Semi-automatic machines are the most common espresso machines in specialty coffee shops and the homes of enthusiasts. They use a pump to provide high pressure hot water for flavor extraction rather than a manual lever, but parts of process are not fully automated to give you fine-control over the taste of the beverages you brew.
If you are in a hurry, our Top Pick: Breville BES870XL Barista Express; Value Pick: Calphalon Temp IQ Espresso Machine with Grinder and Steam Wand.
Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine
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Calphalon Temp IQ Espresso Machine with Grinder and Steam Wand
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Best overall – Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine:
This Breville machine included features usually found in Superautomatic espresso machines such as like an integrated grinder for quick bean-to-cup excellence. Breville’s “4 keys” formula focusing on the Ideal Dose, Optimal Pressure, Precise Temperature, and Powerful Steam. The precise PID temperature control and the great steam wand to hand texture microfoam milk enhances bot the quality and appearance of your drinks.
Best value – Calphalon Temp IQ Espresso Machine with Grinder and Steam Wand:
This Calphalon Temp IQ espresso maker offered at a very attractive price, it features a commercial-sized portafilter fitting 3rd party tampers. The grinder gives you full control over the size of the grind. This Temp IQ machine uses Thermoblock heating technology and state-of-the-art P.I.D. temperature control. A 15-bar Italian pump provides all the pressure you need, and pre-infusion gives you optimal flavor extraction. It has features which are commonly found in Superautomatic machines, yet it gives you full control over the brewing process.
Coffee aficionados often prefer to be more in control of the details of how your espresso is made. For example, the fineness of the coffee grind, the time and temperature of the water injection, the tamping of the coffee in the filter, to pull the perfect crema-topped shot. Semi-automatic espresso machines are perfect for this control and involvement.
If this type of espresso machine would best match your needs and budget, check out the best semi-automatic espresso machines below for just the right one for you.
Here are our top 10 highest rated semi automatic espresso machines:
|1||Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine By Breville||10||View on Amazon.com|
|2||Gaggia Accademia Espresso Machine By Gaggia||9.9||View on Amazon.com|
|3||DeLonghi ECAM23260SB Magnifica Smart Espresso Machine By DeLonghi||9.8||View on Amazon.com|
|4||DeLonghi ECAM22110SB Compact Automatic Espresso Machine By DeLonghi||9.7||View on Amazon.com|
|5||DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica Espresso/Coffee Machine By DeLonghi||9.6||View on Amazon.com|
|6||Breville Oracle BES980XL By Breville||9.6||View on Amazon.com|
|7||Gaggia RI8762 Anima Prestige Espresso Machine By Gaggia||9.6||View on Amazon.com|
|8||Saeco HD8924/47 PicoBaristo By Saeco||9.5||View on Amazon.com|
|9||Gaggia Anima Super Automatic Espresso Machine, Black By Gaggia||9.4||View on Amazon.com|
|10||Calphalon Temp IQ Espresso Machine with Grinder and Steam Wand By Calphalon||9.3||View on Amazon.com|
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular semi automatic espresso machines you can currently get and see which of them may soon become your personal favorite.
If you want to get the Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine, then undoubtedly the Breville BES870XL is certainly one of the best that you should seriously consider. Since only high quality materials are used in its design, you can have the peace of mind that this model is going to last you for years to come. When the burr is activated, the no slip feet ensure that the machine stays firmly on your counter-top, preventing accidental falls. In terms of design, the BES870XL is housed in a very stylish casing made of stainless steel, making it a timeless and attractive addition to any kitchen. The unit is also very easy to clean and on top of that easily removable drip tray, it also features a hideaway storage compartment.
Integrated half pound bean hopper and conical burr grinder: By maximizing the grinds’ surface area, the conical burs greatly improve the extraction of flavor from the bean. For a fuller espresso flavor, it’s very important to use freshly ground beans every single time. When it comes to the hopper, it features a locking system for easy transfer of coffee beans, storage and removal.
Other features you’re going to love about it include a filter size button, grind amount and grind size selector dials, 54 mm tamper, hands free grinding cradle, but also volumetric control and a 67 fl oz water tank (removable).
You might also like to read our comparison of Breville Barista Express vs Barista Express Pro.
The Gaggia Classic Pro is a great Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine. Gaggia has significantly improved the frothing wand and reduced the noise level of this classic machine while maintaining the focus on quality by using commercial grade components in a new, modern design.
The Classic Pro Espresso Machine has a commercial grade portafilter — 58 mm of chrome-plated solid brass. Similarly, the commercial grade steam wand gives superb control while steaming and frothing milk. You can become a latte-artist with this machine!
The commercial 3-way solenoid valve makes puck removal a cinch.
Key features include:
- Fast heating
- Large 72 oz water reservoir
- Easy-to-use 3 switch controls
- Long-lasting, commercial grade components
- Superb steam wand
The Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine is a top choice for semi-automatic espresso machines. Customer reviews for this machine are outstanding.
Intended for small restaurant, office and home use, the Pasquini Livia 90 incorporates sturdy commercial grade components, but also excellent features and functionality that set a new standard for what it’s possible from a home espresso machine. This is actually one of the Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines out there and it’s highly recommend for the espresso aficionado. One thing you’ll love about this model is the fact that its boiler is used for steaming on demand and when it comes to the espresso water, it draws directly from the built in reservoir. With this espresso machine, you can finally steam instantly and produce espresso shots one after another. In fact, frothing milk and brewing espresso is never going to be a problem for the Livia 90.
Not only is this vital for those that want to use it in a c commercial environment, but it also saves you the need for waiting on the boiler to recover between the milk heating and espresso brewing functions, which is the case with each single boiler machine. While the Livia 90 is a semi-automatic espresso machine, it doesn’t come with the one-touch brewing system that’s available in the automatic version.
This Breville BES840XL/A the Infuser Espresso Machine is feature rich in the semi-automatic espresso machine category. It has some features normally found in super-automatic machines. For example, it has programmable volumetric control and automatic temperature settings. Another energy saving feature: it goes into sleep mode after 1 hour, and it shuts itself off if not used for three hours.
However, let’s focus on the functions a bit. For one, at the start of the extraction process, the pre-infusion function will apply low water pressure in order to ensure the grinds are gently expanded in order to make for an even extraction. Secondly, if you’d like to be able to accurately control water temperature, you can now do that thanks to the 1600W thermocoil heating system that features an integrated water coil (stainless steel).
In terms of accessories, the BES840XL features a water filter with holder, cleaning tool, cleaning disc and tablets, stainless steel jug, coffee scoop, but also dual and single wall filter baskets.
Other highlights include a cup warmer, but also a special feature which helps removing the extra water from the filter basket after the coffee extraction process is over.
The amazing, yet compact Bezzera BZ07 is an excellent espresso machine made of stainless steel and is a wonderful addition to any kitchen. This model is capable of preparing some of the most delicious espresso shots you’ve ever had and since it also comes with a host of features, you can have the peace of mind that it’s going to satisfy the needs of even the pickiest espresso lovers out there.
Since the BZ07 is classified as a semi automatic machine, this means that you need to press a button in order to start the extraction process and then press the same button again in order to stop the process. The grouphead of the BZ07 houses a thermostat (that accurately monitors temperature) and 2 electric heating elements, while the boiler temperature pressure is monitored by a PID sensor in the boiler and a PID micro CPU.
In terms of features, the BZ07 also comes with a spring loaded, lever type steam and hot water valves, OPV adjustable for changing the exiting overpressure created by the pump, strong copper boiler, thermostat controlled heated fifty eight millimeter grouphead and a multi directional hot water and steam wand among other features.
The Breville BES920XL is one of the most impressive semi-automatic espresso machines available. It produces superior espresso drinks with exceptional crema. It is a well-built model with many features commonly found in more expensive machines. For example, it has dual boilers which allows low pressure infusion with programmable duration and pressure. If you’re an espresso machine connoisseur, then you’re probably aware of the fact that this feature is only seen in top of the line commercial espresso machines.
The BES920XL comes with a stainless steel heat exchanger. It delivers pre-heated water to the boiler through the steam boiler, helping thermal stability for ideal extraction temperature. Controlled by the PID technology, the actively heated group head is able to ensure that thermal stability is maintained throughout the entire extraction process.
Lastly, thanks to the low pressure pre infusion process, the Breville BES920XL dual-boiler espresso machine is able to increase water pressure gradually at the beginning of the extraction in order to expand grinds gently and ensure an even extraction. Also, the backlit LCD display adds a great touch to the overall look of the machine and it can be set to display time, shot clock or brew temperature.
Manufactured in Italy, the La Cuadra espresso machine is ready for both home and commercial use thanks to its excellent list of specifications that include a copper boiler, group and coffee handle. In fact, if you’re the type who is very picky about his espresso shots, then you may certainly want to give this model a shot. For one, it comes with a one point eight liter boil, a three liter pour in reservoir, but also 1 hot water tap, 1 steam wand and 1 group, giving you plenty of functions to help you make the perfect espresso shot. The unit can also be used both as a catering unit or at home and since it’s easily portable, you can also take it along with you on special occasions.
In total, the La Cuadra has a capacity of sixty drinks per day, which means that no matter how many friends you have over, you can rest assured that it’s going to be able to prepare espresso shots for everyone. Design wise, the unit features red side panels with stainless steel accents which make the unit really stand out.
If you’re one of those people who never thought that you’d live to see the day when an affordable heat exchange espresso machine would hit the market, it seems that the Oscar from Nuova Simonelli is here to finally prove you that this is indeed possible. This unit is not only cheaper by a few hundred dollars compared to similar models out there, but it also employs a high quality construction that’s going to help you get many years of use out of it. One thing you’ll actually love about this is that it is available in 2 water sources, including a tank model and a plumbed model. If you have a small cafe setting or want to brew a lot of coffee at home, then the direct connect model will suit your needs best. Overall, the Oscar is very easy to use and not only does it feature a stylish look, but it’s also going to help you prepare some of the most delicious espresso shots you’ve ever had.
In terms of features, the Oscar comes with a removable tray, sturdy construction, a cup warmer, great steam pressure, large water tank, direct connect, professional portafilter, simple interface, heat exchanger.
The Nespresso Pixie is a super convenient semi-automatic espresso machine that uses The Nespresso capsule system to provide excellent espresso at an affordable price.
Nespresso offers 16 authentic Espresso Grand Crus to provide the coffee drink experience and aroma you want with every cup of coffee.
Key features include:
- High pressure 19 bar pump gives you full flavor extraction
- Rich crema
- Exceptionally fast heating—25 seconds to ideal temperature
- Automatic shut-off after 9 minutes
- 24-ounce water tank with convenient light to indicate when a refill is needed
- Features 2 one-touch buttons to control size (Espresso or Lungo) which can be reprogrammed to other sizes
- Compact design fits almost any space
- Folding Drip Tray to accommodate larger cups
- Each espresso machine includes an assortment of capsules to introduce you to the range of aromas available
Cleaning and maintenance of this DeLonghi is a breeze. The machine will hold up to 10 used capsules.
The De’Longhi (EN125S) Nespresso Pixie is a great choice if you are looking for a convenient, affordable espresso machine. It is a best-value espresso machine that has consistent and excellent reviews from purchasers.
Combining technology with the premium and iconic metal design, KitchenAid has managed to come up with a very impressive semi automatic espresso machine that’s certainly going to be the first and last unit for a lot of people. The KES0504FP comes with a milk frothier as well, meaning that all your espresso shots are going to taste exactly the way you want them to. If you love the nespresso coffee quality, then the KES0504FP’s nineteen bar pressure system is certainly going to deliver in this regard.
In terms of features, you get a one point three liter removable water tank, solid die cast, all metal construction, a brew strength selector and an easy loading capsule system. Besides these, the KES0504FP also comes with a set of sixteen Nespresso capsules.
Known for its sleek brewing controls and excellent stainless steel build quality, the Gaggia 12300 is one of those few semi automatic espresso machines on the market that are going to simply stop you in your tracks and convince you through their unique set of features and impressive design that you definitely need to own one. This specific model incorporates high quality components that are manufactured in Italy, including a 3-way solenoid valve, a heavy fifty eight millimeter commercial style portafilter and a chrome plated brass brew group.
If you’ve steamed and frothed before, then you probably know that this is in most cases, very hard to get right, but the good news is that the Gaggia 12300 finally managed to help take the guesswork out of this. As a result, you can now steam and froth like a real pro and prepare delicious espresso shots for friends and family.
Notable features include a coffee scoop, coffee tamper, ESE filter basket, double shot and single shot basket, high wattage boiler, fifteen-bar pump and a sixty oz reservoir (removable) which can help you brew 2 cups at the same time. All in all, when you put everything together, you realize that the Gaggia 12300 offers the perfect balance between performance and style.
How to Choose the Right Semi Automatic Espresso Machine
At a high level, you can organize your search with a number of key considerations.
One thing that you may certainly want to consider prior to getting a semi automatic espresso machine is usability. For instance, it’s very important that you get a machine that features easy to see indicator lights, since the majority of machines you can currently buy feature lights that can be hardly seen. Fortunately, great changes are happening in the industry and more and more semi automatic espresso machines are fitted with high quality indicator lights. However, this is one of the many factors to consider when looking for an espresso machine. There are many other things to look out for, including:
- Check to see how the switches are positioned and see whether they are easy to understand and read intuitively.
- Check the cup warming tray and ascertain whether it’s just a fancy aesthetic or you can actually use it.
- Check the cleaner between the drip tray and the spouts and see whether it’s wide enough to fit the cups you’d like to brew into.
- Lastly, check the portafilter handle, how far over it needs to go so it can be locked, the way it sits in the machine, whether you are required to hold a clasp in place in order to prevent the filter basket from falling out and so forth.
It’s very important that the materials used for the construction of the semi automatic espresso machine are high quality and here we’re talking not only about the exterior, but also the internal parts and the boiler. In the majority of cases, metal is always a lot better than plastic. Great grippy rubber feet, simple to access bolts for disassembling the machine, but also metal drip trays are all things that a high quality espresso machine should incorporate.
Generally parts made of stainless steel or aluminum will last longer than the same parts made out of plastic.
Switches and Buttons
Now depending on your preferences, some people will prefer electrical buttons, while others can swear that mechanical switches are a lot better. For instance, some people are going to find that it’s very gratifying to feel the lifting of the small lever on an espresso machine that’s fitted with an E61 grouphead, while others are simply cannot imagine using an espresso machine that doesn’t have the satisfying clack that you hear when using the brew switch on the Rancilio Silvia. And while it’s true that mechanical switches can also break, replacing one can be a lot easier than shopping for a complete circuit board.
Single Boiler or Double Boiler
Single boiler machines are fine for many espresso lovers, but double boiler machines will allow you to make drinks more rapidly, brew coffee while heating milk, and keep up with high demand from your many friends or small office.
Like most things, semi-automatic espresso machines have a wide range of price points and feature sets. First, understand what your budget is. The cost of these machines ranges from a few hundred dollars for a fine machine to several thousand dollars for machines with many advanced features.
Smart Phone Interface
Increasingly, there are apps available to control the process of brewing drinks. These can make complex programming easy. You may want to consider an espresso maker with this feature.
Machine designs are rapidly evolving, with the machines becoming more stylish and attractive. Will the design fit with your kitchen or office?
Note that some semi-automatic machines do not have a grinder. So you will need a coffee grinder or to use pre-ground coffee or Easy Serving Espresso (E.S.E.) pods.
There are significant differences in the maintenance requirements for different machines. Look for a machine where cleaning up and more significant maintenance is easy. Look for a machine that will notify you when scheduled maintenance is due. Some machines include water filters for better taste and reduced maintenance.
Does the manufacturer offer a good warranty?
What is the reputation of the manufacturer? Some espresso manufacturers have been in business over 100 years and have invented many of the features that have become standards in these fine machines.
Recap: Best overall and Best-value Semi-automatic Espresso Machine
Semi-automatic espresso machines are the most popular espresso machine for a range of consumers up to and including those demanding users who are near-professional baristas.
Best Overall: Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine
When it comes to getting the best, there’s no doubt that Breville BES870XL Barista Express is the most impressive semi automatic espresso machines on the market today. Customer reviews for this machine are excellent.
Why buy this Breville machine? When you want a super quality semi-automatic espresso machine with commercial-grade components. This Breville Barista Express has especially good commercial frothing wand. However, it you want full, push-button automation and an integrated grinder, take a look at our top-rated super-automatic espresso-machines.
Best Value: Calphalon Temp IQ Espresso Machine with Grinder and Steam Wand
The Calphalon Temp iQ Espresso Machine delivers many of the features of well-known and more expensive machines at a bargain price. The Temp iQ features an easy-to-use dial control to select single and double shot espresso drinks or to select steam or hot water. This espresso machine includes a built in adjustable burr grinder with 30 settings that will produce the perfect grind to match your taste preferences.
This Calphalon machine produces 15 Bar pressure for full flavor and aroma extraction and uses a professionally sized 58 mm portafilter and pre-infusion for professional tasting results. Like much more expensive machines, the Temp iQ Espresso Machine uses a Thermoblock boiler, controlled by a PID, to provide rapid and precise temperature control—a key feature in making great espresso.
Other great features include a steam wand to make Cappuccinos, Lattes, and other specialty drinks. It includes a cup warmer, a stainless-steel milk pitcher, and a tamper. The large (2L) water reservoir is easily removable and refilled.
Is a semi-automatic espresso machine worth it?
A semi-automatic espresso machine may be the right choice for you if you want more detailed control over making your espresso drink than a super automatic machine would provide while automating parts of that process.
Semi-automatic espresso machines provide two advantages over fully automatic machines. If you have mastered the art of pulling the perfect espresso shot, semi-automatic machines can give you full control over that process.
They are also generally less expensive than fully automatic machines while still automating significant portions of the task.
How to use a semi-automatic espresso machine?
Semi-automatic espresso machines offer automation of some portions of the brewing cycle. Semi-automatic machines add an electric pump to ensure consistent pressure for the duration of the brewing process. Typically, you still have manual control of the grind, the coffee used and the volume of water that passes through that coffee.
There are also “programmable semiautomatic espresso machines”. These machines typically offer one or two programmable buttons that allow you to program the amount of water used in some other variables. On these machines, typically one button is the “brew” button that starts the whole process, some of the steps of which remain under the Barista’s control.
You might also like to read: Manual vs. Semi-automatic vs. Super Automatic Espresso Machine – what are the differences?