Recommendations for Mid Range Coffee Machine

Hey guys,

I'm thinking of buying a coffee machine and I'm really stumped about which to go for.

I originally went with "the Barista Express" (BES870BSS) since it had my wants of a grinder + wand, but there was a leaking problem from the first few coffees and the machine took very long to start in almost all aspects (I have previously used the Sunbeam Cafe Series Espresso Machine [EM7000] and everything about it performed better). I attribute this negative experience to a faulty product though.

I wanted to move on to the DeLonghi La Specialista Coffee Machine (EC9335M) but the reviews are fairly negative. I've looked at pretty much all the past deals and many people have not recommended it. I learnt a lot from the comparison video linked by a user on another OzB page and I learnt a fair bit about why from there, but I wanted to hear everyone's thoughts about which are some good ones to consider as an alternative.

What are your thoughts on the Barista Express by Breville and the Cafe Series Espresso Machine by Sunbeam? Is there another model altogether you'd rather recommend?

My overall budget would be under $1000. I've heard many people suggesting breaking the ceiling and going for the Dual Boiler + grinder, which I may consider as well but I have no idea what makes that one so appealing to many OzB users. For clarity, I don't have the EM7000 anymore as that machine was at my parent's house, which I have moved out of. Happy to consider buying it again for myself though if recommended.



  • +2

    Depends how good you want the coffee output to be, I have the dual boiler and I see nothing better under $3-4k grinder is a different story and is the main issue here, barista express grinder is ok for one or two coffees at a time but it will heat the beans up to the point where you’ll have consistency issues, I’d recommend doing a 2 hour barista course prior to even purchasing a machine and this will lean you in the right direction. I got the BDB and grinder for $1098 not long ago and at that price it’s a on awesome machine.

  • -1

    Import a huge machine that costs as much as your car from Italy, like every cafe believes they need to do.

    • +2

      You've never worked in a cafe…

      1. If you're turning over commercial quantities of coffee, then even an expensive machine from Harvey Norman won't cut it. Not enough capacity, not enough speed.

      2. Many coffee suppliers will lend/give you a commecial machine (or two or three) as part of your contract. I.e. there's on out-of-pocket costs for the business owner. Generally also includes grinders etc as well as maintenance free of charge.

      3. There are SO MANY places to buy coffee machines in Australia, they've done the importing work for you. Buy local and pay an Aussie instead.

      • Also the big machine is 50% advertising for your coffee business, 50% actually for making coffee.

        • Only sometimes though, and depends on the brand/coffee supplier.

          You might get one emblazoned with the logo and colour scheme that sticks out, or you might get 'whatever's in stock' if your machine dies and they can't be bothered matching the same model machine. I've seen the whole gamut of responses from our supplier due to a variety of causes over the years.

          • @Switchblade88: I meant advertising for the product itself - i.e "this place has an impressive looking machine, I'll get a coffee from here"

            • @xmail: True, but it's nowdays more a case of 'if it's not a full-size machine, then I'll pass.'

  • +3

    I bought a Breville Barista Touch in December for $1200 and its been one of the best investments Ive made. We love it! Couldnt be simpler to use, and the coffee's always turn out perfect, its foolproof.
    We even looked at the more expensive Oracle touch first, but the Barista touch has instant heating technology that makes it (practically) equivalent to the oracles dual boiling advantage.
    I know they have been had for <$1200 in the past so keep an eye out.

    • +1

      I would double this, used one and loved it- looks great as well.
      I currently have a oracle but not in the price range for your askings.

      You can even get a bambino plus + a grinder= 600-700 (~380 on commercial TGG)

      The reason for all these- they have auto frother.

    • Couldn't agree more to both comments.. We purchased a Breville Barista Pro last Jan just before Covid happened and it was and still is the best investment. We got ours on sale for $650 RRP is $850 I believe. It doesn't have a auto frother but its half the price of a touch and its not hard to learn.

      You won't regret having one..

    • @TheNewBargainer

      Is there such a thing as a manual coffee machine but with automatic cleaning? or is only automatic cleaning available on fully automatic coffee machines?

      How long does your Barista Touch take to heat up the water btw?

      also is it possible to tell when a coffee machine is going to die? i have an older model breville for a couple years now, looking to upgrade when mine dies

      • Is there such a thing as a manual coffee machine but with automatic cleaning?

        Im sorry, I don't know much about coffee machines (I went from a Nespresso to this Breville Barista Touch), but I know that this machine auto cleans the milk frother every time.

        How long does your Barista Touch take to heat up the water btw?

        I would say.. instant? at most about 2 seconds.

        also is it possible to tell when a coffee machine is going to die?

        Haha, I hope I never have to find out!

  • +4

    Try the Breville Bambino Plus with Smart Grinder. I’ve got the dual boiler which is great but it’s pretty expensive these days

  • +2

    Get a separate grinder. If you don’t mind hand grinding (how much coffee are you making?), then get a premium hand grinder (Comandante, 1Zpresso, something else).

    It has to be said, these mainstream brand machines tend to reach a point where they’re not repairable eventually. Say what you will about big, heavy Italian machines (or Spanish or German or…whatever), but the better ones are very repairable. It can be more work to pull a nice shot, but they can pull a very nice shot indeed. Cost is higher for a dual boiler, though you will find HX machines around used for under $1,500…maybe closer to $1,000, and they’ll last forever with maintenance.

    I had a Sunbeam for a bit, and it started to leak after a short period. I was after the Breville Dual Boiler for a while, but then eventually went for the very solid (but not overly larger) Rancilio Silvia. Would love a Rocket, but they are a little large…the Lelit MaraX is a possibility down the track (pricey in comparison with your Breville Dual Boiler machines, but not so much in the scheme of things).

    Each to their own though, and if you want a capable and easy setup, then it does indeed seem like the Breville Dual Boiler and grinder combo is a very popular choice. Despite your experience, I don’t think the Sunbeams are any better or worse, but Breville is at least an Aussie based company.

  • +3

    I recommend Rancilio Silvia and a separate grinder. The Silvia makes excellent coffee and has a very powerful steam wand.
    I'm using one that is 10 years old and it works well with no leaks. It needed a pump replacement at the five year mark.
    Parts availability is excellent.

    The Silvia is a step above the Sunbeam and Breville. I've previously owned the Sunbeam Cafe Series EM6910 (precursor to the EM7000). The Sunbeam pours a decent shot but doesn't have the temperature stability or the steam pressure of the Silvia.
    Another problem is the Sunbeam doesn't let you send water through the steam wand (only steam). This is a problem if you're descaling the machine, and you'll eventually end up with a blocked steam wand.

    • +1
      I have a Magister, it's a clone of the Sylvia.
      Makes significantly better coffee than the EM6910 that preceded it.

    • I'm currently looking at the Rancilio Silvia Pro or the LA MARZOCCO HOME LINEA MINI. I don't want to buy something cheap that ends up in landfill within 2 years. Would rather buy quality.

      Would you recommend the Silvia over the Linea Mini? Like is there that much of a difference for the extra 2k?

  • +1

    You're likely not going to find a magic bullet solution in this thread, primarily by virtue of your budget. You can certainly get an adequate low-tier espresso setup within that budget, but your task of doing it under budget AND better than a Barista Express is a really hard task.

    That's not to say the BBE is an amazing machine - it's not - but it certainly represents good value in an otherwise costly field.
    I don't own one, so can't speak for the issues you described above, but you may find that any replacement you get has its own idiosyncracies/faults.

    I haven't owned anything other than a breville dual boiler, so I'll put my formal vote down for that - reliable (in short term), warranty extension possible, quick, etc. It's a feature packed machine compared to the competitors under your budget. There are plenty of options though, you just have to bear in mind that the grinder is going to be your biggest problem (in my opinion) under that budget.

    The breville smart grinder is loved/hated - I hear people talking often about how they think its perfectly fine, and equally people saying it impairs their coffee on a daily basis due to inconsistency in espresso grinding. What can be said about it is that there is really no better solution at its pricepoint for new grinders.

    With the above in mind, my suggestions as possible options would be:
    1) Cheaper espresso machine (Bambino plus, or used italian machine(Gaggia classic/rancilio silvia) with Baratza Sette 30
    2) Breville dual boiler (hopefully a sale soon, else your 1k budget is blown already) with used good grinder (FB marketplace/gumtree)

    I personally went with option 2 because of the good reviews of the BDB and equally the poor reviews of cheap grinders. It cost me around 1k, but prices may have shifted since then courtesy of the pandemic. The Bambino I'm a little torn on - it gets some really good reviews as a budget machine which I have to trust given that I've never owned or used one, but I'll admit that I'm skeptical it would come close to the dual boilers ease of use or consistency. Happy to be proven wrong, but just allow me to express concern that if you had issues with a BBE, then maybe a cheaper machine is just not for you. The main selling point of a bambino or otherwise is being able to fit a sette in the budget, which I hear is good.

    If you hadn't mentioned your frustration over how long your BBE took to come online I would have pushed for a used silvia and sette, but all entry level italian machines (while beautiful) will be slow off the mark for milk drinks because of their single boiler. You've got plenty of options, but you may find they're not dramatically better than a BBE.

    Hope you find what appeals to you!

  • +1

    James Hoffman says "This is a fantastic way to make coffee. I've been a fan of this for a long time and I sometimes think it doesn't get the recognition it deserves."

    I've had all the machines and all the dramas - now I want an easy prep, a great coffee and easy cleanup. Enter the Clever Coffee Dripper + Smart Grinder Pro.

    If I was starting over, I would ditch all the machines and just do this. Makes a great coffee.

  • +1

    Dual Boiler is an excellent machine. Any second hand near you? I just sold a serviced Dual Boiler with Smart Grinder Pro for $650NZD

  • If you're after fast heat up you can't go pass a bambino plus for the $ range.

  • Thanks for all the recommendation and thoughts everyone, you have all been super helpful. At this point I'll probably be considering the BDB, Bambino Plus or Model Silvia, the last of which I haven't really heard about till now so I'll do my research there.

    I realise now that under $1000 doesn't really net you even a proper 'mid-range' machine (unless it's second hand) so I'll definitely weigh up what's best for myself.

    Many thanks again

  • breville dual boiler. get one used you wont be dissapointed

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