2018 Top 5 Super-Automatic Machines

November 29, 2018


Hey coffee lovers, Marc here from Whole Latte Love. Today we’re presenting our picks for the Top Five Best Automatic Coffee Machines for 2018.

Now, You may hear them called Super-Automatic espresso machines, but whatever you call them one thing is for sure; they are the most convenient way to have coffee, espresso, lattes, cappuccinos, and more. If you like the convenience of a Keurig, you will be blown away by the quality of the beverages you make when you move on from expensive pre-ground coffee in a plastic throw away cup, to freshly ground whole bean coffee for every delicious beverage. If you want a better cup of coffee or a latte at the push of a button, these machines are the way to go.

So we’ll take a look at our top picks in five different categories which are:

  • Best Value: the machines that give you the most for your money,
  • One-Touch Machines: which make milk drinks like lattes and cappuccinos at the touch of a button.
  • Most Versatile Machines: which have extended features and capabilities,
  • Style and Design
  • High Capacity Machines: used for entertaining large groups or providing a busy office with cafe-quality coffee service.

Best Value

Our winner for Best Value is the Gaggia Brera. Now, the Brera has been around for a number of years and for good reason! It continues to be, by far, the most affordable bean-to-cup machine available. It’s compact, fast, simple to use, and gives you the control to make coffee and espresso just the way you want it. Plus, its auto-frothing steam wand means that no skill is required to froth milk for cappuccinos and lattes.

The Brera uses the same brewing technology as some of the more expensive machines we’ll see, so you get real value without compromising on coffee quality. You can fine-tune flavor with adjustable grind size and three coffee strengths. There are two programmable coffee sizes and the machine can make two coffees at the same time by pressing a coffee button twice. The Gaggia Brera automatically does two grind cycles when making two cups so you always get full flavor. Like most of the machines we’ll see, the Brera has a bypass doser, a separate chute for brewing pre-ground coffee without removing your whole beans in the grinder. This feature is incredibly helpful for households who drink different types of coffee.

For lattes and cappuccinos, the auto-frothing steam wand makes it easy. No barista skills are required to produce a nice milk froth. For those weekend baristas, you can froth to latte art quality, a superfine micro-foam, using the optional latte art wand. It does the auto-frothing, but sliding off the sleeve makes it become a manual wand, giving you full control. With a little practice you’ll be pouring latte art.

Honorable mentions for best value go to the Jura C60 and the Delonghi Magnifica XS. Jura and Delonghi are two of the other major manufacturers of bean-to-cup machines, and these are their lowest cost entries with the ability to make milk-based drinks. Both run about double the price of the Gaggia Brera. Like I said, the Brera is by far the best value.

The Jura C60 uses a pick-up tube to deliver milk to an automatic frothing device. You can drop the tube into a milk container of your own. Otherwise, Jura has optional milk containers in glass, insulated stainless steel, and even their cool control refrigerated unit.

While the Magnifica XS uses an auto frothing wand similar to the Brera, it does have some key technical differences. The XS gives its users a much finer control over coffee strength and also includes two additional buttons for making two coffees or espressos.

One-Touch Machines

Gaggia Accademia

Our next category is One-Touch Machines. These make a milk-based drink start-to-finish at the touch of a button. Just place your cup, press a button, and the machine does the rest.  Our winner for Best One Touch Machine is the Gaggia Accademia. Of all the machines we carry, the Accademia has the best combination of features. It’s my go to recommendation for those looking for useable capabilities, solid build, and value.

So onto the features you’ll appreciate. On the coffee side, you get seven grind settings, and my favorite, the flow control dial. Decrease the flow rate for crema-rich espresso and increase flow for regular coffee. If you switch a lot between espresso and regular coffee flow, control makes a huge difference. A unique spout design allows you to make two coffees at the same time, or push back the spout to accommodate travel mugs for coffee on the go.

For milk drinks, the Accademia uses a detachable milk carafe which froths into your cup. A big feature here is three levels of milk froth density, which is programmable. Some other machines allow you to change the froth density but it’s a manual process. On the Accademia, it’s programmable per drink. So, you get an airier froth for a cappuccino or a finer froth for a latte without doing a thing. After use, the milk carafe cleans itself. Push the spout over and steam automatically runs through the frothing components so the carafe is clean and ready to go back in the fridge until next time. A great feature on the Academia is its manual frothing wand. If you want to do latte art, then you'll have to froth manually, and the Accademia is one of the only two one-touch machines that has a manual wand.

Honorable mentions in the one-touch class are the Jura E8  and the Gaggia Anima Prestige. The Jura E8 Is more expensive than the Accademia. It has a separate spout which delivers coffee and milk for those one touch drinks. Froth density is not programmable but is adjustable using a dial on the spout. Like all Jura machines a pick-up tube feeds milk to the frothing spout. For the extra dollars, the E8 gets you a color display, Jura’s intelligent water system, which uses RFID to automatically sense water filter changes, and Jura’s P.E.P brewing system for more flavorful espresso.

The Gaggia Anima prestige gets an honorable mention for being the best value in One Touch Machines. It’s priced about forty percent less than the Accademia and it’s just half the price of the Jura E8. It has five coffee strength settings and programmable buttons for two coffees sizes and two milk-based espresso drinks. It’s a narrow machine with room under the spouts for taller cups.

Most Versatile Machines

Jura Giga 5

Up next, our pick for Most Versatile Machine. Our winner is the Jura Giga 5. Jura’s Giga machines are the top of the line in bean-to-cup coffee. It’s one of the few that makes two milk-based drinks at the same time. The Giga 5 has two bean hoppers and dual grinders, so you can brew from one set of beans or a combination of beans from both hoppers in 25% increments. You can easily make half-cafs or create a blend of your own. The Giga 5 is pre-programmed with 19 espresso, coffee, and milk-based drink options all of which can be customized to taste including volume, five coffee strengths, and three temperatures. Jura’s intelligent pre-brew aroma system pre-infuses the coffee for full flavor. A rotary dial cycles through drink options on a beautiful color display. Huge capacities means you can make a lot of drinks before the machine needs your attention. For milk that’s always ready to go we recommend the Jura Cool Control refrigerated milk system be paired with this machine. The Giga 5 is pricey, but it performs.

Honorable mention for most versatile goes to the Gaggia Accademia. It of course got the award as tops in the One-Touch category. It’s here as well for it’s capabilities with the manual steaming wand for weekend baristas and the flow control which really helps if you are switching between espresso and regular coffee all the time.

Style and Design

Jura A1 in Piano White

Next up our favorite machine based on Style and Design. The winner here is the Jura A1 in Piano White

This machine knocked my socks of when I first saw it.

No milk drinks on this one, it’s all about the coffee. I love the sleek minimalist design on the outside. Barely visible buttons on top for espresso, ristretto, and long coffee that have sleek angled lines. On the inside, the A1’s Aroma G3 grinder is fast and quiet, and the machine combines Jura’s intelligent pre-brew aroma system with their pulse extraction process which pulses water through the coffee for a perfectly balanced cup with clarity of flavor and a more defined crema. If you’re all about the coffee and gorgeous design, the Jura A1 is worth a look. Now, I love the white, but it’s also available in Piano Black.

Honorable mentions for Style and Design go to the Gaggia Babila and the DeLonghi Eletta Cappuccino. The Babila is very similar to the Accademia. It has the manual steaming wand in addition to the self-cleaning milk carafe for one touch drinks.

Compared to the Accademia, the Babila’s face is updated for a more contemporary look with a new display and circular buttons. Froth out of the carafe is not programmable. It has the flow control dial and adds finer control of coffee with more grind settings and five coffee strengths.

The DeLonghi Eletta Cappuccino mimics the Jura’s angular design and uses a carafe for milk. A dial on the carafe adjusts froth density.  One touch buttons for cappuccino, latte, flat white and coffee selections angle up for easy viewing.

High Capacity Machines

Gaggia Anima XL

Our final category is for High Capacity Machines. These are the ones for entertaining large groups or for use in office settings. Our top pick here is the Gaggia Anima XL. If you need to make a lot of drinks and want a real value, The Anima XL has got you covered. Your guests or employees can walk right up, push a button, and make a latte, cappuccino, espresso, or coffee. The Anima XL holds more than a pound of beans and enough water for sixteen coffees. An attachable milk carafe has clearance for taller latte cups. Plus, there’s plenty of clearance under the coffee spouts for tall cups as well. The Anima XL is super easy to operate with dedicated programmable buttons for cappuccino, lattes, and two coffee sizes. There are five coffee strengths and three brew temperature settings. So it’s very easy for everyone to get their drink the way they want it.

Honorable mention for High capacity Machine goes to the Jura Giga W3. Now, It’s a lot pricier than the Anima XL. Designed for high volume use in upscale office environments the Giga W3 rated to produce up to 120 beverages per day. It has a supermassive 169 ounce water tank, and holds 2.1 lbs of beans. Like the Giga 5 we looked at earlier, the W3 can make two milk drinks at the same time and you’d definitely want to pair it with Jura’s Cool Control refrigerated milk system. With 31 customizable one-touch drink options and 12 barista specialties, the Giga W3 is sure to satisfy even the most particular of coffee drinkers.

So those are our picks for the best in automatic espresso machines. If you have more questions use those comments and I’d be happy to help you out and get you some answers. I’m Marc from Whole Latte Love, thanks for reading and I hope you’ll come back soon for more of the best on everything coffee brought to you by Whole Latte Love.