Morning brew. Cup of Joe. Java. Bean Juice. Rocket Fuel. Call it what you will – coffee is the most popular beverage in the world, with 400 billion cups consumed daily. The UK alone accounts for 95 million of those, and the United States, a whopping 450 million.
Making coffee has only one drawback: it’s a hassle, especially when you lead a busy life. Coffee grounds, paper filters, half-full carafes ruined by being left out all day on a hot burner – what’s a time-pressed coffee drinker to do?
Enter the coffee pod machine. It’s a quick, convenient, foolproof way to enjoy a fresh cup, every time. And with a big selection of machines and pods to choose from, there’s something for everyone—even the caffeine-intolerant. No matter your budget or preference, we’ll help you choose the best coffee pod machine for your daily caffeine fix.
Looking for the best coffee pod machine? You’ve come to the right place. Our recommendations are based on features, quality, cost and consumer reviews. Sit back, grab a cup, and read on.
1. Nespresso Creatista Plus by Sage, Brushed Stainless Steel
It used to be that coffee came only a few ways: black, with cream, and with or without sugar. How times have changed!
The Nespresso Creatista Plus coffee pod machine lets you enjoy perfect espresso, latte, macchiato, cappuccino and hot milk at home – no need to stand in line and overpay in a crowded coffee shop. Beautifully constructed, the Creatista Plus by Sage looks as good as the coffee it makes tastes.
The Nespresso Creatista Plus may be a serious machine, but it couldn’t be easier to use. The water and milk tanks are removable, easy to fill, and have lids to prevent spilling—a well thought-out, fuss- and frustration-free feature.
When it’s time for an espresso or long coffee, fill the water tank. Lift the hinged lid—nicely designed, we might add, with a rounded shape that’s comfortable to hold—insert a Nespresso coffee pod, and lower the lid. Place a cup under the spout, and press one of six top-mounted, tactile buttons to select your brew of choice. The Nespresso Creatista Plus will deliver a preset quantity of coffee, though more can be drawn by depressing the same button again.
Want latte or cappuccino? The process is similar—just fill and connect both the milk and water jugs, insert a coffee pod, and dial in your desired quantity of milk froth before pressing the brew button. Imagine: beautiful, frothed coffee in only a few steps!
Creatista Plus Features and Capabilities
One coffee pod machine, six types of coffee—from espresso, long and creamy latte to cappuccino, latte macchiato and hot milk, Nespresso Creatista Plus does it all.
Though you’re likelier to find this machine on a kitchen counter than in the hands of a professional barista, its pump delivers a very respectable 19 bars of pressure—well above the industry standard of 9 bars, and capable of handling even large-sized, Lungo-style coffees.
It’s fast, too, with a heat-up time of approximately 3 seconds.
More pressure isn’t always better, but the Nespresso Creatista high-bar pump is kept under control by an automated extraction system, and works well with coffee pods. The result is a full-bodied coffee, with an enticing aroma, lovely crema and velvety mouthfeel.
With six preset options for both black and frothed coffee, and controllable froth levels, Nespresso Creatista Plus coffee pod machine offers enough variety to satisfy most palates.
Still want more options?
That’s where the magic of coffee pods come in. As of our last count, there were 13 types to choose from, covering a broad spectrum of styles—from intensely spicy, densely flavoured and silky-smooth, to light and refreshing, flowery, and even decaffeinated. There really is something for everyone.
Nespresso Creatista Plus by Sage Pros and Cons
- Powerful, 1600-watt system
- 19-bar pump can easily handle even strong, large-size coffees
- Simple, one-touch brewing and Milk Frother
- 1.5L Water tank, and milk containers are easy to fill and attach
- Stainless Steel and Looks great in any space
- Easy to use and produces consistent results
- Many coffee pods, including decaf, are available
- 9-minute auto-shutoff feature saves energy
- Milk container can be refrigerated
- Provides automatic cleaning and descaling alerts
- Priced higher than some coffee pod machines
- Coffee is sometimes warm, rather than hot
Why to Get It?
The Nespresso Creatista Plus by Sage is the ideal coffee pod machine for anyone who:
- Enjoys a range of barista style coffees at home
- Wants great results with a minimum of fuss
- Must have fresh milk in their frothed coffee
- Values both form and function
- Is prepared to pay a moderately high price for a quality device
2. Nescafé Dolce Gusto Melody 3 by De’Longhi
A few words come to mind when describing the Nescafé Dolce Gusto Melody 3 by De’Longhi: round; spherical; hourglass; circular. There’s scarcely a straight line to be seen on this uniquely shaped coffee pod machine—a far cry from the boxy Nespresso Lattissima.
The design works, though; it’s not just attractive and well-balanced, but with so few corners and crevices, dirt has almost nowhere to hide. But it’s what’s on the inside that counts—does this black-and-chrome beauty brew a cup worthy of the Nescafé name?
Ease of Operation
The Nescafé Dolce Gusto Melody 3 is a hands-on coffee machine, without any preset buttons. That said, producing a fantastic cup of coffee requires just a few simple steps.
Fill the water tank and choose a pod—cappuccino, espresso, Americano, café au lait, flat white, or even chai tea. Lift the flap, and slide out the capsule holder. Insert the pod, slide back the holder, and move the unobtrusive lever at the top of the machine to select hot or cold water. Depress the flap when you’ve filled your cup. Sip, and enjoy!
When it’s time to descale the Dolce Gusto Melody (typically every three to six months, depending on water hardness), fill the water tank, place the included bin under the spout, and long-press the power button. Run hot and cold water through the system, and, for best results, use with a Dolce Gusto descaling kit. Descaling solution is sold separately, but is affordably priced, and helps keep your coffee pod machine running at its best.
Key Features and Capabilities
Simple operation and the lack of milk tank belie the variety of coffee styles the Nescafé Dolce Gusto Melody 3 can brew. The secret is in the coffee pods—they contain quality coffee, expertly blended with other ingredients to produce a wide range of flavours and aromas. If there were only a few types of pod available, we’d suggest a machine that gives you more control over the brewing process. Fortunately, that’s not the case!
The Dolce Gusto Melody 3 is fast. With 15 bars of pressure—slightly less than that of the Nespresso Lattissima Touch, but still plenty—and an integrated thermoblock heating system, there’s no waiting: hot water is immediately available. A thermoblock is an on-demand heating element, block-shaped, rather than coil-based, that heats water as it’s needed. Compared to boilers, thermoblocks are perhaps more prone to occasional temperature inconsistency, but remain a proven, economical solution found in many home espresso machines.
Nescafé Dolce Gusto Melody 3: Pros and Cons
- Mid-priced to suit most budgets
- Unique appearance
- Simple operation—no guesswork required
- Round shape is easy to clean
- Many Dolce Gusto pods available
- Compatible with additional coffee pod brands
- Fast, quiet operation
- Water tank is a bit undersized
- Coffee could come out hotter
- Bright red power cord may not suit everyone
Why to Get It?
The Nescafé Dolce Gusto Melody 3 is a great coffee pod machine if you:
- Don’t mind paying a little bit of attention
- Can get by without using fresh milk
- Love delicious coffee
- Want a unique-looking coffee machine
- Can spend a modest amount
3. Tassimo TAS1002GB Happy Coffee Machine
Rounding out our list of the best coffee pod machines is the Tassimo TAS1002GB Happy Coffee Machine. Built by Bosch—a leader in power tools and home appliances—the Happy Coffee lives up to its name. Unfussy and well-reviewed, Tassimo’s entry-level coffee pod machine makes great-tasting coffee at a price that’s easy to swallow.
Ease of Operation
The Tassimo is about as simple as pod-style coffee machines get. Fill the water tank, pop in a T-Disc pod, press a button, and let the machine do the rest. There are no brewing modes to select or other adjustments to be made—everything is handled automatically, the details of which we’ll get into below.
Like other coffee pod machines, the Tassimo should be periodically cleaned and descaled to prevent mineral buildup. It’s a multi-step process, but worth spending a bit of time doing, especially if you have hard water.
Features and Capabilities
Behind the cheap and cheerful exterior of Tassimo’s Happy Coffee Machine lies hidden a powerful secret: Intellibrew. Okay, truth be told, there’s nothing secret about it, but it really is quite clever. Each Tassimo T-Disc—that is, to say, coffee pod—is bar-coded. The Happy Coffee Machine scans the code, and the Intellibrew system automatically adjusts temperature, brew time and water settings to make the perfect cup of cafe-style coffee.
Tassimo’s T-Disc compatible Happy machine heats up quickly, and includes an adjustable, fully removable cup stand that accommodates everything from a small espresso cup to large latte glasses and travel mugs. You’ll find this feature useful if you enjoy different kinds of coffee, or are on the road a lot.
The Tassimo Happy Coffee Machine is available in five colour combinations—Black, Cream, Purple & White, Red & Black, and Red & White. Black is classic and unobtrusive, but if your kitchen needs a splash of colour, check out one of the other chic combos!
Pros and Cons
Very affordably priced at under £40
Simple, fuss-free operation—pop in a pod and press a button
Intellibrew system makes the perfect cup of coffee every time
Removable and height-adjustable cup stand
Broad range of flavours available
Wide selection of colours to choose from
Small water tank
A touch noisy
Occasional faulty unit
Why to Get It
The Tassimo TAS1002GB is the right coffee pod machine for anyone that:
Is too busy to be hands-on
Won’t sacrifice quality for simplicity
Favours eye-catching appliances
Has a minimal budget
Coffee Pod Machine Buying Guide
Why do we love coffee so much – and love so much coffee? Well, for most of us, there’s the caffeine. This stimulating alkaloid, which occurs naturally in the coffee bean, doesn’t just give your brain a boost.
It may promote good liver function, replenish muscle glycogen stores after intense exercise, relieve post-muscle workout pain, improve reaction time, and has shown potential in warding off a number of degenerative diseases. Of course, there’s the delicious flavour and aroma, too.
Coffee pod machines are faster and more convenient than traditional presses and drip filter machines. It’s never been so easy to prepare such a wide variety of coffee at home—even espresso and cappuccino, which once required skilled operation of large, cost-prohibitive devices. Even so, there are a few things to consider before buying a coffee pod machine.
Getting What You Pay For
In a world where money is no object, budget would be of no consideration. Reality is quite often the inverse, which is why we recommend coffee pod machines that range from inexpensive to somewhat costly. It is entirely possible to find an affordable coffee pod machine that performs well—while bearing in mind that as the price rises, so too do overall quality and available features.
Coffee Pod Costs and Availability
Coffee pods vary in price from brand to brand and model to model. Though the cost of pods shouldn’t be your sole determining factor in choosing a coffee pod machine, it’s something to consider. Fortunately, buying pods in bulk, in variety packs, or from secondary brands (just be sure they’re compatible with your machine) can save a lot of money.
Find Your Flavour
Almost everyone loves a good cup of coffee—but not everyone loves the same cup. From the darkest to the frothiest, there’s a pod that can make it. If you’re new to coffee pods and don’t know what you prefer, we suggest choosing a good quality machine for which a good assortment of flavours is available. If you know exactly what you like, take that into consideration when choosing a machine.
All coffee pod machines perform the same basic function: pushing water (and sometimes milk) through a pod that contains coffee and other ingredients. That said, some machines have additional features which, depending on your needs and schedule, may be desirable. For example, milk frothers, preset buttons and high-pressure heating and pump systems are more commonly found on higher-end devices—but such extra functionality isn’t necessary for everyone. In the end, it comes down to what suits not only your budget, but your lifestyle and personal preferences.
Wrapping it Up
Whatever your taste in coffee, there’s a coffee pod machine that’s right for you, and we hope our guide has helped you find it! There’s never been a better time to explore the world of coffee, with such a great range of tastes available at the push of a button.
Last updated: 21/06/2020