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Manual vs automatic coffee machines for home use?

Rocket Espresso home coffee sitting besides a coffee grinder, coffee tamper, milk jug and decorative ornaments

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Are you an aspiring home barista looking to buy a new coffee machine for your home? But before you decide which coffee machine to buy, you first need to understand that coffee machines come in all kinds, shapes, sizes, and qualities with varying levels of automation.

There are countless coffee machines available in the market, so it can be a daunting task to select one, especially when you don’t know them.

The first thing you should decide on is automation. The level of automation your machine has will determine how hands-on you want to get when brewing your coffee. Some home coffee machines dispense coffee at the push of a button, while others have manual systems to provide the exact type of coffee you want.

Each of them has pros and cons. If you want to put them into a broader category, coffee machines come in two types: manual and automatic coffee machines.

This article will explore the major differences between manual and automatic coffee machines. We also help you determine which is best suited for your budget, lifestyle, and preference.


What Is The Difference Between Manual And Automatics Coffee Machines?

Manual and automatic coffee makers offer two completely different coffee-making approaches.

As the name is, pretty self-explanatory automatic coffee machines are all about ease and convenience. They handle all the hectic stuff for you, from grinding the coffee beans to tampering with grounds and even frothing the milk you choose—all of these things with the push of a button.

However, you will have to sacrifice the taste, as the brew of an automatic home coffee machine tastes manufactured.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, manual coffee machines don’t offer you ease and convenience, but you’ll get the exact brew of coffee you desire, meaning you have more control over the coffee-making process. Unlike automatic coffee machines, these machines also require basic technical knowledge.


Manual Espresso Machines

Manual coffee machines are also known as piston or lever machines. These manual machines were the original way people used to brew coffee before automatic coffee machines took over. The barista uses brewer pumps in a manual espresso coffee machine to generate the pressure required to create a coffee cup.

Baristas also have to use other brewer controls along with the pressure pump to get the perfect shot of espresso. Baristas had to grind coffee beans themselves, pour in the correct measurement quantity, and load and tamp the filter basket. And apply the pressure.

All of this made coffee-making a lengthy and tedious process. However, still, professional baristas choose this coffee maker over automatic variants because the coffee is much more fresh and aromatic.


But Why Would Anyone Do This Work When There Are Other Options?

Manual coffee machines have a learning curve, but once perfected, these machines deliver the best-tasting coffee. Not just manual coffee machines also have a vintage vibe, which makes them aesthetically appealing.


Pros Of Manual Coffee Machines

  • You get undeniable, complete control over the coffee-making process.
  • When it comes to taste, these machines deliver the best-tasting espresso. Once you master the working process, you can brew even better coffee than super-automatic coffee machines.
  • They have a retro vibe, which makes them aesthetically appealing.
  • They can easily fit into most kitchens because they are available in many sizes.
  • They provide a more hands-on approach, which makes them extremely customisable.

Cons Of A Manual Machine

  • There is a learning curve to operate them effectively, which means it requires consistent practice to deliver desired results.
  • You’ll have to buy a coffee grinder separately.

Automatic Coffee Machines

Automatic coffee machines are easier to use as they are designed with a built-in mechanical pump. They also come with preset features that allow you to brew the type of coffee you want with the push of a button.

Automatic coffee machines come in three types.


Semi Automatic Espresso Machines

Semi-automatic espresso machines have an electric pump that manages the brewing process from start to finish. However, as the name suggests, these coffee machines need to be fully automated and require some level of manual work. Semi-automatic coffee machines grind the coffee beans, pack the portafilter, and tamp before dispensing your coffee cup.


Super Automatic Machines

These machines are fully automated, thanks to their multiple programable options. Apart from grinding, dose, and tamping the coffee, they steam the milk for you. When it comes to convenience, a fully automatic coffee machine is unbeatable.


Pros of automatic coffee machines

  • They are convenient and time-saving
  • You don’t need any prior practice to operate automatic coffee machines
  • You don’t have to have professional barista-level skills to brewing
  • They come with a self-cleaning mechanism
  • They can prepare various coffee types, such as lattes, espressos, etc.

Cons Of Automatic Machines

  • They are costly, especially the super-automatic coffee machines.
  • You don’t have a hands-on experience in the brewing process.
  • They don’t have the retro aesthetics found in manual coffee machines.
  • Need careful cleaning and regular maintenance.

Manual vs. Automatic espresso machines: Which is the better option?


When it comes to coffee, each drinker has a different preference. Some prefer their coffee with silky milk foam, while others need a stronger taste. Both manual and automatic coffee machines can deliver fantastic coffee shots.

If you are a home barista who wants excellence and perfection in every coffee shot, we recommend a manual coffee machine. It takes time to master but produces a flavoursome cup of espresso.

Automatic coffee machines, especially super-automatic espresso machines, are for those that prefer unique features and convenience. If you lead a busy life and don’t have the time to go through each step manually, you should use an automatic coffee machine.


Conclusion – Manual Espresso Machine Vs Automatic Espresso Machine Which Is The Best Coffee Machine

Home baristas have different requirements for brewing coffee. Some coffee enthusiasts like performing each step with detail and perfection, while others look for convenience. The choice of manual vs. semi-automatic comes down to your lifestyle, budget, and other factors.

About The Author

Anthony Maione
Anthony Maione

Anthony is a coffee machine sales and repairs specialist living in Adelaide, South Australia. He has spent the last 14 years staying at the forefront of the coffee machine industry. He has sold hundreds of home and office coffee machines throughout all of South Australia and has also repaired countless machines.

Occupation: General Manager, Coffee Complex
Lives in: Adelaide, South Australia

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