Is an Automatic Espresso Maker right for You?
Home espresso makers come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges. While most machines require at least some manual work from the user, at least when it comes to steaming the milk, others provide a practically end-to-end service.
These tend to be pricier, although no skilled barista would consider using them. Instead of adjusting the strength or mixture by eye to exactly what you like, an automatic machine will produce exactly the same beverage time after time. The most advanced models require only that you select what kind of drink you want and place a cup under the spout, and as long as it has the required ingredients, your coffee will be ready in a few minutes. Since coffee from freshly ground beans is significantly better than that made with pre-ground coffee, some machines even have an integrated grinder which grinds only the required amount each time.
The Features you Want
Automatic espresso makers typically discard the used grounds by themselves, so you only need to empty the waste container once every dozen cups or so. Aside from that, just make sure the appliance has power, coffee and water, and take the milk container from the fridge to plug it in. If this is still too much work for you, some cappuccino makers actually refrigerate the milk while in the machine, and you only need to wash it once in a while. On high-end models, you can program various drinks to adjust them exactly to your liking, and even save the recipe for future use.
Other nice features to look for include a hotplate on the top to warm your cups, the ability to start automatically in the morning, and a separate steamer arm for larger quantities of froth and steamed milk. In terms of interfaces, programmable coffee machines often feature detailed color displays.
Any model on the market should be easy to clean, but make sure that you won’t have any problems in this regard. Different machines have different automatic programs to wash the milk line out with steam. The best option is often a stainless steel body.
How many cups you might want to brew at any one time will be an important factor in determining which model is suitable for you. Most espresso makers work with one or two boilers, which take time to recharge temperature and pressure between uses.
Many machines can actually pour two espressos at a time, although this doesn’t mean that they can perform constantly without a decrease in quality.