Ahh, a grand. Now we get some breathing room.
If you can pony up a grand for a shiny new espresso machine, then you’ve got a little space to find something pretty decent with fewer worries about compromises.
Many of the machines in this price range are made by highly respected makers with a history of quality products, but there’s a lot out there.
Buckle up so we can buckle down to finding the best espresso machine under $1000.
Considerations for Choosing the Best Espresso Machine Under $1000
You may have ten bills burning a hole in your pocket, but be wise in your choice. Just grabbing the fanciest or coolest thing you see is likely going to lead to heartbreak.
Okay, maybe not heartbreak, but probably returned merchandise and bad feelings. You’ll want to keep an eye on the following things.
Semi-Automatic or Super-Automatic
We’ve covered this in other locations on the site and we’re not going to go into major details again, but here’s the short version: semi-automatics allow the end user to customize many things — the grind, tamp pressure, length of the draw, volume, amount of coffee grounds used, etc.
Super-automatics take a lot of these things out of the user’s hands for a much more push-button type of operation.
In this price range, you’re going to find more super-automatics than semi-automatics.
Two reasons. First, paying close to a grand is a pretty big chunk of change.
A lot of people aren’t willing to shell out this kind of money unless the machine pretty much does everything for them. And that’s what super-automatics do. It means you don’t have to worry about any of this:
The second reason is pretty simple as well – super-automatics have more moving parts and a far more complex operation than semi-autos.
All those moving parts and calibration will naturally end up costing more money. But if you’re looking for a high quality semi-automatic, keep reading because we’ll let you know which we think is best.
In this price range, the internal operation of the machine and the decisions the company made in the machine’s design come into play.
There are proponents and detractors of pretty much every method of operation an espresso machine manufacturer can dream up.
Thermo block or boiler? People love them both.
Water filtration? Some people will claim it’s the most important thing while others vehemently argue the opposite.
Here’s our stance: All these machines can make a mean shot of espresso if you do your part, internals be damned. Some things will help you out, others won’t.
But since most of these are super-automatics, the key components that will actually be under your control are going to be the beans, the water, and whatever control the machine grants you.
Good beans and good water are going to go further than worrying about if a single boiler with two temperature gauges or a double boiler system will be the best.
Additional Things You’ll Need to Know
Here are a few other points to keep in mind when shopping:
Conical burr grinder: it’s the best kind of grinder. All the super-automatics we list here have a conical burr grinder. If you’re looking beyond this list (and really, why would you?) keep this in mind. If it’s not a conical burr grinder, you might want to keep looking. And yes, we said conical burr grinder four times — it just rolls off the tongue nicely. Err, fingers.
Water: Some machines have the ability to have a water line from your plumbing piped in, eliminating the need to fill up the reservoir. If your water isn’t super hard, if you’re planning on drinking a lot of espressos, or if, for whatever reason, refilling the reservoir is going to be a hassle, this could be a good idea. If none of these apply, then it’s a nice feature, but not a deal breaker.
Steam wand: All the machines we list have one. Well, all save one.
Cup warmer: Like putting your cup on top of the machine and getting it toasty warm before you pull an espresso? Cool, then keep your eyes peeled for this. Don’t care about it? Awesome. We recommend warming the cup in some way or another before you pull the shot. But don’t worry — a quick shot of steam from the steaming wand can do the same thing.
Our Picks for the 4 Best Espresso Machines Under $1000 in 2019
So with those considerations in mind, we took a look at the marketplace to see what was up. When the dust settled, we had four machines standing above the rest: two semi-automatics and two super-automatics. Here’s what we found.
- Three button programmable shots
- Compact and sleek
- Energy saving mode with intelligent preheating
This is probably the slickest machine on the list. Well, this and the Europiccola. But for a simple uncluttered design, you pretty much can’t beat the Swiss-made Ena Micro 1. All it does is make espresso. The lack of steam wand streamlines both the machine as well as what it can do — no cappuccinos or lattes on this baby.
But don’t think it’s lacking in features. The hopper of this semi-automatic espresso maker holds 4 ounces of beans for your caffeinated needs. The controls allow you to choose both strength and volume of the drink.
The only drawback is the size. While it’s a compact sleek machine, the water reservoir is small at 37 ounces and the hopper holds about 4 ounces as mentioned — that’s not a lot. Expect numerous refills if you drink espressos all day long or if you’re entertaining a large group.
- Looks super cool and the compact footprint is nice
- Easy super-automatic operation with a fair amount of control
- No need to worry about extra equipment or cleaning of steam wands
- Small size mean more frequent refills of hopper and reservoir
- If you or a guest want a cappuccino, you’re kinda outta luck.
BEST SUITED FOR:The Jura Ena Micro 1 is great if you’re not a heavy espresso drinker and you have no desire for anything with milk in it. If that matches your drinking habits, it’s awesome. If it doesn’t, you’re gonna wish you’d gotten something else.
- Lever-based operation. No wimpy switches here.
- Made of triple-chrome-plated steel
Like the shiny things? Dig equipment that looks mechanical? Dream of pulling your own shot of espresso? And by pulling, we really mean pulling?
Then the La Pavoni EPC8 Europiccola is right up your alley.
One of the two semi-automatics on our list, the Europiccola is a lever operated espresso machine that oozes charm. It’s easy to imagine a barista working this in a small café or restaurant on the back streets of an Italian city. It just looks awesome and authentic.
Of course, that coolness is useless unless it can make espresso. With that monster lever, you know it does. And why the lever? Simple – to help you expertly craft your custom shot of espresso with just the right amount of pressure, although it takes some practice to do it right. Made of triple-chrome-plated steel, this machine is fairly heavy. Stainless steel heating elements; nickel plated brass boiler, water gauge, and safety valve. Steam wand: of course, stainless steel. Oh, and it’s made in Italy.
- All. That. Chrome. (Not just blindingly beautiful, it makes it nigh indestructible)
- Semi-automatic operation lets you craft your own shot your own way
- Works how espresso machines used to in the old days — pull that lever!
- Small reservoir — eight shots max before you need to refill
- Gets hot fast, but can be hard to control the temperature
- There can be a learning curve to get perfect espresso with the manual lever
BEST SUITED FOR: If you want a heavy duty machine that you can make espresso the old-school way, then this is perfect for you. If you have a thing against chrome, you’d better keep walking. If, however, you want this dazzler sitting on your kitchen counter for years to come and you’re willing to put in some time learning how to make espresso with a manual lever, then step right up.
#3 – The Rancilio Silvia
- Commercial grade grouphead.- Stainless steel panels over an iron frame
- Single boiler with three thermostats for fine control
Rancilio is an Italian company that makes great espresso machines. It’s that simple; they’ve been in the business of making espresso machines since 1927. Yeah, 90 freakin’ years.
Their Silvia is a semi-automatic espresso machine that does a lot of things right. Commercial grade grouphead to give the end user amazing extraction and heat stability? Check. Food-grade plastic reservoir and silicon tubing? Check. Pod adaptability? Check. Articulated steam wand to keep you away from the grouphead? Check. Iron frame and stainless steel side panels? You bet.
The only drawbacks to this machine, honestly, are, wait, there really are none. That’s not actually true. The Silvia can be a little demanding in that it it will perform best with coffee ground from a quality grinder. This will take some trial and error and, as mentioned, a quality grinder. But once it’s dialed in, it can rock the shots like there’s no tomorrow.
Features:- Commercial grade grouphead.- Stainless steel panels over an iron frame.- Single boiler with three thermostats for fine control.Pros:- Solid construction with quality parts.- Great design from a richly historied company.- The steam wand is well designed and stainless steel, not plastic or chromed plastic.Cons:- Can be a little finicky – you’ll need to get a decent grinder- Make sure you’re getting the most recent version — they are updated periodically.
- Solid construction with quality parts
- Great design from a richly historied company
- The steam wand is well designed and stainless steel, not plastic or chromed plastic
- Can be a little finicky – you’ll need to get a decent grinder
- Make sure you’re getting the most recent version — they are updated periodically
BEST SUITED FOR:The Silvia is best suited for people who want to have absolute control over their espresso production at home with the flexibility of using pods. The commercial grade grouphead puts it on a par with much more expensive machines. In other words, it punches above its weight.
- Automatic milk frother and dispenser
- Five coffee strength choices, from extra-mild to extra-strong
- Double boiler to keep everything moving along
It’s in the name — this beast is magnificent. Why a beast? Because in the grand tradition of super-automatics, this machine pretty much does absolutely everything for you.
Seriously. It does it all. You can choose the strength of the coffee from five levels and three options for cup size. The conical burr grinder grinds the beans and pushes out exactly what you just chose.
Oh, you want a cappuccino? Great. Put some milk in the milk container, push a button and it automatically froths and dispenses it.
It really doesn’t get much easier than this for espresso in your home.
- Double boiler is great if you’re pulling a lot of shots
- Programmable start and shutoff times with digital clock
- Push-button cleaning and dishwasher safe parts
- You can’t pull your own shot, but that’s what super-automatics do
- The most expensive machine on this list, even though you get a lot for your money
BEST SUITED FOR:The ideal buyer is the person who wants everything in a home espresso machine except the ability to custom craft their own shot. If that holds no interest for you, then get this machine. You’ll be able to make all kinds of drinks for all kinds of people.
Where We Are Putting our Thousand Big Ones…
I’ll be honest – it’s pretty much impossible to pick THE best espresso machine for under $1000. There are just too many solid choices. So we cheated and picked two.
If you’re looking for a semi-automatic that lets you create and tailor your own shot of espresso, then we’d have to go with the Rancilio Silvia.
The Europiccola is awesome with all that chrome and the honkin’ big lever, but we the Silvia gives the end user more control,more options and an easier learning curve.
And for a super-automatic, we’d go with the DeLonghi Magnifica. It does everything. I mean everything. The Jura is nice, but all it does is make espresso. No small thing there, but we like the options of the Magnifica – espresso, cappuccino, latte and pretty much anything espresso-related your heart desires, as well as a wide selection of brew strengths.
If you’ve got a grand and want to buy a great semi-automatic or super-automatic espresso machine, you probably can’t go wrong by picking up the Rancilio Silvia or the DeLonghi Magnifica. Either one will give you a great machine with a good pedigree and provide you with enough espresso to keep you bouncing off the walls for years.