Best pod coffee machines 2020: 10 affordable buys for easy hot drinks

Get ready for the back to school/work grind with the best pod coffee machines. Our pick from big-named brands such as De’Longhi, KitchenAid and Lavazza, make that morning cuppa so easy

best pod coffee machine
(Image credit: Lavazza)

The best pod coffee machine is a lifesaver for that back to school/work grind. No faffing around waiting around for a drip filter, or having to grind beans. Nope – pod coffee machines make great tasting coffee in an instant.

We're talking espresso, flat white, cappuccinos (you name it!), with very minimal effort. All you need to do is choose which is the best pod coffee machine for you, insert your pod and then leave the machine to it. Easy.  

Scroll down to read our pod coffee machine reviews. The majority of the machines have been tried and tested by our appliance experts. They have been chosen for brand quality, maintenance, appearance, running costs and the initial investment. Feel free to check out the very best coffee machines in our buyer’s guide too if you want to see more options including portable and bean-to-cup coffee makers.

Our best pod coffee machine picks for 2020

best pod coffee machine: Sage Nespresso Creatista Uno

(Image credit: Amazon)

1. SAGE NESPRESSO CREATISTA UNO SNE500BKS Pod Coffee Machine

Best pod coffee machine (over all): brews up speedily and makes fabulous coffee

Specifications
Best for: coffee-shop-style-coffees
Type: Nespresso
Pressure: 19 bar
Capacity: 1.5L tank
Dimensions: H30.8 x W17.1 x D39.3cm
Reasons to buy
+Makes all your favourites +Quick 3 second heat up +Tasty drinks
Reasons to avoid
-Investment buy

This coffee machine by Sage is our number one pod coffee machine. Why? Well, it makes great coffee and great coffees. In other words, you can whip up a delicious espresso and you can also make all the coffee shop favourites with espresso as a basis.

Quick off the mark

Yes, fellow coffee fans, we know: who wants to hang about? And with this machine you don’t have to. It has a heat-up system that reaches the ideal temperature in 3 seconds, which, we think it’s fair to say, qualifies as ready in a flash.

What do we like about it?

We’ll take the convenience of the pod system itself as read. But there’s plenty more that pleases us with this machine.

First of all there’s a choice of three coffee lengths from petite ristretto (25ml volume), to classic espresso (40ml), and longer lungo (110ml).

If you’re venturing away from its black coffee repertoire, there’s plenty you can create. There are three milk froth settings: one for flat white, one for cappuccino and one for latte macchiato, so you can create authentic coffee shop drinks at home.

Even better, the steam wand simply needs wiping before it auto purges, so keeping on frothing is no hassle.

Easy to clean

There’s no hard graft to maintain this machine in tip-top shape. The necessary parts can be easily removed for cleaning, and there’s an alert that’ll remind you to descale.

What don’t we like?

You will pay for the pleasure of using this machine and it does have less expensive rivals that will  produce the same black and milk drinks. However, if your budget does extend this far, we think you won’t be disappointed as it offers good value in terms of taste and savings versus drinking at your local coffee shop.

Real Homes rating 5 out of 5 stars

  • Buy the Sage Nespresso Creatista Uno SNE500BKS Pod Coffee Machine

Lavazza Idola coffee machine

(Image credit: Lavazza)

2. Lavazza A Modo Mio Idola Coffee Machine

The best pod coffee machine for espresso fans: great-tasting black coffee from a simple-to-use machine

Specifications
Best for: Espresso
Type: Lavazza A Mode Mio capsules
Pressure: 10 bar
Capacity: 1.1L tank
Dimensions: H28 x W14.5 x D38cm
Reasons to buy
+Good looker+Quiet+Great choice of coffees 
Reasons to avoid
-You want a built-in steam wand 

If it’s only black coffees you need, then the Lavazza A Modo Mio Idola coffee machine will be right up your street. It’ll deliver the length of drink you want and fabulous taste with, of course, all the convenience of doing so in your own kitchen whenever you like with no grinding and tamping required.

A brilliant black coffee option

We’ve awarded this coffee machine our number two spot because it’s the only machine capsule fans who are after black drinks need. It’ll do the business with no fuss, and you’ll be delighted by the flavour of its brews.

What do we like about it?

It may specialise, but there’s actually plenty of flexibility with this machine, which offers choice for lovers of espresso-based drinks. Yes, it will make an espresso (30ml), but you can also create a long espresso (60ml), or a long coffee (100ml), or even get it to brew your own preferred drink volume with the free dose button. For us, that makes it a top choice because it’ll create the coffees you crave at different times of day.

Also notable are the aroma of the coffees this machine makes – very enticing – and the authentic froth (more correctly, crema) on the top of its coffees. No compromises on the coffee shop there, either.

Other favourite features of this machine for us? It’s ready to go in 35 seconds allowing you to get your first caffeine dose of the day before you even contemplate which breakfast cereal to go for.

Low maintenance life

Coffee machines vary greatly in how much looking after they demand of you, and this one is definitely on the low workload side. The used capsule drawer holds 10 pods so you won’t be emptying it all the time. You can easily take off the parts that need cleaning, so that’s no trouble, and there’s a light to remind you to get rid of limescale as well, taking the remembering part off your plate.

What don’t we like?

It’s Lavazza A Modo Mio capsules you need for this machine, so you might have to look a little harder for them on shelves busy with the pods of rival systems such as Nespresso and Nescafé Dolce Gusto. That said, you can find Lavazza A Modo Mio capsules at all the major supermarkets or buy online so keeping yourself in coffee won’t be a problem.

Real Homes rating 5 out of 5 stars

  • Buy the Lavazza A Modo Mio Idola coffee machine

best pod coffee machine: DE’LONGHI DEDICA STYLE EC685

(Image credit: De'Longhi)

3. De'Longhi Dedica Style EC685 Pod Coffee Machine

The best two-in-one pod coffee machine: uses capsules but works with ground coffee, too

Specifications
Best for: flexibility
Type: ESE capsules or ground coffee
Pressure: 15 bar
Capacity: 1.1L tank
Dimensions: H30.3 x W14.9 x D33cm
Reasons to buy
+Choice of using ESE pods or ground coffee +Stylish design+Milk frother
Reasons to avoid
-Pricer choice

If you like the idea of capsules but think the flexibility of being able to use ground coffee as an alternative is a brilliant idea, then this machine has your name on it. Other benefits? There are plenty, including coffee with a taste we definitely approve of.

Use capsules or ground coffee

This isn’t the cheapest of the pod coffee machines in our list, but you are getting more for your money and, if being able to brew up with either ESE capsules or ground coffee is something you’re going to take advantage of, it could well be worth the extra spend.

Not heard of ESE pods? The ESE stands for easy serving espresso and the big difference between this and other capsule systems is that it’s an open system with lots of companies making the capsules that fit into compatible machines like this one. Bottom line? You’ll have plenty of choice when you’re purchasing pods, and you can find the coffee taste you love.

What do we like about it?

The fact that you can make espresso or cappuccino – or whip up some hot milk for a hot chocolate – helped make this machine part of our list of the best. After all, even if you’re a fan of just espresso, it’s good to be able to make a friend their favourite.

We’re also rather taken by its compact dimensions. A lot of machines with similar functions are significantly more bulky and, if your kitchen’s on the small side, this can make them a space-hogging nuisance as much as a benefit. This machine’s just under 15cm wide. Nice!

Colours to suit

We’re awarding points for the fact it makes espresso and cappuccino, more for the fact it uses ground coffee as an alternative to pods, and – on top of all that – we give it credit for the fact that it comes in a metal, black or red finish which should complement plenty of kitchen colour schemes.

What don’t we like?

We found it did drip a bit after use in our test. Although the tray will catch these splashes, we’d rather it didn’t.

Real Homes rating 4 out of 5 stars

  • Buy the De'Longhi Dedica Style EC685 Pod Coffee Machine

best pod coffee machine: BOSCH TASSIMO HAPPY TAS1002GB

(Image credit: Amazon)

4. Bosch Tassimo Happy TAS1002GB Pod Coffee Machine

Best pod coffee machine that makes other drinks: brew up tea and hot chocolate as well as a range of coffees

Specifications
Best for: making more than coffee
Type: Tassimo
Pressure: 3.3 bar
Capacity: 0.7L tank
Dimensions: H30.5 x W36 x D23cm
Reasons to buy
+Makes coffees, teas and more +Simple operation+Compact
Reasons to avoid
- Limited to branded capsules 

Like the idea of an all-rounder rather than a specialist when it comes to your choice of machine? Then we’d recommend you check out this model, which could be the perfect addition to a household with varied tastes.

Simple operation

Fill (the water tank), load (the capsule) and press (the button) to get your drink; we’d say it doesn’t get much more straightforward than that, which is all to the good.

The only complication is when you’re making a milk-containing drink, which generally take two capsules to make: milk first, then espresso. But it’s not a huge deal, after all.

What do we like about it?

The fact that you can create a whole lot of drinks: espresso, Americano, latte, cappuccino, flat white and so on. Flavoured coffees such as Toffee Nut Latte, Baileys Latte Macchiato, or Costa Gingerbread Latte are also on the menu. Add to that tea with Twinings T-Discs, or a hot chocolate – with offerings from Cadbury, Milka, and Baileys – or even an Oreo drink.

A thumbs-up on cleaning and care as well. Yes, we mean there isn’t too much to do. Some parts are dishwashable, and descaling is indicated with a light so you don’t need to remember (we have to confess this is our downfall sometimes).

Small size

At H30.5 x W36 x D23cm, this machine should definitely be on your list of possibles if your kitchen isn’t large. And while it’s not committing the offence of taking up more than its fair share of the worktop, it will bring a pleasingly curvaceous form to the area it does fill.

What don’t we like?

It doesn’t have a huge water tank, leaving your refilling more often than you might like. It’s also a tad noisy. Yes, that means you can’t sneak yourself a drink without alerting the rest of your household into adding their orders while you’re there.

Real Homes rating 4 out of 5 stars

  • Buy the Bosch Tassimo Happy TAS1002GB Pod Coffee Machine

best pod coffee machine: KITCHENAID ARTISAN NESPRESSO SKES0503

(Image credit: KitchenAid)

5. KitchenAid Artisan Nespresso SKES0503 Pod Coffee Machine

Best pod coffee machine for style: get good looks and a great cup of coffee

Specifications
Best for: looks
Type: Nespresso
Pressure: 19 bar
Capacity: 1.4L tank
Dimensions: H33 x W20.8 x D33cm
Reasons to buy
+Handsome addition to your kitchen +Easy to use+Great coffee
Reasons to avoid
- Not a budget option 

If design credentials are equally as important to you as a tasty espresso, then have a shufty at this beauty. It looks the part, operates smoothly, and delivers a drink you’d get from a barista.

Ease of use

In our testing, this machine was a champ when it came to day to day use. A pump-style handle opens the capsule loading compartment and it’s satisfyingly hefty (though not hard) to operate. You select the volume of the coffee with a dial, then press the centre to get your coffee made.

You can press it again to add extra to the cup, or to stop the brew early, too. At the end, you have to move the handle up again to eject the capsule. Quick and hassle-free.

What do we like about it?

For a start off, there’s the range of coffee sizes: 25ml ristretto, 40ml espresso; 60ml, 90ml, 110ml lungo, and 130ml, good for those who like to swap between different length drinks.

They’re great coffees, too, delivering in the categories of aroma, crema (the foamy head of the coffee created by the brewing process), and, most importantly, taste.

And while we are loathe to admit to impatience, we don’t like hanging about when we’re ready for a coffee (OK, we are admitting to impatience). However, as this machine heats up in 30 seconds, we can rejoice in its delivering on that score, too.

Low maintenance

Coffee machines do need a certain amount of effort on your part to keep producing great coffees, but this one keeps the work to a minimum. The capsule container holds 14 of the things, which is great.

Removing the parts for cleaning is no hassle, and some can go into the dishwasher, which we’re always keen on.

What don’t we like?

It’s not a negative for everybody, but if you’ve got a small kitchen, then bear in mind the size of the machine: H33 x W20.8 x D33cm. Frequent house-movers should also be aware that it’s weighty compared to other pod machines at 8.96kg.

  • Buy the KitchenAid Artisan Nespresso SKES0503 Pod Coffee Machine

Lavazza Tiny - best coffee machine - real homes

(Image credit: Lavazza)

6. Lavazza Tiny Pod Coffee Machine

Best compact pod coffee machine: tiny by name… but still makes a cracking cup of java

Specifications
Best for: small spaces
Type: Lavazza A Modo Mio
Pressure: 15 bar
Capacity: 0.75L tank
Dimensions: H24.6 x W12 x D29cm
Reasons to buy
+Compact+Easy to use+Won’t break the bank 
Reasons to avoid
-Espresso only 

The clue’s in the name with this one. It is a small pod coffee machine, but don’t let its size fool you. It’ll still deliver you a tasty brew and in double-quick time, too. And you can’t say better than that.

Simple operation

The machine’s ready to go in 25 seconds flat (hurrah). Your job? Just fill the water tank, put in the pod and click to brew. Done. If you want to adjust the size of your drink, you’ll need to use the free use button to get the length of coffee you prefer.

Your cleaning chores aren’t onerous either. Some of the parts go in the dishwasher, wiping down’s no trouble, and there’s the drip tray to attend to, of course.

What do we like about it?

It sets out to make you a good espresso – and it does. We’re big fans of Lavazza’s A Modo Mio capsules in any case. They reliably deliver a coffee that tastes like one you’d get in a coffee shop, and using them in this machine proved no exception to this rule.

It looks good on the worktop, which is definitely an important factor when you’re buying an appliance that’s going to be on show on the worktop all the time. We like an accent of red, but there are black and white alternatives if the bold shade doesn’t float your boat.

What don’t we like?

You have to eject capsules manually. It’s not a huge deal, we’re just saying.

Real Homes rating 4 out of 5 stars

  • Buy the Lavazza Tiny Pod Coffee Machine

best pod coffee machine - Lavazza Desea A Modo Mio Pod Coffee Machine

(Image credit: Lavazza)

7. Lavazza Desea A Modo Mio Pod Coffee Machine

Best pod coffee machine for speciality coffees: having cappuccino on tap has never been easier

Specifications
Best for: speciality coffees
Type: Lavazza A Modo Mio
Pressure: n/a
Capacity: 1.1L tank
Dimensions: W14.5 x D38 x H28cm
Reasons to buy
+Speciality coffee on tap+Zero effort+Stylish design
Reasons to avoid
-If you want big brews

Ideal for anyone who likes frothy coffee, this coffee machine could be your next go-to as you (now) work from home more often or just like coffee on demand.

Easy to use

Once you've rinsed the water tank, plugged it in and switched it on, the fun can start. As with the Lavazza Tiny (above) they're are plenty of scrummy coffee pods to choose from. Think; black americano, espresso ristretto, lungo...

You'll then just need to place your mug or cup on the cup support, insert your pods and select the advised drink symbol so the machine to get brewing. If you just want to steam some milk, you’ll need to fill the milk jug up to the corresponding drink symbol and seal it with the lid and attached frother.

What do we like about it?

We LOVE the ease of use and how easy it is to keep clean. All removable components are dishwasher safe.

Our reviewers favourite feature is the extra hot button. Select it so that it lights up, before selecting your drink of choice if you like your coffee to stay warmer for longer. This machine is energy efficient and will switch to stand-by mode automatically after nine minutes of no use to conserve energy.

What don't we like?

If you use the milk frother, you may lose a bit of froth and heat when you transfer your cappuccino to your own mug from the jug. And if you like big brews, you may want to double up on espresso caps when making large cappuccinos to ensure you get the perfect coffee (and caffeine) to milk ratio

Real Homes rating 4 out of 5 stars

  • Buy the Lavazza Desea A Modo Mio Pod Coffee Machine

best pod coffee machine: KRUPS NESPRESSO VERTUOPLUS

(Image credit: Amazon)

8. Krups Nespresso Vertuoplus Pod Coffee Machine

Best long pod coffee machine: create a whole mugful from a capsule

Specifications
Best for: long coffee fans
Type: Nespresso Vertuo
Pressure: Not applicable (see below)
Capacity: 1.7L tank
Dimensions: H34 x W23 x D33cm
Reasons to buy
+Makes long coffees as well as espresso +One-button-operation+Quick heat-up time
Reasons to avoid
- No milk frother with this model 

Let’s say you like espresso, but you frequently choose longer black coffees. Speaking your language? Then check out this pod coffee machine which is specially made to deliver more of a drink.

Tell me about Nespresso Vertuo

We’re glad you asked. Nepresso Vertuo capsules are a different, and newer, capsule than the Nespresso Original pods. They’re designed to make espresso, but you can also make longer coffee drinks at home easily with capsules from this range.

Using the Vertuo capsules – and this must be in a Vertuo machine – can deliver you up to 414ml of coffee in one go, and there’s no programming or holding down buttons to get the amount of coffee you like. The machine reads the barcode on the capsule when it’s making your coffee so the process is automatic.

What do we like about it?

It’s the five cup sizes, fellow black coffee enthusiasts: 414ml alto, 230ml mug, 150ml gran lungo, 80ml double espresso, 40ml espresso. In other words, you can suit your desire for a small shot or a long, long drink to the time of day/your caffeine need/how many minutes you have to drink it.

We also like the fact that the water tank can be positioned at the back or on the left or right of the machine thanks to a rotating arm, which helps fit it neatly on to your worktop.

The 1.7ltr water tank won’t have you re-filling constantly, while a capsule container capacity of 10 won’t have you emptying all the time. To both of these we say, hurrah.

Coffee extraction

Nespresso Original machines use a high pressure 19 bar extraction system. Vertuo models like this one use Nespresso’s Centrifusion extraction. Once the machine’s read the barcode (see above) it spins the capsule to extract the coffee. Our view? It makes a coffee that’s just as tasty and with a great crema.

What don’t we like?

Although there are compatible pods available when we’re talking Nespresso Original Line pods, this isn’t the case with Vertuo, restricting you to the brand’s own pods.

  • Buy the Krups Nespresso Vertuoplus Pod Coffee Machine

best pod coffee machines: NESCAFE DOLCE GUSTO LUMIO POD COFFEE MACHINE

(Image credit: Nescafe DOLCE GUSTO)

9. Nescafe Dolce Gusto Lumio Pod Coffee Machine

Best contemporary pod coffee machine: get a wide choice of coffees and more from a curvaceous modern machine

Specifications
Best for: modern looks
Type: Nescafé Dolce Gusto
Pressure: 15 bar
Capacity: 1L tank
Dimensions: H37cm x W18cm x D22cm
Reasons to buy
+Will complement a modern kitchen +Space saving+Makes more than just coffee 
Reasons to avoid
-A little noisy

Say you’re not spoiled for space in the kitchen, and your room has a distinctly modern look. Say, too, that you want coffee but like the idea of making other drinks in your machine. Nodding vigorously? Then this could be the pod coffee machine you click to buy.

Small and light

If you’re a renter, or someone who moves frequently, a coffee machine that’s easy to take from place to place is a boon. At 2.5kg, this one fits the bill.

It’s not a space hog either. Although it doesn’t have the most minimal dimensions of our selection, this machine is just H37 x W18 x D22cm, so it’s pretty diminutive. And it’s not visually bulky thanks to the curvaceous shape – also a valuable attribute for a machine that’s going to live in a small room.

What do we like about it?

It’s all choice with this machine. Espresso, americano, ristretto and more to satisfy black coffee cravings; and macchiato, flat white, cappuccino and so on for milky coffee moments. Oh, and it’ll make teas and chocolate drinks as well. It’s definitely a machine for those with catholic tastes.

Other bonuses with this slinky machine? It makes cold drinks as well as hot ones, and the milk based drinks only require a single pod, making it a natural choice if you don’t like using steam wands and frothers to create a milky beverage.

In our test of this machine, we noted that the black coffees had authentic crema, and all the coffees had good aroma.

Descaling alert

Keeping up with the descaling is a necessity for coffee machine owners, so the quality of drinks not to mention the functioning of the machine remain consistent. But it can be hard to keep track. Full marks to this machine, then, for having an alert to remind you.

What don’t we like?

Let’s just say you can’t make a stealthy coffee. This machine does emit a certain amount of noise when it’s brewing up. It’s not for long, but you can definitely hear it working.

  • Buy the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Lumio Pod Coffee Machine

best pod coffee machine: DE’LONGHI LATTISSIMA TOUCH EN560.S

(Image credit: Amazon)

10. De'Longhi Lattissima Touch EN560.S Pod Coffee Machine

Best pod coffee machine for lattes: whip up the milky drinks you prefer with an easy to use machine

Specifications
Best for: milk-based drinks
Type: Nespresso
Pressure: 19 bar
Capacity: 0.9L tank
Dimensions: H26 x W17 x D32cm
Reasons to buy
+Easy milk frothing+Personalised settings +25 second heat up 
Reasons to avoid
-If you only drink black coffee

If you want to make coffee-shop standard coffees that use milk, you’ll need a machine that can froth correctly. Here’s a great candidate.

Built-in milk carafe

Not all of us are fans of using a steam pipe to froth milk for our coffees. With this machine, you don’t have to. Just add milk to the container, adjust the milk froth knob to get the right volume of froth, and press the button for the type of coffee you need.

You can store unused milk by putting the container in the fridge for up to a couple of days, too.

What do we like about it?

The fact that we can prepare excellent cappuccino, macchiato, or latte, or frothy warm milk, coupled with the fact that coffee is from a mess-free capsule. How pleasing is that! Naturally, you can make straight espresso for the occasions when a simple shot is your desired drink.

We also like the look of this machine – a definite worktop enhancer in our book. It doesn’t take up too much space despite the fact that it makes milk froth drinks, though – which isn’t a general rule for machines with frothers on board.

Other plus points? It has an automatic easy clean system for the milk carafe, a descaling alert to keep you on schedule with maintenance, and it has rather appealing soft touch buttons.

Personalised settings

You can programme coffee quantity and froth quantity with this machine. Yes, just think of the hours of coffee-drinking fun you can have creating your perfect drink at home. They won’t do that for you in Starbucks.

What don’t we like?

It’s a value question here really. If you love milky coffees, want to programme your own settings, and like the look then it’ll be worth the outlay. If you mostly drink black, you’ll probably decide it isn’t worth the spend.

  • Buy the De'Longhi Lattissima Touch EN560.S Pod Coffee Machine

Why buy a pod coffee machine

Pod coffee machines have a lot in their favour. They are easy to use and easy to clean, and of course they can deliver a delicious cup of coffee. But what coffee aficionados might not appreciate is that they can also pull off the same fancy tricks as espresso machines with the facility to froth milk a feature of some machines.

How to choose the best pod coffee machine

Before you buy check out running costs. Take a look online or in your local supermarket to see how much the various pods retail for. This will give you a rough price per cup and note that while some brands offer a cheaper machine, the pods can be more expensive. 

Also look at the pod range. If you like a straight forward espresso or Americano, then your options are wider, but for those who fancy a flavoured latte or perhaps the choice for hot chocolates, Tassimo and Dolce Gusto ranges will serve you best. You could alternatively opt for a pod coffee machine with attached milk frother to expand your drink choices to lattes, cappuccinos and milky coffees.

Watch the video below to learn more about what we consider when choosing a good pod coffee machine.

What is the best pod coffee machine?

To recap..if you want our number one pod coffee machine, then we highly recommend you buy the Sage Nespresso Creatista Uno SNE500BKS. It comes with a milk jug and a built-in steam wand so you can get all the convenience of pods without missing out on your favourite coffee shop drinks.

But if you’re an espresso fan, we can recommend you buy the Lavazza A Modo Mio Idola. It actually does more than brew a standard espresso with a choice of coffee lengths. But, black coffee addicts, this drink is where it’s at with this machine.

About our reviewer

One of our coffee machine reviewers is Sarah Warwick, who has made and drunk hundreds of cups of coffee in a quest to find the best machine for the home barista. She put the coffee machines to the test on a variety of drinks, as well as checking out how easy they were to set up, and to clean. 

Sarah Warwick has specialised in homes and interiors for over 20 years. She was Executive Editor of Ideal Home magazine, and has written for nationals, magazines and websites including Real Homes, Homebuilding & Renovating, Grand Designs, Homes & Gardens, Houzz, The Guardian, House Beautiful and Country Homes & Interiors.

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