Different Types of Home Espresso Machine

A home espresso machine can come in many different forms. Here I talk about the four basic types of espresso machines.

Manual espresso machines

These are piston driven home espresso machines. You use the hand lever to manually force the water through the coffee grounds. The manual espresso machines usually look really cool. However, they are not for the fainthearted. You need considerable skills to operate them. I would recommend that you don't get a manual espresso machine unless you are really enthusiastic about espresso.

Semi-automatic espresso machines

These are probably the most popular home espresso machines. In semi-automatic espresso machines the water is forced through the grounds by a pump. With these pump driven espresso machines you don't have to control the pressure manually. But you still keep the control over the rest of the brewing process. You turn the pump on and off with a switch - so you decide when to finish pulling the shot.

Automatic espresso machines

These are also sometimes called fully automatic. They are the same as semi-automatic machines except that you don't have any control over the length of the brewing process. You start the shot just like with the semi-auto machine - but this time the machine will turn the pump off automatically once a preprogrammed volume of water has passed through.

Super-automatic espresso machines

Super-automatic espresso machines do everything at a tough of a button: grind the coffee, dose it, tamp it, brew the shot and dispose of the puck (the spent grounds) into an internal waste box. Some of the latest models would even froth the milk and add it to your cappuccino. The good ones allow you to set a lot of the different brewing variables to your liking. Super-automatics are very convenient and simple to use. On the downside, you don't have that much control over the brewing process.

Further Reading

Home Espresso Machines
Boiler Types for Espresso Machines