Coffee pod machines that use individual capsules in place of ground beans allow you to make a fresh brew at the touch of a button. We tested popular models to see which machines came out on top.
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Of all the ways to make coffee at home, pod machines win on the convenience front. Capsules containing already ground coffee are popped into the machine, and – often with just one press of a button – the water chamber makes a freshly brewed cup in your taste.
There's no need to grind or portion beans, and you don't need to prepare milk. And, because the capsules contain a single serving each, there's no coffee waste. On the other hand, there is an argument to be made for the fact that coffee pod machines are bad for the environment, as the capsules are usually not recyclable.
But, progress has been made on this front – Nespresso, Lavazza and other leading pod manufacturers now offer recycling services, and it's also possible to buy compostible pods. The options available to you will depend on the machine you have.
It's also worth noting that pod machines can lock you into using a particular brand of coffee. But with a little research, you may be able to find smaller artisan coffee roasters that sell pods compatible with your machine – sometimes these brands offer ecofriendly pods too.
One bonus of coffee pod machines is that they often come with an attached milk frother. This bypasses the need to buy an additional gadget for making heated milk for your flat white.
Read on to discover which pod coffee machines are best. For more, visit our review section to find over 200 practical buyer's guides offering unbiased advice on what equipment is worth investing in. For more on coffee, we've also reviewed espresso machines, cafetières, coffee grinders and reusable coffee cups.
Krups Citiz Red and Milk
Best budget coffee pod machine
Top functions: small kitchen footprint, reasonable price point and excellent milk frother
We were really impressed by this unassuming model. It’s easy to set up, slim (even with the milk jug attachment) and intuitive. It’s compatible with Nespresso pods (as are many pod machines on the market), and the coffee has an excellent crema. We were most impressed with the milk attachment – it works silently to heat milk to the perfect consistency for making cappuccinos, lattes or flat whites.
Dualit Café Cino capsule coffee machine
Best for families
Top functions: multifunctional milk attachment and slimline shape
Another model with an impressively small kitchen footprint, this capsule machine has a glossy black-and-chrome finish that’s a touch on the ostentatious side. However, this affordable machine heats up quickly, is easy to use and has a very handy milk attachment that not only heats, but also blends milkshakes – ideal for coffee mornings with little ones in tow.
KitchenAid Nespresso artisan
Most stylish coffee pod machine
Top functions: beautiful aesthetic and vintage-style, level-operated pod chamber
KitchenAid specialise in handsome kit, and this is no different – provided you have the counter space. This pod machine doesn’t have a milk attachment, but the coffee extraction is excellent. It’s quite large for a pod machine – it’s almost as big as a manual home espresso maker – but the water chamber is built-in, so the whole thing feels neat and tidy.
How we tested coffee pod machines
We tested pod machines using the capsules provided by the brand. If there was a milk frother attachment or nozzle, we tested the heat function using semi-skimmed milk. We scored the machines on the following criteria:
Ease of set up: as with all electronic kit we test, we looked for clear instruction manuals and a quick, simple set-up.
Kitchen footprint: coffee machines can be extremely bulky and not always worth the space they take up. We looked for slim kit that could be packed back away in the cupboard if necessary.
Ease of use: one of the big bonuses of choosing a coffee machine over a cafetière or stovetop pot is the convenience factor – if a machine was difficult to understand or had pointless features, it was marked down.
Coffee result: we looked for a coffee shop-standard brew with a good mouthfeel, professional crema and smooth flavour, paying attention to the varying flavour profiles of the different coffees provided.
Milk result: we heated milk according to instructions and judged based on the result – cappuccino milk on its foam and latte milk for its consistency.
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This review was last updated in October 2019. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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