Fully-automatic espresso machines make it easy for anyone to make lattes and cappuccinos at home.
Though they have a reputation for being expensive and high-maintenance, you can find plenty of models that are both affordable and easy to keep clean.
If you’re considering a fully-automatic machine for your home, check out the reviews and buying guide below to learn more about your options and how to choose the best espresso maker.
The Saeco Xelsis gives you the convenience of a fully-automatic machine without sacrificing your ability to customize your drinks. With 15 different drink recipes programmed in, it’s basically a café in a box. All drink parameters are programmable, too, including the temperature, milk texture, shot volume, and the grind and dose of beans. Once you find your perfect settings, you can save them to one of 6 provided user profiles.
We also love that the Saeco Xelsis is low maintenance. The Hygiesteam system automatically purges the lines after you make a drink, keeping the milk system clean without any effort from you. It also has a built-in water filter that helps prevent scale build-up in the water lines, so it doesn’t require descaling as often as other espresso machines. The high-quality ceramic grinder is durable and won’t overheat like metal burrs, preventing build-up and ensuring the flavor from your beans makes it into the brew.
The Breville Oracle Touch Fully Automatic Espresso Machine can produce café-quality microfoam that has the sweet flavor and smooth texture most people look for in a latte. The steam wand has a dedicated boiler and temperature control. For the shots, features like the heated group head and digital temperature control provide an even, flavorful extraction. It uses a pre-infusion to bring out all the subtle notes from the grinds, with an Over Pressure Valve to maintain an optimal brew pressure from start to finish.
The Oracle Touch makes lattes, cappuccinos, Americanos, flat whites, and espresso shots. There are also 8 customizable settings that you can adjust and save through the intuitive touch screen display. It’s fairly low-maintenance along with being easy to use, with an automatic cleaning cycle for the milk system that prevents build-up and bacteria growth.
Even coffee lovers on a budget can get an automatic espresso machine with the De’Longhi ESAM3300. This powerful little machine both compact and easy to use along with being an incredible value.
You won’t have to spend too much time cleaning the Del’Longhi ESAM3300, either. It uses a direct-to-brew system from the grinder to the group head that limits mess, letting you clean it in about half the time of most automatic espresso machines. The automatic shutoff feature is handy, too, preventing energy waste when it’s not in use.
As far as flavor is concerned, the De’Longhi ESAM3300 pulls consistent shots with a nice rich flavor and full crema. The frother gives a good amount of steam for both latte microfoam and frothy cappuccinos. Keep in mind the steam wand is manual. This is good news for people who want full control of the milk texture, and even means you can make latte art. Learning to use the steam wand can be tricky, though, and it’s not as hands-off as other fully-automatic machines.
Another great option for the budget-conscious espresso lover is the Espressione 8212S Fully Automatic Espresso Machine. Its compact design is just 7” across, so it’s also one of the easiest espresso machines to fit into small kitchens.
While the group head and steam wand do share a boiler, it does a good job regulating the temperature and pressure, even during simultaneous use. Another thing to note is that it’s a bit picky about which beans you use. The grinder can experience feed issues if you use an oil dark roast like a French or Italian.
Even with these quirks, we’d call the Espressione 8212S an excellent value from a taste and convenience perspective. The brew pressure and temperature are on point, pulling rich, aromatic espresso shots quickly and consistently.
The Jura ENA 1 is an affordable brewing system that does one thing and does it well: brew delicious coffee. It doesn’t include a frother, so if you want to make lattes or cappuccinos you’ll need a standalone unit for the milk. It will, however, make both brewed coffee and espresso, including ristretto shots, with a consistently delicious taste and aroma.
Customization settings on the Jura ENA 1 include two aroma levels, three cup sizes, and multi-level grind adjustment. While particularly oily beans can clog the chute from the grinder, from a taste perspective it’s easy to adjust this machine to suit whatever coffee you’re using. It’s energy-efficient, as well, with a low energy consumption and an automatic shutoff.
The super-automatic Gaggia Anima Prestige can make you a latte from start to finish with the press of a single button. On the brew side, the bean-to-cup feature takes care of all the grinding, tamping, and brewing without any user intervention. Even the milk dispenses into your cup directly from the frother when it’s finished.
From a taste perspective, the espresso brewed by the Gaggia Anima Prestige is great for drinks like latte and cappuccinos. It lacks some of the depth of flavor we look for in straight espresso, however, and you’ll get a better straight shot from other machines on the list.
That said, the Gaggia Anima Prestige is the best automatic espresso machine if you’re looking for the easiest way to make lattes at home. Programmable milk settings and 3 temperature settings also let you easily tailor the drinks to your tastes.
A pod machine like the Dolce Gusto Esperta 2 takes a different approach to brewing than the grind-and-brew models above. Instead of brewing the shots and frothing the milk, the ground coffee, milk, and flavorings are all included inside pre-packaged pods. Just pop the pod in and press brew. Since the grounds are contained, clean-up is a snap, and the wheel-based interface is simple for anyone to use.
If you’re looking for café-quality microfoam and full-bodied espresso shots, you’ll be disappointed by the drinks from the Dolce Gusto Esperta 2. What it does offer is the convenience of an automatic espresso machine at a cost that will fit into any budget, making it a great value for casual coffee drinkers who don’t want to spend too much.
The Phillips 3200 Series Fully Automatic Espresso Machine is a versatile brewer that can handle all your beverage needs. Along with brewing regular and lungo shots, it pours brewed coffee, Americanos, or straight hot water for tea. You can also adjust the brew temperature and strength, and there are 12 levels of micro-adjustment for the grinder, letting you dial in on your perfect cup.
From a design perspective, the steam wand is a bit close to the brewer which can make it tricky to position your pitcher. That said, this does help to keep the machine nice and compact and it has a comparatively small counter footprint. We also like how low-maintenance this machine is. You can brew up to 5,000 cups before descaling and the ceramic burrs in the grinder are durable, holding up through 20,000 cups or more.
The Krups EA89 is a great choice if you do a lot of entertaining since you can make two drinks at once. It also has an integrated frother so you can make lattes and cappuccinos hands-free by pushing a single button. A large 77-ounce reservoir spares you the need to refill it between drinks. The adjustable coffee spout is convenient, too, letting you brew directly into mugs up to 5.5 inches tall.
We also like the variety of drinks you can make with the Krups EA89. There are 15 drinks to choose from, all of which can be customized to match your tastes. This is a great machine for people who like strong coffee, too, with one-touch options for a Bold brew or an extra shot of espresso.
For straightforward, one-touch brewing, the Mr. Coffee CoffeeHouse Espresso Maker is an affordable way to go about it. You don’t have to sacrifice taste for the price, either. It uses an Italian-style pump that reaches a full 19 bars of pressure, and the thermocouple heating system keeps the temperature steady during brewing and frothing.
There aren’t as many customization options on the Mr. Coffee CoffeeHouse Espresso Maker. The flip side of this is that the controls are very simple, with no complicated menus to navigate. Just choose the drink and size you want. There’s even a one-button cleaning cycle for when the machine requires maintenance. The only complaint some users have is that it can get pretty loud while it’s brewing—potentially a problem for early risers with roommates and families.
The 15 drink recipes programmed into the Saeco PicoBaristo include everything from a straight espresso to a latte macchiato. Six user profiles let you customize and save your drink settings, saving you time every time you brew. The quick heat boiler gets it up to temp faster and keeps the temperature consistent throughout the brew for an ideal extraction.
The build of the Saeco PicoBaristo is worth attention, too. It has a clean look and a compact housing so it’s unobtrusive in any size or style of kitchen. This is a durable espresso maker, too, and has helpful features like a water filter and automatic milk system cleaning that make it easier to maintain in the long-term.
The versatile Costway Super Automatic Espresso Machine can brew both whole bean coffee and coffee powder. The control panel also has options for adjusting the grind and changing the brew temperature, and the pour spout is movable to accommodate mugs of different sizes.
You can get well-textured microfoam from the steam wand on the Costway Super Automatic, making it a good option if you’re looking to practice your latte art. The 19-bar pump produces enough pressure for both brewing and steaming consistently, and the optional pre-infusion helps you bring more flavor notes out of your beans. Home baristas will also love the little touches on this Costway espresso maker, like the cup warmer on top of the machine, that make it feel more like a mini café in your own home.
Finally, here’s another top choice from Saeco, their Vapore Espresso Machine, which is one of the more compact and budget-friendly options you’ll find in the company’s catalog. It still has the same high-end touches as their other espresso makers, including a durable ceramic burr grinder and a quick-heat boiler that gets up to brewing temp in a flash.
The Saeco Vapore has a simpler interface than their other models. This also means fewer adjustment options, though you do still get volume control and 5 grind levels. The manual frother is comfortable to use, too, and produces a good level of steam for making both lattes and cappuccinos.
The defining characteristic of an automatic espresso maker is that it generates the brewing pressure for you. On a manual espresso maker, the barista pulls a lever to build the pressure and apply it to the shot. Automatic machines are programmed to deliver the right pressure when the barista presses the brew button.
Within the broad category of automatic espresso machines, you’ll find 3 sub-categories of machines delineated by how much of the drink-making process they automate.
Of all the automatic espresso makers, a semi-automatic gives you the most control over the brewing process. It’s the favorite design of baristas or serious coffee hobbyists because it can deliver the best flavor—if you know what you’re doing. It also requires the most advanced skill to use and it’s the most challenging to learn for a beginner.
On a semi-automatic, the brewing pressure and temperature are controlled electronically. Everything else is up to the barista, including grinding, dosing, and tamping the shot, as well as steaming the milk. The barista also controls the shot timing and by extension the water dose.
The control of a semi-automatic machine lets you make more subtle adjustments to the flavor. It also allows you to pull lungo or ristretto shots with ease, or make latte art on your beverages. If you want the most authentic café experience at home, a semi-automatic is the way to go.
Similar to a semi-automatic, the brewing temperature and pressure are electronically controlled on a fully-automatic machine. In addition, it controls the dosing of the water and the length of the brew. The barista still grinds the coffee and tamps the shot, but the rest of the brewing process is controlled electronically.
Consistency is one advantage of fully-automatic machines. They also don’t require quite as much attention from the barista. Once you start the shot you can focus on steaming your milk, since it will stop automatically when it reaches the right volume.
Many fully-automatic machines also offer a semi-automatic operation, letting the barista take back control of the shot timing. This can make a fully-automatic espresso machine a great choice for someone just getting serious about coffee, since you can expand your skill set more gradually as you learn.
You know those cappuccino machines you find in gas stations, where all you do is push a button and your drink comes out? A super-automatic machine is like that, except with far superior foam texture and coffee taste.
Super-automatic espresso machines use a bean-to-cup system that integrates the grinder into the espresso maker. When you’re ready to brew, it dispenses the right amount of beans, grinds and tamps them, then begins the extraction. In some cases, you can even find super-automatic espresso machines with automatic milk frothers, letting you make an entire drink by pushing a single button.
Unlike other espresso makers, you don’t need any advanced training or knowledge to use a super-automatic espresso machine. The disadvantage is your control is limited by the options they give you. Many have user-programmable controls like temperature and grind level, but even with these you don’t get the full control you’d have on a less automated machine.
It depends on what you’re looking for out of your coffee. Super-automatic machines are most popular in restaurants because they can produce consistent results with less training for the users.
In a home environment, super-automatic espresso machines have a more limited target demographic. If you want high-quality espresso drinks and don’t have time or inclination to learn how to use a manual or semi-automatic machine, a super-automatic is worth the expense.
If a super-automatic machine is out of your budget range, you can get a pod brewer like a Nespresso maker for a fraction of the cost of a super-automatic. The flavor isn’t as authentic, but it’s just as easy to use. Given their popularity, it’s safe to say most people find the taste of the drinks perfectly acceptable, even if the lattes aren’t as frothy as ones you get in a café.
Both manual and automatic espresso machines can produce an excellent drink. The difference between them comes down to convenience and usability.
Even for trained baristas, a fully-manual espresso machine can be difficult to use correctly. Learning how to time the lever and how much pressure to apply when pulling a shot takes time and practice.
It’s not a static process, either. Because they’re very porous, coffee beans are easily affected by changes in temperature and humidity. Different roast levels and origins also do best with different brew times and temperatures, further complicating the process. Part of learning to use a manual machine is figuring out how to make micro-adjustments in response to these changes.
This is why you’ll see semi-automatic machines used in most cafes. They allow enough control over the brewing process for the barista to deliver a high drink quality but aren’t as temperamental, and don’t require as much training to use.
Manual machines also have a longer preparation time per drink—another reason you’re not likely to see them in high-volume coffee shops. Large commercial semi-automatic machines can churn out 60 drinks or more every hour. Even a skilled barista on a manual machine would be lucky to produce half that volume.
If you’re serious about coffee, a manual machine can be fun to play around with. There is a certain amount of satisfaction to be gained from learning how to pull shots perfectly without the aid of electronics. For most people, though, automatic machines are the best way to brew delicious coffee without a lot of hassle.
Pros of Super-Automatic Espresso Machines:
Cons of Super-Automatic Espresso Machines:
It depends on what you’re comparing it to. Relative to drip machines or manual brewers, repairing super-automatic espresso machines is more expensive. This is both because of the extra time spent on labor and the higher cost of replacement parts.
Repairing a super-automatic machine can be more difficult at home because of the technology and electronics used inside. Because of that, you’ll almost always need professional repair when something in the machine goes awry.
This is also something that makes them costlier to fix than simpler brewing methods. If you’re handy, you can probably fix an automatic drip machine or French press fairly easily, but that’s not the case with espresso machines.
That said, most people use professional repair technicians for semi-automatic machines, too, and often even for commercial or high-end home manual models. Hiring a professional to repair a super-automatic machine won’t cost any more than one for other espresso machine styles.
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