Superauto

  • Choosing a Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine - Part 1

    Choosing a semi-automatic espresso machine can be hard. With prices ranging from $100 to many thousands of dollars it can be difficult to know what matters. Read on for some helpful tips and info on picking out a new espresso machine!

     

    Price

    You may be tempted by machines that offer espresso and milk steaming for around the hundred dollar mark. While it's understandable to want to save on a machine, price is actually a good indicator of quality in the espresso machine market. A very inexpensive machine can be a great way decide if you like the taste of espresso, but it isn't likely to last or produce quality beverages.

    We find the sweet spot for first time buyers to be in the $500-$1000 range. There are numerous machines in this price range that offer quality and consistency alongside reliability. Above $1,000 you're mostly paying for more advanced features that give you finer control over your brewing. You may also be looking at more generational machines with components that can last decades.

    While a well researched first time user could certainly get their money's worth out of a high end machine, that $500-$100 range is a good thing to shoot for. Especially because you will need a grinder capable of espresso grinding to go with your machine!

    Pump

    Espresso is brewed by pumping water through a puck of finely ground coffee at 9 BAR. This is achieved with powerful pumps that are generally either vibratory or rotary. Lower end machines often don't have pumps capable of pushing water through at 9 BAR of pressure, so they use pressurized portafilter baskets to make up the difference. These portafilter baskets create additional pressure, but they don't always offer the purest flavor from the grounds.

    If you're just starting our with espresso you may want to practice with pressurized filters, as they are more forgiving of a grind or tamp that's not quite right. However, most espresso drinkers like to quickly move to unpressurized espresso brewing. For that reason, we recommend ensuring your espresso machine will be able to brew with an unpressurized filter.

    On the higher end, pump type comes down to reliability and how long it'll last. An expensive Izzo or Rocket Espresso machine will have a high quality pump that should work for decades. On top of this, they are usually designed so that its easy to work on and replace the pump, whereas less expensive machines might not offer this.

    Latte dripping from a coffee machine

    Boiler Type

    Perhaps the most important part of a semi-auto espresso machine is the boiler and heating element. All other things being equal, this is the thing you'll notice the biggest difference in in terms of usability. The obvious thing to consider here is boiler material. A sturdy stainless steel boiler in the Izzo espresso machines offered on SCG will last decades without a hint of leaking. However, this isn't necessarily a must have element of your first espresso machine. One thing you should consider carefully is how the heating element works, and how this effects heat up time.

    A traditional single boiler design can take many minutes to warm up, which often means you'll want to turn the machine on well before brewing, or leave it on (always check your manual before leaving your machine on for long periods. Many aren't designed for this). On the flipside, the thermocoil heating element in a Breville Bambino or Barista Pro can heat up in seconds. This is also important for milk steaming, as you'll need a lot of heat to steam a whole pitcher of milk. Stronger, faster heating elements help you to complete this process quicker.

    Again, on the higher end, you can purchase machines with multiple boilers. These kinds of machines allow you to steam milk and brew at the same time, as each process pulls from a different boiler. While this is extremely convenient and worth it for power users, it's absolutely not a thing you should get hung up on with your first purchase.

    What's Next?

    Next week we'll dig into more of the nuances with picking out a semi-auto espresso machine, such as PID controllers, control mechanisms, interfaces, and more.

  • New Product: Jura Z8

    Last week we took a look at the Jura D6, but that's not the only new Jura machine! The Z8 is a high end machine with an extensive featureset that justifies its high price point. So what sets this machine apart from its sibling machines?

    Connectivity and Performance

    The Z8 takes the stellar performance of Jura's existing machines and adds in a whole lot of connectivity and ease of use features.

    The most noticeable addition is the 4.3 inch touchscreen. This display is clear and concise, and reminds us of a high quality mobile device. The interface is extremely clear and easy to use, giving you a huge degree of control over your drinks.

    This machine also features smart visual touches like a blue-lit water tank, smart tracked filtration, and one-touch options for your favorite drinks. On the whole the Z8 offers 21 drink recipes, most of them with a high degree of customization.

    The Z8 also connects to Jura's J.O.E. mobile app, giving you control of this machine via bluetooth.

    None of this would matter if the machine didn't perform, but thankfully, the Z8 does. Using Jura's P.E.P. brewing process, this machines brews hot, well extracted espresso. The Z8 also steams impressive milk using the included cappuccinotore.

    Overall, this is a strong machine operating at the top end of the superautomatic price range. Check out the Z8 on Seattle Coffee Gear right here!

  • Superauto Milk

    If you've shopped around for an espresso machine before you're probably encountered the great super vs. semi-auto debate. You probably also know that superautos grind whole coffee beans and brew consistent shots. One thing that can be a bit of a mystery though is milk systems. With options like cappuccinotores, panarellos, and carafes there's a lot to learn when it comes to superauto milk!

    Setting Expectations

    One thing that is key to your decision making at the top is expectations. The first thing that can be a tough latte to swallow is temperatures. Superauto machines always struggle to produce milk at a hot enough temperature for some coffee drinkers. This has to do with the relatively narrow band of temperature that's acceptable for milk steaming, as well as the tech at play in automatic systems. This is one reason to potentially consider a panarello system, but more on that in a bit.

    The other issue is microfoam quality. There is no automatic frothing system that exists that can fully recreate a professional's work. Because it takes minute adjustments to maintain a good froth and incorporate foam, superautos have a tough time nailing it. The good news is that these machines are getting closer! Examples like the Saeco Xelsis can even produce milk for latte art with a bit of practice.

     

    Types Of Steam Systems - Panarello Wands

    So with the understanding that temp and texture are tough to recreate, what are the options out there? Let's start with panarellos.

    Panarellos (like the ones on the Saeco X-Small, pictured above), look quite a but like manual steam wands. The biggest difference is in material and shape. Panarellos often combine metal materials like stainless steel with plastic, making them more cost effective than fully manual steam wands. They also are designed to froth milk with less careful pitcher adjustments. Where a steam wand is simply a tube with a tip at the end to release steam, panarellos guide and restrict steam flow more carefully, and add a bit of air to the steam. This means they are less powerful and capable than a manual wand, but easier to use. Some panarellos even have built in temperature sensing to ensure that milk is frothed to the perfect temp. In action, this means that you'll physically hold a container of milk up to the wand while it does its thing. Generally you won't need to make any adjustments though, and the wand will take care of the rest. The benefits here are in more direct temperature control, while you give up some texture quality and ease of use.

     

    Types Of Steam Systems - Cappuccinotores and Siphons

    So what about cappuccinotores?

    These nifty attachments fit onto panarello wands and other systems to make the frothing process fully automatic. This brings a standard panarello wand in line with other milk siphon systems that don't utilize carafes. With these systems, milk is sucked up into the machine, then heated and textured, then poured into the cup. Systems like this are incredibly easy to use, you just drop a pipe end into your milk and the machine does the rest. The biggest issue with these systems are temperature control and cleanup. Because these machines literally suck in the milk from the container, keeping them clean is key. Removing and rinsing the pipe regularly is important, as well as using a cleaning solution to get inside of the machine. Most superautos with pipe systems will have an automated cleaning procedure that you can run with some cleaner as well. A great example of a machine with a siphon system like this is the Miele CM6.

     

    Types Of Steam Systems - Carafes

    The last type of milk system we'll cover today is the carafe. Technically, carafe based systems are a subset of siphons. Generally carafes simply act as a container to easily store the milk you'll use in a siphon system. This is the case with the optional carafe that comes standard with the Miele CM6350 or as an add on to the 6150, as well as the Xelsis from Saeco. It's worth mentioning carafes though because of how much simpler they make the process. The Xelsis' hygiesteam system works with a carafe to alleviate the cleaning issues we mentioned above, and even just cutting out the step of pouring milk into a container to be siphoned from is a time saver. On some machines, like the Incanto Carafe, you actually just plug the carafe into the espresso machine instead of using a siphon. These systems are considered high end, so the biggest downside you'll face is price. Additionally, as with any siphon system, temperature can be lower than desired for some!

    With new systems like Phillips' Latte GO on the horizon, superauto steaming continues to change and evolve!

     

  • Video Roundup: 8/27-9/7

    Hey coffee fans! It's been a couple of weeks since our last video roundup. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming this week!

    But first, let's take a look at what we missed!

    First up, Gail gave us a Crew Review of the new Eureka Perfetto.

    Next up, another crew review! This time for the DeLonghi Magnifica:

    Then we took a look at the Marco Beverages Jet Brewer with John!

    We then got a review of the Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti from Gail!

    Finally, John gave us some great tips on programming the Rocket R9 commercial machine.

    Thanks for joining us! We'll see you for more videos this week!

     

  • Choosing a Superautomatic

    You've probably seen us talk about superauto vs. semi-auto espresso machines. Some of you might even wonder what the difference is at all! This week we're diving into what makes superautomatic espresso machines tick and what to look for when purchasing.

    What's a Superauto?

    A superautomatic espresso machine simplifies the process of brewing espresso. other espresso machines require you to grind, tamp, and pull shots of espresso manually. While many enjoy the process of dialing in a new roast and tweaking its flavor, you may not. With a superauto you can get a solid espresso or milk drink in the morning without the time sink of a standard machine. You do sacrifice something on drink quality, however. Semi-auto machines (and manual pump driven machines) give you finer control over strength and quality. For most though, superautos are a great alternative without the hassle of a complicated manual process.

    So what is actually in a superauto? Most of these machines feature a bean hopper, grinder, brew unit, and milk steaming system. Beans go in the hopper, which feed to a grinder that automatically grinds coffee for espresso. This coffee is pressurized automatically in the brew unit and a shot is pulled. All of this happens at the touch of a button. Additionally, with another press or two you can have milk steamed for your latte or cappuccino as well!

    How Do I Choose?

    Choosing the right superauto for your kitchen can be daunting, but we're here to help. One of the biggest deciding factors for you will likely be price. superautos can be expensive, but you don't have to break the bank to get the right machine. Let's break down the things that are most important when picking out a superauto:

    Shot Quality

    Shot quality is an extremely important factor when purchasing a superauto. After all, you bought the machine to make coffee, so it had better be good! It's hard to gauge shot quality from the box, but generally user reviews and professional critiques can help you to get an idea of shot quality. It's worth noting that we avoid carrying any machines that we think pull downright poor shots, regardless of the price.

    Milk System

    Nearly as important as a good shot is decent milk quality. This may not be a consideration for you if you don't have interest in milk drinks, but it will be important to most. There are two main types of milk systems in superautos, carafes and tubes. With a tube system, you'll drop the end of a tube into a pitcher of milk. The machine will then pull the milk into the steaming unit and dispense steamed milk into your drink. The other option is a carafe system, which includes a carafe that you can store in the refrigerator that connects to the machine. Both systems can work great, and really come down to preference.

    In addition to the format of the milk system, quality is also a consideration. Perhaps the biggest weakness of superautos is how difficult it is to get quality steamed milk from an automatic system. While they are getting close, nothing beats a hand steamed pitcher of milk. this is another area where a look at the product page may not be of help, but you will want to look into others' opinions of milk quality when selecting a machine.

    Temperature

    Both for shots and milk, temperature is worth calling out. While many superautos can produce decent milk texture and shot quality, temperature is an area that many of these machines struggle with. It's hard to know exact measurements from product specs, but it's an important question to ask a sales person or look for in user reviews.

    Controls

    Superautos feature a range of controls. Some machines feature physical buttons with indicator lights and knobs. Others have vibrant touch screen interfaces that guide you through selecting your beverage. This is one of the areas where you can save some money if you're willing to compromise. In many cases, a touchscreen interface will increase the cost by quite a lot. For many, though, this ease of use will be worth the extra investment. You'll want to consider this after narrowing your focus based on shot/milk quality.

    Odds and Ends

    There are other bells and whistles to consider when looking at superautos as well. Recovery time, or the time between shots, could be a consideration if you serve a full house. cleaning options, tank type, and hopper/tank size are a consideration as well. Larger tanks mean less refills but can also be harder to remove or add cost. Many of these options come down to preference. Finally, proper cleaning and maintenance are important as well, so look into how that is done before making a final decision!

     

  • New Product Spotlight: Jura J6

    The Jura J6 offers great shots and milk frothing without the learning curve of a more complicated semi-automatic espresso machine. With that in mind, it's easy to get excited about this machine. With 12 drink options, easy setup (and cleaning), and a simple interface, the Jura J6 might be just the thing your kitchen needs!

    Setup and maintenance

    Anyone familiar with superautomatic machines knows that setup and cleaning can sometimes be the price paid for ease of use. Not so with the J6. The manual is clear and easy to read, and will help you get your J6 up and running in 20-30 minutes. You will want to do some extra dialing in to make sure you get the best shots (something we covered in a video here!). Otherwise, setup is a total breeze.

    Cleaning and maintaining the J6 is easy as well. Simple guides help you to replace the CLEARYL Smart Filter,clean the milk system, and descale the machine. These tasks usually don't require much more than a container of cleaning solution and pressing a button.

    Great taste and easy to use

    One of the reasons some folks prefer semi-automatic machines to superautos is taste. With a semi-automatic machine you have full control over the flavor of your espresso. This is less true with superautos, usually offering few settings to control the taste. Luckily, the J6 pulls great shots out of the box. Even more impressive is that these shots are achieved with a push of a button.

    Even more impressive than the shots are how well the J6 nails milk texture. Superautos usually get close to chain café quality, but pale in comparison to a seasoned barista manually frothing milk. Then there's the J6. While nothing truly beats the range of texture possibilities on a manual steam wand, the J6 definitely edges out the drive through café experience. On top of that, it does it all with a button press.

    Footprint, head room

    While not noticeably smaller than other superautos (it is, in fact, a little on the tall side), we had no trouble fitting the J6 on a crowded countertop. The bean hopper, water tank, and accessory storage are all easy to access as well. Furthermore, the bean hopper and water tank are quite large. This means you'll have to refill less, making maintenance on the machine even easier.

    We're excited to offer the J6, if you're ready to see this great machine in action, check it out here!

  • Crew Review: Saeco Moltio Carafe Superautomatic - Certified Refurbished

    How Does It Compare?

    If you’re on the hunt for a superautomatic, look no further than the Saeco Moltio Carafe Superautomatic - Certified Refurbished! The Moltio Carafe (model HD8869/47) is certified refurbished, so it’s easy on the wallet but always tested and approved by us before it’s sent to you. As the name suggests, this superautomatic uses a removable carafe to make one-touch lattes and cappuccinos or you can switch it out for the hot water spout to make Americanos.

    But what’s the icing on top of this machine? The removable bean hopper! And there are two hoppers for twice the beans—we don’t see removable bean hoppers on superautomatics often, let alone two. But there is another machine with a removable bean hopper, the Saeco Gran Baristo Hd8966/47. The Gran Baristo seals the deal with six user profiles; however, it only has one bean container. What’s the benefit of a removable bean hopper for coffee lovers? You can change out your beans from a morning blend to an afternoon decaf! If you enjoy lots of different coffee, the Moltio Carafe has two hoppers to get the job done.

    The Saeco Moltio Carafe Superautomatic - Certified Refurbished features a sleek body and intuitive interface. The Saeco Moltio Carafe Superautomatic - Certified Refurbished features a sleek body and intuitive interface.

    Shot

    Grab your favorite mug and enjoy hot coffee at the touch of a button. The Saeco Moltio Carafe Superautomatic - Certified Refurbished dedicates four buttons for classic drinks like espresso or latte macchiato. The intuitive press and hold programming is an effortless user-experience—we give it the thumbs up. To program, hit stop in the left-hand corner and the Moltio Carafe will remember the volume until it’s programmed again.

    Pro tip: Program this machine for one-ounce espresso shots if you like it strong. We love our espresso, so naturally we programmed the Moltio for two-ounce shots and it was weaker than we wanted. That's because even at the strongest dosage, (five beans under the Aroma button) the brew group is better designed for a single shot.

    The Moltio Carafe features two removable bean hoppers. The Moltio Carafe features two removable bean hoppers.

    That said, you can control the strength of your espresso using the Aroma button. There are five settings that add more grams per shot for the best cup every time. Another nifty trick for brewing coffee is choosing the bean species. Under the Menu button, select from arabica, robusta or a mix blend. Last but not least, like other superautomatics, you can change up For the price point, the Moltio Carafe offers us several ways to make coffee we’ll love.

    Steam

    Want a cappuccino to-go? The name says it all— the Saeco Moltio Carafe Superautomatic - Certified Refurbished features a one-touch carafe system that steams milk right into your mug. Dual thermoblocks for brewing and steaming work separately so you're sipping a full mug in a matter of minutes! Similar to other carafes you cannot control the froth, which is why we see drinks like the latte macchiato. Our latte macchiato was foamy and the factory settings pleased us with a stiff shot and lots of milk—just how we like it!

    Style

    Encased in a sleek gunmetal casing, unboxing the Saeco Moltio Carafe is like driving a new car off the lot. The metal bezel on the side adds an unexpected touch. The minimalist interface finishes this streamlined design that makes you skip the test drive and sign the paperwork. But like every new car, you unearth something after the honeymoon cruise is over. For the Moltio Carafe, the polished interface with buttons carved out of the panel starts to creak under your fingers. And that creak makes you realize these buttons could break. It hasn’t happened to the Crew, but—as you would with most electronics—use a gentle touch.

    The Moltio Carafe features metal bezel sides that create a sleek body. The Moltio Carafe features metal bezel sides that create a sleek body.

    The Moltio Carafe continues its minimalist style with an intuitive and sophisticated menu. It features a controlled auto-off and maintenance functionalities like a descale mode, which is vital to the life of your machine. The only feature we’re missing is a manual rinse cycle on the Moltio Carafe. After a few lattes, it’ll prompt rinsing the carafe again. Or if you’re impatient, the hot water tap had the carafe spick and span!

    The intuitive button and digital display interface make programming the Moltio Carafe a breeze. The intuitive button and digital display interface make programming the Moltio Carafe a breeze.

    Conclusion

    If you’re looking for a budget-friendly machine with all the bells and whistles, check out the Saeco Moltio Carafe Superautomatic - Certified Refurbished. The Moltio Carafe whips up classic drinks at the touch of a button. And best of all, this machine has style that complements the kitchen. What do you think of the Saeco Moltio Carafe? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

  • Crew Comparison: DeLonghi Magnifica S Cappuccino vs DeLonghi Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart

    How Does It Compare?

    You know what they say, don’t judge a book by its cover! But in our case, don’t judge an espresso machine by its name. We’re comparing the DeLonghi ECAM 25462S Magnifica S Cappuccino with the DeLonghi ECAM 23260SB Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart to see which superautomatic has what you need. Sure, the Smart has the name but the features we consider smart are missing—there’s no coffee customization! The Magnifica S Cap, on the other hand, has programmable espresso and milk volumes—we’ll raise a mug to that kind of customization!

    So, what makes the Smart smart? The LatteCrema system! Both machines have the LatteCrema system (a carafe with a froth control dial) that make one-touch cappuccinos, but the Smart has three dials while the Magnifica S Cap only has one. With the Smart’s three frothing options, you can achieve creamy frothy milk or fluffy cappuccino foam by only turning a knob! Check out the rest of the difference between these machines and see which one is for you.

    The DeLonghi Magnifica S Cappuccino features programmable espresso and milk ratios. The DeLonghi Magnifica S Cappuccino features programmable espresso and milk ratios.
    The DeLonghi ECAM 23260SB Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart is equipped with a simple interface and one-touch technology. The DeLonghi ECAM 23260SB Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart is equipped with a simple interface and one-touch technology.

    Shot

    So, just how smart is the DeLonghi Magnifica S Cappuccino? Program the volume of your espresso and milk and the machine will remember it for tomorrow’s cup—better yet, you can program every drink option! It features two espresso buttons, a cappuccino button and a milk menu with four other options to program to your perfect cup. It’s basically like having a barista on call 24/7. To top it off, the Magnifica S Cap also has temperature and coffee strength options for you to change at will. Pretty smart, right?

    With the Magnifica S Cap, you can save different volumes for espresso and milk on each drink. With the Magnifica S Cap, you can save different volumes for espresso and milk on each drink.

    That doesn’t mean the DeLonghi Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart is a dumb machine—far from it! While it may not have programmability, it has five coffee options—including an actual pulse-brewing coffee! The intuitive icons make it effortless for sleepy baristas to make a cup. Use the dial to find the brew you’re in the mood for—espresso or cappuccino, anyone—and just hit brew when you’re ready. While there’s not a customize volume option, you can adjust the  strength of our coffee with the two bean icon and—wait for it—

    Steam

    With the DeLonghi Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart, we can switch up the foaminess of our milk! The Smart features three frothing icons on the carafe. Choose the first option for creamy milk and the last option for fluffy foam. Customize the drink menu and adjust the frothing dial to replicate your favorite drinks like cappuccinos, flat whites or anything in between. The LatteCrema system, as it’s called, makes foam we don't see on carafes, and coupled with the fact that it’s customizable, it’s pretty smart if you ask us!

    The Smart's LatteCrema system has three milk foam options to create creamy lattes or fluffy cappuccinos. The Smart's LatteCrema system has three milk foam options to create creamy lattes or fluffy cappuccinos.

    While the DeLonghi Magnifica S Cappuccino full of coffee customization, there’s less available for milk froth. It also features the LatteCrema system but with one frothing option. It makes a mean cappuccinos foam, but it couldn’t silky milk that we’d want for our lattes. Like most carafe systems, it’s a one-milk-fits-all deal. You can, on the other hand, program the amount of milk for each drink, so choosing between these two boils down to what features you want more.

    Style

    Both machines are cut from the same cloth. They are designed to complement home brewer’s kitchen and respect their counter space. The slim build and front-accessible reservoir and grounds bin are optimized for home baristas to slide their DeLonghi next to kitchen appliances. The DeLonghi Magnifica S Cappuccino has a slightly larger footprint and reservoir, but the size won’t be noticeable when you’re brewing. We pulled several lattes before needing to refill. The biggest difference is that the DeLonghi Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart’s menu offers less customization.

    The Smart features an intuitive and user-friendly interface for sleepy mornings. The Smart features an intuitive and user-friendly interface for sleepy mornings.

    Conclusion

    Both the DeLonghi ECAM 25462S Magnifica S Cappuccino and the DeLonghi ECAM 23260SB Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart have some smart features to offer home baristas. While the Magnifica S Cap can save both espresso and milk ratios, the Smart excels in customized foam—a feature that’s not found on a lot of superautomatic machines! What do you think of these two one-touch superautomatic machines? Share your experience with these machines in the comments below.

  • Crew Comparison: DeLonghi ECAM44660B Eletta Plus Cappuccino vs ECAM 23260SB Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart

    How Does It Compare?

    On this week’s Crew Comparison, we’re bringing you a DeLonghi showdown: The DeLonghi ECAM44660B Eletta Plus Cappuccino versus the DeLonghi ECAM 23260SB Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart! In one corner we have the Eletta packed with programmability; auto-on, espresso and milk volume, LatteCrema system and—for all your drip drinkers—pulse-brewed coffee! In the opposite corner the Smart puts up a fair fight with seamless operation, LatteCrema system and affordability. But it’s hurting on programmability. We’re rooting for the Eletta! It feels like a shoo-in, but the match isn’t over until we’ve seen what these two superautomatics can do!

    The Eletta features a LatteCrema system that creates ideal milk foam for a variety of drinks. The Eletta features a LatteCrema system that creates ideal milk foam for a variety of drinks.
    The DeLonghi ECAM 23260SB Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart is equipped with a simple interface and one-touch technology. The DeLonghi ECAM 23260SB Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart is equipped with a simple interface and one-touch technology.

    Shot

    The DeLonghi ECAM 23260SB Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart’s simplified menu rises to the challenge to wake you up and get you out the door. Its select dial swiftly scrolls through your two espresso and three milk drink options. There’s no need to worry about choosing the wrong drink either! When you’ve chosen your drink, all you do is hit brew to start the Smart. The catch-22 for the Smart is the lack of programmability that we've seen on the DeLonghi ECAM44660B Eletta Plus Cappuccino, which might be worth the extra investment for some coffee lovers.

    The DeLonghi Magnifica S Smart Cappuccino features a simple interface for early risers. The DeLonghi Magnifica S Smart Cappuccino features a simple interface for early risers.

    The Smart plays a fair game, but the Eletta’s customization hits its mark every time. Customize the espresso and milk volume for all your favorite drinks—that includes the milk menu drinks! The Eletta requires a little one-on-one time to find your ideal drink settings, but your hard work pays off with one-touch cappuccinos brewed to your liking. But the real knock-out is it’s pulsed-brewed coffee—not espresso! The Eletta’s strategy is to deliver slow and steady pressure to achieve drip coffee consistency. And you know what? It truly is like a cup of drip.

    In 'My Coffee,' when you program the volume of your single shot, it daisy-chains to the rest of your drink options. In 'My Coffee,' when you program the volume of your single shot, it daisy-chains to the rest of your drink options.

    Steam

    Both superautomatics introduce the LatteCrema system to the new lineup. The system features a three-setting milk foam dial that makes a creamy froth, medium foam or a thick, fluffy foam with the ability to froth in between. The first dial steams instead of frothing the milk for a texture perfect for hot chocolate or lattes. The last option is our go-to for traditional cappuccinos!

    The LatteCrema system has three milk foam options to create creamy lattes or fluffy cappuccinos. The LatteCrema system has three milk foam options to create creamy lattes or fluffy cappuccinos.

    While both machines impress us with frothing, we’d put on money on the DeLonghi ECAM44660B Eletta Plus Cappuccino for it’s winning combo—the LatteCrema system and programmable milk volume. You’ll whip up creamy lattes with just the right proportions of espresso, milk and foam. Bonus: With the Eletta, you can program each drink’s espresso and milk volume.

    Where the DeLonghi ECAM 23260SB Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart excels, again, is the LatteCrema system; however, the factory settings leave us yearning for more action. That said, if you’re satisfied with the convenience and consistency of your cup, you won’t blink an eye without it! With the Smart, one-touch cappuccinos are brewed without a second thought on your part, coffee lovers.

    Both machines feature a removable carafe that stores in the fridge for tomorrow's coffee. Pictured: DeLonghi ECAM 23260SB Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart.

    Style

    Standing at nearly 15-inches tall, the DeLonghi ECAM44660B Eletta Plus Cappuccino seems to dwarf the DeLonghi ECAM 23260SB Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart. However, when you compare the numbers, the Smart isn’t that much smaller! The Smart saves half an inch in depth and barely a full inch in height thanks to its tall bean hopper. Both DeLonghi’s sport sleek profiles with clean edges to easily cozy up to your other appliances under the cabinet. In fact, with the front-access to the water tank and grounds bin, both the Eletta and Smart are well-designed for modern homes.

    The Eletta's larger body holds a two liter water tank. The Eletta's larger body holds a two-liter water tank.

    Where the Eletta visibly squashes its opponent is its display. Not only does it open up features like automatic on and off options, but it also flaunts an easy-reading digital display and touch-sensitive buttons. Program the Eletta to turn on in the morning and shut off when you’re heading out the door—this sort of customization saves time and energy. We appreciate the angle of the display, which offers a clear view for taller coffee lovers. That said, the Smart isn’t an underdog—it brews delicious coffee and cappuccinos without extra finessing. The Smart will also make delicious coffee without breaking the bank.

    Conclusion

    We had a close match between the DeLonghi ECAM44660B Eletta Plus Cappuccino and the DeLonghi ECAM 23260SB Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart. Both machines feature the LatteCrema system that whip up foamy drinks, but the Eletta offered us customized coffee that we couldn’t find on the Smart. That said, if you’re on a budget and willing to sacrifice customization, the Smart might be for you! What do you think of the latest DeLonghi superautomatics? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

  • Crew Review: DeLonghi ECAM 25462S Magnifica S Cappuccino

    How Does It Compare?

    You might just become an early bird when you have the DeLonghi ECAM 25462S Magnifica S Cappuccino making coffee for you! Wake up to a pre-heated machine ready to brew one-touch cappuccinos or creamy lattes. If you’ve been following our recent reviews on DeLonghi, you know that they’ve added the LatteCrema system to their machines—and the Magnifica S Cap is no exception! The carafe features one milk frothing option that steams up some fluffy cappuccino foam. Another new kid on the block, the (similarly named) DeLonghi ECAM 23260SB Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart, has three milk frothing options—that truly texture the milk differently—but its limited programmability leaves more to be desired. That’s why we’re falling for the Magnifica S Cap. It programs everything from the espresso to milk volume—yeah, it saves the milk amount too! Now that’s a perfect morning.

    MagnificaS_nonsmart_front The DeLonghi Magnifica S Cappuccino features one-touch brewing to make mornings a little easier.

    Shot

    Rise and shine! With the DeLonghi ECAM 25462S Magnifica S Cappuccino, programming your favorite drinks the night before makes grabbing a cup morning-proof. Easily customize the temperature, coffee strength and even the espresso and coffee ratio—the Magnifica S Cap will remember the proportions! It also features five different strength settings that help you find the sweet spot for new beans. Like a lot of superautomatics, temperature settings are within a given range. If you love your coffee piping hot, the Magnifica S Cap impressed us with a consistently hot shot!

    Easily program the espresso and milk volumes using the user-friendly interface. Easily program the espresso and milk volumes using the user-friendly interface.

    Beneath the 10-ounce bean hopper, the incredibly silent stainless steel burrs grind beans into espresso. One of the hidden gems of the Magnifica S Cap, though, is the 13 grinder settings! In comparison, the DeLonghi ECAM 23260SB Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart only has seven settings. Coffee lovers gain more control over the coarseness of their grind and ultimately, the flavor! And for coffee drinkers who pre-grind their coffee at the store, the Magnifica S Cap has a bypass doser.

    Steam

    The LatteCrema system continues to impress us with foamy milk of our choice! The dial determines the frothiness of the milk, offering casual coffee drinkers anything from a latte to cappuccino foam that you’d expect at a cafe. As an added bonus, the carafe features a clean option on the dial that keeps the inner system sparkling clean. The clean cycle won’t flush into the carafe either, so you can remove it and store in the fridge for later.

    The Magnifica S features the LatteCrema system that whips up frothy cappuccinos at the touch of a button! The Magnifica S features the LatteCrema system that whips up frothy cappuccinos at the touch of a button!

    The LatteCrema system works best when paired with the milk drink of your choice. For instance, more foam and less milk for cappuccinos. We mentioned earlier that programming your coffee was a cinch—so is programming the milk! To set up your proportions, press and hold the button to program and wait for the screen to show it’s programming milk. Once it has reached the ideal amount, press the button again to save the milk portion and it’ll repeat for your espresso.

    Style

    The DeLonghi ECAM 25462S Magnifica S Cappuccino’s narrow, elongated profile is designed to cozy up underneath cabinets. Equipped with a 67-ounce water reservoir, you can make drink after drink for the whole family without refilling! Even better, the tank slides out from the side that further benefits its slim profile. You’ll need height space to add beans or adjust the grind, but the front-access tank is a huge advantage compared to other models that require a foot plus!

    Along with the convenience of one-touch brewing, the Magnifica S Cap features an intuitive digital display that’s easy on the eyes. Its tactile operation works with the buttons and dial to select items within the menus. The menu features classic functions such as descale or the auto-on and off—a fantastic feature for early mornings. Set the time and then program the auto-on to warm up the machine before you want coffee.

    Conclusion

    Waking up just got a whole lot easier with the DeLonghi ECAM 25462S Magnifica S Cappuccino. It's designed with one-touch brewing and an intuitive interface that makes programming our favorite drinks a snap! We’re ecstatic that we can program the espresso to milk ratio for our lattes or cappuccinos. And, of course, the LatteCrema system whips up delicious frothiness for those said drinks. Have you checked out any of the new DeLonghi’s exclusive to Seattle Coffee Gear? Check them out and tell us what you think in the comments below.

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