Buying a coffee maker wasn’t complicated enough on its own but buying an espresso machine is more daunting. So, let us guide you through the way and make it easy for you. Be ready to dive into the world of espresso machines and specifically learn about semi automatic espresso machine.

In the beginning, when espresso machines were not automatic. The barista had to pull a lever to build pressure and then pull shots. But these machines were not popular because operating them was challenging and required a lot of effort. The espresso world took a 180 turn when an Italian inventor in 1940 came up with the user-friendly machine. It was a semi-automatic espresso machine. 

There are three types of espresso machines: semi-automatic, automatic, and superautomatic. I have the most experience with semi-automatic espresso machines. So, if you want to know what a semi-automatic espresso machine is, how it can benefit you and what to look for when buying one, then continue reading. We are here to reveal all the inside secrets to you today. 

semi automatic espresso machine

What Is A Semi Automatic Espresso Machine?

Semi-automatic espresso machines are not completely manual somewhat. Instead of pulling a lever to activate a piston, an electric pump generates 8-9 bars of pressure. This pressure is optimal for brewing espresso. So, all you have to do is press a button and pull a shot. 

However, as the name of the machine suggests, it is not fully automatic. You still have some work to do before you can start brewing. You will need to grind and tamp the coffee before fitting it into the portafilter and start the shot by pressing the button.

Even though you have a few steps to follow before you can pull a shot, these steps allow you to control the shot. It gives you the freedom to decide your grind size when starting and stopping the shot and the coffee quantity. 

With a semi-automatic espresso machine, you are the boss. All the control is in your hand. Hence, this machine is most prevalent in coffee shops and homes of espresso lovers.


  • Complete control over brewing options
  • Provides an opportunity to grow and refine your brewing skills
  • More user-friendly and convenient than the manual machine
  • Option to brew tea and cafe Americanos as well
  • The most affordable option for espresso machines

What To Look For In A Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine?

Buying a semi automatic espresso machine can be an overwhelming task. There are many market options with multiple features and prices ranging from $100 to many thousand dollars. We have compiled essential tips to keep in mind when you are picking an espresso machine for yourself. 

A semi-automatic espresso machine’s standard features include digital displays, programmable buttons, pre-infusion, pre-grinding, and temperature adjustment. 


The $100 espresso machine with a milk steaming option can be very tempting to buy. Understandably, you want to save on a device, but the price can be a good indicator of quality in the espresso machine market. An inexpensive machine can not only affect the taste of your espresso but, likely. It will not last. 

We suggest that $500-$1000 is a good range for first-time buyers. You can find many machines in this range that provide quality, consistency, and reliability. Any device that is over $1000 will give you more advanced features allowing more refined control over brewing. 


Espresso is brewed by pumping water through finely grounded coffee at around 8-9 BAR of pressure. To achieve this high pressure vibratory or rotary pumps are generally used. 

However, low-end machines are not equipped with pumps capable of producing a water pressure of 9 BAR, so they use the pressurized portafilter to overcome the difference. The portafilters may makeup up for the pressure, but they do not always offer the purest flavor from the grounds. 

If you are a newbie, then you should first practice with a pressurized filter because they are more forgiving of a grind or tamp that is not quite right. But most espresso lovers soon get a hand of grinding and tamping perfectly and like to move onto unpressurized espresso brewing. Hence, we stress getting an unpressurized filter espresso machine or one whose pumps are replaceable, which is not offered in inexpensive devices. 

Boiler Type 

Boiler type is the most crucial element of a semi-automatic espresso machine. The quality of the boiler will offer the most significant difference in terms of usability. The obvious thing to consider is the boiler material. A sturdy stainless boiler will ensure reliability and decades of useability without a hint of a leak.

Another factor to consider is how the heating element works and its effect on heating time. A traditional boiler can take some time to warm up. Therefore, you need to turn the machine on early before brewing or leave it on (consult the manual and see if your machine can run for a more extended period according to its design).

On the other hand, if the heating system consists Thermo coil, it can heat up in seconds. This is also an important factor to consider for steaming milk because you will need a lot of heat to steam a whole pitcher of milk. Therefore check for a more robust, faster heating system that is sturdy. 

Extra Tip:

No matter the kind and quality of espresso machine you use, you cannot skimp on the coffee! Always go for freshly roasted, high-quality beans for your espresso. 

Bottom Line 

Now you know the secrets of a semi automatic espresso machine. I want to conclude that it is an excellent machine for learning to brew a great espresso which is a very rewarding (sometimes frustrating) process. You will be the boss of your coffee with complete control over the brewing process. You will learn to steam milk and latte art, and drinking shots made out of your skill and creations is so exciting.