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Super-automatic espresso machines are hot right now — and that’s basically because they’re the ultimate coffee making gadget.
Of course, this is reflected in the price and also often the size of a super-automatic espresso machine.
They do all the work for you, so obviously there are a lot of moving parts, all of which need to be perfectly made and kept in great working order. This leads to the aforementioned higher price tags and bulk.
These are high-end coffee machines, mostly, but they are worth it if they fit your lifestyle. Like, how often do you actually make espresso at 7am? I’m pretty bleary-eyed, and must admit that in the past I often turned to the coffee shop down the street. With a super-automatic in the house, though, that expensive temptation is a thing of the past!
So, why would you want one?
Well, if you regularly make espresso with a semi-automatic or manual machine you’ll know that it can be a fuss. There’s grinding, packing and tamping, locking the portafilter in, pulling the shot… and it’s messy, too.
Plus, and this is key, it’s hard to make espresso drinks for multiple people in most espresso machines without it taking an age. You have to clean and refill the portafilter after each cup. It’s not that it’s hard, though barista-style machines take some practice, but it’s certainly laborious and long-winded.
If you want to make coffee for a group of friends, half of them will have finished their coffees and maybe their conversations too before you get to sit down to your own coffee. The time factor is also an issue if you drink a lot of coffee yourself (as I do). Espresso at the touch of the button saves a lot of time, and time equals money, right?
That’s at least what the manufacturers of these quite expensive machines think. You’ll not only buy fewer takeaway coffees with a super-automatic machine in the house but spending less time making coffee also means you can spend that time doing other things. For me, that usually means more time working! So, the extra time really is extra money!
The Best Super Automatic Espresso Machines of 2021:
- No guessing for anything
- Also customizable
- Allow choice of beans or pre-ground coffee
- Easy to use milk frother
- Adjustable spigot to adjust any size container
- Compact footprint
- Allows both simple and perfect espresso
- Easy to use touch panel (with user-defined cup sizes and two aroma levels)
- Ultra-compact model
- Programmable swith-off
- Automatic energy-saving mode
- Smallish footprint
- Super affordable
- Capsules system
- 19-bar pressure pump
- Energy efficient
- Pannarello wand frothing
- User-friendly display
- Rapid steam
- 1-year warranty
- Simple operation
- Height adjustable spout
- Revolutionary fine foam technology
- Made with high-quality material
- Compact machine
- Adjustable manual steam system
- Adjustable menu settings
- Easy to maintain
- Premier programming
- Allows dedicated user profiles for favorite drinks
- Touchscreen control
- Hygiesteam system
- Double thermo block
Let's discuss these top rated super automatic espresso machines in detail...
1. De’Longhi ESAM3300 Super-Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine
The De’Longhi is a great bit of kit at a lower price than I would expect for a super-automatic machine.
There’s a burr grinder in the body of the machine, which delivers grounds straight into the portafilter. Adjusting the grind settings is super easy too — just a rotary dial to ramp the grind up or down.
There are options for single or double shots, and as it dispenses hot water the ESAM3300 can make long drinks with ease. It’s also got a milk foamer with a patented ‘Cappucino system’ to make decent microfoam, and so pretty good lattes and cappuccinos. Plus, there’s a double boiler system so you can pull a shot and froth milk at the same time! Talk about multitasking.
This is an eminently practical option for most coffee lovers. You get 14 cups of coffee out of a full bean hopper, which isn’t bad, and it’s much cheaper than many of its competitors.
The De’Longhi ESAM3300 should be a fit for coffee lovers with high class tastes but middle class budgets!
2. Jura 13626 Ena Micro 1
Okay, so this machine is a little pricey, but it doesn’t come with the other problem: bulk. The ENA 1 Micro is teeny tiny, weighing in under 20lbs.
You can choose from three cup sizes (espresso, ristretto, and black coffee) and two aromas (basically, strengths) at the touch of just a few buttons. There’s a burr grinder inside the sleek black lines of the ENA, meaning you get perfectly ground fresh coffee every cup, with even grind size and rich flavor.
A lot of coffee enthusiasts and home coffee making pros have been worried about the environmental impacts of their caffeine habit lately. There are fewer worries with ground coffee than coffee pods, and the Jura ENA also uses less power than many competitors and boasts an auto shut off feature.
There are definitely coffee machines with more add ons (the Jura doesn’t do milk, for one thing), but if you love coffee and design then this is the super-automatic you probably dream of!
3. Nespresso Inissia Espresso Maker
So, this is the affordable option for ‘all in one’ coffee making.
You can choose from an espresso pour or a longer lungo. You just insert the capsule you want, make sure the 24-ounce water reservoir is full, pull down the large, industrial-looking handle and hey presto, espresso!
Available in several colors, this really good looking Nespresso machine is a welcome addition to a modern kitchen.
It’s small, stylish and yet packs an impressive 19 bars of pressure. Let’s be honest: pod coffee isn’t ever going to be quite as good as fresh, and we all know that the pods themselves are bad for the environment, but sometimes compromises must be made.
If you’re a coffee lover on a budget then the Inissia, and a selection of its brothers and sisters from Nespresso, are your best bet for espresso at home.
4. Gaggia Brera
A mid-priced machine, the Gaggia Brera has everything you might need in a super-automatic espresso machine.
Push buttons and a bright LED screen provide functionality, but they do make the Brera look a little bit like a hot drinks machine from a hospital waiting room.
Looks is, for me, where this very fairly priced and usable machine loses points.
The fact is, if I’m going to have something in my kitchen and use it daily I’ll also have to look at it daily! And there’s no Italian or Scandi inspired lines here – the Brera is hulking and a little 80s looking.
This fully automatic coffee machine is, perhaps, for those caffeine fans who care more about coffee than aesthetics!
5. Jura IMPRESSA C65 Automatic Coffee Machine
This bad boy isn’t messing around. The Impressa C65 is super easy to use, with rotary dials and a really minimal number of controls to keep things simple.
The design is simple too — pretty much classic coffee machine chic, with a modern edge. This can’t disguise the heft of the machine, however, and you will need some space in your kitchen for this bit of kit. As it’s a higher-end and higher pricepoint machine, most people who buy it will probably have that space.
Jura is well known for making really hardwearing coffee machines, and the Impressa is no exception. This is a machine that should last for years — lucky, given the price tag!
Some users seem to find that the burr grinder can be a little temperamental about oilier beans, but that’s the sort of thing you’ll have to experiment with yourself as it’s also about personal taste and perception.
This machine is a big purchase, but it does everything a super automatic coffee maker should do. You’ll get tens of thousands of perfect cups of coffee from a Jura Impressa.
6. De’Longhi Magnifica XS Fully Automatic Espresso Machine
Available in black or silver, this espresso machine proves that good things do come in small packages. Well, relatively small anyway!
The professional-grade burr grinder ensures an even grind on every one of the 13 possible grinder settings and will never charr your beans, and there’s a steam wand so that you can perfect microfoam in your own home.
Additional features include the ‘Rapid Cappucino’ system — basically, keeping everything at a high temperature between cups of coffee in case, say, you’re a real addict and need three before you’re properly awake… or you live with multiple coffee lovers. Not going to say which one of those I’d use it for…
The Magnifica also ‘remembers’ previous settings, so that you can get your perfect custom espresso drink morning after morning. Four cup size options and five options for brew strength complete this strong all-rounder of a super-automatic espresso machine.
Want a machine that will make everyone happy? Then go for the Magnifica!
7. Saeco Xelsis SM7684/04 Super Automatic Espresso Machine
With a price tag like the Xelsis, a coffee machine needs to work hard to be worth it!
The touch screen display, in full color, makes the machine incredibly easy to use. Just choose from 15 coffee drinks, put a cup in and wait. The drinks available are: espresso, coffee, cappuccino, latte macchiato, caffe latte, flat white, espresso lungo, americano, espresso macchiato, ristretto, espresso doppio, cafe au lait, cafe cortado, milk froth, warm milk and hot water. They are further customizable if you want to add an extra shot, or change the strength of the coffee, and the milk is frothed and delivered to your cup without you needing to lift a finger.
In fact, get this, the milk system cleans itself too using steam to cleanse the entire milk system after every froth and pour. A double ‘thermoblock’ system means that pouring and frothing, or indeed pouring and sterilizing, can take place at the same time.
The grinder is, of course, a ceramic burr grinder. This means that coffee is ground evenly and never overheats in the Xelsis.
Every little detail of this machine is high end. As I already noted, though, this comes with a high-end price. The added details and ease of use with the Xelsis certainly put it a cut above the competition, but is that enough to justify the price?
The Xelsis would be perfect for a small workplace or the kitchen of a real gadget obsessive.
Guide to Choose Right Super Automatic Espresso Machine
Obviously I’ve covered a whole range of options here. If you’re on a budget, don’t beat yourself up over using coffee pods. Get a Nespresso! They’re cheap, cheerful, look good and make good coffee. You can get a milk frother to go with your Nespresso easily, and experiment with microfoam on lazier mornings.
If you have money to spend, think about what is at a premium for you. Space? Style? Money? All these are considerations, especially above a medium pricepoint.
The next big question is -- does milk matter? Like, not in an existential way, but does having an inbuilt milk foamer or steam wand matter to you? And if it’s a steam wand, do you have the skills to froth a perfect flat white already, or will there be a learning curve?
I have seen many a steam wand abandoned, uncleaned and unloved, by overly ambitious coffee lovers who haven’t had the time to work on getting the perfect microfoam. Or at least don’t have time to work on it most mornings!
To help you make your decision, here’s a quick guide to all the bits and bobs in a fully automatic espresso machine.
A Cheat’s Guide
Here’s what you need to think about with most espresso makers…
This is what grinds your beans! Some have blades, others burrs. Burrs crush beans far more evenly.
Single and Double Shot
This one’s easy -- it’s about volume of espresso. Double-shot drinks are stronger. Most espresso makers can make single or double espressos, but do check.
The portafilter slots into the bottom of the machine, fixing the espresso grounds and filter basket in place. These range in size by a few mm.
The filter basket holds the espresso grounds in place. You can choose different basket sizes to accommodate the size and strength of your desired espresso shot. Many espresso machines use removable filter baskets to also utilize espresso pods.
Bar is a measure of atmospheric pressure. Most espresso makers go up to about 15-bar pressure, with some as high as 19 and traditional methods using from 7 to 9.
Tamping means compacting the grounds before the portafilter goes into the espresso machine. This makes sure the water is uniformly pushed through the grounds when your espresso is brewing.
Usually, espresso machines use either boilers or coils to heat water. A single boiler machine uses one boiler for both espresso making and steam wand. This means you can’t pull a shot and steam milk at the same time. Double boiler machines, however, have a boiler for each, meaning you can steam and pull simultaneously.
The steam wand heats milk, creating microfoam.
A water reservoir holds the water needed for brewing and steaming.
Like a water reservoir, but for milk. If your machine has an automatic milk foaming system, it will have one of these. They have to be kept very clean, and so do the pipes running to/from them, so take that into account.
Professional machines often warm cups on their top surface. This is an added extra, but espresso is best drunk from a warmed cup.
A Few Final Words
The Saeco Xelxis is an amazing, professional grade machine. But somehow it would feel wasteful to have one in my house!
I like to get in touch with my coffee as I make it, and years as a barista mean I make some mean microfoam. For this reason, I would probably go for the Gagia Brera and hide it under a towel when company came over! Honestly, price is the biggest deciding factor between these machines, so let that be your very sensible guide!
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