Buying a semi-automatic espresso machine is the best way to go for an espresso enthusiast who wants to learn and experiment with coffee. Yes, decent semiautomatics are not very expensive, but so are decent super automatics. The semi-automatic espresso machines are more reliable, and they give you a bit more flexibility with brewing. This translates in greater control over your shot.
With the semi-automatics, you have to do the dosing and tamping. You also need to start and stop the extraction by activating a button. All other nice features of a fully automatic machine can be included in a semi, but obviously for a price.
TL;DR Best value semi-automatic espresso machine
If you’re looking for the best semi-automatic espresso machine for yourself, we have you covered here:
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How to Choose a Semi-automatic Espresso Machine?
When considering any espresso machine, what matters most is the finished product. We’re all looking for the perfect shot, and there’s no better way to start your morning – especially when you’re able to craft the shot in the comfort of your own home. But it really is also worth considering the specific experience you’re looking for.
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.
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 group head, 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.
With that being said, 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 favourite.
Best semi-automatic Coffee Machine Reviews
We created reviews below with additional guidance for different kinds of a semi-automatic coffee machine. If you plan to buy semi-automatic coffee machine online please do so through our review so that your purchase (at no additional cost to you) can support this website – thank you.
Breville BES870XL the Barista Express Espresso Machine
With nearly 2,000 reviews and a 4.4-star rating on Amazon, this Breville semi-automatic espresso machine is a standout option. Not only does it have a built-in conical grinder for dosing your coffee, but you can even adjust the amount of coffee it grinds with the twist of the dial. This gives you all of the freedom of a semi-automatic machine, but all of the convenience of an automatic model.
It has a powerful, 1600-watt motor and a digitally-controlled temperature setting that deliver consistently delicious espresso. You can easily switch from one shot to a double shot with the push of the button, and the steam wand couldn’t be simpler to use: Simply pour your milk into the (included!) stainless steel milk jug and bring it up to the steam wand. The longer you leave it in, the more texturized and thicker your milk will be. Even better, it comes with a self-cleaning feature and cleaning discs and tablets, as well as a brush. While this option is pricey, it’s hands down the best one to buy if you’re looking for a long-lasting and easy-to-use machine with plenty of included accessories and attachments.
15 used from $412.46
- Dose control grinding: integrated conical burr grinder grinds on demand to deliver the right amount of freshly ground Coffee directly into the portafilter for your preferred taste with any roast of bean
- Precise espresso extraction: digital temperature control (PID) delivers water at precisely the right temperature, ensuring optimal Espresso extraction
- Micro foam milk texturing: the steam wand performance allows you to hand texture micro foam milk that enhances flavor and enables creation of latte art
Breville BES980XL Oracle Espresso Machine
While a near-$2000 price tag might seem exorbitant, this semi-automatic espresso maker is the best if you’re making professional-quality espresso drinks for a cafe or restaurant. It has a laundry list of features that make it the easiest and fastest machine for making a lot of espressos. First, its built-in grinder makes it super simple for you to adjust the strength of your espresso as needed, or set it and forget it. Second, two stainless steel boilers allow you to simultaneously make your espresso and steam your milk, so you won’t waste any time making cappuccinos or lattes.
The digital LCD screens clearly display the temperature of the steam (which can be adjusted), the coarseness of your grounds, and the number of seconds before you have to pull. As with any machine on this list, just push a button to switch from a single to a double shot. The long and short? This powerhouse option takes the guesswork out of making espresso with a semi-automatic machine but still allows you to customize your drink to your liking. And, because its ease-of-use is unbeatable, no matter the skill level of the operator your drink will come out delicious every time.
2 used from $1,849.95
- Automatically grinds, doses & tamps the required amount of coffee for mess free, barista quality espresso
- Programmable hands free milk texturing with automatic purge.Water tank capacity : 84 ounce;Voltage: 110 to 120 Volts
- Dual stainless steel boilers & dual Italian pumps with PID; Boilers can be descaled by user. Power:1800 Watts
- One Touch Americano delivers water directly into the cup after extraction; 3 preset & 6 customizable settings
Pasquini Livia 90 Semiautomatic Commercial Espresso
Intended for a 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 recommended 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 stream 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.
- 1.5 Liter dual heat exchange boiler allows for simultaneous brewing and steaming.
- Solid stainless steel construction guarantees many years of excellent service.
- 15 BAR pump provides optimal pressure for perfect extraction every time.
- 3-way solenoid valve instantly relieves the pressure in the group heap making cleanup easier
- 36lbs 12H x 11.5H x 15H
Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Espresso Machine
If you’re one of those people who never thought that you’d love 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.
Gaggia 12300 Baby Class Manual Espresso Machine
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-millimetre 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 stream 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.
- Espresso machine with chrome-plated brass brew group and heavy 58-mm portafilter
- 15-bar pump; high-wattage boiler; 3-way solenoid valve; push-button controls
- 60-ounce removable reservoir; can make 2 cups simultaneously; steamer for frothing milk
- Includes single-shot, double-shot, and E.S.E. filter basket; coffee tamper; and coffee scoop
- Measures 10-2/5 by 9-3/5 by 15-2/3 inches
De’Longhi EC155 BAR Pump Cappuccino & Semi-Automatic Espresso Maker
This De’Longhi machine is a solid and simple choice for an aspiring home barista. The EC155 is solidly in the low-priced range of semi-automatic espresso machines, but when considering the cost, the EC155 provides a great value.
This model is all about the home barista, and as a result, some features are scaled down a bit. For example, the 35-ounce reservoir is smaller than some higher-end models, but still plenty big enough for a couple of shots in the morning. The steam wand is petite and can be a bit finicky, but the EC155 is designed with two thermostats – one for brewing and one for steaming. This avoids the problem with the Dream Up V3’s temperature control.
With a pleasantly weighty tamper included, the EC155 looks great on a kitchen counter. A seasoned and comfortable barista may want more than what this provides, but for a simple latte in the morning, this machine will work just fine.
7 used from $59.95
- Use convenient pods or ground coffee with the patented dual function filter holder. It makes espresso preparation simple and fast
- Easily prepares latte and cappuccino with the swivel jet frother, for perfect drinks every time.Rated voltage/Frequency (V~Hz)-120~60
- Eliminate annoying start-up preparation with the self-priming operation. On/off switch
- Always brew espresso at the perfect temperature with two separate thermostats, which allow for water and steam pressure to be controlled separately
Ascaso Dream Up V3 Espresso Machine
One look at Ascaso’s Dream Up V3 should make it clear that it’s crafted to show off and be a bit flashy. The vintage and retro look accompanies less than stellar functioning, but the overall experience is still very satisfying. With simple buttons and sleek analogue temperature dial, this machine provides a satisfying hands-on experience. Solid aluminium construction means you won’t have to worry about durability, and the simplified experience allows room for your own technical expertise to shine through in each cup.
The Dream Up V3 allows a variety of wand tips, and this provides an opportunity to adjust to your own preference. Beyond that, though, it doesn’t offer a lot in terms of being able to tinker with specifics.
Unfortunately, it uses one heating system for both the water and the milk steaming. In practice, this means you’ll need to pause after pulling a shot and allow the machine to adjust temperatures before steaming a pitcher of milk.
- Sleek Design - A compact, solid aluminum case offers bold lines that call to mind vintage consumer goods.
- Quick Thermoblock - An outsized thermoblock offers quality heat retention and quick steps up or down to steam temp.
- Accessories Abound - Ascaso includes everything you need to brew including a fantastic tamper, an optional panarello steam tip and both pressurized and nonpressurized (and ESE Pod) baskets.
Gaggia RI8525/01 Carezza De LUXE Espresso Maker
The Carezza De LUXE by Gaggia stands out with a super traditional look and feel. With styling that you might find in a retro Italian cafe, this machine produces a simple and reliable espresso. The Carezza De LUXE lacks some of the precision attention to detail seen in the Nuova Simonelli and Breville models, but its ease of use and tasteful styling make it stand out.
This machine has a hefty 47-ounce reservoir, but like the Nuova Simonelli model, it lacks an integrated grinder.
If you’re a believer in pre-infusion, this would be a great choice. Pre-infusion is the process of dampening the espresso puck before beginning the real extraction process, and some home baristas swear by it. This machine gets rid of the guesswork, thanks to the automatic pre-infusion function.
Unlike the higher-end models, there’s no automation built into the steaming features. But the Pannarello steam wand is designed to be forgiving to beginners. With carefully placed holes at the top of the wand, this machine draws in some extra air to simplify the frothing process. Depending on your level of confidence, this could be a huge boon – but if you’re more of a traditionalist, the Pannarello could throw off your texturing.
- FROTHING FOR MILK BEVERAGES: Pannarello wand frothing for cappuccinos & lattes. Wand doubles as a hot water dispenser for Americanos & tea
- Brewing features: pressurized porta filter brews both ground Coffee and ESE pods. Pre-infusion function pre-wets grounds before brewing for rich, even extraction
- AUTOMATIC POWER DOWN: The Carezze will power down after 9 minutes of inactivity to save energy
- FRONT LOADED WATER RESERVOIR: Features a 47oz capacity and pulls out from the front of the machine, water level is visible, and the reservoir is compatible with the Mavea Inteza water filter system
Which Semi-automatic Espresso Machine to Choose?
Last but not least, always remember that no espresso machine is perfect! So the aim is to get the best espresso machine within your budget range.
I have changed espresso machines many times since my college days. Each time is an upgrade, but I still like every one of the machines I owned. This is because I did a lot of research online before buying and each of them is the best within their range!