Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines
These are the most popular type of espresso maker and are widely considered to be the best type of espresso machine for most users. They have some automated features, like temperature controls for the boiler, a pump, and switches to activate the pump. You control when the pump is turned off and on, which means you can decide when to pause the brew to adjust the strength and flavor of the final product. A few include a grinder, but most don't.Super Automatic Espresso Machines
As the name implies super automatic espresso makers are much easier to use because they are fully automatic from the beginning of the process to the end. They grind the beans, dose (transfer the ground beans to the basket), tamp (compress the ground coffee), extract (the process of mixing the coffee with the water to get your beverage), and, finally, eject the waste. Purists don't like fully automatic machines, preferring some degree of hands on brewing, but a good super automatic espresso machine can make great espresso without much hassle.Pod-Style Espresso Machines
Although these are considered super automatic, in that they do all the work for you, pod-style models are not, technically, espresso machines. Still, experts agree that for all but the die-hard espresso purist, pod-style machines make a terrific espresso or espresso-based drinks, and they do it quickly and easily.Manual Espresso Makers
Ranging from lever-style machines to stove top moka pots, these espresso makers are hands on from start to finish. Lever-style machines can be difficult to learn and to use, because they require quite a bit of tweaking, and you can't expect much consistency unless you're a pro or until you've had a lot of practice. However, these are the choice of true espresso aficionados who like to control every step of the brewing process for the ultimate in customized brews. Stove top moka pots, sometimes referred to as "the poor man's espresso machine," make a strong, complex coffee that is close to espresso. They are easy to use and very inexpensive, but still very hands on.