A good cup of coffee is essential in starting the day right, but there’s not always the time to wait in line at the coffee shop or to wait for a slow at-home machine. What every home needs is a super-automatic espresso machine, and finding the right one is no easy task.
There is a delicate balance in finding the perfect machine, pick the right one and your mornings are off to a great start with the perfect cup of coffee. But if the coffee comes out watery, thin, and with the distinct taste that you just wasted over $900, then that is when you know you have chosen wrong.
This article aims to set out a list of the best automatic espresso machines that are guaranteed to be worth every penny spent. Look out closely for a top tip when buying that will help you save hundreds of dollars.
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What is an Automatic Espresso Machine?
There are many names for coffee machines on the market right now, from Super-Automatic espresso machines to bean-to-cup machines, but it is important to know that they all provide the easiest, and best way to enjoy a quick coffee, espresso, latte, cappuccino, and more. Not only are they quick, similar to a Keurig, but they provide much better quality as they use freshly ground coffee beans compared to pre-ground, overpriced coffee.
How Does an Automatic Espresso Machine Work?
Automatic espresso machines are relatively high-end, technical machines that have many built-in features such as a grinder to get the coffee-making process starting, a tamp and brew system, an automatic milk frother, with some even going as far to include a cup warmer for your coffee mugs. Those who use super-auto machines can get their perfect cup of coffee with very little effort and are undoubtedly spoilt by the ever-adapting coffee machine technology. However, with all these built-in features, it is the internal brew group that is the most clever of all.
Known as the “mini barista” here at Whole Latte Love, brew groups are basically like a little barista compacted into the machine. Once the beans have been finely ground, the brew group packs the coffee ground into a puck-like shape and deposits it into the drawer. With all the hard work done for you, all that is left is to place your favorite mug under the spouts and with a press of a button, your coffee is ready to be dispensed.
Ideal for both home and office life, super-automatics allow the user to get a great cup of coffee any and every time they need it, all with the press of a button. Not only this, but they cut out the hassle of trying to find the right coffee shop, and are easily assembled and ready to go straight from the box. If you are in love already, or still a little on the fence about buying, then keep reading and we will let you know exactly what to look for in a super-automatic espresso machine.
How to Choose the Right Machine for Your Needs
It is extremely important to read through this article carefully, as you do not want to waste money on a fancy machine that does not give you what you want. So, how do you know which super-automatic espresso machine is right for you? There are a few things that we will talk about that are important to look out for but do remember that this list is not talking about Nespresso machines, as they are not quite the quality machines we are talking about.
Programmability – How Much Do You Need?
Programmability relates to how much you can control the brewing process within your machine. Yes, the main selling point of super-automatic espresso machines is their ability to do all the hard work for you, however, many models have settings or pre-programmed options for you to choose from. Some of these choices may include temperature, shot strength, or grind size, but not every super-automatic espresso machine offers these options and simply run on a standardized program. If you are the type of person who likes to customize their coffee depending on the day, then opting for a machine with a high level of programmability is the best option.
Brew Group – Built-in or Not?
As this is where the actual brewing happens, brew groups are the most important part of any espresso machine. If you are not sure what the brew group is, it is the mechanism at the front of the machine that carries the hot pressurized water into the filter basket. If you are using a semi-automatic or manual machine, the brew group is what the portafilter connects to. It is possible to buy a machine that has a detachable brew group, which allows for easier cleaning or easier inspection should something go wrong. If your machine has a built-in brew group then it is most likely self-cleaning, which saves you the hassle of cleaning it yourself. If you like to be able to be responsible for the care and maintenance of your machine, then opt for one with a detachable brew group.
Want Your Milk Steamed Automatically?
Many machines rely on an automatic function built into the machine that allows for the steaming and frothing of milk, this is usually used when making lattes, cappuccinos, etc. If your machine does not come with a built-in function, then you are going to have to do it yourself with a steam wand. Getting a machine that does the steaming and frothing automatically saves on time, so if you are a busy person, then opt for a machine that has a built-in system.
Water Tank and Bean Hopper Capacity
Depending on how big of a machine you get, the capacity level can vary. There a few different capacity levels such as the size of the water tank and the milk carafe, the bean hopper can also come in varying sizes, the bean grinder feeds the whole coffee beans into the grinder. The capacity of your machine is what determines how much coffee can be dispensed before needing to be refilled. This decision needs to be needs-based, if it is just for you at home, a smaller machine will work fine, but if you are looking to buy for the office or a home with multiple coffee drinkers, you need a larger capacity machine. There are some machines that may only dispense a small number of shots before needing to be refilled, while others will easily churn out larger amounts.
How is One Machine Different from the Others?
There are several things that all super-automatic espresso machines have in common, for one, they are all automatic (duh), so they are all easy-to-use, with pre-programmed options for maximum efficiency. But finding the best machines comes down to you. They need to have that one special thing that makes them the best machine for you, this could be that they are well-designed, easy to maintain, or simply that they offer your preferred way to drink coffee. For example, see if you fall into any of the below categories:
- The Latte Lover – Find a machine that has milk-based drinks, not all machines offer them. Find one that does!
- The Frothing Wizard – Want to froth your milk to your desired airiness? Get a machine that comes with a frothing wand!
- The Coffee Captain – In charge of making coffee for your whole team? Make sure you find a machine with a high-capacity water reservoir!
- The Cappuccino Coder – You have your coffee down to an exact science, and know exactly how you like it. Get a machine with advanced programming options so you get the perfect cup every time!
Moving on to the actual machines, the Gaggia Brera is a compact machine, which makes it perfect for smaller kitchens. Despite its smaller stature, the company has ensured that the Brera is fully optimized for users; the water tank, the dregs drawer, and the drip tray are easily accessible which makes for simple, swift maintenance and easy, regular cleaning. As well as this, Brera’s beverage selection and machine programming allow the user to navigate through the options easily, and users will be impressed by the range of options that this small machine has to offer.
The advanced programming allows for users to customize the volume, strength, and coffee aroma of their desired beverage. And there is no need to worry about wastage, as the ceramic grinder uses the company’s Adapting System, allowing the RPMs to be adjusted to dispense just the right amount of coffee grounds. If you are looking for something powerful, as well as aesthetically pleasing, look no further than the Gaggia Brera, with its chrome-plated accents, and stainless-steel front panel, that comes in both black and silver, it makes the perfect counter-top machine. Thanks to the bypass doser, the Brera can easily prepare a wide range of caffeinated and decaffeinated drinks, and with the inclusion of the machine’s Rapid Steam Technology and Panarello Wand, macchiatos and cappuccinos are easily brewed as well.
With over 75 years of experience in the business, the new Gaggia Anima is a top-range machine that embodies the history of tradition and soul while still providing new and innovative technology. Designed to embrace both tradition and modernity, the Anima’s design is both distinctive and elegant, which allows it to outlive design trends and fads that crop up in the market. Not only does it have a sleek design, but the Anima is easy to use with a digital display and designated drink buttons, so whether you are craving a cappuccino, or an espresso shot, the Anima can be easily programmed to give you exactly what you want.
As for what is on the inside, the Anima has a ceramic burr grinder, which comes with five settings to change the blend and roast of your drink, and there is also an option to brew per-ground coffee when using the bypass doser. The Anima’s brew group is patented by the company, ensuring quality, which also makes for easy cleaning and maintenance, on top of this, the digital display will alert you to when maintenance is required, so no need for constant worrying and taking the machine apart for no reason. As well as all this, the Anima also has features such as pre-infusion, a sixty-ounce water reservoir, Rapid Steam Technology, an adjustable coffee dispenser, and a standby mode to help keep energy consumption low.
Gaggia Anima Deluxe
Much like its smaller counterpart, the Anima Deluxe has features such as five different grind settings, Rapid Steam Technology, and the ability to skip the grinding process with the bypass doser. The Anima Deluxe also includes pre-infusion, the sixty-ounce water reservoir, and automatic standby mode, but what sets it apart from the regular Anima is the pre-soaking feature, which enhances the coffee’s natural flavors and aromas, making it a favorite with coffee aficionados. It combines both modern and traditional designs, which brings the feel of a European café to any kitchen, and the combination of manual and digital display makes for simple and fool-proof brewing. The detachable brew-group and programmable descaling cycle allow for regular cleaning and maintenance.
Gaggia RI8762 Anima Prestige
The Gaggia RI8762 Anima Prestige is a top-of-the-range espresso machine, with an auto-frothing milk carafe that allows for a thick and creamy frothed milk which is perfect for lattes and cappuccinos. Much like the other Anima models, the Gaggia RI8762 has five different grind settings to customize the blend and roast of your espresso, and like the original Anima, the Gaggia RI8762 features a ceramic burr grinder. A ceramic burr grinder is essential in preserving the classic great taste of coffee without allowing any of the burned taste to slip through.
Featuring the patented removable brew group, the Gaggia RI8762 is easily cleaned, and with the LCD display letting you know when the machine requires maintenance, this model is simple to clean and maintain. If you want extra reassurance that your machine is working to the best of its ability, there is an option to program a descaling cycle that will ensure maximum functionality and reliability from the Gaggia RI8762. The machine also has many of the features seen in other Anima models, such as pre-infusion, a sixty-ounce water reservoir, and the Gaggia RI8762 features an adjustable coffee dispenser with a maximum height of 5.9 inches. Overall, the Gaggia RI8762 is a great espresso machine that will fit into any kitchen and will be loved by all.
Gaggia 1003390 Accademia
Looking to up your espresso game? Then the Gaggia 1003390 Accademia is the machine for you. The bright display is responsive while the overall design of the machine is sleek but still charming, fit with a durable metal frame, and a stainless-steel front panel. On top of this, the Gaggia 1003390 Accademia features programmable buttons for milk, hot water, and espresso outputs, which is perfect for those who do not like to wait for their drinks to be ready.
The Gaggia 1003390 Accademia has seven total buttons which prepare each of the following drinks: hot water, latte macchiato, latte, cappuccino, café lungo, café, and of course, espresso. The pre-brewing system makes for maximum flavor extraction and allows you to program the coffee quantity from seven to ten cups. It also ensures that the beans are ground to perfection due to the ceramic burr grinder with a double lid aroma saver and integrated bean hopper.
Gaggia Ri9700/64 Babila
The Super Automatic Gaggia Babila includes features and capabilities seen in fully automatic machines. It has eight drink choices, including, espressos, cappuccinos, lattes, and more, and has many options for customization. You can customize each drink, to either your taste or the specific beans you would like, which makes the Gaggia Babila a perfect hybrid of automation and customization, leading it to be a truly unique machine.
The level of customization allows the user to precisely control the extent of extraction, and whether you would like a light or strong cup of espresso. This customization cuts out the risk of creating a drink with an unpleasant flavor due to the extraction of tannins or other impurities. And it is not just the customization that makes the Gaggia Babila the best choice, the cleaning and maintenance is also top of the range. The brew unit is completely removable for easy cleaning, and the Gaggia Babila features an automatic rinse and descales cycle for quick and hassle-free maintenance.
Created with durability and reliability in mind, (backed by Gaggia’s 2-year warranty), the Gaggia Babila is truly the best of both worlds and leads the way in both automation and the ability to customize your drinks.
DehLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica
Well known in the world of coffee machines, DeLonghi has managed to create a product that is going to satisfy the needs of even the most prestigious coffee drinkers. The DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica comes equipped with a built-in burr grinder, which ensures that the coffee beans are ground immediately to make the freshest beverage of choice. Alongside this, the double boiler system cuts down on the wait time between espresso and steam, meaning your coffee is ready in no time.
On top of the double boiler system, the DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica also has a patented cappuccino system, allowing for thick and creamy milky froth for cappuccinos and lattes. The DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica includes a sixty-ounce water tank, which is removable, and an electronic coffee and steam thermostat. The machine is also incredibly smart, if not used for an hour, the machine will enter sleep mode, and if not used for three hours, the machine will turn over to save energy.
DehLonghi ECAM23260SB Magnifica
The DeLonghi ECAM23260SB Magnifica seems to do the impossible, by including high-end features in such a small, stylish machine, that fits perfectly on your countertop. The DeLonghi ECAM23260SB Magnifica is just like magic in how it can go from bean to drink at the simple push of a button.
One of the key features of the Magnifica is the LatteCrema system, which creates thick, rich, long-lasting foam to ensure perfectly layered espresso beverages in every cup. The whole machine is designed with easy maintenance in mind and includes a stainless steel burr grinder which makes for top-quality coffee. If you are looking for a fully automatic machine with easy controls all wrapped up in a compact package, then the DeLonghi ECAM23260SB Magnifica is for you. With this machine, you can enjoy world-class espressos, cappuccinos, macchiatos, and creamy lattes all from the comfort of your own home.
The perfect machine for parties or large gatherings, the DeLonghi ECAM22110SB’s Rapid Cappuccino System allows for quick and efficient production of cappuccinos with little to no wait time in between. Even novice coffee machine users will find the rotary control system and user interface easy to use and be able to create café-quality drinks with one press of a button. Much like the Magnifica, this machine is compact and ideal for countertops in the kitchen.
Full extraction of flavor is possible due to a special button on the machine which releases the water gradually so that saturation of the coffee beans occurs slowly. And thick, creamy, froth is created by the built-in frother that seamlessly blends steam and milk to ensure the perfect foam every time. All detachable parts are dishwasher safe which makes for easy cleaning, and the built-in water filtration system allows users to use tap water for brewing, maximum convenience.
DehLonghi EN670.B Nespresso Lattissima
If you are looking to create perfect cappuccinos every time without the hassle, then the Lattissima is the machine for you. Activate the hot milk system with a press of a button, without having to move your cup to ensure a perfectly frothed drink. The milk container is easily cleaned, with a built-in cleaner that is activated with a single-touch button located on the front of the machine.
Wait time in between preparing different drinks, such as cappuccinos and espressos, is cut down due to the double boiler system. Espresso shots are poured easy, and fast, with one touch of a button, and the included sliding drip tray easily accommodates latte cups. The DeLonghi Nespresso Lattissima uses a patented coffee capsule system, making disposal easy, and Nespresso offers a variety of capsule flavors that suit every taste.
Breville Oracle Touch
The Breville BES990BSS Oracle Touch is truly one of the highest quality espresso machines, there is no other machine on the market that can match the quality of coffee produced by the grinder. The BES990BSS is a professional model and is perfect for at-home brewing, or in an office space. You can opt to pay extra money for assurance of better reliability and functionality. It is a fully automated process from start to finish, starting with the dosing and tamping of coffee grounds, through whipping up the creamy milk froth for the top of drinks, and ending with the automatic cleaning of the cappuccinatore.
The Oracle Touch is truly a unique machine, with three separate heating elements including a steam boiler, a brewing unit, and a water boiler. The multiple elements vastly improve the speed of the brewing process, and you can prepare drinks simultaneously, eliminating waiting times completely. Coffee flavor is ensured to be the highest degree of quality due to the heating process, both the digital temperature control and the brew unit heating element guarantee to bring out the coffee’s natural aroma and taste. Not only this but the BES990BSS is miles ahead of any competitors with its burr grinder, conical in shape, it has 45 different grind sizes to pick from, this machine has the most choices of any machine on the market.
The machine comes with six pre-programmed drinks, including cappuccino, americano, latte, espresso, and more. There is also the option to save your own personalized drinks and program them into the machine. The touchscreen display makes the Oracle Touch extremely easy to use, with the option to change settings, and pick your drink with one press. It is also extremely efficient, users have the ability to select a time for the machine to begin heating up, meaning the machine will be able to brew your coffee as soon as you wake up.
Jura E8 Chrome
If you are looking for high-end coffee shop quality drinks, then the Jura E8 is the perfect machine for you. It is able to prepare 10 different drinks and is designed with milk-based coffees in mind. The milk frother is automatic, ensuring perfect creamy foam every single time. You no longer need to travel down to the coffee shop to get the perfect latte macchiato, cappuccino, or flat white, you have them right at your fingertips at home.
The machine also offers incredible quality coffees, especially the espresso and the ristretto, many people who have used the machine have commented on the richness of the espresso in particular. The extraction time has been optimized due to the technology used to build the machine, and the TFT display makes it easy to use. In-depth information is displayed on the screen at the front of the machine, giving instructions on what to do and when to do it, making the Jura E8 incredibly user-friendly.
Jura S8 Super Automatic Espresso Machine
The Jura S8 Automatic is a highly in-demand machine, created by a brand known for its quality machines, many coffee enthusiasts strive for owning a Jura machine. This level of quality is demonstrated in the cleaning abilities of this machine, it is a self-cleaning machine, meaning you do not have to waste time manually cleaning all the parts. This feature earned a 5/5 rating from critics, so you know that you are getting real quality.
The frothing feature on the Jura S8 earned a 4/5 rating, the milk is frothed completely by the machine, guaranteeing the perfect consistency of creamy goodness. The machine comes with a special technology that ensures a soft and airy milk froth for every coffee. You will be hard-pressed to find a machine with this feature that is as high in quality.
When picking an automatic espresso machine, one of the most important features to take into account is the quality of the grinder. Fit with a stainless steel burr grinder, the Jura S8 ensures that there is a constant grind of beans that is silent, meaning no obnoxiously loud coffee machine. The grinder on the Jura S8 earned a 3/5 rating.
Jura 13626 Ena Micro 1
While large in price, this machine is certainly little in size. Taking up a micro amount of space on the countertop, the ENA 1 weighs in at just under 20lbs. With a modern and slim design, this machine is sure to modernize and add class to any kitchen it is added to.
With a few touches of a button, you can easily select your cup size – ristretto, espresso, or simple black coffee – and choose between two different aromas, which is basically how strong your coffee will be. The internal burr grinder ensures fresh coffee that is ground to perfection every time and produces a rich flavor while maintaining an even grind size. And if you are worried about what kind of effect your caffeine habit is having on the environment, the ENA 1 uses coffee pods that are less harmful, and uses less power, thanks to its automatic power-down feature.
If you are not looking to break the bank over a coffee machine, then try out the Philips 1200-Series model. The main selling point of the machine is the Aroma Extract feature, which balances aroma extraction and the brewing temperature. This ensures that every shot of espresso dispensed from the machine is the highest possible quality, with no intervention from you needed. You can change the volume and strength of your coffee to suit your liking easily, and your drink will still be top quality thanks to the Aroma Extract.
If you are the type of drinker who likes to be completely in control of how their drink tastes, the 1200-Series comes with a 12 step grinder. Made from ceramic, it ensures that the beans do not overheat, and produces a smooth grind no matter the size. Not only does this machine produce top-notch espressos, but it also comes with a steam wand for frothing milk. The quality of the froth, like everything else the machine produces, is extremely high, it is thick and creamy and customizable to your preference. The one drawback, and it is a small one, is that the machine does not combine the coffee and the milk automatically, so you will have to do this yourself. But the steam wand is detachable for easy cleaning, and the brew group is equally as easy to clean.
What kind of drinks can a Super-Automatic Espresso Machine produce?
The buying guide pointed out that when looking for an espresso machine, looking at what kind of drinks they make is the most essential part. You need to know that the machine can produce your favorite drink just as you like it. We’re going to look at some of the drinks most machines can make below in more detail.
Espresso – A strong drink that is served in a small volume, and usually with crema, it is made from finely ground coffee beans that are brewed with high water pressure. The ratio of ground coffee to freshly brewed drink should be around 1:2.
Americano – Named during World War II, when US troops had occupied Italy, Americanos originate from espressos. It is said that the US soldiers would water down their espressos because they were much too strong for them, they wanted their coffee to resemble filter coffee in taste, as that is what they were used to.
Latte – Commonly miscredited, lattes did not originate from Italy. When lattes were first introduced, they were intensely strong and bitter, and it was not well received. With the addition of milk, the taste became more bearable, lattes generally have more milk in them, but less foam than a cappuccino does.
Cappuccino – Mostly known for its thick, creamy foam on the top, a cappuccino is espresso-based. The addition of the steamed milk, whipped up into a froth, is what sets a cappuccino apart from other drinks.
Ristretto – Similar to an espresso, in that they use the same amount of ground coffee beans, ristrettos use half as much water as an espresso. This results in a deep, rich, and aromatic taste, with a dense layer of foam on the top. When brewing a ristretto, you should only use freshly ground coffee beans.
Lungo – A lungo is less strong than an espresso, but has a more bitter taste. Varieties of coffee beans that have more delicate tastes and aromas are the most suitable choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long does it take for an automatic espresso machine to heat up?
Depending on how much the machine costs, the time to reach the ideal temperature varies. Cheaper machines could take between 5 to 10 minutes, but they could possibly be made with low-quality materials, aluminum, for example. More expensive machines, that are made with high-quality metal, may take longer to heat up, you’re looking at 20 minutes minimum. This seems like a long time, but for the quality of the drink you are getting, it is worth it.
Q: How easy is it to use an automatic espresso machine in the morning?
This directly relates to the heat up time of your machine, it can be frustrating if you are running late and your coffee is not ready for the time you have to leave. If this is your main concern, think about getting a machine that comes with a start-up timer, this allows you to select what time you want your machine to start heating up. So by the time you are out of bed and down to the kitchen, your coffee is ready to go.
Q: What is a heat exchanger in an automatic espresso machine?
A heat exchanger system is responsible for heating up the water used for brewing, it transfers heat from the main boiler of your machine. It is a simple metal tube, for water to flow through, it allows the water to heat up to the preferred temperature, which is usually 100 degrees celsius.
Q: What is the lifespan of an automatic espresso machine?
If you are taking regular care of your machine and making sure it is clean and well maintained, your machine should last for a minimum of 10 years. Durability can be altered based on the usage of your machine, but some reports have shown machines to last for more than 15 years.
It may seem like a difficult task, trying to find a machine that fits your specific preferences and needs, but this article is written to try and provide valuable insight on all the different factors. After you have looked through various machines, checking for features you would like, and reading the reviews, you should be in a good position to pick out a machine that will satisfy your inner coffee fiend.