Before we get started, you want to steer clear of machines from Kmart, Target, ect for $60-$100. You will never get anything close to espresso and you will hate yourself for it.So our first recommendation, sitting at the LOWEST PRICE in the list is the STIRLING ESPRESSO MACHINE from ALDI!
Sitting around the $300 mark, the Stirling Espresso Machine defies all you would expect of a cheap espresso machine. The body is stainless steel, the group head is surprisingly a commercial standard 58mm with a pretty decent portafilter to go with it. It is a single boiler machine, however these are the limits to expect at such a price point. The steam pressure can produce very silky and consistent milk. The overall feel of the machine is a bit plastic, with buttons and levers just feeling slightly cheap.
For a beginner with little knowledge and practice when it comes to making espresso, this machine will far exceed your expectations and give you everything you need to learn and grow your skills.
In the same price band, sitting under $1000, comes the first appearance of Breville with the BARISTA PRO. As a deluxe version of the Barista Express it is leagues better in so many ways. So much so, I would recommend NOT buying the Barista Express as it just ISN’T worth the money. Now the Barista Pro is a neat, compact little unit, with the grinder built in. This isn't my favourite set up as heat, moisture and grinders don't mix. However for the price point it is enticing for those who cannot afford a grinder to go alongside their machine.
The parts generally feel cheap and plastic, with the portafilter measuring at 54mm, which limits the accessories, upgrades or third party products you can use with the machine. However, like all Breville's, it has quality boilers inside that can produce great espresso, and a steam wand that can make cafe quality latte art. This machine will satisfy most people, however you will only get around 5 years of life out of this machine, with repairs costing more than the machine itself.
If you are thinking of or have already purchased the Barista Pro, you can check out our full TRAINING COURSE online where we go through everything you need to know about this machine and how to make the best quality coffee on it!
Great for those wanting easy espresso at a great price, however if you are anything like me you want to buy once and buy right. Longevity will ultimately be its downfall.
At the $700 mark is the Gaggia Classic. A robust and commercial grade machine, it will be sure to deliver you exceptional espresso and textured milk. This little machine however does need some prior experience with an espresso machine and it’s for beginners.
Minimal in design and quite utilitarian, the Gaggia Classic makes up for what it lacks in looks with its gorgeous espresso it produces. With fully commercial grade parts, like 58mm group heads and quality made boilers, this little machine will last a lifetime if kept well.
The internals of the machine are easily accessible with parts readily available to order if you wanted to fix, upgrade and mod yourself. There are communities online who have done it all to their machines which you can follow along and play around at home yourself.
These are the machines that cost over $1000 and give you the most out of your morning cup. For those who have made coffee before and are after that NEXT STEP in coffee quality.
Breville’s second and last mention in the list, the famous DUAL BOILER espresso machine. This machine has changed slightly over the years by Breville, with a few tweaks here and there. Ultimately it is still one of the best budget machines out there on the market, offering two boilers so you can steam milk whilst running espresso at the same time. It's heat exchange technology allows you to control temperatures evenly and with its fully commercial internals it is easily one of the best all rounder machines around the $1000 mark.
The group head is an industry standard 58mm, compared to it's Barista Pro counterpart, and its steam pump and pressure provides exceptional quality milk and espresso. The life of a breville however does let it down, with a retiring age of roughly 5-6 years with important hoses, clamps and valves deteriorating.
If you have already purchased or are thinking of purchasing a DUAL BOILER, check out our ONLINE TRAINING COURSE detailing everything you need to get the best coffee out of this machine!
Where the breville lacks longevity, the Rancilio Silvia steps in. Sitting at roughly $1500-$2000 this machine will last you FOREVER. Rancilio prides itself on their espresso machines, and the Silvia Pro offers incredibly easy maintenance options, replaceable parts and adjustable components for any budding engineer to fiddle around with.
All of its parts are stainless steel with detail to quality, the Silvia Pro delivers exceptional quality espresso, just requiring more experience. This machine is incredibly difficult to use if you have no prior knowledge of coffee. Having to manually “temperature surf” the boiling water to get the right temperature through your puck, and with very little automation it is solely up to the user to make that perfect cup.
This aside, it WILL make the best cup of coffee in your life. This can create a love-hate relationship with some. For others, it will stay in the family for generations.
For those tired of subpar coffee and believe in the philosophy of buying ONCE and buying RIGHT. These are the machines that will not disappoint and will last 20+ years if treated properly.
True to its name, it sure does look like something from the International Space Station. Roughly $3000-$4000 the Giotto gives you everything you need to make cafe quality coffee WITHOUT compromise. With PID temperature controls, heat exchange, and full stainless steel materials you start to realise what quality truly means.
All of its parts are commercial grade, like its 58mm portafilter, so any upgrades and extras would want to buy will fit straight in. You may have to service the machine once every 4-5 years or so, and if maintained well this is a machine that will easily last 20+ years. It is a chunky and large machine that will take up a fair amount of space and paired with a good quality grinder this may polarise some buyers.
Profitec and Ecm make the same coffee machines, just rebadged. So comparing the two is easy as they are pretty much identical. Starting around the mid $4000 range, these machines are extremely high quality with dual boilers, fully replaceable panels and parts that you can replace and fix with standard tools yourself!
It’s boilers are capable of cafe quality steam pressure, and its PID systems are adjustable so you can get the best results from any roast. The 58mm grouphead is perfect for any upgrade you want to make; what these machines lack in style and prettiness they make up in quality and longevity.
Slightly higher in budget comes a gorgeous machine from LELIT, the BIANCA. Similar in design to the GIOTTO and the PROFITEC, but boasting beautiful wooden trims. The Bianca is the cheapest machine that allows FULL PRESSURE PROFILING on your shots, allowing you to change flow rates and pressures at the flick of a switch. This machine is here for those who know how to get the best out of their coffee and gives you that chance to do it.
Stainless steel body, 58mm Portafilter, PID, Heat exchange and pump pressures that rival commercial machines there isn't much to go wrong with the Bianca from Lelit. The true question left to ask at well over $4000 is, is it worth it? Being such a niche company, parts and repairs are extremely expensive and can take weeks to even get the ball rolling.
If you are interested in finding out the best recipes for espresso, there are better machines out there like the DECENT ESPRESSO MACHINE.
At the highest end of the budget, ranging between $5000-$8000 depending on the features chosen, the DECENT ESPRESSO MACHINE has changed the game of what great espresso truly means.
Designed by the Godfather of coffee himself, Scott Rao, this machine delivered ultimate control over your coffee shot as well as delivering the information directly back to you via the onboard tablet. Fully customisable shots options are readily available online in community forums, with recipes and settings available for download into your machine! Fully powder coated stainless steel parts, ceramic water chambers and a stunning 58mm naked portafilter included there isn't much else you need to dive deeper than you have ever gone into your coffee.
There are even options to emulate lever machines, other major brand machines and even a filter/pour over settings.
Now with this much information on tap, it is incredibly easy to focus on the stats rather than the taste and can be a slippery slope for perfectionists. However the level of information provided by built-in pressure gauges and flow rate measurements opens enormous possibilities for the future of coffee making.
The Decent Espresso machine is truly THE coffee machine to buy if you are in the high end budget zone. What it does compared to all other machines out there is second to none.
It’s not everyday you win the lottery, or come into a million dollar inheritance. These are the machines reserved specifically for when you do!
La Marzocco coffee machines are best known for their commercial machines found in so many cafes around the world. They are known for their reliability, consistency and their attention to detail. These machines are workhorses in the industry and the Linea Mini is a single group version of LM’s most successful machine, the Linea PB.
Now the Linea Mini is truly a masterpiece, however what it delivers isn't what a home user needs. It can produce coffee at the same pace and ease as its cafe counterparts, with everything simulating the exact motions of a barista at work. What it lacks is control. Adjusting temperatures, flow rates, changing times for shots and everything in between. There isn't even a way to easily see the water chambers before it runs out of water.
Starting at $8000 for a base unit, it is very quick to realise you are paying for a brand name over anything else. Don't get me wrong, this is still one of my dream machines to own, particularly custom outfitted by Specht Designs down in Melbourne.
Another classic from La Marzocco is the GS3. The GS3 is one of the most sought after home machines La Marzocco produces, with almost everything designed for ergonomics in a home use. What its counterpart the Linea Mini does to replicate a cafe environment, the GS3 takes the next step and improves on it significantly. With prices at $11 000 you would hope these improvements were worth it.
With a basic pressure profiling control system you are able to adjust the pressure hitting your puck, allowing for controlled and precise brewing, and its dual boiler system you are easily able to steam large amounts of milk whilst brewing multiple batches of espresso.
With beautiful stainless steel parts and ease of servicing, the GS3 will last you forever and it will look great whilst doing so. Pair the GS3 with Specht Designs and you can have, in my opinion, one of the greatest home set ups in the world.
Coming in at a whopping $16 000 is the MVP HYDRA from Synesso. We have a 3 group version in our Cafe and it is changing the game when it comes to commercially made espresso.
The hydra comes with a built-in computer system, showing you everything that is going on inside of the machine. Full temperature control, full flow rate as well as pressure profiling systems that allow you to have multiple profiles set for different types of coffee you wish to put through the machine.
Aesthetically, every part of this machine is customisable from wooden trims, power coating and everything else you could think of. Some cafes have gone to the trouble of getting their business name on the front of the machine where SYNESSO’s branding would usually go. The choices are relatively unlimited.
However the control and information is nothing compared to the Decent Espresso Machine, and at easily double the price of a single Decent, why bother with the SYNESSO? Synesso is a top brand for cafes and high volume coffee shops who want to dive deeper into the coffee they make and to get the best results with their beans. For a home user, this seems like overkill.
I could not imagine making coffee on a machine other than the Synesso at work anymore, however for home use $16 000 can be much better spent.
A renovator's DREAM. Using the internals from La Marzocco best machines, this countertop espresso machine is unbelievable. Having all components underneath the bench you are left with what is the most stunning display of espresso making money can buy. Seamless, ergonomic and a statement piece for any household.
The catch here is you are going for form over function, with all control over any component being lost for minimalism. However with high quality components and beautiful wooden built in stalks, I wouldn't be complaining.
Being built into the bench and only available through ordering, you can only imagine how much the Modbar would cost. Nothing a million dollar inheritance can fix.
Low Budget, Low Skill Required:
STIRLING ESPRESSO MACHINE - Aldi
Easiest To Use:
DUAL BOILER - Breville
Low Budget, High Skill Required:
SILVIA PRO - Rancilio
Mid Range Budget:
GIOTTO - Rocket
DECENT ESPRESSO MACHINE - Decent Espresso
By the time you are spending tens of thousands of dollars, you cannot go past the Decent espresso machine. The information provided by its internal systems allow you to do far more than any other machine can ever hope to achieve.
At the end of the day, coffee is best enjoyed however you like it. I am not here to tell you how to drink your coffee, I am only here to show you how to get the best out of it. These machines listed are my personal favourites, we are not sponsored or endorsed by any of these brands and are my own opinions.
You can check out our video of this list on our youtube channel HERE for a full in depth look into these machines.
If you are wanting to upskill your barista skills check out our online courses at www.coffeebeansdelivered.com.au and become the ultimate home barista!
As always, however you make it,