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Espresso & Cappuccino Machines Buying Guide

A comprehensive guide that will give you all the information you need on how to buy a cappucino and espresso machine.

Getting Started

A Cappuccino Maker or Espresso Machine is the perfect way to get an extra boost in the morning when you need it most. There are many brands and styles of Cappuccino & Espresso Machines on the market today. Continue on to learn about the different Espresso Machine and Cappuccino Maker types and features.

Interested in Coffee Makers? Check out our Coffee Maker Buying Guide for information on the different types of Coffee Makers available at Abt!


Manual Espresso Machines

Manual espresso machines are the most difficult to use, but they make an excellent coffee. These are actually the first true espresso machines on the market and they are still used in many coffee shops. For this type of machine you can only use ground coffee. You have to fill a portafilter handle, tamp down the coffee, brush off any loose coffee grounds and lock the handle into the filter holder. After that, you have to pull the handle that's on top of the machine. It may sound simple, but if you pull handle too fast or too slow the coffee won't taste good. Also, if your coffee grounds are too fine or too coarse it may spoil your enjoyment. If you are a type of person that is not afraid of the challenge than you should consider this kind of an espresso machine.


Semi-automatics are similar to the manual espresso machines. You fill the portafilter with ground coffee, but instead of using your arm power, the machine uses pump to create the pressure. A pump is very consistent in its delivery, so even if there are slight variations when it's brewing, it will make a taste of the coffee different. Most of the semi-automatics have a frothing feature on the side, so you can froth or steam your own milk, mix it with espresso shot and make cappuccino or latte. These machines have a tank in the back and needs to be filled up with water. The only downside of this type of machine is that it doesn't store your coffee grounds. For every cup of coffee you have to fill the portafilter with ground coffee.


Super-automatic espresso machines allow you to store coffee directly in the unit as well as grind it freshly each time you use it. Super-automatic machines tend to be bigger than semi-automatics, so make sure that you have enough space in your kitchen (or wherever you might place it) . They are designed for speed, convenience and less mess or maintenance. Super-automatics will grind a pre-measured dose of espresso beans and extract a specific amount of coffee, from demitasse espresso to full cup of coffee. The used coffee grounds are placed into an internal bin that you need to dispose once it's full.


Built-in coffee machines are pretty much the same as super-automatics except that they need to be built into a kitchen cabinet. You can make espresso, regular coffee, froth or steam your milk, get instant hot water in addition to grinding beans. When it comes to water, there are built-in espresso machines that come with the water tank that you need to fill up once in a while, but there are also ones that can be hooked up to your water line (plumbed). In this case you don't ever have to think if the water tank is empty or not.



When you are choosing an espresso machine, you want to make sure that it has a display that tells you what you are doing or what you need to do. For example, it can tell you when water tank is empty, when you need to empty the coffee ground bin, when to clean and decalcify the machine, etc.


All super-automatics have a frothing feature if you want to make your own cappuccino or latte. Some super-automatics have an automatic frothing feature which lets you mix coffee and milk at the same time with the push of a button.


When it comes to cleaning, most models are self-cleaning. Every couple of months you need to use the cleaning solution that will clean your machine internally. This process is called decalcifying and it's very important to follow it through if you want to enjoy your cup a coffee for a long time.