Superautomatic

  • 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!

  • SCG Expert Review: Saeco Xelsis Superautomatic Espresso Machine

    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!

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  • The Reluctant Barista: Jura GIGA 5 and the Secret Menu

    giga5_feature4There is something so intriguing about a secret menu. Starbucks has one. In-N-Out Burger has one. And now, the Jura GIGA 5 Automatic Coffee Center does too. After a hot tip from Kat that there was indeed a secret menu, I decided to play detective. I found these new recipes through my favorite machine testing method called 'random button pushing.' You won’t find this covered in the Jura user manual (unless you happen to look at page 20...). The Reluctant Barista has some delicious insider information to share.

    The initial screen shows what you might come to expect from a superautomatic menu: Ristretto, Espresso, Coffee, Hot Water, Cappuccino, Latte Macchiato, Milk, Milk Foam. From these simple settings you can further customize the coffee dosage, water temperature, water volume, milk volume and milk foam. The Jura GIGA 5 does not come standard with an integrated milk carafe, so I used a Jura Cool Control Automatic Milk Cooler and the included hose that came with the GIGA 5 to make a bevy of milk-based beverages.

    Last week I made my go-to drink, a foamy hazelnut latte and was happily surprised by how hot the drink got. Monday morning I had the GIGA 5 pour me a double cappuccino. I needed it! After the caffeine kicked in, it was time to explore uncharted territory. There were 12 more "secret" recipes once I twirled the rotary dial on top. I have to admit, these recipes perplexed me. Were they chosen by an Italian espresso aficionado? Were they chosen by the Swiss manufacturer? Who mixes lemonade and espresso? They did not seem to be targeted to Seattle taste profiles, or at least not my particular taste. However, I did try the recipe for 'Winter Magic Coffee.' This turned out to be what I would describe as a Nutella Latte. It was so popular with the SCG Crew that I ended up making 5 drinks back to back.

    Sadly, there was no barista gnome inside the Jura GIGA 5 to prepare the drinks. You need to provide your own ingredients. From home I brought my treasured Nutella and used Monin Honey Sweetener although it was sweet enough without it. The GIGA 5 walked me through each step with a series of easy to read screens. I especially liked the final step of each drink I made when the GIGA 5 screen simply said, 'Enjoy!'

    The Jura GIGA 5 "Secret" Drink Menu:

    • Marocchino – espresso, Monin Dark Chocolate Sauce, chocolate powder
    • Pepresso – espresso, Monin Dark Chocolate Sauce, mixed peppercorns (Watch Brandi make this recipe)
    • White Cool – espresso, carbonated lemonade, ice cubes
    • Gourmet Latte Macchiato – espresso, evaporated milk, Monin Irish Cream Syrup (non-alcoholic) or Bailey’s Irish Cream (alcoholic)
    • Irish Coffee – coffee, brown sugar, Irish Whiskey (alcoholic), whipped cream on top
    • Café Melange – coffee with whipped cream and chocolate shavings on top
    • Viennese Coffee – coffee, vanilla ice cream, Monin Vanilla Syrup and chocolate shavings on top
    • Winter Magic Coffee – espresso, Nutella, honey and a pinch of ginger and cardamom on top
    • Shakerato – espresso, lemons, sugar, ice
    • Mango Lassi – espresso, yogurt, mango puree
    • Red Cool – espresso, carbonated lemonade, Campari (alcoholic), ice
    • Summer Fire – espresso, Monin Coconut Syrup, lemon pepper

    Thank you GIGA 5 -- we will enjoy!

  • SCG’s Most Popular Coffee Gear – 2012

    Even if you don’t buy into New Year’s resolutions, there’s nothing wrong with thinking about little ways to improve your quality of life and that of those around you. (We know what you’re like without your morning coffee. It's okay, this is a safe place.) Why not start with a commitment to make better coffee in 2013? Here’s a list our best selling gear from last year to help you get started!

    Under $500
    Saeco Aroma Black - $229 Stainless Steel - $259
    Compact and durable, the Aroma is a great entry-level espresso machine. It’s extremely easy to use, and the pressurized portafilter and included pod adapter will have you brewing with E.S.E. pods, pre-ground espresso, or freshly ground beans with ease.

    Saeco Via Venezia Black - $299 Stainless Steel - $349
    The Via Venezia and Aroma share the same internals therefore they function almost identically, but the Via Venezia offers some slight improvements: larger capacity water reservoir (98 oz), steam wand with more mobility, and more clearance between the drip tray and brew head so you can brew into larger cups. This little workhorse will keep you caffeinated with no problems.

    Breville Infuser BES840XL - $499.95
    The Infuser is the only espresso machine in this price range to offer an internal PID, and while it’s not programmable, it stabilizes the brew temperature for perfect shot extraction. With built-in pre-infusion, commercial style steam wand, and compact stainless casing, you’ll be proud to have this on your counter top.

    Under $1000
    Rancilio Silvia - $629 with PID - $879
    Simple, reliable, durable. The Silvia is one of the best sellers in the home espresso market and it’s a great machine on which to hone your craft since you’ll need to be precise with your grind and tamp. Upgrade to the installed PID version for programmable temperature control.

    Saeco Syntia SS Superautomatic - $849
    The Syntia is a compact and stylish superauto that offers the convenience of automatic espresso brewing paired with manual milk steaming – perfect for folks who order extra-hot lattes. With Saeco’s removable brew group and Intenza water filter system, it’s also easy to maintain and a great option for those who need a little extra help in the morning. ☺

    Crossland CC1 - $699 (now 10% off!)
    A PID comes standard with this single boiler, which let’s you customize brew and steam temperature, pre-infusion time, and volume. We love the stainless steel casing, thermo-block enhanced steam to switch quickly between brewing and steaming, and the programmability for this price point.

    Under $1500
    Breville Double Boiler - $1199.95
    When you’re ready to brew and steam simultaneously, you’re ready for this bad boy. With an easy to use interface, you can program the electronic PID with extraction temperatures, volumetric control, and pre-infusion duration.

    Nuova Simonelli Oscar - $1050
    If you think you need a dual boiler for simultaneous brewing and steaming, think again. Heat exchangers like the Oscar provide similar benefits at a lower price point. This machine has great steam pressure, a large water reservoir, and is also available as a direct connect machine. It’s available in a sexy metallic red as well – vroom vroom.

    DeLonghi 23450SL -$1499.95
    This is one of DeLonghi’s newer superautomatics on the market, and if you are a bleary eyed zombie before your morning java, you will appreciate its one-touch functionality. It produces some of the hottest coffee we’ve seen from superautos.

    Under $2000
    Saeco Exprelia -$1899
    This one-touch dual boiler is streamlined and compact, and we love that if offers both one-touch functionality for auto-frothing milk or manual steaming with a stainless steel steam wand – no panarellos here. Right now we are offering a year’s supply of coffee with the purchase of a new Exprelia!

    Rocket Cellini Premium Plus - $1799 Giotto Premium Plus - $1899
    Hand craftsmanship, a commercial grade E61 brew head and high polished stainless steel seduce many an espresso lover to bring the Cellini or Giotto Premium Plus into their lives. You’ll be extracting delicious shots and impressing all your friends with this one.

    Sky’s the Limit
    Rocket R58 - $2699
    You’re ready to take it to the next level with this powerhouse. The dual boilers work independently to stabilize the espresso boiler, and maximize steam pressure without compromising shot quality.

    Saeco Xelsis - $2999 or Xelsis ID - $3199
    The only thing missing from these superautomatics is the ability for them to read your mind...coming in 2015 (Just kidding!) Right now you’ll have to be satisfied with the ID’s fingerprint recognition technology to access your drink profile and create beverages at the touch of a button.

    Izzo Alex Duetto II - $2250 Duetto III - $2495
    This dual boiler has commercial quality components, electronic PID control, and the option to plumb into your water line. It’s new older brother, the Duetto III offers an upgraded fit and finish, larger drip tray, and stainless steel cup rails. Both solid performers can take your java to the next level.

  • Crew Review: Jura ENA 4 Superauto

    One of our favorites in terms of straight up shot appeal, the Jura ENA 4 is a simple superauto that's designed for smaller kitchens. While its steam wand functionality leaves a bit to be desired, making rich espresso shots and Americanos at the touch of a button make this machine one of our favorites in this product set.

    Watch Gail take us through its features and specs, then demonstrate how it functions.

  • Crew Review: Jura ENA Micro 9 One-Touch

    Not all of us are blessed with excess kitchen counter space, and Jura is here to help us out with that. Their new Micro series of machines feature smaller footprints and heights than any of their other models, without sacrificing their well-known brew quality.

    Watch as Gail shows us the ENA Micro 9, which features one-touch cappuccino functionality that will whip up a milk-based drink for you in a jiffy.

     

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