Discover our favourite bean-to-cup coffee machines for making barista-quality coffee with as little effort as possible
Manual espresso machines might be the best choice for making barista-quality coffee at home, but they’re not for everyone. In fact, there’s a daunting learning curve for beginners. You’ll need to get to grips with grinding beans and tamping coffee just so before you even begin to master the art of pulling perfect espresso shots. You’ll even need to steam the milk yourself, too. If that sounds like far too much effort, then let’s be honest: you’re much better off buying the best bean-to-cup machine you can afford.
A bean-to-cup coffee machine is a practical, hassle-free route to good quality coffee. These machines are capable of grinding and pouring delicious coffee at the press of a button, and you only need to add water and coffee beans to the machine – everything else is taken care of with no clean-up required between drinks. More expensive bean-to-cup machines also heat and froth milk to perfection, adding it directly to your cup so that you can have tasty milk-based drinks such as cappuccinos or lattes at the touch of a button.
Without further ado, read on to discover our pick of the very best bean-to-cup coffee machines that money can buy.
The best bean-to-cup coffee machines
1. Gaggia Naviglio: The best bean-to-cup machine under £400
Price: £290 | Buy now from Gaggia Direct
If you want the convenience of a bean-to-cup coffee machine without breaking the bank, the Gaggia Naviglio is the best choice. Although it’s relatively inexpensive, it produces espresso that’s on par with machines that cost several hundred pounds more. There’s also a handy manual steam wand you can use to froth milk in a jug and make white coffees such as latte or cappuccino. Alternatively, you can use its hot water button for making an Americano. At this price, the Naviglio is difficult to beat – unless, that is, the De’Longhi Magnifica S Smart (which you’ll find just below) is on offer.
2. De’Longhi Magnifica S Smart: The best bean-to-cup machine under £450
Price: £339 | Buy now from OnBuyDe’Longhi’s little Magnifica S Smart is a brilliant bean-to-cup machine. It’s slimmer and more stylish than the Gaggia Naviglio, so it fits nicely into even the smallest kitchens, and it also feels noticeably less plasticky and lightweight. The clincher, however, is that it makes a mean cup of coffee.
Like most machines, it takes a little while to get the very best from it, but it’s both easy to use and to adjust the various settings. Talking of which, by far our favourite feature is the big dial on the front: this allows you to quickly adjust coffee strength. Dial it up to the maximum for a potent morning espresso, or ease it down for a more gentle afternoon shot. In either case, the steam wand allows you to froth milk or just add hot water to create cappuccinos, lattes and americanos with not too much effort.
3. De’Longhi Magnifica Evo One Touch: The best affordable, fully automatic bean-to-cup machine
Price: £550 | Buy now from De’LonghiDoing exactly what it says on the tin, the De’Longhi Magnifica Evo One Touch grinds, brews and froths milk – all at the touch of a button. Sleek and neatly put together, if a little large on the countertop, the Magnifica Evo is controlled via a bright, easy-to-use touchscreen and has a range of adjustable one-touch settings for lattes, macchiatos, cappuccinos, espressos, and hot water.
In testing, we found the Magnifica Evo produced reliably tasty milk and water-based coffees, as well as respectable espresso. We did have some minor quibbles with the Magnifica Evo, such as its lack of milk temperature adjustability, for one. Ultimately, though, we found that for a fully automatic bean-to-cup offering, you’d be hard pressed to find another machine with the same quality and basic capabilities at the Magnifica Evo’s price point.
Read our full 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; Adjustable grind: Yes; Adjustable strength: Yes
4. Gaggia Anima: An excellent mid-range bean-to-cup machine
Price: £549 | Buy now from AmazonMove further up the Gaggia range and you’ll find the Anima. Still considerably cheaper than some of the machines on this list, it’s capable of pulling an excellent long espresso. Unfortunately, there’s still no one-touch options for cappuccino or latte, so you’ll need to master the built-in steam wand if you’re a fan of milky coffee. On the other hand, black coffee drinkers are well catered for with the option to pour anywhere between 10ml and 230ml of coffee. The espresso isn’t as great as some of the more expensive machines in this list, but the slim, stylish design and good all-round performance nudge it in front of the cheaper models here.
5. Melitta Caffeo Barista TS and TS Smart: Delicious one-touch cappuccinos for under £1,000
Price: TS – £699 | TS Smart – £739 | Buy now from Amazon
Melitta’s Caffeo Barista TS and TS Smart models have been two of our favourite bean-to-cup coffee machines for a long time now. The standard TS model simply serves up great coffee, with or without milk, and the Smart version goes one better, letting you control and customise the whole process of creating coffee-based drinks from your smartphone.
Whichever model you choose, they both make great quality espresso-based drinks and have two bean hoppers, which allows you to produce a variety of coffees. The milk carafe means that you can whip up milk-based coffee drinks at the touch of a button, and the automatic cleaning and descaling programmes make light work of routine cleaning. If your budget can stretch to it, this is a great bean-to-cup machine for coffee lovers.
Word to the wise: if you’re really not interested in the smart features, then save your cash and opt for the standard non-smart TS model. It’s just as great at making coffee, and considerably cheaper, too.
6. De’Longhi Primadonna Soul: The best high-end bean-to-cup coffee machine
Price: £1,299 | Buy now from John Lewis
This is a lot of money to spend on a bean-to-cup coffee machine, but it’s fair to say that the Primadonna’s performance really is enough to stir the soul. This is a performer that can whip up everything from an espresso to a macchiato in a blink of an eye and do a top-notch job of it. Make no mistake, this is one of the finest machines we’ve ever tested.
The Primadonna Soul’s bright, colourful touchscreen puts a whopping 21 drinks at your fingertips. What’s more, you barely have to lift a finger. Press the desired drink icon, and the De’Longhi serves a lovely cappuccino, latte or long black directly into your favourite cup.
That touchscreen really is a brilliant addition, too, as it learns each user’s favourite drinks and makes sure they’re top of the list every time. If you want great coffee with almost zero effort, this is a superb choice.