Coffee machines
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Manual vs. Automatic Coffee Machines – The better Option

Are you a java lover? Or an aspiring at-home barista looking for a new espresso machine? With a plethora of options available out there, selecting a coffee machine that suits you best can be a daunting task. The Barista Express from Breville/Sage is a popular espresso machine option among coffee lovers. Espresso machines come in different sizes, shapes, qualities and with varying levels of automation. 

When selecting a coffee machine, one of the most overwhelming things you must decide is how hands-on you want to be. Espresso machines come with different degrees of automation, where each offers a different set of benefits. They can be broadly categorized into two: manual and automatic coffee machines. 

In this article, we will explore manual vs. automatic coffee machines to help you choose an espresso machine perfect for your lifestyle, budget, and preferences. Keep reading!

What is the difference between manual and automatics coffee machines?

Manual and automatic coffee machines offer completely different java making experiences. 

Automatic espresso machines are all about ease of use. They do pretty everything for you, from grinding the beans, tampering grounds, to milk frothing with one touch of a button. The only problem is that your coffee can taste somewhat manufactured.

On the other side, manual coffee machines allow you to indulge in latter art by giving you control over the coffee-making process. Although they are difficult to operate than their automatic counterparts, they yield a much more satisfying cup of joe. These machines require you to steam the milk and grind coffee beans manually.

Manual Coffee Machines

Also known as piston or lever machines, manual espresso machines are the original way to brew coffee. The brewer pumps a lever to generate the pressure required to prepare a delicious cup of coffee.

Along with pressure, the brewer controls just about every other aspect of the shot when using a manual coffee machine. This simply means you grind the beans, measure the correct quantity, load and tamp the filter basket, pump the piston, and apply pressure for the right brew time to pull the shot.

Operating manual espresso machines is a bit difficult and requires attention plus precision to make delectable espresso.

But why would anyone do this work when there are other options?

Proponents agree that once perfected; these machines give the best-testing coffee. The machines also have a classic look, meaning they are aesthetically appealing.

Pros of manual coffee machines

● They give the user undeniable, complete control over the brewing process

● Manual machines yield quality and best-tasting espresso. The perfectly mastered, they can outperform top-notch superautomatic espresso machines.

● They are an attractive kitchen appliance.

● They can fit nicely into most kitchens, thanks to their availability in varying sizes.

● They provide a hands-on experience which is more satisfying for many baristas.


● They are difficult to operate and require practice and consistency to produce better coffee.

● They require a separate grinder

Automatic Coffee Machines

Unlike manual coffee machines, automatic espresso machines are designed with a built-in mechanical pump. They come with pre-set features to offer a quality cup of joe with no fuss.

Automatic coffee machines come in three types.

● Semi-automatic espresso machines: These machines come with an electric pump, which takes care of critical brewing factors. As the name suggests, these espresso makers are not fully automated. The brewer has to grind coffee beans, pack the portafilter, and tamp before pressing the button to start the shot. With a handful of steps, these machines allow you to be the boss.

● Automatic espresso machines: Fully automatic and semi-automatic coffee machines are almost the same. The only difference comes in timing, where the automatic ones cut off a shot automatically, thanks to their built-in timer. You still have to grind, load, and tamp the coffee beans.

● Super-automatic espresso machines: These machines are all-inclusive, thanks to their multiple programmable options. They grind, dose, and tamp the coffee for you as well as steaming the milk. These machines are unbeatable in terms of convenience – it does everything at the push of a button.

The main appeal of automatic coffee machines is brewing with the press of a button. They are an excellent option for entertainment because they offer speeds.

Pros of automatic coffee machines

● They are convenient to use

● Brewers do not need to practice to make a perfect latte

● You don’t need barista skills to use them

● They are relatively easier to clean

● They can prepare a variety of beverages


● They are expensive

● They do not offer control over the brewing process

● They can’t beat the classic retro look of manual espresso machines

● Requires professional cleaning for best results

Manual vs. Automatic espresso machines: Which is the better option?

Everybody is different when it comes to coffee preferences. Both manual and automatic espresso machines have the power to deliver fantastic shots.

If you are a bona fide espresso geek and like the idea of pulling a shot after another and refining each variable in search of perfection, a manual coffee machine might be your favorite. When used well, it produces the best-tasting espresso.

Automatic coffee machines, particularly the superautomatic espresso machines, are perfect for those craving unique features for enhanced convenience. They yield high-quality latte within a short time, which can be great if you lead a very busy life.

Factors to consider when buying an espresso machine

Besides the automation you want a coffee machine to have, there are factors to consider before deciding what machine to buy. Make sure to consider the following:  

● Technical functions

● Cost

● Maintenance

● Quality and taste of espresso a machine makes

● Your lifestyle

No matter your budget, you should look for a machine that allows you to personalize every cup of joe based on your preferences. Overall, manual coffee machines are cheaper than high-end automatic machines and allow you to make incredible espresso. These machines are also easy to maintain.

Deciding what coffee machine to buy can be daunting. Manual options allow you to enjoy a hands-on experience, while automatic machines offer convenience. The best espresso machines for you should favor your lifestyle and make what you prefer.

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