the best domestic coffee machines & makers
the complete guide: Everything you need to know before you buy one
So you can then decide which one will suit your tastes, budget, and lifestyle.
We cover all the tasks involved in making a great coffee,and the different types of coffee to try. The different kinds of coffee makers and machine and what kind of coffee they can make. Our favourite electric machines & manual makers, with links to reviews, and buying details (price, availability and further product detail in the UK, in Europe, in the USA, Canada, and in Australia.)
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click to jump to each section
Best coffee debate… Coffee machines vs. Coffee makers, and , which make the best coffee ?
Summary… Top 12 coffee machines overall ( to suit all tastes and budgets ).
COFFEE MACHINE Types… The different types you can buy today.
ReviewS list… Which coffee machine is best ?
Why… these are our 6 favourite electric coffee machines right now.
Checklist… the 10 steps needed to MAKE A GREAT espresso COFFEE.
Functions… 10 Jobs your coffee machine might do for you.
let´s Compare… Not all coffee makers are equal
Coffee drinks… 19 styles, which is your favourite + A simple recipe for ours ( Espresso Martini )
Testimonial… THe manual machine we kept, and the automatic that would suit us best today
Coffee making Accessories… which ones are necessary, and which are a luxury ?
Best brands… What the research told us about the coffee machine brands.
blog reviews, using & buying guides for 2021 (best manual, best nespresso, best bean to cup, best filter machines)
Which type of domestic coffee machine makes the best coffee ?
It depends hugely on your tastes first, but let´s divide them into 2 very general camps. Espresso coffee and Filter coffee, are probably the 2 best known camps. However, nearly all coffee machines and makers use a filter these days (except for the Turkish Cezve coffee maker perhaps). So , really what people are referring to is the resulting coffee. Espresso is short and strong, and Filter coffee often long and thin, and most people, apart from coffee connoisseurs perhaps, would tend to favour one type hugely over the other. But things are changing as speciality coffee beans are becoming more mainstream.
Coffee machines vs. Coffee makers – what’s the difference ?
We tend to think a machine is one you plug in and does some of the powerful work for you, and produce the coffee automatically, whereas a coffee maker is one that you apply the power manually ( by hand ). There is always cross over of course. Also, in N. America, automatic filter coffee machines are often referred to as coffee makers. In fact there is a 3rd term called coffee brewers, and this is also widely used for American drip style filter coffee machines. We will use the three words interchangeably so don´t get hung up on them.
Go grab a coffee & settle down for a good read. If it’s a quick coffee, jump to our top 12 overall, or our own personal current favourites, or jump to the bottom of the page to see all our coffee related reviews and blog posts.
Espresso based coffee Machines & coffee makers
Manual barista style espresso machine, Coffee Pod / capsule machine, Bean-to-Cup coffee machine
( and perhaps stove top Moka pots ? )
Espresso is the short, thick black coffee hailed from Italy, with a delicious caramel crema on top, and there are lots of milky variations on this theme – the most popular being like Cappuccino and latte. The machines started ( the most famous by La Pavoni) at the turn of the century as a steam induced thick short coffee.
The simple moka pot was designed to re-create that original espresso by pressurising steam through the coffee grounds and dropping into a separate chamber.The pressure is only about 2 bar, so the classic model doesn´t have the crema because the pressure isn´t high enough.Practically every home in Europe will still have one and use it at home for an espresso like coffee. They may also have a home espresso machine, but in Italy it´s still traditional to take a cappucino in the morning at a bar, or an espresso after lunch. There is a more recent model out now that might just be able to do that… see the no. 13 on our top 12 list below ;).
The modern machines start at 9 bar and go up to 16 bar in pressure measure, and that´s how they get that delicious caramel coloured crema on top. They operate in anything from fully manual ( hand pressure only !) to a little help from a piston, up to semi-automatic, automatic and even super automatic ( a bit like a personal vending machine ! ). The automated machines can have bean grinders and milk frothers and various automated and customisable features incorporated.
Filter coffee Makers
Pour over, Drip, immersion (Steep) or Brew… then press or release or Pour.
The pour over started when Melitta introduced the first paper filter so that you didn´t get the coffee grounds in your drink. The more traditonal style of electric drip coffee maker (the cafetiere) is still so widely popular all over America even though the percolator also exists in abundance too. So the industry is generally referring to these electric filter coffee machines when it talks about ´drip´ coffee.
The traditional immersion manual coffee makers that used to be more country specific ( French press and percolator, Italian cafeteramoka, Vietnamese phin, etc.) are now more widely available and accepted now across the globe ( possibly thanks to Amazon !).
However there is a new and quickly growing market too to get the most out of these coffee beans we can now get.
And, the new coffee maker designs, often referred to as craft coffee makers have become a barista and coffee connoisseur´s favourite that matches the love for espresso. In varying ways, they can use one, two or even all three filter techniques to allow you to get the most from your coffee bean. Along with easier access to speciality coffee beans (a movement known as third wave coffee), the domestic coffee maker can now take complete control over the brewing process with these new inventions. It makes for a wonderful hobby as well as a great drink !
Having my banana cake and eating it… with an oat cortado at our favourite coffee shop in Amsterdam.
What machines makes the best coffee at home ?
We assume everyone reading this loves a good cup of coffee… first thing in the morning, to finish off a good meal, an afternoon treat with cake, or just to help stay awake !
The trend is to take control back, and experience the joy of making your own cup of joe, the coffee shop way… saving you money in the long run.
For most people, it’s about getting the best coffee, consistently, and quickly – and espresso based coffees are deemed the best and most popular.
Is espresso is your choice… or do you prefer a longer coffee from drip / filter coffee machine?
Or do you appreciate a more manual method of making coffee made simply, by your own hand, without the help of pistons, and a power source.
If so, then you’re generally looking at a moka pot on the stove, or a simple pour over style coffee maker like the Kalita wave or V60, the press or plunger style like the Aeropress or French press jugs, or more !
You too can have your cake and eat it … well, we should say, your espresso and drink it !
What kind of coffee do we make at home ?
I used to be happy enough with a french press coffee and could always get a wonderful espresso from Paul. He has had many manual espresso making machines, (and grinders) starting with La Pavoni.
I´ve moved on from the French press now to still like playing with making a beautiful tasting long coffee with different beans, grinds, and coffee makers. I have an Ibrik and an Aeropress Go.
Paul is missing his big manual Rocket machine, we´ll know we´re settling when we can get it out of the parent´s attic and into a home we will spend a good few months in each year. In the mean time we have a high end nespresso machine for convenience in the homes we rent.
When he started buying the more commercial styles, he insisted on doing the full barista training. However, you don’t even have to be a Barista any more to have great coffee at home – all you need is an automatic bean to cup espresso machine at home !
And semi-automatic espresso machines allow you to have the nest of both worlds. You get to do the Barista parts you want to do, and let the machine do the rest ! Click over here to our in-depth report of our favourite barista style semi-automatic bean to cup machine.
how do you like your coffee served ?
Do you like it long or short, hot , extra hot, or cold, weak or strong, sweet or bitter ? Do you like a lot of flavour or depth, and do you know what beans you like best.
Will a big mug of good, black filtered coffee be enough, or should it all start with an espresso ? What about adding the taste or texture of milk, chocolate, spices or syrup even.
Once you know how you like it, you can start looking for the right equipment to make it.
Imagine being able to make your own favourite coffee at home
Think about how much you want the machine to do for you, how much you want to pay, and you’re well on your way to narrowing down the choices to one type of machine in a particular price range.
If you´re in a hurry , use the following summary of our top 12 choices. There´s something to suit everyone here.
summary: the TOP 12 coffee machines overall
(taken from all our reviews of all types of machines )
plus a new bonus one !
filter coffee, manual press coffee, espresso coffee capsule, manual pump machines, and automatic bean-to-cup.
1. Best versatile craft coffee maker, light & compact for travelling too.
2. Best completely manual, portable espresso coffee maker.
3. Best value automatic electric drip coffee for crowdS.
4. Best automatic coffee maker to maximise speciality coffees
Sage / Breville Precision Brewer
5. Best budget Nespresso pod espresso machine for students
6. Best Nespresso & latte machine for busy people
Sage ( Breville ) Creatista Uno
7. Best entry-level De Longhi pump espresso machine
De ´Longhi Dedica (The beautiful Smeg ECF01 is based on this ! )
8. Best piston LEVER espresso machine to be seen pulliNG !
9. Best semi-auto bean-to-cup espresso machine to learn the barista craft
Sage ( Breville) The Barista Touch ( See our in depth review here )
10. Best automatic bean-to-cup espresso & latte making machine combined
11. Most stylish, smartphone operated super automatic bean-to-cup espresso
12. Simple, stylish, Steel, no fuss, bean to cup espresso & hot water Tap
Finally… sometimes the simplest just beats everything, and Bialetti have just raised the bar and produced a moka pot that has enough pressure to create a crema too ! Granted, it´s not a machine, it´s a coffee maker. But seeing as the Moka pot is the drink that most Europeans would have at home, as the closest thing to an espresso, and now it can create a crema with this new model, I think it should be allowed to sneak into this list, don´t you !
13. Best Stove-top Espresso maker
The different types of home coffee machineS to buy.
3 espresso coffee styles
pod/capsule, manual, Automatic bean to cup
4 filter coffee styles
electric drip, pour over, Stove-top, other / Immersion
We used to say pod machines are for the convenient espresso, filter machines for a big cup of black coffee, and manual machines for the purist espresso or craft coffee making people. For espresso making , semi-automatic machines seem to be the half-way house that suits most. But the filter coffee makers, especially the pour over types are coming on leaps and bounds in new ways so that you can control the extraction and get the best flavour from the beans, and not all beans can shine in an espresso so you´ll find true connoisseurs have both !
The most popular coffee making trends today
Both the automatic espresso capsule (pod) machines, and semi-automatic bean to cup machines have been the most popular automatic machines. But the small, portable and all manual craft coffee makers using specialist beans are the latest trend for those that have time to devote more time to making coffee this way. It´s a craft, can be a hobby, and it´s easy to get hooked !
Manual Espresso machines
With a manual coffee machine you have all the tools to pull the best espresso yourself – just like the barista in the coffee shop. These machines work with steam, pumps or levers.
They can look like this one, with a lever outside, with some power to help you pull it, or you can have a fully portable cordless version where you use your own hand power to pull it. More often though, they come withs pumps or pistons inside to do the ´pulling´ for you.
You put the best ground coffee into the machine, tamp it down and then manipulate all the elements required to get the best espresso and crema.
You need to start with the best freshly ground coffee though, so you’ll probably end up getting a coffee grinding machine too.
If you want more than an espresso, ristretto or lungo, then you usually have a steam wand on these machines to allow you to froth milk and add it to your coffee.
Bean to cup Espresso machines
These are espresso machines with a built in bean grinder. They’re the latest style of coffee making machines to help you get a café style coffee within minutes at home.
Sage / Breville machines look more like the stainless steel café style coffee shop machine, but others can look more like a countertop vending machine.
To get the best resulting coffee, like in the coffee shops, you have to have the best and freshest end to end process, i.e. from bean to cup.
Like it says, you put fresh coffee beans in one end of the machine, and receive an espresso based coffee in a cup at the other end, and drink immediately.
But you don’t want to have to do everything yourself. Before you buy, you need to choose how much you want to be involved in the process.
Do some things yourself and customise the machine do the rest (semi-automatic machine)… or let the machine make all the decisions and do it all for you (automatic), or both – automatic with the ability to preset your preferences ( super- automatic).
Stove top filter coffee makers
If you´re looking for a strong coffee but not as thick as an espresso, and not necessarily with the thick crema on top, then you will love the MOKA pot.
The Mokacafetiere works on the stove top, is a little like a percolator but, instead of hot water and dripping as with the percolator, it uses steam to push through the ground coffee. It´s strong and rich, and the nearest thing to an espresso !
Here in Spain and in Italy, it´s the main coffee pot that just everyone uses. Bialetti created this pot in 1933 in Italy and it´s copied the world over today. It´s not expensive but you can get really cheap copies, even in the supermarkets.
In my opinion the Bialetti make is still the best as the copies can leak or are made of cheap materials. Alessi is also a great, quality brand.
Other: Immersion, pour, drip, or press coffee makers
Immmersion technique means mixing the coffee grounds together with the hot water. Wait for it to brew, then pour as with the old style pots like the Vietnamese Phin or the old Italian Neapolitana ( flip & pour). . Or immerse, then press the coffee liquid back up the jug, above the filter as with the French press.
As more coffee makers are developed, coffee makers are appearing in all shapes and sizes and use a combination of techniques to get the best cup of joe.
These day I like to immerse and press in an Aeropress then press or a simple immerse only Turkish Cezva pot, and am quite curious about a new Slow brew immersion method called the Sowden Soft Brew. I have yet to investigate the Siphon and Cafe solo coffee makers.
Traditional manual coffee makers from lots of countries are now more available to everyone. But the more recent manual coffee maker designs are also starting to combine one, two or even all three techniques to allow you to get the most from your coffee bean.
More recent immerse and then release machines using paper filters are the Clever dripper and the Bonavita dripper. They have a clever stopper between the immersed coffee and the receiving vessel so you can choose when the brew is done for you, and release it.
Baristas love these new, small and mostly manual new coffee makers as it allows you to take complete control over the brewing process and you can really play with the flavours.
Finally, there is a new coffee maker we´d like to check out. It is using all three techniques of IMMERSION, PERCOLATION, & PRESSURE. It´s called Ït´s American Press. Put rather bluntly, its a cool, modern, espresso -inspired fine kind of French press – without the mud !
Pod or Capsule Espresso machines
Uses pre-made single dose coffee flat aluminium capsules or plastic / aluminium pods of finely ground espresso coffee, for sheer convenience.
They’re usually known by the coffee pod type rather than the manufacturer name. For example, Nespresso, Illy, Lavazza, Tassimo etc is the name of the machine along with the model name, and the same machine can be made by different partner companies ( e.g. Krups, De ‘Longhi etc.)
They’re bought for the convenience factor mostly. They´re compact, simple to use, and fast. The machines have a lower entry price but in the end the benefit of the convenience will cost you more per cup !
Choose the capsule according to your tastes and strength preferences… but it won’t ever be quite like a perfect espresso. We’d say it gets you 70 % of the way there so it satisfies most people.
The main benefit here is that you consistently get exactly the same cup every single time. No fuss, no mess.
Electric Drip, filter coffee machines
The most common way of making a long black coffee is with an electric drip machine…cone filter heating water up to lthen let it drip through a filter full of ground coffee and letting it drip into a carafe or jug below.
So these machines are not traditionally single serve, although they can be. Electric drippers usually means filtered coffee into a jug on a hot plate or in a thermos, it stays warm for hours so you can serve many cups, or take more as you please.
What do you call it ? Filter coffee, percolated, cafetiere coffee, whichever, you end up with is a nice flavourful cup of black coffee to set you up for the day, or a carafe full for sharing instead.
Because these are so common place and perhaps overdone a it, a new /old fashioned manual style of drip machine is emerging. The woodneck for example, which uses a cloth filter !
pour over filter coffee makers
With pour over you´ll hear names like like Hario V60, the Kalika wave, the Chemex (as featured in the image), Bee House, Ceramic dripper, Bodum pour over, German walker, or Cold brew. These are most often referred to as craft coffee makers because this is the very reason they´re used – to craft the best coffee from your favourite choice of bean, roast, and grind..
Baristas love these new, small and mostly manual new coffee makers as it allows you to take complete control over the brewing process and you can really play with the flavours.
It can be a bit daunting and hard to know where to start. Try the coffees out at your local roastery café, or jump straight in with one featured our favourite 6 below.
Why ? Because it´s a real break through – an electric version ! It incredibly combines the perfect pour over on a V60 cone, os a flat base Kalika filter, and more, including a cold brew option. So you can play with the pour over techniques at home, but with the expert help of the precision this machine offers… all in one.
Coffee machine REVIEWS
It depends on how many jobs you want the machine to do for you. Whether you want to spend time and be involved doing some of them manually or let the machine do it automatically ( even then speed and quality become key criteria). It depends too on the quality you are willing to pay for, in terms of the materials and engineering used, and the quality of the coffee or the milk froth produced. If you don’t want milk frothing at all, then having access to a hot water tap will be key.
WHO reviews COFFEE MAKERS
Coffee is a passion for millions of people, and coffee machine reviewing has attracted all the wanna be baristas to give their view so there are hundreds of posts chatting about this topic. We’ve been though most of them ( everyday we find more !)
There is also so much information overload online, confusing model names and numbers, and mis-information. We’ve talked to the users and the manufacturers and they’ve been so helpful, one even kindly promising to update incorrect info on their own site.
So, along with the serious reviewers, and a good dollop of our own domestic and commercial experience with coffee machines, ( oh, and our determination to get to the honest detail for you )… here we are finally with our low down.
Our top coffee machine reviews
You’ll find more pages devoted to each coffee machine type, in depth reviews, and helpful detail on the buying or coffee making process. Here’s the shortcuts…
Our top 10 bean to cup machines ( automatic and semi-automatic)
Our top 5 Pod or capsule machines ( 3 are Nespresso )
Our top 3 automatic filter coffee machines ( electric drip, precise craft coffee, coffee to-go )
In depth review of our current favourite – The Barista touch
We’ve gone further
We’ve done all the checking for you in each region, to see if the machines are the same, ( i.e. do the same thing or even called the same name). There are many discrepancies and some companies have specific machines for geographical areas, and even an international department too ( de ‘Longhi for example). Sometimes a machine from one region can be easily converted with a plug to use in another area.
So, in each review, we will point out the best machines available in the UK, Europe, USA, Canada, and Australian regions. Just click on your location only when you go through to any of the buy now buttons.
our 6 favourite electric countertop home coffee machines
“MAKING COFFEE IS AN ART, A SCIENCE, A THEATRE, AND A PLEASURE TO TASTE”
So, when you´re choosing your machine, there is more than just the science or the technicalities it offers. We all have different criteria, and coffee is a journey, so have a look at which ones we would still love to have right now and why. Some suit Aoibheann more, some suit Paul ( he has milky coffees more), some suit both.
A piece of art you will love. We had this one ! With patience and skill, you’ll know the art, and the science, that is true barista coffee-making.
La Pavoni Professional
Great coffee theatre. This piece of art makes the best espresso, and always pulls a crowd when you use it.
We know, we had one !
Really compact entry level machine. Easy to use… pre-heats cups, pull a great espresso, froth your milk… or brew a tea with hot water.
De ‘Longhi Dedica
You can even get a matching bean grinder. But it also ESE pads as well as ground coffee. ‘Easy Serve Espresso’, is ground coffee covered in paper filter instead of plastic or aluminium.
Yay to that !
Top technology that also looks like a coffee shop machine. Great coffee and lattes, and you can customise it, programme presets. Quality, flexibility, consistency all in one.
Barista Touch by Sage or Breville
Does the hardest parts of the process for you, and also teaches you the craft so you can do it yourself too.
My idea of perfection !
Solid, Swiss, say no more ! Easy to use. Stylish. Does all types of coffee – brilliantly. If 2 of you have a few coffees a day, it could even pay for itself with a year !
So stylish, it fits right in in a swish kitchen, dining room or board room.
If it’s good enough for Roger Federer, it’s good enough for us !
brews & froths
Without a doubt, the most highly rated pod machine on the planet – the milk frothing in particular. 8 different espresso based drinks. Allows you to customise.
Creatista Uno by Sage or Breville
The best barista level Nespresso and frother you’ll find – and if you want more than that, you can upgade to the ‘creatista plus’ 100% stainless steel version !
If it’s pods you like, this is no brainer !
Easy to use, and makes excellent coffee, in any volume, just as you like it. Multiple coffee modes with it’s dual filter baskets – one flat, one V shaped. 6 different flavour profiles, including a customised one, and a great cold brew too.
Sage / Breville precision brewer
Whilst we love filter making coffee manually, finally a modern machine to automate the specialist hipster craft coffee maker´s skills.
Play and please till your heart´s content with this.
The design has been around for years. If you aren’t fussed about pure espresso only, but still want the best for your brood.
This is best of both worlds !
10 steps needed to MAKE a great espresso
Making a perfect espresso is a fine art, and a science. It’s getting the combination of all these right that sets you well on your way to making a great coffee.
No matter which machine you go for, the espresso coffee making process is the same.
Before buying a coffee maker, you should know all the elements that go into making a coffee taste great. Check out our detailed post here, or read on for a nice summary. Then we’ll cover all the things a machine can do for you so that you can choose more wisely.
The right Beans for your coffee style and taste. Size colour, flavour of the beans – which beans do you prefer. There are basically two types, Arabica and Robust. How they are stored is just as important.
There are 4 types; light, medium,medium dark and dark. Which suits your taste, and which is best for your coffee style.
Important to get the right Grinding of the beans ( nice even burr grinding, correct fineness, freshly ground).
And to get the tight packing of the ground coffee container – right quantity of coffee, portafilter size, tamping and levelling.
The right type or quality of water affects the taste – not tap water, filter or better.
As is the pre-soaking of the coffee grounds- then it’s all to do with the temperature and to start opening up the aroma.
Three important aspects to consider here. The temperature of the portafilter for espresso machines ( to make sure your water isn’t going from hot boiler to colder filter which will alter the temperature)
The right temperature of boiled water going all the way through the brewing process. Finally, the pre-heating of a nice cup to receive the espresso is the final element – who likes a cold espresso !
6.The quantity / size
The precise quantity of hot water that goes through the precise ( between 6-7 grams ) dose of ground coffee, to make a precise size of espresso (e.g. 60ml) .
The amount of pressure measured in BARS that is forcing the water through the grounds ( minimum 8 or 9 bars)
How long should it take to make a good espresso? How long to pre-soak, and ‘pull’ the water through the coffee grounds. The process is generally completed in approximately 20 to 30 seconds.
9.The right machine
The best, well set up and maintained machine. The machine that is set up to a specification, all the way through the process, that results in a coffee that is just perfect for you.
The result should be a smooth strong black espresso with a perfect crema on top.
10. An appreciative palette, & a glass of water to follow.
For more details on all 10 elements, head on over to our more detailed post on what to look out for when buying a coffee machine.
Comparing espresso coffee machine types
Let´s use the 10 steps to making a great espresso and see how much of that your coffee machine can do for you.
consider first the 10 jobs a coffee machine might do for you
- store the beans and / or ground coffee
- grind the beans
- store the water and/or milk
- heat the water, and the portafilter
- measure the ground coffee into the filter
- level and tamp an espresso coffee puck so it’s just right
- pour, drip or press the water through the ground coffee to pre-infuse or extract an espresso coffee into the cup
- store the milk
- steam the milk and possibly add the appropriate steamed milk to the coffee cup at the right time
- provide a hot water tap to make americanos or …make tea !
Not all coffee machines are equal !
So it’s important to know what each type of machine can do. Once you know which type of coffee you prefer, and which jobs are needed to make it, you can choose the best machine for you. Do bear in mind that you can also buy separate machines or accessories to do some of the jobs too. We´ll list these below.
First let’s cover all the jobs covered by the main types of domestic coffee machines you can buy today.
What a manual espresso machine can do.
For many coffee lovers though, time stands still when creating the best coffee so it’s simply about having the best machine to manually create the best espresso based coffee – and for them, the manual espresso machine is still king.
Manual machines take pre-ground coffee, and will provide the water boiler to pour through your coffee puck, and usually the steaming wand to make your frothing milk. Of all the 10 things we list below that a coffee maker can do, I’d say the manual machine would just do three ( nos. 3, 4 and 7).
We have to say though that people who want the best and learn to throw the required time and skill at it usually end up ( like us) getting their own coffee grinder too. So then you have two machines but most flexibility, fun, and acquired skills. If that’s not you, then read on…
What a bean-to-cup machine can do.
Having the best coffee means starting with the best beans and the grinding them to perfection before you even put it into the filter basket of your manual espresso making machine. But you don’t want to have two machines… so this is why the latest craze for bean-to-cup machines have developed. They take the beans directly into a hopper at the top, and when you command the machine to make an espresso they grind the beans freshly for you.
Semi-automatic machines are like manual machines with the grinding added in but as you still have to control the water going through the filter. they can have some automated features too.
Fully automatic means the machine decides on all the right grind, dose, temperature, length of coffee etc to deliver its perfect result. This is one for those that still want the best, love the science, but either have a lack of interest in the theatre of creating, or a busy lifestyle meaning that speed and convenience dictate their choices.
But what if you don’t agree with the machine’s settings ?
So, this is where the super automatic machine comes in. It is fully automatic but allows you to alter the key elements, and save your preferences so you only have to press a button each time to get your idea of a perfect coffee. The best of these that could do at least all 10 jobs below … will cost you a pretty penny !
What a pod espresso machine can do.
In it’s own special way, it can do everything from steps 3 to 10. There are machines now that also have the frothing wand, but the quality is down to the manufacturer. De ‘Longhi and Breville /Sage make some of the best in our view. This method is all about convenience and speed. At the end of the day, the quality of the coffee grounds are key to getting the best espresso from these machines. So choose wisely. Nespresso, Illy, Tassimo, or Lavazza. The two front runners seem to be Nespresso and Lavazza. You can now also choose your own coffee and put it into your own re-usable Nespresso style pods too !
A lot has also developed in the industry since these machines first came out. Illy developed the filter paper ESE pads (easy serve espresso), and there are many entry level espresso machines that can take these so now competing for the same pod machine market.
So the Pod machines are having to up their game, and the Creatista Uno is the one that’s hitting the review headlines for impressive barista style espresso and fabulous frothing capabilities.
What a filter coffee machine can do.
We´re going to talk about the usual automatic machines here. In it’s own way can do steps 1 through to 7, but not usually the milky part in 8,9,10. However, it won’t make espresso coffee for you ! It’s simply filtered coffee.
Because the pressure of the water is different going through the coffee grounds, you don’t need such a find grind. The water is poured or dripped through, collecting the flavours and then the grounds are filtered out at the final stage either through a paper or fine mesh filter.
With the drip or pour system, the coffee drops through gravity to a jug below. Look out for a machine that pours evenly, spreading the water evenly around the grounds. Channeling is a problem if the water finds too easy a path through the mass of coffee grinds, as it will only take a little flavour and you end up with weak coffee.
We chose this Cuisinart though because it is trying to get the best quality filter coffee by grinding the beans freshly before filtering, so you can make your coffee from your own choice of beans. It then keeps it from getting stale by holding it in a thermal metal jug rather than a glass jug on a hot plate.
Coffee drinks – which one is your favourite ?
19 styles of coffee ... and counting !
- Ristretto – a short length concentrated 40ml espresso pressed drink
- Espresso – a single 60ml espresso
- Doppio –a larger than life double espresso from a single functio
- Espresso lungo – a long espresso (110ml)
- Americano- an espresso topped up to with hot water
- espresso macchiato – an espresso with froth on top
- cortado – a spanish macchiato – long or short
- caffe latte
- flat white
- Frappé – an iced coffee
- Brera (half fat milk latte) –
- Black eye ( coffee with a shot of espresso)
- Café au lait , café con leche, coffee with milk
- Irish coffee
- espresso martini
- Breve – a latte made of steamed half-and-half mix of milk & cream, instead of milk
- soy or oat milk cortado / latte
And the list goes on…
Our favourites are…
Apart from an Espresso Martini at the right time… Mine is a lungo or americano in the morning, a oat cortado in the afternoon if I’m hungry, a double espresso after dinner, and an espresso, ristretto, or a lungo with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper mixed in …like I’m having right now, when I’m feeling energised. And I thought I was a simple soul !
Update 2021 ! I´m still finding new coffee loves ! At the moment I´m alternating between the aeropress where I´m varying the method to find my favourite. And the Turkis Cezsa which I love ! With turkish coffee I add a drop of syrup and sometimes some ground cinnamon – yum.
For Paul, it’s an espresso – the best one possible, with a great crema. You don’t need all the equipment a café has to roast, grind, brew, froth and pour – but the process is the same. We’ll tell you all about it here !
Do you know how to make your favourite coffee ?
Does it have a name, and do you know the recipe ? Paul and I both love a lot of espresso based drinks, from a simple, strong espresso to a perfect espresso martini. I also love the simple afogato dessert. We make different choices when it comes to making it milky !
One of Ours is an Espresso Martini
Our simple and delicious Espresso Martini recipe
Usually we have sugar syrup made up, but now stopped having any sugar in mine so now we just use sugar. Makes it simple !
Most people prefer sugar added by the way.
Ingredients per person:
35ml vodka, 35ml kahlua, 1 ristretto coffee, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, handful of small ice cubes ( cocktail ice )
put all the ingredients into your cocktail shaker and shake till the outside is really cold.
Then just pour it through your strainer, into your martini glass.
Add 3 coffee beans to decorate.
Coffee machine Accessories
What´s necessary and what´s not ?
the generic tools that help take you from bean to cup are
airtight Storage for beans or ground coffee
Coffee scales / measurer
water flow – slow to pressurized- drip, pour, press, push
cool milk store
Milk steamer frother
Accessories you can buy to help perfect your coffee making
( depending on what your machine already has included )
For all coffee makers and machine types
Bean Grinders ( manual mills or electric)
Ground coffee canisters to keep coffee fresh
Water filter jug
Coffee cups / espresso glasses / Travel mug
Fridge or thermos for keeping the milk fresh
Coffee grounds filtering sieves ( eg Kreuve set)
other accessories for Pour over coffee maker accessories
slow pour kettle
measuring spoons / coffee scales
coffee ground filters
Milk related accessories
Stainless steel milk jugs
Milk steamer / frother
Pod / Capsule machine accessories
Pod storage stands
Eco refillable pods and ground coffee
Espresso machine accessories
Mat to tamp on
levelling card / scraper
Descaling & cleaning kit
Great gifts for coffee lovers
8 great coffee making add-ons
for yourself or the avid coffee maker in your life.
smart, precise coffee scales
… for precise coffee and water measuring. Timing the seconds is critical, and you could watch the clock or use your phone timer but these scales come with a timer built in too !
smart, slow pour kettle (for all drink making)
... boil, and pour beautifully and evenly. It´s the most popular professional kettle with a gooseneck spout, and reasonably priced too. ( They make great coffee storage jars too. ) Has a quick fill feature so you donçt have to remove the lid, a soft protectivehandle and cold spots all over so you can touch it. It works on all stoves including induction, and, it even tells you when it ´s ready to pour ! Because it has a built in temperature gauge on top too. Check it out !
If you want a great budget gooseneck kettle, have a look for the ¨Bean Envy¨brand when you´re in Amazon checking this one out.
Airtight coffee bean or coffee grounds storage
… One of the very very best cannisters, with it´s own patented technology. Lets the air out, keeps the coffee fresh inside. If you can´t get this, look for the Gator storage jars too.
Espresso glasses and cups
…a proper double walled thermal espresso glass that holds the heat well too. for when you want to serve more than one. You might want to check this alternative thermal cup with handle out too.
Ceramic burr hand grinder / coffee mill
The newer 1Zpresso ( JX series) is incredible for a little mini coffee mill but the price reflects that. If it was me, I´d get this better priced reliable mini Hario as a little travel grinder that would be great with the AeroPress – and at a much more sensible price too. A good third choice is the Porlex mini. These were usually made to even fit inside the AeroPress for compact travelling, but that was the classix AeroPress, so be careful with the measurements or go for the original AeroPress if this is important to you ( you´ll miss out on the mug tho;). If you want something bigger go for the Hario Skerton Pro. Check it out here against the mini mill.
Pro-accurate drinks thermometer
Perfect for your coffee and lattes and even more. Analog display so it doesn´t need batteries, and we love the magnifying element to it. Also comes in different sizes so you can choose one that works with your just for example. If it´s not available, also check out the Rattleware brand 🙂
We also have a precise digital thermapen thermometer for everything and use that too to probe drinks and meat cooking.
… for those lovely lattes and cappucinos. A little battery operated (cordless) frother is great for going travelling, but we swear by this automatic Aeroccino milk frother. It´s not the latest model but it does everything we need… and it survived a lifetime in Morocco at the hotel and is still going strong. That´s really saying something !
Barista latte art making jug
There´s a reason why you´ll see most baristas using this new style of jug now in coffee shops ! This pro version is very reasonably priced and comes in different colours and sizes too.
The one we kept
The best Manual Barista coffee machine for home… the prosumer´s choice.
The Rocket Giotto Evoluzionne
Read more about it in our review here !
Which coffee machine suits us best right now ?
WHAT DO WE HAVE WITH US
The Rocket machine is stuck in an attic back in the UK, so for both of us at the moment, we like the convenience of the pod machine that we chose for maison mk rooms. we have one of those with us on our travels.
Being in Spain right now, we also have a good selection of those typical steam making espresso makers left by our landlord for using on the stove-top also. We also make sure we find a favourite coffee shop whereever we are, so we can fo for a great fix. There´s even a coffee plantation on Gran Canaria that we can go to !
Aoibheann has also started playing about with craft coffee makers like the Aeropress Go and the Turkish Cezve (Ibrik in arabic) pot. They make great coffee and also allow us to vary all the brewing elements to get the coffee we feel like having cup by cup !
But we miss Paul’s daily hand-made espresso coffee making. Just after that picture was taken, we sold or gave away almost all our possessions so we could start this simple life adventure. But my man doesn’t ask for much… so yes… he got to keep his prized possessions… a.k.a. mostly kitchen appliances ! This hefty lump of a manual espresso machine ( the Rocket machine pictured above) , and a large coffee bean grinder are still safely stored in an attic in the UK ! We hope to retrieve them again one day.
WHAT WOULD SUIT US BEST IF WE COULD HAVE IT TODAY ?
It’s about getting the absolute best espresso coffee, with a great crema, and the satisfaction of lovingly creating it, manually. So for Paul, the more manual and commercial the machine, the better ! And, we’ve had about six of these machines already !
That’s me.I personally don’t like some of the large automatic modern looking machines with touch screen menus that look like vending machines. I also prefer one that either doesn’t take up too much space. If it has to spread itself out on the countertop – it should look either like a piece of art , or a great coffee shop ! We´ve had both the La Pavoni and the Rocket to achieve all that !
I do like the convenience of the pod machine, and exploring the pour over and immersion styles, but, hands down, I still prefer the espresso coffee Paul produced by hand, and I would ideally like to pull my coffee from a nice chrome or steel machine. !
So a SAGE / BREVILLE semi-automatic like the Barista Touch would work best for both of us.
Did our research that tell us which brands make the best coffee machines ?
Our research was as wide and complete as possible, taking into account the from cook to chef ethos where we want to provide solutions for everyone. Everyone from beginner to expert, from UK to USA and beyond. Machines to suit different lifestyles, personalities and pockets. Machines that give confidence and results that different people need. ( and needs change over time ! )
Kitchen Appliance Brands in the Coffee Machine world
We find very different manufacturers that meet these needs. You’ll find big kitchen appliance names like KitchenAid , Smeg and Cuisinart still playing a big part in this market, so if you are a loyal fan, and their values suit you, you will find a matching offering from them. not for all types of machines however, and we have chosen the best one from each – one of them in this post.
Breville and Sage ( one and the same brand ) are an exception as they have a whole range of products in the espresso coffee machine arena and every single product is fabulous – they really have looked at it from a foodie viewpoint.
Of all brands, they have taken on board the fromcooktochef type of journey with their products so you can get everything from basic to professional and they teach you how to be a barista along the way.
We have picked our favourite Sage / Breville that we feel outshines its competition in the semi-automatic bean-to-cup, and the Nespresso machine categories. Update 2021 ! Also breville wins the new electric craft coffee pour over / drip machine.
Italian Coffee machine brands
Finally, you won’t be surprised to find the famous Italian brands that have been making coffee machines for decades. Gaggia and La Pavoni make it into our top picks in the manual espresso machines for home. Apart from the technical spec. of their machines, they make some beautiful designs.
For coffee connoiseurs ( or snobs !) well down the espresso making journey, you’ll be happy to see we have included the lesser known household brands, Rocket and Rancilio as top picks.
Lavazza made it into the top 5 capsule coffee machines but this category was dominated by Swiss Nespresso and Italian De ‘Longhi.
De ‘Longhi we knew as a kitchen appliance brand initially and hadn’t realised how involved they were in the Coffee machine industry. It so happens that a lot of our top picks ended up being from De ‘Longhi . The only bone we have to pick with De ‘Longhi coffee machines however is their model names all over the world ! It is quite confusing and took a long time to decipher. Interesting that we had the same issue with Braun on the hand blender range. De ‘Longhi own Braun so it must be a company trait !
Country specific brands.
There are many more of course, in the U.S. especially…like Mr Coffee, but there is a huge market for filter type machines there and we are concentrating on our main passion of espresso based machines here.
You’ll find these have one main coffee making product to sell, and mostly in the portable coffee maker section… Oomph, Aerobie, Flair, Bodum.
Immersion based solutions like the ‘French Press’, and pour over, drip style filter cafetières and the percolators will always be around, especially in America. The moka pot like the Bialetti and loads of copies will always be found in every southern European home. It´s the next best thing to espresso !
Craft coffee machines and cold brews are not so silently growing well now, but… by a long shot, the espresso based coffee is still deemed the best coffee you can taste, and that’s what you get served in coffee shops. And how much do we all spend every day on these coffees every day ?
I suspect craft coffee makers will continue to grow and a few will catch on so much that they will rival the espresso as an equally astounding way to enjoy the world´s growing coffee bean supply. The bean is becoming more accessible too, so grinders and ground coffee varieties are also in demand.
Now that everyone wants the same best coffee at home, we’re no longer satisfied with any old instant or filter coffee. And so the trend for convenient pod machines will still be with us for a while – Nespresso and the like is well established.
But is that good enough ? It was… until the expert coffee machine makers like De ‘Longhi, Breville / Sage, Gaggia and lots more, started giving us so much more to choose from. Pod machines have had their own look, but that will change I think so that they start to imitate the manual espresso machines more. The eco trend is also now a necessity for our planet, and recycling capsules or making up reusable pods is really growing.
What next? Do you know how to choose your own favourite coffee machine?
You are bound to have your own priorities – such as eco values, price, quality, design, convenience, skills required, features and how fast you need that coffee in your hands ! In our BLOG (jump to relevant coffee machine blog posts here) , you’ll find separate posts on each category so that you can check out every machine we looked at. If you still aren’t sure which type of machine you should go for, then pop over to our detailed buying guide first to find out what you should be looking out for.
Thank-you for reading this far ! The coffee machine blog comes next.
I hope this was useful, and if you would like to buy me a coffee, I´ll keep taste testing and writing about it… great coffee machines, and great coffee shops to have it as we travel.
Thank-you for reading this far ! The coffee machine blog comes next.
I hope this was useful, and if you would like to buy me a coffee, I´ll keep taste testing and writing about it, great coffee machines, and great coffee shops to have it as we travel.
We live it and research it every day, so please join our wee community, follow us on instagram, or add any comments as a user of any relevant coffee machine. Or use the comments also to ask any questions or even to correct or discuss anything we post. It’s useful information for all of us so please join in.
More coffee machine reviews and blog posts
AeroPress coffee maker – in depth review
Free your mind with this unconventional coffee maker. So versatile that I´m still uncovering more coffee recipes and flavours with it. No wonder baristas love it, what a clever invention !
Free coffee masterclass… top service
A brilliant masterclass on how to make a perfect cappuccino. It’s free, so I checked it out for you… the pleasure was all mine ! I’ll pass on a few tips on which milks to use to get the perfect results… and link you to your own free class too.
Is it a Spanish Percolator, Mokapot, Cafeteria, or Greca !
It’s a challenge. From manual espresso makers, to best Nespresso takers. Now we’re out of capsules. Time to get creative. Digging deep, we find an old vintage
In-depth review of the best semi-automatic espresso machine
The best home espresso machine for busy coffee lovers and wanna be baristas. That’s the beauty of it – perfect for both Paul… and Aoibheann.
Coffee is always better in a good coffee cup.
Take advantage when the sun shines, even if you have loads of work to do.
Top 10 best bean-to-cup espresso coffee machines to buy.
We all need this café quality coffee at home – now, more than ever, in lockdown times, when we can’t get to our favourite coffee shops for a top up.
Which espresso coffee capsules or pods are best for recycling ?
How to still have the best espresso from a pod or capsule machine and not feel guilty about the environment! We´ll show you the most eco friendly methods, materials and brands.
The best espresso coffee machines that use ground coffee and ESE pads
Fed up with coffee pods and want better coffee and easier recycling ? Discover the best ESE coffee PAD and ground coffee machines that brew excellent espresso. From basic to stylish, but what do they all have in common ?
The best POD espresso coffee machines to buy now
A review of the top POD and CAPSULE espresso coffee machines. From best budget level, to best barista quality. Also pointing out best PAD machines. – what’s the difference?
Best manual espresso machines to buy now
La Pavoni, Sage, Breville, Rocket, Rancilio… which ones did WE buy?
Our TOP Filter coffee machine buys
Get the best filter coffee solution for you here. Whether you’re a busy commuter needing a pick-me-up on the go, need to feed the crowd all day with the black stuff or want the best new wave craft coffee made for you at home.
Best Coffee Machine Brands
The top 20 coffee machine brands you should know… and they aren’t all Italian !
The 10 things you need to make your perfect espresso coffee
All the elements explained. So you can understand what makes a perfect espresso. Good to know before buying any coffee making equipment !
La Pavoni Coffee Machine
It’s Italian of course we love it !!!
the beautiful manual lever operation.
the steam is always immediately available.