According to the British Coffee Association, 95 million cups of coffee are consumed every day in the UK. Given that there are only around 66.6 million of us living on this little cluster of islands (a sizeable slice of whom are wedded monogamously to tea) those are some pretty startling numbers.
Café culture is a huge part of our addiction – while we try our best at home, there really is nothing like a coffee made by professional hands to see us through the day.
Whether it’s nipping into a high street chain on the way to work or folding ourselves into a rusty old chair in the corner of a hipster café on a lazy Sunday afternoon, the smell of freshly ground beans can be one of the most comforting things in the world.
With the country on lockdown and many of us living with a commute that takes us merely from the bedroom to the living room, now is the time to get our home-made coffee game strong.
From pods, to filters, to cafetieres and bean-to-cup wizardry, we’ve tested the lot and found the best machines to see you through the winter slump.
Nespresso Vertuo Plus
Barcoding system to tailor coffee preparation for the drink at hand.
Unique centrifusion extraction system, in which the pod spins 7000 times-per-minute.
Removable tank for easy filling.
Just one button for ease of use
The Nespresso Vertuo Plus is an incredible bit of kit, offering full-flavoured, complex coffees at the touch of a button. The machine does all of your thinking for you, perfect for those who find simple functions difficult first thing in the morning.
With this, you simply put your pod in and it scans the barcode, bringing just the right amount of heat and pressure to the coffee at hand and resulting in a silky smooth crema.
Nespresso makes returning the pods for recycling an easy task, so there isn’t a great deal of environmental guilt to be had. Still, the pods do bring their own issues: the barcode technology means that the machine isn’t compatible with third party suppliers, so you have to go direct to Nespresso for the good stuff.
That said, they’ve got a huge amount of options and tend to do some great Black Friday deals, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the offers because the coffee itself is outstanding (we’re talking throw-your-head-back-with-glee outstanding).
Lavazza Jolie & Milk Pod Coffee Machine
Removable water tank for easy cleaning.
Integrated milk frother.
Coffee capsule drawer alert to alert you when it is nearing capacity.
Compatible with a range of cup sizes.
Small and mighty, the Jolie & Milk from Lavazza packs a hell of a punch, offering coffees that range in size from espresso to lungo alongside a milk frother that produces luscious, silky foam.
The machine has two options – automatic and programmable, with the latter allowing the drinker to choose just how tall they want their coffee. Everything happens at the touch of a button and the coffee is made super quickly and with very little noise. The best feature is the compostable pods, which make this the most eco-friendly of all the pod machines.
Nescafe Dolce Gusto Genio S Pod Coffee Machine
Removable water tank for easy cleaning.
Dishwasher safe parts for easy cleaning.
Auto shut-off after one minute
The Nescafe Dolce Gusto Genio S is a cheap and cheerful pod machine that takes up very little space on the kitchen counter top, whilst still offering a huge variety of coffees. There are 40 different coffee drinks available via the pods, including those of a frothy variety. The drink arrives at perfect drinking temperature – not hot enough to burn, but hot enough to warm you from the inside out.
The Genios S is incredibly easy to use – you simply turn the dial to instruct the machine how much water it needs and it gets to work, producing a perfectly made coffee that will get you up and at ‘em in the morning.
The good news is that the Dolce Gusto machines are compatible with alternative pods, so you can save a few pennies here and there by shopping around.
Bean to Cup Machines
De’Longhi Primadonna Soul
An option of 21 coffee drinks, customisable via the app.
The option to make two cups at once.
Adjustable spout to suit cup size.
Neat touchscreen LED display.
Automatic cleaning after each use.
The price tag is vast, there’s no denying it, but this is the absolute cream of the crop when it comes to a home-brewed coffee. With 21 different drinks on tap, from flat whites, to macchiatos, to cortados to a jug of straight-up filter fuel, this is an all-singing, all-dancing bit of kit that assesses your beans, grinds and extracts them accordingly and gives you the most silky, sumptuous coffee you’ve likely ever tasted in your own home.
Seriously, the resulting flat white was so good it prompted tears of nostalgia for the outside world.
Though setup seems initially intimidating (the box it comes in could house a spaceship), the machine is one of plug and play simplicity and guides you through the process seamlessly via its touch screen LCD screen. The De’Longhi Primadonna Soul connects to WiFi, too, so once you download the app you can sync it to your phone and start adapting it your specific needs. It’s a big investment, yes, but one you’ll never regret making.
Breville Barista Max Espresso Machine
1 or 2 shot options with manual control.
Coffee-shop style equipment.
Integrated grinder and milk frother.
Warming plate on top to keep your coffee hot.
The Breville Barista Max isn’t quite as straightforward at other bean to cup machines, the main difference being that an external
group head means you have to be a little more hands on with the process. The benefit of this, of course, is that you can use ground coffee as well as the freshly ground coffee beans. Taste wise, it’s the equivalent of having a coffee shop in your house, so the end product is incredibly aromatic and satisfying.
The milk steaming wand also shoots out hot water, so if you want a drink longer than an espresso you can top it up to your heart’s content, before adding the milk you desire. The wand adopts the traditional coffee shop method – so a glut of steam pumps out into your ready and waiting jug to create a velvety smooth froth that will satisfy those with a flat white/cappuccino addiction.
The machine is a little complicated to get to know, admittedly, so if you’re after something that does all your thinking for you it’s not going to work. Still, the end result is a lovely cup of barista-style coffee in your own home.
Melitta Purista Series 300
The option to make up to two drinks at a time.
A ‘favourite coffee’ feature meaning the machine will remember the strength and length you desire.
Automatic cleaning and descaling after each use.
This is a machine for those who go to a restaurant and sit absolutely flummoxed by the endless list of options in front of them. There is one option here: coffee. A rich, flavoursome, fresh brew that fills your kitchen with a beautiful café aroma and wakes all your senses up with a bang.
We absolutely loved the simplicity of the machine, which asks you to make only one choice: one cup or two? It works hard for its money, though it doesn’t quite live up to the promises it makes of a ‘whisper quiet grinder’ – we can only assume the noise test was conducted on a building site.
Still, its slender shape and gorgeous look means that it will fit in nicely to any modern kitchen, and the resulting drink is one that’ll make you feel like you woke up on the right side of bed.
Filter Coffee Machines
KitchenAid Drip Coffee Maker
Removable water tank for easy filling.
Reusable filter with steps for measuring coffee.
24h timer to ensure your coffee is ready when you are.
A variable brew strength selector.
Pause and pour function.
Hot plate to keep your coffee warm for up to 40 minutes.
The KitchenAid Drip filter machine is an absolute pleasure to use and behold, with the cream and chrome colouring and rounded edges conspiring to create a look that is at once vintage and timeless. It’s actually even prettier in person than in photograph, but hey, this isn’t a beauty pageant, it’s a coffee machine review.
With a detachable water tank, this is the easiest of the lot to fill up and get going. It’s a quiet, smooth process from start to finish, and the end coffee is clean and delicious. The 1.7-litre tank means that it’s big enough to make coffee for the whole family, while the permanent filter has a clever step inside to help measure out the perfect amount of grounds. We think the functionality alone well and truly justifies the price tag here (and you really don’t need us to start banging on about how good looking it is again…).
SMEG Drip Coffee Machine
Ability to select aroma intensity.
A separate function to make a smaller brew should 10 cups be too many.
LED display and easy-to-use timer.
Hot plate to keep coffee hot for up to 40 minutes.
SMEG is a hallmark of retro chic and statement pieces, with homewares that are attractive enough to lead the styling of a whole kitchen. The drip coffee machine is no different, with its curvaceous pastel body all but begging to be coveted.
The coffee it churns out is rich and flavoursome and the hot plate keeps it warm for a good half an hour after brewing. It is a little fiddly to fill the tank though - it’s almost impossible to get the last few drops out of the jug and into the machine.
Still, the pros outweigh the cons – the SMEG Drip Coffee Machine also has a programmable timer and the reusable filter ensures a brew free of mud.
Russell Hobbs Inspire Filter Coffee Machine
Reusable mesh filter.
Whirl Tech technology for even water dispersion.
Attached spoon for measuring doses.
Though cheap and cheerful, the Russell Hobbs Inspire filter coffee machine isn’t without innovation. A Whirl Tech showerhead spins above the coffee grounds, working to extract flavour from every last morsel. The end result is a robust, moreish pot of coffee that’s big enough to share.
The pause and pour function means that impatient types can grab a cup while it’s still brewing and the hot plate keeps the coffee warm for 40 minutes. Functionally, it works very similarly to the more expensive machines, so the price difference more or less boils down to aesthetics.
Le Creuset Stoneware Coffee Press, 1L
As you would expect from a brand as renowned as Le Creuset, the stoneware coffee press just sings with quality the second you take it out of the box. The finish is gleaming and the colour range is the perfect way to inject a bit of colour into your kitchen, from the signature volcanic orange to sunshine yellow or a swanky shade of teal, there’s a colour to match every kitchen.
The Le Creuset Coffee Press is more than just a pretty face, though; it brews a bold, smooth cup of coffee and the enamel-clad stoneware keeps the drink warm for a good amount of time. It is a little heavy to hold when full, so it’s not one for those with delicate wrists.
VonShef French Press
This beautiful, tall cafetiere from VonShef is striking in its elegance, looking like something Jay Gatsby himself might have poured from if he wasn’t occupied not enjoying his own parties.
Clad in gold chrome and made from heat resistant borosilicate glass, the 1.5litre jug holds plenty enough coffee to see you through brunch.
This is a real bargain, but the low price has no bearings on its quality – the cafetiere is sturdy, durable and beautifully packaged, so it makes a great gift.
Eva Solo Thermo Cafetiere
The Scandinavian touch means that the Eva Solo Thermo Cafetiere is as stylish as it is functional. With a stainless-steel body and an ergonomically designed oak handle, it well and truly looks the part.
The coffee comes out clean, smooth and piping hot even an hour after it the jug is first filled. In fact, it’s still warm enough to drink without taking a little spin in the microwave over two hours later. There’s no mess or drips when pouring due to the shape of the spout, and while £100 might seem a little steep for such an everyday item, the solid construction means this is likely to see you through a good few decades.
We’ve got two machines fighting it out for the top spot, but the De’Longhi Primadonna Soul probably takes the crown. It really does do it all for you, resulting in an utterly perfect drink for those with a frothy coffee addiction. Like we said, the price tag is pretty commanding, but it’s the closest we came to creating a drink at home that tasted like a professional made it.
The KitchenAid Drip Filter Machine gets a special commendation, though; it’s stylish, affordable and incredibly easy to use, making a really lovely jug of wake-up juice to get you through the day. And you probably won’t have to sell your soul to afford it.