As we make it our business and primary focus to discuss and explore the top trends in the coffee world, as well as in the super automatic coffee machines field, we constantly test and review new market arrivals. For this article, in particular, we have decided to review the best super automatic espresso machines out there. We will be talking, of course, about Saeco, Jura Elektroapparate, Gaggia, Krups, and DeLonghi. As we are discussing the absolute top of the field in super automatics, it’s safe to say that we cannot speak of an unparalleled product, but we can certainly present an honest review of these machines.
Regardless of their fairly high price point, super automatics sell more and more across the world. Excluding the human error factor, and providing a consistently excellent espresso through a fast brewing process, super automatics gain more fans every day. While espresso devotees will always recommend a manual machine for your espresso needs, we know that there’s no supreme authority coffee-wise. For those of us who don’t regard the espresso as being an elixir worthy of Greek gods, but just a delicious treat that we enjoy now and again, a fully automatic espresso machine is definitely a safe bet.
Why Is a Super Automatic Espresso Machine Better than a Semiautomatic?
The preparation of an à la carte espresso is certainly no walk in the park, only true espresso connoisseurs being able to reach perfection. Either you’re a professional or home barista, a super automated espresso machine does exactly what it says, it fully automates the espresso process, providing the consistent excellent result we want from this hot beverage. From measuring the coffee beans quantity to grinding the coffee, placing it on the portafilter, tamping it, pulling the espresso shot, and dumping the grounds in the container – none of these steps require any effort from your part. Human input is needed, but the effort is minimum. Placing the cup under the coffee stream, putting the beans in the machine, and some occasional apparatus cleaning will be your tasks when handling a super automatic.
If you’re willing to spend a little more on a super automatic, chances are that you’ll also benefit from several digital adjustment options, such as beverage size, brew time, temperature, coffee quantity, and the list continues.
Of course, nothing is perfect, and fully automated machines don’t make the exception here. The first con would be the price, as super automatic espresso machines cost double, if not triple, the amount you would give for a semi-automatic or manual machine. Also, many machines will require non-oily beans in the purpose of preventing clogging. Now, remember, we’re talking about high automation here, so the chances of a super automatic breaking and needing repairs are definitely higher than with non-automatic or semi-automatic machines.
With all this in mind, let’s take a look at our super automatic espresso machine winners.
SAECO Philips Intelia
An unchallenging super automatic, Saeco Intelia boosts a more than intuitive interface, offering many espresso adjustment options. The classic steel grinder has been replaced with a ceramic grinder, making the Saeco Intelia lighter than most of its counterparts.
- Pre-ground coffee option through the grinder bypass function
- Easy grind setting modifications or bean change through the auto adjust function
- Quantity selection through two pre-programmed buttons
- Straightforward coffee strength adjustment
- Adjustable height spout
- Automatic self-cleaning
- Possibility of manual frosting
- Cappuccino device
Jura Capresso ENA 9 Automatic
Elegant and modern in design, the Jura Capresso ENA 9 comes with extremely nice features that allow for customization and all-round adjustments during the brewing process.
- Espresso shot strength control via selection button
- Programmable water and coffee quantity
- Ground coffee option
- Automatic brew group and frother cleaning
- Cappuccino and latte option through one-touch button
Gaggia Titanium Office Espresso Machine
A stylish super automatic, the Gaggia Titanium incorporates a rich feature set, enabling parameter adjustments to offer the exact result you’re looking for.
- Pre-ground coffee option via bypass doser
- 18 settings grinder
- 60 ounces water tank
- Adjustable height spout
- Adjustable temperature when brewing
- Top notch milk steamer
- Possibility of beverage volume selection through pre-programmed buttons
Krups Espresseria Automatic Espresso Machine
Incorporating all the features you seek in a super automatic, the Krups Espresseria benefits from a smart design and a surprisingly appropriate price.
- Adaptable grind size
- Fully automated brewing process
- Eye-pleasing LCD
- Incorporated water filter
- Auto-Cappuccino set
- Coffee strength adjustment
DeLonghi ESAM Magnifica
Often found in the same discussion with the Krups Espresseria fully automatic, ESAM3300 Magnifica comes at an affordable price without any compromises regarding apparatus quality.
- Adjustable grind size
- Bean change possibility via removable bean container
- Cup tray warmer
- Ground coffee option
- Produces a thick crema layer
- Adjustable coffee strength
- High quality burr grinder
- Cappuccino option
We keep talking about that perfect espresso shot, but no one can actually nominate an espresso that is universally accepted as being the perfect one. The reason for this is very simple. Taste.
However you like your espresso, there are still some characteristics that determine if that’s a good or a bad shot. First off, the espresso has to be smooth. Bitterness does not make for a good espresso; the key here is extremely faint bitterness with caramel undertones. If you’re looking for your perfect espresso, the best way to go about it is by visiting a local coffee shop that is known for serving good espresso. It’s also recommended that you try different baristas. But if you try three or four baristas at places that make good espresso, and you still don’t like it, you should leave it at that. Many people can’t stand espresso or simply don’t prefer it, and you might be one of them.
Either you’re a fan of the Nespresso shot, the Starbucks shot, or of some particular coffee shop espresso, chances are that many people won’t agree with you. Many will say that the perfect espresso can be made only by using special beans and the right professional equipment. There is some truth in that statement, but if we go back to the different people/different tastes aspect of it all, we can’t say that it’s a universal truth.
How to Achieve Espresso Perfection
In order to get that perfect espresso shot, you need a certain set of skills that include different techniques, the adequate roast type, coffee grinding knowledge, and intuition. Either you like café Americano, lungo or ristretto, it’s very important that you first bring your espresso recipe to perfection. Once you have your perfect recipe, you can further modify it to fit different preferences. While different aspects, such as bean quality or brewing method will affect the nature of your final espresso shot, one of the most important factors that determine if your espresso is perfect, average or bad, is the crema. For the perfect espresso, you need an abundant crema that has the proper texture and color.
Quality Coffee Beans
One of the most important things when talking about a perfect espresso is bean quality. The truth is that no matter how professional or expensive your super automatic espresso machine is, without the proper kind of coffee beans, your espresso will be mediocre. We’ve found that espresso Brazilian beans meet all our perfect shot expectations, but feel free to try different sorts of beans as long as they’re of superior quality.
Another key here is bean freshness. It doesn’t take more than 15 minutes from when the beans are grinded for ground coffee to lose almost half of its oils and aromas. The best way to avoid this is to grind the beans just before making the espresso. Another tip here is to grind just the amount of beans you need for that particular serving. Storage also plays an important part in bean freshness, so it’s preferable that you store your beans in an airtight container that you can put in the freezer. Keeping the beans stored in the fridge also makes sense, but by freezing them, the bean flavor will last longer.
Espresso Tips and Tricks
- Grind size
A very important factor in achieving a perfect espresso shot is grind size. If the grind size is too coarse, the espresso will have no crema. If the grind size is too fine, the espresso machine will fail to force water through the grinds. Although not recommended, you can compensate for the grind by adjusting the tamping.
In order to make that perfect espresso shot, you need to pay extra attention to tamping. Using the right amount of pressure while tamping the ground coffee, and making sure that it’s distributed equally in the portafilter can do wonders. Espresso newbies can begin by tamping on a scale. Once the correct tamping pressure is found, further practice on a scale is recommended.
- Brewing Pressure
There is no way that an espresso shot will be good if your machine isn’t able to reach 15 bar. This is the minimum pressure required.
- Water Temperature
When talking about water temperature for a perfect espresso, it’s always recommended that you preheat the machine before actually making the espresso shot. In order to accomplish this, just pull a blank shot to get the pipes, portafilter, and cup warmed up. You can try different temperatures, but make sure that the water isn’t too hot so that the more subtle coffee undertones are preserved. Be sure to select the right temperature if you’re brewing with a super automatic espresso machine.
- Grinding Machine
The tip here is to definitely not try grinding with some average grinding machine or blade grinder. A blade grinder is not sophisticated enough to produce even grinds, and uneven grinds will make for a poor quality espresso.
- Filter Baskets
Yes, the quality of your espresso also depends on the filter baskets that you use. Filters are different depending on the manufacturer, and while one type of filter can bring you great results, on the same machine another type of filter can negatively affect your espresso. While it’s important to have a look at what the manufacturer has to say regarding the filters that you should use, you can find the right filter for your machine simply through the process of trial and error. Usually, the single filter basket is the good choice.
- Filter Holder
Your espresso will also benefit from a preheated filter holder. So leave the filter holder in the brew head while you warm up your machine, and add the filter basket after you’re done with the first blank shot.
We could go on and on about espresso perfection, but as you can already see, making a good espresso shot requires a certain level of mastery. Even the slightest mistake can damage your shot. Yes, there’s an art to making excellent espresso. Unfortunately, improvising is not a part of it. As you can often notice the difference in espresso taste from one barista to another, you can just imagine the level of precision and skill required to perform in this art.
As espresso fans, we are promoting the use of super automatic espresso machines, because we believe that every passionate coffee drinker should be familiarized with good espresso. A fully automatic espresso machine will leave no room for error. Once the machine is properly set up to fit your espresso preferences, it will deliver the exact same result every time. That means that with a single touch of a button you will get the exact same perfect espresso every single time.