Best POD Coffee Machines

Given that you’ve found this article, you’re clearly looking for the best pod coffee makeking device, which tells me you want decent coffee but that practicality is of particular importance to you. 

You’re probably a busy person who can’t start the day without coffee, however who also can’t be spending half an hour messing about with a morning coffee ritual, and this is in truth what the perfect pod coffee machines are all about.

Nevertheless keep reading, because while a lot of pod coffee machines are similar when it comes to ease of use, they’re not all the same at all when it comes to other factors, including coffee quality.

First, you wanted a little of history about pod machines, didn’t you? No? Never mind, you’re getting some anyway ;-).

The first ever pod machine was invented by a chap spoken about as Eric Favre, back in the mid 70s, believe it or not. He was Swiss, his wife was Italian, and she liked to tease him about the “bland” coffee they drank in Switzerland, compared to Italian espresso. 

Éric Favre's Nespresso Prototype.
Éric Favre’s Prototype.

Inspired by this marital banter, he decided to try to invent a home coffee machine that would replicate the coffee which had made a particular coffee bar in Rome hugely popular.

This clever bloke investigated and found that the difference between this coffee shop which had punters queuing out of the door, vs other not so busy cafes nearby in Rome, was the specific procedure the Baristas used with their lever machines which he determined would be increasing the extent of oxidization of the coffee. 

You haven’t heard of this machine? I think you probably have ;-), it’s called Nespresso! 

Mr. Favre had to play the long game to sell this machine to Nestle’, he ended up working for them in their warehouse initially, working his way up to being one of their food scientists.

It wasn’t until 11 years later in 1986 that Nespresso machines were launched – and this was only thanks to him getting himself an assignment to Nestle in Japan where he could pitch the idea to the CEO there.

So Nespresso was the first-ever coffee pod machine, however that doesn’t necessarily make it the perfect.

There are Lavazza pod machines (which Eric Favre likewise invented!), other disk and capsule machines, and there are even different forms of Nespresso machines these days, so finding the perfect pod machine for you probably isn’t as modest a task as it may seem. 

But never fear, Kev is here. I’m humble ;-), and I’ll do my extremely perfect to make it as modest as possible for you to figure out which is the best pod coffee brewing device for you. 

On the face of it, a pod machine is a pod machine. Open the top, slap the pod or disk in, press the button and your coffee is delivered in under 60 seconds and Bobs your uncle (who’s Bob and why is he suddenly your Uncle?), you have a hassle-free decent cup of joe to beverage and you don’t even touch or see the coffee before it arrives in your cup.

So if this is the case, they needs to all be much of a muchness? So the perfect thing to do is literally buy the cheapest one you can find and then you can love great-tasting coffee forever, right?

Unfortunately, wrong. It’s not quite that humble, because those cheeky little coffee makeking equipment manufacturers get up to all sorts of shenanigans to get you to buy their machines over anyone else’s.

There are numerous things they don’t tell you as well because if you knew about them then you may choose differently when finally deciding to take the plunge and part with your hard-earned cash.

So before I get into the perfect pod coffee machines I’ll take you through some of the pitfalls to avoid and some of the good things to look out for as well.

Price

Everyone is familiar with the adage “If it seems too good to be true then it probably is” and that certainly is the case with some of the pod and capsule coffee machines on the market.

This will take you to Curry’s who sell more pod coffee machines than anyone else:

Currys pod coffee machines

If you alter the sort criteria to “price – low to high” the first 6 or so that come up will be either Tassimo or Dolce Gusto and the price will be around £34.99.

It’s really hard to find a decent coffee machine that will produce good coffee for that type of price and the fact is that you can’t, basically.

The business model for the manufacturers of these machines is to sell you a coffee brewing tool below the price it costs them to make the machine and then they make all their money from you when you buy the pods that go into the machine.

It’s exactly the same as printers for home utilize. I’m sure lots of people reading this post will have bought a printer for £50 (or less) thinking “what a bargain!”, only to learn that the ink cartridges that you need to print things out cost as much as the machine and don’t last extremely long, either.

Same thing with super cheap pod coffee machines. The machine may be cheap but the price of the pods can be 40-50p or even more, and you’ll often find that you’re stuck to buying the manufacturer’s coffee pods too.

This type of price may not sound too bad, but I’ll get onto what’s inside each pod in a little so you can make an informed decision on that too.

Manufacturer

Once you decide on the pod machine that is right for you you’ll probably end up with one from either Dolce Gusto, Tassimo or Nespresso because these 3 brands sell many the pod machines sold in the UK.

The main thing they want from you once you have the machine is to buy their pods for the whole time you own the machine as that’s how they make the most money out of you.

They all have their own little ways of trying to do that but at the end of the day it’s your machine and you can utilize whatever pods you want.

With Nespresso and Dolce Gusto you can buy replacement 3rd party pods that are cheaper than the manufacturer’s original ones and often you won’t be able to taste the difference.

You can find some of the the majority of popular ones here:

Amazon Nespresso pods

Dolce Gusto pods on Amazon

Tassimo has been a bit cleverer and has barcodes on their pods that the machine reads so it knows how much water to push through the pod so you have to buy the Tassimo original disks as compatibles are not available.

The majority of people decide to stick with the pods made by the manufacturer of the machine so knowing what’s inside each pod assists to get the perfect out of your machine and get the perfect tasting coffee possible.

What’s inside the coffee POD?

Coffee pods don’t very contain coffee these days, you’ll also get milk in various types as well, with some brands of pod machine.

I’ll explain what each manufacturer puts into their pods so you can make your own informed decision and I’ll give you a few money-saving tips too.

Dolce Gusto

Depending on the type of consume you like, Dolce Gusto will mix a single pod with both milk and coffee.

The majority of the pods contain ground coffee beans, so it’s “proper coffee”, but, there are some Dolce Gusto pods that contain instant, soluble coffee. 

According to the FAQ on the Dolce Gusto website: “there are only 2 products in our line that utilize instant coffee – Mocha and Café au Lait.”

The milk that they utilize is powdered milk, which as far as I’m anxious never aromas as good as fresh milk that has been heated and frothed actually before adding it to your coffee.

If it’s ultra-convenience that you are looking for then, by all indicates, you can just pop in a “Latte” capsule and it will deliver a milky coffee but there is a better way to get a better-tasting Latte from a Dolce Gusto coffee machine.

If you buy the espresso pods and heat and froth the milk yourself then add the milk to the espresso coffee that comes out of the machine then you will get a much more authentic latte than the one that is produced by the all-in-one latte pod.

Fresh milk is always better than powdered milk. If you went into Costa or Starbucks and they served you a latte with powdered milk you would send it straight back and probably never go there again. So why put up with this at home?

You’ll have to make a small investment in a milk frother but you’ll get your money back on that with what you save on not buying pods with powdered milk in them and only buying the espresso coffee pods.

With an automatic milk frother you simply pour the milk in and press one button and by the time your espresso has been delivered the milk is heated and frothed ready for you to create a Latte (or cappuccino or flat white) that is way better than utilizing a pod that has coffee and powdered milk in it.

If you want to go down that road here are some suggestions for milk frothers:

The best milk frothers

Tassimo

Depending on the ones you go for these pods are again mixed with powdered milk and ground coffee, and Tassimo likewise offer “milk” pods which are filled with milk creamer (milk concentrate, water & sugar).

As with Dolce Gusto, if you actually want a one-touch solution without having to think about anything else then these are a good solution and they also come with a barcode on so the machine reads the barcode every time you insert a capsule.

The right amount of water will get pushed through the capsule every time so whether you like espresso, cappuccino, latte or flat white you’ll get exactly what you want with the press of a single button.

This is especially useful when there is more than one person using the machine per day so that you don’t need to alter any settings because the machine just automatically picks it up from the barcode.

Nespresso

Whether it’s the original Nespresso pods, or pods for the newer “Vertuo” Nespresso machines, all of the pods from Nespresso contain only ground coffee beans. 

You won’t find any instant coffee in Nespresso capsules, you won’t find any milk pods or capsules containing milk either.

There are masses of compatible capsules for Nespresso original, so it’s worth double-checking the ingredients when you’re buying compatibles, but I’ve never come across any compatible pod containing anything nevertheless ground coffee beans. 

Lavazza A Modo Mio

As with Nespresso, you’ll only find ground coffee in Lavazza A Modo Mio capsules. Invented by the guy behind Nespresso original, these machines & pods work in a similar way. 

Likewise as with Nespresso original, you can get compatible pods for this system, so even though genuine Lavazza pods will only contain ground coffee beans, it’s worth literally double-checking, even though I’ve never heard of Lavazza compatible pods containing anything nevertheless ground coffee.

Senseo

I’m not 100% sure what’s happening with Senseo machines in the UK these days. It looks like they’re still being produced by Philips, but it seems many UK resellers have stopped supplying them.

I did a search for a retailer on the Philips website, which seemed to indicate that most Argos stores stocked them, nevertheless I couldn’t find any Senseo machine on the Argos website. 

So I won’t discuss Senseo machines in this article, however I’ll mention the pods or pads (as they’re sometimes known as) for anyone who has one of these machines who is searching for info on Senseo pods.

The basic Senseo coffee pods contain ground coffee beans, but, there are likewise cappuccino pods, latte pods, Café Au Lait pods and so on, both branded pods (Jacobs Douwe Egberts) and compatibles.

These require the dual pod holder, and they can contain quite a few ingredients other than ground coffee, including instant coffee, sugar, hydrogenated coconut fat, glucose syrup, powdered milk, and a few E numbers…

So as with the other capsule machines, if I was utilizing Senseo pods, I’d basically use the coffee pods/pads, and utilize proper milk or milk alternative via a milk frother of some sort. Re flavourings, if I wanted that, vanilla, caramel and so on, I’d buy the syrups, at least that way I’d understand exactly what I was putting in my coffee & how much of it.

The Best Pod Coffee Machines

OK so now I’ll give a bit of info about each machine option, and then share what I believe to be a few of the perfect options for each machine. 

Nespresso Original 

Nespresso was the first-ever coffee pod machine, so I think it’s fair first of all Nespresso machines. I’m talking about the original Nespresso machines here, not their newer “Vertuo” machines which I’ll speak about a little bit later.

Original Nespresso machines are still the premium when it comes to pod coffee machines, with a range of machines from under £100 to over £600 depending on how much you want the machine to do and how good you want it to look on your work surface.

An important tip that most people don’t understand about with original Nespresso machines is that no issue how much money you spend, whether it be the cheapest machine or the many expensive, they all deliver exactly the same quality of espresso coffee with the same pump at the same level of pressure.

This is true of a lot of coffee pod machines to be fair, they’ll usually have a central brewing unit which is the same in all of the machines, so you’re usually paying for additional features and not for better coffee. 

This is literally true of many bean-to-cup coffee machines, too.

For example, with the Gaggia bean to cup coffee machines, nearly all of them have the same brew unit, so if you buy for example the Gaggia Brera, or the Gaggia Cadorna Prestige, which is over double the cost, they’ll both have the same Gaggia brewing unit. 

The same is true with many DeLonghi machines, too. For more, see:

Best Delonghi Coffee Machines

The good news is this indicates if you’re focused on the quality of the coffee itself quite than bells, whistles and aesthetics, then going for the cheapest end of any range will usually not impact on the coffee quality.

I’ve already spoken a little bit about the history of the Nespresso machine so I won’t go on about it too much, other than to say that Nespresso utterly dominated the coffee pod machine market for almost 20 years. 

They did so initially by being innovators, being the first to market with coffee pod machines & coffee pods, although they could have been the first several years earlier if the management team in Switzerland had taken Eric Favre’s invention more seriously, but that’s another story.

They likewise did so by having the resources to allow them to fight off would-be competitors by registering patent after patent, and not being afraid to launch into legal battles with anyone who dared to step anywhere close to infringing them.

You can argue the ethics of huge companies building monopolies, but I don’t think you can deny the incredible job Nespresso did here, leading to annual revenues of multiple billions by having legions of Nespresso machine owners who could only purchase Nespresso’s own coffee pods.

Anyway, this all began to alter partly because patents began expiring (I think, though it’s all very confusing if you’re not a patent lawyer which I’m undoubtedly not!) but likewise due to some legal battles which began to go against Nespresso.

One of which was the David & Goliath-like legal fight between Nespresso (well, Nestec – the subsidiary of Nestlé which owns Nespresso) and relatively small UK company Dualit.

In short, Nespresso thought Dualit were infringing their patents by selling compatible pods, Dualit disagreed.

The high court found in favour of Dualit especially on the point that Dualit were making re the purchasers of Nespresso machines having the right to work with whatever pods they see fit in their Nespresso machines.

Ironically, for me this strengthened the position of the original Nespresso machine as being the best sort of pod coffee machines, given that this lead to the floodgates opening for compatibles, meaning that owners of these machines have far more option when it comes to what coffee pods to buy, than with any other pod machine, at the time of writing at least.

 I don’t think this is the way Nespresso themselves see it, though – given that they launched a newer kind of Nespresso machine which they once again have dominance over when it comes to supply of the pods, however more on that later.

If you’re set on Nespresso Original, these are what I believe to be one of the best options to consider. 

Check Price - Amazon UK

Features: 

Water Tank: 1L
Dimensions: 13cm wide x 27.7cm tall x 37.2cm deep
Milk: Aeroccino sold separately or as a package
Maximum cup height: 15cm
Capsules bin capacity: 12

My Observations:

I own this Nespresso machine, I’ve had it for a good few years. I play drums in a band, and we have this in the kitchen of the rehearsal studio. Nespresso is the excellent balance between coffee quality and ease of work with for this sort of use, in my modest opinion. 

I’ve been actually impressed with this little machine over the years, it’s had many use, and it’s proved to be a robust little thing, never had any problem with it. 

The only quirk I can speak of is that the pump does cause enough of a vibration to move a small espresso cup sitting on the folding drip tray, so you have to keep an eye on that to make sure your cup doesn’t end up falling off.

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Water Tank: 0.9L
Dimensions: 17.3cm wide x 25.8cm tall x 32cm deep
Milk: Integrated milk carafe
Maximum cup height: 13.5 cm
Capsules bin capacity: 10

My Observations:

This is a one touch machine, which indicates you just select your coffee & press the button, and while all Nespresso machines are one touch when it comes to the coffee side of things, this machine is one touch in terms of the milk, too. 

So as well as being able to select Ristretto, Espresso coffee or Lungo & popping in the relevant pod, you can also select Cappuccino or Latte Macchiato, or just hot milk, and as long as you remembered to put milk in the carafe, the machine will do it for you. 

You can also personalise the coffees, and tweak the milk texture settings, nevertheless being perfectly honest I’m always a bit skeptical about one touch milk machines, including when it comes to much more expensive bean to cup coffee machines that have this feature. 

While there are some machines such as the Oracle & Oracle Touch machines which do an awesome job of automatically frothing the milk to the user’s specific preference, I’ve never come across a carafe milk frother which has simply impressed me in this regard. 

If you’re a fan of rather thick milk froth, then you’ll probably be happy with one touch milk carafe machines, if you’re a fan of flat white worthy microfoam, though, just keep in mind that many milk carafe machines don’t do this sort of texture particularly well, if at all.

Milk carafe machines can also be a little bit more of a faff when it comes to cleaning the milk side of things. With the Lattissima Touch, you have to press down the clean button and hold it for around sizteen seconds after each milk consume, just to rinse it.

There are truckloads of Amazon reviews for this machine, largely positive. The main gripes if you scroll through the negatives do seem to be able the needed cleaning, nevertheless to be fair to this machine, I think this is just what you get with a one-touch milk carafe system.

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Features: 

Water Tank: 1.5L
Dimensions: 16.8cm wide x 41.4cm tall x 31cm deep
Milk: Auto milk texturing steam wand with 3 froth settings & 3 milk temperature settings
Maximum cup height: 14cm
Capsules bin capacity: 12

My Observations:

I’m a fan of Sage coffee machines, as you’ll know if you’re a regular reader and/or viewer of my YouTube videos.

Known as Breville everywhere else outside of Europe, as they sold the brand name in Europe in the 80’s (if you see a Breville coffee brewing device selling in the UK, literally be aware it’s not the same), these guys extremely do innovate, and they produce some game-changing machines. 

The Creatista range in my opinion are game-changing Nespresso machines which utlise innovations they developed for the game-changing entry extent home barista espresso coffee machine the Bambino plus.

Sage Bambino Plus Review

Where these machines literally excel, for me, is user-friendliness and milk quality. 

You’re not going to get any better coffee from one Nespresso machine to the next, however you’ll get better quality milk texture, in my humble opinion, from the Creatista machines than from the majority of the other options when it comes to Nespresso.  

The creatista machines have the same heating system as with the Bambino, Bambino Plus & likewise the Sage Barista Pro and Barista Touch, which implies crazy fast (3 seconds) heat up time, and almost instant steam.

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Features (which differ from Creatista Uno): 

  • 8 milk froth settings & 11 milk temperatures 
  • Stainless steel finish (vs plastic with the Uno)
  • Digital colour display screen (vs buttons with the Uno)

My Observations:

This is the middle version (in terms of price) of the Creatista (there’s the Creatista Pro too, which I won’t go into detail about here just due to the fact that I think it’s priced way outside of what most people would consider spending for a pod coffee brewing device.

This differs from the Uno by having a colour screen display, 11 milk temps, 8 milk texture settings & having more stainless steel in the build & less plastic.

If you look around, you’ll sometimes find the Plus for roughly around the same price as the Uno, and I think if you can it may be worth it especially if you’re a flat white fan, due to the next-level control it gives you over milk texture. 

If you trawl through the Amazon reviews as I have, while you’ll find a few negatives including a couple of faulty machines, you’ll generally find praise, you’ll even find reviews for people who’re using it in restaurants!

Tassimo

Tassimo is a brand of coffee pod or disk machine you’re undoubtedly familiar with.

By the way, if at this point you’re not sure which pod coffee makeking tool to go for, keep reading.  I’d suggest that you at least make sure you’re aware of all the options before making a decision.

Personally, all things taken into account, Tassimo is among the machines I’d be the least likely to buy basically due to the truth that there are no compatible disks (at the time of writing) so you’re locked into buying disks from the manufacturer.

Not that I’m saying their disks are pricey, but you’re likely to get a better deal, I reckon, when there is some competition.

Going back to the printer and inks comparison, this is like buying a cheap printer where there are no compatible options and buying ink cartridges from the manufacturer who has the luxury of charging whatever they like as they have no competition. 

I’ve just bought a new printer, and I extremely nearly fell for this!

Some printer brands are still managing to charge more for their ink per ml than 1996 Dom Perignon (which can cost up to a number of hundred pounds per bottle) – and they do it in such a slick way that the customer feels grateful about it too, until a couple of years on if they work out how much they’ve very paid for their ink over this time.

Anyway, Tassimo have managed to stop anyone from producing compatibles, so simply keep in mind that if you buy a Tassimo machine, you will be buying Tassimo pods.

I used to have a Tassimo machine before I caught the home barista bug, so we’re going back numerous years now.

I was fairly happy with it at the time if I’m honest, however I was also fairly happy with instant coffee at the time too, I’d not become totally spoiled by getting used to consuming freshly roasted, freshly crafted coffee as I am now.

I recall that I wasn’t too unhappy with the price per cup I was paying as long as it was coffee only, nevertheless I felt it was pricey if buying the coffees which came with milk pods, and I wasn’t a fan of these either, they truly didn’t taste right to me, even then. 

Looking at the pricing now, if you’re picking your disks up from the supermarket as lots of do, you’ll pay around 20-30p per pod for Americano disks for example, yet up to about double this for coffees that require a milk pod. 

Given that this “milk” isn’t milk, it’s a creamer crafted from milk concentrate, it doesn’t rather seem right that you’re paying so much for it when it’s bundled with a coffee pod.

Even when it’s not bundled with a coffee pod, if you buy a pack of 16 “milk” disks, you’re paying approx £10 per litre, for a mixture of primarily Milk Concentrate, Water & Sugar – Vs the roughly 80 pence you’ll pay for a litre of cows milk. Still, not a big difference actually – only roughly 1,150% ;-).

As I pointed out earlier, regardless of the coffee pod machine you decide on, I wouldn’t work with milk pods, I’d work with fresh milk or milk alternative, and a milk frother. 

Here are what I believe to be among the perfect Tassimo machines to consider at the time of writing.

I’m only going to include two Tassimo machines, just because unless I’m missing something (and I might be, I am known to take three days to notice that my wife has re-decorated a room, or had her hair done, oops!!) a lot of the other options seem to offer little difference from these two, for the extra money. 

The first one is the best selling (at the time of writing) Tassimo machine, and to me it looks like the best machine to look at if you’re looking for a low cost machine and you’re not too fussed about features such as coffee personalization (strength selection) and the size of the water tank. 

The second machine has a lot more going for it in terms of features, and much bigger water tank with an inbuilt filter, but then lots of of the other options have a smaller water tank even than the first machine below, nevertheless cost over double, and are a bit more pricey than the second machine below which seems to have the perfect mix of features. 

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Features: 

Water Tank: 0.8L
Dimensions: 16.7cm wide x 25.1cm tall x 30.5cm deep
Maximum cup height: 14cm

My Observations:

At the time of writing this is the best selling pod coffee brewing device on Amazon UK, and I’m not basically surprised if I’m honest. It’s ridiculously cheap, and other than the machine I’ll speak about in a sec which has a few obvious benefits, a lot of the other more expensive machines on the market have a similar sized or smaller water tank, and not a lot more in terms of real features, that I can see.

This is probably among the manufacturers masterstrokes, in terms of ensuring massive pod sales. 

I doubt they make any profit on this machine, but they’ll have sold such a humungous number of these machines over the years that I’m sure it’s paying dividends for them in terms of the number of disks they sell to users of this extremely cheap pod coffee machine.

It has an astonishing number of Amazon reviews, and for such a low cost machine I’d usually be looking for a high percentage of one & two stars, but that’s not the case at all. 

If you’re decided on a Tassimo machine, and if you’re only going to be creating one or two coffees at a time (this machine has a small 800ml water tank) and if you’re on a tight budget and don’t need much in terms of bells and whistles, I think this one is worth a look.

Check Price - Amazon UK

Features: 

Water Tank: 1.3L
Dimensions: 23cm wide x 29cm tall x 33cm deep
Maximum cup height: Approx 14 cm, or 15cm with drip tray removed.

My Observations:

If I were going to buy a Tassimo coffee machine, at the time of writing this is probably the one I’d buy, for a couple of reasons:

Bigger water tank. At 1.3L, this is one of the biggest water tank you’ll find on Tassimo machines, very, even some of the more expensive options feature smaller 0.7L water tanks.

Yes I’m familiar with the old saying “size isn’t important”… however that depends! 😉

If you want a pod coffee makeking equipment for your kitchen,  near to a tap – then that’s probably true. If you’re wanting coffee makeking equipment for utilize in an area where there isn’t a source of fresh water nearby and/0r you’re busy when you want your coffee (such as utilizing in a home workplace) and you want to have to fill the tank as infrequently as possible, then you’d probably be better with a machine like this with a slightly bigger water tank.

Water filter. This Tassimo machine comes with an integrated Brita filter. While water quality is in truth quite a big discussion, one that I don’t want to get into on this article, as a extremely rough rule of thumb, mainly speaking, I think it’s better to filter tap water for utilize with coffee machines, or to work with the right bottled water. So the reality that this coffee machine comes with a Brita filter in the water tank, I think is best.

An extremely quick word on water filters – Brita filters primarily claim to remove contaminants from water. Many us in the UK are extremely lucky to have extremely safe sipping water, it’s the health of the coffee machines themselves that would concern me about tap water, as the majority of the water in the UK has high TDS levels, in especially high levels of Calcium & Magnesium. 

Brita themselves don’t in truth state on their website that their filters do anything when it comes to reducing the levels of the minerals which cause limescale, but, my personal opinion is that Brita filters, and other filters, do tend to have at least some impact on reducing the chances of limescale building up. So if you’re in a hard water area, I think it’s probably better to work with a filter, than to not.

Some people living in particularly hard water areas make the decision when it comes to kettles, to just buy a cheap one and replace it rather than to replace a filter, as it’s probably cheaper in the longterm – however a lot of people wouldn’t think of doing the same with a coffee machine. Using bottled water is an choice, but you do need to be careful with the option of water, as some bottled water has fairly high calcium levels. 

Looking through the Amazon reviews (and there are thousands of them!) there’s the majority of love for this machine from its owners. In terms of gripes, the recurring one I can see is that some people have replaced the earlier version of this machine with the current one, and it appears that while the earlier model could accommodate a travel mug or a tall Costa latte glass – the current model will only fit these taller cups if you remove the drip tray.

It likewise appears that the majority of people are impressed with the features of this Tassimo machine when it comes being able to adjust the temperature & volume of their coffee.

Nescafé Dolce Gusto

OK so next we’ll discuss the Dolce Gusto machines from Nescafé.

If you were wondering what Dolce Gusto implies in Italian, and I’m sure you weren’t but I’ll tell you anyway, it’s “sweet taste” as I literally discovered from a quick trip to Google Translate.

It’s funny how the the majority of mundane of phrases can sound ideal in the Italian language!

“Vai dal podologo” for example. I’d imagine this phrase sounds excellent when spoken with an Italian accent, it in reality implies “go to the chiropodist”. Not such an interesting phrase once translated, then.

Dolce Gusto machines were released in 2006, 20 years after the launch of Nespresso, and I think I have an idea of why, however I’m only guessing. 

Tassimo launched in 2004 in France, and then in the UK in 2005 – and the initial success of these machines I’m guessing indicated to Nestle that they were missing out on a new wave of cafe culture which was leading to masses of people buying machines which could make their favourite coffee shop coffee from a pod.

While Nespresso had been selling coffee pods via their machines since 1986, consumers were now buying latte macchiato pods, cappuccino pods & so on, allowing those behind this machine (initially Kenco and Braun) to make huge profits on tiny little pods containing milk concentrate, sugar and water. 

Nestle’ had masses of patents (almost two thousand of them!), and they’d policed them hard until this point. However I’m guessing that the success of Tassimo and probably the success of Keurig’s B-100 home brewer too, had pointed them towards a mildly different market that they decided to target with a new brand rather than with Nespresso.

So quite than suing the heck out of everyone, even though I’m guessing they did that too, they decided to dominate this emerging market too with the launch of Dolce Gusto.

As I explained earlier, the majority of of the Dolce Gusto coffee pods contain ground coffee beans, however just keep in mind that a couple of the pods do contain instant.

Here are what I reckon are among the perfect Dolce Gusto machines at present. By the way, as with the Tassimo machines, I’m only going to introduce you two to Dolce Gusto machines, for the same reason.

While there are loads of different Nespresso original machines to consider depending on your requirements and budgets, with Dolce Gusto, as with Tassimo, there are only really these two distinct machines that I see as being two obviously different options, and these two appear to represent the perfect appreciate for money.

There are other Dolce Gusto machines, and of course have a good Google around to see all of the other options if among these two doesn’t float your boat, nevertheless for me, the first option below is great for people who’re on a budget who aren’t bothered about water tank size, and the second one I think is a good option for people who’re wanting to make more than two cups without having to re-fill the tank.

Check Price - Amazon UK

Features: 

Coffee delivery: Manual
Water Tank: 0.8L
Dimensions: 14 x 28 x 27cm
Maximum cup height: 14.5cm

My Observations:

This is one of the best-selling coffee pod machines on Amazon currently, and I can see why. It’s a crazy cheap pod coffee machine from an incredibly well-known brand. As with the Bosch Suny Tassimo machine above, this is probably a machine which sells like hotcakes and offers masses of new pod customers for the manufacturer every year.

Lots of people particularly when it comes to pod machines, are basically looking for a coffee machine at the extremely lowest cost they can find, from a brand name that offers them some peace of mind, so it’s no wonder that numerous people have ended up buying this machine. I’m not convinced it’s the best preference though, so simply keep your debit card holstered for a sec…

It’s a small machine, actually fourteen cm wide, twenty seven cm deep and twenty eight cm tall, which steeps it a contender if you’re looking for a coffee makeking device to fit into an incredibly tight space, whether that’s in a cramped kitchen, in your office or in a motorhome. 

Maybe you’re a billionaire looking for a teeny weeny coffee makeking tool to fit in your spacecraft, in your bid to become among the first to sip a latte macchiato from outside of earth’s orbit, if so this will probably fit.

It has an 0.8L water tank, and this is something I’d pay attention to – as I would hazard a guess that several people buy this machine & wish they’d bought one with a bigger water tank.

If you read through the Amazon reviews, you’ll find quite a few people saying that it’ll make no more than two cups of coffee with one water tank, there are some people saying it’ll even struggle with that.

This will depend on the pod and the size of the coffee you’re creating, however if you’re regularly going to be creating coffees for more than one or two people, you might want to look for a machine with a bigger tank. If you’re using it in your workplace for meetings for example, I can see it being a pain if you have to re-fil the tank partway through creating literally three or four coffees.

Check Price - Amazon UK

Features: 

Coffee delivery: Manual
Water Tank: 1.2L
Dimensions: 15 x 37 x 28cm
Maximum cup height: 14.5cm

My Observations:

If you’ve decided on Dolce Gusto, and you’re looking for a low cost manual machine but you want to be able to make more coffees before refilling the tank, then the Infinissima is one to look at.

In terms of size, it’s nine cm taller than the Piccolo XS, one cm wider, and one cm deeper – however the main difference is the 1.2L water tank vs 0.8L.

OK, this isn’t exactly a water tank you could have a bath in, in truth, a relatively small goldfish may be a little miffed with you if you give it this water tank as a home. Not that anyone would do this, please don’t, this would be bad for the fish and bad for your coffee. 

However I digress, the point is that this machine has a bigger water tank, at 1.2L vs 0.8L – and even though it’s hardly the Hoover dam, it’s the greatest capacity water tank you’ll find from a Dolce Gusto pod coffee machine, as far as I’m aware – so you’ll get as lots of coffees from a single tank with this as you would with any of the other options, some of which are quite a little bit more cash.

As a little side note, there was a model known as the Melody 3, which did have a 1.3L water tank, however it looks like this model is no longer in production. There was also the Eclipse range which included a machine with a 1.5L water tank, however it looks like these are out of production now too.

In addition to the slightly bigger water tank, the Infinissima features a drip tray on a riser, instead of one that you have to clip and unclip in order to accommodate different sized cups for different sized drinks.

Nespresso Vertuo

This is the newest range of Nespresso machines. They work differently from the original Nespresso machines, using centrifugal force, and they’re cleverly making a captive market with these machines while reaching out to people who like a bigger caffeinated drink than original Nespresso machines are known for. 

I think they’ve been very clever in creating this newer range of machines. Not only are they reaching a bigger market, potentially, as this new machine offers bigger pods for much bigger cups of coffee – they also have their captive audience again, due to the reality that no one has been brave (daft?) enough to challenge them, yet.

See what James Hoffman has to say about the newer Vertuo machines from Nespresso.

There’s not a massive amount of preference at present with Nespresso Vertuo, however anyway, here are what I believe to be the perfect options if you’re considering a Nespresso Vertuo machine.

 

Check Price - Amazon UK

Features: 

Water Tank: 1.1L – fixed position
Dimensions: 14cm wide x 32cm tall x 38cm deep
Maximum cup height: 18cm
Connectivity: Wifi & Bluetooth
Open & Close: Manual
Used capsules container capacity: 10 (accessed via side of machine)

My Observations:

The Next line of machines are the latest addition to the Vertuo line from Nespresso. While there are currently three lines available, Vertuo, Vertuoplus and Vertuo next, it’s usually the Vertuoplus and the newer Vertuo next you’ll find on offer in the UK.

While there are a couple of other differences between these models, the main difference is that the newer “Next” machines will take the new “craft brew” pods – which I think are a ideal idea for anyone who likes to drink or to share a bigger pot of coffee. 

How much they’re like pourover coffee, I’m not sure, (I’ve literally bought one so watch this space, I’ll update this post as soon as it arrives and I’ve tried it) but however they produce a 532ml or 17 ounce pot of coffee, which seems very interesting. They only have one coffee on offfer at the time of writing though for the craft pods, so if you’re buying it just for that, let’s hope you like the coffee!

You can utilize the official Nespresso Carafe if you want, however this doesn’t come with the machine, you have to buy it separately. I’m linking to it here to save you some time, as it took me about ten minutes to find the flipping thing on the Nespresso website!

You don’t necessarily need to spend so much on a carafe, even though, as this is really expensive for what is essentially a jug. All you need is any jug that will take 532ml of coffee, and which will fit under the spout. I’m hazarding a guess that this stainless steel insulated coffee pot will fit – however I’ve bought among these too, and I’ll update this post in a couple of days once I’ve checked if it fits under the spout.

Other than this, the other difference is that the next machines have the water tank in a fixed position, and the pods bin on the left-hand side – the Vertuoplus machine has a water tank which can be moved around if callsfor be.

Re the Wifi & Bluetooth thing, I’m not sure rather what the balance is here between beneficial features & buzzwordy gimmicks. It sounds impressive that these Nespresso machines have Wifi & Bluetooth connectivity, however why – what’s the benefit?

The main thing I can see is that you can update the firmware by installing the app and pairing with your Nespresso Vertuo next machine, however I’m not 100% sure why you’d need to do this, it’s a coffee machine not a smart phone ;-). I’m probably missing something…

The app does apparently alert you if the water tank is empty, and if descaling is necessary, although I’ve just watched a video in which someone demonstrates that this feature doesn’t appear to work, and why would you need it anyway? Surely you don’t need a smartphone app to tell you that the water tank on the machine you’re standing in front of, is empty? ;-).

Check Price - Amazon UK

Features: 

Water Tank: 1.2L movearoundable (that’s a word, well it is now, I just made it up)
Dimensions: 22cm wide x 32.5cm tall x 34.9cm deep
Maximum cup height: 18cm
Connectivity: No
Open & Close: Touch-button
Used capsules container capacity: 10 (accessed at the rear of the machine)

My Observations:

As I spoken about earlier, the main options for Nespresso Vertuo machines at the moment, or at least the many popular, appear to be the Vertuo Next & Vertuoplus, and these two machines I’m featuring in this post appear to be the perfect in terms of value for money, and the a lot of popular at the time of writing. 

The main differences between this and the other popular model, Vertuo Next:

  • The “Craft brew” carafe-sized pods aren’t compatible with the Vertuoplus.
  • Water tank can be moved around, which may be handy if you’re trying to fit it into a tight space.
  • Pods bin is around the back, while it’s on the left-hand side on the Next.
  • Opens and closes via a touch button.
  • No connectivity

If you think among the Nespresso Vertuo machines is right for you, nevertheless you’re not sure which one – or if you’re unsure if this is the right machine for you at all, don’t forget you can always do the in reality old-fashioned thing of going into an actual store and trying these machines.

If you’re anything like me you’re probably shocked to be reminded that this was once a thing! I remember back in the good old days, pre-covid, if I was thinking of buying something, I’d truly get up off my backside, get in the car, and go to a shop. Well, I might not do that all the time – nevertheless at least for certain things, I’d be inclined to consider doing that. 

These days, not so much, and I don’t think that’s purely due to getting entirely out of the habit of going to shops.

It’s probably partly that, however I think the main reason a lot of us these days wouldn’t think of going out to buy electrical stuff like coffee machines from a shop, is that we understand we can usually get better deals online, and it’s truly so much easier! 

The benefit of going to a Nespresso store though, of course, is that you can try their various machines while you’re there. It’s worth literally double checking with your local Nespresso Boutique before you go, though, that you can in reality try the coffee while you’re there, as that’ll depend on whether they’ve gone entirely back to regular or whether there are Covid restrictions in place.

A Few Final Comments

OK so that’s about all I’ve got to say about the perfect pod coffee machines, nevertheless just before I sign off – I’m going to respond to a few extensively asked questions.

Is Dolce Gusto Owned by Nespresso?

Both Dolce Gusto and Nespresso are owned by the same company – Nestle.

Nespresso is their premium brand, they’ve basically gone for a high-value market with Nespresso, including pumping huge amounts of money into advertising, including paying whopping amounts of money for George Clooney to be their brand ambassador! 

Dolce Gusto is a likewise owned by Nestle, but it’s a different brand, marketed in a very different way.

Is George Clooney a Part Owner of Nespresso?

This is an exceptionally common matter, most people think my mate George Clooney is a partner or part owner of Nespresso, I’ve even read articles which claim he is. The truth is, he has a contract to be their “global brand ambassador”.

I say “my mate”, due to the reality that a few years back, George invited his mates around for dinner, and gave them all a suitcase each. They opened the suitcases, to find – Nespresso pods. Simply kidding ;-), they found one million dollars in cash in each suitcase. However George forgot his mate Kev!

OK, I’ve never met him, he never slept on my couch back when he was broke, I never loaned him a few quid when he essential it – but it was worth a try.

Wow, even though, what a gesture! It’s extremely a simply nice story if you read it, an exceptionally close bunch of mates who always helped each other out, and among them realized he had the ability to help them all out massively by offering them all a suitcase, oh and a million dollars too ;-).

Why do brands pay celebs like this masses of money to promote their brand? Because it works!

Why it works, I’m uncertain – but it clearly does, or they wouldn’t do it.

 Nespresso aren’t the only coffee machine brand to do this, DeLonghi are now chucking wads of dosh at Brad Pitt to be their George Clooney. Watch James Hoffman’s reaction to this, it’s extremely funny! ;-).

What’s likewise funny about this video is James Hoffmann putting his title as “Coffee Expert” in quote marks as if he’s not very a coffee expert ;-).

James Hoffman is one of the most expert person in the world when it comes to coffee, I reckon, so it did make me laugh that he put this in brackets, an incredibly British thing to do, however then The Hoff as I call him (only behind his back though, shh) is really British ;-).

Are pod coffee machines any good?

If you normally beverage instant coffee from a jar then you’ll find the coffee produced by a pod coffee machine from Nespresso, Dolce Gusto or Tassimo are generally way better, due to the truth that it’s freshly crafted coffee – and most the time it’s much better quality coffee, too.

Instant coffee has been crafted months (or even years in some cases) previously, into a thick sludge, then freeze-dried, and smashed up into the granules you’ll find in a jar on the supermarket shelves.

Instant coffee is usually likewise brewed with the extremely cheapest coffee beans, and roasted in huge volume – usually roasted rather dark in order to get rid of taste imperfections that can be present with such cheap coffee beans, and to ensure batch consistency (one cup of charcoal will taste basically like the next). 

The majority of coffee pods contain ground coffee beans, and the pod machines brew them fresh, so you’re guzzling freshly brewed coffee. Not only that, but usually you’re also sipping much higher quality coffee than you would be with instant. 

It is worth adding, but, that you’re also – usually – paying a LOT more for the coffee via pods than with instant. 

Personally though when it comes to brewing fresh coffee, I believe pod coffee machines to not be among the best options when compared with manual coffee brewers and other machines including drip coffee machines and espresso coffee machines, but they’re as convenient as instant coffee yet they produce better coffee (in my simple opinion) so it’s no surprise that they’ve become so popular.

For more options for freshly brewing coffee form home, see:

Best Home Espresso Machine

Perfect Bean To Cup Coffee Machines

Best coffee machine for any budget

Perfect Coffee machine for Home Baristas

So it in reality depends on what you are used to and what you are looking for. If convenience is a big element for you then a pod coffee brewing tool may be the perfect way forward for you, but if you value taste higher than practicality, then you might want to spend some time going through some of the posts above so you at least have a good knowledge of what all of your options are for better coffee from home before unholstering your debit card.

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This post firstly appeared at Coffee Blog – The UK Specialty Coffee Blog – For Lovers of GENUINE Coffee!