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The best coffee CAPSULE or POD espresso machines 2020     

( with links to buying choices in UK, Europe, USA, Canada )

Last updated May 14, 2020 at 10:02AM | Published on Sep 4, 2019

Affiliate Disclosure : As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I may earn a commission.

What is a pod or capsule coffee machine ?

Pod, or capsule, coffee machines such as those from Nespresso, Lavazza or Tassimo are the ultimate in convenience if you just want a quick, consistent coffee with minimum hassle. They tend to be small and simple, and have been the most popular machines for the ultimate convenience.

 

Our top 3 capsule coffee machines overall

Best Barista level espresso coffee pod machine

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braun MQ9087x hand blender set

Nespresso Creatista Uno, automatic pod coffee machine, by Breville ( Sage )

See our review of the Creatista machines , Or , click through to Amazon button below to see it in your country.

Best mid-range espresso coffee pod machine

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braun MQ9087x hand blender set

Nespresso Latissima Touch, EN550.BM ( matt black), automatic coffee machine, by De ‘Longhi

See our review of our favourite Latissima machines, or, click the Amazon button below to see it in your country.

Best budget level espresso coffee pod machine

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braun MQ9087x hand blender set

Nespresso Inissia ( En80 by De ‘Longhi, M105 by Magimix, XN 100… by Krups, Dualit, Breville )

See our review of the Inissia machine , or, click the Amazon button below to see it in your country.

Our runners up

It just so happened that our first 3 winners were Nespresso machines Our runners up actually use most people’s next favourite espresso coffee pods – Lavazza and Nescafé.

We also loved the “Nespresso Expert & milk” machine, which has a very different look. It’s meant to have bluetooth connectivity, but it’s not quite there yet if the user reviews are anything to go by. So watch this space on that one whilst we do some more digging on the best manufacturer etc !

Runner up

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Lavazza Jolie Plus winner

Lavazza Jolie

We’ve featured the Jolie Plus here as their best machine. It’s quiet, simple, and stylish and very well priced. Makes great coffee, but, the only downside for us is the small 0.5L water tank and the capsule drawer takes only 5 used capsules. We’d be emptying and filling all day. On the plus side its only 12.5cm wide !

 

Runner up

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nescafe dolce gusto bargain

Nescafé Dolce Gusto

All Dolce Gusto machines use the same pods to make the same coffee. The Jovia machine featured here is one of the oldest, cheapest, most bought, and most popular models.

There are many Dolce Gusto machines, and Nescafé, like Nespresso, they team up with manufacturers to make the machines to their spec. De ‘longhi and Krups are the best and if we had the choice…De ‘Longhi has the edge.

 Which Dolce Gusto machine is best ?

The main difference between the machines is whether they are automatic, or have a manual stop button.

For 2020, we wouldn’t delete our Jovia model, but if we were to pick 2 more to give you more choices, we would choose the 

1. Colors which also gives you a larger tank, comes in different colours and can make an extra long coffee.

2. Going up the range to a more recent addition, and with many more coffee choices, we’d choose the Esperta or the Genio 2 – more expensive but you get a lot for your money.

What’s new for Lavazza in 2020

So we’re keeping an eye on two of the new Lavazza models to see how they are working for everyone in 2020. 1. The slightly bigger, yet cheaper Idola is for coffees only, and

2. The Deséa for just a little more than the jolie plus, but also froths the Lavazza milk capsules.

Let’s see if these 2 will knock the jolie plus off it’s spot ! Check them out when you click through to Amazon.

 The best espresso pod machine for milky coffees 

If you want the best in terms of being able to offer a fabulous espresso and the best frothing capability with the largest range of drinks, and  the fastest start up, then the Creatista Uno  is your choice. If you have to have it looking great and in a longer lasting in a stainless steel then go for the superior model, the Creatista Plus. 

The best espresso pod machine for black espresso drinks ?

However… if your tipple is generally a black coffee, we’d say go for the Latissima Pro.  It takes ever so slightly longer to heat up, and offers fewer milky drinks than than Creatista. However, most importantly for you, it has the all dedicated hot water button.  It also the De ‘Longhi has a superior frothing capability, and looks professional in metal and black.

Who makes the best espresso pods ( i.e. capsules) ?

We taste tested all the pod brands when we were looking for machines in the hotel and Nespresso was by far the best in our opinion. It seems that most of the world agree. You can get so many varieties in the pod that you definitely will find one to suit you, or every member of your household ! We’ve even read a report on a forum from a happy customer that has uses other brands pods very successfully with the creatista uno.

Personally, I would put Lavazza second in taste after Nespresso. The Jolie plus by Lavazza is very popular, and scored high in performance with Good Housekeeping. 
Tassimo is the only one we have not liked !

The Nescafe Dolce gusto is also really highly rated as one of the top machines at a brilliant budget level – the pods are made by Nescafé, and are made of polyethylene, which is a plastic material often used in the food industry. You can often buy the pods at the supermarket, and now you can also now get refillable pods online for their machines. All the machines use the same Nescafé pods by the way. I have to say that all the Nescafe Dolce gusto users that I spoke to have a serious love for the coffee it makes.

Which brands make the Nespresso machines ?

I know it can seem comfusing at first.  It can be hard to know if Nespresso make the machines or not ? Actually, Nespresso make the pods, and the specifications for making their coffee, then you have great companies like De ‘Longhi, Sage and Breville, Krups, Magimix etc. that make the machines. The cheaper machines like the Inissia will have several manufacturers – they should all be made to the same specifications. However, where we find the differences is mostly in the milk frothing capabilities. Sage  / Breville and De ‘Longhi have the best ranges of all types of espresso machines and their pod machines benefit from the better milk frothing technology that they also use on their more expensive espresso machines.

What the tests and user reviews say about our top 5 pod coffee machines.

We’ve been through at least 30 review sites, and 100’s of buyer reviews to decipher these best 5 machines for you. The sites we trust to have tested them most recommend them thoroughly, but we’ve also then waded through forums and user reviews to get to the reviews, issues and comments from a wider range of real home users. We also look at the sites we don’t trust as much to see what information is reaching you too, and interact with the manufacturers sales and support staff directly. We are continually updating here so that we present the correct information for you here. Please feel free to also leave any user comments at the bottom of the page that would be useful to us or other readers choosing.

Our top 3 capsule or pod espresso coffee machines

SAGE ( BREVILLE ) Nespresso Creatista Uno

a set of coloured hand blenders

Nespresso Creatista Uno, a capsule espresso machine, by Breville ( Sage )

You will see the Sage brand logo on models in the UK & Europe, and the Breville brand logo embossed on USA, Canada, Australia models

This machine is at the higher end of the Nespresso machine range, yet at the lower end of the Sage / Breville manufacturer range of Nespresso machines. The Creatista and the Creatista Plus come above it , with higher specs. Made by Sage in the UK, Europe and by Breville ( it’s parent company) in the rest of the world. It looks great and is well designed and built – just as we expect from Breville.

Made of metal and plastic, in silver steel and a matt /satin black sesame plastic colour. It comes with the milk steaming jug that fits nicely on the plate too. There is a neat drip tray and pod container for 12 used pods that are easy to take out, empty, and clean when you need to.

Of course we never think capsule coffee is quite as good as a well pulled espresso but it’s A grade for sure, and more importantly it consistently gives you the same cup of espresso every time. The Creatista Uno is stylish and compact (40.8 x 17.1 x 31 cm) and is deservedly sold as Barista grade.

For your espresso, the main stand generally takes mugs but there is a cute pop out stand for small espresso cups or glasses.  It’s very similar to the commercial Nespresso we are using ourselves – with its 1.5 Litre water tank at the back – and a little handle to help you lift it out. The boiler is an advanced thermocoil system, and only takes about 3 seconds to heat up. The pump is 19bar pressure so that it can quickly serve three espresso length choices –  nice touch that you can manually adjust the coffee lengths to suit your own taste – 25, 40 or 110ml.

The Creatista Uno creates espressos or lungos as a base to make up to 8 espresso based drinks of course because of the automatic milk steaming feature. ( Ristretto, Espresso, Lungo, Frothed milk, Flat white, Latte, Cappucino, Macchiato. )

We think the best part of this machine is actually the milk frothing.  You can change the temperature and the frothing style from creamy to light microfoam depending on the coffee style you are making. In fact it has 3 temperatures and 3 textures to choose from. So on it’s own, it’s a handy for making any milky drinks. It’s all automatic, the machine just takes care of the milk steaming and frothing for you, then even cleans itself out and switches off when finished !

It has a fast auto cleaning process ( the steam wand purges itself so you don’t have to !) . And it has a decalc. program that is easy to follow. It will alert you when to do it. You have to let it test the water hardness at the beginning, then it alerts you to decalcify.

It comes with a nice 2 yr warranty in the UK, weights just over 5 kg, and automatically switches off after 9 mins. to save power.

PROS :

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Comes with everything you need to get going immediately, including a 480ml stainless steel milk jug and a tasting box of Nespresso capsules !

P

Make your own manual froths with the absolute best help ( it uses Sage’s advanced micro foam milk technology ).

CONS :

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Sadly, a lot of reviews of the ‘Creatista Uno’ are describing the ‘Creatista’ (which has a black or salted liquorice colour body and silver front), or the ‘Creatista Plus’ ( the fully stainless steel version). So be careful of that.

Our buttons links take you to the Creatista Uno – the least expensive model. You can also upgrade to the other two once you get into Amazon.

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It doesn’t have a dedicated hot water button, but you can always get round that by pressing the start button with no pod in.

Conclusion: Why you should buy the Creatista Uno espresso machine

This is a step up from the normal nespresso machines. The espresso is as good as Nespresso can ever get, so that’s a given. This machine is for those of you that want the convenience of the pod… fast, and also love milky drinks too.  Now all you have to do is learn how to pour the milk like a Barista and most people wouldn’t know it wasn’t 100% café quality !

If the BUY button does not work for you, please click here for UK, and here for USA

Creatista Plus. 

If you have the budget, or, you see a great deal on Amazon, the Creatista plus is worth going for  with its stainless steel finish and digital display screen. It has a thermojet heating element, and the automatic steamer can now do 8 textures and 11 temperature levels !

DE ‘LONGHI Nespresso Latissima

The Russell Hobbs 22241white (WH22241) hand blender. One of our best hand blender buys for 2018

Latissima Touch, ( EN550.BM is matt black, EN560.S is silver )

Single serve automatic coffee machine, by De ‘Longhi

Latssimina is the Nespresso based machine made by De ‘Longhi. There are 4 versions. Latissima One, Latissima Plus, Latissima Touch and Latissima Pro. We recommend the last two, and the Touch version the most. The Touch is available in the UK , and both versions should be available in the US and some other regions.

The Russell Hobbs 22241white (WH22241) hand blender. One of our best hand blender buys for 2018

Latissima Pro, ( EN750.MB is metal & black )

Single serve automatic coffee machine, by De ‘Longhi

I have to say, we do like a commercial style and the prosumer models give that.  This looks and feels more like our kind of machine. If you click over on the Latissima touch button and search for this…. and if you like the price – go for it ?

Latissima Touch vs. Latissima Pro

Similarities

Like the Creatista Uno, they both work at 19 bar pressure and have a thermoblock boiler to heat up from cold, in about 40 seconds. They  also have a shut off feature after 9mins, and you can program it to be different.

They both have 6 buttons are for : Ristretto, Espresso, Lungo, Warm milk froth, Cappuccino, Macchiato. With both, you can personalise and store presets.

They also both have an automatic milk carafe cleaning function, and an intuitive descaling function alerts you when to decalc clean. This is worked out according to the programmed water hardness setting (5 levels), and the pluggable descaling pipe makes the descaling process even easier.

 

Differences

The Touch has a nice sliding drip tray for different cup or glass sizes, a removable milk container with rinsing function, and illuminated buttons.

With the Pro, you can take the drip tray out to hold larger mugs ..

The Pro is a little bigger (WxDxH) (mm): 194x332x274 as opposed to (WxDxH) (mm): 173x320x258, heavier at 6.5kg ( as opposed to the Touch at 4.5kg), made of metal ( brushed aluminium ) not painted plastic ( black and silver).

The Pro has a 1.3L water tank and 0.5L milk carafe, and a used pod box for 15 pods. The Touch has 0.9L water, 0.35L milk and 10 pod box.

Finally… the Pro has illuminated digital display buttons ( nice but who gets up to have a coffee in the night !), and miracle of all miracles for Aoibheann… it can also dispense hot water !

PROS :

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Because it’s made by De ‘Longhi, you get their renowned integrated frothing system.

P

Reviewers actually report that the Touch and Pro have a much faster heating up time (25secs) than the Latissima Plus ( 40secs)

CONS :

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The Latissima Touch doesn’t have a hot water only tap … I wonder if you can use the steamer to heat a jug of water though !!! ( I’ll find out… )

UPDATE … yes you can do it if you just use the coffee dispenser without putting a coffee pod in !

Conclusion: Which Latissima we think you should buy.

We’ll take you through to the Latissima touch on Amazon as we think it’s super good value, but we wanted to tell you about the Pro version too, because it’s the one I would buy and sometimes we’ve seen an irresistable deal, and we want you to be prepared to jump at it

If you like your coffees long and black, and maybe a hot tea too, then the hot water button is soooo useful. I use that button a lot ! So I would personally go for the pro version.

To have a peek if you are in the U.K. or U.S., click the text links here for UK, and here for USA.  and we’ll take you to the Touch in Amazon UK today, and the Pro in the Amazon US.

DE ‘LONGHI, KRUPS, or MAGIMIX Nespresso Inissia

The Russell Hobbs 22241white (WH22241) hand blender. One of our best hand blender buys for 2018

Nespresso Inissia ( En80 by De ‘Longhi, M105 by Magimix, XN 100… by Krups… Dualit, Breville ! )

The thermoblock heating system makes it ready for the use in about 25 seconds, and the 9 minute auto-off mode can be programmed up to 30mins. , and the quantity of coffee can be automatic or programmed. The normal measurement is 40 ml for espresso and 110 ml for Caffè Lungo.

 

Nespresso Insissia – why so many manufacturers ?

This is a really compact, entry level Nespresso machine. It makes a great espresso – long or short, and is simple to use and easy to clean. It’s such good value for money, so so popular, that Nespresso has partnered with three manufacturers ! The technology and design are the same, they are all 19 bar pressure pump, but De ‘Longhi appears to be just a little bit larger ( takes 0.8L water instead of 0.7L, is 3 kg instead of 2.4Kg).

 

PROS :

P

The great price for all this ! (Similar price to the Lavazza Jolie Plus.)

P

The colours ! red, black, white, cream, blue, orange…

CONS :

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Some people say its a bit loud but not a problem as it’s fast !

Conclusion: Why you would buy the Inissia

This is a great, simple, high quality espresso machine. Great for students, great for gifts ! 
If we had a choice, we would always go with De ‘Longhi because we know it as one of the top coffee machine makers. However, the specifications are so tight by Nespresso, and it’s such a simple machine so you won’t go wrong by buying from any of the manufacturers. they are all well respected. Nespresso support all the machines. So it really comes down to choosing the one that’s available, at the best price, and in the right colour for you !  Sometimes the colours can dictate a better or worse price so check them out. 

 

RECYCLING your PODS

Recycling your single use coffee capsules

Nespresso were the first to address the plastic issue with single use coffee capsules. They say that their capsules are mostly made from recyclable aluminium actually (88%) and they started by allowing you to drop them off at Nespresso offices for recycling. Since then they and Tassimo also have teamed up with recycling or courier companies and you can drop them off in some regions at other retail points, or send them off by courier for recycling.

Better still, you can now buy Nespresso machine organic bio-degradable compatible pods like these ones on Amazon UK, and even empty pods that you can refill yourself ! Lavazza make a modo mio Ricco coffee ( intensity 7, dark roast of a Brazillian arabica bean) in a bio-degradable pod, and Nespresso do an Ethiopian coffee bean variety in a compostable pod.

Truth be told… I’ve researched a lot on this subject and seem to have lost it in a corrupted file … boo! So, I’ll be writing more about this for you again… do come back again to check up !

 

Coffee Pod vs Coffee Pad

 

What’s the difference between a pod, pad, or capsule coffee machine ?

 

Pods and capsules usually plastic and / or aluminium. ( If you’re also thinking paper here, check out our ESE pod vs pad below ). You’ll find that the seal on the pods or capsules makes them airtight, so that the coffee stays fresh.

Pads are made of filter paper and are usually looser ( like tea-bags). You can buy the pads now, known as ESE pads, online and in many supermarkets. The Phillips Senseo is one of the main machines that uses the pads. The quality of the coffee in the pre-packaged pod, pad or capsule is extremely important and we find the coffee in these loose pads make a much weaker coffee.

 

The idea of all of these is to provide a simple, easy, pre-measured little package of one or two portions of coffee. You put it into your machine, press a 1 or 2 cup button and hey presto, the machine punctures the package and pushes hot water through it to give you an instant cup of coffee.

This makes these type of machines really easy to use and maintain, as there is no mess to clean up. The used pods or capsules are often stored in a container for you ( maybe 10 – 15 at a time) and every now and then you just empty the  wee container into the bin ( the recycling bin hopefully !)

What do they look like? When we say capsules when usually mean flat aluminium packets.

ESE Pads vs ESE Pods

Now this is where this may be some confusion.

In the UK and Europe we say PODS when we mean the plastic bucket shaped pods with foil lids, and PADS when we mean the paper covered coffee portions. However there are two types of these filter paper pads.

  1. one that is looser like a tea-bag ( for the Senseo type machines) or what we should say is that the pad is bigger so the coffee isn’t as tightly packed
  2. one that is smaller to fit in special portafilters within the pump pressurized type of espresso machines. In other parts of the world, the smaller, more tightly packed paper pad can be called an E.S.E. POD !

So, in summary, do check the size in mm, and the picture to see how tightly packed they are. If in doubt, only buy the ones recommended by your machine manufacturer.

 

Phillips Senseo Coffee machine

Philipps produce a really well marketed popular machine called the Senseo. You pop the pad ( a single or a 2 cup pad ) into a little filter dish to match the size, close the top and press start for 1 or 2 cups full. These pads are usually a different size to the ones that fit in a manual pump espresso machine portafilter.

We’ve also tried many many Senseo machines in apartment rentals over the last few years,  but the quality of the coffee depends completely on the make of the pads used. We also found we needed to always use two pads , or a 2 cup pad, to get a decent strength for a single cup. Its a very reasonably priced machine, looks great , easy to get pads for in the supermarket and easy to use. It’s pretty good on taste, but not at all as great as an espresso machine pulled pad. They’re more expensive of course. We’ve listed our favourite 3 of these below.

 

BEST ESE PAD espresso machine 2019

 

The POD machines probably cost you ( and the planet ) more per coffee than any other, as we also need to save the planet from over use of plastic ! So let’s also not forget the ‘pad’ coffee machines where the coffee is wrapped in paper not plastic. So they are similar, but without the need for plastic pods or aluminium capsules. 

 

We’ve already listed some great entry level machines in our manual espresso section, and we would re-iterate here that they are really good choices to get you started on that route of choosing your own filter coffee and then even finally getting a machine to grind it yourself and then feed it directly into your espresso making machine.

So the Smeg ECF01 and teh De ‘Longhi Scultura are both based on the same machine as the De longhi dedica ( shown below ). They all take the tightly packed ESE pads ( or pod as it might be called in Australia) . You can see these machines on our manual espresso machine page. So it’s a great machine to start you off,  nice and convenient and no mess with the paper pads / pods – but then it takes ground coffee too, so you can start looking for your perfect grind and play at being a barista too!

We’ve already listed some great entry level machines in our manual espresso section, and we would re-iterate here that they are really good choices to get you started on that route of choosing your own filter coffee and then even finally getting a machine to grind it yourself and then feed it directly into your espresso making machine. So the Smeg ECF01 based on the De longhi dedica ( shown above) both take the tightly packed ESE pads ( or pod as it might be called in Australia) . You can see these machines on our manual espresso machine page. So it’s a great machine to start you off,  nice and convenient and no mess with the paper pads / pods – but then it takes ground coffee too, so you can start looking for your perfect grind and play at being a barista too!

We have a commercial Nespresso machine left over from our hotel days, but if we were to start again on the simple machine, quick, convenient coffee route – we would go for this one.  You can see the other machines we had, and our favourites in all categories on our main coffee machine page. 

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