You don’t have time to brew your own coffee. But, you won’t settle for anything less than the perfect shot. The best super automatic espresso machine is the solution to your problem.
Super automatics are great for anyone who’s on a busy schedule. It grinds the beans, tamps the grounds and brews the coffee. If you want to add milk, it does that for you as well.
All you need to do is push a button to choose what drink you want.
This makes the perfect shot as simple as it can be. More importantly, you get to enjoy high quality espresso and save time as well.
Our Picks: Top Performing Super Espresso Machines Worth Considering
- DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica – Our Top Pick
- Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine
- DeLonghi ECAM22110SB – Compact & Space Saving
- Gaggia Anima Prestige
- Saeco Philips Intelia Deluxe Espresso Machine
What is a Super Automatic Espresso Machine?
Super automatic espresso machines allow you to make café quality coffee at home. Unlike semi-automatic machines, they make this task much simpler.
In fact, so simple that you don’t need to do much.
As their name implies, they’re automatic. This means they handle everything from the bean to the cup. All you need to do is make sure there’s water, beans and milk in the machine. Then, turn it on and choose the drink you want.
1. Super autos come with built-in hoppers to store the fresh beans. This feeds the beans into the grinder when it’s time to make your coffee.
2. From there, it fills the filter basket and tamps the grounds. Finally, there’s the brewing and pouring of your drink.
3. If you selected a milk-based coffee drink, your super automatic machine also adds the milk on its own.
This makes brewing easy and fast. It takes a few minutes from start to finish. More importantly, it is very convenient. You can go about your morning routine while the device makes your coffee.
How Does It Work?
In case you’re wondering how super automatic espresso machines work, here’s an animated video from DeLonghi. It show what happens inside their automatic espresso machines after you’ve entered your selection. This is the concept most super autos work with.
Steps in Using a Super Automatic Espresso Machine
Now that we understand what happens inside, let’s look at the steps on your end. A lot of it is preparation and making sure the device is ready for brewing. After that, it’s just sitting back and waiting for your shot to be poured.
1. Start by checking to make sure the water reservoir is filled.
2. Next, fill the grinder with espresso beans.
3. Turn the machine on and wait for it to warm up. This often takes a few minutes.
4. Choose the drink you want. You can do this by pressing the pre-set button. If you want to adjust your machine’s parameters you can do that via its menu. Many models come with digital display that will let you go through a menu. This lets you set the temperature, volume, coffee and milk length among other parameters.
5. Once you’ve made your choice, just wait for the machine to pour your shot. It will grind the beans, fill the filter, tamp it down then extract your shot to the volume you selected. If you chose a milk-based drink, it will add the froth to your coffee automatically as well.
6. After this, the machine automatically dumps the grounds into its waste container.
7. All that’s left is to enjoy your coffee. Or, make another shot.
Super Automatic vs. Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines: What’s the Difference?
The two most common types of espresso machines are the semi-automatic and super automatic. Both do the same thing, make espresso. How they do it varies quite a bit. Here’s a breakdown of the differences between the two devices.
Super Automatic Espresso Machines
This type of espresso maker does some or all of the work for you. You load the machine with beans and push a button. It does the grinding, tamping and extraction are all done by the machine. Controls are set via a control panel. This can be digital or adjustable knobs.
This way you can adjust temperature, how much coffee, milk foam as well as coffee and milk length. It also lets you select different drinks with a press of a button.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the important points about super autos.
- The machine does most of the work for you. All you need to do is press a button and wait for your drink.
- There’s very little work needed. It is easy to operate the machine.
- You get good results. Just as importantly, very consistent results.
- They come with built in burr grinder for the espresso beans.
- You enjoy that ‘one touch’ functionality. It will make you espresso or milk-based coffee drinks with just a push of a button.
- Super autos come with a milk apparatus. For cappuccino and other milk-based drinks, the machine will often automatically pour the milk over the coffee for you. Some come with manual steam wands through. With these you need to do some work. Their milk carafes and delivery systems vary a lot for cheap and expensive units.
- Lots of programmability. You still get a lot of control, often by adjusting the settings in the control panel’s menu. Some will also let you save your preferences for the next time.
- They cost more than your standard semi-auto. Prices typically start at $400 and go up from there. Costlier models come with a lot of bells and whistles.
Super autos are ideal if you want convenience. You want to be able to enjoy espresso, cappuccino or lattes with little to no work at all.
Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines
With semi-autos you provide the ground coffee or ESE pods. If you want to use fresh ground coffee, you’ll often need to have a separate grinder for that. Some higher end models do come with a built-in burr grinder.
With this type of machine, you also load the portafilter, tamp it and control the extraction. For milk-based drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, you’ll use its steam wand to froth the milk.
This means developing skill and feel through experience. It also takes more work and time on your effort to brew a shot of espresso.
The benefit of all this extra work is you get total control of the brewing process as well as adding milk to your drink.
- User needs skills to operate. They’re easier than manual machines, but have a bigger learning curve compared to super autos.
- The quality of the espresso produced depends on the skill of the user. A skilled user produces better espresso compared to super automatic.
- Often, you’ll need a separate burr grinder for the beans.
- Some models give you the option of using espresso pods.
- For the entry levels models, semi-automatic machines are cheaper than super autos. But higher end units are just about as expensive as their super automatic counterparts. Entry level machines also give you much lower quality and consistency. This is due to boiler difference and portafilters. You can buy cheap but good entry level semi-automatic espresso machines for under $100.
- Semi-autos let you customize your coffee. You get to control different parameters. These include grind size, coffee dose and coffee temperature.
- They give you more flexibility as far as brewing goes.
- Ideal if you want customization. It also fits hobbyists or those interested in developing their coffee skills.
Pros & Cons of Super Automatic Espresso Machines
Here’s a list of the advantages and disadvantage of super autos.
- They’re easy to use and convenient. Everything from brewing to milk frothing is done for you.
- They make great coffee and milk-based drinks. The pre-set functions have gone through taste-tests and factory testing to give you the right blend and flavor.
- Excellent consistency. Because everything is pre-set or pre-programmed you get the same results every time.
- Many models come with bypass dosers. This lets you use fresh beans or coffee grounds.
- You can get your coffee quickly. In a matter of minutes you get fresh, hot coffee. Plus, you can do other things while it brews.
- They can’t match the results of a semi-automatic that’s in the hands of a skilled user. Semi-autos when used properly are able to produce thick and creamy espresso that super autos can’t.
- They aren’t as flexible as you aren’t able to adjust as many parameters and features. How much you’ll be able to customize will depend a lot on the model you get. Some higher end units will let you change the grind fineness, brew volume, temperature and other setting.
- They have more complicated mechanisms and electronics compared to manual and semi-auto machines. This means more expertise is needed for repair.
- Super autos take up more counter space. They are bigger and heavier. A lot has to do with the extra electronics inside. Many mid-range to high end models are designed to be compact. These have slim designed that let them take up less counter space.
- They are more expensive compared to comparable quality models of other types of espresso machines. This is due to all the electronics and extra components.
Choosing the Best Super Automatic Espresso Machine: A Buyer’s Guide
Here are the important things to consider when buying a super automatic espresso machine.
1. The Coffee system
- Hopper: Consider the size. The bigger it is, the less filling you need to do. You also want one that seals well. This keeps the beans fresher. Some come with removable hoppers.
- Grinder: From the hopper, the beans go to the grinder. Grinders will let you adjust the fineness of the grind. More grind settings means more flexibility. This lets you adjust based on the type of coffee and brewing methods. Espresso and lighter roasts use finer grinds. Longer coffees and darker roasts use coarser grinds. The type of grinder also makes a difference. Flat ceramic transfer less heat during grinder. This preserves the coffee better than conical burr. Finally, how much noise the grinder makes during operation.
- Brew group: This is where ground coffee goes. Here, coffee and compressed and water is forced through it to extract flavor. Some models come with removable brew groups. This makes repair and maintenance easier.
- Spouts: This is what delivers the espresso to your cup or shot. It also determines what size of drinks you can make. Some machines offer two spouts which let you make a couple of drinks at the same time. If you want to make tall drinks, you’ll want to get a machine with an adjustable spout. Other models offer pouring speed adjustment. This lets you pour slower for espresso.
Another feature to consider is whether the machine has a bypass doser. Bypass dosers let you load the machine with pre-ground coffee. This gives you an alternative to fresh beans anytime you want. It allows you to enjoy decaf or other pre-ground specialty coffee.
2. Milk System
The type of milk system your machine has determines how the milk is delivered to the drink. It also affects how much control you have in texturizing your milk. Finally, how to put milk into the machine.
- Wand: This requires manually frothing the milk. They come with a steam wand to the side of the machine. This means you’ll need to place the milk pitcher under the wand and let the steam wand heat and froth the milk. Here, you’ll need to develop some skill to texture the milk. It does give you the ability to customize to preference including density of the froth. With wands, there are manual and auto frothing wands. Manual wands require you to do all the work. Automatic frothing wands do the frothing for you once you have the wand in the pitcher. Some names that auto frothing wands go by are turbo froth and pannarello.
- One touch: These are the simplest to use. It lets you make latte or cappuccino with just a press of a button. They do offer less customization and flexibility.
- Auto froth: Similar to one touch these do the frothing for you. But, they offer more customization. Some are fixed which means they do only one type of froth. Other machines let you adjust the kind of froth you want. These functions include delays, length, and density.
- Carafe: These are containers that come with the machine. Carafes can be built-in, removable or used beside the machine. Some built-in models are removable. This lets you take the milk carafe out so you can keep the excess milk in the fridge. Separate containers often come with a connecting tube that delivers the milk. Removable carafes make cleaning simple.
3. Type of Boiler
Most machines today use thermoblock boilers. This is what allows the device to make hot water and steam. These small units let you boil hot water and make steam or water as needed.
- Single Boiler: Most machines fall under this category. Single boiler machines use the same boiler for hot water and steam.
- Double Boiler: These come with two boilers. One for making hot water. Another for making steam. This gives you the benefit of less waiting between steaming and brewing. As you’d expect, espresso machines with double boilers are more expensive than those equipped with only one.
A few machines come with rapid steam technology. These machine offer faster steaming capability compared to regular boilers. This means less waiting time for you.
Boilers are the most common problem point for espresso machines. They can break down easily if you don’t do proper regular maintenance. For this reason some machines come with alerts. These tell you when it’s time to descale.
Descaling cleans out and prevents scale buildup in the water passageways inside the thermoblock boiler. This allows the boiler to stay in good condition for a long time.
One useful addition you can do is add a water filter in the reservoir. This reduces the amount of scale produced.
4. How Much Programming Does It Offer
This varies significantly from one machine to another. Some come with simple buttons. Others have a full panel LCD with graphics and touch screen.
The most important features here are to have the buttons that let you select the types of drinks you want. Espresso, cappuccino and lattes are often available. Though some have more options.
Here, a lot has to do with your drink preference. Choosing the machine that comes with the types of drinks you like most is the way to go.
In addition to types of coffee it makes, some models give you setting options. This lets you choose the volume of coffee, brewing temperature, coffee and milk length among other things. How many options you get will depend on the machine. So, choosing one that suits you taste can vary.
Finally, there’s the ability to save and program your own drinks. This lets you add your own preferences to those that are already pre-set.
The more expensive the machine, the more options you’ll see. Some even have multiple languages.
5. Style & Size
Size refers to two things. One is the physical size of the machine. Second is the capacity of different components. These include the drip trap, bean hopper and water reservoir.
Design and style also vary. Where you want to put the machine and your kitchen’s décor will likely dictate some of these decisions. You’ll also want to choose a machine that fits in your counter. This means measuring its footprint as well as its height, if you plan on placing it under cabinets.
Other style issues include where certain components are located. And, easy they are to access. These make a difference when refilling water and coffee beans. It also makes cleaning and maintenance easier.
6. How Much Control Do You Want?
Ultimately the product you choose should be able to make the drinks you want to enjoy. In addition, they ought to be able to let you make them the way you want.
This means choosing a produce that gives you enough control so you can adjust some settings as needed.
7. How Easy Should the Operation Be?
Do you want something that requires no work at all? Or, are you willing to do some milk frothing?
These are just some questions on how easy should the device be. For ultimate convenience, a one touch machine works best. Press a button, it handles everything from grinding to adding milk.
This decision will have to be balanced with how much control you want. Often, the more control you want, the more work is needed.
Finally, there’s price. Super automatic espresso machines are expensive. Entry level units cost around $400. Higher end models easily cost over $1,000.
The good news is that you don’t need to spend a thousand or more to enjoy great espresso and cappuccino at home.
Best Super Automatic Espresso Machine Reviews
We love that it gives you hot coffee with the ability for instant reheat. This cuts down the wait time in between without sacrificing drink quality. Thanks to its readouble boiler you can enjoy cup after cup at the ideal temperature.
The unit comes with an easy to use digital control panel. It also gives you programmable settings. This lets you go from beans to your coffee conveniently. Among its best features is that you get consistent coffee each time.
The DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica comes with a built in burr grinder. This lets you set the grind to the exact fineness you desire. You do have the option to use coffee grounds as well if you wish. The bypass doser lets you add pre-ground coffee without having to remove the beans from the hopper.
For milk-based coffee drinks, its one touch foam system lets you enjoy cappuccinos and lattes just as easily.
Overall this is a reliable device that gives you consistent espresso every time. It work very efficiently and comes with easy to use dial controls. At its price, it is among the rare espresso machines that come with a bypass doser.
The one drawback we noticed is that its grinder does make a bit more noise compared to similar products.
This is our pick if you want a good super automatic espresso machine without breaking the bank. For coffee lovers that want to get value for their money, this is a more suitable choice. This device gives you high quality espresso drinks at a more practical price tag.
The Gaggia Brera comes with a minimalist design and automated convenience. It is ideal for beginners as well as those who want something easy to operate. We do like that it lets you change the settings in order to get the brew you want.
With the Gaggia Brera, the machine does the work for you. All you need to do is make sure there’s water in the reservoir then load the beans into the hopper. From there, a press of a button lets the machine grind, tamp and brew your espresso the way you want.
It can make two cups, one after the other also by a press of a button. Its pre-infusion feature helps give you better tasting coffee by enhancing even absorption and cutting down on clumps.
It also comes with an automatic frothing stream wand. This lets you positon the milk under the wand and lets it do the work. This does mean a bit more work compared to other automatic machines which can froth and add the milk into the drink. But, it does give you the extra control.
The one thing we wished was that they used steel instead of plastic components. This would make it look ‘less cheap’ and be more study.
It is compact and affordable, yet gives you the features of a full-sized machine. This espresso make gives you the ability to enjoy a number of brewing options. All the options can be set via the front panel controls.
It lets you choose the cup size you want, the strength of your drink, and brewing temperature. Once you’re done with selection, the machine does the rest. In addition, you can program your desired settings. This lets the machine remember the exact way you want your coffee. This way you get the same drink consistently each time.
The dual coffee loading bays give you the ability to use pre-ground coffee as well as beans. Each of them having their own chambers so you can switch between sources depending on your mood.
The unit comes with a manual milk frother that lets you creating creamy, rich froth for lattes and cappuccinos.
This is a sleek designed automatic espresso machine that looks great on your kitchen counter. It is also slim at only 8.7 inches wide. This makes it easy to fit even if you don’t have much table space.
The unit works as easily as it looks good. It takes care of everything for you. And, unlike some of the other products in our review that require you to manually froth milk, this one doesn’t. This way, you can go about your morning routine and get the espresso or milk-based coffee drink you want.
The unit comes with easy to use intuitive controls. The digital panel lets you know what’s happening. And, you can control the brewing process using the buttons to the right and left of the panel.
The controls let you choose between espresso as well as milk-based beverages. It also lets you select from 3 temperature settings and 5 strengths. The built-in ceramic burr grinder also offers 5 different grind settings so you can select how fine the grounds are.
The Gaggia Anima uses pre-infusion to let you get better tasting coffee. It also makes milk-based coffee drinks more convenient.
Its one touch milk delivery system lets you press a button and watch it make lattes and cappuccinos. The Anima froths the milk for you and adds the exact amount needed to your espresso to make the perfect drink consistently. No manual steaming or frothing necessary.
Basic Maintenance for Your Super Automatic Espresso Machine
As with all home appliances, you’ll need to keep them well maintained to keep them functioning well. This is true with espresso machines.
Because they deal with coffee grounds and water, keeping them clean is important. In addition to this, they use high heat and a number of components that require some regular maintenance.
Here’s a short video that goes through the different steps for keeping your super automatic espresso machine in good working condition for many years to come.