Removable Versus Non-removable Brew Groups
The super automatic machines manufactured by Gaggia, Saeco, and Solis have a brew group that is removable. To access the brew group, you simply open the service door, push a release lever, and simply slide it out. It weighs about 2.5 pounds and it’s made of tough plastic. As part of routine maintenance, you will want to remove and rinse the brew group when possible because coffee residue and coffee grounds tend to collect on the filter screens and other components. Maintenance is a cinch and should only be required once a week or less depending on usage.
The super automatic machines manufactured by Jura and Capresso contain non-removable brew groups. Instead of allowing you to physically remove the group for cleaning, you have to rely on an automated cleaning cycle programmed into the computer on board. The system works very well and it is more convenient than removing the brew group and rinsing it, however you do lose the ability to remove and “inspect” this key component. To clean the group, you simply drop in a cleaning tablet with special detergents that clean and remove coffee residue from the filter screens. The process is quick and clean.
Like all other espresso machines, super automatics come equipped with an attachment to froth and/or steam milk, the most common of which is a steam wand. A steam wand is the visible, external pipe found on espresso machines through which steam is released from the machine’s boiler. These wands are also used to dispense hot water. To dispense steam or hot water from the machine, you will need to turn the steam knob, which opens and closes the steam valve inside the machine. The steam wands on super automatic machines usually have some sort of frothing aid, like the Saeco Pannarello Wand or Jura Capresso Dual Position Frother, which make frothing a very easy task that requires little skill.
As if that was not enough, some of the higher-end machines have built-in automatic milk frothing systems. At the push of a button these machines siphon milk from a milk carton (or a milk container that may be provided with the machine), combine the milk with hot steam, and then dispense the hot, frothed milk right into your cup. All you have to do then is add your espresso and you are done.
Instant Hot Water Dispensing
As long as the machine is at brewing temperature, hot water can be instantly dispensed from the steam wand either by turning the steam wand or by pressing a button, depending on what model you choose. This is a nice feature for teas, hot chocolate, or other beverages that need hot water. Many users make a shot of espresso and then add hot water from the steam wand to make a popular “americano” espresso drink.
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