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KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine Review: A New Friend for Your Stand Mixer!

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

Our review process | Our team

Have you ever wanted to match your baking gear to your coffee gear? Well, if you’re reading this KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine review, you’re in the right place.

Have you ever wanted to match your baking gear to your coffee gear? Well, if you’re reading this KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine review, you’re in the right place.

This new home espresso machine is chock-full of user-friendly features that make it a great espresso maker for beginner and intermediate home baristas alike. Let’s check it out!

A durable hybrid machine

KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine With Burr Grinder

There’s a lot to like

Sleek design

Durable construction

No-nonsense user interface

Easy to use

58mm portafilter

Limited grinder settings

Overview: KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine Review

The last time I wrote reviews about KitchenAid coffee gear, I found myself pleasantly surprised. For starters, the KitchenAid Coffee Grinder is surprisingly solid as an all-rounder. Meanwhile, the KitchenAid Espresso Machine gets brownie points for its decent quality, despite being one of the manufacturer’s first attempts at making espresso gear.

With this context, I embarked on this KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine review with medium-to-high hopes.

As it happens, KitchenAid is a beloved home appliance manufacturer, and many baking-centric homes already have a few KitchenAid gadgets hanging out on their kitchen counters. So why not throw another into the mix?

The KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine With Grinder is exactly as it sounds: a mid-range home espresso machine with a built-in burr grinder.

With a $549.95 price tag, the KES6551 model is certainly not cheap. That said, you’re getting two machines in one sturdy package, so I’d say that’s good value for money. This is especially true when you consider that some espresso grinders cost just as much on their own.

Anyway, this new machine is stylish and well-built, as you’d expect from a KitchenAid appliance. The body, group head and 58mm portafilter are all made of stainless steel, while a thermocoil means this baby is ready to brew lightning-quick.

What’s more, the user interface is pretty easy to navigate once you get the hang of it. There are even a few customization options, including 16 different grind sizes, a grinding dosing time and both single and double shot brew modes.

If you’re well on your way to being sold on this machine, you’ll be happy to hear that its diverse colorways and innovative design means it should fit well in just about any kitchen.

KitchenAid KES6551 Espresso Machine Features

Are you already intrigued by this KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine review? Read along as I dig into the features of this brand new machine.

Size and Design

If you’ve ever seen a KitchenAid appliance, the KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine KES6551 should look pretty familiar. It’s simple and elegant, with rounded edges and the KitchenAid brand name front-and-center.

What’s more, you can tell just by looking at this machine that it’s well-made. And it’s true; thanks to the stainless steel construction, this thing is durable and heavy, weighing about 25 pounds (11 kilograms).

Needless to say, you’ll want to find this espresso machine a good home on your counter and leave it there. That said, folks with overhanging cabinets may have a hard time filling and removing the rear 84.5-ounce (2.5-liter) water tank.

After all, this baby isn’t necessarily compact, sitting at 15.4 inches (39.1 centimeters) tall, with a 13.1-inch (33.3-centimeter) wide footprint and a depth of 11 inches (28 centimeters).

KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine Size and Design

However, the KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine has wheels on the back to make it easier to move around when you need to. That’s a nice touch! Still, moving the machine seems cumbersome and I’d recommend placing it in a location that allows you to easily access the tank.

Moving on, KitchenAid has another trick up their sleeve: there is hidden storage behind the drip tray for extra portafilter baskets. I love the idea of being able to store some espresso accessories inside of the machine rather than have them strewn across the kitchen counter.

Finally, this semi automatic espresso machine has a built-in grinder and all the required infrastructure that goes along with that. Consequently, the top of the machine features a bean hopper beside the stainless steel cup warmer.

Colors

Any baker knows that part of the fun of buying a new KitchenAid appliance is picking out your favorite color. As it happens, the KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine doesn’t have quite as many options as, say, KitchenAid’s popular stand mixer. That said, you do still have a few options to choose from:

  • Cast Iron Black

  • Juniper

  • Stainless Steel

  • Porcelain White

  • Candy Apple Red

Again, these colorways should be pretty familiar to KitchenAid devotees. Plus, they all have silver accents, which is pretty standard for KitchenAid appliances.

User Interface

At first glance, the buttons and knobs on the KitchenAid KES6551 may be intimidating. That said, I promise you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.

This is because the user interface has a pretty intuitive flow, with clearly labeled buttons and knobs. Plus, all of the buttons have indicator lights to show you which mode you’re in. These features make this machine very user friendly, especially for new baristas who aren’t yet savvy with espresso prep or adjustability options.

For example, an indicator light beneath the power button shows when the machine is heating up. Plus, there’s a grinding dial to adjust the dose and start or stop grinding. I’ll talk more about the dosing system later on in this KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine review.

What’s more, there’s a lever to adjust the grind. That said, it seems a little backwards that the coarser grinds are on the left. Anyway, you’d likely get used to that quirk after only a few days of slinging shots.

I won’t bore you by detailing every other button and knob on this machine – there’s a user manual for that. Rather, I’ll list off the most important ones: a button for espresso, steam and hot water, and a button for brew temperature.

Finally, the KitchenAid KES6551 has a manometer with the espresso range clearly marked, making it easy to monitor your group pressure and dial in your recipe.

Fast Heating Technology

This baby heats up super fast, all thanks to the thermocoil heater. In fact, the KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine heats up from cold to brewing temperatures in as little as twenty seconds.

Still, I always recommend preheating your espresso machine a bit longer than the minimum heat-up time. After all, you want to preheat up your group head and portafilter, too. Having to wait a few extra minutes to drink out of a pre-warmed cappuccino cup doesn’t sound so bad, either.

Anyway, you can choose your preferred brewing temperature from a range of low, medium or high. Unfortunately, KitchenAid doesn’t specify what those temperatures actually are. That said, you can expect them to be somewhere in the ideal espresso range of 190-205 degrees Fahrenheit (88-96 degrees Celsius).

Grinder

KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine Grinder

The KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine has a built-in conical burr grinder. The burrs are made of super sharp and durable stainless steel, and seem to produce a consistent grind size with very little clumping.

Speaking of grind size, you can choose from 16 different grind settings, with eight coarse settings and eight fine settings. That said, it’s not clear how many of these settings are in the ideal espresso range.

What’s more, an ion generator reduces static in the grinds chute, meaning there is less mess in your portafilter basket and kitchen counter. I love when sciencey things that I don’t understand make my coffee experience better!

The bean hopper above the grinder is very simple to remove. Simple twist and pull up on the black handle inside the hopper, and the whole thing lifts up with no mess. Incidentally, this makes switching between different espresso beans a breeze.

Still, the bean hopper is quite small so I would recommend investing in a coffee canister to store your coffee beans.

While I’m on the subject, another pro of the easy-to-remove hopper is how much easier it is to clean the grinder. More on that later in this KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine review.

Smart Dosing Technology

The KitchenAid ​​KES6551 has Smart Dosing Technology to dose espresso grounds into your portafilter. Although honestly, I can’t tell what exactly is “smart” about this system. Instead, it seems more like a regular old timer situation.

Still, I’ll admit that this feature is convenient if you don’t feel like getting out your coffee scale every time you want to pull a shot.

Basically, this system allows you to change your espresso dose with the left-most knob on the face of the machine. Handy images show you whether you’re in the single shot or double shot range, and which direction increases or decreases your dose.

That said, it seems to take a while to dial in your shot and figure out which dose is ideal for you. Plus, as with other timing systems, you’ll likely have to start all over again as soon as you change your grind size.

On a similar note, there’s also a volume choice when you actually go to pull the shot. Press the button next to the manometer to choose one shot, which defaults to 1 ounce (30 milliliters), or to pull a double shot, which defaults to 2 ounces. Incidentally, you can change these volumes if you feel like digging around in the user manual to find out how.

Portafilter

Despite being a semi automatic espresso machine that straddles the line between beginner and intermediate, the KitchenAid KES6551 has one prosumer feature: a professional 58-millimeter stainless steel portafilter.

Still, I have some qualms with this portafilter. But I’ll start with the pros.

Naturally, the standard 58mm diameter makes this portafilter the ideal size for all sorts of coffee gear, like distribution tools and dosing funnels. What’s more, the textured plastic handle seems rather comfortable to hold. Even better, the portafilter has a flat base, allowing for even and stable tamping.

As far as the included baskets, you’ve got four options to choose from:

  • Single shot, single wall basket

  • Single shot, double wall basket

  • Double shot, single wall basket

  • Double shot, double wall basket

While I prefer the espresso flavor profile from a single wall basket, I appreciate the versatility of the double wall pressurized baskets. In fact, they make this machine more beginner-friendly, helping to reduce the risk of channeling while new baristas fine-tune their puck prep.

Okay, on to the qualms. While the portafilter is supposedly commercial grade, it doesn’t have that vibe. Rather, it has weird plastic or silicone spouts on the bottom of the portafilter, instead of a bottomless portafilter or split spouts.

For that reason, I’m tempted to recommend that you invest in a bottomless portafilter to replace the included one. That said, it’d be a shame to have to buy a new portafilter for a brand new machine.

Further, the group head doesn’t seem to have a 3 way solenoid valve, so the pucks can be kind of soupy upon removing the portafilter. Even worse, the baskets seem to be a little loose, meaning they have a tendency to jump out of the portafilter and into the compost when knocking the puck out.

Tamping

KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine Tamping

Needless to say, you can’t make the perfect espresso with a thick layer of crema without a quality espresso tamper.

Fortunately, KitchenAid provides you with a pretty nice one, free of charge. Well, I suppose all the accessories are lumped into the cost of the whole box, but let’s pretend it’s a free goodie bag, shall we?

Anyway, the included tamper is metal and heavy enough to allow for good tamping pressure. Plus, the portafilter baskets have tamping lines that let you know whether your dose and puck compression are spot on.

Steam Wand

Initially, I was a little put off by the steam wand on this KitchenAid espresso machine. It’s got a flat tip, and I’m so used to seeing removable rounded tips on steam wands that this one looks like it’s missing something.

Maybe that’s just a me problem. Plus, after examining the steam wand for a bit longer I decided that looks really aren’t everything. After all, the steam wand is stainless steel and multi-angle with a heat-proof handle to protect your fingertips. And it seems to do a great job turning cold milk into creamy microfoam.

The steam wand doubles as a hot water dispenser, and the thermocoil heater means you can switch to steaming with very little lag time after pulling a shot.

Even better, this espresso machine comes with a 12-ounce (350-milliliter) milk pitcher, which means you’re already one step closer to steaming milk for lattes, cappuccinos and whatever else you can dream up.

How to Use the KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine

As always, follow the manufacturer’s instructions in the user manual to set up your new espresso machine. In particular, priming the 15 bar pump and installing the water filter into the tank are key steps.

Once you’ve got that down, using this KitchenAid espresso machine will be a breeze.

Let’s assume you’ve already filled the machine with water and espresso beans, and it’s all heated up and ready to go in brew mode. At this point, use the grinding lever to choose your grind size, and turn the grinds dosing dial to the right point. Again, the instructions booklet will give you a good starting reference.

KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine How to Use

Grind into your portafilter, then tamp with even pressure. Next, orient the portafilter in the group head and make sure you choose the right dose for a single or double shot. Finally, press the temperature button until it’s at your preferred brew temp, then press the brew button on the far right. The shot should stop itself automatically.

If you want to steam milk too, switch the mode to steam and wait while the thermocoil heats water to the right temperature. Then, steam away!

KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine Cleaning

I’ve already got a thorough guide to cleaning and descaling espresso machines, so I’ll save the repetition for another day. Instead, I’ll give you some hints on how to take care of this particular machine.

First, let’s acknowledge that KitchenAid is happy to get you started in this process. In fact, you get some extra maintenance gear in your complimentary KitchenAid goodie bag, including a water filter, priming pump and cleaning brush. Plus, the machine itself has a “Clean Me” notification to remind you to descale the machine.

So, you’ll have to do the usual cleaning process for an espresso machine, including regular backflushing (though a backflushing disc doesn’t seem to be included).

Additionally, keep in mind that you’ll want to clean the grinder every so often.

Fortunately, the removable hopper makes it super easy to access the burrs. And cleaning burrs can be as simple as brushing any coffee residue away, then vacuuming up the rest.

That said, if you like super dark roasts that have a lot of surface oils, you may want to grind some cleaning tablets through the grinder every couple months.

KitchenAid KES6551 Technical Specifications

KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine With Burr Grinder
Manufacturer

KitchenAid

Model number

KES6551

Product category

Hybrid espresso machine

Housing material

Stainless steel

Color options

Cast Iron Black, Juniper, Stainless Steel

Milk frother

Steam wand

User interface

Buttons and dials

App

User profiles

Memo function only

Portafilter size

58 mm

Tamping

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

84.5 fl oz / 2.5 l

Number of boilers

1

Pump pressure

15 bar

Maximum cup height

5.0 in / 12.7 cm

Grinder

Stainless steel conical burr grinder

Grind adjustment levels

15

Bean hopper capacity

8.1 oz / 230.0 g

Specialty drinks

1

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

Yes (non-milk drinks only)

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

1500 W

Weight

23.0 lb / 10.4 kg

Dimensions

15.4 x 13.1 x 11.0 in
39.1 x 33.3 x 27.9 cm

Warranty

1 year

Notes

Included Accessories: User manual, 4 x filter baskets, tamper, milk pitcher, water filter, cleaning brush

Current price on Amazon

$549.95

All specifications

KitchenAid KES6551 vs Breville Barista Express

Breville Barista Express Overview

You didn’t think I was done with this KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine review, did you? Of course not – I had to see how the KitchenAid KES6551 stands up to the reigning champion of beginner home espresso machines: the Breville Barista Express (CURRENT PRIME DAY DEAL! ONLY 549.95 $ INSTEAD OF 699.95 $).

As it happens, the Barista Express $549.95 price tag is nearly identical to that of the KES6551. And on the surface, these two machines seem pretty similar.

For starters, they’re roughly the same size and have similarly boxy designs. Plus, both the KitchenAid KES6551 and the Barista Express have thermocoils for rapid heating, and adjustable timer-based dosing mechanisms for the built-in conical burr grinders.

That said, the Breville machine is clearly superior in terms of its adjustability settings. In particular, it has an adjustable preinfusion time, while the KES6551 doesn’t seem to have preinfusion at all.

What’s more, the Barista Express offers a PID controller with precise one-degree adjustments to the brew temperature. Meanwhile, the KitchenAid KES6551 only allows you to choose from three temperature choices.

In my opinion, the Breville Barista Express is a better machine in pretty much every regard. It even has a couple extra grind settings, though neither machine seems to have superb grinding capabilities.

Ultimately, I would recommend the time-tested Breville machine over the KitchenAid newcomer. That said, if you’re super nit picky about your portafilter size, you may be disappointed by the Barista Express’ 54-millimeter portafilter and group.

See Also: Breville Barista Express Review

KitchenAid KES6551 vs Breville Barista Express Comparison Chart

KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine With Burr GrinderBreville Barista Express
Manufacturer

KitchenAid

Breville

Model number

KES6551

BES870XL/BES870BSXL

Product category

Hybrid espresso machine

Hybrid espresso machine

Housing material

Stainless steel

Stainless steel

Color options

Cast Iron Black, Juniper, Stainless Steel

Black Sesame, Brushed Stainless Steel

Milk frother

Steam wand

Steam wand

User interface

Buttons and dials

Buttons and dials

App

User profiles

Memo function only

Memo function only

Portafilter size

58 mm

54 mm

Tamping

Manual

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

84.5 fl oz / 2.5 l

67.6 fl oz / 2.0 l

Number of boilers

1

1

Pump pressure

15 bar

15 bar

Maximum cup height

5.0 in / 12.7 cm

4.0 in / 10.2 cm

Grinder

Stainless steel conical burr grinder

Stainless steel conical burr grinder

Grind adjustment levels

15

16

Bean hopper capacity

8.1 oz / 230.0 g

8.1 oz / 230.0 g

Specialty drinks

1

2

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

Yes (non-milk drinks only)

Yes

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

1500 W

1600 W

Weight

23.0 lb / 10.4 kg

23.0 lb / 10.4 kg

Dimensions

15.4 x 13.1 x 11.0 in
39.1 x 33.3 x 27.9 cm

15.9 x 12.5 x 13.8 in
40.4 x 31.8 x 35.1 cm

Warranty

1 year

1 year

Notes

Included Accessories: User manual, 4 x filter baskets, tamper, milk pitcher, water filter, cleaning brush

Included Accessories: Instruction booklet, Magnetic tamper, Trimming tool, Coffee scoop, Milk jug, Water filter and holder, Cleaning supplies.

Current price on Amazon

$549.95

$549.95

KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine With Burr GrinderBreville Barista Express
Manufacturer

KitchenAid

Breville

Model number

KES6551

BES870XL/BES870BSXL

Product category

Hybrid espresso machine

Hybrid espresso machine

Housing material

Stainless steel

Stainless steel

Color options

Cast Iron Black, Juniper, Stainless Steel

Black Sesame, Brushed Stainless Steel

Milk frother

Steam wand

Steam wand

User interface

Buttons and dials

Buttons and dials

App

User profiles

Memo function only

Memo function only

Portafilter size

58 mm

54 mm

Tamping

Manual

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

84.5 fl oz / 2.5 l

67.6 fl oz / 2.0 l

Number of boilers

1

1

Pump pressure

15 bar

15 bar

Maximum cup height

5.0 in / 12.7 cm

4.0 in / 10.2 cm

Grinder

Stainless steel conical burr grinder

Stainless steel conical burr grinder

Grind adjustment levels

15

16

Bean hopper capacity

8.1 oz / 230.0 g

8.1 oz / 230.0 g

Specialty drinks

1

2

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

Yes (non-milk drinks only)

Yes

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

1500 W

1600 W

Weight

23.0 lb / 10.4 kg

23.0 lb / 10.4 kg

Dimensions

15.4 x 13.1 x 11.0 in
39.1 x 33.3 x 27.9 cm

15.9 x 12.5 x 13.8 in
40.4 x 31.8 x 35.1 cm

Warranty

1 year

1 year

Notes

Included Accessories: User manual, 4 x filter baskets, tamper, milk pitcher, water filter, cleaning brush

Included Accessories: Instruction booklet, Magnetic tamper, Trimming tool, Coffee scoop, Milk jug, Water filter and holder, Cleaning supplies.

Current price on Amazon

$549.95

$549.95

Verdict: KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine Review

A durable hybrid machine

KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine With Burr Grinder

There’s a lot to like

Sleek design

Durable construction

No-nonsense user interface

Easy to use

58mm portafilter

Limited grinder settings

Now that we’ve come to the end of this KitchenAid Semi Automatic Espresso Machine review, I have to admit that I’m a little on the fence with this one! On the surface, this seems like a great machine. Still, I’m disappointed with the lack of preinfusion and comprehensive brew temperature control.

At the same time, this machine really is a beauty, and is durable enough to last you for years to come. I mean, that’s kind of the KitchenAid way!

When it comes down to it, I really think that most casual espresso drinkers will be more than happy with this machine. Plus, if you already have a KitchenAid stand mixer taking up space on your counter, why not give it a sibling?

What do you think of this new KitchenAid espresso machine? Will you give it a go, or does another semi automatic have your heart? Let’s nerd out in the comments section below!

Your coffee expert
Team Image
Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

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