Superautomatic

  • Coffee Selection Tips for Your New Gear!

    It’s possible that you’ve just received a shiny new piece of coffee gear this holiday season. But what’s sweet equipment without a great roast to go with it? Let’s take a look at some things to look for when shopping for the perfect coffee for your new kit!

    Drip Coffee

    Let’s start with drip coffee. It could be that you’ve just picked up or received your first serious drip brewer. Sure, you’ve probably made a pot or two before, but maybe not on a high quality coffee maker!

    Drip coffee is great because it tends to bring out tasty flavors in a wide range of roasts. This means that you’ll get the “truest” flavors on more balanced roasts, as drip brewing tends to work better with more balanced flavor profiles. This isn’t to say that a super fruity natural will be bad as a drip brew, but you may not get milder notes then you would with a pour over. 

    Because of this, classic coffee flavors are a great place to start. Chocolatey blends and roasts with just enough fruitiness are the perfect way to break in your new drip brewer. That said, don’t hesitate to try out that exciting single origin you’ve been eyeing!

    Many of these concepts apply to press brewing as well, though with that style you’ll often get bolder, stronger flavors from rich or earthy roasts.

    Pour Over

    Pour over gives you the ability to really dial in flavors in a similar manner to espresso, but without the same intensity. This means that you can really pick roasts based on the notes you’re excited about.

    Your pour over kit will help you unlock the more intense fruit notes on naturals. It’ll still also give you those richer chocolate notes. To really get a great grasp of how delicate pour over flavors can get, give a tasty looking light floral roast a try. Some coffees actually take on a tea-like profile that is definitely to die for, and the only brew method that really works for these roasts is pour over, so it’s worth giving a try!

    There aren’t really any roasts that don’t work as pour over, though you may find that you prefer roastier diner style coffees in a press or drip.

    Espresso

    Espresso is the trickiest brew method to understand and develop a sense for. Whether you’re brewing with pressurized baskets, unpressurized baskets, or a superautomatic machine, you’ll probably want to start with a standard espresso blend. 

    Because this is such a precise brew method, starting with a blend that’s specifically roasted for espresso will make dialing in your grinder a little easier. Once you have a sense for how to get a good shot out of simpler blends, you can move on to more temperamental roasts. If you’ve got unpressurized baskets to use, you can get a good shot out of most coffees. If you’re using pressurized baskets or a superauto you may have a hard time getting something especially tasty out of a more delicate single origin. This is because these roasts often need a pretty precise grind and shot pull to build the proper complexity. This can be a challenge to nail with a pressurized basket or superauto.

    Also, don’t forget that you should avoid oily beans in a superauto! For a whole host of beans we think work great in these machines check out our Superauto Recommended coffee category!

    We hope this gives you some good things to look out for as you break in your new coffee equipment!

  • Top 3 High-End Superautomatic Espresso Machines of 2020

    This is it! The last in our series of Top 3s articles for 2020. We’re closing it out with a particularly fun category: High-end superautomatic espresso machines! These three machines represent our picks for sky’s the limit automatic home espresso. We’re not worried about budget or value here, just the most feature-filled machines on the market. Let’s get started!

    Saeco Xelsis

    We know, we talk about the Saeco Xelsis a lot. But it’s for good reason! For many of us here at SCG, this is the machine we’d pick even if you offered us one that was twice the price. The Xelsis really is a cafe lover’s superautomatic because of the range of options it includes, it’s stylish looks, and of course, its performance.

    Let’s talk about control. The touch screen interface on the Xelsis is truly remarkable, giving you careful control over drink parameters. It’s also easy to use and intuitive, something that isn’t always the case with coffee equipment. Using the Xelsis, you’ll be able to dial in the perfect latte, cappuccino, or other espresso drink and then save it to a preset to pull again and again.

    Then there’s the performance. With hot, delicious espresso that lives up to the Saeco name, you won’t be disappointed. Where this machine really takes performance to the next level is with its milik steaming. We’ve been hard pressed to find a superautomatic with milk production on par with semi-auto steaming. The fact of the matter is that there’s a degree of finesse and control needed during steaming that superautos have a hard time reaching. While the Xelsis isn’t quite on the level of a well trained barista, it’s as close as we’ve seen from a superauto. Our latte art gurus have even managed to pour art with the latte milk from this machine. With foam level being one of the parameters you can control on the Xelsis, you can even fine tune this as well!

    Finally, there’s the convenience features. The Xelsis has a self cleaning steam wand, front loading water tank, and is AquaClean filter ready, which all makes it as easy a machine to own as it is to use. It’s an easy choice for us as one of the best superautos you can buy.

    Miele CM6350

    Miele is known across the world of appliances for delivering high performance and high quality. Their superautomatic espresso machines are no different, and the CM6350 is at the top of that line.

    Th CM6350 is on this list because it is one of the top performing superautos on the market in terms of drink quality. Period. The espresso that this machine brews is fantastic, and the built in hot water spout allows you to make brilliant americanos as well. What’s more, this machines’ automatic milk steaming is the real deal, giving you near cafe quality lattes and cappuccinos. 

    Miele also makes maintaining this machine easy, with a high contrast guided interface for cleaning and maintaining. This interface also aids in drink parameter programming, which isn’t as robust as the Xelsis, but still more than adequate.

    If there are any complaints to be made about Miele superautos, it’s in the temperature department. This machine brews espresso at 200 degrees fahrenheit as needed for espresso, but there’s not much you can do to increase the temperature of the coffee or milk beyond that if you really need a scalding hot drink. We don’t feel this is a major issue with this machine, but it’s worth noting in case you drink coffee at burn-your-mouth temperatures!

    When you put together the quality, consistency, and ease of use with Miele superautos it’s not hard to understand why we hold them in such high regard!

    Breville Oracle Touch

    This last one is interesting. If what you want is a superautomatic machine that gives you your morning drink with just a button press, the Oracle Touch might not be for you. The reason we include it here is because it represents such an interesting crossover between semi and superautomatic machines.

    The Oracle Touch brews using a portafilter like you’d find on a semi-automatic espresso machine. It also uses a steam wand that works similarly to those found on semi-autos. The difference is that it automates the process of grinding, brewing, and steaming by combining a grinder and auto tamper and programming a number of preset drink options. All you have to do to use the Oracle Touch is select your drink on the color screen and move your portafilter to the grinder and back to the group head. The machine does the rest. 

    While this added step may seem counterintuitive, the benefit is you get flavors that are closer to a semi-auto machine using a traditional portafilter. You’ll also have more direct control over your brew since there are some more manual steps you can take as you work through the brewing process. 

    We think this machine is the perfect choice for someone looking to learn more about espresso as they enjoy automated brewing. That makes the Oracle Touch quite unique, and well worth including on this list!

    That’s a wrap for our 2020 best ofs! We hope you’ve enjoyed these articles and we can’t wait to bring you all sorts of holiday fun as we close out the year!

  • 2020 Holiday Shopping Guide: Superautomatic Espresso Machines

    If you’re looking for a fast, simple way to brew delicious espresso, you can look no further than a superautomatic espresso machine. These machines combine a brew unit, grinder, and a milk steaming unit to craft incredible coffee drinks. Even better? With simple touch based interfaces you’ll be able to brew these drinks with just a few button presses. A unique thing about superautomatic espresso machines is how little you need to purchase with them to get brewing. That’s why today we’ll take a look at a few different machine options for differing budgets and tastes.

    Philips 1220 Carina

    The Philips 1220 Carina arguably represents the best value in home espresso machines. With great performance, easy maintenance, and ease of use, it’s hard to find a more convenient way to get a great morning coffee drink. First, let’s talk about performance. With a built in burr grinder, you just need a couple of button presses to go from whole bean coffee to delicious espresso. This convenience is great, and with AquaClean water filtration maintenance is as easy as following the guide lights on the touch panel.

    The one area of compromise you’ll make with the Carina is in milk steaming. This machine features a panarello steam wand that requires holding a pitcher up to it for steaming. With that in mind, it’s still quite easy to use, and does give you fine control over your steaming. This way you can get milk that is as hot as you like!

    Overall the Carina is an easy recommendation for your first superauto, or a replacement for an older machine. Looking for something on the higher end of the pricing spectrum?

    Saeco Xelsis

    The Saeco Xelsis represents a real luxury superauto. This is a machine that offers exceptional performance and quality drinks, as well as a fine degree of control. The Xelsis has all of the features you’d expect of a high end superauto: great espresso, easy cleaning and maintenance, and automatic milk steaming. What really sets it apart is its interface and its milk quality.

    The Xelsis features a touchscreen interface similar to what you might find on a smartphone. Using this interface you can control everything from temperature, to strength, to milk texture for your lattes and cappuccinos. This is the sort of control you don’t get from similar machines, usually only from semi-automatics where you’re manually setting those parameters. It means you can craft your perfect latte or espresso shot and return to it every morning. 

    Also of note is the Xelsis’ high quality milk steaming. With a simple siphon system the Xelsis can create some of the best milk texture we’ve seen in a superauto. We’ve actually had success pouring latte art with the milk out of this machine (though you’ll need a steady hand and plenty of practice!

    The big prohibitive difference between the Xelsis and the Carina is price. While we truly believe that both machines are worth their price, we know that’s a decision only you can make!

     

  • Top 3 Superautomatic Espresso Machines of 2020

    It’s time for a big one! As you know, we love superautomatic espresso machines. The combination of convenience and quality you can get from a great superauto is really great. Today we’ve got a look at our favorite Superautos that you can get right now. These machines may have released before 2020, but they’re what we consider the best combination of value and performance on the market today. We’ll also have a look at our favorite superautos without price/value as a metric soon as well. Let’s get started!

    Philips 1220 Carina Superautomatic Espresso Machine

    We know, we know, we talk about the Carina a lot. We also know that you might be tired of us lauding a machine only available at Seattle Coffee Gear. The thing is, we brought this machine in as an exclusive because we think it’s such a great value. Prior to the Carina, you might spend close to $1,000 just to try a superautomatic espresso machine. While we feel there are excellent machines that justify much higher price points than that, it can be a lot to spend if you’re not sure you even like these kinds of machines.

    That’s why we’re so thrilled to offer the Philips Carina. This fully featured machine lets you brew espresso and “long coffees” (shots of espresso with more water to emulate a drip brew) as well as steam milk. What’s more? It does a really great job consistently providing excellent espresso and milk. You’ll get the same quality of brew found on higher priced Philips models, just with a slightly reduced set of features. 

    On the inside, the Carina is powered by a quality burr grinder and thermoblock boiler. These deliver fast, consistent performance. This machine also features a panarello steam wand for milk steaming. This is a little different than a commercial steam wand, and is easier to use. While it doesn’t mean you’ll get automatic steaming, you do get control over heat and texture. This is great for new users, as you’ll be able to really understand different espresso milk drinks.

    The Carina does also offer a degree of programmability. While it doesn’t have the complex menu systems of the Saeco Xelsis, you can still set some parameters of your drinks. Dose (strength) and volume can both be shifted to fit your preferences. Finally, this machine is also AquaClean ready. This water filtration system is a great way to keep your machine in great shape, and reduces the number of descalings you’ll need to perform. Further, AquaClean filtration is easy to track and maintain with the help of the machine, which warns you when it’s time for a filter change or a cleaning.

    This all makes the Carina an incredible value at its price point that is easy to use and maintain, while also brewing up some incredible cafe style beverages.

    Jura A1

    Sometimes specificity and simplicity can really lead to magic. Such is the case with the Jura A1. By Comparison, the A1 makes some of the best espresso available from a superauto at its price point. The big difference? This one’s all coffee. No milk steaming with the A1. While that can seem like a terrible feature to lose, it’s simply not an issue for a lot of users.

    Many coffee drinkers don’t need steamed milk to add to their coffee for lattes or cappuccinos. Instead, a lot of folks just prefer a delicious shot of espresso or a long pulle “Lungo” style shot. The A1 achieves its delicious coffee through it’s patented Pulse Extraction Process, or P.E.P., brew unit it. Instead of a steady stream of water, the P.E.P. brew unit pulses water through the shot, creating a unique flavor and helping with extraction.

    It’s also super fast. With high speed grinding, you’ll get a perfectly timed shot without an extra wait on the front end for grounds. Programmable cup sizes help too, and the A1’s intuitive touch interface makes using it a premium experience.

    Then there’s the case. This is an ultra small machine, which is part of its appeal. At under 13 inches tall and only 18 inches deep, you’ll enjoy the space you save by taking out the milk system. It’s also got a height-adjustable spout to accommodate different mug sizes, as well as slick black and chrome coloring that makes the A1 look as great as it brews.

    And… That’s kind of all there is to it. This is one of the best ways to easily turn fresh roasted whole bean coffee into a delicious shot of espresso, and we love it enough to consider it one of the best values in superautomatic machines.

    Philips 3200 With LatteGo

    We couldn’t finish this list without one more Philips machine! We know, it’s kind of cheating, but we have a good reason! The Philips 3200 With LatteGo is one of the coolest machines to come out in the past few years. That’s mostly down to its innovative steaming system that we’ll dig into in a few!

    First, let’s talk about the ways in which this machine is like the 1220 Carina we listed above. The 3200 looks and brews a lot like the Carina with a few differences. In the brewing department, the primary difference is the dedicated Americano button. While you could brew an Americano with the Carina, you have to first pull a shot of espresso, then use the hot water option button to pull water. The LatteGo automates the process for an easier time making this classic beverage.

    But the real star here is the milk system. 

    Most superautos rely on a panarello steam wand (like the Carina), a siphon milk system, or a carafe. Each system has its merits, but the carafe is often agreed on as the most convenient. This allows you to store frosty milk in the refrigerator in a special container that you plug into the superauto for milk brewing. The biggest issue with carafe based systems is cleaning.

    For many carafes, milk is pulled through a siphon and into the machine, then heated in a steam chamber and poured through a spout at the coffee dispenser. While proper maintenance and cleaning can keep these machines running for a long time, they can be tough to ensure a good clean on. 

    The LatteGo cuts out the middleman, using a steam chamber right at the carafe’s plug point. This means milk almost exclusively moves through the carafe itself, being poured from a spout in the carafe rather than in the brew unit. The result is one object that needs to be cleaned. What’s more, it’s very easy to disassemble and fully clean the carafe, and you don’t have to run complex cleaning routines through a siphon system. It also produces excellent milk texture and you can adjust the amount of foam with a programming button that sits next to the brew volume button.

    Speaking of cleaning, the 3200 features the same AquaClean filtration compatibility as the Carina. It also has helpful indicators to remind you to change the filter and descale the machine. 

    It’s for all of these reasons that we’ve snuck two Philips machines on our list this year. One offers incredible low cost value, the other an innovative automatic milk frothing system that’s worth the extra cost. One things for sure, 2020 has been a great year for Philips!

  • 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.

     

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