Superautomatic

  • Philips 3200 With LatteGo Review

    Last year Philips introduced a new line of superautomatic espresso machines. From the 1220 Carina to the 3200 with LatteGo, this line is a wonderful way to get brewing espresso at home. We love this line so much that we brought the Carina in as an exclusive machine here at Seattle Coffee Gear! Let’s take a look at how the LatteGo steaming system and the 3200 platform stacks up!

    The Basics

    The Philips 3200 with LatteGo is a superautomatic espresso machine. This means it’s a machine that combines an espresso brew unit, a milk steaming system, and a grinder in one machine. What’s more, it means that the machine uses extensive automation to make drink prep extremely simple. With just a few button presses you can get a shot of espresso or a latte.

    In the case of some superautomatics, you have to hold a milk pitcher up to a steam wand in order to make lattes and cappuccinos. While not as challenging as a full commercial style steam tip, these panarello wands don’t provide the same level of simplicity as an automated system. Some machines opt for a siphon system that pulls milk into a steaming chamber and then dispenses it into a drink. Finally, carafe based solutions have you fill a carafe of milk that the machine siphons cold milk from to steam for milk drinks.

    We’ll get into the specifics of why the 3200 with LatteGo is a little different from traditional superautos with its milk steaming in a little bit. The first question most users have though, is how’s the espresso? We’re happy to share that the 3200 matches the rest of the Philips superautomatic line in terms of espresso quality. The difficulty in evaluating espresso from superautomatics is that much of it is subjective. With that in mind, here at Seattle Coffee Gear we feel that Philips’ brew process offers a good platform for enjoying a wide range of beans.

    The 3200’s interface is easy to use, with simple controls to produce espresso, a long shot (labeled as “coffee”), americanos, cappuccinos, lattes, or hot water. There are also buttons to adjust the dose (or amount of coffee used per drink) and drink volume, as well as milk foam amount. 

    Finally, there’s the LatteGo’s maintenance. All of the machines in this line of Philips superautos are compatible with AquaClean water filters. With a simple notification on the machine face, you’ll know when it’s time to swap the filter, or even clean/descale the machine entirely. AquaClean filters filter the water you put into the machine’s reservoir to both produce excellent coffee and extend the time between descalings.

    Design and Features

    The biggest thing that sets this machine apart from others in the Philips line is the LatteGo steaming system. As mentioned above, LatteGo is a little different from a typical carafe. Most carafe based options still use a siphon to pull milk into a steaming chamber. With LatteGo, milk is siphoned through the carafe, but upon heating it is poured through a spout that is part of the carafe itself. 

    The difference here is a very simple system that looks like a standard carafe on its surface, but one where the milk doesn’t have to move through tubing inside of the machine to get to a spout at the brew unit. The result is a much easier to clean system that actually produces hot, well textured milk.

    In terms of the design of the 3200, it features a top loading bean hopper and front loading water reservoir. While it can be a pain to have to pull your machine out from under your cabinets to load beans, the front loading water reservoir means you won’t have to repeat this too often. This is a smart design feature that many superautos miss, and it really makes day to day use of the machine more convenient. 

    By combining the consistency of Philips’ espresso brewing and range of brew options with the high quality, easy to clean LatteGo system, the 3200 with LatteGo is a fantastic starting point or upgrade for your home espresso journey.

  • Breville Oracle Touch Review

    A lot of home espresso users know exactly what sort of machine they’ll want. On the one hand, you’ve got traditional semi-automatic espresso machines. These machines require some patience and practice to learn to use. The upside here is that they offer a high degree of control and precision. On the other hand, there’s the convenience of superautomatic espresso machines. While these machines tend to make the espresso they make, they are also extremely easy to use and can create delicious drinks with just a button press or two. For those looking for something a little more in the middle, there’s the Breville Oracle Touch Espresso Machine. How does the Oracle Touch stack up in 2020? Read on to find out.

    The Basics

    The Breville Oracle Touch is a hybrid machine that offers some of the control of a semi-automatic machine while automating many of the steps of brewing like a semi-auto. This can be a tough concept to wrap your head around, but it makes sense when you start working with the machine. 

    For starters, this machine features a built-in burr grinder along with its two PID-controlled stainless steel boilers. This combination gives you everything you need to brew great espresso on its own, but then there’s the interface. Using the machine’s color, touchscreen interface you can automate the entire process of grinding, tamping, brewing, and steaming if you want. The only part the machine needs you to handle is moving the portafilter to the grinder, then back to the brew group, then cleanup of the espresso puck and wipedown of the steam wand. 

    The nice part about this is that you can automate as much of the process as you want to. If you like hand steaming milk, that option is there for you. If you hate milk steaming but want to tamp yourself, that’s an option as well. All of this makes the Oracle Touch a fantastic machine for any user that isn’t sure how involved they want to be in the brewing process. What’s more, while this machine is expensive, it doesn’t cut corners on quality or performance. 

    The Details

    As mentioned about, this machine features two boilers, one for steaming and one for brewing, with PID controlled temperatures. This means that you’ll be able to pull shots and steam milk continuously with stable temperatures and minimal downtime. The group head of the Oracle also features an electronic heating element, which keeps the portafilter at temp. This is important because it keeps water from the boiler at temp as it is pushed through the grounds in the portafilter. All of this ensures consistent, even extraction.

    The 58mm pro style portafilter also helps provide the most even extraction of the espresso. A built-in solenoid valve ensures pressure consistency and makes backflushing easy as well. With volumetric or timed programming, you can also dial in the perfect shot manually and have the machine reproduce it every time if you like that sort of hands-on preparation.

    Finally, there’s the steam wand. The Oracle’s steam wand monitors temperature of the milk and can be programmed to introduce a specific amount of air. The results is true differentiation between cappuccino and latte steaming, allowing you to trust in the machine to produce your perfect milk. 

    The biggest problems in the Oracle Touch come from it’s slightly slimmed down control options from the non-touch Oracle, and its size. As a result of development on the touchscreen interface, Breville has removed the programmable tamp pressure and pre-infusion, option for static values for each of these. This was done in an effort to make the machine a little easier to use for new users. Additionally, like the Oracle, and Breville’s Barista line of machines, the Oracle Touch is a large machine. While we think it makes up for this by combining grinder and brewer, having to find room for a combination machine can be a challenge.

    Taken as a whole, the Oracle Touch is a phenomenal platform for any user looking for the control of a semi-automatic and the available automation of a superauto.

  • Philips Carina Tips and Tricks

    The Philips Carina is one of the most affordable ways to get into superautomatic espresso machines. You've probably heard us gush about the features of this machine, but there's some tips and tricks that'll help you get the most out of it. Read on to learn more and get brewing!

    • Warmup time
      • The Carina features pretty fast warmup times. With that said, we recommend turning the machine on first thing, so that it'll be ready to brew when you're ready for coffee!
    • Water tank, bean hopper
      • A quick check of the water and bean levels each morning will help you to avoid any delays in getting your drink in the morning.
    • Waste bin
      • Similar to our last tip, consider dumping water from the drip tray in between clearing the waste bin. Otherwise you can end up with an easily spilled drip tray when trying to dump the waste bin!
    • Brew volumes
      • By pressing the drink button for your drink a second time, you can double the volume of the brew. By combining this with the volume "slider" button you can brew larger drinks.
    • Milk steaming
      • The Carina's panarello steam wand makes steaming easy, but by checking out some general milk steaming tips you can up your milk game.
    • Use less oily beans
      • More of a general superauto tip, but using beans that aren't too oily can keep your machine's grinder in tip-top shape.
    • Experiment
      • Try out a variety of drink options to really put your new machine through its paces!
    • Dial in your machine
      • The dial inside the bean hopper is used to dial in your machine, something you should definitely do! From there it can take a dozen or so drinks for the machine to produce its best coffee.

    So there you have it! Using these tips you can really get the very best usability and coffee from your Carina!

  • Gail's Picks: Best Superautomatic Espresso Machines of 2019

    If you know anything about Seattle Coffee Gear, you know we love our superautomatic espresso machines. These brewers take the process of brewing espresso and turn it into an accessible set of button presses. Judging superautos is similar to judging their less automatic brethren. That means that we look at their internals, performance, and reliability. On top of these elements it's important to consider programmability and ease of use. We're excited to bring you this top 3, featuring a trio of brand new machines!

    Philips Carina

    Up first is the Philips Carina. We often talk about SCG exclusive machines needing to earn our interest. Offering a machine that no one else has is great, but only if the machine lives up to the promise. In the case of the Carina, we're pretty thrilled. The Carina isn't the fanciest machine on the market, and it isn't loaded with programming and complex menu systems like some of the competition. Instead, this is a machine that makes brewing your morning espresso simple and affordable. We often hear that these machines are quite expensive, especially when you're not sure you'll like one. Adding an option like the Carina to our lineup was a no-brainer, because it provides a jumping on point. It's affordable enough to make it a compelling choice for those new to espresso, and specifically, to superautos.

    That's not to suggest that this machine isn't also worth every penny. Its brewing capabilities are extensive, offering straight shots, lungo pulled "coffee" and milk drinks. You steam the milk using a panarello steam wand, which is less automatic than other machines. While this difference in convenience is noticeable, you also get the chance to steam your milk how you like it. This means that you can control temperature and foam more than with other milk systems. You may even find that this entry-level brewer ends up lasting you far longer than you anticipated.

    Philips 3200 LatteGo

    Another new Philips offering, the 3200 LatteGo earns its spot because of its innovative new steaming system. While many of the things said about the Carina are also true of the 3200, it's LatteGo and the additional drink options that it offers that justify the price tag. So what is LatteGo?

    If you're familiar with superautos, you've probably seen carafe based steaming systems. These systems use a carafe full of milk as a reservoir to steam your milk. Once you're done steaming, you can simply store the carafe in the fridge. It's more convenient than trying to pour the perfect amount of milk every time. The biggest downfall of most carafe systems is cleaning. They often use pipes to pull milk up to the steam chamber, and they're often challenging to clean. The LatteGo simplifies many of these processes with a three part design that comes apart easily for cleaning. We love this ease of use and maintenance, and think the carafe's design is ingenious. It's why it's on our list of best superautos for 2019!

    Miele CM5500

    The Miele CM5500 is yet another new machine part of the new 5000 line from the company. It's also another SCG exclusive, and the same rules about needing to impress apply here. We're big fans of Miele's 6000 line, and this series takes those features and packs them into a lower price point and smaller footprint. What we really love though, is how little was lost in the transition. The 5500 is one of the most affordable superautos that include multiple user profiles. You can use those profiles to customize your drinks, which is a huge deal for families and couples. The programming options allow you to set things like volume and strength, allowing you to get the perfect coffee drink in a few button presses.

    Outside of the programmability, Miele's other features hold here as well. Things like automatic milk frothing, a hot water spout, guided cleaning, and Miele's special carafe mode (allowing you to brew 40 oz of coffee at once) make this a special machine. We're sure you'll love it as much as we do!

    Conclusion

    That does it for our top 3 superautomatics of 2019, but we're not done yet! We'll have plenty more top threes as we round out this eventful year. See you next time!

  • Introducing the All New Miele CM5300!

    Miele has brought quality coffee to kitchens around the world for a while now. The CM6 series offers powerful programmability, great performance, and ease of use. Joining the 6 series is the all new CM 5300!

    New Footprint, New Price

    The CM5300 is, at its core, the same quality brewer as the 6 series' offerings. It still provides delicious espresso and milk drinks, features easy cleaning, and offers powerful programming options. It also clocks in at a lower price, with some upgrades in other areas.

    While the CM5300 lacks a hot water spout, this has allowed for a slimmer footprint. This is a great help for smaller kitchens, where space is often a serious consideration when considering a machine purchase. this slimmer case also comes in slick new colors, without sacrificing the cup warmer or other capabilities.

     

    Exquisite Programming

    One of the things that this machine can't be praised enough more is programming options. While it's standard to see things like a serving doubler, volume control, and other bells and whistles on high dollar machines, the CM5300 offers these features for less. The double serving option is great for making two lattes or espressos, but can also be used for larger containers like travel mugs. These sorts of options being offered at this lower price point are very exciting!

    It helps that all of this is backed by a longstanding tradition of performance in the CM6 series too. Programmability is great, but if the milk or coffee quality isn't there then it's hard to justify the price of one of these machines. The CM5300 offers that same taste and texture produced by the CM6, just with the changes mentioned above.

    We're sure you'll be just as excited about this machine as we are once you see (and taste) what it has to offer, so check out the Miele CM5300 here now!

  • The Convenience of a Superauto

    We talk a lot about semi-automatic and superautomatic espresso machines. If you've read our blog before you probably know that a superauto combines grinder and brewer in one. This is different from a semi-auto, which requires a standalone grinder. You may also know already that a superautos can brew coffee (and usually steam milk) with just a push of a button! But how do they stack up against semi-autos?

     

    Ease of Use

    The first and most obvious answer is ease of use. Professional baristas train for a long time to be able to make exquisite drinks on semi-automatic machines. A superauto makes this process far easier. It's true that in reality there's more to them than pushing a button and getting coffee out of one of these machines, but it's pretty close. The machine will also help you learn what different coffee drinks are if you're intimidated by the café menu!

    The other challenge with semi-auto machines is milk steaming. Where you may need to spend hours learning the perfect way to steam a pitcher of milk, a superauto's milk system does it by itself. Now, it's important to note, you'll never get milk like what a professional can steam on a superauto. Correctly creating microfoam and incorporating it into milk is so delicate that a machine will always struggle. However, milk systems in superautos do a great job, and steam milk better than many amateurs out there anyway!

    These machines also save time. The full process of grinding, weighing, brewing, and steaming milk on a semi-auto can take anywhere from 5-15 minutes depending on your skill level. A superauto can produce a latte or cappuccino in just a minute or two. What's more, there's usually less clean up with a superauto.

    Another component in the ease of use argument is maintenance. Semi-auto machines require you to know exactly how and when to perform backflushes, cleaning, and descaling. While these aren't impossible to learn, they do make maintaining a one of these machines more complex than a superauto. By contrast, a superauto will give you helpful indicators, warnings, and prompts. Typically cleaning and maintenance is a step by step process that the machine can walk you through as well.

    The Tradeoff

    None of this is to say there's no tradeoff with these machines. The biggest is control. On a semi-auto you can tease out the complexities of a single origin to really craft something unique. Superautos work better with blends, as they tend to pull shots with a little less finesse. This isn't to say their coffee is bad though. On the contrary, the control you get out of a semi-auto doesn't mean better drinks. Instead, semi-auto espresso machines are often enjoyed by coffee hobbyists who enjoy a more complex process.

    As noted above, the same is true for milk. Superautos create good milk texture, but not on the level of a pro barista. That said, it takes a lot of practice and skill to make quality steamed milk, and some higher end machines get very close to what a barista could do.

    Finally, superautos tend to create cooler drinks than semi-auto machines. This is a real stumbling point for some coffee drinkers, so be sure to take a look at reviews for the specific machine you're considering.

    One thing you don't necessarily have to compromise though, is price!

     

    Pricing

    Superautos, like semi-autos, run the gamut in terms of price. From the Saeco XSmall clocking in around $500 all the way up to higher dollar machines like the Miele CM6350. Truly, there's a superauto for every budget.

     

  • Saeco Holiday Giveaway!

     

    Win big!

    We're thrilled to be giving away 3 phenomenal Saeco espresso machines this holiday season! Head on over to https://www.seattlecoffeegear.com/subscribe for entry details. Good luck!

  • Saeco Xelsis Superautomatic Espresso Machine Review

    Sporting a lot more than a new look, the new Xelsis from Saeco is here. We know you're eager to hear how it stacks up against the old Xelsis One Touch. We can say comfortably that these two machines aren't even comparable. Let's start with the first thing you'll probably notice about the new Xelsis, its looks.

     

    If Looks Could Brew

    Superautomatic espresso machines have never been the prettiest addition to the kitchen. While manufacturers like Jura and Miele do offer some strong design elements, most of these machines could be described as "coffee boxes". It's not the fault of other machines in the Xelsis' price range really, these devices cram a lot of components into the smallest form fact they can. It's no wonder, then, that aesthetic design takes a back seat to practicality.

    With the new Xelsis, Saeco took advantage of modern design tropes to build something truly striking. Regardless of color choice, the smooth angles of the face of this machine look and feel great. The chrome accents and textured buttons add this the machine's appearance in a big way too. This smart beautiful design is enhanced further by little touches like the illuminated water tank and smart logo placement. It all combines with a form factor that impresses.

    The smart case design factors into more than just the looks too. Many superautos have tanks that need to be lifted out of the side or top. This is manageable, but low counters can make refilling your water tank a pain. The Xelsis solves this by making the 2-liter water tank pull out from the front of the machine. We love this design touch, and when combined with the ease of removing the grounds bin and drip tray, makes maintenance a breeze.

    If we have any complaints about the case, it's that some of the seams can feel a bit... Plasticy. While the case as a whole feels solid and premium, some of the gaps in the plastic don't feel as premium by comparison. This wasn't to noticeable except when handling the machine to move it, however.

    The cherry on top is, of course, the touch screen. This screen also serves as your gateway into an incredible degree of drink options.

    Brew Like a Pro

    One of the key reasons to consider a semi-automatic machine over a superauto is control. You can control things like dose, extraction time, milk steaming, and temp very directly. Superautos usually let you adjust things like strength and temp, but not with the granularity of a sem-auto. The Xelsis bucks this trend by giving you nearly unparalleled control over your drink.

    It does all of this with the ease of use of a smartphone app. Controlling things like temp, strength, and more, are done with clear sliders and buttons. The only problem with this is that for some, it may offer TOO many options. Let's take a look at the basics:

    As you can see, strength and volume options are the basics, which most machines offer. Swiping right gives you access to more granular items like flavor, temp, foam, and more. It's a dazzling set of options that can feel intimidating at first. In the end though, with a little bit of experimentation, you'll be able to dial in your perfect drink. What's more, you can save your drinks to a profile so that you'll always be able to get the perfect cappuccino or latte. For those who don't want to customize, the default options still provide delicious drinks too.

    Other menu options like cleaning, and more granular machine settings, are easy to access too. The cleaning menu gives you simple, step by step instructions as well. Speaking of cleaning...

    Squeaky Clean

    Cleaning and maintaining a superauto can sometimes be a hassle, but we found the Xelsis' options to be simple and effective. the machine rinses automatically, and brew head cleaning is as easy as following prompts from the machine. The Xelsis also features Saeco's tried and true AquaClean filtration system. These filters cut down on maintenance like descaling by simply telling you when they need to be changed through the machine's interface. They are a great option that have proven themselves in other Saeco machines, and do so here as well.

    The hardest thing to keep clean in a superauto is the milk system. Saeco's attempt at solving this problem in the Xelsis is the Hygiesteam system. This system takes the form of a convenient, round carafe that fits easily in the fridge. A cappuccinotore wand fits through a hole (which can be closed) in the top of the carafe. From there, as you'd expect, milk it pulled up through the wand and tube and into the frother. The system automatically purges itself in the cappuccinotore caddy attached to the side. You can also manually purge the wand from the cleaning menu. It's a great system that is easier to work with than other carafes, which often have plastic points of contact that need to be scrubbed by hand.

    Ease of use, looks, and cleaning are all great, but what about performance?

    It's All About Performance

    The coffee out of the Xelsis is definitely on par with other machines at its price point. It won't blow your mind, but it should please any coffee drinker who's used to superauto espresso. The taste also lets the unique notes of the coffee through better than cheaper models, a great reason to consider an upgrade. All of that said, nothing beats manually dialing in and pulling a shot from a semi-auto or lever driven machine, but the Xelsis tries it's best and matches the performance of its peers. But superautos aren't just about the coffee.

    The Xelsis features some of the best milk texturing and flavor of any superauto we've ever seen. This is often the hardest thing to get right on a machine like this. Recreating the delicate process of hand steaming milk is a huge challenge, and the Xelsis really knocks it out of the park here. The microfoam from this machine is even of a high enough quality to pour latte art, not something that can be said about most home superautos.

    This machine should be able to keep up with the demands of a family coffee drinkers as well. The Xelsis features a short warm-up time and the ability to pump out several drinks in a row without stopping.

    So what's the verdict?

    Conclusion

    The new Xelsis definitely sets the bar for its price point, and even punches up in ways the previous model did not. While elements of the machine on their own are relatively standard, the full package is an incredible proposition. The HygieSteam system in particular, for it's ease of cleaning and fantastic milk, is a great reason to buy. We definitely recommend at least trying the coffee and milk out of this machine beside others in its price range to see the difference for yourself.

    Check out the Xelsis on Seattlecoffeegear.com here!

     

     

     

  • Miele CM6150 | Crew Review

    Overview

    Sleek, modern, and highly programable—it's the Miele CM6150. One of Miele's newest offerings in their line of Swiss-made coffee makers, the CM6150 serves as a relatively affordable entry point into high end superautomatic espresso beverages deliciously prepared. It features a sleek plastic case available in both white and black, simple one-touch drink recipes, and auto-on and off functionality. Perfect for a large family or small office of coffee drinkers who desire options without a headache, the CM6150 will look great in your kitchen or break room without breaking the bank. Worth noting as well is Miele's remarkably effective auto-rinsing as well as the milk siphon tube flush function preventing unappetizing build up anywhere in the machine.

    SCG_Miele_CR (3 of 4)How does it compare?

    When it comes to having options, your possibilities are endless with the CM6150. Easily one of the most programable machines at its price point, Miele's entry-level superautomatic gives you a truly impressive amount of drink options without sacrificing features found on many higher end machines.

    After comparing the CM6150 with the similarly priced Jura E6, we found the overall quality of the drink to be slightly smoother from the espresso to the milk texture. Moreover, the ability to set your drink to five different temperature settings allows for the user to enjoy their coffee without the fear of it cooling down too quickly (or being too hot for that matter). However, with so many ways to use your Miele, programming the machine may feel like a chore for the first few times of use compared to the E6's straightforward one-touch design. Additionally, the machine lacks Jura's Intelligent Water System, which keeps track and notifies you when your water filter is due to be changed.

    Nevertheless, we've found Miele's CM6150 tough to beat when it comes to superautomatic machines at this price point. The CM6150 looks great on a counter, can prepare two drinks at a time, and brews a super delicious "pot of coffee" featuring 3-8 cups of Joe!

    SCG_Miele_CR (1 of 4)Who will love this machine?

    Miele's CM6150 is the perfect semiautomatic espresso machine for the large family or small office that appreciates modern design and plenty of options when preparing a drink. It is affordable and easy to clean, so once you get the hang of its many features you'll be on your way to quick and delicious coffee!

    Purchase the Miele CM6150 here!

  • Comparison: Auto Milk Systems

    We always get asked, which superautomatic makes the hottest milk with the best foam? So we decided to put four brands to the test to find out how the milk foam quality and  temperatures stack up.Auto Milk Systems

    In our comparison we took  our favorite model from the following brands: Saeco, DeLonghi, Breville and Jura. The Breville Oracle might seem like the odd one out since it isn't a true superautomatic, but it also isn't a true semi-automatic. So while it might not be a fair comparison, we felt it fit into the big picture nicely.

    As you might have expected (and we did too) the Breville Oracle won the comparison. The Oracle allows you to set the temperature of the milk you would like as well as the foam quality. And to be honest, it would be hard to replicate the quality of the milk off the Breville even using a traditional steam wand.

    The Saeco Exprelia Evo came in second, or first if you remove the Oracle from the lineup. The Exprelia Evo gave us milk that reached 124.5 degrees fahrenheit, the hottest out of the other super automatics. The foam was tighter than the milk foam on both the Jura and the DeLonghi. So if you are someone who loves your milk based espresso drinks, we might recommend you look at the Saeco line up.

    Of course, the Jura and the Delonghi both have some great features that make them stand out as well. Because milk isn't the only feature one looks for in an espresso machine.

    Be sure to watch our full comparison video below!

    Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel by clicking here, and never miss a video again!

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