What’s the Best Super-Automatic Espresso Machine? We’ll get to the answer shortly, as we review several fantastic machines and discuss many topics to help you decide which model is right for you.
We cover a lot of power tools on our site, such as : chainsaws, portable generators, log splitters and snow blowers, just to name a few. So, to some people it may seem strange that we are also writing an article on Super-Automatic Espresso Machines. Personally, I don’t see a big difference between a power tool and espresso machine. If you look at it objectively, a super-automatic espresso machine is a tool. It’s an electrical device that helps you accomplish a task. I know, it’s considered an appliance but in practice, it’s actually a tool. Our aim to is review tools that make your life easier.
Appliance vs Tool : What’s the difference?
Here’s how the dictionary defines “appliance“: A device or piece of equipment designed to perform a specific task, typically a domestic one.
And here’s the definition of “tool” : A device or implement, especially one held in the hand, used to carry out a particular function.
Do you see a real distinction in the actual definition of these terms?
Alright, let’s get back to why you’re here…
What’s the Best Super-Automatic Espresso Machine?
I’ve heard a lot of people asking: what is a super-automatic espresso maker? It’s certainly a mouthful and has become a common term used when describing espresso machines for the home. People now distinguish between manual, semi-automatic, and super-automatic espresso machines. This review is going to focus on the best super-automatic espresso machines. Though, before I review the fantastic products that we’ve selected, I’d like to shed some light on the topic. What is the difference between a super-automatic espresso maker and the other two options?
Gaggia Anima Prestige | Affordable Super Automatic Espresso Machines
A manual espresso machine is the traditional type that is still used in many coffee shops. They are manual in that you have to do everything, there’s no automation. So this means grinding the coffee beans, as well as setting the temperature and the pressure for the desired results. You tamper the coffee into the basket by hand and then set the volume of water that you require. Everything is done step by step and this requires a good level of skill and experience. Baristas are trained in the art of brewing the perfect espresso and then practice all the techniques until they get it right.
The home user doesn’t necessarily possess the skills and we don’t really need, or want to learn all these details. So most of the best espresso machines that are designed for home use have some level of automation. A super-automatic espresso machine will grind the beans, tamper them into the basket, infuse the grinds with hot water at a low pressure, and then finish off the process at a high pressure to produce the perfect espresso at the touch of a button. You don’t do anything but select the option that you require and place your cup beneath the spout.
There can be a few options for the volume and sometimes even the type of coffee that you want. Some may have automatic milk frothing for lattés, cappuccinos and other milk coffees. Though this is not a prerequisite for a super-automatic espresso machine. Even if you have to place a steam spout into the milk and then add it to your coffee, this will still be considered a super-automatic espresso machine. Basically, if the espresso shot is produced at the touch of a button, it’s a super-automatic machine.
Semi-automatic espresso machines are not clearly defined, they will have some of the features of super-automatic espresso machines, but not all. However, what features they have may vary. Semi-automatic espresso machines don’t usually grind and tamper the coffee for you. You need to do that. After you’ve ground the coffee and tampered it into the basket, the rest should be done for you automatically. You will have touch buttons to select the shot size and perhaps some other options. Both semi-automatic and super-automatic espresso machines may have programmable functions and, perhaps, the option to set the volume or temperature to your own liking.
The best super-automatic espresso machines will usually be more expensive than semi-automatic machines. This seems only logical, they are more sophisticated. Despite the increased price, many home coffee aficionados are prepared to spend a little extra for the benefits of super or full automation. You’re guaranteed the best espresso experience without any effort and you can’t make a mistake. Put your coffee beans and water into the correct holders on the machine, select the espresso or coffee type that you want and it’s ready in seconds.
Reviews | Best Super-Automatic Espresso Machines
We’ve searched for the best brands, so you know that you can buy with confidence. With names like DeLonghi; Jura; Breville and Gaggia, you can be sure that you’re spending your money on something that’s worth investing in. A super-automated espresso machine is a complicated appliance, so it’s vital that you choose a machine that’s going to function perfectly and remain reliable for long time.
There’s no point in buying the cheapest espresso machine that you can find. You’ll just end up replacing it too soon and that’s simply a waste of money. As always, we realize that some folks may be limited in what they have to spend. The ultimate super-automatic espresso machine can end up costing north of $5000, like the Jura Giga 5 – 13623. If that leaves you a little weak at the knees and short of breath, don’t worry, we’ve thought of you. The very reasonably priced DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3300 won’t set you back much more than 500 bucks. So yes, it is possible to find an affordable super-automatic espresso machine that’s perfectly suitable for the home user and it’s backed by a respected brand.
So whether you have the extra cash to spare, or you’re looking for a reasonably cheap super-automatic espresso machine, you’ll find the perfect match in this review. I’m going to do my best to give you a comprehensive and objective review of the products so that you can make an informed decision. So sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and prepare for an interesting read. I’m sure, that by the time you’re done reading this review, you’ll know exactly which super-automatic espresso machine is going to be the best one for you.
DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3300
Best fullly-automatic espresso machine if you’re on a budget.
- Patented Cappuccino System: Easily prepares lattes and cappuccinos by mixing steam and milk to create a rich, creamy froth for perfect drinks every time.
- Easy to Use: Rotary and push button control panel with programmable menu settings: coffee strength (5 settings) and cup size with rotary dial (4 settings).
- Hot Water Spout: Perfect for tea and hot chocolate!
- Energy Saving: With 3 hour automatic shut off.
- Height Ajustable Coffee Spout: Great for larger cappuccino glasses.
- 15 Bar Pump Pressure: Achieve the most authentic flavor.
- Patented Direct-to-Brew System: Grinds beans instantly for the freshest espresso. Brewing system is compact and removable for easy cleaning.
- Double Boiler System: No waiting between preparing espresso and cappuccino.
- Professional Quality: Produces consistent, fresh and aromatic ground coffee with the conical low-pitch burr grinder. Grind settings allow you to adjust the fineness for all types of beans.
- Instant Reheat Function: Machine maintains ideal temperature for brewing.
- Cup Warmer: Preheat your cups for best results by using this integrated feature.
- Decalcification Indicator: Always know when it’s time to clean the machine.
- Easy to Clean: With removable water tank (60-ounce), drip tray and used coffee container.
- Limited 2 Year Warranty.
We just had to include the wonderfully cheap DeLonghi Magnifica in this review of the best super-automatic espresso machines. This is not just because it’s so affordable, but also because it’s a good quality machine. Perhaps not as sophisticated as the crème de la crème of super-automatic espresso machines, the Jura Giga 5, the DeLonghi is still a great machine. In true DeLonghi fashion, it’s a really elegant appliance that will grace any kitchen with a sense of style. With the exception of fully automatic milk frothing, it does everything that one would expect a super-automatic espresso machine to do and is a high-quality item.
The DeLonghi Magnifica has been around for years and has remained basically unchanged, apart from a few minor improvements. This says quite a lot about the Magnifica, people who own them absolutely love them, so why change a winning product. This is a really beautiful machine, finished with a brushed aluminum look. Though the entire outer casing is made from plastic, it’s not actually made from aluminum. This is the first indication that it’s not quite the same as the really expensive espresso machines that are made mainly (or entirely) from metal like aluminum or stainless steel. Though this doesn’t bother me too much, these days most appliances are made from plastic. The essential parts, like the pipes, grinder, and drip tray are made of durable metals – mostly stainless steel. So it’s a pretty durable machine. For its price, the DeLonghi Magnifica is, well… Truly magnificent.
Moving past the good looks, it’s a remarkably easy and logical machine to use. The bean hopper opens to the top and you drop your roasted beans into this, it holds approximately 8oz of coffee beans. Inside the bean hopper, is a dial that you turn to set the stainless grinder to produce coarse or fine grinds. It’s a really simple process. High-end machines usually have ceramic grinders as these are the best. They don’t deteriorate over time and generally much quieter. Stainless steel is the next best option, so it’s pretty good. But this is another sign that the DeLonghi is a cheaper machine that isn’t quite in the same league as the more expensive super-automatic espresso machines.
The large 60oz water reservoir slips easily in and out of position at the front of the machine. There’s no reaching around the back to handle a heavy water tank, like some. This is all the setup that you need to do. There are warning lights that alert you when the water is low, the dregs bin needs cleaning, or a general error – like the brew group is not correctly in position or the cover panel is not properly closed. The brew group unclips easily with two fingers and slots, just as easily, back into position.
Operating the DeLonghi Magnifica is as easy as one would expect from any of the best super-automatic espresso machines. Two dials allow you to select the coffee volume and how much ground coffee you want to use per cup – this will determine the strength of your coffee. Once these are set, you can leave them permanently in this position, or use one of two programmable buttons to remember your favorite settings. You then select whether you want one or two cups and, within a few seconds, you’ll have espresso or regular coffee trickling into your cup. It has a steam spout, which will also deliver hot water if needed.
To froth your milk, you need to turn the spout to where you want it and submerse it into the milk jug. You can then froth up the perfect cappuccino foam – that’s the only manual process. I really like the cup warmer tray at the top. You can store quite a few cups here and it keeps them hot for you. If I were to search for a not so good element to this machine, it would be that the grinder is on the noisy side. This can be quite distracting, though I wouldn’t consider it to be deal breaker. If you wish, you can bypass the grinder and use ground coffee, this is simple and requires no effort.
It would be a real challenge to find a reasonably priced super-automatic espresso machine that can match the functionality and quality of the DeLonghi Magnifica. I can see why it’s been such a hit for so many years. Big up to DeLonghi for a fantastic product at an amazing price.
Jura Giga 5 – 13623
- Two professional, virtually wear-free ceramic disc grinders with electronic adjustment guarantee precise, consistent grinding for years to come.
- Two grinders and two heating systems, the machine prepares every speciality coffee to perfection.
- The intuitive control concept with TFT display, Rotary Selection and easy-to-identify preparation buttons make it easy to create the beverage you want.
- Because the machine houses two powerful grinders, one pump and two heating systems in a small space, a lot of heat and steam are produced. Heat is automatically guided out of the machine by the striking, adjustable Venti Ports, which also supply fresh air, working harmoniously with the electronic ventilation system.
- Now you can become a professional barista in a flash. The recipes for 12 tempting and original coffee creations are selected with the Rotary Switch. The GIGA 5 uses text and pictures to guide you through the preparation process – so you can treat yourself and your guests to some delicious coffee creations! A truly pleasurable experience for the palate – and a treat for the eyes too.
- Uses images and texts to clearly guide you through all the preparation stages.
In strong contrast to the exceptionally cheap DeLonghi Magnifica, the Jura Giga 5 is staggeringly expensive. Then again, this is a state of the art, Swiss made super-automatic espresso machine. In every aspect of its design, form and function, it’s made to be the best that money can buy. If you have no room for compromise and are prepared to pay for supreme excellence, the Giga 5 is certain to impress.
From my first impression, I’m awe-struck by the beauty and craftsmanship of this machine. Contoured, brushed aluminum surfaces converge to present a formidable presence. This is not an appliance that you’d want to hide in a corner of the kitchen. You’ll want to display it as a work of art. The beautiful finish is not just for appearance, it’s ultimately durable and easy to clean. The spouts are finished in stainless steel, perfectly elegant, hygienic, and virtually indestructible. It has two contoured glass coffee bean hoppers at the top – continuing the elegance and durability of the Giga 5.
Glass won’t scratch or deteriorate like plastic and you can see, at a glance, when it it’s time refill either of the hoppers. The advantage of having two hoppers is that you can have two types of coffee available all the time. You can use them individually or blend the two. The beans are supplied to individual grinders (one for each hopper). These are whisper quiet ceramic grinders that should never wear. As with every component of this machine, the grinders the ultimate in quality and refinement. You can bypass the grinders and use ground coffee if you want. The water reservoir has a huge capacity – about 83-ounces. It is also encased in a metal surround and slots in or out very easily from the side. It comes with a great water filter and testing strips so that you can determine the hardness of your water.
They say that the Jura Giga 5 has 12 pre-programmed barista coffee recipes. Though it’s actually 6. For each selection, you can choose to make one or two cups. So they’ve doubled the actual types of coffee that you can make, by including the single or double cup option. No big deal, just enthusiastic advertising. When it comes to selecting the coffee you want, it couldn’t be simpler. The Giga 5 has a wonderful color display screen at the front. This has your various options for single cup coffees with single touch activation. A dial at the top allows you to choose between these options with the choice of single or double servings and you can increase the volume per serving. It’s as easy as pie to make a huge variety of barista-style coffees with the greatest of ease.
The list of programmable functions is seemingly endless. You’ll need to spend some time going through the instruction manual to understand them all. Though it’s all very logical and is explained perfectly in the instruction booklet which is written in proper English. I particularly like the timer function. This allows you to set the machine to make your coffee when you want it. So you can wake up to a perfectly hot, freshly brewed cup. If like me, you don’t function fully before your first cup of coffee, this is a very welcome feature.
There’s a hot water spout to one side and this slides up or down to accommodate any cup or jug size. Likewise, the dual espresso spouts are both height and width adjustable, so you can fit virtually any size cup perfectly into position. Everything is done for you, a truly super-automatic espresso maker. If you select any of the milk coffee options, it will froth the milk perfectly and add it to your cup at the correct ratio. You don’t have to do anything but select the type of coffee you want. Even the grinders have electronic adjustments for the grind size and everything is programmable.
When you’re paying this much for the best super-automatic, you’d expect absolute perfection. Though there is no such thing, we don’t live in a perfect world. There are some cons to this machine. That also depends on how you look at it. People have said that it’s not too easy to clean the milk system, you have to flush it. I can’t really see how one can get away from this and the Giga 5 actually has one of the easiest maintenance procedures of any super-automatic espresso machine. To flush the milk system, you simply have to place a receptacle below the spout to collect the discharged rinsing water and then select the process for the automated menu.
If an espresso machine has an automatic milk frother, it has to channel the milk through pipes. This is true for any similar machine. By its very nature, milk has to be rinsed out, unlike water. If not, the milk residue will build up. This is not only unhygienic and tastes bad, but it will clog up the machine. It’s just something you have to do when you have an automated milk coffee system. In fact, the entire system, including the brew group has to be flushed periodically and, this too, has been made really easy on the Giga 5.
The second complaint I’ve found is that the brew group isn’t that easy to remove and replace. You have to use a special key, instead of the easy to use clips that most other espresso machines use. Actually, I prefer this. Yes plastic clips that release with a single touch are very convenient, but it’s not all that durable. Over time, those convenient plastic clips will wear and the brew group won’t secure properly. By using a less user friendly system, the engineers at Giga have made it much more durable.
In the end, when you’re paying this much for a super-automatic espresso machine, you want it last for a very long time. I don’t think that you can find a better made (or designed) espresso machine for the home. Like any appliance, you need to care for it and maintain it properly. It does have self-cleaning and descaling cycles, but there is some stuff that you have to do. Generally, I find the programmed cleaning functions for this machine to about the best and easiest to use.
In the end, I can only find one real complaint about the Jura Giga 5, it’s expensive – very expensive. Even though there are more expensive machines (like the Giga X7 professional), few can afford it. As for the rest of us, well we can only admire this exquisite machine from a distance, perhaps a little envious of those platinum card holders who can afford this type of luxury. If you are not frightened away by the price tag, you’re one of those lucky few that can own the best, or should I say the ultimate super-automatic espresso machine. It sure is worth it for this caliber of appliance.
- Fully-integrated conical burr grinder automatically grinds, doses and tamps 22 grams of coffee straight into the portafilter.
- Dual stainless steel boilers and heated group head controlled by digital temperature control (PID), brings water to precisely the right temperature to extract maximum flavor potential.
- Self-cleaning steam wand, powered by a dedicated boiler, textures milk to your liking and delivers Barista-quality micro-foam that enhances flavor and is essential for creating latte art. Allows you to adjust the milk temperature and texture to suit your taste.
- Choose between one shot, two shots or manual control over how much espresso ends up in your cup for the perfect dose every time.
- LCD provides you all the information you need to make coffee exactly the way you like it, everytime.
- The innovative One Touch Americano feature delivers a double espresso, and then separately through a dedicated spout, fills the cup with hot water, the same way as any good commercial machine.
As a brand, Breville is my first choice in espresso machines. They range from professional machines to manual, semi-automatic and super-automatic espresso machines for the home. While the Breville Oracle Touch is by no means cheap, it’s not all that expensive when compared to other high-end super-automatic espresso machines. For a perfect balance between ultimate quality and a reasonable level of affordability, this is my favorite model in the review.
Unlike the super-automatic espresso machines reviewed thus far, the Oracle touch requires that you do a little more yourself. It’s not simply a matter of making espresso, cappuccino, or latté with a single touch of a button. For starters, it has a conventional porta-filter basket like a conventional espresso machines. This means a filter basket that clips into position. The coffee isn’t dispensed directly from the grinder to the filter basket. You need to slot the porta-basket into position beneath the grinder which will grind the coffee to the selected size and then automatically tamper it for you to the perfect density. You then move it over to coffee brewer and clip it into position. To produce a micro foam for milk, you also have to do this separately. None of this is an inconvenience to me and it doesn’t take much time to do.
It has a color touch screen that allows you to select a number of coffee variations and you can program up to 8 customized coffees. So everyone in the family can select their own personalized brew by swiping across and tapping the touch screen. Even though you need to place the steam spout into the milk jug yourself, everything else is electronically controlled. So you just tap the screen for foam and it will monitor the temperature and time to produce the perfect micro-foam. It even has a self-cleaning function that will send a short burst of steam once you remove the milk jug to clean the nozzle.
With its all stainless steel construction and superb quality throughout, I absolutely love this machine. Yes, I’ve seen some customer reviews that aren’t that complementary, but these are few and far between. After writing product reviews for years, I expect this. Even the very best appliances and machines will get the odd negative review. Even then, 4.2 stars from 160 Amazon customer reviews, is a good indication that the majority of people feel like I do. This is a fantastic, high-quality super-automatic espresso machine. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Breville.
Gaggia Velasca Prestige RI8263/47
- Easy and hygienic cleaning, the machine is equipped with a dedicated button to rinse the milk circuit after each use.
- Carafe is dishwasher safe and can be stored in the refrigerator when not in use.
- Auto-frothing milk carafe
- Ceramic burr grinder with 10 settings
- Bypass doser for pre-ground coffees, such as decaf
- Patented removable brew group
- Brew button and stylish LED screen
- Aroma selector with 5 strength settings
- Customizable volume and temperature settings
- Programmable brewing options for Espresso and Espresso Lungo, cappuccino, and milk froth, with 3 different temperature settings
- Ceramic burr grinder and brew unit: ceramic burr grinder with 10 fineness settings, 5 brew strength settings, and bean hopper with 10.5oz capacity
- Front loaded water reservoir: features a 54oz capacity and pulls out from the front of the machine, ideal for low hanging cabinets
- 2 year warranty: hassle free 2 year warranty handled by Gaggia USA directly.
- Cup warmer fits as many as 3 standard espresso cups
- Removable 54oz water reservoir
- 10.6 oz bean hopper
- 250ml Bottle of Gaggia Decalcifier
- Mavea Intenza Water Filter
- Water Hardness Test Strip
- Tube of Brew Group Lubricant
- Coffee Scoop/Grinder Key
Gaggia is another highly respected brand with over 75-years of coffee brewing experience. The Velasca Prestige continues this tradition of style and quality in the form of a wonderfully convenient super-automatic espresso machine.
The Velasca Prestige has all the functions that one wants in a modern super-automatic espresso machine. It has five strength settings and automatic milk frothing. So you can make any of your favorite espresso based drinks at the touch of button. A few well-marked touch buttons and an LED screen at the front of the machine makes it all very simple. There’s also a control to flush the milk system so you clean it out very easily after every use.
There’s a great feature that allows you to set the water hardness and it will alert you when it’s time to descale the machine. The ceramic bur grinder is great and has 10-settings, the hopper holds 10.6oz of coffee beans and it has a large, 54oz water reservoir. Both the water reservoir and brew group are designed for easy removal and refitting.
The Gaggia Velasca allows you the option to bypass the grinder and use ground coffee. It also has customizable volume and temperature settings, as well as a cup warmer that will keep 3 standard size espresso cups warm and ready for use. All of this is contained in a very attractive machine with an elegant stainless steel front panel. Like any of the best high-end super-automatic espresso machines, you can program individual customized settings.
With very few exceptions, people rave about this machine. It’s up there with the best of them in terms of quality and is certainly very easy to use. As for the price, it’s nicely placed in the mid-price range when looking at the best super-automatic espresso machines. So it’s the full deal. All the automation that you could possibly want, very convenient cleaning and maintenance, with a great quality standard.
What must you look for when buying the best super-automatic espresso machine?
All the super-automatic espresso machines in this review are rated as being the best for a few basic reasons. The controls may vary. They could have more, or less programmable functions and preprogrammed options. Same may require a little more user input than others. But all these are, to my mind, secondary considerations and very much about personal preference.
The best super-automatic espresso machines are more about what we don’t see – the inner workings of the machine and the stuff it does without us noticing. In this regard, all the machines in this review are very similar. They all have the attributes that I see as being the most important in a super-automatic espresso machine. I’m going to list and explain these aspects as they make up the basic requirements for the best super-automatic espresso machines. Any machine that doesn’t have these features should not be considered as the best.
A quality coffee grinder that can be adjusted to grind fine or coarse coffee is a must-have. The best will always be ceramic grinders, but durable metals (like stainless steel) are also good. Cheap machines may use soft metals and even plastic grinders. This is an absolute waste of money. Once the beans have been ground, they need to be tampered to the perfect density. This means compacting the grinds into the filter basket with just the right amount of pressure. The best super-automatic espresso machines will do this for you without you even noticing it.
Pressure control is of the utmost importance when brewing the perfect espresso. The maximum pressure is secondary. This is usually around 9 – 12 bar (130.5 – 174 Psi). The machine should be calibrated to match its pressure to the brewing requirements. What’s really important here, is that the espresso machine will start the brewing process at a low water pressure to infuse the coffee grinds. This gives you the rich flavor and dark color. Once the coffee and water are properly infused, the pressure needs to be increased to ensure that the water flows quickly through the grinds. If it takes too long, you end up with bitter coffee.
Temperature control is also important. The water needs to be hot, but not boiling. This requires a good water heater and well insulated channels inside the machine to keep the water hot as it’s pumped through the machine.
A Water filter is a great extra, but not essential. You want pure, soft water for the perfect espresso. But you can use external filters if your machine is not fitted with one. Most of the best super-automatic espresso machines have built-in water filters.
Using and maintaining your super-automatic espresso machine.
Because no super-automatic espresso machine is exactly the same as the next, you need to read the instructions provided by the manufacturer very carefully. However, there are a few basic rules to using and properly maintaining these machines. This is to ensure the perfect espresso and to keep the machine functioning as it should.
The first rule to using any super-automatic espresso machine is to never use oily coffee beans. If you’re not sure about this, using a medium roast bean is always a safe bet. Oily beans will affect the automatic grinding and tampering equipment.
As for routine maintenance, most of the best super-automatic espresso machines have simplified this with programmed maintenance functions. What you need to know is that every espresso machine needs to be flushed or rinsed with clean water as coffee will collect in the pipes. Depending on how much coffee you brew, this can be anything from once a week to every three weeks. The process basically entails running clean hot water through the entire system to remove old coffee build up.
If your super-automatic espresso machine uses a separate milk reservoir and produces milk coffees automatically, this system needs to be cleaned after every use. Milk goes bad very quickly and leaves a thick residue that becomes harder to remove, the longer it stands. The best super-automatic espresso machines usually have a function to do this, but you need to follow the correct procedure, as explained in your owner’s manual.
Generally, the dregs are deposited into a bin once your coffee has been brewed. This can hold enough waste for anything from 5 to 8 cups (perhaps more). It needs to be emptied once full. Of course, you need to keep the water reservoir from running dry. Though most will have warning lights for both the water level and the dreg contents.
Less frequent maintenance includes removing the brew group and cleaning it manually, as well descaling the machine. Many of the best machines will also provide reminders for these procedures.