Understanding Your Machines Components And How To Calibrate Them
Now that Ive whet your appetite, lets dive into how to get the most out of your super automatic espresso machine.
Even though it almost goes without saying, Ill say it anyway: on highly automated appliances like these, the quality of your components not only will determine your machines life span and value but also the quality of what you get in your cup.
The other half of the equation is settings. Otherwise, youre just chucking beans, water and milk in a cup and hoping for the best.
For that reason, Im going to walk you through dialing in your machine and weave in important insights about the components in question at the same time.
Before getting into that, Ive put together a list of must-haves based on my reviewing experiences. After all, fully automatic espresso machines are all about convenience with a capital C. These things go a long way to achieving that, so try and make sure your chosen model ticks all the boxes:
How To Choose The Best Espresso Machine For You
Selecting the best espresso machines for you comes down to 3 considerations: how much space you have in your kitchen, the size of your budget, and how much work you want to put into the brewing process.
Below we describe the four types of machines so you can decide which is best for you.
Manual: These handsome and expensive machines have a lever that you pull to deliver a shot of espresso. With a manual espresso maker, you have complete control and can produce your ideal cup but also have the best chance of messing up. We think that theyâre best left to professionals or serious coffee connoisseurs.
Semiautomatic: This type, which has an electric pump is the most popular. It allows you to do the grinding and tamping yourself but the motor gives consistent flow and pressure. You control the quantity of espresso in your cup by stopping the extraction process. Most semiautomatics have a steam wand or other mechanism for heating and frothing milk and some have a built-in grinder as well. Those without a grinder are generally the most compact and least expensive. You can find a good machine in this category for under $500.
Other features to consider
In addition to the built-in conveniences mentioned above, like burr grinders and steam wands, many espresso machines also come with some added accessories, like scoops and tampers to get your measurements just right. All of these extras and more are highlighted in our selections above.
What Is A Portafilter
You will quickly come across this term when searching for espresso-cappuccino machines, and it may very well be unfamiliar, especially for those who have only owned drip machines before. A portafilter is the handheld basket that you attach to the machine in order to brew. Also referred to as a group handle, portafilters are commonly seen in coffee shops and typically have a stainless steel basket attached to a black plastic handle. The quality of a portafilter will certainly affect the quality of espresso. Portafilters can be purchased in two varieties: pressurized, which is great for beginners, and non-pressurized, which is ideal for those who want more hands-on control over their espresso.
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Best Super Automatic Espresso Machine Design
A super automatic espresso machine is not an appliance that you hide in a cupboard.
No, its going to sit on the counter because youre using it all the time more than the toaster, for sure. Thats reason enough to want a machine thats a treat for the eye and the palate.
Like coffee, design is a matter of taste. Even so, Juras won a slew of design accolades, so its not just me.
The almost $1,900 ENA 8 garnered the prestigious 2019 Red Dot Award. Among the reasons the international jury gave for its choice were the:
Sleek styling on the compact, one-cup machine and its cylindrical water tank, which takes its cue from crystal carafes.
My personal fave is the roughly $800 Jura A1 in Piano White.
And if your all-out devotion to minimalist aesthetics has practically earned you a Scandinavian passport, expect to fall hard for this machine, too.
Hopefully, your purist belief in uncluttered simplicity also extends to your coffee preferences because the Jura A1 has no milk system and only makes a limited menu of black specialties.
In fact, the lack of a milk system is just another example of the machines pared-down design.
And since theres no need for a cavity to accommodate a carafe or bulging milk wand and hose attachments, nothing interrupts the machines clean lines. Even the bean hopper is seamlessly recessed into the top which is also where youll find the touch panel.
Best Customizable Option Saeco Picobaristo Super Automatic Espresso Machine
If you love brewing espresso drinks in a manner that suits your own taste preferences then you need a programmable machine. This model by Saeco allows you to adjust the length and strength of the coffee and has the option of ten grind size settings to chose between. You can also save your preferred settings so you get the perfect espresso every time.
An AquaClean filter helps reduce the need to descale this machine and makes for great-tasting coffee. The grinder is made with ceramic burrs which are not only extremely tough and durable but will never overheat and affect the coffee flavor.
The boiler heats up extremely quickly so you dont have to wait around for your coffee. The only downside I could find with this machine is the housing is plastic so gathers dust and watermarks easily. Its easy to clean and doesnt affect the brewing process but doesnt look as sturdy as a stainless steel model.
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How Often Should You Descale An Espresso Machine
You should descale your espresso machine as often as recommended by the manufacturer. A lot of newer models come with an indicator that will let you know when its time to descale your espresso machine. Here are some more tips on descaling.
Jovana Ddomestic coffeeYes, it was love at first sight. too darkJUMP TO:
Jura E6 Automatic Coffee Center
Another great bean-to-cup machine, the Jura E6 delivers a consistently delicious espresso at the push of a button. It has six specialty drink options and a built-in milk frother. Its not fully automated in the sense that it pours a latte for you, you do have to layer milk drinks manually but the frother makes this a simple task.
It only produces milk foam so a flat white isnt really an option with this machine but lattes, latte macchiato, and cappuccino are simple to brew with this machine.
The pulse extraction process optimizes the brew cycle so you get a thick crema and delicious, full flavor with every espresso. A built-in water filter minimizes the need for descaling and strength settings give you the option to brew a perfect cup every time.
The only downside with this machine is theres no by-pass option for using pre-ground coffee. Whole beans do give a rich and fuller flavor so this is maybe not such a bad thing?
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What Features Do You Want
Part of your budget consideration should include what features are essential and which are just nice to have. There is a broad spectrum of features available in super-automatic espresso makers, some of which might not interest you. You dont want to spend some of your budget on features that will get little to no use.
Dont Forget Customer Service
Something that people often overlook is the reliability of a companys customer service. Super-automatic espresso machines are complex, and even the highest quality and most expensive ones will experience malfunctions every once in a while. When your machine isnt working as intended, you want to be sure that there is dependable customer service assistance available. We recommend calling a companys customer service number before you purchase one of their machines. Long hold times or rude operators are a major red flag.
When you get in contact with someone from customer service, ask about the availability and cost of replacement parts. Some manufacturers offer lifetime warranties that provide replacement parts free of charge. Knowing that you have recourse in case there is a problem down the road goes a long way to mitigate the possibility of buyers remorse.
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Double Features: It Takes Two Or Does It
When investigating super automatic espresso machines, you can quickly find yourself not just dreaming big but double. Along the lines of:
- What about making two drinks at once?
- What about a dual-bean compartment?
I get a lot of questions about how flexible and well-housebroken these machines are, and those two come up most often. Anybody who doesnt just drink coffee all by themselves but enjoys sharing a cup with family or friends can appreciate the value of being able to make two drinks at once.
While this feature is typically available in the mid-range models like the DeLonghi Dinamica youre often limited to coffee drinks without milk.
Yep, its nice to have, but is it a deal breaker? Not in my book. I mean, the fact that each drink comes out perfectly counts for more.
Of course, the bigger the household, the more important this is. No one wants to be third in line, waiting impatiently, as the person at the machine fusses over their Latte Macchiato.
Another place Ive noticed this two is better than one thinking in higher-end machines is with bean hoppers. If one person in the household drinks regular coffee and the other sticks to decaf, its easy to see how two hoppers could nip a lot of hassles in the bud.
Some of you will point to the powder chute that you can use for the pre-ground stuff. No, and no again. Skip ahead to the next section and read the Coffeeness First Commandment, please.
Under $1: Delivering On Promise Not Compromise
Welcome to the Goldilocks Zone for super automatic espresso machines.
The price isnt too hot to burn a big hole in your bank balance, and the levels of convenience, quality and design dont leave you cold. Of course, youll get more if you pay more.
The $1,100 price tag on the Gaggia Anima Prestige and its rival for your favor, the Saeco PicoBaristo, get you a great machine with few compromises on core functionality.
Despite appearing to be two very different machine brands, this showdown is a case of a rose by any other name is still a rose. Both brands fall under the Philips group and share a number of features, including integrated ceramic-burr grinders, removable brew units, bypass dosers for pre-ground coffee and intuitive user interfaces.
Then again, both are also slightly disappointing in only allowing for a single user profile to store your preferences.
This challenging game of spot the difference doesnt end there, either.
Each machine is housed in generous quantities of stainless steel and has a compact footprint, thanks to automatic milk carafes that slot into the front of the machine. And while youll get good froth from both machines, the Saeco PicoBaristo also allows you to customize this the Gaggia doesnt.
The PicoBaristo also maintains its edge with a greater range of drink options.
Yes, each has a high-quality, ceramic grinder, but the Gaggia Anima Prestige only offers five settings to its counterparts 10.
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How Do I Ensure A Thick Crema When Brewing Espresso
To get a lovely thick crema you need to strike a balance between grind setting, tamping, and beans used. If the beans are too coarse or not tamped firmly enough then the coffee ends up thin and lacking in crema. A rich, dark roast choice of coffee bean can help create more crema as the oils released in the longer/hotter roasting process add to this fatty layer on top of the espresso.
How Do I Choose A Fully Automatic Espresso Machine
Consider the machine and how well made it is. A user-friendly interface is a must and the ability to customize the settings is really useful. Consider the milk frothing system, how easy is it to use, and does it have a cleaning cycle? Make sure there are options to adjust grind size and temperature if you really want to get the most out of your machine.
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Are Super Automatic Espresso Machines Worth It
The more features an espresso machine comes with, the more it tends to cost. This can mean that some super automatic espresso machines, which are highly advanced automated models, can be expensive. But are they worth that price?
The answer to that question largely depends on you or your business. Everyone has different needs that may or may not be met by a super automatic espresso machine.
For example, if what you need is the easiest to use espresso machine out there, a super automatic is a good investment. You or your employees will never struggle to learn how to operate the machine and training times will be reduced.
On the flipside, if you want an espresso machine that challenges employees by giving them more control, a super automatic espresso machine likely isnt worth it for you. You need an entirely different type of machine, such as a semiautomatic or automatic espresso machine.
Easy Cleaning By Rinsing Under Running Water
*When the filter is replaced eight times. Replacement interval depends on drink selection and the number of rinse/cleaning operations.
Coffee variety, according to your taste
With Phillips fully automatic coffee machines you can prepare the coffee you want at any time. Enjoy your very own coffee moment at any time – prepared from freshly ground beans and fresh milk.
Enjoying coffee has never been easier
Enjoy a cup of espresso or velvety, creamy coffee specialties such as latte macchiato and cappuccino at the touch of a button.
Velvety, creamy coffee specialties
The LatteGo milk system* offers maximum convenience. It consists of only two parts and no hoses, meaning that can be thoroughly cleaned in seconds. *Only on the 5400, 4300, 3200 and 2200 series
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What Coffee Beans Do You Use For An Espresso Machine Combo
While espresso can be made with any kind of coffee bean, certain characteristics produce a far tastier result. First, the roast. Espresso is generally best with dark roast coffee because darker beans are sweeter, more balanced, and less acidic than light ones. When you come across bags of coffee labeled âespresso roast,â itâs mainly because the beans have been roasted at high temperatures for a long time. Another detail to keep in mind, especially for those who buy pre-ground coffee, is that espresso requires a very fine grind size. If it’s too coarse, your espresso will be weak, watery, and lack crema. Thereâs a chance your go-to coffee beans can brew both drip coffee and espresso, especially if itâs a French or Italian roast, but when in doubt, see what brewing method the brand recommends.
Cleaning Your Super Automatic Espresso Machine
Hygiene should be part and parcel of owning a fully automatic espresso machine from day one. Unfortunately, many users only get around to cleaning when things stop working or the coffee starts tasting bad. By then, it is too late.
Fact: coffee residue and milk with steam create a really nice petri dish for mold and other microbes that can change the taste of your drink, to say the least.
Think about it. You wouldnt drink a Cappuccino out of a cup that hadnt been washed for a week at least I hope not.
I know a lot of you are eyeing the automatic cleaning programs and thinking thats the easy solution. While you should definitely run those regularly, they dont let you entirely off the hook.
The first line of defense against mold and other nasties is cleaning your fully automatic espresso machine at the end of every single day that its in use.
Heres a rundown of my daily routine:
- Rinse out and dry the dregs drawer, drip tray and water tank.
- Clean the milk system.
- Remove the brew unit and rinse it under running water. Leave it to dry overnight.
Honestly, its very simple and only takes a few minutes but can add years to your machines life.
On top of that, anyone who uses their machine every day should give it a thorough clean at least once a week. Just to be clear: that means running a cycle with detergent as well as the daily wiping, flushing and rinsing.
OK enough with the sermon. In the next sections, Ill explain the clean-etiquette for each of your machines parts.
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Philips 3200 Series Fully Automatic Espresso Machine
Philips 3200 is one of the few compact espresso machines you can put to use straight out of the box. Thats because its fully automated and easy to operate. Ever wished to experience exceptional aromatic coffees with zero hassles? If so, look no further!
- 61-ounce water tank
- 8.8-ounce bean hopper
Nearly everything about this unit surpasses normal expectations, beginning with the ceramic burr grinder rated to make you well over 20,000 cups of delicious beverages. On top of that, theres a total of 12 grind settings you can adjust to your specific brewing preferences.
Speaking of preferences, the unit lets you personalize your drink further to your liking. You can modify the temperature, milk and coffee volume, and brew strength to levels you like. The automatic frothing system only intensifies the experience by topping off your brew with a silky-smooth, creamy layer of milk froth.
At first, it may seem a little overwhelming figuring out the controls on the display, but it wont be long before you fully master operating the unit.
- Makes espresso cappuccino, hot water, latte, coffee, americano, and macchiato
- No tubes milk system makes cleaning this machine a breeze
- Makes a variety of coffee drinks
- Easy to personalize your drink to your liking
- Comes with the AquaClean water filter that lets you use the machine at its optimum for long without hiccups
- Aroma seal that keeps the freshness of your beans intact
- Dishwasher safe