Before we get into the technical aspects of the two types of espresso machines, here’s what you really need to know. Semi-automatic espresso machines are going to be perfect for the espresso connoisseur. If you’re the type that really wants to get the best-quality and taste out of your espresso machine and don’t mind taking a little more time and effort out of your schedule, the semi-automatic espresso maker is going to be for you. It’s a little bit more work, but the key here is that you ultimately have more control over every subtle nuance that goes into your version of the perfect shot of espresso with a semi-automatic.
While all of the brand’s machines take up substantial counter space, you can get all of the advanced features without taking over your kitchen. The Impressa F8 is designed as a two-cup coffee maker - it has dual nozzles in the front so that you can make them side by side. However, you can also use the spouts for perfectly frothed milk instead. So, if you’re looking for a high-quality cappuccino, you will get it without having to do anything extra.
Starting with the brew unit, the first thing to understand is that it’s not removable.  From a practical perspective, what that means for you is that about once a week, you’ll need to pop a cleansing tab into the bypass doser to clean the unit.  No big deal, but our personal preference is for removable units you can rinse by hand to ensure a thorough cleaning.
The first machine I received never worked correctly. The milk would not steam and the espresso would start to come out and then stop. Upon stopping a message would display on the screen asking to press a button to fill the pump. This would occur 2-3 times before an expresso could actually be made. I experimented with several different grind settings, coffee strength, water temperatures, etc, but with no success. The machine continued to pump a few drops of espresso, asking to refill the pump, and waste the previous grinds. I literally wasted 2-3 cans of Illy espresso without ever getting espresso. In addition, with each espresso cycle, a large amount of water would precede any espresso. For example on a 1oz shot, about 0.1oz would be water that didn't run through the coffee.
With the look of a shrink-rayed professional espresso machine, the grinning fizzog of shaven-headed culinary chemist Heston Blumenthal on the box and a price tag that puts it out of reach of all but the most well-heeled caffeine fiend, the Barista Express (branded as Breville in the US and Sage in the UK) is clearly aimed at those seeking a major step up in their home-brewed coffee.
The very first espresso machines worked on a steam-pressure basis, and they’re still in use today. With this type of machine, steam or steam pressure is used to force water through the coffee grounds and produce espresso. Some steam-driven machines can produce a measure of foam “crema.” But they can’t generate enough pressure or provide the precise temperature control necessary to produce true espresso: They simply make a very strong cup of coffee. However, they cost considerably less than pump-driven machines. Our verdict is that if you’re a true espresso lover and seeking to make a good shot at home, we recommend you steer clear of steam-driven machines. They’ll likely disappoint you.

The 1150W DeLonghi ESAM3500.N is capable of preparing a wide range of coffee drinks, including lattes, cappuccinos, coffee, espresso and more. You can easily brew directly into the twelve oz cups, demitasse or espresso thanks to the height adjustable coffee spouts this model comes with. Thanks to the instant reheat function, keeping the ESAM3500.N at the right temperature is a breeze, regardless of the length of time between cups.


The interface is also very clean and easy to use and given the fact that it also has a function for automatic cleaning, you don’t have to worry about cleaning the machine yourself. However, probably the most notable feature (among others) of the XS90 is the fact that it features a low noise design. What I mean by that is that the burr grinder is perfectly insulated and has the lowest noise grinding of any espresso machine on the market today.

Even better, you won’t have to worry about stale water ever again and that’s because the ThermoBlock technology is going to channel the right amount of water required by the specific drink you’re preparing. On top of that, you also don’t need to worry about experiencing any metallic taste in your coffee and that’s thanks to the machine’s stainless steel lining.


Capresso offers a significant list of help resources that include comparison charts, instruction booklets, quick-reference guides and a list of FAQs. In addition, the company offers information on its warranties and product registration. You can contact Capresso using its toll-free customer service hotline. The nice thing about this company's customer service is that there are people available to answer your questions on Saturdays.
The ECAM28465 uses an integrated frothing system and the milk container in order to immediately deliver to your cup both the right amount of frothed or steamed milk and freshly brewed espresso. That’s not all though: you also get a dual stainless steel-lined thermoblock heating that provides steaming and brewing power for your various coffee drinks. Lastly, you can say goodbye to espresso and other drinks any metallic taste in your coffee that you probably got with other machines and that’s because the Prima Donna S features a stainless steel lining which prevents that from being the case.
First, I really wanted to like this machine. The specs, design, functionality, were exactly what I was looking for in a super automatic espresso machine, however the machine failed to perform the basic task of making espresso. I found the display, programming, controls, and size of the water chamber to be good. The milk frothing system was cumbersome as it required you to attach tubes each time you wanted a milk drink. When the system worked, the steamed milk was hot and the consistency was great for cappuccinos and lattes. However, if the tube was not connected precisely (very little room for error) the consistency of the milk was poor. I ended up having to restart the process several times as the tubes were not connected properly or they came loose as the milk was pumped. The tubes also presented an issue with clean up in that they had to be cleaned after each use.
Turn, press, enjoy – that’s how easy it is to enter the world of IMPRESSA C65 With the one-switch operating concept of the Rotary Switch and the 11-language plain text display, it’s easy to create the perfect coffee every time. Thanks to the high-performance conical grinder, the beans are always freshly ground. The simple, compact design with its elegant combination of matte and gloss black gives the IMPRESSA C65 an imposing yet understated look in any surroundings.
The Micro 1 in many ways is the Micro 9’s little brother. This simple, ultra compact Jura machine features a sleek black design that is both minimal and modern. With the Micro 1, Jura set out to make their smallest unit without sacrificing the power and quality they are known for. And after out tests with a demo unit, we can safely say that they succeeded.
It’s affordable (£70 at Argos at the time of writing; Dolce Gusto pods are priced at around £4 for a box of 16) and incredibly simple to set up and use. Simply fill the removable water tank with cold H2O, pop your chosen coffee pod into a slide-out drawer at the front, stick a cup under the spout and hit the power button. When it turns from red to green (a mere few seconds) the machine is ready. You then push the water lever either left (for cold drinks) or right (for hot drinks) until the desired amount of your drink is in the cup. Then slide out the drawer, expel the pod and throw it away.
There's one other area needing fixing, not only in these machines but in all super automatics I've ever tried - tiny puck sizes (diameter) = bad extraction. That's not me saying it. That's Dr. Illy and a wide range of scientific tests that the Illy labs have done finding the optimal puck size for superior extraction. At 46mm, these pucks are too tiny.
The one-touch approach extends far beyond simply grinding your coffee. Anything that you do with the Jura is going to be accomplished with that original a single button. This is a welcomed departure from other more advanced coffee systems which claim to be one-touch, but require you to do a lot of additional work when making more complicated drinks.
We always like to find a negative or two, and this has to be the biggest one by far for the Jura. For us, the temperature is fine, but we do understand that some people like their coffee as near to boiling point as possible without burning the coffee. It’s probably going to be a minority of coffee lovers that find this to be a deal breaker (hint: if that’s you, take a look at Heston’s Dual Boiler), for most of us, we find that it takes the roof of our mouth off!
The shining feature of the Jura is just how freshly the coffee is before its brewed. With conventional drip coffee makers, you load it with pre-ground coffee that has a good chance of already being somewhat stale. After all, ground coffee starts to go downhill quickly after being ground. Slightly more expensive drip coffee makers try to solve this problem by allowing you to set a timer to grind the coffee fresh every morning, but it’s still going to sit there for some length of time before it gets brewed. The Jura coffee machine has cracked the code by grinding beans fresh for every single cup of coffee, espresso, cappuccino or latte. It doesn’t grind it until you are about to drink it, which gives you a fresher cup of coffee than most coffee shops will be able to provide. Not having to grind the coffee yourself and then clean the grinder is on it’s own and huge step in the direction of convenience.
The one-touch approach extends far beyond simply grinding your coffee. Anything that you do with the Jura is going to be accomplished with that original a single button. This is a welcomed departure from other more advanced coffee systems which claim to be one-touch, but require you to do a lot of additional work when making more complicated drinks.

We always like to find a negative or two, and this has to be the biggest one by far for the Jura. For us, the temperature is fine, but we do understand that some people like their coffee as near to boiling point as possible without burning the coffee. It’s probably going to be a minority of coffee lovers that find this to be a deal breaker (hint: if that’s you, take a look at Heston’s Dual Boiler), for most of us, we find that it takes the roof of our mouth off!

The other point that we wanted to highlight isn’t necessarily a negative per se, but just the fact that it’s a lot to spend, and let’s face it – it is! There’s a lot of machines available in the sub £500 range, and we’d never advocate or encourage spending more than you can afford. Having said that, you do get what you pay for, and in this case we believe it’s exceptional quality. If you really love coffee, it’s probably worth paying as much as you’re comfortable with to get a great machine, and that’s exactly what you’re getting here.

It’s highly efficient, meaning that you don’t get as much ground residue after processing your beans. Not only does this ensure that your coffee tastes (and smells) better, but it saves on the cleaning process. Finally, the E6 has a separate milk frother and spout. Instead of pouring milk through one of the nozzles that can be used for coffee (this model also can make two cups simultaneously), the E6 keeps it all separated.
The one-touch approach extends far beyond simply grinding your coffee. Anything that you do with the Jura is going to be accomplished with that original a single button. This is a welcomed departure from other more advanced coffee systems which claim to be one-touch, but require you to do a lot of additional work when making more complicated drinks.
Semi-automatic espresso machines are just that—semi-automatic. Some of the steps are automated, but many are not. This allows the user to put their personal stamp on the final product but without doing some of the tedious steps that are involved in making an espresso on the stove top. Here’s a look at some of the features that make a semi-automatic espresso machine such a great pickup for the ultimate espresso lover:

With the Capresso 303, you will be up and drinking your cappuccino much quicker than if you chose to drive to the local coffee house. Another good reason to have your own personal cappuccino maker is that you have the option to add a little or a lot of sweetener to your latte. Because this steam espresso machine uses steam pressure, it will take about two minutes to heat up and be ready to start brewing espresso.


Maintaining the C60 is a breeze and that’s because it has special descaling and rinsing programs. The latter can be easily programmed while taking into account the hardness of the water in your area and how many times a month you want to use it. If you’re an energy conscious person, then you can program the C60 with designated shut off times in order to save energy when you’re not using the machine.

THE CURE: Once weekly reach up inside with a hot, wet towel, and clean the round disk behind the flap that hangs down. If it jams, unplug and let it cool before turning it on - sometimes you may have to do this several times. It just happened this a.m., and I had to wait 1/2 hour between my 3rd and 4th cup :) The first time it happened, tech support walked me through the cleaning on the phone. The last time was more of a problem, and they shipped me a mailing label for a $245 complete rebuild, but I didn't have to use it.
The other reviews comment on the burr grinder sticking and this may be as a result of using oily beans. This problem is addressed in the manual; they offer recommendations on how to get the oils to evaporate somewhat to prevent issues with the machine. The beans I use are not particularly oily and I have never had a problem with the grinder nor any problems with any of the other functions with this machine. This unit has already paid for itself several times over in savings over what I would pay at any coffee house; very pleased with this purchase!
The ENA Micro 5 is the next level of technology in the ENA Micro line. It is also one of the smallest machines on the list, fairly priced, and incorporates more functionality into the machine than the ENA Micro 1. This includes the option to brew two cups of espresso at the same time, with a dual and height-adjustable spout, as well as Aroma+ technology to keep your coffee beans fresh.
Depending on how often you use your Jura, the machine will prompt you to clean it at regular intervals. For most models this is every 180 cups of coffee. It’s important not to ignore these prompts simply because the longer you wait, the more buildup from the coffee and its oils there will be, and the more the flavor of your coffee will be affected. As with all functions of the Jura, cleaning is extremely simple and is completely hands off.
If you’re currently looking for the best espresso machine that will undoubtedly make you the perfect espresso every single time you use it, then look no further than the Jura XS90 (View on Amazon.com). Offering commercial grade performance (for both restaurant and office use), the XS90 features the company’s popular 1-touch milk frothing system and 2 independent boilers made of high quality stainless steel. What this means for you is that you can prepare the perfect espresso in just seconds.
Although the low RPM motor is a fantastic feature of this Capresso grinder, it may struggle with darker, oilier beans on the finest grind settings. The mechanical timer is also not as precise as one would wish, as the machine begins grinding the moment you turn the dial. As a result, grind quantities are fairly inconsistent. Another notable disadvantage is the fact that the 565’s bean hopper is not entirely airtight, making it unsuitable for storing coffee beans for more than a few days at a time. Finally, due to the design of its grind chute and a recurring problem with static cling, this grinder can get fairly messy.
The Saeco PicoBaristo HD8924/47 Super-automatic espresso machine is a superior compact coffee machine from one of the world’s best-known manufacturers. It is an Amazon Choice machine, popular with purchasers and the recipient of excellent reviews. The PicoBaristo provides the widest variety of drinks of any compact super-automatic espresso machine.
When you think of other “one-touch” coffee solutions on the market, what typically comes to mind are single serve coffee machines that utilize K-cups or some other kind of coffee pod. While these definitely changed the game when first introduced, they leave a lot to be desired in terms of waste and the Jura has evolved past them. K-cups and coffee pods produce an extreme amount of plastic, cardboard and foil that is filling up landfills as at a rapid pace. Not to mention, by the time the coffee gets to your machine, the grounds have been sitting on the shelf for months and are most likely very stale.

A “proper” machine that can deliver both single and double shot espressos, its spout has a dual opening allowing you to make two coffees simultaneously. There’s also a steam wand for foaming milk, and the water tank has a decent 1.2l capacity, meaning you won’t need to refill it after making three cups o’ joe. In addition to ground coffee, it’ll also accept E.S.E. coffee pods (we weren’t able to test these, but as they’re made in almost precisely the same way as regular espressos, we imagine they’ll work just fine).


Hate getting up in the morning? That’ll change with the Z6. Just the thought of gazing at this handsome clean, shiny chrome machine was enough to have us leaping out of bed at 6am. Brewing coffee is fairly simple and yields powerful, yet tasty cups. Espresso based drinks are a cinch to produce too—but often taste slightly watered down. The best part is though is the nearly silent grinder, which is quiet enough to run on full power without fear of waking the whole house up. —Neil Gellar
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