Best Mid Range Espresso Machines to Buy in 2018

The best mid range ($500-$1500) espresso machines to buy in 2018

A new year, some new fresh coffee beans – what about a new machine? If 2018 is the year for upgrading your home machine to something a little heftier, here are our top picks for mid-range ($500 – $1500) home espresso machines.

1. Breville Bes920  ~$799

Breville BES920

This nifty little machine has a quick start time, is super easy to use and has both a fantastic milky steamer (for that silky microfoam) and a solid amount of pressure to soak your grounds thoroughly. This machine is a great all-rounder. Its easy-to-use interface is suitable for those just starting out with home espresso and skilled baristas who want to dive deep into the science of espresso have preinfusion times and water temperature (plus more) to experiment with.

– Quick heat up time
– Dual boiler for simultaneous steam and coffee extraction
– Great for both newbies and coffee aficionados

– Seemingly short lifespan, we’ve seen some break down within 4 years, although that could be a coincidence.


2. Rancilio Silvia v5 ~$859

Rancilio Silvia v5

This machine is not for the beginner, but Rancilio has truly built an exceptional commercial-grade home machine. It’s just about as far away from automatic as you can get, there’s not even a dedicated 2-shot button, but this is exactly the reason coffee lovers cherish this machine. Every aspect of the brewing process (including modding the machine with PIDs and extra features) is in your control. The modding community for Silvia models is truly one the biggest in the home coffee world, with heaps of information and support out there from fellow owners.

– High quality, commercial grade parts
– Best home extraction we’ve ever seen
– Huge modding community, so upgrades and support are at your fingertips

– A bit basic looking
– Can’t steam and extract coffee simultaneously
– Takes a bit of finessing to get the best coffee (but when you get it right, it’s the best!)


3. Sunbeam Torino ~$1199 with Grinder

Sunbeam Torino

This is a great looking machine that really competes with the Breville BES920 in functionality but with the Rocket Giottos in looks. With a fully manual pump for the aficionados and a semi-automatic button for those who want an easier option so it caters to all levels of skill. There are heaps of programming options to optimize the extraction for your tastes, so this makes the machine great for those with some brewing experience. Online reviews all rave about the perfect crema you can achieve, with one even comparing it to an industrial machine as the standout!

– Great looking machine
– Thermoblock technology that heats water up much faster than a boiler
– Simultaneous coffee extraction and milk steaming

– Some steam wands have issues out of the box (So, buying through a big company like Harvey Norman is a smart option)
– Only available to purchase with a grinder

Please leave us your comments below if you think we’ve missed a machine or if you’ve had experience with any of these machines.

Ryadan Jeavons

by Ryadan Jeavons

Ryd is a passionate coffee educator who started his career in 2000 as a barista. Having seen the coffee industry develop over the years and how much there is to learn about coffee still, his personal mission has become a role as the conduit between the industry and the consumer. He is passionate about educating the public on all the wonderful things we are learning about this golden liquid drink.

6 comments on "The best mid range ($500-$1500) espresso machines to buy in 2018"

  1. LES ling says:

    I am getting my coffee trailer together,i am only going to use it as a hobbie, I am planning to take it to garage sales,lets say I only serve 30 to 40 cups in a 6 hour time frame what size coffee machine do you think I would need ,I only plan to use it once a month,as I did not plan to spend a big heap of money on a coffee machine,

    1. Ryadan Jeavons says:

      I don’t think you should use any of these machines to rely on commercially. While the coffee extraction time should be fine, the time to steam milk will be too slow. The steam wand on the Breville is great at doing silky milk but the time it takes is far too long if you suddenly got a rush of 5 or more orders.

      These machines should only be relied on to make 4-5 coffees per day.

      The best thing to do is to get a second-hand Wega or San Marino commercial machine. These machines usually go for around $1500-$3k and while they aren’t as sexy as some of the more expensive and new models, they will serve you just perfectly until you get an established customer base.
      If you’re in Australia, you can also rent-to-buy or just rent a machine from Silverchef for about $15-40/week and that will help with cash flow. That way you can upgrade when you need.

  2. Peter Tyson says:

    hi mate, any suggestions for a good semi-automatic home espresso machines for 2020 – you may possibly still advocate some of the ones above or are there any new models that have hit the scene?

    As with everyone, I’m spending a lot of time at home now!!

    1. Ryadan Jeavons says:

      Hey Peter!

      Great question and I should update and write a new blog for 2020 with the current self isolating.

      While I still believe in both the Breville and the Rancilio, they have updated both those models and there are some other contenders out there now.

      The Breville has been updated to a model called the BES980 and while it is still the same machine they’ve made the price point a lot higher ($1500aud) you still need to buy a decent grinder on top of that so if your budget stretches that far then that’s great. Not great for some because you used to be able to buy the BES920 with the smart grinder pro for under $1000aud.

      The new Rancilio machine has been upgraded to included a PID which gives you control over the temperature finally. This means you don’t have to “pressure surf” and get the timing right before you get a great shot of coffee.

      I was going to get my hands on it at the coffee expo in Melbourne this month but that’s obviously been cancelled. I can’t vouch for it until I get my hands on it.

      If you are lucky enough to be able to get your hands on the Aldi espresso machine for $299aud then I’d jump at that. It’s fantastic for the price and really surprised me.

      The other machine that is doing really great things is the Breville barista pro (~$800) which has a grinder built in. It’s not as good as the dual boiler but they’ve put some of the features on it and I think it’s the best value around that price. Stay away from the Breville Barista EXPRESS though – that’s not a good model even though it looks the same.

      Hope this helps!

      Stay safe.

  3. Bob Cameron says:

    Hi Ryadan
    I’m new to your site, but it looks really helpful. Just wondering, have you reviewed the Lelit PL41TEMD, or even if not, do you have any thoughts on it?

    1. Ryadan Jeavons says:

      Hi Bob!

      I haven’t played on that specific model but I have used the Lelit machines a lot before and they are great little machines. They are a little boxy looking in the design but they are very reliable and well made. Still, since the price is similar I would consider getting the Twin boiler from Breville. In terms of ease of use the Breville will be easier. The quality of the build isn’t as good with the Breville and it will most likely die within 4-5 years where the Lelit might be 7-10 years and may have some resale value too.

      The most important thing you need to consider is what grinder you are going to get. If you have the budget, buy a Eureka Espresso (not filter) grinder or a Quamar. If you don’t have much then buy the Breville smart grinder pro.

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