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Thread: Fully automatic coffee machine

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2004

    Fully automatic coffee machine

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Seldom see people talk about fully automatic coffee makers here but I had used a Saeco automatic machine (an old model)in my previous workplace for a few years and I found the quality of coffee it made was quite acceptable.
    Ive been struggling for somtime whether I should buget for a fully automatic or a semi-auto plus grinder even I think the prices will be pretty much the same, but for a lazy bone like myself, I believe I will double my coffee consumption if I have a fully automatic ;D
    Ive read some negative comments about the after sale service about Saeco which really scared me off. :-/
    Can anyone give me some advice on this?

  2. #2
    TC is offline
    Join Date
    Oct 2004

    Re: Fully automatic coffee machine

    Yes- theyre sensational- but only if you like sour shots and water-laden thermoblock milk. The best of the fully auto machines is the barista at the best cafe you can find close to you. Dont waste you money and it will save you selling it to some other sucker in 6 months...or after youve parted up with hundreds of dollars in service. Quality coffee is science meets art- so when somebody trains a machine to check the grind, dose and tamp correctly and then compensate for variations in temperature and humidity, as well as those in milk- then and only then might an auto be worth more than 2 seconds consideration. Save your money....

  3. #3
    Avi is offline
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2004

    Re: Fully automatic coffee machine

    Hi Phantom,

    While I am not a fan of super-autos, I can appreciate the siren call of low-effort espresso :)

    That being said, the best espresso I have tasted from a super-auto was at the Coffee Festival in Melb a couple of yrs ago. The salesman had pulled me a shot from his top-of-the-line machine, a big contraption that cost too many thousand dollars. The shot was under-extracted (under 15 sec shot), and tasted "incomplete". This has been my experience with coffees from super-autos. At its worst, the coffee tastes like dishwater, and at its best, it seems to produce "incomplete" espressos.

    But anyway, while I would urge any aficionado of fine espresso to go with a semi-auto (like the Silvia), I also understand that convenience and ease of use is a very real concern. So, here is Alan Frews latest newsletter that discusses super-autos, albeit for office environments. Perhaps this may help you in your decision making:


  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2004

    Re: Fully automatic coffee machine

    I bought a Saeco Incanto about six months ago. Unfortunately, there were a number of niggling problems with the machine - mostly to do with the steam system (so much for dual boilers). After taking it in for repairs five or six times, I was given a new machine and touch wood, its been great.
    While I note the concerns expressed about Saecos service, I must say what once they realised I was annoyed, they did a great job. (I note that Alan Frew dismisses Saeco purely on the basis of service - but recommends a number of machines which have Saeco insides).
    The new machine is - as youd expect - very easy to use and produces consistent shots. Now that weve got the grind/dose/water programmed, Id say were getting cafe-quality flat whites/lattes. The milk steamer is quick and consistent, with good micro-foam.
    Sure, it might not be a Silvia, but for our 10-12 shots a day, its convenient and beats the stuffing around I had with my semi-automatic Krupps.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004

    Re: Fully automatic coffee machine

    Even if a machine is capable of producing all the conditions needed for a true espresso the output is only as good as the operator. There are machines out there that are capable of producing a pull every bit as good as any barista. And they can do it time after time, as long as theyre kept fine tuned.

    Just as a barista has to fine tune the details of how they pull a shot as the environment around them changes, so too must a super-automatic be tweaked all the time.

    I suspect that most super-automatics produce such horrible shots purely because they arent kept properely tweaked.

    I have found that getting a super-auto to produce great shots is a great pain, and only worth it for when high volume is called for or possibly for use in an environment where the temperature and humidity are kept constant so as to minimize adjustments.

    When pulling a shot with a non-super-automatic you have to adjust the fineness of the grind through-out the day to compensate for changes in the temperature and humidity. Usually this is a pretty easy thing for most of us to do as we measure the amount of coffee we use indenpendantly of the fineness of the grind so we only have to compensate for one variable, the fineness of the grind.

    In a super-auto the amount of coffee used is directly proportional to the fineness of the grind. The grinder runs for a set period of time. As you adjust the grind the amount of coffee actually ground varies over a very wide range. So now youve got the grind right, but the amount of coffee is wrong, leading to an under or over extracted shot. On a super-auto anytime you adjust the grind you also have to adjust the duration of the grind. Getting both of these variables properely balanced can be quite the trick. Once done on a good machine you can have consistant great shots, until the environment changes enough that you have to tweak the machine again. ;D

    In an average home environment because the shots are being pulled so far apart most people find themselves continously chasing that great shot (or else wasting a lot of beans doing tweaking) instead of drinking it. >:(

    Java "Sorry, am I rambling?" phile

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2004

    Re: Fully automatic coffee machine

    Automatic espresso machines have their place in the market particularly the better ones.

    At the moment there is only one brand to go for and that is the swiss made Jura. It is the best & the most expensive, but you get what you pay for with automatics.

    "Best" is governed as already said above, by requirement for "service". The juras have the best (lowest) breakdown rate I know of, and they dont keep breaking down with the same fault as others do.

    In addition, my experience with automatics (which goes back atleast 15 years in sales & service of both domestic & commercial types) tells me not to trust the multitude of johnnycomelately brands and models that have suddenly appeared on the market in the last *couple of years. I dont trust them until theyve been around for a while & proven themselves.

    The idea goes something like this:
    Buy a cheapie, and take it back frequently for breakdown service, and in 3 years it will have cost as much as the expensive one, but just about killed you with angst and frustration. In the meantime the expensive one has broken down a lot less (or not at all), and therefore the owner (and the vendor) have not become despondent with eachother and are still trading together, (for coffee and subsequent machines).

    Customer despondency & resulting wasted time, effort & ANGST, is the reason my company changed to Jura about 3 years ago. The service is excellent, unlike others I shall not name.

    There are lots and lots of happy automatic espresso machine owners out there, including offices that cant do without them, so its horses for courses and therefore I will repeat..."Automatic espresso machines have their place in the market particularly the better ones".

    And frankly, the coffee is
    a) not that bad
    b) not bad at all if the machine is properly adjusted & good coffee is used and
    c) is just ***different*** to "traditional *pump driven espresso" (just like pump driven espresso is different to boiler driven espresso as in stove tops, and thats different from plungers, and thats different to...).

    If you like it, go for it but stay away from "appliance" brand names...its a coffee machine not an appliance, and it requires support from a coffee machine service provider now and in years to come, not a lack of support from people who service washing machines and cant get spare parts after the 366th day.

    Ok jumping off soap box now.

    And yes if you are interested, we can talk offline as I can be contacted from the website below.


    Ps. You mentioned you used an "old" saeco auto in the workplace...If it is/was an original style electromechanical "Superautomatica" with white metal body and either dark brown or grey plastic top, then you will find that there is NO COMPARISON between the coffee it made/makes, and that made with a modern automatic. You will find the coffee from a modern automatic to be 1 million times better than that from the original superautomatica so relatively will be extremely well impressed.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2004

    Re: Fully automatic coffee machine

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    We have a Saeco Royal Professional Fully Auto that we hardly use. After we set the grind and the time for extractions etc. the coffee that came from it wasnt too bad either, however also having a pro unit as well the coffee that the pro produces is far better, but for ease of use etc I would look at a semi-pro or fully professional unit over a fully auto, why?....... Less to go wrong with it and if something does its possibly going to be easier to fix.. the autoos would require a strip down just to get to the part that isnt working.

    We just find that the time making 4 coffees can be done very quickly with a twin group compared to the fully auto. But I must admit to sometimes missing using the Saeco. If I were to do it all again I would get a Sylvia or other manual unit of good quality and thus attempting to ensure a long life out of it.

    thats my 5c at least

    FB :)

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