Rancilio Silvia and Brevile bambino

Great Espresso Machines under $1000?

Around the 1000 dollar price point, we see a bunch of great contenders among the home espresso makers. Here are my 5 favorite models.

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Asser Christensen

Licensed Q Arabica Grader, M.A. Journalism

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I have tried and tested a bunch of machines at this price point, and here I’ll give you my take on some of the more popular models.

Yes, you’ll be able to get quite close to a professional level in terms of cup quality.

However, the workflow will, of course, not be as good as with professional equipment; most of the machines will have some limitations. Most notably, there are many single boiler machines in this price range. 

This means that back-to-back milk-based drinks will take a bit more time, and you have to be more careful about managing temperature. To be honest, I’d make it a point to avoid single boilers because they can be so annoying to deal with.

For that reason, I have chosen the Apex as my top pick, with the Breville Bambino Plus as a close second. 

Coffee Chronicler top pick 👍
The right balance of value and performance

The Apex overdelivers in so many areas that it's almost a bit scary.

PID control and a setup with both a single boiler + thermoblock for steaming, this device so much easier to use than other rivals in its price class.

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The problem with traditional single boiler machines

If you’re considering getting into espresso at this price point, you’ve probably heard about the famous Rancilio Silvia or the Gaggia Classic Pro. These are single boiler machines that have been extremely popular for decades.

However, if you ever used one of these machines, you quickly realize that they can be quite annoying to operate. The biggest issue is the lack of temperature stability.

With a single boiler machine, you have to constantly “temperature surf” to get the right brewing temperature. This means that you have to flush water through the group head and steam wand to bring the boiler to the correct temperature for brewing espresso, if you have just been steaming. Or if you have just been brewing and you want to steam, now you need to wait for the boiler to heat the water so you can get steam.

This process is time-consuming and wasteful, as you end up discarding a lot of water. It also requires a lot of guesswork and experience to get right.

In contrast, more modern machines tend to use a special temperature controller called a PID.

These machines can target the right temperature faster. And more consistently!

Machines like that tend to eschew a single boiler setup. Instead, they use a heat exchanger, thermoblock or a combination of single boiler + thermoblock. Miicoffee Apex for example has that.

Of course, there are also dual boilers, which offers the best of everything. However, they tend to cost a lot more expensive than the espresso makers in this post, so let’s forget them for now and look at the actual good options you have at this budget.

Home espresso makers under or around $1000

Breville Bambino Plus

breville bambino plus on table

In a market dominated by old-school Italian machinery, Breville is a breeze of fresh air. The Aussie company has shaken up the coffee world in recent years with a lot of innovative products at an attractive price.

The Breville Bambino Plus is particularly interesting as it’s packed with new technology. It has a PID for consistent temperature and a built-in preinfusion.

You can make amazing shots with this machine. I’m not joking here. I have had espresso that beat shots from a national barista champion.

This espresso machine does look a bit more like a basic kitchen appliance compared to some of the Italian brands, but don’t underestimate it. In real life, it’s a lot more consistent than the single boiler semi-automatics such as the Gaggia Classic.

The Bambino is also great at handling milk-based drinks.

It’s a shame that temperature is not adjustable on this machine. Also, the stock portafilter/basket are pretty bad, but you can upgrade them cheaply.

If you get this machine, there’s still room in your budget for a quality grinder.

If you’re not sure the whole “espresso as a hobby/lifestyle” is for you, then the Bambino Plus is a great companion, as you’ll be able to get good espresso and lattes without too many workarounds.

If that’s you then I’d actually pick this machine over the MiiCoffee Apex, since it’s smaller, easier to use, and more forgiving.

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Miicoffee Apex

The MiiCoffee Apex punches above its weight, offering features usually found on pricier machines.

Its look is pretty standard – not award-winning, but also not offensive. Sized between a Rancilio Silvia and Gaggia Classic, it should fit most kitchens.

Accessories are good quality – a nice tamper, and brew/steam timer. This attention to detail unexpected at this price.

The feels solid, despite some plastic.

The PID-controlled single boiler is the highlight. This feature is game-changer for consistency and temperature stability. No more “temperature surfing” frustration.

The user interface is straightforward with a display that allows easy temperature adjustment. The warm up time is not as speedy to heat as the Breville Bambino Plus (no espresso maker is), but it’s still swift compared to most at 6-10 minutes.

The 15-bar pump might raise eyebrows, but in testing, the Apex pulled great shots. Actual pressure at the group head is typically 11-12 bars with a standard espresso grind.

Steaming comes via a thermoblock instead of a boiler, and this allows for a much quicker brew-to-steam transition compared to the old school single boilers.

The MiiCoffee Apex is a value champion, delivering performance that punches above its price class. While not perfect, it offers ease of use and consistently good shots. For me, it’s hard to pick between this and the Breville Bambino Plus as they both offer so much convenience.

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Rancilio Silvia

After spending a few months with the Rancilio Silvia V6, I have to say that my feelings about this machine are quite mixed.

On one hand, the Silvia is a true classic in the world of home espresso. It’s been around for over two decades, and its longevity is a testament to its build quality and performance. The latest version, the V6, has some nice upgrades like an insulated boiler and a power-saving mode, but at its core, it’s still the same machine that’s been beloved by coffee geeks for years.

When you look at the Silvia up close, you can really appreciate the attention to detail and the quality of the materials used. The portafilter and tamper, in particular, are a cut above what you’ll find on most entry-level machines. They have a satisfying heft to them that makes the whole experience feel more premium.

However, when it comes to actually using the machine, things get a bit more complicated. The biggest issue with the Silvia is its single boiler design, which requires you to do a lot of “temperature surfing” to get the best results.

Essentially, you have to constantly purge water through the group head and steam wand to get the boiler to the right temperature for brewing or steaming. It’s a tedious process that wastes a lot of water and can be frustrating if you’re just trying to make a quick latte in the morning.

That being said, if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to learn the quirks of the Silvia, you can be rewarded with some truly fantastic espresso. The machine is capable of producing shots with rich crema and complex flavors that can rival what you’d get at a good café.

The steaming performance is also impressive, although I found it to be almost too powerful at times. The Silvia can generate a huge amount of steam, which is great for getting that velvety microfoam, but it can also be a bit unwieldy if you’re not used to it.

Overall, I think the Rancilio Silvia is a machine that will appeal to a very specific type of coffee drinker. If you’re a hardcore enthusiast who enjoys the ritual and the challenge of making the perfect shot, then the Silvia could be a great choice.

But if you’re just looking for a simple, convenient way to make good espresso at home, there are probably better options out there. Machines like the Miicoffee Apex or the Breville Bambino Plus offer similar performance with fewer compromises. Check out my full review of it here.

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Gaggia Classic Pro

White gaggia classic on white background

Were you looking to find the top espresso machine under 1000 and then suddenly realized that you also need to get a grinder within that budget? Well, if that’s the case, let me introduce you to another classic – the Gaggia Classic.

This machines in many ways resemble the Rancilio Silvia. It’s an old-school Italian model that hasn’t changed much since 1991. That’s a lot of years – and that means that the company is probably doing something right!

In use, the Gaggia Classic Pro is capable of pulling some truly delicious shots. I paired it with a Eureka Mignon Specialita grinder and was able to dial in some fantastic espresso. The commercial-sized 58mm portafilter is a nice touch.

However, the Gaggia Classic Pro is not without its quirks:

Despite these drawbacks, there’s still good things to say about the Gaggia Classic Pro. The fact that it has such a large and dedicated community behind it means that there’s a wealth of knowledge and resources available for repairs, mods, and upgrades.

It’s worth noting that Gaggia recently released a slightly updated version, dubbed the “Evo Pro.” However, this new model has been plagued by what’s become known as “Boilergate” – an issue with the coating on the boiler flaking off into the water. While Gaggia claims this is a fault with the application of the coating on affected units rather than the coating itself, it’s still a concern for potential buyers.

The Gaggia Classic Pro is still a solid choice for those looking to get into home espresso, particularly if you enjoy the process of tinkering and upgrading your machine. But it’s not the most beginner-friendly option out there, and the new “Evo” model’s boiler issues are definitely something to keep an eye on. As always, it’s a matter of weighing your priorities.

Check out my full review here.

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Flair 58+

flair 58 upside down view

One of the biggest trends in the espresso world in the last couple of years, is manual espresso makers.

These machines are like traditional lever espresso machines, except they don’t have a boiler.

That means that you have to boil the water in a kettle first, and then add it to a brew head before you manually pull the shot.

The Flair 58 was a bit of a game-changer for manual espresso makers, since it has a heated brew head. That means preheating (and lower temperatures in general isn’t a concern).

The Flair 58+ is the latest iteration of the popular manual espresso maker from Flair. Building upon the solid foundation of the original Flair 58 (my review here), this new version offers a more polished and luxurious experience for the home barista.

One of the most notable improvements is the smoother operation of the piston and brew head, making the process of pulling a shot feel more effortless and enjoyable. The attention to detail is evident in the small but thoughtful additions, such as the built-in magnetic mirror that allows you to easily monitor your extraction.

The Flair 58 Plus may have flown under the radar for some, but it is undoubtedly a top contender in the manual espresso game. If you’re looking for a high-quality, hands-on espresso experience, and don’t really care about milk drinks, the Flair 58 Plus is definitely worth considering.


La Pavoni Europiccola

la pavoni europiccola on white background

La Pavoni, meaning the peacock in Italian, is an eyecactching espresso machine.

This type of device is known as a “direct lever” machine or simply just a manual espresso maker.

For most people, this probably isn’t the ideal choice, since it requires a lot of know-how and patience from the user.

But if you are the kind of person who’s into vintage cars and old Swiss watches, then you should have La Pavoni Europiccola on your radar.

Personally, I think this machine destroys most other espresso makers when it comes to style. When it comes to substance, it’s also not far off. This machine was first created in 1961, and even though it has been updated over the years, it’s still fundamentally an old-school device at its core.

If you have the skills, you can get great espresso out of the Europiccola. Instead of using a pump, this machine relies on you pressing the lever down and that way forcing the water through the grounds. This gives you a lot more options when it comes to extraction.

There is a steam wand so you can make lattes, too, but steaming is not really what the device is great for. I have had a La Pavoni at home, and mostly use it for espresso shots. The steam tends to be weak and the steam wand is fixed in one location, which makes very difficult to operate.

There’s a big community around the Europiccola, however, so there are fixes and tricks for most problems with the machine – both the weak steaming and the brewing temperature, which is often all over the place (As it is with all these ancient single-boiler machines from Italy).

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breville barista express on table

The Breville Barista Express is probably the most popular domestic espresso machines in history.

With its built-in grinder and good UX, it’s an attractive option for those just starting their espresso journey at home.

I’ve been testing the Barista Express for around three months, and I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised by its performance.

The 15-bar pump, PID temperature control, and thermocoil heating system work together to produce consistently good espresso shots. The pressure gauge is something I really appreciate, as it will tell a lot about your shot and the adjustments you need to make.

One of the more contentious features of the Barista Express is the integrated grinder.

While it may not be on par with high-end dedicated espresso grinders, it gets the job done for most beginners, especially those using darker roasts for milk-based drinks. On the other hand, it will be a limiting factor if you ever want to pull really great shots. For that reason, I prefer a standalone grinder.

The built-in grinder can also be messy, with grounds often falling into the drip tray.

The steam wand, while capable, is slower and less powerful compared to some of its rivals. The machine can also be quite loud.

Despite these minor issues, I believe the Breville Barista Express is still a solid choice for beginners today. Its all-in-one design saves counter space and eliminates the need to purchase a separate grinder. so it an easy option if you’re just starting out.

If you’re mainly interested in making lattes or enjoying the occasional espresso without diving too deep into the hobby, this device makes a lot of sense.

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What about the grinder?

Sette 30 close up display

With most espresso machines (except super-automatics and a few Breville models), you’ll need a dedicated standalone grinder suitable for espresso to get the most out of your machine.

Preground coffee just won’t work very well:

  1. Even though the coffee has been vacuum packed, the flavor will be lacking.
  2. Because you can’t adjust the grind size, you will not be able to alter the extraction time.

The second point might sound like a small thing, but when it comes to espresso, it’s crucial to have that level of control.

Having a perfectly dialed-in grinder is essential to achieve a perfect espresso.

So when you’re looking at a new home espresso maker, you should also factor in the grinder in the budget – that is, unless you go for a super-automatic, which I would advise against. 

A lot of people will say that your grinder should cost the same or more than your espresso machine. I’m not sure it has to be like that, but keep in mind that it will be difficult to find a decent espresso grinder for less than $300-400 USD unless you go for a manual espresso maker (but that does get old quite fast). 

If you spend $550 on the machine and $450 on the grinder, I’d say you’re making a sensible, future-proof decision. 

If you get into espresso, you might want to upgrade either the grinder or the espresso maker one day. For that reason, it’s advisable to buy two separate units, instead of a machine with a built-in grinder.

If you try to save money on the grinder, you’ll quickly realize that it’s limiting your potential. 

The “buy once, cry once,” saying fits here.

Other considerations

When choosing a new espresso machine, it’s essential to think about the use cases and the level of involvement you’re ready for.

Do you want a new hobby? One that requires some effort from you?

Or do want to get a good cappuccino without learning any real barista skills?

That is the crucial question that should determine whether you go for something more hands-on like a manual espresso maker or an easy and streamlined device like those from Breville.


Some entry-level espresso machines come with a pressurized portafilter as well as a normal one. The pressurized portafilter is more forgiving when it comes to grind-size and consistency.

In ordinary everyday language, this means that you can get away with having a worse grinder that can’t grind sufficiently fine. If your budget doesn’t allow a proper espresso grinder this might be worth considering. However, in my humble opinion, this doesn’t make sense at this price point. If you spend this amount of money, you should learn to make espresso the proper way. Pressurized baskets is something that’s more acceptable for machine under $150.

Pods? Capsules?

I assume that you already know this, but a standard espresso machine is not compatible with the proprietary Nespresso capsules. But in fact, there are the so-called ESE pods which can be a great alternative to grinding and tamping yourself. These are small compressed coffee pucks packaged in a thin fabric that allows you to make good espresso quite easily.

You’ve got to be honest with yourself here. If you are a little bit lazy when it comes to coffee brewing, you might want to get a device that can handle these pods. ESE pods require a specially designed small basket that you insert in your portafilter but from there on it’s a breeze.

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Asser Christensen

Hello, and welcome! I'm the editor & founder of this site.
I have been a coffee geek since I started home roasting more than a decade ago. Since then, coffee has taken me on countless adventures: From ancient coffee ceremonies in Ethiopia to the volcanos of Sumatra.
My background is in journalism, and today I'm also a licensed Q Grader under the Coffee Quality Institute.