KitchenAid has long been known for their iconic stand mixers. You probably at least own one of their classic kitchen gadgets, but they haven’t made much of a splash in the espresso making scene.
When we spotted the small but mighty KitchenAid KES6503SX semi-automatic espresso machine, we had to test it out and see if it’s as well-made as other KitchenAid appliances. Moreover, will it stand up to the standards set by the popular Italian machines in its price range that we love on the market?
- The first residential espresso machine with dual, smart temperature sensors that actively communicate with each...
- 58-mm commercial-grade portafilter helps maintain optimal heat through extraction. Designed with 2 recessed spouts...
- Dosage selector allows user to easily prepare one or two espresso shots at the press of a button, and can be...
- Make Delicious Lattes and Cappuccinos with the steam wand, for silky foam at the touch of a button.
It’s a solid looking espresso machine fit for those interested in learning the art of crafting espresso or intermediate at-home baristas. Let’s take a closer look at the details of the machine.
What we love about the KitchenAid Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine:
- Attractive Modern Design with a Small Footprint.
- Professional 58mm Portafilter.
- Pre-Infusion and 15-bar Italian Pump.
- Easy to Use Interface.
- Heated Top for Espresso Cups.
- Programable Dosage Selector.
- Thermocoil Technology.
- Integrated Steam Wand that Doubles as a Hot waterspout.
- Compatible with the KitchenAid Automatic Milk Frother.
Design of the KitchenAid KES6503SX Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine
There are two material/color options for this model: the brushed stainless steel, and the matte black ABS plastic option:
Dimension, weight, profile
We think KitchenAid did an excellent job with the design of this semi-automatic product.
The allover polished stainless steel looks sleek and professional. The body is just barely over 6 inches wide and 11 inches tall, making it a great fit for those of you low on counter space.
Starting from the top of the machine, there’s a flat heated top cup warmer. Going down the back, you’ll find the 47-ounce water reservoir and the on and off button.
In front there’s the control center, which has a shot, steam, and hot water button, a 1 or 2 shot button, a clean cycle button, and a start and stop button. Just under that, you’ll find the commercial grade 58mm portafilter, which has a nice handle grip.
The steam wand is located on the right-hand side of the machine and has convenient adjustable positioning.
This machine is also compatible with the KitchenAid Automatic Milk Frother if you’d like a more automated specialty beverage experience.
Features & Performance of KitchenAid semi-automatic:
Dual, Smart Temperature Sensors
What classes this machine as “semi-automatic” is its internal heating and pressure system.
Each machine has their own unique system, and KitchenAid innovated a dual smart thermocoil technology for their model. This system’s sensors constantly communicate with each other throughout the brewing process to ensure optimal even temperature for an authentic tasting espresso.
The thermocoil technology allows for a 45 second heat up time. Still, you cannot steam and brew simultaneously. The system uses an auto-purge cool down system after use of the water heater so you can quickly return to brewing.
Commercial Grade Portafilter
One of our favorite features about this machine is its commercial grade portafilter. It’s the desirable 58mm size, which many claim produces the best and most authentic shots of espresso. It has a great grip and a gorgeous, high-quality look and feel.
The portafilter is designed with two spouts to allow for two shot glass pulls, but the spouts are recessed. This is important because it allows you to easily tamp without any specialty mats needed for stability.
KitchenAid even includes both single-wall and double-wall, pressurized baskets. This is great because you can choose if you want to reduce extraction variability with the pressurized baskets.
Or, if you’re more advanced you could choose to use the single-wall traditional baskets that allow for greater control and richer full body shots.
With the dosage selector buttons you can easily make one or two shots of espresso.
These two shot volumes (and temperature) can even be programmed by accessing an advanced settings menu following the instructions in the manual.
The KES6503SX includes a manual steam wand that can easily pivot to find comfortable positioning. Make deliciously silky latte foam or thick and fluffy cappuccino milk.
Even better, this steam wand doubles as a hot water spout so you can make authentically delicious Americanos and Long Blacks.
KitchenAid also makes a matching metal automatic milk frother attachment that can replace this manual wand should you prefer a more automatic experience.
Another favorite feature of ours is the cup warmer.
There’s ample space even considering the machine’s small size. Keep your favorite mugs on top and let them preheat while you brew your shot.
This Semi-Automatic unit comes with all the accessories you need to get started, including a stainless-steel milk jug, tamper, and two single and two dual wall filter baskets.
Maintenance on the KitchenAid Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine is about average. The steam wand isn’t as easy to clean as some others we’ve tried, but the descaling process is quicker than most.
Descaling only takes around 10 minutes but will require your active attention throughout as it’s a manual process. You’ll want to regularly rinse the group head and drip tray as well.
Things to Think About
The KitchenAid Semi-Automatic is for a particular consumer. It can be for beginners but considering the price point and a few of the design decisions, it can only truly be appreciated by intermediate espresso makers.
Additionally, the water reservoir is on the small side, so it’s best suited for a single or couple. It’s not great for those who want to entertain or have large families. It’s most definitely a residential machine as well. We think its narrow customer base contributes to its lack of popularity in the community.
Despite its consumer suitability, we have a few critiques. For one, it’s on and off button is located at the back, which is a difficult location to get to. The water reservoir is smaller and at the back of the machine as well, but we can look past that more considering its small footprint.
Finally, we found the heating technology is less impressive than advertised. It works just fine, but it’s hard to call it fast-heating like its advertised when a lot of other machines on the market can heat in 1-15 seconds, while this machine takes 45 seconds.
The setup process for the KitchenAid KES6503SX is simple:
- Step 0: Find a safe location for your machine and attach the water reservoir after filling with fresh water.
- Step 1: Attach the steam wand, twisting until you hear an audible click.
- Step 2: Plug in the machine and press the power button located at the back.
- Step 3: Wait for the machine to heat up (around 45 seconds). The blinking lights will turn solid.
- Step 4: Rinse the group head by placing a container underneath it and pressing the 1 and espresso shot buttons to make a blank shot. Rinse the steam wand in similar fashion.
- Step 5: You’re ready to start making espresso!
Comparable: KitchenAid KES6503SX Semi-Automatic vs. Breville BES500BSS Bambino Plus
Of all the semi-automatic machines on the market, we think the KitchenAid Semi-Automatic Machine is most like the Breville Bambino Plus.
Both are brushed stainless steel, include the same functions, and are a similar size. Still, they have some key differences from pressure bar to water reservoir and portafilter size.
Let’s examine the two machines a bit closer, to see which machine might be best for you.
As far as aesthetic appeal, we give KitchenAid the crown.
The KitchenAid is more elegant and refined looking from its body to its portafilter.
The Breville Bambino Plus earns points in the cute category and we prefer the location of the steam wand on the Breville.
A key difference in design between the two is the portafilter.
- KitchenAid went for a commercial grade 58mm portafilter, while
- Bambino Plus went for a more beginner friendly 54mm portafilter.
As more experienced espresso makers we vastly prefer the design, weight, and size of the KitchenAid portafilter. However, if you’re a novice the Breville may be of preference.
The KitchenAid is overall more compact, but considering you have to access the back power button and operate the milk frother to the side, the Breville Bambino Plus is actually slightly more space saving.
We think the Breville Bambino Plus takes a lot of the basic functions of the KitchenAid and does them better. For example, they both claim to have fast heat up and innovative heating technologies, but the Bambino delivers on that with a 3-second heat up time while the KitchenAid has a 45-second heat up.
The steam wand on the Bambino is faster, has adjustable milk temperature, auto-purges for easy cleaning, and best of all is hands-free and completely automatic.
The KitchenAid has a traditional manual steam wand, and you’ll have to spend an extra $100 to get KitchenAid’s automatic milk frothing attachment.
Both use a pre-infusion, but the Bambino Plus uses 9 bars of pressure while the KitchenAid markets itself to have 15 bars of pressure. The only reason you’d really need 15 bars is if you’re trying to pressure profile somewhere between 9 and 11 bars, and that’s quite an advanced technique. The standard is to operate at 9 bars, and the KitchenAid is also operating at 9 bars even if its capabilities are technically 15, so this isn’t necessarily a win for KitchenAid.
Which model should you get?
These two beautiful machines are featured on our top-rated budget espresso machines under $500 – excellent value for the money. With the KitchenAid we’d recommend purchasing the automatic milk frothing attachment, and with the Bambino Plus we’d recommend you purchase a higher quality portafilter. Considering that it comes down to two things: features and aesthetics.
If you want an attractive machine that is KitchenAid brand and could potentially match all your other appliances, then you’d go for the KitchenAid. If you want more quality-of-life features or you’re a novice that needs more safeguards in place for consistent shot pulling, you want the Breville Bambino Plus.
After exploring what this model has to offer, we have to say we’re impressed. While there are machines out there with more quality-of-life advancements, the KitchenAid KES6503SX Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine (view on Amazon) has all you need.
And, it has some surprising standout features, namely its highbrow, stylish 58mm portafilter.
It’s a solid machine that can pull solid shots if you’re an intermediate level home barista, and it looks sophisticated and compact on the countertop.