A coffee pod machine makes the drink out of ground coffee packaged in pods or capsules.
All pod machines have a similar basic function: the user loads in a coffee pod, presses a button, and the machine then pumps hot water from an in-built reservoir, through the pod, and into a cup as coffee.
Some also have a milk frother or steam wand, which can be used to prepare milk for lattes, cappuccinos and more.
The key benefits of using a pod coffee machine tend to revolve around convenience. Whereas espresso machines can be tricky to master, using pods removes the element of technical skill traditionally required to make a good coffee.
Some people see this as a sad thing, but there are many others who want freshly brewed espresso at home but don’t have the time to prepare, make and clean an espresso machine daily.
There are many types of coffee pods sold in UK shops and online, including, but not limited to, Nespresso, Dolce Gusto, T-Discs (Tassimo), Iperespresso (Illy), Lavazza, and Dualit NX.
In the case of Nespresso, there are many third-party brands making compatible pods, often at a cheaper rate. When buying a coffee pod machine, it’s a good idea to investigate the compatible pods beforehand.
Coffee pods and the environment
Environmentally, coffee pods are problematic. The majority, worldwide, are destined for landfill.
Some coffee-lovers understandably rule out these machines for this reason, but the reality is that they can sometimes be a more green way to make your favourite brew.
They tend to use just the right amount of coffee and water for every serving, whereas other methods, such as filter and cafetière, often use more grounds than necessary. More coffee used means more coffee grown, harvested and transported.
Thankfully, some coffee pod manufacturers have cleaned up their act, introducing pod recycling schemes or compostable pod ranges. Recyclable and compostable pods are potentially among the most environmentally-friendly coffee packaging options.
However, this is only true when users uphold their side of the bargain and recycle their used pods. If sustainability is a priority for you, we suggest you research the sustainable pod options and recycling schemes available for a machine’s compatible pods before you buy.
The best coffee pod machines to buy
Read on to discover which pod coffee machines we rated the best. For more, visit our reviews section to find over 300 practical buyer’s guides offering unbiased advice on what equipment is worth investing in.
Lavazza A Modo Mio Deséa coffee machine
Best all-round coffee pod machine
The Lavazza Deséa is about as close to perfect as a pod coffee machine can be: feature-rich, user-friendly, and capable of making beautiful coffee. There are effectively two sides to its functionality: making coffee, and foaming milk. These features are enabled elegantly through a symmetrical control interface, with coffee controls to the left and milk controls to the right.
Illy Iperespresso X7.1 coffee maker
Best coffee pod machine for flavour
The beautiful Illy X7.1 Iperespresso pumps out some of the best coffee we’ve ever tasted from a coffee pod machine. Furthermore, it’s made with tough, attractive materials, and features a nifty steam wand for making lattes and cappuccinos. This certainly isn’t the easiest pod coffee machine to master, but it’s also one of the best. If and when Illy rolls out pod recycling in the UK, as it has done abroad, this could become one of the best machines all round.
Bosch Tassimo Vivy 2 TAS 140x
Best cheap coffee pod machine
This is a clever beast. Using an in-built barcode reader, it scans compatible pods and adjusts its settings to suit each drink. This makes for a supremely easy coffee-making process, with next-to-no-chance of the drink coming out horribly wrong. On a more negative note, this does remove the small degree of personal input from the user which other machines still allow. Nonetheless, if ease-of-use is what you’re after, you can’t do better than the Vivy 2.
Lakeland 2-in-1 pod coffee machine
Best versatile coffee pod machine
Want the freedom to choose between Nespresso and Dolce Gusto pods? Lakeland’s 2-in-1 machine can make coffee from both systems, by way of two removable adaptors which can be switched easily between uses. This isn’t the flashiest option, nor the most feature-rich, but it does the basics effectively.
Russell Hobbs 22630 Brew and Go
Best coffee pod machine for busy households
The Brew and Go is not strictly a coffee pod machine; rather, it uses ESE coffee pods and coffee bags, which both work like tea bags. They provide a similar experience to regular coffee pods: you fill the machine’s reservoir with water, add a bag, press a button, get a coffee. The drink produced is more akin to a filter coffee, though. Added bonus, the bags can be composted at home.
IKOHS Potts capsule coffee machine
Best value coffee pod machine
This neat, versatile machine from chic Spanish brand IKOHS is up there with our favourites. It’s one of the best value machines we encountered, with good performance, attractive design, and the capability to make coffee from a huge array of pods.
Dualit Espress-auto 4-in-1 coffee and tea maker
Best dual-purpose coffee pod machine
Attractively designed, stoutly made and brilliant at making both coffee and tea, this is one of the best coffee pod machines money can buy. That’s just as well – it isn’t cheap. This machine makes a great hot drink: well-heated but never burnt. It’s highly versatile, with the capability, via its brew head and adaptors, to make drinks using various capsules, pods and even ground coffee.
How we tested coffee pod machines
We tested pod coffee machines and scored them against the following criteria:
● Ease of assembly, including setup time and clarity of instructions
● Efficiency of packaging
● Quality of materials
● Ease of use
● Finished results, especially the taste and consistency of coffee produced
● Extra functions e.g. milk frother, temperature control
● Ease of refilling the water tank
● Kitchen footprint
● Ease of cleaning
● Value for money
● Ease of storage
● Eco-friendly credentials
We expect many pod coffee machine users will be seeking convenience above all other factors. Such buyers should look out for the functionality and ease-of-cleaning ratings in our individual pod coffee machine reviews.
Others may be looking for a little more finesse from their pod coffee machine, in which case we suggest looking out for the ‘results’ rating for each machine.
This type of buyer may also benefit from choosing a machine with a milk frother or steam wand, as having a good feature for foaming milk is essential to recreating drinks like lattes or cappuccinos.
The machines featured in this guide were selected from a field of 11 candidates, all of which were tested by BBC Good Food’s reviewer.
Coffee recipes and tips
More gadget reviews
Best coffee machines
Best espresso machines
Best coffee grinders
Best coffee gadgets
Best bullet blenders
Best bread makers
Best food processors
Visit our reviews section
This review was last updated in September 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at email@example.com.
What coffee machine would you recommend? Leave a comment below…