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7 September 2021

Top five best capsule coffee machines for 2021

We reveal the best – and worst – coffee pod machines you can buy. Find out if Nespresso, Tassimo, Lavazza or Dolce Gusto models make the list.
Patrick Gallagher

Capsule coffee machines such as Nespresso machines are the ultimate in convenience if you want a quick, consistent coffee with minimum hassle. 

The main difference between capsule coffee machines and traditional ground coffee machines is the pod system. You simply put a pre-prepared coffee capsule into the machine, press a button and your espresso is ready. With ground coffee machines, you need to measure out and prepare the coffee yourself.

A pod coffee machine is typically cheaper than a traditional ground coffee machine, too. You can get a Best Buy capsule coffee machine for less than £50, but bear in mind that capsules cost more to buy in the long run.

Most pod coffee machines only take one type of capsule, so it's worth making sure they can make a tasty brew before you buy. And, as each capsule brand makes a variety of coffee machines you'll want to find the one that makes the best coffee and is easiest to use for you.

We've rounded up our top five capsule machine picks in the table below to help you quickly choose the best model for you. Only logged-in Which? members can view our recommendations. If you’re not yet a member, you can get instant access by joining Which?.

Top five capsule coffee machines

  • 86%

    This coffee machine couldn’t be easier to use, but it gives you more control than most over what’s in your cup, whether you want a quick caffeine hit or an indulgent frothy creation. It’s quiet and incredibly quick, producing an espresso in less than 30 seconds. It scored top marks in our taste test too, securing its status as a Which? Best Buy.

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  • 85%

    This compact worthy Best Buy makes excellent coffee at the touch of a button. It has some handy features, including an espresso boost if you want a more intense coffee, an auto switch-off and a fast heat up, so you won’t be waiting long for your coffee. And it's super-slim size makes it perfect for small spaces. Pods aren’t the cheapest way to enjoy your espresso, though, and recycling them is tricky.

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  • 84%

    The Sage Creatista Plus is a pod coffee machine that takes Nespresso capsules. It has plenty of customisation options for frothing milk, with eight texture levels and 11 temperatures to choose from, to help you create the perfect froth for your latte art. Find out what we thought of its milk frothing and coffee-making abilities in our full review.

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  • 83%

    Not only is this capsule machine incredibly straightforward to use, but it doesn’t take long to make a great quality espresso. It looks great, works quietly and is very easy to clean when you’ve finished. It’s an easy way to make fantastic coffee, and is a high scoring coffee machine worth considering.

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  • 69%

    It’s not quite a Best Buy, but this is a high-scoring coffee machine from this popular capsule brand. This machine makes a great espresso and it’s simple to use, quick and quiet. It's compact, easy to clean and definitely one to consider.

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Last updated: September 2021.

Capsule coffee machines to avoid

You might think that one capsule machine is pretty much the same as another, particularly if they use the same capsule system, such as Nespresso but our tests have shown that isn't the case. We've found some models that fail to impress on taste, turning out an underwhelming espresso. These are the pod coffee machines we recommend steering clear of.

  • 51%

    This coffee machine gives you more control over your drink than most pod machines, with options to adjust the temperature, strength and size of drinks to suit your preference. But we found it took a long time to make coffee, and its underwhelming espressos certainly weren’t worth the wait.

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How to choose the best capsule coffee machine for you

Woman drinking coffee

Here are some key features to consider when picking your capsule coffee machine:

What type of drinks do you like?

Each coffee capsule brand offers its own range of capsules to use with your machine. You are usually limited to that specific brand's range, aside from Nespresso Original machines, where there is a thriving market in third-party compatible pods.

Brands such as Lavazza, Illy and Nespresso focus on espresso-style coffees, whereas Tassimo and Dolce Gusto offer alternatives including teas, hot chocolate and chai lattés.

For more advice on picking the best system for you, see our guide to coffee capsule brands.

Size and capacity

If you don’t want to keep refilling your water tank or you prefer a longer coffee, then a larger-capacity model is what you need. Alternatively, if you have a small kitchen, look out for compact models that won't take up as much space on your worktop.

Milk frothing

If you want to make cappuccinos and lattés, you'll need either a model with a milk frother, or milk capsules. Nespresso, Illy and Lavazza machines can be bought with milk frothing accessories, while Tassimo and Dolce Gusto use milk pods to make frothy drinks.

Why Which? capsule coffee machine reviews are better

Whether you're looking for a variety of flavours, an intense espresso or a frothy cappuccino, you want a machine that will consistently produce good results. That's where Which? comes in.

Our rigorous lab testing helps pick the good from the bad. We look at how well each coffee machine makes espresso (and cappuccino, if it has this feature). We time how long it takes to brew and whether it is simple to set up and use. We also check how noisy the machine is and how hot your drink ends up. Find out more in our guide to how we test coffee machines.