In 2018, British coffee drinkers spent more than £10bn on coffee from coffee shops and cafes. And that figure is only rising. A poll of coffee consumers showed that the average person buys three drinks from a cafe or coffee shop per week, spending £303 each over the course of a year.
If saving money is on your mind, then the quickest way to make a dent in your coffee spending is to get a machine and figure out how to make coffee – just the way you like it – at home.
If you're a coffee connoisseur, you should be looking at a manual espresso maker or perhaps a bean-to-cup machine. If your coffee shop purchases tend to be sweet, creamy drinks (do you wait all year to get your hands on a pumpkin latte?), then a capsule machine – specifically a Dolce Gusto – would be a good bet. If you want a quick, convenient hit of espresso before you leave the house, a Nespresso machine is the way to go.
Still, there are countless options out there to choose from – so let us break down the main types, and guide you with reviews of our favourite tried and tested machines.
If you know what type of machine you want to pick up and you want to make sure you get the best price, take a look at our guide to the best coffee machine deals right now, and check out our guide to the best smart kitchen gadgets if you're looking for more kitchen tech.
Which one is right for you?
The first thing to figure out is what sort of coffee machine you're looking for. There are four main categories – though there's plenty of room for further specificity within them – and which is right to you will depend on your taste, how much you're willing to spend, and how much work you're willing to put into your morning cup.
Manual espresso machines
The coffee maven's beverage-maker of choice, home espresso machines are essentially mini versions of what you'll find in a typical coffee shop - though they can actually get pretty big! These rely on highly pressurised steam to produce shots of espresso, which you can then mix with milk or water for longer drinks.
Some espresso machines include grinders, though others will require pre-ground beans, though almost all of them will include a milk frother so you can make a perfect cappuccino too. A manual espresso machine is probably the way to get the absolute best coffee at home, but it does require a bit more patience and effort, and it may take you time to learn how to make it just right.
Bean-to-cup machines (automatic)
If that sounds like a lot of work, you might prefer a bean-to-cup machine. These are essentially automatic espresso machines: you just add the beans, hit a button, and the machine will grind, heat, and brew, delivering you a shot of espresso with minimal effort.
Many will also include a variety of options for adding milk or extra water to your drinks, but there is one big downside: you'll have to pay for all that tech, with good bean-to-cup machines starting around £400/$400 and often climbing to £1,000/$1,000 and above.
Snobs might turn their noses up, but capsule machines are a great option if you want a quick, easy way to get a single cup of coffee in the morning. Each pod or capsule includes the perfect amount of coffee, and there's a variety of flavours and strengths to help you find the right style for you.
Nespresso is the market leader here, but there are rivals. You'll also get a lot of choice, with higher end machines including more brewing options, milk frothers, and even smart functionality. Just remember that while the machine might be cheaper than a manual espresso or bean-to-cup system, you will pay more for the capsules in the long-run so buy in bulk if you can.
Finally, if you're not one for fancy espresso but just want no-frills black coffee, you might want a filter machine. The old office staple is still a great choice, especially if you need to make coffee for lots of people at once, and the machines are often friendlier on your wallet.
Look out for how long the machine can keep coffee warm after its brewed, how many cups it can make at once, and whether it has the option to schedule coffee to brew at set times - or even smart functionality so you can set it to brew remotely. Some filter machines include a grinder, but most will require pre-ground coffee.
Best coffee machine reviews
- Reviewed on: 2 July 2019
The Lavazza Deséa is certainly the best pod/capsule based coffee machine we've tested so far, even though it's not the most expensive one.
It's both stylish and well-made but more importantly makes a wide range of coffees from espresso to macchiato. The complexity means it take a little while to get used to all the buttons but it is pretty much one-touch operation once you get you head round it all.
The Deséa produces consistent coffee and with the option to boost temperature and foam if needed. It also does it more quietly than any other coffee machine we've used.
Read our Lavazza Deséa review.
- Reviewed on: 5 April 2019
It might not have features like a fancy screen and such, but the Gaggia Naviglio has enough features for the average drinker. Most importantly, it's very affordable for the quality.
This stylish machine is a little on the loud side and has an annoying blinking power light, but makes excellent coffee with simple and intuitive controls. It's got features like adjustable strength, a built-in milk frother and is customisable so the coffee is the perfect length.
If you want great quality bean-to-cup coffee without breaking the bank and don't need anything too fancy, then the Naviglio ticks all the boxes.
Read our Gaggia Naviglio review.
- Reviewed on: 9 September 2019
The EQ.6 is called a fully automatic bean-to-cup machine because it's able to produce cappucinos, latte macchiato and cafe latte with one touch of a button, and doesn't require a separate milk frothing process that you have to assist yourself.
The EQ.6 is also well designed and makes great-tasting coffees of all styles. Note that the s100 model doesn't actually come with a milk container: if you don't want to use your own jug, you'll want the s700 model which costs £1299.
Read our Siemens EQ.6 Plus review.
- Reviewed on: 27 November 2019
For the reasonable price tag, you get quite a capable machine with the Russell Hobbs Chester Grind and Brew 22000. Whether you prefer beans-to-cup or ground coffee, you can get a strength and smoothness to suit your tastes.
It may not be smart - and may only be best for producing black filter coffee - but it does what it claims very well, and is a great starter coffee machine for anyone looking for a standard kitchen appliance that will get the job done.
You can keep your coffee warm up to forty minutes, and set the machine to start brewing at a certain time so you have a pot ready and waiting first thing in the morning. There's a few tiny niggles with the timing on the hot plate and with the mechanisms, but they don't detract from the fact that this is a strong contender in the coffee machine market.
- Reviewed on: 6 January 2020
The Idola is a sleek, high-quality coffee maker. Espresso drinkers seeking a convenient coffee machine should be very satisfied with its four black coffee options.
However, lovers of lattes, cappuccinos and the like should ask themselves if it’s worth spending a bit more to get Lavazza's Desea, which can also make milk-based hot beverages.
Read our Lavazza Idola review.
- Reviewed on: 30 January 2019
If the main thing you want from a coffee machine is convenience, the Dinamica is probably for you. It's conveniently sized, conveniently designed, and convenient to use, offering you freshly ground espresso in less than a minute, with just a couple of button presses.
Serious baristas will want to look elsewhere for more in-depth controls and customisations, but if you just want to get a good cup of coffee without having to think too much at 7 in the morning, this is a great choice.
- Reviewed on: 9 December 2019
If you're after the convenience of a capsule-based coffee machine but also want to be able to make a 'proper' espresso from ground coffee when you have the time, Dualit's 3-in-1 coffee machine is one of your only choices.
It's a decent machine, too, and not overly expensive. If you're wondering why it's called 3-in-1, it's because it also accepts ESE pods as well as Nespresso capsules (and Dualit's NX capsules, which are Nespresso-compatible).
- Reviewed on: 30 January 2019
The Nespresso Expert and Milk is a comprehensively featured Nespresso machine with some slightly unnecessary smart functions bolted on. Still, you get a range of coffee styles and a built-in milk frother, it's dead easy to use, and every now and as long as you're organised, you'll get to make yourself a coffee from bed every now and then.
None of the smart features are essential of course, and ultimately they're more a matter of convenience than transformation. Most of the time you'll make your coffee the same old way you would with any other Nespresso machine. But for those rare occasions you're able to plan ahead, prepare a pod and a cup, and wake up to the smell of a fresh coffee, it just might all be worth it.
Read our Nespresso Expert and Milk review.
- Reviewed on: 4 December 2019
The Piccolo XS is a streamlined capsule coffee maker that can be used for both hot and iced coffee. It’s petite, sleekly-designed and inexpensive. If you want a capsule coffee maker, you don’t want to spend a lot on it and you don’t mind a lack of features, this could be the machine for you.
Read our Nescafe Dolce Gusto Piccolo XS review.
- Reviewed on: 25 September 2019
As a coffee machine the Maestosa is pretty phenomenal, packed with features, add-ons, and conveniences that back up the fact that it also just makes bloody good coffee. With 19 recipes, dual bean hoppers, and a user-friendly design throughout, it's about as good as a bean-to-cup gets.
As a smart coffee machine however, the Maestosa is a flop. Smart support is of questionable value in a coffee machine at the best of times, but here it barely works at all, with pairing problems, a buggy app, and no smart assistant integration at all. That would all be a problem in any machine, but at this price point it's pretty outrageous.
My advice? If you'd be willing to drop two and a half grand on an automatic bean-to-cup machine that wasn't smart, then take a serious look at the Maestosa. But if it's the smart stuff that's got you tempted then steer clear and wait for De'Longhi's app to brew a little longer.
Read our De'Longhi Maestosa review.