It's no secret that we like Elektra products at CoffeeGeek. Even the (relative) poor performance of the Elektra Nivola couldn't diminish the beauty and uniqueness of that product, and it shows the company places high value on the "high art" aspect of the machines they produce.
What's cool about the Elektra Microcasa Semiautomatica is that you get "high art" in terms of the look (every tester and evaluator of the product, save one thought it was a beautiful machine), but you also get a machine quite capable of turning out superior shots.
We found the Elektra Semiauto be a forgiving machine that could handle a variety of grind fineness levels. It could also forgive slightly improper tamping and dose volumes. The brewing temperatures, "out of the box" were excellent (in fact, we did not adjust the pressurestat the entire test period), and steaming performance overall was excellent.
The extra cleaning the grouphead required is a minor inconvenience. The biggest problem with the machine is the shallow size of the drip tray, something Elektra really should examine and and fix at some point.
Usability isn't the best on this machine; as heavy as it is, it tends to slide around on the counter while you're inserting the portafilter, and the "angle of attack" on the steam wand was a challenge for some testers.
Where the machine shined was in three areas: The look, the shot performance, and the ability for even newbies to microfoam milk in a competent manner. This is a machine that's almost better suited for a bar or entertainment area than a kitchen counter, it is just so "out there" in terms of the build and materials used. In fact, one of my testers bought an Elektra Microcasa Semiautomatica after he tried out our test unit, and he has it prominently displayed on a butcher block style serving table in his dining room, with the matching Elektra brass and copper grinder.
After this long test, the machine came through with high marks, and we an highly recommend this offering from Elektra.
The Final Word
High art with the ability to deliver a high-artisan shot of espresso, and microfoam like a pro? A few minor issues with the Elektra Microcasa Semiautomatica lost it a point, but we give this machine a 9 out of 10.
The Electra Micro Casa Semi Automatica is available from various US and Canadian espresso machine sellers. The prices listed below are the average price as of October, 2012.
SX Model Brass and Copper for $1,899
SXC Model All Chrome model for $1,899
SXCD Model Beautiful art deco model with Murano Glass, $1,995, May be unavailable.