Arm yourself with the best coffee machine and you can give top baristas a run for their money without leaving home – saving you time and money. But with such a variety of models on offer, be it bean-to-cup, ground coffee or capsule designs, deciding which one to invest in can be daunting.
UPDATED:In coffee-related news, everyone's favourite Irish cream brand Baileys announced it was launching ready to drink, alcohol-free coffee. Now, it's not as though we really needed an excuse to drink before midday, but at least this non-alcoholic alternative means we can justify the indulgence.
Available in the US only (insert dismayed face here), the coffee will be available in cans, Roast & Ground coffee bags - it's an American thing, don't worry - as well as capsules so you can create the same delicious taste at home!
Luckily we’ve done the legwork for you by testing the finest machines available – and nearly drowning in coffee in the process.
We’ve discovered what makes for a great brew, highlighted our favourites and pinpointed precisely what you need to know to pick the perfect model to grace your worktop.
Below you can read what we liked and disliked with all the coffee machines we tested but, for clarity, the best coffee machine for value we tested was the Magimix Nespresso CitiZ. The best coffee machine overall was the Dualit Bean to Go.
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The Shortlist: Best Coffee Machines
1. Krups New Barista Age EA907D40
Krups Espresseria EA9010 Bean to Cup has a 15-bar pump and 17 settings for a range of coffees including 10 black coffees and seven white options. It has a 1.7 litre water tank, integrated milk frother and comes with descaling and cleaning tablets and a pack of two glass cappuccino cups in the box.
2. Dualit Bean to Go
The Dualit Bean to Go coffee machine features a built-in coffee grinder that automatically grinds the beans before extraction. It features adjustable grind settings and a dose control to allow for the perfect cup, an energy-saving eco mode, removable drip tray and steam wand.
3. Sage SES990BSS The Oracle Touch Fully Automatic Espresso Machine
If you like your coffee – and the coffee making process – to be luxurious and hassle-free then the Oracle Touch from Sage is the coffee machine for you. The screen on the front of the machine lets you choose between all kinds of coffees, you just swipe and select.
Not only is this machine convenient when it comes to coffee selection, but it allows you to set precise water temperature and optimal steam pressure for the perfect foam. Of course you need to pay a premium for a premium product, which means it's only for those with sky-high budgets.
4. Russell Hobbs Luna Copper Accents Coffee Maker
Russell Hobbs Luna Copper Accents Coffee Maker comes in three colourways including copper and stainless steel, red and grey. It includes a 24-hour programmable timer, a 1.8L water tank for up to 12 cups of coffee, auto-shut off, a water gauge for easy viewing and a keep warm function.
5. Jura S8
The Jura S8 takes both ground coffee and fresh beans and includes a 4.3-inchcolour touchscreen for easy navigation. It comes with pre-programmed settings as well as the option to personalise your favourite drinks, as well as an app which you can use to control the device.
6. Smeg Drip Filter Coffee Machine
Available in seven colours including pastel green and bold red, the Smeg Drip Filter Coffee Machine has a painted steel housing and lid. It comes with a reusable coffee filter with handle, a 1.4-litre water tank capacity for around give you around ten cups in one go and an aroma intensity button for ‘light’ and ‘intense’ coffees.
7. Russell Hobbs Brew & Go
Designed for portability, Russell Hobbs Brew & Go grinds coffee directly into a stainless steel travel mug. Its brush steel body comes with an adjustable tray height should you wish to swap between the travel mug and coffee cup. It has a 24-hour programmable timer and can brew soft filter pods or ground coffee.
8. Infinissima by Delonghi
Inspired by the infinity shape, Infinissima by Delonghi uses Nescafé Dolce Gusto pods. It comes with a 1.2-litre water tank that sits compactly in the middle of its frame and a 15 bar pump pressure. You can choose from a variety of pod flavours online, from 30ml ristrettos to milky café lattes.
9. Magimix Nespresso CitiZ Black with Milk
Magimix Nespresso CitiZ Black with Milk features a 19-bar pressure and a 1 litre removable tank and a 16 capsule assortment in the box. It includes settings for tall and short espressos and also has a built-in Aeroccino3 milk frother that heats milk in under 2 minutes, designed to make flat whites, cappuccinos, lattes and more.
10. Melitta Solo & Perfect Milk
The Melitta Solo & Perfect Milk is a bean-to-cup model with a pre-brewing feature that moistens the freshly ground coffee with water to help release maximum flavour. Its ‘Auto-Cappucinatore’ heats and froths milk and the machine lets you adjust how fine or coarse you want the grind and coffee strength to suit your taste and cup size – from 30 to 220ml.
11. Breville One-Touch Coffee House
You can use either ground coffee or ESE pods in the Breville One Touch Coffee House. It includes a steaming wand for frothing milk and pre-programmed buttons to for tall or short lattes, cappuccinos or single-shot and double-shot espressos. There are also manual settings to tailor the coffee to your desired strength and length.
The Expert's View
In our test, the overall winner is the Dualit Bean to Go coffee machine due to its compact body, intuitive design and fresh-tasting coffee.
The best value coffee machine is the Magimix Nespresso CitiZ, chosen for its stylish design, easy to use controls and variety of flavours available. We also gave eight others a spin. Read on to find out which one is best for you.
How we selected the best coffee machines to test
Two billion cups of coffee are consumed each day worldwide. It’s no surprise the choice of coffee machines online is vast – from thousand pound all-singing, all-dancing models to coffee makers that are simple but satisfying.
Perhaps you’re the type of person who enjoys the frothy texture and sweetness of a skinny vanilla latte? Or maybe you just want an intense kick of espresso with an impressively smooth crema? Either way, we’ve included a model in our test to cover all bases, catering for a range of tastes, lifestyles and budgets.
Some offer simple filter coffee. Others have pre-set features for a host of styles. We picked from popular models on Amazon and combined them with newly launched machines from respected brands.
First up are the bean-to-cup designs. These are the largest and heaviest machines and take up the most worktop space. They do, however, produce the freshest tasting coffee as they grind whole beans within the appliance. We have picked a varied range of price points in our test from well-known and respected brands including Krups, Jura and Dualit. Although not all do, you will find some of these bean-to-cup machines can take ground coffee too.
We also included a selection of capsule machines. Although they are the easiest to use – you’ll have no ground coffee to contend with or bean waste to clean out – these machines tie you to a certain brand of coffee, such as Nespresso. Some of the capsules are recyclable, but they still generate considerably more waste than traditional designs.
If you’re buying into a capsule model, it’s worth bearing in mind that you’ll need to consider the price of the pods as well as what you pay for the machine.
We also included some ground coffee machines. These make traditional black, espresso coffee – tall and short. We chose designs with and without milk frothing capabilities. Ground coffee machines are not as expensive as bean-to-cup or capsule models, and they don’t tie you into a certain type of coffee. Ground coffee machines also make it easy to refill your coffee cup at your leisure.
How we tested the best coffee machines
To get an idea of how well the coffee machines performed over the course of a month, we set about grinding beans and attempting to produce latte art like a true barista.
Although we had a varied selection of different machine styles – including bean-to-cup, filter coffee and pod machines – we were keen to discover how each model fared in terms of ease of use, speed and performance. So, for each model, we timed how long it took to set up and make a drink – from getting it out of the box to producing the first cup of coffee.
To measure how much variety was on offer, we noted how many types of coffee each machine can produce, including extras such as hot chocolate and tea.
You’ll be living with the machine on show, day in, day out, so looks do matter. Therefore we rated each design on style as well as substance. That said, no amount of sophisticated bodywork can make up for disappointing functionality and horrible coffee.
For those machines in our test that have specific espresso settings, we timed how long it took to produce a shot of coffee. We then used a fork to assess the thickness of the espresso crema. Likewise, for machines with milk frothing capabilities, we timed how long it took to produce a decent amount of froth for a cappuccino and assessed the thickness.
Over the course of a month, we assessed how easy they were to fill and keep clean, and how much mess they made. For any parts that were dishwasher friendly, we marked the coffee machine up.
In terms of ergonomics, we made a note of how comfortable each machine was to use and also judged each model’s material and finish. In terms of safety, we also wanted to know how hot the reservoirs, compartments and exteriors became.
We also noted how large the water reservoirs are in each design, which ultimately leads to how much coffee it can produce at any one time – the larger the capacity, the less you’ll have to faff around refilling the machine. We were also keen to know what added extras, such as water filters, they include, and whether we think they are value for money.
Finally, we drank a crazy amount of coffee and marked each machine up or down on their ultimate aim – to make a decent cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain.
Coffee machine reviews: The test results
The good news is there’s a wide variety of machines to suit a range of tastes and budgets. In our test we have featured those that are compact, fast and convenient for a great tasting Americano first thing in the morning.
There are machines that require a little more thought and, as well as offering a wide range of coffee styles and intensities, they let you personalise the settings to suit your taste.
The ground coffee machine we found the easiest to set up was Russell Hobbs’s Luna Copper Accents Coffee Maker. Meanwhile, Dualit’s bean-to-cup design was the easiest to navigate – we were impressed it took just a few minutes to make an espresso straight from the box. Smeg’s Drip Filter was also very simple to set up, although trying to fill the built-in water reservoir was fiddly.
The majority of bean-to-cup machines produced espressos in a couple of minutes and the capsule designs were also surprisingly quick. When using the manual modes on Breville’s One-Touch Coffee House, however, you’ll need to stay close to ensure you switch off the coffee otherwise it will overflow.
When it comes to the best-tasting espresso, we discovered the secret lies in the machines that freshly grind their own beans. In our test we were particularly impressed with the density of cremas in the Jura S8, Dualit and Krups models. The Dualit Bean-to-Go’s double-shot button, which grinds and extracts twice for a stronger, ‘true’ double shot, is particularly satisfying. That said, the variety of pod flavours on offer from Nespresso had our taste buds in a frenzy – we couldn’t get enough of the sweet biscuit notes of Volluto and the velvety aromas of Vanilio.
In terms of how many drinks you can create, the bean-to-cup models offer the most variety. The Jura S8, for example, has up to 15 drinks at the touch of a button and lets you programme the machine to save your favourite coffees to the exact intensity you like.
Meanwhile, the Krups New Barista Age offers up to 17 drinks. Capsule machines also give you flexibility to choose from a number of drinks and coffee strengths – Nescafé Dolce Gusto pods for the Infinissima by Delonghi, for example, come in chai tea latte, flat white, mocha, Marrakesh-style tea pods and more.
As for frothing milk, on some models you need to ensure the steam wand is pointing the right way to avoid spillages. Breville’s One-Touch Coffee House, for example, caught us out, which resulted in a leaky mess on the worksurface.
On the plus side, we particularly like the way the Krups model features a retracting steam wand – you simply fill your cup with the desired amount of milk and it will automatically appear while your coffee is being made to produce a creamy, café-style froth. The steam nozzle rinses itself after each use, too.
Looking for extras? Any of the bean-to-go machines came with PH strips for testing the water hardness in your area, as well as a water filter. Although it is the most expensive machine in our test, we particularly appreciated the starter pack in the Krups model that features a handy jug, measuring spoon and coffee cups – it’s all in the detail, after all.
The best coffee machine for value reviewed:
Magimix Nespresso CitiZ review, £209.99
With few control buttons on the main body, the Magimix Nespresso CitiZ is very easy to set up and use – simply take it out of the box, plug it in, fill the back 1ltr reservoir with water, the control button lights come on and you’re good to go.
Nespresso is to coffee machines what Apple is to smartphones – you won’t need the instructions, but you’ll have to buy into their products to enjoy the best results. We tried a bunch of third-party-made pods, but none of them produced as good a coffee as the Nespresso originals.
Even with the Aeroccino3 milk frother built into the side of the machine, its black, understated body takes up minimal space on the worktop. It features a 19-bar pressure system, which means it draws the full richness and aroma from each pod, and while doing so is surprisingly quiet – we were particularly surprised with how meek the milk frother sounded.
There are two buttons on either side of the machine that indicate which size espresso you’d like, and once you insert the pod and start creating your drink – either tall or short coffee – you can simultaneously froth the milk by simply pressing a button. This can take anything up to two minutes depending on how warm and frothy you’d like the milk.
You will need to keep an eye on how much milk you pour into the frother, however. It took us a while to discover just how much was needed to avoid milk spilling out at the top – things did get a little heated when we found milk leaking out from under the lid on our first attempt. However, this isn’t a problem once you’ve wised up to exactly how much milk you need.
Handy extras include an integrated power-saving mode that ensures the machine turns off after nine or up to 30 minutes, which is handy if you’re in a rush in the morning.
On the downside, you’ll be tied into using Nespresso pods and you’re limited somewhat to shorter drinks rather than long Americano-style cuppas. But if you’re a fan of the delicious flavours on offer, including decaffeinated drinks, you won’t feel limited.
The best coffee machine overall reviewed:
Dualit Bean to Go review, £499
On first view, the Dualit Bean to Go looks ultra stylish and has a compact and sturdy body that won’t feel too bulky on the worktop, even in the smallest of kitchens. All parts are contained within the machine with no fiddly accessories protruding out. Clean lines and slick surfaces all round.
In our test we reviewed a number of bean-to-cup machines, but at £499 this was significantly cheaper than the Jura and Krups models – both over the thousand pound mark – and we were keen to see how it compared.
The Dualit Bean to Go comes with five adjustable grind settings so you can make your coffee as strong as you like. The one-touch buttons let you create espressos, tall coffees and double-shot drinks with ease – ideal for when you need an extra pick me up.
It didn’t take us long to get to grips with the machine. Opening the box, setting up and making a coffee took under three minutes. This is probably due to its built-in thermobloc heating system, which ensures the coffee machine is ready in 40 seconds. The Speed mode also grinds and extracts quicker if you’re pressed for time.
Unlike some bean-to-cup models that have longer hoses for frothing milk, such as the Melitta Solo & Perfect Milk, the steaming wand on the Dualit Bean to Go is short and neatly housed next to the adjustable nozzle. It took us just under a minute to produce a decent amount of froth for a tall latte.
At 1.2 litres, its water tank isn’t the largest – the Jura S8 can hold 1.9 litres, for example – but the Bean to Go does make a few coffees before it needs a refill.
And while this machine doesn’t come with an accompanying app that provides coffee inspiration like the Jura and Mellita, it does what it promises and produces great tasting coffee. The crema on our espresso was thick and dense, which at the end of the day, is all you really want from a coffee.
Comparing the rest on test
While we thought Magimix Nespresso and Dualit Bean to Go were worthy of a special mention, all these machines have plenty going for them.
If you want the flexibility ground coffee offers and like milky drinks, try the 19-bar pressure Breville One-Touch Coffee House. It has a large 1.4-litre water tank, as well as a 0.6-litre milk tank with steam wand, which is ideal for making lattes, cappuccinos and hot chocolates.
As well as a few pre-programmed buttons for cappuccino, espresso and lattes, it also has custom modes so you can tailor the drink to find the strength you like. The only downside is that if you fill the milk tank and don’t use it all in one go, you may end up with sour, wasted milk.
Those who want to try capsule coffee should consider the Infinissima by Delonghi. The design is inspired by the infinity shape. It will create a talking point in your kitchen.
While it has a large library of pods on offer – including flat whites and mochas, and can make up a cold drink such as the cappuccino ice – it doesn’t however come with a fresh milk option or a manual steam wand. In some cases you’ll have to use two pods to make a drink – for a cappuccino you’ll need a white capsule, made up of milk powder which tastes rather sweet, and a black capsule that includes roast and ground coffee.
We got caught out leaving this machine unattended a couple of times and the water flow didn’t naturally come to an end, so we don’t recommend wandering off while it’s in use.
For a classic design that will complement your kitchen, take a look at the retro Smeg Drip Filter Coffee Machine. It comes with a stylish glass carafe with handle and lid, so you can enjoy American diner-style bottomless refills – up to ten cups at a time to be precise.
The Jura S8 bean-to-cup design, which takes ground coffee and beans, is equally stylish. It does in fact look so attractive on the worktop that anyone inviting a date back to theirs for ‘a cup of coffee’ will find themselves actually wanting to show it off. With 15 speciality coffee settings, the option to personalise drinks and control the machine via a dedicated app on your smartphone, it’s a great investment buy if you’re serious about your coffee and have the space.
The Russell Hobbs Luna Copper Accents coffee maker’s stainless steel and copper body is also a head turner, and comes in red and grey finishes. It has ‘advanced showerhead technology’, which sprays water through ground coffee evenly to make it taste better, while you can use the 1-4 button to increase the coffee strength. It has a large water tank that can produce up to 18 cups of coffee, and will keep it warm for up to 40 minutes.
Solo & Perfect Milk by Melitta UK is a similar price to the Dualit, and is a great looking bean-to-cup model. We like its ability to make two cups of coffee simultaneously most. While the milk frothing wand is a little fiddly to install, it produces great results. The smartphone app also comes in handy when you need inspiration or help with navigation, although you can’t use it to control the machine.
If you’re happy to pay a bit more for a bean-to-cup machine the Krups New Barista Age is your best bet. It features a steam wand hidden within the front of the design, so there’s no messy milk tank.
Simply fill your cup with as much milk as you like, choose your drink and the machine will do the hard work. It comes with an automatic switch-off button – for up to two hours – and takes ground coffee as well as beans should you decide to experiment. We loved this model but the only downside is the price.
Any coffee machines to avoid?
While the Russell Hobbs Brew & Go has its benefits, if you fancy yourself as a bit of a coffee connoisseur it probably isn’t the machine for you. While the coffee it produces is as good as any standard cafetière, for anyone looking for coffee with dense, rich cremas you’ll need to spend significantly more.
It does offer eco benefits, however, as it comes with a stainless steel 400ml travel mug that you can use to brew your coffee and take with you when you’re on the go.
The LCD display isn’t the most inspiring of designs, although it does the trick – as in turn the machine on and off and start the filter process. It also comes with a 24-hour programmable timer, although we’re not sure why you’d want to use it – surely no one can be in that much of a rush that they can’t hit the on button themselves? But its automatic shut-off feature is a handy plus, and at £32.99 we can’t complain that it isn’t a value for money buy.