If you are a fan of espresso, investing in an espresso maker makes financial sense. It takes only one look at the prices on a Starbucks menu to realize that. Thankfully, quality espresso makers are readily available at reasonable prices. Here are the top 4 best semi-automatic espresso machines available on Amazon.
- 1 Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine vs. Automatic Espresso Machine
- 2 Top 4 Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines
- 3 Final Thoughts
Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine vs. Automatic Espresso Machine
This distinction is important to clarify before looking at machines. People often use the different classifications of espresso makers interchangeably, even though they are two very different types of machines. To avoid any confusion, let’s define the difference between a semi-automatic and an automatic espresso machine.
Automatic espresso machines are usually called “fully automatic” or “super automatic,” depending on the manufacturer. The primary difference between these units and semi-automatic ones is that the automatic ones provide:
- A built-in whole bean grinder
- The ability to control the amount of grinding
- Control over brew time
- Control over brew temperature,
- Much more programmability to save particular recipes and profiles
Semi-automatic espresso machines simply provide the traditional brew process you see in cafes; the user must hand grind, tamp and brew each shot. You can use espresso ground bean pods with these models, but pre-ground beans tend to produce less-than-optimal flavor during the extraction process.
Automatic and semi-automatic espresso makers also share similarities. Both provide a cup warmer, a steam wand for milk frothing, and hot water for Café Americano. Semi-automatic espresso machines are also the less expensive option.
Top 4 Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines
First, here is a quick word about bar pressure ratings for the machines on our list. We’ve included them because, frankly, people expect to see them. But the truth is that pressure ratings represent a maximum figure for each machine, and those maximums are never actually reached. Any semi-automatic or fully-automatic espresso machine is going to regulate the pressure used for extraction at roughly 9 bars of pressure. This is true whether we’re talking about any of the best home machines or the espresso maker at your local café. Don’t focus on the bar pressure figures when selecting a machine; the bar rating doesn’t really matter.
On To The Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines Reviews.
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso Maker with Automatic Milk Frother, BVMC-ECMP1000
The Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso Maker is a slightly more sophisticated semi-automatic espresso maker than you typically find on the market. The device is considered semi-automatic because you still must manually grind the beans (although you can also use a pre-ground pod). Once the espresso grounds are added, however, you can brew espresso shots or espresso drinks with one-touch convenience.
This machine uses a very simple design, but customers love it. The front panel has a three-button system you can use to customize the extraction, and the machine has a side-by-side stand setup which allows you to place shot glasses next to the wand for steaming milk. A particularly nice feature is the raised platform of the milk container provided with the machine because the top of the container sits almost flush with the bottom of the machine’s menu structure. That eliminates any milk spray if you fill the container too high.
One more nice feature of the Mr. Coffee Café Barista Espresso Maker: it uses a clear plexiglass water tank, so you always know how much water is in it, and don’t have to worry if you have enough left to make one more cappuccino.
The technical specifications:
- 15-bar pressure
- Automatic milk frother
- Single and double shot grounds filters
- Clear glass water tank for easy level viewing
- Stainless steel boiler
- One-touch pre-set espresso drink selector
- Size: 12 x 14 x 12.2 inches
- 9 pounds.
This espresso maker is extremely easy to use, with a brew simply requiring the press of a button. The length of the milk frothing wand is well thought out as well, not too long but not really short, either. All in all, the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso Maker is a rock-solid espresso machine for the money – well under $200.
Check Price Of the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso Maker
Nespresso Inissia Espresso Maker
The Nespresso Inissia Espresso Maker is designed to do one thing and do it well – brew a quality shot of espresso with a wonderful crema. The Inissia doesn’t try to be everything to everyone; it doesn’t make cappuccinos or lattes, just espresso. You can make a long espresso (double shot), but that’s it for variation.
Although the Inissia produces an epic shot of espresso, there is one important factor you must know before choosing this model. The Inissia only works with Nespresso espresso bean pods. You cannot use separate beans or pods from another company. Many customers say this limitation is not an issue for them given the quality of the espresso beans provided by Nespresso, but it is something to keep in mind.
The technical specifications for the Nespresso Inissia Espresso Maker:
- 19-bar pressure pump
- Express preheating time of fewer than 30 seconds
- Two programmable espresso settings
- 24-ounce water tank
- Lower cup tray allowing for taller espresso cups
- A-class energy rating
- Automatic shutoff after nine minutes of being idle
- Size: 12.6 x 4.7 x 9 inches
As an aside, it is worth mentioning that the Inissia is perhaps the best-looking espresso machine on Amazon. Black and compact, this machine will not be an eyesore in your kitchen.
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Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine
The Gaggia Classic Espresso Machine is a favorite of espresso enthusiasts worldwide. Achille Gaggia was Italian, and many people consider him the father of the modern espresso maker for both homes and cafés; Gaggia espresso machines are the top-selling brand in Italy to this day, and that says a lot. Gaggia has a reputation for using quality materials in compelling designs – all focused on producing an optimal shot of espresso with a stunning crema.
The Gaggia Classic Espresso Machine is built like a tank but produces a delicate espresso. Stainless steel and brass filters are employed to create a stable machine built for the long run, as opposed to other manufacturers who use plastic materials to keep their prices low. If you purchase a Gaggia, you can rest assured the machine will last for decades. Millions of happy Italians will testify to that.
As for the actual brew, the Gaggia produces a quality shot of espresso by using brass filters which are larger than usual. That means more hot water is introduced to the ground espresso beans for superior extraction. The result is that every shot is full-flavored and delicious, exactly what you want from your espresso machine.
The technical specifications for the Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine:
- 5-bar pressure pump
- Brass portafilters for maintaining stable temperatures
- High voltage boiler
- Frothing Wand
- Hot water dispenser
- Single and double shot filter basket
- Size: 14-1/4 by 8 by 9-1/2 inches
The Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine is priced higher than comparable models, around $350, but is a bargain in the long run. Not only will you get a perfect shot of espresso every time, but Gaggia espresso machines have been known to last for as long as 30 years.
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De’Longhi BAR32 Retro 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
The De’Longhi BAR32 Retro 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker is a tremendous introductory machine for a person trying to decide if they want to make their own espresso, cappuccino or latte at home. At under $100, the BAR32 provides a quality shot of espresso with almost no fuss.
To use the De’Longhi Retro, you manually grind your espresso beans of choice (or use a pre-ground pod) and then add the ground beans to the machine. Turn the control knob to “hot water” – and the machine will produce a quality shot of espresso in five to ten seconds. What could be easier?
The technical specifications for the De’Longhi BAR32 Retro:
- 15 bar pressure pump
- Dual function filters for pod or ground espresso bean use
- Swivel jet frother for easy latte and cappuccino preparation
- Self-primer to speed up first use
- Stainless steel boiler
- Double thermostat settings
- Size: 10.6 x 8.7 x 12.6 inches
A bar32 retro is a beautiful machine with a retro design which will look good in any kitchen. It is important to note that as an introductory machine, this unit is made primarily of plastic (except for the filters). While it should last for a few years, this is not an espresso maker which is going to last for decades like a Gaggia. Then again, the BAR32 is much cheaper than the Gaggia or Mr. Coffee Barista.
Check Price Of the De’Longhi BAR32 Retro
The optimal espresso is very much a matter of taste. If you are looking for a quality shot without the excessive features and accessories of fully-automated espresso makers (not to mention their higher costs), any of these five models will serve you well. The fact that they are priced from $90 to $350, and don’t cost the thousands of dollars you could easily spend for a fully-automated machine, makes them all bargains.
Thanks for reading the 4 best semi-automatic espresso machines on our site.
Hope you’ve found the best one for your home.