If you’re looking to add an espresso machine to your home for as cheap as possible, you may have struggled to find one within your price range without sacrificing quality.
It’s true that the right espresso machine for your home isn’t one that you can’t afford. But how do you find one that has the features you need and doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg?
In this guide, we’ll show you what we think are the 3 best home espresso machines under $1,500.
We’ll walk you through their features and clarify for you why they’re great options.
Here’s what we’ll teach you:
- Common features of espresso machines and how they affect daily use
- How you’ll know which one is right for you
- Our picks for the 3 best home espresso machines under $1,500
Let’s jump right in.
COMMON ESPRESSO MACHINE FEATURES
AUTOMATIC AND SEMIAUTOMATIC MACHINES
One of the first things you’ll see when it comes to an espresso machine is whether it’s automatic or semiautomatic.
So what does that mean, and what’s the difference?
Automatic machines control the dosing for the user during brewing. You put in the portafilter, push a button, and the machine brews for the right amount of time itself.
Semiautomatic machines need the user to control the brew cycle. Using this kind of machine, you would begin and end the brewing process at whatever time you choose.
Automatic machines tend to be easier to use, although they’re also usually more expensive.
Semiautomatic machines have a slightly steeper learning curve, but they let users experiment with drinks more and they’re typically cheaper.
You’ll find that a lot of budget espresso machines are semiautomatic for that reason.
Boilers are integral to every espresso machine, and will influence their daily use.
You’ll usually see these types of boilers:
- Single Boiler
- Heat Exchange Boiler
- Dual Boiler
With low-cost machines, single boilers are pretty common. This means there’s one boiler used for brewing and steaming.
Perhaps the biggest benefit to this kind of system is that the machine heats up more quickly because there’s only one boiler. This design is also very economical.
The drawback is that you’re not able to brew and steam at the same time because the temperatures needed for either function are different, so you’ll need to wait after brewing to steam and vice versa.
Heat exchange boilers streamline the drink-making process by allowing for simultaneous steaming and brewing. They work by having a tube carrying brewing water to the group head, while keeping steaming water separated.
On top of being able to brew and steam at the same time, these systems can be pretty powerful. Their main disadvantage is that you’ll need to flush the group head before pulling a shot to make sure the water used for brewing is at the ideal temperature.
The last type of boiler system, dual boilers, means one boiler is used for brewing and a second one for steaming. These systems are especially strong, but have a longer heat-up time because two different boilers need to be warmed up once you turn the machine on.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHICH ESPRESSO MACHINE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
An espresso machine is an important investment.
You’ll want to make sure you pick one that you’re going to get the most use out of, so it needs to have features that fit your own requirements.
Are you new to espresso? In that case, consider an automatic espresso machine that will be easier to learn.
You could also look at a semiautomatic espresso machine that comes with automatic dosing options so you get the benefits of both types. That way, as you get better at making espresso, you could move off of the automatic dosing options and start manually dosing.
If you’re the kind of person who has to rush to get to work in the morning, then you’ll appreciate the speed at which a heat exchange system heats up and the ability to brew and steam at the same time.
But if you want to spend more time focusing on each drink or don’t plan to make drinks often, then a single boiler system might fulfill your needs – and for a lower price.
3 BEST HOME ESPRESSO MACHINES UNDER $1,500
The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II is an inexpensive machine that’s powerful enough to be used in a home setting or in a small coffee shop.
This is the kind of machine that can grow with you. Although it’s semiautomatic, it comes with programmable dosing so you can set the time for brew cycles in advance and use those programmed settings until you feel more comfortable.
So if you’re looking for something that’s flexible and powerful, consider choosing the Oscar II.
- Machine Type: Semiautomatic
- Majesty Coffee Price: $1,295
- Boiler: Heat Exchange
- Plumbing: Pour-over
- Copper Boiler Construction: In addition to being efficient at conducting heat, the copper in the boiler is naturally antimicrobial.
- Programmable Dosing: Worried about learning the ropes of making espresso? You can program the correct doses in advance and use those while you learn.
- Water Level Indicator: Never get caught off guard by low water levels again – the Oscar II will let you know when it needs a refill.
- Cool Touch Wand: Baristas in coffee shops everywhere know what it’s like to get burnt by accidentally touching the steam wand on an espresso machine. With the Oscar II’s cool touch wand, you won’t have to deal with this painful experience.
- Cup Warmer: Your drinks will stay hot for even longer when you pour them into cups preheated by the Oscar II’s cup-warming shelf right at the top of the machine. As an added bonus, it functions as a cup storage area if you don’t have room.
With its impressive stainless steel construction, the Quick Mill Silvano Evo will look professional on any home counter.
The Silvano Evo makes a lot of advanced features available from home for improved espresso. A built-in shot timer makes it so you can simply time the dosing for your shots in one location, while its brilliant thermoblock boiler design allows it to brew and steam at the same time.
Get this espresso machine if you’re looking for a budget model that doesn’t sacrifice the advanced features favored in commercial settings.
- Machine Type: Semiautomatic
- Majesty Coffee Price: $1,075
- Boiler: Thermoblock single boiler
- Plumbing: Pour-over
- Built-In Shot Timer: Instead of having to buy a separate kitchen timer or use your smartphone, you’ll be able to time your shots using the timer built right into the Silvano Evo.
- Three-Position Power Switch: Protect your machine’s boiler using the three-position power switch, which gives you the option to fill the boiler without heating. If the boiler doesn’t fill for some reason, this means it won’t run dry while heating itself.
- Three-Way Solenoid Valve: Stay clean and burn-free – the solenoid valve on the Silvano Evo removes pressure from the portafilter after brewing so you don’t get splattered by hot espresso grounds when you remove it.
- Pump Pressure Gauge: When you turn the machine on, you’ll know the instant it’s ready to steam and brew with the pressure gauge.
Those who are novice baristas will love the Rancilio Silvia.
Although freshly ground espresso generally results in a better-tasting drink, grinding your own espresso can be challenging. That’s why this machine is pod adaptable, which means you can use pre-ground espresso pods.
If you decide you no longer want to use pods, the pod kit is easily removable. That makes this a machine that you can keep using as you grow more experienced.
Pick the Rancilio Silvia if you’re looking for a very affordable machine for beginners.
- Machine Type: Semiautomatic
- Majesty Coffee Price: $715
- Boiler: Single Boiler (Note: This machine cannot brew and steam at the same time.)
- Plumbing: Pour-Over
- Boiler Thermal Wrapping: Thermal wrapping on the Silvia’s boiler keeps it from losing heat. This makes the machine so energy efficient, that it can save up to 8% more energy when you use its standby mode.
- Removable Pod Kit: Perfect for those just starting in the world of espresso-making, this allows you to use ground espresso pods instead of having to grind your own.
- Compact Size: At 13.75 inches tall, 9.25 inches wide, and 11.25 inches deep, you’ll be able to fit the Rancilio Silvia into even the most cramped counter layout.
- Cup Warmer: Conveniently store your cups right on top of the machine to save room elsewhere and to keep your cups toasty.