Aaah, coffee… the magic potion that gets us through long working days, the perfect companion on train rides and the go-to drink when catching up with a friend. Hands up – can you go a day without this warm and creamy fuel? I am an avid coffee lover with a dedicated coffee station complete with a retro pump espresso coffee machine, matching matte black storage jars with wooden lids for the essentials, plus my favourite mugs. I take coffee seriously.
If you’re missing your morning barista-style beverage and afternoons spent in your local café, recreate the experience at home. Together with Kitchens Bedrooms & Bathrooms journalist Sally Smith (@smithhomestyle), we’ve put together this very handy guide on finding the right coffee machine for you and your kitchen (or home office!).
Enjoying a cup of freshly made coffee has definitely become a daily ritual for us in the UK. We’re drinking anything from two to six cups of coffee a day and according to a recent survey from Barista & Co most of us prefer to drink ground coffee at home instead of instant.
Before you buy a coffee maching, a few things…
A coffee machine brews coffee either automatically or manually – they can be a built-in appliance or freestanding to fit on the countertop.
The traditional Italian style pump espresso machine maximises the flavour extraction from the ground coffee, resulting in a delightful crema on your morning coffee. The quick and easy pod or capsule espresso machines makes coffee at a click of a button.
For the coffee connoisseurs there are a range of bean-to-cup machines on the market making the freshest coffee with new beans ground for every cup. Plus, they are great for a truly authentic café experience at home!
These coffee machines now come with touch screens, adjustable coffee settings to remember your favourite strength of espresso, sophisticated grinding functions and WiFi connectivity to start the machine from a smart device. If you prefer your coffee on stream, Americano style, try a drip coffee machine with a programmable warming plate to keep the pot piping hot for a couple of hours.
It’s all in the taste
The purpose of any coffee machine is to make the ideal coffee to suit any coffee lovers’ taste – from a tall black Americano to a frothy cappuccino, extra hot. Whether it’s a built-in appliance or a countertop model, they all have different functions.
For example, adjusting the water flow passing through the ground coffee will affect the taste. The optimum brewing temperature to make a perfect espresso is between 90 degrees C and 95 degrees C. If the temperature is too low only part of the flavour is released from the ground coffee, and if it’s too high the coffee will quickly acquire a burnt taste.
Decide on built-in or freestanding
Do you want a seamless kitchen design? Then, a built-in coffee machine is the best option to make the most of your space and achieve an uncluttered scheme. A built-in machine can measure between 45cm to 90cm wide and needs to be plugged in at the back. So, make sure you check your cabinet dimensions before you buy. Also, keep in mind that built-in coffee machines are more expensive than freestanding ones.
When it comes to freestanding coffee machines, there is a wide range of models available on the market – from a minimal design to a barista-style statement machine. The height of freestanding models can vary, so account for this if you are planning shelves above to store mugs and coffee jars. Also, if you are on a budget but need that daily caffeine fix, freestanding machines are more affordable than built-in ones.
Scroll down for the latest freestanding and built in coffee machines…
Freestanding coffee machines
Built-in coffee machines
Pros and cons + buying tips
The capsule or pod coffee machine
- Quick and easy, mess free experience
- A capsule or pod coffee machine will only cost £100 or less
- You’ll have to buy a milk frother as they are not included
- You’ll be limited in your coffee choices depending on the brand of capsule the machine uses
- The cost per cup can mount up if you’re drinking three or four coffees a day.
The pump espresso machine
- Great for the all round coffee making experience at home
- Select a variety of coffee beans to grind for each cup
- Choose from a range of strengths and cup sizes to get the taste just right
- They generally come with a steamer wand to heat the milk
- More expensive than pod or capsule machines
The bean-to-cup machine
- A great investment if you are a coffee lover
- Experiment with coffee flavours
- Freestanding machines cost anything from £600
- Built-in coffee machine cost anything from £2,000 to £4,000
The bean-to-coffee machines will generally have a self cleaning function and lets you know when you need to empty the drop tray and waste container of used coffee grounds – all you’ll have to do is clean out the filter.
The pump lever coffee makers filter will need to be emptied out and rinsed through after each cup of coffee to avoid a build up of bitter tasting coffee.
The capsule machines can be left day to day but you will need to clear out the empty pods regularly and check the rinse tray. To keep your coffee tasting good it’s worth using the manufacturer recommended descaler two or three times a year to rinse through the entire machine to keep it running smoothly.
Need to know coffee machine secrets
If you have a separate milk frother you’ll have to make room on the worktop for it. Also, remember you’ll need a double socket nearby to plug both the container and coffee maker in especially if you’re planning a breakfast station to hide away all your coffee paraphernalia.
To make life easier, if you are going for a built-in model make sure it doesn’t need a plumbed water line but has a removable water tank of at least 1.4 litres so you don’t need to keep refilling all day.
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Featured image: iStock/ morrowlight