New espresso machine - budget around $1500-1900

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.

#1: Post by adey »

Hi all,
I am totally new to the espresso machines world, but have been tampering with manual shots brewing weight/time, and breville smart grinder + bambino plus.

I mainly make double espressos and milk drinks/lattes, occasionally 5-15 at a time for a family events.

I am looking to buy good reliable espresso machine that can pull multiple good espresso shots(5-15), quickly steam milk for them, and last for a while(good quality price ratio) while providing good shots and milk steaming consistency.

Features I am looking for:
1.Pulling espresso shot and brewing milk at the same time.
2. Prewater/preinfusion.
3. PID pressure/temp control, and shots timer are good to have, but not must, as I see that those who use espresso machines regularly for a while just learn to eyeball the shots while pulling them manually.
4. Rotary/quiet pump is nice to have, but not must.

After doing some research, as of know, I have understanding that:
1. Both dual boiler, and new dual thermoblock and HX machines can deliver consistent stable temperatures for the multiple shots and milk steaming. if this is true, which one would you go with in terms of shots and milk steaming consistency, reliability and lifespan?

2. True preinfusion and rotary pump comes at a higher price(eg. lelit bianca, or profitec 500), and the machines I am looking for just have prewatering and vibrational/loud pumps(which is ok). Are you ok with just prewatering and noise level of vibration pump?

3. The bigger the boiler size the more steaming capacity for multiple milk drinks machine has. Which boiler size/machine size ratio would you consider?

4. e61 group requires flushing between shots. Is this true or not? if yes, which machine is more forgiving if you do not perform flush between shots? Meaning on which machine you can have an easier, faster routine?

Machines I am considering.
1. rancilio pro x ... via-pro-x/
2. bezzera bz13
3. ascaso steel duo pid ... 110v-black
4. rocket appartamento
Would you also consider profitec pro 300 or lelit elizabeth?

Could you please help to chose one by sharing your opinion and experience.

Thanks a lot!

Team HB

#2: Post by baldheadracing »

I'd say that the Breville Dual Boiler is the machine to beat in your price range. I would certainly take it over every machine that you've listed. There are other machines in that price range that I would consider, e.g., Izzo, VBM, but they're not as friendly to a beginner as the Breville.

Regardless, upgrade the grinder first and foremost.

Good luck!
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

User avatar
Team HB

#3: Post by Jeff »


There are several threads on this general topic that you might want to review, the pose some more specific questions. One, active within the last day or two, is Time for a new espresso machine, budget around $1500

Some other information is that, no matter the marketing claims, PID or otherwise, virtually all conventional HX machines require manually managing the brew temperature. /hx-love-ma ... ature.html (The Lelit MaraX is not a "conventional HX".)

Control of "preinfusion" (fill/soak) has benefits primarily for light-roast espresso. This is a different drink than what most people think of as espresso. It uses coffees that are usually sold for "filter" coffee. Approaches that drip on the puck or provide "soft start" or the like aren't what people are talking about for light-roast espresso.

A shot timer adds little value, especially with phones with timers or just old-fashioned counting off seconds. Time is an output, not a control input.

Judging a machine on its steam-boiler capacity is not going to tell you a lot, especially for home use.

"5-15 shots" -- how fast? If you're doing catering, you should increase your budget several-fold to get that kind of capacity and reliability. If you're entertaining for 15 people, that is probably a 1/2 to 3/4 of an hour to pull 15 shots. A Chemex or batch brewer is probably a better plan.

TL;DR -- Personal opinion -- The Lelit Elizabeth, of what you have on your list, is the only one that I'd consider for my own use.

adey (original poster)

#4: Post by adey (original poster) »

Thank you for your reply.

I was considering BDB as well, but then kind of got turned off by all the long term issues issues and service support feedback from users.
Also, after I used breville smart grinder I realized that its not really precise as I would like, and leave a lot of residual after I did single shots grinding. so I upgraded to niche zero.
Did I understand you correctly that you would chose BDB over every other machine because it is more user friendly? if yes, what do you mean by this exactly? could you please elaborate more.

adey (original poster)

#5: Post by adey (original poster) »

hi Jeff,
Thank you for reply.

y, I read 1500 topic thread. I got a feel that rancilio pro x is most reliable, good build quality machine for the money.

easy access to change of brew temperature and preinfusion is very nice to have because we mostly drink medium and medium light roast and change coffee frequently.

I think I would definite agree with you in regards to timer point.

As for the boiler capacity, sure I think my shots routine will not be quick, especially at the beginning, so you are right boiler size wouldn't limit the steaming capacity. It would take me at least 3-5 minutes per milk based drink.

Could you please explain why you would chose Lelit Elizabeth over Rancilio pro x or BDB?

Thanks again

Team HB

#6: Post by baldheadracing »

adey wrote: Did I understand you correctly that you would chose BDB over every other machine because it is more user friendly? if yes, what do you mean by this exactly? could you please elaborate more.
It has the most features, the most temperature stability, a technical design that isn't rooted in the 1970's, a group that wasn't optimized for the cheap cr*p coffee Italians drank in the 1950's and 1960's, a steam system that actually helps the inexperienced, a warranty that is actually usable, and, when out of warranty, a large number of users and available knowledge, with pretty much all faults identified over the years with straightforward inexpensive DIY fixes available, the possibility of some interesting mods, the possibility of 20% off the current $1600 price at Bed, Bath, and Beyond if you talk nicely, and Breville spent money spent on stuff you can't see like a PID electrically-heated group, and not on stuff that does nothing but add looks like a shiny stainless steel box.

While there is nothing wrong with a shiny stainless steel box, I don't want to pay for all that pretty metalwork in a $1500 machine. Machines in this price range have to make significant compromises, and to me, the Breville offers the least-objectionable set of compromises.

Just my opinion. I'm perhaps not the best to listen to as all my espresso machines were actually chosen based primarily on looks, e.g., in this price range I have an Elektra Micro Casa a Leva (1940's technology, no box at all, just an exposed boiler with an eagle perched on top).

Also, I am not sure if any of the machines could, say, handle an eight-person-plus dinner party - where you want to serve everyone at the same time. I suspect that they would be much more in their element serving two or four people.

Good to hear you have a Niche Zero.

Another viewpoint that I think is worth considering:
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

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Team HB

#7: Post by Jeff »

The Silvia Pro doesn't have any meaningful control over fill/soak. I don't care much about brand recognition and even if I did, the Silvia is a 30-year-old machine that happened to be cheap and easily modified, not some exceptional design of the era. I really dislike the drip tray on the Silvia Pro. A machine close to $2,000 shouldn't have things that would have been relatively easy to redesign that would annoy me every morning. It's yet another dual boiler with, for me and the light-roast espresso I make, nothing exceptional about it. That is for me, others may value things differently.

BDB wasn't on your list. I'd consider one after evaluating what the routine maintenance would be like for it. It was much more of a "slam dunk" when it was $1,200 MAP, with 20% off at BB&B. Now at $1,600, it is not quite as attractive, though still very competitive.

adey (original poster)

#8: Post by adey (original poster) »

All the good points!
Thank you for pointing me in a right direction!

adey (original poster)

#9: Post by adey (original poster) »

Thank you Jeff!
Feels like BDB is definitely one worth purchasing.

Team HB

#10: Post by baldheadracing »

Also, if you are considering the Breville and aren't in a rush, then Breville has run factory sales every year. Historically, there has been a fall sale and a spring sale, with the most savings with the fall sale, typically 20% off.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada