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Best Super Automatic Espresso Machines

By: Kelly Burgess on November 14, 2017

Super automatic espresso machines do all the work

As their name implies, super automatic espresso machines do it all: grind the beans, tamp, extract and discharge. The user just has to be sure the water reservoir and bean hopper are filled. Many models also include nice extras like a milk frother and dispenser. Super automatics are becoming increasingly popular with espresso lovers because they produce an extremely high-quality beverage without the time and effort required of other methods. More than one expert calls super automatic machines the wave of the future. However, if you like to do some tweaking of temperature and extraction, see our discussion of the best home espresso machines for our recommendations for semi-automatic machines. If you prefer to be fully in charge of the process, check out our section on manual espresso makers elsewhere in this report.

One of the biggest gripes that people have about fully automatic espresso machines is that they are space hogs, taking up a ton of real estate on a kitchen counter. Not so the DeLonghi Magnifica (Est. $520). This small-ish (15.3 by 11 by 14.4 inches) espresso maker is a top performer, reviewers say, churning out hot, delicious espressos, cappuccinos and lattes as easily as turning a couple of knobs and pressing a button. It can make one or two drinks at a time, and it has a large, 60-ounce water reservoir.

The fully integrated burr grinder on the DeLonghi Magnifica gets raves for how accurately it grinds to your specifications, although Gail Williams at SeattleCoffeeGear.com says it's quite loud, so you may want to be careful if you don't want to wake up sleeping family members. The one feature that earns the most praise, however, is the bypass doser that lets you skip the grinding step if you just want a single shot of a pre-round coffee. It's also self-cleaning, and, according to Williams, that makes it truly "Magnifica."

Another well-reviewed, somewhat less expensive fully automatic espresso machine is the Gaggia Brera Superautomatic Espresso Machine (Est. $450). Users say its coffee grinder is quiet and does a good job of grinding to specifications. Even coffee snobs say this machine makes an excellent, quick cup of espresso -- something that those who are short on time appreciate. It's also reported as very easy to use. Like the DeLonghi, a bypass doser allows you to bypass the grinder for decaf or flavored coffees. While there are more durability complaints with this than with the DeLonghi, many say a super automatic espresso maker at this price is well worth it even if it doesn't quite have the life span of sturdier machines.

Pod-style espresso makers have their fans, too

While they are not, technically, espresso machines, pod-style espresso makers are very popular with many people who think they make absolutely delicious coffee drinks. Also, although many of them bill themselves as super automatic, they are not super automatic espresso machines either. Rather, they are more like pod-style coffee makers, which we cover in our separate report on single cup coffee makers.

Among pod-style espresso makers it's no contest: the Nespresso Essenza Mini (Est. $150) is one of the most highly praised of any other in this category, but its reviews indicate that it's not just because this is a relatively inexpensive machine. Owners say it makes a wonderful cup of strong coffee from Nespresso OriginalLine pods (it only uses pods, not beans). There are plenty of pod varieties available, say users. 

At Wirecutter, Cale Guthrie Weissman recommends the Nespresso for those who simply don't want the hassle of learning how to make espresso themselves. She says the price, including pods, "Isn't bad for a consistently decent espresso (with crema!) that tastes as good (or better than) Starbucks, yet requires almost no effort on your part." Like a pod-style coffee maker, you simply fill the reservoir (it holds 24 ounces) pop in a pod, and push a button.

Most owners agree with Weissman's assessment, saying that, for the price this Nespresso is the best deal on the market if you want espresso without the hassle of grinding, tamping, extracting, and dealing with all the other variables that go into espresso-making with manual and semi-automatic machines -- and don't want to pay the premium price for a super automatic espresso machine. Although the pods are expensive compared to ground coffee, they say, compared to buying a comparable beverage at a coffee shop, it's a bargain.

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