The Best Espresso Machines Under $500

Best Espresso Machines Under $500

What is the best espresso machine under $500? Or does such a machine even exist at all? If you read our post on Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Cheap Espresso Machine, you know that we don’t define cheap as synonymous with affordable. We aren’t as much concerned with what you spend, but whether or not you are satisfied with your return on investment.

Top Picks Overview: The Best Espresso Machines Under $500

  • Gaggia Classic — All the features of a higher-end machine for a great price
  • Gaggia Baby — Another great value with excellent ratings
  • Gaggia New Baby — A great deal in the under $300 department, but with a few flaws.

Gaggia machines typically carry features such as a 15-bar pump, high pressure water boiler and Chrome-plated marine brass commercial-style portafilters only found in much more expensive models from other brands.

We noted that that over $400 is a reasonable starting point for a quality home machine, and that territory between $200 and $400 is an ambiguous grey zone—some good deals and lots of clunkers.

To help take some of the guess work out of buying a quality entry level home machine, we created a CoffeeKrave guide to the best espresso machines under $500.

{Don’t forget to leave room in the budget for a good grinder to complete your home kit . . . }

 

Recapping Our Standards

To make our short list, an espresso machine had to be capable (at least in theory, based on the technical specifications) of achieving espresso standards: 9 bars of extraction pressure, water temperature of 88°C ± 2°C and an extraction time of 25 seconds ± 5 seconds.

We took a hard look at both technical specifications and consumer reviews. We feel that online reviews are an excellent way to assess durability, if you look at the trendline. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Any single review might be an anomalous rant (or rave), but if a product has any serious flaws they tend to emerge as a trend in the reviews.

 

Best Espresso Machines Under $500

 

The Best Espresso Machines Under $500: Our Choices

As it turns out, our top picks for under $500 are both from Gaggia, the New Baby, $399 and Baby Class, $499.

Before we are accused of being gaga for Gaggia, let us explain our reasoning: Gaggia puts solid construction behind their entry level models.

Features of the Baby Class include:

  • Chrome-plated marine brass commercial-style portafilters
  • Removable water reservoir
  • Three-way solenoid valve
  • High wattage boiler with two heating elements
  • 15 bar pump

Our only serious concern with Gaggia’s entry level models is the aluminum boiler. Otherwise, the specifications are quite impressive for the price. Gaggia’s serious attention to detail has earned them their reputation as the go-to brand for budget espresso machines.

Stepping outside the box a bit, our next recommendation for the best espresso machine under $500 isn’t a specific brand and model. Instead, our next suggestion is to consider refurbished machines. Seattle Coffee Gear carries a pretty wide selection of refurbished machines, many of which are under $500. Buying refurbished can bring a dream machine closer to the budget friendly category.

Our last suggestion is actually a bit of a cheat, in that it’s a budget buster at $629. Still . . . The Rancilio Silvia Version 3 is fairly close to the budget mark, and well worth the extra. Extremely solid construction, including a brass boiler. The Miss Silvia was our first machine (an earlier model, and under $500 at the time), and we have no regrets.

 

Is there a budget friendly name that brought quality to your home kit? Share it with us in the comments below!

 

Main Photo: Lou Henry

Content Photo: Andreas Åkre Solberg

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