In Depth: Features of Super Automatic Espresso Makers

Super Automatic Espresso MakerAs you read the term "Super-Automatic Espresso Maker" you may be thinking what exactly is so "super" about it? After all, it's just a machine. Does it leap off the kitchen counter and fly or something? Well they may not fly (yet) but when it comes to making an espresso, super-automatics are quite simply amazing. With the touch of a button, super-automatic espresso makers take care of the entire grinding, boiling, brewing and cleaning process. Where manual and semi-automatic espresso makers require you to grind your own coffee, attach the portafilter, and sometimes pull your own shot, super-automatics demand much less. They only ask that you provide the coffee beans. The super-automatic will take care of the rest and do so in less than 30 seconds.

As with manual and semi-automatic espresso makers, super-automatics allow you the flexibility to make any espresso drink under the sun. Adding both steamed and frothed milk is a breeze, as these espresso makers are equipped with either a steam wand or an automatic milk frothing system. In addition, super-automatic espresso makers produce the widely popular café crème which is a mouthwatering brew of coffee made like espresso but not quite as strong. For some, the super-automatic's ability to make café crème is an irresistible reason to purchase a super-automatic espresso maker.

There is no question that a super-automatic espresso maker's features will add value and enjoyment to the home of any espresso connoisseur. Whether you are purchasing an espresso machine for the first time, or you have been drinking home brewed espresso for over 20 years, is here to help you find the super automatic that fits your needs. This process is a bit of journey, and the best way to begin is by understanding the difference between the standard features found in a super-automatic espresso maker vs. extra features. From there, it will be time to discover how to take full advantage of your super-automatic in day to day use.

Exploring Standard and Extra Features of Super Automatic Espresso Makers

Like semi-automatic espresso makers, super-automatics posses such basic features as an electric water pump, boiler, water reservoir, switches, dials, and a steam wand. Where super-automatic espresso makers truly separate themselves from semi-automatics is in their automated internal brewing system and top of the line built in burr coffee grinder. An internal computer insures that each component runs smoothly, effectively, and consistently. Such features eliminate guesswork which one may experience with a semi-automatic espresso maker and guarantee your espresso will be delicious every time!

Standard Feature: Internal Brew Group
At the core of any super-automatic espresso maker, is the automated brew system known as the "brew group." The brew group performs all the essential functions necessary for brewing excellent espresso such as processing freshly ground coffee from the coffee grinder, tamping the coffee, pre-soaking the grinds, brewing the coffee, and finally dumping the coffee grinds into the internal dump box. With each espresso shot pulled, the brew group automatically resets and readies itself for its next shot of espresso.

Removable Brew GroupExtra Feature: Removable Internal Brew Groups
Some super-automatic espresso makers are equipped with the handy feature of a removable brew group. Models made by brands such as Gaggia, Saeco, and Solis allow you the opportunity to physically remove, inspect, and clean the mechanism that is the very heart and soul of your super-automatic espresso maker. To access the brew group, you need only open your espresso maker's service door, push a release lever, and slide it out. Made of tough plastic and weighing roughly 2.5 pounds, it is a good idea to rinse the brew group often to clear it of coffee residue and grinds which tend to adhere to the brew group's components.

Other super-automatic espresso makers such as those manufactured by Jura and Capresso do not equip their machines with removable brew groups. These espresso makers rely on an automated cleaning cycle as determined by its internal computer system. The super automatic espresso maker's digital display or Indicator lights will alert you as to when it is time for the machine to clean the brew group. All you need to do is drop in a special cleaning tablet which removes coffee residue. The system is quick and effective. You loose the ability to inspect your machine's parts but you never have to deal with the inconvenience of cleaning the brew group yourself. When purchasing your super-automatic espresso maker this is something important to consider. For more purchasing tips, please visit our Quick Reference Espresso Maker Buying Guide.

The Grinder

Conical Burr GrinderAll super-automatic espresso makers are equipped with a top-quality conical burr grinder. These grinders have extremely long life spans and excellent reliability. With cutting surfaces made of tempered steel, they deliver the perfect grind for brewing truly memorable espresso. Furthermore, you may adjust the grind level to anything from fine for espresso or coarse for café crème. All these conveniences are activated at the touch of the brew button. Once pressed, whole beans held in the espresso maker's bean hopper are fed and ground until the proper amount has been extricated.

Standard Feature: Pre-Grinding
In addition to the standard burr grinder, all super-automatics offer you the ability to pre-grind. A nifty feature if you are brewing multiple drinks, pre-grinding occurs when you press the brew button as your first drink is brewing. The process grinds your next shot and keeps it ready in the brew group.

Standard Feature: Grind Settings
Standard in super-automatic espresso makers is the ability to adjust the grind setting. Truly one of the super-automatic's most important features, adjusting the grind setting puts the brew type and taste of your espresso in your hands. If your espresso or café crème is too weak for your liking, too strong, or too bitter, this adjustment is key. Generally, finer ground coffee lends itself to flavorful espresso however if you grind it too fine, you may find your brew a bit on the bitter side. Grind your espresso too coarse, and your brew will be too weak lacking that full bodied and rich espresso flavor for which strive. Luckily, super-automatic espresso makers give you the ability to play with the grind settings and find the one that is right for you.

The Doser

As the term implies, the doser refers to the component in your super-automatic espresso maker that holds and lets you adjust the amount or "dose" of coffee which you decide to grind for your brew. The recommended dose of ground coffee for a shot of espresso is 7 grams. However, what happens when you wish to make café crème or a strong shot of espresso?

Standard Feature: Adjustable Dosing
For shots of espresso whose strength makes your hair stand on ends or for slightly weaker shots that make the deliciously creamy café crème, you may use your Adjustable Doser. All super-automatic espresso makers come a equipped with the ability to control the dose of coffee ground for a shot of espresso shot. This is controlled by the adjustable doser which allows for easy and error free settings. The adjustable doser is a small knob which you turn to reflect the grams of coffee you want to grind. Espresso makers with removable internal brew groups give you the ability to move the doser between 6 and 9 grams of coffee for a single shot while super-automatics with non-removable brew groups are configured to allow dosage between 5 and 16 grams of coffee depending on the espresso maker. This higher dosage capability allows you to brew double shot espressos with one touch of a button!

Bypass DoserExtra Feature: Bypass Doser
A bypass doser is a handy extra addition featured on certain super-automatic espresso makers. Basically, a bypass doser is a small chute found at the top of the super-automatic that accepts only pre-ground coffee. The advantage of a bypass doser is that it allows you the opportunity to brew coffee other than the type which is stored in the espresso maker's bean hopper. This feature comes in very handy if you want to brew a decaf variety of espresso or if you simply want to sample a different pre-ground espresso.

Thermobloc Heating Elements

Standard Feature: Single Heating Elements
All super-automatic espresso makers are outfitted with a heating element referred to as Thermobloc. Thermobloc heating elements pull water through the espresso maker's reservoir in small quantities. Because only small quantities of water are pulled through at a time, standard single-thermobloc systems average heat time is 45 seconds. This is due to the lag time caused by water heating at the appropriate temperature to brew espresso and water heating to the appropriate temperature to froth or steam.

Extra Feature: Dual Heating Elements
Super-automatic espresso makers equipped with the added feature of dual heating systems eliminate the wait time experienced in single heating systems when brewing and frothing. With the dual system, making cappuccinos, lattes, americano's how fast instead how long. This feature comes in especially handy if you are making multiple drinks in a row. In addition, unlike with the single heating element, dual heating elements eliminate the need to cool the espresso maker's boiler after steaming.

Maintenance and User Indication Systems

All super-automatic espresso makers come with some sort of easy to understand display system which makes maintenance and use of a super automatic clear and simple. The system featured on super-automatic espresso makers falls into two categories: indicator lights or digital displays.

Standard Feature: Indicator Lights
Indicator lights are a standard feature on super-automatic espresso makers. They efficiently alert the user to necessary maintenance functions such as the need to replace beans or water as indicated by a blinking light. Indicator lights can get a bit tricky since one light is used to indicate multiple issues.

Digital DisplayExtra Feature: Digital Displays
For crystal clear instructions and more in depth analysis of a super-automatic espresso maker's needs and capabilities, digital displays are simply amazing! Whether digital or touch screen, these displays clearly let you know everything from coffee volume being prepared to how many cups you have brewed since the first day you brought your super-automatic espresso maker home. In addition, the digital display will prompt you with options for easy maintenance or brewing options. Just a few of the things digital displays are capable of include: adjusting the brewing temperature of the coffee beans, preferred language of instruction, programming to adjust for water hardness, and many many more!

Adjustable Liquid Volume Control

The ultimate in drink customization, all super-automatic espresso makers allow you the opportunity to control the ratio of water to coffee in each brew.

Volume ControlStandard Feature: Liquid Volume Control
Liquid volume refers to the amount of coffee that a super-automatic espresso maker dispenses into your cup when the brew button is pushed. As stated earlier, all super-automatic espresso makers give you the ability to control this feature by allowing you to adjust the amount of water that passes through the coffee grinds thus affecting the final brew. Liquid volume control's standard is set by a machines dial selector. This is an easy and effective tool, however what if you brew the perfect espresso, the next morning brew a cup of café crème, and then when you try to adjust the setting back to espresso you can not quite remember exactly where it was set? This is where programmable liquid volume control comes in to save the day!

Extra Feature: Programming Liquid Volume Control
Some super-automatics come with the special feature of allowing you to program different liquid volume amounts into your espresso maker. This adds wonderful convenience in that you can recall your favorite brewing ratios at the touch of a button.

Amazing Additional Features to Super-Auto's both Standard and Extra

Standard Feature: Pre-brewing
All super-automatic espresso makers give you the choice to pre-infuse or pre-brew your coffee grinds. This process entails choosing the setting on the display menu at which point your espresso maker will moisten the grinds with water and let them steep for a second before brewing begins. This process both maximizes flavor extraction and increases the amount and quality of the much sought after crema on your espresso.

Extra Feature: Cup Warmer
Cup Warmer Since espresso is brewed in such small quantities, it is very sensitive to the cooling effects of air temperature the minute it leaves any espresso maker. To combat the cold air and preserve the warm goodness of your brew, many super-automatic espresso makers offer the extra feature of a cup warmer. Cup warmers are located on top of the espresso maker where there is a heated storage space. Commonly heated by residual heat from the espresso maker's boiler, some models posses "active" heat warmers which are somewhat more effective than the previously described "passive" cup warming system. Dispensing espresso straight into a warm cup, increases the quality of your brew.

Water FilterExtra Feature: Water Filtration System
Whether you are using a manual, semi-automatic, or super-espresso maker the type of water used in the brewing process has a tremendous effect on the quality of your brew. To insure your water has the right combination of minerals and is free of additives and impurities, some super-automatic espresso makers are equipped with a water filtration system. Espresso makers by Capresso, Jura, and Krups all provide water filtration systems that will remove chlorine, lead, aluminum, and cooper. These filters posses a special organic additive which removes carbon and eliminates the need to decalcify your machine. Specifically designed for use in super automatic espresso makers, the organic additive is completely safe for your machine and is guaranteed to improve the taste of your espresso as well as eliminate the need for periodic decalcifying. This feature comes highly recommended by the

Super-Automatics are Super!

As you may now be able to tell, super-automatic espresso makers not only make wonderful espresso at the touch of a button, but also give back what user control may have been lost with an automated system thanks to a plethora of standard and extra features. Deciding on which of these extra features you want and which you need can be tricky. For help, you may contact the at anytime or explore the links below!


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