Best coffee machines: for pods, ground coffee and bean to cup

We've picked out the best coffee machines, whether you’re a Nespresso lover or just want a simple filter coffee, at the best prices, too

Best coffee machines: heston blumenthal with coffee machine

If you're on the hunt for the best coffee machine, look no further than our top pick. Starting the day with a good cup of coffee is something a lot of us like to do, and you don’t have to waste your money going to Starbucks every day when you invest in your very own coffee machine for home. There are many different types of coffee machines to buy, depending on how you like to drink your coffee. See our list below if you want to narrow your search for the best coffee machine further. 

In the meantime, follow our guide to the best coffee machines – of all types – and don't miss the best of the rest of our appliance buying guides. And, if you're looking for a bargain, don't miss the latest coffee machine sales.

What is the best coffee machine?

The best coffee machine is the De'Longhi Scultura ECZ351 W, which can deliver every imaginable coffee at unbeatable quality. It's not badly priced, either. Read on for the full review, or shop our top three picks below.

How to buy the best coffee machine

We've looked at bean to cup, pod and ground filter coffee machines. We've also included our top pick of the best small coffee machines. These are all our top picks, but if you need a little jargon-busting first, here's what to consider when buying the best coffee machine:

Pod and capsule machines are very popular as they are quick and easy to use and are normally pretty good value for money. However, purchasing one of these means you are committed to buying the right pods on a regular basis which could quickly add up if you drink a lot of coffee. 

Bean to cup machines tend to work out cheaper in the long run, and are much more likely to please the coffee aficionado with their fresh-tasting results. They normally come with a range of settings so you can make anything from an espresso to a cappuccino, and have added features such as a milk frother so that you can have your very own Costa or Nero from the comfort of your own home. 

Filter coffee machines are a more classic option, and better when catering for more people than just yourself. If you like your coffee strong and black, then a filter machine will most likely cater to your taste a little better than a pod or bean to cup machine, although they take a little longer to prepare your drink, so you’ll need to have patience when making filter coffee. 

We’ve picked out the top coffee machines that cater to all coffee drinkers and picked out ones to suit all different styles of kitchen and budget. 

THE BEST COFFEE MACHINES

The best coffee machine: De'Longhi Scultura ECZ351 W Traditional Pump Espresso Machine

1. De'Longhi Scultura ECZ351 W Traditional Pump Espresso Machine

The best coffee machine: brew every tasty coffee drink you can imagine

Specifications
Best for: All round performance
Type: Ground coffee or ESE pods
Pressure: 15 bar
Cups: Two (1.4 ltr water reservoir)
Reasons to buy
+Makes every coffee you can think of+Espressos and cappuccinos a highlight+Self-priming – always ready to go
Reasons to avoid
-Not automatic: you have to have some input

The DeLonghi Scultura ECZ351 W is the best coffee maker if you want a) a quality machine; b) the ability to make a vast range of quality coffees, from single and double espressos, Americanos and flat whites to lattes, cappuccinos and latte macchiatos; c) a price that is really reasonable – all of which is why it takes our top spot. 

What's it good at?

Without being flippant, it's really good at making coffee: expressly, espresso, but cappuccino and latte, too, thanks to the easy to use steam arm. 

What do we like about it?

You can use your choice of coffee – ground or ESE pods – that for us is a winner. But how does it perform? Let's start with the espresso, which is consistently good. The portafilter (the bit that you press the coffee grounds into) holds enough for two cups. And before you start worry about lacking the skills of a barista, that portafilter we just mentioned is easy to use. Then, there's the steam arm to froth fresh milk. That too is user-friendly and is really effective at creating coffee shop standard cappuccinos and lattes. 

What's more? There's good hot water delivery for fans of Americanos – or for herbal tea drinkers (shudder). And, we like the hot plate that pre-heats your cups so that your coffee stays hot for longer. Plus, the auto switch off (after 20 minutes of being idle) is a thoughtful, energy-saving feature. This auto-off time can be changed by you, too.

What else?

We love how this coffee machine looks – traditional and sturdy to fit in both traditional and contemporary kitchens alike. Talking of looks, it's available in a range of finishes, including grey, black, white and Champagne.

What don't we like?

This machine does involve a certain amount of effort from you (tut tut). Namely, it won't automatically stop the flow of water – you have to do that. But, you know what? It's a small price to pay for excellent coffee.

The best pod coffee machine: Sage Nespresso Creatista Uno

(Image: © John Lewis)

2. Sage Nespresso CreatistaUno SNE500BKS

The best pod coffee machine: it's easy to use and clean, too

Specifications
Best for: Pod coffee
Type: Pod
Pressure: 19 bar
Cups: One (1.5 ltr water reservoir)
Reasons to buy
+Really quick coffee+Easy to clean+Makes great coffee
Reasons to avoid
-Cost of pods

The Sage Nespresso Creatista Uno capsule coffee machine takes the second place in our list for good reason: it makes really great coffee, it's super-easy to use and clean and it looks good on a worktop. It's only beaten into second place by our first choice because it's pod-only (Nespresso Original and compatible coffee pods) and because it's a little higher price. Otherwise, we're big fans. 

What's it good at?

Let's take 'making great coffee' as read this time – although we would mention that the crema this machine produces is as good as that of our first pick. What it does do well is dispense espresso far faster than our first choice (about three times quicker at just 25 seconds). Ideal if you get twitchy waiting for that first fix of the day. Plus it's easy to use and we like that.

What do we like about it?

The automatic steam wand has a choice of three milk temperatures and frothing levels, which is a bit of a revelation – it's not a feature you'd normally see on a capsule coffee machine. Plus, the steam wand purges itself after use so cleaning it isn't an issue.

The adjustable settings don't stop there: you can control coffee volume (there are three cup sizes) and milk texture, too. So, whether you like a long or short coffee, adjust the coffee machine to suit, and it'll produce your perfect cup every time.

Despite the high pressure (19 bar) pump, this coffee machine is quiet. Like our first pick, there's an energy-saving auto shut-off feature (after nine minutes).

What else? 

Let's talk cleaning: the 1.5ltr water tank is easy to remove and the metal milk jug is dishwasher-safe. There's also an indicator that tells you when the coffee machine needs descaling (also an easy, quick job). 

What don't we like?

The ongoing cost and waste of pods – but then this is always an issue you'll face if you choose this type of coffee machine. That said, Nespresso does run a pod recycling scheme.

The best bean to cup coffee machine: Melitta Barista Smart TS F85/0-102

(Image: © Amazon)

3. Melitta Barista Smart TS F85/0-102

The best bean to cup coffee machine: you can control it from your phone, too

Specifications
Best for: Bean to cup coffee
Type: Bean to cup
Pressure: 15 bar
Cups: Two
Reasons to buy
+Makes great coffee+Can be controlled from your phone
Reasons to avoid
-A little hefty for small kitchens

If you're looking for a bean to cup coffee machine, the Melitta Barista Smart TS F85/0-102 bean-to-cup coffee machine is our top pick. Why? It does it all: grinds fresh coffee beans, makes great coffee, has an integrated frother for milky coffees and you can control it from your phone. No more 'I'd love a coffee if I could only get out of bed' and plenty 'Ooooh, that coffee aroma is encouraging me to get up now'.

What does it do well?

Let's put the smart functions aside for now because a smart coffee machine that produces bad coffee is no good to anyone. So, the all important question: does it make good coffee? Yes, of course it does – it's in spot three, and position one for the best bean to cup coffee maker. 

What do we like about it?

So, down to the coffee. The espressos and cappuccinos are spot on – but there are actually 21 pre-programmed coffee recipes you can create. The milk frother is super easy to use and effective, too, plus it self-cleans, which we're always in favour of.

If you're into grinding coffee beans, you'll be happy to know that the integrated grinder is quiet when operating; that said, there's the option, as with most models of this type, to use pre-ground coffee, too. Talking of choice, the coffee bean hopper can hold two different coffee bean types, ideal if you're not a one-taste drinker.

We also like how easy this coffee machine is to use – it's a one touch and go design with an LCD text display for clear instructions (technophobes rejoice). Even the descaling function is done at the touch of a button. In other words, it maybe smart-enabled, but it's not complicated to use.

What else?

We're always on the look out for a smart feature (you might have noticed The Hub – our home tech pages dedicated to making life easier, not just being techy). This one's a fairly simple innovation: you download the app, and it allows you to control the coffee machine from your smartphone. You can save your favourite coffee choices so you'll always get the cup you want, and there's some useful advice on getting the best from your coffee machine, too.

While we're thinking coffee machine smarts, this one has the My Coffee Memory function – it saves the coffee preferences of up to eight people, and four pre-programmed classic specialities: espresso, cafe creme, cappuccino and latte macchiato. You can get hot water too, should anyone dare to ask for tea instead. The plug-in Milk System has a removable milk container which fits the fridge. Handy.

We're not big fans of the black finish – although it's a good pick for contemporary kitchens. However, you'll be pleased to know it comes in a subtler stainless steel, too.

What don't we like?

We're all in favour of small coffee machines because, let's face it, we don't all have worktop or cupboard space to spare – and this machine is on the larger, heavier side. 

The best filter coffee machine: Beko CEP5152B

(Image: © AO.com)

4. Beko CEP5152B filter coffee machine

The best filter coffee machine: get that ground coffee ready people

Specifications
Best for: Filter coffee
Type: Ground coffee
Pressure: 15 bar
Cups: One
Reasons to buy
+Great price+Good tasting coffee+Easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-Milk froth could be hotter-Basic

The Beko CEP5152B coffee machine has a lot going for it: it's neatly proportioned, but still has a few fancy features (we'll go into them in a minute), it makes good coffee and it's really affordable compared to our other picks. But do you get what you pay for? 

What's it good at?

For its price, you wouldn't expect this coffee machine to be the very best on our list at making coffee, but it does make a really very decent cuppa, so it's a great buy if you're on a budget or aren't a coffee snob and just like a good tasting morning pick-me-up espresso or after dinner cappuccino. 

What do we like about it?

Well, the price, for one. And the one dial control is a bonus for anyone (us) who hates complicated appliances of any kind. With this one, you have a choice of three settings: one for brewing, one for milk frothing, one for standby. 

But we like the extras we weren't expecting with a coffee machine this cheap: namely, the cup warmer; the manual steam wand for making frothy cappuccinos; the two-in-one filter basket for fresh or pre-ground coffee. Plus, it's quick. And we mean really quick: just 20 seconds for an espresso.

Finally, we think it's subtly good looking. At that price, it could look plasticky, but we think it looks pretty professional, if on the small side.

What else? 

You might expect, for this price, that it's noisy and not very user friendly. Nope. This coffee machine is quiet and easy to use – right down to the removable water tank, which makes refilling easy (and spill-free). And for its low price, it's surprisingly sturdy.

What don't we like?

Descaling is manual. Yawn. The milk froth could be hotter. But at that price, we can live with it.

Best small coffee machine: De’Longhi EC685

5. De’Longhi EC685

Best small coffee machine: for professional barista brilliance on a small footprint

Specifications
Coffee type: Ground or ESE Pods
Tank capacity: 1.1ltrs
Pressure: 15 bar
Cups: One
Reasons to buy
+ Heats up in 30 seconds + Three interchangeable devices for the perfect crema +Cup warmer+Milk functions and lots of options to customise your cuppa
Reasons to avoid
-Many parts are handwash only

The De’Longhi EC685 might be small, but it's pretty mighty and is our pick of the best small coffee makers – perfect for small kitchens.

What's it good at?

Everything. It works perfectly well with both ground coffee and pods, so if your palate is particularly fussy, you can explore all the options to find the perfect blend. It has a steam pipe for frothing milk, and if you want to grind your own beans, you can get a matching grinder.

What do we like about it?

This small coffee machine is the real deal if you want traditional results at home, thanks to a quick heat up, adjustable steam frother and interchangeable devices for producing the perfect crema. 

It comes in a number of colours, too, so can suit many kitchen schemes. While traditional in shape, its matt steel and chrome outer brings it steadfast into the 21st century, at a decent price, too.

What else?

Some reviewers mentioned it comes with an EU plug so check before purchase.

What don't we like?

Cleaning. This is like a mini version of the machines you see in coffee shops so it has a coffee sump and other accessories. This adds to the versatility, but also gives you more things to wash up afterwards.

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