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2021 Shopping Guide: Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines

Oct 20, 2021 · coffee · culture · espresso · shopping guide
2021 Shopping Guide: Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines

It’s time for another of our 2021 Holiday Shopping guides! This time we’re talking about one of our favorite categories: semi-automatics! Semi-automatic espresso machines get you as close as possible to the cafe experience in your own kitchen. Let’s look at some machine options that make for the perfect “big gift” for yourself or someone you know! Like always, make sure you begin shopping early, because we’re already seeing significant delays in stock and shipping this year!

Under $1,000

In the under $1,000 range there’s a couple of directions you can go. If you want a simple, all-in-one solution, the Breville Barista Express and Barista Pro both offer great machine and grinder combinations for new users. Easy to setup and get started with, these machines are carefully engineered for newer users. The downside with an all-in-one machine is that it becomes a little more difficult to upgrade on part or the other if you outgrow the machine or grinder. For good standalone options, we love the Eureka Mignon Notte paired with a Solis Barista Perfetta. The Notte is a high performance grinder that cuts out some of the bells and whistles to deliver an entry level price. The Perfetta is a great machine for the price that can produce shots with pressurized or unpressurized portafilter baskets. The value in this combo is that you can use the pressurized baskets in the Perfetta to get started, as they help account for grind settings and make dialing in easier. If you find that you’re happy with this, you can enjoy delicious shots for years to come with this setup. If you do decide you want to try to get more precise flavors out of your shots, you can try out the unpressurized baskets. From there you’ll be able to work out if you want to upgrade further.


In the $1,000 to $2,000 range there are quite a few options to look at for those looking at gifting (or purchasing for themselves) an upgrade, or jumping in on the higher end. For starters, the ever excellent Rocket Espresso Appartamento represents a great entry into E-61 grouphead machines and classic Italian design. When paired with the Eureka Mignon Notte you can really get some incredible drinks out of this machine. If you’re looking for a different style of machine, the Ascaso Steel Uno and Duo are both great options in this price bracket that offer a couple different degrees of performance. Both can provide great brewing and steaming, but the duo’s dual boilers means you can do both at the same time and make drink after drink without running out of steam or hot water. In both cases you’re getting well designed, great looking machines that are the perfect choice for new and experienced home espresso drinkers. If you’re looking for a complete package, Breville’s Dynamic Duo is a great machine and grinder combo for you. On the grinder side, this package features the Smart Grinder Pro. This is the perfect starter grinder that’s easy to use and provides solid performance. This package also includes the Breville Dual Boiler, which is one of the best combinations of price and performance out there. This machine is a joy to use and pairs perfect with the included grinder, making it a great option for new users!


For $2,000 and up you’re looking at machines that could very well be the last one you buy. Rocket Espresso’s Mozzafiato and Giotto machines provide two different style options for the same very high end user experience. Also available is the R58 Cinquantotto, which provides performance nearly on par with a commercial espresso machine. All three of these machines provide very high performance with very little downtime and are designed for those looking for an intense degree of control over every aspect of their drinks. Then, of course, there’s luxury options like the R Nine One from Rocket Espresso and the La Marzocco Linea Mini. These machines are truly for hobbyists, and if you know someone considering an upgrade to them a Seattle Coffee Gear gift card is a great way to get them closer!

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