Not everyone has the skills to draw off a perfect double espresso. It takes time, effort, and practice to cup a finely crafted espresso beverage. While learning the art of fine coffee in time honored European fashion is a worthwhile endeavor, not everyone has the time.
For those who crave barista crafted perfection in the comfort of their own home, there are highly specialized automatic espresso machines that allow you to make your own espresso beverages in the comfort of your own home. Given the available options and your own discriminating taste, how do you choose the right one? Here’s what to look for in top quality super automatic espresso machine, and our top three picks.
What To Look For in a Super Automatic Espresso Maker
There are certain features you definitely don’t want to pass up when it comes to your super automatic espresso machine. If you are making an investment this significant in getting your perfect morning coffee fix, you need to get it right the first time. Here are the features that matter most to discriminating espresso lovers:
Custom Programming Options
Love your espresso extra hot? Want your brew strength something between light and medium strong? You need a machine with programmability, and you need to make sure that your machine can make your coffee the way you want automatically.
No one buys a super automatic espresso machine because they want to spend a week or two “learning the ropes”. Ask yourself this question: how many buttons do I have to push for the espresso to come out the way I want it to? The fewer the better is the best answer here.
Built In or Removable Brew Group
As with any high quality complex machine, there is a certain amount of maintenance required on a regular basis to keep it in good working order. One of the primary aspects of how much maintenance your super automatic espresso machine needs is whether the brew group (part of the machine that makes the espresso) is a removable or non-removable.
Some machines have automatic cleaning and non-removable brew groups, while others require you to periodically remove and clean parts yourself. Not the hands on, fix it yourself type? Get a self-cleaning model with no detachable brew group. Don’t trust automatic cleaning? Get a removable brew group.
Frothing milk for a latte or cappuccino is a fine art. You aren’t buying a super automatic espresso machine if you plan to learn this fine art. Check to see if it can automatically froth milk to the desired consistency, or if it requires you to manually steam and froth your milk for your morning brew.
How many shots can it make at a time? How many shots can a full water reservoir make? How often do you need to add coffee beans to the hopper? These answers matter a great deal regardless of whether you are using your machine at home or it will be for an entire office to use.
- Fully automated Cappuccino Mode
- Intuitive push-button and rotary controls
- Built-in automatic conical low-pitch coffee grinder
- Double boiler for steaming milk and brewing coffee simultaneously
- Removable brew group makes for easy cleaning after use
Price Range: $
DeLonghi has an exceptional reputation among coffee enthusiasts, and their Magnifica super-automatic espresso machine is no different. From start to finish, these are one-touch operation machines. Want a latte? Push the button. Cappuccino more your speed? Push the button. Your espresso comes out hot and fresh with perfectly steamed or foamed milk ready to go.
Additionally, the brew group is removable for easy cleanup when you’ve finished making coffee, so you don’t need to worry about any potential stale grounds or water being left behind after each shot is drawn off. Add more beans, refill the reservoir, and add your desired type of milk to the frother, and you are ready to go. The Magnifica is an exceptional super-automatic espresso machine that produces perfect espresso and espresso beverages every time.
- Easy to program and use with just a few taps of the control keys
- Built in steamer with automatic settings for steaming/frothing milk
- Removable brew-group for easy cleaning and maintenance
- Requires a little more programming for each cup, doesn’t save presets
- Removable brew-group means no automated cleaning cycle
- Milk steamer chamber must be removed and cleaned after each use
- Ceramic burr grinder with integrated double-seal bean hopper
- Telescopic coffee dispenser allows for coffee cups large and small
- Incredible variety of customization options including temperature, number of cups, brew strength, etc.
- Front emptying spent grounds container
- Presets for every imaginable type of espresso beverage
Price Range: $$$
Possibly the smartest super-automatic espresso machine, the Gaggia 1003380 Accademia Espresso Machine is the ultimate one-touch espresso machine. Using the large LCD display, you can pick your espresso beverage of choice, customize it to your personal preference, and then hit the brew button.
The beans are ground in the ceramic cone burr grinder, then pressed into the correct stainless steel filter before being brewed to perfection. The automatic steamer/frother can whip up a batch of foam or steamed milk to your taste.
You never have to worry about not knowing what to do for a specific cup of coffee ever again: the Accademia already knows how to do it, and it makes espresso every bit as good as what you will find in a coffee shop. If you are looking to invest in a push-button-make-my-coffee super-automatic espresso machine, this is the one to buy.
- Fully customizable presets for a wide variety of espresso beverages
- Automatic milk steamer/frother dispenses milk or foam depending on what beverage preset you selected
- Adjustable height dispenser nozzle allows you to use your favorite coffee cup
- Cannot save custom presets, you need to customize temperature etc. every time you brew a cup
- Grounds need to be emptied every few cups
- Automated cleaning cycle is not as thorough as manual cleaning
- Single control operation via rotary switch
- Adjustable coffee dispenser height to fit your favorite mug or cup
- Frother produces and dispenses ultra-fine foam
- Compact size without compromising features, quality, or performance
Price Range: $$
No super automatic espresso maker is perfect, but the Jura Impressa C65 definitely comes close. Twist the knob to select what espresso you want to make, and it brews it up perfectly. Temperature and pressure are expertly maintained by the machine itself, and the milk steamer can whip up some cappuccino foam or add hot water to your evening herbal tea.
Thanks to the integrated conical grinder, your espresso is always ground to perfection and as fresh as humanly possible. The Impress C65 also features pre-brew cycle to properly bloom your grounds so that your espresso doesn’t lose any of the flavor profile of your beans as well.
Just be sure to empty the spent grounds canister and keep the reservoir topped off, and you can have a piping hot espresso or espresso beverage in minutes any time. Best of all, thanks to the adjustable height dispenser you can even use your favorite espresso demitasse cups or coffee mug for lattes and cappuccino. Dial in your preferred strength, press the button, and enjoy.
- Intuitive brewing operation with a single control and start button
- Self cleaning cycle lets you set your Impressa to clean itself while you are out for the day.
- Small footprint means more counter space for your other kitchen appliances
- Does not have an automatic milk frother and dispenser
- Does not have a removable brew group for thorough maintenance
- Not programmable for temperature and steamed/frothed milk
The convenience of high quality espresso whenever you want it is an authentic joy, and the less work it takes for you to get your morning fix the better. Super automatic espresso machines definitely make that process significantly easier, but you need to make sure you pick the right one that meets your needs without over or under spending.
Generally once you’ve used a machine, you can’t return it for a refund, so having the right machine for the money matters. If you are shopping for a model to share in the office, picking the best machine can become a critical issue. With the way office budgets work, you don’t get a second chance: once you’ve got approval and the machine is set up, that’s it: it’s a good fit or it’s an ongoing topic of complaint.
Of the three machines we’ve reviewed, we’d have to say the Delonghi Magnifica is definitely the best value option. It handles all the hard work while still allowing you to customize your favorite espresso beverage the way you like it. All you have to do is pick your preset and press start.
Best of all, thanks to its double boiler the Magnifica preps your milk or foam while your espresso is brewing, keeping everything the perfect temperature until it’s in your cup. Get yourself or the office a Delonghi Magnifica, and take the guesswork out of perfect espresso any time.