Choosing a coffee machine for your home
A coffee machine can be the difference between being stuck at home drinking stale coffee and having freshly brewed coffee at your fingertips. Coffee is a drink that many people simply can't live without. It's a unique drink that wakes us up or, if it's late in the day, gives us that second wind. As a result, people tend to be very particular about how their coffee is made. However, not all coffee machines are created equal, so if you are a coffee lover, you will want to purchase a good quality coffee machine to help you create that ideal cup of coffee.
The first thing you need to do is determine what type of coffee machine you want. While it may seem like a simple question, there are so many different types of coffee machines that most people never really know where to start. A traditional electric coffee machine is very convenient when you just want a quick cup of coffee. There are also some coffee machines that will do more than just make one type of coffee, like espresso. There are many models of espresso machines that can brew several different types of coffee in the same machine. This type of coffee machine may not be as popular as it once was for home use but the fact that many people can afford it is a good thing. More people are willing to spend the money to get a good product that gives them all the convenience they want and more.
There are generally three types of coffee machines:
- Espresso - Espresso coffee machines look like miniature versions of the ones you see in coffee shops and use ground coffee instead of fresh beans. They come with lots of accessories too, such as a milk frothing jug, portafilter, tamper and interchangeable filters.
- Bean To Cup - These machines produce the freshest coffee because they have built-in grinders that grind beans moments before they are used, preserving the flavour of your coffee.
- Capsule / Pod - These machines make single-serve coffees using pods or capsules. They’re a fuss-free option and are consistent in what they produce.
Budget | Time | Maintenance are key items to be considered:
If you don't have a lot of time to invest in brewing your own cup of coffee, then you should consider buying an Capsule / Pod type coffee machine. In addition to the lower cost, when compared to other types of coffee machines, the Capsule / Pod type machines don't take a long time to make an espresso and you don't have to worry about maintenance and frequent detailed cleaning.
Today we'll focus on the Capsule / Pod type machines.
When choosing a Capsule / Pod type machine, there are five key considerations:
Budget - Are you willing to put down a pretty penny for a high-end appliance, or do you prefer to start with a basic model to ensure you’re committed to your coffee cause? Home coffee machines can vary from $70 to $800 for the capsule / pod style machines and upwards for other models.
Milk Frother - Ideal for those who love a cappuccino or a flat white, almost all pod machines will come with a milk frother. There are three types available:
- Automatic frothing - Machines with automatic frothers will usually have programs that allow you to froth milk or make a cappuccino by pressing a button. The detachable jug (for easy cleaning) is sealed and is usually made from plastic or glass with “min” and “max” markers. Some jugs will also have an adjustable spout that pours hot milk straight into a cup.
- Frothing accessory - These are similar to automatic milk frothers but tend to be separate from the coffee machine, so there isn’t an automatic frothing program available. Here, if you want to make a milky coffee, you’ll need to pour coffee and froth the milk manually. Some frothing accessories are also able to froth cold milk (for iced coffees).
- Steam wand - Used on commercial machines in coffee shops, a steam wand uses steam pressure to froth milk. It’s arguably the trickiest milk-steaming method, but it gives the user total control over the texture of the milk and produces fine and glossy microfoam - perfect for latte art. These are most commonly found on espresso coffee machines and some models come with an accompanying stainless steel milk jug so you're less likely to find these on capsule / pod style machines.
Automatic cleaning programs - Cleaning a coffee machine can be a bit of a faff, as there are so many parts, including internal ones that are tricky to deep clean. That’s why an automatic cleaning program can be handy as it will automatically flush the entire system. The length of a cleaning program varies with each machine - for capsule / pod style machines it is relatively short with day to day cleaning taking 30 seconds to 2 minutes but then there is descaling which is done occasionally and can take up to 1 hour. Some models feature specialized cleaning programs for the milk frother too.
Cost and availability of replacing the capsules / pods - Coffee capsules / pods generally cost from as low as $35 to as much as $120 for 60 to 100 capsules / pods depending on brand or machine compatibility. It is important to remember not to just look at the cost per capsule when purchasing machines, it is just as important to compare the cost to the size and weight of the capsules which will indicate the amount of coffee contained in each one.
Availability of resources to maintain the machine - It is important to determine whether people and parts are readily available to repair your machine in the even that it is damaged. Having an extensive warranty from the buyer would help to alleviate this risk.
Buying a coffee machine can be quite a big decision. It is important to think about all your options before buying one, including the different features and brands available. Most people will decide which one they prefer based on the reference, cost or the type of coffee they prefer. Once you have chosen the brand of machine that suits your taste, you can start to brew your first cup with confidence.
Note: We sell coffee pods that are compatible with the Nespresso OriginalLine, Nescafe Dolce Gusto, Starbucks Verismo, CaffItaly, CBTL and K-Fee machines. We will also be carrying 44mm ESE, A Modo Mio and Espresso Point capsules from April 8th, 2021.
Sources:  Danielle Direto-Meston. The Best Home Espresso Machines to Upgrade Your Basic Brew, The Rolling Stones. 2020 September 29.  Lydia Anderson. Coffee machines explained: How to pick between bean-to-cup, pod and espresso models. Good House Keeping. 2020 April 17.