In the olden days of espresso machines, the barista would have to manually pump the machine in order to create enough pressure to pull a shot.
Baristas needed to be strong and big, and brewing an espresso shot required a lot of effort and was generally not preferred. Only the rich and elite of the society, who could afford to spend a lot of time and money on their coffee got to enjoy a shot of espresso.
But as technology advanced, so did coffee machines. In 1961, a coffee expert and genius, Carlo Ernesto Valente invented the famous FAEMA E61, which was a pump-driven machine that required no manual pumping.
This machine revolutionized the espresso market as espressos became easy to make, cheap and available to everyone who loved coffee. The motorized-pump design of the FAEMA E61 is still one of the most popular styles of espresso machines in use both in commercial settings and home use. These lines of machines started the trend of semi-automatic espresso machines.
Pros and Cons of Semi Automatic Espresso Machines
Advantages of Semi Automatic Espresso Machine
- More Control: Nothing is more exciting to a coffee lover than to tweak and control the coffee making process. The semi automatic espresso machines provide just that. With many different temperature control settings, adjustable time, as well as strength of the end product, the semi-automatic espresso machines are great for people who want full control over their brew, and don’t mind spending some extra time to ensure that the end product is exactly the way they want.
- Lets you measure out the right dose: The semi automatic espresso machine lets you program your own dose of coffee by giving you complete control of the water flow. Since the time factor and the speed of pressurized water is in your hands, you can measure out how much ever you would like, and there is no preset limitation on the dosage that goes into a cup. This gives you the opportunity to get creative and find the best customization that fits your liking.
- Relatively cost-efficient: When compared to super automatic or automatic espresso machines, the semi automatic espresso machines are far cheaper. They are also easier to install in your home, coffee shop or office space and are generally smaller in size.
- Versatility and variety in brewing: Most Semi-automatic espresso machines will let you brew not only espresso, but other beverages like tea, or even a Café Americano. This gives you a bang for your buck, since variety and versatility of brew is always a major plus point when considering a purchase of coffee machine.
Disadvantages of Semi Automatic Espresso Machines
- Time consuming: Semi-automatic espresso machines offer the user a lot of control. However, this means that the brewing process is very time consuming and can take a lot of effort. For people who are looking for a fast yet delicious brew, the semi automatic espresso machine might not be the one for you.
- Manual grind: Super automatic espresso machines come with a grinder that perfectly grinds the coffee beans to the required size for the machine. This means that more time is saved in the brewing process. Semi-automatic machines usually do not have this feature, and need you to grind the coffee beans and add them to the portafilter.
Top 12 Best Semi Automatic Espresso Machines
Considering all the above mentioned factors, let us now look at the Top 12 Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines available on the market!
Let us review the Features, Specifications and Pros&Cons of each of top semi automatic espresso machines listed above.
12. Capresso 303.01 4-Cup Espresso and Cappuccino machine
The Capresso 303.01 is, hands down, the best entry level semi automatic espresso machine that is available on the market. Its low price point and versatility in brewing make it a must get for people who do not want to invest too much, but still want to brew their own espresso. This machine is great for making Cappucinos as well, which makes it a great machine overall.
However, being an entry level machine, it does lack a few of the features that the higher end espresso machines may have. This machine lets you control the water flow, and comes with a safety boiler cap with a built-in valve. It also comes with a removable drip-tray, which makes it very easy to clean.
- Safety Boiler Cap: The safety boiler cap has a plus point on safety, and ensures that hot water or steam does not spew out.
- Swivel frother: the swivel frother has adjustable steam output, so the frothing can be controlled. The swivel frother can make sense or light froth based on the adjustment.
- Dishwasher safe Carafe: The carafe included with this product is safe to clean in a dishwasher. It is quite large and can hold multiple cups of espresso.
- Multi brew: You can brew cappuccinos, Americanos, as well as hot tea, making this an ideal machine for every situation.
This semi automatic espresso machine is not the best on the market. But considering the price, consistency, portability and versatility, this machine is a welcome addition to your coffee inventory, whether it is for an office or for a home setting.
11. De’Longhi America inc. EN750MB Lattisima Pro
The EN750MB Latisima pro utilizes the nespresso capsule system, which has a range of flavors for your espresso needs. This semi automatic espresso machine also has the Thermo block heating unit, which ensures that water is heated and steamed instantly.
The Carafe on the machine can hold a large amount of milk. It also ensures that no milk comes in contact with the machine itself, and the milk can be dispensed to your liking.
It also comes with a drip tray, which is very easy to clean in case of spillage. The water flow on this aching has 19 bars of pressure making this machine a great addition to your kitchen. It also has a very intuitive touch screen which is very easy to use. There are 6 preset options so you can make the best espresso that fits your taste.
- Separate milk carafe: The milk can be stored in a carafe, ideally refrigerated. It also dispenses just the right amount of milk and can be tweaked to make the coffee frothing to your taste.
- Nespresso Capsule System: This machine utilizes Nespresso’s capsule system. Simply pick a capsule from Nespresso’s range of flavorful pods and add it to the machine. Its as easy as that!
- Rapid heating: The machine uses a thermo block heating unit, which means that the water will heat up in seconds, saving you a lot of time.
- Large water container: The water container can hold up to 44oz of water.
- One touch function: This machine has a very easy to use touchscreen control panel, which comes with a one touch function to make it easy to brew your espresso.
This semi-automatic espresso maker is good for homes and office spaces as it is fairly easy to use. Cafes may also use this machine, but nespresso pods are very expensive, and you must keep that in mind before making the purchase.
10. KitchenAid KES0504OB espresso maker
KitchenAid is known for their diversification into manufacturing of many home appliances, which are reliable and simple. The KES0504OB is no exception.
It is a very elegant looking product, perhaps the best looking espresso maker on the market. It comes in black, red and silver colour variants, all of which look fantastic.
This semi automatic espresso machine uses the nespresso capsules, making usage convenient for people who are always on the move. The machine also has a milk frother which is simple and easy to use.
It has varying settings for serving sizes, and also has a variable brew strength control. This machine’s selling point is its simplicity and minimalism and its elegant design.
- Nespresso capsule system: The nespresso capsule system is very easy to use. Simply pop the capsule into the holder, and enjoy a world of flavors that come with the capsules
- Die-cast metal: The metal feels premium and solid, and makes the espresso-maker resistant and durable for a long time.
- Brew strength control: the machine gives ample control over the brew strength with its 6 levels of strength control.
- Quick heat: The water ca heat up in less than 30 seconds.
- Removable water tank: The removable water tank is easy to clean and dishwasher safe.
- Cup shelf: The cup shelf let you place your cup and can be folded in, making it a very practical design.
This is a great mid-range semi automatic espresso machine that is sure to make the espresso brewing experience easier and quicker. It is perfect for every situation, including offices, homes or cafe. The frother works like a charm, and the additional ergonomic features push it up to be one of the best machines on the market
9. Expobar Lever semi automatic espresso machine
The Expobar lever is one of the most trusted espresso makers, used by Baristas all over the world who can attest to its reliability. This machine is all stainless steel, making it shiny and durable for longer periods of time. It has a large 12oz water boiler made of brass. It also allows you to brew multiple shots with a very tiny recovery time.
It uses the Heat Exchange Boiler system, which means that the wait for hot steam is over as this machine can do it almost instantaneously. It also has a thermal siphon for maximum temperature stability, which makes this machine a commercial grade espresso maker.
- Steam wand and hot water dispensing wand: These can be adjusted and moved laterally which makes access to it easy and hassle free. They are on either ends of the front side machine, which ensures that they are intuitive to use.
- Commercial grade heating unit: The machine has a heat exchange boiler, which heats up the water almost instantly and can be used for the steam.
- Thermal Siphon and Pre-Infusion: The thermal siphon on this machine ensures temperature stability, which means that flavor of the coffee is more consistent and rich.
- Stainless Steel body: The body is made of stainless steel, which means that the machine is more durable and resistant to dust and rusting.
When it comes to Cafes, this semi automatic espresso machine is probably the best on the list. However, this is not an ideal machine for home and office use as it is quite large, easy to use and loud. It is also extremely expensive, making it impractical for anything but a cafe. If you are willing to look past that, this machine will deliver you a great espresso.
8. Nuova Simonelli Oscar II
The Oscar II can be spotted in restaurants, cafes and coffee clubs all over the world. It creates great espresso. It has the durability and speed of the Espobar and can make multiple strengths and serving sizes of coffee. It has a solenoid valve inside it which ensures that there is not too much pressure building up in the machine.
It also has the auto fill feature, which is a great addition to safety as well as convenience. This semi automatic espresso machine’s drip train comes with a slot for attaching a draining pipe that ensures that the drip from the tray can be cleared out instantly.
- Auto fill: The auto fill feature ensures that if hot water is too low, it is filled automatically. If the hot water is completely over or the source is cut off, the machine turns off immediately.
- Steel frame with ABS plastic: The ABS plastic exterior of the steel frame makes sure that the machine stays durable for a long time. ABS plastic is certified and can withstand a lot of damage.
- Punch-out disk for the drip tray: This allows a drain pipe to be hooked up to the drip tray, making sure that cleaning is completely hassle-free and easy.
- Large storage: The water tank can hold up to 23 L.
- Strength Control: This machine provides strength control and also lets you vary the serving size.
- Pressure and heat stability: The solenoid valve ensures that pressure stability is maintained, and the thermal control on the machine is excellent.
This semi automatic espresso machine is quite large and heavy, weighing almost 40lbs. It can, however, brew a great cup of espresso and is consistent in flavor due to the stability provided by the machine. It Also has large capacity, making it perfect for cafes, but not so much for offices and homes.
7. Breville BES840BSXL
The Breville brand name is famous for its espresso and coffee machines. They make durable and reliable machines that never compromise on flavor and quality.
The BES840BSXL is extremely easy to use and can brew professional-tasting espressos in an instant. This machine is one of the most common machines found in cafes and homes in America.
This semi automatic espresso maker has 4 buttons which control serving size and strength, power up the machine and program it.
It uses the pre-infusion technology which ensures that most is made out of your coffee beans. It also means that the coffee is more flavorful and consistent. It has the auto page function which adjusts the water temperature automatically
- Pre-Infusion technology: The pre-infusion technology uses low water pressure in the beginning of the brew to ensure that the grinds are expanded for an even extraction.
- Auto-purge function: The machine auto-adjusts the water temperature in order to fully make sure that the water temperature is exactly where it needs to be.
- Removable drip tray: The removable drip tray is easy to clean and can be washed in a dishwasher.
- Strength control: The machine lets you control the exact strength of your espresso shot. This adds a point to the machine’s customizability.
- Maintenance indicator: It also has a maintenance indicator, which will flash and let you know that the machine needs cleaning.
- Control over volume: You can control the amount of coffee that you want to brew.
- Additional features: This machine comes with coffee scoops, filter baskets, cleaning tool, stainless steel jugs, cleaning disk and water filter holder.
This semi automatic espresso machine is yet another great mid-range product that incorporates a lot of great features. It makes for a perfect home or office machine as it is reasonably sized and not too heavy or large. It has great value for money as the list of features offered is stellar.
6. La Pavoni PA-1200 Stainless Steel Espresso Machine
This is an Italian-made espresso machine that makes one of the best cups of espressos consistently and conveniently. It comes with three buttons: one for power, one for steam and one for coffee.
It has a standard looking design, but has a large base which can hold more drippings on its drip tray.
The semi automatic espresso machine comes with a Burr grinder, which is usually not found on semi-automatic espresso makers.
It has a 100oz water reservoir which is a lot of water capacity, ensuring that you don’t have to refill the machine too often. It can be used for commercial purposes as it has a coiled solenoid, heat stability as well as pre-infusion technologies.
- Conical grinder and coffee press: the grinder on this machine is superb. It grinds the coffee finely, and just perfectly for making espressos.
- Pressure gauge: It comes with an in-built pressure gauge, which lets you know the exact bars of pressure on the machine used for steaming.
- 18/8 stainless steel: The PA-1200 uses the best in class stainless steel to make sure that the product is scratch resistant and lasts for a long time.
- Large water reservoir: It has a 100 oz water reservoir which is ideal for making numerous cups of espresso in a short duration of time.
- Removable drip tray: The drip tray can be removed and is dishwasher safe.
- Temperature stability: The machine has a consistent stability of temperature which ensures that the coffee too is consistent and flavorful.
- Pre-infusion: The pre infusion uses low pressure in the beginning so that the coffee extraction is even, ensuring the maximum use of the coffee grinds.
- Strength control: The machine also offers customizability in terms of strength of coffee.
This machine is notoriously hard to clean and maintain, and may be prone to faulty behavior if not cleaned properly. However, the quality of espresso that it brews is unparalleled. It has one of the quickest buffer periods between brews, and can brew numerous cups of coffee.
This semi-automatic espresso machine is an all-rounder. It has a robust set of features and is reasonably sized, making it perfect for homes, offices or cafes.
5. 2017 Quick Mill Silvano Evo Semi-Automatic espresso machine
The Evo is a product that is sure to meet your expectations, and then some! It is made in Italy, and is used by Baristas of some of the top cafes of the world. The Evo uses the PID, or Proportional-Integral-Derivate control technology, to control the temperature with mathematical precision.
This semi automatic espresso machine ensures that the coffee is more consistent in flavor than any other machine on this list.
The flavor quality of the espresso is just superb. It also has the Klixon thermal fuse for overheat protection, which adds a point to safety. It has a 0.7 liter coffee boiler capacity.
It also has programmable temperature which is maintained accurately through the PID technology. It also has a cup warming tray so that the flavors of the coffee are not lost when transferred into the cup.
- Water reservoir: The machine has a 2L water reservoir and 0.7l boiler capacity.
- 2 vibratory pumps: The pumps ensure that the water is pumped out evenly so as to minimize wastage and make sure that the water is evenly distributed.
- Thermal fuse: This machine cannot overheat and damage the constituents as the thermal fuse built into it shuts off the power to it immediately.
- PID control: The PID control system lets you accurately set the temperature and maintain it for a consistent coffee brewing experience.
- Cup warming tray: The cup warming tray is useful, as when hot coffee is transferred to a cold cup, it can destroy a lot of the flavor. This feature ensures that maximum flavor is retained.
- Removable drip tray: The removable drip tray makes it easy to clean the drippings, and is also dishwasher safe.
4. Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino
The Cafe Barista is a very unique coffee maker. It is the most versatile, the easiest to use and the cheapest machine on this list. It is very compact too, and can fit just about anywhere.
This machine is an espresso maker and can also brew lattes and cappuccinos with just the touch of a button. The utility of the single touch function cannot be emphasized enough. Selection of beverages, strength and size are all customizable.
This semi automatic espresso machine is by far the most affordable machine on this list. It has a milk container that can adjust the amount of milk dispensed for cappuccinos or lattes.
It also has an automatic frother that works according to the chosen setting. The machine also lets you make single or double servings again, with just the touch of a button. It uses a 15 bar pump system.
- Programmable clean cycle: You can program the machine to clean itself periodically. This saves you both time and effort, and is a very convenient feature.
- Versatile brew: Versatility in brew, including the option to brew lattes and cappuccinos, as well as Americanos and other beverages.
- Automatic Frother: The automatic fritter ensures that you never have to guess the right setting. It adjusts itself according to the setting of the machine.
- One touch function: The one touch function is very useful, as it eliminates a lot of confusion and makes the machine very easy to use.
- Automatic and manual mode: Automatic mode lets you brew the coffee according to the presets of the machine. One the other hand, Manual ode gave you full control on the brewing process.
- Programmable self-clean: the self-clean feature lets you set a time and date for cleaning, and does so automatically following a reminder.
This semi-automatic espresso machine is great for all purposes. It is available for extremely low price and has a ton of features that even a lot of high end machines do not.
The Cafe Barista also offers versatility seldom seen in espresso makers. It is definitely a surprisingly good machine, with an easy to use one-touch interface. Therefore, this coffeemaker is simply perfect for home use, office use as well as at a cafe. This is the best budget espresso maker on the market.
3. Gaggia R19380 Classic pro
The R19380 is on every Baristas top 5 list of the greatest espresso machines. It is the whole package: Commercial grade quality at a moderate price range, with a great set of features that keep you coming back for more!
The Gaggia brand is known to make the best espressos out there, and that is the reason why the machine is so popular in Cafes not just in the USA, but around the world.
The semi automatic espresso machine itself is very easy to use, and has a ton of features. It has a commercially fitted and tested steam wand that can be moved around laterally.
It also has a three-way solenoid valve that ensures stability in pressure and temperature. It has a chrome-plated brew group which can withstand high temperatures and is very durable.
- Commercial steam wand: The machine is fitted with the best quality steam wand available in the world. It is stainless steel and is very durable.
- Commercial grade portafilter: The portafilter is 58mm and chrome plated, and has the same quality to that of any commercial grade, expensive machine.
- Quick Heat: Water can heat up in less than 30 seconds for steaming, and the boiler is ready to use in less than 5 minutes.
- Very easy to use: The machine has only three switches, one for power, one for brewing and one for steam. This eliminates a lot of the confusion in making espressos and is great for people who are always in a hurry!
- Three-way Solenoid valve: The solenoid valve ensures that the pressure is relieved off the coffee, and also ensures stability so that the coffee puck can be discarded easily since it stays dry.
This semi-automatic espresso machine is for espresso lovers only. Gaggia is known for their espresso machines for this simple reason: They make darn good espressos! For the quality offered, the price is modest, and any espresso lover should invest in this machine. It is perfect for all places and occasions, including offices, cafes and your homes.
2. Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine
This semi automatic espresso machine improves on the already great and unique features of the BES840BSXL. The innovative technologies implemented in this machine make this one of the best espresso machines on the market.
The dual boiler technology simultaneously pulls a shot as well as steams the espresso. It also offers a lot of control over the shot extraction, and comes with an easy to use LCD display.
The BES920XL has the PID temperature control feature to ensure that the temperature can be tweaked, and stays stable with mathematical precision. The LCD display also shows the shot clock as well as time on a 24 hr clock.
It has a sturdy stainless steel body that is resistant to damage and is durable. It also comes with a pressure gauge that reads the exact pressure in bars.
- Over Pressure valve: The over pressure valve limits extraction pressure, which ensures that the coffee puck remains dry, and that most of the flavor of the coffee is extracted. It also maintains the pressure.
- Dual stainless steel boilers: The stainless steel boilers on this machine let both pulling as well as steaming of coffee happen simultaneously, which saves a lot of your time and is generally more efficient.
- LCD display: The LCD display is easy to use and is very responsive. It seldom lags, and has a clock.
- PID Control: The PID control lets you set the temperature, and the machine then maintains that temperature accurately. This ensures that the espresso tastes consistent and superb.
- Shot control: The machine offers shot control: double or single, which lets you control the strength and quantity of coffee.
- Additional features: These include water hardness test strip, descale alert and LCD assisted descaling procedure.
This semi-automatic espresso machine is great for all purposes, and is one of the best espresso machines available. It can be used anywhere, and has a lot of great features. There is a reason why Baristas around the world trust Breville. And the BES920XL is one of the best products by Breville.
Although the price is on the higher side, it is justified for the level of engineering and effort that has gone into the list of features.
1. Gaggia 14101 Classic Semi-Automatic Espresso Maker
The Gaggia 14101 is the ultimate espresso maker. It has all of the features that are useful, and has removed all features that are redundant.
It has only the best features out of the best coffee machines to deliver a solid coffee brewing experience. It uses commercial grade equipment that never gets faulty. And even if it does, it is very easy to replace.
The body is made of brushed stainless steel, which makes it scratch resistant and durable for a very long time. The body is elegant to look at, and fits in anywhere.
It has a three-way solenoid, a chrome-plated port filter and a lot of other amazing features that have been taken from the Classic pro. This coffee machine also has shot control, PID control and a commercial grade wand.
- Three-way solenoid valve: The solenoid valve ensures that the pressure is maintained, and the coffee puck comes out dry to avoid mess.
- Turbo Frother steam wand: The turbo frother steam wand is easy to use and extremely quick
- Commercial grade 58mm portafilter: The portafilter is made up of chrome-plated brass, which ensures longevity and resistance to heat.
- Heavy duty build quality: The machine has a heavy duty build quality that can take a lot of damage and resistance.
- Fast heating: Boiler takes about 5 minutes to heat up, and the steam is ready in less then 20 seconds. This is faster than any other machine on this list.
- Three switches: The switches are easy to use and very snappy.
This semi automatic espresso machine, as mentioned before, is the ultimate espresso machine. It delivers on so may fronts, and is reliable and consistent. It has a great set of features, and the machine itself is long lasting, making it a one-time investment. It is great for office use, home use and cafe use.
Buyer Guide : Critical factors to be considered while buying a Semi Automatic Espresso Machine
1. Taste :
The taste of the espresso can vary from machine to machine. This is because of the different engineering of the machines, which can impact the flavor of the coffee itself quite drastically, regardless of if you use the same coffee powder.
In order to figure out the exact flavor profile you are looking for, you should ideally try the machine’s coffee before purchase. However, we know that that can sometimes be difficult. So a thorough research into the flavor that the machine gives is very important.
2. Nespresso pods:
You should also look into whether the machine accepts only nespresso pods, or both nespresso pods as well as grinds. Since Nespresso pods can be really expensive, they are not ideal for people who want to use their own grinds.
Nespresso pods come in a variety of flavors, but can cost upwards of $35. Therefore, it becomes very important to consider if you want to use the pods exclusively, or use your own grinds.
3. Place of installation:
Most commercial grade espresso machines require a connection to the water channel of a building. This is necessary as commercial grade machines hold a lot of water and may need to periodically refill it.
Connection to a water outlet then becomes necessary. Some machines also utilize a lot of power, as building high pressure steam utilizes a lot of wattage.
That is why, you as a buyer must ask yourself the reason for the purchase. If it is for a cafe, it most likely has access to water channels. This can be problematic for office spaces and homes, however, so do keep this in mind.
You must also ask yourself whether you want just espressos or other drinks as well. Most higher end espresso machines do not really provide any options to brew other drinks, and this can be limiting to some people who do not want to chug only espressos every morning before work. It then becomes important to look at versatility as an aspect of your purchase.
Some espresso machines do provide the option to make lattes and cappuccinos, and these machines might work for you.
Price is yet another important factor to consider, more carefully so for espresso machines since they tend to be really expensive. Espresso machines use very intricate engineering and require a lot of effort and labor to make. That is why they are very expensive.
Some machines can be upwards of $3000, whereas some machines are around $300. So, price must be considered. But bear in mind, a dip in price usually means a dip in quality of espresso.
Lastly, time is a very important factor to be considered. Since making an espresso requires pressurized steaming and boiling of water, it can take a long time to make a cup.
If you are a person who needs the espresso for you morning caffeine boost, you are not likely to want to wait around patiently for the coffee to brew. That is why time becomes important. Some variants of Gaggia and Breville offer a steam time of less than 20 seconds.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) How long does it take for a semi-automatic espresso machine to warm up?
Answer: Generally, espresso machines need to be left on for at least 20 minutes in order to reach the bare minimum temperature to start the brewing process. Ideally, the machine should be left on for at least 30-35 minutes in order to get the best results. However, machines from Rocket, Breville and Gaggia have worked on innovations that have reduced the minimum time to about 12 minutes.
2) How to tell when a shot of espresso is ready to pull?
Answer: You should always time your espresso shots. The ideal time is about 20-30 seconds. It also depends on how fine or course your grind is, and finer grinds may need even lesser time. The shot must have a golden head with a black, rich and frothy body.
3) What is the pressure that an espresso machine exerts:
Answer: The pressure varies from 12-15 bars to 19-20 bars.
4) How difficult is it to use a semi-automatic espresso machine?
Answer: For machines that are not commercial grade, not difficult at all. It is all about timing your shot, which you will get better at eventually. It is all about perfecting the flavor and texture to your liking.
Semi automatic espresso machines are great for people who want a good espresso every morning, or baristas who enjoy brewing a cup of espresso. It can be startling to new comers as it needs a lot of research into the critical factors of purchasing a machine in order to figure out which machine is the right fit for you. Since they are very expensive, purchasing them requires thought since it is most likely a one-time purchase. We hope that this list is helpful in doing so!