Kit out your kitchen with the best appliances for cooking, dining and everything in-between, and it's easy to add a touch of Michelin-star style to your home with the best pod coffee machine. Pod, or capsule, coffee machines are particularly clever at creating professional-quality drinks that look like they could have been made by a top barista.
UPDATE: Baileys alcohol-free coffee pods are on their way. K-Cup pods will be available in two flavours - Irish Cream and Chocolate Cherry - from 2020. The range also includes a Baileys ready-to-drink cold brew in a can, and bags of ground coffee. The catch? It’s only being launched in the US for now. But, there is an upside. Tassimo does already have pods for Baileys Latte Macchiatos so all hope is not lost in these new flavours making their way to the UK soon.
Investing in one of the latest pod coffee machines will not only save you time and money that may have been spent at the local Costa, it opens up a world of flavour and control, right on your doorstep. Serve Nespresso’s limited-edition ‘Long Black Over Ice’ coffee with a biscotti post-dinner at a party, for example, and we guarantee guests will be left suitably impressed.
Unlike filter or bean-to-cup coffee machines, pod coffee machines limit you to a certain brand of coffee. But on the plus side the coffee pod machine is the less messy option. There’ll be no bean grinds to clear out or ground coffee spills over your worktop, but just a simple pod that can be disposed of easily and/or recycled.
To make deciding which model to buy simple, we’ve done the testing and researched the best coffee pod machines for 2019. Over the last month, we’ve put the latest designs through their paces and drank a shed load of punchy espressos come rain and iced lattes come shine. We’ve managed to whittle down a list of the best coffee pod machines for 2019 that create pretty decent coffees, and the least amount of hassle in the process.
The design that came out as our best overall choice was Nespresso Creatista Plus by Sage. We love its professional stylish, digital control panel and temperature precision, which helps create the ideal milk for latte art.
The machine we’ve crown best value for money is the Nescafé Dolce Gusto by De'Longhi Eclipse Touch, which costs £169.99. We think its impressive range of hot and cold drinks and its eye-catching design and functionality are definitely worth highlighting.
At £169.99 we’ve marked the Nescafé Dolce Gusto by De'Longhi Eclipse Touch as our best value buy. It ticks a number of boxes providing a powerful 15-bar pump pressure for fast and effective results and offering an impressive range of drinks such as Starbucks-branded cappuccino to Nesquik hot chocolate
Compact and stylish on the kitchen worktop, the 19-bar pressure pump Nespresso Creatista Plus by Sage is simple to use and keep clean. As well as instant touch buttons on its digital display for coffee favourites such as flat white and espresso, its eight milk texture froth settings and 11 milk temperature settings create milk that is ideal for latte art. It’s not the cheapest design on the market, but if you’re serious about joining the Nespresso ‘club’, it’s not a bad place to start.
The expert's view
Best coffee pod machine
1. Nespresso Creatista Plus by Sage
The Nespresso Creatista Plus by Sage has an impressive spec. Take its three-second heat up time, three coffee volume settings for 25 to 150ml drinks, its eight milk texture froth settings and 11 milk temperature settings and you’ll easily produce coffee exactly how you like it. It also comes with a 480ml stainless-steel milk jug, pop out cup support and on-screen prompts on its digital display.
2. Lavazza A Modo Mio Desea
The Lavazza Desea comes in three sophisticated colours including brown walnut, cream and black. It includes subtle sound alerts to tell you when your drink is ready and its one-touch interface highlights options for up to four coffee dozes and five milk recipes.
3. Illy Francis Francis X7.1 IperEspresso
The iconic Illy Francis Francis X7.1 Iperespresso has a 15-bar pressure pump and comes in red, white and black finishes. It has a ‘Pannarello’ steam wand for frothing milk to give you creamy lattes and cappuccinos and takes Illy iperEspresso capsules, which you can tailor to your preferred temperature. Its body has cup storage too.
4. Bosch Tassimo My Way TAS6002GB
Bosch Tassimo My Way gives you an ample variety of over 40 drinks from well-known brands such as Kenco and Costa. Once the ‘T disc’ is inserted the machine will produce your drink at the touch of a button. It also comes with a removable drip tray for easy cleaning.
5. Nescafé Dolce Gusto by De'Longhi Eclipse Touch
The Nescafé Dolce Gusto by De'Longhi Eclipse Touch is a 15-bar pump pressure machine and features an automatic open and close mechanism. The Touch technology on its circular body gives you the option to choose hot or cold drinks with ease, with well over 30 varieties to choose from in the Nescafe Dolce Gusto portfolio.
6. Nespresso VertuoPlus by Magimix
The Nespresso VertuoPlus by Magimix offers up to four espresso cup sizes, which provide a full-bodied coffee with generous crema. Its takes pods from a specific Vertuo line, which are slightly larger than the standard Nespresso pod and its ‘centrifusion and barcode technology’ adjusts the brewing parameters to each coffee blend and capsule size – of which there are three.
7. Nescafe Dolce Gusto Oblo by Krups
This 15-bar pump pressure machine produces drinks from the Nescafe Dolce Gusto portfolio in minutes and has a compact body measuring H24.5 x W18 x D31.5 cm. Insert a capsule and create hot or cold drinks with the flick of a switch.
8. Dualit Café Cino
The Dualit Café Cino is compatible with Dualit and Nespresso capsules and comes with a built-in milk frother. It has a programmable dosing memory for extracting your perfect measure of espresso and turns off after 10 minutes of inactivity.
9. Nespresso Lattissima Touch by Delonghi
The Nespresso Lattissima Touch by Delonghi has a control pad that lets you choose from six drink options including ristretto, cappuccino, latte, espresso, long and hot milk. It also comes with a personalised drink option, which remembers your drinks for next time.
10. Francis Francis E&C BT Bluetooth Illy Y5
Two touch-sensitive icons on the Francis Francis E&C BT Bluetooth Illy Y5 enable you to make tall and short coffees in a matter of minutes. The machine takes both illy Espresso capsules and filter-style long coffee with the illy Filtro capsules.
How we selected the best pod coffee machines to test
With so many pod coffee machines to choose from, it’s hard to know which coffee ‘club’ to join. Google ‘coffee pod machines’ and there’s an ample number to sift through.
Perhaps - like us - when you think of coffee pod machines Nespresso and its cute and compact capsules spring to mind. And for good reason - the company are like the Apple of the coffee industry, presenting their coffee pods like sweets in user-friendly candy colours that easily indicate the coffee flavour and strength.
Nespresso dominates the coffee pod market. You’ll find a number of well-known appliance brands online - such as Delonghi, Krups and Magimix - that do their best to create a stylish and ergonomic machines to get the best from Nespresso pods.
Each of these designs has its own USP. Some have ergonomically designed milk frothers, others concentrate on providing the perfect eye-opening espresso.
Dig a little deeper, however, and you will find healthy competition online with companies such as Nescafe Dolce Gusto, Lavazza and Tassimo. These sell a good range of ergonomic and versatile coffee pod machines too.
Some of the designs are rather adventurous – the circular Nescafé Dolce Gusto by De'Longhi Eclipse Touch looks like a piece of modern sculpture, for example, while the curvaceous body of Lavazza A Modo Mia Desea stands out from standard boxy coffee machine designs.
When choosing a pod machine to buy it’s worth remembering you’ll be tied into a certain pod brand. So, it’s a good idea to go online and look through the ‘libraries’ of coffee capsules available and think about what you expect from your coffee.
We discovered each brand has its unique range of flavours in tall and short drinks. Some companies have teamed up with well-known coffee houses such as Starbucks and Costa to provide coffee-shop inspired drinks.
Perhaps for you, however, nothing beats the signature scent of illy coffee, or maybe you prefer Lavazza-style? Whatever your preference, however, having some idea of which brand of coffee you enjoy and what type – be it macchiato, flat white, espresso or latte - is a good place to start when you make your choice.
Consider the price of the pods too. Once you buy into a certain brand, there’ll be ongoing costs for the capsules – a pack of 50 original Nespresso Coffee capsules currently costs £23.85 on Amazon, for example.
To ensure a fair test, we’ve picked out 10 of the most popular coffee pod machines online, and paid particular attention to the most popular models on Amazon.co.uk. We chose them for their promise of a delicious drink, quick and easy operation and cleaning-friendly parts. We’ve chosen a range of Nespresso machines as well as those from the leading competitors too.
We were looking to represent a number of prices, designs, functions and variety in the models we have chosen and we were pleasantly surprised by the great mix available. Read on to discover what attributes make for a decent brew.
How we tested the best pod coffee machines
Buying a coffee machine that makes amazing tasting coffee may be the ultimate aim, but choosing a model that looks good, works with ease and doesn’t take up too much room on your worktop is a bonus.
To sort the wheat from the chaff, we made each coffee machine in our test work hard to impress us over the course of a month, scoring each design on a range of criteria we’ve outlined below.
First up, we assessed each model on its coffee settings and looked to see how many types of drinks the machine could make – from those that simply offered short espressos and tall Americanos, to those with a number of settings for more adventurous drinks such as a flat white.
We wanted to know how vast each range was, or how limiting. We also wanted to know how many types of coffee and flavours we could access in the machine’s capsule range. Dolce Gusto has its own Starbucks flavours for example, while Tassimo champions Costa coffee. We also considered the ongoing cost of the coffee pods and how many came with the machine on purchase.
Next up, we tasted espresso, a lot of it. We wanted to know how well each design faired at making a rich, full-bodied espresso, with that oh-so-desirable thick and dense crema on top. Taste may be subjective, but it’s easy to tell the difference between a good and bad hit of caffeine.
We also thought about the ergonomics and design of each model. We looked at how easy on the eye each machine was, considered how stylish the material and how well it is made and feels to touch.
We asked ourselves how it looked on the worktop – would we want to show it off? Is it clunky and awkward looking, or slim and sleek? Then we explored how well each model was to set up, insert a pod and navigate the controls.
We scored each model on how clever the design, how sharp the navigation and whether it featured any fiddly, and quite frankly annoying, parts that would test our patience - who has time for lengthy instruction manuals anyway? We also took note of the water tank capacity and, where relevant, how big the milk compartments are on each model as this indicates how many coffees you can create in a single fill.
We also monitored speed and overall performance, to find out how fast they perform from the moment a coffee pod is inserted to the moment we were poised to take a sip of espresso. We noted how quickly the water heated up to ensure the coffee was ready to make.
We also thought about how noisy the machine was its size – whether it could be easily housed on a compact worktop or simply stored. We looked for added extras such as jugs, milk frothing wands and options to recycle the pods too. And finally, we thought about how easy each design was to clean.
Best pod coffee machines: test results
Over the last month we whipped up frothy cappuccinos at dawn and concocted smooth espresso martinis at dusk, all in the name of research, and we were pleasantly surprised with the results. What’s reassuring is that if you’re looking to buy a coffee pod machine, you can look outside the Nespresso bubble, as there are quite a few serious contenders for the tastiest coffee drink.
The most versatile machines in our test were those that came with a range of pre-set coffee buttons and included a milk frothing option. Lavazza’s A Modo Mio Desea for example, comes with a One Touch interface that has options for four coffee doses and five milk recipes.
Slip the glass milk mug under the spout and you can prepare coffee and froth milk in one. Very clever.
The Nespresso Lattissima Touch by Delonghi is also a flexible design with six beverage buttons for ristrettos, cappuccinos and more. Its milk-frothing compartment is neatly housed within the design, just to the right of the coffee spout so you don’t have to remove your mug to get the milk ready.
The majority of machines in our test were fast to heat up and had produced a coffee within the one-minute mark, but the Nespresso Creatista Plus Coffee Machine by Sage has a particularly impressive three-second heat up time. The Nespresso VertuoPlus by Magimix had one of the largest water tanks in our test, measuring 1.7 litres, which means less water refills and it can also take up to 10 large capsules before needing to be emptied.
In terms of creamy, dense espressos, we particularly enjoy the smooth flavours of the Lavazza and Illy coffee pods, which both produced delicious, creamy espressos. Lavazza sells a good range of coffees online with varying strengths and you can pick up a box of 16 capsules for a reasonable £4.40.
In contrast, Illy’s IperEspresso capsules will set you back £47.94 for a can of 21 capsules, and Nespresso averages around £19.50 for a pack of assorted original pods. The Nespresso VertuoPlus by Magimix on the other hand has its own unique Vertuo line of pods, which created the thickest and most generous espresso cremas in our test - 50 Vertuo capsules will cost you around £27 online.
Meanwhile, the Dualit Cafe Cin benefits from being able to take Nespresso and Dualit-branded capsules, and even has its own line of tea capsules including Earl grey and green tea. You can pick up a box of 60 dark roast Dualit capsules online for around £13.80.
While the models mentioned above are ideal for espresso coffees, we think the machines that take Dolce Gusto and Tassimo pods are best suited to longer drinks such as tall Americanos and milky lattes.
Considerably cheaper than the Illy and Nespresso pods, a Dolce Gusto Starbucks Americano house blend pack of 12 pods costs £3.99, while Tassimo’s Costa Americano pods cost £4.99 for a pack of 16.
Not that we’re superficial or anything, but looks do matter and the design we’d most like like to show off on the worktop was the Nespresso Creatista Plus coffee machine.
This design benefits from Sage’s signature sturdy, steel styling and its built-in digital display and dial made navigation very easy too.
We also admire the curvaceous ergonomic design of the Lavazza A Modo Mio Desea - its slim build measured a compact H28 high x W145.5 x D28cm and its touch interface with ‘acoustic feedback’ that alerts you when your coffees ready was a bonus. In terms of aesthetics these two designs were closely followed by Illy’s iconic red Francis Francis X7.1 IperEspresso and the unique form of the Nescafé Dolce Gustoby De'Longhi Eclipse Touch.
Best overall pod coffee machine:
Nespresso Creatista Plus coffee machine by Sage, £309, johnlewis.com
Nespresso has an impressive range of coffee makers compatible with its pods, but it’s one of the latest models – the Nespresso Creatista Plus Coffee Machine by Sage – that impressed us the most.
This is the machine you’d expect to see George Clooney standing alongside (although sadly he wasn’t) and from the moment you turn it on, the machine oozes authority. Within minutes it had prompted us to dip a water hardness testing strip into the tap water to set it at the ideal range, for example.
The Creatista comes with a free set of Nespresso pods to get you started, but there’s a vast range of flavours that you can experiment with depending on your taste. Choose from the ‘round and balanced’ Livanto espresso for example, or the ‘intense and spicy’ India coffee. Or, choose from an ample selection of decaffeinated options such as the sweet and light Volluto and the ‘powerful and contrasting’ Ristretto.
What’s great about the Creatista is its unique digital display and rotating dial that is easy to follow and guides you through the options – from a 25ml ristretto, to a 40ml espresso and 110ml lungo coffee. The design is tall enough to house a number of cup sizes, and like most Nespresso designs comes with a pop-out cup support and removable drip tray.
What this machine prides itself on however is its ability to froth milk to eight different textures and with 11 milk temperature settings you can tailor the milk to just how you like it – whether you prefer a silky smooth latte or a creamy cappuccino. Being able to froth milk in this way means it’s a good choice if you’re keen to try your hand at latte art. The Nespresso website currently has a tutorial on how to create the perfect ‘Rosetta’ latte design, for example.
The Nespresso Creatista has a 19-bar pressure system, which makes it fast and powerful. Its dial lets you flick through the eight drink options easily providing an instant option for a flat white, café latte, cappuccino, latte macchiatao, ristretto, espresso, lungo or milk frothing. It also comes with a stylish stainless steel barista-style milk jug to enhance its attractive frame.
It’s worth noting Nespresso pods can be recycled in their own recycling bag and handed into your local store that supports CollectPlus – check online for details.
Best pod coffee machine for value:
Nescafé Dolce Gusto by De'Longhi Eclipse Touch, £169.99, amazon.co.uk
The Nescafé Dolce Gusto by De'Longhi Eclipse Touch doesn’t look like your average coffee machine, so we had our reservations about how well a model with such a novelty design would work.
We were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed using the De'Longhi Eclipse Touch however, and by how easy it was to create such a varied range of drinks with one machine. While it’s not a machine you’ll want to buy if you’re after that dense crema an Illy or Nespresso model could provide, it does offers a decent variety of drinks which makes it a versatile option.
It took us a while to work out how to open the enclosed circle design, find out where to place the mug and pod and how to fill the water reservoir, but once we’d mastered the process we couldn’t stop experimenting with different flavours from the Nescafe portfolio of pods.
Starbucks's caramel macchiato was a particular favourite and the 15-bar pump pressure manages to pack quite a punch and provide a decent amount of froth to the drink. The Eclipse Touch comes with a pack of six pods in the box. You’re not limited to coffee either.
Go online and browse the Dolce Gusto range and you’ll find options for hot chocolate, Marrakesh style tea and Citrus Honey black tea.
The touch technology control pad is situated at the top of the machine and lights up when the machine is turned on. Unlike the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Oblo by Krups we tried in our test, there is no manual switch to flick and the Eclipse Touch will stop when the drink has been made.
The pods are easy to extract when you’ve finished your drink, although the spout can drip a little during clean up. On the plus side, the pods can be recycled at a local store – you’ll find details on line, which involves printing a label and dropping them off at a local store that is involved in the scheme.
Pod coffee machines: the rest compared
We’ve pinpointed our favourite overall and best value models in this test of the best coffee pod machine for 2019, but the other eight machines we’ve mentioned in our shortlist are also well worth a try.
The most ergonomic machine that wasted the least amount of milk in operation was the Lavazza A Modo Mio Desea. While most machines that froth milk tend to have the steam wand positioned to the side of the design, the Desea includes a built-in whisk that froths milk in the slide-in glass jug.
In order to create a milky coffee you simply pour in your milk, slide the glass jar into position and hit the appropriate button. Slow and smooth on extraction, it was also one of the quietest models in our test.One of the most compact designs in our test was the Francis Francis E&C BT Bluetooth Illy Y5. Measuring just 14.5 x 24 x 28cm, its sleek build features two settings for either espresso or filter-style long coffees.
Its smart Bluetooth function allows you to connect to your device via an app and register for Amazon Dash Replenishment to automatically reorder capsules when running low.
In comparison, the Illy Francis Francis X7.1 is the most iconic design in our test. Inspired by Italian design of 1960s, we think its powerful design - which lights up and gets quite loud when gearing up - is best suited to large open-plan kitchens.
If one shot of espresso just doesn’t cut it first thing, try the Nespresso VertuoPlus by Magimix. Its ‘centrifusion and barcode technology’ adjusts the brewing parameters to each coffee blend and capsule size.
It makes four different sized espressos for 414m full-brew Alto, a 230ml coffee, a 150ml Gran Lungo and a 40ml espresso. Remember that this machine doesn’t take original Nespresso pods and you’ll need to invest in the unique Vertuo line of capsules that comes in a variety of coffee aromas and strengths.
If you’re keen on smooth frothy coffees the Nespresso Lattissima Touch by Delonghi is ideal. It features six buttons for ristretto, cappuccino, latte, espresso, long and hot milk and has a fast heat up time of 25 seconds.
What’s more, its programming mode remembers how much coffee or milk you like in your drink ready for the next time you use it.
For those looking to pay sub £150, the Bosch Tassimo My Way TAS6002GB is a convenient option. It costs 139.99 (or a red hot £69.99 at the time of writing) and gives you access to a host of well-known brands using Tassimo T Discs.
Choose from Kenco Americana Grande, Costa Caramel Latte, Baileys Latte Macchiato and more. While it took a little longer to heat up that some of the Nespresso machines in our test, and and wasn’t as quiet in the process, the smooth and flavoursome drinks it produced were worth the wait. It also comes with a coupon inside the box for £20 off Tassimo coffee on your next purchase.
If you have kids you might want to try the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Oblo by Krups, which costs a reasonable £34.99. While you can use it for caffeinated drinks from the Dolce Gusto offering, kids will love making hot or cold Nesquik chocolate drinks.
In our test, we enlisted the help of 5-year-old Bethany who enjoyed navigating its user-friendly design and enjoyed it so much she even asked for seconds. A grown up will need to assist closely, however, as you’ll need to manually stop the drink dispensing.
If you like you like your drink piping hot, consider the Dualit Café Cin, which features a "temperature boost". The machine will take Nespresso capsules as well as its own-branded, compostable, Dualit capsules, which includes tea options too. It also includes a milk frother that slides in neatly to the right of the main spout.
One to avoid?
Francis Francis E&C BT Bluetooth Illy Y5, £175, amazon.co.uk
The Francis Francis E&C BT Bluetooth Illy Y5 is one of the most intuitive designs we have featured in our test - it pairs with the My Illy Espresso app so you can monitor the machine via your smartphone and automatically order replacement pods when stocks are running low, for example.
What lets it down however, is how noisy it is when producing coffee, so if you’re keen on buying a design that should be seen and not heard, this model is probably not for you.
During the extraction process, the volume definitely got a little shrill. On the plus side, however - and it is a big plus - it arguably produced the best tasting espresso we tried in our test.