If starting your morning with a luxurious cup of thick, rich, and smooth espresso is what gets your day going with gusto, then it may be time to invest in a quality espresso machine for home brewing.
Many folks start with the introductory models that cost between $100 and $200, and although those machines offer a vast improvement over drip brewed coffee, they tend to have a limited shelf life (usually 1-2 years of regular use) and lack the kind of adjustability that the home barista is looking for.
If you have outgrown your starter espresso maker, you are ready for the next stage in your java journey. This review of the best espresso machines under $1000 is the right place to look for an upgrade.
If you want to jump right to the best in each class, here are the best espresso machines for each of the following categories:
Best Overall – Breville BES870XL Barista Express
For Simplicity of Use – Rancilio Silvia
For Capsules or Pods – Nespresso Creatista Plus
For Completely Automatic Espresso – DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica
What to Consider Before You Buy
All of the espresso makers in this review are well built and designed to last. However, that doesn’t mean they would all be right for you. Before you invest in a machine that you will hopefully have for many years to come, make sure it has the features that are going to serve your lifestyle.
How Much Do You Want to Fiddle Around?
There is as much art as science that goes into the perfect shot of espresso. Some folks enjoy playing around and “dialing in” that perfect cup—tweaking every detail from the grind of the bean, dose of the grounds, the temperature and pressure of the water, and even the length of the brew time.
Each of these factors (and more!) has an impact on the flavor, crema, and texture of each shot. To make things even more complicated, the variables are dependent on each other. Learning about how to pull a perfect shot is similar to learning to bake—it is a trial and error process that lives somewhere between chemistry and creativity.
For the serious home barista, being able to micromanage each factor is an important part of the process. But you can love deliciously brewed coffee drinks without wanting to be an expert. The well-developed taste of a java aficionado does not require a love for the process itself.
Before you invest in a home espresso machine, make sure you get straight with yourself on what matters most to you: the journey or the destination.
If you want simply delicious and low hassle drinks, go for a fully automated machine, or better yet, a pod system. If you want to be more involved, look for features that let you adjust each variable of the brew.
My review includes the best 4 espresso machines in the $500-$1000 range. It starts with the most customizable option and ends with the most convenient to help you find the right balance for your needs.
Integrated or Separate Grinder
A second important decision to make is if you want to go with a machine that includes a bean hopper and grinder or not. While an integrated grinder adds convenience, it can be a pain to keep clean.
Most external burr grinders have components that come apart easier—particularly important if you like a dark roast bean for full-bodied flavor since these beans have a higher oil content, which can cause build ups that require more frequent cleaning.
If your family is looking to brew one shot after another, then recovery time between shots is going to be an important factor for you to consider. Look for models that have either a high boiler capacity or a double boiler system for the fastest brewing if multiple cups is what your after.
If you are interested in learning to make beautiful designs with frothy steamed milk, then be on the look out for a steamer wand that fully articulates, and preferably a model with adjustable steam settings. These are essential features to build the kind of stable foam you will need for latte art.
Ready to shop? Let’s get into the reviews:
Best Espresso Machine for the Home Barista
Pump: 15 Bar Italian Pump
Water Reservoir: 2 Liters
Bean Hopper: 1/2 lb
Dimensions: 13.2” W x 12.5” H x 15.8” D
If it sounds like an art form, that’s because it is.
Providing the home barista with a great deal of control to tweak their set up, this machine offers fully adjustable grind coarseness, water temperature (+/- 4°F), and ground volume control (with 1 and 2 cup presets plus manual over-ride).
While you can’t adjust the pressure preset (it starts low for optimal bloom before going full pressure for maximum extraction), you can closely monitor the pressure using the onboard pressure gauge so that you can tweak your grind and tamping techniques until you find that sweet spot for the particular beans you are using.
The Barista Express comes with all the extras you would expect in a high-end machine: stainless-steel milk jug, one and two shot filter baskets (a set of single and doubled walls in each size), patented Razor™ puck trimming blade, and an integrated tamper.
One of the most popular models in its class, this is a machine that is an excellent choice for someone that really wants a hands-on experience.
- Programmable volume and temperature controls
- Powerful 1600-Watt, large capacity thermocoil boiler for fast and efficient steam and brew
- 4 filter baskets: Dual and single wall in both one and two shot sizes
- Integrated tamper for precision tamping
- Italian 15 bar pump starts at a low pressure to moisten grounds before extracting at high pressure
- ½ lb. bean hopper and stainless steel conical burr grinder with fully adjustable grind size
- 2-liter water reservoir which is removable for easy filling
- Hot water outlet to pre-warm your cup
- 360° rotating steam wand for easy access to steaming in just about any vessel
- High-quality craftsmanship with excellent customer service—Breville stands by their products!
- Pressure is automatic and requires some patience playing with grind coarseness, dose, and tamping force to achieve ideal extraction
- Will not work with pods, and using a conversion kit will void the warranty on this machine
Best Simple Design
Pump: Vibratory Pump, preset to 9 bars
Water Reservoir: 2 quarts
Dimensions: 9.2” W X 13.3” H x 11.4” D
Consistent quality—no formal training required.
If you just want to pull a great shot every time without having to take a 5-day barista training course, then this is an excellent choice for you. What it lacks in adjustability, it gains with ease of use and consistency.
The boiler holds 12 ounces of water which adds a little time to the initial warm up but saves in terms of recovery time between cups. If you regularly make espresso for more than one, this feature will come in handy.
If your favorite part of making great cappuccino is the artwork of steam frothed milk dancing on the surface of your brew, you will appreciate the fully adjustable steam pressure knob and fully articulating steam wand. There is plenty of range of motion and texture control to really perfect your creations like a pro.
The main downside of this model is that it has a single boiler which means you will need to steam froth your milk then release the excess pressure before pulling your shot. It takes a little getting used to, but once you get your timing down it won’t be an issue.
- Easy to use controls so that even beginners can pull an amazing shot
- Adjustable steam pressure and fully articulating steam arm for barista ready latte art
- Commercial grade components for long-lasting, consistent operation
- Can be adapted for use with pods using a conversion kit sold separately
- Large boiler compartment makes recovery time between shots a snap
- Full-sized 58mm brass portafilter retains heat for a perfectly hot espresso
- Easy to clean with a removable drip pan
- Quality Italian craftsmanship and manufacturing
- Reservoir requires top clearance to fill, which means it can’t be placed under an overhead cabinet
- The time between brew and steam temp is significant—plan on steaming milk before brewing
- Does not include a grinder
- If you are a fanatic about dialing in a precise brewing temperature, you may need a PID kit to convert this machine to a digital thermostat
Best Super-Automatic Espresso Machine
Pump: 15 bars
Power: 1,350W, dual boiler
Water Reservoir: 7.5 cups
Bean Hopper: 8.8 Ounces
Dimensions: 15.3” W x 14.4” H x 11” D
If convenience is your priority, this is your solution.
This fully automatic espresso machine offers the convenience of moving grounds directly from the bean hopper to the portafilter, a handy perk. The conical burr grinder that is integrated into the machine is fully adjustable to 13 settings for lots of control.
There is even a hopper that collects the used grounds, holding up to 14 cups worth at a time. Talk about fully automatic, this is a great choice if you are looking for a plug-and-play option for busy workday mornings.
Another standout feature includes the spigots on this machine which can adjust up and down so that you can use a mug up to 4.25” high to catch a double shot to get your day rolling.
Although it is programmable for 1 or 2 cups and brew strength, those that want to be able to dial in specs like brewing temp or pressure may find this machine to be a little too automatic to suit.
- Drop in roasted beans and brew up to 14 cups before you even need to dump the grounds
- Double boilers mean extremely fast recovery times between shots
- Removable boiler unit for easy cleaning and maintenance
- Conical burr grinder with 13 coarseness settings
- Use a tall mug or a short espresso cup with the adjustable spigot system
- Programmable brew strength and automatic dosing for one or two shots
- Made in Italy
- One-year manufacturer’s warranty and strong customer support
- Fully automatic beans to brew system can gum up if you love dark roasted, oily beans
- Might not have enough fine tune adjustment options for the home barista
Best Pod Espresso Machine
Pump: Vibration Pump, 19 bars
Water Reservoir: 1.5 L
Dimensions: 6.7” W x 12.2” H x 16.1” D
Elegant design and modern convenience.
There is literally nothing to mess up with this capsule style espresso maker by Breville. A complete digital display and control panel gives you plenty of custom options, while the coffee pods produce even pressure and full-bodied flavor every time.
You don’t have to worry about the perfect tamp, the ideal temperature, or adjusting for the perfect grind. Everything is already done for you when you switch over to a pod system.
You can select from the most popular beverage options, including latte, macchiato, lungo, espresso, cappuccino, ristretto and more. The milk steaming offers impressive custom options as well with 11 temperature options and 8 texture levels including a thick and stable microfoam.
The display also takes the guesswork out of cleaning, letting you know when it is time for regular maintenance and descaling to keep this espresso machine running at peak performance.
Keep in mind that you will need to buy new capsules to keep pulling great espresso with this machine. However, the choice of different aroma profiles will keep you interested in finding that complex flavor, body, and texture profile that represents the “perfect shot” for you.
Plus, if your guests prefer a different experience, switching over is as easy as the touch of a button and dropping in a different capsule.
- Convenient pod system takes the guesswork out of making espresso
- Large variety of perfectly toasted and ground beans to choose from
- Adjustable temperature and texture steam frother for beautiful latte art
- Large 1.5-liter tank and ultra-fast recovery time to brew multiple shots in a row
- Extraordinary design with chrome finish and slim profile
- Intuitive controls and display
- Stainless steel milk jug included
- 2-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Takes some of the fun out of traditional espresso pulling—probably not the right choice for a home barista wannabe
- Separate purchase of pods required for the life of the machine
Conclusion: Which is the Best Espresso Maker for Under $1000?
I hope you came looking for the best espresso maker for your home and found a machine that will fit both your budget and your interest in controlling or automating the espresso making process.
You don’t have to keep paying high prices for café quality espresso—with a little time, practice, and the right equipment you can make delicious high-end coffee drinks right at home.
Do you have some experience with making espresso, cappuccino, latte and other fancy coffee drinks at home that you would like to share with our readers? Feel free to leave a comment below!