The best coffee machine for every budget: How to decide what type of device to buy and how much to spend
Fan of coffee but prefer to make your own latte? The Independent has compiled the best type of coffee maker for every one, for every budget
For many people, grabbing a latte from the local coffee shop each morning is an integral part of their morning routine.
But making it at home can be more convenient, tastier, and a lot cheaper per cup.
If you're considering brewing at home, it can be hard to know where to start. There are multiple ways of brewing coffee, and even once you've made that decision there are a dizzying array of devices to choose from.
The Independent has put together a comprehensive guide to help you decide.
You're going to need a maximum of three things to get started: some coffee, a grinder (possibly), and decide on the method of brewing to buy a coffee machine.
Coffee itself is pretty simple. It's the seed of the coffee berry, picked and roasted. And it's always best freshest. There are three main forms of coffee you'll likely consider; whole beans, ground coffee, and capsules or pods.
If you buy whole beans, they'll need to be ground. It creates a fresher tasting cup, with the trade-off that grinding adds an extra (noisy) step to the making of your brew.
If you buy ground coffee (that's either been sitting on a supermarket shelf - or has been freshly ground in store) you'll skip the grinding step but will sacrifice freshness as the grounds oxidize over time.
Both of these types of coffee will likely work out cheaper, and tastier, than your third option: capsules. However, capsules - typically vacuum sealed pods of coffee grounds for machines like Keurig and Nespresso - offer unrivalled levels of convenience, which why they're often spotted in hotels rooms. You fill them with water then push a button.
Many coffee aficionados insist that the biggest upgrade in your cup of coffee can be found by grinding your beans fresh every time you make a cup.
The cost of a grinder can range from around $30 to thousands of dollars, with the consistency of the size of the grinds being one of the differentiating factors - a more uniform grind is preferred.
Our pick: KitchenAid Blade Coffee Grinder, $24
Easy clean-up, dishwasher safe accessories
4 oz capacity
Grinds enough for 4-12 cups of coffee
KitchenAid appliances are known for their durability, and this grinder is no exception. As it uses flat and non-conical filters and doesn’t have any fancy features, it’s better used as a coffee grinder than an espresso one but would make a wonderful pour-over or drip coffee.
If you’re not sure about buying a grinder and are looking for a less expensive option, we recommend the Vremi Electric Coffee Grinder, a small and inexpensive option at $6.99.
Method and machine
Brewing a nice cup of coffee at home is heavily dependent on what you’re using to brew it. If you’re grinding your own beans for the best flavour, you’d probably do best with a pour-over method or a french press.
A simple process: add grounds, cover with water, and plunge down the filter after a few minutes. The result is a full-bodied cup, however beware of coffee silt sitting in the bottom of your cup.
Our pick: FORLIFE Cafe style glass coffee/tea press: $48.50
Comes in two sizes
Easy to clean
BPA and Lead-Free
The FORLIFE Café Style Glass is top-tier and moderately priced French press for its simple glass design and reliable, grit-free brew. From the removable silicon foot cover that prevents slippage to the heat-resistant borosilicate glass, while testing we found each element had an intentional design. It’s worth noting that the plunger provides consistent traction and stays in place while pouring.
Pour-over coffee is simple. You pour a steady stream of hot water over coffee grounds sitting in a filtered cone over your cup. The resulting brew brings out some of the more subtle notes - the downside for those who prefer a punchy cup of Joe is that the flavors are more delicate.
Our pick: Grosche Amsterdam Pour Over Coffee Maker, $40
Eco-friendly, no need for paper filters
The Pour Over coffee technology is a quick but efficient coffee making technique - and Grosche’s has taken it to the next level. All you’ll need is a water boiler, and this coffee machine will do the trick for a long drip coffee that is full of flavors. This pour over is equipped with a double layer filter that doesn’t require paper filters, which is good for the planet and less of a hassle, and the result is delectable.
The difference between espresso and a regular cup of coffee comes down to the preparation. Instead of a slow brew, near-boiling water is sent through fine-ground coffee beans at high pressure, producing a caffeine-packed shot in seconds.
The resulting shot is shorter, stronger, and more intense than a regular cup of coffee.
Our pick: DeLonghi Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine, $130.79
Professional grade pressure
Removable water tank
Manual milk steamer
This machine isn’t a set-and-go kind of deal, and if that’s what you’re looking for there are some pod espresso machine suggestions below! The DeLonghi is for those who are rather hands-on with their coffee, and are prepared to grind, tamp, weigh, time, and pull their own espresso for the best results possible. It’s a good size to sit on a countertop, not too bulky. One reviewer said “It's so easy to use, and relatively mess free. It is a bit loud, but that doesn't bother me. It works like a breeze, and produces consistently great pours with beautiful crema markings. The milk frother works wonderfully with any type of milk and I only use almond or coconut milk. Being a barista years back I learned some milks are really hard to get a nice velvety foam, and this machine does just that with almond milk! It's not latte art quality, but just close enough that it could be.”
Drip coffee is made by dripping boiling water over ground coffee, which is ground more coarsely than espresso. The water collects into a pot after filtering through. It's slower than espresso and a cup of drip coffee will typically have more caffeine content than a shot of espresso.
Our pick: Black and Decker 5 cup coffee maker, $19.99
No need for paper filters, this uses a permanent filter.
2 year warranty from the date of purchase
Easy cleaning features
This coffee maker is affordable and reliable to make a simple cup of drip coffee. No frills or fancy features, it does what it’s intended to and nothing more. It’s a smaller size than most coffee pots, making it perfect for 1-2 people. One satisfied reviewer said they “Love this coffee maker. It is simple and no-fuss, perfect for someone like me who loves coffee but hates having to make it. Its size is perfect too as I hate when appliances consume your whole countertop.”
Our high-end pick: Cuisinart Stainless Steel Programmable Coffeemaker, $70.81
Includes features like 24 hour programmability
Auto-off and keep warm settings, and more
This drip coffee maker is a good one for a family or office that really loves to drink coffee. It makes 14 cups, but can make less as well. It also has “bold” or “regular” settings, depending how you like you cup! One reviewer gave it 5 stars and said this: “Loving this Cuisinart. Great coffee, great settings, great window to accurately add water, carafe is slick design that you don't have to fiddle with buttons or paddles or anything else. A valve in then lid lets the coffee in as it brews, and cleverly opens only once you tip the carafe to pour. Coffee remains hot for at least 3 hours if you preheat the carafe, and of course it's never burnt like a heat element might be. Water filters are easy to source and replace, and the permanent filter does a great job giving me all the flavors and oil without any of the grounds. As with any fine mesh you will get a bit of residue, but not bad at all. So glad I chose this model!”
Some like to buy and use pod coffee machines for convenience's sake. It saves time and effort, perfect for those with early mornings and busy homes.
Our budget pick: BLACK+DECKER Single Serve Coffeemaker, $23.99
Works with soft pods, not Keurig style plastic cups
Travel mug included
No paper filters needed
This pod coffee maker is one of the more eco-friendly single cup options on the market as it doesn’t use plastic pods but mesh ones. It’s small and compact, so it won’t take up too much counter space. Perfect for someone who lives alone or for your cubicle! One reviewer said “Exactly what I needed! Brews a perfect mug of coffee. The filter and basket come out easily and are easy to clean with a quick rinse. The plastic mug is thick and sturdy, has not leaked so far, and keeps my beverage warm for at least an hour. Note: at first I was confused that I should keep the lid to the mug ON when the coffee is brewing and dripping into the mug. I brewed it with the lid OFF the first time. Well, both methods work just fine. I found that I like putting in my creamer, then brewing with the lid on, so that I can just grab the mug and be out the door.”
Our luxury pod coffee pick: Keurig K-Elite Coffee Maker, Single Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Brewer, $127.49
Brews both hot and cold beverages
Alerts you when it’s time for cleaning
Quiet brewing technology
Keurigs aren’t known to be the most eco-friendly with their branded plastic K-cups, although this coffee maker is compatible with reusable, refillable K-cups. The K-Elite can brew anywhere from 4 to 12 ounces and has a limited one year warranty. One happy buyer said “I ordered My Keurig K-Elite a few weeks ago. I thought I was one of the last holdouts to buy one. Most of my family has the Keurig and not the K-Elite. I'm so happy with this coffee maker, it's a dream. No more coffee down the drain because I made too much for one person. I'm happy I waited to get one because I love the new K-Elite.”
And if you’re more of an espresso fan, but still want the convenience of pod coffee…
Our pod espresso pick: Nespresso VertuoPlus: $139.30
5 brewing options including coffee and espresso drinks
Alerts you when it needs cleaning
Nespresso is easily the sexiest of the pod coffee pack - just look at its brand ambassador, George Clooney. Sleek machines are available in various colors, and even the coffees they produce are Instagram-worthy: whether a big cup or a short espresso, there’s always an aesthetically-pleasing layer of crema foam on top (so it kind of resembles a Guinness). The level of coffee geekery involved also goes unmatched. The VertuoPlus has a range of 22 specialty coffee profiles to choose from: each style is accompanied by sourcing information and tasting notes, while intensity levels range between a mellow two and an eye-popping 11. Limited editions are also released throughout the year. With so much choice, it’s likely you’ll find at least one variety to your taste.
Our luxury pod espresso pick: Nespresso Gran Lattissima Original Espresso Machine with Milk Frother by De'Longhi: $450
One touch to make 9 different drinks
Removable milk container
Removable parts for easy cleaning
Nespresso machines are truly top of the line, and this one is one of the best. With the ability to make a Ristretto, Espresso, Lungo, Cappuccino, Latte Macchiato, Flat White, Caffè Latte, Hot Milk and/or Hot Foam by pressing a button, this machine is a game changer for coffee lovers with minimal coffee knowledge. One reviewer loved the machine, saying “This Nespresso machine by De'Longhi is absolute perfection! It is not our first Nespresso machine and to be honest we've never disliked a Nespresso nor have we ever had any issues with quality or performance. Our machines have all been fantastic and this one is no exception. This machine adds even more features we haven't seen before, such as a flat white button and a Ristretto coffee beverage. It is truly an attractive and sleek machine to have out in the kitchen too! We like the looks of this one, and it has a very modern updated look. We liked our last one too, but this one is even sleeker!
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