Whole Latte Love Blog

Best Budget Espresso Machine

by Marc Buckman Updated: March 11, 2020 4 min read

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“Which espresso machine can I get within my budget?”

It’s a question we get all the time. Someone’s on a tight budget and they want a recommendation for a lower cost entry-level semi-automatic espresso machine. There’s one very clear standout for capabilities and value for those starting out in home espresso. So today we’ve got our pick for the best value in entry-level home espresso machines.

Gaggia Besana

Gaggia Besana Control Knob and Buttons

The Gaggia Besana is a throwback to classic super-automatic espresso machine design.

We’re always excited when we receive new goodies at Whole Latte Love. We recently received the Gaggia Besana, a classic super-automatic machine featuring Gaggia’s pannarello, an easy-to-operate interface and many more admirable features that are great for entry-level users. The Besana features 3 drinks options including espresso, espresso lungo and the option to dispense hot water for tea. If you’re a big fan of making milk-based coffee drinks, you’ll love the pannarello wand which lets you take control over steaming and frothing milk for lattes, cappuccinos, flat whites and more.

If you want to further customize your daily cup of joe, choose between 5 adjustable grind settings between finer and coarser settings to make your drink just how you like it. The Besana pretty much comes with everything an entry-level user would need especially if you’re looking for convenience, a machine with little no learning curve and is from a brand with a long-standing reputation for creating machines for all coffee and espresso lovers.

Gaggia Besana Super-Automatic Espresso Machine

Gaggia Besana Super-Automatic Espresso Machine

6 Reviews
The Gaggia Besana is the easiest way to brew and steam your way to café-quality drinks with a simple twist of the knob and quick frothing with the classic pannarello wand.

Gaggia Classic Pro

The Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine

The Gaggia Classic Pro is the best value for a premium entry level espresso machine.

Since it’s debut in early 2019, the Gaggia Classic Pro has stunned us with its impressive upgrades including the commercial style steam wand with a two-hole steam tip, refined rocker switch controls, an updated frame allowing for a more accessible reservoir, and improved pump mounts for a quieter operation. If you’re new to the espresso world, the Classic Pro is the best place to start their journey as a home barista. Once you’ve gotten comfortable pulling shot after shot on the Classic Pro and you’re ready for a challenge you won’t need to buy a new machine, the Classic Pro is a machine that can grow with you. Users can upgrade their set up with a shower screen, baristapro basket, and a group gasket to get better control over your extraction, all exclusive accessories that are great for leveling up your home barista skills.

Gaggia Classic Pro Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine

Gaggia Classic Pro Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine

470 Reviews
The Gaggia Classic Pro improves on the decades old reputation of its predecessor. With an updated commercial steam wand, rocker switches, temperature ready lights, and a streamlined frame, the 100% Italian made Gaggia Classic Pro is the best entry-level espresso machine on the market.

Gaggia Brera

Gaggia Brera Espresso Machine on a Counter Top

The Gaggia Brera offers steel accenting at a cost far below other super-automatic espresso machines.

The Brera is the perfect super-automatic for an entry-level coffee connoisseur who wants to start off their coffee game strong and at a great value. The Gaggia Brera is a compact and simple machine with many of the great qualities featured in higher-end super-autos. Two of our favorite features are the Optiaroma feature and the bypass doser. If you’re new to the coffee game, you’re most likely experimenting with different flavors and aromas until you settle on your preferences.

The Brera Optiaroma function allows you to customize between light, medium, and strong aromas, giving you the ability to try a range of aromas and flavors to satisfy your tastebuds. The bypass doser is a great option if you’ve got multiple coffee drinkers at home or in the office. It allows you to use different types of coffee or use decaf coffee in the bypass doser. All of the buttons that you need to pull a great shot of espresso are on the front of the machine so it’s super easy to operate and brew your favorite drinks on a daily basis.

Gaggia Brera Espresso Machine in Black

Gaggia Brera Espresso Machine in Black

304 Reviews
The Gaggia Brera is a super-automatic machine designed for incredible value and convenience. It grinds, tamps, and brews in one-touch, and frothing is made easy by Gaggia’s patented pannarello wand, which automatically aerates the milk for cappuccinos and lattes.

Breville Bambino Plus

The Breville Bambino Plus Closeup

The Breville Bambino Plus is a convenient espresso appliance with a number of features.

We recently featured the Breville Bambino Plus in our Top 5 Espresso Machines Under $500 and in our Battle of the Entry-Level Machines: Breville Bambino Plus vs. Gaggia Classic Pro. It a small single-boiler espresso machine and is an excellent option for those of you who are just breaking into the espresso market and are looking for something simple, modest and gets the job done. This compact machine can heat up to brewing temperatures in just 3 seconds and if you’re looking to steam milk, you can adjust the milk texture and temperature of the milk.

Battle of the Entry-Level Machines: Breville Bambino Plus vs. Gaggia Classic Pro

Battle of the Entry-Level Machines: Breville Bambino Plus vs. Gaggia Classic Pro

See how the features of the premium entry level Gaggia Classic Pro espresso machine compares to Breville's Bambino Plus, a popular espresso appliance.
Read Article 

What’s great about the Bambino Plus is that it’s ready to brew and steam out of the box, it comes with everything you need including two programmable buttons which can also be used manually. What’s even better is that the Bambino Plus has a sensor on the drip tray to monitor rising milk temperatures as you froth your milk and will automatically shut off to your programmed milk temperature, and with 4-hole steam tip, it will purge itself so that there’s no milk getting clogged in your steam to keep things running nice and smooth.

Breville BES500BSS Bambino Plus

Breville BES500BSS Bambino Plus

11 Reviews
The Breville Bambino Plus is single boiler espresso machine with everything you need to get started. Despite its small size, the Bambino Plus has what it takes to deliver cafe-quality espresso at home with almost no effort required.

Grinders

If you’re buying a semi-automatic machine, you’re going to need a good grinder. Here’s a list of our favorite grinders for entry-level baristas on a budget:

Baratza Sette 270Wi Espresso Grinder

Baratza Sette 270Wi Espresso Grinder

56 Reviews
The super smart Sette 270 Wi from Baratza features an integrated Acaia scale for incredibly accurate weight-based grinding directly into a portafilter or vessel on demand. Adjust the grind across 270 settings, program three weight presets, and easily grind for any brew method with this revolutionary burr grinder.
Ceado E5P Electronic Espresso Grinder

Ceado E5P Electronic Espresso Grinder

60 Reviews
Updated for 2020, the Ceado E5P is a professional espresso grinder with 64mm burrs and a new Pulse Button for easier on-demand activation. Its stepless adjustment makes for near infinite grind settings when dialing in your grind, which is perfect for a home or commercial environment.
Baratza Virtuoso+ Coffee Grinder

Baratza Virtuoso+ Coffee Grinder

23 Reviews
The Baratza Virtuoso+ is a 40mm conical burr grinder that’s adjustable across 40 degrees of fineness. Its updated digital timer allows you to program grinding times within 1/10th of a second with a new “pulse” feature which allows you to add time to your grind to get exactly the right amount of coffee.

We hope you find these suggestions helpful when looking for the best equipment to add to your home coffee bar. For even more in-depth information, take a look at our Complete Guide to Espresso Machines for more details on how espresso machines work.

Marc Buckman
Marc Buckman

Marc is one of Whole Latte Love's resident experts on everything coffee. He built our YouTube channel from the ground up in 2009, demystifying the world of coffee for upwards of 100k subscribers by producing over 1000 in-depth videos. Marc enjoys hiking, scuba diving, and saving the lives of his coworkers when the kitchen runs out of coffee by sharing some of his own.