Here is our review of 8 of the best semi automatic espresso machines.
A semi automatic espresso machine is the ideal machine for a lazy barista.
In this article, we have listed the best super automatic espresso machine that is suited for each individual.
Whether you want an entry-level, budget-friendly, or premium-end machine, this list will have it here for you. I found the best semi automatic espresso machine to be the Breville Barista Touch overall but it may not be the best for you…
So let’s get started:
Our Best Semi Automatic Espresso Machines
- Gaggia Classic Pro (Best for Entry-Level)
- Capresso EC100 (Best for Budget)
- Nespresso Creatista Plus (Best for Pod-Based)
- De’Longhi EC680M (Best for Compact)
- La Pavoni Bar T 2 Group (Best for Commercial)
- Yabano 15 Bar (Best for Design)
- Breville Barista Express (Best for Value)
- Breville Barista Touch (Best for Overall)
8 Best Semi Automatic Espresso Machines Reviewed
Each of these machines has its pros and cons so it’s important to consider which machine is the best suited for you.
Best for Entry Level
- Very easy to operate
- Comes in different colours
- Quality stainless steel build
- Small and compact design
- Easy to maintain over the long run
- Exceptional brewing quality
- Huge water reservoir
- Lacks special features
- Not budget-friendly
- Design is outdated
The Gaggia Classic Pro is literally a classic. It’s been around for decades and still manages to live up to its name. What people love most about the Classic Pro is its exceptional brewing quality. Its Italian made espresso is able to compete with the bigger brands like Breville and Rancilio and can still outperform them. Let’s not also forget about the Gaggia Classic Pros whopping 72 oz water reservoir!
The downside to this machine is that it doesn’t have much functionality but this is why I have listed this machine as the best for entry-level. It may not be the most budget-friendly but its minimalistic design and amazing brewing quality make it ideal for beginners.
Although there are a few downsides, especially its outdated design, you can’t go wrong with the Gaggia Classic Pro. Many espresso machines’ performances can decline over time but this machine can last you for decades. If you want great brewing quality, minimal features, a small footprint, huge water reservoir, then the Gaggia Classic Pro is for you.
Best for Budget
- Large water reservoir
- Dual frothing system
- High pressure brewing
- Easy to clean
- Brewing can be inconsistent
- Performance declines over time
- Brew temperature not hot enough
The Capresso EC100 is one of the most budget-friendly semi automatic espresso machines on the market. Its name is a combination of ‘Cappuccino’ and ‘Espresso’. Funny enough, this machine can only make a basic cappuccino and espresso. The highlight of the machine is its dual frothing system meaning that it has separate positions to steam and froth milk.
The downsides to the EC100 are that its brewing consistency is not the best and has average brewing quality. A few customers have also complained that the brewing temperature is not hot enough.
Although there are a few downsides to the EC100, you are getting what you’re paying for. This machine does have a few pros which are its large water reservoir, budget-friendliness as well as being easy to clean and operate. The Capresso EC100 is very affordable and is definitely a choice for someone who is on a budget.
Best for Pod-Based
- Large used capsule capacity
- High durability
- Great control with frothing pitcher
- Intuitive touch screen
- Low customization
- More manual than the Lattissima
The Breville Nespresso Creatista Plus is the best pod-based semi automatic espresso machine on the market. I’d consider this a high-end espresso machine considering its price. But lets not forget about its high-quality intuitive LCD touchscreen. It is also simple to use as you only need to press one button to start the machine and does not need a portafilter.
The downside of the Creatista Plus is that it is unfortunately not the most budget-friendly machine out there. It can also be expensive considering that it uses pods instead of pre-ground coffee and we all know how expensive Nespresso pods can be.
I wouldn’t call the Creatista Plus truly ‘semi automatic’ as you do not need to use a portafilter as well as measuring and tamping pre-ground coffee. This machine is definitely the best pod-based machine out there as it does produce decent milk froth. If you’re looking for a semi automatic pod-based espresso machine the Creatista Plus is the machine for you.
Best for Compact
- Quality stainless steel build
- Adjustable drip tray height
- Produces suburb crema with its milk frothing
- Small and compact
- Can sometimes produce smoke
- Expensive compared to similar models
The De’Longhi Dedica EC680M is one of the most compact semi automatic espresso machines that is perfect for your small apartment. The Dedica EC680M is well known for making perfect crema for every espresso shot and is able to bring out the rich flavors from the coffee grounds.
The downside to the Dedica EC680M is that it is quite a pricey machine when comparing it to similar models. You’re not only paying for great brew quality but also for the brand De’Longhi. A few customers complained that this machine can sometimes produce smoke instead of steam which can be concerning.
The De’Longhi Dedica EC680M is definitely considered a high-end compact espresso machine and is probably one of the best in its range. Let’s not also forget about its great milk froth quality. Many espresso machines struggle to create superb milk froth but the DC680M is incredible at this. If you’re someone who needs a great quality and compact machine then the De’Longhi Dedica is for you.
Best for Commercial
- High quality group heads
- Great thermal stability
- Water softener to purify water
- Anti vacuum system
- Adjustable cup sizes
- Requires regular cleaning
- Potential of voiding warranty
The La Pavoni is one of the best semi automatic commercial espresso machine you can buy for your coffee shop. It is the best machine for espresso services being capable of making up to 600 espressos per day. The La Pavoni is a machine that’s easy to operate for even the unexperienced barista with its digital control pad. This will allow you to adjust the cup size for each group head which allow for continuous brewing.
The downsides to the La Pavoni is that it is quite expensive but is reasonably priced for a commercial espresso machine. It also requires regular cleaning which is necessary for getting rid of unwanted water and milk residue. If you have not installed a water softener for the machine, it may void your machines warranty too.
Other than that, the La Pavoni is a highly suitable commercial espresso machine for your coffee shop. You will be able to make espresso shots for your consumers in a matter of minutes which is much needed. Whether you’re a beginner or a barista, the La Pavoni is an incredible semi automatic commercial espresso machine to consider.
Best for Design
- Quick heat up time
- Good milk foam quality
- Cool retro looking design
- Large water reservoir
- Poor steam wand adjustment design
- Can be tricky to use at first
- Difficult to find machine parts
The Yabano is a sleek designed semi automatic espresso machine that has very high ratings from its consumers. What makes the Yabano stand out is that it has a high-quality stainless steel build and a small compact design for its price. It is one of the more budget-friendly espresso machines out there that produces a decent cup of espresso.
The downside to the Yabano is that the parts are very difficult to find when needing replacement. This means that maintenance costs can be quite costly if it needs replacement. There isn’t a lot of functionality when it comes to the Yabano but definitely does the job.
The Yabano is a 15 bar pressure espresso machine which means it helps extract more flavor from the coffee grounds. This will also help reduce time to make a shot of espresso. This is a great machine for someone who wants a beautifully designed and budget-friendly espresso machine.
Best for Value
- Great quality build
- Superb brewing quality
- Built in grinder
- Up to 6 specialty drinks
- Grind control
- Expensive water filters
- Difficult to use at first
- Requires frequent cleaning
The Breville Barista Express is the best premium starter machine. It has everything you need to make a superb cup of espresso. The reason why the Barista Express is listed best for value is because its the least expensive machine out of the Breville Barista line. It also produces high-quality espresso like the Barista Pro and Barista Touch.
The downside to the Breville Barista Express is that it is still a pricey coffee machine. It is also a little bit more manual when comparing it to other high-end baristas and is the only model that does not include a digital LCD screen.
What also makes the Barista Express the best for value is that it includes necessary features such as an inbuilt grinder. It also has many adjustable controls for perfecting your espresso.
Best for Overall
- Digital LCD screen
- Produces THE perfect espresso
- Adjustable milk temperature and texture
- Adjustable coffee strength
- Adjustable grind size
- Automatic steam wand cleaning
- Built-in grinder
- Difficult to find water filter replacements
- No heated plates
The Breville Barista Touch is by far the best semi automatic espresso machine in the market. It’s pretty much a fully automatic espresso machine with a portafilter. You can customize up to 8 personal drinks for your preference with its responsive digital LCD screen. Don’t forget about its inbuilt grinder which means no more buying pre-ground coffee.
The only major downside to the Breville Barista Touch is that it is one of the most expensive semi automatic espresso machines out there. It can also be difficult to find water filter replacements as well as replacing other expensive parts.
Other than that, the Breville Barista Touch is a machine that requires little skill and is easy to operate for even a beginner. What makes this machine stand out is that it has automatic milk frothing which is very hard to find in a semi automatic espresso machine. It produces café-like espresso and has many adjustable functions for personal preference. Whether you’re a barista or completely inexperienced, the Breville Barista Touch is a great investment if the price doesn’t scare you.
Choosing the best semi automatic espresso machine can be a tricky decision to make as there are many aspects to this machine. This guide will also help you decide whether a semi automatic espresso machine is even the right choice for your home:
Anatomy of Semi Automatic Espresso Machine
Pros of a Semi Automatic Espresso Machine
Espresso shot control: This may feel manual to do but what’s great about water flow control is that it allows you to perfect your espresso shot. This can even help you achieve great tasting coffees exactly how your favorite coffee shop does it.
Better quality espresso shots: Another factor that contributes to quality shots is the portafilter. Semi automatic espresso machines come with bulky chrome-plated portafilters. This will give you better temperature stability which is ideal for a quality shot of espresso.
Create latte art: Ever wonder why your latte at a coffee shop has beautiful latte art? Well, the barista is either using a manual or semi automatic espresso machine to do this. Creating latte art is a great skill to have when impressing your friends or family.
Manual brewing experience: Crafting your coffee beverages more manually will help you learn the true art of making coffee. Manual brewing experience may be more of an effort but it can be fun at times and you won’t regret it after taking the first sip of your coffee.
Cons of a Semi Automatic Espresso Machine
No automatic grinding and milk steaming: Having to buy a separate electric burr grinder can be a little annoying. Buying a separate grinder will not only add to your costs but take more time to finish making the actual coffee.
Requires barista experience: Learning how to properly tamp grounds, grind the perfect grind size, and learning how to froth milk can be tricky at first. You will have to do a few trial and errors before making drinks you are happy with.
Pre-ground coffee ONLY: Unless you are willing to buy a separate grinder or a ridiculously expensive semi automatic espresso machine that has automatic grinding, you will need to use pre-ground coffee. This can be annoying as pre-ground coffee tends to be relatively more expensive than whole bean coffee.
Manual brewing experience: I know I said that a manual brewing experience is a pro to using a semi automatic espresso machine but it can also be a downside. If you are not willing to tamp your own grounds then don’t even consider buying a semi automatic espresso machine. You also need to be willing to learn new skills to make your ideal coffee drink and if not, consider buying a super automatic espresso machine.
Single boiler: This type of boiler is commonly used in smaller and compact machines. A single boiler is responsible for both brewing coffee and steaming hot water.
One downside to a single boiler is that the brew and steam temperature cannot have separate temperatures. If an espresso machine has a single boiler, expect it to be less expensive and more compact than one with a dual boiler.
Dual boiler: This type of boiler is used in larger capacity machines and overall tends to be more expensive. One boiler will belong to brewing and the other boiler will belong to steaming hot water.
One downside to a dual boiler is that they are more expensive compared to machines with single boilers. If an espresso machine has a dual boiler, it’ll usually be less compact and most commercial machines will have this type of boiler.
Your tamper plays a vital role in making a superb shot of espresso. If your semi automatic espresso machine comes with a plastic-built tamper, throw it in the trash. You should consider getting yourself a high-quality metal tamper to improve espresso quality.
Plastic tampers are very light which means that tamping the grounds will result in a watery tasteless shot. A metal tamper will allow for heavier tamping to better compress the coffee grounds. Although a metal tamper is better for tamping, a very heavy tamper can also result in a bitter shot of espresso which is also not ideal.
Special features of a semi automatic espresso machine include touch screens, inbuilt grinders, and adjustable controls. These features are more difficult to find especially in a semi automatic espresso machine.
Your average semi automatic espresso machine will most probably not have an LCD screen. Machines like these usually don’t need you to choose a beverage as you need to do all the coffee-making yourself. Expect a machine with an LCD screen to be premium-end and very expensive.
If I could choose one special feature to have, I would choose automatic grinding. I rarely ever buy pre-ground coffee as it seems to be more expensive and whole bean coffee is usually fresher. Buying a separate grinder is time-consuming and costly, automatic grinding will grind the beans for you which is a BIG pro.
Grind Control Button
Some semi automatic espresso machines will come with a bunch of adjustable control buttons.. With a grind control button, your machine will most likely have an automatic grinding feature. The grind control button will allow you to alter the grind size of your coffee beans to make french press, aeropress, or pour-over type drinks.
Most Popular Semi Automatic Espresso Machine Brands
If you’re new to semi automatic espresso machines, it’s good to know what brands are out there. You don’t want to be buying from a brand that is not reliable and has parts that can be hard to find.
Here are the most popular brands:
- Mr. Coffee
Cleaning and Maintenance
When it comes to cleaning and maintaining your espresso machine, it’s important to clean right after you have finished making coffee. There are a few parts that should be cleaned afterward including the portafilter, brew basket, group head, drip tray, and steam wand.
Here are a few tips for cleaning your semi automatic espresso machine:
- Soak the portafilter and brew basket in soapy water then rinse with water thoroughly.
- Use an old but clean toothbrush to brush off any coffee particles stuck in the group head.
- Empty the dirty water from the drip tray and rinse it with water to remove any stuck coffee particles on the side.
- Last but not least, wipe down the steam wand with a cloth and then steam it out to get rid of any milk residue inside.
When it comes to the price of semi automatic espresso machines, it can range from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars. Will budget semi automatic espresso machines make a decent espresso? Yes, but when it comes to making other types of beverages, you may want to look at more premium-end machines.
If you’re hesitant to buy a pricey espresso machine then consider a more budget-friendly machine. I also recommend buying a budget-friendly semi automatic espresso machine if you’re new to these types of machines.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a semi automatic and a fully automatic espresso machine?
Semi automatic espresso machines are simply less automatic. With this type of machine, you have to manually tamp coffee grounds, pour milk froth into the coffee and attach the portafilter. A fully automatic espresso machine on the other hand will do all of that automatically. The only manual tasks to do are emptying the drip tray and throwing away the tamped grounds.
Why do semi automatic espresso machines cost so much?
Espresso machines in general are quite pricey but are worth the investment. The more automatic an espresso machine is, the pricier it can get. With semi automatic espresso machines, prices can range up to the thousands. Aspects such as precise temperature control and high-end material contribute the most to its price.
Are semi automatic espresso machines worth it?
Yes, semi automatic espresso machines are most definitely with it! I myself have a super automatic espresso machine and sometimes I wish I had bought myself a semi automatic espresso machine. Semi automatic espresso machines will allow you to manually customize your drinks and helo create cool latte art for your coffee.
What is a semi automatic espresso machine’s lifespan?
A semi automatic espresso machine’s lifespan all depends on the build quality and how well you look after it. A decent semi automatic espresso machine should last you between 15-20 years if taken care of. This is why it’s also important to consider a pricier machine if you plan on using it for as long as possible.
Buying the best semi automatic espresso machine really depends on your personal preference. If you don’t want to buy a machine with the highest brewing quality but rather the least expensive then that will be the best machine for you.
I find the Breville Barista Touch to be the best semi automatic espresso machine on this list. It has one of the best brewing qualities and is definitely the most ‘up to date’ in terms of technology.
Like I said, every person is different so make sure to go through the list to find the best semi automatic espresso machine that is best suited for you!