If you love a good espresso or coffee drink and you want to be able to just push a button and get a perfect espresso, macchiato, or cappuccino, then a fully-automated espresso machine is what you are looking for. Imagine going into the kitchen and clicking a button. The machine grinds the necessary amount of coffee beans to the correct coarseness, tamps the ground coffee, heats the water to the perfect temperature, brews the coffee, and disposes of the used coffee into a bin. Essentially, everything is done for you. There are numerous fully automatic espresso machines on the market, but not all machines are the same. Let’s take a look at the various available features and the models we recommend.
Fully Automatic Espresso Machine Features
Built-in grinders that control coarseness and volume will be included on fully automatic espresso machines. Some will vary in the type of parts used. Make sure you get a machine with a burr grinder. Spin grinders will burn the coffee which will change the taste.
Note that most machines will also have a by-pass feature where you can put your own coffee into the machine if you do not want the coffee that is currently in your bean container. For example, if someone wants a decaf, you can use the by-pass and not have to remove and change the beans in the hopper.
Ease of Programmability (size cup, type of drink, temperature)
What can be programmed and how easy it is to setup, is something that you should look at closely and be based on your personal preference. Some machines will have displays that are very straight-forward and easy to understand. Other machines will have more complicated displays for programmability but give more options. This is better suited to people who like to be able to control all aspects of brewing even though some settings will rarely ever change such as temperature.
Milk Frother and Steamer
Some machines will have the ability to froth and steam milk for you. Different machines will connect to a milk container differently. Some will have a container that you fill and attach to the espresso machine. Others may have a tube that goes into the milk container and pumps the milk into the machine. Take note of how it’s done and make sure you are comfortable with how it works. If it doesn’t do the milk for you, it will have a steam wand where you will steam and froth the milk yourself.
Note how many thermoblocks are on the machine. If it only has one, you will need to wait to heat the water for steaming after the espresso has been made. Otherwise, you will need to wait about a minute before you can steam you milk. For most people, the amount of time is insignificant. But, if you like to keep your espresso as hot as possible, consider the price difference between different machines.
Water Reservoir and Filter
Different machines have different reservoirs that will be placed in different locations and they will have different capacities. Make sure that you are comfortable with where it is located on your counter-top so that it isn’t too difficult to access. Also, some containers will use a water filter. If you do not have good clean water in your home, consider getting a machine with a filter since clean water will produce better tasting coffee.
Some machines will have cup warmers on top of the machine that will warm up the cup for you or if you want to keep the coffee warm while you steam the milk. Some machines will have a heating element directly on the cup warmer which others will simply use the heat generated from the machine.
Fully automated espresso machines vary in costs by a large margin. Some will be packed with features that you will not need. So, be sure to figure out what you’re paying for. We always recommend paying for quality. In the long run, it’s better to pay more for something that will last.
Fully automatic espresso machines come in all different sizes and shapes due to all of the different features. Before you look at buying one, figure out where you would put it and make sure the machine will fit properly.
More electronics means more parts may be prone to breaking. Therefore, note the materials used in making the parts and choose materials that will help your machine last longer.
Every so often your machine will need to be cleaned. Some have cleaning, decalcification or auto-rinse cycles. Some machines will also warn you when cleaning is needed. This is a good feature if you are not good at remembering.
Fully automatic espresso machines are more complicated and even though the coffee making process will be easier, some will require a little more maintenance and service through time.