We’ve chosen three from each category to give you a taste of our favourite picks, but for the full roster of recommendations, visit our guides to the best espresso machines, best coffee pod machines, and best bean-to-cup coffee machines.
This guide is also regularly updated with models that impress with their performance in our category tests. Find out more about how we test products.
All costs-to-run calculations were done against the variable tariff at the time of testing (16.6p/kWh), which has since changed – read more on the current energy price guarantee rates.
Discover the best coffee machines for home. Here, we’ve looked at espresso machines, pod machines and bean-to-cup coffee machines. For more, visit our reviews section and find over 400 practical buyer’s guides and product reviews offering unbiased advice on what equipment is worth investing in. For more on coffee, we’ve reviewed coffee grinders, iced coffee makers, and reusable coffee cups, too.
Jump to section:
- Best blowout espresso machine: Smeg EGF03 espresso machine, £849.95
- Best espresso machine for frothy coffee: Breville One-Touch Coffee House II, £349.99
- Best espresso machine for small kitchens: Dualit Espresso Coffee Machine, £129.99
Bean-to-cup coffee machines
- Best semi-automatic bean-to-cup coffee machine: Sage Barista Touch Impress, £1,199.95
- Best bean-to-cup coffee machine for basic utility: De’Longhi Magnifica S Smart Automatic bean-to-cup coffee machine, £349
- Best designed bean-to-cup coffee machine: Smeg BCC02 bean-to-cup coffee machine, £699
Coffee pod machines
- Best coffee pod machine for quality espresso: Nespresso Vertuo Pop, £90.09
- Best speciality coffee pod machine: Opal One coffee pod machine, £144.99
- Best affordable coffee pod machine: Lavazza Jolie, £47.50
Check out expert barista Celeste Wong’s recommendations for the best moka pots, gooseneck kettles, coffee grinders and decaf coffee to buy on our sister brand, olive magazine:
Smeg EGF03 espresso machine
Best blowout espresso machine
- High-quality accessories
- User-friendly features
- Integrated grinder
- Large footprint
- No adjustable height tray
Star rating: 4.5/5
Smeg is well known for producing sophisticated gadgets with a 1950s aesthetic, and this newest espresso machine is no different. It feels like an upgrade from the ECF01 as it comes with an integrated bean grinder with automatic dosing, so you can enjoy fresh coffee in every cup you make.
Other accessories include a stainless steel milk jug and 58mm portafilter, which has cushioning underneath to aid with tamping. The steaming wand offers excellent manoeuvrability and produced creamy whipped froth for our cappuccinos. Our espresso, too, was rich and topped with glossy, caramel-coloured crema.
The expensive price tag of the ECF03 may put you off, but what you do get in return is a robust, attractive machine that produces truly great coffee and feels built to last.
Cost to pull one double espresso each day for one month: 3.9p
Breville One-Touch Coffee House II
Best espresso machine for frothy coffee
- Quality espresso
- Compatible with ESE pods
- Slimline design
- Versatile functionality
- Portafilter baskets release easily
- More expensive than most
- Noisy when in use
- No americano preset
- Vague guidance on how much coffee to use
- Portafilter needs twisting firmly to lock in
Star rating: 4.5/5
This sleek, compact Breville gadget is ideal if you want some automation but still enjoy the process of tamping and brewing your coffee manually. Both grounds and ESE pods can be used, and on the control panel there are options for single and double espresso, plus cappuccino and latte.
The milk steamer can be customised using a textured metal dial on the front (depending on how frothy you like your coffee) and produced velvety microfoam during testing. The quality of the espresso was also very good, and the crema was rich and glossy.
Versus other models on the market, this machine is more expensive than most and only comes with a one-year warranty. But it’s user-friendly design and attractive build will be a big win for many – particularly if you’re looking to spend in this price bracket – and its ESE pod-compatibility means you can keep mess to a minimum too.
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Dualit espresso coffee machine
Best espresso machine for small kitchens
- Good espresso
- Simple, intuitive controls
- Small footprint
- Easy to insert grounds
- Adjustable speeds for steam wand
- Auto-shut off
- ESE pods or grounds can be used
- Steam wand can be tricky to manoeuvre
- Manual stop for espresso
- Portafilter can be drippy
Star rating: 4.5/5
Fuss-free and quietly dependable, this Dualit espresso machine makes a sleek and stylish addition to the worktop. Inserting grounds via the scoop and into the portafilter is an easy process, and its intuitive controls meant we could get going almost straight away.
Our espresso was hot and smooth, and though it lacked some depth in flavour, it had the silky, hazelnut-coloured crema we were looking for. Steaming milk for cappuccinos was also mixed: the wand was quite stiff so getting the angle right for frothing was awkward, though we liked being able to adjust the speed – as you get with most professional machines.
Filling the water tank up is also a simple task – there’s a hole at the top of the machine that you can pour water into without having to remove anything, and there’s a water level indicator that’s visible from the front.
Read our full guide to the best espresso machines to find more star buys.
The best bean-to-cup coffee machines
Packed with power, these sophisticated gadgets take every part of the coffee making process off your hands, grinding, dosing, tamping and brewing coffee at the touch of a button.
Sage Barista Touch Impress
Best semi-automatic bean-to-cup coffee machine
- Intuitive touchscreen
- Digital step-by-step guidance
- Auto-cleaning functions
- Adjustable presets
- Customisable froth settings for almond, soy and oat milk
- Grind is noisy and slow
- Takes a while to dial in
Star rating: 5/5
Wattage: 1430-1700 W
This newest bean-to-cup model from Sage strikes the perfect balance between convenience and customisation, without compromising on the quality of the coffee. There are eight drink options to choose from, plus options to tweak the froth level and type of milk you’re using, be it dairy, almond, soy or oat. The machine is also built with assisted tamping, and auto-corrects each dose for the next time you use it.
We liked the step-by-step guidance on screen, which advised on grind size and whether extraction was too fast or slow – though bear in mind that dialling it in can be a lengthy process. Once we hit the sweet spot, though, the espresso we produced was excellent: hot, rich and topped with glossy crema.
Cost to pull one double espresso each day for one week: 1.1p
De’Longhi Magnifica S Smart Automatic bean-to-cup coffee machine
Best bean-to-cup coffee machine for basic utility
- Quality espresso
- More affordable than similar models
- Water tank pulls out from the front
- Intuitive control panel
- Less versatile than other machines
Star rating: 5/5
Where many espresso machines come with extra features and customisable settings, this De’Longhi model brings it back to basics. The focus is purely on the coffee, and it really delivers in terms of quality: our espresso is hot and smooth, with a rich flavour and silky smooth crema.
Its built-in grinder is noisy but efficient, and there are other user-friendly elements we liked such as the adjustable spout and intuitive interface. The water tank also pulls out from the front, so there’s no need to pull the whole machine out each time you fill it up.
Smeg BCC02 bean-to-cup coffee machine
Best designed bean-to-cup coffee machine
- Small countertop footprint
- Adjustable milk steam wand
- Simple and intuitive to use
- Steams milk separately using its wand
Star rating: 5/5
We would go as far as saying that Smeg’s first ever bean-to-cup coffee machine has completely changed the game with its compact footprint and lightweight body. The size makes it suitable for any kitchen without compromising on sophistication or the variety of drinks. Through its four-button interface, the machine offers eight functions across two menus; ristretto, espresso, coffee, hot water, light ristretto, light espresso, long coffee and a milk steam function with its adjustable wand. Above this are five alert icons. Of course, it also carries the brand’s iconic 1950’s style with brush aluminium and matte coloured outer. Both simple and sophisticated, this is deservedly a Star Buy.
The best coffee pod machines
A note on pod machines and the environment: If you like pod machines but are concerned about the environmental impact of using disposable capsules, it’s worth noting that Nespresso operates a recycling service. There is also now a great range of eco caps, biodegradable and compostable options. We also have a coffee gadget review that gives some alternative coffee-making options that don’t involve pods or machines.
Nespresso Vertuo Pop coffee pod machine
Best coffee pod machine for quality espresso
- Simple to use
- Quality espresso with thick crema
- Small footprint
- Easy to unload and clean
- Manual is very large
- A little noisy
- Can only use Nespresso Vertuo pods
- Stiff when lowering the lid
Star rating: 4.5/5
For those working with a smaller budget, this more affordable edition within Nespresso’s Vertuo range is a stylish addition to any countertop. Available in six colours, it has an attractive body with rounded edges and an easy to use push-button interface, but what stands out to us most is the quality of the espresso. The coffee we brewed in the Vertuo Pop was rich and dark, with a thick, silky crema and light touch of acidity.
Setting it up was a bit more of a faff – the manual is large and features all the models within the Vertuo range, which means a chunk of the information included isn’t relevant to this machine. It’s also a tad noisy during use, and the lid has to be pressed down firmly when inserting the capsule, which isn’t especially user-friendly. For the quality of the coffee it produces, though, it offers excellent value versus other Vertuo models.
Opal One coffee pod machine
Best speciality coffee pod machine
- Produces rich, dark espresso
- Adjustable brew temperature
- Quick to heat up
- Simple to clean
- User-friendly design
- Sleek, slimline build
- Drips a lot after brewing
- Parts of the manual are unclear and poorly written
Star rating: 4.5/5
If you care about the quality of your espresso but still want the convenience of using a pod machine, the Opal One is designed to brew speciality coffee. It’s a modern-looking, sleek piece of kit with three espresso options – short, normal and lungo – and adjustable temperatures, so you can brew your coffee exactly as you like it.
The handle around the water tank lid makes it easy to carry to and from the sink, reducing the risk of spillages. Set-up was relatively easy, though some of the written instructions in the manual were hard to follow.
We began by using standard Nespresso-compatible pods, and the espresso was good – hot and rich in flavour, with a thin but glossy crema. As the makers of this machine advise using speciality pods, we then tried Gesha pods from Colonna Coffee and noticed the crema was much thicker, and the coffee had a pleasant touch of acidity.
Lavazza Jolie coffee pod machine
Best affordable coffee pod machine
- Small footprint on the countertop
- Sleek but statement design
- Manual stop for single espresso
Star rating: 5/5
The Lavazza Jolie does the basics really, really well. Its rounded statement handle lifts and lowers to lock the capsules into place. At just 33cm deep and 12cm wide, it’s countertop footprint is one of the smallest of all the coffee machines tested, yet brews single espresso with 10 bars of pressure to produce rich, flavourful coffee. If a longer short or lungo shots is your favourite, this is the perfect machine.
Read our full guide to the best coffee pod machines.
Depending on your budget and desired amount of control over the coffee-making process, look out for these features.
- Milk steam wand: perfect for lovers of milky coffees, steam wands give you control over the quantity, temperature and froth level of your milk and are common features on espresso machines and bean-to-cup coffee machines.
- Multiple filter baskets: if you’re after an espresso machine that can make double shots as well as single, choose a machine that offers two or more filter baskets for loading into the portafilter.
- Coffee grind adjustability: different coffees are best with different grind levels. For example, espresso needs finely ground coffee, whereas filter coffee works well with a coarser grind. So if your machine is grinding the beans prior to brewing them, adjustability means better brews.
- Double cup functionality: some machines will comfortably make two cups of coffee at a time, which is a convenient function if you like drinking your cups with company. Coffee pod machines do not do this.
- Adjustable drip tray or espresso outlet: a silky layer of hazelnut foam called crema is one characteristic that defines espresso, so you don’t want the coffee to splash out! These will also mean the machine can accommodate your favourite mug, whatever the size.
- Cleaning functions: just like kettles, coffee machines are susceptible to the build up of limescale, but you also have lingering coffee oils to contend with and milk, if your machine has a frother. Modern machines should have self-cleaning functions to help you keep on top of this.
Again, this depends on the type of coffee you’re looking to make and desired level of control over the process. A basic coffee pod machine can be picked up for upwards of £40, although buying coffee pods can work out to be a more expensive in the long run.
Espresso machines that use ground coffee start at just under £100 but the ceiling for these depends on the brand and can be pushed upwards of £2000. Most on the market are pump-powered and generate bar-pressure to drive hot water through the compressed grounds. For a good automatic machine with presets, you can expect to pay between £100 and £400.
The most expensive home coffee machines on the market tend to be bean-to-cup. These are also the largest out there in terms of footprint and start at around £300.
Which coffee machine should I buy?
Coffee pod machines
- Pros: quick, convenient, less pricey than more sophisticated coffee machines and relatively mess-free, you’re guaranteed to have fresh coffee every day (beans and ground coffee quickly go stale once a bag is exposed to open air).
- Cons: the pods aren’t always recyclable, can work out as more expensive over time, you’re limited to coffee from certain brands and can only make on cup at a time.
See our review of the best coffee pod machines.
Home espresso machines
- Pros: this is a choice for the serious coffee devotee with a larger kitchens. They employ the same tamp-and-pack method that you see in cafés and coffee shops. You put the coffee in a portafilter and fasten it into the machine, then it drips out a condensed espresso with crema top.
- Cons: may or may not offer milk wands for steaming milk and require a hands-on approach
See our review of the best espresso machines.
Bean-to-cup coffee machines
- Pros: the major advantage of these machines is convenience – they can grind and press coffee beans as well as making an espresso all in one go. The quality of the coffee is almost unparalleled in terms of at-home brewing, as it is freshly ground for each cup, meaning the taste is as aromatic and fresh as it gets. There’s also the considerable plus of not having to buy new pods for it every few days – a costly and usually non-eco-friendly endeavour that more and more coffee drinkers are keen to avoid.
- Cons: they require regular cleaning if you are using daily, especially if the machine has a fresh milk operating system.
See our review of the best bean-to-cup coffee machines.
Filter coffee machines
- Pros: they are an affordable option as they operate on a simple dripper function, so prices start at around £50. They’re good for making coffee in bulk, and they can be left to their own devices.
- Cons: machines can vary widely in quality and get quite pricey.
The type of coffee you should use depends on the type of machine you have. Coffee pod machines will obviously only work with coffee pods (and even these may require specific pods, so check before you buy).
For espresso machines, you’ll want to use ground coffee, which can be bought pre-ground or you can grind it yourself in a coffee grinder. Bean-to-cup machines have inbuilt grinders, so you can buy the coffee beans whole and they’ll do the hard work for you.
Here’s a few other things to keep in mind when you’re buying coffee for your machine:
- Grind consistency: Different coffee machines require specific grind sizes for optimal extraction. For example, espresso machines usually require a fine grind, while drip coffee machines work better with a medium grind. Adjust the settings on your grinder accordingly, or check the packet if using pre-ground coffee.
- Freshness: Coffee beans tend to be at their best within a few weeks of roasting – so the fresher the beans, the better your coffee. Most reputable coffee roasteries add roast dates to their packaging, so use this as a guide to check for freshness.
- Roast level: The length of time the coffee beans have been roasted for can also affect the flavour. Lighter roasts usually have more acidity and fruity notes, while darker roasts tend to be bolder with caramel or chocolate undertones. Have a go at experimenting with different roast levels to find your preferred taste.
- Bean origin: Coffee beans from different regions offer unique flavours and characteristics too. Popular origins include Ethiopia, Colombia, or Brazil.
The coffee machines featuring above were some of the best performing from within their category tests. Our reviews experts put products through their paces in controlled conditions and marked each against a set of core and contributing criteria. The average marks out of five across the following determined the overall star rating of each machine. Find our more about how we test products.
For example, with espresso, we looked for a rich colour, bold aroma, intense flavour and a hazelnut coloured top of silky crema.
Coffee machines are big investments, so every element must be built to withstand daily use over a long period of time.
Overpriced? Cheap feel? The quality offered must feel like good return for the investment.
Coffee machines shouldn’t require an hour of studying a convoluted instruction manual. They also need to be simple enough to use when half asleep or in a rush.
- Ease of assembly and packaging
We scored on the protective quality of the packaging, quantity of single-use plastic used and how simple each was to put together.
The following secondary criteria also played into our decision-making
- Extra features
- Energy efficiency and wattage
- Ease of cleaning
- Efficiency of extra features
- Footprint on the countertop
- Aesthetic design
Some of these factors carried more weight in our decision making depending on the category of machine. For example, Bean-to-cup coffee machines should allow for elements like grind size and water temperature to be adjusted depending on the coffee you’re making, which enables the tailoring of drinks to your taste.
Coffee pod machines use single-shot pods so their versatility isn’t as broad as espresso machines that can make two cups at the same time. Espresso machines may have milk frothing wands so these should have enough oomph to heat and froth milk without literally running out of steam.
Whatever your priorities, we’ve carefully, scrutinised and scored coffee machines so that only the best make it into our buyer’s guides. Find the best coffee machine for your budget and kitchen right here.
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