Choosing a coffee maker

Table of Contents

  • Convenience: Do you want a nearly hands-off coffee making experience in the morning, do you want the coffee waiting for you when you wake up or is the ritual of brewing coffee something you look forward to? A programmable electric coffee maker can have your coffee ready for you when you wake up. Less automated electric machines might require a little more attention, but still, operate with the push of a few buttons. Manual pour-over coffee makers—like French press brewers and stovetop espresso pots—all require your full attention for that perfect cup. While pod machines work well for households that all prefer a different type of coffee and not in large quantities.
  • Type of Coffee: While coffee makers and espresso machines tend to be separate machines, hybrid machines that brew both types of coffee are also available. Having two machines on the counter will take a lot of space, but it’s the best option if you love both coffee and espresso and want to make each perfectly. Hybrid machines will take less space and are likely to cost less than the purchase of two separate machines, but they may not be the best choice if you’re looking for the highest quality of both coffee and espresso. Pod machines often have espresso type drink option but they aren’t the most authentic so if you like traditional espresso or cappuccino it’s best to skip these.
  • Brew Size: From a single cup to a family-sized carafe, there are coffee makers that can brew just the amount you need. Some machines offer a rather wide range of brew sizes, while others are restricted to a much narrower range of options. Single-cup brewers are great for people who live alone or where each person prefers a different flavor or style of coffee. They’re also great for households where everyone wakes at a different time. Brewers that make larger quantities are great for people who love lots of coffee, and for family breakfasts, brunch with the neighbors, or dinner parties where coffee is served. Large brewers are often labeled10 to 12 cups but just be warned a “cup” of coffee in a machine is only 5 to 6 ozs, not 8 or 16! For large parties, you can even find commercial-sized brewers that can brew enough coffee for small events.
  • Timing: If your household drinks coffee throughout the day you might want to opt for a coffee maker that has a thermal carafe that will keep the coffee piping hot no matter the time of day. For those that just drink java in the morning a glass brewer with a warming plate should suffice, but some people don’t like the burnt taste the warmers can cause if left on there for too long. For families that are running out the door in the morning, a pod machine can get you a quick cup with no need to worry if you left the machine on.
  • Sizing: While the size of a machine won’t affect your cup of joe, if the machine doesn’t fit in the space it is designated for it it can cause a bunch of headaches. Be sure to measure accurately and account for if you need to open the top of the machine to add water and grounds. For single serve machines consider your mug sizes. Many larger mugs won’t fit under the brewer.
  • Custom Brewing Options: The most basic machines have virtually no options aside from adding more or fewer coffee grounds or water, while more complicated machines let you choose water temperature, brew strength, and a wide variety of brew sizes. Cup and capsule machines offer options for making hot chocolate, tea, and more. In general, simple machines are less expensive and are likely to be easier to use since you can’t accidentally choose the wrong option.
  • Extra Features: Some machines go beyond brewing options, and include options for programmed brewing at a specific time, keep-warm or auto-shutoff, or a thermal carafe to keep the coffee warm. Some include audible alerts when the coffee is done brewing, and most of the electric models have lights that signify when the brewer is on or when the coffee is done. Higher end machines might include features like milk frothing, bean grinding, and notifications when the machine needs to be cleaned. Espresso machines and hybrid coffee/espresso brewers tend to offer the most options, and they also come with the highest price tags.

A Comprehensive Guide to Pick the Best Coffee Maker

Do you want to be able to make healthy meals on a weeknight, but feel like it just takes too long?

This is where pressure cooker meals come to the rescue! With an electric pressure cooker, like an Instant Pot, you can make meals a lot faster than on the stove or in the oven. You also just set the time, and let it do its thing while you do yours, until you hear the beep.

Taking advantage of this time-saving device to make healthy meals is easy, but it’s hard to know where to start in searching through all of the recipes online. It takes forever to browse around and find something you want to make.

Let’s get you started with 27 easy recipes for healthy pressure cooker meals you can make this week – along with some info on why they’re healthy to motivate you to make them.

1. Chipotle Burrito Bowls

This recipe is not only spectacularly delicious, but shows you how to use the pot-in-pot method for your pressure cooker to make rice and beans at the same time. This way, you can flavor them differently, and portion out each section of your burrito bowl for a gorgeous meal.

Check out the recipe here!

2. Maple Bourbon Chili

Adding sweet potatoes and a little splash of maple syrup and bourbon takes an already delicious chili to the next level. This one is also vegetarian, so it’s free from cholesterol and saturated fats, and the kidney beans bring cholesterol-lowering fiber and homocysteine-lowering folate for a heart-healthy bowl of goodness.

Check out the recipe here!

3. Butternut Squash & Sage Risotto

Risotto is so luxuriously creamy and rich, but the traditional method takes a lot of time and constant stirring. Making it in your electric pressure cooker means you can set it for five minutes, and let it go on its own. This recipe pairs slightly sweet butternut squash and earthy sage for a perfect fall meal.

Check out the recipe here!

4. Lentil Ragu

Lentils make a perfect stand in for ground beef in this hearty and flavorful ragu. They’re a good source of folate, iron, B vitamins, and fiber – all of which help contribute to your energy levels and heart health.

Check out the recipe here!

5. Moroccan Winter Squash and Chickpea Tagine

A lighter take on a traditionally slow-cooked North African dish, this vegetarian tagine from is cooked quickly in the pressure cooker. The easy pickled raisins sound like an exciting flavor boost to try!

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Check out the recipe here!

6. Chickpea Bolognese Spaghetti Squash

Swap the meat for protein- and mineral-rich chickpeas, and the spaghetti for vitamin-rich gluten-free spaghetti squash! Cooking spaghetti squash in your pressure cooker cuts the time down significantly from baking it, so you have this delicious and nutritious meal on the table quick enough to enjoy even on a weeknight.

Check out the recipe here!

7. Lasagna Soup

All the delicious comfort of lasagna, but as a one-pot stew you can make quickly in your pressure cooker. Richa gives the helpful tip that because pasta cooking times can vary, look at the time on the package you’re using and divide by two to get the time you should set on your pressure cooker.

Check out the recipe here!

8. Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Quinoa Salad

Learn how to make perfectly cooked quinoa in your pressure cooker with the helpful video, and then toss it into a tasty salad that you can pack up for lunches on the go.

Check out the recipe here!

9. Thai Coconut Chickpea Stew

A flavorful, creamy, protein-rich soup with just five main ingredients, and ready in twenty-three minutes. Perfect for a weeknight, with enough leftovers to take for lunch the following day.

Check out the recipe here!

10. Pasta Puttanesca

Making pasta in your pressure cooker is easy and quick, and perfectly flavored here with capers, olives, and tomato sauce. Including crushed red pepper flakes gives a little kick of spiciness, and also works as a slight appetite suppressant, so that you’ll be less likely overeat this yummy dish.

Check out the recipe here!

11. Butternut Squash Soup

This gorgeous golden-colored soup is full of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory carotenoids. It’s dairy-free, gluten-free, and oil-free – but doesn’t skimp on flavor! The addition of a granny smith apple is brilliant, to add to the depth of flavor and bring out the natural sweetness of butternut squash.

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It has a little kick from some curry powder, but if you wanted to appeal to younger taste buds you could leave that out and it would surely be a hit.

Check out the recipe here!

12. Minestrone Soup

Minestrone is a perfect example of comfort food that’s wholesome at the same time. It usually needs to simmer for quite a while to cook the potatoes, but in your pressure cooker, it’s done in no time. Packed with vegetables, kidney beans, and pasta, this is a fully balanced meal in a bowl.

Check out the recipe here!

13. Chana Masala

Using an authentic blend of Indian spices, and perfectly pressure-cooked chickpeas, you can create your own restaurant-level chana masala at home! Spices like ginger and turmeric are anti-inflammatory, and cumin may help with blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar balance.

Check out the recipe here!

14. Quinoa Pilaf

Pair protein-rich quinoa with anti-inflammatory turmeric, along with a heap of whatever vegetables you have on hand, and turn it into a delicious healthy meal in 20 minutes. This is proof that easy and healthy meals definitely don’t have to be boring!

Check out the recipe here!

15. Cajun Red Beans with Sausage

Infuse some red beans with cajun seasonings and vegetables, then toss in some vegan sausage if you like. This is perfect for batch cooking, to portion your meals for the week or freeze for later, so that you don’t resort to take out on those hectic days.

Check out the recipe here!

16. Cuban Black Beans and Rice

Soft cooked black beans and rice, seasoned with garlic, onion, cumin and topped with an easy salsa of fresh lime juice, avocado, tomato, and red onion sounds like an absolutely perfect meal. Not only is this delicious, but you’ll get thirty-two percent of your daily protein needs in just one serving.

Check out the recipe here!

17. Creamy Vegetable Soup

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This soup has a whole lot of vegetables packed in for maximum nutritional power, including cauliflower which is loaded with cancer-fighting compounds. At the end, you stir in cashew cream to create a rich creamy broth without any dairy.

Check out the recipe here!

18. Chik’n Stew

Go a step beyond chicken soup by adding all sorts of veggies and chickpeas for a hearty and nourishing stew. It’s so easy to put together: simply put everything in your pressure cooker, set the time, and then stir in some spinach before serving.

Check out the recipe here!

19. Split Pea Soup

Split pea soup is so rich and hearty, and usually takes a long time to cook on the stove, so it’s a perfect one to speed up in a pressure cooker. This recipe uses all the classic flavors of split pea soup, but replaces the saturated fat and nitrates of bacon with a dash of liquid smoke. The smoky tempeh crumbles are perfect toppers, and if you don’t make your own, you could just use tempeh bacon.

Check out the recipe here!

20. Thai Peanut Chickpea Soup

Peanut butter adds such a full, rich flavor to this soup, and packs so many vegetables in to get you all kinds of nutrients. It’s gluten-free, oil-free, vegan, uses the one pot of your pressure cooker, and is ready in just thirty minutes.

Check out the recipe here!

21. Portobello Pot Roast

With zero cholesterol and saturated fat, this makes a healthy version of hearty comfort food – all made in your pressure cooker for a quick dinner with minimal cleanup!

Check out the recipe here!

22. Three Sisters Soup

The three sisters are the Native American trinity of corn, beans, and squash that were planted together because they were mutually beneficial as they grew. This soup brings them together with the beautiful flavors of sage and ancho chili powder.

Check out the recipe here!

23. Indo Chinese Corn Soup

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Indo Chinese cuisine is Chinese recipes adapted to Indian tastes, so this hearty soup is flavored with toasted sesame oil, cumin, and ginger. It’s thick enough that as Kristina suggests, you could enjoy it with rice for lunch the following day.

Although corn isn’t always thought of as a health food, it’s a good source of B vitamins and iron for energy, as well as zinc and selenium for immune health.

Check out the recipe here!

24. Goulash

A bit like the building blocks of minestrone, but with paprika, this Hungarian soup makes a nourishing, wholesome, and delicious meal the whole family is sure to love. This recipe replaces meat with cholesterol-free and high-fiber lentils for a heart healthy version.

Check out the recipe here!

25. Indonesian Black Rice Pudding

This is so wholesome but also so delicious it can double as breakfast and dessert! With just three ingredients, it’s simple to make, and cooks a lot faster in your pressure cooker than on the stove. As Katie points out, the black color of the rice indicates that it has the same powerful antioxidants as blueberries.

Check out the recipe here!

26. Blueberry Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

All you need are three ingredients and two minutes on high pressure to make this delicious and protein-packed breakfast bowl. It makes four servings, so you can portion it out for the week ahead. Top it with maple syrup, pecans, and almond milk for the full experience.

Check out the recipe here!

27. Sugar-Free Apple Butter

This is so easy to make, and with the sweetness coming from the natural sugars of the apples and dates, you can’t go wrong!

A great dish to make in a big batch after going apple picking, so you can enjoy it all winter. Spread it on a bagel, scoop it on top of your oatmeal or pancakes, or have a little bowl for a snack or healthy dessert.

Check out the recipe here!

So there are no excuses left, now that you have 27 easy recipes you can start making healthy meals in your pressure cooker. The beauty of having healthy food ready to go is that it makes take out that much less tempting. And the magic of electric pressure cookers is that you can set it and forget it, while you unwind after work and come back when you hear the beep to dish up the goodness.

For more easy pressure cooker recipes to explore, check out 17 Power Pressure Cooker Recipes for Rushed Weeknight Meals .

Featured photo credit: Ella Olsson via unsplash.com

Finding the Perfect Coffee Maker for Your Morning Routine

If you’re not a morning person, having a good, convenient cup of coffee available can make or break your entire day. That’s why we set out to find best coffee makers for any budget.

In this article we lay out a step-by-step decision guide that will help you find the perfect coffee maker for your home. We then provide some more detailed background information about the world of coffee and coffee makers. Our review focuses on traditional drip coffee makers and single serving pod systems, as those are the most popular styles for quick and convenient brewing at home.

Choosing the Right Coffee Maker

Step 1: What Kind of Coffee Maker Do You Want?

There are generally two types of coffee drinkers: those that just want a quick and hassle free cup that tastes decent, and those that treat coffee the way many people treat wine, savoring each subtle flavor and reveling in the in the ritual of actually making the coffee. This review focuses on classic drip and single serving pod machines, both of which cater to the former category. If you’re looking for a convenient way to prep your morning pick me up, move on to step 2. If you want your coffee to be part beverage and part hobby, you may want to look at out other types of coffee makers section, which details brewing methods that focus more on the ritual of making coffee rather than convenience.

We should also note that here that in the world of coffee makers paying more often equates to greater convenience, rather than better taste. If fact, many coffee aficionados consider relatively inexpensive brewing methods like pour over to produce the best taste. Therefore if you don’t mind sacrificing some convenience to save some money, you might want to venture outside the world of drip makers. You may even get a better tasting cup in the process. Plus, manual brews like pour over only take about three minutes to brew a single cup, though making multiple cups can be a hassle.

Step 2: How Much Coffee do You Make?

The first priority is to make sure you coffee maker has the right capacity to fit your needs. If you have a family of coffee drinkers you’ll want something large enough to give everybody a cup or two in the morning. Likewise, if you like to make one pot that you drink from throughout the day you’ll want to make sure that pot is large enough (more on that in a bit). Most drip makers make a minimum of four cups of coffee. If you only want to make a single cup of coffee at a time than a pod style machine may be your best bet. However, those machines come with some additional considerations…

Single serving machine make a very fast cup, and allows you to easily switch between types of coffee.

Aren’t Those Pod Machines Wasteful?

The short answer is yes. All of those plastic pods add up to a large amount of waste, and most are not recyclable. Even the inventor of the Keurig K-Cup regrets inventing them because of the waste they produce.

There are some ways around this. Namely reusable pods like the Breworo Reusable K-Cups reduce plastic waste and allow you to use whatever coffee you choose. However, they require an additional cleaning step, and can take away the super convenient luster of these machines. Nespresso does have a free recycling service for its pods, but there is some criticism concerning the effectiveness of that service. Bottom line, if you’re concerned about sustainability, you’ll probably want to steer clear of pod systems.

All those spent pods do add up to a lot of additional waste, however, and they are much more expensive than traditional coffee.

Step 3: Do You Like to Brew and Drink Later?

Many people like to brew a pot first thing and then drink from it throughout the morning, or even throughout the day. Most drip makers have a carafe that sits on some sort of hot plate to keep the coffee warm. Others have insulate carafes that function as thermoses to keep the coffee warm. We found that thermal carafe better retain the taste of the coffee, but tend to only be at a drinkable temperature for two hours or less. Hot plates can keep coffee warm indefinitely, but the longer it sits the more burnt the coffee will end up tasting.

Step 4: Do You Need a Programmable Model?

Are you absolutely useless until you’ve had your first caffeine boost? Programmable models allow you to schedule your coffee making. So just throw in some water and ground the night before, and the coffee maker will kick on at whatever time you set, allowing you to wake up to the smell of freshly made coffee. Today even budget models like the BLACK+DECKER 12-cup Programmable offer this feature, so if it sounds at all useful to you there isn’t really a reason to go without it.

Don’t underestimate the magic of waking up to freshly made coffee, programmable models can feel like magical morning fairies.

Step 5: Consider Taste

Obviously you’ll want a maker that can produce a good tasting brew. We assigned taste scores to our models through rigorous blind taste tests that included testers ranging from casual coffee drinkers to professional coffee roasters, so they provide a good guide for taste quality. We found that coffee makers can’t quite match the complex flavor that has made many fall in love with pour over brews, but if you’re willing to spend a bit extra on a high end machine you can get close.

Step 6: Consider Ease of Cleaning

Even the quickest, most convenient cup of coffee can be completely sullied if it requires an arduous cleanup process. Plus, the last thing you want to come home from work to is the coffee maker mess you neglected to deal with in the morning. Our ease of cleaning scores can guide you to a machine that won’t create too much of a mess.

That glass orb is quite a pain to clean.

Step 7: Don’t Forget a Grinder

Buying whole coffee beans and grinding them fresh will improve taste no matter what machine or brewing style you use. Grinding beans yourself also lets you dial in the perfect grind size for your machine, rather than having to settle for the grind size that Starbucks uses (or Dunks for all you east coasters). Check out our coffee grinder review for more information.

Other Types of Coffee Makers

Methods for brewing coffee are almost as diverse as the coffee beans themselves. While drip and pod machines are incredibly convenient for getting your morning started, there are many other brewing styles that get you more involved in the actual coffee making process, and thus let you fine tune the flavor. Many coffee drinkers will use the convenience of a drip machine to get them going in the morning. Then in the afternoon, when they’re more awake and able to better appreciate and experiment with flavor, they’ll use one of the brewing methods listed below.

French Press

The french press is a classic coffee making device that has been enjoying a recent uptick in popularity. It lets you make coffee the same way you would make tea, by letting the grinds and hot water sit together and intermingle for as long as you’d like. A plunger with a mesh strainer then separates the grinds out when you’re ready to drink. French presses tend to create a stronger, more bold flavor.

Pour Over

Pour over has recently become the go to brewing method for those that are serious about their coffee. The brewing process involves putting coffee grinds into a filter and then manually pouring hot water over them. The pouring technique is a bit of an art form and it take the water some time to seep through the grinds, so this technique won’t serve you well if you tend to be impatient about your coffee. Pour over coffee tends to have a more sweet, milder taste that allows complex flavors to come through.

AeroPress

The Aeropress is produced by a toy company. Accordingly, it is very much an invention of adults who design toys: essentially a coffee squirt gun. It is a tube that uses a plunger to forces water through coffee grinds at high pressure. This creates a strong and bold brew in a quick and efficient manner. Aeropresses are compact and great for camping or road trips.

Moka Pot

The moka pot is a stovetop coffee maker that utilizes a two-chambered design. Water is heated in the bottom chamber, and as it starts to boil it is forced up through coffee grinds and into the top chambers. This combination of heat and high pressure creates a very strong brew that is somewhere between espresso and normal coffee.

Best coffee machine 2020: The finest machines we’ve tested

Coffee has been making mornings more palatable since the 16th century and, in the intervening 500 years, the humble coffee bean has spawned a huge range of different coffee-based drinks. But whether you’re a fan of cappuccino, macchiato, espresso, or just plain-old filter coffee, there’s a machine out there that will make you the coffee you want every time.

We’ve tested countless coffee machines, but the first question you need to ask yourself is which type of coffee machine suits you best. Do you want a manual espresso machine for coffee-shop style perfection; a simple filter machine that provides a jug of hot coffee; a bean-to-cup machine for hassle-free cappuccinos; or do you want the simplicity of a coffee pod or capsule machine? They all have their pros and cons.

If you’re not quite sure what you’re after, then read on and we’ll quickly run you through the basic types of coffee machine and pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses.

  • The best coffee grinders to buy

Not sure which type of coffee machine to buy? Let us help…

Should you buy a manual espresso machine?

Pros: Best-tasting coffee; flexibility | Cons: Time-consuming; messy

If you want the flexibility to create anything from espresso to ristretto to cappuccino, a manual espresso machine similar to what you find in coffee shops is the best choice. The downside is that you’ll need to learn to manually grind and tamp the coffee, steam your own milk to perfection, clean the machine and repeat the process for every cup, but the added control makes it possible to get the absolute best from every variety of coffee.

Should you buy a bean-to-cup machine?

Pros: Easy to use; great coffee | Cons: Expensive; daily cleaning is tedious

If manual espresso sounds like too much work but you still crave the freedom of using coffee beans, a bean-to-cup machine is the right choice as it grinds and pours coffee automatically. Simply pop water and coffee beans in the machine, and you can get a shot of coffee at the press of a button – and without cleaning the machine between every single shot. Spend more and machines include integrated milk frothers that do the work of heating the milk to exactly the right temperature for you, providing a cappuccino or white coffee at the press of a button. The results are rarely quite as good as manual machines though, and prices start at around £400 for a quality machine.

Should you buy a coffee pod or capsule machine?

Pros: Quick, consistent results; mess-free | Cons: Coffee pods can be expensive

These can end up costing more per coffee than the other types of machine here, but the benefit is simplicity – and you can pick up a basic machine for under £100. Each pod or capsule contains the perfect amount of coffee, so you simply buy the type with the strength and flavour you like best and pop it in the machine. For no-hassle, no-mess coffee that tastes consistently good every single time, they’re really hard to beat. Some machines even add built-in milk frothing so you can get a latte or cappuccino at the touch of a button. The downside is that you can’t pick and choose the best coffee beans, and the results don’t taste as good as manual espresso or bean-to-cup machines.

Should you buy a filter coffee machine?

Pros: Cheap, quick, easy | Cons: Versatility

If you just want plain and simple coffee to fill a mug, or want to be able to make enough coffee for several people at once, a filter coffee machine is a great choice. These generally require you to use ground coffee (although a few do have integrated grinders), but they’re a good bet for making simple, unfussy black coffee.

Jump to the best bean-to-cup machines

Jump to the best capsule machines

Jump to the best filter coffee machines

The best coffee machines to buy

Best affordable manual espresso machine: Sage Bambino Plus

Price: £199 | Buy now from Currys PC World

Sage’s entry-level manual espresso machine might cost more than most, but it does a good job of justifying the expense. Its brushed metal and fancy plastic exterior look the part, and the compact, sturdy design fits easily into small kitchens.

It also helps that it makes a mean espresso, but the clincher is the automatic milk texturing. Even if you haven’t got the faintest idea what you’re doing, the Bambino produces steamed milk with a dense, creamy microfoam at the touch of a button. Our only complaint is that, just like the other cheaper models below, the supplied pressurised baskets don’t eke the most flavour from the finest coffee – even if they do make it easier for amateurs to get half-decent results with supermarket-bought coffee.

Read our full review

Best mid-range manual espresso machine: Sage Barista Pro

Price: £699 | Buy now from Amazon

This is our new benchmark for ‘affordable’ manual espresso excellence. While cheaper machines can make a half-decent espresso, the Barista Pro is capable of ekeing almost every drop of flavour from the finest coffee beans. It’s also far more consistent – its integrated burr grinder accurately delivers the same amount of ground coffee time after time, and the volumetric sensor pushes the same amount of water through the coffee for a simply pitch-perfect cup of espresso. Unlike some of Sage’s recent models, the Pro is a fully manual machine, but it’s well worth taking the time to dial in the perfect settings – do that, and the quality of coffee is impeccable. The thermojet technology means that you won’t be waiting around, either, as it takes just 3 seconds to get up to temperature.

Read our full review

Best high-end manual espresso machine: Sage the Dual Boiler

Price: £1,180 | Buy now from Amazon

The Dual Boiler from Sage by Heston Blumenthal is a serious machine aimed at people who want the full coffee shop experience at home. It’s exceptionally well made, has industrial-quality components and dual boilers so you can steam milk and pour espresso at the same time. More importantly, it delivers amazing coffee. It’s expensive, but for the real enthusiast, it’s the best.

Read our full review

The best bean-to-cup coffee machines

Best affordable bean-to-cup machine: Gaggia Naviglio

Price: £301 | Buy now from Amazon

If you want a top bean-to-cup machine for a rock-bottom price, they don’t come much better than the Naviglio. Although it’s comparatively cheap, it produces excellent espresso and I only needed to adjust it slightly to get the best taste. With a manual steam wand, you can froth milk in a jug and make excellent milk-based drinks, such as latte or cappuccino. At this price, it’s hard to beat, and you have to spend a chunk more money before you start getting truly better results.

Read our full Gaggia Naviglio review

Best mid-range bean-to-cup machine: Gaggia Anima

Price: £568 | Buy now from Amazon

While many bean-to-cup machines soar effortlessly towards the £1,000 mark, Gaggia’s Anima hits a rather keener price point. You don’t get luxuries such as one-touch cappuccino options (you’ll need to up your budget if that’s what you’re after), but the Anima is capable of making a very decent espresso lungo, and you’ll get the chance to refine your own milk frothing skills with the Anima’s steam wand. There are some minor moans – the espresso isn’t quite up there with the best, and we would like a finer grind option from the Gaggia’s in-built grinder – but the overall quality is enough to make for a fine buy.

Read our full Gaggia Anima review

Best high-end bean-to-cup machine: Melitta Caffeo Barista TS and TS Smart

Prices: TS – £863 from Amazon; TS Smart – £862 from Amazon

The Melitta Caffeo Barista TS has been our favourite fully automatic coffee machine ever since we first tested it. It confounded our expectations, producing manual coffee machine-rivalling espresso-based drinks that are every bit as good as a manual machine can make.

It’s incredibly fully featured, with two bean hoppers allowing you to produce a variety of coffees. It can produce a huge variety of different drinks, right from the touch panel on the front. The new Smart version, which is currently the same price, adds Bluetooth, which allows you to control the entire drink creation process down to the temperature and the order in which the various elements are delivered to your cup.

It also lets you download new recipes and even step your way through the machine’s various maintenance tasks directly on the screen of your smartphone. The Melitta Caffeo Barista TS and TS Smart are the kings of automatic coffee machines: they produce great coffee and are incredibly easy to use and maintain.

Read our full Melitta Caffeo Barista TS review

The best pod and capsule coffee machines to buy

Best affordable Nespresso machine: Krups Inissia

Price: £90 | Buy now from Amazon

The Krups Inissia is the new entry-level Nespresso machine. To keep the price down, it’s made from plastic, but you shouldn’t let this put you off. It looks gorgeous and comes in a range of bright colours to suit any room. The one thing it doesn’t do is steam milk automatically, although you can buy an Aeroccino 3 frother separately. At this price, this is a great introduction to real coffee.

Read our full Krups Inissia review

Key specs – Dimensions (HWD): 230 x 120 x 310mm; Water capacity: 0.7l; Cup warmer: No; Milk frothing: No

Best affordable Lavazza coffee machine: Lavazza Jolie Plus

Price: £90 | Buy now from Amazon

Lavazza’s answer to Nestle’s Nespresso family is its range of A Modo Mio coffee capsules and compatible machines, and it’s fair to say they’re every bit as good as the competition.

The design is superbly simple. The capsules simply drop into place in the top of the machine and the large silver handle locks them into position. Two backlit buttons on top let you choose from either espresso (30ml) or lungo (100ml) shots of coffee, and you can tailor these to get just the right amount of coffee in your morning cup. Dab either button and you’ll get a fresh coffee in under 30 seconds, and you can accommodate larger cups or mugs by removing the plastic insert.

The water capacity is a little on the low side, but it’s only a problem if you’re planning on making a lot of coffees. Otherwise, you can take your pick from 16 different strengths and blends of A Modo Mio capsules – significantly fewer than Nespresso, but there is a decaffeinated option if that’s important to you – and the Jolie Plus serves up decent coffee with zero faff.

Want frothed milk with that coffee? Lavazza’s Jolie & Milk adds an integrated milk frother for around £20 more. You’ll need to manually pour the milk into the cup, but it’s superb value for an all-in-one machine.

Key specs – Dimensions (HWD): 330 x 125 x 215mm; Water capacity: 600ml; Cup warmer: No; Milk frothing: No

Best mid-range Nespresso machine: Nespresso Vertuo Plus

Price: £179 | Buy now from Nespresso

Vertuo is the name of Nespresso’s new type of coffee capsule. Where standard capsules will give you an espresso or a lungo, these new capsules are designed to deliver a range of longer black coffees with far more flavour. The Vertuo Plus is a superb showcase of the new capsule technology, and while it can be a little noisy – the ‘centrifusion’ technique actually spins the capsules to eke out the most flavour – the results are consistently superb. That said, the only major downside here is that you’re limited to the Vertuo capsules and coffee varieties on offer. You can’t use standard Nespresso capsules, so the range of choice – not to mention third-party options – is more limited. If you crave a superb long coffee with a luxuriously creamy texture, and an absolute minimum of effort required, then the Vertuo Plus is a superb option.

Read our full Vertuo Plus review

Key specs – Dimensions (HWD): 220 x 349 x 325mm; Water capacity: 1.2 litres; Cup warmer: No; Milk frothing: No

Best high-end Nespresso machine: Nespresso Creatista Uno by Sage

Price: £229 | Buy now from Amazon

For more creative freedom without going the whole hog, turn to the Creatista Uno. It’ll still make you an Nespresso shot with a velvety crema, or an aromatic lungo from its clever capsule system – but rather than dolloping milk on top automatically, it passes the baton back to you. This is because its milk frothing method has more in common with how it’s done by professional baristas, but without all the standing around.

You just fill its stainless-steel jug with milk, pop the wand in, select how hot and frothy you’d like it, press the steam button and walk away. A special temperature sensor within the drip tray keeps an eye on how warm the jug becomes and stops frothing when it’s ready. This means that once you’ve brewed a shot of coffee, you can then pour the milk in to make any shape you like on the top. Plus the wand will clean itself every time it’s used with a few sprays of water.

That isn’t to say the Creatista Uno is lacking in other smart features – the design of it as a capsule machine has come on leaps and bounds. So you’ll find a push-to-open used capsule holder and handy espresso cup platform, generous water tank and a drip tray that’s wide enough for the largest mug. Essentially, this is perfect for time-starved coffee lovers everywhere.

Read our full Nespresso Creatista Uno review

The best filter coffee machines to buy

Best affordable filter coffee machine: Melitta Look Timer

Price: £45 | Buy now from Amazon

High-quality coffee doesn’t have to be expensive, as the Melitta Look Timer shows. Despite its reasonable price, this is one of the best filter machines that you can buy.

It takes paper filters, which ensures fresh-tasting coffee, while giving you the opportunity to adjust the taste by using different types of filter. It’s also solidly built: there’s even a dial to adjust the strength and flavour of your coffee.

A glass jug takes the coffee, while a hotplate keeps it warm if you can’t drink it all in one go. Don’t keep the coffee on there for too long, though, as the flavour starts to change.

Read our full Melitta Look Timer review

Best high-end filter coffee machine: Melitta Aroma Elegance Therm Deluxe

Price: £97 | Buy now from Amazon

If you want the best-quality filter coffee, the Melitta Aroma Elegance Therm Deluxe is the machine for you. It’s extremely easy to use, has a removable water reservoir for easy filling and, most importantly, produces excellent coffee with no hassle. Thanks to its use of paper filters, you get the best quality and the opportunity to tweak the flavour by changing papers.

This machine dispenses coffee into a thermal jug, which keeps your coffee hot without constantly heating it and ruining the taste.

Finally, with a clock and timer controls on the front, you can quickly set your coffee to start brewing at a time that suits you.

Read our Melitta Aroma Elegance Therm Deluxe review