Wish you had a barista in your own home? A bean-to-cup coffee machine might just be the next best thing.
Bean-to-cup machines grind coffee beans on demand, just as they are in coffee shops. They also automate the coffee-making process, so you can simply press a button and sit back and let your machine do the rest.
They can cost thousands of pounds, though, so it pays to do your research to make sure your shiny new machine is easy to use and clean, makes the kind of coffee you like, and has all the features you want.
We’ve tested eight of the latest models from big bean-to-cup brands including DeLonghi, Krups, Melitta and Sage, as well as a cheaper option from large-appliance brand Beko. Our tests have uncovered four brilliant Best Buys that make tasty espressos, cappuccinos and more, as well as being easy to use and clean. Several are exceptionally quiet, too, which is a rare feat for a bean-to-cup machine.
Read on to find out more about the models we’ve tested, and features to look out for, or you can skip straight to our bean-to-cup coffee machine reviews to discover the models we recommend.
What’s brewing? Bean-to-cup coffee machines reviewed
Beko CEG5301X – £289*
Home appliance giant Beko is a relatively small player in the coffee machine market, with only a handful of bean-to-cup models. This one is compact and relatively no-frills, with minimalist touch controls on the top and an adjustable grinder for fine-tuning the strength of your espresso. It doesn’t have a milk frothing function, so this is one for the espresso purists (or those willing to buy a separate frothing accessory).
It also has a few handy extra features, including a memory function to record your favourite settings for next time, as well as eco and speed modes.
We weren’t impressed by the last Beko bean-to-cup machine we tested. Find out whether this model can make up for past mistakes in the full Beko CEG5301X review.
Krups Arabica EA817840 – £460
This sturdy-looking model has plenty of features for a relatively inexpensive bean-to-cup machine. You can select different temperatures and grinding settings, and it’s possible to make two espressos at once. There’s a steam wand, too, for frothing your own milk to make drinks such as cappuccinos, lattés or flat whites.
It’s light on fancy features but you can save two different drink preferences, making it easier to select your favourite coffee drink.
Take a look at our review of the Krups Arabica EA817840 review to see if it could be the mid-priced all-rounder you’ve been looking for.
DeLonghi Primadonna Class ECAM550.55.SB – £990
The DeLonghi Primadonna Class is nearly identical to the DeLonghi ECAM550.75.MS, which we’ve also tested. The key differences are the milk frother, the colour, the lack of thermally insulated carafe, and the fact it’s £300 cheaper.
But don’t be fooled, this is still a premium model. It has an integrated milk frother, so your drink is automated from start to finish. It also has a colour touchscreen for choosing your drink, an automatic cleaning program, and the option to save your drink preferences. You can even start brewing an espresso from bed, by using the smartphone app to control the machine remotely.
Is this pricey DeLonghi worth the investment for a hassle-free brew? Get our verdict in the full DeLonghi Primadonna Class ECAM550.55.SB review.
Melitta Barista Smart TS F85/0-102 – £1,050
Melitta says that this feature-packed machine will make coffee the true Italian way, although with the aid of the latest brewing technology rather than a friendly barista. The milk frother is integrated for fully automatic operation, and it cleans itself with steam afterwards too.
There’s almost no end to the drinks you can make with this model. It comes pre-programmed with 21 different drink recipes, from cappuccino to latte macchiato. You can fine-tune these to your preferences and control the machine remotely using the companion smartphone app. Even more flexibility comes from the bean hopper, which can store two different kinds of beans separately. This means you don’t have to stick with one type if you prefer a stronger roast in the mornings and a lighter coffee later in the day or on lazy weekends.
Does this high-end coffee machine deliver the goods? Read our full review of the Melitta Barista Smart TS F85/0-102 to find out.
Sage Oracle Touch – £1,999
This updated version of the original Oracle coffee machine has user-friendly colour touchscreen controls, letting you easily swipe through to select the drink you’d like. You can also save up to eight drink preferences, making it even faster to start brewing your favourite.
Unlike other bean-to-cup machines, it grinds beans into a portafilter (ground coffee holder used to extract the coffee), which you then attach to start the brewing process, just like the machines you see in coffee shops.
It also has a steam wand for manual milk frothing. Sage claims that the design has been updated to make frothing milk practically foolproof, so you can still feel as if you are getting the authentic barista experience but you don’t need to be an expert. As a nice extra nod to traditional coffee makers, you can warm your cups on the top of the machine.
The price might be high enough to make you wince, but Sage is pretty confident that the new Oracle Touch is worth every penny. Find out if our independent coffee tasting panel agrees in the full Sage Oracle Touch review.
Should you buy a bean-to-cup coffee machine?
If you want the freshest coffee possible in the comfort of your own home, with minimum effort, a bean-to-cup coffee machine is a good choice. But with prices ranging from around £250 to as much as £2,000, it pays to know which models are worth buying and what to look out for.
Many bean-to-cup machines offer features that can make it easier to brew the perfect coffee, including:
- Milk frothing – a steam wand or integrated milk frother lets you make creamy cappuccinos and lattés. If you want a hands-free coffee, look for automatic milk frothing, although be aware it will usually cost you more.
- Touchscreen controls – a clear display can help you select the perfect coffee in a flash.
- Drink personalisation – a high-end model will let you fine-tune your coffee and save your favourite settings for later use.
- Smartphone compatibility – some machines can be controlled remotely using an app on your smartphone or tablet.
- Automatic cleaning – steam cleaning and auto descaling programs can make it much easier to keep your machine in good working order, so you can sit back and enjoy your drink.
Paying more will usually get you more automation and more options for personalising your drink, making the process as hands-free as possible.
If these machines look too daunting (or just a bit too big), you might prefer a capsule coffee machine. These use pre-packaged coffee pods to make espresso in a flash. They tend to be simple to use, but usually offer less flexibility when it comes to brewing coffee just the way you like it. And, while cheap to buy, they can turn out more expensive in the long run because of the high price of the capsules.
A ground coffee machine will take up less space than a bean-to-cup model, while still giving you control over your brewing. It means getting a bit more hands-on with your coffee, but once you’ve got the hang of it it can be pretty speedy.
See our guide to buying the best coffee machine for more advice on choosing between the various types and how much they cost to run.
New bean-to-cup coffee machine reviews for 2018
Here are the most recent bean-to-cup coffee machines we’ve tested.
You can click on the individual links to get straight to a specific review, or head to our coffee machine reviews to compare all the models we’ve tested.
- Beko CEG5301X review – £289
- Krups Arabica EA817840 -£460
- DeLonghi Primadonna Class ECAM550.55.SB – £990
- DeLonghi Primadonna ECAM550.75.MS – £1,300
- Krups Evidence EA893C40 – £999
- Melitta Barista Smart TS F85/0-101 – £1,050
- Melitta Solo & Perfect Milk E957-101 – £429
- Sage Oracle Touch – £1,999
*Prices correct as of 30 October 2018.