Best Super-Automatic Espresso Machines of 2017 –  Reviews & Buying Guide

glad-cup-of-coffeeWhere do you go to get a shot of espresso? Your kitchen? No, you say. And, we ask – why not? Well, it’s probably because you don’t have an espresso maker at home.  And, the reason you don’t own an espresso maker is because you feel they are hard to use. Or, you may believe that using an espresso maker, like the one you see in your favorite coffee shop, requires super barista skills.

Well, none of that is true. You can make excellent espresso at home without learning any brewing skills. The super-automatic espresso machine makes this possible. Not only that, if you drink a couple of cappuccinos every day, you can recover the cost of the machine in less than a year.  So, if you’re a coffee lover, but you have neither the time nor inclination to learn how to grind, dose, tamp, and pour coffee, let us help you find the best super-automatic espresso machine for your needs.

Our Top 5 Picks

MODELPRODUCT DIMENSIONS
ITEM WEIGHT
USER RATINGPRICE
Delonghi ECAM28465M Prima Donna
Delonghi ECAM28465M Prima Donna
9.4 x 17.4 x 13.6 inches
26.5 pounds
4.5/5
$$$$$
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Jura IMPRESSA C65
Jura IMPRESSA C65
16.1 x 11 x 13.6 inches
22 pounds
3.8/5
$$$$
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Saeco Intelia Deluxe HD8759/47
Saeco Intelia Deluxe HD8759/47
4.7/5
$$$
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Gaggia Brera 59100
Gaggia Brera 59100
10 x 15.5 x 11.5 inches
19 pounds
4.1/5
$
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DeLonghi ECAM22110SB
DeLonghi ECAM22110SB
17 x 9.4 x 13.8 inches
24.3 pounds
3.9/5
$$
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In this section, we will take you through our super-automatic espresso machine reviews.  After reading the five reviews, you will have a clear understanding of what to expect from machines at different price ranges. And, in the next section, we will discuss the important factors to consider when buying an espresso machine. This section will help you choose a product from the following choices:

#1 Delonghi ECAM28465M Prima Donna – Our Top Pick

DeLonghi ECAM28465M Prima DonnaMeet the Porsche 911 of super-automatic espresso makers – the DeLonghi Prima Donna. The Prima Donna is the embodiment of premium quality design, function… and price. Costing nearly three grand, this brewer is for anyone looking to bring home an elite super-automatic.

We hold this espresso machine in high esteem for two reasons. First, it has one-touch espresso, latte, and cappuccino brewing function. Second, it offers a great deal of customization. You can adjust the amount of froth, grind size, strength, length, and temperature.

But, the user interface is not intuitive. You should read the manual many times to learn about its many features. After that, you should practice using the features to internalize them. If you don’t invest the time to know more about the machine, you will underutilize it. You don’t want to pay for $3000 worth of features and not to use them, right?

Now, consider this: for $3k, you can pay the downpayment for a $15,000 car.  So, unless you want to buy ‘the’ super-automatic, instead of ‘a’ super-automatic, we recommend more economical options.  But, there’s no mistaking it – the Prima Donna is at the top of the pack. If you want the best, this is it.

Pros

  • Durable and stylish
  • One-touch espresso and milk drinks
  • Many customization options

Cons

  • Extremely expensive
  • User interface is not intuitive
  • Not appropriate for commercial use


#2 Jura IMPRESSA C65 – The Runner-up

Jura IMPRESSA C65The Jura Impressa C65 is much more reasonably priced than the DeLonghi Prima Donna is. Costing just under a thousand dollars, the C65 offers a decent degree of customization, although not to the extent that the Prima Donna does. But, considering the difference in price between the two machines, the Jura C65’s features give good value for money.

We love the C65’s minimalistic interface and design. It has two rotary dials. The one on the left provides access to the programs and customization options. The dial on the right lets you switch between steam and hot water. The rotary dial interface takes a little bit of getting used to because entering and exiting the menu isn’t intuitive.

But, after using the machine a couple of times, you will get the hang of it. However, the major limitation of this machine, compared to the Prima Donna, is the milk frothing system. Although the system is automatic, the C65 does not have a milk carafe. You need to connect the frothing wand to a milk container using the milk pipe. You should also supervise the machine during the brewing process.

In our opinion, the Jura C65 is the right machine for you if you’re looking for a moderately priced super-automatic. And, if you mostly brew espresso, the inconvenience of not having a milk carafe won’t bother you.

Pros

  • Reasonable price
  • Stylish and durable
  • Minimalistic interface
  • Good customization

Cons

  • No milk carafe
  • Requires constant supervision
  • Takes time to get used to the controls


#3 Saeco Intelia Deluxe HD8759/47

Saeco Intelia Deluxe HD875947The Seaco Intelia Deluxe HD8759 has almost the same capabilities that the Jura C65 does. And, the Intelia Deluxe is about a hundred dollars cheaper than the Jura C65 is. The Intelia Deluxe is more compact and has a smaller footprint than the Jura C65.

Choosing between the C65 and the Intelia Deluxe comes down to the user interface. Unlike the C65, which has a minimalistic panel layout, the Intelia Deluxe has a bolder layout. The big buttons, which are arranged around a large display, have clear labels that indicate their functions. And, when you access the menu, the display shows exactly where you are and what you can do.

However, both machines have the same problem when it comes to the frothing system. The Intelia Deluxe does not have a milk carafe. You need to connect the frothing wand to a milk container using a milk pipe. But, the Jura 65 produces better quality foam than the Intelia Deluxe does.

Overall, the Intelia Deluxe is a good fit for people who like a simple button and screen interface. This machine will also appeal to people who like their coffee hot… really hot. The temperature at the brew head is around 190° F!

Pros

  • Reasonable price
  • Good build and design
  • Simple interface
  • Makes really hot coffee

Cons

  • No milk carafe
  • Change position of cup between brewing and frothing


#4 Gaggia Brera 59100 – Best For The Money

The Gaggia Brera is the best super-automatic espresso makers under $500.  The machine has a built-in ceramic burr grinder with five grind settings. In addition to this, you can also set the dosing and length of the shot. However, the degree of control is limited.

For instance, you can set the strength to mild, medium, or strong. But, you don’t have direct control on how many grams the grinder grinds. Also, you can set the shot volume for a single and double shot. However, you should eyeball the length of the shot because the display doesn’t give any readouts.

Another drawback is that the machine does not have an automatic milk frother. You should do it manually. But, the good news is that the Brera comes with a pannarello wand. The pannarello wand allows you to froth milk without involving much technique.

The Gaggia Brera is an amazing entry-level super-automatic. It has a built-in grinder and offers some degree of customization. Granted, it doesn’t have an auto-frother. But, at this price, we can let that slide. And, if you’re an espresso-only type of person, you don’t have to worry about frothing milk.

Pros

  • Very economical
  • Good design and build
  • Pannarello steam wand
  • Great for exclusive espresso lovers

Cons

  • Manual frothing system
  • No auto programs for milk drinks
  • Limited customization


#5 DeLonghi ECAM22110SB

DeLonghi ECAM22110SBThe DeLonghi Magnifica XS isn’t as expensive as the Saeco Intelia Deluxe. But, it isn’t as cheap as the Gaggia Brera. Even in terms of features and functions, the Magnifica XS fares better than the Gaggia Brera does. But, it is not as capable as the Intelia Deluxe. Now that we’ve got a feel for the relative merit, let’s explore the features of this machine in detail.

The Magnifica XS comes with a steel burr grinder with 13 grind settings. So, you get a lot of control over the grind’s texture. You can set it to coarse for long coffee and fine for espresso. The machine also has two sets of programmable buttons for a single shot and double shot. The first set is for espresso, and the second is for long coffee. And, the dial in the middle lets you change the strength of the brew.

Another feature we like is the auto-purge steam wand. After using the steam wand, it automatically runs water through it to clean it and cool it. This feature makes maintenance easier. Although the taste of the espresso shot this machine pulls compares favorably with the shots pulled by more expensive machines, the same cannot be said about the milk frother. With the merits and demerits considered, this is a good basic machine for home users to check.

Pros

  • Reasonable price
  • Good design and build
  • Easy to maintain
  • Programmable shot volume
  • Adjustable strength

Cons

  • Manual frothing
  • Not great for milk drinks


Factors to Consider When Buying a Super-Automatic Espresso Machine

Your budget for a super-automatic espresso machine may be $500, $1000, or perhaps even more. Or, you may not have set a budget because you don’t know how much money to set aside for a super-automatic. The good news is that every price range has noteworthy products. But, how do you know a good deal when you see one? Well, that’s what this section of the guide is all about.
Here, you will learn the advantages and disadvantages of a super-automatic. This information will help you decide whether a super-automatic is the right machine for you or not. And, if you’re clear on buying one, we will explain major factors to consider when buying a super-automatic espresso machine.

After reading this section, you will be able to find the ideal product within your budget. If you have not set a budget yet, this section will help you do that and then choose the right fit. So, let’s get started.

Why should I buy a super-automatic espresso machine?

There are three main categories of espresso makers on the market: manual, semi-automatic, and super-automatic. In manual brewers, you do most of the work, including grinding, dosing, tamping, heating, pumping, and pouring. In a semi-automatic, the machine does the heating and pouring. But, you should grind, dose, and tamp manually.  However, a super-automatic brewer does everything for you. So, the obvious advantages are:

  • Skills Don’t Matter: You could have absolutely no knowledge of brewing an espresso shot and still pull a great shot with a super-automatic.
  • Consistent Results: From the first cup to the fiftieth, the taste of each shot will remain consistent unless you change the settings.
  • Low-Maintenance: A super-automatic has fewer parts to clean. Also, the parts need to be cleaned less frequently.

Are there any limitations I should know about?

Yes, the biggest limitation of the machine is that you have little to no control over the brewing variables. The machine makes all the decisions for you. Although some brewers let you select variables such as strength and length of shot, the reins are in the machine’s hands most of the time.

Now, this is not a problem if you’re happy with what the machine brews. But, if you don’t like the taste, you cannot do anything about it because the process is programmed into the machine. Also, if you like to experiment with different flavors, grind sizes, temperatures, extraction time, and grind amounts, you should buy a semi-automatic.

Is the super-automatic the right choice for me?

Based on the limitations and capabilities of a super-automatic, it is clear that the super-automatic is built for convenience, not control. So, if all you want to do is enjoy high-quality specialty drinks without investing time in building skills to brew them, a super-automatic is the right rig for you.

However, if you want to learn and develop your barista skills, you can’t do it on a super-automatic because the machine does everything for you. This leaves no room for growing your skills. Even if you get some customization, it never feels like you’re in control. Think of it as the difference between customizing your sub at Subway as opposed to making your own sandwich.

Okay, if I am buying a super-automatic, what are the factors I should examine?

If you’re certain that the super-automatic is the right machine for you, then here are some features that will help you pick a good machine:

  • Programs: Programs are the drinks the machine can make for you. High-end machines allow one-touch brewing for espresso and milk drinks, such as latte and cappuccino. Budget-friendly options brew espresso automatically. But, to make milk drinks you should manually froth the milk using the steam wand. So, if you’re not a fan of milk drinks, don’t waste your money on an automatic milk frother. On the other hand, if you love milk drinks, the automatic milk frother is a good feature to invest on.
  • Customization: Customization has two dimensions. The first dimension is the number of customization options. The second dimension is the degree of customization within each option. For example, a low-cost machine may offer only three settings for strength. But, a high-end machine may offer five or more strength settings. Now, the whole premise behind a super-automatic machine’s design is that the machine is in control. So, if you want to get more involved with the brewing process, get a semi-automatic.
  • Maintenance: Cleaning the brew group, emptying the drip tray and dreg box, purging the steam wand, and decalcifying the boiler are the main maintenance operations involved in operating a super-automatic. But, what you need to look at is the frequency at which you should execute these steps. For instance, if the brewer has a tiny dreg box you will have to empty it more often. Or, if the steam wand does not have an auto-purge feature, you will have to purge it manually after every use. Another example is that if the water tank doesn’t have a filter, you’ll have to decalcify more often. So, look for features that reduce the frequency of maintenance operations.
  • Service: A super-automatic is only as good as its weakest link. If any component of the mechanism breaks down, the entire machine becomes useless. If a breakdown happens, you need to take it to a service center to get it fixed. So, make sure you have a service center in or near your area.
  • Warranty: Even if you use the machine exactly as directed and follow all the maintenance procedures to the letter, the machine can still break down resulting from defects in material or workmanship. Usually, such defects will show up within a year or two. So, make sure your machine has at least a one-year warranty. Also, read the warranty policy to make sure it is in your favor. For example, if you have to bear the cost of sending the machine to the manufacturer, consider the shipping charges.

Great, I think I will buy a super-automatic machine. What are my options?

Now that you know all the factors that go into picking a super-automatic espresso maker, go to our reviews of the top five super-automatic espresso machines. Then, apply what you’ve learned to select a machine that fits your needs and budget. But, if you want more options, you can use what you’ve learned to scout for products on your own. We suggest you look at products from DeLonghi, Gaggia, Saeco, Jura, and Breville.


Conclusion

We’ve seen a trend where features in high-end models percolate to mid-tier models as the years go by.  As a result, even affordable super-automatics are pretty advanced. So, even if you’re on a low budget, machines like Gaggia Brera and the DeLonghi Magnifica XS allow you to brew delicious espresso at home.

And, if you want access to espresso as well as milk drinks, the best option is the Jura Impressa C65. However, the lack of an integrated frother makes the Jura C65 a little hard to use. If it’s absolute ease of use that you’re after, you can’t go wrong with our top pick, the DeLonghi Prima Donna.

So, based on the reviews of super-automatic espresso machines and the important factors to consider when buying one, you can now confidently pick a product that will fit your budget and enjoy using it.