Entry Level vs. Luxury Superautos
A couple of days ago we talked about what you get when you go from a prosumer semi-automatic espresso machine up to a more luxury machine. While the “prosumer” category of superautos doesn’t quite exist in the same way that it does for semi-autos, there are still lower cost and higher cost machines. Let’s look at how they compare!
When we talk about entry level superautos we’re talking about machines like the Philips Carina. These machines are simple options that make solid cups of coffee. You’ll often need to manually steam milk with a panarello, and you might not get extensive control and customization of your drinks. You will usually control an entry level machine with a simple button based interface with feedback delivered as small lights.
If you step up a bit into more midrange machines you might be able to get automatic milk steaming and a little more drink customization. Automatic frothing usually comes in the form of a siphon or carafe system, which makes getting your lattes and cappuccinos a breeze. From a maintenance perspective you’ll find superautos at just about every price level that offer some form of water filtration. Usually you’ll have to refer to your manual to learn how to do specific cleaning and maintenance procedures.
When you step up to a luxury superauto like the Saeco Xelsis you’ll mostly be getting improvements in usability. The espresso in these higher end machines may be better than in more entry level offerings, but usually it’s not a huge leap in drink quality. Instead, it’s all about the bells and whistles.
One of the most common bumps up at higher pricing tiers is the interface. You’ll go from simple buttons to vibrant screens that walk you through drink customization. These interfaces also often allow for more programming and saving of recipes. Finally, a screen based interface leads to guided maintenance and settings access so that you don’t have to memorize complex button sequences to clean the machine or change the filter.
One thing we haven’t touched on much is appearance. When you move to luxury superautos you tend to see an increase in visual appeal as well. Entry level machines get the job done, but do tend to be coffee boxes. When you look at machines like the Xelsis it’s clear that more has gone into designing the machine to be more premium looking on the countertop.
So is a luxury machine worth it? It really depends on your needs. If you just want good coffee as affordably as you can get it, a machine like the Carina will be the perfect fit for your kitchen. If you find reading the manual and practicing with the panarello wand overly frustrating then it might be worth stepping up into a more premium machine. One thing is for sure though, a superautomatic espresso machine is a great way to start brewing whole bean coffee conveniently!