Category Archives: Superautomatic

Crew Review: Saeco Syntia Superautomatic

Saeco’s newest release in the US is the Syntia, a petite, scaled down version of their also recently released Xelsis. Like the Xelsis, it has a stainless steel casing (love!) a sleek, futuristic design (double love!) and some programmable options (ok, this love-fest is getting ridiculous!). It also has a bi-pass doser for pre-ground coffee, the standard removable brew group and it even utilizes the magic of magnets.

Sadly, it doesn’t have the patented Saeco Brewing System (SBS) that varies the pressure to give more or less crema on your shot, but there’s always a catch, right? If you have limited counterspace or cupboard clearance, this is definitely the superautomatic for you. Watch Gail take us through its features and demonstrate its functionality.

Dialing in the Shot on a Saeco Superauto

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.

DeLonghi Gran Dama Dosages

Some of the earlier versions of the DeLonghi superautomatics didn’t seem to brew as rich of an espresso shot as their counterparts made by other manufacturers. With the release of the newer Gran Dama and Perfecta (the 6600/6700 and 5500 models), we noticed that the shot not only was hotter, it was richer too. Our techs examined the grounds from a disassembled machine and let us know that these machines were now grinding finer than the previous versions; additionally, the dosage functionality has changed.

Watch Gail talk about the dosages, grinding, programming functionality and how to brew a double shot roughly equivalent to what you can get off a semi-automatic.

Steam Test: Non-Fat vs. 2% vs. Whole Milks

Silky milky! We tested out non-dairy milks to see how well they produced microfoam and now it’s time to turn to dairy milks — specifically, which steams better: Non-fat, 2% or whole milk? And do they perform similarly across the board, regardless of the machine used?

Gail steamed up each of the milks on the Rocket Giotto Evoluzione, Saeco Xelsis and Saeco Via Venezia to see which works the best, if there are commonalities or if each machine works better with different types of milk. Watch and learn the results!

Field Trip: Uesugi USA – Recycling Center

Where do espresso machines and coffee makers go to die? Not in the landfill, if we can help it! At Seattle Coffee Gear, we launched a recycling program last year in an effort to keep as many fully assembled machines from landing in the trash. Many of these are pretty complex — they have circuit boards, electrical wiring and miscellaneous metals that are best kept out of our ground water supply.

Our partner in this venture is Uesugi USA, a Japanese company that (as luck would have it) have a US presence here in the Seattle-area. We pulled Henry into the mix and headed out to their facility to talk about what they do and see how they take these machines apart, break them down to their components and funnel them back into the commodity supply chain as cleanly as possible.

The Lowdown on Espresso Machine Thermostats

A style of thermostat often used in espresso machines is an analog bi-metal thermostat that measures the temperature on the outside of the boiler. This utilizes two different types of metal that react to different temperatures to regulate whether or not the boiler needs to kick on and heat up or kick off and cool down.

We asked Gail to take one apart and show us how it works, so she did! If you’ve ever wondered what accounts for the variable boiler temperatures, here is your answer.

SCG is a Certified DeLonghi Repair Center

Adding to the laundry list of manufacturer repair certifications (such as Ascaso, Pasquini, Quick Mill, Rancilio, Rocket Espresso and Saeco), our techs can now take on your DeLonghi espresso machine and make it as good as new. Well, within reason, of course.

We’re now both a regional warranty repair center (for DeLonghi superautomatics) and certified for out-of-warranty repairs on superautomatics, semi-automatics and coffee makers. While we doubt anyone will be bringing in their $50 drip maker for repair (given the average parts/labor would be around $50), we’re really excited to have easy access to parts so that we can help folks get a little longer life out of their machines.

If you own a DeLonghi superautomatic that is still under warranty, you would continue to contact them directly for warranty support; they will direct you to our repair center if we’re the regionally closest option available. If your machine is outside of warranty and it needs repair, however, feel free to contact us and we can setup a Repair Authorization number for you to send it in to the repair center for a free diagnosis and estimate.

Talking about Water Filters & Softeners

Mineral content in your water will play a part in the coffee that you make and your machine’s longevity. In this video, Gail talks to us about a few different filters and softeners available for espresso machines, as well as explaining how a filter and softener differ.

Compare: Jura Impressa Z5 vs. Saeco Xelsis

For a long time, we had what most people would consider an unnatural love for the Jura Impressa Z5. It was so sleek, so flexible — and it did everything we asked it to. Who wouldn’t love that?

But an appreciation rooted in gadgetgeek love is always at risk of being supplanted, and the Saeco Xelsis is definitely wooing us. Watch Gail take us through the features of both of these machines and demonstrate their one-touch cappuccino functionality.

Yeah — it’s still a tough call. You can get a deeper understanding by watching the complete individual reviews of the Xelsis and the Jura Impressa Z5.