The Top 5 Super-Automatic Espresso Machines for All Budgets
Today we’re taking a look at the best super-automatic espresso machine. We all have different budgets, so I’ve rounded up the 5 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.
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 – $600
Philips Saeco Vienna Plus
This aggressively priced 1250W super-automatic espresso machine from Saeco is fairly compact for what it’s capable of and a great choice for kitchens with limited counter space. The removable water reservoir makes for easy filling, and a 15-bar pump provides plenty of pressure.
You can try the machine on the default factory settings, which works fine for many people. However, you can also adjust the strength of the brew and coarseness of the grind (courtesy of the built-in burr grinder) to find your own sweet spot. The durable stainless steel boiler is hidden beneath a sturdy Thermoplastic outer shell. The Vienna Plus is available in both a silver and a very attractive graphite color scheme.
The Vienna has a few drawbacks: it is noisy, the steaming wand is functional but a little on the slow side and the espresso it produces isn’t quite as hot as it should be (definitely use pre-warmed cups). It does a lot things right though: espresso quality is consistently good, it is easy to clean and maintain, very user-friendly and you can adjust strength and grind settings as mentioned above.
Not perfect, but a very capable super-auto for the casual espresso drinker.
Best in Price Range: $600 – $800
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: $800 – $1000
Jura-Capresso Impressa C5
This is an impressive machine from Jura, packing a ton of features into a fairly compact unit. It’s a 1450W machine with a 15-bar pump and a stainless steel Thermoblock heating system for fast and efficient heating.
A simple rotary dial lets you choose between coffee or espresso and the amount of cups you require. Other cool features include adjustable spout height, removable 64-ounce water tank, bypass doser for pre-ground coffee and a 6-setting conical steel burr grinder.
The dual frother system allows you to choose between steaming milk for lattes or frothing milk for cappuccinos.
There’s very little to fault the Impressa C5 on. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles (like auto-frothing ) of the more expensive C9 model, but you can hardly expect that at half the price. Perhaps the biggest drawback is the lack of programmable control for temperature and strength (although you can adjust these during the brewing process). As with most super-automatics, the grinder is not fond of oily beans.
The Impressa C5 is arguably the best super-automatic espresso machine under $1000. A few extra automatic programming options would have made it perfect, but it can still brew an excellent cup of espresso at the push of a button, which is the essence of a super-automatic.
Best in Price Range: $1000 – $2000
Jura-Capresso Impressa J6
Jura once again impresses with the J6, and attractive machine at a good price point that gives you most of the features you get on much more expensive machines. You get plenty of programming (including coffee strength and temperature), a big 71-ounce water tank, steaming wand for latte or cappuccino, frothXpress automatic milk steamer, a bypass doser for pre-ground coffee, two boilers for fast brewing and steaming, 6 pre-programmed beverage buttons and more.
There is a learning curve to this machine (as is the case with all super-automatics), but you’re not going to spending this kind of money on a machine if you’re not at least somewhat serious about your espresso and I’m sure you’ll love experimenting with it to find the perfect balance.
The black finish is prone to collecting fingerprints and you’ll need diligent maintenance to keep it running smoothly. The machine needs cleaning filters and tablets to help the very efficient automatic cleaning cycle do its job.
For your trouble you will be rewarded with frothy cappuccinos, beautiful lattes and rich espresso. Again, avoid oily beans and warm your cups for best results.
Best in Price Range: $2000+
Philips Saeco Xelsis Digital
The Jura-Capresso Impressa Z5 is still available, and is still my favorite high-end espresso machine. However, you may run into problems with support for it as Jura considers it discontinued. Sadly the follow-up models, the Z6 and Z7, couldn’t quite match the brilliance and popularity of the Z5.
Fortunately the Saeco Xelsis is here and it is a ripper of a machine. A digital interface allows you to brew your favorite drinks with a simple one-touch control system. You can also set up 6 different user profiles, each with 6 programmable drinks. Choosing your profile is as simple as letting the machine read your fingerprint (yes, your fingerprint!).
You have separate steaming and hot water wands (with their own dedicated boiler) as well as a sealable milk carafe. The machine has a beautiful stainless steel body.
The biggest drawback, especially for a machine of this price, is the 54-ounce water reservoir. You’ll need to refill the machine quite often, depending on your use. It has a nice big 12-ounce bean hopper though. It is also quite tall and may not fit under all cupboards or shelves.
Drink quality is excellent, but before forking out this type of cash on a machine you may wish to sample it for yourself to see if it matches your tastes.
Best Super-Automatic Espresso Machine: Conclusion
You now have 5 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!