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Best coffee pod machine 2021: Our favourite capsule machines for latte, espresso and more

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Enjoy easy espressos, flat whites, americanos and more at the touch of a button

If you love the idea of effortlessly creating coffee-shop drinks in your own kitchen, then we can heartily recommend buying a coffee pod or capsule machine. From luxurious flat whites to tasty espressos, it’s never been easier to make amazing coffee from the comfort of your kitchen. Finding the best coffee pod machine to suit your needs, however, isn’t quite as effortless. There are so many to choose from, all with wildly different designs, features and at a wide range of different prices.

At Expert Reviews, we've tested lots of coffee capsule machines over the years, so we’ve become pretty good at putting them through their paces – and we know exactly which features are and aren’t worth paying out for. If this is your first time voyaging into the world of pod machines, our buying guide below will walk you through the things you want to look out for.

If you just want a quick recommendation, scroll past the buying guide to read our in-depth mini-reviews.

READ NEXT: Best Nespresso pods

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. watch our video on choosing the best coffee pod machine below or read the full guide underneath.

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’d highly recommend choosing a machine with a steam wand. This will allow you to prepare frothy steamed milk like you’d find in a coffee shop. Failing that, make sure to budget for a separate milk frother – you can read our guide to the best models 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.

READ NEXT: The latest coffee machine deals

The best coffee pod machines to buy

1. Nespresso Vertuo Next: Best Nespresso coffee pod machine

Price: £139 | Buy now from Amazon

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 Vertuo Next review here.

Key specsPod 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

2. Lavazza Idola: Best Lavazza coffee pod machine

Price: £139 | Buy now from Amazon

If you’re looking for a machine with a great selection of features, a slick design and good quality coffee pods, we’d highly recommend the Lavazza Idola.

This incredibly easy to use pod machine produces four drink sizes: espresso, long espresso, long coffee and finally a ‘free dose beverage’, which pulls through enough water for a full mug of coffee. There’s also a button to adjust the temperature of the water, which is ideal for those who love a slightly hotter (or cooler) coffee.

The quality of Lavazza’s pods is fantastic but unfortunately, there isn’t a huge range of blends to choose from. If a large coffee selection is important to you, then you may want to consider one of the other machines on this list.

Key specsPod type: Lavazza A Mio Modo pods; Drink sizes: Four (Espresso, long espresso, long coffee, free dose; Bar pressure: 10; Water tank capacity: 1.1l; Used capsule bin capacity: 10 capsules

3. Illy Iperespresso X7.1: Best pod machine for high-quality espresso

Price: £156| Buy now from Illy

The 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.

Key specsPod type: Illy Iperespresso; Drink sizes: One (but customisable); Bar pressure: 15; Water tank capacity: 1l; Used capsule bin capacity: N/A

4. Dolce Gusto Infinissima: Best budget coffee pod machine

Price: £35 | Buy now from Amazon

For 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 specsPod 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

5. Nespresso Creatista Uno: Best high-end capsule machine

Price: £329 | Buy now from Currys

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.

Key specsPod type: Nespresso classic; Drink sizes: Three (Ristretto, espresso, lungo); Bar pressure: 19; Water tank capacity: 1.5l; Used capsule bin capacity: N/A

Buy now from Currys


6. Tassimo My Way 2: Best Tassimo capsule machine

Price: £69 | Buy now from Amazon

Tassimo’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.

Key specsPod 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

7. Dolce Gusto Genio S Plus: Best Dolce Gusto coffee pod machine

Price: £70 | Buy now from Amazon

The 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 though, 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 specsPod 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

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