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The best semi automatic espresso machine is a great option for home baristas because it combines automation with customization. These coffee brewers are one of the best coffee makers and will make espresso by providing just the right amount of pressure, drawing water from a consistent source, and heating the water to the ideal temperature for the task at hand.
Many semi-automatic espresso machines have dual boilers that can perform two tasks at once, as well as steam wands that allow you to steam your own milk. They require you to grind, measure, and tamp on your own, as well as time your own shot. Many also incorporate a variety of programmable settings and a built-in grinder, which allows you to further customize your espresso.
Keep reading our buying guide to learn more about semi-automatic espresso machines and how they work.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: You’ll love that this intelligent system is set up for wireless connections, making it so much easier. It also has an integrated grinding system to make your life that much easier, and it’s a high-capacity model.
The drink customization technology built into this model is second to none. This is because it’s a smart system that connects to wireless networks, allowing you to use an app to control the brew. This unique app is called Smart HQ and will enable you to customize drink preferences by both volume and strength while also offering software updates to the system. While this intelligent system is a fantastic fit for the tech-minded, it might prove more challenging to set up than competing models. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible, however.
It’s an Italian-made system that brings a touch of tradition to your morning espresso experience. The 15-bar pump draws maximum flavor from your grounds by slowly increasing pressure. This means that you’ll be able to enjoy perfectly balanced cups of espresso on command. The extra-large water reservoir offers a high capacity for your convenience. You’ll spend less time filling the reservoir and more time brewing your perfect cup.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: The dual smart temperature sensors inside this espresso maker allow it to communicate data throughout brewing actively. This allows for an optimal temperature at every stage. It also has a commercial-grade portafilter.
You’ll love that this model has dual smart temperature sensors. These sensors can communicate with each other during the brewing process, which ensures an optimal temperature every step of the way. This creates a more authentic espresso experience. While the espresso machine is a fantastic piece of technology, the same cannot be said for the steamer wand. Multiple consumers report that they had difficulty using it to make foam.
There is also a 58-millimeter portafilter that is commercial grade. You won’t have to worry about the filtration process and will never have espresso grounds leak into your cup. It also keeps the heat evenly distributed across the grounds. There are two recessed spouts on the portafilter, granting a flat base to the user. This allows for easier, more efficient tamping. Beyond this, you’ll enjoy a dosage selector so you can create a single or double shot.
Award: BEST FOR TRADITIONAL PULLS
WHY WE LIKE IT: When you choose this model, you’ll be able to access fifteen levels of customization for grinding beans. Beyond this, it’s enabled for wireless connections to make it so much easier for you.
This Italian-made option will allow you to experience a balanced cup of espresso after every pull. The fully integrated steam frother provides for a variety of different textures in your microfoam. It also allows for different thicknesses. This means you can make authentic lattes, cappuccinos, flat whites, and more. Unfortunately, the amount of power packed into this model does come at a steep price. It is a highly bulky espresso machine, and it might not fit comfortably into your kitchen space.
There is also a built-in, conical grinding system. This allows you to skip adding an extra appliance to your kitchen since you won’t have to buy a separate grinder. It’s a more storage-friendly option because of this. The grinder offers an adjustable grinding size for your convenience. This is also a wireless-enabled device that can hook up with your smartphone. That means you have precision control over the customization of your drinks.
Award: BEST FOR MULTIFUNCTIONALITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: If you need an espresso machine that’s easy to use, this model will provide everything you need. It’s also a highly durable model that will stand the test of time. Beyond this, it has multifunctional capabilities.
You’ll love how stylish the design of this espresso machine is, making it a perfect fit for those who want attractive appliances in their kitchen. Beyond this, it has a highly user-friendly design that is easy for anybody to use. Even if you aren’t a trained barista, this should be a breeze to control. However, you should be aware of some concerning consumer reports that the grinding mechanism stopped working after a few usages. This is worth considering before investing.
There are built-in preset options for single and double shots, allowing you to decide what you want and pull a perfect shot easily. The water reservoir is capable of holding up to 92-ounces of water, making it a high-capacity option. This tank is detachable so that you can easily fill it while making less of a mess. The espresso machine itself is easy to clean since the body is made out of brushed stainless steel.
Award: BEST FOR FROTHING MILK
WHY WE LIKE IT: Those who love a foamy drink will find precisely that when they choose to invest in this model. It has a trouble-free frothing wand that will allow you to easily froth drinks. Beyond that, it has a one-touch control panel.
If you’re looking for a multifunctional model, this is an excellent option. It’s able to make espresso, lattes, and cappuccinos. This means it’s a convenient option that takes up multiple roles. It is also a 15-bar pressure system that allows for slow increases in pressure, pulling balanced shots every time. Unfortunately, the quality of the espresso you pull might be lacking when compared to competing models in the same class. It’s not lousy espresso; it’s just not quite as good.
The real star of the show is the trouble-free milk frother. It’s a fully automatic design that allows you to remove the guesswork of frothing milk. That means that you’ll be able to fully enjoy a perfect cup of your favorite espresso-based beverage without stress. The one-touch control panel allows you to customize each drink you make easily. The water reservoir is fully removable so that you can fill it quickly without making a mess.
Award: BEST FOR CUSTOMIZATIONS
WHY WE LIKE IT: This espresso machine offers fully adjustable controls so that you can ensure every cup is made precisely to your preferences. It has a dual-brewing system, perfect for those looking for an extra boost or treating guests.
Those who need a high-quality cup every time will love what this espresso machine can offer. It has 15-bar pressure to maintain evenly distributed pressure during the whole brewing process. There are also adjustable controls to have a fully customized drink according to your preferences. However, there is one major feature that this model is missing in the eyes of most consumers. It doesn’t include a built-in grinding system, so you’ll have to buy a grinder for fresh espresso grounds.
Whether you’re a trained barista or totally new to the world of espresso, this machine will create perfect drinks for you every time. This is partially thanks to the manual frother. It mixes steam and milk together, making a luxurious, rich foam to top your drink. This froth is always evenly textured to ensure a delicious experience. Beyond this, you’ll be able to brew two shots at the same time if you need to, thanks to the dual-brewing system that this espresso machine offers.
A semi-automatic espresso machine is one of the most popular types for brewing espresso because it’s so versatile and it works so well for many different levels of experience. They also allow you to grind and tamp your own beans fresh while still automating much of the espresso-making process. This makes it a great choice for beginners as well as experienced baristas because you can customize many different aspects of your cup of coffee from grind size to shot timing.
Semi-automatic espresso machines won’t time the shot for you, but they use an electric pump, which eliminates the manual pressure needed for extraction. All you have to do is press a button to begin the extraction and another button to pull the shot.
These semi-automatic machines give plenty of room for growth as a barista who is still learning while still allowing you a large amount of control over your beverage. They have a large variety of functions and features with stylish designs. Although, if you’re not in need of multiple cups of coffee, you might be satisfied with a single-serve espresso machine.
Like the best single-serve coffee maker with no pods, a semi-automatic espresso machine will brew a single shot of espresso with fresh beans rather than a pod. It enables you to enjoy a shot of espresso or make your own specialty beverages like cappuccinos and lattes. With that said, you’ll like the Prosumer espresso machines, which have many professional features built into them for home use.
A semi-automatic espresso machine differs from other espresso makers in terms of how much of the process is handled by the machine compared to how much you have to do yourself. For example, a manual espresso machine doesn’t contain any buttons, displays, or electronic components. You do everything on your own from start to finish, and you grind, measure, tamp, and time the shot without help from the machine.
An automatic espresso machine still requires you to grind, measure, and tamp your own coffee grounds, but it will do everything else with the push of a button. There’s no timing the shot on your own with this machine.
A super-automatic espresso machine can do everything from start to finish. A built-in grinder will grind your beans, deposit them in the portafilter, and tamp them without any help from you. Then you push a button, and it does everything else, including timing the shot. Many of these machines may also include an automatic milk frother that will brew an entire specialty beverage for you.
A semi-automatic espresso machine offers a nice balance of customization and automation. While you still have to grind, measure, and tamp the grounds, you don’t have to manually apply pressure to pull the shot as you do with a manual espresso machine. It has a simple button that you can use to pull the shot, but it won’t time the shot for you as an automatic espresso machine will.
The great thing about a semi-automatic espresso machine is that it’s relatively easy to use while still allowing for a lot of customization and learning. There are various components included in semi-automatic espresso machine design, but they all work together to create a great shot of espresso.
First, they draw their water from either a removable water tank or from a direct water source by connecting to the water line in your home or coffee shop. They contain built-in filters to keep the water clean and consistent. The water is drawn into one or two boilers, depending on the machine’s configuration.
Single boiler machines have one boiler for both brewing and steaming milk, so you can only do one thing at once, but they have a smaller footprint and tend to be cheaper. The problem is that you have to wait for the boiler to either heat up or cool down to the correct temperature for a second task. Meanwhile, your espresso or foam is also cooling off while you wait.
Dual boiler machines have a dedicated boiler for brewing and a separate boiler for steaming milk. This ensures that the temperature is always ideal and enables the machine to perform both tasks simultaneously, creating a better shot of espresso. Depending on the machine’s configuration, two separate boilers may also allow two simultaneous shots for a quick double shot.
Once the boiler heats up to the correct temperature, a pump injects the heated water into the compacted puck to begin flavor extraction. Some even include a pre-infusion step that infuses the grounds with water for a short time to create a more flavorful shot.
Semi-automatic espresso machines contain either a rotary pump or a vibratory pump. A machine with a rotary pump is often more expensive, but it can maintain more consistent pressure. A vibratory pump may not provide the ideal pressure but makes for a less expensive machine.
Once the water is pumped through the grounds, the shot is dispensed through the group head. There are saturated and semi-saturated group heads. A saturated group head is more expensive to repair or replace but will last a long time. Conversely, a semi-saturated group head is separated from the boiler by a heat exchanger, which means it can’t provide the same consistency as a saturated group head, but it’s cheaper.
An articulated wand is often a component of a semi-automatic espresso machine, increasing its versatility and allowing you to steam your own milk.
A semi-automatic espresso machine is an excellent option for most people who love espresso. If you don’t already have one, it’s a great place to start learning. If you do already have one, you may want to consider upgrading to a newer model to take advantage of more advanced features.
A quality semi-automatic espresso machine can last 10-15 years. Purchasing a unit made with durable materials and quality components will afford a longer life than cheaper machines. However, it’s important that you clean and maintain it properly to prolong its life. The more you use it, the shorter its lifespan will be, but you can keep it in proper working order by maintaining it the way you should.
A semi-automatic espresso machine is a major purchase, so it’s essential to consider several factors before deciding. Think about things like the number of boilers you need, the water source, the pump, and the group head.
If you’re interested in performing two functions at once, you need a dual boiler machine. Two separate boilers give you a dedicated boiler for brewing and for frothing without waiting for them to warm up or cool down in preparation for the next task. When combined with two group heads, you can also quickly brew a double shot.
However, two boilers take up more room than one and require a larger footprint, so you need to consider the range of machine sizes. They’re also more expensive, and a single boiler is better for people who don’t have enough space for a dual boiler machine or who don’t want to spend the extra money.
If you’re interested in the best and most consistent water source, a direct hookup will work better for you. You never have to refill the water reservoir, and you’ll always have access to a consistent source. Without a water reservoir, the machine won’t take up quite as much room.
However, these machines can be more expensive and require a more complicated installation. They’re better for high-volume coffee shops and people who drink a lot of espresso at home but may not be worth it for people who don’t make a lot or want to spend the money.
A rotary pump is a more expensive addition to your semi automatic espresso machine, but it’s a higher quality component. It will provide a minimum of nine bars of pressure, which is critical for a good shot of espresso. They’re more expensive to repair or replace, but they last a very long time, so it’s not likely you’ll have to repair or replace them very often throughout the life of the machine.
A vibratory pump can’t provide the same consistent pressure, but it costs a lot less money. It’s generally a good choice for home baristas because of the reduced cost and the fact that many people won’t tell the difference in the quality of the espresso it makes. However, it won’t last as long.
The brew group is something else that may not matter to most home baristas, but it’s a consideration you still may want to think about. A semi-saturated group head is a cheaper component separated from the boiler by a heat exchanger. It doesn’t maintain the temperature as accurately as a saturated group head, but many people can’t tell the difference.
A saturated group head is more expensive but will last longer and maintain a more consistent temperature. When combined with more consistency in water source, water pressure, and a dual boiler system, you can make very high-quality shots of espresso at home.