What Are Bean-to-Cup Espresso Machines?



What is a bean-to-cup espresso/coffee machine? A bean-to-cup refers to super-automatic machines that do most of the work for you from grinding the coffee beans, tamping with appropriate pressure, extract the maximum flavor and aroma and spitting out the used coffee pucks into a designated container within the unit.

What’s left for you to do is to fill the water tank with fresh tap or filtered water and bean hopper with fresh coffee beans. Of course, the sheer pleasure of enjoying a cup of espresso or cappuccino.

As you might guess it, the higher level of automation, the most sophisticated the design and more money you’d have to invest. The automation brings quite a few benefits as well as costs.


With a bean-to-cup machine, you’ll bypass a lot of chores that go into making an espresso such as using a separate grinder to grind the beans, a tamper to tamp down the ground with enough pressure, inserting the portafilter into the brew unit and monitoring and adjusting the extraction time and pressure. Not to mention you’d have to dump the used puck and clean the portafilter after each brew.

Save Time

Along with convenience, it also saves you a lot of time. I know a lot is “relative” here. A 20-to-30 minute routine in the morning can make a huge difference for many people when they have more than enough to take care of: getting the kids up and feeding them; going through your own preparation to drop the kids off at school or day care and then fighting traffic to get to work. You get the gist.

Less Prone to Brewing Awful Espresso/Coffee

If you are not into testing and controlling each variable in the brewing process, the bean-to-cup kind of unit would take all the guesswork out for you. It’s hard to mess up with filling water and coffee unless you get the wrong kind of coffee beans. Another optional feature most of the super-automatic have is a by-pass doser which lets you use preground coffee.

Delicious Espresso and Milk-Based Drinks

Generally speaking, most of the super-automatic brew cafĂ©-quality beverages. Some come with an automatic milk frother to make different variations of drinks such as cappuccino, latte, flat white, moca and so on. If the frothing wand is not integrated into the unit, you might have to learn the ins and outs of frothing and steaming milk. It shouldn’t be a big deal. Google “frothing milk”, you’d get tons of videos and blog posts that teach you how to froth and steam milk.

Well-Known Brands of Bean-to-Cup Espresso Machines

European brands for the most part dominate the market for this type of espresso makers. Some of the big names are Saeco, Gaggia, Krups, Jura and Delonghi, just to name a few. All these brands have had a long history in the design and innovation of coffee/espresso machines and command high regards in the industry. Each brand has its own unique set of strengths and quirks. The bottom line is which one fits your need and preference the best.


With this level of automation and programmability, most of the super-automatic are on the high-end of pricing spectrum from a few hundreds to thousands of dollars. They are not for the fainted-heart. In addition, you’ll have to adhere the cleaning and descaling requirements by each manufacturer, you’d have recurring cost to buy cleaning supplies.

But then again, if you calculate how much you would spend on Starbucks drinks on a regular basis, that’s not cheap either. A lot of times, after a period of time, you’d reach the breakeven point in investing a machine of such caliber and an positive Return-on-Investment.

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