The perfect espresso machine: manual or automatic?
Coffee is a drink found in cultures around the world. Each country has its own special ritual: Italian espresso in Italy, flat white in Australia, American coffee in the United States. An espresso coffee machine allows you to prepare all these and many other drinks in the comfort of your home. This article aims to guide you in choosing the best coffee machine for your needs.
Manual or automatic coffee machines: the main characteristics
Coffee machines can be divided into two main categories: manual and automatic. The main difference between the two types of coffee machines is the technology in the mode of operation.
Manual espresso coffee machines have a filter holder and can be used with ground coffee that the user must dose and tamp manually or with disposable coffee pods. Thanks to the pressure of the pump, these machines extract the coffee oils in a natural way, and dispense traditional espresso with cream.
The automatic machines, on the other hand, have an integrated coffee grinder, a dispensing unit that presses and doses the coffee and a selection system that includes pre-set and customizable drinks. In some models there is also an automatic milk frother system for cappuccinos and other milk-based drinks.
Manual machines: guide to use
As the name can easily understand, a manual machine requires more actions by the user than an automatic one. A distinctive feature of the manual machines is the portafilter, an essential tool for obtaining an excellent espresso with natural cream. Inside the filter holder it is necessary to insert a filter for ground coffee, or an adapter and a specific filter if you use pods.
The filter holder can be traditional with professional features as in the case of the Gaggia Classic Pro machine, or pressurized as in the case of the Gaggia Carezza, Gaggia Viva and Gran Gaggia machines.
The pressurized filter holder technology allows less experienced users to make an excellent espresso coffee while the use of a traditional filter requires the user to experiment in terms of dosage and pressing.
Automatic machines: guide to use
The main element of an automatic machine is the coffee group: it is a component positioned inside the machine that doses and presses the previously ground coffee from the integrated coffee grinder. A key feature of the Gaggia automatic machines is the ceramic coffee grinder, a resistant material that prevents the coffee beans from overheating and burning.
The most modern automatic models have a graphical interface that makes customizing and preparing a wide variety of beverages easy and intuitive. Some machines also allow you to set the degree of grinding, the intensity of the coffee, the quantity of coffee, milk and water.
The maintenance of an automatic coffee machine requires that it is always kept clean. In most models, the cleaning procedure is carried out in a guided manner through the indications that appear on the machine display.
The best coffee machine for lovers of milk drinks
If you are looking for a more traditional approach, manual machines are the right choice. Thanks to a pannarello or a professional steam wand, you can froth milk and try latte art. First, select the "steam" function (by clicking on the appropriate button or by turning a knob). Then, turn the steam knob to adjust the steam flow so you can froth the milk correctly, just like a real Home Barista.
If your goal is to have an excellent result without the need for great effort, the best machine is certainly the automatic one that offers a wide variety of drinks that can be dispensed with a simple click. You can find many different milk preparation systems on the market. For example, there are one-touch automatic cappuccinators that take milk from a container, whip it and pour a velvety cream into the cup. In addition, various machines with integrated and removable milk carafe are available on the market that allow you to prepare many drinks with one click: from latte macchiato to flat white.
To get the best of both worlds, you can opt for automatic machines with manual milk frothers that are activated with a click. Some examples of machines of this type are the Gaggia Cadorna Plus Barista and the Gaggia Magenta Plus.
What is the best type and for whom?
The manual machines are designed to be used by coffee lovers, people who prefer the traditional approach: choosing the right blend, dosing, pressing… all with their own hands. With a click or turning a knob it is possible to activate and then stop the coffee delivery at will. With a manual machine you can experiment, challenge yourself and improve your skills, day after day.
The automatic machines are perfect for those looking for more immediacy and a wide variety of drinks at hand. It is possible to prepare many coffee and milk based drinks, personalize them and save them for later use with just a few clicks. With some machines such as Gaggia Cadorna it is possible to save customized drinks in different user profiles.
Maintenance and cleaning operations are very important for both types of machines, but for a fully automatic machine it is necessary to pay more attention, considering the structure of the machine.
Another difference is the average selling price, which is lower for manual machines, as the complexity of the technology of an automatic machine is greater than that of a manual one.
Are you still undecided between a manual or automatic coffee machine model? Do not hesitate to contact the Caffè Italia team of experts who will be able to recommend the best model according to your needs.