The Best Super Automatic Espresso Machines for the Lazy Home Barista
A super automatic espresso machine appeals to two very different kinds of people: The ultra busy and the uber lazy. Regardless, who you are, you should be able to find a trusty coffee companion.
Licensed Q Arabica Grader, M.A. Journalism
I might as well say it from the get-go: Super-automatic espresso makers don’t quite reach the same level as more traditional espresso machines.
However, if you’re too busy (or too lazy) to bother with geeky details such as measuring, dosing, and tamping, this type of device should still be on your radar.
My top pick from Breville is rather different than the other automatic espresso machines, since it has an actual portafilter.
However, if money is no object, it should be on your radar.
Top pick: Best value
This machine combines the convenience of the super automatic with the customizability and hands-on feel of the classic espresso machine – meaning: It's a pretty unique espresso maker that can fulfill all your coffee desires in no time. The only downside is the price.
Jura is a Swiss brand that is renowned for quality commercial machines in Europe. This particular model is a well-made machine in a slightly higher price bracket for the discerning espresso purists. Its intuitive full-color display permits each person to tailor the strength and size of their espresso beverage, which is prepared using a pulse technique for perfect extraction.
You can make six different beverage types without even moving your cup. If you’re making one for a friend or entertaining, you can also brew two espressos simultaneously. While it does come with a two-quart reservoir and can steam chilled milk right from the carton, it doesn’t have a bypass for ground coffee. You must use whole bean coffee only.
Pro Tip: If you want an extra sweet deal, be sure to check out the refurbished versions. Often there are some really good discounts on practically new Jura-models here.
This machine from Saeco has a nice display with a bunch of different presets.
It has a burr grinder with ceramic blades and various settings that you can adjust depending on the roast level of the beans you put in it.
Loading whole bean or ground coffee and refilling the reservoir is also simple and straightforward, accessed through the top of the machine. Lastly, if you enjoy steaming your own milk, the Incanto has a panarello wand. This makes steaming milk correctly a simple process, even for beginners.
The reviewers seem to be a bit divided when it comes to the quality level of the machine, with some people complaining that it feels cheap considering the price.
DeLonghi has a long history of crafting high-quality espresso machines for the home and offering superior customer service. For some time, that cost a pretty penny. However, this highly affordable super automated home espresso system comes with all the quality and care its more expensive models do without the lofty price tag.
It is simple to clean, steams the milk perfectly for every beverage, and provides consistent excellence consonant with DeLonghi’s reputation. The interface is, by comparison, low-tech, with knobs and buttons. However, it can still be programmed to create your favorite beverages faithfully.
In the event that I could purchase this machine, I likely would. Not because it does everything for you, which it does, but because you can program it and elect to steam your own milk if you want to.
This is one of those high-end super-duper impressive models with a full-color display of programmed beverages that you can brew to specification every time. You swipe to select, as you would on a smartphone or tablet. However, the features—such as the commercial portafilter and the authentic steam wand—are true to barista form. Even the most rigorous purist will warm to this beautiful model, especially if they love to create latte art.
Does a superautomatic espresso machine even make good coffee?
Okay, the first benefit of this category of espresso makers is manifest; they are super-automatic!
Translation for the non-geeks: You don’t have to grind, measure, tamp, and measure your shots while brewing. The auto does it all.
There are many coffee lovers out there who are either very lazy or very busy. These people need to get a cup of coffee without getting too deep into the process.
Disclaimer: You will sacrifice some flavor when getting a super-automatic. Not because the technology is bad per se..
It’s just that getting perfect coffee requires a high level of attention when it comes to stuff like:
Bean freshness (roast date)
Finding the right grind size
Distrubution and puck prep
Temperature surfing (necessary on most entry-level machines)
Extraction and recipe
None of these criteria are probably going to be high on your list of priorities. Hence, the coffee you’d brew with a regular espresso maker wouldn’t be very tasty. Alas, you might as well let a machine handle the rest.
It’s probably not going to be an outstanding cup coffee, but it will be better than nothing. However, a capsule machine might be an even better option for you, since they require even less when it comes to maintenance – so overall you’ll spend even less time on that type of device.
Benefits of super automatic espresso machines
What are the pros when it comes to these automatic machines?
Convenience and cleanliness are probable the two most important things here.
Yes, you’ll likely have to empty a compartment in which the machine stores spent coffee grounds, but this can be done less often than if you are using a standard portafilter. Some of the higher end models even have self-cleaning functions that eliminate the need for you to do this, but I’ll talk more about that later.
It has to be said that all well-made super automatics are pretty snazzy. However, they do fall along a range. The more cost-friendly models will have fewer bells and whistles.
In consideration of this range, it’s essential that you decide what features you must have and which are merely luxury.
For example, if you prefer to steam your own milk, you shouldn’t go for a model with an automatic steaming function.
Brew group installation is another point to consider. Generally speaking, while having a self-cleaning espresso machine is a lovely thing, it does usually mean that the brew group mechanism isn’t removable. In some cases, it’s not even accessible to the user.
Depending on your need to assess and troubleshoot, this might be a feature you’re comfortable living without in lieu of a little more control. However, many find it an excellent feature, because then they need never fuss with the internal mechanisms of their espresso machine.
Another suite of features revolves around how many different types of espresso beverages you enjoy, whether you prefer to use fresh whole bean coffee or pre-ground, and how coordinated you are first thing in the morning. One-touch machines are precisely that—you touch a button and coffee is magically deposited in your cup. In several models, this extends to perfectly frothed milk as well. Your role as a prospective buyer is to decide how much input you need and what sort of interface works best for you.
Hello, and welcome! I'm the editor & founder of this site. I have been a coffee geek since I started home roasting more than a decade ago. Since then, coffee has taken me on countless adventures: From ancient coffee ceremonies in Ethiopia to the volcanos of Sumatra. My background is in journalism, and today I'm also a licensed Q Grader under the Coffee Quality Institute.
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