is the better option as metal grinders use more heat.
The pre-infusion feature helps with the aroma and enables more flavor for your espresso. The pre-infusion features wet the coffee bed evenly in the portafilter. This is a benefit to have if you love to taste perfect espresso.
The machine is also very fast, and you can expect to make a decent espresso shot in about 9 seconds and will not have long waiting times between the brewing and steaming.
- The machine does not take up a lot of space.
- The espresso machine automatically descales
- This is also a great priced espresso machine compared to some other brands in the market.
- The machine does appear to have a more plastic appearance.
- You won’t be able to fill tall cups, which can be a problem for some coffee lovers.
- The water tank is somewhat smaller than other brands, requiring more frequent refills.
- Do not use oily coffee beans with this machine as it tends to over roast if oily beans are added.
Getting the right espresso machine can take a bit of research, and it also depends on the level of skill you have or want to learn eventually. There are great manual espresso machines and plenty of automatic machines.
The final important decision will come down to the space you have available, your specific budget, and whether you want to create your barista-quality at home or use a button to make a delicious shot of espresso on your way to work in a short space of time.