Does anyone else out there struggle with the choice between semi or fully automatic espresso machines? I feel like I have more control over the shot with a semi-automatic.
What do you all think?

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As somebody said earlier, autos have a manual dispense switch. It is important to remember though that autos have electronic controls for the different switches where most semi-autos (I believe) rely on a mechanical on/off switch. Less things that can go wrong on a semi.
Some Automatics (La Marzocco AV models for instance) have mechanical rocker brew switches in addition to the electronic panel switches. This allows normal semi-automatic operation should the brain go down. I use the different electronic switches primarily for pre-determined volumetric group flush from idle, different button for shorter volumetric post shot flush, cup heating, PF rinse etc. while primarily using the manual switches for brewing.

James Doyle said:
As somebody said earlier, autos have a manual dispense switch. It is important to remember though that autos have electronic controls for the different switches where most semi-autos (I believe) rely on a mechanical on/off switch. Less things that can go wrong on a semi.
Depends on the market you are after. Are you willing to put more baristas on the bar (and have a substantially higher payroll) to have a dramatically increased "professional feel" to your shop? It's an easy question to quickly answer, but a harder one to answer when you really stop and think about it. I know that for must of us on here, if we were to walk into a shop and see a machine like the one pictured above we would feel a certain sense of quality almost immediately.

For reference, I think most of us on here refer to machines in this manner:
-Manual: Lever operated. You are the pump, essentially. Like the machine pictured above.
-Semi-Auto: Shots are stopped and started by the barista, but a pump controls the pressure.
-Auto: The machine is able to be programmed to deliver a certain amount of water by the push of a button. The barista (technically) needs only to push the button and the machine will do the rest.
-Super-Auto: The machine not only delivers the water, but grinds the beans as well. These machines are generally seen as inferior to separate grinder/machine combos.

I would never recommend a Super-Auto for the reason listed. I also, wouldn't recommend an auto machine just because it allows your barista to walk away from the machine and "let the machine do the work." Now, going off of what Brady said, if you don't program the buttons to deliver a certain amount of water then your baristas will have to watch the shots (which they should be) and be attentive to what is happening during the extraction. But, for that matter, if you aren't programming the buttons, you might as well save yourself $2,000 or so and just get a semi-auto.

Just things to consider,
-bry
I agree. This is the only good use for presets. Shots all blonde at different points, if you aren't watching your shot then you aren't doing your jobby job.

miKe mcKoffee aka Mike McGinness said:
Some Automatics (La Marzocco AV models for instance) have mechanical rocker brew switches in addition to the electronic panel switches. This allows normal semi-automatic operation should the brain go down. I use the different electronic switches primarily for pre-determined volumetric group flush from idle, different button for shorter volumetric post shot flush, cup heating, PF rinse etc. while primarily using the manual switches for brewing.

James Doyle said:
As somebody said earlier, autos have a manual dispense switch. It is important to remember though that autos have electronic controls for the different switches where most semi-autos (I believe) rely on a mechanical on/off switch. Less things that can go wrong on a semi.
Hi Mike,

May I know how to extract a perfect shot from this type lever machine. I had a 1 unit as the picture. Please
advice.
Thanks

Boyd
miKe mcKoffee aka Mike McGinness said:

Lever machines like this two group are used by some in commercial settings. An experienced lever barista can pull exquisite shots it's very difficult to match with an electric pump machine. During a shootout it took me 4 tries to come close.

Joe said:
I guess for clarification I should say that I was not referring to lever as a semi-automatic. A lever machine seems very organic but I am not sure how realistic one would be in a commercial setting. I guess you can only have so much control over the shot...
Manual dispense switches seem to be the best way to go.
I am not a lever machine expert, suggest you spend some time here.

boyd said:
Hi Mike,

May I know how to extract a perfect shot from this type lever machine. I had a 1 unit as the picture. Please
advice.
Thanks

Boyd
Even if coffee tasted the same out of both semi and fully automatic, it takes all the fun out of it! If there's no skill involved it's much easier to get bored and sloppy. Keep yourself (and your baristas) on your toes and produce quality and consistency :)
Good point Maggie. I enjoy the entire process of pulling shots and just pushing a button would definitely "extract" the fun out of it.

Maggie Cook said:
Even if coffee tasted the same out of both semi and fully automatic, it takes all the fun out of it! If there's no skill involved it's much easier to get bored and sloppy. Keep yourself (and your baristas) on your toes and produce quality and consistency :)
Thanks a lot.
Will go through it
Cheers

miKe mcKoffee aka Mike McGinness said:
I am not a lever machine expert, suggest you spend some time here.

boyd said:
Hi Mike,

May I know how to extract a perfect shot from this type lever machine. I had a 1 unit as the picture. Please
advice.
Thanks

Boyd
traditional machine, of course. Why would i pay 3.50 for a drink made by someone pushing a button? No creativity, art or heart in that cup! Plus super automatic machines yes they are consistent but, consistently average have you been to Starbucks? I like the la pavoni machines, www.coffeestuff.com
I don't struggle at all it's semi over fully automatic any day!
Good word! I am currently using a Grimac. I am looking at upgrading to a LaSpaziale.

Brandy Smyth said:
traditional machine, of course. Why would i pay 3.50 for a drink made by someone pushing a button? No creativity, art or heart in that cup! Plus super automatic machines yes they are consistent but, consistently average have you been to Starbucks? I like the la pavoni machines, www.coffeestuff.com

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