Super Automatic Espresso Machines – The Complete Guide
Super automatic espresso machines have garnered a less than desirable reputation however, Today’s super automatics are redefining public opinion. A new generation of super-automatics are appearing in high-end coffee shops, hotels, state and private universities. Business around the U.S. are using super automatic espresso machines to streamline their operations by simplifying the coffee brewing process. These compact and space saving espresso machines are not only delivering quality espresso drinks, but they are doing it consistently.
The Super Automatic espresso machine makes quality control easier for managers while at the same time reducing expense caused by wasted product
If you are considering a super-automatic there will be quite a few options to consider and some service related issues to think about before making your selection.
Super Automatic Espresso Machine comes in 1 step or 2 step operating styles
Both operating styles of super automatics will grind, tamp and brew espresso shots.
1-step super automatic espresso machines – will deliver hot milk products. Some, by utilizing a pump, will offer cold as well as flavored drinks. Most 1 step espresso machines will not have an external steam wand, if it does, the machine may be used alternating between 1 or 2 steps. When offering coffee drinks in a self service application, typically for safety concerns, the hot water and steam wand are not present on the machine.
2 step super-automatic espresso machines – will require a barista or operator for heating milk, flavoring, and product presentation.
Super Automatics come with a selection of options
- Grinders: Super-Automatics are available with one ( 1 ) to three ( 3 ) grinders for varying selections of roast or decaffeinated blends.The grounds chute, standard on some machines, is a small opening where ground coffee such as decaffeinated coffee or specialty blend is placed for an additional brewing selection.
Options Specific to a 1-Step
- Refrigerator: Some 1 step super automatic espresso machines will automatically come with a refrigerator and others will offer a refrigerator as an additional option. Refrigerators are offered as a side by side or under-counter companion to your espresso machine. Under-counter refrigerators will free up counter and work space as well as offer a larger milk storage area which is desirable for those offering more than one milk type.
- Milk Options: A pump system enables delivery of hot and cold milk products. Dual pump systems can also deliver milk proportions such as 1/2 whole and 1/2 non-fat for delivery of low fat milk based drinks. Systems operating with a Venturi system, will deliver hot milk but can not deliver cold milk products. If considering a Venturi system, remember to look for machines that have an end-of-drink rinse to clear the milk tube of any residual milk.
- Syrup Module: Enables delivery of flavoring such as vanilla to milk products like lattes or cappuccinos.
- Powder Module: Used for self-service hot chocolate, chai tea or any other powder flavorings.
- Payment Options: Allows you to offer self-service drink delivery to your customers by adding payment availability such as a credit card reader or coin collection to your coffee machine.
Wake Up Coffee Inc. currently operates uniquely designed coffee shops in the Inland Northwest. The company has multiple locations and
Wake Up Call, 112 N Evergreen Rd, Spokane Valley, next to Pioneer School located in Spokane County, Washington, United States.
will soon be opening another shop early next year. Christopher, a company representative, states that the company’s focus is about great tasting consistent beverages.
“When the company first started you couldn’t convince me that a super automatic espresso machine could deliver a quality cup of coffee”
Christopher explains, “We met with Dillanos Coffee Roasters and they had us do a blind taste test using a traditional machine and a super-automatic. Much to our surprise we chose the drinks out of the super automatic espresso machine almost every time.”
There is a place for the unique brewing experience of the traditional espresso machine but Wake Up Coffee realized early on that they could not achieve a higher standard of quality and consistency throughout several locations by utilizing baristas with a variety of individual talents.”
Although super-automatics simplify the barista’s job, the barista still remains the key element for product quality through the monitoring and performing of adjustments needed in the espresso machine’s grind, or brewing process.
Super Automatic Espresso Machine Features – you will want to consider
- Automatic Steam Wand Temperature Settings: Temperature settings may be programmed from a minimum of two to a wide range of selections. All automatic steam wands can be used manually. In 2-step drink production, not a 1-step in which steaming is performed differently, we recommend you consider how much steaming you will be doing on average. It is important to select a machine designed to handle the amount of steaming you expect to perform. Overusing a machine that operates with too low of a wattage/amperage may result in longer recovery and extra wait time for your customers.
- Automatic Steam Wand with Frothing Capabilities: Not all automatic steam wands have frothing capabilities. For those that do, multiple textures may be programmed but the amount will vary within machine models. Some automatic frothing wands can be very slow but others such as the Franke Auto Steam Pro, available on many of the Franke models, is fast and does an excellent job offering a variety of milk textures.
- Brewing Temperature Control: Super-automatics will allow you to adjust brewing temperature. Most use a dual-boiler system to accomplish this. Others, like the Franke Evolution utilize a cold mix valve. The brewing temperature control is typically not precision control and a variance will occur especially when the machine has been inactive.
- Drink Queue: This feature varies with machine models. Baristas can pre-program drink orders for waiting customers. Some machines will limit the amount of pre-orders it will hold. Some machines will only allow programming for repetitive shot quantities. For example, the next five brews must be all double shots, not three doubles, one single and one triple. Variable drink queues are available on machines such as the Sinfonia 1 Step, Sinfonia 2 Step and Evolution ASP by Franke Coffee Systems. The drink queue feature can be disabled and usually is for machines placed in self-service applications.
- Heated Brew Unit: Many manufacturers feature heated brewing units to aid in temperature stability. The Talento by Nuova Simonelli offers a heated brew unit in which the temperature can be set taking this feature one-step further. All espresso machines will use plastic in some areas of their construction, however when it comes to the brew unit look for machines that utilize more stainless steel and brass for this very important feature. Brew units made of plastic cannot be heated and are more apt to break causing your business to come to a screeching halt with just a crack.
- Hot Water Faucet Temperature Adjustment: Most machines offer at least one temperature option for the hot water faucet or wand. Others, such as the ONE series of super-automatics by Egro Swiss Coffee Technology, offer programming in which you can add multiple temperature selections for a variety of personalized drinks such as breakfast coffee and tea.
- Menu Selection: There are two ways to identify drink selections, either by a label or digital display. When using labels your drink selection will be limited to the available space on the label. Digital displays offer a way to display larger drink menus. Many super-automatics will offer an abundance of programmable drink selections, but remember the espresso machine should offer the ability to clearly organize and display those selections.
- Pre-infusion Programming: Like traditional machines, pre-infusion control will differ within machine models. Some super-automatics will have programmed options. Other machines may offer you full control over the amount of water used during pre-infusion as well as delay time before peak brewing pressure.
- Programming: Software will vary between individual machine models. If the machine has a pump system, you will be able to program milk temperature and the amount of foam for each drink selection. Machines utilizing a Venturi system are limited to a mechanical adjustment and therefore do not allow for adjustment of milk temperature on individual drink selections. The Venturi system will allow for adjustment of the foam amount. Some machines will also allow you to program drinks proportionally such as 1/2 decaf and 1/2 regular. An additional grinder will expand to 1/3 proportions.
- Shot Timer: Typically, the brewing time is displayed after the cycle is complete. Melitta machines allow you to program your shot time and will then automatically adjust brewing time to match your programmed specification.
- USB Port: The USB port allows you to copy and easily upload your programming to additional espresso machines. Baristas will appreciate the menu continuity between all espresso machines no matter what location or station they are working at.
Super Automatic Espresso Machines will also come with preventative maintenance features such as: automatic cleaning programs, on-off programming, perform maintenance prompts, equipment diagnostics programs and softener regeneration prompts.
Expense: Typically, Super-Automatics can be more expensive than the average traditional espresso machine and are also more costly to maintain. Pistons, o-rings, shafts and low voltage motors, all have limited life expectancies. Unlike traditional espresso machines, the super-automatic has moving parts and all these items wear out which will make putting your espresso machine’s maintenance at the top of your budget list.
Preventative Maintenance: When shopping for a super-automatic, remember to select a machine that is designed for your operating volume. Overusing a super-automatic will quickly wear out critical parts such as low voltage motors, increasing your maintenance costs. Unnecessary maintenance can be avoided by simply selecting the appropriate machine for your operating environment, even if up front costs are more. This can also be said for purchasing a machine designed for larger drink production.
You cannot avoid maintenance by purchasing a machine designed for larger volumes. If your espresso machine is on, even though you may not be using it, parts will continue to wear because of the heated environment. Service will still need to be performed and the expense to maintain your espresso machine may quickly become hard to rationalize.
You may also need to consider purchasing more than one machine. Super-automatics usually come with only one brewing group which means you can only brew one drink at a time. If you are currently using a traditional espresso machine, how many super-automatic espresso machines will you need to adequately replace the one you are currently using?
Service: Lastly, before you purchase a super-automatic espresso machine, make sure you have a willing and experienced service technician available in your area.
Here are a few things to look for in service support:
- Parts: Make sure your local service provider maintains an ample supply of parts specific to the manufacturer and model of your machine. Waiting for parts to be ordered could mean down time and lost productivity.
- Software and Programming: Not all espresso service companies work with super-automatic espresso machines and if they do, not all have experience with programming and software. When searching for a service company, ask if they will store your programming and are willing to provide software updates relevant to your business. If you do not use a dedicated and skilled service provider you will not be able to utilize or optimize all of the features of your super-automatic
There are many things to consider when selecting a super automatic espresso machine. For questions related to this article or super-automatic espresso machines, contact David Easley here at Inland Espresso Solutions 1 (855) 839-5665. Dave has worked in the coffee industry for over thirty years and will be able to discuss customer traffic patterns, equipment features and options to help you identify machines best suited to your unique business and personal needs