Best Espresso Machines Under 1000: Reviews of the Top Picks for 2020
If you’re looking to indulge your inner barista from the comfort of your own kitchen, then finding the ideal espresso machine is one of the most important steps to take. Spending all that money on the wrong machine just to see it sit unused because it’s not what you really wanted would be a real waste.
We’ve put together this roundup of the best espresso machine for under $1000 to help you find the crema of the crop espresso machine that’s perfect for you.
- Breville The Barista Express Espresso Machine – Top Pick
- Breville The Barista Touch – Runner Up
- De’Longhi ESAM3300 Magnifica – Best Automatic Espresso Machine Under $1000
- Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine – Most Customizable
- Jura Ena Micro 1 – Best for Beginners
- Saeco Incanto Plus – Fast Espresso Maker
- How to Choose An Espresso Machine
- The Best Espresso Machines for Under $1000
- 1. Breville The Barista Express Espresso Machine – Best of the Best
- 2. Breville The Barista Touch Espresso Maker – Easiest to Use
- 3. De’Longhi ESAM3300 Magnifica Automatic Espresso Machine and Cappuccino Maker – Amazon Best Seller
- 4. Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine – For Coffee Hipsters Who Like to Experiment
- 5. Jura Ena Micro 1 Automatic Coffee Machine – For Novice Home Baristas
- 6. Saeco Incanto Plus Super-Automatic Espresso Machine – For Those Who Want Their Espresso Made Fast
- The Bottom Line
How to Choose An Espresso Machine
With so many different features to check out, and a huge range of machines on the market, it can be a bit hard to know what to look for in an espresso machine. Our guide will teach you what to look out for, and help you get the machine that you want.
A Quick Primer on the Lingo
First, let’s go over a few terms that novice baristas should know when picking out an espresso machine.
- Dosing – this is how much dry ground coffee goes into making the espresso, which can vary from 5 to 30 grams (1) 1. If you want more coffee, go for a larger dose.
- PID – a PID (short for Proportional Integral Derivative) is a digital temperature controlling device which ensures that the brewing process takes place at the ideal temperature (2).
- Portafilter – This is where you put the coffee grounds before water is run through them. It looks like a small round metal cup with a long handle.
- Group Head – The group head is the part of the espresso machine that you attach the portafilter to, and is where the hot water comes out from.
Now that you know the basic lingo, here are some of the main factors you should consider when choosing your next espresso machine.
What Is It Made from?
The materials that the machine is made from affect both how long it will last, as well as how easy it is to clean and maintain. Plus, it can make or break how good it looks. Of course, budget choices can look less appealing than middle-end and higher end models. A stainless-steel casing will look better than plastic almost every time.
The water temperature should be stable and somewhere between 92-96°C. Choosing the best espresso machine is very important to both water temperature and temperature stability.
You should also check what the boiler is made from, because a consistent temperature is vital for a perfectly brewed espresso (3). Aluminum heats up fast but it doesn’t have great consistency which can affect the quality of the brew. Copper is great for thermal regulation, but it does leach into the water over time. Stainless-steel is a solid middle ground, with good thermal stability, and the least problems with limescale buildup.
What’s the Capacity of the Water Reservoir?
Simply put, a bigger tank means you’ll have to refill it less often, which means less hassle for you in the long run. A smaller machine, on the other hand, is a good choice if you don’t need to brew large quantities at a time.
How Big Is the Machine?
If you’ve got a massive kitchen with a spacious countertop, the size isn’t much of an issue. But, if you’re working with limited space or have cabinets over where you’re going to place it, the coffee maker’s size can be an important factor.
Does It Look Good and Match Your Décor?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but most of us try to go for a consistent look for our kitchens. Does the design of the machine look good to you, or does it seem a bit tacky?
What Makes It Tick?
What sort of interface does it have? How quickly does it pull each espresso shot? What heating system does it use? Does it make coffee with one button press or are there more steps? Finding an answer to these questions can help you work out if a machine fits your needs.
Aside from the build quality and ease of operation, experience plays an important role in the quality of the espresso.
How Many Built-in Extras Does It Have?
Many high-end espresso machines come with advanced tools to help make the perfect pull. Built-in grinders are great for ensuring you get fresh grounds each time. A steam wand is a must if you’re a fan of lattes and cappuccinos. And the number of available settings can really make a difference. It’s a plus if you can dial in exactly how strong, hot, or big your espresso will be.
What Type of Machine Is It, and How Much Experience Does It Require?
Your previous experience can be a big factor in determining what type of espresso machine is right for you. Here are the options:
- Pod – uses a pre-dosed plastic pod. Not recommended, as they are both bad for the environment and produce a lower quality drink.
- Super-automatic – does pretty much all of the work for you. Usually doesn’t have a portafilter or group head, and is ideal for beginners.
- Automatic – Still fairly simple to use, but often with programmable settings so you can experiment if you want to hone your espresso skills. Good for reliably consistent pulls. Here’s our list of the best automatic espresso machines.
- Semi-automatic – for home baristas who want more control over their brew. They require more input, like manually tamping and trimming the dose in the portafilter. Great for experienced drinkers who want all the options
- Manual – for experienced home baristas. Manual lever espresso machines, like these, have a steep learning curve, which means you will have to spend hours perfecting your espresso making skill.
- Portable – for espresso lovers who are always on the go. Travel espresso makers, like our favorites here, are light and easy to pack, which means you can have shot of espresso wherever you please.
The Best Espresso Machines for Under $1000
Now you know what to look for, let’s cut straight to the chase.
1. Breville The Barista Express Espresso Machine – Best of the Best
- Special Features: Dose-control grinding, adjustable grind size, micro-foam milk texturing, precise espresso extraction
- Water capacity: 67oz (1.98 liters)
- Dimensions: 13.2 x 12.5 x 15.8 inches
- Weight: 23lbs
- Type of machine: Semi-automatic
- How many steps needed to pull an espresso shot: After pressing the button, all you need to do is tamp and trim the ground coffee.
It’s hard to pick which feature is our favorite from Breville’s Barista Express because it has pretty much everything you could want from an espresso machine in a compact, attractive, and reliable package. With stylish coffee-shop looks and the ability to easily match the greatest espresso you could buy, this semi-automatic machine is a jack of all trades in the best of ways.
The integrated conical burr grinder automatically activates when you press the button, meaning you get the freshest possible grind directly into the portafilter. It has a higher than average dose size, which will give you a more robust brew. However, you can change the size of the dose and how coarse or fine the grind is.
This espresso machine is fantastic. We’ve used it 3-4 times a day for over 4 years. It’s easy to use and makes delicious espresso every time. Tastes better and is cheaper than getting your espresso at a cafe.
Once you’ve fine-tuned your grind and dose the way you like it, the low-pressure pre-infusion ensures that the coffee is equally soaked and expanded and the PID controller will get it ready for the temperature-controlled extraction via a stainless steel ThermoCoil. This means you’ll get a well-balanced and creamy espresso extraction that can satisfy even the most demanding of coffee snobs every time.
Other highlights include the pressure gauge, so that you can be sure that your coffee is being made under the ideal conditions. There’s also a manual steam wand for foaming milk for lattes and cappuccinos. (By the way, you can check out our list of best cappuccino makers and latte machines here.) Plus, it comes with almost any accessory you could possibly need, including a tamper, trimming tool, milk jug, cleaning kit, and more.
Have a look at these tips and tricks to get an idea of how to get the best out of the Barista Express.
Best Suited for: Coffee lovers who want precise control over their brew, newer home-grown baristas, and everyone in between.
2. Breville The Barista Touch Espresso Maker – Easiest to Use
- Special Features: Hands-free operation, touch screen display, eight personalized coffee settings, automatic micro-foam milk texturing
- Water capacity: 67oz (1.98 liters)
- Dimensions: 14.5 x 16.7 x 17.6 inches
- Weight: 28lbs
- Type of machine: automatic
- How many steps needed to pull an espresso shot: Just one, once you’ve set up your drinks the way you like. Press the button, tamp and trim your grounds, and you’re done.
If you’re looking for an easy, hands-off espresso that still tastes fantastic, then the Barista Touch from Breville may be after the machine for you. While it is barely under the price limit, we’ve picked it for a number of good reasons.
First, this is one of the best automatic espresso machines from Breville. It has a user-friendly touch screen interface, and the ability to make eight different drinks. It also has an integrated conical burr grinder like the Barista Express.
What are the options for personalizing the drinks? You can choose the fineness or coarseness of the grind, as well as the size of the dose. You can choose how hot the drink will be after it has been pre-infused with the low-pressure system, and then extracted using the stainless steel ThermoCoil that is digitally controlled by a PID.
Finally, you can pick the texture of the foam you want the automatic milk frother to make. Then you just pick your drink and, thanks to the 3-second heat up time, your customized, delicious coffee will be ready in seconds.
Once you’re set up, using the Barista Touch is very simple. To make things even easier, it comes with 5 pre-programmed drinks. It also comes with essential accessories like a cleaning kit, tamper, and a dose trimming tool. A brilliant espresso maker in a fairly compact, stylish package.
If you want to get an idea of how it works and if it’s right for you, check out this walkthrough from Breville.
Best Suited for: Beginners who want to have great coffee without a hassle. It’s also an excellent pick for hosting or a house full of coffee drinkers with different preferences.
3. De’Longhi ESAM3300 Magnifica Automatic Espresso Machine and Cappuccino Maker – Amazon Best Seller
- Special Features: Cup tray warmer, instant reheat function, can grind beans per cup or use ground coffee
- Water capacity: 60oz (1.8 liters)
- Dimensions: 11 x 15.3 x 14.4 inches
- Weight: 23.2lbs
- Type of machine: super-automatic
- How many steps needed to pull an espresso shot: One – just press the button and the machine will do the rest.
Italy has a well-deserved reputation for being the home of good coffee. They were one of the first importers of coffee in Europe, invented most of the ways to drink it, and almost all of the terms we use today are from the Italian language (4). Italian brand DeLonghi has been around for over a century, and their espresso machines are some of the best on the market.
The push buttons and dials on the Magnifica Automatic allow you to choose the size and strength of your coffee. Powered with a built-in burr grinder, you can adjust the coarseness of your beans’ grind. The coffee spigot is adjustable, being able to fit tall and short cups.
It’s also a breeze to maintain, thanks to the various removable parts and the automated descaling mode. It also has a handy automatic shut-off function, so if you leave it on by accident it will save on your electric bill.
Finally, you get a lot for your money with this excellent espresso maker, as. it offers many of the features normally reserved for more expensive machines. Just make sure to not use excessively oily beans, as this can cause issues with the grinder.
If you want to see it in action for yourself, you can watch this video.
Best Suited for: Small kitchens and coffee lovers who don’t need to do everything by hand to enjoy their espresso.
4. Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine – For Coffee Hipsters Who Like to Experiment
- Special Features: Commercial grade group head and portafilter, robust construction, large water tank, 30-minute automatic shut off
- Water capacity: 66.6oz (1.9 liters)
- Dimensions: 9.2 x 11.4 x 13.4 inches
- Weight: 30.9lbs
- Type of machine: Semi-automatic
- How many steps needed to pull an espresso shot: Grind your beans, tamp and trim, and insert the portafilter. Press the switch, and your espresso will be extracted.
The Rancilio Silvia has been around since 2001, and it’s still a very popular choice today. It’s seen a number of improvements over the years, from the addition of an ergonomic handle to the portafilter, to the recently upgraded stainless steel tubing in the single boiler. The extra care shown to it has paid off, as it is a great little machine with a lot going for it.
If you’re a budding barista who wants a more hands on approach, then the Silvia could be the one for you. It is a semi-automatic machine, which means you’ll need to play around to work out your perfect cup. It’s not overly complex, but there’s still a knack to it, so you’ll need to experiment.
It doesn’t have all the fancy extras of some of the other options on this list, but what it does have is an excellent build quality and it is fun to use. The Silvia is built to last, and should reliably work for years to come (which should give you time to perfect foaming your milk). Plus, it looks great, and won’t take up much of your counter space.
For a look at how the Silvia works, take a peek at this guide.
Best Suited for: Style- and space-conscious coffee aficionados who want to get more involved in the process.
5. Jura Ena Micro 1 Automatic Coffee Machine – For Novice Home Baristas
- Special Features: One of the narrowest espresso makers available, sealed bean holder, programmable drink sizes, adjustable spigot
- Water capacity: 36.8oz (1 liter)
- Dimensions: 9.1 x 17.5 x 12.7 inches
- Weight: 19.4lbs
- Type of machine: super-automatic
- How many steps needed to pull an espresso shot: Just press the button for the size you want and the rest is automatic.
Simple, small, and surprisingly effective, the Ena Micro 1 automatic coffee maker is perfect if you want a great cup of coffee or a tasty espresso with a minimum of fuss.
It’s got a simple but effective interface that provides for three different sizes and two different strength options. Combine that with a respectably-sized water reservoir and bean holder and the integrated multi-level conical burr grinder, and you’ll get a great espresso at the push of a button.
This is not a good option for latte and cappuccino fans, as there’s no steam wand for frothing the milk. But, other than that this tiny super-automatic espresso maker packs a big punch. If you don’t have a lot of kitchen space, but don’t want to compromise on the quality of your coffee, then you might well want to give the Jura Ena Micro 1 a go. Or you can check out our list of the best Jura models in this roundup.
Watch this video for a sight of the Ena Micro 1 doing its thing.
Best Suited for: Coffee drinkers who are looking for a stress-free espresso maker; people with limited kitchen space.
6. Saeco Incanto Plus Super-Automatic Espresso Machine – For Those Who Want Their Espresso Made Fast
- Special Features: Cappuccinatore, water filter, quick heat boiler, adjustable spigot, programmable drink sizes
- Water capacity: 60oz (1.7 liters)
- Dimensions: 8.8 x 13 x 13.3 inches
- Weight: 21lbs
- Type of machine: Super-automatic
- How many steps needed to pull an espresso shot: Just one if you want espresso, otherwise you’ll need to move the cup and press another button.
The Saeco Incanto Plus has a lot of flexibility for its price point, and can extract a great tasting shot of coffee fast.
With programmable dosing, coffee temperature, and shot time, you can set it up so your coffee will be poured exactly the way you like it. It’s ready to go in about 90 seconds from when you switch it on. The boiler gets up to the ideal temperature quickly, so it’s a great option for a hassle-free morning coffee.
Unlike some super-automatics, the Saeco Incanto Plus doesn’t have a one-touch system for frothed milk. Instead, it has a cappuccinatore (which mixes the milk and steam for you) as well as a standard steam wand. This will save you time if you want a traditional frothy cappuccino to start your day like a bona fide Italian, but leaves you the option to foam the milk yourself if speed is less of an issue.
If you want to see for yourself how quickly it can pull a shot of espresso, check out this video.
Best Suited for: Espresso lovers who are in a hurry, but don’t want to lose out on options when they have more time.
The Bottom Line
While we can’t help but love Breville’s Barista Express, all of the options on this list will provide you with high-quality espresso. Depending on your skill level, and your personal inclinations, you might want to go more or less complicated, but at least one thing is clear: you don’t have to spend a fortune to get your hands on a quality cup of coffee.
You should avoid pod machines because they are bad for the environment. The plastic that the pods are made of takes 500 years to break down. Used coffee grounds, on the other hand, make excellent compost and can even be put directly into the garden.
Yes, there is a difference between freshly ground and pre-ground coffee. Ground coffee starts losing its flavors and aromas within 15-30 minutes of grinding. Moisture affects the oils in the coffee beans that contribute to the overall flavor. That’s why it’s best to grind your coffee just before brewing it.
How much coffee you use for one shot of espresso can range between 5 and 30 grams, depending on the machine and the size of the portafilter. For comparison, most professional espresso machines brew with a dose ranging from 18 to 22 grams.
- Espresso Recipes: Analyzing Dose. (2019, May 22). Retrieved from https://baristahustle.com/blog/espresso-recipes-analyzing-dose/
- Gutirrez, J. (2007, April 13). Proportional-integral-derivative explained. Retrieved from https://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1274042
- Espresso. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.coffeeresearch.org/espresso/potential.htm
- Perfect Daily Grind. (2018, June 13). The History of Italian Espresso: How Well Do You Know your Coffee History? Retrieved from https://www.perfectdailygrind.com/2016/04/history-italian-espresso-well-know-coffee-history/
Coffee lover and Dad, on a budget. Since the wishes of my beautiful wife and two charming kids are of course of much higher priority than my own ones, I always keep an eye out for coffee products which give me the biggest bang for the buck!