Waking up to a cup of coffee is a routine for most people. Highly concentrated with caffeine, it provides the right boost to get your day on the way.
Coffee makers have been in the market for quite a while, but as the days go by, people want cafe-like servings at home.
If you relate to that, we’re here to help you ditch the coffee-maker and invest in a semi-automatic espresso machine.
So today, we will be looking into our top picks for the best semi automatic espresso machine. Included alongside our carefully researched reviews is a comprehensive buying guide that will help you choose the one that suits your needs best.
What to Look Before Buying the Best Semi Automatic Espresso Machine?
With so many different options to choose from, how do you determine which espresso machine is right for you? Below are some criteria that will ease your decision-making process.
Semi-automatic espresso machines come in a combination of metal and plastic. When you begin to move up the price chart, you will notice more units made of stainless steel than any other material. This is mainly because steel lasts longer and can withstand corrosion better.
It is important to take the usage frequency into consideration when deciding on the build material. For a coffee person who sharpens their barista skills on adaily, a steel build will be easier to clean and last longer. But if you look for an occasion to showcase your skills, other materials should suit you fine.
Once you start going through our reviews for the best semi-automatic coffee machine, you’ll notice the variety of shapes and sizes they come in. But before choosing the right espresso machine, you will need to take a close look at the space available.
Once you have a good idea of how much space the machine can occupy, you can choose accordingly. If you’re living in studio apartments or have a small kitchen, choose a compact machine that doesn’t compromise on power.
Grinding your coffee roast is one of the key steps to making a good espresso. Only a few semi-automatic espresso machines come with an in-built grinder. For those that don’t, there is nothing to worry about as the market is swarming with third-party grinders.
Alternatively, you can use pre-ground coffee, but it will hardly have a rich taste like the freshly grounded ones. We advise you to save and invest in a conical burr grinder to obtain the best results.
There is no point in investing hundreds of dollars on a machine that you can’t push to the limits.
If you’re familiar with all the ins and outs of a cafe-like espresso machine, then you should go for one that is most versatile. These machines usually have multiple adjustment dials and knobs to give you full control of your espresso shot taste.
However, this can be pretty confusing to beginners. Simpler espresso machines with an easy-to-use design should be perfect in such cases. They don’t require much adjusting,just a few clicks of the button, and you’re good to go.
Okay, let’s be real, an espresso machine will have a higher price tag than your regular coffee maker. The extra features and control you get towards refining your espresso taste do come at a good price. The budget 1000 is enough for an espresso machine.
If you’ve got cash to burn, try to opt for something with a sturdy build, preferably stainless steel. Also, make sure you get full control of adjusting the grinding and tamping settings.
The market is also filled with a wide range of affordable espresso machines too! Some high-quality machines come incompact sizes but provide good competition to the larger counterparts. Make sure you check out which features to prioritize in order to make the right choice.
Why Buy a Semi Automatic Espresso Machine?
Let’s get into the reasons you may want to purchase a semi automatic espresso machine.
Brew Multiple Drinks
The most core benefit the semi automatic espresso machine provides is the ability to brew a wide range of drinks. Depending on your mood, you can brew Americano, Cappuccino, or even your favorite Latte! The possibilities are endless.
In a semi-automatic machine, a lot of the functionalities are automatic. This reduces any extra work you might have to do to get a good cup of coffee. Automated features also tend to save time when you find yourself rushing out in the morning.
Controlled Extraction Time
While it’s true that most of the processes are automated, the extraction time is one aspect you have control over. If you have a good idea about how coffee beans work, you’ll know that the extraction time affects the flavor of your cup.
Therefore, having full control of the extraction gives you adeciding hand on the strength of flavors in your coffee.
Barista Skill Sharpening
With continuous practice, you will find yourself refining your barista skills significantly. As the semi-automatic appliance gives you more control over the brewing and steaming process, you are able to gain a better understanding of what works best.
Detailed Comparison Table
|Name||Build Material||Quick Heating Capabilities||Includes Milk Frother|
|Breville BES870XL||Stainless Steel||Within 1 minute||Steam wand for microfoaming|
|Gaggia RI9380/46||Brushed Stainless Steel||Steam in 30 seconds and brews in 5 minutes||Commercial wand for frothing|
|De’Longhi EC9335M||Stainless Steel||1-second quick start||Advanced latte system for 2 types of frothing|
|Breville BES878BSS||Stainless Steel||Under 1 minute||Manual Microfoam texturing wand|
|Nespresso EN85BAE||Plastic with steel components||Under 30 seconds||Includes Aeroccino 3 milk frother|
|Mr. Coffee BVMC-ECMP1000-RB||Stainless Steel||Not mentioned||Automatic Milk frother|
|EspressoWorks AEW1000||Stainless Steel||Under 45 seconds||Built-in steam wand|
7 Best Semi Automatic Espresso Machine Reviews
After analyzing some of the top products in the market, we have handpicked our 7 best espresso machines for you. Let’s get right to it!
1. Breville BES870XL Barista Express
To start off our list, we have the Barista Express BES870XL from Breville. Stirring up quite the commotion in the market, this semi automatic espresso machine is fun, versatile, and easy to use.
Looking into the design, Brevillehas done an amazing job by placing the right buttons in the right areas. The overall design of the machine is convenient, and none of the aspects seem to invade one another.
Its steam wand is adjustable so it can be moved away from the appliance whenever you need to steam some milk. Also, a detachable tamper gives us control over the pressure when pressing the espresso roasts.
Moving on, we noticed the dispensing speed of the Barista Express was quite extraordinary. If you start from the very bottom (grinding) and work your way upwards through tamping and extracting, you could get two shots of Espresso within 2-3 minutes.
We noticed that the machine was very consistent too. Each of the shots of Espresso,when used with the same settings, came out exactly the same.
With any home appliance, cleaning can be a tedious task. But don’t you worry because the guys over at Breville have taken that into account. The Barista Express features an easy cleaning mechanism, but it must be cleaned after every use.
Simply clean the portafilter to prevent oil deposits from the grounds and then wipe the steam wand. Then, you want to place an empty filter basket and run the machine to clear out any coffee residues.
- High-quality performance and consistency
- Fully customizable settings
- Convenient and easy to use design
- Manual Microfoam milk texturing allows you to create latte art
- Grinder can grind on demand to give you freshly roasted coffee
- Needs to be cleaned after every use
- Can take some time to get used to
2.Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Semi-Automatic
If you’re on the lookout for an espresso machine that takes a minimal amount of space, then this is it. The Gaggia Classic Pro is a one-of-a-kind coffee maker with a set of exceptional features that set it apart from the rest.
The adjustable steam wand is perfect for frothing and steaming milk. With the optimum pressure, you will be able to fully adjust the level of steaming in your milk. Using the adjustable controls, you can produce microfoam for any sort of latte art.
Within the machine is a high-quality filter basket that ensures quality and rich taste. Every Espresso roast you use goes through the pressurized basket to give you a consistently thick taste. You can also pair your own grinder with the commercial filter basket for store-quality espresso.
Time is of the essence wherever you go. The Gaggia Classic Pro values your time and gives you fast shots of coffee within minutes. Featuring a fast heat-up system, the boiler gets ready to brew in almost 5 minutes! This is perfect for those who are in a rush most of the time but cannot compromise on the taste of their coffee.
Moreover, Gaggia has changed up the control panel on the body of the machine to complement its minimal aesthetics. With three simple controls for power, brewing, and steaming, the Gaggia Pro is probably one of the easiest-to-use appliances around.
Small indicator lights below each of the switches act as indicators for when the machine is ready for each stage.
- Affordable yet long-lasting
- Compact design takes up less space
- Commercial grade build ensures high performance
- Fast heating system reduces wait time
- High-quality stainless steel build
- Uses up a lot of power (1450 watts)
- Doesn’t provide total control like other machines
3. De’Longhi EC9335M La Specialista Semi-Automatic
This next semi-automatic espresso machine is all about precision and control. The La Specialista from De’Longhi features tons of multi-layered controls that allow you to continuously sharpen your barista skills at home!
On the side of the unit is a strategically placed Smart Tamping Station Lever. When it comes to precision, the lever will exert as much pressure as you put into it.
Therefore, with each shot of Espresso, you are in total control of the pressure put in by the tamping lever. Also, the appliance doesn’t require you to remove the portafilter, which makes the operation hassle-free.
What amuses us about this specific semi automatic espresso machine is its quick startup mechanism. Advertised as the 1-second quick start feature, this unit is instantly ready to brew shots at the press of a button. We don’t know how they did it, but removing additional heating time has given this machine an edge over the others.
The La Specialista comes with an advanced latte system that lets you choose the froth style. Whether you want microfoam for your coffee art or a rich foam for cappuccinos, this unit will do it all. The function is easy to use, and the design makes it easy to create latte art.
- Very quiet when running
- Stainless steel build ensures longevity
- Automatic power settings for the steam wand
- Grinder features two different sensors
- Reduced wait times due to quick heating
- More on the expensive side
- Occupies a large kitchen space
- Grinding setting can only be changed after making 5 shots
4. Breville BES878BSS Barista Pro
When it comes to making professional quality espresso shots, you can’t do better than Breville. The Barista Pro is an upgrade from the previously mentioned Express model. Packed with advanced features and a stainless steel build, this will undoubtedly leave its competitors in the dust.
Starting off, we need to applaud Brevilleforitsability to make top-notch burr grinders.
With their signature Smart Grinder Pro, you will be able to alter your settings based on each different roast. This gives you enhanced control over the taste of your shot. The Smart Grinder is the ideal companion to beginners who are learning to balance the tamping and grinding settings.
What’s more, the Barista Pro is equipped with the same top-notch tamper you find in the Express model. Placed in a corner on its own separate station, the tamper is compact and convenient to use.
Almost all of Breville’s appliances come with a leveling tool that allows you to tamper with exact quantities. This is important when you want to maintain consistency in terms of flavor.
The LCD display gives you valuable information regarding your brewing status that helps you act accordingly.
With an in-built timer mechanism, your shots are timed to give you an idea of how you should alter your grinds. This timing feature allows you to manipulate the grinding and tamping process to find the right balance of flavors.
- Quick heat-up time for fast service
- Perfect system for beginners
- Takes up less space on countertops
- Innovative wand design makes latte art easy
- LCD display to show timer and other valuable information
- Comes with an expensive price tag
- Grinder tends to create noises when running
5. Nespresso Essenza Mini EN85BAE
Compact and economic are two of the best phrases to sum up the Nespresso Essenza by De’Longhi. Don’t underestimate it based on its size because the powerful espresso machine will prove you wrong.
While the appliance focuses mainly on easy-to-use operations with less adjustability, the resulting Espresso shot always turns out great.
To kick things off, let’s talk about the one-touch controls of this machine. There are no adjustable grinder or tamping settings; instead, you just insert a capsule, pick your desired setting, and boom- you’re all set! While it is true that the device is limiting your choices, this can be seen as the ideal machine for beginners.
The Nespresso allows you to make custom adjustments to the settings. This acts like a preset which can be altered according to your need. And so, when you’re rushing out to work, you can just press the button for your desired setting and go.
Furthermore, the entire device is programmed to maximize efficiency and save time. Once you turn the machine on, it will take a maximum of 30 seconds to brew. The minimized wait time gives you a quick rush of caffeine whenever you need it.
In addition, De’Longhi has built within the machine an eco-friendly mode that saves energy whenever it can.
For instance, when you forget to turn the machine off after use, it will shut itself down after nine minutes. Also, there is a dedicated eco-mode that keeps the power consumption to a minimum. These features are necessary now that global warming is at an all-time rise.
- Fast heating takes only 30 seconds
- Eco-friendly modes save power
- Programmable presets allow customization
- Compact size takes up less space
- Easy one-touch operation
- Doesn’t allow many adjustments to grind and tamping
- Capacity is lower than most others
6. Mr. Coffee BVMC-ECMP1000-RB Café Barista
Mr. Coffee has been in the brewing industry since the late 70s. Their experience shows when you look at the design of their machines. The robust machine will have you brewing coffee quick and easy.
This isn’t really just an Espresso machine; instead, it doubles as a cappuccino maker as well. Or better yet, add some milk and make yourself a latte. There is no end to experimentation with the flavors with the Cafe Barista. Also, the one-touch front panel gives you instant access to all the adjustable settings.
Moving on, The Cafe Barista features an automatic milk frother for exploring your inner coffee artist. The machine is equipped with removal tanks for both milk and water. This allows for quick refilling while also making the tanks easy to clean.
Speaking of easy to clean, the people at Mr. Coffee thought of the troublesome task of cleaning your tank and built-in an automatic system. Using the controls, you can set up a cycle to clean out all the excess mess and get the machine ready for brewing again. This lowers the maintenance requirements for the machine and keeps it going for long years to come.
If you’re a beginner with a tight budget, you can’t get any better than this. Featuring a 15-bar pump system and a sturdy build, you can make consistent cups in large quantities.
This makes it ideal for showcasing your barista skills inthe comfort of your home. However, we do need to inform you to keep aside some money for a third-party grinder.
- Sturdy build ensures durability
- Automatic cleaning cycle makes it low maintenance
- Easy to use controls
- Removable water and milk tank
- 3-in-1 functionalities make it versatile
- Can be noisy for a quiet room
- Doesn’t offer much flexibility on the milk finish
7. EspressoWorks AEW1000 7 Pc All-In-One
Finishing off the list, we have the ultimate All-in-one espresso machine. This is only an option for passionate baristas that want to recreate all the drinks from your local cafe. The 7pc Barista Bundle from EspressoWorks is truly in its own class.
First things first, let’s break down what we mean by 7 piece bundle. Along with your semi-automatic espresso machine, you will be receiving a bean grinder, frothing cup, portafilter, tamper, and two cups—anything and everything you need in order to go from bean to shot come packed in the bundle.
What’s more, the espresso machine comes with dual portafilter baskets that give you the option of making single and double espresso shots. Whenever you’re feeling extra drowsy, just take a double shot inside your americano and kick start your day with a rush.
One of the great things EspressoWorks have done with the design is the water tank bar on the unit. Now you can easily monitor water levels without having to open the tank to check.
This omits the guessing game most people have to play with other models. You can also remove the water tank quite easily. This makes it convenient when you need to clean out the residue.
What we love about this bundle is its high-quality build. Each of the accessories you get ismade of top-quality materials that ensure long years of service. The machine body itself is constructed of stainless steel. This enhances the durability and also lasts longer than any plastic or steel combination you’ll find.
- Front water bar display for monitoring water levels
- Easily removable water tank makes it convenient to clean
- Heats up quickly within 45 seconds
- Bundle pack comes with other accessories
- Has the option of double and single shot
- The heating mechanism tends to wear out
- Can be difficult to produce consistent shots
Espresso Machine vs. Coffee Maker
It must be clear to everyone that each machine has a different set of processes for making coffee. Although the base ingredient, which is the coffee bean, remains the same, a little change here and there can make the whole experience drastically different.
The bean types we use in an espresso machine are quite different from the ones used in a coffee maker. For instance, espresso roasts have a higher caffeine concentration and are darker in color. This makes them ideal for mixing with milk and other ingredients for lattes.
The texture of the grinded beans for an espresso machine isvery fine (almost like powder). This allows the high-pressure water to move through the beans and absorb as much flavor as possible.
The coffee maker, on the other hand, has a thicker texture. The thickness helps the water take in the caffeine at a slower rate to give a rich taste.
As the espresso machine uses a fine grind, brewing it is a matter of only 30 seconds. In contrast, the coffee maker takes upto 8 to 10 minutes of brewing before it can produce a good cup of coffee.
As mentioned before, the regular coffee machine will slowly drop water into the coarsely grinded beans and allow the water to soak in the flavors in its own time.
The pressure of the water varies in the espresso machine because of its high-pressure nozzle. It forces water through the beans at high pressure, resulting in a quicker service time.
When it comes to using an espresso machine, there is a wide range of drinks you can brew. Using shots of Espresso, the addition of water or milk will allow you to create cafe-like drinks such as Americano or Cappuccino.
The coffee maker is limited in terms of versatility as it comes with only 1 setting. Once the coffee is poured, you can add milk or water, but it won’t create the texture you get in your local cafe.
Benefits of Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine
Still not sure whether you really need a semi-automatic espresso machine? That’s understandable; they’re relatively more expensive, and in most cases,you’ll have to learn how to operate them. But it’s an investment you won’t regret. Here’s why.
Saves Time and Effort
If you’ve ever used a manual (or less automated) espresso machine, you know that much of the work has to be done by you. And given our busy schedules, it seems completely unrealistic to spend that much time creating espresso shots.
But with a semi-automatic machine to do the grinding, tamping, brewing (and sometimes even steaming) for you, you don’t have to go to the trouble of grinding your own beans, measuring grounds into the portafilter, or securing the portafilter.
What’s more, you don’t have to heat the water yourself. With that much time and effort being saved, you can have your Espresso and drink it too.
Easier to Get the Perfect Shot
When compared to superautomatic machines, a semi-automatic machine actually makes the possibility of getting the perfect Espresso shot more likely. This is because, with a semi-automatic machine, the water flow is more in your control.
Not only are you able to program the timing of the final phase of the extraction, but you also have the option to lengthen the pump’s operation if you want more time to get the shot right.
Greater Control Compared to Super Automatic Machines
Undoubtedly, if you have the budget for it, it makes more sense to go for a superautomatic espresso machine rather than a semi-automatic one. However, in the case of the latter, you play a more active role in the process of producing your Espresso.
So, if you’re a true coffee enthusiast or are pursuing the creation of the perfect espresso shot, a semi-automatic machine is definitely worth getting.
Lets You Froth Milk Effortlessly
If you love lattes as much as you love Espresso, a semi-automatic espresso machine will be your new best friend.
This is because most semi-automatic machines come with a traditional steam wand, which, once again, gives you greater control over the frothing process. If you’re ready to shell out a little more cash, you can even find machines that come with a Panarellowand, which automates the process of injecting air into the milk.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it worth it to buy a semi automatic espresso machine?
If you’re a coffee enthusiast, then definitely. An espresso machine is a major upgrade from the traditional coffee maker for any household. Not only will you get the choice of making lattes and cappuccino, but also you can experiment with different roasts.
Are semi-automatic machines good for beginners?
Not all semi-automatic espresso machines are for beginners. Before you purchase one, you need to get a clear understanding of all the features it might have. Unless you know what each dial or knob does, you will never be able to use the full capacity of the machine.
There are, however, new simpler models that cater to the beginners very well. For an entry-level barista, there are espresso machines that provide minimal adjustment settings.
How difficult is it to use a semi-automatic espresso machine?
Using an espresso machine isn’t rocket science. While it’s true that it isn’t as easy as a fully automatic one, it won’t take you long to learn. Once you’ve looked at some tutorials and whipped out two or three servings, you’ll start to get the hang of it.
How long does it take for a semi automatic espresso machine to warm up?
Ideally, your semi automatic espresso machine should heat up within a solid minute or a minute and a half. Any more than that can be a disadvantage when you’re running late or brewing in large quantities.
Is Espresso bad for your health?
Anything, if kept within a limit, can be good. However, when it comes to addictive substances like caffeine, one can easily consume 3 to 4 cups of coffee a day. Too much Espresso can cause your blood pressure to rise, which can lead to health problems in the future.
What can you control with a semi-automatic espresso machine?
With a semi-automatic machine, you can control tons of variables to change the taste of your shot. For instance, most espresso machines allow you to adjust grinding and tamping settings along with the amount of water to brew through.
The simpler models made for beginners might not feature so many different controls. Instead, they will come with a few buttons that carry out the core functions of the machine.
Choosing the best semi automatic espresso machineisn’t the child’s play as it seems. There are tons of factors you need to consider in order to make the right choice. As it is a pricey investment, you need to consider how passionate you are about your preference forcoffee.
With that being said, all of the espresso machines we picked are great choices for both beginners and professionals. Pay close attention to the features you truly need, and you’ll have yourself whipping up lattes in no time!