The Top 6 Super-Automatic Espresso Machines for All Budgets
** Updated for 2017 **
Today we’re taking a look at the best super-automatic espresso machine. We all have different budgets, so I’ve rounded up the 6 top rated super-automatic espresso machines (as determined by buyer reviews from various online shops) and sorted them by price range to help you find the best machine for your budget.
- 1 The Top 6 Super-Automatic Espresso Machines for All Budgets
- 2 A Quick Note About Super-Automatic Espresso Machines
A Quick Note About Super-Automatic Espresso Machines
These machines emphasize convenience over drink quality. The general consensus among coffee experts, which I tend to agree with, is that no super-auto machine can match the quality of espresso you can get from a semi-automatic machine.
Also, most of them (even the top models that cost a few thousands dollars) cannot handle oily, flavored coffee beans.
Should You Get One?
A super-automatic is the right choice for you if you want to enjoy espresso without the hassle of fiddling with pressures and grinds and temperatures on your own. You want to get up in the morning, hit a few buttons and let the machine do all the dirty work.
Despite the push-button ease of these machines, you may still need to tweak some settings to get the best quality pulls for your personal taste. Many super-automatics allow you a high level of control over the final beverage, so you’re not completely left to the mercy of the machine.
Some experience with espresso and coffee machines is highly recommended prior to getting one of the moderately to extremely expensive beasts below.
How These Machines Were Chosen
I tried to isolate the products that get the most consistent buyer and critical reviews, so I didn’t select these machines purely based on my own opinion. They also enjoy the positive vote of the majority of coffee and espresso lovers world-wide. However, this is only a buyer’s guide and nothing is set in stone, so have a look around at other options as well.
Alright then, if you want the hassle-free espresso experience of a super-auto, here are the top rated super-automatic espresso machines:
Best in Price Range: $400 – $500
Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine
The Gaggia Brera is an attractive super-automatic espresso machine coming in at well under $500. For the price, it provides quite a package despite a few drawbacks.
Quite a few great features make this a perfect machine for novices. Visual alerts tell you when the machine needs attention or maintenance. A self-rinsing cycle means the machine cleans itself at startup and shutdown to flush out any remaining debris from previous brews.
A front-loading water reservoir makes refilling it very easy. You don’t even have to move the machine from under the counter like you’d need to do with the usual rear-filling reservoirs. This is especially handy on this machine as the reservoir is on the small side (41 oz), so it will need frequent refilling.
Everything on this machine is easily accessible. You also get two boilers, which makes for quick switching between steaming and brewing. Furthermore, you can bypass the bean hopper and insert grounded coffee instead in the bypass doser.
Brewing is easy via two buttons – one for a small cup and one for a large cup. For a double pull, just push the desired button twice. Brew strength is also easily adjusted by a simple button press.
There are a few problems though, none of them too major.
Firstly, you’re not going to fit tall latte mugs under this machine. The spout is adjustable, but there’s not a lot of room to work with.
Secondly, I already touched on the small water tank, but thankfully the front-loading design choice makes this less of an irritation than it would have been on traditional espresso machine layouts where the water tank is at the back.
And lastly we have, as expected at this price range, the inevitable build quality. You have your fair share of plastic here. I’m not sure it will cause problems, but it doesn’t inspire confidence out of the box. Looking at online opinions from long time users, the Brera does seem to hold up well over time despite the presence of a few flimsy parts.
Do you want the Gaggia Brera in your kitchen? If $500 is all you have to spend on a super-automatic espresso machine, this is one of the best models in this price range. Some flimsy parts are not reason enough to bypass this excellent, sensibly designed espresso machine. Two boilers, bypass doser, easy front access and great quality drinks? You’d be hard pressed to find better functionality at this price.
Best in Price Range: $500 – $600
DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica
The ESAM3300 has been around for a long time and is the #1 best-selling super-automatic espresso machine on Amazon.com at the time of this writing.
This is a very sensibly designed espresso machine. Controls are easy to use, the spigot can be adjusted to fit different cup sizes and the milk frother can rotate 180 degrees to easily accommodate different milk containers.
You get customization options to help you formulate anything from a head-pounding espresso to a tasty Americano. The unit uses a 60-ounce water reservoir and a 7-ounce bean container, both removable.
Highlights of the ESAM3300 includes ease of use, great consistent espresso quality and fairly easy maintenance.
While some customers question the reliability of the machine, the popular merchant Seattle Coffee Gear actually highlights the ESAM3300 as one of their least returned units, and user reviews on the Coffee Geek site are also mostly positive.
Delonghi has, unfortunately, built a themselves a reputation for poor customer service.
The ESAM3300 is certainly a crowd pleaser, and has remained a firm consumer favorite over the years. It’s not without some faults and you’ll need to spend time with it to fine tune it to your liking, but it’s a very good super-automatic espresso maker.
Best in Price Range: $600 – $1000
Delonghi Magnifica XS (ECAM22110B)
The Delonghi Magnifica XS (or S for the slightly larger version) is also designated as the ECAM22110B. This is a compact super automatic espresso machine, perfect for kitchens with limited space.
Despite the smaller size, this machine still delivers a full range of automatic espresso machine features. You get one touch drink selection, single or double espresso and 2 manually adjustable espresso strength levels. Alert lights on the control panel tells you when the machine needs water, emptying of the grounds bin or decalcifying.
As with the Gaggia Brera above, the Magnifica XS also provides not only a burr grinder, but a separate chamber where you can put your own ground coffee. This is perfect to accommodate, for example, someone who wants decaf.
The double spouts let you fill two cups at a time should you wish to do so. I also like the aroma button, allowing slow saturation of the coffee grounds to get the best possible flavor out of them.
As always with a compact machine, you get the drawback of more regular filling of the bean hopper and the water tank (which is still not bad at 60 oz). To make this less of an inconvenience though, the water tank, drip tray and grounds bin on the Magnifica XS can all be accessed from the front without moving the machine.
The handy front panel has buttons for both single and double espressos, as well as single and double coffees.
This is a single boiler machine, so there will be a time lapse when switching between brewing and steaming modes. The machine features automatic purging of water trapped in the steam system, which is a big plus. The adjustable spout can accommodate glasses up to almost 5.5 inches.
The machine is wrapped in a plastic shell (cup warmer and drip tray are stainless steel). It has a lot going for it and produces excellent shots. The small footprint and sensible design makes this well worth considering.
Jura Impressa C65
Barely clocking in at under $1000 (get it at Amazon), the Jura Impressa C65 is another great looking machine from this popular manufacturer.
An easy to remove 64-ounce water tank sits ont he left of the machine (as you’re facing it). It literally just lifts out by means of a conveniently attached handle. You get a stainless steel thermoblock boiler and a 15 bar pump, with a passive cup heater at the top.
A pre-ground container allows you to bypass the bean hopper (which can handle 7 ounces of beans that gets zapped with the built-in conical grinder). The spout is adjustable up to 4.4 inches.
The interface is very simple, featuring a selector dial with a button in the middle. You turn the selector to choose between different functions, and then program that function by pressing the button.
For example, turn the selector to strength, then press the button to select and turn the selector again to adjust. This is typical Jura functionality, and different from many other manufacturers that prefer multiple buttons. Whether you like the Jura system will be a matter of personal taste.
The drip tray slides out to reveal the ground bins. A programmable auto shutoff is another cool feature.
The machine can also produce hot water if required. A tube can be attached to the frothing wand, inserted into a milk container and the machine pulls in the milk through the tube and steams it.
As a final touch, the machine has an auto cleaning cycle at startup and shutdown.
The Jura is a very good espresso machine, but avoid oily beans at all costs. I’d recommend Lavazza beans as they work just fine with this machine.
Best in Price Range: $1000 – $2000
Saeco Philips Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino Edition
The Saeco Intelia Deluxe is another wonderful entry in the Saeco family, and this one is made in Italy. I am looking at the Cappuccino variant in this section, but be aware that you can also get the plain Intelia without the cappuccino attachment for under $1,000.
Behind the deceptively simple and functional design hides a great espresso machine. As with many modern machines, the water tank (61 oz) can be accessed via a drawer in the front of the machine. Yep, that’s not a huge tank, but this is a fairly compact machine. You can access the waste container from the front as well.
Right in the center front of the machine is the very attractive control panel, consisting of a range of buttons around a tidy display. A simple menu allows you to make changes to coffee temperature, the time it takes the machine to go into standby, and other settings.
Other buttons include the usual brew buttons for single or double espresso, as well as for setting the strength of the brew (5 different settings). Coffee bean grind texture can be manually adjusted with a dial inside the hopper. The machine also automatically heats, froths and pours milk into the cup when making, for example, cappuccinos.
Again, this machine features a bypass doser for using ground coffee separately from the bean hopper. Construction is stainless steel in the front and the drip tray, with plastic sides.
The Saeco Intelia Deluxe is an excellent espresso machine, and the cappuccino attachment works beautifully to take the hassle out of milk steaming by creating a completely hands-off cappuccino.
If you don’t want the cappuccino add-on, you can get the standard Saeco Intelia Deluxe for considerably less.
Best in Price Range: $2000+
Delonghi Prima Donna (ECAM28465M)
Delonghi has hit a home run with the Prima Donna ECAM2465M super auto espresso machine. And it is super automatic, taking care of every part of the process at the touch of a button, whether you can to create simple espresso or milky cappuccinos or chocolate drinks.
The machine features two caraffes – one for chocolate drinks, and one for the milk you’ll need for your lattes and cappuccinos. Yes, chocolate drinks. The Prima Donna can actually create hot chocolates for you.
Thanks to the pulse brewing system, you can make delicious long coffees with this machine without over-extracting the brew. On the control panel side, the machine allows you to choose between two espresso and two long coffee sizes. The machine supports up to 6 different user profiles. A wide range of brew options is available, all the way from 1oz of grounds to 6.9oz for espresso and 3.4oz and 8.5oz for coffees. You can also choose between five brew strengths.
In the same way, each user can customize milky drinks to their own tastes and save it to their profile.
Another great feature is the simple dial that allows you to set the density of the froth for your milky drinks. This really helps in getting perfect cappuccinos and lattes with just the right amount of foam on top.
I also love the fact that his machine practically cleans itself. No more manual cleaning of your milk wand – the machine pushes steam through the tube itself to keep it clean.
The grinder features 13 different grind settings to cater for all tastes, and as expected a bypass doser allows you to use poweder coffee separately. The water tank is on the small side at 48oz, but slides out the front of the machine to allow easy refilling.
The Delonghi Prima Donna is an impressive, unique machine. This is just about as good as a super automatic machine gets, and if you can afford it, you won’t be disappointed. Almost everything on this machine is dishwasher safe as well, adding to the convenience.
Best Super-Automatic Espresso Machine: Conclusion
You now have 6 great machines to consider for your automatic espresso delight. I strongly feel that you are unlikely to be disappointed with any of these machines as they have proven to be extremely popular in their respective price class. I wish you many years of hassle-free, quality espresso!
Out of all these machines, the Saeco Intelia Deluxe probably offers the best all round features at an affordable price (under $1,000 if you don’t want the cappuccino version). So, if there was a price to be given away here for the best value super-automatic machine, price and features and everything considered, that would get my vote.