You’re ready to retire the old coffee brewer and invest in an espresso machine. The first question you’ll most likely face is the decision between an automatic vs semi automatic espresso machine. In reality when looking for the right machine you have three choices, manual, semi auto, and auto. For this article I’ll be focusing on semi auto, and fully auto. Manual machines (also called lever machines) require you to manually pull the shot with a lever. These machines require a steep learning curve and are often left to the enthusiast looking for satisfaction in the reminiscence and class of the process. If that’s you great! But most likely you want a great tasting latte in the comfort of your own home before heading out for your day.
Let’s start at the automatic espresso machine. You have two types to choose from. An automatic or a super automatic. With an automatic you will most likely have to grind and tamp your beans but from there at a push of a button the machine will pull a consistent shot for you. A fully automatic machines are a step up from that. At a push of a button the machine will grind, tamp, as well as pull your shot. They also have a lot of programable options to allow further control in the process. Automatics lack the control and ultra convenience but make up for it in being more affordable. If you can afford it a super automatic will be the most convenient and user friendly option with the most control. With all those pros comes a higher price tag.
With the convenience of an automatic you might ask what’s the point of considering a semi automatic? In my opinion the semi auto is fantastic for the person who loves the benefits of coffee but also sees coffee as a hobby. The semi automatic is the perfect blend between the automatic and manual machine. You have the control of pulling your own shot for your preferred duration, steam your own milk to your liking, and grind/tamp your beans to your liking. But unlike the manual you won’t have to put your whole body into pulling a lever to pull your shot. At a turn of a handle the machine will automatically pull the shot until you return that handle to it’s original position. This gives you a satisfaction and flexibility you just don’t have when using an automatic machine. These machines also tend to be an affordable option compared to automatics. But there is a learning curve to perfecting the semi auto method. Not as steep of a curve as a manual machine but not as user friendly as pushing a button.
Which ever machine you choose will be specific to your personal needs. If your someone who has the extra cash and is looking to get your hit of caffeine before you head out, an automatic might be for you. But if you love the small things about coffee, the blends, latte art, certain grinds, and the origin of your coffee beans. The semi automatic could be the way to go. Now if you love all of the above and want to prove to your coffee friends your a “true” coffee connoisseur a manual (lever) machine will be your best friend.