When it comes to getting the perfect shot of espresso, or the perfect cup of cappuccino, the simplest rule of thumb is that the more you pay for the coffee and for the espresso machine using it, the better the result will be. Therefore this article is the second part of a 3 article series where we look at the best espresso machines under $300, $500 and $1000. The point is that it take a real coffee connoisseur to really appreciate the difference between a 300 dollar machine and a 500 dollars one, especially if you use the best quality coffee with the cheaper machine, and an average coffee with the second machine. The espresso aficionado will be able to feel the difference in the quality of the foam more than in the taste of the coffee. So the point is that you should only consider buying a $500 or even a $1000 espresso machine if you are also going to invest in a good quality coffee and also if you are sure that you can indeed appreciate the difference. So, having gone through all that, we can now give you a look at what we think are the best espresso machines under $500 on the market today. Make sure to scroll past the list itself to find the in depth reviews we have prepared for you.
1. Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine
Our number one choice for the best espresso machine under $500 is the Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine. It is not even the most expensive machine on our list but we feel that it has a lot of potential and it really gets close to being one of the best machines on the market in this price range. We are going to look at some more expensive machines, but this one is quite impressive on its own. It has a 72 ounce water reservoir and it pushes that water through the coffee at 17 and a half bars of pressure. It has 2 very significant features that really set it apart and make it be worth the asking price: it has brass port filters and brass group head that keep the temperature of the water perfectly stable all the way from the heating element down to your cup. The Gaggia really is one of the best espresso machines and it is actually considered an entry level professional or coffee house machine. The one thing that can be improved upon is the pouring spout, and you can buy a relatively cheap high end one that will really allow the Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine to compete with $1000 espresso machines.
2. Breville BES840XL the Infuser Espresso Machine
In all honesty the Gaggia espresso machines only have one competitor on the market in terms of price and quality and it is the Breville machines. The Breville BES840XL the Infuser Espresso Machine is the most expensive item on our list, getting really close to that 500 dollar mark, but it really is worth every penny. We would still chose the Gaggia we have already featured because we can use the price difference to buy a high end spout, but if you do not want to modify your espresso machine, you can simply buy the Breville BES840XL the Infuser Espresso Machine. It has 2 features that really impressed us. One is the fact that it has a pre-infusion stage when it pushes in low pressure water that is only meant to expand the coffee grinds, so when the 15 bar pressure kicks in, it will extract all the best flavor from the coffee. It also has a auto purge function that re-adjusts the water temperature after you have used the frother, so that a second cup of coffee will come out just as delicious as the first.
3. Breville 800ESXL 15-Bar Triple-Priming Die-Cast Espresso Machine
Our best on a budget choice for the best espresso machine is the Breville 800ESXL 15-Bar Triple-Priming Die-Cast Espresso Machine. It is a somewhat weaker machine than the first Gaggia we have talked about, at 15 bar of pressure, but, interestingly enough, the frothing wand is made from stainless steel so it is much easier to clean. It also has a 75 ounce water tank so you can easily prepare several cups of cappuccino without running out of water. And it also has the purge function we have talked about earlier so that if you go from making a cappuccino to an espresso, you will not using super heated steam instead of the right temperature water.
4. Gaggia Brera Superautomatic Espresso Machine
There is a second Gaggia espresso machine that really drew our attention, the Gaggia Brera. We still believe that you would be better served by our number one choice, but we have to admit that this is a much easier machine to use. It has its own grinder, so you do not have to worry about buying that separately and then finding the right grinding size for you coffee beans. On the other hand, you cannot upgrade any filter on this machine because it was designed to work as a unit and the grinding size it uses now, would probably not work with a high end filter. However, assuming that you do not want to tinker about it, the Gaggia Brera Superautomatic Espresso Machine is really the no headache machine anyone would like because it uses a pre-infusion system, it uses a 4 filtration system for the water, and it is even pre-programmed to shut itself down after an hour of not being in use, and also to tell you when it needs to be cleaned.
5. Waring Pro ES1500 Professional Espresso Maker
The last espresso machine we are going to look at in this list is the highest temptation for the no fuss, no muss type of user. The Waring Pro ES1500 Professional Espresso Maker actually uses both espresso coffee and coffee pods, so you really do not have to worry about anything with this machine. If you are in a hurry in the morning you can use a coffee pod for easy cleaning, and you can use the espresso coffee during the more relaxed part of the day. It also has a cup warming feature on the top, which really impressed us given that the perfect cup of cappuccino really needs a warm cup. On the same lines the frothing wand really does a great job, so the only thing we do not like about the Waring Pro ES1500 Professional Espresso Maker is the fact that it does not have a purge function.