Do you need an espresso machine that won’t break the bank or leave a bitter taste in your mouth? Home setups have come a long way in recent years, and with $1000 in your pocket, be prepared to find an excellent espresso maker.
Short on time? Skip straight to the Rancilio Silvia, our pick for the best espresso machine under $1000. With a little practice, this machine produces great shots as they come, straight out of the box. It also has a huge following, which means there is a lot of support available online from fellow users and customer service.
A Closer Look at Our Favorites and Why We Love Them
These are all good machines, and they will all produce a proper shot of espresso at 9-BARs of pressure and give you a nice even extraction. Each coffee machine has a built-in steam wand that can produce beautifully textured, velvety milk for your espresso-based drinks.
We believe that there is something for everyone. Depending on what you want in a machine, some will suit you better than others. For example, if you are a fanatical home barista and want something to put you in complete control of your espresso, the Rancilio Silvia is the way to go. On the other hand, if you want truly excellent quality coffee without having to master a new trade, Breville machines will best fit your kitchen.
The Rancilio Silvia is one of the most popular machines for home espresso enthusiasts — and with good reason. It has a solid stainless steel body with remarkably high build quality, produces excellent quality shots, and has been a reliable and widely-used model for a long time now. This machine represents true craftsmanship and will make you feel like a barista in no time.
At this price point, the Rancilio Silvia can produce the best espresso of any coffee maker and will outperform a lot of far more expensive machines.
The machine features a powerful 12 oz single boiler, and is able to pull shot after shot, perfect if you live in a large household of coffee drinkers. Its steam power is also excellent, and you will have no issue switching between brewing espresso and frothing milk. One thing to keep in mind is that you can’t do it at the same time, though.
Speaking of frothing, its commercial-grade steam wand allows you to perfect your latte art. Several power adjustments allow you to have complete freedom in your drink choice. For beginners, it can be a fairly steep learning curve.
The Rancilio comes with a commercial-grade group head, which enables even extraction and makes for a deliciously balanced cup of espresso. However, it doesn’t feature a PID (proportional integral derivative) controller, which means that temperature stability is not its strong point.
You could combat this with “temperature surfing” or synchronizing your extraction with a particular boiler heating cycle point. Alternatively, you can fit your machine with a PID, which gives you control over your brew temperature.
It has to be emphasized that the Rancilio is a real workhorse and can easily last you 10 or 15 years without any issues. However, should you service it, you should have no problem finding spare parts from the manufacturer. There is also an extensive online community of Silvia owners, and you won’t struggle to find support for modding your coffee machine.
- Great shots out of the box
- Will grow with your experience level
- Commercial-grade steam wand
- High build quality, very durable
- Extensive online community
- No PID
- Takes several minutes to get ready
The Breville Barista Touch is the only super-automatic machine we have featured here. This may be the machine for you if you want a coffee machine with a built-in grinder and a good range of functions.
You get a fantastic cup of coffee out of this espresso maker with minimum effort. It has a built-in PID temperature control for optimal extraction and produces perfectly good coffee. However, you may lose personal control of your experience from what you gain in automation.
Featuring a thermojet heating system, the heat-up time of the Touch is lightning-fast. It’s ready to brew in 3 seconds, and about a minute later, you have your cup of espresso ready to drink. This is one of the fastest in the industry and truly impressive.
The automatic steam wand is capable of producing excellent quality for longer drinks with texture settings for steamed milk and microform. It eliminates the necessity to learn to do this yourself. This is perfect for those who just want a decent cup of coffee, not a new hobby and skill.
The built-in grinder in the Barista Touch features 30 grind settings, allowing you to control the grind size of your favorite beans and extract all the flavors and aromas. It is similar to the standalone Breville Smart Grinder Pro, a great entry-level burr grinder. For the money, to get such a total setup for home espresso is a real bargain.
Another thing you notice straight away is its touchscreen display. We found it to be very intuitive and easy to navigate, with 8 available drink options. Each of these provides information about grind settings, strength, and milk temperature. But you don’t need to be constrained by the available options; customize and save your own drink preferences!
- 3 seconds heat-up time
- Very easy to use
- Automatic steam wand
- Great temperature stability
- Built-in grinder with 30 settings
- Minimal personal control over brewing process
- No simultaneous brewing and frothing
Like the Rancilio, the Gaggia Classic is a work-horse amongst domestic machines. Made in Italy and with a fairly simple aesthetic, the emphasis is on build quality rather than beauty here. We list it as a budget option, as its price tag is well below the $1000. Does it still deliver and make delicious espresso? We definitely think so.
With a little bit of care spent learning how to pull a decent shot and some minor adjustments, you can certainly expect to achieve excellent results on a Gaggia Classic.
The Gaggia Classic comes with a pressurized basket and a plastic tamper. This means that you could even start off without a grinder and still make decent espresso. However, we would recommend switching that basket and tamper as soon as you’re ready to get to the next brewing level to make those commercial-style espressos. This is truly a machine that is able to grow with your abilities.
Speaking of commercial-style, this espresso maker sports a 58mm portafilter, something we’re used to seeing in Gaggia models. A portafilter this size means that you get a thinner coffee puck, and therefore better extraction along the brewing process. Something we definitely approve of.
Where this machine also shines, is its steam wand. While the previous version featured a Panarello steam wand, the updated version now has a commercial-style one. This allows you to create that nicely-textured milk for latte art.
The three rocker switches make brewing with the Classic Pro pretty straightforward. The first one is the power button, the second one is the brew button, and lastly, there is a steaming button.
It’s worth mentioning that this is yet another machine where you will not fail to find enthusiasts who are very keen to share their wisdom. With something like this, or the Rancilio Silvia, you are buying into a community and a brand.
- Easy-to-use rocker switches
- Commercial-style steam wand
- 58mm portafilter
- Machine grows with your abilities
- Reputable brand and large community
- No PID
- Pressurized basket and plastic tamper
The Europiccola from La Pavoni is a break from the norm in this list. It is a completely manual machine, relying on a hand-operated pump to build the necessary pressure. Its iconic design has remained relatively unchanged since its birth in 1961, and it simply drips style. If classic countertop elegance is your goal, the Europiccola is peerless.
Fully manual lever machines require the operator to physically pull a lever to force hot water through the coffee bed at pressure. This is where the expression to “pull” shots of coffee comes from, which has outlasted the manual lever machine in the mainstream.
It also produces an excellent espresso. However, the quality of the shots you can make will vary a lot more according to your technique, and it will take some time to get used to. It’s also worth mentioning that the steam wand, while perfectly workable, is probably the weakest in the group here.
If you like classic cars, pocket watches, and 60s Italian design, there is a very good chance you will love this. As much a work of art as an espresso machine, this is the only coffee machine on our list that James Bond used in ‘Live and Let Die’.
- Can make excellent shots with a bit of practice
- Very stylish
- Classic, traditional feel
- Excellent build quality
- Not very consistent
- Physical force required to brew
Another option coming in well under budget, but fully deserving a mention here, is the Bambino Plus. While it might not have the best build quality among the machines selected here, the Bambino shines in its ease of use.
As we know it from other Breville espresso makers, the Bambino Plus uses a thermojet heater. It only takes the machine 3 seconds (!) to heat up. Very impressive and especially useful for those who run notoriously late in the morning.
With the integrated PID, the temperature stays stable throughout. This ensures optimal extraction and brings out all the flavors and aromas of your favorite beans. We found that the Bambino Plus is more consistent in this aspect than the Rancilio Silva or other machines with higher price tags.
Features like the pressurized basket and the automatic milk-steaming option make this coffee maker ideal for the beginner. With very little knowledge, it’s easy to get pretty good results with the Bambino Plus in no time.
However, if you have ambitions to advance your espresso knowledge and are looking for a coffee machine that can grow with you as your practice evolves, you might be disappointed. You would be better advised to pick up something with more scope for enhancement.
- 3 seconds heat-up time
- PID, stable brewing temperature
- Beginner-friendly, easy to use
- Well below budget of $1000
- Won’t go beyond beginner needs
- Small drip tray fills quickly
With quite a lot of variance in espresso machine designs, choosing the best espresso machine under $1000 can be a little bewildering. Hopefully, this guide will leave you better equipped to find your dream machine with a bit of clarification.
Types of Machines
Broadly, the machines featured here fall into three categories: super-automatic, semi-automatic, and manual. Before you pull the trigger and buy an espresso machine, you should consider how much manual work you are willing to do.
Super-automatic machines do all the heavy lifting for you. Typically, all you have to do is load the beans and water, push a button and wait for the coffee to be brewed. They are “beans to brew” machines, meaning they come with an integrated grinder and a menu to select from a range of drinks. These espresso machines are fully automated, so expect them to be more expensive. Consider getting yourself a super-automatic machine if you want delicious espresso at your fingertips and not a new hobby.
Semi-automatics are a bit more hands-on. They typically don’t come with a built-in grinder, so you’ll have to grind the beans yourself and tamp them. You’re also in control of the pump, so it’s up to you to start and stop the brew. This means you decide how long the extraction will be. Semi-automatics are for those who look for the more “traditional” feeling of making espresso at home.
Manual espresso machines are at the other end of the spectrum. From grinding, tamping, and finally pushing and pulling the lever, you’re putting in all the work. As you have much more control over every aspect of the brew, you need some expertise to pull great shots. Be prepared to get inconsistent espressos until you get the timing and pressure right.
As espresso machines come in all shapes and sizes, it’s worth considering the dimensions carefully. You should also think about the height, including the cups you are likely to want to keep on top of the cup warmer. Equally, in espresso machines that don’t include an integrated grinder, it is worth bearing in mind that you probably need to house an extra piece of equipment on your worktop.
If you’re short on countertop space, consider getting the Gaggia Classic or the Bambino. With their slim design, they easily fit into smaller kitchens. If you don’t mind a machine with a large footprint, consider getting the Barista Touch.
Within the price bracket of under $1000, there is a great deal of variance. As a rule of thumb, the more automated and the more features the machine has, the more expensive it will be. Keep in mind that prices fluctuate over time and that some of the machines may be over the budget at the time of reading.
Considering the durability of these machines and the money saved at your local coffee shop, we believe any of these machines are a great investment in the long run.
Maintenance and cleaning of your new espresso machine are vital if you want to keep brewing decent shots in the long term. With anything featured on our list, except for the Europiccola, you will need to learn to backflush and clean the internal components properly. However, this is no rocket science and is easy to include in a regular cleaning routine.
With some knowledge and careful thought, you can get excellent espresso at home for under $1000. Depending on your choice and requirements, it may be the last machine you ever buy. For us, the clear winner is the Rancilio Silva. Its excellent build quality, ability to pull shot after shot, and steam power were all reasons to crown it as the best machine under $1000.