Choosing The Right Coffee Machine
From filter coffee makers to traditional espresso machines, the range of coffee equipment available can be overwhelming. However, if you have just a little essential knowledge, you can easily navigate the world of coffee machines and get the right machine for you.
Not so long ago, making a cup of coffee was no more complicated than deciding on your favourite brand of instant coffee and boiling a kettle. How things have changed! The proliferation of coffee shops throughout the world has made us all more particular in what we choose to drink. Not content with drinking lattes and cappuccinos in our local coffee shop, an incredible 20% of UK households now own a coffee machine so we can enjoy our favourite creation at home.
So here is our easy to follow guide on how to choose the right type of coffee machine for you.
There are a number of basic ways to make coffee, and depending on your own preference, some will be more suitable to you than others. Let’s take a look at the main types of coffee machine on the market.
Without doubt the cheapest way to make ‘proper’ coffee, a cafetiere is a glass or plastic jug with a plunger mechanism built in. You simply add boiling water to the ground coffee you’ve placed in the cafetiere, allow it to brew for a short time and then press down on the plunger to push all the coffee grounds to the bottom. Easy!
For: Make decent coffee from about £10 upwards, portable, no power supply needed (other than boiling water).
Against: You can’t make espresso, latte or cappuccinos, similar to filter coffee makers.
Filter Coffee Machines
Available for both homes and businesses, all filter coffee machines work in the same way. Cold water is poured in the top, and it’s then heated and dripped through a filter paper containing your ground coffee. The finished jug of coffee sits on a hotplate, keeping it warm so you can keep coming back for refills.
For: Easy to use, coffee can be kept hot for hours, low price of machines.
Against: You can only make one type of coffee – no espressos, lattes or cappuccinos. Filter coffee flavoured with syrups are not to everyone’s taste.
Capsule Coffee Machines
Available from most High Street department stores, there is now a huge range of great little machines to choose from. The coffee is pre-measured and packed in foil capsules that you place into the machine, and the rest is usually done at the touch of a button. They’re normally a doddle to clean and the coffee is often very good quality, especially if you’ve gone with a branded coffee such as Lavazza.
For: Wide range of machines, make most types of coffee from espresso to lattes, easy to clean.
Against: You can only use your manufacturer’s pods, and so they tend to be expensive.
Pump Espresso Machines
These are small, normally domestic, espresso machines that contain a high-pressure pump to produce an espresso which you can then use as the base for lots of other drinks including macchiatos, lattes and cappuccinos. Available in High Street stores from around £100, though at this price don’t expect a machine that will last for years.
For: Make a wide range of espresso-based drinks, low price, not limited to a small range of coffee
Against: Low priced machines can have short life spans, can be fiddly to clean
Traditional Espresso Machines
These are the larger commercial espresso machines you will recognise from High Street coffee houses such as Costa and Starbucks. Designed to be used all day long and give many years of service, they are expensive and bulky, making them unsuitable for domestic use. However, in recent years, some manufacturers have made smaller slimline units that could be used at home, provided your pockets are deep enough. And don’t forget you’ll need a grinder too.
For: This is how coffee should be made, reliable and long lasting machines
Against: Expensive, suitable for commercial use
Bean To Cup Coffee Machines
Bean to cup machines contain an integral grinder and espresso machine that are automated in such a way that you can pour your beans in the top, press a button and get an espresso straight into your cup. This means that no barista knowledge is needed and there’s no need for a separate grinder, making them space efficient too. However, having everything in one box means there’s more to go wrong, particularly in cheaper machines where some of the internal components are built down to a price.
For: Freshly ground coffee from one piece of kit, no barista knowledge needed
Against: More to go wrong, can be fiddly to clean, cheap machines can be unreliable
While we appreciate that there are many other ways of making coffee not covered in this article, we’ve tried to keep it simple. Some people we speak with are unaware of which type of machine best suits them, and without doubt many people have either made the wrong decision or been given poor advice, leaving them with a machine that’s not suitable for their needs.
When choosing a machine, don’t forget to also look at the ease of cleaning, the warranty cover you will get, and how easy they are to use. Review websites and online forums are a great source of opinion from people who already have the equipment you may be considering buying, so spend some time seeing what others before you have experienced.