12 Best Coffee Machines under £500


Yes, you’re quite right – ‘best coffee machine under £500’ is a bit on the general side, but this is what people tend to search for when looking for the specific types of coffee machines that we’ll be discussing within this post.

When I say “the best coffee machines under £500” what I’m referring to specifically are espresso machines, bean to cup coffee machines and filter coffee machines. These are the machines most people will have in mind when they’re searching for “coffee machines”.

Bean to Cup Coffee Machines Vs. Espresso Machines

Just to quickly explain the difference between “bean to cup coffee machines” and “espresso machines”, as this is something that trips a lot of people up. 

Bean to cup coffee machines, sometimes known as fully automatic coffee machines, and often labeled as “cappuccino makers” or “latte machines”, are espresso machines, but they work differently to traditional espresso machines, with something called a brewing unit being responsible for the espresso, which takes away the need for any barista skill.

They have an integrated grinder, the aforementioned brewing unit, and a way to froth milk, depending on the type of machine you go for, some have steam wands, some have milk carafes and produce the entire drink (latte, cappuccino etc.,) from the touch of a button. 

Traditional espresso machines, on the other hand, require some barista skill, but the potential espresso quality is generally better on traditional espresso machines vs bean to cup coffee machines. 

If you drink a lot of neat espresso then you may find a bean to cup machine a bit lacking when it comes to espresso quality. Having said that, depending on your palate you may find the same to be the case with the cheapest traditional espresso machines. Most sub £200 espresso machines work with pressurized, dual-walled baskets, which are designed to produce good results in terms of the way espresso looks, not so much the way it tastes. 

First called “perfect crema baskets” by Gaggia (who I’m relatively confident invented these kinds of baskets, although I could be wrong), pressured baskets produce crema which is usually the side effect of pulling a great shot. If you drink a lot of espresso, though, and you have a keen palate, pressured basket machines like this probably won’t cut the mustard for you. If you mainly drink milkies (cappuccino, latte) you’re more likely to be satisfied by a machine of this type.

If you can take your budget to around the five hundred pounds mark (including the grinder, which is very important, if you’re buying an espresso machine you need a grinder), then this will get you towards the entry-level where home barista espresso machines are concerned, machines such as the Sage Bambino, Bambino Plus or Gaggia Classic Pro, all of which I’ve gone into more detail about, below.

But if you’re not someone who likes to savour espresso, and you’re more likely to drink cappuccino, latte and so on, and you just want the convenience of being able to put fresh coffee beans in the top, press a button & get coffee out of the bottom, then bean to cup coffee machines are probably going to be the right machines for you.

If you want the best of both worlds, then you’d be looking at either the Sage Barista Express Impress which is a couple of hundred quid outside of the under five hundred pound territory or the Sage Oracle, which is about twelve or thirteen hundred quid too expensive to include here! 

Sage Barista Express Impress ReviewSage Oracle Review

The Importance of Coffee Beans.

It’s amazing how little attention is often given to the coffee beans themselves when people are striving for better-tasting coffee. The number one consideration when it comes to increasing coffee quality, is to use better quality coffee beans.

If you buy freshly roasted coffee beans from a small batch roaster or specialist supplier, you’re much more likely to end up with great tasting coffee, regardless of your coffee machine, than picking up a bag of coffee beans from a shelf while doing your weekly shop.

Most people would expect a really cheap bottle of wine to taste more like vinegar in comparison to a really nice bottle of Bordeaux because most people realize that there isn’t just “wine”, it really matters what grapes are used, where it’s produced, and so on.

When it comes to coffee many people have come to the conclusion that “coffee is just coffee”, and anyone who’s fallen down the Home Barista rabbit hole will probably be nodding in agreement with me when I say that this is an illusion created by “mainstream” commodity coffee. 

Most of the coffee that most people in the UK have consumed up until now, is commodity coffee. This is coffee sold on the commodities market, where quality doesn’t impact on price. Just as with salt or sugar, coffee beans are just coffee beans in this format.

Think of mass-produced imported honey vs locally produced honey, mass-market cheap cans of beer vs. craft ale, the cheapest and nastiest blended whiskey vs. some of the best quality single malts, and so on. The difference between high quality, freshly roasted coffee beans and mass market commodity coffee beans is actually much more pronounced than most of these examples. 

This “mass market” coffee usually consists of a large variety of different beans, and it’s usually a relatively dark roast, because roasting darker helps to ensure consistency and to hide any potential taste defects likely to be present in coffee of this grade.

So if instead of “coffee just tastes of coffee”, you changed that to “a huge variety of different coffee beans roasted very close to charcoal, tastes like a huge variety of different coffee beans roasted very close to charcoal”, that would be an accurate statement ;-).

I hear from so many people that invest money in a new coffee machine in order to increase the quality of their coffee and are underwhelmed by the results. Usually, when this is the case I find out that they spent hundreds of pounds (sometimes a lot more) on a coffee machine, but they’re using the same poor quality coffee beans that they were previously using. 

Even if you spend ten grand on a coffee machine, if you use this kind of coffee, it’s going to taste more or less the same as it will on the cheapest coffee machine you could possibly get hold of. It doesn’t matter how much money you spend on a juicer, if you put rancid old apples through it, you’ll get rancid apple juice – or an easier way to put it, crap in – crap out.

So just keep in mind, regardless of how much you’re spending on a coffee machine, the biggest upgrade in cup quality will come from upgrading the quality of the coffee beans you’re using. 

While we’re on that subject, it would be remiss of me to not tell you about my own coffee :-). The Coffeeworks started off as a small project to create a small range of high-quality, freshly roasted coffee beans specifically for my readers, via a series of polls in which readers helped me with all of the major decisions, from which flavour notes to focus on, down to bags used and delivery options.

To say I’m amazed at how far we’ve come with The Coffeeworks within a relatively small space of time would be an understatement! We now have a range of 14 stonking coffees, all freshly roasted (usually roasted on or close to the day of dispatch), so regardless of your particular tastes, we’re bound to have a coffee that you love. Don’t take my word for it though ;-).  

Use discount code CBNC25 for 25% off your first order at Coffeeworks

Talking about how far we’ve come, have you watched any of my YouTube videos? If you have, and particularly if it was a couple of years ago when I first started the channel, check out the video below in which I introduce the new YouTube studio. If you have seen any of my old YouTube content, you’ll see the quality of my latest videos has come a long way!

But I digress (as usual), this post isn’t supposed to be about me, it’s supposed to be about the best coffee machines under £500, so let’s get on with it ;-).

Best Bean to Cup Coffee Machines Under £500

I’m starting out with bean to cup coffee machines simply because while bean to cup machines aren’t for everyone, they’re for most people. The majority of people I speak to who’re looking at investing in a coffee machine, tend to tell me that they’re looking for two things.

1) Most people these days are looking for a coffee machine that works with whole coffee beans, as they realize that this is often the most economical and eco-friendly way to drink coffee.
2) Most people tell me that they are looking for as much convenience and as little faff as possible.

If the above rings true for you, then it’s probably a bean to cup coffee machine you need. You just put whole beans in the top, press a button, and get coffee out of the bottom.

When I say that using whole beans is the most economical way to drink coffee, just a very quick illustration – if you use pods, for example, you’ll probably be paying (depending on the pods you’re using) somewhere between fifty to ninety pounds per Kilo, for pre-ground coffee. The average price for high quality freshly roasted speciality coffee beans is roughly £20-£35 per kilo on average.

OK the difference in price isn’t quite so dramatic when you take into account the fact that most people using fresh beans will naturally end up using more than the usual 6g or so of coffee that a pod contains, but then again, a lot of people will use two or even three pods per coffee.

Re being more eco-friendly, if you buy a kilo of coffee, there’s one bag (which are often recyclable) for around 50 – 140 cups of coffee depending on the dose you’re using per cup, instead of their being an individual piece of packaging for every cup.

So bean to cup coffee machines are a great way for people to be able to benefit from being able to use whole beans, not only where cost and eco-friendliness are concerned, but also where taste is concerned if you upgrade your coffee, which isn’t hard these days as there are so many small batch coffee roasters offering great quality coffee beans. 


UK & Ireland Coffee Roasters Directory

As I mentioned in the intro, bean to cup machines don’t produce quite the same quality of espresso as traditional espresso machines do (in the hands of someone who can use it well, that is) but the majority of “mainstream” coffee drinkers will usually be more than happy with the cup quality of most bean to cup coffee machines.

If you’re not sure if you’re a mainstream coffee drinker by the way, I’d class someone as closer to a mainstream “normal” coffee drinker, the more of these questions that they answer yes to:

Do you enjoy the coffee at most of the chain coffee shops, including Costa, Starbucks, Nero, etc?
Do you add sugar or syrups to your coffee?
Do you sometimes drink instant coffee, and enjoy it?
Generally speaking, if you order a coffee from the dessert menu after a meal, are you happy with it?

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not being a snob, if you can answer yes to most of these questions, that’s great! One of the problems of getting into the home barista hobby is that your palate develops to the point where many of the questions above end up being answered with a very definite no, which is very inconvenient, actually!

In all honesty, the home barista market is tiny in comparison to the “mainstream” coffee market. It’s growing rapidly but still, the majority of people who’re looking for a coffee machine are really looking for convenience more than anything, so if that’s you, please don’t feel like you’re in any way abnormal, it’s actually the geeks like me that are the weird ones! 😉


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Probably the best bean to cup coffee machine currently for under £300, and certainly one of the best bean to cup coffee machines at under £500, the De’Longhi Magnifica ESAM 4200 is compact and simple to use, as well as being tried and tested, with huge numbers of users of this bean to cup espresso machine over the years, just see the masses of amazon reviews.

READ ALSO:  Welcome to Coffeeblog.co.uk – The Coffee Lovers Blog!

This really low-cost bean to cup espresso machine comes with seven grind settings with half step intervals. That’s pretty good for such a small investment, some of the much more expensive bean to cup machines only have 5-10 grind settings.

Good for espresso, long black/Americano, Latte and cappuccino, and even flat white if you take the Panarello plastic frother sheath off and just use the steam pipe as a single hole tipped steam wand.

It’s fairly compact for a bean to cup machine, so it won’t take up too much room on your worktop – which is always a bonus for those of us with galley kitchens. It’s mainly plastic on the outside, but it’s also available for under £300, and it’s not a bad looking machine at all.

It’s a bit on the noisy side, so if you drink coffee early in the morning and live with light sleepers, this might not go down too well, there are quieter bean to cup machines to be fair.

For more, see:

DeLonghi Esam 4200 Review


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The Magnifica S machines are the newer encarnations of the Delonghi Magnifica, slightly redesigned in terms of the footprint and the user interface, drink sizes are re-programmed by pressing and holding the buttons instead of via a volume dial, they’re a bit slimmer, and they look a bit more modern, and that’s pretty much the end of the differences as far as I’m aware.

There are a few different versions of the Magnifica S, as tends to be the case with DeLonghi coffee machines. The differences are relatively subtle, though.

The Magnifica S Smart for example, is simply the Magnifica S but with the smart steam wand which can be used to create really decent microfoam, as you can set it to heating mode only after you’ve sufficciently areated your milk, the same as you’d do with a pro steam wand by simply raising the jug to completely submerse the steam tip.

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There’s a slight colour variation and some slightly different materials in the outer shell, but there’s really no major differences I can see other than this. My mum has this machine, I have one of the original E22 Magnificas (not the smart version) in the studio, I’ve compared them, and I really don’t think there’s much to it other than the different steam wand, really.

Personally, if you do plan on using the panarello rather than removing it and using the rubber pipe as if it were a steam wand (which you can, this works fine, it’s just on the short side so you’ll need to use a smallish jug, 350ml for example) then I’d recommend the smart version, as in my humble opinion, this is the best panarello steam wand ever made, well it’s the best I’ve ever seen.

Panarello wands are super straightforward to us, you just stick them in your milk jug and keep on frothing until your milk is hot enough, but they don’t give you control over milk texture, it’s old school cappuccino foam or nothing, basically. With the smart version with the two settings, you’re able to close off the air intake which allows you to choose how long to aerate for, so you can very simply use these simple wands to create proper latte art worthy microfoam.

For more on the various DeLonghi machines see:

Best Delonghi Machines


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Exclusive Gaggia discounts

Gaggia have given me discount codes exclusively for my fellow coffee botherers. You can find them all here:

Exclusive Gaggia Discounts

The Gaggia Anima is definitely one of my favourite bean to cup coffee machines at under £500. It’s a great little machine for the money, just a solid little machine which is very simple to use, reliable, and produces about as good cup quality as you’ll get from a domestic bean to cup coffee machine.

What I mean by this, is that bean to cup machines that are made for home use are all very similar where it really matters. In other words, if you show me a sub £500 home bean to cup machine and a one thousand pound or higher home bean to cup coffee machine, I would be willing to bet a significant sum of money (up to a fiver) that if we were to take both machines apart, we’d find the grinder and the brewing unit to be very similar.

This is especially so with machines from the same brand, take Gaggia machines for example. I’m not 100% sure about the new Accademia, but I’m fairly certain that every other machine in the range including the newer machines some of which are much more pricy than the Brera, have the exact same grinder and the same brewing unit, so what this means is that when you spend more money on a machine like this, usually you’re paying for additional features, not for better cup quality.

This is a bit more pricey than the previous two De’Longhi machines, but the reason I personally prefer the Gaggia Brera to the De’Longhi machines is simply that it has a true double shot option, and it’s very easy to know roughly how much coffee is being ground for each shot.

On the two Delonghi Magnifica machines, coffee strength is handled with a dial, and there’s no reference which is relateable in any useful way. So you never really know how much coffee is being ground, also when you select a double shot, double the coffee isn’t ground, from experimenting with the used pucks of coffee I think a double shot on the De’Longhi Magnifica machines is made using a couple of grams more than for a single shot.

The Brera has bean settings, as all of the Gaggia bean to cup coffee machines do, so if you have it set on the 1 bean setting you know it’s going to grind approx 5g, if you have it on the 2 bean setting it’s approx 9g, and on the 3 bean setting it’s approx 11g. I say approximately because the dose weight will change slightly depending on the beans, roast level, and grind size.

Also, when you press the shot button twice on the Brera it’ll create a true double shot by grinding and pulling two shots one after the other, so if you have it on the 2 bean setting for example, you know it’s going to produce a true double shot, meaning it’ll produce double the espresso using double the ground coffee, so your double shot will be made using 18g of coffee, and the volume will be double whatever you set it to for a single shot.

For more on the Gaggia Brera see:

Gaggia Brera ReviewGaggia Brera youtube Review


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This is the lowest price one touch bean to cup coffee machines I’m aware of.

These machines are different from the two other bean to cup machines I’ve mentioned so far in that they also steam and deliver the milk, while the Brera and ESAM 4200 are machines that come with steam wands for manual milk steaming.

Different one-touch machines do this in different ways. The Mellita Solo steams the milk using something called a cappuccinatore, while many of the other auto milk frothing bean to cup coffee machines use carafe systems.

What this means is that instead of having a milk carafe that fits on the machine, you just put the pipe into a milk jug or into your bottle of milk, and it sucks in the milk, steams it, and delivers it into your coffee.

One-touch bean to cup coffee machines are never going to deliver amazing milk texture, so if you’re a big fan of milkies, especially velvety flat whites, you’d probably be better having full control of the milk texturing with a bean to cup machine with a steam wand.

But if you like more frothy milkies, such as old-school frothy cappuccinos, then something like the Mellita Solo may be perfect for you.

For more on bean to cup coffee machines see:

Best Bean to Cup Coffee Machines


Best Traditional Espresso Machines under £500

We’re moving onto traditional machines now, and as I mentioned earlier, the sub £200 espresso machines tend to be pressurized basket machines, which you may be OK with if you’re mainly making cappuccino, latte, and so on, but if you’re exclusively an espresso drinker, you’ll probably want to set your sights a bit higher.

The first two machines I’m introducing you to are this kind of cheaper espresso machine, although the first one can be tweaked slightly to turn it into an entry-level home barista espresso machine, which many people have done over the years.

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If you’re shopping very close to the “cheapest espresso machine” side of things, being not much over a hundred quid, then the Delonghi Dedica is what I’d be looking at, and this is why I’m putting the Dedica first in the traditional espresso machines section.

There are an increasing number of options in the sub £200 area, but so far I’m yet to come across an option within this price range that I think really offers any real competition for the De’Longhi Dedica.

Don’t get me wrong, the Dedica isn’t perfect, it’s a very cheap espresso machine – and if you can afford to bypass the sub £200 espresso machine category and jump up to something like the Sage Bambino, I would do, but if you’re on a very limited budget, I’m yet to see any espresso machine that I think is a better option than the De’Longhi Dedica for the price, overall.

By the way, if you’re thinking that the Smeg espresso machine is an upgrade to the DeLonghi Dedica, as many people would believe it is due to the price, just keep in mind that you’re investing in the Smeg design, rather than investing in better espresso quality.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the Smeg espresso machine looks very cool (if you like that retro look, which many do), but I get a lot of people telling me they expected it to be of the same caliber as the likes of the Sage Bambino as it’s about the same price, and internally as far as I can see, it’s a 15 bar pump thermoblock espresso machine with a pressurized portafilter/basket and a Panarello steam wand, so I can’t see anything about the Smeg which would make it produce any better quality espresso than the much cheaper DeLonghi Dedica. 

For more on the Smeg espresso machine, see:

Smeg Coffee Machines

Different Dedica Versions

One of the common questions I receive is about the various different Dedica versions, as there are a few options now. The differences are mainly about the steam wands, and relatively minor aesthetic differences, such as colours and materials.

The biggest difference between the original Dedica and the Dedica EC685 and newer models is the smart steam wand. While the original had a standard Panarello steam wand, the Dedica EC685 “style” and the newer Dedica EC785 both feature the newer smart steam feature.

This is a really clever feature to be fair, which also features in their “Magnifica S Smart” bean to cup coffee machine, which allows the Panarello to be put onto two settings, cappuccino and hot milk.

The Panarello is basically a sheath over the steam pipe with an air intake, and while there’s usally just one setting which results in big bubbles for old school cappuccino, on this wand you can close off the air intake, allowing you to introduce as much air as you want to before you shut it off and just continue to heat the milk.

This replicates the way microfoam is created using pro steam wands, by first pulling in air and then stopping the aeration and continuing just to heat the milk until your milk reaches the target tempertature, and it’s really simple to do.

READ ALSO:  Low Acid Coffee – Why You Might Need it & How to Get it

The Cheapest Home Barista Espresso Machine

OK, this isn’t a machine made for home baristas, most of the machines that are actually produced to target this market tend to start from closer to the one thousand pounds mark than the one hundred pound mark, but the DeLonghi Dedica has been the most commonly used machine among beginner home baristas for quite some time.

It’s produced for the mainstream home espresso machine market, so it ships with pressurized baskets – it’s really aimed at people who plan to use pre-ground coffee, but huge numbers of people have upgraded their Dedica to home barista use, simply by switching out the portafilter with a standard basket, or a bottomless portafilter with a standard basket.

You can hack the steam wand too, to fit a pro wand, other than that the biggest “hack” for better espresso with the Delonghi Dedica is simply to upgrade your grinder.

When it comes to the grinder, many people have paired the Dedica with one of the very cheapest burr grinders, such as the Delonghi KG79 and the Krups Expert, by modding these grinders to bring the burrs slightly closer together.

Personally, I’d recommend aiming a bit higher than these grinders, if you can, simply because they don’t have true burrs. They have what are known as flat grinding wheels, the sharpest thing on them is the screws that hold them in place, and this leads to an all-over-the-place particle uniformity.

The Gaggia MD15 is a good starting point, you can do a really simple and free hack to shim the burrs, which makes them espresso capable. If you don’t want to mod, and you have a couple more quid available, the Sage Dose Control Pro is one of the best budget options.

For more on grinders see:

Best coffee grinders


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Exclusive Gaggia discounts

Gaggia have given me discount codes exclusively for my fellow coffee botherers. You can find them all here:

Exclusive Gaggia Discounts

This is another very similarly priced, very low cost espresso machine, and from what I can gather they’re all actually very similar internally. The sub £200 espresso machines usually have thermoblock heaters, 15 bar pumps, pressurized portafilters and Panarello steam wands.

By the way, the “15 bars of pressure” thing you’ll invariably see when looking at the cheaper espresso machines, appears to be a mistake that the marketing department of one of the big brands have made at some point, that most of the other brands have followed.

15 bars (sometimes 19) is simply the pressure that vibration pumps produce, but actually delivering 15 or 19 bars in the basket isn’t something you’d want to do, at least not with traditional espresso machines, and I suspect that most of these cheaper espresso machines actually don’t.

Higher cost espresso machines usually also have 15 bar pumps (nearly always, if they’re vibration pumps) but they have what’s known as an “overpressure valve” which is usually set to 9 bars, as there’d be no benefit to generating higher pressure in the basket than this.

The marketing blurb on the sub £200 machines usually tries to claim the 15 bar or 19 bar pressure as a beneficial feature, which would give the impression that cheap espresso machines don’t have overpressure valves. Why they wouldn’t have an OPV is debatable, but from what I can gather most of the cheaper espresso machines actually do have an OPV valve.

I asked an espresso engineer I know who works on domestic machines, to have a look at some of these cheaper machines and tell me if they do have an OPV, and he told me they do, albeit usually a cheap plastic one, but nevertheless, it will be set to open at a particular pressure.

So just take that “15 bars of pressure” statement you’ll often see, with a pinch of salt. I do actually think most of them will probably be set to higher than 9 bar, because they’re set up for pressurized baskets and I think higher pressure works better for that kind of basket, but I don’t think many machines will actually be delivering the full 15 bars.

When you’re choosing between machines at this kind of price point, it’s worth keeping in mind that you’re really not going to get big differences internally, so the shot potential isn’t going to be very different, but there are some subtle differences which I think make the various options better for specific people.

In my humble opinion, if you’re someone who wants simplicity and has no interest in doing things like modding, swapping portafilters and/or baskets and tinkering in order to get home barista results from a much cheaper machine, then you may be better off with the Gran Gaggia.

If you’re someone looking for the cheapest possible home barista level machine, and you’re looking to switch the portafilter to a bottomless portafilter with a standard basket for example, then I think you’d be better off with the DeLonghi.

The reason I say the Gran Gaggia is potentially the better option for folks who just want simplicity is that while these two machines are very similar in that regard, when you buy a Gaggia in the UK, you have the added benefit of the great, old-school (albeit via new technology as they do a lot on zoom) customer service offered by Gaggia direct, the UK distributor for Gaggia.

They really don’t make companies like this anymore, where you can jump on zoom and be talking to someone within the Gaggia UK building who has decades of experience with the machines, talking you through how to descale or whatever it is you’re needing help with. So given that the machines are so similar, personally if I were recommending a machine to a friend who I know isn’t interested in home barista grade espresso, I’d be pointing them in the direction of the Gaggia, and given all of my readers are my friends, that’s what I’m doing :-).

If you’re wanting to do the home barista espresso thing, though, at this kind of price point there’s no other machine I’d recommend other than the Delonghi Dedica.

See my video below about this machine – but just a quick warning, the audio is shocking, sorry – I don’t quite know what I did with this video. This was back when I did all of my own filming, right at the beginning before I’d learned a bit, the video quality got better since then, my beard got shorter ;-), and ultimately I ended up working with a professional production company so the videos are much better quality these days!



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The Bambino is the cheapest espresso machine from Sage, and as far as I’m concerned it’s the best espresso machine on the market at this kind of price point, that I’m aware of. We’re out of the sub-£200 territory now, with this machine, as it’s about £320 at RRP, but you can sometimes find the Bambino on offer from not much over £200, and even cheaper when I have a discount code to share (see below).

Regardless of the cost, what puts the bambino into a different territory where quality is concerned, is the fact the Bambino shares most of the same key speciality coffee focused features with its more expensive siblings in the Sage lineup.

It has a PID (feedback loop to control the temperature) which is something you rarely find on espresso machines under £500. It has low pressure pre-infusion, which is something else you’ll rarely find on cheap espresso machines, in fact, it’s uncommon to have this on espresso machines costing under a thousand pounds, except for the other Sage machines as they all have this.

It has an OPV (overpressure valve) set to 9 bars, it has two programmable shot buttons, a pro steam wand, and ridiculously fast heat up time and steam ready time.

Update: Sage Discount Codes!

If you’re in the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Switzerland (and most other European countries) and you’re thinking of buying any Sage coffee machine or grinder (or any other product from Sage Appliances) I have an active discount code that works so you might want to drop me an email. Click here to join my “Brew Time” mailing list, and then email me ([email protected]).

Read my post on best discount and sage deals:

Sage best deals and discounts

It’s a tad thinner than its bigger brother (below) the bambino plus, other than this, the differences are:

It does have a hot water button (dispenses hot water via the steam wand) the Bambino Plus doesn’t.
If you want hot water for Americano, then this is a big plus for standard Bambino over the plus. There is a hack for hot water on the Bambino Plus, but it only works with some units, depending on the firmware version.

It doesn’t have a solenoid valve, the Bambino Plus does.
What this means is that the Bambino plus is a bit better when it comes to instantly removing all the excess pressure from the basket after pulling the shot, so you end up with slightly drier pucks, and you don’t get portafilter sneeze.

The alternative to the solenoid valve is fine, but less moisture and pressure is removed after pulling each shot, and if you do choke your machine (too fine a grind, so little or no espresso ends up in your cup and you have to abandon the shot) you just have to wait for the valve to release the pressure in the basket, if you unlock the portafilter straight away, you can get some coffee grounds fired out of the group at you, which isn’t particularly pleasant.

On the flip side, not having a solenoid actually makes the small drip tray much more practical on the Bambino. The capacity is about the same in the Bambino plus, but the solenoid fires water into the drip tray after every shot, so you’ll find you have to empty it every few shots even if you’re not steaming milk.

It doesn’t have the auto milk steaming feature, the Bambino Plus does.
If you really want auto steaming, then you’ll need to go for the plus, and the auto steaming on the plus is great. I do prefer the fact that the steam wand on the Bambino is on a ball joint, though, giving you more flexibility over steaming position, the steam wand on the bambino just pulls out and pushes back in.

It has a single hole steam tip, the Bambino Plus has a four hole steam tip.
This results in the Bambino plus having slightly more powerful steam pressure, so it’ll take you a bit less time to steam milk, there’s not a heck of a lot in it, though, and you can actually buy the four hole tip from Sage, and it will fit the Bambino steam wand.

It doesn’t come with the razor too, the Bambino Plus does.
I don’t think this was one of their smartest moves if I’m honest, but I think they made the decision because it allows them to achieve the target rrp, and they know that many people don’t use the razor tool as they just don’t understand its importance.

My advice would be to just buy one, they’re under a tenner from Sage, and they’re a great tool, they ensure a level surface and more importantly, they ensure the correct dose volume every time, meaning the headspace (the gap between the coffee and the shower screen) stays the same every time.

It comes with a lightweight plastic tamper, not the proper metal tamper that the Bambino Plus comes with.
I rarely dislike anything from Sage, they’re just so good at designing things and they usually think of everything, but the plastic tamper is something Sage have produced for the Bambino which I really do not like.

It looks just like their standard, mainly metal tamper, but it’s not, it’s hollow plastic and it feels like a cheap toy. My advice would be to use it as a stool in a dolls house or find some other use for it, and buy the proper tamper from Sage, or get one of the many 54mm aftermarket tampers that are available.


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I’m a big fan of this little machine. I’ve used it a heck of a lot, it was my main home machine for quite a while, and it’s a very good machine for the money.

READ ALSO:  Speciality Coffee Beans Soon to Be More Expensive. Thanks Brexit!

This is still a cheap espresso machine at this price, and if you don’t believe me, just Google the Slayer 1 group espresso machine & the La Marzocco Gs3 MP, and come back here when you’ve pulled yourself back onto your chair.

You can spend just about as much as you want on an espresso machine, most of us aren’t going to be spending the several thousand pounds that these machines cost, though.

As with the Bambino, the Bambino plus has features that even machines costing 2-3 times the cost don’t tend to have, including PID (digital temperature controls), true low-pressure preinfusion, manual or programmable touch button shots & manual or automatic milk steaming!

The only machines at this kind of price that really give it a run for its money is the Bambino as I’ve mentioned above, and the Gaggia Classic pro. It’s very similarly priced to the Gaggia Classic pro, and these are both very capable machines, but the Bambino plus is all about user friendliness and creature comforts, while the Gaggia Classic is a more old school machine which is more geared up for performance and longevity but doesn’t deliver the same soft edges and hugely convenient features.

As I’ve already mentioned, the Bambino gives the Bambino Plus a good run for the money, there’s not really a great deal that the Plus has which the Bambino doesn’t, the main thing is simply the auto steaming, it’s a good feature and it works really well, so if you’re wanting a machine that will handle the milk steaming for you, then as far as I’m aware the Bambino plus is the only traditional espresso machine at the time of writing at under £500 which has this feature.

For more on the Sage Bambino Plus:

Sage Bambino Plus Review


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Exclusive Gaggia discounts

Gaggia have given me discount codes exclusively for my fellow coffee botherers. You can find them all here:

Exclusive Gaggia Discounts

PLEASE NOTE: You may find one or two retailers at present offering great deals on Gaggia machines, especially the Gaggia Classic. If you see the Gaggia classic pro selling for around £315 – £330, this may not quite be all that it seems. There are companies with websites that appear to be UK based, but they’re actually selling grey imports from outside of the UK, which usually take over a week to deliver, and are sold with no UK warranty!

When you buy from Gaggia Direct (the UK distributor for Gaggia Milano) you’re buying genuine UK Gaggia models with a UK warranty, UK stock, and at present, you get a three-year UK warranty too, rather than their standard two-year warranty.

As with the Sage Bambino Plus, this is another traditional semi auto espresso machine that I’m a big fan of, even though this is a completely different kind of espresso machine.

It’s the same, in that they’re both semi auto traditional machines, but it’s different in that this is an old school machine. Think Tesla model X vs. Landrover Defender (the original defender I mean, not the

If you want the best in user-friendliness and features, then you’d go for the Tesla, and the Sage Bambino Plus.

If, however, you want a workhorse – something which will perform well for you but which you can fettle with and maintain to be able to keep you moving (or caffeinated) for years, even decades, then you might want the Land Rover Defender and the Gaggia Classic.

The Gaggia Classic is a very well known home espresso machine. It was released in 1991, and it was one of the most successful entry-level home barista espresso machines until Philips bought Gaggia in 2009, and messed around with it.

Jump ahead a decade or so, and Gaggia is once again manufactured in Italy, and the classic is back to being as close to the original classic as physically possible, as far as I can ascertain.

This is still a fairly inexpensive espresso machine, at well under the £500 mark, but it’s capable of great espresso – and unlike the original Classic which came with a Panarello steam wand (only capable of producing thick milk foam), the new classic comes with a pro steam wand capable of great quality microfoam, for silky milk texture for a velvety latte & flat while.

For more on the Gaggia Classic Pro see:

Gaggia Classic Pro Review

For more manual espresso machines, see:

Best Espresso Machine & Grinder SetupsBest Cheap Espresso Machines


Best Filter Coffee Machines under £500

We’re moving onto filter coffee machines now for anyone who enjoys nice big cups of filter coffee. Filter coffee machines were a bigger deal in the UK in the 80s and 90s, for home use in particular they were largely superseded in most homes by pod machines.

They’ve made a resurgence in recent years, partly due to the realization that filter coffee is actually really good, and via the combination of a relatively inexpensive coffee grinder (as you don’t need a particularly high end grinder to get good results with filter coffee machines) you’re able to use fresh coffee beans, which means you can save money vs pod machines, and you have a huge choice when it comes to which coffee beans you use.

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Again we’re starting off at the cheaper side of things, this is a bargain basement priced filter coffee machine, but it’s very much tried and tested, the Russell Hobbs Buckingham has sold incredibly well in the UK, and for the price, it’s easy to see why.

It has a 1.2 L brew capacity, which is probably fine for most people – although the manufacturer’s insistence that it’ll brew enough for 10 cups of coffee, I find a bit of a stretch ;-). Who drinks 125ml (4 ounce) cups of filter coffee? Not me!

Being more reasonable, I’d say the max brew capacity of the Russell Hobbs Buckingham is probably enough for 4 fairly standard-sized mugs, 5 at a push.

It comes with a reusable filter, so you don’t need to use paper filters, although many people (myself included) do prefer the cleaner taste of paper filtered coffee. Also, you may get some bits in your coffee if you use the reusable filter, as the gauge isn’t particularly fine. If this is happening though, you probably need to use slightly more coarsely ground coffee beans.

This is a very cheap filter coffee machine, and for the price, I think it’s absolutely fine as a low-cost filter machine for home or office – but I do have a concern, and that’s the carafe.

They’re a bit flimsy, and I’ve read quite a few complaints about them breaking. This wouldn’t appear to be an issue on the surface, as you can get this replacement carafe, but the problem is, it’s almost half the price of the full machine.

This is steep, to me, and I can’t find any other replacements that are labeled as being compatible.

A positive is that at the time of writing this filter coffee machine comes with a 250ml bottle of descaling liquid, worth about £8.


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This is another very popular filter coffee machine, and another low cost one too – but with a huge 1.8L brewing capacity!

The manufacturer, as with Russell Hobbs, seems to have a strange idea of what sized cups of filter coffee people drink – as they suggest this is enough for 12 cups ;-), but it’s probably enough for 6 – 8 fairly decent sized mugs.

It has a programmable auto brew timer which means you can set it to start brewing around 8 minutes before you plan on waking up, which is great.

You can use the included mesh filter, or get (size 4) paper filters if you prefer paper filters, which many people prefer from a taste perspective, and also because it makes it easier to clean – although I do appreciate that using a reusable filter vs paper is better for the environment.

A plus for this machine is that from reading through customer reviews, I can’t find any complaints about breaking carafes, which would be a concern I’d have about a filter coffee machine with a glass jug.


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If you were to ask me what do I think is the best filter coffee machine under £500 in the UK, I’d say that for most people, it would be the Sage precision brewer paired with the Sage dose control pro or smart grinder pro. 

This setup is well under the five hundred quid mark, and it gives really high-quality potential. I can tell you from quite a bit of personal experience, as I have one of these, this is a brilliant machine – not only because of the quality potential, but the features it has are just brilliant.

One of the biggest positives for me, after using this many times, is the brilliant stainless steel thermal carafe! As long as you’re making at least half a pot (or if you’re making a smaller brew but you pre-warm the carafe) this will keep your coffee hot for a LONG time.

I tend to use this for family gatherings and so on, and I took it to the in-laws over Christmas. I made a full pot with it, had a cup myself and made one for my Sister in Law and my Neice. My mum turned up almost two hours later (yeah, I get my timekeeping from her!), I poured her one and it was still piping hot – and no heat plate required, so your coffee doesn’t sit there getting more and more acrid as time goes on. 

It has three brew settings, fast brew, strong brew, and gold brew – or you can create your own custom “my brew” settings, which allows you to customise the brew time and volume, flow rate & brew temp in single-degree increments.

You don’t even need to use the standard filter cone with this machine, you can switch it out for your favourite pour-over device, such as the Kalita Wave or V60, which is a very clever feature!

Hario V60 Review

Very clever and precise machine, hence the name. It’ll even cold brew for you overnight too if that floats your boat.

See James Hoffman’s video review below. In case you don’t know who James Hoffman is, he’s among the most knowledgeable people in the world when it comes to coffee, so the fact that he uses the Sage Precision as his home coffee machine is about as high praise as any coffee machine could receive!


For more filter coffee machines see:

Best Filter Coffee Machines


Best Coffee Machines Under £500 – Conclusion

So there you go, my run-down of what I believe to be the best under £500 coffee machines including filter coffee machines, bean to cup espresso machines, and traditional espresso machines, in 2023.

Combine any of these machines with good coffee beans and you’ll quite possibly find that the coffee you’re able to produce will rival that of any of the high street coffee shops. Use this discount code for 25% off your first order at The Coffeeworks, and grab yourself some lovely super-freshly roasted high quality coffee beans.

Use discount code CBNC25 for 25% off your first order at Coffeeworks

This only represents a fraction of the potential in total spanning these kinds of coffee machines of course, but if I were to include them all, this would have been a mammoth post, so I had to be selective.

I’ve included links above to my full posts with more options for each machine type, but if you have any particular question just leave a comment below.

Life is like a box of chocolates, so join my Brew Time list, subscribe to my YouTube Channel, become an accredited coffee botherer (Patreon supporter), try my coffee at The Coffeeworks (use discount code coffeebotherers), follow me on Twitter & Instagram, follow the coffeeblog FaceBook page, and that’s all I have to say about that.


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