Alex has never been professionally involved into the world of coffee, however he knows much more than any average barista. Being an avid coffee lover, Alex is constantly searching for new tips, tools, and techniques to make his morning cup of java even more perfect.
Mary has been dealing with coffee almost all her life long: in her teenage years, she worked as a barista in a number of well-known coffeehouses, later developing her knowledge and skills while studying at the university as well. Several years after graduation, she managed to open her own small coffee bar.
Last updated: May 07, 2021
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Whether you own a small café or you simply like to live the good life every morning before work, getting one of the best semi-automatic espresso machines on the market can make your morning routine a lot easier.
Although there is a large variety of different brands, which might make it hard to choose, this guide is not only going to give you the top six brands on the market (after reviewing 36 different brand espresso machines), it’s also going to inform you about a wide variety of features that are important. Although we’ve reviewed plenty of them, we’ve narrowed it down to our Editor’s Choice, the Breville The Barista, which has a capacity of 67 oz and can work both with beans and grounds.
In our review, we’ve not only chosen our favorites, we’re here to tell you why—taking it feature by feature, from the various dimensions, the warranty information backed by the product, water tank capacity, and coffee type used. In our guide, we’re going to take you through a very detailed article, from a side-by-side comparison table, in-detail reviews of each product along with a rated score, and a buying guide to help you choose the right one for you, your coffee preference, and your kitchen (as well as the rest of your family).
The Breville The Barista is our Editor’s Choice for the best semi-automatic espresso machine on the market. If you‘re looking for a quality-tasting espresso—whether straight from the beans or from the ground to the cup in your kitchen—the Breville The Barista is a great choice.
In just less than a minute, you can get a great-tasting cup of coffee. You can either grind the beans right before extraction or use its interchangeable filters. The reason why it‘s semi-automatic? You can actually choose between automatic operation or manual operation.
From dose amount to precise water temperature, from optimal water pressure to sufficient steam pressure, this semi-automatic espresso machine has everything a good coffee machine needs to sufficiently produce an excellent cup of coffee!
Built from high-quality materials, the machine is also ladened with features like no-slip feet, a burr grinder, sleek stainless steel casing, and a full hideaway storage compartment for everything to fit seamlessly in your home kitchen.
The Breville The Barista espresso machine has not only a removable drip tray for easy cleanup, but it also has a “Clean Me” light, that indicates when a cleaning cycle is needed—coming along with a cleaning kit to make maintenance a breeze.
What makes it stand out?
You can select the grind size and amount with selector dials
Hands-free grinding cradle with 67 fl. oz. removable water tank
Automatically adjusts the water temperature
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Requires precise settings for each beverage to work properly
For a special cup of espresso, the De’Longhi La Specialista is our choice for the most advanced semi-automatic espresso machine.
If you’re an espresso snob (not to be taken offense), this espresso machine is a great choice to get your fix of a perfect cup of espresso. As one of the most detailed and finely tuned machines on the market, the De’Longhi La Specialista is not only elegantly designed on the outside, it also gives you the mechanics to finely produce a handcrafted espresso just the way you like it.
However, instead of engaging in the complicated process of a handcrafted espresso, you just need to rely on the machine’s sensor grinding technology for the perfect grind and dose.
You can also enjoy the active temperature control with its dual heating system to get the most control of temperature stability—from coffee to milk. Like your milk frothed and not just steamed? This is also possible with the De’Longhi La Specialista.
Like complicated coffees every now and then? This machine also allows you to tap into its advanced latte system for the perfect milk texture for café-quality lattes and cappuccinos—as well as the tools you need for an Americano.
With the purchase of the De’Longhi La Specialista, you’ll also get a portafilter, single and double filter basket, a milk pitcher, a descaling solution, a cleaning brush, an instruction manual, and finally—a Quick Start Guide to help you figure it all out.
What are its best features?
Warrantied for two years—longer than most other machines
Lots of power and pressure pump
Can brew out various types of espressos and coffee
Although this guide is geared for more home coffee makers, the Rancilio Silvia is a great choice—even though it’s rated as one of the best commercial espresso machines.
Designed to fill up a café with happy customers, this popular, traditional style is durable—and backed by a 1-year limited warranty.
Not only does it look the part, but it’s also constructed to last from the inside out, with strong linear designed constructed of iron and stainless steel side panels.
You can also rely on this espresso machine for its high-quality heat stability and premium extraction quality.
The Rancilio Silvia comes with a patented ergonomic 58mm portafilter that allows you to get the most flavor out of your cup of espresso. Designed to bring the taste of café to your home, they use the same filters that are generally used on their commercial machines.
Even though it contains a single boiler, it actually has one of the largest volume capacities of any home machine, with the capability of holding 0.3 liters (12oz) and two quarts of water.
The Rancilio Silvia also features an articulating stainless steel steam wand that can help you produce the perfect latte. The machine comes with accessories like a 7-gram coffee scoop, a plastic tamper and two filter baskets (single and double).
What stands out?
Has a 15-bar pressure pump
Can hold a lot of water at once
Comes equipped with commercial-quality in an at-home model
What cons did we manage to find?
The instructions came in 6 languages but not English
The Gaggia Classic Pro is rated on our guide as one of the best espresso machines to equip your kitchen. If you’re looking for a high-quality machine that can whip out great-tasting espresso by using either grounds or pods, this machine won’t let you down.
Also rated as one of the best entry-level semi-automatic espresso machines, the Gaggia Classic Pro easy-to-use nature can help you not only whip out a perfect espresso, it also allows you to texture milk for a velvety micro-foam, just the way you like it—and if you’re into impressing your guests with latte art.
The Gaggia Classic Pro has also a great exterior design, compact to fit on the counter but fancy enough to give your kitchen a bit of a modern boost. The machine is designed with heavy-duty chrome-plated brass.
And its function? The Gaggia Classic Pro comes capable with a commercial single and double shot filter basket. You can also use the pressurized basket and improved pump mounts for quieter brewing—which is great if you’re making coffee and someone in the house is still asleep.
What are our favorite features?
Versatile machine packed with commercial features, built to last for years
Rugged Brushed Stainless Steel housing
Modern finish with chrome-plated brass portability and brew group
Easy-to-use commercial steam wand and rocker switch controls
The EspressoWorks All-In-One Espresso Machine does what it advertises. After being ready to use in just 45 seconds, this espresso machine can whip out great-tasting espressos with just a turn of the knob and press of the button.
Capable of working with beans and grounds, this makes the EspressoWorks All-In-One Espresso Machine highly versatile.
It also looks great in any kitchen with its stainless steel finish. Whether you want a traditional espresso, cappuccino or latte, you can rely on its 15 Bar Pump to help get a great-tasting cream and a bold taste.
As the name suggests, you can have access to all the accessories you’ll ever need, like the electric grinder, portafilter, stainless steel frothing cup, measuring spoon and tamper.
With its compact design, you can easily leave it on the countertop of any kitchen—and it even shuts off itself after 25 minutes of non-use, making it highly convenient.
You can also choose between the High-Quality Filter of 2 basket options—for both single and double shot options. Coming along with the machine, you’ll also get an added bonus of two high-quality espresso cups that hold 3.6 oz each cup.
What are our favorite features?
Capable of functioning with both beans and grounds
Full 1350 W power of pressure with 15 bar pressure pump
Comes included with cups and milk frother
Features LED indicators, built-in steamer, auto shut-off, removable drip tray, and removable water tank
If you’re on a budget but still want a great cup of coffee, the Mr. Coffee Café Barista is our Budget Pick.
Capable of whipping out some great-tasting espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes, the Mr. Coffee Café Barista is a great choice.
Powered with an electric 15-bar pump that can give you some pretty rich flavors, whoever said that budget can’t mean powerful?
This simple-to-use espresso maker has one-touch controls that you can control—choosing between single or double shots. You can also refer to the adjustable control knob that can allow you to automatically froth milk.
The machine also comes with an included recipe book that helps you impress your friends and guests with intricate coffee drinks—all of this from your home kitchen!
The 3-in-1 espresso, cappuccino, and latte maker also has an easy-to-fill, removable water and milk reservoirs. You also don’t have to worry about maintenance and keeping it clean—the Mr. Coffee Café Barista comes with an automatically programmed cleaning cycle.
The semi-automatic espresso machine comes available in three different colors: red, silver, and white.
Why did it make our list?
Has a power of 1040 W and 15-bar pressure pump
Comes with removable water reservoir for easy clean-up
The 26-inch long cord makes it easy to move around the kitchen with large counter space
What is not ideal about it?
Only capable of functioning with grounds
The milk frother tends to break
It is normally lukewarm not hot
Things to Consider
If you’re like the majority of the population, you probably take your coffee in the morning very seriously. Getting one of the best semi-automatic espresso machines to whip out the perfect cup of coffee can definitely make your mornings go more smoothly. To help you choose the right espresso machine based on your budget and various other features, this buying guide can definitely help. From the best features to some frequently-asked questions that most first-time users have before they make the initial purchase, this buying guide is intended to help you through every aspect of the semi-automatic espresso machine and every step of the entire buying process.
What to expect from a semi-automatic espresso maker?
We hope that we can help you fall in love with your morning (or afternoon—or mid-morning) espresso again.
We know how important it is to make that small shot of espresso delicious. One wrong aspect of the machine and it can lead to a few not-so-happy mornings. To help you pick out the best semi-automatic espresso machine, read on!
If you’ve decided to go with the semi-automatic option, you know at this point what you like.
However, even though you’ve already chosen to go semi-automatic, you might not know which brand to choose. This guide can help you based on the various features and which are important in brewing that perfect cup of Joe.
How to start working with a semi-automatic espresso machine?
If you’ve never owned a semi-automatic espresso machine before, you might not know exactly how to work one—which can be a real drag when trying to churn out the perfect cup of coffee.
To help you work your way through the technical aspects of a semi-automatic espresso machine, you can view this video, which can help guide you with everything you need to know (great for visual learners):
The best semi-automatic espresso machine can be found by the following features
Whether you’re in search of the perfect cup of espresso or if you simply want to make the most well-informed purchasing decision when buying a semi-automatic espresso machine, it’s important that you take a look and pay attention to the various features of each product.
Some features may be more important to you as an espresso owner than others, so identifying which ones are best to look out for can help you save a lot of money in the long run.
Vary the price
As we just mentioned—you don’t have to break the bank if you’re in the market for a new semi-automatic espresso machine.
There are plenty of low-budget options, like the Mr. Coffee Café Barista, which can get you everything you need in a machine without the extra dollar sign amount on the price.
However, if you’ve got the funds to spend on a cool-gadget, easy-to-use espresso machine, you might not have to consider price when deciding on which one to buy—this also opens a ton of new options.
There are various grinding options when it comes to how fine you like your coffee.
Knowing how to work each and definitely knowing which one you’re getting before you invest is extremely important—this can dictate future purchasing decisions about which type of coffee you’re going to be buying!
If you’re in a rush in the morning, one of the most frustrating things is waiting for the water to heat up in your coffee machine if you’re craving your morning cup o’ joe.
However, when it comes to heating time, you can choose some of the most powerful espresso machines out there that can churn out coffee and heat up water in record-breaking time!
To figure out and compare water-heating speeds, however, you’ll have to do a little bit more digging for yourself to see which ones come out on top when it comes to mph.
Some additional features that can dictate which coffee machine trumps the other, includes some features that the EspressoWorks All-In-One Espresso Machine has. As the name suggests, these features and settings can be changed and manipulated to your personal preference, making an espresso not just a shot of coffee but more of a highly-sought-out caffeinated experience.
Some additional settings include the pressure pump, cups and milk frother, a separate bean grinder, LED indicators, a built-in steamer, a removable drip tray for easy cleaning, and a removable water tank.
These settings can help dictate user-friendliness and should be taken into consideration before buying an espresso machine.
The brewing time takes as much importance as the heating time—this is all time taken away from you drinking that delicious espresso!
Finding a semi-automatic espresso machine that has a fast brewing time can help improve your experience and make it a very delightful one.
Design and durability
The design of the espresso machine can change drastically from espresso machine to espresso machine. Not only does the design play a huge role in user-friendliness and how simple it is to navigate for someone who’s not a café barista, but it also can play a role in it fitting into your kitchen decor—or just fitting into your kitchen in general. You don’t want a coffee machine taking up your whole kitchen counter space (especially if you have a smaller kitchen)!
Read the user reviews from others and take the dimensions of the machine into account before you buy to help pick the machine fit that best fits into your kitchen and interior design.
When it comes to durability, you’ll also want to consider how long the machine is built to last. Especially in those early morning hours, chances are you’re not awake enough, where some mistakes can simply happen.
Having a durably built design can help prevent the machine from getting banged up or broken.
To help you see how long the machine is built-to-last check the warranty.
As we just mentioned, the warranty of the machine can dictate a lot about the design and quality of the product. Most of the espresso machines on this guide have a 1-2-year warranty.
The rule of thumb when it comes to pressure on an espresso machine is that it should usually be around 9 bar, which is for an espresso. This pressure is the power it takes to push the hot water through the grounds.
Depending on your personal preference in taste and consistency, the shot thickness can change from espresso machine to machine.
You can determine the thickness of the shot through being able to brew a single or double espresso shot. You can also use a built-in feature, called a conical burr grinder, which can help you choose the thickness.
If you like the espresso extra thick, the manual steam wand can help you, as well.
Everyone who takes their coffee seriously can benefit from various accessories that come along with the semi-automatic espresso machine.
Because you know that great coffee takes great equipment. The quality of not only your machine is important here—but also your coffee cups, filters, and cleaning equipment.
Some other accessories are just an added bonus, like the Rancilio Silvia’s cup warmer, which helps keep the exterior of your espresso hot just a bit longer to enjoy the warming sensation of a delicious espresso on a cold morning.
Whether this is your first espresso machine or you consider yourself to be quite the expert, here are a few answers to some frequently asked questions:
Absolutely! If you’re passionate about your coffee brewing, a semi-automatic espresso machine can give you a bit more control over the brewing process than an automatic machine would. Although it might be a bit more on the expensive side when compared to other coffee machines, if you feel like you want that control, it is definitely suitable to invest in one for your kitchen.
Exactly like changing the oil in your car, your semi-automatic espresso machine also needs to be descaled. This process helps keep your machine in good working order and help you extend the life of your espresso maker as much as possible. We know you love your coffee—so this process can help you keep churning out quality espressos for the length of a lifetime!
If you’ve skipped out reading on our entire guide, here’s a quick verdict of our favorite three picks:
The Breville The Barista is our Editor’s Choice for the best semi-automatic espresso machine on the market. From the capability of grinding beans or ground and features like a 15 bar pump, a 0.5 lb bean hopper capacity, brushed stainless steel motor, single and double sheets, and a cleaning kit included this choice gives a quality-tasting espresso right in your own kitchen.
The De’Longhi La Specialista is our Runner-Up choice and most advanced semi-automatic espresso machine on the market. Although it only takes coffee beans, it has a number of advanced features, like quick start, 1450 W power, automatic energy saving shut off, a 19 bar pressure pump, a removable water reservoir, and a dual heating system.
The Mr. Coffee Café Barista is our Budget Pick and one of the most affordable, best semi-automatic espresso machines out there. Not only does it have a power of 1040 W and a 15-bar pressure pump, but it also comes with a removable water reservoir for easy clean-up.
We hope this guide has helped you pick out the best semi-automatic espresso machine for that perfect morning cup of coffee!