Espresso Makers – Types And Differences

types of Espresso Makers

Good espresso cannot be made without a good machine. The home espresso market is flooded with a variety of machines, however it is important to understand the differences between different types of machines so you can select the one that fits best according to your requirements; taste, ease of handling and consumption.

Let’s discuss the details of these differences so it can help make your mind for the best espresso machine for your kitchen.

Manual Espresso Machines

The first espresso machines were these manual ones and as their name suggests, these machines rely on a manual lever (often made up of metal), which is used instead of electric pumps. This lever makes a shot, which forces the water through the grounds. The timing and accuracy of pulling a perfect shot depend upon the level of expertise and this is why these machines are not suitable for an average home user.

Although this machine is quite affordable as compared to the other ones but Café barista, bartenders, home coffee geeks and enthusiasts are more into these kinds of machines. On commercial grounds, only few cafes use manual machines, as they need proper time and training to make a cup of perfect espresso. For an average home user, this is certainly not the most recommended type of machine.

Semi-automatic Espresso Machines

Semi autos are more like the kitchen blenders we use. Just as a blender is started and stopped with a push button, similarly semi autos brew the coffee with the push and pull of a button. These machines rely on electronic pumps that force the water through the grounds on a push of a button. The price is also affordable and they require little time to master the tricks and skills involved to make the right espresso through them. The only thing, which may be a turn off for some, is the manual cleaning required of the portafilter after each brewing.

This machine is the most widely used one in Cafes and houses because of its ease of use, price affordability and the control it provides its user to extract the desired taste of coffee.

Automatic Espresso Machines

These are just like semi-autos but replace the manual push of a button with a preset automatic brewing cycle. The timings of starting and stopping of the electric pumps can be set by the user for the type of coffee they require. Some coffee types require short brewing cycle, such as Ristretto while others, Lungo, require longer cycles.

If convenience matters over learning the art of coffee making then this is the most suitable one. Although it’s not as affordable as the semi-autos and the quality of the shot is also not in the user control, but they make a superior taste coffee with less requirement of expertise.

Super Automatic Machines

This is a completely automated solution for making a quality taste espresso with little user input. All you require is only the adding of coffee beans into the grinder and the rest of the procedure will be completely handled by the machine, which includes grinding of the beans, tamping the grounds into the filter and brewing according to the preset timings. Super autos also come up with a self-cleaning feature so you don’t need to clean the portafilter and It has an internal bin where it dumps the used grounds.

This machine is ideal for those coffee fans for whom money is not an issue and prefer a quick solution for making quality and superior taste espresso without learning the skill of operating a manual espresso maker.

Single Serve Coffee Pod Machines

If you are looking for an easy solution for making your espresso without investing in a big machine then these small single serve pods are ideal for you. They use a pre-packaged coffee that fits into the machine, called pods, to make espresso. From inside, the machine heats the water and once the pressure is built up, it fires it through the coffee grounds (pod). The pods can only be used once for each cup of coffee and you can make only one cup at a time.

Capsule Espresso Machines

The latest technology in coffee making is the use if capsules. They are best suited for those who have very busy schedules and have little time to make coffee, especially in the morning, and dont mind beeing tied too a single brand of coffee. Capsules are pre-packaged sealed pots of ground coffee, which fit into the machine and machine pierce it to force hot water through, to drip out the coffee.

A capsule machine can only be used for a single serving and they take only a single brand of capsule (e.g Nespresso, Caffitaly), so this makes your espresso choice limited to the variety offered by the brand.

Coffee Machine Buying Guide

How to buy a Coffee Maker Guide

What Should I Look For in a Coffee Maker?

So you have finally decided to invest in buying an espresso machine to decorate your kitchen! Now, the next step is to equip yourself with the proper knowledge on what features and characteristics you should look for while buying your first or second espresso machine.

To help assist you in making this choice easier, here are some important features of an ideal espresso machine which you should look for once you are out on the hunt.

To begin with, first you need to know what a typical coffee machine is consisting of:

  • Water reservoir
  • Pump
  • Boiler
  • Portafilter
  • Steaming
  • Thermostats
  • Grinder


Let us skim through each component to understand what it does and what you should look for while buying.

Water Reservoir

This is the container where the water is reserved for the use. You don’t have to be very concerned about its size as its good to have not much water reserved. It’s always better to keep changing the reservoir water if the machine is not used for long .


Pump plays an important role in coffee making, as it forces the water into the boiler first and then through the coffee grounds under pressure. There is a myth that as much the force will be, as better the extraction would be. However, there is no reality to this myth and a bar pressure of 8 to 10 is enough to make quality extraction.

Therefore, while looking for your espresso machine, only consider two factors about its pumps; one that it produces 8-10 bar pressure and second that it’s made up of quality material.


It is the part, which is actually responsible for the brewing process. Water is boiled in the boiler and therefore it is the size, weight and design of boiler that matters most than its material. All boilers are subject to lime and mineral scale buildup over time, so you don’t have to be particularly concerned about its material. Most espresso machine makers use the boiler for both brewing and steaming purposes.

However, for high budget semi-autos and super auto machines, steamer and brewer have separate boilers. The only difference you got with combined and separated boilers is the interval of 45-75 seconds in combined one and no waiting time for the separated one, once you press the steam button.


The most important part of an espresso machine is Portafilter, which actually holds the coffee beans for the brewing process. Ideally, it should be made up of forged brass as compared to Aluminum, because a heavy grouphandle retains more heat and it feels solid about the durability and quality of the machine.

The filter basket in Portafilter should be large enough to contain 7 to 14 grams of coffee.


Steaming wands are indispensable for the frothing process and manufacturers use a variety of ways to operate the steaming wands. Some use a knob while others use a lever or a button, analog or digital, to activate the steaming wand. It’s always better to prefer a knob or lever than a digital button as knob is easily repairable and durable.


Thermostats are the indicator of heat pressure in your boiler, which is used to indicate brewing heat and steam pressure. Most manufacturers install different thermostats for measuring the temperature of boiler and steam. You should look that your barista has a thermal fuse installed, which is a useful tool for overheat protection.


Grinder is the most important part of an espresso machine, as a correct grinder is essential for a fresh, flavorful espresso. While looking for the Grinder, you should be ready to make a little more investment, keeping in mind that a low budget blade grinder would spoil the taste of your espresso.

You can make a mouth watering espresso just by the use of a fine, sharp blade grinder. Built-in-grinders should be given preference over separate grinders, as they grind very quickly and produce a very hot espresso.


We hope that this guide is helpful for you for making your choice easier. It is believed that finding a perfect coffee machine is very difficult, however if you have proper knowledge and guidance then its only a matter of budget you have to take care of.