Superautos

  • 2020 Getting Started Guide: Superautos

    Interested in espresso? Looking to cut pod coffee out? Still want the simplicity of push button operation? It sounds like you need a superauto!

    We've talked about superautomatic espresso machines at length here. So much so that you probably already know what these machines are. As a refresher, a superautomatic espresso machine is a machine that uses whole bean coffee to deliver delicious espresso based drinks. They are sort of like "cafes in a box." The trade-off is that no automated process can truly outdo a skilled barista on professional equipment. With that said, a superauto machine on your kitchen counter is an incredible convenience that can still provide a tasty morning does of caffeine. Superautos also cut down on the waste generated by pod machines, though they don't make drip coffee. There are a number of factors to think about when selecting a superauto. We'll touch on these things as we go through this guide to buying your first machine, or upgrading!

    First Machine

    For your first machine it's hard to argue against the Philips Carina. Getting into espresso for the first time is an expensive endeavor that the Carina makes a lot less scary. This is a simple to use machine that may seem light on features, but is actually a fantastic value. You can control dose (the amount the machine grinds for each shot) volume, and pull shots of espresso, long, coffee style lungo shots, hot water for americanos, and steamed milk. These are the core functions of any superauto espresso machine, so to have them surfaced like on the Carina is a boon. Add to all of this the easy to use AquaClean filtration system, and you've got an affordable winner of a beginner machine. Just remember to buy a filter with the machine!

    One thing that is important to note about the Carina is its panarello steam wand. This means that you'll need to manually hold a pitcher of milk up to the wand to steam it, like on a semi-auto machine. For many, the promise of automatic milk steaming is why they want a superauto in the first place. If auto steaming is a make or break feature for you, consider checking out the Philips 3200 Latte Go. This machine is just like the Carina in many ways, but includes a carafe based steaming system for automatic steaming.

    The other great thing about the Carina is it'll help you understand exactly what you want out of your next machine. Maybe you'll settle on the idea that more control over the shot is key for you. In this case, you may want to upgrade to a semi-auto machine. Maybe you like the superautomatic nature of the Carina, but you don't need the milk steaming. In this case, upgrading to something like the Jura A1, which brews espresso only, may be the perfect solution.

    Upgrading to a New Machine

    If you're looking at upgrading from an older machine and have a budget of over $1,000, consider the Jura E6. The E6 produces some exceptional espresso thanks to Jura's P.E.P. brewing system and is a definite upgrade from an interface perspective. Using its vibrant screen and simple button system you'll be able to set dose, temp, shot length, and milk volume for your drinks. One-touch cappuccinos with the E6's automatic siphon system are a delicious option as well. Finally, the maintenance tools on the E6 are really something. The comprehensive software is great at reminding you to rinse, clean, and descale the machine.

    The only real negative on this machine is the lack of milk control that you get. While the cappuccino foam that the siphon system on the E6 creates is decent, it just can't do lattes. This may be a dealbreaker for some folks. If that's you, then it's worth taking a look at the Miele 6350.

    The 6350 offers great milk texture for lattes and cappuccinos, delicious coffee, and is easy to operate. It's expensive, but justifies its price with extra features like a hot water spout, brew group light, and a a spill-proof drip tray. It's an easy recommendation for anyone looking at buying the last machine they'll need.

    Stay tuned for more buying guides focused on drip brewing and semi-auto espresso machines!

    Check out the rest of our getting started guides!

  • Miele CM5000 Series Review

    The Miele 5000 series seeks to pack the power and programmability of the 6000 series into a lower price point and smaller footprint. Does it succeed? Today we're taking a look at this interesting machine in a crew review!

    Appearance and Usability

    The Miele 5300 (and SCG Exclusive 5500) take the design aesthetic of the 6000 series as a guide. This means that the Miele "coffee box" look is present here as well. As part of the switch to the smaller case style, the 5300 and 5500 have dispensers on the outside of the case. These machine are also missing the light that is present on the 6000 machines. It's definitely a trade-off, and some will prefer the aesthetics of the 6000s. We like the way the 5000s look, and are especially enamored with our SCG exclusive. The color on the 5500 is really gorgeous and sets itself apart from the rest of the line.

    Usability on both machines is solid, with a similar interface to the 6000 series. Again the 5500 shines here, with its hot water spout and profiles for custom drinks. The case designs are good, though some with low cabinets may find accessing the water and bean hopper frustrating. The machines' compact size also results in smaller hoppers and tanks. We found this to be a worthwhile tradeoff though for anyone needing that smaller size. Cleaning and maintenance of these machines is as simple and menu driven as on its older siblings. All of this makes the 5000 series very user friendly and aesthetically pleasing. If you can, snag a 5500!

    Performance

    Performance wise, Mieles make great coffee. Heatup time is quick and the brews are good and strong. As we always say, you'll always get better coffee from a highly trained barista on a superauto. That aside, Mieles produce shots on par with machines from Jura and Philips-Saeco, the other two leaders on the market. The 5000 series machines are also great because they're giving you the same coffee that you'd get out of a 6000. That's not always true of the "compact" versions of larger machines, and deserves a callout.

    On the milk front, the 5000 series also offers the quality that the larger machines do. While we couldn't quite get latte art out of one of these machines, a truly experienced barista may be able to bridge that gap. The milk is also steamed quite fast, though your mileage may very with certain alternative milks.

    The number of drink options available is great across the board, and there's a notable difference here where it counts. For example, lattes and cappuccinos are more varied here than on some superautos, where just the volume of milk vs. coffee changes rather than milk texture. The Miele's "coffee" button is also better than on a lot of machines. Because superautos brew espresso and not drip coffee, you're never quite getting that with the coffee button on a machine like this. Instead, you're getting a lungo pulled shot. That means a shot that has extra water poured through it. It's kind of like an Americano but with water pulled through the coffee instead of added after brewing. With Miele's carafe mode, you can actually brew a whole pot of this drip-like brew. Other machines can brew single cups, but something about the ratios on Mieles make it a little closer to drip brewing.

    Conclusion

    If you have the budget and counter space, the 6000 Mieles are still a really great option. With that said, we think the 5000 line is here to stay, and they're fantastic machines if you need something more compact or affordable. Check out the 5500 here and the 5300 here!

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

    Welcome back to our Gail's Picks series for 2019!

    Today it's time to take a look at our picks for the best high-end superuatomatic espresso machines in 2019. These machines have so much programmability and tech in them that it's almost like having a personal barista. But what sets these three apart from other expensive superautos? Read on to find out!

    Miele CM6350

    The Miele CM6350 is a powerful brewer that offers a pipe based system that connects to a carafe for milk steaming, and four customizable profiles. This machine set a standard for high-end superautos and still is one of the best you can buy. The menus can take some getting used to, but there's no denying the quality of coffee and milk that comes out of a miele superauto. Add to that a hot water spout, large hopper, and a removable reservoir and you've got a compelling option at its price point. Those four profiles allow you to set elements of drink creation for multiple users, so that the whole family can dial in their perfect latte.

    Miele is also the only superauto maker to offer carafe based coffee brewing. While the "coffee" from a Miele isn't truly drip coffee, it's about as close as you can get from this style of machine. With carafe brewing, you can brew a whole pot of this lungo pulled espresso at once to serve multiple guests. It all combines to make the CM6350 one of the best machines you can buy for families.

    Saeco Xelsis

    Last year the Xelsis got a major re-launch and totally blew us away. We declared it one of the best machines of 2018, and it maintains that this year. The new Xelsis redefines programmability, user interface, and milk quality for superautos. The touchscreen on the face of the machine gives you full control over multiple pages of drink parameters. Things like volume and strength are standard, but being able to adjust temperature, milk foam, and specific ingredient volumes is a great addition. All of it is extremely easy to understand and read as well. This extends to the AquaClean filtration and HygieSteam system as well. Both of these components are easy to understand and manage, and make maintenance of the machine a breeze.

    The front access water tank, general look and feel of the machine, and sturdy construction drive home the premium nature of this machine. Then there's the milk quality. Xelsis' HygieSteam system really nails one of the hardest aspects of drink creation. Professional baristas spend hours learning techniques to get just the right amount of foam for lattes and cappuccinos. The Xelsis still can't quite match a real, human pro, but it gets as close as we've seen. All of that makes it one of the best superautos you can get!

    Jura Z8

    Reaching for the highest of the high end machines, the Jura Z8 is like an espresso supercomputer. Its massive 4.3-inch touchscreen delivers a glorious user experience that offers programmability and simple one touch recipes. 21 of these recipes are built in, and brewing them is as easy as can be. Adjustable milk temperature and texture provide an exquisite set of options for lattes and cappuccinos as well, really living up to that "cafe in your kitchen" concept. Plus, this machine makes some of the best espresso available in the superauto category. This is achieved with Jura's exclusive P.E.P. brewing system, which teases out more of the depth in the brew method that you can normally only get by manually pulling shots.

    On top of being one of the best in the business in terms of drink quality, the Z8 offers looks and easy maintenance as well. CLEARYL smart filtration keeps you informed on when you need to change the filter and clean the machine. On the case side, thick plating and solid construction provide a visually appealing and high quality feel to the machine. While this is one of the more expensive machines on the market, it justifies this with its high performance.

    Conclusion

    And there you have it, our three favorites in the high-end market for superautos. We love these machines, and feel they represent some of the best options available for your kitchen. We're pretty sure you'll love them too. We're not done yet though, check back for more of Gail's Picks in the next week!

     

  • Superauto Milk Steaming Systems

    There are a lot of different ways that superautos handle milk steaming. While the end result is your morning latte or cappuccino, how you get there has an effect on the final product. Here’s a rundown of some of the milk systems you might run into while browsing Seattle Coffee Gear!

    Panarello

    Panarello steam wands work a lot like the kinds of steam wands you find on semi-automatic espresso machines. The difference is that these wands are designed to direct steam in your milk in such a way that less finesse is required compared to a standard steam wand. While you do have to hold the milk up to the wand to do the steaming, these devices also let you decide how hot you’d like your milk. This is useful for superauto owners because one of the complaints some people have about these types of machines is milk not being hot enough. On the other hand, the whole point of superautos is to make the whole process automatic, so you'll have to decide for yourself if you value control more than convenience. Take a look at the Philips Carina for an example of a Panarello system.

    Siphon System

    Cappuccinotores and other siphoning systems pull milk through a tube into a steam chamber within the machine. From there the milk is delivered to your cup. These systems are easy to use and convenient, but they can require a bit of extra cleaning and don’t offer much control over the process of steaming the milk. Since milk is drawn into the machine, it's hard to get all the way in and clean the inner-workings of the steam system by hand. Luckily most siphon systems feature a cleaning cycle that makes it easy to run a cleaning agent through the system to clean out any gunk. Another thing to keep in mind is that siphons don't always handle alternative milks or cream easily. You should make sure your machine will be able to heat something other than milk if you use an alternative. The Miele line of superautos uses a siphon system.

    Carafes

    Carafes generally have you pouring milk into a container that you then plug in to your machine. Milk is pulled from the carafe into a steam chamber, then dispensed into your drink. This method helps to cut down on waste, you can simply store the carafe in the fridge with any excess milk. These systems do mean another item to clean, and often are more expensive than the other options on this list. Otherwise, carafe fed milk systems are a really great option that simplifies your steaming. The Saeco Incanto Carafe features a carafe.

    Hygiesteam

    Hygiesteam is a unique system developed by Saeco for use with Xelsis machines from 2018 onward. This system uses cleaning agents and a metal siphon that self cleans itself periodically to help alleviate cleaning issues. While the siphon can be placed in any container, a specially designed carafe supplied with the machine even combines some of the conveniences of other carafe based systems. Overall, the Xelsis' Hygiesteam system produces some of the best milk we've ever had out of a superauto, largely due to the control you get from the touch screen interface of the machine. Check out Hygiesteam on the Xelsis here.

    LatteGo

    The newest entry to the superauto milk steaming family is Philips' LatteGo. This device looks just like the carafe you might find on other machines, but actually offers something very new and different. Instead of pulling milk through tubing, milk is pulled into a simple steam chamber and poured through a part of the carafe itself. A siphon at the bottom of the device pulls the milk up into a chamber that steam is injected into, but that chamber is part of the carafe instead of the machine. The milk is then poured through a large spout into your coffee. This is a great system that creates excellent texture and can be cleaned and stored very easily. It really combines some of the best elements of different milk steaming systems into one package. The LatteGo system is available only on the Philips 3200 LG for now.

    As you can see, there are a lot of options for superauto milk steaming!

     

     

     

  • DeLonghi Dinamica ECAM35020B Superautomatic Espresso Machine Review

    DeLonghi has been producing superautos for some time now, and while they offer some innovative machines, they haven't had a breakthrough like some of their competitors. Over time, these machines have become more and more refined, improving on performance and reliability, but the Dinamica ECAM35020B feels like a leap forward. Check out our full review to learn why!

    Appearance and Usability

    One thing to note at the top is that while the case is very plastic, it also maintains a pretty unified look. The sleek black plastic with chrome accents gives it a muted, but pleasant, appearance. It definitely stands up to other machines at its price point without necessarily wowing either. One huge plus on this machine is the footprint. This is a machine that should fit on most countertops, and under most cabinets. With a front loading water tank, you'll also be able to refill it frequently. This is important, because the tank is, admittedly, a bit on the small side.

    Otherwise, you're looking at some pretty standard case design. The brew unit is pretty easily accessible behind the water tank, and the drip tray is convenient and easy to clean. If we have one complaint it's that it's still a bit of a chore to slide the machine out to fill the bean hopper, but this is a less frequent need than filling the water tank, and there's not much you can do to avoid putting the hopper where it is.

    The face of the machine is simple, but functional and attractive enough. While the interface may take some getting used to, it is to the point and functional. Programming and user profiles are great value adds, but there is something to be said for the simplicity of pushing a single button and getting a consistent shot. That simplicity and consistency is the name of the game here. The panarello wand is also easy to use, and once you understand how to get it to switch between steam and water it is very functional. The rinse button on the face is a nice to have as well for cleaning out the brew unit on demand.

    Performance

    With functional, if simple, case and interface design, the most important thing is performance. Overall we can say pretty happily that the Dinamica does a great job in this area. With some dialing in, the shots this machine can produce are quite good, and quite hot. This is good news for anyone disappointed with temps from semi-autos in general. With hot water from the panarello and easy single and double shot buttons, brewing espresso and americanos is a breeze. If you're a drip fan, the Dinamica also offers an intriguing coffee function. Usually, the "coffee" button on a superauto just provides an extra long shot. While you're still getting espresso, you're getting it watered down enough to be less strong. The Dinamica handles its coffee setting a little differently.

    The coffee button cases the machine to grind less than it would for a shot, and then pulse water through the coffee instead of applying sustained pressure. The result is a cup of coffee that isn't quite a pourover and isn't quite a long espresso shot, and you really can taste the difference. While we don't think it tastes like what you'll get out of a drip brewer, it's a closer approximation than what most superautos can provide. This means that your drip loving family member can get something close to what a drip pod machine can do without needing a second machine.

    The panarello has the issues you'd expect from this type of wand. It doesn't produce loads of foam, and doesn't produce particularly fine microfoam. That means it's hard to pour latter art or make a cappuccino with this machine. That said, it makes fine foam for a normal latte and because it's manual you can control how hot you want the milk. This is a boon for latte drinkers, as many superautos spit out milk that you might find too cool.

    Lastly, the over ice button is a neat little tool. It alters the brew temp, and volume of both the grind and water to go best with brewing over ice. It's a great feature for fans of iced lattes and americanos.

    Conclusion

    In the end the Dinamica is a strong option at its price point. While it lacks some bells and whistles, it gets it right where it counts and provides some nice add ons you might not expect. One to take a good look at for your next superauto. You can shop the DeLonghi Dinamica on Seattle Coffee Gear here.

  • Cleaning Your Grinder For Standalones and Superautos

    Cleaning a standalone grinder is the sort of task that seems like it should be pretty simple, because it's a simple machine, right? Turns out, there's a load of good reasons as to why you should clean your grinder. While methods of doing it vary in complexity, it doesn't hurt to have a cheat sheet handy. So let's dive in!

    Why Clean Your Grinder?

    It may seem like there's not much to clean on a grinder, as they are, in theory, simple devices. The fact is, coffee oil builds up on grinders too, and can gum up the burrs and motors of yours. This can, most importantly, adversely affect taste. The flavor of your coffee comes through best when nothing gets between it and your brewing process. As such, oil buildup that comes out in your grounds can lead to a stale or altered flavor. Not the best for your carefully crafted pourover or espresso! On top of that, grinders can seize if enough oil builds up on them. This can lead to expensive repairs and a lack of coffee! So what's the answer?

    Cleaning a Standalone Grinder:

    Standalone grinders range in difficulty to clean. The easiest way to make sure they are running in top shape is to run some Grindz through the grinder on a regular basis. Exactly how regular is going to depend largely on use. If you use your grinder daily, cleaning with Grindz every couple of months is a good start.

    For deeper cleaning, many grinders are easily disassembled. From there you can get in and scrub the burrs and motor components as needed to get out any oil residue. This is the kind of cleaning you might want to do annually, depending on use. It should be noted that some grinders are very difficult to take apart, and doing so could void your warranty. Always check that warranty before disassembly, and use a guide to help you if possible.

    Cleaning a Superauto Grinder:

    For years the standing rule for superautos is to avoid oily beans because you simply can't clean them. While we'd still recommend sticking to drier beans, we can finally recommend a cleaning product for your superauto's grinder! Supergrindz is an exciting new cleaner from Urnex that finally allows you to clean out your superauto grinder! This cleaner does a great job and with monthly usage can help extend the life of your superauto. It's easy to use, simply drop remove any beans from the hopper, brew a couple of large cups of coffee, add the directed amount into the grinder and brew some more, then add coffee and grind until you are no longer getting yellow residue in the waste bin. The result is a squeaky clean, and happy, superauto grinder.

     

  • New Product: Jura D6

    Jura's line of superautomatics gets a new machine this week in the D6 espresso machine! This machine is the brand's most affordable superautomatic yet, without sacrificing a wide range of options. Read on for a look at this brand new brewer.

     

    Fully Featured Espresso

    From the A1 to the Z6, Jura's line of superautomatics offers something for everyone. The D6 offers Jura's extensive knowledge of superautos at a lower price than their other machines. The result is a satisfying experience that's great for cappuccinos and espresso! Instead of a screen or button interface, the D6 uses a simple set of nobs to control your drink production. We found this interface to be intuitive and simple to use, even if it doesn't feel as "premium" as some more expensive models.

    The milk system is delivered via a carafe and pipe system similar to the Saeco Xelsis and Miele 6300 series of superautomatics. This system produces excellent cappuccinos, though it steams just a little bit foamy for a latté. What really sets this machine, and Jura's whole line, apart is the P.E.P. brewing system. P.E.P. stands for pulse extraction process. This brewing process pulses water through the coffee grounds to maintain the perfect temp and brew pressure. This results in balanced coffee, fantastic aroma, and beautiful crema in every cup.

    To top it all off, the D6 uses Jura's CLEARYL Smart Filtration. This system helps you to maintain perfect filtration to cut down on limescale buildup. These filters are monitored by the machine, giving you a notification when it's time to change them. Other helpful features include an auto-off timer for power saving and on the fly brew strength adjustment that you can use mid-brew.

    Overall, the D6 is a compelling option at its price point, and opens Jura brewing up to a whole new price range! Check this machine out here today.

  • SCG Expert Review: Miele 6000 Superautomatic Espresso Machines

    The Miele CM6000 Coffee System line offers an all-in-one coffee solution designed to be your one stop countertop stop for your morning coffee. But does it hold up to the task? This isn’t a new machine, but it is one of the more popular models, so we figured it was worth taking a look at whether it holds up in 2018. The short answer is yes, the long answer is... Well, you'll have to read on!

    Multiple Models

    The two models we'll be looking at are the 6150 and the 6350. Both of these superautomatics turn whole bean coffee into fresh espresso. The 6150 forgoes some of the bells and whistles. The 6350 adds a hot water spout, lighting, cup warmer, and a carafe to the machine, and therefor sits at a higher pricepoint than the 6150.

    Other than the differences mentioned above, the two systems operate very similarly, with a touch button interface and an informational screen. We'll highlight the benefits of the milk system and the water spout a little further down. First let's talk about coffee quality, a shared element between the two machines.

    Coffee Quality

    The coffee quality in the Miele line is excellent as far as superautos go. You'll never recreate the flavor of a carefully pulled shot from a semi-auto or manual machine on any superauto, but accepting that, the 6000 line does a great job. We really like espresso ready blends in this machine as a standard shot, and the "coffee" option is very good. We put coffee in quotes because this machine, like almost every other superauto, doesn't actually brew drip coffee. Instead, the machine is capable of a lungo style espresso drink that pulls more water through the beans. It did satisfy fans of drip coffee in our office though, even if it is definitely a different flavor profile than a standard filter brew.

    One thing we really like is the volume programmability of this machine. The process is a little convoluted, but you can set the machine to calibrate, which it does by brewing until you tell it to stop, and it will remember that volume. This means that if you have a large mug that you want to specifically have the machine brew for, you can program that and save it to a profile.

    The other unique option we liked was the machine's ability to brew a pot of it's lungo style coffee. You can set it to brew for different sized pots, and it's a nice option if serving a group. It does create tank refill issues, but we'll get into that in the next section.

     

    Case Design

    While we do like the striking, industrial look of the Miele for the most part, it's case design isn't perfect. On the good side, while plastic, the case feels solid and high quality. In many ways, it's more impressive than the stainless steel covers that over machine feature, and we like that the machine is consistent aesthetically. The spout is great too, it can almost fully retract into the housing, allowing for larger mugs. It's a nice consideration. Also very good is the design of the drip tray and the grounds bin. The whole unit slides out as one, which is standard, but the grounds bin is very easy to remove and clean separately. This is nothing new for superautos, but we especially appreciate the drip tray design. A plastic part sits on top of the exceptionally large drip tray, and it provides a spout to empty the tray from. This means you won't spill water everywhere as you move the tray to the sink for emptying. It's a nice feature that we'd love to see on more machines, as messy drip trays are always a frustration. The fact that the machine senses a full drip tray and warns you with a message to remove it is nice too.

    With all of that said, it isn't perfect. The biggest issue we have with the case design is the bean hopper's location, and the water tank. We should point out that these are points of contention on almost every superauto, and it's definitely a design challenge for these types of machines. The bean hopper is accessed via a removable cover on the top of the machine. What we love about it is it's depth, we were able to empty an entire 12 oz bag of coffee into it, but its location makes accessing it under cabinets a hassle. The same thing can be said for the water tank. The tank is 62 oz, which is comparable to other superautos, but the need to pull it up and out from the side can make it a hassle to refill. There are absolutely more frustrating water tanks in this machine's price range, but we still wish the tank were a little easier to access. This is exacerbated if you make pots of coffee or use the hot water spout on the 6350 model, as the tank will empty even quicker. It's also worth noting that the water spout pours quite slowly, so you may be waiting longer than you'd like for your morning Americano.

    In the end though, these are relatively minor complaints, and they aren't more egregious than on other similar machines. One thing we're happy to rave about is the menu system.

    Menus and Programmability

    We mentioned above that we're fans of the volumetric programming, but our love for the Miele's interface doesn't stop there. While there is a learning curve to this machine, once you get used to using it you'll be whipping up drinks in no time. The amount of customization here is really fantastic, and the machine's "quick access" options are very smart. You can get a shot, lungo, or milk drink with one button tap, or dig into the menu for more options. We really like this freedom, and it all feels really satisfying to use when you get the hang of it. The menu also offers intuitive access to things like auto-on and auto-shutoff, huge features for superautos, controlling the light in the machine (also a big bonus) and cleaning functions.

    We generally couldn't enjoy the interface of the machine more, just make sure you have the manual handy and be prepared to spend a few mornings experimenting to get everything dialed in!

    Milk System

    The last big touchpoint of this machine is the milk system on these machines. In general, we really like the milk off of this machine. We particularly appreciate how dry the cappuccino foam gets. A truly dry cappuccino is hard to come by even in some coffee shops, so getting that foam consistency is really nice. The same can be said about the Miele's lattes, while we're not sure we'll be pouring latte art with the foam from this machine, it is tasty and has a great consistency when you drink it. The ability to use a range of container sizes is again nice if you want to brew a big milk drink in the morning. It is worth noting that the milk temperature is lower than you get with a steam wand. This is a common thing that is nearly impossible to solve in a superautomatic system in our experience.

    If we have any complaints about the milk system in the 6150 it's from a maintenance perspective. The machine does a decent job of rinsing the milk pipe, but because it sits in a rubber mount on the drip tray, it's important to also keep the mount clean. we didn't realize that some coffee had splashed on the mount at one point, and it resulted in a need to remove the pipe and clean it in the sink. Generally, we're also more comfortable hand cleaning the pipe more frequently, but this isn't strictly required. If you DO want to rinse the pipe, it is at least extremely easy to remove, rinse, and reattach, so it won't add more than 30 seconds to your coffee making. This is, of course, alleviated with the carafe system present on the 6350, which is a very easy to use tool. You simply plug the milk pipe into the top of the carafe, and then the machine auto rinses the pipe after steaming. The carafe can then be washed separately.

    Verdict

    Overall, we're big fans of the Miele coffee system. While there are ergonomic improvements we'd love to see in future updates, this is a machine that holds up. From solid coffee to excellent milk texture, we find that this machine delivers. Give the 6150 and 6350 a look if you're interested in a high end superauto!

  • SCG Expert Review: Saeco Incanto Plus

    The Saeco Incanto Plus is a Seattle Coffee Gear Exclusive version of the basic Incanto machine. While we like all of Saeco's superauto range, we offer the Incanto Plus exclusively because we believe in the upgrades it offers. Read on to find out why!

    A Solid Platform

    So what makes this machine tick? The Incanto Plus is a sub $1,000 superauto, which puts it on the lower end of the pricing spectrum. In many cases, this may mean you're sacrificing shot quality for value. While the Incanto may not be the best shot you can get, it's surprisingly solid at this price point. The internals feature a stainless steel-lined aluminum boiler with a thermoblock design. The machine is a little slow to heat up when compared to pricier models, and does not feature an auto on, so you will want to remember to heat it up first thing in the morning. Otherwise, the recovery time is pretty reasonable, especially in this price range, and the shots taste good, especially good when compared against other lower cost espresso options.

    This strong brew performance carries over to milk steaming as well. While you won't be pouring any latte art with this machine, it does a perfectly fine job of texturing milk that is tasty in a latte or cappuccino. Given that this is one of the hardest things for superautomatics to perfect, it's very impressive that the Incanto does such an admirable job. What's more, the Incanto produces very hot drinks, something all superautos tend to struggle with. The base Incanto does require a bit of human work with its panarello steam wand, but the Plus includes a free Cappucinatore attachment. This attachment provides automatic steaming and texturing of the sort on higher end machines. It's one of the things that makes the Incanto Plus so... Well, plus!

    Controls and Cleaning

    The controls on the Incanto do leave a little bit to be desired. This is, unfortunately, one of the common casualties of lower priced machines. While a vibrant touchscreen with slick dials and sliders would feel better to use, the Incanto's no-frills buttons make sense. Unfortunately, this machine doesn't offer the degree of drink customization of something like a Miele. That said, it's easy to get to options like a cappucino, latte, or simple espresso shot. One thing that is mildly frustrating is that the icons on the screen aren't always clear. This can lead to a need to check the manual to figure out what the machine is asking you to do.

    One area where the Incanto shines, however, is in it's ease of cleaning. The entire machine can be disassembled and cleaned with ease. The drip tray has a simple indicator to indicate when it's full, and the screen will alert you to empty the grounds. On top of all of this, the brew unit is plastic, easily removable, and easy to rinse and clean. Most of the parts and accessories are dishwasher safe as well. Finally, with Saeco's AquaClean filters (sold separately), you'll be able to avoid regular descaling. A huge bonus for an already easy to maintain machine.

    Build Quality and Case Design

    One thing the base Incanto is, is very plastic. This isn't a terrible thing, but the black plastic case does leave something to be desired. The Incanto Plus, however, features a stainless steel face that looks great on a countertop. This is the same face found on the more expensive Incanto Carafe.

    The fact that the beans and water are top-loading comes with some pros, as well as definite cons. the top loading hopper and tank make for easy, quick refills, but also could create issues when it's placed under kitchen cabinets. The doors on top of the machine need several inches of additional clearance above the 14 inch body to be able to open fully. While the machine is light enough to pull out for refills, this can be a pain. Aside from these issues, the footprint of the machine is a satisfying 9 inches wide and 18 inches deep, meaning it will slot in nicely in most kitchens.

    The Verdict

    We know it may seem obvious that we like an SCG exclusive machine, but it's because we like it that we offer it exclusively, not the other way around. While this machine may not stand up to a comparison with a multi-thousand dollar competitor, it is one of the best superautos in its price range. It's no-frills design is mitigated by solid, consistent performance, easy maintenance, and some sweet upgrades from the base Incanto. Check it out here.

     

     

  • Crew Comparison: DeLonghi Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart vs Saeco Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino

    How Does It Compare?

    They grind, they brew and they make cappuccinos at the touch of a button. We’re talking about one-touch superautomatic espresso machine! We compared the DeLonghi Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart against the Saeco Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino.

    The Smart earns it name from DeLonghi’s milk frothing carafe called the LatteCrema system. Built into the carafe is an adjustable dial that whips up silky microfoam and fluffy cappuccino foam—seriously! While it’s a frothing genius, it lacks the programmability and drink options you’d expect from a machine called “smart.”

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

    The Deluxe Cappuccino aced coffee 101 with a specialty coffee menu and two dedicated espresso buttons that we can program. The simplified menu is a refreshing sight to swiftly guide you to your morning cup. The Deluxe Cappuccino also brews one-touch drinks but the carafe creates one foam, what we're used to in most carafe systems. Don’t just take our word for it, check out these two machines for yourself!

    The Intelia Cappuccino features a one-touch milk frothing carafe.

    Shot

    The Saeco Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino replaced the previous model with an updated coffee menu, including specialty drinks! At this price point, the additional drinks add creativity to otherwise classic options. Our personal favorite from the specialty menu is the baby cappuccino—an espresso shot with a dollop of foamy milk. That’s what perfect mornings are made of. And for mornings that need multiple cups of coffee, you’ll appreciate the quick recovery that ensures your machine is warmed up in time—hallelujah!

    The Deluxe Cappuccino features an intuitive menu with a digital display. The Deluxe Cappuccino features an intuitive menu with a digital display.

    For easy, relaxed mornings, the DeLonghi Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart know how to get the job done. The simple interface and classic drink options promise consistency in each cup. While we love simplicity, an expanded drink menu and more customization wouldn’t hurt! That said, we can adjust the brew temperature, coffee dosage and grind setting for a personal touch. If you need more of a pick-me-up, the 2x button increased the grounds per shot.

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

    Steam

    The LatteCrema system has to be one of the better auto-frothing carafes we’ve seen! Featured on DeLonghi’s high-end lineup, we were stoked to hear it was included on the lower-tiered DeLonghi Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart. Where in lacks in programmability, it makes up with customization! Three milk foam options froth between a silky microfoam and thick cappuccino foam. When you’re done with the milk, flip the dial to clean for a spic and span carafe ready to store in the fridge.

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

    While the Saeco Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino’s carafe isn’t as advanced as its competitor, we control the milk volume. Better yet, there is a dedicated milk froth button that is manually turned on and off for piping hot milk on demand—hot chocolate, anyone? The Deluxe Cappuccino also has a ‘carafe quick clean’ button to rinse out residue for safe storage. That said, we can’t get over how well the Smart’s LatteCrema system whips up frothed milk.

    Style

    Outfitted with a brushed stainless steel casing, the Saeco Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino complements modern kitchen appliances. The front accessible reservoir and dump box optimize your counter space. Similarly styled to the Deluxe Cappuccino, the DeLonghi Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart’s compact and front access design save valuable counter space. The polished black casing contrasts against the silver detailing giving it a clean, contemporary finish. When it comes down to looks, your personal style is all that matters.

    That said, the Deluxe Cappuccino interface offers functionality and drink options than its competitor. Considering both machines are in the similar price range, we appreciate the little things! The Deluxe Cappuccino also features dedicated espresso buttons that brew at the touch of a button. The Smart’s only drinks are available in the select drink menu.

    The Deluxe Cappuccino impresses us with a speciality drink menu. The Deluxe Cappuccino impresses us with a specialty drink menu.

    Conclusion

    Both one-touch superautomatic machines fall into the same price range and category. The DeLonghi Magnifica S Cappuccino Smart features DeLonghi’s impressive LatteCrema system. That said, if you want more drink options and programmability, the Saeco Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino fits the bill. What do you think? Share your favorite machine in the comments below.

Items 1 to 10 of 19 total

Page:
  1. 1
  2. 2
Subscribe

Finally, something for that inbox

Join our email list and be the first to learn about exclusive offers and new products.

close

Join our email list

GET 10% OFF ONE ITEM*

Be the first to learn about exclusive offers and new products - starting today!

 

JOIN
*Some exclusions apply. See email coupon for more details.