Best espresso machine under $500 A Guide for 2019
So, you’re on the market for a new coffee maker and you’ve decided that an espresso machine is a way to go. Good call! If you’re a java connoisseur, it makes sense. Espresso Machines work by directing hot water at high pressure through finely-ground coffee. They are perfect for that quick and pure caffeine shot, but they also allow you to brew up a whole host of Barista specialities. Whether you’re a Cappuccino or Latte drinker or you enjoy a Macchiato, Mocha or an Americano, it all starts with an Espresso!
Even if you’ve bought an espresso maker before, choosing the coffee machines best for your lifestyle can be challenging. They come in all shapes and sizes from the super automatic espresso machine to the manual variety and utilize all manner of complicated sounding processes like pressure pre-infusion and espresso extraction.
Espresso Machines can vary hugely from one to the next and while you are sure to want the best model you can afford, nobody likes to pay more than they need to.
The great news is that there are excellent espresso machines out there for all kinds of budgets. So if you’re here to find the best espresso machine under 500 dollars, the best espresso machine under 200 dollars or the best espresso machine under 150 dollars, we’ve can promise you we’ve got something to fit the bill.
We’ve put together this list of the best coffee makers on the market to help you choose a model that’s right for you.
Read on for the best semi and fully automatic espresso machines on the US market today.
The Best Espresso Machine Under $500
There are plenty of reasons why you would want to buy a premium range appliance. Maybe you are buying for the office where it will be hard at work all day. Perhaps you have lots of guests at home or just want a Barista standard machine giving you incredible coffee whenever you want it and looking super stylish on your kitchen worktop.
If you’re willing to spend 500 bucks, you can score yourself some of the very best automatic espresso machines available anywhere. Among these is one of my all-time favorites, The Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso RI9380/46.
Gaggia Classic RI9380/46 Pro Espresso
- Barista standard Semi Automatic Espresso Maker
- Commercial Grade Milk Steamer with outstanding frothing. Perfect for budding latte artists!
- Redesigned Pump Mounts which minimize noise
- Sleek Modern look and compact footprint
The RI9880/46 was launched by Gaggia in 2019 as an upgrade to the Gaggia Classic Pro, which dominated the market for espresso machines for decades. The new model boasts some great new features including a much-improved steam wand, the ability to use coffee pods and cleverly designed pump mounts which minimize noise. This semi-automatic espresso machine gives you a velvety brew in five minutes and has a commercial grade milk frother so that you can practice your latte art any time you like.
How does the Gaggia look and feel?
In short, this is a beautiful machine. In brushed stainless steel with the Gaggia classic lettering across the front, it will look stunning in your kitchen and the compact footprint means it won’t take up too much space. Although it is priced towards the top of our 500 dollar category, from the moment you take it out of the box, you can see and feel that this is a sturdy, beautifully built machine designed to last for decades.
How easy is it to use the Gaggia Classic Pro-Espresso Machine?
There’s a simple answer to this question. The new Gaggia Classic Pro is exceptionally easy and straightforward to use. The Pro-Espresso works with both traditional pre-ground espresso coffee as well as coffee capsules. For optimum results, we recommend freshly ground coffee beans from a burr grinder.
To use the Pro-Espresso from cold, simply fill up the water reservoir and switch on the power button. In about five minutes the water will have reached the correct temperature. Place your cup on the platform underneath the dual dispenser. Fill the filter basket with coffee, click the basket into the portafilter and use the shot button to direct water at high pressure through the filter basket giving you a velvety, barista-quality espresso shot in just seconds. The dual dispenser lets you make two cups at the same time, good for when you want to share.
If you’re into frothing milk, you won’t be disappointed by the Gaggia’s pro-style wand which is easy to use and control.
The appliance also has a hot water dispenser for tea and other hot drinks. All you need to do is hold down the flow button next to the reservoir and it will dispense piping hot water.
Gaggia’s control panel has switches for power, steaming and brewing. Each of these has a separate light which indicates when the machine is ready for each function.
How’s the Coffee?
If you’re going to spend almost 500 dollars on an espresso maker you want to know that it makes outstanding coffee. You’ll be pleased to hear that your investment will be worthwhile. It’s good! It’s really good! Rich and complex flavors and aromas and no hint of bitterness or acidity.
Of course, you will have to use good quality coffee to start off with, but as long as you do so, your espresso will be sensational! We ‘re glad that you can make two cups together because, with coffee as good as this, you have to share!
Cleaning Your Gaggia Pro-Espresso Machine
Like all espresso machines, The Gaggia Classic will require regular cleaning but the good news is that this is simple. After each use, you should empty out all the used grounds and rinse out the filter basket. You should also clean the portafilter and run hot water at pressure through the machine at the end of the day.
If you are using the steam wand for frothing dairy milk, always clean it after each use for hygiene purposes.
We loved the original Gaggia Classic and the updated, redesigned and well built Pro-Espresso is one of our favorite classic espresso makers across all price categories. The large removable water reservoir will hold up to 72 fluid oz. Wattage is 1450 and the machine comes in standard US 110V.
Honorable Mention - Nespresso Lattissima Pro-Espresso
Although we could only review one espresso maker per category, I had to give an honorable mention to the Lattissima Pro Espresso for its sheer convenience and ease of use. If you’re a fan of Nespresso Capsules and you want cafe-quality espresso at home in seconds, you can’t go wrong with this DeLonghi, Italian-designed appliance.
The Lattissima is specially designed for people who like milky coffee drinks and it truly makes the perfect cappuccino. With hundreds of glowing Amazon reviews as well as great advertising, this, along with the rest of the range of Nespresso coffee makers looks set to continue its success.
We’re all aware of the growing plastic problem on our planet so if you’re not already recycling your Nespresso pods, find out how to do it at this link: https://www.nespresso.com/uk/en/how-to-recycle-coffee-capsules
The Best Espresso Machine Under $200
Maybe you don’t have $500 to spare but you love your java and you’re looking for the best coffee machine which won’t break the bank. Don’t despair! If your budget is moderate but you don’t want to compromise on the quality of your cup of joe, the good news is there are lots and lots of reasonably priced coffee makers on the market today. The bad news is that there are so many, it can be hard to distinguish what is good value from what is plain cheap. But don’t worry! We are here to help, making your search a little bit simpler.
Our number one product in this category is Breville’s Cafe Roma Espresso maker. This compact and stylish appliance gives you the confidence of one of the biggest brand names in coffee while delivering value along with truly great espresso!
Breville ESP8XL Cafe Roma Stainless Steel Espresso Maker
- $ Entry level price tag and well built appliance
- Smart and Stylish stainless steel design will look great in your kitchen
- Compact footprint is perfect for smaller spaces
- 15 bar thermoblock pump is energy efficient and heats water quickly
- Exceptionally easy and quick to clean
We’ve been blown away by the incredible value and performance delivered by this classic espresso machine. At the time of writing this article, when we went to check price, the Breville Cafe Roma was reduced by more than $50 bringing it under our $200 threshold. What a steal!
How does The Cafe Roma Espresso Machine look and feel?
This is a great looking gadget and in functional stainless steel, it will fit into most decor schemes. It’s intuitively designed so you won’t spend hours on end puzzling over knobs and nozzles and while the Cafe Roma is compact, it has a large enough water reservoir to make several cups of coffee.
How easy is it to use this machine?
We had no problems at all in assembling or using the Cafe Roma. And we were thrilled by all of the extras that are included with the Cafe Roma, particularly given the price tag. Breville supplies a frother, a scoop, and two dual wall filters. One feature we really liked was the cup warming plate on the top of the machine. Great coffee should never be served in a cold cup!
Although the Breville has excellent functionality, it is an entry-level model it’s not quite on par with the premium price Breville Duo Temp Pro Espresso. There are just a couple of issues to be aware of. Stick to Espresso ground coffee beans as anything coarser than this will clog up the filter and forcing water at high pressure through a clogged filter is going to cause a mess! Secondly, as this appliance is compact, the drip tray is also quite small and shallow. For this reason, it’s best to empty the tray after each use in order to avoid spillage and staining.
Other than these 2 small flaws, it was all pros for us!
How’s the Coffee?
We were more than pleased with the intense but smooth brew produced by this appliance. Ensure that you use a fine ground espresso blend and if you are grinding your own beans to use with the Cafe Roma, make sure that you choose the finest setting.
Cleaning the Breville Cafe Roma Espresso Maker
We are happy to report that you this is one of the easiest coffee machines to clean. Tip out the used grounds from the filter baskets, remove, empty and rinse the drip tray and the water reservoir. Remove the steamer pipe and rinse with water and a mild dishwashing soap. The stainless steel machine face can be wiped down with a damp cloth.
Breville recommends running a solution of water and vinegar through the system at high pressure approximately once a week or more frequently if you use your machine a lot.
The Breville Cafe Roma really delivers value for money. It weighs 13lb and has a 150bar thermoblock pump. The compact footprint measures 9″ x 9″ x 12″ and the removable water reservoir will hold 40.6 fl oz. Breville’s Cafe Roma comes with a standard US 110V plug.
The Best Espresso Machine Under $150
You might think that $150 isn’t enough to buy a really good coffee maker but think again! I’m happy to report that you actually have several good choices available at this price range. In my opinion, the greatest option at this price point is the Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker.
Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
- $ Exceptional value for money
One-touch control panel lets you select and customize your drink Automatic milk steamer measures out the perfect amount of milk and froths to your personal taste
- Includes a recipe book so you can learn how to make cafe specialties at home
- Removable milk reservoir so you can easily store leftover milk in the refrigerator – less waste!
Mr Coffee’s espresso and cappuccino maker is a semi automatic espresso maker which creates simple espresso shots as well as milk-based coffee drinks. It is a top seller on Amazon with thousands of positive customer reviews. This is particularly impressive when you consider the lack of advertising for this machine, especially when compared to competitor brands.
How does the Mr Coffee machine look and feel?
I’m going to be completely honest here and say that the design element here is not the greatest feature of this particular machine. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it doesn’t have the sleek modern style of some of the other espresso makers on this list and there’s nothing that would particularly make it stand out on your kitchen worktop. Nevertheless, at this price point, I’ll happily sacrifice form for function and the most important thing about this device is the coffee which does not disappoint!
How easy is the Mr Coffee to use?
What I do like about the design is its straightforwardness. Even without a manual, you could figure out how to use this appliance. But please do read the manual as you need to prime the machine before its first use. This is a simple but essential step so don’t be tempted to skip it!
The one-touch control panel lets you choose between Espresso, Cappuccino and Latte settings, select single or double shots and customize your froth. The automatic milk frother gives excellent results and dispenses exactly the right amount of milk for your chosen beverage. Located at the rear of the machine, the transparent water reservoir is easy to remove and you can always see when it needs to be refilled.
How’s the Coffee?
The coffee is pretty good. Okay, you don’t get the complex flavors of the Gaggia or of a top-notch machine like the Breville Duo Temp Pro but you have to remember that you’re not in the $500 price category here. What you are getting is a barista style beverage with a flavor almost as good as what you would get at a coffee house. It’s very drinkable but not at the same standard as your favorite café. We recommend using a strong roast coffee blend to maximize the flavor.
How about cleaning?
Mr Coffee does have an automatic cleaning function which forces hot water at high pressure through the machine. You’ll still need to remove the water and milk reservoirs as well as the drip tray and wash these separately in warm water and dish soap. Tip out any leftover coffee grounds after each use and rinse out the filter and basket.
Mr Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker is 1040 watts has a 15 bar thermoblock pump and comes with a 26″ cord and standard 110V US plug. The package also includes a measuring scoop and tamper as well as double and single espresso filters.