The best coffee machine for home is honestly, very subjective. If you were to ask 5 different coffee lovers, you might actually get 5 different ‘best coffee machines’.
The growing interest for at-home barista standard coffee has increased exponentially, especially since the lockdown period. Many are willing to spend as long as they can get the caffeine fix exactly the way they wanted.
If you need a good cuppa everyday, investing in a good machine could save you some time and money in the long run. Some would say it’s their therapeutic moment.
Besides the range of functionalities, price points and your actual barista capabilities, it is best that your chosen coffee machine is one that does not take much countertop space – to maintain the neatness of your kitchen interior.
Choosing which machines to feature on this list was no easy feat. However, I am sure that there is at least one that would suit you perfectly.
WHAT IS YOUR CUPPA
Mainly two questions to ask yourself first and they are:
- How much time and effort do you actually want to invest (per cup)?
- What kind of coffee drinker are you?
If you love coffee, you know you fall either in the black coffee only or white coffee with the many kinds of milk alternatives (and syrups for some).
You should also know that pricing differs by a mile between a sleek and simple black coffee machine or something that can froth milk.
You can be the person who wants the beans grinded freshly on the spot, tamp the coffee grounds before sliding in the portafilter to see that golden flow to your cup.
Or you can simply be the person who would pop in a coffee capsule, press the button and voila.
Also in the world of coffee, you can own a smart coffee machine that you can schedule to turn on and make you coffee 5 minutes before you come out of the shower.
So we’ll break it down further to five categories:
- The Manual Espresso Machine
- Bean-To-Cup Machine
- Capsule Machine
- Filter Coffee Machine
- Smart Coffee Machine
MANUAL ESPRESSO MACHINE
Pros: Excellent tasting coffee, Space-savvy
Cons: Time Consuming, Effort Consuming, Limited Coffee Option
The manual espresso machine, also known as lever machines or piston, is all about focus and precision. Espresso extracted from this type of machine is generally pressure generated with your own strength.
Done right, the results are usually liquid gold espresso.
Everything else is done manually too, from grinding the coffee, weighing in the dose, tamping and then finally to pump the level with proper pressure.
It’s a lot of work for a single shot of espresso. Yet, it gives an enjoyable experience like no other because you would be able to appreciate the effort that comes from pulling the perfect shot.
Manual espresso machines are very much elegant. An attractive piece of machine to have on your kitchen countertop. It is sure to be a point of attraction when you have guests around.
- Simplistic design
- Consistent quality without electricity
Dimensions: 6’’ (W) x 12’’ (L) x 10’’ (H)
There’s no need to find a place near the electrical source. Electricity is not required to operate this machine, and waiting for it to heat up does not take long.
Do not be fooled by this machine because the lever allows a capacity of 6 to 10 bars of pressure! So when it is perfectly pressured, you will get a 40ml espresso shot with a beautiful crema on top.
Besides being compact in size, the Flair can be easily dismantled to store when not in use. It comes with a sturdy carrying case, making it easier to bring out for your travels.
Pros: Convenient, More Coffee Options
Cons: Expensive, Time-consuming
Bean-to-cup machines fall under the umbrella of automatic espresso machines because it is the machine that generates the pressure.
They come with a built-in grinder so you can expect a machine that requires a bit more countertop space as compared to the Flair mentioned earlier.
You have different categories of bean-to-cup machines:
- Super-automatic: Does everything for you. The only step after filling it up with beans and water is to press the button.
- Fully-automatic: You will need to grind, dose and tamp the beans yourself before pressing the button to extract your espresso shot.
- Semi-automatic: The same, grind-dose-tamp efforts needed. But this time, you can control the shot timing.
Such machines can be more expensive when a milk frother is inclusive to make white coffee.
It is recommended for coffee lovers who wants to own the fully-automatic and semi-automatic to learn the fundamentals of:
- Coffee grinding and tamping theories
- How to steam milk (without burning it)
- Cleaning and maintenance of the machine
If you don’t mind cleaning up the mess after every single cup and are more than happy to learn very basic barista skills, you can consider the bean-to-cup machine.
RECOMMENDATION – THE BARISTA EXPRESS BY BREVILLE
- Built-in conical burr grinder
- Adjustable grind size dial
- Precise, 15-bar extraction
- Micro-foam milk texturing
Dimensions: 12’’ (W) x 11’’ (L) x 13.5’’ (H)
One of the best overall at-home coffee makers across all categories for being the compact, user-friendly (actual) barista-quality machine.
The Barista Express by Breville is a semi-automated coffee machine – giving you the feel of an actual manual machine, the easier way. It is more straightforward for the common man to learn and brew himself a fresh cuppa everyday.
This machine comes with a built-in grinder with intuitive functions to control the grind size according to what you need. It can help to control the dosage or you can manually stop when you want to. The built-in tamper is a neat addition.
Tamping the grinded beans and inserting the portafilter is manual.
Program how you’d like your espressos to be. The Barista Express also comes with a steam wand that you can use to froth silky, velvety milk for that delicious hot latte.
Versatile with easy-to-learn functionalities and compact in size, this machine is worth the money for all your at-home coffee needs.
Pros: Quick, consistent results; Mess-free; Versatile
Cons: Sustainability Issues
The capsule machine is the simplest to function amongst all the machines. Coffee is already grinded, packed in the little things called a capsule or a pod. With just popping a capsule in the machine, then pressing a button or two, you have a cup of coffee.
Most capsule machines are designed to be lean, taking little countertop space. They are often sleek. A modern look that is highly appealing.
Those that come with built-in milk frothing are only slightly wider.
Image source | PACKAGING DIGEST
These single-use coffee capsules are sold in different strengths and flavours that consumers can choose and change to easily.Their tastes are argued to be far superior than instant coffee sachets too.
Fast, completely mess-free and consistent quality. The capsule machines are a hit with busy working adults who need good coffee, but their lifestyle does not give them the luxury of time for the usual way of making them.
They are willing to pay more for the pods than having to go through the process just to have their daily dose of caffeine.
Capsule machines shed a bit of negative light due to the heavy usage of single-use capsules. That’s a lot of trash in a year and it does not sound good to add more to the landfills. There are,however, increased efforts made to push for reusing or repurposing the used capsules, or have the capsules made from Earth-friendly materials.
RECOMMENDED: NESPRESSO ESSENZA MINI
- Fast heat up: Only 25 seconds warm up required
- High pressure pump: 19 bars pressure
- Energy saving mode
- Compact and portable
Dimensions: 3.3’’ (W) x 8’’ (L) x 12.9’’ (H)
Ultra-compact and effortlessly portable. The Essenza Mini offers a sleek and modern design for smaller kitchen countertops.
Despite its size, there is no compromise on the coffee quality. This small unit can deliver 19 bars of pressure, resulting in consistent, perfect golden crema with each brew.
Truly a coffee machine for the busy man who does not wish to go through the mess of espressos.
FILTER COFFEE MACHINE
Pros: Easy to use; Mess-free
Cons: Can only make black coffee.
Just simple, black coffee. Nothing else. The filter coffee machine is the one for those who want their quality black coffee.
Filter coffee works the same as pour-over coffee: drip method.
Watching the coffee ground’s first bloom upon contact with hot water is therapeutic. But not when you need them 5 minutes before your Zoom meeting or you need to get 5 cups going.
That’s when the filter coffee machine comes into play.
Using the same theory, filter coffee machines are able to produce a pot of coffee at one time. The difference is the amount of ground coffee and water, whereby the brew ratio is crucial to the outcome of the coffee taste.
Such machines would also come with added functionality like programming to your preferred strength, when you want them to start brewing and even helping you keep the extra coffee warm for your next cups throughout the day.
They are way cheaper than espresso machines and definitely easy for anyone to use.
RECOMMENDED: CUISINART CLASSIC THERMAL PROGRAMMABLE COFFEE MAKER
- Fully automatic with 24-hour programmability and self-cleaning function
- 1-4 cup setting with auto sleep mode
- 60 seconds reset memory setting
- Charcoal water filter and gold-tone filter
Dimensions: 10.23’’ (W) x 8.07” (L) x 14.17” (H)
It’s a mouthful name, but this programmable coffeemaker is trusted as an easy-to-use, easy-to-maintain and durable to last the years.
As a start, it has a showerhead style drip-water which allows even distribution throughout the coffee grounds. The charcoal water filter and permanent gold-tone filter assures you the freshest coffee flavours to flow through.
Cuisinart’s double-walled thermal carafe and stainless steel accents in a slim design makes this coffee maker a pleasing addition to your countertop.
It is definitely worth it’s value, and certainly a must-have for black coffee lovers to get for their homes!
SMART COFFEE MACHINE
Cons: Connectivity Issues
A smart coffee machine is one that can be connected directly to a hub (example, Alexa) or a smart home ethernet. Such machines will automatically brew your coffee at the time you scheduled. They would brew according to the settings you have programmed before.
Imagine setting it to turn on and brew just 10 minutes before you wake up. You get up, head to the showers and head to the kitchen. There, your warm cup of coffee is ready.
Smart coffee machines are designed to make your life much, much easier.
However, one would have to remember to have the coffee grounds prepared. Also, ensure that the water reservoir is filled up. Oh, don’t forget to have a cup under.
The downside of a smart coffee machine is connectivity. The machine’s inability to be detected by Alexa or your smart home app will defeat the purpose of being a ‘smart’ machine. Connectivity issues seemed to be a common problem as seen in the reviews section of certain smart coffee machines on Amazon.
Unless you are alright with leaving the switch turned on the entire time, consider having a smart plug to save electricity and safety purposes.
THE PERFECT COFFEE MACHINE FOR YOU
There are many, many machines in the market that can brew you quality coffee. Priority should first be about the effort and time you would like to use in making them, based on your preferred type of coffee.
Personally, I feel that the size of the coffee machine is an important factor. Hence, the recommended machines throughout this article are compact in design, taking little countertop space without compromising on the quality of coffee.
For myself, I have a semi-automated machine which I use very frequently, as well as the neat little Nespresso Essenza Mini. On days that I need a real quick coffee to-go, I would just pop in a capsule and have an amazing espresso shot under 1 minute.
Coffee lovers should know this already, a good coffee grinder is as important as a good coffee machine.
The one I use at home is the Baratza Encore. I find them to be consistent and very durable. Definitely, a value for its price. For anyone interested, you can get it here.
Coffee machines are very much your personality and they are indeed an investment, so choose them wisely!
** Disclosure: Some links in this article are affiliate links, which allows me to earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. There are no additional costs to you.