Whether you're a long-time barista or a new espresso drinker, the best semi-automatic espresso machines can give you quick and easy access to your favorite drinks — cappuccinos, lattes and more! But, since semi-automatic espresso machines require a bit more work than automatic ones (as the name implies), it's important you choose the right one for you.
Keep your budget top of mind. If you're willing to spend the money, you'll find a few standout options that give you the freedom to make the espresso your own, but are nearly as easy to use and convenient as an automatic machine. Since you'll have to do your own grinding and dosing, finding a machine with a built-in grinder or an automatic dial to control the grind of your coffee is clutch. Less expensive models will leave you to your own devices, so you'll have to keep better track of the dosages when you're perfecting the strength of your espresso.
If you're shopping for a coffee shop or restaurant, you may want to consider a dual boiler machine, which simultaneously can make espresso and steam milk, allowing you to turn around the most espresso-based drinks in the quickest period of time.
Editor's note: What you really get when you spend the extra money is a longer-lasting machine. Unsurprisingly, a $500 machine can last years or even decades in your kitchen. If your budget won't allow, you can still get a cheaper model that'll serve you delicious espresso in the short term, but likely will need to be replaced down the line.