Category Archives: Superautomatic

Crew Reviews: Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti

How Does It Compare?

The Gran Baristo line just keeps getting better and better. Built with a dedicated smartphone app, coffee is only a tap away with the Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti. The app features an impressive drink menu and a “Help & Manuals” section to provide an extra helping hand. Even with the app, you can still program your drink preferences with the Avanti’s digital display. We have to say, we’d happily take this machine home. If you’re already looking at the Gran Baristo, it might be well-worth the extra expense to purchase the Avanti for the added functionality.

The Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti features an app that makes grabbing a cup of coffee a snap.
The Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti features an app that makes grabbing a cup of coffee a snap.

Shot

With 18 customizable drink options, the Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti makes it feel like the possibilities are endless. Choose from favorites like a flat white, latte macchiato (or even an espresso macchiato), espresso, etc. There’s even an “energy coffee,” which seems to be a very potent Americano (also known as a ‘shot in the dark’). With each of these drinks, you can customize the aroma from very mild to extra strong as well as adjust the volume of coffee and milk. In the “Expert Settings,” you get more specific by adjusting the temperature and taste. Once you’ve got the ideal drink, hit the “Favorite” button near the drink picture and it’ll be saved to “My Coffees” for you to brew again and again.

Use the Saeco Avanti app to customize your espresso and milk preferences.
Use the Saeco Avanti app to customize your espresso and milk preferences.

We took Saeco’s standard latte macchiato sizing and increased the milk to fit a 10-ounce cup. The only annoyance we—to clarify, some of the Crew—had with the settings is the amount is in milliliters and you can’t change it. For those of us who order from the local coffee shop, we intuitively know sizing in ounces. Luckily, you’re already using your phone, so it’s just a matter of consulting the internet to convert milliliters to ounces. Better yet, you can program your espresso using the machine’s interface; simply press and hold the espresso button, release and then press once you have the amount you want. You can also program the amount of milk for milk-based drinks.

GBAvanti_espresso

One of the overlooked features on the Avanti is probably our favorite—the removable bean hopper. With a fairly large 9.3-ounces, it’s easy to fill it up with beans and later change your mind. In front of the hopper, you simply slide it to unlock and then pull it out. This feature is especially great if your beans have gone stale. Underneath the hopper is the adjustable grind setting, so you can customize your espresso even more! If you have pre-ground coffee, the Avanti also has a bypass doser.

The Avanti features a removable bean hopper and adjustable grind setting.
The Avanti features a removable bean hopper and adjustable grind setting.

Steam

The Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti features a carafe to create that one-touch brew you can’t help but love. Select your favorite milk-based drink and it’s made directly into your cup. The carafe holds up to 500 ml (nearly 17-ounces) of milk, which you can remove and store in the fridge for tomorrow’s cup. One thing we’re missing on the Avanti is the ability to customize the milk temperature and frothiness. You can choose the amount of milk in each drink—an awesome feature—but you’re limited to the preprogrammed foam of each drink. Although, if you want to experiment, you can tweak the milk amount to achieve something new.

The carafe holds nearly 17-ounces of milk.
The carafe holds nearly 17-ounces of milk.

Style

One-touch brewing is definitely improved by Bluetooth connectivity. The Saeco Avanti app is intuitive and easy to use—we give it a thumbs up! We also appreciated how easy it was to install the app on the Crew’s iPhone and Android devices. While we love the idea of never needing to get out of bed, you’ll still have to get up to put out fresh, cold milk. Another reason to get up is the Avanti auto-rinses when it turns on and off, so your cup will be full of rinsing water. But, hey, the app allows you to multitask more than ever!

The Saeco Avanti app features a "My Coffee" section that saves your favorite drinks.
The Saeco Avanti app features a “My Coffee” section that saves your favorite drinks.

In the app, there are three main coffee tabs (color coordinated like the Italian flag) for your coffee: Classic Coffee, My Coffee and Recent Coffees. The beautiful, illustrated coffee icons make it easy to see what you’re getting—in the iPhone app version, when you adjust the espresso or milk volume, the picture will change. The straightforward icons and settings make it easy to get down to business and brew yourself a cup of coffee.

Even with the app, the Saeco features a intuitive digital display.
Even with the app, the Saeco features an intuitive digital display.

The Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti certainly has the style to match its enhanced interface. The brushed stainless steel casing appeals to modern taste and integrates well with modern kitchens. The sleek, rectangular body easily slips onto counters but watch out for it’s deceptive depth—it’s more than 19 inches long! It’s definitely not the biggest machine we’ve seen, but the length might leave the drip tray hanging off the counter. We do like how narrow the Avanti is and thanks to the front-access into the machine we can easily squeeze it next to other appliances. While you can place the Avanti under a cabinet just don’t forget that the water tank and bean hopper will need extra clearance to be removed.

The Avanti is more than 19-inches deep.
The Avanti is more than 19-inches deep.

Conclusion

The Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti is built with an intuitive app that makes grabbing a delicious cup of coffee a snap. We already enjoy the conveniences that one-touch superautomatics offer, so the addition of an app sweetens the deal even more. The app makes it incredibly easy to adjust your shot temperature, volume and strength to find that ideal espresso—and let’s not forget, you can also adjust the milk amount for an extra rich latte. The Avanti’s definitely on our wish list! What do you think of the latest superautomatic from the Gran Baristo lineup—would you take the Avanti or a different Saeco machine home? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Gear Guide: Convenience Rules With Superautomatic Espresso Machines

Find Your Dream Espresso - Superautomatics

Taking Home A Superautomatic Espresso Machine

In our last post, we asked you how committed you were to your espresso. If you’re the one running out the door empty-handed and caffeine deprived, then you’re in the right place—we’re about to revolutionize your life—enter the superautomatic espresso machine. Superautomatics do all the heavy lifting and will grind, tamp and brew delicious espresso for you. It’s the perfect solution for coffee lovers who are “just friends” with their cup.

Of course, there are a variety of superautomatics, so while they make getting a cup of coffee a snap, you still have some choices to make on how committed you’ll be to your machine. The way we like to decide between models is to use this simple scenario: You walk into your favorite coffee shop, what do you order?

Espresso, Americano Or Drip For Me!

So, you take your coffee black? Then we recommend checking out some introductory superautomatic espresso machines. These machines focus on convenience and are incredibly easy to learn and are built with fewer features and programmability. Before you jump to any conclusions, remember that saying “less is more?” We tend to see people favor an introductory superautomatic for its ease of use, affordability and small footprint. The coffee options are usually espresso, coffee or, sometimes called, lungo. Generally, you can program the volume but you really don’t see settings for temperature, coffee strength, etc. There are some doubts that superautomatics produce good espresso. While there will be quality differences between semi-automatic and superautomatics, we have definitely made delicious espresso with superautomatics.

If you like your coffee with milk, no worries—there are introductory superautomatics with milk options. A panarello-style steam wand is the frother of choice because it does all the frothing for you. Panarello’s work by aerating milk through a slit in the top. No skills required! Since it’s doing all the heavy frothing, you won’t have to worry about controlling the milk texture. It’s easy to achieve fluffy cappuccino foam without any technique. Occasionally, some superautomatics won’t have a milk frother, in which case you could look into getting an external frother.

Another benefit of these introductory superautomatics is their small footprint and maintenance. With fewer features, these machines tend to run small; small enough to fit into any kitchen or even squeeze on your desk at work (you’d be a hit at the office). Maintenance is also a breeze. If there’s no steam wand, then you’ll never need to worry about properly cleaning off the milk. And if you have a panarello, it’s easy to disassemble and clean. Most superautomatics will have an automatic rinsing cycle before and after brewing, keeping your machine in tip-top shape. But you’re not off the hook completely. You’ll still have to descale and clean the brew group (if accessible) as the manufacturer recommends, but it’s nice to have some of the maintenance handled.

Latte Or Cappuccino, Please!

If you crave control, then we recommend bumping up to a mid-range, intermediate or advanced superautomatic espresso machine. A lot of these machines will allow you to adjust the temperature, volume, coffee strength, etc. Many feature a user-friendly interface, such as a digital display or labeled buttons, to make programming effortless. One of our favorite features is customizable profiles that allow a select number of users to program and save their drink preferences (of course, it’s only available on some machines. More on those in our next post). The amount of customization offered in superautomatics makes it easier to tailor your drink to your liking.

Latte and cappuccino lovers, get ready to jump for joy—there are machines that blend coffee and cream directly into your cup. One-touch superautomatics have an attached carafe that siphons milk to steam. When you’re done, you can remove the carafe and store extra milk in the fridge.  Some machines even let you adjust the milk temperature, milk foam texture or milk foam amount. There can also be a more traditional steam wand, so if you wanted to improve your frothing technique, here’s your chance!

With the additional customization, there will be a learning curve. Occasionally, the settings aren’t intuitive and you’ll find useful features buried under lists or icons. We recommend referring to the manual to learn the ins and outs of the machine—it can even help with troubleshooting. There are alerts or lights that’ll indicate when something’s amiss, like when you run out of water or the coffee ground  bin is full. Typically, we’ll find a troubleshooting section in the manual that provides instruction to fix the common issues . These machines will also automatically perform or recommend daily maintenance, such as rinsing milk pipes or descaling. Like the introductory superautomatics, these built-in features keep your machine well maintained.

Conclusion

If you’re just friends with your coffee, then a superautomatic espresso machine is the choice for you! Since there are a variety of superautomatic espresso machines we have another post coming out for you. We’ll dive into mid-range, intermediate and advanced superautomatics and what sort of features and functions you’ll find on those machines.

If you’re looking for caffeine on the go, an introductory superautomatic is the machine for you. These machines offer a balance of convenient features without the fuss of programming. Some may only offer espresso options, but you will find some with panarello-style steam wands. If you’re satisfied with those features, we recommend checking out some of these machines.

Saeco Xsmall Superautomatic Espresso Machine

Gear Guide: Finding The Right Espresso Machine For You

Finding The Right Espresso Machine: Semi and Superautomatics

Start Here: Welcome to Gear Guide!

If you’re ready to bring home an espresso machine but don’t know where to start, then you’re in the right place. We’ve created a simple buyer’s guide to espresso machines to help you make the coffee you love at home. This series is designed to help you choose which espresso machine that is right for you. We’ll start here with this simple question:

How Committed Are You?

Are you just friends or are you in a serious relationship with your espresso? We know, it sounds silly, but understanding your level of commitment is the first step to finding the right espresso machine for you. Think about your morning routine: Are you usually rushing out the door or do you cook a balanced breakfast? How you’ll be using your machine—basically, your relationship with it—is the best way to determine what you should take home.

Take a superautomatic espresso machine. This type of machine is for people who are rushing out the door. Most require little to no barista skills and typically operate at the touch of a button. It’s like having your own personal barista right in your kitchen. Depending on the model, some machines offer basic drink options such as espresso or Americanos while more advanced options offer a range of menu items, customized temperature or milk texture and more. Superautomatics have a variety of milk frothing options like a panarello-style steam wand, traditional steam wand or carafe, so you can choose which option is right for you. For instance, one-touch superautomatics whip up lattes right into your cup thanks to integrating milk systems like an attached carafe.

The Miele CM6310 Superautomatic comes with an attached stainless steel carafe to easily store milk in the fridge.
The Miele CM6310 Superautomatic comes with an attached stainless steel carafe to easily store milk in the fridge.

On the other side, we have the semi-automatic machine for the chefs out there. With semi-automatics, you should be willing to get involved and grow with it—to a degree. There are several entry-level semi-automatic machines that offer beginners assistance with features like the pressurized portafilter, that helps you pull a consistent shot every time or a panarello steam wand for thick, rich milk with little skill involved.

If you’re ready to expand your barista skills, the higher level semi-automatics let you control just about every aspect of your espresso shot and milk. High-level machines typically feature a traditional steam wand and non-pressurized portafilters, which require a level of skill, technique and preparation. For instance, on a non-pressurized portafilter, you’ll need a consistent grind, which requires a quality grinder and the senses (taste, sight, etc.) to dial in your grind. That means you have more control over how fine-tuned your espresso is! For those latte and cappuccino drinkers out there, you’ll appreciate the flexibility of a traditional steam wand. You can texture milk to be dense, dry foam or paint-like for latte art. Then sometimes there are advanced features like PIDs to regulate the boiler temperature or the ability to set the pre-infusion time.

Hello, steam power. The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II is a semi-automatic machine with programmable volume buttons.
Hello, steam power. The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II is a semi-automatic machine with programmable volume buttons.

Of course, some features and functionalities are found on both superautomatic and semi-automatic such as a panarello-style steam wand. That’s why we ask people to focus on their commitment level. Are you ready to learn how to dial in your grind? Do you want your machine to remember your drink preferences? Figuring out how committed you’ll be using your machine is the first step, now it’s time to think about coffee.

How Do You Like Your Coffee?

Tall, dark and…smokey? If you love Italian or French roast blends, then you’ll want to stay away from superautomatic machines. The reason being is the oils coating the coffee beans will clog the superautomatic’s grinder over time, creating a mess and may require extra maintenance. We always recommend avoiding an oily bean on a superautomatic to keep it in tip-top shape. That does mean, however, that you could enjoy a dark roast on a semi-automatic! You’ll want to make sure you clean the grinder a little more frequently with a grinder cleaner, but otherwise, a semi-automatic will have less trouble with dark roast. Also, we strongly discourage using grinder cleaners on a superautomatic because it could potentially damage the grinder or brew group.

Intelligentsia's Black Cat Classic is a medium, full bodied roast that's great in a superautomatic or semi-automatic.
Intelligentsia’s Black Cat Classic is a medium, full bodied roast that’s great in a superautomatic or semi-automatic.

Looking for a unique flavor to try as an espresso? If you love single origins, go ahead and try it out on a semi-automatic! You can change the temperature, grind, tamp—you get the idea. With more control over brewing, you’re able to dial in and find your perfect shot. Since single origins’ flavors benefit from hotter water than a blend, it’s harder to pull a shot on a superautomatic than a semi-automatic. Of course, a blend will be easier to perfect on either type of machine since it’s designed to have a balanced flavor.

Conclusion

Are you ready to commit to your espresso? Again, think about your morning routine and ask yourself how often you’ll use your machine. What sort of drinks will you be making on it? If you have a specific coffee roast preference, then that could also influence your decision. Have you made a decision? Good! In this next couple of posts, we’ll split off into several topics.

Check out the next post in the series:

Gear Guide: Expanding Your Skills With Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines

Crew Review: Jura Z6

How Does It Compare?

The Jura Z6 comes with all the convenience you crave from a superautomatic plus new features that we’re excited to share. One of the newest features in the Z6 is Pulse Extraction Process (P.E.P.) that pulses during the brewing cycle for espresso and specialty coffees to strengthen the flavor and intensity. You’re probably wondering if it works. Superautomatic owners know that they sacrifice quality espresso for convenience. Enter the Z6’s solution: P.E.P.  and we’re totally onboard with this new addition.

The Jura Z6 features texture-rich aluminum casing.
The Jura Z6 features texture-rich aluminum casing.

Jura also didn’t neglect us latte lovers out there. The Z6’s updated  milk temperature and milk foam temperature system can now select the temperature up to 10 levels with level one being the coolest temperature. Previous models haven’t come with a milk carafe and the Z6 is no different. However, Jura updated their cleaning system and it’s definitely one of our favorite hidden updates! The Z6 comes with a kit full of goodies, including a handy container for cleaning. Use this container with the cleaning solution to rinse out the milk hoses and you’re ready to store away—thank you, Jura!

Shot

Let’s dive more into the newly introduced P.E.P. system. The Pulse Extraction Process (P.E.P.) optimizes the extraction time to increase the strength of espresso or specialty coffees like ristretto. Check it out for yourself—listen to it pulse at 5:45. Jura’s well-known for the exceptional strong espresso thanks to their machines dosing more grams per shot. With the new P.E.P. brewing alongside their preprogrammed dosage, it has only benefited the strength and flavor of their coffee. You can also adjust the bean strength—the number of grams added per shot—and grind setting to dial in the perfect extraction time for your coffee. Our taste-tester, Gail, took the new P.E.P. for a spin and yeah, the coffee is definitely full of flavor! Bonus: The crema on our espresso was thick and beautiful.

Look at that body! The P.E.P. ensures maximum extraction.
Look at that body! The P.E.P. ensures maximum extraction.

We’re pleased the Jura Z6 features a front-facing digital screen with easy-to-use buttons to select our choice. Choose from over 12 preprogrammed drink options and set your top six favorite drinks in the main menu. If you want to get into the whole menu, on the top right corner there is a dial that you spin for more drinks—iPod, anyone? To customize your drink preferences and locate other options such as auto-on time, press the circle button of the dial to access advanced settings such as “Expert Mode.” This is where you can also create your top six drinks that are saved to the home screen for easy access.

Choose your top six drinks and save them to the home page for easy access.
Choose your top six drinks and save them to the home page for easy access.

Equipped with an 81-ounce water tank and 9.9-ounce bean hopper, the Z6 has enough fuel to keep you fueled all morning long. The hopper features a tinted lid and rubber gasket for the freshest beans, which is great if you store beans in the hopper overnight—and hey, why wouldn’t you with the auto-on feature? The adjustable brew head slides up and down to maximize up clearance, which at the max is six inches tall. That’s enough space for a travel mug—unless you’re like us and your travel mug is more like the whole coffee pot. The brew head spouts also swing in and out (about two inches wide) to brew for a single or double portion.

Steam

We’ve heard the concern before from coffee lovers that they’re hesitant about taking home a superautomatics because of the frothing capabilities. Jura Z6 dashed those doubts with the upgraded programmable milk temperature and milk foam temperature settings. You can finally customize the temperature of your cappuccino foam! The temperature scale for the milk is set from one to ten—about a 22-degree difference—so we recommend trying one temperature settings at a time. The Z6’s additional temperature controls make getting your ideal temperature on milk-based drinks achievable.

The Jura Z6 comes with a milk hose, but no carafe, to siphon out of a separate container.
The Jura Z6 comes with a milk hose, but no carafe, to siphon out of a separate container.

As we mentioned earlier, one of our favorite features is the updated maintenance options. Before, you could clean the milk system, but there was never a dedicated spot to insert the milk hose. The Z6 comes with a handy little kit filled with maintenance goodies such as a fitted container for cleaning. Once you’re in the “Clean the milk system” setting, it’ll walk you through how to properly assemble the cleaning system. Start the program and watch it as it makes your machine squeaky clean!

Hello, swimming pool! The Z6 has a 81-ounce water reservoir.

Our only complaint is that the Z6 doesn’t come with a carafe. The hose features a fitted in to insert into one of Jura’s carafe (sold separately). If you don’t own a Jura carafe, the hose is placed into a container of your choice. We get our milk by the gallon here at SCG so that small hose can’t reach the bottom of the jug. We also appreciate a complete set and the stainless steel Jura carafe looks really nice up against the Z6’s aluminum front.

Style

The soft sheen of the aluminum casing makes the Jura Z6 stand out amongst superautomatics. The texture-rich front gives the Jura that expensive look you want in a smart one-touch superautomatic. Sure, the water tank and sides are plastic, but this machine’s sleek, futuristic style outshines the rest. The drip tray is also a heavy metal—perfect for standing up to ceramic mugs and cleaning—and under the Z6’s built-in light system, it sparkles. Yes, you read that right, the Z6 features a built-in light system under the brew head and in the water tank. You can turn it off and on, but when it’s on the reflection in the water give it that futuristic flair.

The spouts swing out to make two espresso drinks.
The spouts swing out to make two espresso drinks.

The Z6, unfortunately, is not designed to go under your cabinet. The power button is located in the far back next to the bypass doser and grinder setting. The Z6 has a large footprint and at 14.5 inches tall, it might be too snug under a cabinet anyway. Fortunately, the soft aluminum casing extends to the top and can stand alone on an open countertop. If you purchase the Z6, check out the manual and other printed goodies they send you home with. The futuristic space theme style on the machine is reflected in their beautiful printed goodies.

The retro-inspired wheel navigates the front-facing screen.
The retro-inspired wheel navigates the front-facing screen.

The Z6 features a front-facing screen that is navigated by the six side buttons or dial in the top right corner. The retro iPod-inspired dial makes navigating easy enough, but it can be frustrating if you spin the wheel to fast and miss your mark. Once you get a feel for the responsiveness of the dial, it’s easy to pick up. The digital screen features pictures and labels for each drink and action and is incredibly intuitive to make selections. When you’re not spinning the wheel, the menu defaults to your six favorite drinks, which you can select through the center dial.

Conclusion

The Jura Z6 improved P.E.P. brewing system and milk and milk foam temperature controls have made it easy for latte lovers to achieve that barista-quality espresso at home. And with its roomy water reservoir and bean hopper, it’s easy for  home brewers to make cup after cup. This one-touch superautomatic comes equipped with all the automatic maintenance tips you’ll need to upkeep the Z6 and we’re pleased with our updated milk cleaning system. The Jura Z6’s upgrades have improved the overall quality of coffee and milk temperature and we’re excited to use it more.

Crew Comparison: Jura A9 vs Miele CM6310

How Does It Compare?

Jura’s well-known for their strong espresso produced from their machines, so we knew we needed to put the Jura A9 up against a comparable superautomatic, the Miele CM6310. The A9, as with most Jura models, have more grams per shot than other superautomatics. However, the Miele’s first espresso shot was hot and rich in flavor, giving the Jura a run for its money. Jura’s also well-respected for the durability of their products, so when the Miele’s built-in rinse cycles kicked in before and after brewing we knew the Miele and Jura face-off was going to be a great comparison.

The Miele CM6310 features lights underneath the brew group to make getting a morning cup easy on the eyes.
The Miele CM6310 features lights underneath the brew group to make getting a morning cup easy on the eyes.
We love the clean face of the Jura A9.
We love the clean face of the Jura A9.

Shot

The Miele CM6310 comes equipped with a 60.8-ounce water tank and 16.9-ounce bean hopper—that’s over a pound of beans, coffee friends—that can make lattes and cappuccinos for days. The Jura A9 has a smaller tank at 37.2-ounce and a 4.4-ounce bean hopper, but that’s about a quarter pound of beans and plenty to get multiple cups of coffee. Of course, we know Jura’s strong espresso is thanks to the build of their machines that adds more grams of coffee per shot, so we can expect to go through coffee quicker. That said, in a side-by-side taste test between the Jura A9 and the Miele CM6310, we thought both flavors were exceptional for a superautomatic with the Jura A9 only slightly stronger.

Jura is known for serving more grams of coffee per shot, so we weren't surprised by the strength of our espresso.
Jura is known for serving more grams of coffee per shot, so we weren’t surprised by the strength of our espresso.

On the Jura, there’s no access to the brew group, which we’ve seen featured with competitors like Saeco, DeLonghi and Miele. Jura durability and impressive automatic maintenance mean less work for you, coffee lovers. If you’re thinking about cozying the Miele up against appliances, you’re going to want to measure the space first. The Miele’s brew group is accessed behind a door on the right side of the machine along with the grind setting, which can be a hindrance if you want to dial in your grind to make the most of your coffee. Jura’s grind dial is easily accessed on the top of the machine alongside the touchscreen display.

The Miele's right side door opens up to access the second milk hose, brew group and grind setting.
The Miele’s right side door opens up to access the second milk hose, brew group and grind setting.

Both superautomatics are true one-touch machines that’ll whip up a latte or espresso straight into your cup. Both feature digital displays that are smooth to navigate and make selecting and customizing your drink preferences effortless. We’ll dive into the aesthetics of the displays later, however, grabbing a cup on the Miele CM6310 is completely different from the Jura A9. Miele features intuitive icons on the front of the machine with an LCD screen for other drink options. The A9 features an LCD touchscreen that you scroll through to select one of their many drink options, including two new coffee selections called the latte macchiato doppio and cappuccino doppio. 

Steam

Latte macchiato, anyone? No problem! These one-touch superautos will froth up the perfect milk for a latte or even hot chocolate. Getting that right milk texture with a superautomatic is tough to come by, so we did a subjective test to see just how different these two would perform. The density of the foam looked a bit better on the Jura A9—perfect for a cappuccino! When we tested the temperature—using Gail’s as our thermometer—it was clear the Miele outdid the Jura A9. The temperature on the Miele is something we noted when we first introduced this machine to our line up. We’re glad it was able to stand up against other superautomatics that have been around longer.

The Miele CM6310 comes with a stainless steel carafe to store and keep milk cool.
The Miele CM6310 comes with a stainless steel carafe to store and keep milk cool.

Equipped with a stainless steel thermal carafe, the Miele’s steaming accessories get the thumbs up from us. The Miele also comes with a second hose to directly siphon milk from a container, if you wish. Now that’s smart thinking. The second hose is also stored away next to the brew group. The Jura A9 only has the option to use the hose in an outside container, so you could use a frothing pitcher or milk carton, but either way, it’s less convenient than the Miele.

The Jura A9 features a 37.2-ounce reservoir.
The Jura A9 features a 37.2-ounce reservoir.

Another feature we noticed is the Miele CM6310 performs an automatic “rinse milk pipework” cycle that thoroughly cleans the hoses. The hoses come with a nozzle that’s inserted into the drip tray during cleaning where it then flushes out any lingering milk—thank you, Miele! The Jura A9, however, doesn’t have the option to clean the hoses, which means you’re responsible for rinsing it. If you’ve ever cleaned a straw, you know just how annoying it is to clean and with milk, you don’t want leftovers curdling in your machine. We think it’s safe to say that the steaming and maintenance features on the Miele CM6310 definitely won us over.

Style

The stainless steel milk carafe attaches with a hose on the side of the Miele's brew group.
The stainless steel milk carafe attaches with a hose on the side of the Miele’s brew group.

It’s not often we see a full touchscreen option on espresso machines and it’s even less often that they work so well. The Jura A9’s touchscreen flawlessly scrolls with no long delays and features intuitive pictures and names of drinks. Perhaps the one downside of the Miele’s icons is that there are no names associated with them, so it’s likely you’ll need to consult the manual the first time. The Miele also has a screen but it’s navigated by buttons off to the right side. Once you get a feel for the Miele, the icons are intuitive to the functionality and we didn’t have a problem customizing our favorite drinks.

The Jura A9 features a touchscreen that makes grabbing a cup of coffee a snap.

The Jura A9 features a touchscreen that makes grabbing a cup of coffee a snap.

Measuring in at 17.25 inches deep, the Jura A9 is surprisingly longer than the Miele by half an inch. However, the Miele is wider and taller than the Jura A9 and looking at them straight up that extra width makes the Miele appear larger. If you’re thinking about placing one of these under a cabinet, the height and depth on the A9 benefit the use of this machine since the touchscreen is located on top. While the Jura A9 has a clean face, we frankly would have preferred the touchscreen front and center and easier to access—we got tired of craning our necks just to pick out a drink. Depending on your cabinet height and depth, you might not be able to access the Jura’s interface. So while we applaud to Jura A9’s smaller footprint, there’s a lot to consider when fitting it into your home. The Miele’s got a large footprint, too, but fortunately, you only need a couple inches on top to remove the water tank and about a foot of space on the right side for the brew group, extra milk hose and grind settings.

The Jura A9's footprint is a bit smaller than the Miele CM6310.
The Jura A9’s footprint is a bit smaller than the Miele CM6310.

Conclusion

Both superautomatics are ergonomically designed with sleek edges to make the most of their larger footprint. The Jura A9’s intuitive touchscreen was probably the highlight of the machine style and we’re disappointed that it wasn’t easier on our necks to look at—perhaps this is a machine for us taller folk? Without a doubt, we were impressed that both machine’s delivered excellent, hot and smooth espresso for a superautomatic. However, the Miele CM6310 outshined the competition with it’s incredible pipe cleaning system and overall hotter milk temperature. If you’re going to be mostly drinking milk-based drinks, we would recommend the Miele because of its performance and convenient features.

Crew Review: Miele CM6310

How Does It Compare?

Say hello to the Miele CM6310. Miele’s new to our product line up and we’re impressed with it’s convenient and customizable features for a superautomatic machine. Compared to some long-time favorites, like the Saeco Gran Baristo, the Miele CM6310 will give superautomatics a run for their money. The Miele CM6310 retails under competitors like the Gran Baristo without sacrificing a lot of those features necessary for early morning risers. The Miele offers four user profiles with the ability to customize every drink under that profile. The Gran Baristo offers six profiles and customization. The other noticeable difference is the Miele’s detached carafe. While not the most elegant integration, you can store the carafe in the fridge or the Miele has a second milk hose to insert into your own container. If you’re not itching for more profiles and are looking at a smaller price tag, the Miele will fit the bill.

The Miele CM6310's streamlined design complements modern kitchens.
The Miele CM6310’s streamlined design complements modern kitchens.

Shot

The Miele CM6310’s one-touch intuitive interface makes grabbing a quick cup of coffee or latte a snap. At first, you might be turned away from the unlabeled icons, but quickly consult the manual and it’s easy to see the function of these intuitive symbols. For instance, the “My Profile” icon is a person. Press the icon and the LCD screen displays up to four profiles and options to customize drinks. Customize the pre-infusion time, temperature or volume for each one of your favorite drinks and save it for next time under your profile. Adjust the strength of your coffee using the coffee strength icon (a bean symbol that we see used in other superautomatics) and grind setting. The grind setting is located inside the machine, so you’ll need to keep the right side clear to access. But once you’ve dialed in your grind, just simply enter your profile, choose your favorite drink and watch the Miele pour you a tall glass of goodness. Hello, convenience in a cup.

Miele_espresso
The Miele CM6310 offers a double portion button to make two drink in one go.

The convenience of the interface doesn’t outshine the coffee either. With all the available customization, it’s easy to perfect your cup to your taste. We left the factory settings alone and were more than impressed with our first cup. Our first espresso shot was hot, smooth and full of flavor. And when we wanted a latte, we got a latte. The carafe system directly siphons milk into the brew headwhere it’s frothed. Like with most superautomatics, it brews and steams one at a time and our freshly steamed milk didn’t lose temperature before our espresso made it in the cup—color us impressed.

Don't be fooled by how shallow the bean hopper appears, it holds up to a pound of beans.
Don’t be fooled by how shallow the bean hopper appears, it holds up to a pound of beans.

The Miele features a double portion button that brews two drinks at once. Press the double portions button and then pick your favorite drink and watch it whip up one for you…and one for you later. Unlike other superautomatics, the milk is siphoned through the brew h where it’s dispensed through the same two spouts as the espresso, which creates the two portions. Along with your lattes and cappuccinos, the Miele has a dedicated hot water spout and menu options such as hot water or hot milk. Grab a hot chocolate for the kids or make yourself a cup of tea, the Miele’s got plenty of options for the whole crew.

Steam

The Miele’s milk frothing system won’t disappoint latte and cappuccino lovers. The stainless steel thermal carafe keeps milk cool for a long time and easily stores in the fridge when you’re finished. It attaches to a hose system that draws cool milk up to the brew he where it’s then steamed. With all superautomatics, the texture and froth are hard to come by, and we found the Miele’s performance to be right there with some of the best superautomatics. The first sip of our latte, even after waiting for the espresso, was still hot, but not hot enough to burn your tongue. Of course, with all the customization, you can adjust the milk temperature for piping hot milk. At the factory setting, we were impressed by the temperature of our latte.

Pro Tip: The Miele CM6310 features an active cup warmer that can be turned on under the settings. Preheat your cups before brewing to maintain the best temperature from your milk and espresso.

The active cup warmer preheats cups, so your espresso doesn't lose temperature.
The active cup warmer preheats cups, so your espresso doesn’t lose temperature.

One of the things we disliked about the Miele is the aesthetics of the carafe off to the side. We’ve seen this design with Jura’s superautomatics and this style has its pros and cons. Along with the carafe, the Miele includes a second hose to insert directly into containers like a milk carton. All those hoses hanging off are unsightly and if you’ve ever cleaned a straw, cleaning a rubber hose is just as difficult. Luckily, Miele has created a solution to that dilemma with the “rinse milk pipework” feature and a steel rod that’s inserted into the hoses. To clean the carafe, remove the nozzle from the carafe and insert it into the drip tray—a handy feature we definitely appreciated after steaming multiple lattes.

The stainless steel milk carafe attaches with a hose on the side of the Miele's brew group.
The stainless steel milk carafe attaches with a hose on the side of the Miele’s brew h.

Style

The Miele CM6310’s sleek design features an intuitive LCD display that shows off its modern style. The Miele features an automatic timer that you can program to turn on in the morning and turn off when you’re headed out the door. It also includes an Eco Mode to reserve energy while it’s in use, although this does turn off some features like the cup warmer. The black and silver body, while plastic, has a beautiful sheen that’s clean and complements the streamlined, square structure. The adjustable brew h easily moves up or down for better cup clearance and the stainless steel drip tray created a sturdy platform for cups that sparkled under the built-in lights.

The Miele CM6310 features lights underneath the brew group to make getting a morning cup easy on the eyes.
The Miele CM6310 features lights underneath the brew h to make getting a morning cup easy on the eyes.

Bonus: The brew he comes apart to easily access the spouts so you can clean them of coffee oils or milk when you need too. Of course, the cleaning system on the Miele is so thorough, that we barely need to give cleaning a second thought. Before and after brewing the Miele automatically performs a rinse in the spouts. Also, after frothing, it prompts the “rinse milk pipework” cycle. The descriptive instructions make it easy to maintain this machine, so if you’re prone to forget to clean your machine, the Miele’s got you covered.

The Miele's right side door opens up to access the second milk hose, brew group and grind setting.
The Miele’s right side door opens up to access the second milk hose, brew group and grind setting.

Measuring at 10 inches wide by 16.75 inches deep and 14.12 inches tall, the Miele CM6310 large footprint makes it challenging to fit on a small countertop. We took it home and cleared the bottom of the cabinet with ease. If you want to access the grind settings, though, you’ll need to keep the right side door clear or be willing to muscle it out from the counter—the door is nearly as deep as the machine. Depending on the number of appliances on your counter, we had no problem keeping it clear in case we needed to open it up. The water tank is removed from the top of the machine, but fortunately, you need only a couple inches of clearance to remove the tank from the rails that guide it into place. We recommend measuring your cabinet clearance when you’re finding the Miele a home on your counter and if you have space, the Miele’s a perfect companion for coffee lovers.

Conclusion

With up to four profiles that can save individual’s drink preferences, the Miele CM6310 is the perfect machine for the family or small office. It’s packed with tons of convenient features such as the double brew option that will make two portions at the touch of a button. This one-touch superautomatic does all the heavy lifting and doesn’t disappoint our taste buds. We made a handful of lattes and cappuccinos and were impressed with how hot our drinks were between brewing. Even using the double portion option, we noticed the drinks didn’t cool too much. While the Miele is loaded with tons of features, the large footprint could make it a difficult espresso machine to fit onto a counter. But if you have the counter space, the Miele CM6310’s one-touch technology and customizable features will have you enjoying lattes in no time. 

Stefan’s Iced Tonic Espresso Recipe

We’ve got another delicious Coffee Collaboration recipe we just had to share: Iced Tonic Espresso with a dash of orange! We’ve received a lot of orange recipes that have and haven’t gone so well (hint: this crazy disaster with the AeroPress) and luckily this drink’s incredibly easy to make. All you’ll need is an espresso machine to make your shot and voilà—Iced Tonic Espresso à la orange.

Here’s a suggestion for picking out your coffee for this drink: We’ve sampled lots of coffees with citrus notes and that got us thinking we should pick a blend with balance. Zoka Coffee’s Zoka Java combines bright fruits with chocolate and nutty flavors.

Equipment:

Ingredients:

  • 1 orange slice
  • 6 ounces of tonic water
  • A couple ice cubes
  • 6-8 grams of coffee for a single shot
  • Squirt of orange (optional—but totally recommended)
  1. Prep your ingredients: slice up an orange and have your tonic water on hand.
  2. Add a couple ice cubes to a 10-ounce glass. Place the glass under the brew head of your espresso machine.
  3. Grind 6-8 grams of coffee into your portafilter. Brew directly into the glass. Aim for 20-30 seconds (you’ll want to dial in your shot and grind for balance between sour and bitter flavors)
  4. Add 6-ounces of tonic water and a slice of orange—and an extra squirt of orange if you’d like! Enjoy!

Pro Tip: The tonic water will fizz on contact! Add in more or less tonic water to taste.

Crew Review: DeLonghi Gran Dama ESAM 6600

How Does It Compare?

There’s something about finding a good deal that’s just so satisfying. You lock eyes with that bright red sign that’s yelling “SALE” and you instantly know you’re getting a super sweet steal. The Refurbished DeLonghi Gran Dama ESAM6600 is one of those deals that you can’t pass up. With all the nuts and bolts of a new machine, the refurbished Gran Dama is just that—refurbished. Compared to the DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3500, which has the same features and functionality, the Gran Dama has only one lid for the milk carafe that can be adjusted to control the milk froth.

Delonghi6600_1

Shot

DeLonghi has built a reputation for making hot shots. The Gran Dama lives up to the family legacy and creates enjoyable hot espresso just the way you want it. Choose from four pre-programmed settings or customize it as you go! Down the right side of the Gran Dama, you have different volumes for espresso and your coffee or lungo. We sampled the factory settings for the double shot and, you know what, we thought the refurbished Gran Dama held up in the espresso’s crema and flavor.

Delonghi6600_2

If you’re looking for a stronger cup, push the “coffee strength” button (which has two beans and a scoop icon) and change your strength from extra-mild all the way to extra-strong. We appreciate how intuitive the system is, but it’s hard to know what’s “mild” coffee versus what’s “strong” coffee. We suggest trying your favorite blend (not dark, oily roasts, of course) and seeing how you like the taste. Like most machines, it’s a lot of trial and error before you get it just right.

Alternatively, you can switch the grind of your bean. The grind setting is located in the bean hopper and adjusting the settings from one to five will change how it brews. We’ll mention too that like other superautomatics, the grinder of this machine is loud. Of course, you can always skip all that grinding and use the bypass doser for your pre-ground coffee.

Delonghi6600_3

Steam

Then you have your dreamy milk-based drinks, courtesy of the machine’s steaming power. There’s no steam wand here, though. Instead, the DeLonghi Gran Dama has an integrated milk carafe which delivered incredibly hot and foamy drinks in a matter of minutes—and we mean hot. We ordered a latte and it delivered! The Gran Dama first dispensed milk, which we liked because it means our espresso won’t lose heat sitting in the cup, and then espresso. The heat met our expectations for a one-touch machine and the separation of milk and espresso was a beautiful sight.

The Gran Dama offers three milk-based drink options: latte, cappuccino or Italian macchiato. This machine is super smart and the digital screen will guide you through your cup such as asking you to adjust the carafe’s the frothing level—the say what now? We were surprised to find that the Gran Dama’s carafe features a switch with one and two levels to change the foaminess of the milk. Move the pointer towards “1” for dense froth or “2” for less dense. When you’re done, clean out the carafe by pushing the button located near the handle and let the machine clear the milk pipes. Pull the carafe with the rest of your milk out and store it in the fridge.

Delonghi6600_4

The drawback we have for the steam feature is the big, ole carafe. The handle sticks out awkwardly and takes up space when not in use. And if you want an Americano, you’ll need to insert the hot water spout where the milk carafe is—sort of killing the one-touch love. Then you’ll have to store that carafe or spout away when it’s not in use and hope you don’t lose it.

Style

What we thought really made this machine grand is the intuitive interface. As you press the different buttons the screen guides you swiftly to your cup of coffee such as adjusting the “coffee strength” the screen changes from extra-mild, mild and so on. It also features a “program” button to set the auto on and off time or change the time on the clock. Intuitive and easy-to-use? That’s our cup of coffee. Even with such an intuitive interface, the Gran Dama doesn’t utilize it to its full potential and that was a disappointment. Instead, it relies on tons of buttons which clutter the front of the machine.

Delonghi6600_5

The refurbished Gran Dama takes up a small amount of kitchen counter and thanks to the front accessible components, you don’t need to worry about extra counter space off to the side. You will need some extra clearance on the top for opening the bypass doser and bean hopper so be aware if you’re purchasing this machine to place under your cabinets. The ambient heat also got pretty toasty, so we recommend giving some space between the Gran Dama and your other appliances to avoid any damage.

The industrial-inspired design with brushed stainless steel casing complements modern kitchen appliances. The rest of the machine is mostly plastic with the exception of the drip tray. The drip tray’s heavy metal will stand up to dropped mugs and milk carafe’s shoved into the Gran Dama. Whenever there’s a machine that requires pieces to be taken on and off multiple times, it increases the chance of something snapping.

Conclusion

When it comes to making hot, delicious espresso the Refurbished DeLonghi Gran Dama ESAM6600’s got it going on! Its intuitive interface makes getting your morning cup of coffee a breeze but also leaves something to be desired. If industrial-style complements your kitchen, it’ll be a welcomed addition to your home. We recommend storing the carafe away when it’s not in use to solve that unsightly problem. For us, the most important thing for us that the Gran Dama makes espresso right: piping hot and full of flavor.

Crew Review: Saeco Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino

The Intelia—part two? That’s right, folks! It’s the newest addition to the line: the Saeco Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino Espresso Machine. Not to be confused with the Saeco Intelia One Touch Cappuccino, the previous model, the Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino is an upgraded coffee-making machine with more programmable options and updated style. Check out our video Crew Review below and tell us what you think of the new Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino in the comments below!

How Does It Compare?

The biggest difference you’ll notice in the new model is the features. Sure they look the same (with some minor flashy additions) but the Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino features new intuitive buttons such as the carafe quick clean and “OK” button or aka the “Aroma Strength” button. The menu is considerably cleaned up and the word-choice is far more obvious than the previous model. These additions made navigating the interface a snap and while we’re talking about snappy, could we get coffee any quicker? In 33 seconds we had the machine warmed up and ready to brew espresso. The Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino has all the improvements you’d expect from Saeco and more.

saeco-intelia-deluxe-cappuccino-side-view-withcups

Shot

This guy’s a hot shot—literally. We were impressed by the temperature of our shot and how much customization you could do with the Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino. Each button can be double tapped for twice the volume and it’s easy to adjust the temperature and volume of your cup. And you set your customized cup at any time by pressing the button again. If you’re looking for a robust cup, the Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino’s got you covered. It has five dosage levels and 10 grinder settings to make your taste buds holler. 

Looking for a special cup of joe? The Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino isn’t called that for nothing—order the Baby Cappuccino for a pint-size cup that’ll complement a mid-afternoon caffeine craving (this guy is located in the specialty menu). Of course, if you’re ready for some shut-eye and caffeine is the last thing you need, use the bypass doser for your decaffeinated beans.

Steam

Piping hot milk is exactly what you need with you hot shot. The Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino has a milk carafe on the side ready to disperse hot, foamy milk into your latte or cappuccino. There is no other option to add a manual-type steam wand, so you’ll need to be satisfied with the carafe controlling the milk for you. No need to worry about the milk chilling your drink, though. We found the milk temperature to be hot enough to complement the espresso without degrading the milk’s flavor. Customize the amount of steamy, creamy goodness in your cappuccino by simply pressing the “OK” button indicated on the digital display.

When it comes to foam, though, what you see is what you get. Without a manual steam options, you’re unable to customize the froth yourself. This is great for people looking to get a quick drink to-go since the carafe dispenses milk right into your cup. When you’re done with the carafe, it conveniently stores into the fridge for tomorrow’s coffee.

While this one-touch wonder does a great job at making milk based drinks if you wanted an Americano, you’ll need to move the cup over to get hot water. Where are you getting hot water, you ask? The Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino comes with a removable hot water spout that is inserted in the same place as the milk carafe. This feature takes away from the one-touch functionality, but not enough to call it an inconvenience.

Bonus: Before inserting the carafe into the machine, you’ll need to pull out the milk spout. Fortunately for you, coffee-lovers, the carafe won’t fit into the machine otherwise, eliminating the potential annoying mess. Also, you’ll need come in at an angle with the carafe to get it in just right. You’ll know when it’s in when it clicks into place.

Style

Brushed stainless steel is the go-to, eye-catching look for kitchen appliances and we’re definitely pleased the Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino will complement our stainless steel oven and fridge. The milk carafe went from a plastic handle on the previous generation to a sleek stainless steel finish on the Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino. The sides are plastic, however, but you can cozy this machine up to the microwave because the water tank and dump box are accessible from the front. You’ll only need to access the side to clean off the brew unit every so often.

The digital display menu is easy on the eyes not just for looks, but for functionality as well. The light blue display looks cleaner and makes navigating the different menus effortless. The intuitive naming and buttons will make learning this machine’s inner programs a breeze. Error messages will also pop up when something is amiss, such as a low water tank or missing dump box, and make it so you can’t use the machine and potentially damage it. There’s definitely a learning curve even with the more intuitive display but with some patience and the trusty menu (don’t throw that bad boy away) you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

Pro Tip: The “Aroma Strength” button is also the “OK” button (indicated by the checkmark in the top right corner). The OK button will be used often to adjust different settings such as volume. A cool addition on the Intelia Deluxe Cappuccino is that the display will have the checkmark in the left hand, lower corner when it can be used. It’s conveniently located right next to the OK button, too. We highly recommend going through the manual and reading up on the display section and learning the different symbols. 

Crew Comparison: Saeco Xsmall vs. Xsmall Vapore + Xsmall Chrome!

The Saeco Xsmall is retiring to the Bahamas and handing down the family legacy to the juniors—the Saeco Xsmall Vapore and Xsmall Chrome! There’s a striking family resembles—but don’t be fooled, these juniors come equipped with the skills to make one amazing cup.

The Xsmall Chrome and Xsmall Vapore are one and the same but in different colors. The Chrome resembles the original Xsmall with sophisticated two-tones of silver and black while the Vapore is a rich black. Because we want your machine to complement your kitchen, we have two different reviews on our YouTube channel for the Xsmall Chrome here and the Vapore here. Take a peek at the colors and tell us what you think in the comments below!

x-small_chrome

The improvements Saeco made to the Xsmall Vapore and Chrome are mainly aesthetic. The original Saeco Xsmall’s all plastic body might have turned people away, but the new machines come with metal drip trays that sparkles and shines against your cup. While the body of the machines are still plastic, there’s a nice sheen to the black and chrome that make up for the fact that they’re still, well, plastic. The plastic does cut down the cost on a machine at this caliber and makes the price tag affordable and well worth the purchase for the features you get on this superautomatic.

x-small_vapore

OK, so feature-wise you’re getting the same deal—and why wouldn’t you when their predecessor did it so well? Latte, cappuccino, Americano…you get the idea! This tiny bot can handle a variety of drinks without all the buttons and icons some other machines have. The Saeco Xsmall features one dial to rotate between espresso, hot water or steaming and buttons for two espresso options.

Are you feeling like an Americano? The panarello style steam wand dispenses hot water using the quick-heating Thermoblock. After it’s done, simply switch it make to espresso (the bean icon), press and watch your coffee come together! Latte, anyone? The wand is also great for steaming and requires no skill to get frothy foam. Make sure to keep the steam wand’s air intake clear and you’ll be making hot lattes for everyone.

Check out the full comparison between the original Saeco Xsmall and Xsmall Vapore and Xsmall Chrome. Drop us a comment if you’re loving the new Saeco Xsmall!