When it comes to the best automatic espresso machines, consumers have two varieties to choose from. There are super-automatic models that automatic the entire process from bean grinding to pulling the shot, and there are semi-automatic models that require the consumer to interact with the machine a little bit to create the perfect cup of espresso. In our opinion, both of these models can be used to great effect and can help the home barista create the drink of their dreams.
One of the questions that we’re frequently asked is: What are the best automatic espresso coffee makers, so we decided to roll up our sleeves and find out. What was the result? Well, not only did we discover some of the best automatic models available, but we learned a lot of things about these wonderful machines in the process. Information that we’re happy to share with all of our readers right now, and information that will help everyone buy a machine that works well for their needs.
Quick Summary of the Best Automatic Espresso Machines
- Editor’s Choice: Breville The Barista Express Espresso Machine (Amazon) – Review
- Also Recommended: Sowtech Espresso Machine Espresso/Cappuccino Machine (Amazon) – Review
- Also Consider: Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso/Cappuccino Maker (Amazon) – Review
Editor’s Choice: Breville The Barista Express Espresso Machine
Our first thought when we saw this espresso machine from Breville is that it truly is a beautiful machine. It’s an appliance that we think any consumer would be proud to have in their kitchen, and might even be the one that espresso drinkers will want to show off to their friends and family.
What makes it such a good looking machine is not only its design but also its stainless steel exterior. An exterior that’s easy to wipe down when the consumer invariably gets their fingerprints on it. And it doesn’t hurt that this model also has a dial, lights, and buttons that make it look like a high-tech device.
When it comes to making the perfect espresso, looks aren’t as important as features and fortunately, this one is packed with features. It’s a semi-automatic espresso machine that has a built-in conical burr grinder that grinds beans on demand, so the consumer can achieve the perfect amount of espresso grounds for their coffee.
It also features a grind-size dial that gives the home barista precise control over their bean grind, no matter what type of beans they’re using in the machine. And because this machine’s grinding cradle grinds directly into the espresso port filter, it provides for more hands-free operation.
Another thing we liked about this 1,600-watt model was that it features a steam wand that provides some great performance. It allows the consumer to hand-texture the micro-foam in a way that few espresso machines are capable of doing. And finally, this model also comes with several accessories that give the consumer the tools they need to pull perfect single or double shots of espresso.
Some of the accessories that come with this machine include a stainless-steel 54mm port filter, single and dual-wall filter baskets, an integrated tamper, a cleaning brush, a coffee scoop, a stainless steel milk-hug, water filter holder, water filter and an Allen key.
Also Recommended: Sowtech Espresso Machine Espresso/Cappuccino Machine
The Sowtech espresso machine might have an unfortunate name, and it might not be as nice looking as the Breville we reviewed, but that doesn’t mean that it’s an espresso maker that isn’t worth the consumer’s consideration. It’s quite the contrary. We feel that this is a great budget espresso machine for consumers who don’t have a small fortune to spend on a machine to pull shots from.
And it has a compact size and style that allows it to fit on just about any counter and with just about any home’s decor. Keeping all of this in mind, let’s take a quick look at this machine before rendering a final judgment on its suitability.
One of the first things that we’d like to discuss is how easy this machine is to use. It has a 22-second extraction time, so consumers can have a shot of espresso done in approximately 2-3 minutes. This is a semi-automatic model, so the consumer is still going to have to grind their beans in their favorite grinder, guide the machine through the process and turn it off when it’s finished, but it’s a lot easier to use than some of the manual espresso machines.
Sure, the foam wand does take a bit of practice to get right, so the consumer might have to spend some time practicing with it, but it’s otherwise a great machine.
This product delivers 3.5-bars of pressure, which isn’t the ideal pressure for making a high-end espresso but is enough to get the job done. Using this machine, the consumer can make 1 to 4-cups of espresso, each topped with a nice creamy microfoam. This machine also comes with several accessories that are quite useful.
These features include a filter, a funnel, a carafe, a spoon, and the ever-important manual. All of these features and accessories come together to create a system that we think will work for the casual espresso drinker. This isn’t a high-end model, but it does deliver good results and is inexpensive. That’s all some coffee drinkers need out of their machine.
Also Consider: Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso/Cappuccino Maker
The Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista is a 3-in-1 espresso/cappuccino/latte maker that’s designed to straddle the line between the high-end espresso machines and the budget ones. Sometimes it accomplishes this goal rather well, and at other times it doesn’t do as good of a job as it should. What we mean is that this machine isn’t always the most consistent, but for the most part, it works well.
The biggest problem that we had with this machine was that it made the espressos hot when it was left on and this prompted us to only run this model when we needed to pull the perfect shot of espresso.
On the other hand, this machine does have some features that allow it to do a good job. For example, this model is equipped with a 15-bar pump system that allows for proper bean extraction. It also features an automatic milk frother that makes it easier for just about anyone to create the perfect amount of foam.
And it also should be mentioned that this machine also has a one-touch control panel that allows the home barista to craft the perfect shot of espresso or make the perfect latte. This model also features a 26-inch cord, that makes it easier for everyone to set up and use.
This model also features a removable water reservoir that’s easy to fill between uses. as well as a removable milk container for holding the milk. This means that the consumer only has to fill the water reservoir, the milk reservoir, select the perfect grounds and place them into the machine, and then select the drink desired.
This system even comes with a recipe book that the consumer can use to craft the coffee drinks of their dreams. All things considered, this might not be the best espresso machine, but it is a model that some people are going to want to consider.
A Guide To Automatic Espresso Machines
We thought about the title of this guide for quite a while before we wrote it because we weren’t sure if it was going to be the right title for the material at hand. After all, when we say automatic espresso machines, what we mean is semi-automatic machines. That’s because truly automatic machines are known as super-automatic espresso machines. See, when it comes to these types of machines there’s somewhat of an industry-wide nomenclature problem. Semi-automatic machines are called automatic and automatic machines are called super-automatic. Having said that, we’re going to let everyone read this know that this is a guide that can be used for buying both models.
How To Buy An Automatic Espresso Machine
We’re going to begin this guide by talking about some of the things that consumers should consider when purchasing a new automatic espresso machine. Nowadays, there seems to be a never-ending parade of new machine released—seemingly every week, so consumers might want to think about the machine their considering before actually buying it. Below are some things to consider before making that fateful purchase.
Step One: Choose Between A Super-Automatic Or Semi-Automatic Model
Yes, we know, there are also manual espresso machines to consider, but since everyone who is reading this guide is probably concerned with automatic models, we’ve decided to focus on only super-automatic and semi-automatic models. So, which one of those is right for the consumer? Well, that’s not something that we can say off of the top of our heads, not without a little bit more information. However, what we can do is help our readers determine which one is right for them. To get to that revelation, our readers first have to be able to spot the differences between these two models and compare them against their needs. To help them with the first part of that equation, we’ve decided to list some of the differences between these two types of espresso machines.
- They cost less than super-automatic machines.
- They don’t have a lot of complicated parts.
- They allow the consumer to be more “artful” with their espresso.
- They require a little more user intervention than super-automatic models.
- Little or no skill is required to use it.
- They create a decent basic espresso.
- They can be a bit expensive.
- They don’t allow the consumer to tweak their espressos.
Step Two: Consider The Machines Pump
The next thing to consider is the pump of the espresso machine. As a general rule, the consumer is going to want to purchase an espresso machine that delivers around 15-bars of pressure. That’s the magic number for expressing the essences out of the coffee beans properly. Sure, some models only deliver 3-bars of pressure, but those machines are for people who aren’t overly concerned with making the perfect cup of espresso. They’ll make a good, middle-of-the-road espresso that tastes good and delivers the caffeine the consumer needs, but it won’t have the texture and layers of an espresso made with a 15-bar machine.
Step Three: Consider The Machines Features
The last thing the consumer is going to want to think about is the features they expect on one of these espresso machines. Below are some of the more common features that can be found and ones that the average person may find useful.
- The ability to pull a single or a double shot.
- A built-in coffee grinder.
- The ability to adjust the coffee bean grind size.
- Manual or digital temperature control.
- Micro-foam milk texturing.
- An automatic shutoff feature.
Tips For Making Better Espresso
Now that we’ve gone through some of the steps the consumer is going to want to consider before they purchase the best espresso maker for their needs, we’re going to spend a bit of time giving our readers some tips that will help them get the most out of their machine and get a better tasting espresso.
Use Purified Water
One of the first steps toward creating the best tasting espresso is to use purified water. Espressos made with purified water taste cleaner and have more snap to them than espressos made with tap water. This is because municipal chlorine can cover up the taste of the coffee’s natural oils, and this can ruin the flavor profile of the espresso. Besides, using tap water can cause calcium deposits to build up in the machine and this can shorten its lifespan. Yes, using purified, chlorine-free water is always the best way of making a great espresso.
Use The Best Coffee Possible
Another thing that the consumer should do is to make sure that they buy the best quality coffee grounds available. Although different people prefer different coffee brands and roasts, that doesn’t matter all that much. What matters is that the consumer should buy the highest quality coffee that they can find—regardless of the brand or roast.
Grind Your Own Beans
Yes, we understand that at least half of our readers are going to be tired of the advice to grind their own beans. That’s because that’s the seminal advice offered by every coffee guru in the world. However, there’s a good reason why that’s so. That’s because grinding your beans yourself creates the best coffee flavor. And the beans shouldn’t be ground in advance, but should only be ground right before the coffee is brewed for best results.
Keep Your Machine Clean
The next tip for creating a great espresso shot is to keep the espresso machine clean. Not only should the machine be cleaned regularly, but the home barista should also take the time to properly descale the machine. A clean machine doesn’t pass on the bitter compounds that can build up in a machine over several brewing sessions. Anyone who is looking to start with a good foundation is going to want to start with a clean machine.
Follow The Manufacturer’s Instructions
The consumer is also going to want to take the time to follow all of the machine’s care and brew recommendations. No one knows the capability of the espresso machine more than the company that designed and built it, so be sure to follow their instructions. This will result in not only a better-tasting espresso but will also ensure that the machine stays in good condition for as long as possible.