10 BEST SEMI-AUTOMATIC ESPRESSO MACHINE REVIEWS
You can make espresso that tastes just the way you want with a traditional manual machine or a machine that works on your stove top, but why not spend the extra money on a semi-automatic espresso maker instead?
Semi-automatic machines feature a switch on the outside that turns the boiler on and off, and that boiler can both heat the water inside for brewing the coffee as well as heat the beans to give those beans a fresher and more roasted flavor. Other automated features make brewing easier.
Though most models are similar in size and design, you need to choose the type of boiler that you want. Some come with a heat exchanger that can boil water to produce steam, and others have two thermostats that can reach two different temperatures for brewing an espresso at the same time that you brew a cappuccino or one of the more popular specialty drinks that coffee shops now make.
The perfect model comes from Expobar. Its Lever Semi-Automatic (Check Price on Amazon.com) use stainless steel on the components inside as well as on the exterior housing to make the machine stand out and has a portafilter that improves the flavor of the espresso produced.
A larger brass boiler holds a full 12 ounces of water and brings all the water up to a temperature at once, which produces more steam, keeps the machine from running out of the water while making steam and reduces the recovery time between brews.
The Perfect Model for your Home
Semi-automatic espresso machines significantly reduce the amount of time that you spend fighting with those models just to brew espresso, but the top model that will make restaurant-quality espresso at home is the Expobar Lever (Check Price on Amazon.com).
Expobar makes a model that would like right at home in fancy restaurants, but this model is easy enough for those with less coffee making the experience to use. A housing made from stainless steel adds a gorgeous look to the model and turns the machine into your kitchen’s focal point.
A boiler made from copper raises the temperature quickly to brew coffee faster and can use two different settings to brew that doesn’t taste burnt while also heating the water to make steam. Its pre-infusion setting allows for a more roasted flavor to waft out from the machine and extracts more traditional flavor through the mixing of the beans with hot water.
Two different filter baskets come with the machine, which lets you brew single and double shots. Expobar also includes a backflush disc for flushing debris out and cleaning the unit, a coffee scoop for measuring the exact amount of coffee per shot and a tamper tool.
Top Rated Models on the Market
Don’t settle for the first model that you see or the first one you notice that matches your kitchen without first finding out if the Expobar Lever, which is the number one all around semi-automatic espresso maker, is the best choice.
The stainless steel used on the housing gives the model a contemporary design and makes it look like those found in popular restaurants, but Expobar also uses stainless steel on the inside to ensure this model can meet all your demands. A heat exchange boiler system increases the water temperature rapidly to give this product more power and to keep hot water at the ready.
A commercial portafilter exactly like those used on professional machines offers more extraction power and allows the model to get more flavor from any beans used. Even if you use older beans or a cheaper variety, you’ll still get all the delicious flavor that you want. It also comes with a brass boiler that can hold up to 12 ounces, which cuts back on the wait time between brewing shots.
As the top model, the Expobar Lever comes with other benefits and features, including:
• can brew coffee and produce steam at the same time, even at two different temperature levels
• its steam wand swivels to reach more of your cup and also acts like a hot water dispenser
• comes with a backflush disc that helps you clean out the inside and remove any old water or coffee grounds that stayed behind
• includes a single shot basket and a double shot basket for more convenient brewing of espresso shots
• measures less than 18-inches deep and less than 11-inches wide to save on space
The Breville BES920BSXL Dual Boiler is the perfect model with a double boiler system, which makes it the top choice for those who want to want to steam or heat milk and make multiple espressos at the same time without waiting for the machine to recover.
Those two boilers work together and allow you to use the model at two different temperature settings to froth and heat your milk or add some steam to your cup immediately after brewing espresso. The black sesame finish on the model is nice too because it makes this model stand out among all the other stainless steel options on the market and ensures that it will blend with the decor and appliances in your kitchen.
In addition to two boilers, this model features two bar pumps that use Italian engineering, and both pumps operate at the same time for extracting flavors from ground coffee and for mixing those grounds with more hot water. A water hardness test strip comes with this model, which lets you test your water supply, and you’ll also find that a descale alert comes on when you need to remove hard water build up from the inside.
To ensure that you can remove that build up, this Breville model comes with a setting that you can turn on via the LCD screen to clean the inside and remove scale with the right cleaning supplies. The backlit display will also show you the current time, the amount of time left until it finishes brewing your shot or the current temperature of the machine.
On the front of this model is a light that turns on when the steam wand is in use, a thermostat that shows you the bar pressure and buttons for making single and double shots.
Those who like the previous Expobar model but are a little put off by the price may like the Office Control that comes from the same manufacturer and uses some of the same features but costs a little less. This model is perfect for offices and business settings because it gives each individual user control over his or her preferences.
You can even program the extraction process, which tells the machine how much water to use based on the amount of flavor you want, and it will never use more or less water based on the program you set. A heat exchange boiler system features two different heating processes that allow the boiler to increase the water temperature for brewing a hot cup of espresso while also producing a higher temperature for making steam.
The boiler holds nearly two liters of water too, which will help the machine make steam and espressos without requiring that you wait a few minutes or more for that temperature to increase. With the boiler system, this model can also produce more than enough water for making a cup of hot tea or instant coffee.
The steam knob on the model helps you adjust the pressure of that steam based on the drinks you make, and you can actually rotate or move the steam wand inside your cup to direct where the steam goes.
A group head is responsible for the pre-infusion process, which infuses ground coffee with more hot water to make those grounds bloom and produce more flavor, and this group head also works with a thermal siphon that sends the aroma and scent of the coffee wafting around the room. Its exterior features stainless steel that cleans easily.
The perfect and ideal maker for those who want a more convenient way to make coffee is this Rancilio Silvia with Iron Frame and Stainless Steel Side Panels, which comes with a dedicated cup warmer that uses the heat of the machine to keep up to nine cups warm and ready for filling with coffee.
That feature also makes this model a good choice for an office or a home with multiple people who like espresso. Its portafilter handle has an ergonomic design that won’t irritate your hand or cause discomfort, and this handle comes right from the larger commercial machines that the company makes.
Also pulled from its commercial models is a group head that regulates the temperature and keeps the temperature at a stable setting, which lets you brew and produce steam without the machine needing extra time to recover. That temperature regulation also allows the machine to extract more coffee flavor.
Its commercial design also includes a drip tray that keeps coffee, water, and milk from spilling all over your counters, and you can remove the cover to the tray to clean it out.
The steam wand, which you can use with both water and milk, fits directly into your cup or canister. The knob right above the wand adjusts the pressure for using more or less steam. Other features that die-hard espresso enthusiasts love about this model include:
• an iron frame that adds to its stability and provides support for the side panels that use stainless steel
• can work with an adapter kit for brewing coffee with capsules and/or pods
• holds up to 12 ounces in its copper boiler to reduce recovery time between pours
• a two-quart water reservoir that you can fill while the machine is in use
Die-cast metal that lasts for the life of the machine is just one thing to love about the Breville 800ESXL 15-Bar Triple-Priming Die-Cast, which is one of the ideal models for those looking to save a little money.
Its triple-priming design works with the ground coffee that you use and forces three bursts of hot water into those grounds, which causes the grounds to swell and absorb some of that water before you brew coffee to help you get more flavor from those grounds.
This process happens so quickly though that it won’t add a lot of time to your morning or afternoon routine. A thermoblock heating system uses different methods to increase the temperature faster and to keep you from standing around and waiting until you can brew, and this system works with the 15-bar Italian pump to produce a cup with more flavor.
When you need to make steam, you can put your cup or canister under the steam wand, move the knob to the steam setting and click the steam button. You can then adjust the wand to add water to your cup and to get those frothy air bubbles on the surface that so many drinkers like.
That steam wand will also respond and work with the hot water setting, but you’ll still need to turn it to the steam setting before pressing the hot water button.
You can add more or less water based on the amount remaining in the water tank, which holds up to 72 ounces, for making tea or hot chocolate on days when you’re not in the mood for coffee. That tank has a front fill design that lets you refill the tank before making your next cup or shot.
The Lavazza One-Cup Beverage System is the best semi-automatic model for those who live alone and for anyone who is the only coffee drinker in a household because it brews just one cup of espresso at a time.
At less than 15-inches tall, this model requires less space, and it weighs just 32 pounds, which you can easily move on your own to change where you use it in your kitchen. Lavazza designed this as a one-stop product that lets you do all the steps necessary for brewing espresso in mere minutes.
All the buttons you need have a convenient placement across the front of the machine, and if you need to stop the brew in the middle, you can hit the bright red emergency stop button to make the machine shut down. It uses a design that ensures it uses every bit of ground coffee you put inside to reduce the waste produced by other models, it incorporates shades of gold and silver in its design that will make the machine stand out.
As an enthusiast, you may find other reasons to love this model like its:
• hot water button that allows hot water to come out of the steam wand
• moving steam wand that you can use to direct that steam into one or more cups
• the water tank that holds ½ gallon for brewing coffees and espressos for others in your home
• vents along the top that release pressure and warm air for warming any cups or mugs you set nearby
• included cleaning kit for removing scale build-up and coffee residue
With the infusion process used by this Breville BES840XL the Infuser, you can get rich and bold flavors from even the cheapest of ground coffees because this model will extract every bit of flavor from those grinds.
This process adjusts the water pressure inside and forces water into the grounds, which causes the grounds to bloom or expand and release more flavor, and all this happens before the machine even starts brewing. The coil heating element inside uses 1600W and keeps any of the water in the reservoir at the same even and level temperature.
While other models will make you wait after using the steam wand as the temperature drops back down, this Breville model has an automatic purge setting that removes any of the hotter water left behind too quickly reduce the internal temperature, which lets you immediately make more drinks.
The 15-bar Italian pump has different settings to choose from based on the amount of coffee you use, and there is even an override setting that lets you manually adjust that bar once you feel more familiar with the machine.
Fans of the Breville BES840XL the Infuser also love that it:
• comes with two different filter baskets that they can use based on their brewing preferences
• has a 61-ounce water reservoir with its own handle for conveniently removing and putting back
• features a hot water spigot separate from the steam wand
• comes with a removable drip tray for catching any accidental spills
• pulls water from the ground coffee to turn those grounds into a dry puck for easy cleaning
The DeLonghi America EN750MB walks the line between a semi-automatic and an automatic model. It features elements designed to make its use easier like a touch-sensitive display on the top that shows the drink you selected and displays buttons designed for adjusting your brew.
Each of its built-in recipes has a corresponding button on the top that makes choosing a drink as easy as touching the corresponding button. Its Latte Crema System, which DeLonghi designed and patented, turns this into a powerful cappuccino maker too.
The model comes with a milk carafe that has a sealed lid on top that keeps odors from flavoring the milk and keeps the milk from spilling out, and you can use this carafe to keep the milk stored in your refrigerator before adding it to the machine. The model’s system will heat and froth that milk before pushing the thick foam out a dispenser on the side that drops the thick foam directly into your cup.
Though it comes with recipes for making many popular drinks like a cappuccino, espresso, and latte, this model also has a hot water function that produces extremely hot water suitable for making hot tea or hot chocolate as well as for rinsing cups and mugs. A separate function can produce hot milk, which is good for those who like adding milk to coffee without the milk curdling.
As a Nespresso model, this model does not use standard coffee beans like other machines do. It has a compartment on the front that lifts up to reveal a space for inserting a Nespresso pod, which has the ground coffee inside. Those pods come in different flavors that let you make a range of coffee drinks.
This Gaggia Classic Semi-Automatic has a classic design that resembles the traditional models from decades past, but it comes with new automatic features that can turn anyone into a professional barista. Whether you want to make an espresso or another drink, you can place your cups directly on the tray in front that sits beneath the spouts.
This tray has small holes in the top that allows any liquids that spill over your cup or out of the machine to fall inside a dedicated compartment, and you can remove the lid for convenient cleaning of the compartment.
Located to the side of the spout is a frothing wand that produces more or less steam based on how frothy you like your cappuccinos, and this wand also acts like a hot water dispenser for getting hot water out of the reservoir when you want to make tea or clean/rinse your mugs.
The reservoir holds more than 70 ounces of water, which lets you make multiple cups of hot coffee and several shots of espresso. The portafilter, which features a chrome plating on top of brass, retains the heat inside for extended brewing.
An included filter basket adjusts for making both single and double shots, but you also get a tamper that helps you more effectively pack down the ground coffee that you use to get espresso that has more flavor. Though it features different switches for making specific coffee drinks, those with more experience will find that they can easily adjust the settings to get coffee that comes out warmer or cooler and has more or less flavor. Gaggia also offers a one-year warranty on the Classic Semi-Automatic, which makes it easy to file a claim when needed.
This Nespresso D75-US-SI-NE Prodigio With Milk Espresso Maker ranks as the top model for those who want to use convenient Nespresso capsules for easy brewing at home. You can save on both time and counter space because you no longer need to use a separate coffee grinder to grind your beans before adding them to the machine, and the compartment for those capsules lifts right off the front.
When you finish brewing, you can remove the capsule and throw it away before inserting a new one. As the Prodigio uses capsules, it’s also a good model for homes and offices where users have different preferences.
Everyone can now make their favorite drinks without requiring that you keep a number of beans or grounds on hand. This model can even work with the hot chocolate and specialty capsules made by Nespresso.
A 19-bar pump moves across the grounds to pull the most amount of flavor from the grounds inside each capsule, and this pump also produces more aroma. It features a container on the side that holds up to 19 used capsules and a drip tray that folds up for using the machine with taller mugs.
Nespresso added buttons that let you make three different types of drinks from any capsule. Once you compare the Expobar Lever to others, you’ll quickly learn that it really is the best choice for your home.
This model has a stylish design that includes stainless steel sides and panels that work with the black accents to make a more elegant machine. One of those knobs controls the steam wand on the side of the front.
The copper boiler both heats the water faster and helps the machine retain that heat as it brews espresso to reduce the wait time between the cups. That boiler also produces all the steam necessary for brewing restaurant drinks.