Table of Contents
- 10 Best Pod Coffee Machines (Review) in 2020
- How We Chose Our Selection of Pod Coffee Machines
- Features to Look for in Pod Coffee Machines
- Tips When Using a Pod Coffee Machine
- Pod Coffee Machine FAQ
- Best pod coffee machine 2020: Nespresso, Dulce Gusto or Tassimo?
- The expert’s view
- Best coffee pod machine
- 1. Nespresso Creatista Plus by Sage
- 2. Nescafe Dolce Gusto Oblo by Krups
- 3. Lavazza A Modo Mio Desea
- 4. Nespresso Lattissima Touch by Delonghi
- 5. Bosch Tassimo My Way TAS6002GB
- 6. Dualit Café Cino
- 7. Illy Francis Francis X7.1 IperEspresso
- 8. Francis Francis E&C BT Bluetooth Illy Y5
- 9. Nespresso VertuoPlus by Magimix
- 10. Nescafé Dolce Gusto by De’Longhi Eclipse Touch
- Best pod coffee machines: how we selected
- Best pod coffee machines: how we tested
- Best pod coffee machines: test results
- Best pod coffee machine: overall
- Best pod coffee machine for value:
- Pod coffee machines: the rest compared
- One to avoid?
- Best manual espresso coffee machines
- Best bean-to-cup coffee machines
- Best filter coffee machines
- Best pod coffee machines
- Coffee machine buying guide
- Why do I need a pod coffee machine?
- How much should I spend on a pod coffee machine?
- Best pod coffee machines
- 1. Lavazza A Modo Mio Fantasia Plus – best pod coffee machine overall
- 2. Nespresso Expert&Milk by Magimix – best for gadget lovers
- 3. Nespresso VertuoPlus – best pod coffee machine for everyday luxury
- 4. Bosch Tassimo My Way – best pod coffee machine for Americanos
- 5. Dualit Espress-Auto Coffee and Tea Machine – best pod coffee machine for commitment-phobes
- 6. JML San Siro – best pod coffee machine for iced drinks
- 7. Nespresso Inissia by Magimix – best pod coffee machine for small spaces
- 8. Nescafe Dolce Gusto Eclipse – best pod coffee machine for versatility
- 9. Bosch Tassimo Vivy 2 – best pod coffee machine for beginners on a budget
- 10. KitchenAid Artisan Nespresso – best pod coffee machine for retro style
- How to buy a pod coffee machine
- What drinks can your pod coffee machine make?
- What other key questions do I need to ask?
10 Best Pod Coffee Machines (Review) in 2020
How We Chose Our Selection of Pod Coffee Machines
While Starbucks and other popular coffee shops hit the spot with their freshly brewed Barista coffees, we can’t deny that one starts to feel a pinch in the pocket after splurging on daily rounds of coffee just to get a fix. By purchasing a capsule coffee machine,you are making an economical choice and not only will you save a fortune in the long run, but you’ll have this convenient appliance at hand, and right in your home!
To assist you with your decision in purchasing your very own capsule coffee machine, we’ve narrowed down the options to the best 10 models currently available by rigorously reviewing and assessing each model and looking out for the following:
Quality – A quality product is made to meet and satisfy consumers’ needs while being free from defects and deficiencies. You can be assured that if a product has made it on to our list, it means that we have done a thorough quality check on each of the models. We know that quality is key!
Brand – A brand holds a reputation and we take this reputation into great consideration when making our decisions. We like to stick to brands that our renowned for their product delivery as well as their after-sale services.
Reviews – We take what people say about products seriously and like to study first-hand experiences. So, we have scoured the internet for people’s reviews and opinions on each of the pod coffee makes, and used this information to narrow down our choices.
Price – We know that when you shop, you do so according to a budget. We have rounded up a list of the best capsule coffee machines that will help you to decide on a model that fits within the price range you have in mind, without skimping on value and key features.
Features to Look for in Pod Coffee Machines
For a capsule coffee machine to satisfy your needs, it has to accommodate your lifestyle. While some have practicality in mind and simply want a machine that makes coffee, others want more of a kitchen companion that can be programmed and controlled to meet more niche requirements and preferences.
When shopping for your coffee maker, we suggest you consider and pay attention to the following key features:
Tank Size – First of all, you want to make sure that the coffee machine definitely includes a water tank, one that comes with a built-in filtration system is an added bonus. The tank size will influence how many cups you can make before having to fill the reservoir again and is a convenience factor. Larger tanks are suitable for bigger families or for homes that like to entertain.
Bar Pressure – When it comes to household coffee machines (unless it’s a Barista model) the lower the bar the better the pressure. Pressure is important in a pod coffee machine because it determines the final taste of your chosen blend. To date, 9-bars gives the better result for household brands, while higher bar pressure (usually up to 15 bars) encourages the water to move through a filter more quickly/slowly, resulting in a blend that’s either too weak/strong or on the thick and syrupy side.
Drink size – A compact appliance might be more convenient for kitchens with little countertop space, but if you’re the “grab-and-go” type, you might want to make sure that the pod coffee maker you choose can accommodate a large travel mug for your convenience. Depending on the model you choose, a pod coffee machine can accommodate anything from one cup to two cups at a time. Some of the larger models can even fill up a whole pot!
Spout size – As with cup size, you’ll want to make sure that there is, in fact, enough room below the spit for your favorite mug. A handy feature would also be if the spout can be adjusted to hang lower when using smaller espresso-type cups. This way you can avoid splashes and a creamier cup of java.
Tips When Using a Pod Coffee Machine
1. Prime your machine before use. If you’ve got some time on your hands, brew water through your machine before adding a pod. This will help to keep your machine clean and help to “rev the engine” before you make your cuppa. Plus, it’s an awesome way to warm your cup up, almost like pre-heating it.
2. Use filtered water. Many models come with a built-in filtration system, but if yours doesn’t, you might want to purchase a water filter system for your home, if you don’t already have one. Pure water helps prevent limescale and adds to a clean-tasting hot beverage.
3. Get to know your machine well. Play around with the settings and calibrate the water volume until its perfect for your desired taste.
Pod Coffee Machine FAQ
Q: What is a Pod Coffee Machine?
A: A pod coffee machine is a coffee maker that uses coffee grounds sealed in a small plastic cup, instead of using loose grounds which would be placed in a filter bag. One pod is usually only ideal for one serving, although some blend varieties can brew a whole carafe. Once your pod is inserted into the machine, the coffee maker will automatically pierce it and run the hot water through it, automatically dispensing the brew into your cup.
Q: What are the Benefits of Pod Coffee vs Normal Coffee?
A: The biggest benefit is convenience. With coffee pods, you can avoid the fuss of grinding coffee and cleaning soiled filters. Coffee pod machines also brew up a cup in less than a minute and in most instances, you can set your pod machine to replicate your favorite blend each time you hit the start button. No mess, no fuss!
Q: How much should I spend on a Pod Coffee Machine?
A: If you’re on a tight budget then the good news is that you can still get a quality pod coffee maker for a good price. The machines range anywhere from $50 to $400, depending on their features, functionality and often size. Your lifestyle circumstances will be the end deciding point, for instance, how large is your household? Is auto-programming important to you? Are you looking for a machine that makes standard coffee only, or are you looking for a more Barista-style machine?
Q: What drinks can your Pod Coffee Machine make?
A: Some Pod Coffee Machines are made to make exactly that; coffee. Many models, however, are quite accommodating and can make everything from chilled coffees to hot chocolates and an assortment of teas. If you like to add a little fluff to your drink, look out for a coffee maker that comes standard with a milk frother so that you can rustle up some lattes.
Q: Are Pod Coffee Machines easy to clean?
A: Yes, in most cases. Many recent models feature parts that can be easily removed for thorough cleaning. Once cleaned you can simply click them back into place. The parts that come into contact with the coffee grounds and water are usually lined with a non-stick coating and can be wiped down with a wet cloth and a gentle detergent. You’ll also find that most of the machines are dishwasher safe too.
- Bar pressure – Wikipedia
- Spout Size – The Guardian
Best pod coffee machine 2020: Nespresso, Dulce Gusto or Tassimo?
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.
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.
- The best coffee machines revealed
- The best Nespresso machines – find the right one for you
Best valueNescafé Dolce Gusto by De’Longhi Eclipse Touch £140.98 This great-value coffee pod machine look unusual, and can make a huge range of drinks from the Dulce Gusto range. View now at Amazon
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 Nespresso Creatista Plus by SageNespresso Creatista Plus by Sage £289.00 Stylish design and a great frother make this our top pick for easy coffee-making. View now at Amazon
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
15 Products considered 20 Hours of testing 1 Experts consulted 2 Best buys
Emily Peck Emily Peck is a consumer journalist with over 20 years’ experience reviewing everything from bee hives to biscuits. She has written for a range of publications including Wired UK and Ideal Home.
Best coffee pod machine
1. Nespresso Creatista Plus by Sage
£289.00 View now at Amazon
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.
11 2 Thanks for voting
2. Nescafe Dolce Gusto Oblo by Krups
£28.00 View now at Amazon
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.
9 0 Thanks for voting
3. Lavazza A Modo Mio Desea
£148.55 View now at Amazon
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.
15 8 Thanks for voting
4. Nespresso Lattissima Touch by Delonghi
From £189.90 View now at Amazon
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.
4 0 Thanks for voting
5. Bosch Tassimo My Way TAS6002GB
£89.95 View now at Amazon
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.
8 4 Thanks for voting
6. Dualit Café Cino
£153.90 View now at Amazon
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.
2 0 Thanks for voting
7. Illy Francis Francis X7.1 IperEspresso
£99.99 View now at Amazon
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 3 Thanks for voting
8. Francis Francis E&C BT Bluetooth Illy Y5
£175.00 View now at Amazon
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.
2 1 Thanks for voting
9. Nespresso VertuoPlus by Magimix
£118.95 View now at Amazon
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.
4 4 Thanks for voting
10. Nescafé Dolce Gusto by De’Longhi Eclipse Touch
£140.98 View now at Amazon
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.
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Best pod coffee machines: how we selected
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.
Best pod coffee machines: how we tested
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 pod coffee machine: overall
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.
Nespresso Creatista Plus by Sage £289.00 View now at Amazon View now at Amazon
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.
Nescafé Dolce Gusto by De’Longhi Eclipse Touch £140.98 View now at Amazon View now at Amazon
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.
Manual espresso machines These coffee machines are the same type that you see in quality coffee shops. You need to tamp ground coffee manually to get the best results. They operate best when you have your own grinder (see how to use a coffee grinder for more information), and you’ll need a little practice to operate. The resulting coffee is better than you’ll get from any other type of machine, but you’ll have to deal with more mess and greater effort to get your perfect cup of coffee.
See the Top manual espresso coffee machines
Bean-to-cup machines These machines do everything – grind, tamp and pour – at the touch of a button. Some even pour milk. If you want a fresh coffee experience with real beans, without the hassle of an espresso machine, these are the type to go for. The downsides are that they can be big and expensive, plus they don’t always produce the same quality as a manual machine.
See the Best bean-to-cup coffee machines
Filter machines These make coffee by dripping hot water through coffee grounds. A smooth taste and large carafe (jug) makes these good for anyone that likes to drink a lot of coffee, or for entertaining a big group of people. Technically, these are one of the easiest machines to operate, but you don’t get the flexibility and range of drinks options that espresso-based machines offer.
See the Best filter coffee machines
Pod machines The ultimate convenience, you just drop in a pod or capsule, tap a button and you’re done. Pod machines aren’t compatible with each other, so once you’ve bought into a system, you’re locked in. Nespresso machines produce the best coffee and have the best range, with pods that are recyclable. Pod brands available in supermarkets aren’t as good and most use plastic, which can’t be recycled.
See the Best pod coffee machines
Best manual espresso coffee machines
1. Sage by Heston Blumenthal The Oracle
A powerful espresso machine with a built-in grinder.
The Sage by Heston Blumenthal The Oracle gives you everything you need to keep your inner barista happy. It’s a traditional espresso machine, but the integrated grinder means you don’t need to worry about buying a separate unit.
Instead, you tap one button to grind the coffee directly into the group handle and filter basket, tamp, then hit another button to dispense your drink. It takes a little practice to get everything right, but when you do, The Oracle makes stunning espresso that’s every bit as good as you’d get from a top coffee shop. Thanks to the configurable and simple-to-use steamer function, frothing milk for all types of drinks is straightforward.
Read our full Sage by Heston Blumenthal The Oracle review
2. Gaggia Classic Deluxe Coffee Station
A classic redefined – this bundle is an upgrade to Gaggia’s current machine and comes with a top coffee grinder, too
The Gaggia Classic Deluxe Coffee Station provides everything you need to make brilliant coffee at home – including the high-end Gaggia MDF grinder and a bundle of other clever accessories. With 34 grind settings, ranging from super-fine to coarse, getting the right balance can be a little tricky at first. Once you’re used to it, however, the grinder creates perfect coffee with which to make yourself some espresso.
This bundle also sees an updated Gaggia Classic espresso machine. When the Gaggia Classic 2015 was released, we were disappointed by its plastic build in parts and overall inferior quality compared to the original Classic. With this bundle, the Classic has an all-new metal drip tray and professional-quality group handle added. The result is a high-quality coffee machine capable of dispensing the best-quality espresso.
Read our full Gaggia Classic Delux Coffee Station review
Best bean-to-cup coffee machines
1. Miele CM7500
Excellent coffee, automatic descaling and programmable profiles, what more could you want from a coffee machine?
A big and bold bean-to-cup coffee machine, the Miele CM7500 is a high-end model that does pretty much everything automatically. This even includes descaling, thanks to the integrated descaling capsule, which slips into the rear of the machine so that the auto-descaling mode can keep the insides of the coffee machine clean.
More importantly, the CM7500 delivers high-quality coffee and milk drinks at the touch of a button. Using a motor, the spout moves to the ideal spot above your cup automatically, before delivering the good stuff. Spot-on espresso and high-quality milk frothing ensure this machine is at the top of its game.
Programmable user profiles let each member of the house get the style of drink they want. Only a slightly fiddly interface detracts from what is otherwise a rather brilliant, high-end machine for true coffee lovers who want quality quickly.
Read our full Miele CM7500 review
2. Melitta Caffeo Barista TS
The new Smart version is slightly better, but this machine is cheaper and still makes excellent coffee
We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy. Melitta F75/0-201 Caffeo Barista TS Automatic Coffee Machine 1450W Genuine NEW in stock $1640.9 Buy Now Powered by trusted reviews
With the ability to serve up practically any hot drink under the sun, thanks to its automatic milk-frothing function, the Melitta Caffeo Barista TS makes a coffee with the same attention to detail as any good manual machine. Its dual hopper lets you have two types of bean on the go, and its huge range of configurable recipes provides plenty of scope to experiment.
Simple touch controls and a bright LCD screen make it super-easy to put your drink together, and if you don’t like the default options – which is unlikely, since they’re spot on – then you can manually override them in the menu system. My Coffee modes let you assign different concoctions to different members of a household, and a slick front and high-quality gloss finish complete the unbeatable package.
If you have the cash to splash, the Caffeo Barista TS is a no-brainer; but the newer Barista TS Smart is better.
Read our full Melitta Caffeo Barista TS review
3. Gaggia Anima
A great-quality bean-to-cup machine that doesn’t cost the Earth
We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy. Melitta F75/0-201 Caffeo Barista TS Automatic Coffee Machine 1450W Genuine NEW in stock $1640.9 Buy Now Powered by trusted reviews
A bean-to-cup machine that does everything for you feels a little like cheating. With the Gaggia Anima, you get the best of both worlds: it automatically pours espresso, but the steam wand gives you control of milk-based drinks.
A sleek design and simple one-touch controls on the front take care of dispensing espresso. Thick and oily crema, with a full-flavoured shot underneath, prove the Anima’s quality. To froth milk, steam is dispensed at one speed with no tap to control flow. It takes a little while to get used to, but once you do, you can produce practically any recipe to your specification.
If you’re looking for a well-priced bean-to-cup machine, but still want manual control at the end, the Gaggia Anima is the machine to buy.
Read our full Gaggia Anima review
Best filter coffee machines
1. KitchenAid Personal Coffee Maker
It grinds, filters and pours into a travel cup making this the perfect way to start the day
The KitchenAid Personal Coffee Maker is different; it’s effectively a single-person filter coffee machine. It’s designed to be used with a supplied insulated mug, which you can take with you on the morning commute. There’s nothing stopping you from buying another mug, but it comes with only one.
The Personal Coffee Maker produces a drink that’s ready to consume straight away, although still hot enough for you to add some milk if you need. It’s a great, convenient option for those wanting their coffee fix in the morning, and who prefers a long coffee to espresso. Its compact design looks fab, too.
If you’re spending megabucks on a daily Starbucks habit then consider this the perfect antidote.
Read our full KitchenAid Personal Coffee Maker review
2. Oomph Coffee Maker
As seen on Dragon’s Den – an innovative way to make French-press-style coffee
Part travel cup, part french press, the Oomph is a new-style filter coffee maker, and it’s rather brilliant.
You drop coffee grounds into the inner container, fill with water and leave to steep for a few minutes. Once done, you push down the outer sleeve, which forces water at pressure through the coffee grounds, separating the two in the process. The separation has added benefit that your coffee remains at the same strength; with a french press, coffee continues to brew, becoming more bitter as it does so (see how to use a french press for more details).
Coffee from the Oomph is brilliant, with a rich and smooth taste that’s quite different to anything we’ve tasted from other filter machines. If you like, you can drink directly from the Oomph, which also acts as a travel mug. The only downside is that coffee doesn’t stay warm for long, so you’ll want to drink soon after the brewing process.
Read our full Oomph Coffee Maker review
Best pod coffee machines
Pod coffee machines give you a huge amount of flexibility while keeping things nice and easy: you just drop in a coffee pod, hit the button and you’re done. There’s a massive variety and range of pod machines, although we believe that the Nespresso system is the best. Even so, this model has two types of capsule, the Vertuo and Original line. To help you decide, why not check out our guide on the Best Nespresso pods and the Best Nespresso Vertuo capsules for more information?
1. Nespresso Vertuo Plus
The Nespresso system redefined and updated to deliver mug-sized drinks
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If you’re a fan of longer coffee drinks, you’ll love the new Nespresso Vertuo Plus. Using a completely new pod system (the Vertuo’s capsules aren’t compatible with older Nespresso machines, or vice versa), the Vertuo Plus is designed to deliver a rich mug-full of coffee.
Key to the machine’s success is the smart centrifugal brewing system, which spins the capsule at high speed, thus delivering a rich and frothy crema.
The coffee from this machine is rich and full-bodied; it tastes amazing. There’s a wide choice of capsules available, in cup sizes of 40ml (espresso), 150ml, 230ml and huge 414ml. Each capsule has a barcode on it, which the Vertuo Plus reads to set the brew parameters, delivering the perfect cup of coffee at the touch of a single button.
There’s no integrated milk option for this machine, although you can buy an excellent Nespresso Aeroccino4 if you want to add steamed milk.
Read our full Nespresso Vertuo review
2. AEG Fantasia
A Modo Mio machine with a proper milk dispenser
A long-time favourite of ours, the AEG Fantasia is a 15-bar pod machine that supports Lavazza’s Modo Mio capsules. It has 36 settings, so you can enjoy a tailored cappuccino, lungo, espresso or latte, controlling both the amount of coffee and milk.
What separates this machine from many is its outstanding detachable milk jug. Both the jug and steam pipe can be removed and are dishwasher-safe, making cleaning the AEG Fantasia so much easier than most machines.
The jug means you don’t have to rely on powdered milk pods as you do with some other machines, and it’s perfect for making hot chocolate – and even to froth cold milk for milkshakes.
Given the huge number of features on offer, and the excellent coffee it makes, the AEG Fantasia is outstanding value.
Read our full AEG Fantasia review
4. Tassimo Vivy by Bosch
A super-cheap pod coffee machine for those on a tight budget
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The Tassimo Vivy is ridiculously cheap for such a versatile coffee machine, which is the reason we recommend it. Part of the Tassimo coffee system, it’s also incredibly small – perfect for compact kitchens and dens.
Like other Tassimo machines, it’s easy to use. It has just one button, and there’s virtually no heat-up time. The machine reads the barcode on each “T Disc” to work out the correct temperature, amount of water and brewing time. The range of drinks on offer is great, too, including coffee, tea, chai lattes, fruit and herbal teas.
If you want a step-up from instant coffee, and don’t have a lot to spend, this machine is a great choice. If you can pay more, a Nespresso machine will give you better coffee overall.
Read our full Tassimo Vivy by Bosch review
Coffee machine buying guide
Best coffee machine – What type should I buy? There are two main types of coffee machines. Filter coffee machines are the simplest, dripping hot water through ground coffee to create a large volume of drink. The resultant coffee tends to be smoother and, as you can keep a pot on the got, are great for large numbers of people or just for having coffee ready to go.
Espresso machines deliver coffee as a shot, distinctive thanks to the foamy head on top called the crema. Manual espresso machines used ground coffee (or beans you grind yourself) and require some skill to get working. They typically produce the best results, though. A bean-to-cup coffee machine does the hard work for you, griding and automatically pouring the coffee. Quality can be great but you don’t quite get the results of a manual machine; the trade-off being that the job is much easier.
Pod or capsule machines are the easiest to use: drop in a pod and hit a button and you’re done. The downside is that the cost per cup is higher and you don’t get the same extensive range of coffees as with a machine that uses beans or ground coffee.
Best coffee machine – Should I used filtered water? Using filtered water can make your coffee taste better if you’re not a particular fan of the taste of your tap water. It’s worth trying if you’ve got a filter jug to see what difference it makes. More importantly, a water filter should be installed and used where possible in a coffee machine’s water reservoir, particularly if you live in a hard water area.
Using a water filter removes the impurities from your water, which can lead to better-tasting coffee. It also helps reduce limescale build-up, which will reduce problems with your coffee machine getting clogged up and requiring descaling. You’ll still need to regularly descale your machine (check it’s manual for the full details on how to do this), as a machine that has a lot of limescale in it will struggle to pour water at the right rate and your coffee will be ruined.
Best coffee machine – Do I need a grinder? Coffee stays fresher for longer if it’s not ground. If you’re regularly using a manual espresso or filter machine, a grinder is a good addition. In particular, for a manual machine, using a coffee grinder lets you adjust the grind to suit your machine and coffee, further fine-tuning the results. The downside is that while you can use a cheaper grinder for a filter machine, you’ll need to spend a bit more to get a suitable grinder for a manual espresso machine: that’s particularly true if you have a more expensive coffee machine.
Best coffee machine – What milk options should I look for? If you have an espresso machine a way of making steamed milk opens up the potential to make a wide range of drinks from cappuccinos to lattes. A steamer wand is the traditional way of making frothy milk. You hold a jug under the wand, while steam adds air to the milk, swirling it around. A steamer wand gives you more control over the process but the downside is that it can take quite a bit of skill to get the right results.
An automatic milk frother is a good alternative, producing steamed milk. These are typically available on bean-to-cup and pod machines. The simplest option is a system that steams milk and pours it, which is great for convenience although the final results aren’t as good as pouring milk from a jug. Some machines can froth milk in a jug or they use an external device, such as the Nespresso Aeroccino. You don’t quite get the results of doing the job yourself but you can free pour your final drink to get the balance of espresso and milk that you want.
Best coffee machine – How many boilers do I need? If you buy a manual espresso machine you can get single- or dual-boiler options. A dual-boiler coffee machine can produce espresso and steam milk at the same time. This cuts down on preparation time and lets you make milk drinks in the optimal time. They are a lot more expensive than single-boiler machines, where you first steam your milk, then reduce the temperature of the system to make a shot of espresso.
Best coffee machine – What should I look for in a bean-to-cup machine? A quality bean-to-cup machine will provide multiple recipes on tap, so you can make the type of drink that you want quickly. Look for options to customise mug size, coffee strength and ratios of water and milk so that you can get the type of drink that suits you.
Best coffee machine – Is there anything to look out for with a filter machine? Filter machines are easy to operate. Those with a washable filter might seem easier but they can taint the flavour over time; replaceable paper filters produce better results. A hot plate can keep your coffee warm, but be warned that coffee left too long can become bitter. A filter machine with a thermal carafe keeps your coffee warm with no negatives.
Best coffee machine – What type of pod machine is best? Nespresso capsules are the best by far. Nespresso is now available in two types. Original pods are designed to replicate the type of coffee that you get in a coffee shop. There’s a wide range of capsules available from Nespresso, although you can also choose from a growing range of third-party ‘compatible’ capsules. There’s a good reason to stick with Nespresso, though: it will recycle all of its capsules for free, either by organising a collection or by dropping old capsules into a Nespresso store.
There’s also the newer Nespresso Vertuo system, which uses large capsules. This system delivers larger mug-fulls of coffee and has a similar range of official capsules to the original system. Currently, there are no third-party options for Vertuo. All capsules are recyclable with Nespresso.
Nescafe Dolce Gusto machines are comparatively cheap, with a wide-range of pods available in supermarkets. This system is a step up from instant coffee, but the reliance on powdered milk is a little disappointing.
Tassimo machines and pods are similar to Dolce Gusto, with a similar range of pod options available online or in good supermarkets. These use UHT milk capsules for some drinks.
Best coffee machine – How should I store fresh coffee? All of our espresso, bean-to-cup and filter machines work best when used with fresh coffee. Out-of-date coffee will produce poor results, and you may notice that you don’t get that perfect crema or that the taste isn’t right. A common myth is that you should store coffee in the freezer, as it’s air tight. That’s true, but freezers are also humid, with the moisture playing havoc with fresh beans or ground coffee. Instead, you should keep your coffee in a sealed, air-tight container away from direct sunlight and it’s as simple as that. For more information, see how to store coffee, which also covers why coffee goes bad, how to tell if it’s gone off and what to do if you have a coffee grinder.
Best coffee machines – What’s the best type of coffee? If you’ve just spent a load of money on a coffee machine that uses fresh beans or ground coffee, you should use high-quality coffee. If you buy bags from the supermarket, you can find some decent options, but more often than not the coffee is picked to deliver the same flavours all year around.
Proper coffee is more like fine wine, with taste varying by region, plantation and year. Opening up to trying different beans from speciality roasters will blow your mind: you’ll get a wider choice of quality coffee, each individually roasted to bring out the best. And, going with a coffee roaster will get you fresher coffee that will last longer.
There’s no right or wrong choice with coffee: it’s about finding the type or blend that you like the most. You can find out more in my guide on how to choose the best coffee beans.
Best coffee machines – What are the best capsules? If you’ve bought a pod coffee machine, you’re largely limited to the capsules that the manufacturer sells. It’s our experience that Nespresso makes the best range of coffee capsules by far. Its original system, which makes espresso shots, now has third-party options available, although these aren’t all recyclable. If you want to know more about the range of Nespresso own-brand capsules, check out our guide to the best Nespresso capsules.
If you have the newer Nespresso Vertuo machine, then the pods are different. These are only available from Nespresso and there are no third-party options. To find out which ones were the best, we tried out every flavour and type. You can find out more in our best Nespresso Vertuo pods guide.
In all cases, it’s worth experimenting with different options, finding your favourite options.
Best coffee machines – What kind of maintenance is required?
All coffee machines require regular maintenance to keep them in the best working condition. The most important job you’ll do is descaling them, removing limescale from the innards to make sure that water flows smoothly through the machine. If you don’t descale your machine when prompted, you may find that the seize up and water won’t pass through at the speed required to make decent coffee. Most coffee machines will warn you when it’s time to descale, based on the water hardness level that you set: the harder the water, the more often the job has to be done.
Espresso machines should also be cleaned with a cleaning tablet when prompted, which removes the oily residue from the beans. It helps keep your machine in the best working condition and ensures that you get the best taste.
If you have a steamer wand, this will need to be cleaned after every use. You can usually remove the tip to wash it in hot water to remove all milk residue. Make sure that you clean our drip trays (again, use some soapy water). For bean-to-cup machines, if they have a removable brew head, this should be removed and rinsed regularly, too.
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Home Technology Editor Starting life on the consumer PC press back in 1998, David has been at the forefront of technology for the past 20 years. He has edited Computer Shopper and Expert Reviews, and once wrote a book on ho…
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While the weekends allow time to faff around grinding espresso beans, during the week we need our cappuccino a bit faster. Taking the time and mess out of brewing an espresso with a silky smooth crema, the best pod coffee machines deliver a barista-worthy cuppa every tim.
Need more sound advice? See more of our buying guide reviews
Making café-style drinks something you can enjoy at home, many capsule coffee machines go further still. As well as including devices for warming and frothing milk, some can produce hot chocolate, tea and cold drinks.
In this way one machine can ensure an entire household can enjoy their favourite beverage.
Why do I need a pod coffee machine?
Image credit: Claire Lloyd Davies
Anyone who’s ever tried to use an espresso machine only to end up with soggy grounds and a dribble of brown liquid will have learnt their lesson. The biggest appeal of pod coffee machines is that you don’t need expertise to make a great espresso.
Instead, each capsule contains exactly the right amount of ground coffee, arranged so all you need to do is press a button.
Less costly and bulky than bean-to-cup machines, pod coffee makers also often take up less room on a worktop. This makes them a good fit for small kitchens, home offices and even bedrooms.
How much should I spend on a pod coffee machine?
Around £50-£80 should secure you an entry-level pod coffee machine but the thing to be most aware of is the system you’re buying into. None are compatible with the others, so investigate the cost of pods when looking at coffee machines.
Spend more than £100 and you’re likely to have the option of frothing and warming milk, either in a separate appliance or with a wand. Premium pod coffee machines can cost up to £400, thanks to additional features, a more robust construction and eye-catching design.
Best pod coffee machines
1. Lavazza A Modo Mio Fantasia Plus – best pod coffee machine overall
If you’re keen to curtail how much you spend at cafés, the Fantasia Plus is the pod coffee machine for you. Dispensing shots that could easily be freshly ground, it’ll also create foamed milk with its Plug and Play steaming frother. Helpfully, the frother is dishwasher-safe.
Its touch controls correspond to 36 different settings of hot and cold drinks. This means you can make everything from a lungo to a latte without skipping a beat.
A large 1.2-litre water tank means this coffee machine’s great at pleasing a crowd, while a descale light and option to set the water hardness means it’s easy to keep in tip-top condition.
One thing to be aware of is that this is a machine for the dedicated coffee drinker. There are around 15 varieties of A Modo Mio coffee capsule but no other pods.
However, in tests, it produced some of the most authentic coffee drinks. Think espresso with a thick aromatic crema and cappuccino that balanced depth of flavour with warm foamed milk. Play some soft jazz in the background, and you’re not far off creating the café experience with the Fantasia Plus pod coffee machine.
Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Buy now: Fantasia Plus coffee machine by Lavazza A Modo Mio, £149.99, Amazon
2. Nespresso Expert&Milk by Magimix – best for gadget lovers
Putting the connectivity into coffee, the Expert&Milk pod coffee machine is sleek in both looks and the way it operates. Not only can you push a button to produce a smooth shot of espresso, aromatic lungo or steaming Americano.
You can actually do so from a Bluetooth Smart app. This means that as long as you’ve put in a capsule beforehand, you can brew your coffee from the comfort of your own bed. What better way to wake then to the smell of fresh coffee?
Beyond its app, it has everything you’d expect from a stylish Nespresso coffee machine. That includes innovative flat design that allows it to sit flush against a wall, and 19 bar pump pressure.
With slightly more than a litre water tank, it even has an integral Aeroccino for frothing milk, meaning you’ll only need one plug socket.
A few other features justify the premium price tag of this pod coffee machine, too. These include a two-part used capsule holder, magnetic cup platform, choice of three temperature settings (for extra hot espresso) and automatic capsule ejection.
In tests, both the coffee and the warm, frothy milk were consistently smooth. However, pairing it with an Android phone resulted in multiple failed attempts.
Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Buy now: Nespresso Expert&Milk by Magimix, £275, Amazon
3. Nespresso VertuoPlus – best pod coffee machine for everyday luxury
If you’re the sort of person who opts for bedlinen with a high thread count, bone china on the table and beautifully scented candles, the VertuoPlus is the coffee machine for you.
The reason is simple – it delivers that little bit of a treat everyday – in this case, by dispensing rich, generous cups of aromatic coffee, topped with the sort of rich crema that feels more like a dessert than a drink.
Even using it feels indulgent, from the capsule holder that opens automatically with a gentle nudge and closes with the same action, to the chunky chrome cup platform that can be positioned at four heights, so you can accommodate tall glasses and shorter mugs.
There’s just one button on the top, which functions as the on-off, brew button or will run a deep cleaning programme. Each capsule has a barcode around the rim that’s read by the machine, so you don’t even have to adjust the volume for espresso or longer drinks (there are five drink sizes, each of which can be adjusted between 10-500ml).
When it’s finished brewing, simply open the capsule holder and the used pod slides backwards to drop into a used pod container at the back.
During testing, the machine proved to be incredibly intuitive to use, plus the large water tank (which can be positioned at the back or either side if you’re short on space) meant it didn’t have to refilled as frequently as some compact machines.
It was a little noisy while brewing, making a whirling sound, and took under a minute to make a 230ml mug of coffee, and about 30 seconds for 150ml. Also, if you love foamed fresh milk on top of your frothy drink, you’ll have to invest in one with an Aeroccino3, as the VertuoPlus is purely a coffee maker. Plus none of its parts are dishwasher-safe.
However, for generous mugs of joe, on-point espresso and luscious lungos that are as good for entertaining as they are on a daily basis, the VertuoPlus is a sleek solution.
Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Buy now: Nespresso VertuoPlus pod coffee machine, £109, Amazon
4. Bosch Tassimo My Way – best pod coffee machine for Americanos
Long black coffee drinkers can feel a bit left out in a world that’s passionate about flat whites, gingerbread lattes and 101 things to do with alternative milks but never fear, the My Way has you in mind. That’s because you can make your Americano just how you want it with the minimum of button presses.
Select from three different strengths (think of them as ranging from all-day sipping to wake up now), three different volumes and even three temperatures – great for extra-hot drink lovers.
To make it even easier to get your ideal Americano, it’ll store up to four personalised settings, so you won’t have to constantly reset the machine to the way you like your coffee. Of course, this being Tassimo, it’ll also make tea, hot chocolate and a range of other drinks, so it’s good for a busy household who all like something different.
If you’ve used a Tassimo machine before, you’ll know it’s all about the barcodes. Each T-disc is placed into the My Way so it can read it and dispense an appropriate amount of water (keeping espressos short for example), with pressure as required.
Unlike many pod machines that use between 15-19 bar pump pressure to achieve a thick crema, the My Way only has 3.3 bar pump pressure, but during testing, it still produced a noticeably frothy finish on top of our Americanos.
On the plus side, this meant its warm-up time was almost instant (no waiting around for a thermoblock meant it initialised in 10 seconds), and its flow heater could keep going drink after drink without pauses to recover. It doesn’t froth fresh milk, offering creamer discs or combined discs instead, but they may not be for everyone.
A final reason to love it is because it’s low-maintenance. There’s a self-cleaning function, so your coffee will always taste great, and its parts are dishwasher safe.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Buy now: Bosch Tassimo My Way coffee machine, £72, Amazon
5. Dualit Espress-Auto Coffee and Tea Machine – best pod coffee machine for commitment-phobes
Are you the sort of person who likes the idea of a pod coffee machine but you can’t fix yourself to one system? Those clever folk at Dualit have the answer for you.
The Espress-Auto is a multi-brew 19 bar pump pressure pod coffee machine. This means that not only will it make coffee from Nespresso capsules and ESE pods, you can also pop in alternatives.
This includes tea capsules, its own NX capsules or even ground coffee, giving you freedom those with a single-pod system don’t benefit from.
There’s two buttons for single or double espresso and one for tea (which raises the temperature of the water and extracts for longer). This can be altered for warmer or cooler, too. An easy to clean steam wand is on hand for frothing milk and the water tank is a generous 1.5 litres.
There’s even a handy ‘drip tray full’ indicator to let you know when to empty the coffee machine dregs.
Its auto-off is a rather long 30 minutes, however, so it’s probably best to remember to switch the coffee machine off after use. During testing, using the ground coffee was the most tricky and messy part. However, aside from that, all the coffee brewed was velvety smooth and of a consistently high quality.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Buy now: Dualit Espress-Auto Coffee and Tea Machine, £182.99, Amazon
6. JML San Siro – best pod coffee machine for iced drinks
Whether you’re hankering after a steaming espresso or an iced latte, the San Siro coffee machine can deliver. Nespresso pod-compatible, it can make both tea and coffee and switch between hot and cold brewing (though it takes a little while to cool between the two).
This means you don’t have to wait for hot coffee to grow lukewarm before making summer drinks or risk instantly melting your ice cubes.
It has plenty of other great features too, including 19 bar pump pressure for creating coffee crema, 15-min eco-off mode, a retractable spout, which lowers to reach small cups and raises to make room for taller mugs, plus there’s a rinse button that you can hit between beverages to ensure there’s no residue left behind.
It also comes in a range of eye-catching shades, so you can use it to add a splash of blue, green, pink or red to your kitchen.
There are a few niggles – the water tank at the back is on the small side at 800ml, and compared to some pod machines, it’s slow to dispense, which could become frustrating if you like to espresso and go. You’ll also need to programme the coffee size you prefer as there’s only one option as standard, which is lungo.
There’s no milk warming function either, so you might have to budget for a frother. In tests, we found that while it produced a solid crema and brought out the rich sweetness of the pods we were using, the coffee had less of the aroma we’d expect. The lever to close the capsule container was a bit stiff too.
On the maintenance front, you’ll need to be vigilant – there’s no descale alert, so you’ll need to remember to do this regularly or face the limescaley consequences, and clean its removable parts by hand. However, it’s pretty affordable for a Nespresso-compatible pod machine, so is a great way to find out if you like the range of drinks on offer.
Ideal Home’s rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Buy now: San Siro coffee machine, £99.99, JML
7. Nespresso Inissia by Magimix – best pod coffee machine for small spaces
Available in eight shades and billed as the smallest and most colourful of the Nespresso range, the Inissia is a stress-free pod coffee machine. Not only fantastically compact, taking up a mere 12cm of width on the worktop, it’s light enough to move around as required.
However, its diminutive dimensions impact on its water tank size, which is only 700ml. The shape of this pod coffee machine is also quite basic, given the choice of striking statement machines on the market.
Design aside, it’s a functional coffee machine with 19 bar pump pressure and an internal container that can take 11 used capsules. It has an automatic shut-off function after nine minutes.
There are only two dispensing buttons to get to grips with, for espresso and lungo/Americano, which can be altered to suit. Both produced good quality coffee with a rich crema during testing.
Compared with other Nespresso coffee machines, capsule ejection is manual as opposed to automatic. A slight downside. As there’s no milk facility, it’s better for black coffee. However, you can always add a separate Aeroccino for lattes and flat whites.
Ideal Home’s rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Buy now: Nespresso Inissia coffee machine by Magimix, £128.99, Amazon
8. Nescafe Dolce Gusto Eclipse – best pod coffee machine for versatility
What do you do when everyone in the house likes a different beverage but you’re still a coffee purist? The answer is the exhaustive Dolce Gusto system. Specifically, one of its design-led coffee machines, the easy to use, feature-packed Eclipse.
Designed in a stylish loop that opens at the touch of a button, it manages to squeeze in a generous one-litre water tank. Its moveable cup platform is unencumbered by the rest of the machine, so it’ll accommodate everything from a dainty teacup to a mug.
Its auto-off is five minutes and the only niggle is that the loop doesn’t close itself automatically after use. While it’ll brew tea and hot chocolate, coffee is the machine’s speciality. With 15 bar pump pressure, there’s an option to position the cup platform just below the spout for espresso.
A touch-control slider dictates how much water is dispensed from the coffee machine, with the option of XL for longer drinks.
The choice of hot or cold allows you make a chilled cappuccino as easily as a warm one. During testing, the Eclipse coffee machine heated up quickly, in around 30 seconds. It made faultless, consistent coffee, although its milk pods tasted overly sweet.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Buy now: Eclipse automatic pod coffee machine by Nescafe Dolce Gusto, £130, Amazon
9. Bosch Tassimo Vivy 2 – best pod coffee machine for beginners on a budget
Whatever your coffee of choice is, investing in a Tassimo machine will keep you supplied with all your favourite blends. As one of the smaller coffee machines in the range, the Vivy 2 is everything that’s great about the T-Disc system in a simple to use package. Each coffee capsule is barcoded so the machine knows how much water to dispense and all you need to do is push a button. There’s descaling and water tank refill alerts, too.
It’s also an eco-friendly design, with fast heat-up at the start, reverting to a standby mode after each drink. Where it differs from other coffee machines is its lower 3.3 bar pressure. How the coffee tastes will have more to do with the selected disc rather than the brewing process. In tests, the espresso was rich but with only a hint of crema, while the hot chocolate was indulgent and frothy.
Once or twice it had trouble reading the barcodes. However, this is a good coffee machine to go for if your household has a higher proportion of non-coffee drinkers who don’t mind regular refilling of its smaller-than-average 700ml tank.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Buy now: Tassimo Vivy 2 coffee machine by Bosch, £39.99, Amazon
10. KitchenAid Artisan Nespresso – best pod coffee machine for retro style
Ticking the box for two covetable brands in one, this stylish pod coffee machine demands your attention. Rather than plastic, its body is glossy die-cast metal. Rather than light and compact, it’s a weighty 8.9kg – because, well, why would you ever want to store such a glorious machine in a cupboard? Find space for it on your worktop and you’ll discover that this coffee machine is every inch a modern marvel, brewing six pre-programmed cup sizes.
It operates its capsule holder by way of a chrome lever that closes with a satisfying thud. The Artisan also learns what your favourite coffee is by switching on at the setting selected most over the last 11 uses. As one of the most expensive pod coffee machines on the market, it’s more of an investment than most.
You’ll need to find a home and a socket for its separate Aeroccino if you like milky drinks – the Artisan is solely a coffee maker. However, it does make coffee very well, thanks to a 1.4-litre water tank, 19 bar pump pressure and drop-down chrome cup platform.
In tests, its ristretto was as sweet and flavourful as its lungo. Both came with an intoxicating crema. Beautifully designed and as robust as they come, this is a pod coffee machine built to last.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Buy now: Artisan Nespresso coffee machine by KitchenAid, £475, Amazon
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How to buy a pod coffee machine
Image credit: Dualit
1. Tank size
Every pod machine will have a refillable water tank so check its size before you buy. Anything less than a litre will require more frequent topping up, especially if you prefer long drinks. Some can be filled in-situ (for moments when you realise the water’s about to run out). Others will need to removed – if you have a small kitchen sink or short tap, check that you can fit the tank below the spout easily.
2. Bar pressure
This is how much force the machine uses to pump the water through the pod. Look for a minimum of 15 for a pro-style crema, though machines designed to handle a wide range of drinks can be lower.
3. Milk frothing
There are two ways a pod coffee machines can make frothy cappuccinos, lattes and flat whites. The first is by using dried or UHT milk pods – these are great if you don’t have access to a fridge but may not be to everyone’s taste. The other is by a separate or conjoined milk frother, such as the Aeroccino that often accompanies Nespresso machines.
4. Drink size
Great for those who like an espresso in the morning, but a latte at weekends, some machines have a choice of different-sized beverages. Often there is the ability to adjust the amount of water dispensed to suit your taste. You may also be able to save your favourite settings to create easily reproduced personalised drinks. The latest crop of coffee machines can even be controlled by an app, so you can set them to brew the moment you step out of the shower.
5. Spout size
Check there’s enough room for your favourite cup beneath the spout. Some pod coffee machines have narrow platforms that won’t accommodate big mugs. Espresso fans should look for spouts that drop down or adjustable cup platforms that raise smaller cups towards the spout. This not only helps prevent splashes on the worktop, but makes for a thicker crema on your espresso.
What drinks can your pod coffee machine make?
Most of the mainstream pod coffee machines can make basic milky drinks, but it’s common to find those that can produce anything from a chai latte to a caramel macchiato. Some coffee machines can also make cold drinks, such as chilled tea or coffee. There’s the option of branded drinks with the Tassimo T-Disc coffee system.
Machines that use ESE pods (which resemble a round teabag) will only brew coffee or tea, while other systems favour a variety of single-origin coffee types rather than a range of drinks.
What other key questions do I need to ask?
Image credit: Darren Chung
1. Can you recycle the coffee machine pods?
Check if your coffee pods can be recycled to help cut down on waste. For example, Nespresso coffee pods are made of infinitely recyclable aluminium.
2. How about descaling your pod coffee machine?
If you live in a hard water area, make sure your coffee machine has descaling alerts. Regular descaling is essential to keep your pod machine running smoothly.
3. Do pod coffee machines use a lot of energy?
Your pod coffee machine’s thermoblock (the part that heats the water) can be an energy guzzler. Choose a model that will switch itself off after a few minutes of non-use. This may be referred to as an eco mode.
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4. How easy are pod coffee machines to clean?
A clean coffee machine is a happy one, so buy one that’s easily maintained by a rinse cycle and with removable parts for cleaning, such as the drip tray. This will be especially relevant if your coffee machine uses milk pods, which can smell if not regularly cleaned away.