There are so many ways of making coffee that investing in a coffee machine for your home can be confusing. Before buying a coffee machine, you need to have identified what coffee you most enjoy drinking, how often you want to drink it and how many cups you will usually want to make.
If a cup of coffee to wake you up in the morning is a necessity, but you don't have much time before leaving the house then a capsule machine could offer you the speed and convenience you need. If drinking coffee is a way of relaxing and you like to take your time, then a machine that can make a larger amount and keep it warm, might be a better option.
Bean to Cup Machines
The machine will grind your chosen bean to the desired grind size, then automatically tamp and extract the espresso into your cup. Bean to cup machines offer an easy way of making coffee from the bean, as apart from selecting the type of grind and the type of coffee you want the machine will do all the work for you.
Espresso Coffee Machines
A "pump" machine where hot water is pushed through a coffee filter at the correct bar pressure to create the rich, dense crema associated with the perfect espresso. Thermobloc heating systems heat water quickly. You have the choice to buy already ground coffee or buy beans and grind them yourself if you have a grinder. Espresso coffee machines work best with finely ground coffee. The machine usually comes with a holder for you to measure in the coffee which will then require tamping. This involves patting down the coffee so it is not too loose in the holder and smoothing the top surface. Some machines have a frothing arm for steaming and frothing milk for lattes and cappuccinos, giving you a wider choice of drinks.
Filter Coffee Machines
Water is poured into the tank in the top of the machine. The machine heats and then dispenses hot water to a filter filled with ground coffee. This drips through slowly to a carafe below, from which the black coffee can then be poured. The carafe usually sits on a hot plate that keeps the coffee warm. Filter coffee machines are good for making coffee in large quantities and are easy to use. Filters can vary between disposable paper filters and reusable filters that can be washed.
Pod or Capsule Machines
These machines use coffee that is pre-ground and tamped and packed into a capsule. The machine pierces the capsule and hot water is forced through to extract the coffee. Capsules are mess-free, fast and convenient; ideal if you don't want to spend a lot of time making coffee. Some machines also offer the option to froth milk, ideal if you like milky coffees such as lattes. Depending on the machine you purchase you may be limited to buying a certain brand of capsules that are compatible.
The higher the number of watts a coffee machine has, the faster the water will reach the required temperature.
Machines with this feature will switch off automatically after a certain time if unused; saving energy and helping to keep the machine is good working order.
If you like milk in your coffee then a built-in steam arm or frother will help you create a wider variety of coffees, such as macchiatos, cappuccinos and lattes.
Coffee machine systems that need to heat a large amount of water, such as though used professionally, will usually be fitted with a boiler. Thermoblock heating systems heat water quickly to the optimum temperature for making coffee (90-95 degrees), without overheating and boiling the coffee. They are more commonly found in domestic espresso machines. Water is heated in a metal block with an exterior element. Thermoblock systems can switch between providing hot water and steam.
Ease of use
How much time do you want to spend making your coffee? Pod and capsule machines provide the quickest option. Programmable memory for dispensing and cup sizes with touch buttons are often easier to operate and faster than manual machines. Filter machines, percolators and cafetieres are easy to operate but require time to brew.
Size and weight
Machines vary in size, with capsule machines more likely to be smaller. Consider the space you have on your worktop. If you plan to store your machine inbetween uses be aware that some, such as a bean to cup, can be heavy and not practical to move around.
Create your coffee shop favourites at home at the touch of a button
Designed for commercial use, but compact enough to fit in your kitchen
Steam and Froth your Way to Perfect Milk
A choice of coffee and teas with programmable touch buttons for ease of use
One Touch Coffee and Tea Machine
Same choice of coffee and teas as the Espress-auto, but with manual operation
Your Kitchen Coffee Shop
A fast, convenient drop-through capsule machine that makes espressos, lungos and teas at the touch of a button
Descale warning light and descaling program