You grind the coffee, tamp the coffee, and press a button. Here's the main difference: You don't have to press the coffee again to stop the flow of water. The machine uses an internal timer to cut off the shot after a certain amount of time - usually 25-30 seconds. Additionally, automatic espresso machines have automatic pumps and volume. Programmable buttons are used to preset the volume so the user can press a single button to pull an espresso shot. These machines are recommended for any installation looking for consistency among users.