If you're in the market for a new automatic or super-automatic espresso machine, these are our picks for the 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.
What is an Automatic Espresso Machine?
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.
How does an Automatic Espresso Machine work?
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.
What to Look for in an Automatic Espresso Machine
If you haven’t already taken our espresso machine quiz, we encourage you 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.
What Type of Espresso Machine Is Best For You? Take The Quiz!
Do you have two 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:
Detachable milk carafe
Milk carafes are a great option for people who prefer a low maintenance and clean up process. Machines like the Gaggia Magenta Prestige feature milk carafes — this is a great feature because milk never passes through the machine and after steaming the milk, it runs an automatic rinse cycle to purge any milk residue.
Capable of making two milk beverages at once
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.
Bluetooth/WiFi connection and in-app operation
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 wireless connection and in-app operations. 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 machines on your wishlist, here’s our best automatic machines of 2021!
Best Automatic Machines of 2021
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:
- Best Value: the machines that give you the most for your money.
- Most Versatile Machines: which have extended features and capabilities.
- Style and Design: these machines are equal parts eye-candy and funtionality
- High Capacity Machines: used for entertaining large groups or providing a busy office with café-quality coffee service.
- Best Newcomer: highlighting what we consider to be the best super-automatic espresso machine released this year.
Best Value: Gaggia Cadorna Milk
Our winner for Best Value is the Gaggia Cadorna Milk, and it was kind of a no brainer. The Cadorna Milk is a newer machine, but has already proved itself 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.
The Cadorna Milk is one of few 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 relatively small footprint (at only 10.2 inches wide and just 15 inches tall, you can fit it just about anywhere), all in one machine. The Cadorna Milk is also compatible with the Gaggia Glass Milk Carafe, an elegant and dishwasher safe solution to store your milk while frothing.
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 café to this machine, the Cadorna Milk will pay for itself in a little under a year. At two cups a day, you start saving money after just four months. You can easily create user profiles on the Cadorna Milk to make brewing your morning cup a breeze — no more messed up orders or names.
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 Cardona Milk 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 have access to 10 pre-programmed beverages (espresso, coffee, cappuccino, latte macchiato, espresso lungo, americano, cafe au lait, hot water, ristretto, frothed milk), and you can find a bypass doser by the bean hopper for pre-ground if you ever need to throw in some decaf.
Most Versatile: JURA E8
Up next, our pick for Most Versatile Machine. Our winner is the JURA E8, and it wins Most Versatile for a few good reasons. For one, it offers twelve new drink specialties, including hot water for green tea, espresso doppio, and an espresso macchiato. Even better, the JURA E8 comes with an improved Aroma G3 grinder that’s twice as fast.
With those 12 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 JURA E8 employs JURA’s innovative Pulse Extraction Process brewing system. As opposed to a constant flow, water is instead pulsed through the grounds in short intervals that extract greater intensity and flavor from your coffee while shortening the overall brew time. With P.E.P., espresso and ristretto can be prepared with greater clarity and flavor than ever before.
In addition, JURA’s Aroma G3 grinder ensures quiet, even, and super fast grinding — all without losing the coffees' character. The grinder can be adjusted to one of seven fineness settings to affect the overall extraction time. There is, of course, an integrated bypass doser that allows for pre-ground coffee brewing, too.
Not to mention, the JURA E8's frothing abilities. We all know how much people love a milk-based beverage, and the JURA E8 makes delicious cappuccinos, lattes, and more with the touch of a button. The new professional fine foam frotherG2 is made from the highest-quality materials, creating a stunning look and feel. Designed for the preparation of specialty coffees with milk and milk foam in mind, the frotherG2 makes latte macchiatos and other beverages with the very best fine-textured foam every time.
For build quality, the JURA E8 really shines. It comes in at 22.5 lbs. with your choice of a sleek, all white exterior or classic mix of matte black and stainless steel. This version of the E8 has an elevated sense of style, and a much more sophisticated and clean concept. The water tank features a ridge design to accentuate JURA’s eye for sleek and modern super-automatic machines, as shown in the chrome-plated cup grille. The color LCD display on the front makes operating the machine easy and stylish.
Style and Design: Gaggia Cadorna Prestige D
Next up is our favorite machine based on Style and Design. The winner here is the Gaggia Cadorna Prestige. The Cadorna redefines what's possible for super-automatic espresso machines, and it looks good while doing it.
The first thing you'll probably notice is the anthracite front that gives the machine a classic and sophisticated look. So, for style, the Cadorna Prestige comes on strong, but how does its design affect its performance? Well, in short, it does very well.
For starters, the Cadorna Prestige features 14 pre-programmed beverages including a ristretto, espresso, espresso lungo, coffee, americano, cappuccino, cappuccino XL, café au lait, café cortado, latte macchiato, latte macchiato XL, flat white, frothed milk, and hot water for tea, hot cocoa, or infusions, so you can play around with each beverage to craft something that you’ll really love.
Even better, the Cadorna Prestige simply makes all 14 drinks in one touch. You don’t have to direct anything, just sit back and enjoy. Plus, the machine comes with an integrated milk carafe so milk never passes through the machine. Once it’s finished brewing, the machine runs an automatic cleaning cycle to purge any milk residue out of the wand. Once you're done for the day, simply detach the milk carafe and store in the fridge for tomorrow's cup.
Some of our other favorite aspects of the machine are the four user profiles and intuitive user interface. By saving your preferences in a user profile, you can store your favorite creations without worrying about losing your preferences and for everyday consistency. The intuitive user interface makes this process easy, with a full-color TFT screen display complete with backlit buttons to easily navigate your pre-programmed drink options and various other settings.
Best Water for Coffee and How to Make the Best Tasting Coffee
Measuring 15” high, 10.2” wide, and 17.3” deep, the Cadorna Prestige is accessible for all coffee and espresso connoisseurs, especially those who want to keep their machine in a snug spot in their kitchen or office space. Despite its size, its drink selection is incredible, and there's no need to move the cup to make a cappuccino, latte macchiato, or flat white.
High Capacity: JURA GIGA 6
Now we have 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. JURA even 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 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.
Best Newcomer: Gaggia Magenta Prestige
Say you enjoy an Americano every morning, but your significant other prefers espresso, your son wants a standard coffee and your daughter wants hot water for tea. Rather than fiddle with your machines settings every time a different family member wants their favorite drink, why not utilize a machine that allows each person to save their unique drink preferences into the machine itself.
The Gaggia Magenta Prestige does just that, which is why its our pick for the best newcomer. By prompting individuals to be internally save their choices after each brew cycle, this bean-to-cup machine lets your family store their favorite creations without worrying about losing their preferences.
Making drink selections is even easier given the Gaggia Magenta Prestige's full color display system. Crisp icon based navigation with smooth captive touch buttons makes brewing fun and easy. A mix of plain text, color, and icons mean even if you're just rolling out of bed and dragging yourself to the coffee machine, you'll have no issues brewing your favorite drink.
The Gaggia Magenta Prestige touts 12 drink selections so there's something for everyone to love. Choose between a ristretto, espresso, espresso lungo, and coffee. Plus, brew café favorites like an americano, cappuccino, café au lait, café cortado, frothed milk, flat white, latte macchiato, and hot water. By playing around with each beverage, you can craft something that you’ll really love and if you created something that you know will become a staple in your daily routine, you can program the beverage on the machine by saving it to a user profile.
The star of the show is undoubtedly the auto-frothing carafe. Simply lock the carafe into the front of the machine and the Gaggia Magenta Prestige will do all the work. After done brewing your delicious milk-based drink, the quick clean feature allows you to rinse the carafe before next use, and a deep clean function can be accessed from within the Magenta’s menu. When not in use, simply detach the carafe from the front of the machine and place it in the refrigerator for future use. Easy, clean, and intuitive.
For even more customization, if you’re in the mood for decaf or have pre-ground coffee on hand, the Gaggia Magenta Prestige features a bypass doser with a measured scoop.
The Gaggia Magenta Prestige is made for home baristas who crave an unbeatable experience, balance of convenience and impeccable user functionality. For these reasons, it's our pick for the best newcomer of 2021.
So there you have it: our top picks for best automatic coffee machines of 2021!