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How to buy the best ground coffee machine

By Yvette Fletcher

Want the satisfaction of making your own coffee the traditional way? Find out how to pick the best espresso machine.

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Traditional ground coffee machines give you the ultimate control over making your espresso. They can require a bit of patience and practice, but for some the ritual is part of the experience. 

Unlike capsule or bean-to-cup machines, which automate most of the coffee making process, a traditional coffee maker is a good choice if you like to have a more hands-on experience. 

However, some machines we've seen are so fussy and complicated they'd test the patience of the most experienced barista. 

Our guide explains how to pick the right espresso machine for you, including: 

  • how much you need to spend
  • ground coffee machine pros and cons
  • brands to look out for.

Just want to see our pick of the best ground coffee machines? Head to our list of Best Buy coffee machines. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.

How much do I need to spend?

Choosing a coffee maker that takes ground coffee offers you the biggest range of price points. We've found Best Buys for less than £50 in the past, and there are plenty of options available for less than £300. Most models will cost somewhere between £100 to £200. 

There are a small handful of premium models that cost more than £500. What do you get for the higher price? 

  • Styling - pricier models tend to look good, with a traditional coffee shop look and a metal exterior.
  • Features  - they usually come loaded with all the features, such as cup warmers, temperature gauges and water filters.
  • Accessories  - you're likely to get more, or higher quality accessories, such as specialised cleaning tools or a stainless steel frothing jug.

They don't always excel in our tests, though, so don't buy without checking our independent coffee machine reviews first.

Ground coffee machines: pros and cons

The main advantage of a traditional espresso machine is that they allow you to experiment more and embrace the process of making coffee. There are also some other advantages and also disadvantages to using a traditional espresso maker to make your daily brew. 

Pros: 

  • Any variety of ground coffee can be used.
  • They're an affordable option, ground coffee works out cheaper per cup than using capsules.
  • There's also no restriction on the coffee you can use in a ground coffee machine, as long as it's the right grind (not too fine or coarse).
  • More control over the amount of coffee and water you use - and how the milk is frothed - so your coffee is just the way you want it.
  • Less waste than capsule models.

Some machines also take 'easy serving espresso' (ESE) pods – these are like tea bags, but packed with coffee instead. They contain enough coffee for one espresso shot and help reduce the amount of cleaning up and guesswork you'll need to do when making a coffee. 

Cons:

  • Making espresso can involve some trial and error, so they aren't as good for time-poor coffee fans.
  • Can be fiddly, messy and difficult to clean.
  • More time-consuming than bean-to-cup or capsule models.

Decided on this type of machine? We've selected the top five best espresso coffee machines to make choosing one for you simple.

Ground coffee machine brands

It might not surprise you that Italian manufacturer DeLonghi makes many ground coffee machine models. 

However, there are many brands to choose from, including Dualit, FrancisFrancis!, Gaggia, KitchenAid, Sage and Smeg. 

Brands can vary hugely in price - we've seen a model from KitchenAid that cost over £600 - but we have also seen machines from DeLonghi, Dualit and Gaggia costing £200 or less. 

Visit our guide to the best coffee machine brands to find out whether expensive models are worth the price, or whether you'd be just as well off with a model from a cheaper brand.

Decided on a ground coffee machine? See all our coffee machine reviews to pick the best model for your budget.

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