If you have had it with less expensive espresso machines that poop out after a few years of use, or produce inconsistent shots, it might be time for an upgrade.
To really get a machine that makes coffee house quality espresso and will last through high volume use for years to come, the best espresso machines around $2000 are the right choice for the serious java aficionado.
This review looks at three of the best in this price range, with an eye towards helping you find the right machine for your user preferences.
Top Espresso Machines Under 2000 Dollars:
Breville BES980XL Oracle Espresso Machine – My top pick overall for a great mix of customizable options to satisfy home baristas along with automatic features designed for busy schedules.
La Pavoni PPG-16 – If you are looking for the cream of the crop in terms of a manual machine, this is my choice for you.
Miele CM6310 – Looking for the ultimate super-automatic experience? If you don’t mind sacrificing a little on looks, check out this selection.
Pressure: 15 Bar Italian Pump
Water Reservoir: 84 Oz.
Bean Hopper: ½ Lb.
Dimensions: 14.5″ D x 14.7″ W x 17.6″ H
One of the thrills of being a home barista is learning the art of pulling the perfect shot. Depending on the beans that you use, and your own flavor preferences, being able to adjust each factor of the brewing process is something that coffee gearheads appreciate.
This machine combines the best of automatic functionality with extreme adjustability, all on a digital display with easy to use controls and programmable presets. The build is fully commercial grade as well, with a stainless-steel double boiler for durable and dependable operation, even with heavy use.
One of the reasons that the best coffee houses are able to extract such a well-rounded flavor from their beans is that pro-grade equipment increases pressure gradually as the shot is pulled. Baristas using a manual press are trained to increase the pressure over the course of the shot, and pro-grade automatic machines used in the finest café do this automatically.
The benefit of this system is that it gives the entire dose of grinds a chance to open up, or “bloom,” in order for the flavors to fully extract across the entire puck.
The Breville Oracle uses a graduated pressure system which really makes a difference in terms of getting the most flavor out of your beans at home. Combined with precision dosing, fully controllable grind coarseness, and automatic tamping to programmable pressure, the entire process has been optimized to get full-bodied flavor and plenty of rich crema in every shot.
Despite the price tag, this is not a super-automatic machine – you will have to move grounds from the dosing and tamping position over to the brew head and dump your grounds before starting the next shot. However, one plus to this system is that there are fewer spaces inside the machine prone to clogging, one of the biggest downsides of a super-automatic build.
- Dual boilers for simultaneous brewing and frothing
- Programmable temperature setting between 190-205°F with digital display
- Grinding, tamp pressure and time, and brew intensity are all easy to adjust for the perfect shot
- Adjustable automatic frother with temp and texture settings ranging from cappuccino to latte
- Heated group head keeps temperature stable for excellent extraction
- Self-purging steam wand
- Pre-infusion at lower pressure to bloom your grind before extracting at high pressures
- One touch Americano setting adds a precise amount of hot water to your shots for the perfect cup of Joe
- While all other factors are adjustable, dosing is not. You will have to adjust the shot strength and single/double shots by tweaking grind coarseness and tamping pressure.
- Semi-automatic function will require some minimal work on your end for each shot
La Pavoni PPG-16
Pressure: Manual, Lever operated
Water Reservoir: 54 Oz.
Dimensions: 10.25″ D x 7.5″ W x 13.0″
For those looking for a premium analog experience, this beautiful machine by La Pavoni features Italian construction using top-notch materials for a consistent and reliable manual experience sure to please the finicky home barista.
The first thing you will notice are the gorgeous good looks – gold plating over brass with rosewood handles for a classy look that has lured many aficionados to manual shot pulling. Form follows function in this case, with a reputation among coffee snobs as one of the best manual machines available for home markets in the U.S.
While it certainly takes more practice to pull a great shot with any manual machine, the learning curve will be a pleasure because of the excellent quality of this manual espresso maker. The temperature and pressure of this single boiler system are directly tied, and the temperature is not directly adjustable without messing with the thermostat (not recommended).
However, as you get the feel for this machine, you will understand how to tweak your shot to perfection by pulling the lever just-so.
One downside of going with a manual model is that you will need to pick up a few pieces of gear to be ready to roll. Although it comes with a tamper, it is plastic, and frankly, the home barista will be disappointed with the lack of consistency it offers at the critical tamping stage.
Here is a checklist of extras to get if you don’t already have them:
- 51 mm tamper for precise tamping, critical for pulling a nice shot
- Conical Burr Grinder, imperative for having the freshest grounds for optimum flavor
- Espresso Cups, with 2.5” clearance, this machine won’t work with coffee mugs
- Stunning good looks
- Large 54 Oz. water reservoir for plenty of steam to froth for cappuccino or latte
- Professional grade brass, coper, and rosewood components for luxurious quality and extreme durability
- Less automatic means fewer components to descale and clean for long use without servicing
- Adjust every aspect of the art of pulling a shot the true barista way
- Brew 16 shots before you have to cool down and refill the reservoir, a useful upgrade from the EPC-8 model
- Italian design and manufacturing
- Relatively long preheat time before pressure builds for brewing after refilling the water reservoir
- Definitely a learning curve to using this or any other manual machine
- There is no pressure release, so carefully remove the portafilter after a shot or you will get a “sneeze” of hot grounds everywhere
Miele CM6310 Super Automatic Espresso Machine
Pressure: 15 Bar Italian Pump
Water Reservoir: 61 Oz.
Bean Hopper: 10.5 Oz.
Dimensions: 17″ D x 10″ W x 14.25″ H
For the ultimate in touch-of-a-button luxury, this superautomatic espresso machine by Miele is an excellent choice. Although it is not as customizable as our top pick, those looking for a carefree morning routine that delivers on flavor, rich crema, and perfectly frothed milk without any hassle – the Miele CM6310 delivers.
Temperature, a wide range of customer drink styles, dosing and pre-infusion time are all completely programmable. In addition, you can program up to 4 user profiles to save time switching between members of your family. You can even brew two totally different profiles at the same time.
You can adjust the height of the dispenser to accommodate cups up to 5.5 inches, a nice feature for the double shot latte crowd. The machine features extremely fast warm-up and recovery times as well. You can expect reliable, high volume output for a crowd with this selection.
Another nice feature worth pointing out is that this machine offers you the option of using the bean hopper and grinder for the ultimate automatic experience, or you can use pre-ground beans from a separate hopper. It is also relatively easy to keep clean with easily removable components for regular rinsing and periodic descaling.
Honestly, it is not a very pretty machine with a bit of an industrial look that is on the harsh and boxy end of the spectrum. If you want a machine that has nonassertive looks that will disappear among the appliances on your counter, this might not be an issue for you.
Do measure your space though – this machine has a rather large footprint and you will need overhead clearance to fill the bean hopper and water reservoir.
- Fully automatic process from bean to cup
- Save settings for up to 4 profiles for one-touch customized shots and gourmet coffee drinks
- For an automatic machine, this model is relatively easy to clean and descale
- Large water reservoir, bean hopper and milk container for plenty of back to back shots
- Extremely fast warm-up and recovery times for home or office use
- Delicious and rich crema with no barista expertise required
- Stainless steel milk flask is external to the machine for easy cold storage and cleaning
- Adjustable dispenser height to accommodate coffee mugs or espresso cups
- Cup warmer on top for a nice warm cup that won’t supercool your shot
- No automatic Americano setting, but you can add hot water to your shot on demand from a separate spout
- Design-wise, it is not the prettiest machine on the market
- Milk foam density and texture is not quite as versatile as that of my top choice
Before spending this kind of cash on a home appliance, you definitely want to be sure you are going to get a reliable machine worthy of the price. Whether you are looking for manual, semi-automatic or super-automatic, you can find a home machine to pull café quality shots at home.
This review looked at 3 machines with pro-grade components, long lasting durability, excellent manufacturer reputations that are all designed to help you make the most of home brewing. If you have one of these models, please consider leaving a comment to let other readers know about your experience.