Semi-Auto vs. Automatic Espresso Machines: What is the Difference? | Here are 5 Recommended espresso machines for 2020 | Turn your home into a Coffee Shop!

The first espresso machines were not automatic nor user friendly. Baristas had to manually pull down a lever which required a good amount of strength to do. This all changed in 1933 when Francisco Illy made the first automatic espresso machine which simplified the process and made it significantly more user-friendly.  An espresso revolution!

As a team of hard workers, YAS editors love their morning coffee. We wrote this article to give you all the information you need to know because buying an espresso machine can be intimidating. Stop drinking those cheap coffee capsules and learn to brew your own espresso!

Automatic? Semi-automatic? Different types of Coffee Machines

Semi-Auto Espresso Machines

The name tells you what to expect. Some aspects of the brewing process will be manual, and some will be automatic. These machines have an electric pump instead of a manual lever, allowing you to easily control when to start and stop. You still must grind, tamp, and load the coffee manually, however, once you press the button, the machine takes over the brewing process. These machines are the most affordable and popular for those wanting to become a barista at home. You get to control the grind size, when the shot starts and stops, and how much or little coffee to use.

Control over variablesLearning curve
Most affordable
Can improve your skills

Automatic Espresso Machines

If semi-auto machines made the manual brewing process simpler, automatic machines take it a step further. Automatic has all the features of a semi-automatic but does not require you to press the stop button. With one press of a button, the machine will control the amount of water and pre-determine how much espresso to brew. These machines are perfect for multitaskers and those who may find the semi-automatic machines intimidating. They are also typically found in commercial coffee shops because they allow the barista to make multiple drinks at the same time. You can even find Super-Automatic machines which simplifies the brewing process one step further with the addition of a burr grinder. Just load the beans and press the button, and the machine will do everything for you.

Handsfree brewingCannot control shot timing
Easier to useVery expensive
Control over most variables

5 Recommended Espresso Machines

01|Breville Barista Touch’  Espresso Machine

Pro:HK$8,980|Buying link

Breville 咖啡機


  • Handsfree brewing
  • Create 8 custom profiles with different preferences
  • Touchscreen controls allowing you to customize brew strength, milk texture, and temperature
  • Integrated burr grinder


  • The handsfree brewing experience may not be for people who prefer something more manual
  • Must manually tamp coffee

02|Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine

Price:HK$8,320|Buying Link



  • Can connect machine to water line
  • Great steam control
  • Cup storage and warming feature
  • Very high-quality design and make
  • More hands-on brewing experience


  • No integrated burr grinder
  • Increased level of control may be intimidating for some
  • Brew settings not as customizable

03|Carezza De Luxe by Gaggia

Price:HK$3,980|Buying Link

Gaggia Carezza Deluxe 咖啡機


  • Old-school Italian Retro Café design
  • Automatic pre-infusion feature
  • Beginner friendly steam wand


  • Old school design is not for everyone
  • Even more hands-on brewing experience
  • Lacks the modern tech features of Breville and Nuova machines

04|De’Longhi EC155 & Espresso Maker

Price:HK$980|Buying Link

delonghi hk delonghi 咖啡機


  • Very Affordable
  • Perfect for new and aspiring baristas
  • Simple and user-friendly controls
  • Dual temperature control for brewing and steaming


  • Scaled down features
  • Completely hands on
  • Smaller capacity

05|Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

Price:HK$1,729|Buying Link

Mr. Coffee 咖啡機


  • Easiest to use
  • Affordable
  • Takes ESE pods and coffee grounds
  • One touch control panel


  • Small water reservoir
  • Manual brewing process
  • Cup section not the biggest

At the end of day, all these machines will brew you a solid cup of espresso. It all depends on whether you want to pay the higher price for the added convenience and features. Some of these machines will do everything for you with the press of a button. Some of these machines are affordable entry-level products that are perfect for the aspiring home barista. At the end of the day, the most important features to look for are grinding, heating, and pressure control.

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