If you’re an avid coffee aficionado and wish to brew your own coffee at home, you must own an automatic espresso machine. As most coffee lovers know, an espresso maker preserves a deep coffee taste. Not only will this make your life easier and more convenient, but it will also allow you to choose your beans and the strength of your espresso. When you have an automatic espresso machine at home, you can even save money because instead of going out to buy your daily coffee, you can make one at home.
Love drinking great coffee? If you want a tasty, freshly roasted bean you can buy online, try something from LifeBoost and thank me later. Click here to check it out and save 50%.
Though premium-quality automatic espresso machines may come with a hefty price tag, you will still actually save more money in the long run. Imagine paying $4 for every cup a day or getting a $200 basic so-so quality espresso machine that you have to replace every three months. You pay $ 1,440 for your daily $4 coffee cup in a year, while you spend $800 for your espresso machine.
If you do this a year, you can just imagine how much you’ll end up spending after three to five years. Whereas, if you get a premium-quality automatic espresso machine that could cost $800 or more, you’ll only spend once, yet you can use it for a long time. But before you decide what espresso machine to get, read on and learn more about this device and what salient features you need to be keen about.
What Is an Automatic Espresso Machine
As these espresso machines grew in features and functionalities, they also vary in names. Some may call them bean-to-cup machines, automatic espresso, or Super-Automatic espresso machines. Still, they only refer to one thing — they’re machines that can conveniently make your coffee, cappuccinos, lattes, and more. If you find Keurig convenient, then you will be more amazed by the quality of the drinks and beverages you can enjoy when you shift to automatic espresso machines. From pre-ground coffee in venti cups, you’ll now enjoy freshly ground whole coffee beans.
Benefits of Using an Automatic Espresso Machine
Take Your Coffee Experience to a World-Class Level
Innovative automation and precision engineering result in espresso drinks commensurate or more superior to the traditional barista-made drinks.
More Advanced Product Quality
If you use an automated espresso machine, you can make macchiatos, cappuccinos, and lattes with flavor profiles consistent with the taste of commercial-quality beverages.
Improved Shot Quality
Espresso machines offer accurate temperature and time, fresh and fast grind, and low heat operation that results in achieving the exact, perfect flavor profile for every caffeinated beverage you’ll make.
Improved Milk Quality
Every latte artist would love to make art pieces on a perfect canvas. This can be done with an automatic espresso machine as it helps froth different milk types to their best texture and taste every single time.
Achieve Maximum Speed and Volume
An automatic espresso machine can make around 350 espresso shots every hour. And all these shots have the same consistent quality. If you’re using an espresso machine to operate a business, your customers will be delighted and satisfied with every drink they order and consume. As a result, you generate more business and higher profit margins.
How Does an Automatic Espresso Machine Work
Fully automatic, standard espresso machines are pretty straightforward. All you have to do is press the power button and wait for the device to pull an espresso shot for you. There are espresso machines that come with a built-in coffee grinder, so in that case, you simply put the coffee beans on the grinding container and let the espresso machine process them into ground ones. If your espresso machine doesn’t come with a grinder, you will need to grind and tamp your beans before putting them in the machine. As soon as you get the grinding sorted, your espresso machine will take care of the actual shot pulling task.
Pros and Cons of Using an Automatic Espresso Machine
- Convenience. It’s convenient since you can make your coffee beverages anytime and anywhere. Aside from that, it’s quick and requires no after use clean-up. You can get your espresso, latte, macchiato, or any beverage you like with a single push of a button. If you’re always on the run, but you still want to enjoy a splendid-tasting coffee, this is for you.
- Precision. The machine’s pods are packed with the right amount of coffee, and it will also use the precise water volume and pressure needed to give you the perfect tasting brewed coffee every single time—no need to guess and rely on your gut feel. You can even adjust your espresso machine’s setting to increase or decrease the strength of your coffee.
- User-friendly. It’s way easier to brew the perfect-tasting coffee with a fully-automatic espresso machine than a manual one. You can simply program it, and you automatically take out the guesswork in the coffee-making equation.
- No coffee-wasting. Since you can make your coffee anytime, you don’t waste coffee and coffee beans. You can also say goodbye to stale coffee in your French press or coffee pot.
- Less control. Automatic espresso machines require technical know-how on how to operate them. Since you’ll have to make your coffee, it means you also have to rely on your knowledge of how to manage and tinker with your espresso machine. No barista will do it for you. And you also have to know what coffee beans to use to achieve the taste you prefer. Since you’ll be on your own, you also need to know how to make use of your coffee-making machine.
- Fewer customization options. Between semi-automatic, fully-automatic, and super-automatic espresso machines, the middle type of device is the least flexible since it doesn’t offer the customization options available in semi-automatic ones. So, this means you have to make fair use of the features that are already available. There are automatic espresso machines that only commit to the brand’s coffee pods. Meaning to say you can only use the coffee pods made by such an espresso machine brand.
- Costly. Since it comes with built-in sophisticated automation technology, it comes with a price. Though you can buy espresso machines that are slightly over $100, the high-performing and sturdy ones usually cost $800 or higher.
Types of Automatic Espresso Machine
Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine
This machine gives you your coffee with a single press of a button. But you need to ground your coffee first using a separate grinder. After that, the semi-automatic espresso machine will take care of the brewing process. The good thing about this type of espresso machine is it allows more room for human control. You will be the one to choose when the shot starts and stops.
Fully-Automatic Espresso Machine
This espresso machine is very close to semi-automatic types since it requires that you grind and tamp the coffee first before you press that start button. The only difference is you need to press your coffee again to put a halt to the water flow. This machine comes with a built-in internal timer to cut your shot off after 25 to 30 seconds. You can step away with this machine and still be assured that your espresso won’t be spilling on the floor.
Super-Automatic Espresso Machine
This type of device will do everything for you. You can grind and brew coffee beans and also froth milk using its super-automatic option. Among the three types of an espresso machine, this is the most all-inclusive.
How to Choose the Best Automatic Espresso Machine
Brew groups are usually found inside super-autos, and they’re responsible for performing the barista functions for you — they extract the coffee. Go for one-touch machines since they can produce non-coffee based beverages like a flat white, cappuccino, latte, and many more with a single press. From start to finish, there’s no user intervention in the beverage-creation process. When choosing your espresso machine, also check if the brew group can be removed or not. Go for the former since it makes the cleaning process so much easier. A clean brew ensures a high-quality beverage taste every single time.
The steam wand is responsible for frothing your milk. The frother turns milk into a thick foam. It steams the liquid and renders its bubbles different in texture to yield a fun and enjoyable foam. Make sure to check whether or not your espresso machine comes with a steam wand. This will add more functionality and fun elements to your espresso machine.
Water Tank and Bean Hopper Capacities
Automatic espresso machines vary in milk carafe and water tank sizes, and bean hopper type. The bean hopper is responsible for feeding the whole coffee beans into the burr grinding mechanism. Your choice of bean hopper affects the volume of espresso you can churn out before refilling. When buying an espresso machine, consider your needs. If it’s for personal use, a smaller water tank and bean hopper are enough. If you’re using it to brew coffee for the whole office or family, consider a bigger one that’s enough to provide coffee for everyone simultaneously.
Portafilters are handle and filter baskets meant for holding coffee grounds while they’re inserted into your espresso machine’s brew head. There are three types of portafilters, and they are the following — pressurized, commercial, and bottomless. Pressurized portafilters are usually found on entry-level espresso machines and are best for beginners since they create pressure for the user without relying on his grinding technique. Commercial ones are stronger in construction and more significant in diameter that results in better brew extraction. Lastly, bottomless ones are known as naked portafilters that allow baristas to see if channeling occurs. Channeling happens if the grind is inconsistent.
If you have to choose between an espresso machine with a built-in grinder and those which don’t come with one, go for the former. This only means that your espresso machine will be the one that will grind the coffee beans and send them directly to the machine’s brewing mechanism.
Steam or Pump-Powered
When you’re aiming for consistency in your coffee quality, go for models that are pump-powered. Even if your espresso machine is only semi-automatic, the one with a pump machine will take care of the whole brewing process. This also means that your device is already linked to a water source. The pump will automatically regulate the heat, so you only need to attach your portafilter before pressing the power button. This is basically for people who don’t like to exert much effort when making their coffee.
Single or Double Boiler
The best option is the one with the double boiler. Since it comes with two boiling chambers, it can make more coffee in a short time. If you don’t like to wait, this is for you. It allows you to pull an espresso shot simultaneously while having boiling water to produce steam for milk frothing. As a result, you can brew coffee and froth milk at the same time.
The good thing with a fully plumbed espresso machine is that you need to refill your water tank while brewing your coffee. As a result, you won’t suffer any delay as you make your coffee. This also reduces the cost of buying filtered water to be used within the machine’s internal reservoir.
When you’re planning to buy an espresso machine, go for those that require minimal maintenance. This means lesser work on your part and a longer lifespan for your espresso machine.
Espresso machines that are programmable help users to vary the pressure depending on their desired extraction profile. If you want more flexibility, you can also try machines with a mixture of programmable and manual options.
When buying espresso machines, it’s not only about brands but also about features and flexibility. However, there are reputable brands that have always been top of mind of most coffee enthusiasts, and they are the brands that made it to this list.
Types of Coffee to Make With an Automatic Espresso Machine
This is coffee with much less water content than your ‘regular’ coffee. This is the reason why it’s concentrated and often referred to as the darkest roast. Because of its concentration, it’s rich in flavor but not much in volume. It also has a lot of caffeine.
These are espresso shots with equal water parts to match them. Even if espresso is more diluted, it still leaves elbow room for people who want to add cream or milk to lighten the taste.
This is short for long coffee shots. To make this, you start with espresso. After that, put a ‘longer’ volume of water to make it more diluted. It may be strong, but it’s not as strong as your regular coffee cup. The added water is used while brewing instead of being added to the already brewed espresso. When it comes to taste, Lungo tastes darker than Americano.
This is also known as Espresso Plus. Ristretto has 50% less water than espresso with the same ground amount. This means that it will be twice as strong. This can be used to make other drinks.
Lattes are like a cappuccino but only done in reverse. You can start by making an espresso. While waiting for your espresso, you also froth up your milk. Let the froth build by leaving the steam wand on. Once both liquids are ready, pour the milk first, then add the espresso from the center to the top. Lattes have more liquid compared to cappuccino — something that explains the difference in their taste.
To make your macchiato, start with one or two shots of espresso. While doing that, steam a small portion of milk. Add a few spoon drops of milk on top of the brewed espresso.
Again, this is like a latte only done in reverse. As such, it means that the espresso gets done first while the milk is steamed. Pour the espresso on the glass first, and add milk from the center to the top. The cappuccino foam is also another unique characteristic of an authentic cappuccino.
How to Use an Automatic Espresso Machine
Step 1 – Preheat the espresso machine
To make the best espresso and coffee, you need to make sure that your espresso machine gets fully-heated before the brewing process. The preheating process can take around 25 minutes, but you can shorten it by pulling a blank shot by emitting your espresso from your portafilter.
Step 2 – Grind your beans
Before you pour your beans into the grinder, measure them first. Set your grinder to fine grind. After which, place your portafilter on a scale and tare the latter out. Fill the portafilter with at least 20 grams of coffee ground. Make sure that the portafilter only has a leveled coffee level.
Step 3 – Stamp your ground coffee
There is only one rule to get tamping right — make sure to press down straight. Since this is a skill, you’ll get better at tamping with constant practice.
Step 4 – Pull your first espresso shot
Ideally, you’ll spend 20 to 30 seconds for every pull of a shot. If you hit two ounces, you’re technically done making your espresso. Dark and rich colored shot means you got it right. You’ve established your baseline sufficiently.
Step 5 – Dialing the first shot
It’s okay if you’re using an espresso machine with a pressure gauge since it will measure the pressure reached of your espresso. If your espresso is under-extracted, then you might want a finer ground. If it’s bitter, then it means it is over-extracted. In that case, you might want a coarser ground.
Step 6 – Froth your milk
With the use of your steam wand, froth your milk up to your preferred frothiness level. Once done, mix your espresso and milk, depending on your chosen taste profile.
How to Clean an Automatic Espresso Machine
Step 1 – Clean the espresso machine surfaces
For this, you can use a clean and dry rag, soap, and water. Wipe the surfaces and make sure that they’re clean to keep mold, yeast, and bacteria from growing. Pay careful attention to your dip tray. Make sure to use a clean rag when you wipe the soap from the surfaces as it may affect the coffee’s taste. Instead of soap, you can also use a water and vinegar solution.
Step 2 – Clean your water tank
It’s easy to clean a removable water tank since you only need to take it out before you thoroughly clean it with water and soap (or vinegar) before rinsing it. If you want to ensure that your coffee is always clean and safe, invest in a cappuccino machine with a removable water tank.
If your water tank is not removable, you need to empty and keep it dry every night to stop bacteria from growing inside the tank. You can also clean it weekly with a mix of water and descaling liquid.
Step 3 – Cleaning the steam wand
This is the dirtiest part of your espresso machine; that’s why you need to purge and wipe it down after using it. Aside from wiping it down, you also need to clean it by filling the milk pitcher with water and soap. Use your steam wand to make the soap bubble. Let it submerge down. Purge and wipe your wand until it’s dry.
Step 4 – Clean your portafilters
If you don’t want to use soap in cleaning your portafilter with water, simply let it sit in hot.
Does More Spending Mean More Quality
More spending doesn’t automatically equate to better quality since people have different purposes for making a purchase. However, in the case of your espresso machine, more spending is equal to getting a better-quality and more feature-packed espresso machine. This means you get a more durable one that will last you longer than the so-so alternatives.
As mentioned above, imagine paying $200 for a basic so-so quality espresso machine that you have to replace every three months. In a year, you spend $800 on your espresso machine. If you do this a year, you can just imagine how much you’ll end up spending after three to five years. Whereas, if you get a premium-quality automatic espresso machine that could cost $800 or more, you’ll only spend once, yet you can use it for a long time.
Do’s and Don’ts With an Automatic Espresso Machine
- Only use the world’s best chocolate-covered espresso beans.
- Know your needs before making an espresso machine purpose.
- Consider roasting coffee at home.
- Know the basics of coffee brewing before making your own coffee.
- Invest in a premium portable coffee maker.
- Learn about the different types of coffee grounds.
- Familiarize yourself with the different coffee types you can brew with your espresso machine.
- Choose the base for your coffee creamer.
- Keep your espresso machine dry every night.
- Read reviews about your espresso machine alternatives and decide after thoroughly knowing their pros and cons.
- Forgetting that filter on a cold brew maker is really important.
- Let bacteria, mold, and yeast grow on your espresso machine.
- Buy only because of the brand.
- Make price the only factor to consider when purchasing an espresso machine.
- Forget that single-serve brewer saves a lot of space.
FAQ About Automatic Espresso Machines
What’s the difference between a manual and an automatic espresso machine?
Manual espresso machines are the original way of brewing coffee, wherein the user will be the one to pull his shot by pumping a lever. This gives the brewer more control and flexibility in the whole coffee brewing experience since he will have to rely on his skill and precision. On the other hand, an automatic espresso machine allows you to enjoy brewed coffee with a single push button. The machine takes care of all the tasks of the brewer.
How do you make a latte in an automatic espresso machine?
You can start by making espresso using your espresso machine. While waiting for your espresso, you also froth up your milk using the steam wand. Let the froth build by leaving the steam wand on. Once both liquids are ready, pour the milk first, then add the espresso from the center to the top. Lattes have more liquid compared to cappuccino — something that explains the difference in their taste.
Does Starbucks use an automatic espresso machine?
The coffee chain uses an exclusively-developed coffee machine known as Mastrena. Mastrena was developed and built by Thermoplan AG, a Swiss company commissioned by the label to make a super-automatic espresso machine with a computerized menu and built-in grinders to make espresso as quick and easy as possible.
How much does an excellent automatic espresso machine cost?
If a primary stovetop espresso maker is okay with you, you can get it as low as $30. If you prefer the pod-style, single-cup, simple ones, you might spend somewhere around $40 to $150. You can also go for pricier ones that come with more features and automation mechanisms that can go as high as $300 or more.
Do you need an expensive espresso machine?
You don’t need an expensive espresso machine. The best one is the espresso machine that serves its purpose. What are you looking for in an espresso machine? How will you be using it? Will it be for personal or shared use? Do you want automatic ones? Or are you more comfortable with manual espresso makers? Your answer to these questions will determine the kind of espresso machine right for you. It doesn’t have to be expensive; it has to be useful.
There are different types of automatic espresso machines. This means that you have more choices. On the downside, too many options can also overwhelm you and get you confused. At the end of the day, before you buy an espresso machine, you need to get real with your needs first.
For example, if you will use it mostly as you travel, consider a compact coffee maker to carry on your travels. If you like to add milk to your coffee because steamed milk is warm and thicker, invest in an espresso machine with a steam wand. If you want a healthier option since decaf espresso helps improve the immune system, go for espresso machines that allow you to brew decaf coffee.
It will help if you list these down to compare them to the features of the espresso makers you will choose from. If you know what you want, it’s easier to figure out that one item will offer the best benefits.