A good coffee machine is a game changer. It will make getting out of bed less painful on weekday mornings and upgrade lazy weekend mornings in bed.
But it’s important to find the machine that best suits your lifestyle. We’ve reviewed some of the top machines from brands including Smeg, De’Longhi, Lavazza and Gaggia.
Apart from price, there are other factors to consider. How important is convenience? How quickly do you want your coffee in the morning? Are you an espresso drinker, do you like a long filter coffee, or a latte?
If you want to kick off with some advice on what kind of machine to go for, check out our buying advice after the list, where we break down the different categories of coffee machines and their pros and cons. Otherwise, read on to find out why these are the best of the machines we’ve tested.
Best coffee machine reviews
1. De’Longhi Dinamica Plus ECAM 370.85 – Smart bean-to-cup machine
Easy to use
Automatic milk frothing
Somewhat plasticky build
If you want high-quality coffee without the hassle, the Dinamica Plus constitutes one of the best ways to get it. While still pricey, it’s affordable by the standards of bean-to-cup machines. And it’s extremely easy to use, with touchscreen controls that’ll deliver your coffee with a single press. It also has an automatic milk frothing, for perfect lattes and cappuccinos every time.
You can, of course, adjust strength and water volume to get your perfect cup and save your settings.
There are some nice design features as well, like the water tank that pulls out from the front, so you don’t have to scrabble around at the back of the appliance. You’ll also get alerts when it’s time to refill the tank and empty the integral grounds container.
The Dinamica Plus also has smart features, which allow you to check the machine’s status, adjust settings, save personalised drinks settings and – importantly – make yourself a latte, cappuccino or espresso remotely, with a single tap.
Read our full
De’Longhi Dinamica Plus ECAM 370.85 review
2. Breville Barista Max – Inbuilt conical burr grinder
Large kitchen counter footprint
The Barista Max is an espresso machine with an inbuilt conical burr grinder. This alone makes it quite unusual. But at this price point, for its quality, it’s extremely rare. It’s not quite as good value as when we tested it as the price has gone up, but we still think it’s a good buy.
Beans go into the hopper on top and can be ground straight into the portafilter. It’s not quite as simple or convenient as an automatic bean-to-cup machine such as the Dinamica Plus, but if you enjoy the coffee making process – even a little bit – it’s very satisfying to use.
As it comes with an inbuilt milk wand, plus milk jug and tamper, you won’t have to shell out for any other coffee-making accessories. That’s a good thing as this is a large machine that will require a dedicated spot on your kitchen counter. But it’s solid and well-made and should give you very good coffee for a long time to come.
Read our full
Breville Barista Max VCF126 review
3. Smeg Espresso Coffee Maker ECF01 – Most stylish espresso machine
Compatible with ESE pods & ground coffee
The Smeg espresso coffee machine is a manual coffee maker, which means it takes a bit more time and effort to use than a pod machine or an automatic bean-to-cup machine. In our opinion, it’s well worth it.
It takes ground coffee or ESE pods and has a number of adjustable settings, including water hardness and temperature, so you can get your coffee exactly the way you want it. The inbuilt milk frother doubles as a hot water dispenser, which means you can make anything from a cappuccino to an americano.
This is a beautiful machine that’s a pleasure to use and we’d recommend it to anyone who wants to explore the art of coffee making at home.
Read our full
Smeg ECF01 Espresso Coffee Maker review
4. Gaggia Magenta Plus – Best value bean-to-cup
Easy to use interface
Good customisation options
Fast and quiet
Awkward water container
No space for mugs
No automatic milk frother
This is an excellent bean-to-cup machine that’ll give you high quality coffee at the touch of a button.
There are plenty of customisation options, including size, temperature and strength and it’s simple to use, with a colour digital display that also shows error messages and lets you know when the bean hopper is running low.
The Magenta Plus offers five different beverages, although there is a bit of a catch in that it’s not fully automatic. You’ll have to get to grips with the metal steam wand and master your own frothing if you’re going to make the most of it.
But if you’re happy to do that, and have the budget for this machine, you’ll be getting a classy addition to your kitchen counter.
Read our full
Gaggia Magenta Plus review
5. Lavazza Voicy – Inbuilt Amazon Alexa speaker
Built-in Alexa speaker
No milk tank/ frother
Smart coffee options limited
There are few smart coffee machines on the market – and with good reason. As yet, there’s no way to go completely hands-free. You’ll still need to pop in a coffee capsule and ensure the water tank is full.
But this Lavazza collaboration machine has an ingenious solution to make the most of its smarts. Instead of relying on limited app control, it has an inbuilt Amazon Echo device, including a speaker, so you’ll get full home assistant functionality alongside your coffee.
You can, of course, ask Alexa to make you an espresso and if the machine’s set up, it will. But really, it’s a clever way to incorporate an Alexa device into your kitchen counter set-up, and in this respect, it works.
The machine is compact and easy to use but as there’s no frother or milk tank, it makes black coffee only. However, you can at least request some upbeat tunes while you enjoy your morning espresso.
Read our full
Lavazza A Modo Mio Voicy review
6. Breville Bijou Espresso Machine – Best budget espresso maker
Integral steam wand
Good value for money
Steep learning curve
This neat little espresso machine is not only budget friendly but compact (30x21x27cm). It can make two coffees at a time and has its own integral steam wand.
For its price, it makes very good coffee – but there’s a catch. There’s no automatic dispensing volume, so you’ll need to experiment to get a good shot of espresso. This makes it a great option for coffee enthusiasts who don’t mind learning to use the machine but less appealing to people looking for a quick brew.
There’s also a significant cool-down period between steaming milk and brewing coffee, so if you plan to make more than two coffees in one go, it’ll take a bit of time.
Read our full
Breville Bijou Espresso Machine (VCF149) review
7. Lavazza Deséa – Most versatile pod coffee maker
Easy to use
You’re tied to A Modo Mio capsules
The Lavazza Deséa is certainly the best pod/capsule-based coffee machine we’ve tested so far, even though it’s not the most expensive.
It’s stylish and well-made but more importantly, it makes a wide range of coffees from espresso to macchiato. The complexity means it takes a little while to get used to, but it’s pretty much a one-touch operation once you get the hang of it.
The Deséa produces consistent coffee and with the option to boost temperature and foam if needed. It also operates more quietly than any other coffee machine we’ve used.
Read our full
Lavazza Deséa review
8. Russell Hobbs Chester Grind and Brew 22000 – Best filter machine
Easy to use
Grinds its own beans
Timer can’t be adjusted once it’s set
For a very reasonable price tag, you’ll get a capable machine with the Russell Hobbs Chester Grind and Brew 22000. Whether you want to use beans or ground coffee, you can get a strength and smoothness to suit your taste.
It may not be smart – and may only be suitable for producing black filter coffee – but what it does, it does very well. It’s a great starter coffee machine.
You can keep your coffee warm for up to forty minutes, and schedule the machine to start brewing at a certain time so you have a pot ready and waiting first thing in the morning. The fact that you can’t change the timer once it’s started is a minor annoyance, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that this is a reliable coffee maker at a good price point.
Read our full
Russell Hobbs Chester Grind and Brew 22000 review
9. Genio S Plus – Most brewing options in the Dolce Gusto range
Versatile brewing options
You’re tied to Dolce Gusto capsules
If you’re looking for a Dolce Gusto machine, this is the best one available. Not only is it as compact and straightforward as the other machines in the range, but it has more brewing options, so you can tailor your coffee to your preference.
It’s fully automated and easy to use. You can choose from three drink temperatures, precisely calibrate the amount of water in your beverage, plus there’s the option of an espresso boost.
Read our full
Nescafe Dolce Gusto Genio S Plus review
10. Dualit DCM2X 3-in-1 espresso machine – Most versatile overall
Compatible with Dualit and Nespresso capsules, ground coffee & ESE pod
Lightweight plastic build
If you’re after the convenience of a capsule-based coffee machine but also want to be able to make a ‘proper’ espresso from ground coffee when you have the time, Dualit’s 3-in-1 coffee machine is one of your only choices.
It’s a decent machine, too, and not overly expensive. If you’re wondering why it’s called 3-in-1, it’s because it also accepts ESE pods as well as Nespresso capsules (and Dualit’s NX capsules, which are Nespresso-compatible).
Read our full
Dualit DCM2X 3-in-1 espresso machine review
Buying advice: which one is right for you?
There are four main categories of electric/ electronic coffee makers. They all have their pros and cons. We list them below, so you can decide which type is right for you.
Manual espresso machines
If you love espresso, these machines are the best. You can make proper coffee that’s every bit as good as a cup you’d get from your favourite coffee shop. They use highly pressurised steam to produce shots of espresso, which you can mix with milk or water to make longer drinks.
They typically include a milk wand, so you can make cappuccinos and lattes and won’t have to worry about heating milk separately.
While some (more expensive) machines may include a bean grinder, most won’t, so you’ll either need to invest in a separate grinder or buy your coffee pre-ground. While the latter option is easier, the ground coffee will quickly begin to oxidise and you’ll swiftly lose the magical taste of freshly ground beans.
These machines are also not the simplest to use. Making a couple of coffees is a few minutes’ work and will create a reasonable amount of mess. It’s extremely hard not to spill at least some coffee between container, scoop and portafilter when you’re half asleep in the morning.
It’ll also take a bit of trial and error, so a manual espresso machine is best suited to people who love their gadgets as much as their coffee.
And, while not as expensive as a bean-to-cup machine, an espresso maker is likely to be much more so than a pod or a filter coffee maker.
A bean-to-cup machine automates the process. It’s basically an espresso maker without the work. Put beans in. Press buttons. Coffee comes out. You drink coffee. All is well in the world.
They typically have a number of settings, so you can get your coffee exactly the way you like it. Some even have programmable profiles, so each member of the household can press a single button to get their favourite coffee prepared perfectly.
There’s just one con: price. Good bean-to-cup machines start above £500/$500 and often climb way past £1,500/$1,500.
They’re quick. They’re mess-free. And they’re better than instant.
If you want a pod coffee maker that makes a decent espresso, go for a Lavazza or a Nespresso machine. If you like mixed drinks, like lattes, cappuccinos and more, a Nescafe Dolce Gusto machine is probably right for you. The latter also sells milk pods, so you can easily make blended beverages – although higher end pod machines from other brands may have a milk wand.
If you go down the pod route, you’ll find that there’s now a huge variety of flavours and strengths, as well as hot chocolates and even teas you can make with your machine.
These machines also tend to be the most budget-friendly, with prices starting at about £30/$30 when they’re on sale.
Once you buy, you’re committing to buying the pods or capsules for as long as you have the machine. These can work out to be more expensive than ground coffee, so although your machine is cheaper, you may end up paying more in the long run. But that depends on the brand. Dolce Gusto capsules typically work out at about 20p per cup, although you can often find deals on branded and compatible capsules that’ll help to bring the price down.
There’s also the question of taste. They are not a patch on a home espresso maker but if you sample different brands, you’ll find that some coffees are more appealing than others.
Finally, there’s the issue of waste. Pod machines aren’t the most environmentally friendly, although you can use manufacturer schemes to recycle used capsules. You can find out more about this in our article on how to recycle coffee capsules.
Filter machines have had a bad rap, but with pour-over coffee coming back into fashion, they’re on their way up again. If you put fresh ground coffee into your machine, you should get a really delicious beverage that’s lighter than espresso but with plenty of flavour.
They’re perfect for making a batch of coffee for a group of people and you won’t have to hang around the machine making individual cups.
They strike a great balance between pod and manual machines, in terms of price, taste and ease of use.
If you’re buying, look out for how long the machine can keep coffee warm after its brewed, how many cups it can make at once, and whether it has the option to schedule coffee to brew at set times.
A filter machine is really best for plain black coffee – or with a splash of milk from the fridge. Forget lattes and cappuccinos: they are not on the menu.
Check to see if the filter machine you’re considering buying has a grinder. If not, you’ll need to use pre-ground coffee, or invest in a separate machine. The quality of the coffee you use will make a real difference.