P Pat Cotter

Differentiating Superautomatic Espresso Machines

Sep 21, 2020
Differentiating Superautomatic Espresso Machines

Superautomatic espresso machines are a wonderfully convenient way to get your morning cup of coffee without the hassle of manually grinding and brewing. These machines give you the option of exploring a world of whole bean coffee with combined grinder and espresso brew units. We love these machines, but at first glance understanding their differences can be difficult. While there are elements of brewing quality that can be different from machine to machine, it’s hard to say which machine makes the “best” espresso. So much of this is down to personal preference, as each machine offers quite similar methods of grinding and brewing. The best advice we can give for espresso taste is to try coffee out of the machine you’re looking at before purchase. That will allow you to determine whether or not you enjoy the coffee over other machines. With that in mind, there are other parts of a superauto that can make a difference in your purchasing decision.

Interface and Design

One of the biggest factors in picking a superauto is interface. From the affordable Philips Carina’s simple touch buttons to the glossy, smartphone-esque touchscreen on the Saeco Xelsis, interface can change the experience of using a machine. Much of this is reflected in the cost of a superauto. Fancy touchscreens with wide control options and guided cleaning programs general cost more than simpler button based machines. Further design elements to consider are things like top vs. front loading water tanks and water filtration. It can be a real frustration to have to pull your machine out from under a cabinet to fill the water tank. General dimensions are important as well, and of course, you have to make sure you like the way a prospective machine looks. These boxes are designed to stay on your counter, after all.

Milk Steaming

For many espresso fans, milk is as important as the ‘spro! Having a well textured latte or foamy cappuccino is the whole point in getting an espresso machine for many users. That’s why milk systems are so important in superauto shopping. We’ve talked about milk systems at length here at SCG, but this is another area where cost scales with complexity. You’ll find panarello wands on more affordable machines. By contrast, you'll see automated pipe and carafe based milk systems on more expensive options. Here’s the secret about milk steaming systems: While a simple panarello may take an extra minute or two of work to use, they do give you more control. This means that if you’re picky about milk temperature and texture, a machine with a manual panarello want might be a boon for you even though it’s the more affordable option. Which is the ultimate key here. Expensive machines usually have a good reason for being pricier, but how those features impact the value proposition for you will vary. We’re excited to say, with such a wide market you will assuredly find the superautomato espresso machine for you!

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