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Best Semi-Automatic and Manual Coffee Machines

If your daily coffee habit is starting to burn a hole in your pocket but you’re a coffee lover who can’t live without your morning latte, it might be worth investing in a coffee machine. Fine-tune your coffee-making skills with a manual coffee machine or use a semi-automatic coffee machine to achieve a full extraction of flavour thanks to the freshly ground beans. Continue Reading...

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102 listings

Breville The Oracle BES980

Breville The Oracle BES980 · includes 3 listings

4.5 from 636 reviews
Pump Pressure15 bar
Milk FrotherSteam Wand
Bean GrinderIntegrated Burr Grinder

Price (RRP) $2,899.00

Price from$2,453.00Billy Guyatts

  • Build Quality
    4.2 (68)
  • Value for Money
    4.0 (69)
  • Ease of Use
    4.6 (68)
  • Cleaning & Maintenance
    4.5 (67)
  • Noise Level
    3.4 (31)
  • Consistency
    4.5 (57)
  • Milk Frothing
    4.4 (59)
  • Input Power1,800 W
  • Dishwasher Safe PartsNo
  • Water Tank Capacity2.5 L
  • Colour / FinishBlack and Stainless Steel
  • FeaturesDisplay Panel
  • Coffee Bean Capacity280 g
Breville Barista Express
  • Award Winner 2021

Breville Barista Express · includes 5 listings

4.3 from 861 reviews
Pump Pressure15 bar
Milk FrotherSteam Wand
Bean GrinderIntegrated Burr Grinder

Price (RRP) $949.95

Price from$705.00Billy Guyatts

  • Build Quality
    4.4 (180)
  • Value for Money
    4.3 (180)
  • Ease of Use
    4.5 (180)
  • Cleaning & Maintenance
    4.4 (178)
  • Noise Level
    3.7 (105)
  • Consistency
    4.5 (159)
  • Milk Frothing
    4.4 (152)
  • Dishwasher Safe PartsNo
  • Water Tank Capacity2 L
  • Colour / FinishBlack Sesame, Brushed Stainless Steel, Cranberry Red and Stainless Steel
  • Coffee Bean Capacity230 g to 250 g
Breville The Oracle Touch BES990
  • Award Winner 2020

Breville The Oracle Touch BES990 · includes 2 listings

4.6 from 79 reviews
Pump Pressure15 bar
Milk FrotherSteam Wand
Bean GrinderIntegrated Burr Grinder

Price (RRP) $3,799.00

Price from$2,999.00The Good Guys

  • Build Quality
    4.4 (44)
  • Value for Money
    4.1 (43)
  • Ease of Use
    4.9 (45)
  • Cleaning & Maintenance
    4.7 (44)
  • Noise Level
    3.7 (25)
  • Consistency
    4.5 (40)
  • Milk Frothing
    4.6 (43)
  • Input Power2,400 W
  • Dishwasher Safe PartsNo
  • Water Tank Capacity2.5 L
  • Colour / FinishBlack Truffle and Brushed Stainless Steel
  • FeaturesTouch Screen
  • Coffee Bean Capacity280 g
DeLonghi Dedica

DeLonghi Dedica · includes 7 listings

4.1 from 247 reviews
Pump Pressure15 bar
Milk FrotherSteam Wand
Bean GrinderNone

Price (RRP) $349.00

Price from$259.00The Good Guys

  • Build Quality
    4.1 (58)
  • Value for Money
    4.1 (59)
  • Ease of Use
    4.1 (58)
  • Cleaning & Maintenance
    3.9 (58)
  • Noise Level
    3.6 (45)
  • Consistency
    4.2 (49)
  • Milk Frothing
    3.9 (43)
  • Input Power1,300 W
  • Dishwasher Safe PartsNo
  • Water Tank Capacity1.1 L
  • Colour / FinishBlack, Red, Stainless Steel and White
Rancilio Silvia

Rancilio Silvia · includes 5 listings

4.2 from 115 reviews
Pump Pressure15 bar
Milk FrotherSteam Wand
Bean GrinderNone

Price (RRP) $999.00

  • Build Quality
    3.9 (22)
  • Value for Money
    4.0 (22)
  • Ease of Use
    4.0 (21)
  • Cleaning & Maintenance
    4.2 (21)
  • Noise Level
    3.1 (16)
  • Consistency
    4.5 (21)
  • Milk Frothing
    4.4 (20)
  • Input Power1,100 W
  • Dishwasher Safe PartsNo
  • Water Tank Capacity2.5 L
  • Colour / FinishStainless Steel
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Coffee Cups

Are manual or automatic coffee machines better?

Semi-automatic coffee machines

Semi-automatic coffee machine

If you’re running late for work in the morning and need a quick espresso shot, a semi-automatic coffee machine can do a lot of the work for you. Once you grind and tamp the beans to fit into the portafilter, the machine takes over, making a pre-programmed amount of coffee.

Simply press a button to pull the shot and you’ve got a cup of coffee. Even if you’ve just crawled out of bed and you’re still half asleep, you won’t need to worry about going through all the motions required by a manual coffee machine.

A semi-automatic is a good compromise between a manual coffee machine and a fully automatic coffee machine. Kmart, Sunbeam, and Gaggia all have reliable and affordable semi-automatic coffee machines.

For example, The Sunbeam Mini Barista only costs $299 and features a simple operation designed with two shot sizes and an in-built milk frothing steam wand. Although a semi-automatic coffee machine is quicker than a manual coffee machine as it’s partly automated, it’s not as quick as a fully automatic machine, coffee pod machine, or drip coffee machine.

Manual coffee machines

Manual coffee machine

A manual coffee machine is perfect for a lazy weekend afternoon when you want to relax and savour the coffee-making process. With a manual espresso machine you can unleash your at-home barista and control every part of the coffee-making process. Grind and tamp coffee beans of your choice, control the pressure and temperature of water and steam and froth your milk.

A manual coffee machine is for true coffee connoisseurs. If you don’t already know about techniques like grinding, dosing and tamping, you’ll need to learn. Depending on the complexity of the machine you use, learning how your specific machine works can take weeks. Overall, manual machines are more labour intensive but worth it if you refuse to compromise on coffee quality and taste.

Best coffee machines under $1000

A less expensive coffee machine won’t necessarily result in an inferior cup of coffee. According to reviewers, many coffee machines under $1000 work just as well, or arguably better, than pricier models. There are also other factors that come into play, such as the quality of the beans you are using.

If you are using premium coffee beans and you’re grinding the beans into a consistent texture, there's a strong possibility it'll result in an impressive coffee, regardless of what type of machine you use. So here are the top three most highly-rated coffee machines that our reviewers have loved, all priced under $1000.

What are the different types of grinders?

Not all coffee machines have an integrated grinder. If your coffee machine doesn’t come with a grinder it’s a good idea to buy one. Grinding the coffee beans so they can fit neatly into the portafilter is an integral part of the coffee-making process.

Most importantly, the way you grind your beans determines the quality of your coffee.

Blade Grinder

Blade grinder

The blade grinder is an electric grinder which has a blade at the centre of the grinder. That blade cuts the coffee beans into small pieces.

You might find that the coffee isn’t ground up consistently and you’ll probably end up with a mixture of larger chunks of coffee with pockets of finely ground coffee. This may result in coffee that heats at an inconsistent rate, affecting the taste. However, if you’re looking for convenience and ease, this will grind your coffee fast with minimal effort on your part.

Burr Grinder

burr grinder

Most burr grinders are usually electrically powered. However, you can also find manual grinders which can be brought along to outdoor activities, like camping.

Burrs are two revolving abrasive surfaces which grind a limited amount of beans at a time. The coffee beans grind at the same rate, resulting in a consistent and rich flavour.

Standalone Grinders

Some coffee machines such as the Breville Dynamic Duo and the Sunbeam Torino Espresso Machine & Grinder come with a standalone grinder. A bonus of having a standalone coffee grinder is that if your coffee machine breaks and needs repair - you still have the standalone grinder to help you make coffee.

Factors to consider when buying a semi-automatic or manual coffee machine

Milk Frother Milk frother

Depending on how you like your coffee, check beforehand what type of features your coffee machine comes with. If you want to froth your milk, make sure the coffee machine you’re purchasing comes with a milk frother or steam wand along with a frothing pitcher. Many coffee machines have an integrated steam wand which makes milk and dense. Alternatively, you can use your milk frother, which you may need to buy separately, to spruce up your coffee with light and foamy milk. If you’re up for a challenge, once you’ve steamed or frothed your milk, have a go at making latte art!

Material/Build Build icon

If you’re looking for a coffee machine that’s durable and long-lasting, consider getting a stainless steel coffee machine. Want to replicate a cafe vibe in your own kitchen? Choose a coffee machine with a silver finish and it’ll look like you have your own cafe coffee machine. Or if you’re looking to match the existing aesthetic, choosing classic black or white is always a safe choice that will pair with pretty much any colour scheme.

Speed Speed icon

The semi-automatic coffee machine is the best choice if you want to make a quick and easy cup of coffee. It also has a shorter heat-up time than a manual coffee machine. If you choose an integrated blade grinder, the fastest type of grinder, you’ll have your coffee ready in no time.

If you’ve got some extra time on your hands, a manual coffee machine will take longer but you get to control the whole process and potentially make a better, barista-quality coffee.

Regardless of whether you have a manual or semi-automatic coffee machine, there are other things you can do to speed up the process. Choose a water tank with a larger capacity, as the size of your tank affects how long you can go without refilling. For example, if your water tank only has a 1L capacity, you’ll only be able to make around 8 cups before you have to refill.

If you and your partner don’t want to fight over who gets their caffeine fix first, a tank with two spouts or a coffee machine with a double shot function can provide two cups of coffee instantaneously.

A coffee machine with a large boiler means you’ll end up waiting longer for the water to heat up. You can choose a coffee machine with a small boiler or a dual boiler, that will extract coffee and steam milk simultaneously, to cut down your wait time.

Noise Noise icon

Maybe you’re powering through an assignment or finishing up a long day of working from home and you just need a late-night coffee.

However, you might be worried about waking up a partner or your family with a loud coffee machine. Luckily, it’s possible to find coffee machines that are quieter than others. For example, reviewers gave Breville the Barista Touch a high average rating for satisfactory noise levels.

Conclusion

If you’re seeking ease and convenience yet still want to be more hands-on in the coffee-making process, then the semi-automatic coffee machine may be best for you. However, if you would like to be in control of the whole process and learn to make barista-quality coffee that rivals your local cafe - then consider the manual coffee machine. Have a look through our reviews and use the filters on the left to help narrow down your search to find the best manual or semi-automatic coffee machine for you.