Benefits and Detriments of a Manual Machine
In grade school, you most likely learned about the pulley, the wedge, the inclined plane, the lever and other simple machines. As your teacher may very well have explained, these are the foundation upon which even the most advanced, complex machines are based. This is certainly true of an espresso machine whose grinder blades are just a gussied up inclined plane and whose lever-based operation is fairly obvious.
The only difference between an automatic espresso machine and a “manual machine” is the amount of work you as a consumer and coffee drinker are forced to perform. Do you really want to think about such heady topics as mechanical advantage and spring-lever compression first thing in the morning before you’ve even had that inaugural cup of joe? For most people, the answer is a resounding no.
Still, the manual machine has a few benefits that aren’t always inherent to an automatic one. Some serious baristas use them in high-end coffee shops because they allow the operator to control every last aspect of the espresso that results. If you desire a tasty, reliably satisfying espresso or cappuccino in the morning, a no-fuss automatic is almost certainly the way to go.