Choosing an espresso machine for your cafe - Semi-Auto or Automatic?

Choosing an espresso machine for your cafe - Semi-Auto or Automatic?

Mike Tan

What is the difference between a semi-automatic and an automatic espresso machine?


With the advancement of technology, like everything else coffee machines have become more automated. This has not neglected the need for a skilled barista but technology is slowly changing the role of the barista and allows us to make more consistent coffee and have a better understanding of the scientific principles of what makes a ‘good’ coffee.

As touched on in the video, an automatic espresso machine ends the extraction automatically, where a semi-automatic espresso machine requires the barista to manually turn on and off the extraction (with the touch of a button). Traditionally, an automatic machine would measure volume and the extraction would end once a desired volume has been achieved. There are now machines available that measure by weight instead of volume.

An automatic machine has the ability to control the extraction manually therefore doesn’t have any real advantages over a semi-automatic machine. Despite the added cost, most cafes are moving towards the trend of automatic espresso machines, primarily for reasons of consistency and speed. This would mean that the small added cost is generally a wise investment for café owners choosing an automatic espresso machine over a semi-automatic.


**Super automatic machines are a different type of machine again and these machines are typically found in office or vending machine situations where the machine makes the coffee from the touch of a button. This includes the extraction of the coffee shot and steaming of the milk. Super-automatic machines are rarely used in cafes due to their inability to make adjustment to temperature and humidity fluctuations within a working environment.

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