Guide to Buying a Coffee Machine

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Guide to Buying a Coffee Machine

There are many coffee machines to choose from, and they can be as cheap as PS30 or more expensive than PS1,000. The best coffee machine for you will depend on your budget, how much control you desire over the process, and what kind of coffee you prefer.

While some coffee makers will produce a specific type of espresso, others can make any kind of froth. Some coffee makers may restrict your choices in the type of coffee you can use. It is important to research your options to ensure you aren’t stuck with a machine that doesn’t meet your needs.

Different types of coffee machines

These are the most popular machines that make espresso-style Cromwell Coffee House. They can be used as a starting point to make Americanos, lattes, and cappuccinos.

  • Coffee capsules are used to make quick, easy, and messy brews. However, you can only use one type of pod and they can be expensive and difficult to recycle.
  • Coffee-to-cup machines These coffee makers grind coffee beans from scratch to make each cup of coffee fresh.
  • Coffee machines These look the most like what you will find in a coffee shop. These machines require that you are more involved in the preparation of your beverages.

Below are the pros and cons for each machine type.

Filter coffee machines produce a longer-lasting cup of black coffee by slow drips of hot water through the ground coffee. This machine is available in our filter machine buying guide.

Pros and cons of pod coffee machines

The most common type of coffee pod machine is the Nespresso, Tassimo, and Dolce Gusto. If you are looking for an easy and quick way to make coffee at your home, they will suit you.

The pros and cons of pod coffee machines

  • They are usually quite small so they won’t take up much space in your kitchen.
  • Some are as cheap as PS40.
  • Simple, quick, and consistent results with minimal clean-up.
  • They also make hot chocolate and tea.
  • The sealed pods are great for occasional coffee drinkers.
  • You can have multiple coffee styles and flavors on the go.

The cons of pod coffee machines

  • Ground coffee and beans are more expensive per cup.
  • Coffee pods can be a waste source since many of them are made from plastic. However, some pods are more environmentally friendly than others.
  • You are usually restricted to using Nespresso pods, which can limit your choices of drinks and restrict where you can purchase the pods. Some capsules are only available online.

You can choose from a variety of drink options depending on the brand of machine. Some machines focus on espresso while others can make all sorts of strange and wonderful drinks like caramel macchiatos or iced chocolates.

Higher-end models usually have more customization options. This allows you to save preferences or adjust the temperature and froth levels of your drink. Many models have apps that allow you to control the machine from your smartphone or track your capsule supply.

Dolce Gusto is the most popular coffee-pod brand. Learn more about their offerings and compare them on factors like price, range, and eco-credentials in our pod machine buying guide.

Ground coffee machines: The pros and cons

If you are looking for more control over your coffee and prefer to be hands-on in your drink preparation, a ground coffee machine is a right choice. A good compromise is made between the upfront cost and the ongoing cost of coffee.

Ground coffee machines are a great option:

  • You can use any coffee ground, provided that it is at the right level of grind (fine espresso coffee).
  • ESE pods can be used in place of tea bags, which allows for mess-free preparation.
  • Pods are more expensive per cup
  • You have more control over the strength of your drink.
  • You can make up to two drinks at once

Ground coffee machines are not as efficient:

  • It might take some time to master the art of making coffee. There’s also more room for error.
  • There is more manual preparation and cleaning up than other types.

A majority of ground coffee machines come with a steam wand that you can use to froth your milk in a separate container. Many prefer a more traditional look with classic dials and controls that allow you to control the strength and length of your coffee.

Some, like the Breville One-Touch, are more user-friendly. They have simple drink settings and an automatic milk-frothing unit. So, going for ground coffee does not have to be a course in barista skills.

DeLonghi offers the largest selection, but Krups and Sage make coffee machines as well. You can also find cheaper options at Swan, Argos, Beko, and Sainsbury’s.

Pros and cons of bean-to-cup coffee makers

If you are looking for the best coffee, a bean-to-cup machine is right for you.

The pros and cons of bean-to-cup coffee machines

  • For a fresh, brewed brew, grind beans as needed.
  • Many coffee-making machines can be automated.
  • You can use different coffee beans and sometimes ground coffee.
  • You can customize the settings to make your drink and save preferences.
  • One person can have two drinks at once.

The cons of bean-to-cup coffee machines

  • These tend to be more costly.
  • Some models can be very heavy and bulky.
  • It can be difficult to clean and is prone to clogging.
  • When grinding, can be quite noisy

Many premium bean-to-cup machines have color touchscreens and extensive drink menus. Many models have automatic milk frothers. Models with lower prices are more likely to have steam wands for manual milk frothing.

Prices vary widely, with some models going over PS2,000. However, paying more does not guarantee excellent coffee. We have found top-scoring bean to cup machines at a fraction of the price. Some expensive models produce mediocre coffee.

DeLonghi and Dualit are big names in the bean to cup world. Sage and DeLonghi also offer traditional-style models with built-in grinders, but you still need to be involved in the coffee-prep process.

Coffee machines: upfront costs vs. running costs

Pod coffee machines are the most affordable type of machine, starting at PS30 for Dolce Gusto, Lavazza, and Tassimo machines.

They may be more expensive over the long term, but pods are generally more expensive than beans or ground coffee, so your cost per cup will be higher.

  • Pod coffee machine, usually PS100 to PS400
  • Coffee machines – From PS50 to PS500, Typically PS200
  • Bean-to-cup machines, usually PS250 to PS2,000+

While pod prices vary by brand, some pods can be as high as PS1 per ounce. These are the costs of pods over time depending on which type of coffee machine you have.

The cheapest coffee machine over five years is the ground-coffee one (PS544). Next comes the bean-to-cup at PS760 and the coffee capsules at PlayStation1166. The most expensive option is to buy a cup of coffee at a cafe twice daily.

Consider the features of a coffee machine

These are some other considerations when purchasing a coffee machine, regardless of the type.

Frothing milk

A coffee machine that has a milk-frothing function is a good choice if you love milky beverages such as cappuccinos or lattes.

There are many options. You can choose to have your coffee made by a professional or you can froth your milk yourself and add it to your cup.

  • Steam Wand – This is a traditional option that can be found in ground coffee or some bean-to-cup machines. You can froth the milk in a separate container using steam. Then you can add it to your beverage. You can use some premium versions that are partially automated. To make your froth, you will only need to place the wand into a jug.
  • Automatic frothing – This is available on some bean-to-cup machines and some ground coffee/pod machines. Simply add the milk to a container that has a built-in frother. The frother will extract the milk and foam it into your cup.
  • The milk-frothing accessory heats and whisks milk to make it ready for you to use in your coffee. These accessories are often sold in conjunction with Lavazza and Nespresso pod machines. They can also be purchased as an accessory. For our top picks, see our guide to best Milk Frothers.
  • Milk pods – Pre-prepared UHT and powdered milk pods that dispense froth into your cup. Use in Tassimo or Dolce Gusto pod espresso machines.

Personalisation/memory function

You can adjust the drink settings of some coffee machines to meet your personal preferences. The machine will automatically dispense the correct amount of coffee at the perfect strength every time.

Capacity

A larger water tank is better if you make a lot of coffee at one time. Otherwise, you will have to refill it all the time. Some pod machines come with very small water tanks.

Maintenance

It is important to clean and descale your machine regularly to maintain its efficiency for longer. To make cleaning easier, you can look into automatic cleaning programs. It is possible to clean it manually by checking to make sure that the parts are removable easily and safe for use in the dishwasher.

Smart controls

An app can connect some coffee machines to your smartphone. The app allows you to control your machine, access troubleshooting advice, and receive maintenance alerts.

A coffee machine that lasts

You want a machine that can make a delicious espresso or a latte every time. But you also want it to last for many years.

To find out which coffee machines last long at home, we survey owners of coffee machines. Check our guide to the most reliable and least reliable coffee machine brands to narrow your search.

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