best automatic espresso machine

Best Automatic Espresso Machine: Gaggia vs. DeLonghi vs. Breville

Whether you’re tired of paying café prices or if you just want to try your hand at making espressos at home, one of the best devices to add to your kitchen arsenal would be an automatic espresso machine. If you’ve done any research, then you know that “automatic” comes in two flavors: semi-automatic and super-automatic. Semi is for machines that still have one feature that’s manual, typically extraction, while super means the entire process is automated. You’ll find both here and they’re all known for delivering a wonderful flavor that will really wake you up.

Affordable 1: Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine

best automatic espresso machineThis espresso machine is sure to make a few checkmarks on your most wanted qualities list. It’s powerful, compact, comes packed with features and has an affordable price. Let’s talk about the major features first. You can easily froth milk with the Pannarello frothing wand, it can also be used as a hot water dispenser for tea and other hot drinks. Everything is loaded in the front, making it easy to reach all the important areas. You’ll find the water tank, drip tray and dregs drawers without having to move the machine from side to side.

While this isn’t the smallest automatic espresso machine on the market, it still qualifies as compact. Measuring only 15.5x10x11.5 inches, you should have no problem fitting this on any kitchen counter. On top you’ll find the hopper and grinder so that you can grind the coffee beans when you’re ready to use them. Experience the full flavor of espresso by only using freshly ground beans. The brew group can be removed for easy cleaning. Strength can be changed easily from the front panel display.

This espresso machine has fewer features than premium devices, but it’s perfect for those who just want a basic cup without any fuss. If you’re looking for an affordable unit that gives a lot for its price, then this is the perfect espresso maker.

Pros

  • Despite being one of the most affordable super automatic espresso machines, it’s solidly built and made to last
  • Works quietly and you can adjust the grind with ease
  • All the important parts are easy to reach from the front, so no need to move the espresso machine around

Cons

  • Relatively large, so it’s not ideal for small counters
  • The icons on the front aren’t straightforward, but you can figure out the symbols fairly easily

Affordable 2: Gaggia 14101 Classic Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine

Gaggia 14101If you want a compact espresso machine that gives you that perfect cup every time, then you’ll want the Gaggia 14101. This unit might be affordable, but don’t confuse that with a lack of quality. You’ll find this is the ideal unit if you’re a first-time espresso maker or if you don’t have that much experience pulling and getting that thick, lovely crema that everyone enjoys.

The Gaggia 14101 is all about ease. The 58mm portafilter with the commercial filter ensures every pull is easy and topped with thick crema, and the Pannarello wand gives you frothed milk in seconds. Speaking of seconds, you’ll find that it only takes 20 seconds for this machine to heat up enough for a good, strong cup of espresso. This actually puts it ahead of every other espresso machine on this list in terms of heating up quickly. Most other machines on this list require about a minute.

However, this ease comes with a price. You lose control over the espresso and there aren’t really any options for customizing the drink. For newcomers to espresso machines that may not seem like much of a blow, but experienced espresso drinkers might find this as a sour note for an otherwise amazing machine. If you need control over every aspect of your hot drinks, then you might want one of the other espresso machines on this list. If you just want an espresso and you aren’t too picky, then you’ll be happy with the low price tag and ease.

Another neat feature is the Gaggia 14101 has a passive cup warmer that will ensure you get a hot cup of espresso every time. The radiant heat from the machine will warm the cups while you’re waiting for it to brew, and it will keep your liquid hot even if you walk away for a few minutes.

At roughly the same size as a conventional coffeemaker at 9.5x8x14.2 inches in size, you’ll have no problem fitting this on even the smallest kitchen counters. The control panel only has a few buttons and anyone can understand it. If you’re looking for a compact unit that even the non-baristas among us can use with ease, then this is the right one for you.

Pros

  • Incredibly simple to use, perfect as your first espresso machine
  • Delivers a thick crema even if you’re using pre-ground coffee
  • Stainless steel housing ensures this machine will last for many years

Cons

  • Little control over the strength, temperature or other characteristics
  • No hopper to grind coffee beans

Value 1: DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica Super-Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine

gaggia vs delonghiFor just a little more money, you can enjoy the additional control and features of the DeLonghi ESAM3300. This is easily one of the best automatic espresso machines because it gives you a ton of control without forcing you to be an espresso know-it-all. Much like the Gaggia Brera unit, this one is fairly compact with a footprint of 11x15x14, so you should have no problem fitting it in your kitchen.

A patented cappuccino system lets you easily froth milk and steam together to get that perfect texture that you love. A professional, built-in grinder ensures that you can enjoy coffee beans nice and fresh. A special little feature is that the grinder is low-pitch. This makes it easy to grind in the morning, and it’s perfect for those who hate loud noises.

On the front you’ll find push buttons and a rotary dial to control your drink. There are five different strength options, four espresso length levels, you can customize and program your favorite drinks, and you can brew either single or double cups simultaneously. Easy to understand icons are on the front so that you know what each button controls.

Extracting the brew unit for cleaning is a breeze. There are two red buttons that are easy to see and operate. Just pinch the buttons and you can remove the brew unit. Tired of waiting between each cup for the machine to be ready? This unit remains at a constant temperature, allowing you to brew cup after cup for you and your family or guests.

If you love espresso and other café-level coffee drinks, then the DeLongi ESAM3300 is going to be your new best friend. From a ton of features to a small footprint, this automatic machine does it all while giving you complete control.

Pros

  • Lots of settings to build a custom drink, yet very easy to use
  • Remembers your settings, ensuring that you get the same drink every time
  • Compact and attractive, can easily fit on most kitchen counters

Cons

  • Initial heat-up time is 75 seconds, which is somewhat longer than most other automatic espresso machines
  • No temperature control, this is a common feature on premium machines

Value 2: Breville BES840XL the Infuser Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine

Breville BES840XLThis is a unit perfect for those baristas-in-training who want a taste of gourmet coffee drinks at home while learning the fine art of espresso making. Built with a ton of features and a solid body that can withstand the heating and rigors of advanced drink creation, you’ll find yourself endlessly playing with the numerous controls until you find that perfect drink you can call your own.

There’s auto purge and digital temperature control to ensure that every drink is served with the proper amount of heat for optimal flavor. Espresso drinkers love a strong cup, and Breville understands this. Across the board, all their units include 19-22g of coffee rather than the 11-13g of other units, giving you that robust flavor you demand. Just one cup, and you’ll surely notice the Breville difference.

The Breville BES840XL has a 61oz water tank, which allows you to make plenty of espresso before needing a refill. Not only that, but there is a built-in water purifier to remove any of those nasty minerals and particles that could interfere with flavor. This also reduces how often you need to clean the machine since many of the particles are caught by the purifier.

Speaking of water, one of the worst things about owning an espresso machine is removing a soaking wet coffee puck. It can spill, the grounds can go everywhere and it’s just nasty. However, this espresso machine has a dry puck feature that ensures the water is thoroughly removed from the puck. This makes cleaning much easier. You can remove and refill the puck without dealing with any huge messes.

Experienced espresso drinkers know that the cream and frothed milk are what truly make this drink delicious. The Breville BES840XL uses low-pressure extraction to get that perfect golden honey cream from coffee beans every time. The manual steam wand allows you to froth milk to the ideal texture, giving you those little bubbles and aiding in coffee art. No matter how frothy you want the milk, you’ll find it’s extremely easy to get the right texture.

You can easily switch between single-wall and dual-wall filters as needed, and volumetric controls for either single or dual shots. The unit in on the larger side at 13.7×11.5×13.2 inches, but that’s to be expected of an automatic espresso machine with this many features. This espresso machine is very close to a premium one, so you’re getting a lot for a relatively small price tag.

Pros

  • Has perfect temperature control to get the right amount of heat for ideal taste and texture
  • Automatic where you want it and manual for those tiny little adjustments needed for a custom drink
  • Gives you an extra boost of coffee for that robust flavor that other coffee drinks lack

Cons

  • Might be a little too advanced for new users, but it usually only takes some experimentation to get the perfect cup
  • No grinder or hopper, so you must grind your coffee beans elsewhere

Premium 1: Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine

compare automatic espresso machinesWhether you’re looking for a unit with the most features possible, or if you need one for the whole home and family, the Breville BES870XL fits the bill. This premium espresso machine gives you all of the native benefits of a super-automatic machine with a lot of extras that you’re sure to love. While it’s bigger than the other units at 12.5 x 13.25 x 15.75 inches, it can still fit on the counter and it uses the space very effectively.

Let’s talk about beans and water. The bean hopper and grinder can hold about half a pound of coffee beans at once. No need to grind them all at once. Wait until you want a cup and get the grinder going. The Breville is capable of holding 67 ounces of water, or two liters. This gives you plenty of espresso, and the 1,600W thermo coil heating system ensures that high temperatures are maintained from one cup to the next.

On the front you’ll find pressure gauges to tell you how the procedure is going, grinding sizes so that you can adjust the strength of your drink and a hands-free portafilter that fills and dispenses on its own. A temperature gauge shows you the current heat in the machine, and volume controls allow you to brew one or two cups simultaneously. A swivel-action milk wand makes it easy to froth milk from any direction.

All areas of the machine can be easily removed when it’s time to clean, and there’s even a light showing you when the machine needs to be tidied up. This includes the hopper, brew unit, milk wand and everything in between.

If you’re looking to practice as a barista, you can change from dual-wall filters to single-wall, making it a little harder, but also giving you more control over the drink. This machine gives you everything you would ever need, and it’s only slightly more expensive that the mid-tier offer. While it’s size might be a turn off to some, it’s a benefit to others who need to make lots of espressos for themselves and others.

Pros

  • Delivers a big dose of coffee, ensuring a full-bodied taste
  • Digitally controlled temperature ensures each cup is brewed for ultimate flavor
  • Precision control over temperature, grind size

Cons

  • Fairly large, but it makes good use by having a ton of tools and features
  • Might be somewhat difficult for new users, but it’s user-friendly for those who have working knowledge of espresso machines

Premium 2: DeLonghi ECAM22110SB Magnifica XS Compact Automatic Espresso Machine

Delonghi ECAM22110SBThe true coffee lovers among you are in for a treat. Whether you like espressos, cappuccinos, macchiatos or lattes, this is the automatic espresso machine that will give you exactly what you’re looking for. You get control over the bean, the drink and just about everything else in between. It’s also fairly compact at 17×9.4×13.8 inches with a 60oz water tank and 8.8oz coffee bay for both whole or pre-ground beans.

There are 13 different grind settings for that perfect size, and the direct-to-brew setting grinds the beans right before brewing for the most flavor. You can easily control temperature, strength, cup size and volume with just a few buttons, and DeLonghi automatic espresso machines have a patented feature that automatically mixes steam and milk for the best texture you’ve ever experienced. The manual milk frother gives you control over the bubbles and texture of your milk.

Having all of these features will be exciting to most, but some of you might be worried or overwhelmed. While this is certainly more advanced than some other espresso machines, the user interface is intuitive and very easy to understand. All of the buttons are clearly marked, there is a rotary dial for the bean grinding settings and there are lights to signify when a certain feature is on or off. It will only take a few minutes to learn how each function works.

This machine remembers your settings, ensuring you can keep that perfect drink once you’ve found it. Nearly every important part of the machine, such as the water tank and brew unit, are accessible from the front. The only thing not on the front is the bean bay and grinder. You can brew drink after drink as this machine maintains heat after a brief 60-second heat up time. Cleaning the machine is also very simple, and needs to be done half as much as with other units, so you get to spend more time enjoying your favorite espressos and other coffee drinks.

If you truly love coffee and want advanced, custom drinks at home, then this is the right machine for you. Not only that, but it can fit on most kitchen counters with ease.

Pros

  • A massive number of settings and tools to get that perfect drink, plus it remembers the settings for later
  • Uses both whole and pre-ground beans, and there are 13 grind settings so you can make the grounds as big or small as you’d like
  • Requires less cleaning than other espresso machines and the brewing unit takes seconds to remove

Cons

  • The hopper is flat, so beans sometimes won’t fall properly into the grinder. You may have to manually push them in during the grind
  • Oily beans don’t move very well in the hopper, so you might need to move them manually

Which is Right For You?

We’ve covered a lot of espresso machines here and each serves a different purpose. The Gaggia 14101 is perfect for those just looking for an entry-level device at a low price, while other machines like the DeLonghi ESAM3300 and Breville BES840XL give you advanced control over the drink. There are a few important factors to consider.

The first, and most important for many, is price. You can get a good machine at any cost, so are you looking for entry-level, mid-tier or premium? After that, consider what type of features you’re looking for. If you just want an espresso and you aren’t that picky, then either of the Affordable espresso machines should be fine, but you might also want a mid-tier Best Value unit.

If you want a truly custom espresso drink with optimal flavor and you love controlling every aspect of the drink, then consider either one of the Best Value or Premium espresso machines. They each give you unique features and ultimate control over the espresso or any other coffee drink. Just consider what you really want from the espresso machine and you’ll be sure to pick the right one. They’re all winners here, so it depends on your specific needs.

Conclusion

Automatic espresso machines are perfect for anyone who loves a good, strong espresso but hates those high café prices. Not only that, but now you have your hands on the reigns. Depending on which model you choose, you can adjust and customize the drink until it fits your unique and individual palate. These automatic espresso machines are easy to use and you’ll be like a professional barista in no time.