Which type of coffee machine should I buy?

It’s time to ditch the takeaway and start brewing delicious home coffee instead.

No matter how you enjoy it, the aroma of coffee is a complex and multi-faceted experience that can be both inviting and invigorating – especially first thing in the morning. 

It’s perhaps no surprise then, that according to the British Coffee Association, us Brits are drinking almost 95 million cups of coffee every day, with the average person spending around £530 a year on takeaway coffees.  

With that in mind, the barrage of barista-style machines that can be used at home seem like a good investment. However, with so many different types of coffee maker available, it can be hard to know where to start.

Mature couple making coffee at home with an espresso machine, one of the different types of coffee maker available to buyCredit: Shutterstock/Karen Dole
There are many factors to consider when it comes what type of coffee machine to buy, including budget and ease of use

Unlike a cup of tea, where the biggest decision is tea bag or leaf, when it comes to coffee, there are many different types of coffee maker to choose from.   

While there are plenty of manual options to choose from such as the basic cafetière, when it comes to coffee machines with power, there are four main types to consider. 

Drip (or filter), pod, bean-to-cup and espresso machines all come in at a variety of prices and are great options if you’re looking to make that first coffee machine purchase. What you’ll end up choosing depends on many factors.  


Things to bear in mind when buying a coffee machine

The more expensive they are, the more complicated they tend to be, so paying more for an ultra-premium model isn’t always the best option.

If you’ve got a small kitchen, you’re not going to want a huge espresso machine, so consider dimensions before you make a purchase.

How much time do you have to make coffee every day? For those on the run, pod coffee is quick and convenient, while some smart coffee machines have a timer, so your coffee is ready for when you wake up.

There’s no point buying a filter coffee maker if you love a latte, while if you only exclusively drink espressos do you need a machine with a huge arrange of functions?

Different types of coffee makers use different forms of coffee. The type of great coffee you get from a local café has most likely been made with fresh beans, however, these need to be ground up. If you’re short on time, pre-ground or pods will be your friend.

Some machines have self-cleaning functions that make maintenance a breeze, while others may require more regular cleaning and descaling.

Drip Coffee Maker

Low cost and easy to use

Sage The Precision Brewer Coffee MachineCredit: Sage
This Sage Brewer Coffee Machine may be pricey, but it will make a more superior cup of coffee

A drip coffee maker heats up water and then pours it on ground coffee, via a filter, creating a large pot of coffee. Tom Saxon, co-founder of Batch Coffee, knows his beans when it comes to coffee. A simple drip coffee machine is his must-have. 

“The biggest advantage for me is the quality of coffee that you can brew with a drip coffee filter,” he explains. “You will be able to pick out the subtle complexities in the flavour profile.” 

What to look for when buying a drip coffee maker

While some drip coffee machines come with a permanent filter, most user filter papers. They do improve the taste of the coffee and are super convenient – you can just dump the grounds in the bin when your brew is finished – but can be an extra cost to consider. 

These produce a constant spray of water over the coffee, which ensures a more even saturation of the coffee grounds. This results in a much tastier cup of coffee. Try Kitchen Aid’s drop coffee maker (Argos, £139). It has a speciality spiral shower head, with 29 holes, which ensures a tasty cup of coffee. It also comes with different brew settings, so you have more control over the strength of your coffee. 

The Speciality Coffee Association recommends 200°F (93.33°C) as the optimal brewing temperature, so you want your drip coffee machine to reach between 198 °F to 205 °F to ensure you’re getting the most flavourful cup of coffee you can get. 

With prices starting as low as £15, these are a great entry level coffee machine. Not only are they cheap, but they’re pretty easy to use.  

“There is not a great deal that can go wrong,” says Saxon. “A drip coffee machine has a couple of steps that can be perfected but on the whole, you will be able to brew great coffee from the start.” 

Saxon suggests spending as much as your budget allows on this style of coffee machine – choosing the Sage Precision Brewer (Lakeland, £199) as his must-have maker – as this will improve the quality of your finished cup. 

“Buying a cheap drip coffee maker can sometimes produce a poor coffee as the water temperature can be too hot or cold and the brew water can pour over the grinds too quick or not quick enough,” he says. “That’s why it’s always important to invest just that little bit more and the quality is unbeatable.” 

The one big advantage of drip coffee makers is you don’t need to brew each cup individually, making them a good choice for families or gatherings. They also keep the coffee warm so it can last through a long Sunday brunch or if you have people waking up at different times. They’re also the perfect coffee maker to create one of these coffee station ideas around.


  • Keeps your coffee warm throughout the day
  • Easy to use
  • Makes a big pot of coffee 


  • Needs to be cleaned thoroughly after every use
  • You can’t control the flavour as much as you can with other machines
  • Only makes regular filter coffee

Pod machine

Coffee at the push of a button

Light kitchen with coffee machine and cup of aroma coffee with capsules pods on white marble boardCredit: Shutterstock/ DenisMArt
Coffee pod machines offer the ultimate in convenience when it comes to making coffee at home

The coffee pod machine is the shortcut way to produce a cup of coffee. Simply fill up a water tank, slip in a coffee pod and press a button and within seconds, you’ll have a hot cup of coffee.  

First launched by Nestle with the Nespresso in 1986, it’s fast becoming a must-have for many homes. Cost is a major element in this as they’re currently on sale for as little as £35. However, while you might outlay less cash initially on the machine, the pods themselves can be much more expensive. 

There’s also the problem of sustainability. Tim Ridley, the founder of United Baristas, says that while pods are convenient, they’re not very eco-friendly. 

“Pods are the most carbon intensive way to make coffee out of all the filter methods,” he says. “Tasty beans and a French Press can make much tastier coffee, and the carbon footprint is significantly lower, but the convenience of pods is great,” he says.  


What to look for when buying a pod coffee machine

Some coffee pod makers only make espressos, which isn’t good if you’re hankering after a cappuccino. A good pod machine will have at least two size settings. Some may also have adjustable temperatures.

Many independent roasters like Blue Goose Coffee use the Nespresso style pods so if you want to explore different blends, this is the safest bet. 

Some pod machines are now compatible with apps or voice control, which means you can make your coffee from the comfort of your bedroom, ready to drink when you come downstairs.

Lex Thornely, co-founder of Blue Goose Coffee who produces compostable, plastic-free coffee pods says the key to making good coffee in a pod machine is to choose the best quality.  

“You just have to be picky about what machine you use, and the types of coffee pods you buy,” he says. “The key is quality, so don’t skimp and pick the highest quality blends you can.” 

He recommends investing in an Opal One coffee pod machine (£144.99). It has advanced brewing features that come closer to replicating that barista taste.  

Some pods do use instant coffee – usually those that also have powdered milk – so he advises instead choosing pods made with high-quality, freshly roasted coffee beans. Aside from his own brand, Thornley also loves Flying Horse Organic Espresso Capsules (£4.95) or Ozone Roasters Coffee Pods (from £6.50). 

Overall, coffee pod machines are great for convenience, especially if you want to make a quick cup of coffee at the touch of a button. They’re also easy to clean, which is another plus, but they may not make the most authentic cup of coffee.  


  • Small enough for most kitchens 
  • Easy to use and clean 
  • Can make a variety of drinks with it 


  • Not very sustainable 
  • Can’t modify the strength or flavour 
  • Pods can be expensive 

Bean-to-cup machine

Convenient with a true barista taste

De’Longhi bean to cup machine on a kitchen worktopCredit: De’Longhi
A bean-to-cup machine, such as the La Specialista Arte Evo, is a nice bridge between a pod and full-on espresso machine

A bean-to-cup coffee machine grinds the coffee beans and immediately brews a cup of coffee. They have become increasingly popular in recent years, as they offer a convenient and easy way to make an authentic tasting cup of coffee.  

A completely automatic process, all you need to do is add water and throw the coffee beans into the grinder. Then, just press a button and go. 

What to look for when buying a bean-to-cup machine

Look for models with high-quality, burr grinders that can produce consistent, fine grounds for optimal flavour extraction – adjustable ones are great to really get that custom coffee pull,” advises Cross.

Check to see if the machine offers customisable brewing settings that allow you to adjust the strength, volume, and temperature of your coffee.  

“This will give you more control over the brewing process and allow you to fine-tune your coffee to your specific taste preferences as well as the specific variety of beans used,” says Cross. 

If you want milky coffee drinks, this can save time as it produces lovely frothy milk for you without the need for a steam wand.

A good step up from the coffee pod machine and yet not quite as difficult to master as a full-on espresso machine, these types of machine are quite pricey. Head roaster Andy Cross at Two Chimps Coffee says for a machine like this, it’s important to buy quality. 

“Don’t go for a super, super cheap machine – it won’t last!” he says. 

“Ensure the machine does what you want it to do – if you only want to make Americano coffees without milk, you don’t need a machine that can steam milk. If you are looking to make milky coffees like lattes, then you need one with a quality steam wand.” 

If cost is no problem, Cross recommends the Sage Barista Express (Amazon, £550). “These are expensive but will last for years and years!” he assures.  

Ridley says running costs can be a bit prohibitive when it comes to this style of coffee machine, so it’s worth bearing this in mind before you take the leap. 

“They are quite energy intensive,” he says. “For my money, it’s better value to invest in a good coffee grinder, such as the Niche (£499) and brew freshly ground coffee at home.” 


  • Produces a great tasting cup of coffee 
  • Super easy to use 


  • Energy intensive, so can cost a lot to run 
  • Needs a lot of cleaning 
  • Expensive 

Espresso machine

Takes some practice

Silver espresso machine illustrating the different types of coffee makerCredit: Shutterstock/Tatoka
While an espresso machine will create the most authentic barista-style coffee, they can take some getting used to – and they’re often quite bulky

One for true coffee connoisseurs, an espresso machine, allows you to make proper barista coffee at home. Using ground coffee to make a shot of espresso, a lot of models have steam arms or milk frothers for smooth cappuccinos or lattes. 

If you’ve got the budget, James Gray, founder of roasters Barista & Co, says you can’t beat a manual espresso machine. He advises looking for a simple machine and one that will last the distance.  

“We favour manual espresso machines over bean-to-cup and automatic machines as they can be serviced and repaired,” he advises. “If you look after them, they can last up to 15 years, sometimes more.” 

What to look for when buying an espresso machine

Not all espresso machines have a built-in grinder so you may have to buy this separately. Gray advises spending as much as you can on a burr grinder, such as the Cuisinart Burr Mill (Amazon, £63.95), and recommends you avoid blade grinders.

How often are you going to use your machine? If you’re at home and brewing constantly, then you’ll need a larger water capacity. Go for a machine with over a litre in capacity, otherwise you’ll be refilling it constantly. 

If you want a versatile machine that can also make milky-coffee drinks, then this is essential to froth up the milk.

The one downside of many espresso machines is the size, however, James says sleeker machines are more readily available now. He recommends the Profitec Go, which isn’t cheap at £769, but the slimline design and ease of use makes it a great buy. Plus, it comes in lots of jazzy colours if you want to step away from boring black.   

Unlike the other types of coffee maker, the espresso machine does take some practice to produce the perfect cup. Saxon says it takes a while to learn the proper skills that baristas have. 

“Just be aware that it may take you a while to reach anywhere near the point of your local baristas oat flat white,” he says.  

“There is a skill to extracting espresso and steaming milk. However, it’s not rocket science and as long as you’re able to dedicate a bit of time to perfecting your new trade then you will be banging out lattes in no time.” 

There’s also a bit of maths involved in making the perfect brew, so Gray recommends buying some coffee scales, such as the Timer digital scales (Amazon, £45.99). 

“In very basic terms you want to double the amount of coffee you get out compared to what you put in,” he explains. “If you use 10 grams of coffee, you are looking for 20 grams of espresso out with a brew time of 25 seconds.” 


  • Versatile, can be used to make all coffees and even tea 
  • Authentic tasting coffee 


  • More expensive than other types
  • Can be tricky to set up and use 
  • Machines can be quite big
Jayne Cherrington-Cook

Written by Jayne Cherrington-Cook she/her


Jayne is the Senior Editor at Saga Exceptional. She cut her online journalism teeth 23 years ago in an era when a dialling tone and slow page load were standard. During this time, she’s written about a variety of subjects and is just at home road-testing TVs as she is interviewing TV stars.

A diverse career has seen Jayne launch websites for popular magazines, collaborate with top brands, write regularly for major publications including Woman&Home, Yahoo! and The Daily Telegraph, create a podcast, and also write a tech column for Women’s Own.

Jayne lives in Kent with a shepsky, her husband and her son, who is attempting to teach her the ways of TikTok, Aston Villa and anime. A keen neurodivergent ally after her son was diagnosed as autistic five years ago, when Jayne does have some rare downtime she enjoys yoga, reading, going to musicals and attempting to emulate Beyonce (poorly) in street dance classes.

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