How Does an Automatic Espresso Machine Work?

Why are you reading this article? Let me guess. Either you’re facing some trouble with the smooth working of your automatic Espresso Machine, or you’re going to buy one. Right? 

Well, your gadget is like your pet, and you should be aware of its anatomy for a long time companionship. How does an automatic Espresso machine work? You should know it to troubleshoot the problems.

Stay with me; I’ll walk you through the whole process. Before we go any further, we should know:

What is an Automatic Espresso Machine?

In simple words, a super-automatic /automatic coffee machine is a coffee unit that grinds fresh beans with Barista beverages at the push of a button. The latest super-automatic machines are bean-to-cup machines. Read all about the features of super-automatic espresso machines.

Moreover, these are equipped with high-end technology. They include TFT color screens to navigate through the drinks.

For further ease, most of the machines are connected with Apps to operate through smartphones or even with Apple watches like Jura ENA 8.

In addition, you can customize the volume and temperature of your drinks. Equally important, these machines are eco-friendly and power-saving.

 Another type of espresso machine is a Semi-automatic espresso machine. They demand manual work, like measuring water and grinding beans.

Automatic Vs Semi-Automatic Machine

Now the question is, what is the main difference between both machines? Let’s make it simple and understandable for you.

An automatic machine has a Built-in grinder and brew unit that measures and grinds the fresh beans according to your choice. You also can adjust the grinder setting from finest to coarser coffee.

While semi-automatic doesn’t have a built-in grinder, you must use a pre-ground coffee or grind the bean yourself.

In short, both machines work amazingly and give a fantastic cup of coffee. Working is different in both types of machines.

For a detailed study of both machines, you can check out the Automatic VS Semi-automatic machine.

Back to what I was saying – How does an Automatic Espresso Machine Work? And what’s going on inside the machine?

Why is it Important to Know How Automatic Espresso Machines Work?

How does an automatic espresso work, It’s important to know for several reasons:

  • Understanding the basic working of an automatic espresso machine can help identify and fix any issues that may arise.
  • Understanding the various components of an automatic espresso machine, such as the Grouphead, Portafilter, and Pumps, and how they work together can help ensure that the machine produces consistent and high-quality espresso shots.
  • Knowledge of the workings of an automatic espresso machine can help you utilize it to its full potential and make the most of its features.
  • By understanding how an automatic espresso machine works, it’s possible to adjust and control various aspects of the extraction process, such as the grind size and tamping pressure, which can impact the quality of the espresso.
  • Knowing how an automatic espresso machine works can enhance the overall experience of using it and enjoying the espresso it produces.

In short, understanding how an automatic espresso machine works can improve its performance, enhance the espresso-making experience, and ensure that the machine is used to its full potential.

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How Does an Automatic Espresso Machine Work?

What next? – Tight your belts as we’re going into the secret world of an automatic espresso machine. 

Infographics of 5 steps of how does automatic espresso machine work
Infographic of 5 Working Steps of Automatic Espresso Machine

As we all know, water is an integral part of coffee-making, so an automatic machine starts working with a water reservoir. But before this, you should know how important is it to use quality water for brewing coffee.

Water Tank – First Secret

The machine uses soft or filtered water from the water reservoir. This water goes through the beans to make them wet to extract maximum aroma. This process is called Pulse Extraction Process PEP, which most advanced super-automatic machines use.

In this tank, water is stored for making your coffee all day. The number of cups per day depends on a water tank’s capacity. Water is also necessary for cleaning the machine, learn how to clean your espresso machine to enjoy a fresh cup of coffee all time.

In this journey, water undergoes different processes to taste full nectar for your cup of coffee. There are two types of pumps to push the water. Each of these forces the water through the machine to cup at 130PSI. 

Inside look of water tank of automatic espresso machine
Water Tank

How does an Automatic Espresso Machine Work? Through Pumps- 2nd Secret

These pumps are called Vibratory Pumps and Rotary Pumps. Uses and functions are different in both pumps. 

A vibratory pump uses electric current to force the water, benign less expensive it’s primarily used in home machines.

In contrast, Rotary Pump relies on a motor to move a disk to produce pressure. Being last longer and less noisy, these are used in commercial machines.

In Automatic Espresso machines, pulling an Espresso is done automatically with the help of these pumps. These pumps are the only answer to how an automatic espresso machine works.

What next?

And now your water is ready to be heated for a perfect espresso shot. The next destination of this pressurized water is a boiler.

The boiler water is heated under the supervision of PID ( proportional-integral-derivative) to ensure the proper temperature. You can adjust the PID according to your preferences.

Another alternative of PID is Digital Temperature Controle which works the same. The only difference is that you can’t adjust the Digital Temperature Control.

Pressure Pumps of Automatic Espresso Machine
Vibratory Pumps and Rotary Pumps

It’s Time to Visit Steam Wand – 3rd Secret.

Do you love Cappuccino or Latte? Surely yes. Let’s look at how an automatic espresso machine prepares milk-based drinks.

Water is heated up to 125 to 205 degrees F for an Espresso shot, But you want a latte or cappuccino. So, water is going to be converted into steam for frothing milk.

Furthermore, different machines use different steam-making processes.
Thermoblock- This type of machine produces steam magically. It has a metal coil that gets heated. The machine bursts the water into this heated metal coil, and as a result, water converts into steam.

Steam Wand of Automatic Espresso Machine
Steam Wand

Imagine what it would be like

Single Boiler- This boiler works with two thermostats, which means that one thermostat is for brewing and the other for steam production. But one downside of this machine is that you can’t produce steam and pull espresso shots simultaneously. So it takes a little time.

Single Boiler of Automatic Espresso Machine and its working function
Single Boiler

Ok, I know what you’re thinking.
Dual Boiler- Do you want a quick brewing? Here is a time-saving solution. This kind of machine uses two separate boilers. One is heating water to prepare your coffee, and the other will steam milk for your favorite latte. Isn’t it cool?

Dual Boiler of Automatic Espresso Machine and how it works
Dual Boiler

Singular Boiler vs Dual Boiler

The main difference between the two is the number of boilers in the machine.

A single-boiler espresso machine has one boiler that serves both brewing and steaming milk. In these machines, switching between brewing and steaming requires some time to adjust the temperature.

A dual-boiler espresso machine has two separate boilers for brewing and steaming milk. This allows for brewing and steaming to be performed simultaneously, which is more convenient and efficient.

The separate boilers also provide more precise temperature control for brewing and steaming, which can result in better-quality espresso.

So, a dual-boiler espresso machine provides more convenience and better temperature control than a single-boiler machine but is also more expensive. The choice between a single and dual boiler machine depends on the budget and the desired level of convenience and performance.

The Grouphead – 4th Secret

Now we are in a world of wonders. Yes, this is where our heated water will meet the crushed beans to extract their flavor and aroma for your espresso coffee.

Most of the work is done in this Grouphead section. In addition, there is a net of lines; that’s why it is called Grouphead. These lines help the machine to make an espresso shot and connect the boiler to the Grouphead.

Through these lines, water comes from the boiler. Some lines get activated after the boiling process is finished, these lines carry waste to the drip tray.

Grouphead of Automatic Espresso Machine and how it works

Types of Groupheads

Saturated Grouphead – A saturated Grouphead ensures a consistent temperature and pressure for espresso extraction. They’re designed to be “saturated” with water at all times, which helps to regulate the temperature and pressure of the water for extraction.

The water in the Grouphead is connected to the machine’s boiler, which heats the water to the appropriate temperature for espresso extraction.

One of the benefits of a saturated Grouphead is that it minimizes the amount of temperature and pressure fluctuations during extraction, which can result in a more consistent and high-quality shot of espresso. 

Saturated Groupheads are commonly found in commercial and high-end espresso machines and only expert technicians can repair them.

Semi-Saturated Grouphead – A semi-saturated Grouphead is similar to a saturated Grouphead but with a few differences. The Grouphead is semi-saturated, meaning that water is only partially filled in the Grouphead, and the pressure and temperature are regulated by a pressure stat.

The semi-saturated Grouphead is commonly found in lower-end commercial espresso machines and home espresso machines. It offers a good balance between performance and cost and is capable of producing high-quality espresso shots. 

However, it may be less consistent and reliable than a fully saturated Grouphead, which is found in high-end commercial espresso machines. They’re easy to repair.

E61- Manifested in 1961, It is named after its creator, Ernesto Valente, and is one of the most commonly used Groupheads in commercial and high-end espresso machines. It takes 15 minutes to be heated entirely and sends water to Portafilter.

The E61 Grouphead has a unique design, which includes a thermosiphon system that helps regulate the water’s temperature and pressure for extraction. 

The thermosiphon system works by circulating water through the Grouphead, which helps maintain a consistent extraction temperature. 

The E61 Grouphead is  “saturated” with water at all times, which further helps to regulate the temperature and pressure.

One of the benefits of the E61 Grouphead is its consistency and reliability, which helps to produce high-quality espresso shots.

 It is also relatively low-maintenance, which is an important factor for commercial espresso machines. 

The Portafilter- 5th Secret

The portafilter is an essential component of an espresso machine that holds the ground coffee beans and facilitates espresso extraction. It consists of a handle, a basket for the ground coffee, and a spout for dispensing the extracted espresso.

The portafilter is attached to the Grouphead of the espresso machine, and the hot water is dispensed through the basket, which holds the ground coffee, to extract the espresso. 

The size of the portafilter basket can vary, and espresso machines can come with single, double, or triple portafilters. The choice of portafilter depends on the volume of espresso required and the machine’s capacity.

The portafilter also has a crucial role in determining the quality of the extracted espresso. The water’s pressure and temperature, the coffee’s grind size, and the coffee’s tamping (compacting) are all factors that can impact the quality of the espresso. 

A well-tamped and properly loaded portafilter can result in a consistent and high-quality shot of espresso. Learning more about the art of tamping to pull a perfect shot.

Portafilter of automatic espresso machine

Finally- Get Ready to Enjoy Your Cup of Coffee.

Hence, the journey that begins from the water reservoir ended up here. The espresso machine dispenses the hot water through the portafilter basket and extracts the espresso into the cup. 

I enjoyed the Bean-to-cup process, and I’m sure it would satisfy your curiosity. How does an automatic espresso machine work? You know the answer.

By now, you’ll be wondering how long a journey it was. To my surprise, just a few minutes!!

And finally, an Espresso shot is ready to enjoy. Read my article about how to pull a perfect Espresso shot if you’re thinking about preparing your coffee.

Cup of coffee prepared by automatic espresso machine
Cup of Coffee

How does an automatic espresso machine work? I hope you’d get the answer to your query. Moreover, all this process about what is happening inside the machine can prepare you for a wise purchase.


The automatic Espresso Machine uses modern technology, such as pumps and a built-in grinder; the automatic machine works with the touch of a button. In comparison, a manual machine demands some physical labor, such as grinding and pulling the lever for espresso.

Yes, People are happy with their purchase and enjoying their automatic coffee machines for years. The automatic espresso machine gives you pre-selected as well customize drinks. The super-automatic machine gives more comfort by grinding whole fresh beans to make trendy coffee

If you want more control over the volume and taste of your coffee, Semi-automatic Espresso Machine is for you. A semi-automatic espresso machine is a happy medium between a fully automatic and a manual machine.

A manual requires Barista skills for pulling a perfect shot. To pull an espresso shot you need to grind the beans, pack and tamp the ground coffee in a portafilter, count the time, and most important pull the lever at the right pressure.

Espresso is an Italian recipe for coffee making. It is made with high pressure to create a dense and concentrated layer of foam known as crema. It’s served as a single shot (1 ounce) and double shot  (2 ounces). It’s sipped in small cups and also used as a base for different espresso drinks like cappuccino. Latte and americano etc.

Super-automatic espresso machines use high-end technology and expensive components to give premium-quality coffee. That’s how they tend to be pricy compared to manual and semi-automatic espresso machines.

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