Nothing says “morning” like a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Dark and delicious, energizing and aromatic, it’s the world’s most popular beverage. Great coffee starts with good beans, but to make the most of this divine drink, you need the right coffee machine.
But which type of coffee machine should you buy? With such a broad selection, from low costs capsule and filter machines, to expensive high-end commercial espresso machines, you’d be wise to do some research before buying.
Our buying guide will help you choose, and have you brewing like a barista in no time!
Types of Coffee Machines:
Understanding Your Needs
Your schedule, preferences and even the size of your kitchen will help determine the type of coffee machine you purchase. Consider the following:
If you’re always on the run, one-touch programmable or pod-style coffee machines are a good time-saving choice. Likewise, consider a machine with an auto-shutoff feature – it means one less thing to worry about while you get ready for work. A high-wattage heating element will bring water to the optimal temperature quickly.
If you enjoy more than a cup or two at a time, or brew coffee for several people, look for a machine with a transparent, large-capacity tank that can be removed for easy filling and cleaning.
Have more time on your hands?
You might enjoy luxurious latte, cappuccino or macchiato. Coffee machines with steam arms and milk frothers allow you to make dairy-based coffee at home.
If you need some serious kick in your cup, choose an espresso machine that provides at least 9 and up to 15 bars of pressure. Not only will adequate pressure create beautiful crema (the creamy foam that sits on top of a freshly brewed espresso) – it will allow the entire spectrum of flavours to be extracted from the coffee bean.
Look for an espresso machine which uses a Thermoblock system. Thermoblocks heat water as needed (as opposed to heating an entire boiler full), allowing temperatures to reach the 90° necessary for an excellent cup of espresso.
No two kitchens are alike. Consider whether you have sufficient space on your countertop for a larger coffee machine. If not, look for a compact model that’s light enough to move and small enough to stow away.
Pod Coffee Machines
Pod or capsule coffee machines for home use have become enormously popular since the Keurig Company was founded in 1990. By far the easiest type of coffee machine to operate, they use single-serving disposable pods, pre-filled with roasted, ground coffee.
Coffee pods are available in a wide variety of flavours and strengths, making it possible to experience a new type of coffee every day of the week.
Pod machines are perfect for a busy lifestyle – simply insert the pod into the machine and press a button. Hot water passes through the pre-ground coffee and into your cup. It’s quick, clean and fool-proof.
In the UK, there are several prominent brands most associated with coffee pod machines – these are Nescafe Dolce Gusto, Tassimo and Nespresso.
The latter brand tackles the issue of waste with refillable aluminum pods – and happens to be the best types of coffee pod machines for instant espresso, latte and cappuccino.
Bosch have a range of coffee machines that work with Tassimo pods, that are only compatible with Bosch machines. The Bosch Tassimo machines and their range of pods offer a wide range of drinks, such as Costa Latte, Americano, Cappuccino, even Green tea and hot chocolate, but these machine are limited to the use of Tassimo pods only.
Pods compatible with Dolce Gusto also have a good range of pods, and they have allowed companies like Aldi to produce pods compatible with their machines.
Nespresso also have a wide range of pods, including a variety of flavours by Starbucks.
So, to recap, there are three main types of coffee pod machines – Dolce Gusto, Tassimo and Nespresso – and each offer a different verity of coffee flavours, and other hot drinks.
They all work the same way, and produce equality good drinks, but there are some differences with the range of drinks available. It might be a good idea to head down to your local supermarket and look over all the coffee pods that are on offer, then choose a machine compatible with the range of pods you’re most in favour of.
Coffee Pod Recycling
One final consideration with coffee pods type machines is that each drink is going to produce waste. Every time you make a drink, you’ll be throwing away one, sometimes two, empty plastic or metallic pods.
This can lead to a lot of environmental waste, but there is a solution – all three coffee pod producers offer a recycling program. They provide you with a small bag to collect your pods, then simply drop you pods off at your nearest Collect Plus point.
The company will then collect these pods and take them off to be recycled.
Filter Coffee Machines
Requiring only a bit more effort to use than pod machines, filter coffee makers drip hot water through a reusable or disposable filter filled with ground coffee. The finished brew collects in a large carafe which sits on a heated plate.
This type of coffee machine is best suited to busy households, offices – or the coffee lover who enjoys more than just one cup!
Reusable filters need to be emptied and cleaned, but are more economical over the long-term. Disposable filters are used once then discarded, and are biodegradable.
This is the oldest, and most basic method for making coffee, but very effective. As mentioned, it’s suited for people who are drinking multiple cups of coffee per day, and want to have a constant supply on hand.
These are ideal for offices and workplaces, as there’s always a large glass jug of ready made warm coffee to pour from, without having to go through the process of making a new cup from scratch each time.
Bean to Cup Coffee Machines
Bean-to-Cup coffee machines are perfect for coffee connoisseurs. Nothing beats the aroma and flavour of coffee brewed from freshly ground beans.
You could grind the beans separately with a coffee grinder, and add them to a filter machine – but why would you when a bean-to-cup machine has an integrated grinder?
This type of coffee machine is easy to use – simply add your favourite beans and press a button. The machine grinds the beans, compresses them and forces water through the coffee grounds at high pressure, yielding a delicious cup of espresso.
Many models automatically discard the used coffee grounds and include a steam arm to create deliciously frothy milk-based coffee drinks.
The raw products (bean) are placed into the machine to produce the freshest cup of coffee, and are the most expensive type of coffee makers.
Traditional Pump Coffee Machines
For the ultimate coffee-shop experience (without the line-ups and coffee shop prices), a traditional pump coffee machine for excellent espresso is the way to go.
Traditional coffee machines require a bit more effort to use – they feature separate water tank, an internal heating element and high-pressure pump to force hot water through a filter system – but the results are well worth the extra few minutes.
You place a set amount of ground coffee into a filter attached to a metal handle, tamp the coffee down, then activate the machine. Hot water gets forced through the filter at high pressure, producing a potent cup of coffee that’s as rich in caffeine as it is in aroma and flavour.
Just like bean-to-cup coffee machines, many traditional pump espresso machines include steam arms to froth milk, allowing you to create lattes and cappuccinos.
Unlike capsule and pod machines which use separate pods for frothy milk, that usually contain ultra-filtered milk concentrate with added sugar and other ingredients.
A traditional machine will typically have a separate milk steamer, so you can choose your preferred kind of fresh milk. That might be organic milk, whole or semi skimmed, this type of machine leave this up to you.
Making coffee at home has never been easier. No longer are your choices limited to using a messy French press or pouring boiling water through a paper filter, or having to put up with that inferior instant powdered coffee you make with a kettle – all you need is a good coffee machine. With the types of coffee machines explained above, you’re sure to find one that perfectly suits your needs.