If you started getting serious about your coffee, then you most likely consider buying one. ‘But which one?’ you may say, and my duty today is to clear any misconceptions and to provide you a detailed guide as which type to buy, what should you look in each type of machine, and some general tips to help you in your journey because I know that it can get a little overwhelming at first. If you have a small kitchen, then this guide will be perfect for you, because we reviewed the best coffee makers for small spaces.
Before starting, I want to state some benefits of having a coffee machine at the comfort of your house. First off its cost, yes some of these machines in this article may have a premium up-front cost, but over time you’ll save a lot of money. Just calculate how much have you spent at your favorite corner coffee shop. It is worth mentioning that all of these machines have mind-bending lifespans. The second benefit is that coffee is good for your health, your heart mostly. You can find a ton of articles on the internet and on the news, and you can even ask your doctor to tell you about the benefits that consuming caffeine gives to your cardiovascular health, concentration, and kidneys to name a few. Thirdly, the experience is something else. The smell of coffee in your home will make your mornings 100 times better. Pouring your heart in the beverage you are making is the best part of it though, and seeing the smile you put on your loved ones face is priceless.
The first question you must ask yourself when you want to buy a coffee machine is what type of coffee machine you want. This can depend a lot, on your taste, the beverages you want to prepare, your budget, and your skill level, although not as much because you will learn so much on the way and you can outgrow a machine so fast. Coffee is a matter of passion and taste, so after all choose what your heart wants.
Types Of Coffee Machines
Drip Coffee Machines – This type of coffee machine works by dripping hot water through the ground coffee, which then goes through the filter into the carafe.
This results in black coffee, the most widely drunk coffee in the USA, the taste of this coffee will be smooth and bold. This is perfect for those that want to drink coffee all the time or prepare for more people.
These are very easy to operate and will result in decent coffee consistently. You won’t get the flexibility or a wide variety of drinks you can prepare though.
When choosing a drip coffee machine it is important to look at its output volume, brew temperature and speed, as these will have the biggest effect on the flavor of your coffee.
Pod Coffee Machines – The pod or capsule machines have the highest cost per coffee than other types of machines, but they excel in simplicity.
To prepare coffee with this kind of machine just pop in the pod and just press a button, it is really as easy as it sounds. On top of that you get a wide variety of flavors and boldness you can choose from, for example, you can brew coffee with vanilla or chocolate flavor, and even decaf coffee if you are in it just for the taste.
As for the qualities to look for in a pod machine are, its temperature settings, the availability and cost of the pods, and the time it needs to prepare the first brew.
Bean-to-Cup Machines – Or full-automatic espresso machines are for those that want to drink espresso, however, can’t be bothered with the steps of preparing one in a manual machine. This machine doesn’t require a grinder or anything else.
It completes all the functions in the body. To prepare a coffee with this machine, you just put in your preferred espresso roast beans and just press a button to get instant espresso, and you don’t need to clean-up the machine in between shots. These machines are very costly up-front though but are extremely convenient.
If you choose to go higher in the price range, these machines even froth the milk automatically providing you milky espresso drinks such as cappuccino or latte macchiato.
When shopping for this kind of a machine you should look for is its pressure and temperature, the type of drinks it can prepare and its price.
Manual Espresso Machines – The ‘crème de la crème’, with this kind of machines you can recreate the drinks that your hipster barista makes. It offers full flexibility as you can create any kind of espresso drink from this machine.With this kind of machine, you get the best coffee experience, and you will see that there is a lot to learn, such as grinding and measuring the coffee, tamp it, the time it takes to brew a full shot, the milk frothing process and a lot more.
To brew coffee with this kind of machine you will most definitely need a grinder, so it would be wise to invest in a grinder as well.
Be sure to check out my list for the best coffee grinders. To brew coffee with a manual machine you first need to grind the beans, put the coffee in the portafilter, tamp it, and then start brewing, little more steps but it will be worth every single step.
When buying a manual espresso machine it is important to check how long does it take for the machine to heat up, if it keeps the temperature and pressure levels, the requirement for water filters, the ease of use for the steam wand, and the size.
The Top 8 Best Coffee Machines
8. BUNN BT Velocity Brew – Best Value
The BUNN BT Velocity Brew is an excellent drip coffee maker that will provide you fast and hot delicious coffee day in and day out, and nothing but. It is not as feature-packed as some models that are on the market, however, it is designed and manufactured to brew coffee to perfection. If you can’t be bothered with fancy looks and features, and just prefer your coffee black and hot, the BUNN BT Velocity Brew is a remarkable choice.
The BUNN BT Velocity Brew has a utilitarian design, that looks very basic and plain, and it is very large measuring 15x7x13-inches, covering a large foot space, meaning that if you want a compact machine you have to look elsewhere. I can comfortably say that it doesn’t have serious aesthetics with its polycarbonate lid on top, however, thanks to the brushed metallic highlights and smooth black plastic on its base give it an acceptable look for the kitchen.
The BUNN BT Velocity Brew shines in its ease of use and functionality. This machines water tank holds 100-ounces of water, an equivalent of 20 cups twice the capacity of the thermal carafe, and it preheats that water to brew the coffee as quickly as possible.
It is very simple to brew coffee with the Velocity Brew, just top the reservoir with water, just turn the device on. While the water is heating, place the paper filter into the brew funnel, and your desired amount of coffee on top of it, then close the lid and it will start brewing.
As its name implies the BUNN BT Velocity Brew, boasts the fastest brewing times, but it doesn’t sacrifice in the price, in fact, it tastes perfect for drip coffee. In my tests, it brews a full pot of coffee in just under four minutes, destroying its competition by a landslide. It achieved 200 degrees Fahrenheit in just under a minute in the brewing chamber, and it maintained the heat for the entirety of the brewing cycle.
I was very impressed with the taste of the coffee that this machine produced, it was rich and bold. It is also worth stating that the thermal carafe can keep the coffee over 150 degrees Fahrenheit for 4 hours, before dropping after the 4-hour mark.
7. Moccamaster KBT 741 – Best in the Market
Now imagine this, take a utilitarian drip-coffee machine, refine its features and performances to sci-fi levels, tweak its design to look like an art piece, and hand build it in the Netherlands. No need to imagine because Technivorm has already produced said machine, the Moccamaster KBT 741. It has a premium price, however, it produces the best drip coffee that you can ever find.
Design-wise the Moccamaster KBT 741 looks perfect, very streamlined with its sharp angles and cutting edge lines that create negative spaces, in love with this design. It is built with metal, plastic, and glass, and it is combined in a contemporary shape and design.
It has a rectangular black base that houses a black tower that carries the trapezoid shape water reservoir. On its right there is the plastic funnel, sitting on top of the stainless steel thermal carafe. It has almost the same measurements as the Bunn BT, but it doesn’t look as huge as that, perfect for most kitchens.
The whole device is well-thought to be as functional as it is good looking. It is made very easy to pour water into the tank because its lid comes off completely, also the amount of water inside is clearly marked. The device comes apart in a breeze and you can easily hand wash every part throughout. Brewing coffee with the Moccamaster KBT 741 besides being easy, it is also fun. After filling the water tank, placing the filter and the grounds in the funnel, you just press the on the switch, and you’ll see some bubbles appearing in the tube that is located in the water tank, it looks like a lava lamp, very amusing.
When it comes to performance the Moccamaster KBT 741 doesn’t disappoint, it consistently brews delicious coffee with plenty of richness and flavor. It brews 10 cups in a single cycle and it completes the cycle in just under 6 minutes. It achieved 200-degree Fahrenheit in about 1 and a half minute, and it was able to keep at that temperature through the cycle. When I tested against other machines with the same high-quality beans, it produced significantly better results.
Simply the best drip coffee maker in the market.
Pod Coffee Machines
6. Keurig K575 – Best Quality
If you have decided on a pod machine, you can’t go wrong with a Keurig machine and their low costing K-pods. The Keurig K575 is a solid machine with a quality build, that will produce consistent results throughout its life. It is equipped with tons of features such as strength control and it can output hot water at will for your other hot beverages, it is really easy to use and will please you with its performance.
This machine is very well designed, a lot of thought is put into it. It is a rather minimalist design, despite having a display on its front side.
The device’s body has a streamlined look with its rounded angle from top to bottom, I think it will look good on every modern kitchen. The display of the device also works as the control panel of the device, where you can adjust settings, or even pre-program a brewing time for each morning.
The build quality of the Keurig K575 is extraordinary, very solid and sturdy, it will be your morning companion for a long time.
The Keurig K575 is extremely easy to use and it is also pretty versatile, you can choose from 8 beverage size options, you can brew a single cup of coffee or even a full pot, it isn’t limiting.
From the control panel you are able to adjust the strength of the device pretty easily, in addition to that, you get the temperature control settings. This machine is also a pretty solid option for those who want their coffee fast, as it takes only 2 minutes for the water to be heated to the proper temperature, and just under a minute to brew a full cup of coffee.
Depending on the flavor of the K-pod you get, the taste will depend, however, neither of them disappoints and all of them are very rich tasting with strong coffee flavor. The cleaning of this device is pretty straightforward, as the tank can be cleaned in hand, and the machine will give you the proper instructions when it needs to be descaled.
5. Nespresso VertuoPlus – Closest to Espresso Taste
The original Nespresso machines were all focused on just producing small espresso drinks, such as ristretto, espresso, and lungo. This time around with the new Vertuo system, the machine uses a centrifugal brewing system that can deliver small espresso drinks, also larger cups of rich coffee. It is perfectly designed and you can choose from an astounding range of pods or capsules, with different tastes, boldness, and largeness.
I will say this again, the Nespresso VertuoPlus is perfectly designed. It resembles the traditional Nespresso machines but it is more refined and streamlined. It has a large water tank with a capacity of 1.7-liters, that is needed for producing larger beverages.
The build quality is also excellent, and this device doesn’t compromise in sturdiness. I liked the movable drip tray to accommodate different cup sizes, it is worth stating that its mechanism provided smooth movement that was very natural.
The Nespresso VertuoPlus is arguably the easiest coffee machine to use, the device uses a system to read a barcode on the pods to determine what kind of drink it is and how to brew it properly, so you do not need to do anything else besides putting the pod in its place and press the button on top of the device.
It uses a Centrifusion technology to brew the coffee, it works by piercing a bigger hole in the middle and 18 smaller holes around the edges of the pod. Then it spins the pod at 7000 rotations per minute and drops the water into it through the middle hole and takes it out from the edges.
The cost per pod is a little high with this machine, however, this is the closest you can get to the espresso quality without a manual espresso machine, it is very convenient and perfect for those that can afford and know how to value such a product. It is also fairly easy to clean and maintain, so close to perfect.
An amazing pod coffee maker, the Nespresso VertuoPlus will fulfill your coffee needs, plus it is advertised by George Clooney, so there’s that too.
4. Gaggia Velasca – Best Budget Option
The Gaggia Velasca is an excellent bean-to-cup fully automatic espresso machine, that is very compact, provides great espresso, and it is very easy to maintain. It is a very affordable price for a bean-to-cup machine and can fit into the smallest spaces around your kitchen, unlike other bean-to-cup machines.
Despite being very cheap for its type, the Gaggia Velasca looks and feels premium. Its body is constructed with matte-black plastic, with an arched front panel this device will fit into any kitchen with ease. Talking about fitting in the Gaggia Velasca measures just 256x340x444mm in total so you can place it anywhere. On the front of the device, you will find a display that is surrounded by one-touch buttons for brewing coffee, you will also find the steam wand that is manual and is very fun to learn to use.
The top of the device houses the hopper that has a capacity of 300grams, which is pretty good. On it you will also find the grinder controls, so you can adjust if needed depending on your beans. From the aforementioned control panel, you can use the dedicated buttons to make coffee, such as espresso or lungo. Pressing one of the buttons twice will result in two doses of the same beverage. From there you can also select the strength of your brew, it does this by adjusting the amount of coffee that goes in your drink.
There is also an option to dispense hot water, for tea, hot chocolate, or for your americanos. The steam button turns on the steam want, as you see everything is very intuitive and easy to use.
I’m an avid espresso drinker, so at first, I tried single shot espresso from this machine, it poured it in a consistent manner with oily crema on top, excellent. The taste was very good and creamy with the good temperature at the just-right 62-degrees celsius, it really performed better than I expected. The steam wand performed OK, because it had only on or off option and nothing in between, so it was difficult to control it.
Amazing bean-to-cup machine providing amazing value for its price.
3. Gaggia Anima Prestige – Best High-end Machine
The Gaggia Anima Prestige is really a perfect bean-to-cup coffee machine, it is classified as super-automatic, thanks to its ability to brew perfectly frother milky coffee drinks in just a press of a button. It provides you excellent features, 3 different temperature settings, easy access to the water tank and bean hopper. and excellent customer support.
The Gaggia Anima Prestige is a very compact machine measuring just 16.9×8.7×13.4-inches in total, so it is able to fit into the tightest kitchens. It has a stainless steel body that makes it look very attractive, and combined with its rectangular design completes the classic look. A truly Italian looking machine. With proper maintenance, this excellent machine will hold up for at least a decade in your house before you need to change.
The device has a 1.7-liter removable water tank that is designed to be as convenient as possible. The bean hopper is very easy to access and holds about 250grams of beans inside it, also it is worth stating that is very easy to change grind size and it can handle even pre-ground coffee if you choose to use them.
The device offers a lot of controls and it is truly a one-button brewer/frother, you just press the button corresponding to your drink and it is all done, the machine will brew your beverage in a matter of seconds. It also gives you the control of choosing the brew strength depending on your preference.
The taste of the coffee with Gaggia Anima Prestige was marvelous, it could brew true espresso with lots of crema at the right temperature.
There was a problem with other Anima machines outputting rather weak coffee, however, the problem has disappeared here. Cappuccinos and lattes were also perfect, the milk was frothed to flawlessness, as in the hands of an experienced barista.
Cleaning is very easy with the Gaggia Anima Prestige, as it has an automatic cleaning cycle that does everything you need shot after shot, other than that you need to wipe your device, and descale it every 3 months or so. A truly remarkable machine.
2. DeLonghi EC155 – Best Budget Espresso Machine
Some may argue that brewing espresso drinks in the comfort of your home can have high initial costs, however, the DeLonghi EC155 proves that theory wrong. It will provide you an excellent quality espresso, plus lattes and cappuccinos thanks to its excellent steam wand. Of course, it can’t achieve the excellent consistency of high-end robust machines, but with a little patience, you can recreate your favorite coffee beverages in your home.
The DeLonghi EC155 resembles more to pod coffee machines due to its size, measuring 10.25x7x8.25-inches taking small foot space on your countertop and weighs just 3.25kg in total. The 1-liter water tank is removable for convenience and quick fills. Its portafilter is beautifully designed and can withstand high temperatures and abuse. The device’s body is built from a combination of black plastic and stainless steel which looks very cute in my opinion, in proper Italian fashion.
The device is very easy to use, you will find a dial on the front face of the device, showing four different functions you can choose from. It also has indicator lights that tell you if the temperature of the water and the pressure is adequate for brewing espresso.
The DeLonghi EC155 can achieve 15-bars of pressure, just the right amount needed for quality espresso. However, this machine can be considered a little weak compared to elite espresso machines as it has just one boiler to provide water for both brewing and steaming. But in terms of quality drinks, it didn’t compromise but you’ll have to wait for in-between brews for better results, as it loses power rather quickly.
With a bit of experimenting and patience, the results were perfect, and it was able to froth the milk amazingly.
The DeLonghi EC155 will be a perfect tool for learning various techniques and honing your espresso brewing and milk frothing skills, so consider this as a stepping stone to more advanced machines.
1. Breville Barista Express – Best Overall Espresso Machine
If you have a little more relaxed budget the Breville the Barista Express is the best option on this list for an avid espresso drinker. This machine comes with an integrated hopper and grinder, so it will save you some money in that department, also on top of that, it comes with a good range of accessories, such as two filters, stainless steel milk jug, cleaning disc and tablets, brushes and many more.
The Breville the Barista Express measures just 16×13.5×12.5-inches, it may be a little wide but it’s a pretty good size for an espresso machine. It has a stainless steel body that looks like fun and ready to work, the portafilter is also made from stainless steel. Its dials and the bean hopper with the burr grinder really does it for this machine. It looks premium and sturdy all-around, on the front of the device you will find the control panel that has all the buttons and dials you will need, you will also spot the pressure gauge that tells you if you are ready to brew espresso.
Directly under the grinder, you will spot a place to store your portafilter and the ground coffee will be automatically deployed there if you press the grind button. Then after that, you can easily tamp the coffee down with the metal tamper that is also included in the package after that just insert the portafilter in the group head and press the button to brew espresso. The steam wand and the hot water nozzle that also works pretty well and is conveniently placed on the far right of the machine.
The espresso brewed from the Breville the Barista Express is excellent, it tasted like heaven and it had all the aromas and flavors from the beans that I tasted. With the burr grinder, I was able to grind it perfectly and the steam wand operated like a dream, where I frothed the milk to perfection and I was able to practice my latte art techniques.
With the Breville the Barista Express you will get results you can get from machines 3 times its precise, a perfect machine.
Well, that’s it, my fellow coffee lovers. I hope I gave you an extensive idea on the benefits of owning a coffee machine, what type is for you, what to look for in each one and some solid options for each type. With the information from this article, you can now take your step into the coffee world, enjoy it, and don’t forget to drink your cup of Java while you’re at it.