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22 December 2020

Best bean-to-cup coffee machines 2021

We've rounded up our top-scoring bean-to-cup coffee machines to help you find your perfect model. We also reveal the models to avoid.
Bean to cup coffee machine
Rebecca Marcus


Bean-to-cup coffee machines can be extremely expensive. Choosing the wrong machine could mean you are left hundreds of pounds out of pocket and have to put up with watery coffee.

Our independent lab tests have shown that not all of them live up to their high price tags. Make sure you invest in the best by choosing one of our top picks, we also reveal the bean-to-cup coffee machines to avoid at all cost.

Want to see all of our top-scoring coffee machines and compare types? Go straight to our roundup of the best coffee machines overall including pod and capsule coffee machines too.

Which bean-to-cup coffee machines are the best?

In the tables below, we've selected some of the best rated bean-to-cup machines from our rigorous coffee machine tests, which include a blind coffee taste test by our tasting panel. 

Good bean-to-cup machines should be easy and quiet to use, and produce rich, smooth and tasty brews.

Our independent tests included a range of popular models, from espresso-only bean-to-cup machines, to models that can make cappuccinos, flat whites and macchiatos at the touch of a button.

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Our Best Buy bean-to-cup coffee machines

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83%
Best Buy
£349.97
Reviewed

This Best Buy bean-to-cup coffee machine makes excellent espressos that are sure to please. It’s also quiet and easy to use, although it’s a little on the slow side – you’ll be waiting more than a minute for the first cup of the day.

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81%
Best Buy
£599.00
Reviewed

This bean-to-cup machine isn’t the fastest, but the espresso is worth the wait. It makes cup after cup of tasty espresso, and can create a decent cappuccino, too. It’s easy to use and has a lot of useful features.

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81%
Best Buy
£699.00
Reviewed

One of the highest scoring bean-to-cup models we’ve tested. Its unique manual design gives you a hands-on coffee-making experience so you can play at being an at-home barista. It’s easy to use, quiet and dispenses tasty freshly-ground espressos in less than 30 seconds. The steam wand produces excellent creamy foam for creating milky drinks like cappuccinos.

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81%
Best Buy
£429.00
Reviewed

This Best Buy bean-to-cup coffee machine is quiet, easy-to-use and makes excellent espresso. The integrated milk frother produces delicious, creamy froth to create delicious cappuccinos. It's also really easy to clean and descale, which is always a bonus. It’s not particularly speedy, taking more than a minute to dispense the first cup of the day, but the espresso is worth it.

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80%
Best Buy
£719.00
Reviewed

This coffee machine automatically grinds coffee beans ready to give you the freshest brew. It creates great tasting espressos at a piping hot temperature ready for your caffeine fix, while the steam wand creates plenty of smooth, creamy froth that makes for deliciously foamy cappuccinos.

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Last updated: November 2020

Not found the coffee machine for you? See all our coffee machine reviews

Which bean-to-cup coffee machines are the worst?

When a bean-to-cup machine works well, you end up with fresh and delicious espressos at the touch of a button.

However, choose the wrong model and you could end up with a fiddly machine that produces weak and watery espressos. With prices ranging from £250 to more than £1500, make sure you check the models to avoid below before you buy.

Our Don't Buy bean-to-cup coffee machines

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61%
£2623.30
Reviewed

This expensive coffee machine gave a mixed bag of results in our taste tests. Its cappuccinos are pretty much perfect, but espressos are disappointing, with a pale, thin crema and weak flavour. For the price, you'd expect it to be able to make consistently great coffee whichever drink you choose.

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62%
£779.85
Reviewed

Our tests found this bean-to-cup machine to be slow, noisy and tricky to clean. While it makes decent espresso when using beans, espressos made with ground coffee are less impressive. Its cappuccinos aren’t bad, although the foam disappears fairly quickly.

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See all the models that made it onto our Don't Buy list - coffee machines to avoid.

Which features should you look for in a bean-to-cup coffee machine?

If you decide to take the plunge and splash out on a bean-to-cup coffee machine, here are five features to consider.

1. Auto milk-frothing and cleaning

Most bean-to-cup machines have a built-in steam pipe to froth milk so you can also make milky coffees, such as lattés or cappuccinos, as well as espresso.

Cheaper bean-to-cup machines tend to come with a steam wand for frothing milk. You’ll need to measure out and froth the milk manually, then add it to your coffee.

Pricier models will automate the milk measuring and frothing process for you, sucking the milk into the machine and dispensing froth directly into your drink.

Many also have an auto-clean feature, saving you the fiddly (and sometimes unpleasant) job of cleaning the milk pipes.

2. Dual bean hopper

This allows you to have two types of coffee bean on the go at once.

It’s ideal if you prefer caffeinated in the morning and decaf in the evening, or even if you just like to have the choice of different types.

Otherwise you’ll need to clean out the bean hopper if you want to switch coffees before one lot of beans runs out.

If you like the convenience of ground coffee every now and then, some bean-to-cup models have a separate compartment so you can use ground coffee too.

3. Colour touchscreen

Many bean-to-cup coffee machines include digital displays and automatic settings to speed up the coffee-making process.

On some models you can control your settings via a colour touchscreen. These make it quick and easy to select your chosen hot drink, usually from an extensive menu.

They can also be useful for diagnosing potential issues, as well as guiding you through how to clean and descale the machine correctly – this is an important step to ensure your machine continues to churn out tasty coffees and doesn’t get jammed up.

4. Save preferences

Premium models will allow you to save multiple user profiles and customise your favourite coffee options, so you’ll never have to remind them that you like your morning espresso extra-strong again.

This saves you the hassle of manually inputting custom orders every time you offer to make a round of drinks, which is particularly useful if you’re making coffee for friends or family.

5. Control via smartphone

Connecting your coffee machine to your smartphone means you can get reminders and troubleshooting for cleaning and descaling your machine.

You can also use some apps to set up user profiles to make it easier to quickly call up your favourite drink, without having to cycle through lots of menu options.

Not sure what type of coffee machine is right for you? See our coffee machine buying guide.

Are expensive bean-to-cup coffee machines worth it?

The upfront cost of bean-to-cup coffee machines can be anything from a few hundred to several thousand pounds but our tests show that paying out more doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’ll get better coffee. We've recently uncovered a bean-to-cup coffee machine that's so poor we had to issue our first Don't Buy in years.

Average upfront cost of coffee machines compared

The average bean-to-cup model costs around £800 upfront, but our top scoring bean-to-cup coffee machines start from around the £200 price mark, so you don’t have to spend a small fortune to get the best coffee at home. We recommend you look closely at the features you really want the most in our bean-to-cup coffee machine reviews before choosing.

The main advantage of bean-to-cup machines is that you will be using freshly ground beans each time and have a lot more control over the customisation of your morning brew. If adjusting the strength, grind and temperature of your drink is important to you, you’ll be wise to invest in a one of our Best Buy bean-to-cup coffee machines.

On top of the price of the machine, you’ll also want to consider things such as running costs as these can affect how much you spend over time. Even the very cheapest of our best pod or capsule coffee machines can cost more in the long run and will not have all the extra features of a bean-to-cup machine.

How much does it cost to run a bean-to-cup coffee machine?

There’s no denying that bean-to-cup coffee machines can be more expensive upfront than other types of machine. On average, bean-to-cup machines cost more than three times as much as ground coffee machines, and almost six times as much as the average pod machine.

That doesn’t tell the whole story, though, as pod coffee machines tend to be more expensive per drink, and tie you into buying a specific brand of pod – limiting your drink options. Over time, bean-to-cup machines can actually work out cheaper.

Based on drinking two espressos a day over the course of five years, plus the upfront cost of the cheapest relevant Best Buy coffee machine, the animated graphic shows that bean-to-cup models can actually work out a lot cheaper in the long run. 

For more advice on choosing between the different types of coffee machine, including the key things to consider and how the costs stack up, see our coffee machine buying guide.

How does Which? test bean-to-cup coffee machines?

You'd expect every coffee machine, even a basic one, to make a good coffee. But our tests have uncovered machines that don't. 

That's why we judge the appearance, aroma and taste of the coffee that each machine makes in a blind taste test. These tests have revealed coffee makers that make weak, watery coffee that lacks flavour. Only the very finest will make the grade to become a Best Buy. 

You also don't want a machine that's a total pain to use and clean. We put each machine through tough tests that look at every aspect of using the machine, including filling it, removing the drip tray and water tank, adjusting settings, and cleaning it after each use. 

We also check how hot the coffee is, how well it froths milk and how noisy it is. Head to our independent coffee machine reviews to find the best model for you, or straight to our latest bean-to-cup coffee machine reviews:

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