Gail's Picks: Best High End Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines of 2019
Welcome back to Gail's picks for the best machines of 2019!
Today we're taking a look at the very best higher end semi-automatics on the market, starting with the Rocket Espresso R58.
The Rocket Espresso R58 is a hand built, perfectly tuned machine. Practically a cafe for your countertop, this machine uses commercial grade components alongside Rocket Espresso's signature style, and it really wows. Every machine this manufacturer produces is powerful, but the R58 takes it to another level. The steel frame houses two boilers. The steam boiler clocks in at 1.7 liters, with the brew boiler is about half a liter. Having both of these boilers allows you to easily steam and brew at the same time. Having this ability puts your drink output on the level with your local cafe. The R58 also features tactile controls and an easy to use PID controller interface to give you loads of power without tons of work.
Beyond all of these major features, the R58 is plumbable and offers some of the best pre-infusion available. A working piston and a static chamber combine to perfect infuse water into the grounds before brewing. This creates an incomparable shot of espresso. Even better, you can plumb this machine for maximum ease of use, perfect for the serious home coffee enthusiast.
The Linea is one of La Marzocco's, and espresso in general's, absolute classic machines. Powering cafe's for decades, its a machine that offers legendary performance without putting anything between you and the brewing process. The Linea Mini is the home version of this machine, and its historic heritage is apparent in every part of its design. Simple, industrial design elements house elements like PID-controlled dual boilers, La Marzocco's signature saturated group, and the iconic brew paddle. This is a serious brewer that will last many years, can be plumbed for maximum convenience, and is fun to use. That brew paddle mentioned above allows you to initiate brew cycles confidently, and 1 second pre-infusion will ensure quality shots again and again.
In fact, this machine is even NSF certified. That means you could use it to brew espresso in a small cafe or coffee cart. While we'll always direct commercial customers to machines specifically designed for cafes, it speaks to the Linea Mini's reputation. Commercial grade steaming and that saturated group head help that rep, creating consistent temperatures for crafting the perfect latte or cappuccino. We loved this machine, and it even comes in several colors!
At the highest of the high end, we couldn't help but squeeze the R Nine One onto our list. This machine is practically a spaceship that brew coffee, and it's evident as soon as you lay eye on it. Eschewing Rocket Espresso's more standard Italian design tropes, the R Nine One is really a next level machine. Like the other machines on our list, this one features two boilers, one for steaming, and one for brewing. This gives you consistent power to prepare milk and espresso at once. That's standard on prosumer machines like this though, what really makes this machine different is its programmability. The R Nine One's screen provides helpful feedback, and allows for some wild programming options. Pressure profiling is the concept of applying difference degrees of pressure with the pump through pulling the shot. Difference pressure profiles can create small differences in flavor. In the case of the R Nine One, this is something you can control.
This means that you can use the R Nine One to recreate the brewing process of dozens of different brewers. This is done by mimicking the way they apply pressure to the grounds. You can, of course, also just use this technology to dial in your favorite profile for your beans. This system is in addition to all of the other bells and whistles you'd expect. That means a stainless steel frame and case, a saturated E-61 group, Pid controller, and plumbability. You really can't go wrong with this machine. That's why it's on our list of favorite high-end semi-autos for 2019!
Semi-autos aren't the end of the story! We'll be back with more of Gail's favorites, including best high-end superautos, very soon!