Top 3 Superautomatic Espresso Machines of 2020
It’s time for a big one! As you know, we love superautomatic espresso machines. The combination of convenience and quality you can get from a great superauto is really great. Today we’ve got a look at our favorite Superautos that you can get right now. These machines may have released before 2020, but they’re what we consider the best combination of value and performance on the market today. We’ll also have a look at our favorite superautos without price/value as a metric soon as well. Let’s get started!
We know, we know, we talk about the Carina a lot. We also know that you might be tired of us lauding a machine only available at Seattle Coffee Gear. The thing is, we brought this machine in as an exclusive because we think it’s such a great value. Prior to the Carina, you might spend close to $1,000 just to try a superautomatic espresso machine. While we feel there are excellent machines that justify much higher price points than that, it can be a lot to spend if you’re not sure you even like these kinds of machines.
That’s why we’re so thrilled to offer the Philips Carina. This fully featured machine lets you brew espresso and “long coffees” (shots of espresso with more water to emulate a drip brew) as well as steam milk. What’s more? It does a really great job consistently providing excellent espresso and milk. You’ll get the same quality of brew found on higher priced Philips models, just with a slightly reduced set of features.
On the inside, the Carina is powered by a quality burr grinder and thermoblock boiler. These deliver fast, consistent performance. This machine also features a panarello steam wand for milk steaming. This is a little different than a commercial steam wand, and is easier to use. While it doesn’t mean you’ll get automatic steaming, you do get control over heat and texture. This is great for new users, as you’ll be able to really understand different espresso milk drinks.
The Carina does also offer a degree of programmability. While it doesn’t have the complex menu systems of the Saeco Xelsis, you can still set some parameters of your drinks. Dose (strength) and volume can both be shifted to fit your preferences. Finally, this machine is also AquaClean ready. This water filtration system is a great way to keep your machine in great shape, and reduces the number of descalings you’ll need to perform. Further, AquaClean filtration is easy to track and maintain with the help of the machine, which warns you when it’s time for a filter change or a cleaning.
This all makes the Carina an incredible value at its price point that is easy to use and maintain, while also brewing up some incredible cafe style beverages.
Sometimes specificity and simplicity can really lead to magic. Such is the case with the Jura A1. By Comparison, the A1 makes some of the best espresso available from a superauto at its price point. The big difference? This one’s all coffee. No milk steaming with the A1. While that can seem like a terrible feature to lose, it’s simply not an issue for a lot of users.
Many coffee drinkers don’t need steamed milk to add to their coffee for lattes or cappuccinos. Instead, a lot of folks just prefer a delicious shot of espresso or a long pulle “Lungo” style shot. The A1 achieves its delicious coffee through it’s patented Pulse Extraction Process, or P.E.P., brew unit it. Instead of a steady stream of water, the P.E.P. brew unit pulses water through the shot, creating a unique flavor and helping with extraction.
It’s also super fast. With high speed grinding, you’ll get a perfectly timed shot without an extra wait on the front end for grounds. Programmable cup sizes help too, and the A1’s intuitive touch interface makes using it a premium experience.
Then there’s the case. This is an ultra small machine, which is part of its appeal. At under 13 inches tall and only 18 inches deep, you’ll enjoy the space you save by taking out the milk system. It’s also got a height-adjustable spout to accommodate different mug sizes, as well as slick black and chrome coloring that makes the A1 look as great as it brews.
And… That’s kind of all there is to it. This is one of the best ways to easily turn fresh roasted whole bean coffee into a delicious shot of espresso, and we love it enough to consider it one of the best values in superautomatic machines.
We couldn’t finish this list without one more Philips machine! We know, it’s kind of cheating, but we have a good reason! The Philips 3200 With LatteGo is one of the coolest machines to come out in the past few years. That’s mostly down to its innovative steaming system that we’ll dig into in a few!
First, let’s talk about the ways in which this machine is like the 1220 Carina we listed above. The 3200 looks and brews a lot like the Carina with a few differences. In the brewing department, the primary difference is the dedicated Americano button. While you could brew an Americano with the Carina, you have to first pull a shot of espresso, then use the hot water option button to pull water. The LatteGo automates the process for an easier time making this classic beverage.
But the real star here is the milk system.
Most superautos rely on a panarello steam wand (like the Carina), a siphon milk system, or a carafe. Each system has its merits, but the carafe is often agreed on as the most convenient. This allows you to store frosty milk in the refrigerator in a special container that you plug into the superauto for milk brewing. The biggest issue with carafe based systems is cleaning.
For many carafes, milk is pulled through a siphon and into the machine, then heated in a steam chamber and poured through a spout at the coffee dispenser. While proper maintenance and cleaning can keep these machines running for a long time, they can be tough to ensure a good clean on.
The LatteGo cuts out the middleman, using a steam chamber right at the carafe’s plug point. This means milk almost exclusively moves through the carafe itself, being poured from a spout in the carafe rather than in the brew unit. The result is one object that needs to be cleaned. What’s more, it’s very easy to disassemble and fully clean the carafe, and you don’t have to run complex cleaning routines through a siphon system. It also produces excellent milk texture and you can adjust the amount of foam with a programming button that sits next to the brew volume button.
Speaking of cleaning, the 3200 features the same AquaClean filtration compatibility as the Carina. It also has helpful indicators to remind you to change the filter and descale the machine.
It’s for all of these reasons that we’ve snuck two Philips machines on our list this year. One offers incredible low cost value, the other an innovative automatic milk frothing system that’s worth the extra cost. One things for sure, 2020 has been a great year for Philips!