What Are the 3 Types of Espresso Machines

Espresso machines are a staple in any coffee shop that wants to serve espresso drinks. Espresso is a concentrated coffee drink with a strong flavour and can be served either as an espresso or as a cappuccino.

The espresso machine is the key to making this drink. Different types of espresso machines can be used for this purpose, each with different pros and cons. So what are the types of espresso machines?

The three main types of espresso machines are Semi-Automatic, Automatic, and Super Automatic, each one offering different benefits. To pick the right type, you need to ask yourself a few questions, such as how often you will use it and how much control you want over the process.

Different types of espresso machines are designed for everyone, from professional espresso machines for baristas to beginner-friendly ones for your home. The main elements to consider when choosing an espresso machine are the budget, the frequency and quantity of drinks, and your kitchen space.

Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines:

Semi-Automatic espresso machines differ from manual machines in the pressing lever. Instead of pulling on the level to activate the piston pulling the shot, you can just press a button. The button signals an electric pump to start, thus eliminating the need for physical strength to pull espresso shots.

Pros and Cons:

Some of the pros of semi-automatic espresso machines are that they are cheaper than most other types and provide complete control over the grind, dose, tamp, and extraction time.

The cons of this type of espresso machine are that they are labour-heavy, as all the


brewing steps need manual attention. Besides that, you need to remain beside the machine to time the extraction time just right.

Semi-automatic espresso machines are the most found in speciality coffee shops and enthusiasts’ homes. But for some people, the extended level of control can be too daunting. That’s where automatic espresso machines come in.

Automatic Espresso Machines:

The main difference between semi-automatic and automatic espresso machines is the extraction time, as automatic machines have an internal timer that automatically cuts off the water flow. This can be handy as you can step away from the machine and know you won’t return to find espresso spilt all over the floor.

Pros and Cons:

The most obvious pro of this type of espresso machine is the perfect consistency when it comes to extraction time, which means the flavour will always be the same. In addition to that, it allows you to do more things at once as you can step away after starting the brewing.

The one main con of automatic espresso machines is the lack of control over the extraction time. Most brewers extract after 25-30 seconds, but that five-second window can change the taste entirely. An automatic machine takes that flexibility away from you.

Super-Automatic Espresso Machines:

As the name suggests, super-automatic espresso machines automate the whole process. They are known as the “beans to cup” machines and are designed to be all-inclusive; They grind the beans, set up the portafilter and tamp, and pull the shot. They can even steam the milk for you.

Pros and Cons:

The pros of Super-auto espresso machines can be summarized as being “auto”. A super-automatic machine can pull the exact same shot almost every time. They also come with a great range of easy-to-use features that would make you an espresso shot with a single click of a button.

An obvious Con of super-auto machines is the hefty price tag that comes with them, as they are the most expensive coffee machine. Also, they offer little to no control over the whole brewing process. They also may require professional cleaning and repairs.

Super-automatic espresso machines are more common in non-speciality cafes, stores, and the homes of casual coffee enthusiasts who don’t mind spending extra money for convenience.

What Type of Espresso Machine is Best For You

To figure out which type of espresso machine is the best for you, you need to look at a few factors, such as your budget, the type of espresso you drink, how often you drink coffee, and the space you have in your kitchen. The level of your experience with coffee brewing also plays a major role in your choice.

  • Budget allocation:

When setting a budget for an espresso machine, you must also consider whether you will need a grinder. New espresso enjoyers make the most common mistake of under-allocating money to a grinder and overbuying on the espresso machine side.

You should not bother with super-automatic machines if you are on a tight budget. Opt instead for a semi-auto or an auto machine depending on which one you can afford. This can be an excellent opportunity for you to get into the art of coffee brewing, as super-automatic espresso machines take that away from you.

  • Frequency of Drinking Espresso:

Depending on how often you plan on using the machine, you can decide on which type you want to get. If you drink a single coffee a day, it would be acceptable to go through the manual process of brewing a coffee with a semi-automatic or automatic machine.

However, if you see yourself making an espresso multiple times per day or for more people, it would be a good investment for you to get a super-automatic espresso machine, as it would be a considerable time and effort saver.

  • Experience level:

The experience level you have in using espresso machines plays a significant role in determining which type is best for you. If you are a complete beginner, it would not be recommended to get a semi-auto machine.

Having said that, if you are interested in going further into the depths of espresso brewing and flavour, A semi-automatic will give you all the freedom to tinker with the variables and explore the world of espresso.

If you are serious about learning to brew espresso shots, we suggest getting a semi-automatic machine. Although it takes some time to get used to it, and the learning process can get frustrating, being able to brew a great espresso shot is a very rewarding feeling.

What Do You Need to Know Before Buying an Espresso Machine

Before buying an espresso machine for your home, you should consider some crucial factors. Like how much time and effort you are willing to dedicate towards your daily cup of coffee, the


variety of drinks the machine can make, and the price you are willing to pay.

Maintenance is another big factor to keep in mind, as all espresso machines will require some sort of maintenance; it can be removing the grounds or empty capsules, cleaning the tray, or filling the water compartment. Some machines have more maintenance tasks to do as well.

You should also consider the pump pressure. Pressure will determine the amount of flavour extracted from the coffee beans, as well as the quality of the crema. For that, look for a machine with seven bars or more.

Is a 15 or 20 BAR Espresso Machine Better

One of the most vital features of an espresso machine is its BAR pressure. Espresso machines have a specific pump pressure limit, clearly stated as a number of BARs. The ideal number should be somewhere between 7 and 15 BARs.

You can find numerous fancy espresso machines that offer over 15 BARs of pressure. However, as many experts can point out, buying an espresso machine with more than 15 BARs is a waste of money. Most espresso machines hardly ever use over 11 BARs of pressure.

Budget espresso machines will be around 9 BARs, which is good enough for a delicious espresso. While better and more expensive, machines can offer up to 15 BARs, which is the best option as it can initiate the brew with around 10-11 BARs. It is not advised to go any higher. 

What Coffee Do You Use For An Espresso Machine

When it comes to espresso, dark roasts are the best. They introduce the rich and full-bodied taste that espresso is known for. In addition, darker roasts have a higher amount of oils; these oils produce more crema, giving the espresso shot a fresher, more complete taste.

You can find some coffee blends that are specifically roasted and ground to be perfect for preparing espresso. This does not mean that other blends and roasts cannot be used to make espresso.


All three types of espresso machines have their specific use cases. What you need to do before choosing the best one for you is look over the factors and specifications of each type and your own needs, and ways you will use the machine.

Paul Mason

coffee blogger

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