An automated espresso machine makes espresso from whole beans at a touch. The beans are ground on the spot in a built-in grinder before hot water is flushed through them for your coffee. The machine comes with a milk frother to make cappuccino (equal parts of espresso and milk) or cafe latte (one part espresso to two parts milk) – you foam or warm the milk before adding espresso to it.

$1,650, from Tangs Orchard and Takashimaya D.S.
Bean container: 125g
Water tank: 1.1 litres
BREWING THE COFFEE The most user-friendly on all counts. The LCD screen and buttons on the top of the machine are easier to see and reach than those of the other machines, which are on the front. Buttons are clearly labelled by coffee type – espresso, long black, cappuccino and latte, and on-screen instructions are clear. I also liked that I could programme how much coffee
I wanted – press and hold the coffee button until the words “Enough Coffee” appear on the display, release the button to dispense the coffee, then press it again to stop when there’s enough. The machine then stores my preferred amount. It is also the least noisy machine, whether grinding the beans or making a shot. Its height-adjustable spout fi ts cups up to 11.1cm tall.
FROTHING THE MILK It was the most simple to make a milky coffee with – great for cappuccino and cafe latte lovers. The frother connects to a tube that draws milk directly out of the carton, to be heated and dispensed into my cup. I could then place the cup under the coffee spout to add my espresso shot. It made the best cappuccino of the lot, with a fi ne and smooth foam.
CLEANING UP Being the smallest and most compact, it was easiest to rinse out the brewing unit (the drip tray and dump box that holds used coffee grounds). But I would have liked it better if the water tank at the back of the machine was easier to remove.
EXTRA FEATURES Like the De’longhi Magnifica, it has a compartment for ground coffee to give you the flexibility of using ready grounds. But it’s the only one without a cup warmer.
Easiest to use and produces the best foam, making it the star of the lot.
RATING: 8.5/10


$1,499, from major department stores
Bean container: 250g
Water tank: 1.8 litres
BREWING THE COFFEE Its LCD screen lights up only when you need to fix an error – like refilling the water tank – and not when it’s brewing a shot. It was confusing at first, with no screen instructions to guide me, but I soon got the hang of it. What was useful: It could dispense two cups of coffee at a time, and the spout adjusted up to 14cm, fitting my tall mug where other machines couldn’t.
FROTHING THE MILK It takes more practice to foam milk here, compared with the automatic options of the other two machines. I had to learn the barista technique – dip the tip of the frothing wand just slightly under the surface of the milk to create foam for cappuccino or submerge it halfway into the cup to heat up milk for cafe latte (which is traditionally made with warmed milk and no foam). It’s useful that the wand is long and can be rotated to the side, to fit into tall mugs easily.
CLEANING UP The detachable parts (water tank, drip tray and dump box) are pulled out from the front, making them the easiest to access, and freeing up the areas beside the machine – a boon for tight spaces.
EXTRA FEATURES It comes with a cup warmer for two regular mugs, and up to six espresso cups. It has a ground coffee compartment, located in the bean container.
VERDICT Comes with some practical features, but it isn’t as nifty as the rest.
RATING: 7.5/10


$1,499, from Tangs, Takashimaya D.S. and selected Best Denki, Courts and Harvey Norman stores
Bean container: 275g
Water tank: 1.8 litres
BREWING THE COFFEE Like the Jura Ena, this machine was a cinch to make espresso with. Instructions on the LCD screen were clear, whether it was to refill the bean bin or empty the drip tray. I could easily choose my java – espresso, espresso strong, coffee or long black – by turning a dial. I could also choose the amount of coffee I wanted – from 10ml to 120ml (in 10ml intervals) – but it didn’t store my preference. However, the height-adjustable spout stopped short at 10.5cm, so my regular 11cm-tall cup could not fit. It also could not dispense two cups of coffee at once.
FROTHING THE MILK I could froth milk by sticking the wand into my cup. Or I could pour the milk into a detachable stainless steel bottle, then turn a lever to choose milk for latte or cappuccino. The milk is then drawn from the bottle, frothed and dispensed into my cup. The foam for cappuccino was more bubbly than the Jura Ena’s.
CLEANING UP The dump box has to be removed from the side, restricting me from placing another appliance next to it. The water tank sits at the back, and is not as convenient to remove as that of the De’longhi Magnifica.
EXTRA FEATURES It has a small cup warmer for two regular mugs or three small cups. There’s no ground coffee compartment – it’s beans-only for this machine.
VERDICT A fuss-free machine that makes a pretty good brew despite minor misses.
RATING: 8/10

• Use 10g, or about 1 tablespoon, of coffee beans for a shot (30ml) of espresso.
• Avoid using flavoured coffee beans in these machines – the caramelised sugar coating on
them might clog the bean grinder.

This article was originally published in Simply Her March 2014.

All product and pricing information was correct at the time of the magazine’s publication. We advise readers to check with the store for the latest availability and pricing information.