Coffee Machine - Manual or Automatic - How do I choose?

How do I know if a manual Espresso Machine or an automatic Bean to Cup machine is the right one for me?

This is a question we deal with on a daily basis. My view is that these two types of machines are for two very different types of customers. They do have on thing in common and that is the love for quality coffee!

First it is important to understand the main difference between what we refer to as a manual machine and an automatic machine(Often referred to as a Bean to Cup or a Super Automatic). 

Bean to Cup machines are basically two-in-one machine where the grinder and coffee machine is integrated into one unit where the process of brewing coffee is done entirely by the machine, from grinding to extracting or brewing the coffee and often includes automatic frothing of the milk for cappuccinos and lattés.

A manual machine is typically a free standing espresso machine with a porta filter(the handle with a filter basket at the end) into which you will grind coffee, place it in the machine and then actuate a switch to start and stop the brewing process. The machine will have a steam wand (steam arm) that is used to froth milk with in a metal jug.

In order to help you find the correct machine for you let's look at a comparison between the two types of machines.

 Manual Machine  Automatic  Machine
Skill Required High None
Maintenance/Cleaning Minimal Fair amount
Cleaning frequency Daily & Weekly Daily & Weekly
Cleaning Ease Easy Easy
Operating Cost Low Medium(Specialised cleaning chemicals & filters)
Durability Excellent(Bullet Proof) Good but less than manual
Quality of Coffee Excellent(Operator dependant Very Good(Not operator dependant)
Resale value Good Fair
Purchase Cost Quality dependant As with manual - like for like similarly priced

The Manual Machine Customer?

In my opinion manual machines are for those folk that aspire to make the best cup of coffee possible regardless of the effort required. Owners of these machines will be chasing that perfect shot, trying new techniques, playing around with brew ratios and extraction times. Finally they also do not mind a bit of a mess around the machine as there is always coffee grounds and milk droplets around the machine after making coffee.

The Automatic machine customer.

This customer is looking for great tasting coffee but is less interested in the actual process and is happy to let the machine control it. They want a great cup of coffee with maximum convenience and as little mess as possible.

In the end only you can decide where you fit in and which customer profile fits you.

Some excellent manual machines you can look at are:

Home Use Commercial Use
Rancilio Silvia V6 Rancilio Classe 5 Single Group
Rancilio Silvia Pro Rancilio Classe 5 2 Group Compact
Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Rancilio Classe 5 2 group
Nuova Simonelli Musica 
Fiorenzato Volante


Automatic machines to consider:


Home Use Commercial Use
Jura E6
Jura WE8
Jura E8 Jura X8
Jura S8 Jura Giga X3
Jura Z10 Jura Giga X8

If you need more advice on deciding which machine is for you drop us a line at

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