The Best Espresso Machines Under $1000

Published on 10/25/2023 · 15 min readFrom semi-automatic machines to super-automatic and manual, Coffee & Espresso Expert Andrea D. explains the different types of espresso machines and gives a list of her favorites!
Andrea D., Coffee Expert
By Coffee Expert Andrea D.

Photo by Nataliia Zhekova

If you’re just getting into home espresso, shopping for your first espresso machine can be extremely overwhelming. There’s a wide range of prices – from $99 to $9,000 for a home machine! Each machine will have different features, levels of quality, and longevity levels and are for different types of people. For now, I will be focusing on a budget of up to $1,000, which is a solid budget for any type of home espresso machine! Keep in mind that if you are purchasing a semi-automatic espresso machine, you will want to set aside a good part of your budget on a solid espresso grinder – your espresso quality will only be as good as your espresso grinder.

Machine Type: Semi-Automatic, Super-Automatic, or Manual?

If you’re looking to purchase your first espresso machine, the first step is deciding if you want a manual machine, a semi-automatic (think traditional machines that your local coffee shop baristas use!), or a super-automatic machine (one-touch). Don’t move on until you’ve decided which type of machine you are looking for – each type is pretty different from the next.

Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines ($119-$999)

Semi-automatic espresso machines are the more “standard” espresso machines that you’ll find at most local coffee shops (not the larger chains!). The machine has a group consisting of a grouphead (where the hot water pours from) and a portafilter (portable filter – a handle and a small filter basket where the ground coffee goes). The portafilter locks into the group head to brew. These machines also typically include a steam wand for milk steaming (frothing) and sometimes a hot water spout. Semi-automatic machines have a wide variety of features and range in quality, and can get expensive very quickly! Keep in mind that machines under $1,000 will feature a single boiler – meaning you cannot brew and steam at the same time. Features to watch out for include:

  • Volumetric or manual espresso dosing: Volumetric dosing refers to having a programmable button that brews a preset amount of hot water – you can set your single or double shot so you can start your shots and walk away to prep your milk or hot water. Volumetric dosing is also convenient because your shots will be relatively consistent (a good volumetric machine will brew plus or minus 1g of liquid espresso – if you program a 36g double shot, expect between 35-37g). Manual dosing means that the water flow is either on or off; you typically would use a small, ultra-responsive sub-gram scale and manually stop the flow of espresso.
  • PID: Proportional Integral Derivative. Don’t worry, I never remember what it stands for either – we can just call it a PID. If a machine has PID, it means that the machine has superior temperature control. It’s constantly monitoring temperatures and can make small adjustments in the heating element to ensure an accurate temperature.
  • Pre-infusion: Different machine manufacturers call pre-infusion different things (passive pre-infusion, soft infusion, etc.), but they all work similarly. The machine saturates the espresso puck (the ground coffee that is pressed into a metal filter basket) before the pump ramps up to full pressure and pushes hot water through the puck of espresso. This can be helpful for a few reasons: it reduces the possibility of channeling (when water finds its way through a weak point in the espresso puck and “channels” through that spot instead of brewing consistently) and can also soften acidity in your shots.
  • Steam wand type: Panarello steam wands are typically found on lower-budget machines. They have a sleeve that helps aerate (add froth) to your milk and are easy to learn to use, but typically only create a frothy milk suitable for a cappuccino or frothy latte. If you’re looking for a steam wand that can create microfoam (think the velvety milk that baristas use to pour latte art!), you will want a machine with a standard (pinhole) steam wand. This type of steam wand contributes to creating proper movement (a whirlpool motion) by pushing steam out of small pinholes in the tip of the wand at high pressure (up to 2 bar).

Good For: The aspiring home barista or a professional barista looking for a machine to use at home. Good for people who are looking to get a quality shot of espresso and are okay with some learning curve.

Things to Consider: Not ideal for people who are looking for a machine that requires little input. Not good for office settings or environments where multiple people with no coffee training would be using it.

1. Profitec GO

A newcomer to Profitec’s lineup, the Profitec GO is a feature-packed machine in a compact and beginner-friendly package. Other machines with the same feature set are easily several hundred dollars more than the GO, making this machine an easy pick for this list. The GO is a single boiler machine (typical of machines under about $1500) but features a PID that also allows for single-degree temperature control and manual brew pressure adjustments. The GO also turns the screen used for temperature control into a shot timer when brewing. All Profitec machines also feature a 58mm commercial-size portafilter, so finding accessories such as a new tamp or wedge distribution tool will be easier with a standardized size. While this machine is low in price, the build is high-quality – featuring stainless steel in most of its construction.

Good For: All the bells and whistles. Features, features, features! It has PID for supreme temperature stability, the ability to change brewing and steaming temperatures, the ability to change brew pressure, and a built-in shot timer.

Things to Consider: This machine is relatively compact, and that carries true with the boiler at just 0.4L. It is slow to recover if you are making back-to-back drinks and doesn’t have as high of a steam pressure as more expensive machines with larger boilers.

2. Rancilio Silvia M

The Rancilio Silvia M is a single boiler, semi-automatic espresso machine that allows users to break into home espresso for an extremely reasonable price. Featuring a 58mm commercial size portafilter and extreme temperature stability, this machine gives you exactly what you need but nothing you don’t at just $865. Pairing the Rancilio Silvia M with a solid home espresso grinder will easily give you cafe-quality espresso and milk at an affordable price point.

Good For: Tried and true, robust machine that will last. The Rancilio Silvia espresso machine is widely known across the home espresso community for being a robust, well-built, and sturdy machine that provides the necessities for great espresso.

Things to Consider: Doesn’t have a ton of features that machines at or below this price point may have – no PID, no ability to change temperature, no volumetric dosing. It also has a small boiler at just 300ml.

3. Breville Bambino (and Breville Bambino Plus)

The Breville Bambino (left) and the Breville Bambino Plus (right)

The Breville Bambino is easily our most recommended Curated espresso machine, and for good reason. Breville does a great job with home espresso – they create easy-to-use, low price point machines that outlast other machines in their price range. When paired with an espresso grinder, the Bambino and Bambino Plus machines can create cafe-quality espresso easily under $500.

Both machines come with both pressurized and unpressurized filter baskets, meaning you can use preground coffee or a standard coffee grinder with pressurized baskets or grab an espresso grinder to use with traditional filter baskets for higher quality. The Bambino does have a basic steam wand, with just a single hole in the tip and not a lot of steam power. Upgrade to the Plus for autosteam functionality (read: no learning curve for steaming your milk!), or use the upgraded steam wand on manual mode for better milk quality.

Good For: Beginners wanting to get into home espresso on a budget but who want a quality machine. Also good for someone looking for a small machine with a lightning-quick heat-up time and volumetric dosing.

Things to Consider: Machines in this price point tend to be mostly plastic. While Breville does a really nice job with their equipment, they still only last so long. These machines aren’t “machine grade,” like the Rancilio or Profitec – once things start to wear out over time, it’s generally time to replace the machine, not repair it.

Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines with Built-In Grinders ($699 - $2,799)

There are a few espresso machine manufacturers that make semi-automatic machines with a built-in integrated grinder – it still functions as a semi-automatic machine, but you have the two pieces of equipment in one, which cuts down on counter space and is typically easier to use.

Good For: Home baristas who want a machine that is easy to use but can make high-quality drinks. Machines with integrated grinders take up less counter space and can look more cohesive than a separate machine and grinder.

Things to Consider: If one component of your machine or grinder breaks, you can’t just replace that one piece – you have to change the whole unit. This integrated conical burr grinder also typically doesn’t grind as finely as other grinders, which means you aren’t able to use lighter roasts or some single-origin coffees with nuanced, delicate flavor profiles. If you are not concerned with a specific grind size, an integrated machine and grinder could be a great option for you.

4. Breville Barista Touch

The Breville Barista Touch is a semi-automatic machine but has some features that make it simple to use with less of a learning curve than other machines. First, it has a touch screen that guides you through making each drink – tap on “latte,” and the screen guides you through grinding your espresso, tamping your espresso, and brewing your shots. One of the best features of this machine is the assisted steam feature – set your pitcher of milk in the designated spot with the steam wand inserted, and the machine automatically froths and heats your milk to the correct texture and temperature according to your drink of choice. This machine is ideal for someone who wants the ease of use of a super-automatic machine but the espresso and milk quality of a semi-automatic machine.

5. Breville Barista Pro

The Breville Barista Pro is a unique version of Breville’s integrated espresso machine and grinder because it has the espresso grinder with the most settings (30!) and an upgraded steam wand. While there is an LCD screen for the user to interface with, the machine doesn’t have any assistive functionality like the Barista Touch has. This machine functions like a traditional semi-automatic espresso machine and grinder. It heats up in just three seconds, is the quickest of Breville’s machines, and has the highest-quality grinder of the bunch.

Good For: The Barista Pro is ideal for home baristas who want to have total control over their shots and milk, don’t need the extra assistive functionality of other Breville machines, and want a great bang for their buck.

Things to Consider: While the Barista Pro has the best grinder and steam wand (non-assisted) of the integrated machine/grinder lineup, you can still get better quality for the same price if you separate the machine and grinder.

Super-Automatic Espresso Machines ($649 - $3,000+)

Call them super-automatic, fully-automatic, or one-touch – these machines are incredibly convenient and easy to use. Turn the machine on, and in roughly a minute, you can press a button and have a drink prepared for you in roughly 30-60 seconds. Different models may include a manual steam wand or a built-in milk frothing system. Less expensive models have a smaller menu and fewer settings to change (such as espresso dose, milk amount, or brew pressure). More expensive machines have larger menus, tech such as profiles for saving drink settings, and upgraded milk systems.

Good For: Convenience! Who wouldn’t want to have a whole coffee drink at the push of a button? Also good in office environments or settings where multiple people may be using the machine, but not everybody has espresso training.

Things to Consider: Super-automatic machines make espresso differently than semi-automatic machines. While the espresso from them can be quite tasty, it’s not going to be cafe-quality. The brew chambers are also on the small side, meaning it can only use so much coffee to brew a shot of espresso – even the higher-dosed espresso or coffees won’t be as strong as a semi-automatic machine or as a more expensive fully automatic machine. The milk drinks are also quite small, with even the larger size maxing out at roughly 9oz. Tip: Brew two drinks back to back to fill a larger mug.

6. Philips 3200 with LatteGo and Iced Coffee

The Philips 3200 with LatteGo is a solid super-automatic machine with a moderate amount of drink options – espresso, americano, cappuccino, latte macchiato, iced coffee, and hot water – but you can change a few settings to make something like a cortado or other variations of these drinks.

Good For: This machine wins out over similarly priced machines because of the settings you can change, like espresso dose, amount of water used to brew espresso, and amount of milk.

Things to Consider: Keep in mind that even with the largest amount of milk, you can only really get up to a 9oz latte. Try brewing two lattes back to back if you’re looking to fill a larger mug.

7. Terra Kaffe TK-01

The Terra Kaffe TK-01 is also a highly recommended machine on Curated because it’s a super-automatic machine with coffee nerds in mind. Why? Because you can change a ton of settings on it to “dial in” your espresso and drink preferences. It still isn’t exactly the same espresso as a semi-automatic, but even coffee nerds are impressed by the espresso from this machine. Change brew dose, temperature, brew amount, and pressure. Change the milk amount and how frothy your milk is. The TK-01 has a modest menu compared to other machines at its price point, but the quality of your beverages easily wins out here.

Good For: The home espresso-drinker who wants full control over their drinks. The TK-01 has an insane amount of settings that you can change per drink!

Things to Consider: You aren’t able to change the espresso per drink. Set your espresso preferences in the “espresso” menu item, and it sticks for the rest of the drinks. It can also be slightly time-intensive to clean the milk system.

Manual Espresso Machines ($99-$640)

Completely manual espresso machines are machines that don’t even plug in. You add ground coffee to a small metal filter basket and put that basket into a larger brew head. Then, you fill the brew head with water and set the top plunger into the brew head. The large lever is used manually with your muscles to push down and create pressure in the brew chamber! These machines only make espresso and have no milk aspect whatsoever. This method allows for the brewer to have total control and input on all aspects of the espresso shot.

Good For: Home baristas who like tinkering or someone who wants total control over their shot.

Things to Consider: Not ideal for first-time home baristas or someone who wants a machine to do some of the work for them.

8. Flair 58

The Flair 58 is one of the higher-end options that Flair offers and is my favorite of the bunch for a few reasons. The more budget-friendly Flairs have smaller baskets that are non-standard size, which is actually pretty helpful if you’re just getting into espresso since the basket is deeper and more narrow. This change in proportion means the water has to work its way through a deeper puck of espresso, preventing channeling and other extraction issues. This machine also has heat stability, thanks to a plug-in portafilter heater.

The Flair 58 has a standard 58mm portafilter and basket – this does mean you have to have solid puck prep to avoid channeling and other issues, but you’re able to find a wide variety of accessories to help you do so (tamps, wedge distributors, WDT tools, etc). The Flair 58 also has a traditional portafilter with a handle that locks in like a semi-automatic machine, making it extremely easy to knock out pucks and reset for another shot. With the other Flairs, you can still remove just the basket to reset for a new shot, but without a handle, it’s very hot and challenging to brew another shot right after your first.

Good For: The home barista who wants full control over their espresso but doesn’t want the price tag of a semi-automatic machine.

Things to Consider: For better or for worse, everything is up to you - if you’re looking for ultra-consistency between your shots, this might not be the right option for you since there will be some human error/inconsistency involved.

Find the Best Espresso Machine for Your Budget

Photo by New Africa

When finding your next espresso setup, consider your price point and decide between semi-automatic, super-automatic, or manual – these three categories are very different in function and will help guide your decision in the right direction! There are solid options in any category for under $1,000 – speak to one of our Coffee & Espresso Experts and be well on your way to home espresso!

Our experts are standing by, ready to help you along that journey! Connect with me or another Coffee & Espresso Expert here on Curated for free, personalized recommendations for your new espresso machine.

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Shop Coffee & Espresso on Curated

Breville Bambino Espresso Machine
Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine
Breville the Barista Touch Espresso Machine

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Breville the Barista Pro Espresso Machine
Terra Kaffe TK-01 Espresso Machine
Flair Espresso Flair 58 Manual Coffee Espresso
Profitec Go Espresso Machine
Rancilio Silvia M Espresso Machine [Old MPN]

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