One of the primary considerations one must take into account when selecting an espresso machine is what’s more important to them: Convenience over flavor. Outside of budget, this is arguably the most important thing to think about when you’re determining what type of machine is right for you.
While superautomatics offer a lot of convenience — internal grinder, easy clean-up, automation and programming — the models available on the US market utilize plastic in their brew group design, which doesn’t regulate temperature quite as consistently as their metallic brew group counterparts. This results in a little bit of an underextraction that is fairly standard on superautomatics — generally giving a sour, weak flavor. However, you can tweak and program the shot to a certain extent to achieve a shot that is close to that you’d get off a semi-automatic (for which you grind, tamp and dial in your shot yourself), with a few limitations.
We asked Gail to walk us through the basic parameters of how to achieve the best shot possible on a Saeco superautomatic, using the Xelsis as a demo, and she also shared with us some of the commonalities between these machines and superautomatics produced by other manufacturers.