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We tested for you the most popular super-automatic espresso machines, on the market. We reviewed side by side Jura Elektroapparate, (Capresso), Gaggia, Saeco, DeLonghi, and Krups. Even though there is no clear winner, we can definitely point plusses and minuses.
The Best Super Automatic Espresso Machine
The super-automatics are a relatively new product on the market. Despite the high price point, their popularity is growing. The reason for this popularity is that the convenience and consistency.
The super-automatics remove the human error factor. They allow us to pull shots faster, with consistent results.
Most espresso aficionados will convince you to get a manual machine. Their argument is that you have more control over the brewing process. Some, however, admit that for them, espresso is not just a cup of coffee is a lifestyle.
For the rest of us, espresso is just a great cup of coffee and a little luxury. This is why a fully automatic espresso machine is the perfect choice.
Super Automatic Espresso Machine Poll
Jura Capresso ENA 9 Automatic
Jura Capresso Ena 9 is a great espresso machine. The major selling point is the features that allow the shot customization. Here are some of those features:
- Programmable water quantity
- Programmable coffee quantity, from 0.5 ounces to 8 ounces
- Option to use ground coffee
- Button selected shot's strength
- 2 years manufacturer warranty
- One button touch latte and cappuccino
Read more about Jura Ena 9 - One Touch.
How To Get The Perfect Espresso Shot?
A perfect espresso shot is the combination of techniques, skills, intuition and good coffee. As a home barista, you first need to perfect your own espresso recipe. Starting from there, you can tweak the recipe. Some people prefer a lungo, other prefer the ristretto, while others will prefer a cafe Americano.
An important indicator of a well-prepared espresso is the crema. If crema is abundant and has the right color and texture, the espresso is good.
There are a few factors that will decide the fate of the espresso. Some are brewing related, and they require a lot of skills. The other important aspect is the coffee beans. Good quality, fresh beans are a must.
Espresso Brewing Factors
While operating a semiautomatic machine, or a manual one you need to master the brewing aspects. Here are the most important ones. (No, you don't care about these when you have a super-automatic.)
The perfect tamp is critical for getting great espresso shots. You need to use the exact amount of pressure and an even distribution in the portafilter. Training tip: start tamping on a scale. When you found the right tamping pressure continue exercising it on a scale until you get the feel of it.
- Grind size
The correct grinding size is critical for espresso brewing. Grind too coarse and you will get no crema. On the other hand, if you grind too fine, the espresso machine will not be able to force the water through the grinds.
- Water Temperature
Preheat your machine before pulling a shot. Pull a blank shot, to warm up the pipes, the portafilter, and the cup. If you have a fully automatic machine, make sure you choose the correct temperature. Play with the temperature: if the water is too hot, it might destroy the delicate coffee accents.
- The Brewing Pressure
The pressure for a great espresso is 9 bar. If your machine is not capable of achieving that pressure, your shot will be average.
- Filter Holder
Keep the empty filter holder inserted in the brewing head. While grinding and warming up the espresso machine, the portafilter will warm up.
- Filter Baskets
The filter baskets are also a critical part of your espresso making. Not all filters are the same, and some are better, some are not so great. You can get great results with one filter basket, and mediocre with another one. Experiment, and follow the manufacturer's instructions. In most cases, using the single filter basket produces better results. Usually, the grind/tamping ratios are different for the different baskets.
- Grinding Machine
Do not even attempt to grind with a blade grinder or a poor grinding machine. A blade grinder will give you an uneven grind. The grind size will vary from powder to coarse, and this will affect your espresso.
Super Automatic Espresso Machines and The Perfect Shot
As a home barista, you need to master all the above techniques to get the right espresso. If you make a little mistake you compromise your shot. As a result, you'll get an average shot. Even if you know what it takes to get your shot right, there is very little room for error. Failed shots are pretty common with beginner baristas. You probably noticed in coffee shops that the shot differs from barista to barista.
This is where a fully automatic espresso machine comes in handy. Once you have set up the machine and tweaked all the settings, you can't go wrong anymore. All preparation steps are fully automated, the dosage, the tamping, the grind size, temperature, extraction time, etc... You can expect consistent results, a great espresso shot every time. Maybe that's why many restaurants decided to go with super automatic machines.
Gaggia Titanium Office Espresso Machine
Gaggia Titanium is a machine, with an impressive feature set, meant to set it on top of its class. Here are some of the great features of the Gaggia Titanium Office:
- A perfect milk steamer
- A grinder with 18 grind settings
- Adjustable brewing temperature
- Pre-programmed buttons for beverage volume
- The bypass doser allows the use of pre-ground coffee
- Large water tank - 60 ounces
- Height adjustable spout
Read this post for a full review of Gaggia Titanium.
SAECO Philips Intelia
Saeco Intelia is extremely easy to use, with a very intuitive interface. It has many adjustments for tweaking the espresso, just the way you like it. Finally, is a lightweight machine, grace to its ceramic grinder.
- Two pre-programmed buttons for quantity selection
- Grinder bypass function - for pre-ground coffee
- Coffee strength adjustment
- Height adjustable spout
- Auto adjust function when you change the beans or the grind settings
- Cappuccino device, manual frothing also possible
- Automatic self-cleaning
Check this page for a more comprehensive review.
Why Do We Need a Super Automatic Espresso Machine
Making an espresso requires skills, experience, and a little time every morning to prepare it. With fully automatic machines, you don't need skills or experience. The machine is going to do all the work for you:
- measure the coffee beans quantity,
- grind the coffee,
- place it on the portafilter,
- tamp it and
- pull the shot to perfection
- dump the spent grounds in a container
You only need to put the beans in the machine and place the cup under the coffee stream. The most sophisticated ones have digital adjustments. You can tweak the size of beverage, temperature, brew time, coffee quantity and grind, and more. But these machines are on the high end of the price range.
There are some negative considerations with fully automatic machines:
- Because of the high automation, they have complex mechanics and they tend to break easier.
- Many machines, need to be used with non-oily beans. Oily beans will clog chutes and other parts.
- You will need to do weekly maintenance if you want to have it for a long time.
- Super-automatic machines are more expensive in comparison with semi-automatics.
DeLonghi ESAM Magnifica
- Great quality burr grinder
- Perfect cappuccino
- Perfect espresso with a smooth taste, and a thick crema layer.
- A reliable machine, compared to other super automatics
- Customizable coffee strength
- Grind size adjustments
- Can be used with ground coffee
- Removable bean container, giving you the option to change the beans anytime.
- Cup warming tray
Read a more comprehensive DeLonghi Esam Magnifica review.
The Beans’ Quality Most Important for the Espresso Shot
The coffee beans are very important in the brewing process. No matter how good and fancy your espresso brewer is, if you use bad beans, the shot will be under average.
- Coffee Freshness
The fresher the beans, the more dense and persistent the crema. Grind only enough for the coffee you make, and just before making your espresso. It takes 15 minutes from the moment you grind, to lose about 50% of the aromas and oils from coffee.
- Coffee Beans Quality
The quality of your beans will decide the taste of your espresso. I prefer Brazilian beans for my espresso. Some people prefer blends, some prefer single origin African beans. Check this post for more espresso bean options.
- Coffee Beans Storage
I store my coffee beans in the freezer. I found that freezing the beans locks in the flavors for extended periods of time. Use an airtight container or zipper bag. Coffee absorbs odors.
The Perfect Espresso Shot
People ask what the perfect shot is. What are the attributes of the perfect shot?
I heard coffee lovers naming Starbucks as the perfect shot. Starbucks' is an okay shot. Their beans are over-roasted, and because of that, the shot is bitter and with an ashy taste.
Some coffee experts have a strict idea of the perfect shot. According to them, you have to use special equipment and special beans. This is only partially true. The perfect espresso shot is a matter of personal taste, but it still needs to fit within some general guidelines.
Whether you like it regular, or ristretto, or long, or Americano, the espresso needs to be smooth. There is some slight bitterness, but it should be very faint. The taste should remind of caramel. If you don't have any idea of the taste, just go to a good coffee shop and order one. Go for a few days, and try to explore different baristas, and different times of the day.
This will give you a great idea. If you don't like it, and you know the coffee shop is a good one, give up, this is not for you. Some people just don't like espresso.
My wife, for instance, will only accept one if there is no other coffee around. At the end of the day, you have to like it, and you should make it your own.
Convenience vs Perfection
As an anecdote, I once failed one of my shots, it happens to everyone. The biggest problem with that cup was that it had almost no crema. I sipped it anyway, I wanted to see how it was. I was absolutely stunned by the taste of that shot. The unique combination of tamping and grind size made that cup more flavorful. It just didn't have enough crema. Never judge an espresso by its looks. This is why some people hate Nespresso with a passion, it is very consistent, and it gives you a great shot with ample crema every time, but it is never fantastic. I love "fantastic", but for the convenience, I settle for good, so Nespresso is one of my favorite coffeemakers. If convenience is what you are looking for mostly, take a look at our article that compares capsule-based espresso machines.
Krups Espresseria Automatic Espresso Machine
Krups Espresseria is a greatly priced espresso machine, with all the features you would ask for from a fully automatic:
- It can brew without any manual interventions
- Adjustments for coffee strength
- Grind size tweaks
- Great looking LCD
- A water filter to ensure quality water
- Auto-Cappuccino set included
Find out more about Krups Espresseria and a full review of the product by following the link.