What is a Super Automatic Espresso Machine? Review

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Super-automatic Espresso Machine

A High End Coffee Shop in Your Kitchen

A Super-automatic espresso machine can make Cappuccino, Latte, Espresso, Machiatto, Cafe Crema, and more. The most awesome thing about a super automatic espresso machine is that you can operate it with the touch of just one button. Having a super automatic espresso machine at home is like having a high-end coffee shop on your kitchen counter-top. Ya, like your own personal barista with no line to stand in, no tip jar and no attitude!

There is more than one variation of super automatic espresso machine. These espresso machines range from the very simple up to hi-end super-automatics. Let’s define a few terms used commonly in the super-automatic espresso machine world.

Bean to Cup

The first concept is bean to cup. This is what every super-automatic machine does. Put fresh coffee beans in the super automatic espresso machine, press a button and out comes espresso or crema-coffee. The machine grinds the beans fresh for every brewing cycle, compresses the ground beans – also known as tamping – and then forces hot water through the ground beans under pressure. The same process done by hand in semi-automatic espresso brewing only automated – and a lot less messy.

Crema-Coffee

For those that don’t know, crema-coffee or cafe-crema is similar to drip coffee, but benefits from espresso’s pressure brewing process. For coffee lovers, one sip of cafe-crema, and they’ll be convinced to drop the drip forever!

Brew Group

Another term you’ll hear a lot is brew group. Brew group is the nucleus of a super-automatic espresso machine. It’s where the fresh ground coffee is compressed. This is also where pressure brewing takes place. After brewing is complete, the brew group deposits the residue or puck of used coffee into a dredge drawer.

Removable Brew Group

On most machines the brew group is removable and should be rinsed once a week or so in the sink with tap water.

super automatic espresso machine

Jura Ena Micro 1

There are a few machines, notably a number made by Jura, in which the brew group is not removable. On these, the super automatic espresso machine keeps the brew group clean. This cleansing is done with the aid of a cleaning tablet being run through the machine after a certain number of brewing cycles.

One-Touch

Another term is one-touch. If a machine is classified as one-touch, it means it can make milk based drinks like a cappuccino, latte or machiatto at the the touch of a single button and without moving your cup. Milk is steamed, or frothed, automatically, and delivered to your cup along with espresso.

Auto-frothing Machines

There are other machines which also steam and froth milk automatically. However, these machines use a separate spout for milk delivery. This process requires the user to move the cup between spouts for milk and coffee delivery. Auto-frothing machines always have an external milk source. These range from a simple tube you can place in a carton of milk to attachable carafes which can be stored in the fridge and even refrigerated counter-top units.

Auto-frothing machines are generally able to produce steamed milk for a latte and frothed milk for a cappuccino. However, some machines produce just one kind of froth while others allow a user to control the amount of air injected into milk and vary the density of the froth.

Steam Wands

Machines that don’t have auto-frothing will have a steam wand for working with milk. And many machines with auto-frothing still include a steam wand. Steam wands can steam milk for a latte or froth for a cappuccino. They also deliver hot water for drinks like tea. Frothing milk with a steam wand is a skill which requires practice. Luckily, most machines have Pannarello style steam wands. Pannarello wands make it relatively easy for beginners to create froth with nice micro-foam by automatically injecting the right amount of air into the milk during steaming.

Thermoblock System

Creating Hot Water and Steam

Now, let’s examine how a super automatic espresso machine creates hot water and steam. A super automatic espresso machine generally uses a thermoblock system which heats small amounts of water very quickly. This process is so rapid that you can turn on the machine and be ready to brew in around a minute. Now some machines have one thermoblock and some will have 2. One for heating water for brewing and another dedicated to producing steam. A thermoblock or thermocoil takes water from the reservoir in a super automatic espresso machine and heats it on the fly. The advantage to having two thermoblock systems is less waiting between steaming and brewing. On a single thermoblock system, the average wait time between brewing and steaming is about 40 seconds.

Grinders

In a bean to cup system, you’re always brewing from beans ground instantly in the machine’s grinder. There are a few different styles. Grinders range from metallic burr grinders on up to grinders using ceramics. Ceramics are generally considered the best as they generate less heat when grinding. Ceramic grinders also leave more flavor in the coffee. You’ll also have control of grind fineness – going finer for espresso and courser for long coffees.

Other Features

User Control – Bypass – Water Resevoir

Aside from the type of grinder, machines differ on the degree of control a user has in setting fineness. Most all machines will have a bypass doser. They allow you to use pre-ground coffee. This is a handy feature if you have guests over and someone would prefer a decaf. All machines will have a water reservoir. They may be accessible from the side, front or top of the machine. On some you can tell at a glance how much water is in them. others have to be removed to see water level.

Water Filtration

Most all machines can accept some type of water filter, and we highly recommend using one. Cleaner water means better tasting coffee. A water filter also helps to keep your machine operating properly. Overtime, calcium deposits build up on heating elements. As you know from electric kitchen kettles and hot water heaters, this calcium build up requires that you descale the machine. Using a filter reduces these deposits and extends the time between descaling cycles. In fact, Jura makes a filter for some of their machines. If used as directed, this filtration eliminates the need to descale.

Choosing A Super Automatic Espresso Machine

super automatic espresso machine

DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica Super-Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine

When choosing a machine you’ll want to pay attention to capacities. You’ve got the water reservoir, dredge drawer, and drip tray. It all comes down to how much you’ll be using your machine and how often you have to service these areas. Super-automatics, for the most part, are similar in how they brew. But, there’s wide variations in how they are programmed and what items can be programmed. On the simplest systems you’ll have buttons or dials controlling things like dosage, grind and volume in the cup. On high-end machines, you’ll find full color displays, multi-user programmability, and extremely fine control over every aspect of the brewing process.

Cup Warmers

Many machines have cup warmers. There are 2 varieties of cup warmers: Passive and active. An active cup warmer uses a dedicated heating element to warm cups. Passive systems use residual internal heat and take longer to work. So, if you like your drinks really hot, you may want to consider a machine with an active cup warmer.

Summary

That’s a basic overview of the capabilities and features of super-automatic espresso machines. A super automatic espresso machine is capable of producing all your favorite coffee based drinks…it’s really like having a barista on your countertop!

As found on Youtube

Explore Super Automatic Espresso Machines at Ultimate Espresso Shop.

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