Semi-automatic espresso machines are just that—semi-automatic. Some of the steps are automated, but many are not. This allows the user to put their personal stamp on the final product but without doing some of the tedious steps that are involved in making an espresso on the stove top. Here’s a look at some of the features that make a semi-automatic espresso machine such a great pickup for the ultimate espresso lover:

The Capresso EC-100 comes with a generous number of safety features, which you find in the best home espresso machines. These include a short electrical cord so that nothing is dangling down within reach of a youngster's eager hands, which could pose serious risks to a child. The polarized plug means your espresso maker can only be plugged in one way. Since this model is equipped with on and off indicator lights, it's easy to tell that your machine is off when you want it to be and not worry about accidents, burns or fire.

Like the Sage Express, Panasonic’s NC-ZA1 is a “bean to cup” espresso machine: it takes whole beans, grinds them and pushes hot water through them at pressure to produce a cup of coffee. That’s pretty much where the similarities end, however, because unlike the old-school Express, the NC-ZA1 makes almost the entire process automated – and controllable via touchscreen.
The improvements are quite a few, including the four selectable strength options that helps determine the dosage of the shots you want to brew between five and sixteen grams of coffee. If you want, you can easily tailor your experience with programmable pre-brewing, brew temperature and water volume. You can make the adjustments by using the rotary switch and the good news is that the machine will remember your preferences so you can brew the same delicious cup of coffee next time.

It comes pre-loaded with default recipes for latte macchiato, cappuccino, an espresso shot, a ristretto shot, coffee, coffees, hot water, and steamed milk. All of the recipes can be customized via "Expert Mode". You can adjust the strength (1 - 5 beans), volume in ounces or mL's), steamed milk amount (based on time in seconds). You can also adjust all of the parameters while making the drink without saving, which is great for guests. Basic operation is very simple and straightforward. The TFT display makes this super user friendly. Anyone can easily scroll thru using the wheel on top of the machine and pick whatever type of drink they want. Or, you can select most drinks directly from the TFT screen as well. For two shots or two cups of coffee, hit the button twice. You can also enter the recipe modification mode by holding the drink selection button as well. Grind adjustment is via a knob under the back right top cover. It also displays graphics of your drink while it's being made.
When the milk is finally steamed on the dual element system, the machine is ready to continue making more espresso shots. Keep in mind that if you choose to get a single element machine, you’ll need to wait five minutes so that the boiler can cool off naturally and then run hot water through the steam wand for ten seconds in order to purge the boiler of steam.
Strength and temperature selection for a precise cup – The unit has four selections for the strength of coffee you want and lets you control the brew temperature for different drinks. This is a great way to customize a cup of coffee for guests and family. Instead of a pot evaporating away on the heater all day, just dial in the strength desired and 60 seconds later, you have your perfect cup of coffee.

In creating a stripped down, low-priced grinder that is still able to deliver a high-quality grind Capresso has released a machine that only features what is truly important in a coffee grinder. Absent are all the automatic or intelligent features that are found on more expensive grinders and instead this one has only reliability and basic ease of use left.


Like the Sage Express, Panasonic’s NC-ZA1 is a “bean to cup” espresso machine: it takes whole beans, grinds them and pushes hot water through them at pressure to produce a cup of coffee. That’s pretty much where the similarities end, however, because unlike the old-school Express, the NC-ZA1 makes almost the entire process automated – and controllable via touchscreen.
The digital control panel makes it easy to play with the programmable menu settings, including coffee strength, temperature, auto off and start time. You can also prepare cappuccino and espressos without having to wait between them thanks to the double boiler system that the ESAM5500B features. Lastly, no matter what coffee you plan on using with it, it’s going to be properly ground thanks to the professional quality conical low pitch burr grinder.
The ENA Micro 5 is the next level of technology in the ENA Micro line. It is also one of the smallest machines on the list, fairly priced, and incorporates more functionality into the machine than the ENA Micro 1. This includes the option to brew two cups of espresso at the same time, with a dual and height-adjustable spout, as well as Aroma+ technology to keep your coffee beans fresh.

This super-automatic Jura Capresso ENA 5 coffee machine does produce a tasty cup of coffee, no doubt about it. But we are concerned about its ability to hold up under pressure (literally, with flying milk nozzles!). For the kind of cash that this machine requires, most customers would likely be happier with another Jura model (the S9, perhaps) or another brand of super-automatic coffee machine.


The Jura E8 superautomatic espresso machine utilizes a single aluminum boiler, lined with stainless steel and featuring Thermoblock technology for rapid heating.  We prefer systems with two boilers, which allow you to simultaneously brew coffee and steam milk because single-boiler systems increase your total brewing time for milk-based drinks as the single boiler needs time to switch from one task to the other.
Jura Capresso was born in 1994 as a company that aimed to deliver high-end European style coffeemakers to the American market. Eight years later, it entered into a joint venture agreement with Jura AG, a Swiss developer and distributor of automatic coffee centers that is present in more than 50 countries. By 2008, Jura AG had become the sole owner of all Jura Capresso operations.

From the outside, the Giga 5 looks attractive. It has a color TFT (thin film transistor) LCD screen display on the top front and center, with a stylish aluminum chassis with black plastic sides. This unit will definitely enhance the look of any kitchen. There’s a dedicated hot water spout at the front of the machine plus a couple of adjustable spouts for making coffee. Located on top of the unit you will find on/off buttons, a program button, and a rotary switch that is key to navigating the Giga’s menu.
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