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Coffee machines come in a wide range of styles and can cost anything from £30 to more than £1,000. What's right for you depends on several factors, including your budget, what coffee you like to drink, and how much control you want over the process.
Some coffee makers are better suited to espresso fans, while others will make every type of froth you can imagine. Others may limit your options in terms of the coffee you can use, so it pays to do your research to make sure you don't get stuck with a machine that doesn't cater to your needs.
These are the main types of machine that make espresso-style coffee – your starting point for making Americanos, lattes, cappuccinos, flat whites and more:
See below for the pros and cons of each of these machine types.
Filter coffee machines make a longer black coffee by slowly dripping hot water through ground coffee into a jug (rather than using pressure like an espresso machine). If you're after this type of machine see our .
Watch our video for a quick overview of the different types and what to look for to help you decide.
Answer a couple of questions in our quick quiz to find out which type of espresso coffee machine you're most suited to:
Coffee pod machines, such as Nespresso, Tassimo and Dolce Gusto, are the most popular type. They're likely to suit you if you're looking for a quick and easy way to make coffee at home.
The brand of machine you choose will affect the drink options available to you. Some focus on espresso, while others make a range of weird and wonderful drinks, from caramel macchiatos to iced chocolates.
Pricier models will usually offer more customisation options, allowing you to save preferences and adjust the temperature or froth level of your drink. Some also have apps so you can control them from your phone, or keep track of your capsule supply.
The key coffee-pod brands are: Dolce Gusto, Illy, Lavazza, Nespresso and Tassimo. Find out more about what they offer and how they compare on factors such as price, range, taste and eco credentials in our full .
A ground coffee machine will suit you if you want to have more control over your coffee, and don’t mind getting hands-on with your drinks prep. They also offer a good compromise between upfront costs and the ongoing cost of coffee.
Most ground coffee machines have a steam wand, which you can use to froth milk in a separate jug. Many opt for a traditional look, with old-fashioned dials and controls that leave you to decide the length and strength of your drink.
However, some, such as the , have adopted a more novice-friendly design with simple pre-set drink settings and automatic milk-frothing units, so going for ground coffee doesn't have to mean a crash course in being a barista.
DeLonghi has the biggest range, but Krups and Sage also make ground coffee machines. There are also some cheaper options around from the likes of Argos, Beko, Sainsbury's and Swan.
Premium bean-to-cup machines often have colour touchscreens and extensive drinks menus. Some have automatic milk frothers, too. Cheaper models are more likely to have a steam wand for manual milk frothing.
Price varies wildly, with some models exceeding £2,000. Paying more doesn't guarantee great coffee, though. We've uncovered top-scoring bean-to-cup machines for a fraction of that price, as well as some expensive models that make mediocre coffee.
Big brands in the bean-to-cup world include DeLonghi, Dualit, Jura, Melitta and Krups. Sage and DeLonghi both also make some traditional-style models which have built-in grinders but still require you to have a hand in the coffee-prep process, similar to a ground coffee machine.
Pod coffee machines tend to be the cheapest type to buy, with prices starting at around £30 for some Dolce Gusto, Lavazza and Tassimo machines.
They can work out more expensive in the long run, though, as pods are more expensive than ground coffee or beans, so your cost per cup is higher.
The price of pods varies by brand, but some cost as much as £1 per pod. Here's how costs add up over time by coffee machine type:
Ground-coffee machine is the cheapest cost over five years (£544), followed by the bean-to-cup at £760, and coffee capsules at £1166. The most expensive is buying a takeaway coffee twice a day.
Whatever type you choose, these are the other things to consider when buying a coffee machine:
If you’re a fan of milky drinks, such as cappuccinos and lattes, choose a coffee machine with a milk-frothing function.
There are several options: you'll need to decide whether you want your drink made for you, or if you're happy to froth the milk and add it to your coffee.
Some coffee machines let you adjust pre-set drink settings to suit your preferences. This means the machine will automatically dispense just the right amount of coffee, at the perfect strength, every time.
If you tend to make a lot of coffee at once, look for a model with a larger water tank of around 1.5 litres, otherwise you’ll find yourself having to constantly refill it. Some pod machines have very small tanks.
Regularly cleaning and descaling your machine will help to keep it working well for longer. Look for automatic cleaning programs to make it less of a hassle. If it needs to be cleaned manually, check to see if the parts can be removed easily for cleaning, and whether they’re dishwasher safe.
Some coffee machines can be connected to your smartphone via an app. You can control the machine from the app, as well as accessing troubleshooting advice and maintenance alerts.
As well as choosing a coffee machine that makes a tasty espresso or latte, you'll want one that will keep doing so for years to come.
We buy and test all the latest coffee machines so you can compare models and find the right one for you.
Our extensive independent tests include a blind taste test by an expert tasting panel, who rate each machine's coffees for taste, appearance, aroma and consistency.
We also assess how quick each machine is to make coffee, and how hot the coffee comes out, plus how easy the coffee machine is to set up, use and clean.