Many of our customers ask us why there is such a price difference between different super automatic espresso machines. After all, they all do the same thing – grind whole beans, tamp the grounds, and brew at the touch of a button. So why all the variety? Well, the short answer is features. Some super automatic machines come equipped with other features that increase the amount of control you have over the brewing process and the final product. These features are not found on every machine, and generally, the more of these “optional” features a machine has, the more expensive it is. The key in keeping within your budget is to decide which of these features is necessity versus something that would be “nice to have”. And to help you make your decision, here are some detailed descriptions of the most common “extra” features that you’ll find on super autos.
Adjusting The Amount of Ground Coffee For Each Cup
Several of the super automatics we sell have the ability to adjust the amount of ground coffee that will be dispensed into the brew group from the grinder. Depending on the manufacturer and model of your machine, you may set the coffee dosage at anywhere between 5 and 16 grams of coffee per brewing cycle. Since the average dose of ground coffee to make a shot of espresso is 7 grams, being able to adjust the dosage allows you to make a stronger or weaker espresso (or cup of coffee) without changing the amount of water. When you push the coffee brew button the grinder will automatically begin grinding the amount of grams you have specified, and then places the ground coffee into the brew group before brewing begins.
A Bypass Doser For Use With Pre-ground Coffee
A bypass doser is a small chute on top of a super automatic that accepts pre-ground coffee. This allows you to use any type of coffee you’d like, regardless of the type of beans that are in the bean hopper. If you have a “favorite” type of bean that you always keep in the hopper, you can use a different blend, flavor, or decaf pre-ground coffee in the bypass doser for something different. And after brewing the pre-ground coffee, the machine will reset itself to use the beans in the machine.
To let you know when to perform various maintenance functions, as well as when to fill the water reservoir and bean hopper, super automatic machines will have one of three systems: indicator lights, digital displays, or touch screens. The indicator lights sometimes have shared meanings, so a digital display or touch screen make things extremely simple – they clearly display a message telling you exactly what needs to be done. Most machines that feature a digital display will give you the option of programming or monitoring the following parameters:
Adjust the brewing of the espresso and coffee temperature from medium to maximum.
Choose the language for the display.
See the total number of coffees brewed by the machine.
Turn the pre-brewing (pre-infusion) cycle on or off.
Adjust the volume brewed by each brewing button.
Program the machine for the water hardness in your area.
General warnings like Empty Dump Box, Fill Water, Fill Beans, and messages that let you know if components are out of place like the drip tray or dump box.
Provide status messages like Energy Saving, Warming Up, Brewing, Steam, Hot Water, Rinsing, Programming and more!
Coffee Cup Storage and Warming Feature
Espresso is brewed in very small amounts, which makes it very susceptible to the cooling affects of the ambient air. By dispensing the espresso into pre-warmed cups, precious heat is preserved. That’s why many super automatic models have a place on top of the machine where you can store cups to keep them warm. This cup warmer is most commonly heated by residual heat from the machine’s boiler, but some models do have an independent heating unit for this purpose.
Water Filtration Systems
A great cup of coffee starts with clean water, free of impurities and additives such as chlorine - the taste of which can be amplified by the brewing process. Manufacturers like Capresso, Jura, and Krups now provide water filtration systems built into their machines. These filters remove chlorine, lead, aluminum, and copper for a better tasting coffee. A special organic additive removes almost all carbon and eliminates the need to decalcify altogether. The system was specifically designed for use in super automatic coffee centers. Made from purely organic materials with no chemical additives, there is no danger of substances harming you or your machine.
The primary reason to use a water filter is improve taste and to eliminate the need to perform periodic descaling required by other espresso machines. Use of the filter is optional, but we recommend it.
2 Heating Elements
Super automatics with one heating element require a wait time between brewing and frothing. This wait time is used to heat the boiler from brewing temperature to steaming temperature, and can take up to about a minute, depending on the machine. However, having two heating elements eliminates this wait time and lets you move right from brewing to frothing to enjoying your tasty coffee drink. This is a great feature if you’ll frequently be making multiple drinks in a row and will noticeably decrease the amount of time you spend in the kitchen.
Convenient Automatic Milk Frothing Systems
If your budget allows you might consider machines that feature an automatic milk frothing system that makes foaming milk for cappuccinos and lattes a snap. These systems eliminate the need to steam milk the traditional way, so there’s no need to master the technique of frothing milk with a steam wand. Simply attach the auto-frother to a container of milk and when you activate the steam option on the machine, it sucks milk out of the container, froths it, and drops it right into your cup. No mess, no waste!
But They All Sound Like Good Features…
For a complete list of which machines have which features, you can compare any of our super autos side-by-side by clicking on the “Compare All Super Automatics” link on the left navigation column. It’s always tough deciding between what you want and need, but hopefully this will help to clear it up a little bit for you. Also, keep in mind that our sales representatives are also available to give you any further information you need to help you with your decision. Good luck, and happy coffee!