Discover the best espresso, bean-to-cup, filter and capsule coffee machines we've tested in the Expert Reviews kitchen
Whether you’re a fan of cappuccino, macchiato, espresso, mocha, ristretto or just plain-old filter coffee, only the very best coffee machines will make you the coffee you want time after time. Thing is, choosing the right machine for you depends not only on your favourite type of coffee, but also on how much time, effort and money you want to invest in the brewing process.
If you’re not quite sure what you’re after, then read on and we’ll explain the differences between the basic types of coffee machine and also share a little detail about how we approach the testing process for each and every coffee machine.
Scroll down a little further and you’ll find a longer list of our favourite coffee machines at a wider range of prices, including the best manual espresso, bean-to-cup, pod and capsule, and filter coffee machines we’ve ever tested, along with links to our in-depth reviews.
Black Friday has come and gone, but there are still plenty of discounts to be had on a range of our favourite coffee machines. These are the coffee machine deals that our experts would recommend to friends and family – and you, too. If you’d like to learn more, then you can read our mini reviews further down the page before clicking the buy button.
The best coffee machines: At a glance
If you’re just looking for a quick recommendation, then you’ll find buying links for the best affordable coffee machines in the shortlist below. Simply click the names of the products to jump to the review further down the page.
|Best cheap Nespresso machine||L’or Barista Sublime||Check price at Amazon|
|Best Nespresso Vertuo machine||Nespresso Vertuo Pop||Check price at John Lewis|
|Best bean-to-cup machine under £400||Gaggia Naviglio||Check price at Gaggia Direct|
|Best bean-to-cup machine under £600||De’Longhi Magnifica One Touch||Check price at Amazon|
|Best manual espresso machine under £200||De’Longhi Dedica Style||Check price at Amazon|
|Best manual espresso machine under £500||Gaggia Classic Pro||Check price at Gaggia Direct|
How do we test coffee machines?
All of the machines here have been extensively tested in our own homes, and we always compare models new and old against their closest rivals to ensure that our recommendations stand up to scrutiny. If we say one machine is better than another, it’s because we’ve tested them side-by-side.
For the machines that use coffee beans or ground coffee, we source top-quality single-origin coffee beans from some of our favourite roasters such as Craft House Coffee, and we use a popular, affordable grinder – the Iberital MC2 (~£150) – to make reliable, repeatable comparisons between machines. For capsule machines, we select our favourite pods and capsules from the manufacturer’s own ranges.
We’re not professional baristas, but we do know how crucial it is to use great-quality coffee beans that are ground to perfection, dosed accurately with digital scales and brewed for a consistent amount of time. If a machine makes great coffee in our kitchen, you know it’s capable of doing the same in yours.
How to choose the right coffee machine for you
Should you buy a manual espresso machine?
Pros: Best-tasting coffee; flexibility | Cons: Time-consuming; can be messy
If you want the flexibility to create anything from espresso to ristretto to cappuccino, a manual espresso machine similar to what you find in coffee shops is the best choice. The downside is that you’ll need to learn to manually grind and tamp the coffee, steam your own milk to perfection, clean the machine and repeat the process for every cup, but the added control makes it possible to get the absolute best from every variety of coffee.
Jump to the best manual espresso machines
Should you buy a bean-to-cup machine?
Pros: Easy to use; great coffee | Cons: Expensive; cleaning can be fiddly
If manual espresso sounds like too much work then a bean-to-cup machine is a great choice. Simply pop water and coffee beans in the machine, and you can get a shot of coffee at the press of a button – and without cleaning the machine between every single shot. Pricier machines include integrated milk frothers that dispense a cappuccino or white coffee at the press of a button. The results are never as good as manual machines though, and prices start at around £400.
Jump to the best bean-to-cup machines
Should you buy a coffee pod or capsule machine?
Pros: Quick, consistent results; mess-free | Cons: Inferior taste to manual espresso
This is the simplest option of all – and basic machines start around £50. Each pod or capsule contains the perfect amount of coffee, so you simply buy the type with the strength and flavour you like best. For no-hassle, no-mess coffee that tastes consistently good, they’re hard to beat. Some machines add built-in milk frothing so you can get a latte or cappuccino at the touch of a button. The results don’t taste as good as manual espresso or bean-to-cup machines, though, and pods can be pricey.
Jump to the best capsule machines
Should you buy a filter coffee machine?
Pros: Cheap, quick, easy | Cons: Only makes black coffee
If you just want plain and simple coffee to fill a mug, or want to be able to make enough coffee for several people at once, a filter coffee machine is a great choice. These generally require you to use ground coffee (although a few do have integrated grinders), but they’re a good bet for making simple, unfussy black coffee.
Jump to the best filter coffee machines
Looking for a basic espresso machine around the £200 mark? The De’Longhi Dedica Style has reclaimed the top spot. It’s a simple machine with little in the way of frills, but the slimline design means that it squeezes into even the tightest kitchens and it makes a decent espresso to boot.
The Dedica is very simple to use, which is crucial for espresso beginners. You can bung in supermarket ground coffee or grind the coffee yourself, and the Dedica’s pressurised baskets mean that it’s pretty forgiving if the grind is too coarse or too fine, or when you haven’t got the amounts quite right.
Whatever you do, though, don’t be tempted to spend more on the Smeg ECF01 (read our full review) as recommended by other sites – it’s essentially a rebadged Dedica for twice the price.
Key specs – Dimensions (HWD): 330 x 149 x 303mm; Water capacity: 1.1 litres; Cup warmer: Yes; Milk frothing: Manual (steamer wand); Coffee type: Ground
Sage’s latest entry-level manual espresso machine might cost more than most, but it does a good job of justifying the expense. It looks great; the design has had some genuine thought put into it; and its compact footprint fits easily into small kitchens.
It also helps that it makes a good espresso. You don’t get the automatic milk-texturing options that we loved on the Bambino Plus (read our full review), but the reward is a smaller, cuter machine that fits more easily into the most bijou of kitchens.
The Bambino is head and shoulders above cheaper machines, delivering consistent results from a tiny package. If you want a compact, capable espresso machine, it’s a very smart choice.
Read our in-depth Sage Bambino review
Key specs – Dimensions (HWD): 320 x 200 x 310mm; Water capacity: 1.9 litres; Cup warmer: Yes; Milk frothing: Automatic/Manual (steam wand); Coffee type: Ground
The Gaggia Classic Pro is the undisputed champion in the sub-£500 category. It’s a plain, no-frills manual espresso machine that’s capable of serving up superb espresso. There are no fancy extras, and no automation of any kind, but this is a machine that’s built to last – and it looks great, too.
The Classic Pro lacks the integrated burr grinder of some rival machines – and bear in mind that a basic grinder will cost at least £50 or more – but it makes vastly better coffee. It can take a little effort to get the very best out of the Classic, but it’s unbeatable for the money and capable of serving up the kind of coffee that rivals pricier machines.
Read our in-depth Gaggia Classic review
Key specs – Dimensions (HWD): 380 x 230 x 240mm; Water capacity: 2.1 litres; Cup warmer: Yes; Milk frothing: Manual (steam wand); Coffee type: Ground
If you’re looking for an all-in-one manual espresso machine, then the Barista Pro takes some beating. While cheaper all-in-one machines can make a half-decent espresso, the Barista Pro is capable of eking that bit more flavour from the finest coffee beans.
It’s more consistent than cheaper machines – it heats up in seconds; its integrated burr grinder accurately delivers the same amount of ground coffee time after time; and the volumetric sensor pushes the same amount of water through the coffee for a simply pitch-perfect cup of espresso. Take some time to dial in the perfect settings, and the quality of coffee is impressive.
Read our in-depth Sage Barista Pro review
Key specs – Dimensions (HWD): 406 x 354 x 406mm; Water capacity: 2 litres; Cup warmer: Yes; Milk frothing: Manual (steam wand); Coffee type: Beans (built-in burr grinder)
The Dual Boiler from Sage is a serious machine aimed at people who want the full coffee shop experience at home. It’s exceptionally well made, has industrial-quality components and comes with dual boilers so you can steam milk and pour espresso at the same time.
Most importantly, it delivers amazing coffee. It’s expensive, but for the real enthusiast, it’s up there with the best semi-pro machines around the £1,200 mark. Buy yourself a really good quality grinder and take the time to get the perfect grind and dosage, and you’ll be serving espressos and cappuccinos that can embarrass your average coffee shop.
If, however, you want more of a helping hand but still want the very best espresso, then consider Sage’s Oracle Touch instead: it has the same coffee-making skills as the Dual Boiler, but adds a touchscreen and a few hand-holding features to help you make the perfect coffee time after time.
Read our in-depth Sage the Dual Boiler review
Key specs – Dimensions (HWD): 405 x 378 x 377mm; Water capacity: 2.5l; Cup warmer: Yes; Milk frothing: Manual (steam wand); Coffee type: Beans (built-in burr grinder)
Manual espresso has a reputation for being fiddly, messy and difficult to master, but Sage’s Barista Touch Impress changes everything – this ingenious machine guides your hand every step of the way.
Pop a bag of beans in the machine’s 340g hopper, and the bright touchscreen leads you through the process of making the perfect cup. It automatically grinds the right amount of coffee; the Impress Puck system perfectly tamps it down with the press of a lever, and the machine then monitors the brewing process to ensure the best results. The final touch is the automatic milk frothing, and this now provides adjustable frothing levels for dairy, almond and oat-based milks.
The results speak for themselves, with fantastic espresso and milk-based coffees delivered with a minimum of hassle. If you want the kind of coffee that bean-to-cup machines can only dream of producing, but don’t have the patience to master the fully manual approach, the Barista Touch Impress is a revelation.
Key specs – Dimensions (HWD): 41.5 x 36 x 34cm; Water capacity: 2 litres; Bean hopper capacity: 340g; Cup warmer: Yes; Milk frothing: Manual and automatic (steamer wand); Coffee type: Beans
If you want a good-quality bean-to-cup machine for a rock-bottom price, the Naviglio has been one of our go-to recommendations for many years now. Although it’s comparatively cheap, it produces a decent espresso and it doesn’t need much tweaking to get the best results. With a manual steam wand, you can froth milk in a jug and make decent milk-based drinks, such as latte or cappuccino.
If there’s a negative to be found, it’s that the build quality and design are beginning to look and feel a bit tired. The plasticky water tank and grounds bin slot in and out with a rattly thunk, and the uninteresting styling and chunky dimensions aren’t as elegant as some similarly priced rivals. At this price, though, it’s hard to be too negative.
Read our in-depth Gaggia Naviglio review
Key specs – Dimensions (HWD): 340 x 440 x 256mm; Water capacity: 1.5l; Cup warmer: Yes; Milk frothing: Yes (manual); Adjustable grind: Yes; Adjustable strength: Yes (three)
Fully automatic bean-to-cup machines tend to command a hefty premium over standard models that rely on manual milk frothing, but the Magnifica Evo One Touch finally bucks the trend. This classy little machine has a suggested retail price of around £529, which is still cheaper than many fully auto rivals, but the good news is that we’ve regularly seen it on sale for around £420. At full price, it’s a steal; at a discount, it’s a bona fide bargain.
It’s not just affordable, either. The delightfully simple controls make it much easier to use than previous models, and it pours tasty drinks with zero hassle. Simply top up the 250g hopper with the best beans you can find, fill the water tank, add milk to the carafe and the One Touch pours lattes, cappuccinos, latte macchiatos, espressos and long blacks with a single press of a button.
Read our in-depth De’Longhi Magnifica Evo One Touch review
Key specs – Dimensions (HWD): 240 x 440 x 360mm; Water capacity: 1.8l; Cup warmer: Yes; Milk frothing: Yes (automatic); Adjustable grind: Yes; Adjustable strength: Yes
3. Gaggia Anima: Best mid-range bean-to-cup machine
Price when reviewed: £699 | Check price at Gaggia Direct
While many bean-to-cup machines soar effortlessly towards the £1,000 mark, Gaggia’s Anima hits a rather keener price point. You don’t get luxuries such as one-touch cappuccino options (you’ll need to look to the De’Longhi model above if that’s on your wish list), but the Anima is capable of making a very decent espresso lungo, and you’ll get the chance to refine your own milk-frothing skills with the Anima’s steam wand. There are some minor moans – the espresso isn’t quite up there with the best, and we would like a finer grind option from the Gaggia’s in-built grinder – but the overall quality is enough to make for a fine buy.
Read our in-depth Gaggia Anima review
Key specs – Dimensions (HWD): 220 x 430 x 340mm; Water capacity: 1.7l; Cup warmer: No; Milk frothing: Yes (manual); Adjustable grind: Yes; Adjustable strength: Yes
Not everyone can afford to spend this kind of money on a bean-to-cup coffee machine, but the PrimaDonna Soul does genuinely justify its asking price. It creates a huge range of drinks – 21 to be precise – and the milk carafe means that it takes just one prod of the touchscreen to produce a very pleasant cappuccino or latte. What sets it apart from the cheaper machines, however, is the Bean Adapt feature: this helps to eke far more flavour from every type of coffee bean than the average automatic machine.
Both the ease of use and the sheer quality of the drinks it produces are impressive. The 4.3in touchscreen interface works brilliantly, and the user profiles automatically prioritise each user’s favourite drinks so that they’re just a tap away. There’s plenty of adjustability if you want it, but it can be a one-touch process if you don’t.
Read our in-depth De’Longhi PrimaDonna Soul review
Key specs – Dimensions (HWD): 390 x 262 x 485mm;Water capacity: 2.2l; Cup warmer: Yes;Milk frothing: Yes (automatic);Adjustable grind: Yes; Adjustable strength: Yes
That’s right: the best-value Nespresso machine isn’t even made by Nespresso. The Barista Sublime is made by Philips, branded by L’or and it’s a Nespresso-compatible machine that also accepts L’or’s own standard and XXL capsules. It looks great, regularly dips well below the £100 mark and serves up cracking coffee.
It’s not compatible with Nespresso’s newer, fancier Vertuo capsules, but that’s no great shakes – with both Nepresso’s standard capsule ranges you still have a huge amount of different blends and varieties to choose from. The clincher? L’OR’s own XXL capsules make it possible to serve up two 32ml espressos at the same time – or just pour yourself one super-tasty 270ml lungo. Brilliant.
Read our in-depth L’or Barista Sublime review
Key specs – Dimensions (HWD): 276 x 157 x 402mm; Water capacity: 0.8l; Cup warmer: No; Milk frothing: No; Heat-up time: 7secs; Coffee sizes: Ristretto, Espresso, Lungo (Up to 270ml); Maximum cup size: 120mm; Used capsule capacity: Up to 9 capsules
The Jolie’s design is superbly simple. The capsules simply drop into place in the top of the machine and the large silver handle locks them into position. The machine is controlled by just a single button. Press it once to begin pouring espresso, and then again to stop. On the one hand, this gives you full control over the size of your drink, but it also means that you can’t leave the machine alone as it pours (it’s also not ideal for those trying to aim for a precise espresso or lungo dosage).
The water capacity is a little on the low side, as is the used capsule bin, but it’s only a problem if you’re planning on making a lot of coffees. Otherwise, you can take your pick from a range of strengths and blends from Lavazza’s EcoCaps range. There are significantly fewer options compared to Nespresso but, for the most part, we’ve found that Lavazza’s coffee is of a higher quality.
Want frothed milk with that coffee? At around £130, Lavazza’s Jolie & Milk adds an integrated milk frother. You’ll need to manually pour the milk into the cup, but it’s superb value for an all-in-one machine.
Key specs – Dimensions (HWD): 210 x 124 x 330mm; Water capacity: 600ml; Cup warmer: No; Milk frothing: No
The Nespresso Vertuo pop is the latest addition to the Vertuo range and is supremely easy to use with its simple, single-button control scheme. It works with Nespresso’s larger Vertuo capsules to brew four coffee sizes – espresso (40ml), double espresso (80ml), lungo (120ml) and mug (230ml). Alongside its variety of pods, the Pop comes in a large range of eye-catching colours including spicy red, pacific blue, aqua mint and mango yellow to name a few.
This model is quite a bit smaller than its predecessors and as such, some of the original assets have been tweaked. The water tank has been reduced to 600ml, while the capsule bin fits a maximum of eight used pods. Nespresso has also reduced the space underneath the brew head, meaning the tallest mug you’ll be able to fit below is 8cm, or 12cm if you remove the drip tray. Nonetheless, if space is your main concern and you’re happy to look past these minor grumbles, the Pop is a sleek and simple coffee machine providing excellent value for money.
Read our in-depth Nespresso Vertuo Pop review
Key specs – Weight: 3.5kg; Size (WDH): 13.6 x 42.6 x 25cm; Heat up time: 30 secs; Coffee sizes: Espresso, double espresso, gran lungo, mug; Maximum cup size: 80mm, 120mm (without drip tray); Water capacity: 600ml; Used capsule capacity: 8
If you’re looking for more freedom than a Nespresso machine, but less faff than a manual espresso machine, then consider the Creatista Uno. It makes a speedy shot of Nespresso – but rather than dolloping milk on top automatically, it passes the baton back to you.
You don’t need to be a milk-frothing expert, though. Just fill its stainless-steel jug with milk, pop the wand in, select how hot and frothy you’d like it, press the steam button and walk away. A special temperature sensor within the drip tray keeps an eye on how warm the jug becomes and stops frothing when it’s ready. This means that once you’ve brewed a shot of coffee, you can then pour the milk in to make any shape you like on the top. Plus the wand will clean itself every time it’s used with a few sprays of water.
Read our in-depth Nespresso Creatista Uno review
Key specs – Dimensions (HWD): 310 x 170 x 410mm; Water capacity: 1.5l; Cup warmer: No; Milk frothing: Yes (steamer wand); Coffee type: Capsules
£25 might sound like rather a lot of money to spend on an unusually shaped bit of BPA-free plastic, but the Clever Dripper really does live up to its name.
The Clever Dripper is an immersion brewer – pour the water in, and you can steep the coffee for as long as you want. Pop the Clever Dripper on top of a mug and you can make a single cup of coffee, or you can place it on top of a jug or carafe to make two coffees at once – it comes in both 300ml and 500ml versions, and the larger of the two allows you to brew two good-sized cups at a time.
Key specs – Dimensions (HWD): 15.2 x 12.7 x 15.2mm; Water capacity: 300/500ml; Machine type: Filter; Stay warm: No; Warranty: N/A
If you want the best-quality filter coffee, the Melitta Aroma Elegance Therm Deluxe is the machine for you. It’s extremely easy to use, has a removable water reservoir for easy filling and, most importantly, produces excellent coffee with no hassle.
One big difference from many filter coffee rivals is that this machine dispenses coffee into a thermal jug. It doesn’t hold quite as much coffee as the glass carafes on cheaper rivals, but it has one huge advantage: it keeps your coffee hot without the need for a hotplate underneath. That means the coffee doesn’t end up tasting stewed and unpleasant after a while – so it’s great for people who like to keep coming back for coffee over the course of a long, lazy (or not so lazy) morning. It’s also worth noting that due to the Melitta Look V timer receiving a recent significant price bump, you can now pick up the Aroma for the same price – if not cheaper – making it a better-value buy.
Key specs – Dimensions (HWD): 335 x 265 x 270mm; Water capacity: 1.25l; Machine type: Filter; Stay warm: Yes (thermal flask); Warranty: 5yr RTB
The KBG select is a stylish, easy-to-use filter coffee machine. It remains simple in its function, with one button to turn it on and another that allows you to move between a full or half-jug option, the latter of which slows the brewing process to preserve flavour when you don’t need a full pot. For those focused on fine tasting coffee as well as functionality, the Moccamaster brews at a temperature of between 92°C and 96°C to draw the best flavour from your coffee grounds.
It’s reasonably fast, too. For a full ten-cup jug of coffee, you’ll only have to wait a respectable six minutes. Once the 1.25L water tank is empty, the hot water element turns off automatically, while the hot plate remains on for 40 minutes. The hot-plate maintains the coffee at around 80 to 85°C and doesn’t impact the flavour as noticeably as the hot plates on some other filter coffee machines. If you want consistently great coffee without the hassle, the Moccamaster is a sensible and stylish choice.
Read our full Moccamaster KBG Select review
Key specs – Dimensions (HWD): 170 x 320 x 360mm; Water capacity: 1.25l; Machine type: Filter; Stay warm: Yes (hot plate); Warranty: 5yr RTB