How To Choose The Best Coffee Machine For Any Budget

Finding the best coffee machine for your particular needs can be like finding a needle in a haystack, there are such a huge number of options! 

If you’re on the hunt for your fantastic coffee brewing equipment, if you’re not already finding yourself overwhelmed and confused, that probably means you’ve only literally started looking, so simply be prepared. It’s probably not as straightforward as you thought it was going to be.

Nevertheless fear not, I’ve broken everything down into an easy to understand guide so that anyone can just read this guide and easily identify the best coffee machine for their budget and lifestyle.

Before I get into the different options, let’s first respond to the question:

Why buy a coffee machine?

In short, the reason you’d buy a coffee machine is to allow you to enjoy better quality, freshly made coffee, at home.

There may be certain factors that would determine what type of machine you’d go for, however the overall reason you’d want to invest in a coffee makeking tool is to enhance the quality of your coffee at home.

The UK has largely been a nation of instant coffee drinkers since the 1950s, at least when it comes to coffee at home – however there has been a gradual movement away from instant and towards freshly made coffee over the past few years. This movement has been sped up enormously lately, one of the lots of side-effects of the recent situation.

For lots of people, coffee at home has changed from being basically a habitual quick caffeine troubleshoot on the way out of the door to a replacement for their normal visits to their favourite coffee shop, as something to basically savour and enjoy. 

If this describes you, then you may be in for a genuine surprise when it comes to simply how perfect coffee at home can really be.

Maybe I’m preaching to the converted, you’ve already left instant coffee behind, and you’re already enjoying freshly crafted coffee at home via a coffee brewing device or manual coffee maker, however you’re just looking for an upgrade?

Wherever you are on your coffee journey I’ll help you know how to get the a lot of out of the money you have available to spend on a coffee brewing equipment. On that note let’s talk about the first important part of the coffee brewing equipment buying process.

Budget

Many us would enjoy to trot down to the Porsche showroom and point to a brand new 911 turbo and tell the salesman that you’ll take one for you and one for your partner. Nevertheless then you either wake up, or realise you could barely afford a set of tyres for a Porsche 911 ;-).

It can be a similar situation when considering buying a coffee machine.

Commercial coffee machines cost thousands, and if you wanted – I could point you in the direction of home coffee machines costing from four to five grand, or much more – not including the mill! Believe it or not, there are people who have ten thousand pound (or more) coffee machine setups. 

You may expect these people to likewise have a Bentley and/or Lamborghini on their (huge, gated) driveway, but you may be surprised. People who get serious about a hobby can end up increasing their budget over time, often a case of finding it easier to justify such expense, to themselves and probably more importantly to significant others…

The good news is that you don’t have to go to these extremes to up your home coffee game. Generally speaking, you’d expect the quality potential to enhance along with the price of the coffee makeking device, but this doesn’t always hold true.

You can easily pay £1000 for a coffee machine that doesn’t produce coffee any better than one that costs £500, and you can get a machine that produces fantastic coffee for way less than that too.

I think the a lot of practical approach is to decide first how much you’re prepared to spend, and then you can immediately rule out any that don’t fit with the budget you’ve allocated. Don’t forget, you can always upgrade over time, and most coffee machines at least retain some value – so if you buy a lower cost machine now and decide to upgrade in a year, you’ll be able to sell your machine and buy another one. 

It’s also important to know that the kind of coffee you’re wanting to make with your coffee brewing device likewise brews an impact on how much you’re going to have to fork out, but keep reading for more advice on budget, as I’ll talk about rough price ranges for each sort of coffee makeking device shortly.

By the way, if you’re looking at producing freshly made coffee at home, but you don’t literally want to invest in a “machine” – you don’t have to. Actually grab a manual coffee mill, and an Aeropress, and hey presto, you have cracking quality freshly brewed coffee from home. Or if you prefer filter, simply get an economical Hario V60.

Hario V60 Review Aeropress Review Perfect Manual Coffee Grinders

Truly, if you already have a cafetiere lurking in a kitchen cupboard somewhere, this is another way to brew brilliant quality coffee – get yourself a grinding machine, and look up some of the more modern cafetiere techniques, and you’ll be amazed by what the simple cafetiere can produce. Check out this process below from world barista champion James Hoffman.

So no question what your budget is, you’ll find something you’ll be able to afford in order to take your home coffee game up by a number of notches.

Before you scroll down even though simply have a read of the next very important thing to take into consideration before you spend your hard-earned cash.

Kinds of coffee drinkers

There’s one hugely important thing that I think the majority of people don’t know, which can lead to poor decisions when buying coffee machines, and that is that there are very two distinctly different forms of coffee drinkers, when it comes to coffee at home.

There are typical coffee drinkers, and there are home baristas. 

These basically are entirely different forms of people, when it comes to their attitude towards coffee and how much time and effort they’re willing to invest on making coffee.

The thing is, there are coffee machines which are made for home baristas, and there are coffee machines which definitely aren’t, and it’s very common for people to misunderstand this, and end up with completely the wrong sort of coffee brewing equipment for them. Don’t worry though, you won’t make that mistake as you’re reading this post 🙂

A home barista (and I definitely put myself in this category) is someone who is willing to invest time, energy and money into making coffee. It’s not basically indicates to an end, it’s a hobby. They’re constantly upgrading their gear and their skills, and they commit most time to making coffee. 

Typical coffee drinkers see coffee machines as indicates to an end, and coffee just as a beverage they like to consume. 

While a home barista will get out the scales, and do everything meticulously to get the ideal coffee, simply enjoying the experience – a regular every day coffee drinker just wants coffee.

If you’re looking for a hobby, and you can see yourself actually enjoying the learning curve & continually improving your coffee preparation abilities, then when it comes to coffee machines I’d be looking at an espresso machine, and a separate coffee mill. This is what I’d refer to as a home barista espresso setup.

There are likewise integrated grinding machine espresso coffee machines such as the Sage Barista Express and Barista Pro, which I’ll get to shortly – however just keep in mind that a lot of other espressos machines with integrated grinders are bean to cup machines, and you’ll probably want to steer clear of bean to cup machines if you’re going down the home barista hobby route. 

If you’re more into drip coffee, then there only actually a couple of options for true home barista filter coffee machines, so it’s an easier decision, but the majority of home baristas are mainly into espresso coffee making.

If you’re definitely a more normal coffee drinker, and you think anyone who weighs their coffee or spends an hour creating their coffee in the morning is nuts, then I’d steer you towards either a bean to cup coffee machine, a pod coffee makeking device or a drip coffee makeking equipment, simply depending on the sort of coffee you want to drink at home. 

Again, when it comes to bean to cup machines, just make sure you’re in reality looking at a true bean to cup coffee brewing device and not a average espresso machine with an integrated coffee grinder, as these forms of espresso coffee machines are often categorized as bean to cup machines simply due to the integrated grinder. 

Bean to cup coffee machines do the majority of of the work for you, beans go in the top, coffee comes out of the bottom, and everything in between is done by the machine. If you go into a restaurant or hotel and work with a self serve coffee makeking tool for example, these are bean to cup coffee machines (basically commercial versions).

There is one exception to this, which is the Sage Oracle range. These are bean to cup machines in the sense that they have integrated grinders and they do nearly everything for you, but they likewise allow the user to take more of an active function, so you get to look and feel like a home barista, but all of the skilled stuff (dosing, tamping, perfectly steaming the milk) is taken care of by the very clever machines. 

Sage Oracle & Oracle Touch Review  

Sort of coffee makeking device

When it comes to coffee machines, meaning electric machines and excluding manual coffee makers, there are literally only three forms of coffee machine: Bean to cup coffee machines, espresso machines, drip coffee machines and pod or disk coffee machines. 

Bean to cup coffee machines

These are currently the fastest growing sector of the coffee makeking equipment market as more and more people are looking to recreate a coffee shop experience at home especially since the COVID pandemic where everyone was robbed of their latte’s and cappuccinos and these machines allow you to love these at home without having to become a barista.

Nearly all bean to cup coffee machines are espresso machines, with the exception of a couple of machines on the market which are bean to cup drip coffee machines. 

This is where things can get a little bit confusing, due to the fact that not everyone buying a bean to cup machine understands that they’re basically (usually) buying an espresso machine, and some people buying more traditional espresso machines (to be spoken about shortly) think they’re buying bean to cup coffee machines.

It doesn’t help when websites wrongly categorize coffee machines, which occurs quite often.

So just keep in mind, a lot of bean to cup coffee machines are espresso machines, and they’re for making espresso and espresso based coffees such as Americano, lungo, flat white, cappuccino, latte & so on.

As I explained a little bit earlier, bean to cup coffee machines are truly the domain of the more “normal” coffee drinker, someone who wants great coffee but doesn’t want the hobby side of things. 

A bean to cup coffee machine has the potential of completely transforming your home coffee experience, and the main reason for that : freshly ground coffee.

Coffee always, always aromas (and smells) better when it’s freshly ground – and with bean to cup coffee machines, your coffee is ground basically before the shot is pulled and your Americano, cappuccino or Latte is crafted. 

You basically drop the whole coffee beans to the hopper (the technical name for the container on the top that holds the beans), then when you press the button to tell the machine to make your coffee, it grinds it and then makes it – you can’t get much fresher than that. 

Yes it’s fair to say that there’s a bit more to it than that, even with a bean to cup machine, if you want the best quality coffee. The many important thing here is the quality of the coffee. No question how wonderful your machine, if you put muck in, you’ll get muck out.

If you buy coffee beans from the supermarket, especially if it’s one of the better known household names, a lot of of this coffee is what’s known as commodity coffee. It’s priced not based on quality, nevertheless by the stock market just like any other commodity such as sugar or salt. The perfect quality coffee beans don’t sell via this same channel, and isn’t priced in the same way.

The better quality coffee is grown by specialist coffee farmers, usually at much higher altitudes, in specific areas under very specific conditions, and is likewise processed with the same type of focus on quality. There’s no way someone growing quality coffee would be able to sell their coffee as commodity coffee. Even the producers of commodity coffee, with lower production costs, often make losses due to the market price dropping.

Instead, high quality coffee which we usually refer to as speciality coffee, is purchased based on quality, by specialists. It likewise ends up being roasted by specialists, usually in small batches.

So every single process starting from planting the seedlings all the way through to roasting, is done with only one goal in mind, to get the really best quality caffeinated beverage at the end. 

This is such a different type of coffee to the “normal” coffee most people are familiar with. There’s very no suitable analogy I can think of to separate the two, even cheap plonk vs fine wines isn’t a close enough comparison.

So, buy fantastic quality coffee beans, that’s the first step – whether you’re using a bean to cup coffee makeking tool, traditional espresso coffee machine, American coffee makeking equipment or a manual brew method.

Best Coffee Beans  

The other thing to mention is grind size. While bean to cup users don’t tend to focus on grind size to the same extent as home baristas do with traditional espresso coffee machines, you’ll still be able to fix the grind size to enhance the extraction and therefore the taste of your coffee. 

This isn’t the place for a tutorial ;-), however in a nutshell – if your coffee aromas sharp or sour, it’s probably under extracting,  so try making the grind finer.

If your coffee is tasting bitter and astringent, watery, and you’re finding it dries out your tongue, these are signs of over extraction, which suggests you need to make the grind more coarse. 

With home barista espresso machines you’d usually focus on flow time in order to gauge whether you’re in the sweet spot of extraction, however it’s not rather as easy to do that with bean to cup machines, so I’d recommend adjusting things based on taste. 

Lots of “normal” coffee drinkers will be more than happy with the effects of their machine with a little bit of grind adjustment, however if you wanted to try to get a little bit closer to perfection, you can likewise play around with brew ratio – which just suggests coffee in vs the espresso coffee out.

With a lot of bean to cup machines it’s possible to learn how much coffee is being ground depending on the setting you choose, and you can measure the coffee output using brew scales or a measured cup or glass. For instance, with the Gaggia Brera, the 2 bean setting is 9 grams so if you pull a double shot at the 2 bean setting that’s 18 grams (I’m wonderful at maths).

So 36ml of espresso out from 18 in, is a 1:2 ratio. 45ml out from 18 in is 1:2.5, and 54 out from 18 in is a 1:3 ratio. Wow, is there no limit to my mathematical genius? ;-). As long as you can figure out how much your machine is grinding, and have some way to measure the shot, you can experiment with ratios. 

Some of the higher cost bean to cup machines will allow you to fix the brew temperature too, which offers you an additional element of control if you want it. 

You’ll see that some of the bean to cup machines on the market will have a steam wand, while some have a milk carafe or a bit gizmo called a cappuccinatore, and these machines handle the milk steaming and pouring for you too, these types of machines are likewise called cappuccino makers or “one touch” bean to cup coffee machines.

If this sounds like the excellent kind of coffee brewing device for you, this post is all about bean to cup machines:

Best Bean To Cup Coffee Machine  

Espresso Machines

Aside from bean to cup coffee machines, there are essentially two main forms of espresso coffee machines, domestic espresso machines and home barista espresso coffee machines, also known as prosumer espresso coffee machines. 

Beginning with home barista or prosumer machines, these are smaller, home versions of commercial espresso coffee machines. 

These machines are based on professional machines you’d find in a coffee shop,  but they’re brewed in a way which steeps them more suitable for home use – smaller, usually tank fed rather than plumbed in, and usually (nevertheless not always) cheaper than commercial machines. 

As with commercial machines, these forms of coffee machines require barista skills, which is why I’m referring to them as “home barista” espresso machines. They pull shots at the preferred 9 bars of pressure & they work with basic espresso filter baskets and need to be paired with coffee grinders capable of grinding for espresso.

These types of espresso machines start at around £400 at RRP, however remember this is simply the espresso coffee machine, you’ll need a capable espresso grinding machine too, with the entry level being the likes of the Sage Dosage Control Pro and Smart Grinder Pro. 

Perfect Coffee Grinder  

You’ll notice the name “Sage” cropping up several times during this article. Sage are among the a lot of prolific manufacturers when it comes to prosumer or home barista espresso coffee machines, and they make traditional espresso machines, and bean to cup coffee machines. For more on Sage, see:

Perfect Sage Espresso coffee Machine  

Domestic espresso coffee machines on the other hand, are crafted more for the standard domestic user. They’re brewed to require minimum barista skills,  they’re crafted to use pre-ground coffee or with cheaper coffee grinders, and they’re crafted in a way which makes them more economical. 

If you imagine a bean to cup coffee makeking device without the mill, this is – primarily speaking – a fairly good description of this kind of espresso machine. 

As with the majority of bean to cup coffee machines, they usually pull shots at 15 bars of pressure vs the preferred 9 bars, and they do so via pressurized baskets, and not the fundamental espresso filter baskets.

The filter basket is the metal cup with holes in the bottom which holds the ground coffee. Basic baskets are full of uniform sized holes, while pressurized baskets force the coffee through a single hole.

These types of baskets were initially introduced by Gaggia, as “perfect crema” baskets,  and that name brews many sense, as pressurised baskets are more about visuals than anything else. They give the espresso a more detailed look, as they produce a foam which looks like the crema we associate with a wonderful shot of espresso. 

The problem is, these baskets don’t do as good a job when it comes to taste as they do when it comes to looks. They can produce a shot which looks the part, without the expense and the skills, however they don’t rather do the same job where taste is anxious. 

Having said that, once again it comes down to whether you’re a “normal” coffee drinker or a home Barista, due to the truth that it depends on whether you have the palate to detect much of a difference.  Home baristas tend to develop their coffee palate along with their home barista skill, which spoils them over time. 

It also depends on what you’re doing with your shots of espresso coffee, once you’ve pulled them. If you’re creating caramel lattes or cappuccino with a boat load of sugar, for example, it’s less likely that you’d be able to discriminate between a shot pulled via a pressurized basket vs a shot pulled via a fundamental basket.

I don’t have an question with domestic espresso machines, or pressurized baskets. As long as you’re using wonderful quality coffee, I still think you’re going to experience wonderful tasting coffee even with a £100 – £200 domestic espresso machine with pressurized baskets, and if you do reach a stage where your palate develops beyond the capabilities of that machine, and you start to catch the home barista bug, you can then look at upgrading.

I’m going to introduce a couple of what I think are the best choices among the lower cost domestic espresso coffee machines below, however if you think this kind of machine is for you, then hopefully this article will help:

Perfect Cheap Espresso coffee Machine  

Pod or capsule coffee machines

These are pretty much the opposite of espresso coffee machines in terms of the effort necessary.

If you want something (much) better than instant coffee however you constantly have 100 things on your to-do list and none of them are to do with making coffee then this sort of machine will be right up your street.

My main problem with pod machines is that the business model of pod machine manufacturers is to sell you a cheap machine (usually sold at their cost or close) in order to then lock you into paying over the odds for their pods for as long as you own the coffee brewing tool. 

Most people will be familiar with this business model when it comes to printers. Many people buy a printer that costs £30-£60 and think that it’s a good deal only to find that the ink cartridges contain hardly any ink and cost £20 each so no wonder they were happy to sell you the printer for such a low price in the first place!

It’s not rather as bad with pod coffee machines however with the likes of Dolce Gusto and Tassimo you can expect to pay about 80p for a cappuccino or latte and you need to bear in mind that the milk in the capsule is either powdered milk (Dolce Gusto) or liquid milk creamer (Tassimo) which is never going to be as good as utilizing fresh milk from a taste perspective.

But, if time is of the essence then you can’t get quicker than a pod machine. Open the lid, add the pod, press one button and you’re done.

If you like milk-based drinks such as cappuccino or latte and you choose to froth your own milk for the perfect taste then Nespresso is the way to go as some of their machines have built-in steam wands so you can froth your own milk or even milk carafes that utilize fresh milk to automatically froth and heat your milk so you don’t have to.

Likewise, thanks to Dualit taking Nespresso to court in a David vs Goliath type affair, and winning, there is a huge range of Nespresso compatible pods available, so you’re no longer locked in to utilizing real Nespresso pods.

If you do decide to go down the Dolce Gusto or Tassimo route I would suggest that you work with their espresso capsules and then buy a separate milk frother so that you give yourself the perfect chance of a decent tasting coffee by avoiding the powdered milk pods.

For more on milk frothers see:

Best Milk Frother  

And this post goes into detail on Nespresso pod machines specifically:

Perfect Nespresso Coffee Machine  

Drip coffee machines

This sort of coffee machine, while really popular in the US, isn’t particularly popular in the UK, probably due to the fact that it is incorrectly linked to only creating big pots of coffee, sitting on a hot plate getting bitter.

But I think this is an exceptionally underrated way of making good coffee easily particularly if you are on a budget and you are not interested in spending hundreds of pounds on a coffee brewing tool as you can pick up a decent one for around £50-£70

You can likewise make as little as a couple of cups of coffee if it’s just for you or numerous if you have people over or you want to do an all-nighter!

Here’s a more detailed post on filter coffee machines:

Perfect Filter coffee Machine  

So, hopefully you have a little bit more of an knowledge now of the various kinds of machines, and a better knowledge of which sort of coffee makeking device might be perfect for you. Here are what I believe to be the best coffee machines to consider, within each category:

Bean to Cup Coffee Machines 

 

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The De’Longhi Magnifica S is a hugely popular coffee machine from De’Longhi, and it’s no surprise to me to be honest, for such a low priced machine. 

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

Then, there are the standard bean to cup machines which come with a steam wand for you to steam the milk yourself. 

Except for the Sage Oracle range, and the Gaggia Magenta (both of which feature below) most basic bean to cup machines with a steam wand, have what are called panarello wands. 

These are a sheath of metal or plastic around a steam pipe, and they introduce the air into the milk via a hole on the side, which implies anyone can foam milk without developing any home barista skills. 

The emphasis here, although, is on the word “foam”, as nearly all panarello wands are only capable of thick, spoonable foam for old school cappuccino.

There’s nothing wrong with this of course if this is how you like your milkies, but if like me you want velvety microfoam for flat white and third wave cappuccino and latte, you won’t get on well with panarello wands. It’s not a huge deal even though, you can actually pull the panarello off with the majority of machines, and use the pipe below as a pro steam wand. 

However if you’re all about milkies, simply have a look at the Gaggia Magenta and the oracle coffee machines below.

Getting back to the Magnifica S, I’ve not used this model, nevertheless I have used the slightly older and slightly cheaper model (which features below) – and given that this appears to be a slight improvement on that machine (which I was impressed with) and is often available for only mildly more, I have an really positive opinion of this machine. 

In terms of the main features, it has a handy front-loading water reservoir which will take 1.8 Litres, so not a bad capacity at all for such a low priced machine.

It has an adjustable group, meaning you can modify the height for different cups, and it has 13 grind settings, which is truly fairly impressive for a bean to cup machine.

It’s a tad quieter, it would seem than its slightly older sibling (which is known for being a bit on the noisy side), and the controls really appear to be a little bit more well thought. This was my only real criticism of the earlier model, I didn’t think the strength and volume settings rather brewed sense.

If you’re wanting a economical however reliable machine which will do everything for you except to steam and pour the milk, I don’t think this is a bad option at all.

Check Price - Amazon UK

This is the aforementioned older and usually lower cost sibling of the DeLonghi Magnifica S, above. 

DeLonghi sent this to me a while back, to review, and to be honest, I wasn’t expecting to be overly impressed given the price of this machine, but I was shown wrong.

It’s a excellent little machine for the money, and if I necessary a bean to cup machine on an incredibly tight budget, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy this machine.

It’s not great, you can’t expect perfection for this price – nevertheless it’ll make simply as good quality espresso and espresso-based coffees as the majority of machines costing up to around five times the cost. 

The only niggles I had in reality was that it’s a little bit on the loud side (the pump on the Magnifica S appears to be slightly quieter), and I thought the settings essential a bit of a re-think, but once you’re set up to make your coffee how you like it, you don’t basically need to mess with these anyway. 

It has a smaller 1.2L  water tank, but it’s the same front-loading style tank so very easy to re-fill. It has the same 13 grind settings, which offers you more adjustment than the majority of bean to cup machines costing up to around 5-6 times the price. 

If you’re wondering which you must go for, Magnifica S Vs Magnifica ESAM 4200, I’d say that depends.

Personally, I’d probably go for the Magnifica S if the price difference wasn’t an matter.

I always think when there’s a version of a newer machine, you’re benefiting from the experience of the users of that machine and the manufacturer’s response to what they’ve learned from feedback and science.

This is one of the benefits of buying a machine from a firm like DeLonghi, they’re enormous, they sell more espresso machines than any other manufacturer, and they spend over 40 million Euros per year in product development – so this is a company who has the resources to improve their machines over time. 

However if budget is of supreme importance, and around £80 brews a big difference – then the ESAM is fine. I discover plenty of people who’ve had this machine for years, and it’s rare to find anyone with anything especially undesirable to say. 

If you catch the home Barista bug, and you want to start working on perfecting your espresso coffee, then no bean to cup machines are going to cut the mustard (weird saying…). However if you just want “decent” espresso and espresso-based coffees at the touch of a button, and you’re on a tight budget, the ESAM 4200 is really much a valid option. 

If you want to read about this machine in a little bit more detail then this post will help:

My full review of the Delonghi ESAM4200  

Best Bean to Cup Coffee machine? Gaggia Brera.

Check Price – Gaggia Direct

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

The Brera is a notch up in price vs the DeLonghi machines above, and in my opinion you’re generally getting a bit more refinement for the extra cash. 

The Brera is a excellent looking little machine, in my simple opinion, it’s actually easy to utilize, the controls I found to be in fact well thought out, and I literally couldn’t find much wrong with this coffee machine. 

I used the Brera for a while as my main coffee makeking equipment (which is what I do when manufacturers send me machines to review), and I enjoyed using it. I was impressed with the quality of the coffee, the steam power, and how simple it is to utilize. 

I found it a bit quieter than the Delonghi ESAM 4200, a bit more straightforward to control the volume and strength, and overall to look and feel higher quality, however it’s a little bit more money, don’t forget. 

It has a 1.2L water tank (same as the DeLonghi ESAM 4200, but 600ml smaller than the Magnifica S water tank), and it has a low level drip tray which is cleverly rather a little bit bigger than it looks, as its capacity goes all the way under the machine.

If you’re asking the question Gaggia Brera Vs DeLonghi Magnifica S – I don’t think there’s a massive amount in it, when it comes to coffee quality. 

The Brera features more stainless steel in the build than plastic, so it feels and looks a bit better quality. The Brera controls with the LCD display are a bit nicer. 

The DeLonghi coffee machines (both the Magnifica S and the cheaper ESAM 4200) have the edge when it comes to grind settings.

The Brera has 5 grind settings, while the DeLonghi coffee machines have 7 settings with half step increments, providing them more fine-tuning ability than the Brera and most other bean to cup coffee machines until you get into the much more expensive machines. 

So the option is yours, but either way I don’t think you’re making a bad choice.

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Another huge seller from DeLonghi (there’s a reason they’re the world’s the majority of significant coffee machine manufacturer) the Eletta range, which features two one-touch options, and a steam wand version. 

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 degree of the one touch Eletta coffee machines.

It produces one-touch espresso coffee, ristretto, lungo, cafe macchiato, latte machiatto, cappuccino & latte. It also produces Americano & flat white, nevertheless 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.

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The difference is generally esthetics, other than the reality that the “Top” has a one touch flat white button too, although some would argue that one touch machines can’t in reality do flat whites anyway.

I’d agree to be perfectly honest, but to be fair the same can probably be said of the majority of coffee shops. That’s a discussion 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 amazing panarello steam wand as the DeLonghi Dedica.

Panarello wands are a sheath over a steam pipe which delivers steam into the milk via a hole on the side, nearly all domestic espresso coffee machines have these forms of wands. 

They ensure anyone can create milk foam, but no one can create wonderful milk texture with them – except, that is, with the clever panarello which features on the DeLonghi Dedica and the Eletta Plus. This panarello has two settings, which steeps it possible to create great micro foam.

In my simple opinion, most one-touch bean to cup machines produce a similar type of milk texture as with standard panarello wands.

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

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If you want the ease of utilize 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 speak about shortly, I’d be looking at either the DeLonghi Eletta Plus, above, or the Gaggia Magenta Plus.

Personally, due to the fact that I much prefer utilizing proper pro steam wands to panarello wands (although as I pointed out above, the Eletta Plus panarello is capable of excellent texture) my option would probably be the Magenta plus. 

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

But what in fact makes it stand out, for me, is the pro steam wand.  This is a low to mid range bean to cup coffee brewing tool in terms of price, and it’s the only bean to cup coffee makeking device within this sort 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 brewing tool 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 equipment 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. Numerous of the Gaggia bean to cup coffee machines have a slightly cheaper “milk” option which froth via a cappuccinatore vs a milk carafe. 

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The Sage Oracle range are the mutts nuts of bean to cup coffee machines, in my simple opinion. 

You may say they should be, for the price – and yes OK they’re not cheap, however they’re not the many expensive bean to cup machines either, and they are – at the time of writing, in my opinion, the best. 

The Sage Oracle was the first espresso machine I ever used! Years back when I first started coffee blog, Sage sent me the Oracle on loan for a few weeks so I could review it. I didn’t understand anything about espresso machines, or much about coffee machines in general at that point to be honest, nevertheless the impression the Oracle mad on me will last forever. 

Sage (or Breville, in most other countries, they can’t use the Breville name over here as it was sold in the 80s) are very clever manufacturers, who have a habit of reinventing things, and that’s simply what they did with the Oracle range, they reinvented the bean to cup coffee machine.

They solved among the main issues manufacturers are faced with when creating coffee machines like this, while simultaneously solving another problem I’m unsure they were even aware existed, however the popularity of the machines have shown that it does. 

Bean to cup machines need to be able to dump the waste coffee grounds internally, without the moisture coming from the dumped grounds causing issues internally, and without the waste grounds container being able to overflow. 

Sage overcame this matter in a totally unique way, by building the Oracle machines with a portafilter (filter holder)  as with a representative espresso machine, meaning that the user is therefore responsible for moving the coffee around. 

Not only does this solve that matter, but it also solves the other question I’ve alluded to, which perhaps wasn’t as obvious an matter, which is that some would-be bean to cup coffee brewing equipment users are put off by the lack of authentic espresso-making experience offered by bean to cup coffee machines. 

Not everyone who wants home espresso coffee wants the home barista hobby connected with utilizing a representative espresso machine, but not all of these people want to basically press a button.

Lots of coffee enthusiasts would prefer to have some of the same theatre of espresso-making, without the same barista skills needed to work with a representative machine, and this is what the Oracle range uniquely offer.

The user handles the portafilter as a barista would, putting it into the grinding area for the “Barista Inside” to grind, dose and tamp. The user then locks the portafilter into the group, and once the shot is pulled, unlocks the portafilter and nocks the puck of coffee out into the knock box.

It’s a similar deal with the milk side of things.

The “Barista Inside” auto steams the milk, however the user has control over the milk texture and temperature, and it’s done via a (technologically advanced) steam wand, with a milk jug. 

This eliminates the learning curve required for producing fantastic quality textured milk with a basic steam wand, and I can tell you, there really is a learning curve – I’ve been learning for years, and I’m still an amateur! 

But unlike the majority of of the one touch machines, the oracle machines produce barista quality microfoam, which as well as enabling you to produce true third wave milkies, also enables you to work on your latte art skills, if this is something you’d like to be able to do.

So with little in terms of learning, an owner of one of the Oracle machines can look and feel like a true home barista, even creating coffees with latte art. There is a real learning curve involved there too though, don’t expect to be pouring tulips straight out of the gate.

These aren’t gimmicky coffee machines even though, in any way shape or form, they’re in truth serious bits of kit. 

They’re dual boiler machines, meaning that you can steam milk and pull shots at the same time. Only the a lot of expensive home barista or “prosumer” espresso machines, and commercial espresso coffee machines are usually dual boiler. 

Not only do they have a PID (digital temperature control) however it’s an adjustable PID, meaning you can control the brew temperature. 

They feature heated groups for exceptional temperature stability, preinfusion, auto on and off settings, they’re truly high-end espresso coffee machines – they just feature some additional features that reduce the home barista skill essential.

The Oracle Touch is the newest Oracle machine which is, obviously, the touch screen version. 

While

the original oracle is practically the same machine, without the touch screen selection – and the lack of this feature is reflected in the lower price. 

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Espresso machines 

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OK, so we’re now moving on to traditional espresso machines, so let’s begin at the entry level, with the Swan Retro espresso machine. 

So these are semi-automatic traditional espresso machines. The “semi automatic” bit, suggests that they have a pump to create the pressure to pull the shot, vs fully manual espresso machines such as the La Pavoni Europiccola, which create the pressure via a lever. 

And at this end of the price range, we’re specifically talking about “domestic” espresso coffee machines. 

As I explained earlier, these kinds of machines have 15 bar pumps, which are often boasted about in marketing blurb – giving the impression that more pressure is better. This is a myth, even though. 15 bars of pressure just works better when building a cheaper machine like this. For more see:

Why 15 Bars of Pressure Isn’t Perfect.  

The other thing specific to domestic espresso machines is the use of pressurized filter baskets. Along with 15 bars of pressure, pressurized baskets are something you’re only going to find in the lower cost espresso coffee machines.

As I explained earlier, pressurized baskets make home espresso more accessible, but they’re more about making the espresso coffee look the part, than taste the part.

For more see:

Pressurised Baskets Vs. Standard Baskets  

So the Swan Retro is a 15 bar pressurized basket machine, it’s among the cheapest espresso machines on the market, nevertheless from my experience, it’s not that bad at all.

This machine sells all over the world under different brand names, including Aldi Ambiano, K Mart Anko, Cookworks espresso coffee machine & Klarstein Espressionata Gusto.

It’s an incredibly popular machine at this price point, and I suspect this is largely down to the thermometre, which is something this machine has which is very rare in an espresso machine. 

While I found that, as with all these kinds of domestic espresso coffee machines, there’s a tendency for overheating – and some work essential to combat it, what’s perfect with the Swan Retro is that you know what the temperature is (there or thereabouts) and that’s half the battle won. 

Moving on from the thermometre, overall it’s a fairly impressive machine for the money. The steam is fairly powerful, it’s in truth simple to use, and I very don’t think you can go far wrong with this machine, taking the cost into account. 

For more see:

Swan Retro Espresso coffee Machine Review 

DeLonghi Dedica Style EC685M

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

It’s towards the top of the price range for these sort of machines, nevertheless I have to say that I think it’s worth every penny. 

OK, it’s not rather a home barista machine – generally due to the truth that there’s nothing you can do to reduce the pressure down to 9 bar, however it’s about as close as you’ll get without spending another one to two hundred pounds. 

It’s rather a high quality build for the price, it has auto pre-infusion, and the only domestic espresso coffee machine I’m aware of which does, it’s likewise the only machine of its kind I understand of which features adjustable brew temperature. 

Lots of people work with the Dedica as their first home barista espresso machine.

It’s possible to do this due to the fact that you can fairly easily make this a fundamental basket machine, and you can also mod the steam wand with a pro Rancilio silvia steam wand if you wish.

Though as I talk about in my video below, the panarello wand (specifically with the newer version, the EC685) is capable of ideal milk texture, or you can remove the wand and work with the steam pipe below as a steam wand, as long as you secure it with a tie wrap.

It’s rather straight forward to use the Dedica as a home barista espresso machine, you can just get hold of a bottomless portafilter, like this one, and a capable espresso coffee grinder.  For more on using the Dedica as a home barista espresso machine, see my second video in the series on the DeLonghi Dedica below.

For more on the DeLonghi Dedica, see:

DeLonghi Dedica Espresso coffee Machine Review  

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

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

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

This is a relatively low-cost espresso machine, at the very entry degree 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 awesome set of features for the price. 

OK this PID (temperature control) isn’t adjustable, however the truth that there’s a PID which is factory pre-set suggests that the temperature isn’t flying all over the place, which is a common matter 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 callsfor a PID mod (for about another hundred quid or so) to overcome this known matter. 

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

For more on the Sage Bambino Plus see: 

Sage Bambino Plus Review  

Gaggia Classic Pro.

Gaggia Classic Pro.

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Probably the joint a lot of popular entry extent home barista machine at present along side the Sage Bambino Plus, is the Gaggia Classic Pro. 

The Gaggia Classic has been around for a long time (30 years at the time of writing), and it’s developed a great reputation over the years, even developing somewhat of a cult following. 

They were built like tanks, good old fashioned engineering, very little to go wrong, and really simple and affordable to maintain. Simply, if you look for used Classics, you’ll find the majority of still going bold, and holding their value extremely well too, from the 90s & 00s. 

The first home barista espresso coffee machine I bought was the Gaggia classic – and I still have it now, it’s a 2003 model, and it’s still absolutely fine.

For more on the original “old model” classics, see:

Gaggia Classic Old Model Review  

Philips bought Gaggia in 2009, and the classic gradually fell out of favour with many the more hardcore Gaggia Classic fanbase, lacking some of the things this community had come to expect from the Classic, including the 3 way solenoid valve, and the adjustable over pressure valve. 

However then came the Gaggia Classic Pro came along and turned heads. 

The 3 way solenoid valve is back. The adjustable OPV isn’t there however it’s really easy to mod the pressure, for anyone who wants to do that. It’s back to the original configuration with the small, high powered aluminium boiler, however what’s more, the new classic pro features a pro steam wand!

The original classic featured a panarello, which numerous people modded with a Rancilio Silvia steam wand, and while that was fine – I think it’s wonderful that the new classic comes with a pro wand, so no need to faff around trying to make another wand fit. 

 

For more, 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 extremely common) see:

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The last suggestion here for semi auto traditional espresso machines is the Barista range of espresso coffee range from Sage. 

Not to be confused with bean to cup coffee machines, the Sage Barista range which started out with the Barista Express above, are integrated grinder espresso machines, but that’s where the similarity with bean to cup coffee machines end. 

Using the Barista express is exactly the same as using any other espresso coffee machine, other than the truth that the coffee grinder is integrated, so you don’t need a separate grinder. 

I first reviewed the Barista Express a while back, and I was very impressed with it in most ways.

The only undesirable for me vs utilizing a separate espresso coffee machine was the relatively few grind settings on the Barista Express, at 18 grind settings, which made it tricky for precisely dialling in, meaning to finely fix the grind size to enhance the extraction.

The newer Barista Pro, though, is much better in that regard with 30 grind settings. The pro likewise features the newer “ThermoJet” system for faster heat up time and steam ready time. 

I think the Barista Express is really really good for the money, particularly when you can find a deal. I do prefer the Barista Pro, although.

It’s about a hundred quid more at RRP, however that ability to finely tune the grind I do think is needed if you’re wanting to get the best possible effects with each bean. The Barista pro is only a hundred quid more at RRP, and you will sometimes find it on offer if you shop around. 

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Pod coffee machines

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

They’re inexpensive 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. 

Being completely honest, if I were a “normal” coffee drinker, I’d buy a Tassimo machine. I can say that quite confidently due to the fact that I was, and I did. 

By “normal”, I mean you generally beverage instant coffee, freshly made only on a special occasion or when at a coffee shop. If this is you, you’ll probably be more than happy with the quality of most the pods available from any of the pod or disk coffee machines. 

This was me, entirely, actually a few years ago before I caught the speciality coffee bug. I thought the perfect quality coffee would come from a pod or disk machine, and being pragmatic about it, given that “best” is a really subjective thing, I was probably right.

This is literally a subject for a post all of its own, nevertheless in a nutshell – my palate right now is extremely different than it was back in the early to mid-00s when I bought a Tassimo machine.

Back then I was as happy as a pig in muck with the quality of the pod based coffees I was downing, these days I’d probably prefer to consume pig muck.

If you’d have given me a glass of Hardys Crest Cab Sav Merlot when I was 20, I’d have winced and told you I’ll stick to my £4 bottle of fruity red whatever from the corner shop. Now, the Hardys is my favourite daily (from wine o’clock onwards, obviously), and I wouldn’t dream of sipping the rubbish I would have enjoyed back then. 

How times and tastebuds alter!

As I explained earlier, if I was going to use a Tassimo these days, I’d definitely just buy the espresso pods and steam my own milk utilizing a milk frother, but if you do decide to buy a Tassimo machine, try the milk pods for yourself and see what you think, you might love them – I prefer fresh milk.

If you’re thinking of going for a Tassimo machine, have a look at this:

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The Bosch Sunny is the no1 best-selling capsule coffee brewing tool on Amazon UK at the time of writing, and I’m not surprised given the price.

You can pay more for a Tassimo machine if you want to:

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Personally although, I can’t figure out what you’re simply getting for the extra investment. As far as I’m concerned the essence of Tassimo is the disks, and the bar coding system which tells the machines what to do.

I can’t really see any clear benefits to be had other than aesthetics, from stumping up the extra cash. I may be missing something!

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

Again, this isn’t a machine I’d be buying these days, nevertheless back when I was a fundamental coffee drinker, no doubt I’d have been as happy as Larry (my father-in-law) with a machine like this. 

Among 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 preference. 

This particular model the Piccolo XS is the best-selling Dolce Gusto machine and the second perfect 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 indicates you manually set the machine to the bars displayed on the pods you’re utilizing. 

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.

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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 machine as the Piccolo XS, and it features a rising drip tray to troubleshoot the cup height vs taking the drip tray off on the Piccolo XS and clipping it on higher.

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The Genio S Plus is currently the perfect seller on Amazon in the bean to cup coffee machines category, which is mildly 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 literally 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 practicality, so I have no need to use a pod machine. 

When this practicality does come in extremely beneficial although, for me, is when I’m rehearsing with my band. We have a rehearsal room in an old grinder, 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 recipe when necessary, well there are a few:

First off, in my simple 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 discover these two machines (what’s spoken about as the Lavazza machine, and Nespresso) were invented by the same guy?

It’s a truly cool story in reality, 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 to ultimately get the chance to pitch his invention. 

Nespresso vs Lavazza A Modo Mio  

Literally to quickly speak about 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 mildly 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, however there are more for Nespresso machines. 

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

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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 capsules bin which will take 4 of 5 pods, an adjustable cup height with two settings, and – well, there’s not much more to say about it truly.

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

I say original due to the truth that there are the newer Vurtuo Nespresso machines, too, which are rather a little different to the original Nespresso machines, and feature a bigger range of pod sizes and strengths. 

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 mildly cheaper machines.

It has a 1L removable water tank, fairly big for a pod machine. It has a folding trip tray, which indicates 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 pods bin.

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

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

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

The only thing that would put me off with this machine, even though, is it looks a little 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 extremely 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 generally positive – the negatives are primarily about cleaning and low milk temperature. 

It has primarily positive reviews on Amazon although, there are a few complaints about cleaning, 

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If you subscribe to my YouTube channel, you’ll learn that I speak about Sage Coffee machines rather a little, extremely because they produce some of the most innovative, user friendly espresso machines available. 

They don’t tend to approach manufacturing machines in the same way as the majority of other manufacturers.

They like to take a step back and look at how things ought to work quite than literally following the norm, which often leads to quite excellent innovations, such as the Bambino Plus espresso machine with its 3 second heat up time, and quite an amazing abilities for such a low cost espresso coffee machine. 

Sage Bambino Plus Review

And the Creatista Nespresso machines from Sage are based on the Bambino plus. 

The creatista uno has the same new thermoset heating system as with the Bambino plus, which means it heats up almost instantly, and also suggests that the steam is ready almost instantly.

If you’re set on Nespresso, but milkies are in truth 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, just due to the reality that you’re going to have so much more control over milk texture and milk temperature. 

 

American coffee machines

Filter coffee machines while hugely popular in the states, aren’t rather as mainstream in the UK as they once were, and they might not be all that exciting, but if you enjoy American coffee, a filter coffee makeking equipment is an obvious preference.

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This is one of the best selling drip coffee machines in the UK at the moment, and I can see why – it’s really 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 work with 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 perfect things about buying from Amazon, it’s really easy to return a machine if it’s faulty), you must have a good filter machine here for such a low cost.

The Amazon listing is a little odd, although, it describes this as being capable of making espresso coffee and macchiato, which of course it isn’t – this is a American coffee machine… 

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If you’re wanting a cheap filter coffee makeking device 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 utilize 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 sort of price is going to feel cheap, as it is, and is going to come with some imperfections as you’ll learn if you read the reviews, but you do need to take into account basically what a low cost machine this is. 

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The Buckingham American coffee machine from Russell Hobbs, has been among the best selling American coffee machines in the UK for a while. It’s an economical 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 a lot of people would be looking for in a drip coffee machine. 

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

Ignore how a lot of 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, nevertheless only if those cups are 125ml, or actually over 4 ounces, which is an very small cup. It’ll make up to around four or maybe five “normal” sized cups of coffee.

My only stress about this machine is that there are many people saying you need to be careful with the glass carafe, as it’s rather brittle, and the replacement is about half the price of the 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, and creating game changing coffee machines, and that’s what they’ve done with the Precision Brewer. 

This is a large capacity American coffee brewing tool, while it’s listed as 1.7L, it’s very 60 ounce, 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 tool, such as Kalita Wave or Hario V60 (you have to buy a separate adapter for that, although).

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 truly easily selectable pre-set brewing options, and a entirely customizable setting discussed as “My Brew”, which you can modify to your hearts desire, to end up with your great coffee. 

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

If you literally 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 ideal setting, you can program it (and it’s really humble to do) to be ready for you when you wake up, made 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 procedure of reviewing it, and it’s remarkable machine. It’s versatile, it’s suitable for the seasoned home barista and for the complete novice and everyone in between, it’s actually simple to use, and it’s capable of creating great drip 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 little irritating. I’m going to keep this one, though, as I love it (I’m going to buy another one to give away to one of my patreon supporters), so I’ll just pour 1L in and then mark it off myself.

Forgetting that little quirk, which to be fair in truth doesn’t matter ;-), I think this is probably the most clever American coffee brewing equipment ever crafted, such a wonderful machine.

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

Best Coffee makeking equipment – Conclusion. 

I in reality hope you’ve found this post beneficial, and that by this stage you’ve at least figured out which kind of coffee machine may be perfect for you, even if you’ve not yet decided on which machine you’re going to go for. 

Just remember, coffee is key, so no issue what decision you make on the coffee brewing device, go for excellent quality coffee beans and you can’t go far wrong.  

Now just a few widely asked questions before I sign off:

Are home coffee machines worth it?

In a word, yes. If you’re even asking the question, then you obviously want to love the coffee you beverage at home, and you’re no longer regarding coffee as just a quick caffeine troubleshoot.

If you want to literally enjoy every cup of joe you ingest at home, then yes, I definitely believe it’s worth getting a home coffee machine. I’ll let you in on a secret, too. While there are some incredible indy coffee shops out there, there are likewise the majority of coffee shops producing coffee which you could easily rival with a home coffee makeking device.

There are cafe’s that have never dialled in their grinders after the initial install.

There are cafes where the steam wands are white due to the reality that they’re totally caked in old, rotting milk!

There are cafes where the staff extremely haven’t been correctly trained, and it may as well be anyone else walking in off the street and operating their commercial espresso coffee machine. 

And these cafe’s will all have one thing in common, they’ll have the look of a high quality coffee shop, and the prices of a high quality coffee shop, meaning you’re paying through the nose for coffee that you could easily beat at home for a fraction of the cost!

If you consume instant coffee and you have never owned a coffee brewing device and you are uncertain if it’s for you then try spending £15-£30 on a cafetiere or an Aeropress so you are not risking more than the price of a couple of Pizzas to learn if you can make something you ingest everyday taste delicious (you will) every time.

Are expensive coffee makers worth it?

Buying an expensive coffee makeking tool doesn’t guarantee that you will get wonderful coffee that is proportionate to buying a cheap one.

What I mean by that is that if you spend £1000 on a coffee machine it doesn’t mean you will get coffee that tastes 10 times better than one that costs £100.

You have to make sure that you choose one that is right for your needs and lifestyle and you may well be better off with a cheaper machine that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a more expensive one if you’ll never utilize the features that it offers.

However much you decide to spend and whichever brewing method you choose to use I hope this post has equipped you with everything you need in order to make an informed option.

If there is anything else you would like my help with drop me a comment below and I’ll come back to you as soon as I can.

Life is like a box of chocolates, so join my Brew Time list, subscribe to my YouTube Channel, try my coffee at The Coffeeworks (utilize discount code coffeebotherers), follow me on Twitter & Instagram, follow the coffeeblog FaceBook page, and that’s all I have to say about that. 

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This post to start with appeared at Coffee Blog – The UK Specialty Coffee Blog – For Lovers of GENUINE Coffee!

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