Best Coffee Machine Overall. Kev’s 2024 UK Reviews

Which is the best coffee machine is a really good question, but it really depends on what you mean when you say “best coffee machine“. There are various types of coffee machines, which would be best for you, depends on you.

In this post I’m going to try to help you to figure out much more specifically which coffee machine is going to be the best option for you, by helping you to understand a few key things, including the types of coffee machines available and which you might want to go for depending on the kind of coffee you like to drink.

Most people reading this are probably wanting a machine to make coffee shop favourites, cappuccino, flat white, Latte, Americano and so on, and these kinds of coffee come from an espresso machine, which can be split into two main categories, bean to cup machines and traditional, portafilter espresso machines.

Bean to Cup Coffee Machines: Fresh beans in the top, espresso out of the bottom. 
Main pro: Convenience & ease of use.
Main Con: Cup quality not quite the same as traditional espresso

If you know it’s a bean to cup coffee machine you’re looking for, you can just jump straight to my suggestions for that section: Bean to cup coffee machines.

The only thing to keep in mind about bean to cup machines, is that although they’re espresso machines, they produce a different kind of espresso than traditional espresso machines.

They make espresso in a similar way to traditional machines, but the filter basket is inside the machine, in the brewing unit. The built in grinder grinds the coffee, doses the filter internally, the brewing unit then tamps the ground coffee and delivers the hot water from the pump, and the used “puck” of coffee is expelled internally into the waste bin.

The key difference is that bean to cup machines produce milder espresso with less body, vs traditional portafilter espresso machines. 

If you already have a bean to cup machine and you enjoy the coffee they make, then you really don’t need to worry about whether you’ll enjoy the coffee from this kind of machine.

Similarly, if you’re currently using a pod machine, or if you’ve mainly been an instant coffee drinker up until now, then you’re probably going to find bean to cup coffee a step up in cup quality. 

If, on the other hand, you’ve spoiled your palate with gloopy, big bodied, bold coffees made with traditional espresso, then just keep in mind that bean to cup coffee may need a bit of getting used to, as it’s not quite the same. It is very convenient, though. 

Traditional Espresso Machines: Home versions of professional espresso machines, with at portafilter (filter handle).
Main Pro: Potential cup quality
Main Con: Learning required

If you’re looking for a traditional filter coffee machine, and you have no interest in other machine types, just jump straight to: Traditional (Portafilter)  Espresso Machines

Portafilter espresso machines make the best espresso, if you think of espresso as I do.

If you enjoy big bodied, big flavoured espresso – either to drink neat, to add water to for Americano, or to add steamed milk to for cappuccino, latte or flat white, then you’re probably going to love the espresso (and the espresso based coffees)  made with  traditional machines.

The downside is that there is skill involved, and quite a bit of it. Think of when you first learned to drive, that’s almost the kind of skill development we’re talking about here, it isn’t to be taken lightly. 

The difference of course is that if you get in a car without knowing how to drive properly, you may wrap it around the nearest lamp post, with an espresso machine the worst that can happen is you wrap your lips around a coffee that tastes like crap, so not quite as serious.

Some of the cheapest traditional machines are slightly different in this regard, they use pressurized filter baskets, which reduces the skill requirement, you can even use pre-ground, but this does involve compromise in cup quality too, more on that in that particular section below.

In Between Machines from Sage: Portafilter machines that will produce traditional espresso, but which do it with assistance or automation, to reduce the learning curve.
Main Pro: Cup quality of a traditional machine but ease of use and convenience of a bean to cup.
Main Con: Cost.

If you fall in between these two categories, in that you really want the cup quality of a traditional, but the convenience and user experience of a bean to cup machine, then what I refer to as the “in-between” machines from Sage might be perfect for you.

They’re a bit more money than some people may be considering dropping on a coffee machine (depending on which option you go for), but they’re capable of cup quality better than any home bean to cup machine I’ve used, and there’s a bit of a learning curve but it’s shorter than a traditional machine.

See: Sage “in-between” traditional/bean to cup coffee machines


Pod Machines: Nespresso original, Nespresso Vertuo, Lavazza, Nescafe Dolce Gusto, Tassimo.
Main Pro: Cost price & convenience.
Main Con: Cost per coffee

If you’re much more focused on convenience and low initial cost, then you may be considering a pod machine, if that’s the case jump straight to: Pod Coffee Machines

You can get pod machines incredibly cheap, and some of the cheaper ones are actually some of the better ones, as you’ll see below, but in terms of long term value for money, taking into account how long you might have the machine for and what the pods cost, it’s often not quite the same story.

If you were thinking of a pod machine for convenience, and you like fairly strong coffee, just keep in mind that although some of the pod coffee machine options (Nespresso original line in particular) can be really cost effective when it comes to price per pod, this isn’t quite the case if you have to use 2, 3 or more pods per cup, which many people end up doing with pod machines – personally I think a lot of people considering a pod machine, would be well advised to consider looking at one of the entry level bean to cup machines.

Filter Coffee Machines: Machines that make filter coffee ;-).
Main Pro: They make filter coffee, which is a pro if you want to drink filter coffee.
Main Con: They make filter coffee, which is a con if you wanted to drink espresso based coffees.

The only real issue with filter coffee machines is when people buying them thinking that they’ll work for espresso based drinks, cappuccino, latte, Americano etc.

Yes, very vaguely speaking Americano and filter coffee are similar, ish, but they’re also very different – and cappuccino or latte made with filter coffee… no, just no, that’s all I’m saying about that, no. If you want to drink filter coffee, then great, a filter coffee machine is a great option, and there are some good options – and I have a clear favourite, for more see:  Filter Coffee Machines.

So with all of that said, here are my suggestions for the best coffee machines broken down by category.

Bean to Cup Coffee Machines

As I’ve mentioned, bean to cup machines handle all the espresso brewing internally. There’s no portafilter, the only user interaction is putting beans in the top and pressing the button, the machine does the rest.

They don’t produce quite the same intensity in taste and body that traditional espresso is known for, but they produce more than adequate results for many people, hence the fact that so many people use these machines.

All bean to cup machines are actually quite similar where the coffee making is concerned, certainly among different machines from the same brand, but across different brands, too. They’re essentially a machine with a grinder, an internal brewing unit, a water heater (usually a thermoblock) and a pump. 

The main difference in bean to cup machines at different price points is the interfaces (old-school buttons and dials vs flashy touchscreens and user profiles) and the way the milk is steamed and frothed.

The lowest priced machines usually have a panarello steam wand – basically a steam pipe with an air intake sheath. They’re very easy to use, and you can control the milk temp, but you don’t have much control over texture, unless you pull the sheath off and just use the pipe as if it was a pro steam wand. 

There are a few bean to cup machines now (mainly from Gaggia, currently) with pro steam wands, which are perfect for anyone who wants to make perfect microfoam texture for silky flat whites.

The last two types of machines are cappuccinatore machines and milk carafe machines. They both essentially froth the milk in the same way, but cappuccinatore machines don’t have the frother integrated in a milk carafe, instead you put the milk pipe into your milk bottle.

Milk carafe machines are also sold as one touch cappuccino and latte machines, in that you just press the cappuccino or latte button and the machine produces the entire drink. Some of the cappuccinatore machines are also one touch cappuccino/latte machines.

I’m going to separate my bean to cup suggestions by milk frother option, as I think this is the most helpful way to do it, and it roughly works in some kind of price order this way, too.

Panarello Wand Machines

De’Longhi Magnifica S Ecam E22

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The De’Longhi Magnifica S is a hugely popular coffee machine from De’Longhi, it sells very, very well, simply because I think DeLonghi got most things right with the design of this very low cost workhorse bean to cup coffee machine.

This is an auto machine, vs fully auto, or standard bean to cup vs one touch bean to cup. There are super-automatic or fully automatic machines, AKA “one touch” or “cappuccino maker” bean to cup machines which handle everything for you at the touch of a button, including the milk side of things.

Then, there is the standard bean to cup machines which come with a steam wand for you to steam the milk yourself, usually, a Panarello wand, which are made for just about anyone to be able to use.

I used this machine recently and reviewed it as you can see in the video above. Overall, I was impressed with it for the price. The only thing really that I’m not completely sure about with this and most similar DeLonghi coffee machines, is the aroma dial and the 2 shot button.

The aroma dial from what I can tell only adjusts the contact time slightly between the coffee and the water, I don’t think any more coffee is ground – and when you press the 2 cup shot button, from my experiments you get double the volume of espresso from what I think is roughly two grams more coffee.

Most people would assume that a double shot button is going to give double the espresso from double the ground coffee, and this is the case with all the Gaggia bean to cup machines, and other brands including Melitta and Jura, but not Delonghi it seems.

It’s not actually a huge issue, though. For instance, with the Gaggia machines, you just press the shot button twice, and then it’ll grind and pull two single shots in succession for you – so with the Delonghi machines you have to press the shot button, let it pull the shot, then press it again, so there’s not a huge amount of difference I suppose, I just can’t see why they wouldn’t make a double shot button grind double the dose of coffee.

The water tank is front-loading, which is good if you want to put your coffee machine under wall cupboards, as it means you can just pull the tank out to fill, rather than having to pull the entire machine out from under the cupboards above, and it’s a fairly nice capacity water tank, too, at 1.8L.

It has an adjustable spout, meaning you can adjust the height for different cups, it has 13 grind settings, which is actually fairly impressive for a bean to cup machine, and it’s a tad quieter than the original Magnifica which a friend of mine calls his Delonghi Metallica, due to how loud he thinks it is ;-).


Gaggia Brera

Best Bean to Cup Coffee Machine? Gaggia Brera.Best Bean to Cup Coffee Machine? Gaggia Brera.

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Another very well known brand in coffee machines (Gaggia invented espresso machines as we know them) Gaggia makes decent, reliable espresso machines, and I’d feel I was doing readers a disservice by not including the Brera in this post.

The Brera is a notch up in price vs the DeLonghi machines above, and in my opinion it’s worth it mainly for the ability to deliver a true double shot without making two separate singles, and for better control over dose (strength). It’s also particularly easy to clean the burrs on the Brera, and you can easily mod it to grind slightly finer too, if that’s something you want to do.

With the Brera, as with all the Gaggia bean to cup coffee machines, there are “bean settings” 1-3 on the Brera, and 1-5 beans on some of the machines higher up in the range, and each setting increases the dose from 5 grams to 11 grams – so it’s very easy to control the dose.

Also, the Brera and all the other Gaggia machines will deliver a double shot with double the volume of espresso made with double the amount of ground coffee. This means that if you put it on the 3 bean setting, and press the shot button once, you’ll get a single shot made with 11 grams of coffee beans.

If you press it twice, it’ll do this twice in quick succession, for double the espresso made from double the ground coffee, which is what most of us would class as a double shot.

The Brera is a lovely looking little machine, in my humble opinion, it’s really easy to use, the controls are really intuitive, and it’s a proper little work horse.

It has a 1.2L water tank, which may seem a bit on the small side, but it’s front accessed so it’s very easy to re-fill. It has a low-profile drip tray which is quite a bit bigger than it look as its goes all the way under the machine.

The Brera grinds a little bit finer than the DeLonghi bean to cup machines, from the testing I’ve done – not hugely, just slightly. But it’s possible to tweak the Brera to grind more finely, if you’re someone who wants to get their bean to cup espresso a bit closer to traditional espresso. 

You do this by simply removing the screws on the hopper, lifting it off, and you’ll see a ring around the grinder, which you just turn clockwise, you should find you can only turn it a few mm, but if you do this and then grind it on the finest setting, you should find that you have espresso that is closer to portafilter espresso than I’d usually expect from a machine like this. 

You’ll usually hear that you can’t use oily dark roasts with bean to cup coffee machines as it can clog up the grinder, and the user can’t clean the burrs themselves.

This isn’t quite true actually, with all bean to cup machine it’s possible to clean them, you just need to know how. All you need is burr cleaning pellets such as Urnex Grindz or Puly Grind, and you just need to do whatever works with your machine to stop the machine from going through the motions just after it finishes grinding. The cleaner is then just expelled into the waste tray, do this a few times, and you’ve cleaned the burrs.

With the Brera, though (and other Gaggia machines) there’s a slightly safer approach (safer in that with the above method you could fail to stop the shot and the cleaning pellets in theory could damage the brewing unit), because there’s a simple way to trick the Gaggia machines into thinking the brewing unit is in place.

All you do is remove the brewing unit as you would to rinse it, and put a piece of folded card into the slot that tells the machine the unit is in place, do the same with the slot that tells it the door is closed, and then just put a cup under the chute and grind the pellets into the cup.

For me, the Brera is the best of the lower priced bean to cup machines, if you’re looking for something that looks and works a bit more old school, and that is capable of a bit of tweaking and modding should you decide to do so, I think the Brera is great.

There’s an additional benefit in the UK, too, in that Gaggia machines are distributed by Gaggia Direct, a firm who offer proper one to one support. If you do have any issues, you’ll find the aftersales support with these guys a breath of fresh air!

No waiting in queues for several hours or waiting for an online ticket response, you’ll just end up on the phone or on a zoom video call getting on to one support, which is rare these days.


DeLonghi Magnifica Start 

DeLonghi Magnifica Start, Bean to Cup Coffee Machine.DeLonghi Magnifica Start, Bean to Cup Coffee Machine.

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This is one of the newest bean to cup machines from De’Longhi, it’s priced very close to the older Magnifica S, and it’s really very similar.

It’s more or less the same internally where the components are concerned, the same grinder, brewing unit, pump and so on – unless I’m mistaken – and the only real difference is the user interface is slightly more modern soft touch buttons, and it has a one touch Americano setting.

Personally, if you’re thinking of a low cost automatic coffee machine and you like the idea of a De’Longhi, I’d just go for either this one or the Magnifica S, whichever you can get the best deal on – unless you want the one touch Americano, in which case the Start would make more sense.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t have the same tactile buttons as the Magnifica S, and the Gaggia Brera, so if anyone with visual impairment will be using this machine I’d probably lean away from this or any other machine with a less tactile interface.


DeLonghi Magnifica S Smart ECAM250

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You may have noticed De’Longhi like using lots of numbers. If you’re wondering what they all mean, the first part of the number like 21 or 250 is the model number, and when you see an “S” or “B” in there, this is the colour, S for silver of course, b for black, PWYD means pink with yellow dots – Mr. Blobby special ;-). OK I may have made that one up, maybe.

The other numbers you’ll sometimes see refer to the specific variation which are usually just slight aesthetic differences.

The Magnifica S Smart is slightly different aesthetically, it looks a bit more premium, and it has the smart wand (I’m assuming that’s what the S stands for) that the Delonghi Dedica EC685 also has. This may seem like a small difference, this is the best Panarello steam wand I’ve ever used.

There are two settings, a milk stretching setting (frothing) and a heating setting, so you can control how much air is pulled into the milk. Very clever, and I’m not sure why all the other manufacturers haven’t copied it, Maybe DeLonghi has patented it?


Philips 2200 Series EP2220/10

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I see these as Philip’s answer to the De’Longhi Magnifica coffee machines, and they appear to have got most things right, too, for such a low-priced machine, as these sell like hotcakes!

The Delonghi machines look and feel slightly better quality to me, but the Philips 2200 does have quite a few benefits over the Delonghi Magnifica, namely the fact that it’ll produce a real double shot.

If you select 2 cup instead of 1 with the Magnifica machines, you’ll get a bigger, weaker coffee, but if you select 2 cups with the Philips 2200, It will grind the beans, deliver the shot, and then do the same again for an actual double shot. 

You can get a double shot with the DeLonghi Magnifica, it just means you have to press the shot button twice. The Philips machines also work with a really good water filter, called Acqua Clean, which will filter enough water to make around five thousand coffees without descaling your machine, a big plus for anyone in a hard water area. They don’t come with the filter though, you have to buy them separately.

It’s also easier to know how much coffee you’re selecting to be ground with the Philips, as they use the same dose settings as the Gaggia machines. There are three strength settings which allow you to choose 7, 9, or 11 grams, or double this amount when you select a double shot. 

The Philips loses some points in overall build quality I think, it just feels a bit cheaper in some areas. The Philips has a slightly louder pump, and the internal design means the Philips requires a bit more effort to occasionally clean ground coffee from various areas inside the machine where it tends to get caught.


Pro Steam Wand Machines


Gaggia Anima Barista Plus

Gaggia Anima Barista PlusGaggia Anima Barista Plus

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The Anima is one of the best bean to cup machines where bang for buck is concerned, in my opinion.

I think for a lot of people it’s just on the peak of the scale of diminishing returns, in that you’re paying a bit more for features that will make a real difference, vs machines much further along this scale where a lot of people will be paying a lot more for features that really won’t make much difference where it matters.

Vs the Brera, the features you’re paying more for are practical features that a lot of people will actually benefit from. 5 dose settings vs 3, which gives you a big more control over strength. Bigger 1.6L water tank, although it is top filled not front accessed. 

This difference in the water tank is a bit of a double edged sword. It’s good in that if its making coffee and you notice you’re about to run out of water, you can just quickly top it up, but you have to fill it from the top, or remove it to fill, which is a pain if you tuck your machine under wall cupboards.

It also has a bigger internal waste bin, which will take 18 used pucks, while the Brera will take 8. It’ll take slightly taller cups, 15cm vs 12cm, and it has a more modern interface and overall look.

This is the “Barista Plus” version, which means it has the pro steam wand. They also do the Standard Anima, or just “The Anima” which has the Panarello wand, literally the only difference is the wand.

If you just want simple cappuccino, and you’re not fussed about micro foam, the cheaper version will be fine, but if you want to produce microfoam for flat whites and other more modern speciality coffee drinks, the pro wand version is great.

They also do the Anima Deluxe which features a cappuccinatore frother, and the Anima Prestige and Anima Class which are both one touch milk machines, offering cappuccino and latte macchiato at the touch of a button, which is great if that’s what you’re looking for in a coffee machine.

The difference in cup quality when it comes to a cappuccinatore frother vs a one touch milk carafe is non-existent, in case you were wondering.

They’re basically the same thing but one of them is integrated within a milk carafe, and the difference when it comes to the Anima, is that it’s only the milk carafe versions that offer one touch milk drinks.


Gaggia Magenta Plus

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If you want the convenience of bean to cup, but milkies (cappuccino, latte, cortado, etc., and flat white in particular) are of prime importance to you, and if you don’t have the budget for the Oracle range I’ll talk about shortly, I’d be looking at either the DeLonghi Eletta Plus, above or the Gaggia Magenta Plus.

Personally, because I much prefer using proper pro steam wands to Panarello wands (even though as I mentioned above, the Eletta Plus Panarello is capable of great texture) my choice would probably be the Magenta Plus.

So the Gaggia Magenta Plus is impressive as a bean to cup coffee machine, featuring automatic preinfusion, full-colour LCD controls, completely button-free, fully customized drinks, adjustable brew head height, stainless steel boiler, 1.8L water tank & 250g hopper capacity.

But what really makes it stand out, for me, is the pro steam wand. This is a low to mid range bean to cup coffee machine in terms of price, and it’s the only bean to cup coffee machine within this kind of range I’m aware of which has a pro steam wand.

There are two other Magenta versions, the “Magenta Milk” which is a one-touch coffee machine via a cappuccinatore and the “Magenta Prestige” which has a milk carafe, which makes it a more standard one-touch bean to cup coffee machine.

A cappuccinatore is a device which is fed with milk via a tube which you put into your milk jug or bottle, it froths the milk and dispenses it into your cup. Many of the Gaggia bean to cup coffee machines have a slightly cheaper “milk” option which froth via a cappuccinatore vs a milk carafe.

As you’ll see if you watch my video above, I was quite taken with the Magenta Plus, and if I were going to use a bean to cup machine, I’d probably go for this or the Cadorna Barista Plus, below, because milk texture is really important to me.


Gaggia Cadorna Barista Plus

Gaggia Cadorna Barista Plus.Gaggia Cadorna Barista Plus.

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One of the newest addition (to the UK at least) to the Gaggia bean to cup range, the Cadorna Barista Plus also comes with a pro steam wand, like the Magenta Plus, above. The steam wand is slightly longer, and the Cadorna is known for being great when it comes to multiple users, with its four coloured user settings all of which can be completely personalised.

My video above features the Magenta milk, which comes with a cappuccinatore wand, not a pro steam wand, but most of the other features are the same.

Compared to the Magenta, the Cadorna is slightly bigger, about 3.5cm wider & 2cm taller, about 5mm deeper, it has a slightly smaller water tank, there’s only 300ml difference though, and this has a Ristretto option too, plus a bigger display, with the four personalised user settings.

Check Price – Gaggia Direct


Gaggia Accademia 

Gaggia Accademia Bean to Cup Coffee Machine.Gaggia Accademia Bean to Cup Coffee Machine.

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This is the re-design of Gaggia’s flagship bean to cup machine, the Accademia. Although I’m putting this one in the pro steam wand category, it has a one touch milk carafe as well.

The original Accademia was a very popular bean to cup machine for busier homes & small offices, with a reputation for being a real workhorse machine, as well as for being one of the most advanced and most versatile home bean to cup machines.

The new version in my opinion looks much more modern, it has a real glass front which means it’s nice to look at, and easy to clean, but also it makes the touch screen really nice to use.

You don’t have to use the touch screen exclusively however, there’s a dial you can use if you prefer to toggle through the drinks that way instead, and it’s a lovely machine to use. The touch screen really does take away the need for much thought or effort, but if you want to put a bit more thought into coffee, the new Accademia gives the user a rare level of control, where bean to cup machines are concerned.

You can control the brew temperature, the preinfusion, and flow control, 3 settings for each. You also have 5 dose settings, a true double shot, and the “coffee boost” option which adds an extra ristretto to any coffee, when you really need to wake up!

You can control all drinks on the fly by sliders that appear on the screen, and you can save them into one of four user profiles, and there’s an extensive touch screen coffee menu including single or double espresso, ristretto, lungo, Americano, cafe au lait, flat white, cappuccino (and XL cappuccino), melange, macchiato, latte macchiato, latte & cortado.

There’s even three different hot water settings, a standard hot water setting for coffee, and then two more with different temperatures, one for green tea and one for black tea.

The pro steam wand works really well, it’s more than capable of producing silky smooth milk (and milk alternatives) for latte art.

It auto cleans the milk system after each milk drink with a quick clean, it auto cleans each time you turn it off, and there’s a cleaning section on the menu which also allows you to initiate cleans including quick steam clean and deep clean.

This is the closest to perfection I think I’ve ever seen from a domestic bean to cup coffee machine, and the only couple of things that would prevent me from giving it full stars would be two little things.

The drip tray is on the small side, and I wish there was a fast accessed steam icon on the touch screen for the steam wand so that you don’t need to scroll through to the menu to start the steam.

Overall though, if we’re talking true bean to cup machines, this is the most clever, most advanced, and most versatile home bean to cup coffee machine I’ve ever used.


Cappuccinatore Machines


Siemens EQ6 plus S300

Siemens EQ6Siemens EQ6

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This is a popular cappuccinatore bean to cup machine from Siemens, featuring two user profiles, one touch milkies (latte macchiato and cappuccino), true double shots, and a fairly tall max cup clearance of 14cm.

Generally speaking, Siemens coffee machines are reliable workhorse machines, especially with the S300 and some of their other entry level options.

You can spend a lot more on a Siemens bean to cup machine if you want to, I think the EQ6 S300 is probably just at the sweet spot on the scale of diminishing returns, in that I can’t really see hugely compelling reasons to go further up the range if I’m honest.

Unless you really think the home connect app is worth it (for me, smart coffee machines will only really be worth it when you can turn the machine on from your phone, put a cup on the drip tray, and bring you your coffee so you don’t have to leave your pit) I can’t see any particularly compelling reason to spend more, so I think this is a wise choice if you’ve decided on a Siemens coffee machine.


Melitta Avanza Series 600

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These are slim, well-priced  cappuccinatore bean to cup machines from Melitta, a brand more known for filter coffee but they’ve been producing bean to cup coffee machines for a while now, and I think they’re doing a decent job, especially when it comes to value for money.

As with the Gaggia & Philips machines, this will deliver an actual double shot using double the amount of ground coffee, and it has the three dose options, so you know how much coffee is going to be used depending on the strength you select.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t a one touch machine where milkies are concerned, so it’ll produce coffee & espresso at the touch of a button, but when it comes to cappuccino or latte you’ll need to pull the shot and then froth the milk via the cappuccinatore (sometimes referred to as “cap in cup”).

There’s no grinder bypass on this machine, which means you can only use whole beans. Some machines have a bypass so you can use pre-ground if you wish, personally, I think that’s a bit weird, why would you invest in a bean to cup machine and want to use pre-ground?

Some will answer that it’s a solution for decaf, but I don’t get that either, pre-ground coffee goes stale much faster than whole beans, so just get whole bean decaf, and if someone wants decaf, remove any beans from the hopper than you can get out, and put decaf beans in there.  Part of the issue here is that people seem to treat bean hoppers as bean storage, which isn’t actually what they’re for. 


I’d recommend (and the same with most bean to cup machines) chucking away your first four or five coffees made with this machine, they just won’t taste good, you need to break the machine in a little bit, so I’d throw the first handful of shots, and then after that, personally I’d use the cheapest coffee you can use to start with (medium/dark, avoid very dark oily beans) for the first few bags of coffee you use, so you’re not wasting decent coffee while breaking it in. 

One of the reasons for this is that you’re better off leaving the grind size at the factory pre-set while you’re putting it through its paces. Melitta actually recommends leaving the grind size at factory preset for the first thousand coffees, which seems a lot, personally if it were me I’d launch a few bags of cheap coffee through it, and then switch to decent freshly roasted beans and at that point I’d adjust the grind finer and start to experiment with what grind setting produces the best shot.

You can’t really dial in as such with bean to cup machines, but I usually find that adjusting to close to the finest grind setting tends to produce the best espresso for my liking with most bean to cup machines.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a compact, fairly decent-looking and very cheap cappuccinatore bean to cup machine from a well known brand, this isn’t a bad choice at all.


One Touch Milk Carafe Machines


DeLonghi Eletta Cappuccino ECAM 44.660

DeLonghi Eletta Cappuccino.DeLonghi Eletta Cappuccino.

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Another huge seller from DeLonghi (there’s a reason they’re the world’s biggest coffee machine manufacturer) the Eletta range, which features two one-touch milk caraffe options, and a panarello version. This has been around for a while, so because it’s not one of the new kids on the block you can get hold of it at prices which make it really good value for money!

If I was looking for a one touch bean to cup machine at the entry to mid-range, I’d be considering the Eletta based on value for money. Basically, this is a mid to high end bean to cup machine that is now usually available at the low to mid price point just because it’s been around for a while. The RRP on this machine is £899, but these days it’s usually available for not much than half of that!

If we use smart phones as an analogy, you can save a lot of money by going for a model that was released several years earlier, but you probably wouldn’t consider that decent value for money as phone tech has moved on so much since then.

When we’re talking about coffee machines, though, if you’re focusing mainly on the taste of the coffee it will produce, bean to cup technology (if we’re talking about true bean to cup coffee machines) hasn’t really changed much at all over the past 20 years or more.

You can easily spend a couple of hundred quid more, or even double the money on machine that was released more recently, and actually get no real benefit from the additional spend, in fact in some cases, newer bean to cup machines are made to focus more on having a fancier user interface, leading to a reduction in overall build quality. 

The currently available versions of the Eletta are the Eletta Plus, Eletta Cappuccino & Eletta Cappuccino Top. 

The Eletta Cappuccino (ECAM  44.660.B) is the version above, and it’s the base level of the one-touch Eletta coffee machines. It produces one-touch espresso, ristretto, lungo, cafe macchiato, latte machiatto, cappuccino & latte. It also produces Americano & flat white, but not via the one-touch selection.

Eletta Cappuccino TOP (ECAM 45.760.W) is the benchmark version of the Eletta, it’s a higher quality looking machine with more metal than plastic.

The difference is mainly aesthetics, other than the fact that the “Top” has a one touch flat white button too, although some (myself included…) would argue that one touch machines can’t really do flat whites anyway. The same can probably be said of the majority of coffee shops too, but that’s one for another post! 😉

The Eletta Plus (ECAM 44.620.S) is practically the same machine as the 44.660 cappuccino above, except it has a steam wand, so it’s not a one-touch or “cappuccino maker” machine. 

The Eletta Plus features the same smart Panarello steam wand as the DeLonghi Dedica EC685 and the Magnifica S Smart, so they’ll produce better milk texture than most steam wands of this kind.

I’ve not come across a one touch machine so far which produces the same kind of velvety micro foam texture that you can achieve with a pro steam wand – but you can simply achieve very similar quality texture with the steam wand on the Eletta Plus. 

The Eletta Plus will produce one touch espresso, ristretto, lungo, espresso macchiato, latte, cappuccino and latte macchiato, and it has a milk-only setting so you can produce your own milk drinks not included in the one touch menu, including hot chocolate – and it will produce hot water too for Americano, but not one touch.

There are some strange dimensions listed for this machine, by the way, so if you’re looking for the true dimensions they’re approx. 36cm tall, 26cm wide, 46cm deep.


De’Longhi Magnifica Evo ECAM

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This is a later addition to the DeLonghi range, it’s a bit more compact (a couple of cm thinner, just over 1cm shorter, and about 3cm less depth). In terms of the one touch menu, it will produce espresso, lungo, caffe crema, cappuccino, latte & latte macchiato. So you’ll see vs the Eletta above (which you’ll usually find you can get hold of quite a bit cheaper) we’re missing quite a few one touch options.

To me this does appear to be an example of a later model where more effort has gone into the user interface, as this has a lovely colour screen, it’s a more modern experience when it comes to very easily selecting your drinks, but to me it doesn’t quite give the flexibility of the Eletta. 

This doesn’t have the ability to just foam milk, either, so the only way to get around that if you want to make a babyccino or hot chocolate, is to make a latte macchiato and stop it before it grinds the coffee, or make a latte or cappuccino and press the scoop icon to select the grinder bypass, but just don’t put pre-ground coffee in the bypass chute, trick the machine into thinking you’ve done that. It’ll throw up an error but it’ll clear it the next time you make a coffee. 

I’m going to leave the suggestions there for bean to cup machines, as there are so many options, and I’ve written a dedicated bean to cup machines post in case you want to see many more options:


Best Bean To Cup Coffee Machine


Sage “Bean to Cup” Coffee Machines

Sage don’t actually make bean to cup machines, which is why I’m not putting Sage coffee machines in the sections above, but as I mentioned earlier, they make a couple of machines in particular which are aimed at the bean to cup market, specifically made for people who are looking for true barista cup quality but with similar user experience to bean to cup.

I’m just going to suggest the two machines that I think address this market the best, which are the Oracle Touch and the Barista Touch Impress. For the full Sage range, see:

Sage Coffee Machines



Sage Barista Touch Impress

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This is Sage’s latest release at the time of writing, and it’s another game changer, in fact I think it’s their biggest game changer to date. 

As I’ve mentioned, Sage don’t make bean to cup coffee machines, and bean to cup machines deliver the kind of user experience and convenience that the mainstream, every day coffee drinker is looking for. 

You don’t build a billion dollar per year company without going after the mainstream, so how do you target the mainstream without building mainstream machines? You do it like the Barista Touch Impress.

Traditional portafilter espresso is richer, fuller bodied & more intense, vs the same coffee beans in a bean to cup machine. Also when it comes to flat white, latte, cappuccino etc., traditional machines give the user full control over milk texture and temperature. 

But traditional espresso machines don’t deliver the ease of use and convenience and the general overall user experience that the mainstream coffee drinker is looking for, and bean to cup machines do a good enough job for most people where cup quality is concerned. 

So instead of just creating another bean to cup machine and hoping people will buy it based on their brand name alone, what Sage/Breville have done is to create the best of both worlds, a traditional portafilter espresso machine which delivers true portafilter espresso, but with the same ease of use and convenience as with a premium touch screen one touch bean to cup machine.

They started out in this area with the Oracle Touch, below, but that doesn’t really attract a mainstream audience due to the price. 

The Touch Impress is almost half the price of the Oracle Touch, so although it’s still at the premium end, it’s a lot more affordable to more of the mainstream market, and as a result it’s already becoming one of the best selling premium bean to cup coffee machines in the UK, even though it’s not actually a bean to cup coffee machine.

You take this machine out of the box, turn it on, and it guides you from start to finish, through setting up your machine, as I demonstrate in the video above. 

It then lets you choose what coffee to make, with a full tutorial, and if you like you can go back and do a full tutorial on each drink, or you can just start using it normally and then go back into this tutorial mode whenever you need to. 

It guides you on setting the right grind size, it doses the correct amount of coffee into the basket each time, and it delivers a 10Kg tamp from a light one or two finger push of the tamp lever, thanks to the Impress Puck System. 

I could go on and on about this machine, but in a nutshell, it does what it says on the tin – which is to deliver barista quality espresso based coffees with the ease of use and convenience of a one touch bean to cup coffee machine.

For the full review, see:

Sage Barista Touch Impress Review


Sage Oracle Touch

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The Oracle Touch is Sage’s flagship machine aimed at the bean to cup market, it was in my opinion the best option on the market for people wanting a more bean to cup experience but barista cup quality, it’s still the best technically speaking, but as I’ve just said, I think the Touch Impress is a better match for a lot of people, mainly because it’s so much more affordable.

The Oracle and the Oracle Touch are based on the amazing Sage Dual Boiler, which is without a doubt one of the best-performing home espresso machines on the market. 

I won’t get into all the details, but the Sage Dual Boiler is built like a professional espresso machine internally, and as a result, the temperature precision and stability (very important for espresso) is incredibly good. 

So being based on this machine means the Oracle Touch has the same premium internal design which produces great cup quality, and it’s also a dual boiler which means you can pull shots and steam milk at the same time, which is a real time saver.

However, I actually think that the espresso quality of the Touch Impress is very similar to that of the Oracle Touch.

It’s slightly different in that the baskets are bigger on the oracle touch, so a double shot is a whopping 21/22g vs the slightly more standard 18/19g with the Touch Impress, but where espresso quality is concerned, although the Oracle Touch is technically better for temp stability and precision, they have the same grinder. 

Amazing temperature stability and precision gives amazing shot potential, but how much of that potential is unleashed comes down to the quality of the grinder it’s paired with. For example, I’d expect better cup quality with the Sage Dual Boiler paired with the Niche Zero or Baratza Sette 270 than paired with an entry-level grinder. 

These two machines have the same grinder, the exact same Etzinger burrs (that are used in Baratza grinders), so The Oracle & Oracle Touch might have the edge slightly, but it’s probably not fair to expect massively different shot quality given that they both use the same grinder.

Also, the touch screen on the Oracle Touch is fine, there’s some on screen guidance, but it’s really quite the amazing barista guidance you get with the touch impress including the grind adjustment guidance, and the Oracle Touch doesn’t have the new milk system with the four milk settings either. 

It’s worth noting that you do have more drip tray space on the Oracle Touch, so if you’re wanting to split a double shot into two cappuccino cups for example, you may find the room on the drip tray a bit cramped for that on the slightly more compact touch impress. Also, the Touch Impress does look and feel more premium (as it should for the money) and it has the flap on the top that you can push in order to fill the water tank from the front, which is handy.

For more on the Oracle touch, and the Oracle, too, see:

Sage Oracle & Oracle Touch Review

Now to get onto traditional machines, and I’ve split this into two sections, pressurised basket machines and traditional basket machines. 

The cheapest traditional machines that are often sold with blurb along the lines of “15 bars of pressure for great quality espresso”, have pressurisation in the baskets, or sometimes in the portafilter itself, which means they’re really made for pre-ground coffee.

The Sage Machines, and the Gaggia Classic Pro both come with both types of basket, to make them accessible for people who don’t want to grind their own coffee, or who want to use mainstream supermarket beans (traditional baskets require dialling in, which can only really be done with freshly roasted beans, within around 4 weeks of roast date, ideally).

Traditional Espresso Machines

Pressurised Basket Machines


DeLonghi Stilosa

De'Longhi StilosaDe'Longhi Stilosa

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If you’re looking for a simple to use, low cost traditional espresso machine that is capable of relatively decent results with pre-ground coffee, this would be one of the most obvious choices.

You can often get it for under a hundred quid, and for anyone looking to spend this kind of money – which is a very low cost for an espresso machine – this is probably one of the best options when taking long term value into account.

There are similarly priced options from less well known brands, that are probably similar value for money initially, in that they’ll provide similar performance at a similar cost, but in many cases I think the Stilosa from De’Longhi will out live a lot of them by  many years. When it comes to low cost home machines, there aren’t many brands who do as good a job as De’Longhi.

I’m not always as impressed with their more premium efforts, when they’re making machines geared towards the home barista market my general opinion is that they should really stick to what they know, or put a lot more time and effort really getting to know the home barista market, but when it comes to domestic low priced espresso machines, De’Longhi know their stuff.

So if you’re just looking for a machine at under £100 capable of making espresso, cappuccino, latte and so on from pre-ground coffee, I don’t think you can really go wrong with the Stilosa.

If you want to spend more, you certainly can, but if you’re going to be using pre-ground coffee and pressurized baskets, I’m really not sure you should.

If you’re considering really upping your home espresso game at some point by investing in an espresso capable grinder, and using standard non-pressurised baskets, so you can dial in for really balanced shots of espresso, as a barista would – then there certainly is a point in spending more money, but if all of that is making you roll your eyes or shake your head or both (which may earn you come concerned looks if you’re reading this in a public place) then ignore me, the Stilosa is really not a bad machine at all for the money.


De’Longhi ECP35.31

DeLonghi ECP 35.31DeLonghi ECP 35.31

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I’m only going to cover this one very briefly, it’s more or less the same as the Stilosa but it has the smart wand that is also found on the Dedica EC685. This doesn’t mean it’ll produce better milk texture than the Stilosa, but it does make it easier to produce relatively good milk texture.

If you want thick, old school cappuccino or latte, you can just leave it on the cappuccino setting, easy-peasy. If you want micro-foam for a silky flat white, you can just leave it at the cappuccino setting for 20 seconds or so (you’ll need to experiment with the timings) and then switch it to heating only, which closes off the air intake, and allows you to just keep heating the milk at that point and distributing the bubbles.

When you get the timing right (and it’s repeatable once you do, if you use the same amount of milk or milk alternative each time) you can do almost as good a job with this wand as you can with a standard wand, and it’s really easy, which can’t quite be said for using a pro steam wand.


DeLonghi Dedica Style EC685M

DeLonghi Dedica Style EC685M.DeLonghi Dedica Style EC685M.

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The DeLonghi Dedica is one of the best ever selling home espresso machines.

As it is without any mods, it’s not quite a home barista espresso machine – but with a few easy inexpensive mods and paired with a capable grinder, it’s one of the most popular low priced options among beginner home baristas.

Although as I discuss in my video below, the Panarello wand (specifically with the newer version, the EC685) is capable of great milk texture, or you can remove the wand and use the steam pipe below as a steam wand, as long as you secure it with a tie wrap.

It’s quite straightforward to use the Dedica as a home barista espresso machine, you can simply get hold of an aftermarket portafilter with a standard basket, you can even install a pro steam wand if you like. See my second video on the Dedica, which was about using the Dedica as a home barista machine. This is one of my older videos though, before I had a bit of a clue what I’m doing with videos, so please excuse all the waffle ;-).


If you’re interested in the Delonghi Dedica EC685, then I’ll just quickly bring your attention to these two machines:


The DeLonghi Dedica EC785 is the latest iteration of the EC685, and it’s only different in terms of a slightly different colour scheme (more grey than sliver), plus it comes with more accessories – including a milk jug and a proper, metal tamper.

The reason I’m showing the Smeg machine here, I think is probably fairly obvious if you look at this machine next to the Delonghi Dedica machines, they’re just so similar (inside as well as outside from what I can gather), the only difference I can actually see is that the Smeg machine is clearly very “Smeg” in terms of the design, so if you have other Smeg appliances in your kitchen, this will fit right in.

I do get asked occasionally if I think the Smeg is worth the extra money, and my response to that is that I think this would probably only be the case if they believe the Smeg design would be worth it for them, which it may be if they have a Smeg fridge for instance and want their machine to match.

For more on the DeLonghi Dedica, see:

DeLonghi Dedica Espresso Machine Review


Gaggia Espresso 

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If you were to ask me which I think is the very best pressurized basket espresso machine on the market right now, personally I think it’s the new Gaggia Espresso.

It looks like Lego made it, which you’ll either love or hate ;-), it’s really easy to use, it has a panarello wand which quickly turns into a pro wand when you slid off the panarello sheath, and the pressurisation is in the basket, so although you can get after market portafilters for it if you want to use it with an espresso capable grinder, you don’t have to, you can just get a 53mm standard basket.

It doesn’t have a 9 bar OPV or a 3 way solenoid valve, so it’s not quite it’s bigger much older sibling the Gaggia Classic, and it’s also not quite on parr with the Sage Bambino or Bambino Plus, for a few reasons, but it does have a PID, making it a much more temp stable machine than I’d expect for this price, and if I was going for a sub £200 home espresso machine for using pre-ground coffee with a view to maybe switching to using whole beans in the future, this would be where I’d be putting my money.

Gaggia Espresso Review



Traditional Basket Machines

Sage Barista Express

Sage Barista ExpressSage Barista Express

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I’ve already mentioned the “in between” machines from Sage, but they also offer a number of integrated grinder machines that don’t offer assistance, which started out with the Barista Express.

The Barista Express has been one of the best selling espresso machines in the world for the past 10+ years, and even though there’s so much competition now for integrated grinder machines, the Barista Express still sells like hot cakes. 

The only issue with these machines is so many people buy them thinking they’re bean to cup machines, mainly thanks to most of the bigger retailers selling them in their bean to cup machine category.

It’s not a bean to cup machine, bean to cup machines have brewing units instead of portafilters, and they produce a slightly different kind of espresso, with less intensity and body.

The Barista Express is currently the only machine in their range other than the Smart Grinder Pro that has the original burrs and hasn’t been updated to the Baratza burrs, now they own Baratza, the OPV was also set to about 13/14 bars last time I checked (I’m not sure if this is still the case).

If none of this matters to you, and you just want the best bang for buck integrated grinder espresso machine, then the Barista Express is great. 

By the way, although the Etzinger burrs used in Baratza machines and the rest of the Sage integrated grinder machines are well respected, the original burrs are actually really good.

I’ve done testing with them and the particle distribution focus is really quite impressive, the only issue with the express where grinding is concerned is that relatively big grinding steps, but they’ll get you “ball park” dialled in.


Sage Barista Pro

Sage Barista Pro.Sage Barista Pro.

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If you’re looking for an integrated grinder machine more for home barista use, you want to be able to more accurately dial in, and you like the idea of having a shot timer, a 9 bar OPV and faster milk steaming, the pro might  be for you.

The 9 bar OPV doesn’t mean that they have differing pump pressure by the way, it just relates to the setting of the valve which dictates the max pressure it’ll allow in the basket before firing off the excess internally. It’s handy to have a 9 bar OPV, most home baristas would prefer 9 bars to anything higher, but it’s not actually as much of a big deal some people seem to think it is.

These days the Barista Pro is probably the best value integrated grinder espresso machine on the market for home barista use.

Personally I’d recommend separates if you can, but if you’re just getting started in the home barista hobby and you really need integrated, this is probably where the smartest money is going.



Sage Bambino

Sage Bambino.Sage Bambino.

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The Bambino is the Bambino Plus’s slightly smaller and slightly cheaper sibling.

It has the majority of the important stuff that the Bambino Plus has where espresso is concerned, for example the PID temp control and 9 bar OPV, but there are a couple of thing it lacks vs the Bambino Plus.

The biggest difference is lack of auto steam, which isn’t a massive issue if you weren’t planning on using that feature.

Where steaming is concerned though, it also has a single hole steam tip, and it doesn’t quite have the same steaming power, it’ll do the same job, just 20 seconds or so slower.

Where espresso is concerned the only real difference is the lack of a 3 way solenoid valve.

Usually this makes an impact on how gentle the water initially hits the coffee, because the lack of a 3 way valve usually means a spring valve instead, which usually mean all or nothing water power, meaning that the puck of coffee can get a bit of a beating initially from the water jetting into the basket at full force.

This isn’t the case with the Bambino, though, because the firmware controls the pump power, so you still get the gentle pre-infusion and ramp up to full pressure that the Bambino Plus delivers.

The only real negative of no 3 way valve is that the shot doesn’t stop quite as suddenly, there’s a bit more dripping, plus you don’t get quite as dry pucks, and if you choke the machine (too fine a grind), you have to give it a minute before unlocking the portafilter, or you can encounter “portafilter sneeze” where hot coffee grounds burst out of the basket as you unlock it.

This isn’t all that common, I think I’ve only done this once with the Bambino, I’ve done it several times with the La Pavoni Europiccola, messy!

On the more positive side, the Bambino steam wand is on a ball joint so you have a bit more control over steaming position as you do with the Plus, and you have a hot water button, the plus will dispense hot water from the steam wand too but you have to press a couple of buttons consecutively, not that this is a big deal once you know which buttons to press.


Sage Bambino Plus

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OK, so we’re moving on from the domestic espresso machines now and onto what I consider to be the entry-level home barista or prosumer espresso machines.

There’s no way I could talk about espresso machines, and not mention the Sage Bambino Plus. What a great little espresso machine this is!

Watch my video on how to auto steam milk with most espresso machines:


I could go on and on about this machine, so I’ll try to hold back – but in a nutshell:

This is a relatively inexpensive espresso machine, at the very entry-level for home barista machines, and it features:

  • PID temperature control (factory pre-set, not user adjustable).
  • 9 bars of pressure
  • Low pressure pre-infusion, auto or manual.
  • 3 second warm up time.
  • Pro steam wand, which can be used manually, or fully automatic.
  • 1.9 L water tank

To me, this is an amazing set of features for the price.

OK, this PID (temperature control) isn’t adjustable, but the fact that there’s a PID which is factory pre-set means that the temperature isn’t flying all over the place, which is a common issue with entry-level espresso machines even at a higher cost than this, such as the Rancilio Silvia, which is over a hundred quid more, and needs a PID mod (for about another hundred quid or so) to overcome this known issue.

This is a great machine to learn to steam milk with, but if you can’t be bothered with that, the auto milk steaming feature is very good.

I’ve seen a few people saying this isn’t the case re the steam wand, along the lines of it doesn’t froth milk, only steams. If this happens, it means you have a problem with your machine, more than likely a scale build up somewhere, either in the spring valve relating to the steam, or in the wand.

It could potentially be an issue with the heat sensor or the air pump, whatever the case may be, you should get great texture with the Bambino Plus on auto, almost as good as you can get from it manually.

My only criticism of the Bambino Plus, really, is that I wish they’d ship it with the much nicer metal portafilter that comes with the Barista Express and Barista Pro, I’m not a fan of the lightweight stubby spout portafilter that comes with the Bambino and Bambino Plus, but you can buy the portafilter for the Express/pro, or buy an aftermarket portafilter, if you prefer.

For more on the Sage Bambino Plus see:

Sage Bambino Plus Review



Gaggia Classic Evo Pro 

Gaggia Classic 2023 Model.Gaggia Classic 2023 Model.

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The Classic Pro is one of the most popular entry level home barista espresso machines on the market. It’s been around for over 30 years, and it’s earned itself a great reputation over the years, even developing somewhat of a cult following.

They were built like tanks, with good old fashioned engineering, very little to go wrong, and very simple and inexpensive to maintain. In fact, if you look for used Classics, you’ll find many still going strong, and holding their value very well too, from the 90s & 00s. My first machine was a 2003 classic, it’s still going strong.

The latest version is the 2023, or the “Evo”, which isn’t massively different.

They’ve changed the portafilter to stainless steel instead of chromed brass (good move, the chromed brass portafilters ended up dinged and marked fairly quickly), changed the group to solid brass instead of chromed brass, and they put a coating inside the boiler. 

If you’ve heard that the new classic had some issues, known as “boiler gate”, it was this coating that was the problem – in some cases the coating hadn’t properly applied and it was flaking off, so they went back to uncoated Aluminium boilers.

It’s worth keeping in mind, however, that many retailers are likely to have stock of the coated boiler models. I’d imagine there will still be models with the coated boilers being sold up until mid way through 2024, so you may want to check with the supplier whether you’re buying one with a coated boiler or not. 

If you’re buying from Gaggia Direct in the UK, or one of their re-sellers, I wouldn’t be too concerned – if you do get the coated boiler and you get the flakes, they’ll just send you one with the uncoated boiler. For more on this see: BoilerGate – Gaggia Classic Pro Evo Boiler Gate Explained.

PLEASE NOTE: You may find one or two retailers offering great deals on Gaggia machines, and others. This may not quite be all that it seems. If you see a great deal, and it’s not from the UK distributor (Gaggia Direct) or one of their re-sellers, you may want to double check that it’s definitely UK stock and will come with  UK plug and a UK warranty, and that you won’t be charged customs duties & brokerage fees by the courier.

For more on the Gaggia Classic Pro, see:

Gaggia Classic Pro Review

If you like the sound of both the Gaggia Classic Pro and the Sage Bambino Plus, and you can’t decide between the two (which is very common) see:


Rancilio Silvia

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Also a single boiler machine, the Rancilio Silvia is a popular choice at the entry level price point. It’ll set you back about another £60-70 vs the Classic Evo Pro, but overall I think it’s really good value.

It has a bigger boiler (300ml vs approx 80ml), made from a Brass/Chrome alloy, and the result is much more powerful steam power (in fact it’s more powerful than many much more expensive machines), but it does take longer to heat up to steam ready than the classic. 

It has a really nice quality 58ml portafilter, a 3 way solenoid, adjustable OPV, and as with the classic the temperature is a bit unruly unless you fit an aftermarket PID, so if you don’t do that you’ll need to develop a temperature surfing routine. 

The only thing I think you really need to keep in mind about the Silvia is that although it’s slightly more pro vs the classic, it’s still quirky.

The steam power takes a lot of getting used to, it’s not what I’d call a forgiving steam wand, and you do need to keep an eye on how much you’re dosing, as for some reason instead of a flush screw to keep the shower screen in place, they’ve gone for a big hex bolt, but at least you’ll know if you’re over dosed, if you lock the portafilter and then unlock it without starting the shock, if you have a hex bolt shaped indentation you’ve dosed too much in the basket.

Rancilio Silvia Review


Profitec Go

Profitec GoProfitec Go


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The Profitec Go is probably the best single boiler espresso machine on the market.

It’s a very well built little machine with a 400ml stainless steel boiler, adjustable PID (Algorithmic temperature control), adjustable OPV, shot timer, pressure gauge, pro steam wand, 2.8L water tank and a decent sized drip tray. 

I think it’s fair to say that you couldn’t really ask for more from a single boiler espresso machine. 

The only issue with it really is that you get what you pay for, and as a result of it being probably the best single boiler espresso machine, is the price point is so close to some very capable heat exchanger machines.

In fact it’s slightly more expensive than the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II, a very much tried and tested heat exchanger machine that may just be the most under rated espresso machine on the market.


Nuova Simonelli Oscar II


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As I’ve just mentioned, the Oscar 2 from Nuova Simonelli might just be the most under rated espresso machine – and I’m not going to spend too much time talking about it, because you probably won’t buy it anyway.

The reason why – I really don’t know. These are one possibly one of the best kept secrets in home espresso, made by one of the most historic espresso machine brands, Nuova Simonelli, who made their first machine in 1936, and who own Victoria Arduino.

The original Oscar was a popular machine particularly in America, known for it’s performance and longevity, not so much for its looks. The Oscar 2 is improved in both aspects, but I don’t think it’s really ever been anywhere near as popular as the original Oscar was.

It has a 2L insulated copper boiler, a thermosyphon group (similar to the famous E61), very powerful steam wand, factory pre-set preinfuson, like I say – lots of machine for the cash.

If you spend about £400-£500 more you’ll get into the territory where you’ll start to get things like  PID instead of pressure stat brew temp control, more precise temp control and no need for pulling cooling flushes.

If you mainly make milk drinks, and you were considering a single boiler machine, you’ll probably love this. The steam power is brilliant, as is the joy stick steam lever, and it’ll steam milk while the shot is pulling, very convenient when you’re making a few back to back flat whites.


Rocket Appartamento TCA

Appartamento TCA Silver & BlackAppartamento TCA Silver & Black

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Rocket make some flipping good looking espresso machines, I reckon the looks of the Appartamento are at least partly responsible for it continuing to sell well for years despite it losing it’s punching power vs similarly and even lesser priced competition, in terms of performance.

With the Appartamento TCA, they’ve strengthen the looks even more while giving it the features it was lacking, which now enable it to punch in its own weight class.

It now has temperature control (TCA: Temperature Control Adjustment), they’ve put it on a solid chassis to reduce chances of damage in transit, the boiler is now insulated, the OPV is set to 9 bars in the factory, and although it has great steam power, the new steam tip makes it very forgiving to use. 

Read My Review


Pod Coffee Machines

Starting off with Tassimo machines – these are among the most popular coffee pod machine options in the UK.

They’re very inexpensive pod coffee machines with some crowd-pleasing disk options including flavoured lattes (caramel, vanilla, etc.), iced lattes, chai latte, hot chocolates & so on, and the inclusion brands such as Costa, L’or, Jacobs, Bailey’s, Orio & Cadbury I reckon is a pretty big selling point, too.

If I were a “normal” coffee drinker looking for a pod coffee machine, I’d probably buy a Tassimo machine. I can say that quite confidently because I was, at one point, and I did.


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The Bosch Sunny has been among the best-selling pod coffee machines on Amazon UK for quite some time, and I’m not surprised given the price, and the fact that the other Tassimo machines only really differ in fairly insignificant ways.

It’s not clear on the face of things why you’d pay any more for one Tassimo machine over another, they all use the same brewing system, they all us the same coffee pods (disks), but there are a few, mainly quite subtle differences. 

See this chart from Tassimo, for a quick look at the main differences.


Tassmio comparisons.Tassmio comparisons.

You can ignore the RRP, as most are available cheaper than this from Amazon or Currys.

When it comes to Happy, Vivy & Suny, it’s mainly just a difference in look, Suny is available only in black, the others are available in a range of colours.

They’re also slightly different in footprint too, Suny is wider than Vivy & Happy, the same depth as Vivy. Happy is just under 10cm deeper, and is a couple of cm taller than Happy, and about 5cm shorter than Vivy. 

To get any real differences other than this, you’d need to go for the My Way, which has a bigger water tank, Brita filter, and adjustable intensity, temperature & volume.

So Suny is the cheapest, it’ll produce all the same coffees as all of the other Tassimo machines, and if you’re happy with only one colour option, and a footprint of 34.5cm wide x 21cm deep x 29cm tall, then I can’t see any reason to pay more unless you want the personalisation that the My Way offers. 


 Tassimo Vivy 2

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A colourful range of machines with 5 colour options, and the joint shallowest machine (meaning the depth it’ll take up on your kitchen worktop) at 21cm.

It’s not going to take up a huge amount of counter space at 29cm wide, but if you need a very thin pod machine for your desk or caravan, etc., Happy is just 17.5cm wide.

It’ll take all the same T-disks as all the other machines, so they’ll all make the same coffees, personally unless you’re thinking of the My Way for the personalisation, I’d just go with whichever one you like the look of the most, or go for Happy if you need as slim a machine as possible, or for the Vivy 2 or Suny if you’re lacking depth where you’re intending on putting your machine.


Bosch Tassimo Happy

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Again, available in a range of 5 colours, and the slimmest of the Tassimo machines at 17.5cm wide, so I think a lot of people will go for this if they’re looking for a very slim machine to put on their desk or in a very small kitchen. It’ll take all the T-disks, and they all use the same brewing system, so they’ll all give you exactly the same coffee unless you go for the My Way 2, below, which gives you the ability to tweak.


Bosch Tassimo My Way 2

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This is the only Tassimo machine that is really different in terms of features, than the others in their range. 

It comes with an integrated Brita Maxtra+ water filter in the 1.3 L water tank, the ability to tweak the strength of all coffees, plus the temperature and size of all drinks. 

It also has a 4 personalised settings you can program and save, for strength, size & temp. It’s bigger than all the other machines at 40cm wide, 26.5cm deep and 31cm tall, but it’s still not a monster.


Nescafé Dolce Gusto Piccolo XS

Nescafé Dolce Gusto Piccolo XS.Nescafé Dolce Gusto Piccolo XS.

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Another pod coffee machine that doesn’t require much introduction, is the Dolce Gusto machine from Nescafé.

Back when I was a “normal” coffee drinker, no doubt I’d have been as happy as Larry (my father-in-law) with a machine like this.

One of the good things about Dolce Gusto vs Bosch Tassimo is that there are compatible pods available for the Dolce Gusto coffee machines, meaning you’re not forced to buy Nescafé pods, so you have more choice.

This particular model the Piccolo XS is the best-selling Dolce Gusto machine and the second best-selling pod machine on Amazon at the time of writing.

The Piccolo XS is a compact machine, w:25 d:32 h:25 cm, and has an 800ml water tank – and this is a manual machine, which means you manually set the machine to the bars displayed on the pods you’re using.

Unlike with the Tassimo machines above, I can see some benefits from going for the slightly higher priced Dolce Gusto machines. The more expensive machines are automatic vs manual, and there are other features that you may decide are worth investing a bit extra in.


DeLonghi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Infinissima

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The Infinissima is similar to the Piccolo XS, it has a bigger 1.2L water tank and is 10cm wider at 33 d:32 h:27 cm. It’s a manual pod coffee machine as the Piccolo XS, and it features a rising drip tray to adjust the cup height vs taking the drip tray off on the Piccolo XS and clipping it on higher.


De’longhi Nescafe Dolce Gusto Genio S Plus

De'longhi Nescafe Dolce Gusto Genio S Plus.De'longhi Nescafe Dolce Gusto Genio S Plus.

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The Genio S Plus is currently the best seller on Amazon in the bean to cup coffee machines category, which is slightly odd, as a bean to cup coffee machine it ain’t ;-), it’s a pod machine of course.

Moving on from that, this is an automatic machine, so you just slap the pod in and the machine knows how much water to pass through the pod, although that’s adjustable, so if you want a bigger (weaker) coffee, you can.

As with the Piccolo XS, there’s an 800ml water tank, and in terms of size, this is very slim at w:12 d:32 h:27 cm. In terms of more impressive features, the Genio S has the “Espresso Boost” technology for stronger espressos and temperature control.

Now let’s move on to Nespresso Machines.

While I’ve said that if I were going to buy a pod machine back when I was a “normal” coffee drinker, these days if I was going to buy a pod machine, it would be a Nespresso machine. I can prove this by the fact that I do actually own one ;-).

At home, I value taste over convenience, so I have no need to use a pod machine.

When this convenience does come in extremely useful though, for me, is when I’m rehearsing with my band. We have a rehearsal room in an old mill, and if I (or anyone else) wants a coffee during a break, there’s no time for anything but a pod machine.

The reason I use a Nespresso machine as my ultra-convenient coffee delivery method when required, well there are a few:

Firstly, in my humble opinion, Nespresso machines are the pod machines capable of the best-tasting coffee. Actually, I think first prize here would need to be shared with the Lavazza a Modo Mio machines.

By the way, did you know these two machines (what’s known as the Lavazza machine, and Nespresso) were invented by the same guy?

It’s a really cool story actually, I’m surprised it hasn’t been turned into a movie. He played the long game, got himself a job in packaging at Nescafe just to learn the workings of the company, and eventually got the chance to pitch his invention.

Nespresso vs Lavazza A Modo Mio

Just to quickly discuss the Lavazza A Modo Mio machines, I’ve used them side by side, and I found the Lavazza machines to produce slightly hotter coffee, and slightly stronger, so from that perspective I preferred Lavazza.

But, there isn’t the same variety of machines, and more importantly, there isn’t the variety of compatible pods. There are compatible pods, but there are more for Nespresso machines.

That said, if the slightly hotter and slightly stronger Lavazza sounds more up your street, check this out:

Lavazza A Modo Mio Jolie

Lavazza A Modo Mio Jolie.Lavazza A Modo Mio Jolie.

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It’s a fairly nice looking little machine, similar in looks to the Nespresso Inissia.

It has a quick heat up time, around 25 seconds, a capsule bin that will take 4 of 5 pods, an adjustable cup height with two settings, and – well, there’s not much more to say about it really.

But if you’re looking for a small, cheap pod machine – as I said, from my experience the pods will be slightly stronger and slightly hotter than the original Nespresso machines.

I say original because there are the newer Vurtuo Nespresso machines, too, which are quite a bit different to the original Nespresso machines, and feature a bigger range of pod sizes and strengths.


Nespresso Citiz

Nespresso Citiz.Nespresso Citiz.

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This is the Nespresso machine I have, and I think it’s a fairly impressive machine, for the cost. Not that it does anything that any of the other machines won’t do, I was just struck by how good quality it looks and feels, when I got it, compared to some of the slightly cheaper machines.

It has a 1L removable water tank, fairly big for a pod machine. It has a folding drip tray, which means you can use a bigger cup on the drip tray or a smaller cup on the fold-down tray.

Max cup height, if you were wondering, is just over 15cm, and it’ll fit up to 12 capsules in the pod’s bin.

The only quirk I’ve noticed with this machine is that the pump is quite aggressive, so if you’re using a small espresso glass on the fold-out tray, you have to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t vibrate right off the edge.


Nespresso by De’Longhi Gran Lattissima

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This is a one-touch Nespresso machine, meaning that you just press the cappuccino, latte, or latte macchiato button & the machine does it all for you.

You can even adjust the milk texture settings, and personalise the coffees to your liking.

The only thing that would put me off with this machine, though, is it looks a bit fiddly when it comes to cleaning. You have to press and hold the clean button for around 16 seconds after every milk drink to rinse it, and this is just the cleaning in between drinks.

Cleaning the milk carafe, which is recommended every couple of days, involves dismantling the carafe, which does seem like a bit of a faff.

It does have an impressive overall review score on Amazon, there are some negs but it’s mainly positive – the negatives are mainly about cleaning and low milk temperature.

It has mainly positive reviews on Amazon though, there are a few complaints about cleaning,

If you’re set on Nespresso, but milkies are really important to you – personally, I’d be thinking about one of the Sage Creatista machines vs a one touch Nespresso machine or a Nespresso machine with an aeroccino, simply because you’re going to have so much more control over milk texture and milk temperature.

Sage Creatista Plus

Sage Nespresso Creatista PlusSage Nespresso Creatista Plus

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If you’re thinking of going for a Nespresso machine, and milkies are really important to you (cappuccino, latte) then the Creatista Plus should probably be on your shortlist, which is more or less the Nespresso version of the very popular Sage Bambino Plus.

As well as a very slick Nespresso pod machine (one of the best I’ve used overall) the Creatista Pro has an auto frothing steam wand with 8 texture levels and 11 temperature options, and a colour display. It’s really very impressive for a pod machine, I have to say.

It also has the same crazy fast 3 second heat up time as the Bambino Plus, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder of course, but for me its one of the best looking Nespresso machines. 


sage Creatista Plus view from the top.sage Creatista Plus view from the top.

It’s not quite as impressive as it’s bigger brother the Pro, though, although it’s not quite as astronomically priced for a pod machine, either ;-). Which brings us nicely to:


Sage Creatista Pro

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I won’t spend too much time talking about the Creatista Pro, it’s similar to the Plus, but it has a bigger 2L water tank, a dedicated hot water spout for Americano, and it has two thermojet heaters instead of one, so it’ll sort the coffee and the milk at the same time, for very fast results.

This is an incredible Nespresso machine, it has to be said. It performs as if it were a dual boiler or heat exchanger espresso machine, in that it’ll steam milk and make coffee at the same time and that it has a dedicated hot water spout for one touch Americano. 

So if you’re someone who likes milkies and Americano, if you can get over the price tag, this may be your perfect Nespresso machine. It’s certainly not cheap for a Nespresso machine, you’re not paying for bells and whistles, though, this machine has very practical features.

The first one is that it has a hot water spout, so if you drink Americano, you don’t need to boil the kettle.

Yes you can make Americano with any Nespresso machine by continually pressing the coffee button with no pod in, but it’s a bit of a faff, this is really a pod machine for people who don’t want faff and who’re prepared to pay the price to avoid it.

You have a lot of control over the volume of water and coffee, too, so it’s possible to fine tune your Americano to you’re liking. I say Americano, if you’re one of the people who subscribes to the rule that Americano is coffee first and long black is water first, then this is long black (and it’s called Long Black in the menu), but in my book Americano just means espresso and hot water, long black is what the Australians and Kiwis call it.

The second and probably most impressive practical feature that makes this machine stand head and shoulders above most other Nespresso machines, is the dual thermojet. 

To be fair, it doesn’t take a long time for a Nespresso machine to produce a shot, 20 seconds or so, but still – if you’re someone who needs your cappuccino or latte in a rush, this will give you faster milkies that any other Nespresso machine I’ve experienced.


Filter Coffee Machines

Filter coffee machines while hugely popular in the States, aren’t quite as mainstream in the UK as they once were, and they might not be all that exciting, but if you enjoy filter coffee, a filter coffee machine is an obvious choice.


Geepas filter coffee machine.Geepas filter coffee machine.

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This is one of the best selling filter coffee machines in the UK at the moment, and I can see why – it’s very cheap, and seems to have some decent features for the cost.

It has a max brew volume of 1.5L, it comes with a reusable mesh filter (you can use paper filters too of course), it has what is described as a durable glass carafe.

From what I can gather, as long as you’re unlucky & receive a faulty unit (and that’s one of the great things about buying from Amazon, it’s very easy to return a machine if it’s faulty), you should have a good filter machine here for such a low cost.

The Amazon listing is a bit odd, though, it describes this as being capable of making espresso and macchiato, which of course it isn’t – this is a filter coffee machine.


Morphy Richards Coffee On The Go Filter Coffee Machine

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If you’re wanting a cheap filter coffee machine for making single cups, this machine from Morphy Richards is worth a look.

It comes with a travel cup, so if you’re looking for a machine to produce a travel cup full of coffee for when you’re heading out of the door, this is what this machine is aimed at, although you can use it for normal cups, too. So you could have this on your desk, for example, to keep you caffeinated while working.

There’s no doubt it’s a cheap machine, don’t expect solid build quality and quirk-free brewing, any machine at this kind of price is going to feel cheap, as it is, and is going to come with some imperfections as you’ll discover if you read the reviews, but you do need to take into account just what a low cost machine this is.

Best manual coffee grinders review

Russell Hobbs 20680 Buckingham Filter Coffee Maker

Russell Hobbs 20680 Buckingham Filter Coffee MakerRussell Hobbs 20680 Buckingham Filter Coffee Maker

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The Buckingham filter coffee machine from Russell Hobbs has been one of the best selling filter coffee machines in the UK for a while. It’s an inexpensive machine, it’ll brew from 250ml to 1.25L of coffee in one go, and it has a timed brewing function for fresh coffee when you wake up, so it has everything most people would be looking for in a filter coffee machine.

It comes with a reusable mesh filter, but if you prefer paper filters as I do, that’s fine too.

Ignore how many cups of coffee the sales blurb says it’ll make – coffee machine manufacturers all appear to use thimble-sized cups… It won’t make ten cups – well, it will, but only if those cups are 125ml, or just over 4 ounces, which is a very small cup. It’ll make up to around four or maybe five “normal” sized cups of coffee.

My only worry about this machine is that there are a lot of people saying you need to be careful with the glass carafe, as it’s quite brittle, and the replacement is about half the price of the machine.


The Sage Precision Brewer Filter Coffee Machine

Sage Precision Brewer Filter Coffee Machine.Sage Precision Brewer Filter Coffee Machine.

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Sage (known as Breville outside of the UK) don’t just make coffee machines – they’re known for re-thinking the way things are done, as I mentioned earlier, and making game-changing coffee machines, and that’s what they’ve done with the Precision Brewer.

This is a large capacity filter coffee machine, while it’s listed as 1.7L, it’s actually 60 ounces, so almost 1.8L.

It comes with both flat bottomed and conical filter baskets, it has single cup detection for allowing single cups to be brewed, and you can even switch out the filter basket for your favourite pourover device, such as Kalita Wave or Hario V60 (you have to buy a separate adapter for that, though).

Instead of a glass carafe and a warmer plate, the precision brewer uses a hefty insulated stainless steel carafe which will keep your coffee hot for a good few hours.

It has a PID for temperature regulation, and it has really easily selectable pre-set brewing options, and a completely customizable setting called “My Brew”, which you can tweak to your heart’s desire, to end up with your perfect coffee.

The “My Brew” setting allows you to customize bloom time and volume, brewing temperature, and flow rate, so really clever stuff – but I wouldn’t expect anything else from Sage.

If you just want the best quality filter coffee possible without the faff, just select “Gold”. This uses a preset bloom time & volume, flow rate, and brew temp as approved by the gold cup standards of the ECBC (European Coffee Brewing Centre). Once you’ve found your perfect setting, you can program it (and it’s very simple to do) to be ready for you when you wake up, brewed to your specific settings, or to one of the pre-sets.

This machine will even do cold brew for you!

I’ve been using this machine recently as I’m in the process of reviewing it, and it’s an amazing machine. It’s versatile, it’s suitable for the seasoned home barista and for the complete novice and everyone in between, it’s really simple to use, and it’s capable of making great filter coffee.

My only criticism is that as the measurements on the water tank were converted from ounces to ml, there’s no measurement for 1L, the closest is 900ml, which I find a bit irritating. I’m going to keep this one, though, as I love it, so I’ll just pour 1L in and then mark it off myself.

Forgetting that little quirk, which to be fair really doesn’t matter ;-), I think this is probably the most clever filter coffee machine ever made, such a great machine.

Don’t take my word for it though, ex-world Barista champion and coffee legend James Hoffman uses this as his day to day coffee maker, which speaks volumes!

For more information on the Sage Precision Brewer, please see this post:

The Sage Precision Brewer Review

Best Coffee Machine – Conclusion.

I really hope you’ve found this post helpful, and that by this stage you’ve at least figured out which kind of coffee machine may be best for you, even if you’ve not yet decided on which machine you’re going to go for. If you’re not sure at this point whether you should buy a coffee machine at all, by the way, see: why buy a coffee machine.

Once you know what kind of coffee machine you need, making the decision about specifically which machine to go for is much, much easier. 

If you’re savvy, and you’d rather sit on your hands and wait until the best deals are available before pulling the trigger on your new coffee machine, see my best coffee machines deals post, during the normal months I update this once or twice per day, but when deals are more volatile including the run up to Black Friday, Boxing day and so on, I update it daily.

Best Coffee Machine Deals

One final point to mention before I sign off, is that the coffee machine isn’t the most important variable where the taste of your coffee is concerned, the coffee is! To some this will be obvious, to others sometimes it comes as a surprise to learn that the easiest way to get better tasting coffee, is to use better coffee beans.

My coffee at The Coffeeworks came from a project involving coffee blog readers, to find the coffee that my readers enjoyed the most, and has grown from there over the past few years.

I think it’s mainly due to this unusual way that the range was created, being led by the taste buds of coffeeblog readers, that has resulted in Cworks having such fast growth over the past few years, now serving thousands of loyal & happy coffee lovers. Don’t take my word for it though :-).

Use discount code CBNC25 for 25% off your first order at Coffeeworks


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