Enjoy easy espresso, americano, cappuccino and more at the touch of a button with these tried and tested coffee pod machines
From luxurious flat whites to tasty espressos, the best coffee pod machines make it easy to whip up amazing coffee from the comfort of your kitchen. Read on and we’ll share our tried-and-tested recommendations which include a wide variety of brilliant coffee pod and capsule machines from big brands such as Nespresso, Lavazza, Dolce Gusto, Tassimo and more.
We’ve tested a huge number of coffee pod machines in the Expert Reviews kitchen over the years, so we know exactly what to look out for. In this article, our experts will explain exactly which features are and aren’t worth paying out for, and our mini reviews will give you a quick explanation of what we love about each machine.
If you just want a quick, hassle-free recommendation, then you’ll find buying links for our favourite models in our handy at-a-glance list just below.
Best coffee pod machine: At a glance
|Best high-end capsule machine||Nespresso Creatista Uno (~£330)||Check price at Amazon|
|Best pod machine for most people||Philips L’OR Sublime (~£65)||Check price at Amazon|
|Best Nespresso coffee pod machine||Nespresso Vertuo Next (~£170)||Check price at John Lewis|
|Best budget coffee pod machine||Dolce Gusto Infinissima (~from £40)||Check price at Amazon|
|Best value pod machine||Lavazza Jolie (~£95)||Check price at Amazon|
How to choose the best coffee pod machine for you
While most pod machines work in the same way, not all are created equal. Many have advanced barista-style features, while others will just produce a simple espresso. There are also lots of different pods and prices to get your head around.
What types of drinks can you make in coffee capsule machines?
Depending on which machine you buy, all the classic coffee-shop drinks are on the cards. Cheaper machines tend to deliver basic black coffees such as espressos and lungos, while pricier models add more drinks sizes and often add hot milk options.
Some of the priciest machines have built-in milk carafes which allow them to deliver creamy lattes and cappuccinos at the touch of the button, while others have steam wands which allow you to manually steam your own milk to create your own. Others simply bundle a separate milk frother which heats and froths the milk at the touch of a button.
Are there any features I should look out for or avoid?
If you’re looking for a professional barista style drink at home, we would highly recommend choosing a machine with a steam wand. This will allow you to prepare frothy steamed milk like you would find in a coffee shop. Failing that, make sure to budget for a separate milk frother – you can read our guide to the best milk frothers here.
If you want frothy coffee but don’t want the hassle of a steam wand, some machines, such as the Tassimo My Way and Dolce Gusto models, have two-stage pods, which come with a creamy milk element, as well as a coffee one, so you can recreate a frothy cappuccino in seconds. This isn’t anywhere near as authentic as milk frothed with a steam wand or carafe but it is a lot quicker and in most cases, much cheaper too.
If personalising your drinks is important to you, then look out for machines with options to adjust drink sizes, temperature and coffee strength. All coffee pod machines will allow you to customise drink size in some way, but certain machines do a far better job of it, making the process quick and simple.
What pods can I use?
That depends entirely on the machine you choose. Most manufacturers use one standard pod type which is unique to the brand. Nespresso has two varieties of pods: the classic type used by the majority of its machines, and larger Vertuo pods specific to the Vertuo line-up.
Most machines will also work with third-party pods. L’Or, for example, has its own line of Nespresso-compatible pods, and some coffee roasters produce their own ranges of compatible pods too.
How much should I spend on a pod machine?
If you want a machine with plenty of customisation options, you’ll need to spend upwards of £70 on a machine. For fancier extras, such as steam wands or built-in milk features, you’ll need to go even higher – these can often set you back over £200. A no-frills manual machine can cost as little as £30, though. So it depends entirely on what you want and can afford.
How we test coffee pod machines
Our coffee machines go through real-world testing, meaning we make and drink lots of coffee, using a variety of pods. To test the accuracy of each machine, we weigh multiple shots of espresso to determine if it’s pulling through a similar amount of coffee each time – something pod machines can be notoriously bad for. If the machine also has a ristretto or lungo option, we’ll test these too. We’re also looking for consistency, is the fourth shot of coffee as creamy and rich as the last? For coffee machines with an in-built milk frother, we test with 200ml of both dairy and oat milk, looking for froth and texture consistency during each use. A good frother will deliver similar results every time with the same amount of milk.
Design and functionality is also incredibly important when choosing a coffee pod machine, which is why we carefully consider the build quality and style of every machine we review. While it’s hard to “test” design, there are a few things we look at. The first is size and shape – whether the machine will be a countertop hog and if the drip tray is accommodating for all cup sizes. We also consider how robust certain elements of the machine feel. Plastic components can often look good but aren’t always good for longevity. As part of our design tests, we also look at the capsule bin, if there is one, and the water tank, to consider whether these offer a reasonable capacity compared to the size of the machine.
As many coffee pod machines function in the same way, what makes a good machine often comes down to personal preference. We always take this into consideration when undertaking our tests, ensuring we highlight all the best features for a range of needs and budgets.
READ NEXT: Best Nespresso machine
1. Dolce Gusto Infinissima: Best budget coffee pod machine
Price when reviewed: From £40 | Check price at AmazonFor those looking for a cheap, no-frills coffee machine, the unusual-looking Infinissima is well worth considering. But it’s not just its looks which set it apart: you get to decide exactly how much coffee goes into your cup.
This machine is compatible with all Dolce Gusto pods, including those from third-party companies. Simply pop the pod in the top, switch the lever to hot, then move it back once you’ve poured as much coffee as you want. You can also pour cold water through certain Dolce Gusto pods, such as the brand’s cold brew coffee, for a cold drink in the summer months. The cold setting can also be used to adjust the temperature of your coffee if you prefer it a little cooler.
The obvious downside is that you can’t take your eye off this machine while your coffee pours and you also have to spend a bit of time figuring out how much water to pull through each pod. Otherwise, this is a good coffee capsule machine if you’re on a tight budget.
Key specs – Pod type: Dolce Gusto, Starbucks for Dolce Gusto; Drink sizes: N/A; Bar pressure: Up to 15; Water tank capacity: 1.2l; Used capsule bin capacity: N/A
2. Nespresso Vertuo Next: Best Nespresso coffee pod machine
Price when reviewed: £170 | Check price at John Lewis
If you prefer a big mug in the morning, this simple, one-touch machine has you covered. It pours big mugs of quality pod coffee exceptionally well, producing tasty drinks that you can enjoy with or without milk.
There’s no messing around with programming drink sizes either – though you can do this if you want to customise your machine. Simply pop the pod in and the machine will read the barcode on the pod, automatically dispensing just the right amount of water for the type of coffee inside. With 29 different capsule options available and new ones being added all the time, there’s plenty to choose from too.
Read our full Nespresso Vertuo Next review
Key specs – Pod type: Nespresso Vertuo pods; Drink sizes: Five (Espresso, Double Espresso, Gran Lungo, Mug, Alto); Bar pressure: N/A (uses centrifugal force); Water tank capacity: 1.1l; Used capsule bin capacity: 10 large capsules
3. Nespresso Vertuo Pop: Best budget Nespresso machine
Price when reviewed: £100 | Check price at John Lewis
Like the Vertuo Next, the pint-sized Vertuo Pop has a simple, single-button setup and uses Nespresso’s Vertuo pods to create delicious espresso and long coffees. With the Vertuo Pop, you can enjoy a variety of drink sizes including espresso (40ml), double espresso (80ml), lungo (120ml) and mug (230ml).
Setting the Pop apart from other machines in the Vertuo range is its compact size and shape, as it measures just 13.6 x 42.6 x 25cm (WDH) and weighs 3.5kg. The Pop, as its name might suggest, is also available in a new, brighter range of colours. Options to help add a pop of colour to your kitchen include: spicy red, aqua mint, mango yellow and Pacific blue.
The Vertuo Pop also stands out due to its comparatively budget-friendly price compared to other Nespresso machines and for the fact that it can often be picked up at a significant discount. If you’re looking for quality pod coffee at a great value price, the Vertuo Pop is one of your best bets.
Read our full Nespresso Vertuo Pop review
Key specs – Pod type: Nespresso Vertuo pods; Drink sizes: Four (Espresso, Double Espresso, Gran Lungo, Mug; Bar pressure: 19; Water tank capacity: 600ml; Used capsule bin capacity: 8 pods
4. Philips L’OR Sublime pod coffee machine: Best pod machine for most people
Price when reviewed: £65 | Check price at AmazonL’OR’s only pod machine, manufactured by Philips, is somewhat of an unknown gem. Not only is it suitable for use with all L’OR and Nespresso original compatible capsules, including third-party ones from Lavazza, Dualit and the like, but it can also be used with L’OR’s XXL capsules, which provide two servings of espresso from one pod. Unlike other pod machines, the Sublime has a dual spout, allowing you to pour two cups at the same time. Alongside excellent pod compatibility, this machine also lets you customise drink lengths from 25ml up to 270ml, as well as offering three standard sizes – ristretto (25ml) espresso (40ml) and Lungo (90ml) – via the buttons at the top.
Design-wise, the Sublime is available in black, deep red or cream and is pleasingly compact, measuring just 15.7 x 40.2 x 27.6cm (WDH). In fact, it’s one of the smallest pod machines we’ve tested, making it an ideal choice if you’re short on space or just want something compact and unassuming for your kitchen. While this means the water tank is a little on the small side at 0.8l, it’s still big enough for plenty of espressos throughout the day. It’s easy to turn on simply by pressing your coffee button of choice and has an auto-shut off feature after one minute to save energy.
With so much capsule variety, a great design and bundles of customisation, this is simply one of the best pod machines you can buy right now.
Read our full Philips L’OR Sublime review
Key specs – Pod type: Nespresso original pods, L’OR pods; Drink sizes: Three (ristretto, espresso and lungo); Bar pressure: 19; Water tank capacity: 0.8l; Used capsule bin capacity: N/S
5. Lavazza Jolie: Best-value coffee pod machine
Price when reviewed: £95 | Check price at AmazonDon’t be fooled by it’s minimalist stature: Lavazza’s smallest, most affordable (and, in our opinion, most stylish) capsule machine makes a really nice espresso. It uses the same compostable EcoCaps as the Idola, delivering great-tasting, quality coffee, and is operated with just a single button.
Much like the Dolce Gusto Infinissima also featured on this roundup, pouring is controlled manually. Simply press the button to start the pour, and then press it again to stop. This is ideal for those that want full control over their cup, but the lack of preset drink settings does mean that you can’t walk away while the machine is doing its thing. The size of the machine also means there’s less space in the capsule bin, so you’ll have to empty it out more frequently. The machine is also available as a set, comprising of the machine and a milk frother.
Nevertheless, if you’re after a simple, affordable coffee capsule machine that won’t take up too much space, the Jolie is a fantastic option.
Read our full Lavazza Jolie review
Key specs – Pod type: Lavazza A Mio Modo pods, Lavazza EcoCaps; Drink sizes: N/A; Bar pressure: 10; Water tank capacity: 0.6l; Used capsule bin capacity: 4/5 capsules
6. Nespresso Creatista Uno: Best high-end capsule machine
Price when reviewed: £330 | Check price at Amazon If you want barista-friendly features wrapped up in a machine that’s also easy to use, then the Creatista Uno is a delight. The professional-looking steam wand takes the automatic milk texturing tech from Sage’s pricier manual machines, and this creates silky, piping hot milk at the touch of a button.
You get three options for drink size (ristretto, espresso and lungo), as well as buttons for adjusting the water temperature and selecting the frothiness of the steamed milk. So whether you want to make a luscious cappuccino or a silky-smooth flat white, you can make it just the way you like, and without ever having to leave the house.
The only niggle we have with this machine is how loud it is. Due to its size and features, it can make quite the racket both while it pours coffee and produces steam – so it certainly isn’t one for those late-night drinks.
It works with classic Nespresso capsules but there are also plenty of third-party pods suitable for use too. If you’re set on a Nespresso machine and want the lowdown on some of the tastiest pods, our best Nespresso capsules page will help you choose the perfect blends.
Read our full Nespresso Creatista Uno review
Key specs – Pod type: Nespresso classic; Drink sizes: Three (Ristretto, espresso, lungo); Bar pressure: 19; Water tank capacity: 1.5l; Used capsule bin capacity: N/A
7. Lavazza Voicy: A fun, voice-activated pod machine
Price when reviewed: £299 | Check price at AmazonStanding out from the crowd, the Lavazza Voicy boasts a unique feature for a coffee pod machine: a built-in Alexa smart speaker. With the Voicy, you can add a little music to your morning routine, while also getting your daily caffeine fix simply by saying: “Alexa, make me a coffee.” Though the ease of this process is impressive, we should note that making your morning brew won’t be entirely hands-free, as there are no automatic features for manual tasks such as loading the pods or filling the water tank.
That said, taking a speedy 25 seconds to heat up and operating nice and quietly, the Voicy is a handy and unobtrusive machine. It produces excellent espresso from Lavazza’s compostable pods, with plenty of customization options and drink settings available via the companion app. It has also come down in price recently so, while admittedly a little gimmicky, the Voicy combines a solid smart speaker with an excellent coffee pod machine for just under £300, which is really nothing to sniff at.
Read our full Lavazza Voicy review
Key specs – Pod type: Lavazza compostable pods; Drink sizes: Two (espresso and lungo); Bar pressure: 10; Water tank capacity: 1.1l; Used capsule bin capacity: Ten pods
8. Dolce Gusto Genio S Plus: Best Dolce Gusto coffee pod machine
Price when reviewed: £68 | Check price at AmazonThe Genio S Plus might be small, but it’s packed full of great features. The temperature-adjust button is a nice touch, and you can also increase the strength of the coffee with the espresso boost feature. Adjusting the drink sizes to your liking is as simple as twisting a dial too.
As far as the quality of the pods goes, though, Dolce Gusto’s can be a bit hit or miss. Luckily there are plenty to choose from, so you should find a decent selection to enjoy. Our personal favourites are the Starbucks Americano House Blend, Starbucks Latte Macchiato and the brand’s classic Americano.
It’s worth noting that like all Dolce Gusto machines, this doesn’t have a pod bin, meaning you’ll need to dispose of the capsule each time you make a drink.
Key specs – Pod type: Dolce Gusto, Starbucks for Dolce Gusto; Drink sizes: Seven; Bar pressure: Up to 15; Water tank capacity: 0.8l; Used capsule bin capacity: N/A
9. Illy Iperespresso X7.1: Best tasting pods
Price when reviewed: £156 | Check price at IllyThe unique-looking Iperespresso looks just like a manual espresso machine – but it delivers all the convenience of a pod machine. Rather than popping your pods into the top of the machine, you instead place the pods in a professional-looking portafilter which twists and locks into place.
There’s a metal rack attachment for the top of the machine where you can warm cups, and the small steam wand on this machine means you can manually steam milk to create a range of perfectly creamy, frothy coffees.
Better still, the quality of the coffee is a cut above the rest. We particularly enjoyed the single-origin Brazil pods but the classic roasts were also a treat. Unfortunately, the pods aren’t the most environmentally friendly, due to their thick plastic casing but if you can pry them open, this plastic can be recycled. They are also a tad cheaper per capsule than some of the other options on this list, coming in at around 38p per cup.
Read our full Illy Iperespresso X7.1 review
Key specs – Pod type: Illy Iperespresso; Drink sizes: One (but customisable); Bar pressure: 15; Water tank capacity: 1l; Used capsule bin capacity: N/A
10. Tassimo My Way 2: Best Tassimo capsule machine
Price when reviewed: £60 | Check price at AmazonTassimo’s My Way is a capsule machine that provides lots of customisation options but also lets you save customised drinks to a designated button, so you only need to tap once for your perfect coffee.
You can choose from three different drink sizes, temperatures and coffee strengths, or you can simply let the machine read the barcode on the pods and automatically pour the perfect cup. Despite there not being a huge range of capsules to choose from, the selection is nicely varied and most are from recognisable brands such as Kenco, Costa, L’Or and Cadbury’s.
The My Way 2 also comes with a built-in water filtration unit, which can be used with Brita cartridges for smooth, filtered water that’s perfect for coffee.
The only downside to this machine is that it does take a little longer to pour coffee than most of its rivals, even if you’re using the customisable buttons. All in all, though, this is a well-designed machine with some stand-out features.
Read our full Tassimo My Way 2 review
Key specs – Pod type: Tassimo T-Disc; Drink sizes: Three (Small, medium, large); Bar pressure: Not stated; Water tank capacity: 1.3l; Used capsule bin capacity: N/A