Ultimate Coffee Machine UK Buying Guide
Updated for 2020
If you are thinking of buying a coffee machine, then which type of coffee maker is the best type for your specific needs? There are so many different types available, it can be at times quite mind blowing.
That is why we have put together what we call the ultimate coffee machine buying guide. We have tried to cover off every single method of brewing coffee, and what makers/machines are available on the UK market.
Just be aware that there are a lot of them from a wide variety of brands.
Here at "The Perfect Grind" we hope that we can make your choice a great deal simpler. So let's get started and we can quickly get you to the best choice of machine for your own needs and preferences.
Different people living in the UK will like and prefer different tastes of coffee and that means having different requirements. You could simply be a casual coffee drinker, who likes the odd cup of coffee.
At the other extreme, you could be a true coffee lover, who wants to try every type of coffee drink that is available.
In this buying guide we look at the coffee maker options available, explain the prices, explain the features and hopefully make sense of all the coffee machines that are currently available on the UK marketplace.
Coffee Brewing Options
Just before looking at the machines it is worth just a few moments to explain the different coffee brewing methods that are used. They fall into two main categories which are:
- Filter/Pour Over
- Espresso method
These are general categories of brewing.
With the filter method the end result is that you get a filter coffee. This is also referred to as a pour over method. You essentially pour hot water over medium coarse coffee grains and then allow the coffee to drip into a carafe, or some type of container.
The espresso method is quite different. This is where the coffee machine will heat the water and then force that water through very fine coffee grounds. That makes the classic espresso which is then the base for the many coffee drinks like latte, Americano and cappuccino.
These are two distinct methods and the coffee for each tastes quite different.
The Vacuum Method
There is also the vacuum method of brewing which we will explain later in this buying guide. It looks more like a chemistry lab and is great fun to use.
The reason we explain these brewing methods is so that you have some basic knowledge about them. If for example you want to be able to make a cappuccino or latte, then you will need to buy a machine that can make espresso.
Filter machines or any type of pour over brewing method will never make an espresso.
Different Types of Coffee Machines On the UK Market
There are a lot of different types of coffee machine on the UK market. Just underneath, you will see the main types of coffee machines. I will explain each one in more detail underneath.
You can also click on any of the links or images to go to a page which is all about those individual type of machine.
These are the main types of machines available on the UK market. Just below we go into a lot more detail on each type, and what types of coffee you can actually make with the particular type of machine.
Capsule or Pod Style Coffee Machines
These coffee machines are for those who want a cup of coffee the hassle free way.
You simply put a pod or capsule into the machine, push a button and get a cup of coffee. When you are finished throw the used pod in the bin and you are done.
These are hugely popular. Familiar brands include the Bosch Tassimo, Nespresso, Lavazza and Dualit.
They are affordable with an average price of around £50-100 but you can pay up to £200 for more advanced types. (Those will include features like programming your machine using a mobile application.)
These are a very popular choice in the UK market, especially for smaller families, or where there is only a couple of coffee drinkers in the home..
You can pick the coffee type that you prefer such as Americano, Latte, Cappuccino etc. They have all been blended, roasted and ground, then sealed in a pod for freshness. The pods can be expensive and they do have a use by date.
- Really good value for money
- Small and Compact - do not use up much kitchen counter top space
- Fast and easy to Use
- Ideal for 1-2 people
- Perfect for the casual coffee drinker who likes to try different types of coffee drinks
- Can make espresso and cappuccino
- Low maintenance
- Best for coffee beginners
- Limited to the types of pods available
- You can only use the brand's own type of pods in the individual machines
- Pods can be expensive to buy though you can usually find them on offer
There are really two popular choices of pod style coffee machine in the UK market. These are the Bosch Tassimo and the Nescafe Dolce. Even with these two specific brands, there are a number of different models.
These are a really good idea for a small office, or for a home style office. I have also seen these used a lot by single people, where they only want to make a single cup of coffee.
These do continue to grow in popularity and are a good choice for mobile homes, second holiday homes, small offices, home offices and indeed for around the home.
If you click on the button below, you will be taken to a page, where you can read about these coffee machines in a lot more detail.
Espresso/Cappuccino Coffee Machines
If you want to take your coffee making to the next level, then these will be a very good choice for you.
With the pod machines, a major disadvantage is that you are limited to the types of coffee pods made by the manufacturer of the machine. Now although they provide a decent range of pods, they are still limited in choice to the most popular coffee drinks.
With this style of machine you can buy pre-ground coffee and make whatever type of coffee you like. With pod style machines you are stuck with the one brand of coffee.
Another option with this type of machine is that you can also buy fresh whole coffee beans, use a grinder and then add them to your machine. This really opens up the full range of all the coffee drink types that are available.
More importantly though it allows you to try out the many types of coffee beans.
These cost around £75-150 on average and the more advanced ones cost £400-500.
These are the most popular household machines to buy in the UK, and De'Longhi the Italian brand is the most popular choice. The bottom line with this type is that they make the all important "espresso."
That is the foundation of any quality cup of coffee. With that foundation then many of these machines also have a milk steamer which allows you to make a whole range of classical coffee drinks.
- Can make a wider range of coffee types such as latte, cappuccino etc
- Uses ground coffee which has a wide variety of choices
- Can be used for using pre-ground beans, of for buying whole beans and then grinding them yourself
- Good for making lots of brands and grades of coffee
- Fast high quality and consistent coffee
- Cheaper to buy ground coffee than to buy pods
- They are more expensive than the pod/capsule machines
- They do need more cleaning than the pod machines
- You do have to learn to use them
These could also be described as your full blown, or cafe style coffee machines. There is a bit of a learning curve when you first start using these. The good news is that it doesn't take long, and after a few uses, you will easily master these.
The beauty of these is that you can really make any type of coffee you like.
Bean to Cup Coffee Machines
These are at the opposite end of the scale to the pod machines. These are the all singing and all dancing coffee machines. The only people who would consider buying these is the true coffee buff or connoisseur.
These are machines that work by placing fresh coffee beans into the top of the machine, (the hopper) and then have the highest quality coffee come out at the bottom.
The main difference between this type and the one above, is that these come with a built-in coffee bean grinder. By having that you can pour beans into the machine. The machine then grinds these to a thickness that you select, and then the fresh coffee gets brewed.
These are expensive with an average cost of around £300-400 and upwards of £1,000 at the high end.
- Made with the coffee connoisseur in mind
- Packed with features and programs
- Self cleaning and descaling
- Unlimited coffee types and tastes
- The Rolls Royce of the coffee machine world
- You do need to learn how to use these as they are feature packed
- Takes time to find your perfect brew
- Very expensive
If you are like me and love your coffee, then this should be your choice. These are for me the ultimate coffee machine. They are also ideal if you have a large circle of family and friends, and they all drink coffee.
These are really good at making large amounts of coffee. They are also great at making high quality coffee.
All of these machines will also come with some form of milk heater and foamer essential for making both lattes and cappuccinos.
Single Cup Coffee Machines
Single cup coffee machines have of late become very popular. The idea behind these is pretty simple. Rather than buy a coffee on your way to work, you can own one of these machines that quickly makes a single cup of quality coffee.
You can quickly brew that in the morning and then put it into a portable holder and drink on the way to work.
These types of machine come in a range of styles ranging from a basic Aeropress style and all the way through to a pull through espresso style machine.
These are very popular in the USA and Canada but not so popular in Europe. In the UK people tend to use one of the pod makers, and then just pour that into a travel coffee cup.
Filter Coffee Machines
Some people simply prefer the taste of filtered coffee. These types of machine will only ever make filtered coffee. Don't buy these if you are looking for espresso style coffees.
These are the classic style of coffee maker. The brewing method is to drip water through ground beans into a warmed jug underneath the machine. These are ideal for those who entertain and want to make a carafe of coffee for a number of people.
Rather than having to make individual cups for each person, you can make a jug of filter coffee and then simply serve. The good news is that these are relatively inexpensive to buy costing around £35-50. The only exception to these prices is the hand made Moccamaster filter coffee machines from the Netherlands.
- Good for people who like to entertain and want a simple coffee solution
- This is a classic brewing method
- Handy and convenient
- Only makes black filter coffee so no espresso, latte or cappuccino coffees
- They need filters
- They take time to clean
These are for coffee lovers who like that stronger type of what I describe as hotel coffee. Filter coffee is not everyone's choice, but personally I like it a lot. I also like the fact that you can make a pot of coffee, and then top up your cup or mug whenever you fancy it.
It is also worth noting that you can buy bean to cup filter coffee machines. As the name would suggest these are machines where you pour the beans into a hopper, where they are ground, and then the coffee is made.
These will be more expensive than a standard filter machine.
Vacuum Coffee Machines
These are now one of the highest trending coffee makers in the UK. They have actually been around for a while, but recently they seem to have taken off.
These are a unique way of making coffee. It is I have to say also a very unusual method, and one that is intriguing to watch.
As you can see on the image to the right, it looks a bit like an egg timer shape. There is essentially a bowl on the bottom and one on the top.
When the water is heated up, it is drawn up, by means of a vacuum and it floods the coffee grains. These are not too expensive to buy, but they do require a bit of practise to get it right.
These certainly have the novelty factor. They are a great choice if you like to entertain as watching this maker in action is truly fascinating. They also do make great coffee and fall under the pour over type of brewing.
French Press Coffee Makers
This remains a solid enough seller in the UK market. It used to be very popular but that has declined as more affordable coffee makers became available on the UK market.
This maker works on the same principle as a filter coffee maker. The grind used is a medium grind, and then hot water is poured over the beans.
A plunger is then used to plunge the grounds into the hot water, and is then pulled back up and the coffee can then be poured. This makes strong coffee with a distinct filtered taste.
These cost anything between £15-35 so affordable for most buyers.
- These are affordable
- They are very easy to use
- They are available in different sizes so good for just one person or for a family
- Very limited as they just make one type of coffee
- The maker is made from glass so can break easily
- They are a bit messy to clean afterwards
Another classical way of making coffee. Many UK buyers still love this method of making coffee. It does make a really strong brew, and the percolator does help it stay warm.
This type of maker plugs into the main's electricity, and a medium grind is used. Water is poured in and then heated and makes a wonderful gurgling sound.
The aroma these create first thing in the morning is simply wonderful. You can now buy cordless versions of these.
These cost around £25-60 depending on the brand and model of the actual percolator. These are also available in different sizes.
- Make good strong coffee
- Tough and durable
- Very easy to use though need a little experimenting with to find your own preferred strength
- Only make this one type of coffee
- Initially expensive to purchase
Which Coffee Machine Should You Buy?
The information provided above should at least point you in the right direction. Just below I have provided more general information, that will also allow you to make a better buying decision.
We have ordered these by the most popular choices first.
The biggest sellers are without any doubt the pod style machines. They are affordable, super easy to use and make good tasting coffee.
They don't take up much room and there is little or no maintenance with them. The only problems really is the limited choices available of pods, forgetting to buy the pods and the ongoing price of the pods.
They are in my opinion a good choice for the casual coffee drinker, who enjoys a brew, but does not want too much hassle working the more advanced machines.
They come in a whole variety of styles so there should be something there that fits in to what you like, and the style of your kitchen.
The espresso/cappuccino machines are the next most popular. These allow you to buy and use ground coffee and there are a whole variety of those to try out. If you then buy a coffee grinder, you can also buy coffee beans and make your own ground coffee.
Depending on the features of the individual machine, you can quite literally make a whole range of high quality coffee. The bit you will not like is having to clean these on a regular basis.
Bean to Cup Machines
If you are a coffee freak like me, you will buy the bean to cup. If you LOVE your coffee and want it tasting as fresh as possible, then get one of these. You pour fresh beans in the top and drink great tasting coffee out of the bottom.
They are not cheap but they do last for years and are great as they double up as a coffee grinder, and also as your main coffee machine.
Almost all of them allow you to make the full range of coffee drinks, and most of them can also be used as a hot water dispenser. That's ideal if you also want to make tea. In addition to that they can all heat milk and indeed will have a steam nozzle to make foam.
And finally there is the filter coffee machine. This is clearly only for those who enjoy the taste of filter coffee. You can only make this type of filtered coffee with a filter machine, or by using something like a French Press..
So folks, happy hunting for your ideal coffee machine and I hope you find what you are looking for.
Vacuum Coffee Machines
At the moment these are not hugely popular, and many coffee lovers would class these as being more a novelty than a proper machine. They are most certainly fun to use, and they do make a really good coffee.
They do continue to grow in popularity however, and are certainly worth considering if you like to entertain as they do make a great talking piece.