Best Coffee Machine 2021 | Your Expert Guide | Balance Coffee

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Best Coffee Machine 2021 | Your Expert Guide

Best Coffee Machine 2021 | Your Expert Guide

If you’re looking to buy your first ever coffee machine for home, or you’re simply looking to upgrade your existing machine, then you’ve come to the right place.

There are a number of important factors you’ll need to consider before making your new purchase so we’ve put together this article to help you work out how to choose the best coffee machine for your needs.

Today we’ve invited Balance Coffee founder James Bellis to talk all about the best coffee machines money can buy. James has spent over ten years working in the coffee industry, and six years working exclusively with espresso machines

So he’s well placed to deliver this expert guide so you can be sure to pick the best coffee machine for your kitchen counter.

James Bellis-balance-coffee

James’ Background

James worked for one of the worlds most iconic Italian coffee machine brands ‘Sanremo Coffee Machines’, so has tonnes of world class experience when it comes to choosing the right machine.

What do you think makes the best home coffee machine?

Coffee is very subjective, so it really depends on your taste preference first. For example, are you a black coffee drinker? Do you prefer flat whites? All these questions are really important questions to ask yourself before you hit ‘buy’ on a machine.

In this article we cover the four main types of coffee machines available. We also share some pre-purchase considerations you’ll need to think about. Such as, power, counter-space, manual vs automatic plus more.

By the end, you’ll have all the info you need to create the perfect barista experience from the comfort of your own home!

  • So let’s get started.

What to consider when Buying a Coffee Maker

There are a few important things you’ll want to think about about before you start looking for the best coffee machine online. We’ve broken these down so that you choose the right machine first time around.

Wholebean or Ground?

This may seem like an obvious one, but deciding whether you want to buy coffee beans whole or ground coffee will impact the type of coffee machine you decide to buy. How?

Well if you can’t be bothered to grind your coffee fresh (we recommend you do for flavour), then you won’t need to buy a bean to cup coffee machine or a machine that has a built-in coffee grinder.

Price/Budget

It’s good to determine your budget and the price you are willing to pay for your new home coffee machine up front. If you’re looking to make excellent cafe quality coffee at home then you’re going to need the best coffee machine on the market.

If you’re a big coffee drinker and you currently spend money in cafes or at work, then you may actually save money by replacing your coffee shop habit with coffee at home.

With a huge shift in the work from home culture, it could be the perfect time to consider investing in a home coffee machine. There’s one suggestion I have to help you figure  out whether you should buy a machine or not.

coffee-machine-calculator
Obviously, there’s the cost of
buying coffee beans, milk and some basic maintenance but it’s likely worth the investment.

Want to get straight to our recommendations and prices? Let us take you there. 

Location & Counter Space

Where will your new coffee machine be situated? On the kitchen counter, in a utility room, or perhaps an outdoor space?

Once you’ve decided on the location, you’ll need to make sure you allow space enough depth, width and height to fit in your machine. Carefully measure the footprint you are working with and don’t forget to allow enough room for additional accessories such as a coffee grinder
Finally, ensure you allow some counter space for some small accessories such as a coffee tamper, tamp matt, coffee scales (this is often overlooked).

Plumbed or Tank Option

There are generally two options to choose from when you’re buying the best coffee machine for home use.

Let’s start with the plumbed option. For example, if you choose a high end espresso machine you’ll likely need to think more carefully about how you plumb the machine in to your mains water feed. This will likely add on(£100) and is something that will need replacing periodically.
The tank fed option is great if you don’t have the space under counter or if you simply want an all in one solution.

The good news? Not all espresso machines require plumbed option. For example, the Sage Coffee Machines have a built in water tank which you’ll manually re-fill each day to keep your water supply fresh.

Power Requirements

Luckily, most coffee machine brands in 2021 and beyond have carefully thought about kitchen requirements so most of the best coffee machine you buy are plug and play via your usual kitchen plug socket.

However, it’s best to double check as some larger machines may require a higher power solution.

Cleaning

A clean machine equals delicious coffee. Choosing a machine with a simple cleaning process is another top tip.

Let’s be honest, not many of us enjoy cleaning, so choosing a machine with a straightforward cleaning process will make all the difference and ensure longevity from your purchase.

Reliability & Warranty Support

This is really important consideration, because all machines run into technical trouble at some point, even the best coffee machine. Coffee machines are really jut sophisticated kitchen kettles. Over time, they build up with limescale and clog up with will need de-scaling, servicing or replacing.

Choosing a reliable and trusted manufacturer who offer fantastic service support is one of the most important aspects to consider when purchasing your home coffee machine. Luckily, we’ve included trusted brands inside this article to help you buy the best coffee machine.

Four Types of Coffee Machines

There are a four main coffee machine types that you can choose from. Each type naturally has its pros and cons so it’s important to think about your coffee making style and preferences. But not to worry, we’ve covered everything for you below.

Jump to section:

1. Espresso Machine

The biggest question you’ll need to ask yourself with an espresso machine is, “Do I love properly made coffees like espresso, flat whites, and cappuccinos enough to invest? If so, you’ll need an espresso machine to execute the drinks as you simply can’t make those menu drinks without it.

Eagle One Prima

Pros:

First up is the famous espresso machine. In terms of the coffee quality, you just can’t get better. But why?

Quality Coffee
Made from durable components the espresso machine is designed for stability and longevity. Investing in an espresso machine is the way to go if you really care about creating a home barista experience inside every single cup.

Drink Diversity
The great thing about an espresso machine is that you can make a huge range of coffee drinks that you might find on the coffee shop menu. Espresso, Americano, Flat Whites, Cappuccinos, Hot Chocolates, Mochas and more. Great if you have your family and friends round and want to pull something different out the bag. If you really want to show off, then why not make espressos martini’s at home with your new purchase? We do!

Experimentation
Are you a big coffee fan? Do you enjoy tasting and learning about different coffees and their origins? An espresso machine really allows yo to experiment at home and you may find yourself with a brand new hobby.

At Balance we have a discovery coffee subscription whereby each month you’ll receive an exciting new flavour which gets delivered to your door. These coffees are a mix of the most rare and exclusive coffees in season that month

Latte Art 
Latte art is another big benefit of owning an espresso machine. Do you want the luxury of pouring yourself a heart shaped flat white in the morning? If so, then the steam power from an espresso machine is second to none. There are even some dedicated espresso machines for latte, which have been designed to give you perfect foamy results.

Designed to make the perfect micro-foam texture, you’ll really enjoy sipping on your creamy morning latte with your hand poured shape. There are plenty of latte art superstars who have great tips and tutorials on youtube so you can learn from home.

There are other milk foamers or frothers available however, you’ll never get the same texture because the machines are simply not powerful enough to create high quality steam pressure.

Cons:

Price / Cost
There’s no doubt about it, compared to manual coffee brewers they are certainly pricey. A decent home espresso machine is going to set you back somewhere between £400 and £6,000. Now this is a big gap, so you can certainly find something to suit your budget. There are many payment solutions available such as, Buy Now, Pay Later.

Counter Space
Loosing some of that precious kitchen counter space is another consideration. But what would you rather? A toaster or that perfect coffee every morning? I know what I’d choose.

Ease Of Use 
Making your morning flat white is surprisingly quick on an espresso machine (60 seconds) but you’ll need to enjoy this coffee making process. If you like pushing a button for a quick hit then maybe the bean to cup machine is the best solution for you.

The Best Espresso Machine

If you’re looking for the best espresso machine, we’ve put together a short list of most recommended machine to buy.

*Price – High to Low

1. Eagle One Prima Coffee Machine by Victoria Arduino – RRP £5,040

2. The Cube by Sanremo Coffee Machines UK – RRP – £3,800

3. Dual Boiler Machine by Sage – RRP – £1,195

4. The Barista Pro by Sage – RRP – £699

5. The Bambino Plus by Sage – RRP – £399

2. Bean to Cup Coffee Machine

If you’re looking for an easy way to make great coffee at home, then a Bean to Cup machine might just be for you. In this section we discuss the pros and cons and share the best bean to cup machine options that money can buy.

Sage-oracle-touch-black-truffle

Pros:

Convenience 
One of the best things about a bean to cup coffee machine is the convenience. If you lead a busy lifestyle or just simply want the machine to do the work, then it’s probably a good route to go down.

Automation
One of the main differences between an espresso machine and a bean to cup, is the manual vs automatic aspect. There’s without doubt a drop in quality using a bean to cup machine but you might only notice it if you’re a real coffee aficionado (aka fussy about your coffee).

One common mis-conception is that a bean to cup makes coffee faster than an espresso machine. It’s not necessarily the case. But don’t get us wrong. pushing a button to get your morning coffee certainly feels like a faster more convenient ‘hack’.

Freshly Ground Coffee
Another benefit of the bean to cup machine is the built in coffee grinder. Your bean to cup allows you to buy some of the best coffee beans online which is an immediate upgrade in quality if you currently drink ground coffee.

Cons:

Price / Cost
Compared to some of the filter coffee machines or manual coffee brewers, they can still be pricey and again, take up some potentially precious counter space. However, if you’re working from home then a good coffee machine is likely going to be an essential investment.

Prices for Bean to cup machines vary but they sit somewhere between £200 and £3,000. Again, you’ll likely find a solution within your price range and there are many payment solutions you can use, such as Buy Now, Pay Later with Klarna or Clearpay.

Milk Quality
One downside to the bean to cup solutions is the milk quality. By quality we mean that silky, creamy texture you get from your local coffee shop – nothing beats it. With an espresso machine,  you’re using a high powered steam wand to texturise the milk to produce something spectacular in your morning cup (image below).

health-benefits-to-coffee
However, there are some great bean to cup machines that texture the milk well nowadays. We’ve shared our top five recommendations on the best bean to cup machine you can buy.

The Best Bean to Cup Machine

If an automatic solution is up your street, then you’ll be looking for the best bean to cup coffee machines. Here’s a short list to help you explore the best option for you.

*Price – High to Low

1. The Oracle Touch by Sage – RRP – £1999

2. TI353201GB by Siemens – RRP – £429

3. The Automatic Espresso Machine by Smeg – RRP – £399

4. Magnifica S by De’Longhi – RRP – £335

5. Solo Perfect Milk by Melitta RRP – £286

3. Pod / Capsule Machine

Pod coffee machines take up a huge part of the UK coffee at home market. They provide a great balance between affordability and ease of use. There’s no doubt you can make a quick coffee in the morning with a pod machine. Below we explore the best pod machines for you to explore before you make your purchase.

pod-machine

The Best Pod Machine

Below we share the advantages and disadvantages of pod coffee – plus, our list of the top 5 capsule machines so you’ll get the most out of that morning hit.

Pros:

Price
Pod machines are generally small and do a simple job of making capsule coffee. For this reason, they are more straightforward and one of the more affordable options on our expert guide to finding the best coffee machine.

Convenience
Similarly to a bean to cup machine, a pod coffee machine is highly convenient. You simply buy coffee pods and insert them into the machine and press brew. Within 25-30 seconds you’ll have an espresso ready to go.

Perfect if you’re on the move or need to get out of the house early and take that morning shot of coffee.

Speed
One of the great things about capsule coffee machines, otherwise know as pods, is the speed. You can always heat up milk separately and add it to the pod espresso shot but nevertheless, it’s a great solution if you have places to be.

Flavour
Pods are getting better in flavour than before, because technology is allowing greater freshness. However, the golden rule to finding the best coffee pods available is ‘roast date’. Most coffee roasters import the pods using coffee from countries overseas. Often this will impact the coffee quality compared to their regular wholebean or ground coffee roasted in the UK.

Another big tip is to avoid buying pods from the supermarkets. They are typically left in storage for long periods of time before they hit the shelces, and that impacts quality. If you can, buy online to get the best flavour coffee pods at home.

Cons:

Price
Some coffee pods are quite expensive when you work it out on a ‘per cup’ basis. For example, buying high quality beans or ground will cost you approximately 50p per cup (before adding milk) which is pretty affordable. Nespresso pods for example cost about 45p per pod. The difference in quality is not comparable so you’ll want to think about what the best option is for you.

Quality 
Coffee Pods produce decent quality espresso however, it’s ultimately pre-ground coffee added inside a capsule. Ground coffee is never as good as wholebean coffee, because it quickly begins to deteriorate. You’ll never get better than buying whole beans but that’s entirely up to you.

Compatibility
There are some challenges around finding the right sized coffee pods to fit your coffee machine. This is one of the downsides to pods and is a common mistake people have. Particularly if you buy a new machine and they fit a more unknown size.

You won’t experience this problem with coffee beans or ground but just double check when you’re buying your coffee pods online that they are compatible with your pod machine.

*Price – High to Low

1. Lavazza Pod Machine by Smeg – RRP – £199

2. Opal One Capsule Machine – RRP – £129

3. Next Coffee Machine by Vertuo – RRP – £149

4. Happy Real Black by Tassimo – RRP – £105

5. Multi Capsule Coffee Machine by Potts – RRP – £99

4. Filter Coffee Machine

If filter coffee is your thing, then finding the best filter coffee machine will be top of your radar. Filter coffee Is typically suited to ‘black coffee drinkers’ however, you can always add a dash of regular milk or oat milk for the perfect white americano.

Your shiny new filter coffee machine needs to do the very simple job of delivering hot water over freshly ground coffee to create delicious brewed coffee. Design is a big factor, because you’ll want your machine to fit your kitchens aesthetic.

Do you want something quick and simple?

Thinking about ease of use and cleaning is another key consideration. If a filter coffee machine sounds like it’s right for you, then it’s likely you’ll want something simple to use, which produces a. great end result.

moccamaster-coffee-maker

Pros:

Price
Filter coffee machines tend to have less parts and technicalities than espresso machines and bean to cup machines. This means the prices are more affordable. Read on to find out about the prices and five recommendations for the best filter coffee machine for home.

Convenience
Similarly to a bean to cup machine, the filter coffee maker is very convenient. You can take your freshly ground coffee, add it to your filter inside the machine and press go. Within a couple of minutes you’ll have your tasty coffee in your favourite morning cup. The beauty is the filter machine gives you a hands off approach.

Ease Of Use
The coffee brewing process for a filter coffee machine is somewhere between 2 and 5 minutes depending on how much coffee you are making. But the main benefit is that once you’ve pressed brew, it will automatically do it’s thing meaning, it’s definitely one of the easiest ways to make great coffee at home.

Taste Filter Coffees From Around the World
One of the great things about filter coffee is that you can drink it black. If you’re not a fan of milk in coffee it’s a popular choice. The benefits to this is that you can taste the coffee for all its natural flavour.

Take the Balance Coffee Subscription for instance. You can taste rare and exclusive coffees from around the world, brewed in your new filter coffee machine.

Cons:

Price / Cost
Compared to some of the filter coffee machines available, such as a manual coffee brewer. this option can still be pricey. They can also take up some precious counter space. However, if you’re working from home then investing in the best filter coffee machine is probably going to be a good decision.

Prices for Bean to cup machines vary but they sit somewhere between £200 and £3,000. Again, you’ll likely find a solution within your price range and there are many payment solutions you can use, such as Buy Now, Pay Later with Klarna or Clearpay.

Not Designed for Milky Drinks
Filter Coffee Machines are great for black coffee drinkers. If you enjoy foamy, milky coffees such as flat whites, lattes or cappuccinos then the filter coffee maker is probably not the best solution.Why?

Filter coffee is brewed with gravity alone – the result is that it’s both lighter in body and mouthfeel which isn’t the best base for adding milk.

This is why espresso works great. It’s brewed under high pressure (9 bars) and gives you the perfect base to add milk.

The Best Filter Coffee Machine

*Price – High to Low

1. The Automatic Espresso Machine by Smeg – RRP – £399

2. Classic Plus Coffee Maker by Wilfa Svart – RRP – £159

3. Wifi Smarter MachineRRP – £199

4. Elegance Duluxe by Melitta Aroma – RRP – £94

5. CD Black Overflow Coffee Maker by MoccamasterRRP – £272

If you’ve decided that filter coffee is your favourite style of coffee, or you’d prefer to find something lower cost. Then a manual coffee maker might be the best option for you. They are really affordable and easy to use and clean too.

To see all of the manual filter coffee brewers available, head to our popular blog on coffee accessories which explains everything you need to know.

We hope you enjoyed this expert guide to finding the best coffee machine online.

If you have any questions drop us an email or leave a comment below.

 

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