The Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines of 2023
It’s time for another one of our 2023 top three lists, and this time we’re talking semi-autos! Semi-automatic espresso machines put the power to brew incredible espresso in your hands. Since this is a category that ranges from the expensive, high-end offerings from the likes of La Marzocco and Rocket Espresso, to the lower cost entries from manufacturers like Breville and Solis, we’ve decided to break this list up again. First, we’ll cover our top 3 best semi-automatic espresso machines under $1,500, along with an honorable mention. Next we’ll do the same for machines over $1,500. Since we have a lot to cover, let’s get started!
Our Crowd Pleaser pick for this category is the Solis Perfetta Plus. This is a fantastic entry level machine that will get your espresso engines running and your new hobby off the ground. For those just looking for a simple and effective way to brew, this may be your longer term machine as well!
It starts with a compact footprint and easy to use interface. The Perfetta Plus uses simple programming to allow you to dial in your shots by time, but doesn’t require advanced knowledge to use. What really puts it over the top is its extra features that you rarely find in entry level machines. The first of these creature comforts is multiple baskets. You can use nonpressurized, pressurized, or ESE pod baskets in the Solis Perfetta Plus. This means that you can start with pods or the easier to dial in pressurized baskets, then switch to the unpressurized baskets when you have a bit more confidence. This machine also allows for basic temperature adjustment, something we don’t see too often in entry level espresso machines.
All of these great features made it an easy inclusion for this list!
Thanks to an exciting list of elements, the Diletta Mio takes our Top Features slot for 2023. The Mio’s stunning design and hands-on feel are a good first step, but there’s so much under the hood that makes this machine special.
A PID controlled brew boiler is an important piece of the puzzle, and is something special on a machine under $1,500. You also get a secondary circuit just for steaming, which you can turn off if you’re more of an americano or straight espresso fan. Finally, you can dial in the OPV valve to the setting of your choice, an enthusiast feature, but one we’re sure growing espresso fans will really come to love.
That’s not all that makes the Mio great - the PID controller screen doubles at a shot timer, helping you dial in shots, and this machine’s Eco Mode will help you manage your energy use as well. This is one of those fantastic machines that is both an amazing value and the kind of option that can last you a lifetime.
Sliding in for our Ultimate Pick is the Breville Barista Touch Impress. This machine is really something awesome, which really is to be expected from a manufacturer like Breville. So what makes this machine the ultimate option under $1,500? First of all, the Barista Touch Impress is built on the existing incredible foundation that is the Barista Touch. The Barista Touch makes brewing your favorite drinks a snap with its built-in grinder and each to use touch screen. The nice part is that you still get that extra bit of control you’d expect from a superauto, but you also get the automation that comes from superautomatic machines. It’s really a win/win.
What the Impress brings to the table is it’s super cool automatic tamping. This is often the hardest part to get right for many new users, as it requires a pretty exacting amount of pressure. With the Impress, the machine handles the tamp for you, and even intelligently adjusts for future shots. It makes this machine a breeze to use for newer espresso fans, and one that will last you many years as you perfect your shots.
Our Honorable Mention for this category is the Stone Plus, a really fun new machine for us this year. This machine is really quite simple, with a compact footprint and a lot of manual control. One of the nicer features of this machine is the way it manages heat, with a dual heat-exchanger and electronic heating element at the group that helps with consistency. It also allows the Stone to heat up quickly, being ready to brew just 10 minutes after starting it. Finally, swappable accent panels help you to bring this machine in line with your kitchen’s aesthetic. It makes for a great little package that we’re sure many espresso aficionados will love!
That’s a wrap for our best semi-automatic espresso machines under $1,500 of 2023! Check out our video list below for more thoughts from the team:
On to our over $1,500 picks!
The Rocket Espresso Appartamento is no stranger to this list. We’ve loved this machine for years and it has managed to wow us once again for 2023 and earn a spot as our Crowd Pleaser pick. If you’ve seen these lists before, you probably already know the story here. If not, we can say it again. This machine just rocks.
Firstly, the machine gets its name from being a great option for a smaller apartment kitchen, but everyone can benefit from its smaller footprint. It achieves this smaller size without sacrificing performance. The Appartamento is a heat-exchanger machine, which means it is capable of simultaneous steaming and brewing, a great feature for your busy mornings. Beyond this, the Appartamento is just a wonderfully simple machine. It’ll take some practice to get used to brewing on it, but its easy to understand interface and rock-solid reliability make it one of the best options for anyone looking for their next, or first, semi-automatic espresso machine.
The Bello+ is a newer twist on the Diletta Bello that lands in our Top Features slot for this list. The Bello+ takes the original fantastic performance and reliability of the Bello and adds PID temperature control, an integrated shot timer, programmable pre-infusion, and a new take on eco-mode.
The PID controlled temps mean that you’ll be able to manage the temperature in the boiler directly, and ensures perfect temps. The screen for the PID controller doubles as a shot-timer, a key feature for helping you dial in your shots. The new eco mode helps to lower your power consumption while keeping the machine in shape for quick heat up times. Finally, programmable pre-infusion means you’ll be able to get better consistency for your shots.
It’s a great machine without the extra features, and a slam dunk with them!
The Bianca takes our Ultimate Pick spot for semi-autos over $1,500. While this machine does have a high price tag, it justifies it with its complete package. That starts with its brew paddle. This variable paddle lets you carefully control the flow of water through the puck, giving you near infinite options for extraction. Even better - using the Lelit Control Center app you can build in repeatable shot parameters, then pop them on by opening the paddle.
Additional features for this machine are its removable water tank, that can be placed to the side for easier access, and its rotary pump. The pump is like the kind you get in commercial espresso machines, allowing for plumping in so the machine never runs out of water. Finally, the Bianca’s gorgeous wood accents give it a gorgeous look for any high-end kitchen.
The Breville Dynamic Duo is a great option for many users, and a perfect fit for our honorable mention here. This pairing of grinder and espresso machine brings two of the best values in espresso gear together in one package. The Smart Grinder Pro, included here, is a great all around grinder that can fit your needs for espresso or slow-brewing. It being separate also means that you can upgrade it in the future if you prefer.
On the espresso machine side, this package includes the Breville Dual Boiler. The Dual Boiler is a wildly good value, coming equipped with two PID controlled boilers, one for steaming, one for brewing. Getting a dual boiler machine for the cost of this entire bundle would already be a steal, but getting it paired with the Smart Grinder Pro really puts this package over the top. We can easily recommend this package for anyone who already enjoys the look and feel of Breville machines, and it’s an especially strong package for newer users.
Want even more content from our Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine of 2023? Check out our over $1,500 video below!
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