The Best Super-Automatic Espresso Machines for Less Than $1,000

It's said that the more choice you have, the harder it is to choose. Super-automatic espresso machines are no exception. The advantage of the large selection available is that there are machines for every budget – even the tighter ones. By comparing these following three coffee machines, I want to prove to you that spending a small amount of money doesn't necessarily mean settling for lower quality.

It’s said that the more choice you have, the harder it is to choose. Super-automatic espresso machines are no exception. The advantage of the large selection available is that there are machines for every budget – even the tighter ones. By comparing these following three coffee machines, I want to prove to you that spending a small amount of money doesn’t necessarily mean settling for lower quality.

There are a number of available super-automatic espresso machines for less than $1,000. I have already extensively reviewed, tested and presented these models. However, as a kind of decision-making aid, I would like to shed more light on the details and to contrast the differences and various pros and cons of the individual machines.

Right off the bat, these machines already have one thing in common: You can buy all of these super-automatic espresso machines for less than $1,000.

You can also find many of my super-automatic espresso machine reviews here, as well as on my friend’s website: sonntagmorgen.com (currently only available in German).

Super-Automatic Espresso Machines for Less Than $1,000 – First Introductions


The super-automatic machines in this comparison are: the Saeco Incanto (sold as the Gaggia Anima Prestige RI8762 model in the U.S. market), the Philips DH8829 and the Delonghi Magnifica S ECAM 22.110.B. Let me first briefly introduce you to all three machines.


Saeco Incanto HD8917/01 (aka Gaggia Anima Prestige RI8762)


Saeco Incanto ReviewSaeco is a company from the motherland of coffee itself. Well, okay, from the European motherland of coffee – Italy. The company was founded in 1981 near Bologna, in central Italy.

The company’s name is made up of the first names of its two founders, Sergio Zappella and Arthur Schmed. Saeco became famous for its patent on the first removable brew group in a super-automatic espresso machine. In 2009, Philips bought out Saeco for 200 million euros. Saeco had already been successful and well-established brand for many years, so the company retained the Saeco name.

Lots of Stainless Steel

Gaggia Anima Prestige

Guter kleiner Kaffeevollautomat mit viel Edelstahl und wenig Schnickschnack.

Sehr schöne Edelstahl-Verkleidung

Schmal und platzsparend (Insbesondere das Milchsystem)

Der Espresso lässt ich sehr gut einstellen

Aufwändige Reinigung des Milchsystems

I previously tested the Saeco Incanto HD8917/01 (Gaggia Anima Prestige) from the Incanto model series. The Italian “incanto” means “magic” or “enchantment” in English.

What really convinced me about this super-automatic espresso machine is that its design is space-saving and intelligent.

Operating the Saeco Incanto machine is very instinctive and easy to master. In addition, thanks to the automatic milk frothing system, it does the hard work for you and serves you ready-to-drink latte macchiatos – and similar beverages –at your preferred strength.

Thanks to the removable brewing unit, the Saeco Incanto also scores well in terms of cleaning and care.

There is now also the new Saeco Incanto Deluxe HD8921 version, recognizable by a handle on the milk container. That’s really only the most important difference!

You can check Amazon prices to find these Saeco Incanto super-automatic espresso machines for less than $1,000.

Below is a video about the Saeco Incanto (unfortunately only available in German).

Philips DH8829


Philips HD8834 ReviewWith the Philips DH8829 model, the Philips and Saeco merger becomes more than apparent. Visually, this coffee machine is very similar to the Saeco Incanto.

The Philips machine is virtually identical in that it is a very space-saving model, it has an integrated milk frothing system, as well as a removable brew group for easier cleaning or replacement, if necessary.

However, unlike the Incanto, the housing of the Philips DH8829 is comprised of much more plastic and thus, in comparison, looks less classy or high-end.

Good Super-Automatic Espresso Machine

Philips HD8829

Guter kleiner Kaffeevollautomat mit wenig Schnickschnack aber allem was ihr braucht.

Trotz seines Funktionsumfangs relativ klein

Leichte Reinigung

Leises Keramikmahlwerk

Bedienung ist nicht sehr intuitiv

Philips was originally a technology company mainly focused on media devices, such as tape recorders, radios and televisions. Only later did washing machines and electric cookers come into their extended range.

Philips has only been making coffee machines since the introduction of coffee pod systems. The launch of their Senseo coffee pod machine is partly responsible for the accelerating prevalence of bad coffee.

They fortunately compensate for this somewhat with their super-automatic espresso machines. It appears they did learn something from Saeco after all. I think so, anyway.

(The following video testing the Philips HD8834 is available only in German.)

Delonghi Magnifica S ECAM 22.110.B


Delonghi ECAM 22110 ReviewWe remain in the European land of coffee connoisseurs, Italy. The Delonghi Magnifica S ECAM 22.110.B is the third fully automatic machine of the bunch. In terms of company history, it can look back on a long tradition.

This northern Italian company has existed since 1902 and, in the interim years, has gotten its fingers in the pies of a whole range of other electrical companies. Kenwood and Braun are likely to be two of the better known examples.

Although Delonghi dabbles in other areas, it is primarily associated with super-automatic coffee machines and is sometimes also touted as a luxury brand. This says a lot about the manufacturer because a reputation for quality and superiority is one that must first be earned.

Affordable with Display Screen

ECAM 22.110.B

Günstiger Vollautomat mit guter Funktionalität und Display. Nicht mehr das neuste Modell.

Sehr kompakt

Schön hoher Auslauf für die Tassen

Leicht zu reinigen

Viele Einstellungsmöglichkeiten

Keine beheizte Tassenabstellfläche

The Delonghi Magnifica S ECAM 22.110.B is another super-automatic machine that takes up very little space. Although it requires you to manually froth the milk, it otherwise offers all the functions you would expect for an automatic machine in this price range. The omission of an automatic milk frothing system can also be seen as an advantage when it comes to living your inner barista.

In terms of cleaning, the Delonghi also comes equipped with a brewing unit that is easily removable for washing out.

All in all, the Delonghi Magnifica S ECAM 22.110.B can even compete with models from other manufacturers in higher price ranges – something that isn’t exactly a given.

You can check Amazon prices to find these Delonghi Magnifica S ECAM super-automatic espresso machines for less than $1,000.

(The following video testing the Delonghi Magnifica S ECAM 22.110.B is available only in German.)

The Review Criteria


Now that you have gotten to know the three coffee machine models a bit better, here then are the categories in which they compete:

  • Visual appearance
  • Workmanship
  • Handling
  • Cleaning

  • Features
  • Grinding mechanism
  • Final result: quality of the coffee

Saeco Incanto Stainless Steel

Visual Appearance

In terms of visual appearance, the Saeco Incanto scores especially well. The stainless-steel case enhances the machine’s look, while the Philips and Delonghi models skimped here by choosing plastic fronts.

On the other hand, though, the Delonghi Magnifica S ECAM looks a bit fancier than the black Philips DH due to its color choice. If you can do without a high-quality external case and place more value on the inner workings instead, then you can safely look past appearances.

Let’s stay with external appearances for a moment, though.

Of course, more important than the choice of materials and colors is that the case itself is manufactured well. The Saeco Incanto has a slight edge here, too, in terms of its workmanship.

This is not only from the material quality, but also the stability and handling. Comparing these machines on this basis, though, the other two candidates are also manufactured to a sufficiently high standard.

User-Friendliness


Now we come to user-friendliness. Handling the Delonghi Magnifica S ECAM is a bit tricky, and I recommend you look at the manual or at my description here on Coffeeness before you dare to make coffee.

In the case of the Philips’ super-automatic espresso machine, you won’t be able to avoid reading the manual first. Its handling is complex, especially for newcomers to super-automatic machines. This is very different compared to operating the Saeco Incanto, which can be understood relatively quickly. It is the most intuitive of the three machines reviewed here. If you want to be on the safe side, though, you can still reach for the instructions before using this machine too.

Cleaning


Cleaning is an important factor with super-automatic espresso machines. To get the most out of your machines for as long as possible, you should make sure to keep them clean and regularly maintained. All three models presented here feature automatic cleaning programs and removable brewing units. That reduces the work load quite a bit already.

Philips makes it even easier, with a milk container you can confidently clean in the dishwasher. All in all, the machines are relatively uncomplicated to care for. Only the Saeco Incanto’s milk froth system demands a bit more attention when compared to the other machines. Don’t be surprised: Both the Philips and Saeco brewing units are identical.

saeco_incanto_brew_group

Delonghi Brew Group

Philips HD8834 Brew Group

Useful Features

What should a super-automatic espresso machine do? Make tasty coffee of course!

Superfluous bells and whistles end up confusing, rather than being helpful.

That’s why I find it so delightful that the models here have been paired back to just the most necessary features. They all have a decent display and a removable brewing unit, and press (with up to 220 psi) the best out of your coffee grinds.

If you find yourself in need of a water filter, all three manufacturers allow you to add these to the water tanks.

You will have to decide for yourself whether you consider it an advantage or disadvantage that only the Philips and Saeco machines come with automatic milk frothers already installed. What I find to be the big plus about these two machines, though, is that you can store both the water quantity and user profiles. Unfortunately, the Delonghi machine is missing this useful feature.

Whether you put more emphasis on heatable shelves for your cups or on having enough room for big, tall cups is a decision you will have to make yourself.

If you want to know more about the individual features mentioned, feel free to refer again to my dedicated reviews of the Philips DH8829, the Saeco Incanto HD8917/01 (aka Gaggia Anima Prestige RI8762) and the Delonghi Magnifica S ECAM 22.110.B.

Grinding Mechanism


The beating heart of a super-automatic espresso machine is its integrated grinding mechanism. It is an added advantage if you can vary the degree of grind according to the variety of coffee.

Inside the Delonghi Magnifica S ECAM 22.110.B, a steel conical grinder granulates your coffee beans. In the case of the Incanto HD8917/01 (Gaggia Anima Prestige) and Philips DH8829 models, a ceramic grinder crushes the beans. This is an advantage over the ECAM because the ceramic mechanism is much quieter than the stainless-steel one.

Setting the grinding degree in the Philips and Saeco machines, however, is a little more complicated than it is with the Delonghi. Yet, since the Delonghi model underperformed in my review of its fine-grinding ability, all three super automatic machines remain, in terms of their grinding mechanism, at the same level of performance overall.

Coffee, Espresso and Milk Froth


Now let’s come to the most important thing: the coffee! I have reviewed all three super-automatic machines in terms of their espresso making capabilities and have come to a very clear conclusion. The definite loser in the espresso race is the Delonghi machine.

This is quite simply due to its grinding mechanism settings. If the Delonghi model had allowed me to grind the coffee finer, then the produced espresso would certainly have scored more highly. This, of course, doesn’t mean that the end result would not have been enjoyable, but the Philips DH8829 shows that it’s possible to have better.

Even the Phillips model needs a bit of testing and tuning to get things right, but it only takes one time, thanks to its memory function. The machine remembers the pressure setting, as well as the coffee and water quantities. This guarantees consistently good espresso.

In my review, the Saeco produced the best espresso. This coffee convinced me most both in terms of taste and visual appearance. Additionally, because a good espresso is the basis for most coffee beverages, the quality of coffee produced by the Saeco machine also guarantees a great caffé latte or latte macchiato.

Philips HD8834 Crema

Philips HD8834 Latte

Saeco Incanto Latte Macchiato

Saeco Incanto Espresso

Comparison Overview


 Saeco Incanto HD8917/01
Philips DH8834Delonghi Magnifica S ECAM 22.110.B
Visual Appearance✚✚✚✚✚
Workmanship✚✚✚✚✚✚✚
Handling✚✚
Cleaning✚✚✚✚✚✚✚✚
Features✚✚✚✚✚✚✚✚
Grinding Mechanism✚✚✚✚
✚✚
Final Result: Coffee Quality✚✚✚✚✚✚✚✚✚

So, if I’m honest, the three super-automatic espresso machines from Philips, Saeco and Delonghi – all costing less than $1,000 – differ only slightly. However, the Saeco Incanto (aka Gaggia Anima Prestige RI8762), with its slight lead, comes out as the overall winner.

Something you may still need to keep in mind prior to buying is that price fluctuations often occur within this price range.

The three super-automatic machines featured in this review are nearly always priced around the $1,000 mark, usually just slightly below. Nevertheless, if you have decided on a model, you should watch the prices for a while and compare offers – but definitely pounce if the price falls below $1,000.

Here again are the three individual reviews:

You can find the Gaggie Anima Prestige RI8762 (the U.S. version of the Saeco Incanto model) here on Amazon.

In this article, I’ve tried to compare somewhat the advantages and disadvantages of the individual machines to show you that you can’t go wrong by purchasing any of these machines, no matter which one you choose.

On the other hand, I also aimed to make your decision a little easier. What exactly is more important to you personally in the end, only you yourself know. It doesn’t hurt that you can buy all of these super-automatic espresso machines for less than $1,000.

I was unable to find any serious qualitative differences in my reviews and, in all the most important points, the models almost always somehow overlap.

I look forward to your comment

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