Semi-Automatic

  • 2020 Solis Holiday Gifting Guide

    Are you gifting a Solis Espresso machine this holiday? Maybe you know someone receiving one and want to help make their holiday the best it can be. We’ve got some tips for the best way to deliver that new machine to the coffee lover on your list!

    The Bundle

    First of all, for holiday 2020 you can get a Solis Perfetta bundled with the stellar Eureka Mignon Notte for a great deal. Just find the option to add a grinder on the Perfetta’s product page. The Mignon Notte offers an incredible, consistent grind that compares to grinders way above its price point. You’ll need this to be able to take advantage of the Perfetta’s unpressurized portafilter basket. By bundling these two options together, you can save big!

    With that in mind, there are more odds and ends that make the perfect add on to you or your giftee’s new espresso machine. 

    Scales and Storage

    One of the keys to properly brewing any coffee is getting the right ratios. You’ll want to ensure that you start your espresso brew with a ratio of 2:1 water to coffee. A great way to do this is by using a scale like the Acaia Lunar and the portafilter plate add-on. These tools are on the expensive side, but they provide a high degree of accuracy for weighing your grounds going in, and the shot coming out. 

    Coffee storage is important as well! By using a container like an Airscape you can extend the life of your coffee. These containers make a great gift!

    Upgraded Accoutrements

    The Solis Perfetta comes with a great tamper and milk pitcher, but that’s not all the budding home barista needs to use their new machine to the fullest! For starters, a tamping mat from Rocket Espresso really helps to avoid countertop nicks and contain any mess. 

    There’s also the option of an upgraded milk pitcher! We’re impressed with the pitcher that comes with the Perfetta, but there’s always room for an upgrade. Rocket Espresso’s stylish matte pitcher is a great candidate and makes pouring latte art a little easier with its spouted mouth. 

    Finally, a shot glass with volume markings is a great little tool for dialing in the perfect shot. We recommend this one from Rhino Coffee Gear.

    Mugs Galore

    The one thing missing after all of this is something to drink out of! Without a functional, stylish mug, it can be difficult to enjoy that tasty latte or cappuccino!

    For those looking for stylish, colorful additions to their cupboard, we really love mugs from notNeutral. The glass look offers refinement and keeps things unique with smoke or colors. If you’re into the modern look but not the notNeutral style, mugs from Fellow are the perfect fit. the Monty and the Joey always end up as consistent SCG favorites around the office. Finally, for those seeking traditional styling and high performance sipping, look no further than mugs by Acme Co. 

    That just about covers it, but what’s a great espresso setup without some fresh coffee? We’re excited to offer Seattle Coffee Gear Coffee Club Gift Subscriptions starting this holiday! Head over here to get a subscription set up, and your giftee will enjoy delicious fresh coffee hand picked by our experts!

    We hoped this has helped to make your giftee’s Solis holiday a little extra special!

  • Top 3 High-End Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines of 2020

    We’ve already taken a look at our favorite semi-automatics when it comes to staying budget conscious. We also know that everyone loves a look at some of the biggest, highest performing options. Today we’re going to toss budget out the window and talk about our picks for the top 3 high-end semi-automatics. These aren’t necessarily the most beginner friendly machines on the market, but they offer incredible performance and deep, hobbyist features. Let’s get started!

    Rocket Espresso R58 Cinquantotto

    This year Rocket Espresso updated the classic R58 with the new Cinquantotto model. The previous R58 long represented the highest end of Rocket Espresso’s home line. The Cinquantotto absolutely lives up to its predecessor. It starts with the machine’s dual boilers, which allow for consistent steaming and brewing with nearly unbeatable recovery time in non-commercial machines. On top of that, the Cinquantotto features a hand built stainless steel case that dazzles and protects the internal components. Finally, the precise, tactile controls and gauges give you the feel of pulling shots and steaming milk in a Milan cafe. 

    But none of this is new, and what is really makes the Cinquantotto shine a little brighter. First, there’s the built in shot timer. Carefully built into the case to retain its classic look, this shot timer helps you dial in and stay dialed for all of your shots. Next, there’s the touchscreen PID controller, which gives you easy access to temp control, diagnostic info, and the new auto-on time programming. Even better, this control unit is detachable, allowing you to set it up and remove it to retain the machine’s looks. Finally, updated styling on the cup rail and legs give the machine a sleek new look that stay true to its classic roots. 

    Overall, the Cinquantotto is an incredible update, and we know you’ll love it as much as we do.

    La Marzocco Linea Mini

    The legendary La Marzocco Linea Mini is basically a commercial machine scrunched down to home size. It even carries and NSF rating, which technically makes it a machine you could use commercially. This really shows in the performance of the machine as well, with dual PID-controlled boilers, a La Marzocco saturated grouphead, precision brew paddle, and commercial style steam setup.

    It’s sometimes hard to express what sets the Linea Mini apart, but that’s just because it is an extraordinary machine when it comes to reliability and performance. This isn’t a machine loaded with complex programming or features, it just does its job better than most espresso machines available.

    Bonuses like pre-programmed pre-infusion, a lighted brewing area, and a large 3.5L water reservoir help improve the Linea Mini’s usability. When you put this together with its exceptional performance, it’s hard not to include this machine on a best of list when you remove budget consideration as a criteria. If you have the capital and want a forever machine, the Linea Mini is a great option!

    Rocket Espresso R Nine One

    The R Nine One gets its name from Rocket Espresso’s R9 line of commercial espresso machines. The one in this machine’s name comes from its single brew group, a distinction that matters when shopping for a commercial machine. With all that in mind, the R Nine One really is a home hobbyist machine, with many differences from the commercial line that make it a highly specialized machine. 

    Defining the term “prosumer,” the R Nine One really achieves more than most commercial machines. With a temp-stable saturated group and dual PID controlled boilers, you’ll get effortless steaming and brewing for drink after drink. You get all the expected bells and whistles as well like volumetric dosing, extremely high quality stainless steel casing and frame, and commercial style milk steaming. But where the R Nine One really shines is with its pressure profiling.

    Pressure profiling allows you to manually build a pressure curve for your shots, mimicking virtually any machine in history. If you know the curve that another machine generates, you can program it here. You can also manually use the brew lever to dial in pressures, which the R Nine One’s computer reads and stores. From there, you can simply press a few buttons and load a profile for perfect shot recreation every time. This may sound like overkills, but for those who really want to dig into hyper specific elements of flavor and body, there’s nothing like brewing on an R Nine One. 

    This is the ultimate espresso machine, with a price to match, but it really is a powerhouse.

    So there you have it! Our picks for the top 3 high end semi-automatic espresso machines available in 2020. We hope one of them is your dream machine!

  • Rocket Espresso R Nine One Group

    Rocket Espresso offers an incredible lineup of home espresso machines, with a fit for any user. Today we’re taking a look at the Rocket Espresso R Nine One espresso machine. This is at the highest of the high end for home espresso, but it really does earn it. Note that Rocket Espresso does offer a commercial model called the R9, which bears some similarity, but the R Nine One really is its own specific machine made for home use.

    The Basics

    Calling this section “the basics” is a bit of a misnomer, as the R Nine One is anything but basic. The first thing you may notice about this machine is the price tag. It is an expensive machine, which is specifically designed for home espresso hobbyists who view brewing espresso as a pastime as much as a utility. The R Nine One is a lot more than just a powerful espresso machine, so if you’re looking for something more affordable in the prosumer market, the Rocket Espresso R58 Cinquantotto is an incredible option as well.

    As for the R Nine One, there’s a lot here to cover.

    For starters, this machine is powered by two stainless steel boilers. The brew boiler is 1.9 liters and features PID controlled temperature regulation for stable brew temps. The service boiler is 3.6 liters, providing excellent recovery time between steaming sessions. At a basic level, the R Nine One is one of the most powerful, consistent home machines on the market. This is enhanced by features like its fully saturated brew group and commercial style steam arm, giving you professional grade brewing and steaming. The tactile controls that you come to expect from Rocket Espresso are here as well, with highly visible steam gauges for each boiler as well. The R Nine One also offers a hot water spout for rinsing and Americanos. It’s all wrapped up in a stainless steel case and frame, which gives this machine a stunning appearance and solid construction.

    We’ve established that the R Nine One delivers on a design and performance perspective, but what makes this machine truly special is the last part of its face that we haven’t touched on: That little screen, and what you can do with it.

    Programming and Pressure Profiles

    At a basic level, the touchscreen on the front of the R Nine One gives you elements like a timer and control of the machine’s temperatures. You can even set an auto-on time through the R Nine One’s screen. But the thing that sets this machine apart is its pressure profiling, a feature perfect for espresso hobbyists.

    Pressure profiling is a feature that allows you to manually set a pressure curve either by hand, or electronically. Every espresso machine applies water pressure to the portafilter over a slightly different curve. This is what creates distinct flavors from machine to machine. The R Nine One Group gives you the ability to create a profile by manually moving the brew lever during the brew process. You can also program in the profile you want via the screen. In both cases, you’ll be able to save 5 different profiles. This allows you to recreate virtually any espresso machine in the world.

    This might be a lot for newer users to take in. It’s hard to wrap your head around the differences between different machines, but this is likely the last machine a big fan of home espresso will ever need to purchase. It’s for this reason that we believe the Rocket Espresso R Nine One justifies its price point for true enthusiasts, and we can’t imagine a better machine for the serious espresso hobbyist. Shop the R Nine One here now.

     

  • Breville Oracle Touch Review

    A lot of home espresso users know exactly what sort of machine they’ll want. On the one hand, you’ve got traditional semi-automatic espresso machines. These machines require some patience and practice to learn to use. The upside here is that they offer a high degree of control and precision. On the other hand, there’s the convenience of superautomatic espresso machines. While these machines tend to make the espresso they make, they are also extremely easy to use and can create delicious drinks with just a button press or two. For those looking for something a little more in the middle, there’s the Breville Oracle Touch Espresso Machine. How does the Oracle Touch stack up in 2020? Read on to find out.

    The Basics

    The Breville Oracle Touch is a hybrid machine that offers some of the control of a semi-automatic machine while automating many of the steps of brewing like a semi-auto. This can be a tough concept to wrap your head around, but it makes sense when you start working with the machine. 

    For starters, this machine features a built-in burr grinder along with its two PID-controlled stainless steel boilers. This combination gives you everything you need to brew great espresso on its own, but then there’s the interface. Using the machine’s color, touchscreen interface you can automate the entire process of grinding, tamping, brewing, and steaming if you want. The only part the machine needs you to handle is moving the portafilter to the grinder, then back to the brew group, then cleanup of the espresso puck and wipedown of the steam wand. 

    The nice part about this is that you can automate as much of the process as you want to. If you like hand steaming milk, that option is there for you. If you hate milk steaming but want to tamp yourself, that’s an option as well. All of this makes the Oracle Touch a fantastic machine for any user that isn’t sure how involved they want to be in the brewing process. What’s more, while this machine is expensive, it doesn’t cut corners on quality or performance. 

    The Details

    As mentioned about, this machine features two boilers, one for steaming and one for brewing, with PID controlled temperatures. This means that you’ll be able to pull shots and steam milk continuously with stable temperatures and minimal downtime. The group head of the Oracle also features an electronic heating element, which keeps the portafilter at temp. This is important because it keeps water from the boiler at temp as it is pushed through the grounds in the portafilter. All of this ensures consistent, even extraction.

    The 58mm pro style portafilter also helps provide the most even extraction of the espresso. A built-in solenoid valve ensures pressure consistency and makes backflushing easy as well. With volumetric or timed programming, you can also dial in the perfect shot manually and have the machine reproduce it every time if you like that sort of hands-on preparation.

    Finally, there’s the steam wand. The Oracle’s steam wand monitors temperature of the milk and can be programmed to introduce a specific amount of air. The results is true differentiation between cappuccino and latte steaming, allowing you to trust in the machine to produce your perfect milk. 

    The biggest problems in the Oracle Touch come from it’s slightly slimmed down control options from the non-touch Oracle, and its size. As a result of development on the touchscreen interface, Breville has removed the programmable tamp pressure and pre-infusion, option for static values for each of these. This was done in an effort to make the machine a little easier to use for new users. Additionally, like the Oracle, and Breville’s Barista line of machines, the Oracle Touch is a large machine. While we think it makes up for this by combining grinder and brewer, having to find room for a combination machine can be a challenge.

    Taken as a whole, the Oracle Touch is a phenomenal platform for any user looking for the control of a semi-automatic and the available automation of a superauto.

  • 2020 Rocket Espresso Home Machine Lineup

    Rocket Espresso’s home machine lineup is an excellent way to bring cafe quality drinks to your kitchen. Hand built in Milan, Italy, these machines bring authenticity and sophistication alongside their powerful performance. With the addition of the stunning R58 Cinquantotto, Rocket Espresso’s lineup of machines just got an upgrade. We thought we’d provide an updated look at this fantastic collection of espresso machines!

    Rocket Espresso Appartamento

    Rocket Espresso’s Appartamento is a fantastic entry into the prosumer espresso machine space. We often get questions about performance in machines under $1,000. Users sometimes purchase a machine like this and assume they will get the same kind of performance from them as you might from a commercial machine. The Appartamento is an option that gets you closer to that kind of performance without the cost of a professional machine.

     

    Featuring standard Rocket Espresso features like a heated E-61 group head, beautiful and solid case design and construction, a fast heat exchanger boiler, and commercial-like steam want, the Appartamento is a powerful option. On top of this, this machine’s cut out side panels and colored inserts give it a unique, striking look. The compact design of this machine compared to other Italian espresso machines makes it suitable for more counter tops as well. For an added dose of style, check out the Appartamento Nera.

    Rocket Espresso Mozzafiato & Giotto

    Rocket Espresso’s Mozzafiato and Giotto machines offer an upgrade in performance and capabilities over the Appartamento while maintaining the same design ethos and Italian espresso aesthetics.These machines feature similar design elements on the inside, and represent an upgrade due to the addition of PID controlled temperatures. The result is more stable temps under heavy load than the Appartamento offers.

     

    Both of these machines are available with a rotary or vibratory pump. Rotary pumps allow these machines to be plumbed in directly to water lines for the busiest users. The main differences between the Giotto and the Mozzafiato are the side panels, with the Giotto featuring sharp, slanted panels that provide a little extra visual flair. THe Mozzafiato features an integrated cup rail that is part of its flat side panels.

    Rocket Espresso Porta Via

    The Porta Via is Rocket Espresso’s travel machine. While this may sound counter intuitive, it’s actually a clever offering that folds into itself to create a simple to transport case. With a little bit of setup, this is the perfect machine to bring on your weekend road trip or to a cabin getaway.

     

    While it definitely doesn’t fit everyone’s needs, the Porta Via fills a unique niche that will make it the perfect option for some on the go espresso drinkers!

    Rocket Espresso R58 Cinquantotto

    The Cinquantotto is a new update to the classic R58. This machine features all of the design standards of a Rocket Espresso machine with some overhauled elements that take home espresso brewing to the next level. The Cinquantotto’s dual boilers make for an outstanding brewing platform that is nearly impossible to outrun for a home user. This means you’ll always have the perfect temps for steaming and brewing. The Cinquantotto also features a touchscreen controlled PID that allows precise temperature control, auto-on time programming, and more with a vibrant, easy to read interface. 

     

    The Cinquantotto is also plumbable and features the stylish, polished case design of other rocket espresso machines. If you’re looking for some of the highest performance on the home machine market, the R58 Cinquantotto is a compelling offer.

    Rocket Espresso R9 One Group

    The R9 One Group is a complex, hobbyist machine. This is one built for the most dedicated home brewer and features nearly unparalleled control over the brewing process. By using the machine’s brew handle you can recreate the pressure application of a wide range of machines. This lets you mimic brew pressure to recreate the kind of drink you’d get from almost any machine on the market. While the brew paddle reacts slightly slower to adjustments than with something like the La Marzocco GS/3, with the R9 One you can actually store those pressure profiles. By doing this, you can recall past pressure recipes to try your favorites over and over again.

    For a visual look at these machines, join Allie for her overview of Rocket Espresso's machine lineup:

  • Rocket Espresso Appartamento Review - 2019

    Hello out there!

    It's been a while since we took the time to look at the Rocket Espresso Appartamento here on the blog. With Gail's excellent recent crew review over on YouTube, we figured there's no time like the present!

    Look and Feel

    The Appartamento is one of the most stylish machines on the market. The stainless steel casing, side cutouts, and E-61 brew head all make for a stunning looking machine. A hot water spout rounds out the machine's external design. Rocket Espresso Machines have a great history of embracing the visual design of Italian espresso machines while also leaving their distinct mark on the machines as well. In addition to the Rocket Espresso logo on the steam valve, for the Appartamento it's those case cutouts on the side. The insert panels come in copper and white from the factory, and we also offer black panels ourselves. these color options mean you can match the machine with your kitchen even if stainless isn't your main look.

    And oh how you'll be able to fit it in. The Appartamento's name comes from its size. This is a machine designed to fit in any kitchen, even tiny apartments. What's impressive about this is that it still offers the power and style of larger machines, and looks great in larger kitchens as well.

    As for feel, the mechanical nature of the Appartamento's controls mean that you'll always feel in control of the brewing and steaming processes. From satisfying tactile motions like flipping on the brew lever or turning on the steam, to the chunky power switch and solid build of the components, this is machine is a joy to use. The anti-burn steam wand also helps you to keep the steam wand free of milk, and it's double-wall design should protect from serious burns as well.

    But let's talk more about what's under the hood.

    Internals and Power

    The Appartamento features a heated E61 brew group head, 1.8 liter heat exchanger boiler, and a three way solenoid valve. But what do these things mean?

    For starters, the group head keeps the portafilter and brewing unit hot. This means you won't lose temperature as water is pushed through the group and into the portafilter. So long as the portafilter is kept hot by leaving it in the group, you won't lose temp as the coffee is brewed either. All of this means that you'll get exceptional shots every time you pull the brew lever. The heat exchanger boiler provides plenty of heat and water for brewing, and its design allows you to brew and steam simultaneously. This is a huge feature for home espresso machines, and cuts down on drink prep time. Finally, the three way solenoid valve safely controls water flow through the group head, keeping water hot and preventing messy spray when finishing the brew process.

    These components all combine to offer a really great package in a small form factor. We have always loved the Appartamento, and still do.

    Conclusion

    There really aren't many better options for your first semi-professional espresso machine. The value contained in the Appartamento is impressive. This is a powerful, smart, stylish, and long lasting machine that you'll likely use for many years. Give the Appartamento a look on Seattle Coffee Gear here.

  • What Puts the Pro In Izzo Pro Machines?

    Earlier this year we launched Izzo's fantastic line of semi-automatic espresso machines. In the time since then we've updated the terminology around these machines, and some of you took notice! Today we're going to dig in to the "why" behind the "Pro" names for these machines. This should also explain why you might see them differ in price from other Izzos you see in the wild!

    Stunning in Stainless

    The primary reason for calling these machines "pros" is what's on the inside! Every Izzo is built to last, with some incredible workmanship and features. What sets SCG Izzos apart though, is the boilers. Most semi-auto espresso machines feature boilers made of copper, brass, or some other material. While these aren't bad materials for a boiler, better is possible. In particular, stainless steel makes for extremely resilient, reliable, and long lasting machines. By combining the fantastic design and materials of the rest of Izzo's machines with stainless steel boilers, you really are getting a generational machine.

    This means that you can expect many, many years out of an Izzo Pro from Seattle Coffee Gear. By combining this longevity with the professional styling of the base Izzo models, this really is as close to professional equipment as you can get below professional pricing.

    So there you have it, we are excited to be able to offer Izzo Pro models exclusively at Seattle Coffee Gear. This means that when you're ready to buy what may be the last espresso machine you'll need to, we're your source!

    Check out our line up of Izzo Pro machines right here.

  • Choosing a Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine - Part 2

    Last week we took a look at some key factors in choosing a semi-auto espresso machine. This week we wanted to touch on some odds and ends of the espresso machine purchasing process!

    What Else Is There?

    In addition to the core elements we discussed last week, espresso machines can do a little something extra too. Gauges, control mechanisms, types of steam wands, and PID Controllers are all bells and whistles that can add substance or just cost. So what are some nifty extras to keep an eye out for?

    One especially common talking point for higher end machines is PID controllers. We have an entire article devoted to how these devices work, so I won't detail everything. That said, to put it simply, PID controllers regulate temperatures. Instead of a thermostat that waits for water to dips below a certain temperature to activate the heating element, a machine with a PID controller is always monitoring water temps. This makes for much more consistent temperatures, and better espresso when brewing.

    What about pressure gauges? This is a question we get a lot. For example, when moving from the Barista Express to the Barista Pro, they dropped the mechanical steam gauge. This bothered some folks, and it's understandable why on the surface. In reality, a pressure gauge is largely only useful for diagnosing problems in the machine. While it can be fun and reassuring to watch the needle on a gauge jump, they aren't really needed for successful operation. This is a nice to have that won't add loads of cost, but don't discount a machine just because it doesn't have one of these.

    Steam and Control

    Control interfaces, on the other hand, can be make or break elements. While we are confident in the interfaces of the machines that we sell at SCG, not all machines are created equal. Oddly placed levers, bad buttons, or worse, can really hamper your enjoyment of using a machine. Personal preference is really going to play a role in determining what your favorite type of interface is, but know that it's reasonable to consider this carefully when shopping.

    Finally, steam wands and water spouts may be a big deal for you too. Some machines, like the Breville Bambino, feature auto steam wands. These can simplify your steaming process and allow you to focus on dialing in your shots. That said, most will prefer finer control. What's nice is that in most cases you can use manual or auto steaming, so you're not locked in. It's a feature you might want to look for if you're brand new to milk steaming in general. It's also important to consider how much a hot water valve matters to you. If you're a regular Americano drinker, you may want to make sure that your machine of choice has this feature, and not all machines do.

    The last thing on the list is, of course, aesthetic. You'll want to love the way your machine looks, because it will likely be a long time before you buy another one!

  • SCG Expert Review: Barista Pro All-In-One Espresso Machine

    The Barista Express has been the gold standard for new home baristas for years now. By combining a quality espresso grinder with solid brewing and steaming, Breville build a winner in the Express. It has always been an easy machine to recommend as a first purchase, or upgrade from a cheaper, less powerful brewer. So how does the new Barista Pro stack up? Is it just a higher price tag with a fancier face? The short answer is no, the long answer is a lot more interesting.

     

    Visual Design

    The Barista Pro features a completely redesigned case that maintains a similar footprint as the Express, but with a totally different look. Most recognizable is the addition of a backlit screen, somewhat similar to the Barista Touch. This screen provides information about grind fineness, amount, and timers. Keeping all of this on one screen makes dialing in the machine a little friendlier. Rather than track numbers in different places, you can review everything about the grind settings at a glance. The screen also offers a shot timer, a huge boon for any machine. Measuring shot time is key to pulling a good shot, so having this information visible on the main display is a great feature.

    Otherwise, the visual design and controls are on par with that of the express. This machine is simple to operate with intuitive controls for pulling shots, adjusting the grinder, and steaming milk or adding hot water. All of this combines for a design package that is a step up from the Barista Express. That said, if these visual improvements were all this machine offered it'd be a hard sell given the price difference. Thankfully, there's a lot more under the hood in this new model.

    Brewing and Steaming Performance

    Breville has always had a knack for fitting powerful heating systems into affordable machines. The Barista line has always been a great example of this, but their new machines push this concept even further. First introduced in the Bambino, the Barista Pro features Breville's new ThermoJet heating system. The Bambino already impressed with its heatup and steam times, but getting this enhanced heating element in a more prosumer machine is exciting. From lightning fast heatup times to a near non-existent delay going from brew to steam, this heating system does work.

    When dialing in, we were able to pull several shots in a row with the Pro heating up. As far as making lattes, the milk steaming both switched on faster, and steamed milk faster than the Express by a considerable margin.

    Another interesting upgrade on this machine is the hot water spout. This spout functions like you'd expect, but it's angled to allow you to make Americanos without moving your cup. Some of this depends on your cup size and design, and it is surprising to see the hot water come out at an angle at first. While this isn't nearly the overhaul that the heating element and look got, it's worth mentioning for even easier Americanos!

    Verdict

    Overall it's extremely easy to recommend the Barista Pro. It's true that its price pushes into competition with machines like the Silvia and CC1, but those machines don't also have a built in grinder. There is certainly an argument for being able to upgrade these devices independently, and both of the aforementioned machines are viable options, but if you're new to espresso or looking to upgrade from the Express, the Pro is a no brainer.

    You do still run into the combo machine issue of sludge in the drip tray, and stepping up into dual boiler machines will provide even faster steam and heatup times. With all that said, we're huge fans of the Barista Pro here, and you should absolutely add it to the list of machines to research before you make your next purchase.

    Check out the Barista Pro on Seattle Coffee Gear here!

  • Holiday Buying Guide: Semi-Automatics

    It’s November, which means Turkey day is rapidly approaching. Let’s be honest, what that really means, whether you’re dreading it or excited, is that holiday shopping season is upon us. Are you looking to spoil someone on your list this year with a new semi-auto espresso machine? Maybe you’re just buying for yourself? We’re here to help! Here’s a guide for what to look for this holiday season if you’re shopping for a semi-auto espresso machine.

    Build Quality

    The first thing you should look for in any machine is build and component quality. Along with this, you’ll want to determine what sort of power you’re looking for, and if the prospective machine delivers. For example, the Rancilio Silvia and Crossland CC1 offer an extremely strong build quality and the power to brew unpressurized espresso. These are features that will matter if you’re looking for a long term machine.

    On the flip-side, less expensive machines my only brew with pressurized baskets. This is due to a weaker pump, which is common in cheap machines. That doesn’t mean the less expensive machine is the wrong gift, it’s just important to know the capabilities going in. The stronger components in machines like the Silvia and CC1 mentioned do come with a cost attached. There’s a reason machines like this retail for under $1,000 while delivering such robust, quality espresso...

     

    Cost Vs. Features

    One of the core things to think about when purchasing an espresso machine is feature set vs. cost. It can be tempting to chase a great seeming deal, but it’s important to understand what you’re getting. Some key features to look for are control methods, programmability, and ergonomics. The machines referenced above offer solid espresso for a great cost, but lack the programmability of some other machines in the segment. By contrast, other machines might offer less powerful and consistent brewing, but provide programming features or more intuitive controls. This is why it’s important to know where the person you’re shopping for’s skill level is.

    For beginner home baristas, it may make sense to look at less expensive options with simpler controls. This will result in a need to upgrade sooner, but it’s better than ending up with a machine that is more than what the user is ready for. Generally we recommend going a little over what you think the user might be ready for. This way you get someone a machine that they can grow into, but won’t overwhelm them. In fact, it’s why we've mention machines like the Silvia and CC1 so much. These machines aren’t the $2,000-$3,000 “generational” machines like a Rocket or an Izzo, but they provide a fantastic starting point. Their limited frills means that the user will need to learn the fundamentals of espresso to use them. It also means they’ll be well equipped to upgrade to a more expensive machine down the line. Even if they don’t machines like these will last for years and years.

    Don’t forget the grinder

    One of the other most important things to look out for when gifting an espresso machine is the grinder! Not every grinder can handle grinding fine enough for espresso. This is especially true of unpressurized espresso. Make sure that the person you’re buying for has a capable grinder already, or that they’re receiving one this holiday! We’ll have more on that and other holiday shopping tips soon!

Items 1 to 10 of 57 total

Page:
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
Subscribe

Finally, something for that inbox

Join our email list and be the first to learn about exclusive offers and new products.

close

Join our email list

GET 10% OFF ONE ITEM*

Be the first to learn about exclusive offers and new products - starting today!

 

JOIN
*Some exclusions apply. See email coupon for more details.