Coffee-making machines are as different from one another as the coffee beans that go in them. Do you know your French Press from your Pour-Over or your Drip from your Capsule? Coffee is a tricky thing to get right. There are so many different preferences, with all sorts of factors contributing to a good cup of coffee.
To give you a hand getting the best cup in your own kitchen, we chatted to Thomas from Fourth Estate Coffee, to understand what some of the best coffee makers on the market are. Here is our and his pick of the best machines available today.
Which is the best coffee machine for you?
OXO On Barista Brain 9 Cup Coffee Maker - $200
Drip coffee makers may seem basic, but they can be very effective. The water boils in the reservoir, flowing into the drip area where it goes evenly onto the coffee grounds. This machine really excels when it comes to the freshest coffee thanks to a timer. Set the time you want the coffee and how many cups, then the OXO will work everything else out and deliver to order. It'll make anywhere from two to nine cups. The rainmaker shower head ensures the grounds are evenly saturated with water and there's a freshness indicator which lets you know how long since the coffee was made.
Technivorm Moccamaster 79112 Coffee Brewer - $309
If you fancy something really high-end, the Technivorm with its classy polished aluminium finish. You can manually adjust the speed at which the coffee flows into the carafe and it's powerful enough to brew a full pot of coffee in just six minutes. Once it's in the carafe, which is made of stainless steel, it'll stay hot for up to an hour. The Moccamaster has a copper boiling element which is fast to heat up and controls the brewing temperature precisely.
Cuisinart DCC-3200 14-Cup Glass Carafe - $100
Fancy something less expensive? This model sells for under $100, so it's fantastic value. It comes in two versions, one of which makes 12 cups, the other, 14. Although it's keenly priced, the Cuisinart has enough features to keep you satisfied. For instance, you can choose between regular or bold coffee strengths. It has a self-clean feature, which is useful, and there's a setting which makes fewer cups (between one and four), which is fast. If you're really organised, you can set a program to brew coffee for you up to 24 hours ahead - handy if you know you'll need a cup the second your alarm goes off…
Ninja Coffee Bar Brewer System - $160
It's called Ninja, so it's off to a good start, right? It comes in two versions, one with a glass carafe, the other a carafe of stainless steel. The key here is versatility: the supplied recipe book has scores of options. You can make coffee in small quantities - right down to just one cup so you waste nothing. But you can also fill the carafe, of course, and the warming plate on which it stands can keep the liquid warm for up to four hours. There are multiple brews to choose from, including Classic, Rich, Over Ice and Specialty (which works as an espresso setting).
SterlingPro French Press Coffee Maker - $16
A French Press, also called coffee press or cafetiere, makes great coffee, not least because coffee maintains its heat in the brewing process if it's in a glass carafe. This carafe holds up to one litre of coffee, or tea. The SterlingPro has an advanced filter system called Double Screens to prevent grounds from slipping into your drink. SterlingPro says it means its coffee is twice as smooth as a result. French Press coffee makers are simple and inexpensive, but you still need to make sure you choose one that's well-made and durable. Like the SterlingPro.
Hamilton Beach (49976) Coffee Maker - $90
This machine is versatile: you can brew your coffee two ways, either with K Cup capsules or ground coffee. You can brew up to 12 cups in a pot but there's also the convenience of a single serve. There are two separate reservoirs depending on whether you want drip coffee or capsule. You can adjust the strength of the coffee easily to taste. Six cups of drip coffee take about six minutes - if that's too long you could always have a cup from the capsule while you're waiting for the drip!
Chemex Classic - $43
This is the best pour-over coffee maker there is, and it looks great. Well, so it should, it's a classic which was designed in 1941. Once you've put your ground coffee into the coffee filter, you pour a little of your just-boiled water slowly onto the grounds. Once the grounds have bloomed, pour the rest of the water over. Once it's all poured through, you can remove the filter and, using the wooden sleeve that works as a handle, put it into your coffee cup and drink. There are reusable filters if you prefer those to one-use paper filters. Whichever you choose, the Chemex delivers great-tasting coffee.
Smarter Coffee Machine 2.0 - £173
If you're after a decent bean-to-jug filter machine, the Smarter 2.0 is not only a decent machine but it also gives you easy-to-use app-controlled elements. You do pay a bit of a price premium for that, however.
There's a real convenience to having a machine that has coffee ready for you first thing in the morning.
Likewise, it's great to have smartphone notifications that tell you when the coffee is ready. Those things are both very useful, but arguably are the only smart features that give you a real advantage.
There's Google Home/Assistant compatibility but it is currently very limited as you can't start brewing coffee with a simple command.
Read the full review: Smarter Coffee Machine 2.0 review
Nespresso by De'Longhi Lattissima One - £200
If you're looking for a pod machine that doesn't look like an industrial mixer, try this svelte Nespresso machine, available in white (actually cream) or mocha. Its brilliance is that it also has a milk compartment for ace cappuccino or macchiatos but crucially the milk apparatus is self-contained so the milk doesn't make the rest of the machine dirty. After each cup you can remove the milk bit, easily pull it apart and wash it (dishwasher safe, as well). It's a brilliant answer to more expensive machines that need to rinse themselves all the time (and for you to empty the drip tray all the time as a result). If you want a bit more milk capacity, there's this slightly more expensive model as well.
Lavazza A Modo Mio Jolie & Milk - £129
This good value machine builds on Lavazza's excellence in coffee and adds milk into the mix. It's a great choice if you want a to make milky coffee but also want the convenience of coffee capsules.
The buttons can be pre-set while the cup rack is adjustable in height depending on whether you're usually an espresso drinker or you prefer bigger cups.
It's also designed not to take up too much room on worksurfaces and to be quiet, too - it emits only 44dB during the brewing phase.
Miele CM7300 - £1,849
The Miele CM7300 is one of the best bean-to-cup coffee machines out there but you do need to pay for it!
It measures 40 x 45 x 31cm so you'll need a bit of spare worktop space, but this machine will make tailored coffee at the push of a button, froth your milk and rinse itself when it's done.
The removable tank has a capacity of 2.2-litres and it supports ground coffee and bean coffee formats, with a bean hopper capacity of 300g and a stainless steel mill grinder on board.
The machine pressure sits at 15 bars and there are a number of nifty features including a cup warmer and adjustable temperature function, as well as the ability to make two espressos at once.
DeLonghi Scultura ECZ351 - £150
The DeLonghi Scultura ECZ351 is one stylish coffee machine. Available colours comprise black, cream, white and grey so there should be at least one that will match your kitchen décor, plus its 310 x 300 x 250mm measurements mean it won't take up too much worktop space either.
This machine supports ground coffee and ESE pod formats and it can make espressos and cappuccinos, the former of which it can manage to do two at a time.
The Scultura has a removable tank with a capacity of 1.4-litres, a machine pressure of 15 bars and there is a removable drip tray for easy cleaning.
You'll also find a couple of handy features with this number including a steam pipe, auto-off function and a cup warmer like the Miele, but no adjustable temperature feature.
Francis Francis Y3 - £55
The Francis Francis Y3 coffee machine's rectangle, angular look makes it perfect for a contemporary kitchen.
Like the DeLonghi Scultura, this model is also available in a few colours but it is a little more daring with a lime green model and orange option available, alongside black and white.
The Y3 is a capsule machine that uses the Illy iperEspresso capsule system and claims to offer "true bar-quality espresso". It is smaller than the Scultura measuring 270 x 320 x 110mm and its also a little cheaper. The removable tank has a 0.9-litre capacity and the machine pressure on this model is 19 bars.
You won't get warm cups from this model and there is no steam pipe either but the drip tray is removable so again, cleaning should be nice and simple.
Lavazza A Modo Mio Espria - £75
The Lavazzo-backed and AEG-made A Modo Mio measures 340 x 130 x 240mm and it looks great with bold colours and chrome trims, offering a very premium feel.
The A Modo Mio Espria is a capsule machine that uses A Modo Mio Espria capsules and it comes with a 0.9-litre capacity removable tank meaning you'll need to fill it up a few more times than the DeLonghi and Miele options but no more than the Francis Francis model.
The machine pressure of the AEG model sits at 15 bars and it will make one cup of espresso. There is a removable drip tray on board but you won't find a steam pipe for heating or frothing milk and there will be no warm cups available with this one either.
Nespresso Inissia - £79
The Nespressio Inissia is good for those who are new to Nespresso. It's cheap and cheerful and it offers a simple, fuss-free design, along with a small 120 x 320 x 230mm footprint that allows it to be easily tucked to the side of your kitchen.
The Inissia is a capsule model that unsurprisingly uses Nespresso capsules and it will make one espresso at a time, meaning if you have a dinner party you'll be standing in your kitchen for a while.
It offers a machine pressure of 19 bars and it has a removable tank with a capacity of 0.7-litres and it is available in a couple of colours including white, red, burnt orange and blue.
When it comes to features, the Inissia doesn't pack them in, with no cup warmer, adjustable temperature, filter or steam pipe but does come in under the £100 mark with a removable drip tray and a nice retro style.
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