What's been your experience of super autos? - Page 2

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#11: Post by cmin »

Only one I've used that actually made good drinks, was a Monza but that has some huge advantages over like 99% of Superautos especially years ago and pry today. Still not on semi-auto level, but slapped the hell out of Jura etc.

Buddy has the Miele system built into kitchen, it's sucks, like really bad even with fresh beans. Just plain Jane Saeco guts but your paying stupid price for the "Miele" name lol. And that thing with build in is like 5 grand or so.

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#12: Post by HB »

HB wrote:I'll chime in later with more specifics, but what led to the video above was my offer to loan the loaned super-auto espresso machine to Martin...
Apologies for reporting back late! The Kalerm super-auto is on its way back to Chris' Coffee. My overall impression was positive for milk drinks. Even my wife, who is a fussy latte/cappuccino fan, thought it made a perfectly acceptable drink. The foam was creamy with no visible bubbles, not the lifeless, puffed up airy milk that I expected. She liked that it was push-button easy and ready quickly.

On the other hand, a discerning espresso drinker will be disappointed. There are a few tricks that help make for better espresso like pre-warming the brew chamber with a cleaning cycle, reducing the pour volume, and pulling the cup away a few moments early. With a forgiving espresso blend, the body was still lacking and the overall tasted flat -- not bad, but not memorable either. This side-by-side photo is a fair comparison between my regular equipment and the Kalerm super-auto:

La Marzocco Strada vs. Kalerm super-automatic

It's not difficult to guess which is which. So who might be interested in a super-auto like this one? A cappuccino/latte drinker who's happy with "comfort food" type espresso blends and really prizes convenience over an exceptional espresso experience. The Kalerm super-auto is nearly idiot-proof and it's ready much sooner than a traditional espresso machine. If it was at the office, I'd be happy to use it for an afternoon pick-me-up.

On a related note, in this video, James shows how to dial in a super-automatic systematically versus taste trials. As part of his process, he explains why superautomatics aren't able to produce the full-bodied, complex espressos aficionados expect of their traditional espresso machines/grinders.
Dan Kehn

Team HB

#13: Post by JRising »

Like with any product, there's a certain amount of "You get what you pay for". If you want an espresso machine, you're going to have to pay for an espresso machine, that will be a few hundred dollars or more. If you want a very good espresso machine with 2 boilers, that will be more. If you want a very good machine with quality parts, that will be more. If you want a very good espresso machine with 2 boilers and quality parts, that will be several thousand dollars or more. Then, if you want that machine to be operated by a technology sophisticated enough top operate it the way a smart person would operate it, dosing an exact amount of grounds, tamping to an exact pressure, opening the brew chamber to a specified clearance, preinfusing, monitoring pressure at the brew chamber and actively compensating, cycling the head heater to maintain specified brew temp, then you're going to be paying for it. What's a trained human worth?
Things like the Eversys C'2 are pretty close to being an actual Barista... Things like the Schaerer Barista even get the name, but not everyone is going to pay 30 grand for an espresso machine just so that they can have it do a couple of the steps for them... A "Good Super-auto" can indeed do the job, but you don't get that for the price people want to spend on their cousin's Wedding Gift Registry.
If you never have, yet... Try an espresso out of a Schaerer Barista or something similar some time if you get the chance.
Can the world's top baristas do better? Yes, but it is pretty amazing how well a machine can be programmed to copy them.

seacliff dweller

#14: Post by seacliff dweller »

The video looks to me to be an informercial trying to sell a product.
My wife is not into making espressos because it is too cumbersome for her so I decided to purchase a super auto for her since she is less fussy as to the quality of the espresso.
But even my wife did not like the espresso from Jura!
Jura is a Swiss company and you would think quality should be good. But from our experience, it is not up to par.
First, the espresso is watery and you cannot improve the body even if you try dialing in to a finer grind.
Second, the brewing temperature sometimes were too high. You can hear the water boiling (hissing sound) inside and I discussed this with Jura tech support and there was no fix.
Finally I had to return the unit.
I am not saying all super autos are subpar since I have not tested every brand, but Jura is definitely not something worth considering.
I wonder if anyone had any experience with Miele espresso machines since that is a brand I would consider trying. I like their dish washers.


#15: Post by vit »

All superautos work pretty much same way

There is a "brew unit" inside, most of them made by Saeco I think, made mostly of plastics. Coffee is ground directly into it, onto the piston that is inside a cylinder, then compressed / tamped by that piston, then hot water is pushed through it, with piston serving as a water distributor and that's it. It is espresso method, however there is no puck prepration and there are some temperature tricks used (depending is it the first shot or the machine made a few shots before current one), so some companies might be a bit better in this temperature gimmicks than other. Majority are thermoblock machines (some being dual thermoblock). Also, some machines have crema device built in, that will produce more fluffy / attractive crema, and some have possibility (permanent or selectable via menu) to mix in some water, depending on the shot volume, making actually americanos if longer drink selected

In my company, we had an office Saeco Idea superauto, price was about 6k back then, this was actually higher range unit, dual boiler, with flat 80mm burrs and "professional" brew unit with 52mm (I think) cylinder diameter - most devices use smaller brew units (about 40 mm). Theoretically this should make quite good coffee, but actually it was even worse than current, much cheaper Saeco unit we have now (just steam was quite good, as it had 2 l steam boiler). Tried playing with grinder settings, but finer grind produced only shots that needed longer to finish (making our secretary angry as she had to wait longer when making several drinks for a meeting), while taste was pretty much the same. Grinding the fresh coffee using manual grinder didn't improve the result either

edit: checked above video - actually everything that I mentioned is explained there even better ...

Supporter ♡

#16: Post by drH »

Is amusing to remind myself just how often attitude and setting influence the perception of taste.
Many of the times I've tried superautos it was on vacation- in a nice airport or a fun restaurant. At those times I thought they were great but I never felt similarly when I try them at a local mall or at a friend's house.
Nevertheless, the ones I've enjoyed most were all Juras. With beans like Lavazza or Illy, I think they do OK. I used to live in an apartment with a superauto in the lobby: my in-laws loved the simplicity and were often down there before I even woke up.

Team HB

#17: Post by JRising »

seacliff dweller wrote: Finally I had to return the unit.
I am not saying all super autos are subpar since I have not tested every brand, but Jura is definitely not something worth considering.
I wonder if anyone had any experience with Miele espresso machines since that is a brand I would consider trying. I like their dish washers.
Again, you get what you pay for. Not all Juras are little Jura Ena machines where the grinder is set to intentionally not grind fine enough and brew unit pressure is gimmicked by the spring loads of the check valves before and after the brew chamber. A Jura S9 has only the lightest spring-check after the brew unit, to stop it dribbling, not for gimmicking at all, it's grinder is quite adjustable such that it can be dialed in. Can it do better than a good Barista, no, but it can brew espresso one would drink. The commercial Juras, X9s etc. even more so, within limits.

Same goes for any brand, you can not deny that Rocket makes some very good quality machines just because they also have a cheap little thing like the Appartamento that is going to burn the relay off of its Gicar at about the time the warranty is done. You can't decide all Juras are crap just because one consumer level machine isn't as good a barista as a trained human. You can't decide all Hondas are crap just because a Honda lawnmower isn't a very good commuter vehicle.

That said, this is a "what's been your experience with super-autos?" thread, so it is a very valid opinion, it does add value. There are a lot of bad experiences with super-autos because there are hundreds of thousands of them out there and cheap ones will always outnumber the good ones.

If you're seriously considering buying a Miele, try a few before purchasing. Buying something and returning it because "it works as intended but I bought something I didn't want" devalues it and someone has to pay for your mistake.


#18: Post by sketcher88 »

The biggest problem with super autos is that they need to do a ton of little things that are easy for us to do, like filling and tamping, but to automate and keep under a reasonable price tag to have enough of a market, it's going to be imperfect. The manufacturers try, but it's tough to do all those little steps and fully automate them. It's also intentionally made to not adjust much, but when things go wrong, even like dull burrs, there isn't a way to detect that and eventually, these machines get a bad reputation, despite trying to do a lot.

I don't have one, and for the reasons above, I think I can get more value by putting the same cash into a machine and kicking in some labor, but that's the issue, some folks don't want the labor, and then think they can get the same performance as a same-dollar setup in a manual, and that's not realistic.