Guide For Choosing The Best Coffee Machine For You
When it comes to choosing the best coffee machine for you, there’s a lot more to consider than just how milky you like your cuppa! With so many different coffee machines to brew over, available in a whole range of different shapes, sizes and styles, how exactly do you pick out the perfect personal barista for you?
First things first, we need to take a look at all the different types of coffee machines out there and explore all the various features that make each one so special. On the market today, there’s a wide variety of machines to tempt you, with everything from bean-to-cup, espresso, filter coffee and pod and capsule. But what’s the difference?
How many types of coffee machines are there?
The most popular coffee machines today include bean-to-cup, pod and capsule, and filter. Which one you choose can have a massive impact on the type of coffee you can use, so it’s important to consider what you’re wanting out of your machine before setting your heart on one.
- Bean-to-cup machines – For effortlessly perfect and decadently rich coffee every day, a bean-to-cup coffee machine is the ultimate choice for you. These brew-tiful machines grind coffee beans from scratch with just a touch of a button, offering the purest, freshest and most indulgent coffee in each and every cup. What’s more, brew-to-cup coffee machines heat the water and milk up to the perfect temperature for you, ideal for recreating all your coffee shop favourites with ease.
- Pod and capsule machines – Arguably the most popular coffee machine on the market, pod and capsule takes the title as the quickest and easiest appliance to help you get that caffeine kick in the morning. These machines filter water through the capsules, so all you have to do is select the one you want, pop it in the pod compartment and let the machine do all the hard work for you! With a whole range of different flavours to entice you, from creamy lattes to indulgent hot chocolates, mouth-watering macchiatos, super-sweet caramel blends and more, you can treat yourself to an array of delicious drinks in an instant with one of these ultra-convenient coffee machines. Plus, most models come in a space-saving compact size with a small price tag to match, perfect to suit any kitchen or budget.
- Filter coffee machines – If you’re looking for a little more control over the coffee-making process, a filter coffee machine is the one for you! With the ability to make multiple cups of coffee all at once, these are perfect for serving the whole table a post dinner pick-me-up or catching up for a natter over a fresh cup of coffee with your pals. Even better, with a built-in warming plate, these machines keep your brewed coffee fresh and hot for even longer, allowing you to enjoy cup after cup without having to restart the process all over again. To use, simply pop your desired amount of ground coffee in the container (or whole coffee beans in the mill, if available with your machine), hit the on button and enjoy a fresh, aromatic cuppa!
Espresso coffee machines, also known as ground coffee machines, are another hugely popular variety. These machines are the closest thing you can get to the ones you’ll find in cafés, coming with a milk steaming wand that gives you the most hands-on coffee-making experience of them all. While they may take a little more time to get the hang of, if you’re looking for the ultimate café experience from the comfort of your own home, you really can’t beat an espresso coffee machine.
All these machines have been specifically designed for easy use at home. So, whether you’re a coffee connoisseur or a beginner barista, you’ll be able to indulge in all your favourite caffeine creations in no time at all!
How do I choose the right coffee maker?
So now we’ve got the basic overview out of the way, we can take a closer look into each machine to help you pick out the perfect purchase for you. Buying a coffee machine can be quite an investment and a considerable commitment to learning how to brew a café-standard cuppa, depending on the make, model and style of the appliance, so it’s important to evaluate your individual needs and desires before making your mind up and going in for the sale.
There are five main factors you should consider before setting your sights on a coffee machine:
Luckily for you, we’ve dissected each careful consideration and turned them into bitesize, digestible chunks which can be found in our handy guide below.
1. The quality of coffee produced
When it comes to what is considered a ‘quality’ cup of coffee, it’s largely down to personal preference. While some coffee-lovers favour a sweet cup of Arabica, others may enjoy the tongue-tingling bitterness of Robusta or the rich, dark chocolatey undertones of Liberica. There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to your own subjective taste, but it’s important to consider some key factors that can impact the overall quality of coffee produced by your machine.
So we’ve already determined that different beans have different flavours, but it’s not just the type of coffee bean that can affect the quality of your cuppa, it’s also how they’ve been ground, processed and all importantly, brewed – and that’s where your machine takes centre stage! Coffee brewing typically falls into two categories: filter/pour over and espresso method. As the name suggests, the filter method allows water to pour over medium coarse coffee grains and drip into the container, giving you a softer, filtered cup of coffee. The espresso method forces the water through very fine coffee grounds to give you that classic, intense espresso taste. Most coffee machines opt for the espresso method as it’s faster, but if you prefer the more traditional filter method, a filter coffee machine is the perfect choice for you.
It’s important to note that forking out for a more expensive model doesn’t necessarily mean the quality of your coffee will be better if you don’t have the know-how to use it to its full potential. In fact, you can still achieve an oh-so indulgent cuppa with an entry-level espresso machine, provided you invest in higher quality coffee beans.
Ultimately, it’s difficult to establish which coffee machine produces a better quality cuppa, but by using the rest of the points in this guide, you should be able to figure out which appliance is better suited to you.
2. Willingness to learn
Some coffee machines need little to no barista experience to create a delicious drink, while others require a special touch of skill to achieve that oh-so scrumptious cup. When deciding which appliance is best for you, it’s important to consider how much effort you want to put into the coffee you create and, if you lack experience in coffee-making, how committed you are to learning how to craft the perfect cup.
Essentially, fully-automated machines offer very limited freedom but have the additional benefit of quick and easy coffee at the touch of a button, whilst appliances that require a more hands-on approach allow for greater control but, because of this, each cup will take that little bit longer to make.
If you’re looking to get a café-worthy cup without having to put in any additional effort, a pod coffee or bean-to-cup machine is the best bet for you. These handy machines heat the water and milk to the perfect temperature for you and serve the perfect cup of coffee in just a matter of seconds – without you having to lift a finger! All you have to do is pop the pod in the machine, make sure it’s on the correct setting, press the button and enjoy!
Alternatively, if you’re looking to hone in your barista skills and don’t mind the additional prep time, a filter coffee or espresso coffee machine would be right up your street! Both of these machines allow you to customise the intensity of your coffee, but espresso machines come with a handy steam wand to froth your milk to perfection, whilst filter coffees would require an additional accessory to achieve this. If you’re an Americano aficionado, a filter coffee machine would be a fabulous choice for you, but if you like your coffees creamy, our best advice would be to opt for the espresso machine.
When it comes to convenience, it all boils down to how (and when!) you plan on using your machine. The chances are, if you like a coffee first thing, you won’t want to faff about with milk frothing and bean weighing in amongst the Monday morning madness. Whereas, if you enjoy a cup of coffee in the peace and quiet after the kids have gone to school, you may find the prep of an espresso machine quite therapeutic.
It’s pretty fair to say that maximum convenience usually means minimal effort, so fully-automated appliances, such as pod coffee machines, are definitely the choice if this is what you’re after. Filter coffee machines are also relatively convenient, but as it takes longer for the water to seep through the coffee grounds, it’s not always a viable option when you’re pushed for time in the mornings.
This can also be linked to convenience – if you’re not looking to spend much time in your kitchen before or after you’ve enjoyed your cuppa, you’re going to want a coffee machine that produces the least mess possible. If you know that making yourself a coffee in the morning will result in more time spent cleaning up afterwards, your machine will probably end up pushed to the side in favour of an expensive cup from your local café or the dreaded instant coffee and kettle combination.
If this sounds like you, a pod machine would be your number one choice. With no loose coffee grounds in sight and a handy capsule that can just be popped directly in the bin after use, these appliances offer the most mess-free coffee-making experience of them all. Bean-to-cup coffee machines grind the beans within a sealed compartment so, in terms of cleaning, this is another wonderful mess-free option for you. Similarly, filter coffee machines carry out the filtering process in a sealed compartment so, aside from the potential spillage from pouring your coffee into the machine itself, these are relatively mess-free, too.
As you’ve probably already guessed by now, a coffee machine that requires you to pour and press pre-ground coffee and steam milk yourself is going to make quite a bit more mess than fully-automated, instant machines. If you don’t mind getting your hands (and kitchen!) a bit dirty while crafting the perfect cup of coffee, an espresso coffee machine with a built in steam wand is a great choice for you.
For the best of both worlds, you can find some semi-automatic machines out there, too. These machines offer you the same level of control in terms of extraction time and coffee intensity, but they come with an integrated grinder which limits the potential of mess going from one appliance to another. You can even find some models without a steam arm and can instead opt for a separate milk frother which, depending on the sort you choose, could significantly reduce the amount of splashback and spills you have to clean up after. The beauty about coffee machines is that there are so many options out there to suit all your individual needs, which is why it’s best to really shop around before getting your hands on one.
Using the information from the guide above, you should now hopefully have a particular type of coffee machine in mind for you. The next and potentially most important factor to consider is your available budget. As mentioned before, spending big bucks on a coffee machine doesn’t always guarantee a better brew – it’s all about how you use it and the type of coffee you buy – so don’t get stuck in the trap of thinking splashing the cash is essential to getting a quality cuppa.
Of course, more expensive models will boast a wealth of additional high-tech features that their cheaper counterparts simply can’t, but these are typically more sought by avid coffee connoisseurs and professional baristas, rather than a casual coffee drinker. So, which features you need will strongly depend on which category you feel you fall into.
What’s the best coffee machine for my budget?
Once you’ve established which style of coffee machine is right for you, your best bet would be to decide how much you’re happy to spend on one and use that as your baseline to explore what’s out there. When you’ve figured that out, the fun part can begin: the shopping!
To make your life easier, we’ve put together a list of all the best coffee machines out there based on budgets:
1. Bean-to-cup machines
Bean-to-cup machines will typically set you back anywhere between £100 to well over a grand, depending on the size and particular features you’re looking for.
If you’re looking to achieve that super-fresh, rich coffee taste on a budget, you’ll absolutely love the MELITTA E 957-101 Caffeo Solo & Perfect Milk Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machine. Boasting an integrated coffee grinder and milk frother, you can indulge in a café-worth cup of coffee from the comfort of your own home with this fabulous machine. Thanks to the easy-to-use dial control, you can customise the strength, temperature and amount of coffee produced, reducing waste to make your coffee beans go even further. If that wasn’t enough, this model even lets you know when it needs cleaning and descaling, so it’s never been easier to keep your coffee machine performing at its best. Coming in at only £339, you really can’t go wrong with this coffee machine.
At the more pricey end of the spectrum, you’ll find magnificent bean-to-cup coffee machines, like the De’Longhi Eletta Cappuccino Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machine (£925.65). This innovative coffee machine is packed with a wealth of state-of-the-art features, such as the LatteCrema System, which automatically mixes the perfect amount of coffee and milk to create the most indulgent drinks every time. Thanks to the handy memory function which allows you to save your preferred settings, you can enjoy all your favourite drinks in an instant. Plus, as it holds a generous 400g of coffee beans, you won’t have to worry about refilling the machine very often, perfect.
2. Pod and capsule machines
Pod and capsule machines are among some of the most well-loved coffee machines out there. Adored for their ease of use, handy compact size and penny-saving price tag (starting from just £40!), these are the perfect appliances for any budget.
For high-performance without a hefty price tag, take a look at the De’Longhi Jovia Pod Capsule Coffee Machine. Compatible with all Nescafé Dolce Gusto pods, you can treat yourself to all your favourite creamy coffees, refreshing iced drinks and sweet blends in seconds, perfect! Priced under £50, this is the perfect appliance for delicious drinks every day without splashing the cash.
Even the more high-end pod coffee machines won’t set you back by too much. Take the De’Longhi Lattissima EN500.B, for example: for just over £200, you’ll grab yourself a fully-automated machine with an attachable milk frother that allows you to personalise your cuppa to just the way you like it, sweet!
3. Filter coffee machines
Filter coffee machines are another budget-friendly appliance that’s sure to entice you, with most sitting comfortably under the £100 mark. As filter coffee machines simply don’t offer the same features as the other appliances, it’s no real surprise that they’re a cheaper alternative. However, if you’re looking for simple, indulgent coffee for the whole family to enjoy, you’ve come to the right place!
At the lowest end of the spectrum, you can find high-performance appliances, like the LOGIK Premium Quality Filter Coffee Machine, for under £30 – talk about money-saving madness! Featuring a huge 1.8L capacity and integrated memory function, you can craft the perfect cuppa to suit the tastes of all your guests with just the touch of a button, perfect!
If you’re looking to splash the cash a little bit more, the De’Longhi ICM 14011 Coffee Maker is a great choice for you! Coming in at just over £80, this gorgeous appliance boasts two different brewing speeds with an indulgent aroma function for the perfect coffee every time. High-end luxury without the high-end price tag? Don’t mind if we do!
4. Espresso coffee machines
For the pièce de résistance of brew-tiful appliances, look no further than an espresso coffee machine. These fantastic pieces of kit will give you the most true-to-café experience possible, provided you’re willing to put in the extra time and effort into crafting your perfect cup of coffee.
If you’re looking for an espresso coffee machine that offers you both simplicity and expert craftsmanship all in one handy appliance, you’ll absolutely love the Swan Pump Espresso Coffee Machine. With all the essential features that make an espresso coffee machine what it is and pod capsule compatibility for when you need that instant caffeine hit, coming in at well under £100, this is the ultimate appliance for both budding baristas and casual coffee-lovers alike.
Bring all the joys of your favourite coffee shop to the comfort of your own home with the Sage BES875UK The Barista Express Bean To Cup Coffee Machine. Packed with a wealth of high-tech features, including 18 integrated grind settings, adjustable dosage settings, digital temperature control, a high-powered micro-foam milk steaming wand and more, you can achieve that authentic café taste in no time at all. Although it comes with a heftier price tag of just over £700, this coffee machine offers the best in the standard for all you avid coffee connoisseurs out there.
Please note: The information in this blog post is correct at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.