Under $1,000 Superauto Showdown
One question many prospective superauto owners have is “what’s the best superuatomatic espresso machine available for under $1,000?” While the real answer will be different for every person, we’ve still got some details that might help you answer the question for yourself! We’re looking at the Philips Carina and 4300 LatteGo along with the DehLonghi Dinamica and Jura A1. There are more superautos in the under $1,000 range but these machines give a decent spread across three manufacturers. Let’s get started!
The DeLonghi Dinamica is a solid machine that offers a decent range of drink customization and performance. The main draw here is the Dinamica’s built-in iced coffee option. While you can make an iced americano with any superatuo, the Dinamica has a dedicated button that lowers the water temp and makes extraction a little longer. The result is a more specific brew for drinking over ice.
Otherwise, the Dinamica is pretty similar to other machines on this list. A Front loading water tank and drip tray/waste bin makes it possible to comfortable slide the machine under a cabinet. Though it is worth noting that like the other machines on this list, beans are loaded from the top. Like the Philips Carina that we’ll talk about next, this machine also uses a panarello steam wand for milk frothing. All of these features map cleanly to something like the Carina, which also costs less, so you have to decide if the dedicated iced coffee is worth the price difference.
The Philips Carina is arguably the simplest machine on this list, and definitely the most affordable. It’s got many of the convenience features listed above - front loading water and drip tray/wastepin, a simple interface, a panarello wand, etc. It also can be fitted with an AquaClean water filter to reduce the need for descaling.
What we find most compelling about the Carina is the value proposition. With a machine that’s so affordable you can actually break even on it versus going to the coffee shop depending on what sort of beans you use. The espresso is good too, matching the flavor of the higher end Philips superautos. Speaking of which…
The 4300 LatteGo may be the most expensive machine on this list, but it makes sense as to why. Much of the ergonomics of this machine are identical to the Carina, but there’s two key differences that set it apart. First of all, there’s the interface. The 4300 features a screen based interface that gives you loads of control over your drinks. While you can get some of this from the Carina, the 4300 makes it even easier to adjust drink parameters. You also get simple maintenance information from the screen and it spells out the steps for performing regular cleaning tasks.
The other major difference is the LatteGo steaming system. This carafe based milk steaming option froths your milk with just a button press. The texture that this unique carafe creates is quite good, some of the best we’ve had in this price range. It’s also easier to clean than many comparable carafe based steaming systems. This makes it a really solid option if you have the budget for a machine at the 4300 LatteGo’s price point.
The Jura A1 is a unique option on this list. While it’s on the higher end of the pricing spectrum here, it’s also missing one key component: a milk system. Instead, it packs truly excellent espresso into a tiny package to be the perfect machine for those who’ll never need the steam. With it you get Jura’s patented Pulse Extraction Process, a method of brewing that pulses the water for a unique flavor. Whether you prefer it is down to your taste buds, but there’s no denying the quality.
You are, of course, giving up that milk option, but if you know you only like americanos and straight espresso, this is perhaps the machine for you.
As you can see, we have a hard time telling you which of these machines is “best.” If you’re budget conscious but want a great machine the Carina is the perfect option. If you love your iced espresso drinks, the Dinamica is a solid choice. If you want the snazzy interface and automatic milk steaming it’s hard to argue with the 4300 LatteGo. Finally, if all you need is espresso and you want a compact machine that makes it, the Jura A1 is a fantastic option. Regardless, all of these machines make solid drinks without completely breaking the bank.