If you’re looking for a semi automatic espresso machine, you’re in luck. The market is jam-packed with well-regarded products, offering consumers more choice than ever when it comes to brewing the perfect coffee. All brands on the market claim to make the perfect espresso. But do they? In short, no. Producing the perfect cup of coffee from a semi automatic coffee machine relies on two things.
First, you need a good quality machine. Secondly, the barista—that’s you—needs decent skills. If you’re up for perfecting your barista art, here’s a guide to help you choose your perfect semi automatic espresso machine, whatever your budget.
Spotlight On The Best Semi Automatic Espresso Machine, 2019
Best Semi Automatic Espresso Machine Reviews:
Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine
The barista express produces espresso from bean to cup in less than one minute. An integrated conical burr grinder lets you grind your choice of coffee beans immediately prior to extraction. You’ll have the option of both manual and automatic operation, with a range of interchangeable filters to choose from.
If you like full control of your brew, this could be the machine for you. You can use any roast of bean you prefer, and you can control the dose of coffee you grind for each cup, feeding the ideal amount of freshly ground espresso beans directly into your portability. With digital temperature control for the water, you get precise espresso extraction, avoiding burning. You can select the grind size using an intuitively designed dial, allowing you to select your grind size regardless of bean type.
Latte fans will be pleased to note that micro-foam milk texturing is enabled by the steam wand, which also enhances flavour. Achieve barista-style latte art in your own kitchen by hand texturing your milk. Enjoy Hands-free operation, a range of included accessories, and settings for both single and double shots.
With 4.4 out of 5 stars, Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine has received rave reviews from happy Amazon customers. Among the top-rated features are the multiple grind settings, integrated burr grinder, the sensitive pressure gauge, and the milk frother wand, which has been billed as significantly better than those on machines in a lower price bracket.
Customers find the operational parts easy to clean, with a handy indicator light that reminds you when maintenance is required, helping extend the machine’s life. Customers appreciate the classy look and durability of this top-rated machine’s stainless steel frame. Some customers wish that the few plastic parts on the machine had also been stainless steel, and that the water tank were slightly larger, as it needs to be refilled often with frequent use.
- Lovely stainless steel
- Automated cleaning cycle
- Tools for cleaning filters
- Comprehensive manual
- Water tank needs frequent filling
De’Longhi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
Specialising in authentic Italian espresso-style beverages, the DeLonghi pump espresso and cappuccino maker boasts an original patented dual-filter holder that allows you the option of brewing either the traditional ground espresso or the more modern and convenient E.S.E pods.
Two separate thermostats mean your cappuccino or espresso will always be served at your desired temperature. A swivel-jet milk frother gives you more control over your cappuccino and provides consistent results. If you’re often in a rush in the mornings, but you don’t want to compromise on the perfect coffee, you’ll appreciate the self-priming feature.
Great coffee requires ideal temperature, which usually means that great coffee takes time, as the machine’s boiler and the element must reach the optimal temperature before the coffee is made. The self-priming operation means you won’t be kept waiting while your machine prepares to make your coffee.
Durability and longevity are enhanced by the removable drip-tray and water tank, and stainless steel boiler. One of the top features of this machine is how easy it is to clean. Intuitive design means the machine is quick and easy to disassemble and reassemble after cleaning.
Rated 3.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon, De’Longhi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker has proved popular. Customers love the fact that it is easy to clean, thanks to the removable water tank and drip tray. The machine heats up quickly and lets you easily make either a double or single shot. Customers enjoy the cup warming area at the top and convenient storage option under the lid for the cup not currently in use.
While many customers appreciate the fact that the machine is small and compact, so it doesn’t take over your kitchen, others have noted that it is too small, especially if you want to use a cup that is larger than an espresso cup. While most of the reviews have been positive, the machine has sparked a bit of debate, with Italian born-and-raised fans of the machine defending it against the few criticisms others have made.
- Built-in frother
- Built-in tamper
- Makes a tasty espresso!
- Small cup area
All-In-One Espresso Machine & Cappuccino Maker Barista Bundle
If time is of the essence for you in the mornings, the EspressoWorks All-In-One 15 Bar Thermoblock espresso machine could be your perfect choice. Ready for use in less than 45 seconds, this powerful coffee machine offers maximum convenience and a bold flavour.
A front-view water tank lets you monitor water levels and easily refill when needed. The 15 Bar Pump promises the perfect crema for your brew, without any hassle or prior coffee know-how. If you’re new to making coffee at home, this All-In-One coffee maker set is a great way to get started, as you’ll receive all the accessories you need to get started on your at-home espresso journey.
The set includes an electric grinder, stainless-steel frothing cup, portafilter, and a measuring spoon and tamper. This powerful machine is small and compact, so you won’t have to dedicate a significant amount of your counter space to your coffee station. A convenient power-saving auto-off feature, which kicks in after 25 minutes, means you won’t have to fuss with plugging and unplugging, saving you money on your electric bill.
Scoring 3.9 out of 5 stars, Amazon customers rate this machine highly. Top-rated features include the fact that all accessories are included in the up-front purchase and the convenience and ease of cleaning facilitated by the simple design. The steamer hose is especially easy to clean and durable, with some customers noting that the steamer hose on other brands had become clogged and even broken. Customers comment on the excellent taste of the coffee, especially if you’re using the inbuilt grinder for fresh beans.
If you like a creamy espresso, this machine seems to deliver on that front, with many customers noting a consistently generous crema. However, it has been noted that getting the ideal crema does take a little practice, as you need to temper the coffee correctly. A lighter temper means less pressure builds and slightly more water passes through the coffee, producing better results.
- Front view water tank
- 15 bar pump pressure
- Single or double shot
- Ready in 45 seconds
- Sometimes watery coffee
De’Longhi ECP3220W 15 Bar Espresso Machine with Advanced Cappuccino System
If you want to make professional-quality coffee at home but don’t want a machine take takes up too much space in your kitchen, this machine may be the one for you. The De’Longhi ECP3220W 15 Bar Espresso Machine with Advanced Cappuccino System offers consistency and control over your brew. The 15-bar pressure allows you to make café-style coffee, and fine controls allow you to make a range of adjustments to suit your unique preferences and tastes. If you like a variety of espresso-style coffee beverages, you’ll enjoy the versatility of this machine, with settings for espresso (a single or double) as well as latte and cappuccino.
If you’re a fan of the modern espresso pod, you can make these perfectly, too. One of the essential features of café-quality coffee is the even texture of the milk. The De’Longhi allows you total control over your foam with the use of a manual milk frother, mixing milk and steam to form a rich foam in a matter of seconds. The machine boasts an adjustable tray to allow the use of taller coffee cups, which many competitors do not. A removable drip tray and water tank allow easy cleaning, saving you time and hassle.
Amazon customers rave about the ease of use offered by this coffee machine. The machine proved quick and easy to set up and did not require customers to follow complicated procedures before making the first cup. The quality of the crema on the espresso has been praised, and latte fans have noted that the milk texture was consistent.
Customers have noted that this machine is excellent value for money, proving good tasting coffee without costing the world. Ease of cleaning is appreciated, though some customers have noted that deep cleaning is a little inconvenient because you have to remove the screw to remove the espresso cup. It has also been noted that the pour does not stop automatically, so you need to switch it off when you have the desired amount of coffee.
- One or two shots
- No waiting between cups
- Accommodates taller cups
- Space-saving design
- Some reports of malfunction
De’Longhi BAR32 Retro 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
This compact and cost-effective espresso maker promises ease and speed of preparation. A patented dual-function filter holder gives you the option to use either espresso pods or ground coffee, depending on your preference. A swivel-jet milk frother enables you to easily and consistently make both cappuccinos and lattes. A self-priming feature means you won’t have to wait long for the machine to heat up before you make your morning coffee.
You’ll have maximum control of your brew with the use of two separate thermostats, one for water temperature and one for steam pressure. The machine offers durability for long-lasting use, thanks to its stainless-steel boiler and café-grade 15 bar pump pressure.
Scoring 3.8 out of 5 stars, the De’Longhi BAR32 Retro 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker has impressed Amazon customers with its versatility and durability. It is also well-reviewed for its high pressure, with sensitive steam pressure gauge, attractive appearance, and mess-free functionality. Customers agree that this coffee machine offers good value, with many repeat customers swearing by the brand for high quality despite the lower price point. The quality of the standard pour espresso has been praised.
However, some customers suggest that espresso taste can be improved by removing the pressurizer from the portafilters and manually tamping the shot to perfection, rather than relying on a pre-setting. Customers have noted at even with heavy use, the machine continues to turn out great tasting coffee. However, hard water tends to shorten the machine’s life is descaling is not performed frequently. Water quality has been noted to affect the quality of the coffee, with filtered water producing best results. If you’re looking for a cost-effective, compact coffee machine that delivers on taste and lasts a long time, this could be the ideal choice for you.
- Space-saving design
- One or two shots
- Room for taller cups
- No waiting between cups
- Colour not to everyone’s taste
Semi Automatic Espresso Buying Guide
If you’re in the market for a semi automatic coffee machine, one of the first questions you need to ask yourself is whether a semi automatic machine is right for your needs.
Before you start looking at options, it’s important to understand what a semi automatic coffee machine offers that a manual or full-automatic machine does not. For many coffee aficionados, a semi automatic coffee machine is the “sweet spot” between a manual and an automatic machine. To understand the niche this style of coffee maker fills, it’s helpful to know the difference between a manual and an automatic espresso machine.
A manual espresso machine (also known as a Piston machine) is the genuine article in the espresso world. Dating back to bye-gone days of coffee making, these machines are piston-driven. To create the pressure needed to pull a shot, the barista has to manually pump a lever. Specialist skill goes into pulling the perfect shot, as the operation requires focus and precision. Once you master the operation of a manual coffee machine, you’ll have maximum control over your brew. That said, if you want to knock back a couple of espressos on your way out the door in the mornings, you’re certainly not going to have time to fuss with a manual machine.
Automatic espresso machines are much easier to use, in that all the work is done for you. No pumping required. Once you’ve ground and tamped your coffee beans, fully-automatic machines produce your coffee at the push of a button. A super-automatic machine will even grind and tamp beans, so you won’t have to lift a finger. The downside of everything being done for you automatically is that you don’t have much control over the end product.
Not surprisingly, the semi automatic machine sits between the two options, offering a happy medium in terms of control and convenience. Many semi automatic coffee machines boast fully-automatic capabilities, which is just what you need if you’re the type of person who needs that first cup of coffee to get the brain cells firing in the morning.
Which semi automatic espresso maker you choose ultimately depends on your priorities and your budget. For example, if you’re out the door early in the mornings and need a coffee pronto, you may enjoy a semi automatic machine with a time-saving self-priming function. You’ll also need to consider the space you want to dedicate to your coffee maker, and the effort you’re willing to put into cleaning and maintenance.
If you’re leaning towards the semi automatic option, it pays to consider a few pros and cons of these machines before you begin your search for the ultimate model for you.
Balance of Control & Convenience
Firstly, a semi automatic machine offers the ideal compromise between manual control over every aspect of your coffee, and the convenience of having the work done for you. That said, you’re not losing much on either end. Unless your palate is extremely refined, you may not even taste the difference between an espresso made on a good quality semi automatic machine and an espresso made on a traditional manual machine.
On the other hand, a semi automatic machine won’t require you to do much more work than a fully-automatic coffee maker, so you won’t sacrifice much in the convenience department. Many semi automatic espresso machines offer most of the functionality of fully-automatic machines, with the proviso that the pour does not stop automatically, so you’ll need to stop it once you have the desired amount of coffee.
Another benefit of semi automatic espresso machines is that they tend to be available at a lower price point than some automatic options. This is because you’re doing a bit of the work yourself, so the machine is less complex.
Hands-On Coffee Experience
If you’re a coffee lover and you’re thinking of buying your own espresso machine, chances are you’re looking forward to the rewarding experience of making your own coffee. If so, you may get more enjoyment from a semi automatic machine than a fully automatic option. Performing some of the operations, like grinding the beans for example, you’re more involved in the process, giving you a greater sense of satisfaction and immersion in the coffee experience.
Learning Curve Comes Standard
Preparing your own brew on a semi automatic espresso machine does have some cons, especially if you haven’t used one before. It’s important to remember that a semi automatic espresso maker relies on your skill to some extent, so unless you’re already well-practised at making coffee, you may need to experiment a little with things like grind size, water temperature and steam pressure before you achieve your perfect brew. For example, how tightly you tamp the coffee will affect the crema, and how you tamp it will largely depend on your preference. You may take a couple of tries to get a feel for this, but once you’ve mastered it, you won’t look back.
The beauty of a semi automatic espresso machine is that it lets you a participant in the coffee-making process. Once you start to perfect your skills and hone your personal tastes, your coffee will only get better. With that in mind, it’s important to find the best semi automatic espresso machine within your budget that offers you maximum control without sacrificing functionality, allowing you to perfect your cup as your skills improve. Whatever your budget, there is a machine to suit your needs. As long as you keep your priorities in mind, you’ll be able to find a machine with the functionality you require.