Semi-automatic espresso machines are a step towards smart home appliances. While it won’t be able to make your favorite cup of espresso brew whenever the craving hits, these coffee machine types give just enough control to allow for invaluable human input from its user.
That being said, the best semi-automatic espresso machines can fulfill your dream of being your very own barista! Choose how you want your espresso, with a variety of options at your disposal. Have an exact amount of water for specific coffee grounds? The manual control pump is there. Tamp and grind your espresso or insert the espresso pod; begin extraction and finally, choose how you want your froth done.
The output is exactly how you would want it. As semi-automatic coffee units don’t have a lot of advanced features, consumers can get them at a cost-effective price. Going through the selections shouldn’t be too hard. What’s important is that you should know the kind of features you’re looking for. That, and the most important factors of an excellent semi-automatic espresso machine.
Choosing The Best Semi Automatic Espresso Machine
While looking at semi-automatic coffee units, try to see how easy it would be to operate. Check out the indicator lights- are they easy to see? Most inferior ones have lights that hardly glow. This would mean your espresso brew wouldn’t turn out to be delectable as you’d hope, since the timing is thrown off. Other than that, you may do the following:
1 Where are the switches? Are they positioned appropriately? Are they properly labeled and easy to understand?
2 Can you really use the cup warming tray, or is it just an aesthetic add-on?
3 The space between the spout and the drip tray is important. Are the cleaners wide enough to allow the cups you’re using?
4 Finally, the portafilter handle. Do a demo and see how far back you need to push it before it locks in place. Does it sit right in the espresso machine? Also, see if you need to put in a clasp to prevent any filter baskets from being misplaced, falling out, etc.
We’d all love a home appliance that can stand the test of time. Component calibration and the quality of materials that make up your semi-automatic espresso maker should be top priority. Inspect the boiler that comes in with the machine. The bigger ones are usually better because they contain a lot more water, thus needing less refills.
Boilers that are made of brass are usually the best ones. They have the perfect thermal conductivity as compared to steel or aluminum ones. The more steel a semi-automatic espresso machine has, the sturdier it is. You get the bonus of less noise and less vibrations as the coffee maker creates your favorite espresso brew. Equipment that’s subject to less noise enjoy a longer shelf life.
The brew head is considered to be one of the most essential parts of a coffee machine, as a badly-made brewing head can change what makes a great espresso- the temperature. A lower or higher temp will probably ruin each espresso brew or shot you put in. Simple, accessible bolts that are used to disassemble the espresso machine, a metal drip tray and stabilizing rubber feet are all good additions to a top-notch semi-automatic espresso machine.
Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines Reviews
(Updated January 2017)
10Breville BES870XL Express Barista Espresso Machine
A durable, stylish and great addition to any kitchen. The drip tray can be detached and the whole unit can easily be cleaned. There’s also a hideaway storage that you can use to keep things neat. The conical burr grinder maximizes the surface area for a full-flavored bean extraction in every brew. You’ll like the fact that the half-pound bean hopper features a lock system that makes storing, removing and transferring beans an easy task.
Volumetric controls, a capable 67 fl oz removable reservoir, grind size and amount dials, a filter size button and a hands-free grinding cradle round out the functions. The Breville Express Barista will easily become your go-to espresso machine for a hot brew each morning!
– Elegant stainless steel finish
– A good conical burr grinder is a great value in itself
– Adjustable in almost every aspect
– Integrated removable tamper is of high quality
– Includes a steamer and hot water dispenser
– Easy to store with its compact size
– Pressure gauge gives instant feedback on each shot
– Quiet operation
– Storage compartment to keep cleaning tools
– Single boiler only
– Tends to accumulate sludges
– Not fast enough for commercial use
9Bezzera PID BZ07 Commercial Espresso Machine
Don’t let the small, compact form fool you- the Bezzera BZ07 is a premium piece of work, with features that will satisfy even die-hard espresso lovers!
This espresso machine houses a thermostat within the grouphead for an accurate temperature reading each brew time. Furthermore, it has 2 heating elements and a PID micro CPU monitoring the PID sensor for the boiler temperature. Users can look forward to hot, flavorful coffee each time they turn this unit on. Copper boilers, OPV pump safety measures and an included steam wand make for a great value packed into an excellent espresso machine.
– PID lets you achieve the perfect temperature
– Texturing milk is a breeze with the two-hole steam tip
– Keeps cups at an ideal temperature
– Plenty of room on cup tray
– Large drip tray
– Very easy to use
– Requires very little flushing
– Doesn’t look pretty
– Vibe pump is a bit loud
8Pasquini Livia 90 Commercial Espresso
You’ll be thoroughly impressed the first time you see the Pasquini Livia 90. It can easily fit in any commercial establishment, whether for restaurants or coffee shops. The semi automatic espresso unit features an on-demand boiler for when you need water for the espresso. This translates to being able to instantly steam water within the reservoir and churn out as much espresso as you’d need. It also means the waiting time between brewing your favorite espresso and heating milk is eliminated. Perfect for on-the-go coffee enthusiasts.
– Looks elegant and professional
– Reliable and competent machine
– Anti-corrosion protected frame
– Durable components
– Simple instructions makes it easy to navigate
– Inexpensive model
– Additional 1 year of service warranty
– Plastic storage reservoir
– Small water tray
7Nuova Simonelli Oscar Pour-Over Espresso Machine
The Nuova Simonelli Oscar has top-notch construction ensures your coffee making machine will last for a good number of years. You can choose between a plumbed or a tank model; if you’re operating a small coffee shop, then the direct connect variant will help you in the longer run.
All the features that make a great semiautomatic espresso unit is in here. The Nuova Simonelli Pour Over Machine contains a capable water tank, heat exchangers, a professional porta-filter, steam pressure options, a cup warmer and a removable tray, all controlled by a simple interface. Anyone who can operate simple appliances will find no trouble with the Oscar.
– Produces quality shots like the more expensive machines
– Affordable heat exchanger espresso machine
– Boiler lends piping hot heat to your espresso shots
– Great steaming/frothing experience with the best-in-class steam wand
– Excellent overall ergonomic design
– Easy, user-friendly operation
– Plastic body makes it less elegant
– Lacks water level indicator
6Gaggia 12300 Manual Espresso Machine Baby Class
The Gaggia Baby Class Espresso Machine touts some high-quality Italian-made parts, including a chrome plated brass group, an outstanding 8mm commercial-style porta-filter and a three way solenoid valve. This semi automatic espresso unit turns any coffee unit owner into a professional barista who can create gourmet-style espresso shots for guests, family members and friends. All that guesswork over frothing and steaming is finally over.
The Gaggia Baby Class 12300 features a 15 bar pump combined with a large, 60 oz water tank reservoir to allow for quick espresso brewing. You also get a performance boiler, a single and double shot basket, an ESE water filter, a coffee stamper and a free coffee scoop. This product threads the fine line between style and performance.
– Great looks and style
– High quality construction
– Steam and froth like a pro
– Large water tank
– Easy to clean
– Unit may be bigger than what you’d expect
5Nespresso Pixie D60 Espresso Maker
A whopping 19 bars of pressure is what makes the D60 Pixie stand out from the rest of the semi automatic espresso machines listed here. An advanced thermoblock heating system and a powerful pump ensures a rich cup of espresso brew each time you power this unit on. For coffee lovers who love a good layer of cream on top, then we recommend the use of the D60 Espresso Maker in conjunction with Grand Cru espresso capsules.
Get a fresh cup of coffee within 25 seconds. The illuminated LED refill display is particularly helpful, as is the 24 oz detachable water reservoir. Included in the product are back-lit indicators, a water level detection feature, auto shut off functions and programmable buttons for either espresso or lungo shots. The Nespresso Pixie D60 is a semi-automatic espresso machine in its own class!
– One of the fastest machines of its kind
– Dotted side panels with chrome accents create a unique look
– Among most budget-friendly semi-automatic machines
– Compact size will fit any kitchen
– Total control over cup size and brew strength
– Easy operation and cleanup
– Used capsule is recyclable
– Auto shut-off feature
– Pods are not cheap
– Small water tank
4Breville The Infuser Espresso Machine BES840XL
The Infuser Espresso Machine by Breville come with advanced features such as temperature settings and volumetric controls, but what makes it shine are the extra functions like the pre-infusion tech, an excellent thermocoil system and the PID temp control solution. The unit even has the smarts to sleep if you haven’t touched it for an hour, and shut off if unused for 3 hours.
Control the temperature accurately with the 1600W thermocoil system. The pre-infusion process puts the grinds into a low-pressure state, which works to extract the full flavor of your espresso. Purchasing the Breville Infuser Espresso Machine also gets you free bonuses such as a stainless steel jug, cleaning tablets and discs, a water filter, a coffee scoop and single or dual wall filters.
– Elegant design
– Consistently yields great-tasting coffee
– Compact yet powerful
– Built-in PID guarantees stable temperature
– Low pressure pre-infusion brings out the most flavor
– Easy to use and clean
– Steep learning curve
– You need a good burr grinder
3La Nuova Era Cappuccino & Espresso Machine
The La Cuadra cappuccino maker hails from Italy and has arrived on US soil, but how does it compare against the competition? Thankfully, this product has a lot to offer. You get a 1.8L per boil, a 3L pour on the reservoir, a copper boiler, coffee and group handles and a steam wand. Add these all together and you have the makings of a great cup of hot espresso.
The portability factor makes the La Nuova Era a worthy home appliance or as a small coffee machine for commercial use. Bring it with you on special occasions and it will soon be the talk of the party.
– Great looking machine
– Compact size won’t take up too much countertop space
– Quality of coffee is similar to a professional automatic machine
– Equipped with E61 with heat exchanger
– The side panel does not get hot during use
– Solid overall construction
– Higher price compared to most semi-automatic units
2Breville Dual Boiler BES920XL Espresso Machine
A top of the line product that makes use of programmable pressure and duration, and a low pressure infusion, at a consumer-friendly price? It’s true! The Breville Dual Boiler semi automatic espresso machine has a stainless steel heat exchanger which delivers pre-heated water directly to the steam boiler to deliver a great cup of espresso. Thermal stability is optimized as the machine brews your coffee, which means you get a deliciously hot cup each and every time.
Water pressure is gradually extended to expand the grounds and ensure quite the even extraction. The LCD display does a lot of things such as show brew temperature, shot clock and/or time, and is a nice touch to an already stellar product.
– Gold Standard dual boiler
– Easy to fill the tank
– Capable of performing a single or double brew
– The unit indicates the pressure’s sweet spot for a nice brew
– 2 year limited product warranty
– Foaming wand does not froth really well
– The portafilter requires a bit more effort to lock in place.
1KitchenAid Nespresso Bundle KES0504FP
The KitchenAid KES0504FP has an all-metal design that you won’t likely forget, plus forward-thinking technology in a semi automatic espresso machine. It could be the best espresso machine for first-time espresso consumers, and the last coffee maker unit you’ll ever need. The product comes in with a milk frother to ensure your favorite espresso shot will stay as your favorite.
The housing is a solid, die cast, all-metal shell; you get a 1.3L water reservoir. An easy loading system makes coffeemaking an easy affair in the mornings. Each Nespresso Bundle unit comes with 1 set of delicious Nespresso capsules for breaking in.
– Extremely durable all-metal die-cast construction
– Milk frother performs with excellence
– Consistent flavorful results regardless of the pods you use
– Setup is fairly easy and straightforward
– Coffee capsules are effortless to load
– Includes 16 Nespresso capsules in different flavors
– The unit is quite heavy at 24 pounds
– Nespresso pods can be expensive
Best Overall – Semi Automatic Espresso Machine
La Nuova Era Cuadra
The La Nuova Era Cuadra ranks among one of the best semi automatic espresso makers available in the market today. Whether as a personal home appliance or for commercial use, you can’t go wrong with the Era Cuadra.
If you have the money and want to get the cream of the crop, then it’s undoubtedly this unit you should take home. You’ll quickly discover a whole new world where your espresso shots are more delectable, has more aroma, and provides a better coffee experience.
Best Value – Semi Automatic Espresso Machine
A semi-automatic espresso machine that won’t put a serious dent in your wallet. The Nespresso D60 is priced fairly, yet is able to produce quite a quality cup of delicious espresso when you need it.
You’ll be getting your money’s worth in a feature-packed coffee machine. Espresso shots will always be getting what they deserve. Simply put, the Nespresso D60 is a reliable, cost-effective choice for coffee lovers and individuals who are on a tight budget.
* (see our list for the best nespresso machines)