Automatic Espresso Machines vs. Manual Espresso Machines - The Pros and Cons

September 14, 2016 0 Comments

Ah the question we receive so much its almost becoming hard to answer. 

When it comes to quality, which is better? An automatic or manual espresso machine?

First, lets go over the differences. 

An automatic espresso machine is a machine that will do everything for you but beware, the coffee can taste somewhat manufactured. This includes grinding the beans, dispensing milk (latte milk, cappuccino milk, etc) and making sure the correct order (espresso, then milk, then froth for example) for every drink is done properly. Pretty convenient, right?

A manual espresso machine requires much more work but ultimately yields a much more satisfying cup of coffee. Manual espresso machines typically don't have coffee grinding capabilities. You'll most likely have to purchase a quality grinder. We recommend the Mazzer Mini. Manual coffee machines require the user to grind the beans properly, tamp and prepare the espresso to perfection. Steaming milk is also the responsibility of the user. See our article on how to steam milk like a pro for more information on that subject!

Theres a reason you don't see fully automatic machines in coffee bars. Simply put, while they produce a decent cup of coffee, it doesn't compare to that of a manual machine. Automatic machines do, however, have some pretty nice benefits. Here they are:

Benefits of an Automatic Espresso Machine

  • Convenient - they're easy to use and don't take a ton of time. Manual machines take much more time to make that perfect cup. 
  • Clean up - Cleaning up is easy. No loose coffee grounds or water spillage anywhere. Just press a button and you're done. 
  • No skill required - Unlike manual machines, like the Rocket Cellini, automatic machines take care of everything from grinding the beans to steaming the milk. They'll even pour for you! 
  • No practice - Making espresso on a manual espresso machine takes practice and skill. Automatic machines only require the press of a button. 
  • Time - If you're someone who doesn't have the time to make your own latte or cappuccino, then an automatic machine is for you! Manual coffee machines take a significant larger amount of time to operate. 
  • Drip Coffee - Most autos have the ability to make drip coffee. This is great for mornings and after dinner. Sometimes you just want a standard cup of coffee, right? Manual machines won't help you here, unfortunately. 

Benefits of a Manual Espresso Machine 

  • Quality - This is the big one people. Once perfected, the quality is light years ahead of automatic machines. Again, there's a reason you don't see auto machines in coffee bars. 
  • It's fun - While frustrating at first, once you perfect the espresso making process, you'll find yourself wanting to make more and more! 
  • Appearance - Manual machines, like the Quick Mill Silvano, are typically much more visually stimulating than automatic espresso machines. I mean, come on, they look pretty darn cool on your kitchen counter. 
  • Appreciation - Not only will your coffee taste better but you'll appreciate it more since YOU MADE IT! The only thing more satisfying than a great latte or cappuccino is knowing that you, yes you, not your hipster barista, made it! 


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