Looking for a new coffee machine? If you’re on a limited budget, I completely understand.
However, if your budget for a coffee machine is around $500, you’ll be doing yourself a favor because this is the price range where quality investment is available.
Personally, I believe that purchasing an espresso machine is better and more beneficial than purchasing a standard coffee maker. This is because an espresso machine has a lot more to offer than a simple coffee maker.
While cheap machines are usually made of plastic and produce a drink that barely qualifies as an espresso, a budget with a slightly higher cap may produce a drink worthy of the name.
Short Answer: There are many options available within this budget, but I’ve done the research for the 3 best coffee machines under $500. They include the Breville Infuser, the Gaggia Classic Pro, and the Breville Bambino Plus.
Let’s continue reading to learn more about these top-rated machines.
Best coffee machines under $500
In this price range, you’re moving up from simplistic machines to something that has more helpful features but is still quite easy to use. According to my research, the three best machines under $500 are:
Breville Infuser – The best of the best
The Breville Infuser espresso machine has a class of its own in this price range. It’s consistent, reliable, loaded with high-end features, and most of all it makes a delightful shot of espresso.
What distinguishes this machine are a few high-end features that significantly improved the drink’s quality.
These include an adjustable PID controller, an auto-purge function that automatically regulates the temperature of the water for optimal extraction, and, of course, the pre-infusion function, which gave this machine its name.
Because of these factors, I believe the Breville BES840XL Infuser is the best espresso machine under $500.
- Makes consistently great espresso
- A steam wand for making great microfoam
- Programmable controls
- Lots of high end features
- Dry puck feature
- Has hot water dispenser
- Non-standard 54mm portafilter
- Steams and brews 1 at a time
Gaggia Classic Pro – Tried and tested
What sets this machine apart is its commercial-grade quality and its design which is made for longevity. This means that both the portafilter and the group head are made of heavy-duty brass, which not only keeps the temperature stable but also ensures the machine lasts a long time.
Other highlights include a 72 oz water tank, a 58mm group head, a 17.5 bar boiler, and a solenoid valve that allows for a faster turnaround between shots.
The Gaggia Pro also has a commercial-style steam wand that lets you create quality steamed milk.
The only drawback of this machine is that it only has a single boiler, which means you can’t steam your milk while brewing your espresso.
- Perfect for beginners
- Makes great espresso
- Easy to clean
- Large water reservoir
- Durable and robust
- Cup clearance is short so can only fit small cups when portafilter inserted
- Hard to determine water temperature
Breville Bambino Plus – Best value for your money
Breville’s Bambino Plus is yet another excellent product. The rationale behind this distinct espresso machine is to spend less money on build quality so that more money can be spent on features.
And it does have some really powerful features. PID temperature control, pre-infusion, and a steam wand that can be used hands-free and automatically are among the features (a feature that is not common at this price range).
Like the Breville Infuser, it comes with both single and double shot baskets and boasts a 54mm portafilter. However, it comes with only double-walled baskets.
While these features are excellent for beginners, these won’t do for espresso connoisseurs. It has a 15 bar pump pressure and a remarkable 3-second heat-up time thanks to thermo-jet technology.
- Excellent features
- 3 second heat up time
- Has the option of automatic milk steaming
- Comes with pre infusion function
- Only comes with double walled filter baskets
- A lot of plastic in its design
Which is the cheapest espresso machine?
According to my research, the cheapest espresso machine in the market is the DE’LONGHI ECE155.
This model is well-known for providing excellent value for money. Though it won’t win any barista competitions, it can certainly produce some decent shots.
Even though it is inexpensive, it does pretty well for its price and size.
This machine’s design is nice and appealing, and it provides at least the required 9 bar pressure to make a genuine espresso.
It’s capable of creating crema-packed shots and works really well with ESE pods. It contains a pressurized basket that you can also “depressurize” to get a more authentic espresso shot.
It heats up in a matter of minutes and contains a removable drip tray that makes cleaning very easy.
Though the steam wand works fine, getting a nice milk texture is a bit difficult. However, if you enjoy a foamy and bubbly cappuccino, it will suffice.
Overall, it’s a good machine for darker, Italian-style roasts.
Basic differences of coffee machines
The most fundamental distinction between a low-cost and high-priced coffee machine is their price. This is usually determined by their brand, features, built, and the quality of their parts.
The following table compares the price range of various coffee makers:
|Coffee Maker Type||Average Price Range|
|Drip||$40 – $220|
|French Press||$20 – $150|
|Siphon||$65 – $200|
|Single-Serve||$65 – $200|
|Espresso||$250 – $4,000|
|Super Automatic Epresso||$900 – $2,200|
Quality of the materials used
The higher the quality of the parts used in your coffee maker, the more it’s able to withstand regular wear and tear. It’s also natural to expect a sturdier built from more expensive machines.
The main material you’ll find in a cheap coffee maker is plastic. The more plastic elements there are in the machine, the more easily it will wear out.
Plastic parts on coffee machines have also been linked to certain long-term harmful consequences especially that they’re usually exposed to heat. Some machines claim that they’re BPA-free since more customers are aware that Bisphenol A or BPA causes numerous health issues.
The quality of the material used to make the grinder is extremely important. To grind the coffee beans, inexpensive coffee machines use blades, whereas high-end machines use burrs. The grind with burrs is much finer than the grind with blades.
Machine upkeep and serviceableness
Wear and tear are normal for all machines so it’s best to get a quality coffee machine that can be serviced or repaired by professionals.
There are even coffee machine brands that have replaceable parts in case something goes wrong.
If you are a technical person who prefers do-it-yourself projects, you can search for and read posts on the internet that provide step-by-step instructions on how to perform preventive maintenance on your coffee machine.
However, if you have a coffee machine with plastic parts, this is bad news.
These low-cost machines are essentially used until they break down, at which point they are discarded. It’s no surprise that coffee machines are usually left out on the curb for garbage collection.
Watch the video to learn more about how an expensive coffee machine differs from a cheap one.
Do cheap coffee machines make good coffee?
Yes, low-cost coffee machines with additional features can produce high-quality brews without spending a fortune.
In fact, some of the quality coffee machines on the market are sold for $100, especially when on sale.
Aside from the coffee machine, there are other factors involved in brewing a good cup of coffee and the most important is the coffee itself. No machine can transform a bad-tasting bean into a delicious cup of coffee.
Though expensive machines have many advanced features that can help you produce really good coffee, you can get by with midrange coffee machines as long as you use quality beans.
You can read another post of mine about how coffee quality matters by checking it out here.
To sum it all up
My top picks for the best espresso machines under $500 are the Breville Infuser Espresso Machine, Gaggia Classic Pro, and the Breville Bambino Plus.
The Breville Infuser Espresso Machine is a personal favorite because it has so many great features and the best one is the pre-infusion function, which allows the grounds to open up before pulling a shot. It’s powerful enough to keep the water warm and has enough pressure to make a great cup of espresso.
Appliances are a wise purchase and more expensive ones not only have more advanced features, but they’re also more long-lasting.
It’s practical to choose a coffee machine that’s serviceable and repairable because the less expensive plastic ones aren’t built to last.
The price of your coffee machine does not also guarantee an excellent cup of coffee because the outcome is determined by the beans you use.
It’s always a good idea to do your research before purchasing any appliance such as reading online reviews and asking for recommendations from friends to ensure that you get your money’s worth.
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