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I’m a Barista – These are My 5 Picks for the Best Semi Automatic Espresso Machine in 2023 

Looking for the best semi automatic machine? Long story short: The Breville Barista Express is it.

Best Semi Automatic Espresso Machine

Our team has written a lot about the Breville machines. Spoiler alert: The Express is an espresso machine that’s well-rounded on just about all counts, allowing you to make espresso at home easily while still offering room to develop your barista skills.

As a barista of 5 years, I know the world of espresso is riddled with semi-automatic options of varying quality. That’s why I put together a shortlist of the top options, depending on what you’re looking for.

Ready? Brew yourself a cuppa and let’s get going.

Best Semi Automatic Espresso Machine Picks at a Glance

BEST OVERALL
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel, BES870XL, Large

Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel, BES870XL, Large

  • Bars of extraction pressure: 15
  • Grinder included: Integrated conical burr
  • Special feature: Alerts you when a cleaning cycle is needed

BEST COMPACT
KitchenAid Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine KES6403, Matte Charcoal Grey, 1.4 Liters

KitchenAid Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine KES6403, Matte Charcoal Grey, 1.4 Liters

  • Bars of extraction pressure: 15
  • Grinder included: No
  • Special feature: Integrated milk frother

BEST FOR BEGINNERS
De'Longhi La Specialista Arte EC9155.MB Coffee Machine

De'Longhi La Specialista Arte EC9155.MB Coffee Machine

  • Bars of extraction pressure: 19
  • Grinder included: Integrated sensor grinder
  • Special feature: Smart Tamping Station

BEST ON A BUDGET
CASABREWS Espresso Machine With Grinder, Professional Espresso Maker

CASABREWS Espresso Machine With Grinder, Professional Espresso Maker

  • Bars of extraction pressure: 20
  • Grinder included: Built-in precision conical burr
  • Special feature: Cup-warming function on top of the machine
BEST INVESTMENT
Breville the Barista Pro Espresso Machine, Medium, Brushed Stainless Steel

Breville the Barista Pro Espresso Machine, Medium, Brushed Stainless Steel

  • Bars of extraction pressure: 9
  • Grinder included: Integrated conical burr with 30 grind settings
  • Special feature: ThermoJet heating system




Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine Reviews

BEST OVERALL
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel, BES870XL, Large

Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel, BES870XL, Large

Also our pick for best with a built-in grinder, the Breville Barista Express is widely acclaimed as the best overall semi-automatic espresso machine. Distinguished by its combination of sleek design and superior performance, it boasts impressive machine specs. It runs on a high-power 15-bar pump system, and its rapid thermal coil ensures that heat is distributed evenly for optimal coffee extraction.

As a semi-automatic machine, it gives you total control over your coffee-making, but also offers automated, user-friendly functions. The features and benefits of the Breville Barista Express are plentiful, including an integrated conical burr grinder that freshly grinds coffee beans for each cup, adjustable grind size, and dose control, and a hands-free grinding cradle.

It also sports a clean indicator that alerts you when a cleaning cycle is needed.

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Who is this semi automatic espresso machine best for?

The Breville Barista Express is perfect for coffee lovers who appreciate the ability to craft their preferred espresso drinks at home. Whether you're a novice or an experienced coffee aficionado, machine is a great choice for brewing the best coffee at home.

And its customizable settings paired with the opportunity to experiment with different coffee strengths and textures makes the Breville Barista Express the best semi-automatic espresso machine on the market. 

Pros

  • Stylish stainless steel design
  • Excellent durability
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Makes cafe-quality espresso at home
Cons

  • Price might be prohibitive for some
  • Relatively large countertop footprint
  • There's a learning curve associated with mastering all its features



BEST COMPACT
KitchenAid Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine KES6403, Matte Charcoal Grey, 1.4 Liters

KitchenAid Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine KES6403, Matte Charcoal Grey, 1.4 Liters

The KitchenAid Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine is a remarkable blend of cutting-edge technology, convenient size, and stylish design with the capacity to brew quality espresso with relative ease.

One of the best semi-automatic machines in its price point, the KitchenAid boasts high-functioning specs including a machine size of 13 inches high, 12 inches wide, and 11.5 inches deep, making it a compact fit for various kitchen sizes. It possesses a robust 15-bar pressure pump, enough to extract the full flavor from your coffee beans, and an efficient heating system for quick and precise temperature control.

The feature-rich KitchenAid Espresso Machine has several benefits that enhance its value. It includes a manual control enabling you to make your espresso exactly the way you prefer.

In addition, the machine uses an integrated frother for making latte or cappuccino right at home, contributing to the rich taste and creamy texture. A removable drip tray and grid make clean-up a breeze while the cup warmer on top ensures your drink remains at the optimal temperature. 

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Who is this semi automatic espresso machine best for?

The KitchenAid Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine is best suited for coffee aficionados who love to enjoy a well-brewed cup of espresso at their convenience but don't have a lot of space to spare. It's ideal for those who appreciate the process of making coffee and are willing to spend a bit more time to get their preferred taste and temperature. With its sleek design and compact size, this espresso machine is a great addition to any kitchen. 

Pros

  • Compact size
  • Easy-to-use semi-automatic operation
  • Efficient frother
  • Makes quality espresso
  • Well built and provides great value for the price
Cons

  • Some users may find the manual control a bit complicated to use initially
  • No built-in grinder means you’ll need to grind your beans separately



BEST FOR BEGINNERS
De'Longhi La Specialista Arte EC9155.MB Coffee Machine

De'Longhi La Specialista Arte EC9155.MB Coffee Machine

The De’Longhi La Specialista Arte EC9155MB is considered one of the best semi automatic espresso machines designed for beginners. With an impressive machine specification, it boasts a 19-bar high-performance pump and an integrated sensor grinder with Smart Tamping Station for consistent espresso extraction. In terms of dimensions, the machine is relatively compact, perfect for fitting into any kitchen counter at 14.48 x 12.48 x 13.98 inches.

Packed with features and benefits, the Arte EC9155MB comes with Active Temperature Control (ATC) technology to ensure the perfect temperature for every cup, a Dual Heating System for simultaneous coffee and milk preparation, and a quick one-second start-up time.

This semi-automatic espresso machine for beginners also displays a vibrant LED machine interface for intuitively managing coffee and milk quantities. It's easy to clean with a removable water tank and drip tray.

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Who is this semi automatic espresso machine best for? 
This semi automatic espresso machine is best for beginners who are just getting started in brewing their coffee but still want to have a hands-on experience in the process. Despite being relatively new to espresso-making, beginners looking for an espresso machine want something reliable, intuitive, and allows them to improve their barista skills. 

With the machine’s easy-to-use features and competitive specs, the De’Longhi La Specialista Arte EC9155MB provides an exceptional coffee experience right from the start. It is also a great fit for coffee enthusiasts who appreciate not only functionality but also aesthetics in their kitchen appliances. 

Pros

  • Beginner-friendly features
  • Sleek Italian design
  • Quick start-up
  • User-friendly LED interface
Cons
  • Higher price compared to other beginner-friendly machines. However, beginners who are conscious of convenience, consistency, and control over their coffee experience may find the Arte worth the investment.



BEST ON A BUDGET
CASABREWS Espresso Machine With Grinder, Professional Espresso Maker

CASABREWS Espresso Machine With Grinder, Professional Espresso Maker

The CASABREWS 20 Bar Espresso Machine is a standout in today’s market as the best semi-automatic espresso machine on a budget. The machine boasts impressive specifications, making it a valuable addition to any kitchen. This semi-automatic espresso machine comes with a 20 bar pressure pump and a 1.2 L detachable water tank which allows for an easy refill.

Moreover, it has a convenient frothing nozzle for fancy foam and a handy cup-warming function on top. The CASABREWS’ features and benefits cannot be overstated.

As a semi-automatic machine, it offers users more control over their brewing process without the hefty price tag typically associated with such appliances. It delivers a quality cup of espresso each time and also caters to those who enjoy cappuccinos, thanks to its milk frothing system. 

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Who is this semi automatic espresso machine best for? 

This machine is perfect for anyone on a budget who is an espresso connoisseur, or anyone who likes to play barista at home. Whether you’re a fan of traditional espresso or frothy lattes, the CASABREWS Espresso Machine 20 Bar is sure to cater to all your coffee cravings without breaking the bank. 

Pros
  • Affordable price
  • User-friendly interface
  • Versatile capabilities
  • Easy cleaning and maintenance
  • Compact, saving your kitchen space
Cons
  • Requires a bit more time and energy to learn and get accustomed to the brewing process as compared to fully automatic models.
  • Some users have also flagged that the machine can be a bit noisy. 



BEST INVESTMENT
Breville the Barista Pro Espresso Machine, Medium, Brushed Stainless Steel

Breville the Barista Pro Espresso Machine, Medium, Brushed Stainless Steel

With a commitment to innovation and superior design, the Breville the Barista Pro boasts a stellar reputation as the best semi-automatic espresso machine investment. Key machine specs are impressive, featuring an intuitive interface that guides you through all the stages of espresso making.

The stainless steel conical burr grinder ensures optimal extraction, while the ThermoJet heating system gets the machine ready in just three seconds. The full-sized professional 54mm portafilter holds up to 19 grams of ground coffee and the adjustable grind amount and size guarantee precision dose and grind. This semi-automatic espresso machine from Breville carries the power to extract the subtlest flavors and allows you to hand-texture micro-foam milk, which enhances the flavor and is essential for latte art.

Leveraging key features such as a digital temperature control (PID) delivering water at precisely the right temperature, the Breville Barista Pro ensures optimal espresso extraction. Its benefits are vast yet include offering the liberty to customize any coffee drink to your exact taste preferences.

Who is this semi automatic espresso machine best for? 

The Breville Barista Pro shines as an espresso machine for those underscore luxury and high performance at home. It is best suited for coffee enthusiasts seeking a combination of speed, convenience, and top-tier drink customization in their daily brew, as well as those who wish to practice their barista skills. 

Its interface resonates with both beginners exploring their espresso-making journey and seasoned coffee artisans looking for consistent and authentic results. Built to deliver perfection every time, the Breville Barista Pro is a solid investment, reserving a special place in any gourmet coffee lover's kitchen. 

Pros

  • Superior performance
  • Aesthetic appeal
  • Durability
  • Convenience
Cons

  • It's an expensive machine
  • Grind settings require some trial and error for first-time users

How to Choose the Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine

Best Semi Automatic Espresso Machine

A top-rated semi-automatic espresso machine carries with it certain defining characteristics that make it stands out from the crowd. Firstly, the term “semi-automatic” refers to how the machine operates; partially automated, yet requiring some manual effort from the user. This is what sets them apart from automatic machines.

While an automatic espresso machine does all the work for you, a semi-automatic machine allows you to control certain aspects of the brewing process such as the grind size, temperature, and pressure. This means that you can customize your espresso to your personal taste, giving you more freedom and flexibility than with a fully automatic machine. 

Secondly, the espresso shot is at the heart of the semi-automatic espresso machine. It is the concentrated form of coffee achieved by forcing a fixed amount of water through finely-ground coffee beans. The control over water flow and pressure you get in a semi-automatic machine makes it possible to fine-tune your espresso shot to perfection. 

How Does a Semi-Automatic Machine Stack Up Against an Automatic Espresso Maker? 

While both types can deliver a great cup of espresso, they cater to different types of coffee lovers. Automatic machines are perfect for those who prefer convenience and consistency, while semi-automatic machines are favored by coffee enthusiasts who enjoy the process of experimenting and perfecting their brew.

Do You Want a Machine with a Built-in Grinder?

Machines with built-in grinders are an awesome choice if you want a machine that offers everything in one tight package. In fact, a good semi-automatic espresso machine often includes a grinder, giving users the chance to grind their beans to the right coarseness or fineness, which is crucial in achieving the ideal espresso quality. 

This isn’t to say that pre-ground coffee can’t be used, but grinding your beans just before brewing certainly maximizes the coffee’s freshness and flavor. 

Price

Finally, price is a significant aspect to consider when purchasing a semi-automatic espresso machine. However, it should not be the sole determining factor. A higher-priced machine often promises superior build quality, longevity, and possibly additional features. Yet it does not necessarily guarantee a better espresso.

The quality of your espresso ultimately depends on the control you exert over the brewing process, the quality of your coffee beans, and your skills in manipulating the machine—factors that aren’t necessarily tied to the price tag.

So while there’s no definitive answer on what the best semi-automatic espresso machine is, considerations of functionality, versatility, user-friendliness, and of course, its ability to brew an excellent espresso shot, all play instrumental roles in determining its superiority. 




Home Brewing with the Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine

Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine

Starting your espresso journey at home can be an enjoyable and fulfilling venture. With the appropriate equipment such as a semi-automatic espresso machine, you’ll be crafting espressos like a professional barista in no time. 

But mastering to brew like a barista with your semi-automatic machine also requires patience and practice. You control the grind size, the water temperature, and the timing of the espresso shot. As time goes on, you can experiment and refine in order to yield the ideal cup that caters to your palate. 

Maintaining the charm of your semi-automatic espresso machine is vital. It doesn’t only preserve the aesthetic appeal but has substantial impacts on the quality of the espresso it produces. Regular cleaning, timely descaling, and overall upkeep are key to supporting its longevity, so your machine can provide you with rich, full-bodied, aromatic espressos for years to come.

How to Brew Espresso with Your Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine

To brew the perfect cup of espresso with your semi-automatic machine, you’ll need your machine to heat up before you follow these steps: 

  1. Firstly, add fresh beans into your grinder and adjust the grind size to get the right consistency.
  2. Next, dose the right amount of coffee into your portafilter. 
  3. Now, tamp down the grounds with evenly distributed pressure. 
  4. After that, insert your portafilter into the group head of the machine and start the brewing process.
  5. Stop the extraction after 25-30 seconds.
  6. Finally, savor your perfect cup of home-brewed espresso crafted with your very own semi-automatic machine. This is sure to enrich your overall coffee experience and make your espresso journey a memorable one. 

Semi-Automatic vs Automatic vs Super-Automatic: Which Type of Espresso Machine is Right for You?

From the first manual to the latest super-automatic, espresso machines have had quite a journey. There are three main categories of espresso machines: manual, semi-automatic, and automatic machines.

Manual Espresso Makers

Manual machines demand the most expertise and effort, while semi-automatic and automatic machines reduce some of the demanding tasks. Nonetheless, can a fully automatic machine match the magic of a semi-automatic espresso? Well, for the purists, the answer might be no and the best option is actually a manual espresso machine.

The Semi Automatic Espresso Machine

Digging deeper, the semi-automatic espresso machine is great at striking the perfect balance between control and convenience. With them, you control the grinding of your beans and the starting and stopping of the extraction process. 

You’ll also get to see the beautiful brew pressure gauge, and if anything goes awry, semi-automatic espresso machines allow for an easier troubleshooting process, fostering an intimate connection between you and your cup of coffee.

Indeed, opting for a semi-automatic machine won’t eliminate custom crafting. Actually, it provides a balance between manual control and automated processes. Unlike fully automatic machines, it allows you to customize each brew to your personal preference.

On the other hand, the semi automatic machine doesn’t require the operational complexities and precise timing associated with manual machines. This perfect mediation combined with its reasonable price point, unquestionably makes it an overly appealing choice for the aspiring home barista.

The Automatic Espresso Machine

On the other hand, automatic espresso machines take over process control, offering a rather hands-off experience.

However, the ability to adjust the machine settings to your liking is not completely lost. 

Thus, automatic machines can still brew a great cup of coffee while adding a touch of convenience—the prerequisite being that you’ve correctly set the parameters for your preferred taste!

The Super-Automatic

Lastly, there’s the super-automatic espresso machines like the De’Longhi Magnifica S —the pinnacle of convenience and technology in the coffee brewing world. These machines literally do it all: from grinding the beans, tamping them, and even self-cleaning post-brewing.

Yet, such automation can take away from the original coffee crafting experience, making them less appealing to traditional coffee enthusiasts. 

In conclusion, selecting your type of espresso machine — semi-automatic, automatic, or super-automatic — boils down to the balance you wish to strike between control, convenience, and experience. 

If you value hands-on practices and understand the art of pulling a shot, a semi-automatic machine might be your cup of tea (or coffee!). However, if convenience trumps control for you, then an automatic or super-automatic might just be the way to go. 

What’s a Single vs. Dual Boiler Machine?

Best Semi Automatic Espresso Machine

A single boiler machine is a type of coffee maker that contains only one boiler to carry out all its functions.

In a single boiler espresso machine, the single boiler is used for both heating the water for the espresso shot and the milk frothing process, but not simultaneously. Initially, the boiler heats the water at about 93°C-95°C (ideal for coffee extraction) to brew the espresso shot(s). 

Afterward, if you want to froth milk for cappuccinos or lattes, the machine must be given time to heat the water up to about 130°C (suitable for steaming milk). This feature relatively extends the waiting time between brewing coffee and frothing milk.

On the other hand, a dual boiler espresso machine is designed with two separate boilers, each dedicated to a specific function. One boiler heats water to the perfect temperature for brewing espresso, while the other boiler produces steam for frothing milk. 

The primary benefit of this setup is that it allows you to simultaneously brew your espresso and froth your milk, resulting in a significant reduction in waiting time and more efficient preparation of drinks.

Consequently, dual boiler machines tend to be more expensive than their single boiler counterparts due to the complexity of their design and the enhanced performance they offer. Therefore, the choice between a single boiler and a dual boiler espresso machine depends largely on personal requirements and budget. 

Final Thoughts on the Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines in 2023

Semi-automatic espresso machines represent the best of either end of the spectrum: high control vs. one-button convenience. With the best semi automatic espresso machine out there – which we’ve already said is the Breville Express from our expert analysis – you’re sure to enjoy amazing coffee with enough room to practice your barista skills.

Amazon usually has the best deals on Brevilles. You can buy the Express here!




Best Espresso Machine FAQs

  1. How does a semi-automatic espresso maker work in comparison to fully automatic espresso and super-automatic machine?

    A semi-automatic espresso maker gives the home barista more control over the coffee-making process. The barista operates this type of machine to start and stop the shot of espresso, unlike in fully automatic espresso or a super-automatic machine where the machine does everything from grinding the beans to frothing the milk with an automatic steam wand.

  2. Are there any good semi-automatic espresso makers for home use?

    Absolutely, there are several great semi-automatic espresso makers designed specifically for home use. Several good options include the Bambino Plus Espresso Machine and the Semi-automatic espresso maker Home Machine. These machines offer great espresso results with adjustable preferences, ensuring the quality of the shots every time.

  3. What type of machine features should I look for when buying a semi-automatic espresso maker?

    A: When considering a semi-automatic espresso maker, look for machine features such as an automatic milk frother for easy milk preparation, a built-in coffee grinder for fresh grinds, and a water reservoir located at the top of the machine for easy refill. Also, the machine’s ability to heat quickly and maintain a stable temperature will ensure great tasting espresso.

  4. Is a semi-automatic espresso maker expensive compared to commercial espresso machines?

    The price of a semi-automatic espresso maker can vary widely. Some can be less expensive than commercial espresso machines, while others with premium features can approach the price of commercial machines. Ultimately, you get what you pay for, so deciding on what factors are most important to you – be it price, features, or durability – will help set your budget.

  5. Can a semi-automatic espresso maker also make a double espresso?

    Most semi-automatic espresso makers can brew a single or double espresso based on your preference. The machine heats the water to the right temperature and then runs it through the coffee grounds to extract a single or double shot of espresso, delivering a high-quality espresso each time.

  6. Can I use my semi-automatic espresso maker to make my first espresso at home?

    Yes, it’s not only possible but also very satisfying to make your first espresso at home with a semi-automatic espresso maker. A home machine might take a bit of practice to perfect, but the ability to adjust the settings gives you more control over the taste of your coffee, resulting in a great espresso.

  7. What’s a good semi-automatic espresso maker for home baristas?

    The Bambino Plus Espresso Machine is a standout pick for the best semi-automatic espresso maker for home baristas. Its compact design doesn’t take up too much counter space, and its easy-to-use features hit all the right notes for espresso lovers.

  8. How does a semi-automatic espresso maker produce coffee compared to a regular coffee machine?

    A semi-automatic espresso maker produces coffee that has a stronger, more concentrated flavour than a regular coffee machine. It forces hot water at high pressure through finely ground coffee beans, resulting in a shot of espresso that can be enjoyed straight or used as a base for various coffee drinks.

  9. Can I use a semi-automatic espresso maker for home use and get the same quality as a commercial espresso maker?

    Yes, you definitely can. While commercial machines may be built to handle a higher volume, the quality of the espresso made by a high-quality home espresso machine can certainly rival that of the one made in a café. The key is to choose a machine that’s capable of maintaining the crucial factors like temperature and pressure stability, and using high-quality beans. Adjusting your brewing methods and practice will also boost the quality of your home espresso.

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