Anyone who’s ever tried to use an espresso machine only to end up with soggy grounds and a dribble of brown liquid will have learnt their lesson. The biggest appeal of pod coffee machines is that you don’t need expertise to make a great espresso.
Instead, each capsule contains exactly the right amount of ground coffee, arranged so all you need to do is press a button.
Less costly and bulky than bean-to-cup machines, pod coffee makers also often take up less room on a worktop. This makes them a good fit for small kitchens, home offices and even bedrooms.
Here, top 10 Best coffee pods in UK 2021
1. Nespresso Creatista Plus Coffee Machine By Sage
If you are looking for everything you will ever need in a pod coffee machine then this Sage made and designed Nespresso machine will deliver across every measure.
For the best possible experience, you should always froth and heat the milk yourself for milk-based drinks such as Cappuccino and Latte. it’s the only way to truly get the temperature and texture of the milk just right.
With this machine, you get to choose from 11 different temperatures that range from lukewarm to boiling hot. Once you have worked out the one that suits you best just leave it to froth on its own and the sensor will stop the heating process automatically at exactly the temperature have set using its inbuilt sensor.
2. Lavazza A Modo Mio Deséa
Love cappuccinos but not the mess and clean-up that goes with frothing and decanting hot foamed milk? Then the Deséa is the pod coffee machine for you.
It’s not just convenience that the Deséa has in spades, it also comes with more options than the average pod coffee machine. For example, there’s a button for more foam, a coffee temperature boost and a cleaning cycle that can be run to make sure that your first beverage will always be as good as the last.
Its five milk programmes include hot and cold frothing for making hot chocolate or milkshakes, plus there’s a choice of espresso, long espresso, long coffee and a free dose for those who like their drink just so.
3. Nescafé Dolce Gusto pod machines
Most Dolce Gusto machines are made by either DeLonghi or Krups. The range of drinks is broad and includes options for non-coffee drinkers such as tea and hot chocolate. Milky drinks require an extra milk capsule, made of dried milk, as there’s no steam pipe or milk frother on Dolce Gusto machines. Some cheaper compatible pods are from supermarkets such as Aldi, Lidl, Asda and Sainsbury’s, though the range of options is still relatively small.
4. Illy Iperespresso X7.1 coffee maker
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.
5. DeLonghi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Jovia
With over 12,000 online buyer reviews this is a huge best seller. It has an online buyer satisfaction rating of 92% so clearly very high quality. Delivers coffee shop quality coffee with 40 varieties of hot and cold drinks. Can quickly make espresso, cappuccino, latte and more.
This machine is very easy to use and clean, simply pop in a pod and free the flavour. All the coffee grinds stay in the pod so there’s virtually no cleaning either.
Usually available online between £45-50 this is about the average price you will pay for this type of coffee pod/capsule machine, and good value for money.
6. MAGIMIX NESPRESSO VERTUO PLUS M600
The best thing about the Vertuo system is that it’s capable of using different sized pods and this makes it a great choice for those who like a variety of coffees throughout the day. There are five capsule sizes in all, from Espresso and Double Espresso to Gran Lungo, Mug and extra large Alto.
The result is the deepest, thickest, creamiest and silkiest crema you will likely ever get your lips around. Granted, some espresso purists will say it’s just a foam and not strictly a crema but this writer begs to differ because, to me, it has the same consistency of a genuine crema, only it’s much deeper – like the head of a well-pulled Guinness draft. In fact, it’s so rich and creamy that, if you add a drop of hot milk to it, it turns an ordinary espresso into a mini cappuccino.
7. Lavazza A Modo Mio Idola Coffee Machine
The second Lavazza on our list, the Idola makes three different types of coffee as well dispensing hot water. It looks and works like the Deséa, but doesn’t froth milk. This machine made a perfect espresso: it was full-bodied and the ideal temperature. Both in test and when being assessed by our expert, the coffee had a thick and robust crema, though they were let down a little by the flavour. The coffee was very strong, which may not prove an issue for some. However, the expert said the flavour tasted unbalanced and it left a drying feeling in the mouth.
8. Dualit espress-auto coffee and tea machine
This stylish machine takes a range of capsules from Dualit’s own to Nespresso’s, and the machine does a very good job of extracting the coffee from the pods and filling the cup with a hot, aromatic brew. It is very easy to use, with a single button for a single espresso and another for doubles. Milk can be added by using the built-in steamer wand, which worked well to produce smooth lattes, cappuccinos and macchiato.
9. Nespresso VertuoLine Altissio Espresso
The Altissio is part of Nespresso Vertuo’s range, which is designed to allow customers to make a larger range of coffees, with pods tailored to different brews.
There are three pod sizes to choose from – from a standard espresso shot to a larger mug of coffee.
This means you can use the Altissio for both your espressos and cappuccino cravings.
We love its smoky full-bodied flavour, which comes from a blend of Costa Rican Arabica and South America Robusta coffees.
10. Wacaco Minipresso NS
Picture the scenario… You’re on holiday and the hotel only serves filtered mud in the breakfast room. Or perhaps you’re visiting granny and she only has insipid instant coffee to hand. Or maybe you’re camping in the wilds where there are no espresso machines at all.
Given that the physics behind making an espresso is simply very hot pressurised water pushed through fine coffee grounds, it doesn’t really matter whether that pressure is managed my electronics, a big pull-down handle or, in this case, a finger-powered plunger.
How to choose the best coffee pod machine for you
While most pod machines work in the same way, not all are created equal. Many have advanced barista-style features, while others will just produce a simple espresso. There are also lots of different pods and prices to get your head around. watch our video on choosing the best coffee pod machine below or read the full guide underneath.
What types of drinks can you make in coffee capsule machines?
Depending on which machine you buy, all the classic coffee-shop drinks are on the cards. Cheaper machines tend to deliver basic black coffees such as espressos and lungos, while pricier models add more drinks sizes and often add hot milk options.
Some of the priciest machines have built-in milk carafes which allow them to deliver creamy lattes and cappuccinos at the touch of the button, while others have steam wands which allow you to manually steam your own milk to create your own. Others simply bundle a separate milk frother which heats and froths the milk at the touch of a button.
Are there any features I should look out for or avoid?
f you’re looking for a professional barista style drink at home, we’d highly recommend choosing a machine with a steam wand. This will allow you to prepare frothy steamed milk like you’d find in a coffee shop.
If you want frothy coffee but don’t want the hassle of a steam wand, some machines, such as the Tassimo My Way and Dolce Gusto models, have two-stage pods, which come with a creamy milk element, as well as a coffee one, so you can recreate a frothy cappuccino in seconds. This isn’t anywhere near as authentic as milk frothed with a steam wand or carafe but it is a lot quicker and in most cases, much cheaper too.
If personalising your drinks is important to you, then look out for machines with options to adjust drink sizes, temperature and coffee strength. All coffee pod machines will allow you to customise drink size in some way, but certain machines do a far better job of it, making the process quick and simple.
What pods can I use?
That depends entirely on the machine you choose. Most manufacturers use one standard pod type which is unique to the brand. Nespresso has two varieties of pods: the classic type used by the majority of its machines, and larger Vertuo pods specific to the Vertuo line-up.
How much should I spend on a pod machine?
If you want a machine with plenty of customisation options, you’ll need to spend upwards of £70 on a machine. For fancier extras, such as steam wands or built-in milk features, you’ll need to go even higher – these can often set you back over £200. A no-frills manual machine can cost as little as £30, though. So it depends entirely on what you want and can afford.
It is amazing how quickly these pod or capsule style coffee makers have become so very popular with UK coffee lovers. Take a walk into any of the big UK department stores, and the shelves will be filled with these types of coffee makers.
It seems that all of the big coffee brands have gotten in on the act. They have certainly flooded the UK market with plenty of choices. If you are thinking about buying a coffee pod style of machine, then you will find this coffee maker guide very useful.
There are however quite literally hundreds of different models available on the market. Although the competition helps drive prices down, it can also make buying a pod coffee maker very confusing. That is why I put together this guide. Hopefully it will make your choice that little bit easier!