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If you're in the market for a new automatic or super-automatic espresso machine, these are our picks for the top five best automatic espresso machines that you should consider. We'll take a look at what earned each machine a spot on this list, and we'll go into a bit more detail about how automatic espresso machines work and why you might want to consider one for your next purchase.
Now, you may hear them called Super-Automatic espresso machines, automatic espresso machines or even bean-to-cup 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.
Automatic espresso machines are known for being a mostly hands-off experience with many high-end machines featuring a built-in grinder to jumpstart the grind, tamp and brew system, an automatic milk frother, and some even have a passively heated cup warmer on top of the machine for your coffee cups and mugs. There’s no doubt that super-auto users are pretty much spoiled by these modern and innovative machines. But, the real star of the show in an automatic espresso machine is the internal brew group.
Brew groups, also what we call the “mini barista” at Whole Latte Love, essentially act as the barista of the machine. After the machine grinds the whole beans fresh, the brew group tamps the coffee grounds evenly and preps it for extraction. After your coffee is brewed, the brew group dumps a solid, dry coffee puck into a drawer. All you need to do to jump-start the process, depending on your machine, is to put your cup under the spouts, press a button and your super-automatic machine does the rest.
This is what so many home and office baristas love about super-automatics—the ability to get consistent quality drinks with the touch of a button. There’s no harsh learning curve and for the most part, you’re ready to brew and steam with these machines straight out of the box. If this sounds like a machine that you’d really love, then let’s talk more about what to look for in super-automatic espresso machines.
If you haven’t already taken our espresso machine quiz, we encourage to open a separate tab and take 5-10 mins to complete the quiz. This will help you to narrow down exactly which type of espresso machine is best for you and your lifestyle. It will also help you to figure out which features you really value in a super-automatic machine.
Do you have 2 or more coffees a day? Do you frequently host dinner parties with friends and family? Are you looking for a machine for the office? These are questions to think of as you search for the perfect bean-to-cup machine for your needs. More features that you might want to consider in an automatic machine are:
Milk carafes are a great option for people who prefer a low maintenance and clean up process. Machines like the Gaggia Accademia feature milk carafes—this is a great feature because milk never passes through the machine and after steaming the milk, it runs and automatic rinse cycle to purge any milk residue.
Machines like the JURA GIGA 6 are great for high-volume work environments where everyone’s in the break room ready to get a second go-round of cappuccinos. The GIGA 6 can make two milk beverages at once without any wait time. So if you’re looking for a machine to keep up with the high demand of your coworkers, the GIGA 6 is your best option.
If you consider yourself a tech guru and you really love being able to elevate your home brewing experience, take a look at machines that feature Bluetooth connection and in-app operations like the JURA GIGA 6, S8, Z8 and more! This feature allows you to brew your favorite drinks without even having to leave your couch and you can program various settings through the app such as the amount of milk you want, the coffee strength and more.
These are just a few features that come with our featured espresso machines, but we encourage you to browse through our list of super-automatic machines and see which features really stick out to you. To help you narrow down the list of machines on your list, here’s our 5 best automatic machines of 2020!
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:
Our winner for Best Value is the Gaggia Anima Prestige, and it was kind of a no brainer. The Anima Prestige has been with us for a few years now and has been proving itself year after year to be a reliable, easy-to-use bean-to-cup machine that won't break the bank if you're just looking to get a good cup of coffee.
For under $1000, the Anima Prestige is one of the only machines in its price range with one-touch capability (for making cappuccinos with a single button press), a detachable milk carafe (for easy storage), and a small footprint (at only 8.7 inches wide and just under 14 inches tall, you can fit it just about anywhere), all in one machine.
Now if you're someone who spends a lot of time waiting in line at cafes or coffee shops, you'll know that the average price of a decent cup of coffee is about 3 bucks, depending on where you're going. With that in mind, if you're drinking just one cup of coffee a day and you switch from the cafe to this machine, the Anima Prestige will pay for itself in a little under a year. At two cups a day, you start saving money after just four months. With the Anima Prestige's programmable strength and volume settings, and a built-in ceramic burr grinder that's also adjustable, you won't be missing waiting in line.
If you're someone who's coming from a capsule machine, well, you owe it to yourself to upgrade. All those plastic capsules filled with weak pre-ground coffee aren't ever going to get near the level of quality you'll get out of fresh ground whole bean coffee beans. With the built-in grinder, your coffee is ground right when you want a coffee, and you can change the grind size for more control over the flavor in the cup.
If that doesn't convince you to make the switch, not only is the coffee from the Anima Prestige better than a capsule machine, it's less expensive too. Capsules are gonna run you about 50 cents apiece, so for the price of a bag of Maromas Orphea, you'll get about 40-50 shots worth of capsules. If you go with that bag of Orphea instead, you'll not only get a better drink, you'll have enough to grind for close to 100 shots as well.
Other features that add to the value: you can swap out the carafe for a hot water spout if you want to make teas or hot chocolate, the coffee spouts are tall, adjustable up to just under 6 inches for those larger mugs, and up top, in the bean hopper you can find a bypass doser for pre-ground if you ever need to throw in some decaf and there's already beans in the hopper.
Our next category is One-Touch Machines. These make milk-based drinks from start-to-finish at the touch of a button. Just place your cup under the spout, press a button, and the machine does the rest. Our winner for Best One Touch Machine is the JURA S8, it’s a premium mid-range machine that has a wealth of notable features seen on many high-end machines but with extra customizable and programmable features for the home barista.
The S8 comes with 15 drink specialties easily accessible through its 4.3” color touchscreen, 8 of which are fully programmable. You can program any drink simply by tapping and holding one of the drinks on the menu screen. You’ll see a screen pop up with options allowing you to adjust the drink settings, change the product name and delete or replace the drink. The S8 is also equipped with JURA’s Aroma G3 Grinder which is a great feature for any user who values a grinder that’s fast and quiet. It also comes with P.E.P features which pulses water through the coffee under pressure in short intervals allowing flavors to fully develop which results in richer flavor and more crema in espresso.
JURA’s S8 machine is completely compatible with Smart Connect giving you full access to the J.O.E app where you can sit back, kick your feet up, and brew your favorite coffee from your smartphone. Whether it’s a caffe latte, hot water for tea, an Americano, or a regular coffee, the S8 can pretty much meet all of your needs when it comes to getting a kick of caffeine in the morning. If you’ve got a decaf lover at home, the S8 has a bypass doser to dump pre-ground coffee into the chute without having to swap out any beans or mix up the flavors of your favorite coffee.
If you’re a coffee enthusiast who loves the modern and sleek aspects of super-automatic machines, the JURA S8 is one for the books. You get an incredible value on a machine with tons of admirable features and can brew two espressos at once, or brew a milk-based beverage depending on your mood. Many super-automatics run the show, but the S8 is intuitive and allows you to maintain the convenience of a one-touch machine, but also tailor your favorite beverages to your liking.
Up next, our pick for Most Versatile Machine. Our winner is the Gaggia Babila. Well, it's a lot like the Accademia, which won the best One-Touch machine of 2018, but it wins Most Versatile for a few good reasons. For one, it offers more drinks, including the ristretto, espresso, espresso lungo / caffe lungo, coffee / caffe crema, cappuccino, latte macchiato, Flat White, and espresso macchiato. Even better, the Babila has 15 grind settings, which is an often overlooked feature when it comes to picking out a machine.
With those 15 settings, you get a lot more control over the flavor of your coffee versus most other machines with tend to max out at around 5 or so settings. For programmability, the Babila lets you select one of three levels of pre-infusion, which will soak the coffee puck just before brewing and getting you a much fuller extraction.
A few things that are pretty unique to the Babila: the flow adjustment dial and the manual steam wand. First, let's look at flow control. It's something that's become really important in the community lately with machines like the Profitec Pro 700 and Dalla Corte's Mina making waves with their flow control devices and digital flow regulation, respectively. To sum up what it does quickly: controlling the flow rate of water through the coffee puck can get you different results and different flavors in your drink.
You get something similar with the Babila's flow adjustment dial, which does exactly what it says. For anyone unfamiliar with how to use it, simply turn the dial while your drink is brewing. For starters, we recommend a faster flow rate for a lighter flavor (perfect for those long coffees), or a slower flow for a more intense, full-bodied espresso. From there, you're free to experiment and see what you get.
Now, about that manual steam wand. It's not something you see every day on a super-automatic espresso machine, and there's really only one other machine that has it—that being the Gaggia Accademia. There's a few reasons this feature is so important. For one, it's essentially a commercial-style wand with a single hole tip, which means you can do commercial-style frothing. If you have the skills, or if you want to learn, the manual wand is going to get you some better, more fine-tuned results.
Being able to learn how to froth is the other reason you'll want to keep the manual wand in mind, because learning how to froth is usually one of the most intimidating parts of getting a coffee machine for our customers. With the Babila, you can take your time, drink your mistakes, and if you don't feel like putting in the effort one day, you have the carafe to fall back on.
For build quality, the Babila really shines. It comes in at 43 lbs. with a stainless steel front panel and stainless steel accents. The front door is heavy and opens forward on industrial hinges. Inside is the removable brew unit, which you can take out and wash (a surprisingly uncommon feature you won't see on all super-automatics out there).
Other nice touches that make the Babila stand out: each of the buttons light up, it has a rounder, more retro Italian cafe look compared to the more typically boxy machines on the market, and its compatible with Mavea Intenza Water Filters to help prolong the life of your espresso machine.
Next up our favorite machine based on Style and Design. The winner here is the JURA Z8, and it's no surprise either. Back in 2017, it won the iF Design Award, and it won the German Design Award in 2018. The Z8 is a fairly new addition to the catalog and, as you could probably guess, it brings with it a lot of really cool design choices that I had to talk about.
Probably the first thing you'll notice is the wave of aluminum on the front. It wraps around the top, making the Z8 one of the only machines I've seen to have a metal top panel (most machines stick with plastic). JURA's glass cover over the drip tray makes a return, as well as their light-up water reservoir which has a subtle blue glow. The Blue Crystal rotary switch up top is back also, which you can use if you don't feel like using the new full-color 4.3" touchscreen display. And, as a nice finishing touch, lights will shine down on your coffee as it brews.
So, for style, the Z8 comes on strong, but how does its design affect its performance? Well, in short, it does very well.
For starters, the Z8 comes with 21 beverages, and they're all easy to navigate using the touchscreen or the rotary switch if you prefer. Each drink is on display in full color, with a different icon for each drink, which makes it a lot easier to look through and pick what you want compared to other machines with text-only and selector knobs. Plus, each drink can be personalized even down to the name of the drink.
Even better, the Z8 comes with JURA's Smart Connect; it's a small Bluetooth transceiver that connects with the J.O.E. app which you can download on your phone or tablet. When you connect to your machine, the J.O.E. app lets you browse all the different drinks it can make, and you can customize each and everyone using in-menu sliders. It's all pretty straightforward, but the kicker is telling the machine to brew from a room or two away.
If you're at the machine, though, and maybe you never bothered to program your drinks individually, well, you can customize them while they brew too. If you pull up, say, an espresso or a cappuccino, a menu will pop up while the machine prepares. You can change certain settings like volume or strength, or even how long you want to dispense milk foam or hot milk.
A little bit about how it performs: we went over those 21 drinks and how you can customize them on the fly, and of course JURA's Pulse Extraction Process makes a return here as well for those crema-rich, full-bodied drinks, you've got the really quiet Aroma G3 grinder that grinds beans fresh, a double thermoblock system, but there's one more thing that's a pretty standout feature for a super-automatic. The Z8 gets you true one-touch Americanos. JURA uses a special preparation method by combining hot water with your coffee during extraction. On most other machines, you usually need to pull a shot and add water after, but that's not the case here. For anyone who loves Americanos, the Z8 is a must.
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 JURA GIGA 6. Now, just last summer, JURA invited us to tour their office in New Jersey where they showed us everything it can do, and let me tell you, it can do a lot.
It's a large machine with a lot under the hood: it's got dual thermoblocks, dual hoppers, dual ceramic disc grinders, dual pumps, dual fluid systems, and parallel preparation. You may as well think of it as two machines in one. Those hoppers? They hold just under 20 oz of beans apiece, and they're removable.
So, if you find yourself hosting a party or get-together or business function, you can load up the GIGA 6 with a few lbs. of beans with different coffees in each hopper. You could even have spare hoppers for an even wider variety of coffee, or for those decaf drinkers who still like fresh ground coffee.
Even better, with the dual grinders, you can create custom blends by using both hoppers at once to mix a percentage of beans from the left hopper with a percentage of beans from the right, based on your preference.
The next thing you need to know about is the GIGA 6's parallel preparation. Basically, it can prepare two full drinks at the same time, and that includes milk drinks too. Yeah, if you wanted to, you could press a button and the GIGA 6 will make you two cappuccinos.
Speaking of cappuccinos, let's talk about drinks. The GIGA 6 can make 28 specialties, one of the largest varieties we've ever seen in a single machine.
Yeah, it's a lot, and that variety is important when you're looking for a high-capacity machine. If maybe you're thinking about how to scroll through all that without being paralyzed by choice, well, you can choose which drinks appear on-screen, or you can let the GIGA 6's artificial intelligence figure it out for you. Yeah, the GIGA 6 comes with artificial intelligence that learns which drinks are your favorites and displays those drinks more prominently so they're easier to select.
So there you have it: our top 5 picks for best automatic coffee machines of 2020!