Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines
With the semi-automatic espresso machines the pressure is delivered by an electric pump. These machines are considerably easier to use than the manual espresso machines - and yet you can still control most of the factors that influence the quality of your espresso.
So how do you make espresso with the semi-automatic espresso machine? First you put freshly ground coffee in the protafilter, tamp it and put the portafilter into the brewhead. Then you turn on a switch to start the pump which delivers the hot water from the boiler. You finish the shot by turning the pump off.
I will talk in this section also about automatic espresso machines since they are very similar to their semi-automatic cousins.
Is the semi-automatic espresso machine right for you?If you are buying your first espresso machine you should not get a manual machine because the learning curve is just too high. So your choice is semi-automatic, automatic or super automatic. There is not really that much difference between semi-automatic and automatic so first you need to decide if you want super automatic or not.
If your main requirement is convenience then you should get the super automatic machine. You will get consistency and ease of use. You will also get a very decent (but not outstanding) espresso from them.
If you like to be involved in the espresso making process then you should get either semi-automatic or automatic machine. The super automatics just take out the fun of making espresso.
One thing you should know is that you will need a good conical burr grinder to go with your semi-automatic espresso machine. Pre ground coffee just does not do the job. So a good grinder is a must. Some people even say that the grinder is more important than the espresso machine itself!
If you are after producing the best espresso shot possible then you should definitely get a semi-automatic machine. Semi-automatic machine allows you to tweak the grind, the tamp pressure and the brewing time - everything you need to make that perfect cup! It will take time though so be prepared for a long and exciting journey.
You can check my recommendation for a few highly rated models in Best Espresso Machine: Semi-Automatic Models.
Further ReadingInexpensive Pump Espresso Machines
Gaggia Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines
Breville Espresso Machines