If you’re looking to make silky espresso at home, you’ll need a solid machine as your foundation.
Sure, you could use a manual press or even a capsule-based machine capable of delivering pretty sound shots.
How about if you’re looking for something a little more user-friendly, though?
Well, today we’ll walk you through a selection of the finest super-automatic espresso machines on the market.
- The 10 Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines
- Top 8 Best Italian Espresso Machines
- The 10 Best Espresso Beans
Before we look at espresso today, how did it spring into being?
Way back in 1884, an Italian called Angelo Moriondo patented the first device capable of producing espresso. The machine uses steam and pressure along with very tightly compacted coffee grounds.
Over the following decades, this crude initial design was improved upon with the portafilter, steam wand, and pressure release valve added.
When Achille Gaggia invented the spring-piston lever for enhanced control, we get toward the type of machine you’d associate with making first-rate espresso today.
The premise of an espresso machine is remarkably simple. Regardless of the type of machine, you’ll want water heated between 190 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit pumped at high pressure through a well-packed disc of coffee. You’ll need at least 9 bars of pressure to achieve this.
Our Top Picks for Super Automatic Espresso Machines
|Products & Features||Image & Price|
DeLonghi Magnifica Super-Automatic Espresso and Coffee Machine Our #1 Pick
Full Automatic: Breville Barista Touch Espresso Maker
Jura Impressa Automatic Coffee Machine
Gaggia Anima Prestige Super-Automatic Coffee Machine
DeLonghi America Prima Donna Fully Automatic Espresso Machine
Jura Ena Micro 5 Automatic Coffee Machine
Gaggia Brera Super-Automatic Espresso Machine
Saeco PicoBaristo Super-Automatic Espresso Machine
Full Automatic: Breville Oracle Touch
I. How about those different types of automatic espresso machines, then?
You’ve got 3 broad categories under which espresso machines fall:
The first semi-automatic units came about as a slight improvement on Gaggia’s early design.
Where previously the barista needed to manually pump the piston to generate enough pressure to pull a shot of espresso, Ernesto Valente introduced a tweak to this in 1961. His new design made use of a motorized pump mechanism. All the barista needed to do is use a button or lever to start and stop the shot.
This fundamental design remains in place on semi-automatic machines today.
The key difference with semi-automatics over the super-automatics we’ll be exploring in detail today concerns the element of control the barista enjoys. It’s down to the barista to decide when the shot is ready.
A semi-automatic espresso machine calls for a little effort on your part. You’ll need to grind then tamp your beans. Tamping is the application of pressure to create the compacted disc of coffee required for great espresso.
Semi-automatic machines are routinely used in commercial coffee shops. You’ll spot these machines packing multiple group heads which enables several simultaneous shots to be pulled. Pace is key in a busy commercial setting but obviously not so critical in a home kitchen.
With a fully-automatic espresso machine, you’ll be spared the requirement of manually manipulating the brew time. While this removes guesswork from the equation, it also eliminates the freedom you enjoy with a semi-automatic to take complete control of brewing. If you’re looking for total automation, though, you won’t consider this a drawback.
Fully-automatic machines are enabled with a type of flowmeter that monitors and regulates the volume of water passing through the disc of coffee. Flow is slashed when the requisite amount of water has filtered its way through.
Although these machines do everything for you once your coffee is underway, you’ll still need to grind and tamp your own beans. In this way, they are similar to semi-automatic units.
Terminology is confusing and you’ll often see a fully-automatic machine labelled super-automatic. We’d suggest you don’t get too hung up on these terms.
The vast bulk of what we know today as super-automatic machines kick off the brewing process by grinding your beans with an onboard conical burr grinder. Many of these machines will even tamp the grounds for you.
Depending on the range of drinks you’ll be able to make, you might also find an automatic milk frother which adds the milk directly to your cup with no need for manual frothing.
The other key factor that makes super-automatics stand out is that they tend to be highly programmable. If you’re looking for exceptional coffee at the push of a button, a super-automatic will bring you all that and much more.
With that groundwork in place, we’ll push directly ahead with our reviews. Here are 9 of the best super-automatic espresso machines money can buy so see which floats your boat…
II. Reviews of 9 Best Super Automatic Espresso Machines
1. Our #1 Pick: DeLonghi Magnifica Super-Automatic Espresso and Coffee Machine
DeLonghi has an impressively broad range of coffee machines and the Magnifica is a fantastic super-automatic giving you complete convenience at a reasonable price-point (Under $1000).
The integrated grinder helps you get things started the right way. Blitz them directly before brewing for the freshest coffee. 13 grind settings means you’ve got the freedom to get your beans as fine or coarsely ground as you want them.
You can make far more than just espresso, too. Beyond a single or double shot, you can also make latte, cappuccino and Americano at the push of a button. Hot water on demand rounds out a wide menu from this powerful unit.
Thanks to the manual steam wand, you can finish off your foam just the way you like it.
If you don’t mind sacrificing a little control in the pursuit of convenience, the DeLonghi Magnifica keeps user-friendliness uppermost.
2. Full Automatic: Breville Barista Touch Espresso Maker
If you’re looking for a completely automatic espresso machine from an industry legend, Breville come up trumps with the Barista Touch.
Water temperature is central to making the best short shots. With the digital controls in place here, you’ll get your water just the way you need it with the minimum of fuss.
Before you get to that stage, the conical burr grinder baked in gives you the freedom to grind your own beans without needing any extra kit.
The Barista Touch heats up in seconds flat. Choosing your drink is a cinch with the touchscreen easy to navigate. From espresso and Americano through to latte, cappuccino and flat white, you’ll be able to save up to 8 customized settings with names and icons to suit.
If you want longer drinks, the automatic steam wand continues making your life easier every step of the way.
3. Jura Impressa Automatic Coffee Machine
Jura don’t make cheap coffee machines and this automatic unit is costly yet still represents stellar value. Why is it so good, then?
Aesthetically elegant, the Impressa is also narrow enough to slip into pretty small spaces. Whether you’ve got a cramped kitchen or you live in a small apartment, you won’t need much room to house the Jura.
With a single rotary switch, operating this machine couldn’t be much easier. You can tweak the strength of the coffee to taste and enjoy freshly ground beans thanks to the conical burr grinder that’s built right in.
If you like longer coffees with plenty of milk and foam, you’ll get that froth ultra-fine with the automatic wand doing the hard work for you.
Throw in eye-catching looks and you’ve got a complete package from a brand you can trust that should return years of faithful service.
4. Gaggia Anima Prestige Super-Automatic Coffee Machine
Gaggia has a hard-won reputation for producing stellar coffee machines. The Anima Prestige continues that tradition in fine style. Why is it so good, then?
The onboard grinder lets you start your espresso properly with beans ground directly before brewing. You can also use pre-ground coffee with the bypass doser. The grinder has intelligence baked in and it can learn how you best like your beans and adapt accordingly.
A choice of 3 temperatures gives you more flexibility than you’ll find with many super-automatics.
The auto-frothing milk carafe lets you kick back while the machine takes care of everything for you. This gives you the ability to create creamy coffee on demand. You can remove the milk carafe and attach a spit for hot water instead.
The individually programmed drinks can be further customized by strength, temperature and volume.
5. DeLonghi America Prima Donna Fully Automatic Espresso Machine
At the top end of DeLonghi’s range, the America Prima Donna leaves you to do little but top the machine up and press a button for espresso, latte or cappuccino just like the Italians drink it.
The integrated conical burr grinder gives you the means of grinding your own beans before brewing. A secondary chamber allows you to utilize pre-ground if you fancy a quick decaf.
You’ll get powerful functionality from the touchscreen interface but operation is a cinch. Punch in your preferred drink (single or double espresso, latte, latte macchiato, cappuccino, milk) and the Prima Donna does the rest.
The stainless steel chassis gives you a highly dependable unit cut out for years of faithful service. There’s no doubt that this machine is costly but we feel it’s sound value when you consider construction, lifespan and functionality.
6. Jura Ena Micro 5 Automatic Coffee Machine
Jura has a small line of expensive coffee machines that all deliver in fine style while looking the part, too.
You’ll enjoy espresso, ristretto or regular coffee at the push of a button. You can either grind your beans before brewing for optimum freshness or you can take advantage of the second chute if you want to use pre-ground coffee.
The key selling point with this model is the flexible, rotating spout. Pour a single shot or a pair at once thanks to this innovative design.
If you drink quite a lot of espresso, buying a cheap machine can be false economy. If, instead, you step things up a notch into the territory of Jura Pricing, you’ll often get better value with your machine lasting much longer.
For real espresso lovers not concerned about longer milky drinks, this machine is a smart move.
7. Gaggia Brera Super-Automatic Espresso Machine
Gaggia produce some wonderful coffee machines and this super-automatic espresso maker is a powerful performer considering the price-point.
Up on top, you’ll find a conical burr grinder so you can use your favorite fresh beans to kickstart the ideal espresso. If you fancy using pre-ground at any stage, you can do that fuss-free.
The machine fires up and gets up to the required temperature in minutes so you won’t need to hang around in the morning when time is of the essence.
You’ll get the choice of pre-programmed or customized drinks with the touchscreen a joy to use. From espresso to latte to macchiato, get your coffee just the way you want it at the press of a button. The Brera showcases everything that makes super-automatics a popular choice for so many.
8. Saeco PicoBaristo Super-Automatic Espresso Machine
Now owned by Philips, Saeco turn out some top-tier coffee machines. They might not be especially cheap but what do you get for your money?
Much like many of the best super-automatic espresso machines, you get started by grinding your own beans onboard. Choose from 10 grind settings so you’ve got your coffee matched to the brewing method.
Choice of drink is enormous. You’ll get a full 15 programmed drinks to flick between. You can tweak length, strength and temperature then save your settings for ease of use the next time.
The quick-heat boiler gets you up and running without waiting around.
Not only is the milk carafe super-simple in operation, its self-cleaning nature keeps clean-up to an absolute minimum.
With an onboard filter, you can expect to rack up thousands of coffees before needing to descale this machine.
In a vertical that’s glutted with similar machines, the Saeco stands out and differentiates itself in a good way. Why not treat yourself to something a little different this holiday season?
9. Full Automatic: Breville Oracle Touch
If you’re prepared to dig deep, the Breville Oracle Touch gives you a seamless and almost hands-free experience when you’re making coffee.
Choosing your drink is a case of swiping through the crisp touchscreen and choosing from espresso, latte, Americano, flat white or cappuccino. You’ve got plenty of choice here for a larger family who all like their coffee differently.
The conical burr grinder ensures your drink gets off to the right start. An overhead pressure valve limits maximum pressure so you shouldn’t find your drink tainted by bitterness or over-extraction. This is a feature normally limited to commercial machines.
With those capsule reviews nailed, what should you watch out for when you’re on the buying trail?
III. Things to Consider Before Buying a Super Automatic Espresso Machine
While many aspects of buying a super-automatic espresso machine are not different to looking for any type of coffee machine, we’ll round out with some crucial specifics:
- Type of Machine
- Variety of Drinks
- Form Factor
- Build Quality
Type of Machine
As we outlined at the beginning, you can choose from 3 main types of espresso machine: semi-automatic, fully-automatic, and super-automatic.
If you’ve got a busy lifestyle and you want very little by the way of effort, there’s no substitute for a super-automatic.
We’ve grouped these elements together since you should be looking at much more than just the bottom line when you’re hunting for a super-automatic espresso machine.
If you focus purely on getting the cheapest machine you can find, it’s a recipe for disaster. With many products, we’ll be the first to suggest you look at budget models.
Any appliance featuring so much by the way of automation needs solid componentry and also relies heavily on high-tech functionality. You’ll need to pay for the privilege.
None of the machines we feature today are cheap but all offer outstanding value so you’re in safe hands.
Variety of Drinks
If you’re happy with espresso only, you’ll be OK with just about any machine on the market.
How about if you’re looking for more variety? Well, you’re in luck since the bulk of these super-automatics also allow you to make everything from latte and cappuccino to macchiato and even hot water on demand.
There’s no right or wrong choice here. There’s also no excuse to get it wrong and sell yourself short. We make it clear what type of coffee each of these machines allows for.
If you already have a third-party grinder, you can opt for a super-automatic with or without an onboard grinder.
Comical burr grinders are by far the most effective and all the super-automatics we review today that feature grinders come with efficient and top-notch models.
Don’t overlook the importance of grinding your own beans directly before brewing if you’re hankering after the perfect espresso. Along with fresh and filtered water, this is perhaps the most vital element if you want lip-smacking short shots.
Many super-automatic machines are quite bulky so make sure you’ve got space to accommodate before committing to purchase.
We stopped short of listing the precise physical dimensions of each unit but we’ve drawn your attention to any machines that have a bulkier footprint.
Last but not least, design will play at least some part in your buying decision. While you shouldn’t base your whole decision on how a machine looks, if you plan to keep your super-automatic on display, you’ll want something that makes a neat fit with your kitchen décor.
Aesthetics are to a large extent personal so we’re not going to tell you what does or doesn’t make a nice-looking machine. We would strongly suggest that function is much more important than form, though.
We trust by now you’ve got a great overall view of what super-automatic espresso machines do and whether or not this type of machine would work well in your home kitchen.
As with any decision related to coffee equipment, be honest about your needs and think about who else will be using the machine. If you take the time to plan and research any buying decisions carefully, you should end up with the right kit for the job first time round. Make sure you focus on the elements we outline above, then, and finding the best super-automatic espresso machine really isn’t that tough.
Bookmark La Mano Coffee and come back soon. We’ve got an extremely busy schedule over the holiday period and we’re excited to bring you more of the best products from all the major brands along with our trademark how-to guides and informational content to make your life easier.
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