06 Jun Best Bean To Cup Coffee Machines
There are hundreds of different bean to cup coffee machines available. The very nature of this type of product is that most come with a vast array of features and functionality that claim to help make the perfect cup of coffee.
There are many different types of coffee machines ranging from completely manual to fully automatic.
Bean to cup coffee machines are the ultimate indulgence when it comes to the pursuit of producing a cup of coffee at home to compare to the one that you pay £3 for at one of the big high street chains.
Finding the best bean to cup coffee machine for your needs and budget is not as hard as it may seem and by the end of this article you will know exactly what to look for to secure a great cup of coffee for the best possible value for money.
At the bottom end of the pricing scale, it is possible to spend a couple of hundred pounds and at the upper end of the scale you can spend thousands.
At trusted coffee reviews all we do is coffee. We have reviewed hundreds of coffee machines and recommend only the best of the best.
We understand what features actually make a difference to the quality of coffee that you get and which are just gimmicks.
With huge price differences between the cheapest and most expensive options, how do you navigate your way through the maze and find the best value for money bean to cup coffee machine for you?
But first things first.
What does bean to cup mean?
With all of the other types of coffee machines there is either an element of manual intervention to get from a coffee bean to a cup of coffee or the coffee bean has already been ground before it gets to you.
If a great tasting cup of coffee is important to you then it is very important to understand that you will get the freshest, tastiest and most flavoursome beverage if you grind the beans just before you brew the coffee.
With Nespresso or Tassimo or Dolce Gusto pod’s or capsules the coffee has been pre-ground. Whilst the ground coffee is vacuum sealed to retain freshness it is not the same as grinding the beans yourself just before brewing.
Why do you think that all coffee shops grind their beans just before making the coffee for you? Coffee starts to lose its freshness the minute it has been ground. Grinding just before brewing makes sure you get the best possible flavour.
So if you want to replicate the coffee shop experience as closely as possible then you should do the same.
You can do this in a number of ways and with a number of different coffee machines.
The best way to describe a bean to cup coffee machine is that it combines convenience with quality.
A Nespresso or any other pod or capsule coffee machine will give you the ultimate convenience but you won’t get the best quality because the coffee is not ultra fresh.
If you use a coffee grinder to grind your coffee beans and then use a pump espresso machine to make your coffee then you will get a great cup of coffee but you will not get the convenience that you get with a pod machine.
But if you buy the right bean to cup coffee machine then you will get quality AND convenience.
A bean to cup coffee machine will do all of the above for you and deliver a great cup of coffee straight into the cup ready for you to enjoy.
At the touch of a button it will grind the beans and push water through them and into your cup.
Sounds easy? It is but if you get that process wrong then your coffee will taste terrible and you will have wasted your money.
Incredibly there are many bean to cup coffee machine on the market that simply do not follow the set of rules required to deliver the coffee the right way, the same way as the professional machines on the high street.
What does a good bean to cup coffee machine do?
There are many factors that contribute to what constitutes a good bean to cup coffee machine but bearing in mind that we are attempting to aid you in the decision making process rather than confuse you further, we will keep it down to what we believe are the four most important things you need to consider when choosing what to go for.
The optimum coffee flavour is achieved when the water is pushed through the coffee grinds into the cup at 95 degrees centigrade. Any hotter and it could turn the coffee bitter and any cooler and well it won’t be hot enough.
Without going into too much technical detail, the cheaper machines water temperature will vary because they don’t have the built in components to regulate the temperature correctly.
The best machines will have a “PID” (proportional Integral derivative) which basically regulates the temperature and keeps the water at the desired temperature all of the time
The cheaper machines just have a standard thermostat that can vary the temperature significantly.
This is the kind of thing that you will pay more for that is not immediately obvious.
You need at least 9 bar of pressure as the water is pushed through the coffee and into your cup to achieve the desired flavour during the extraction process. 9 bar means 9 times the atmospheric pressure at sea level. No one knows or cares what that actually means but we thought we’d throw it in there to show how technical it can get when it comes to producing a great cup of coffee.
The amount of water that you push through the coffee and into your cup is very important. If you “over extract” the coffee then the flavour will be affected.
For example, for a double espresso you should be using about 40ml of water. If you use say 100ml of water then it will be diluted and watery and taste a bit musty. If you like an Americano type of coffee then after 40ml of water is pushed through then you should add hot water separately.
The better bean to cup coffee machines will allow you to select the correct amount of water to be delivered automatically whilst the cheaper ones will deliver varying amounts of water.
Bean Grind Fineness
A decent bean to cup coffee machine will allow you to select from up to ten or more levels of grind fineness. As a rule of thumb coffee for espresso should be very finely ground and you should be able to tweak it to your exact preference.
Cheaper machines will only have one or two levels of grind fineness.
What’s the best bean to cup coffee machine?
Think of it a bit like choosing a car. You may want a Ferrari but it’s not realistic because you don’t have the budget. So you first need to establish how much you can afford to spend.
Realistically, if you want something that is going to make a decent cup of coffee then they start from around £300 and go up to over £1000.
There are hundreds to choose from and we have reviewed them all. The poor ones have already been weeded out and don’t even warrant a mention or any space on our website.
The selection that you will find on trusted coffee reviews are already the best of the best so even the ones with a lower rating are still pretty good but we set very high standards and want to make sure that you get the very best value for money.
Delonghi are the runaway winners when it comes to the best coffee manufacturer. They are the market leader by a long way in terms of unit sales and for a reason – they make the best bean to cup coffee machines. You can find all of the best Delonghi products HERE.
You can find all of the best bean to cup coffee machines available on the market from all manufacturers here or you can take a look at a summary of our top 12 below before drilling in a bit to look at the detail.
Here are our Top 12
This is one of the UK’s best selling and highly rated bean to cup coffee machines.
Although the controls are manual as opposed to digital is has a lot of the features you would expect to find only on machines with a much higher price tag.
This does not come with a digital display but you don’t need one to easily set the amount of ground coffee that is used for each drink by turning one knob on the front of the machine and the other knob will determine the amount of water delivered so that you can very simply manage the strength of your coffee by tweaking these two knobs until its just right for your taste.
The steam wand is easily activated by turning one dial so you can froth up your milk perfectly for milk based drinks such as Cappuccino or Latte.
You can find the full review of the Delonghi ESAM 4200 here.
This is in our opinion the most underrated bean to cup coffee machine on the market. One touch buttons for coffee delivery combined with a feature that allows you to change the water temperature to suit your exact requirements and multiple grind fineness choices.
It is an extremely compact machine and at just 19.5cm wide is a huge benefit if space is a premium and you don’t want your coffee machine to be the focal point in the kitchen.
It also has some excellent additional default buttons in addition to the normal ones you find on other machines so you don’t need to mess about with programming. A Doppio Plus button gives you a strong espresso and a “Long” button gives you an Americano all with the touch of one button, no pre programming.
The buttons are also smartly flush to the machine so nothing protrudes outwards which is great if you want something a bit more minimalist without knobs and dials sticking out all over the place.
It fulfils all of the requirements you are looking for in a good bean to cup coffee machine and some. You can easily pay double this price for something similar and it doesn’t cost that much more than the ESAM 4200 making this our number 1, 10/10 rated machine.
This is one of Delonghi’s entry level machines but it doesn’t mean that you get entry level coffee. The easy to use manual controls come with the same 15 bar pump that all Delonghi’s machines come with ensuring that there is no reason you can’t produce the same coffee from this machine as others that look a bit more flashy but cost a lot more.
If you are looking for the convenience that a bean to cup coffee machine provides but you dont want any electronic lcd displays or touch panels or any of the bells and whistles that add to the complexity of producing a freshly ground cup of coffee then this may well be what you are looking for.
For a bean to cup coffee machine it is extremely simple to use with just two dials on the front that allow you to select the amount of water delivered through the ground coffee and into your cup and another dial that allows you to select the amount of coffee that gets ground.
The combination of how you set both of these dials will determine how strong or how mild your coffee is. It won’t take long before you tweak both to get it just how you like. You can get anything from a really strong espresso to a large americano and then just heat up some milk using the steam nozzle to convert any black coffee to into a lovely creamy cappuccino or latte
This is not strictly a bean to cup coffee machine because there is an element of human interaction required to get the beans into your cup as opposed to a one button press but it is well worth inclusion here because if you are prepared to spend just a smidgeon of extra time preparing your coffee with this machine you will notice a big difference to the quality of your coffee.
Although the good bean to cup machines will have different settings and personalisation features they still cannot properly control all of the variables to give you the perfect cup of coffee. That’s why you never see a bean to cup machine in a coffee shop.
If you want to try your hand at recreating a true coffee shop experience and learning how to make an espresso like a professional barista then this is the most cost effective way to achieve that.
A wonderful burr grinder is integrated to ensure you get exactly the right fineness of ground coffee to ensure a 60ml extraction of coffee in 25 seconds.
You can monitor if you have it just right by checking the built in pressure gage on the front of the machine that allows you to make small adjustments until everything is just perfect. This is a fantastic entry level professional coffee machine.
Check out the full review of the Sage “The Barista Express” here
When you combine the features and the price this quickly becomes a machine that you should put near the top of the list as an excellent value for money entry price point bean to cup coffee machine.
It has a good sized beans container at 250g. Some others may be a touch cheaper but considering you will be keeping this machine for a good 5 years you don’t really want to be refilling the beans every day so avoid anything that has a 150g bean capacity.
The default settings are excellent as well with good amounts of water being delivered at 40ml for a single and 80ml for a double espresso and you can fine tune the amount of coffee that gets used by adjusting the dial in the middle of the control panel
If it’s full automation that you are looking for combined with value for money this is worth serious consideration.
An integrated milk carafe makes this a true one touch fully automatic bean to cup coffee machine. Fully programmable to deliver the quantity of milk just how you want it for a great cappuccino or latte.
This has been around for a few years and has sold large quantities at around twice the current price so dont be fooled by any short term offers on products like the 23.460.s that has inferior features to this model.
Find out exactly what this machine has to offer compared to others that are similar in our full review of the 29.660.sb bean to cup coffee machine
This is a step up from the Barista express shown above as you now get digital controls to fine tune each variable that makes up the perfect espresso down to a very fine level of detail. Sage really care about getting as close as possible to espresso or cappuccino or latte that is equal to or better than you will get at one of the high street coffee chains.
We actually think that because of the level of detail that this machine provides, you can definitely produce coffee that beats Starbucks or Costa or Cafe Nero. Firstly, when you pay £3 or more in a coffee shop you don’t even get to choose the type of coffee you want. It’s the house dark roast or nothing. Buying the right coffee that suits your palette makes an instant huge difference.
This machine allows you to grind your beans to within a second of your preferred amount. Maybe 10 seconds isn’t quite enough for the strength you require so a turn of the dial and it will grind for 11 seconds and you get 30 different grind settings compared to 16 on the barista express so you get even more control with the intuitive digital control panel.
Sage has developed new technology that makes the pro ready to use virtually immediately when you switch it on (3 second warm up time) compared to 60 seconds with the barista express. This coffee machine has raised the bar again if you want a home coffee machine that will deliver very high quality coffee.
Find out if the Barista Pro is worth the extra money compared to the barista express in our full review of the Barista pro
This takes things to a whole new level again by further automating the coffee delivery process but still giving you control over all of the variables that affect the quality of your coffee.
Lots of things make this an incredible coffee machine such as automatic tamping of the coffee grounds once they are ground and an overpressure valve that stops the water being pushed through the coffee too quickly and producing a bitter flavour.
You also digitally set the temperature you would like your milk heated to and it will stop automatically once that temperature is reached.
If you don’t mind spending in excess of a thousand pounds for a coffee machine then this really is a wonderful piece of kit that will allow you to produce coffee that exceeds the quality in a coffee shop in the comfort of your own home
Find out how in our full review of the Sage The Oracle coffee machine
Krups have historically been a very strong brand when it comes to coffee machines but they have fallen a little by the wayside over the last few years and allowed Delonghi and Sage to take over the mantle of Kings of bean to cup coffee machines.
They have however redeemed themselves with this fully automatic bean to cup coffee machine. If you are looking for a compact machine that will grind whole beans at the touch of a button without any complex settings to figure out then this is worth a closer look.
You only have 4 buttons to worry about. The on/off button, steam button and two buttons for coffee. The first coffee button delivers a strong coffee espresso and the second one will deliver a milder coffee. Depending on which button you press the machine will grind more or fewer beans to get the strength you require.
The dial in the middle determines the amount of water that then gets pushed through the ground coffee and into your cup so that you can get the strength just right. You can choose anything from a short strong espresso with just 20ml of coffee all the way up to a long milder americano with 220ml of water.
It doesn’t come with a milk carafe so you will need to heat and froth your milk yourself but this is the best way to get a cappuccino or latte anyway. It’s difficult to get any fully automated coffee machine to produce milk at the right temperature and with the right level of frothiness so you are definitely better off doing it yourself. For a few pounds you can get a milk frothing thermometer that will show you when the optimum temperature has been reached which is between 60-65 degrees centigrade.
Frothing with this machine is dead easy. One button starts the steam and then you can stop it again with the same button. Frothing milk correctly takes a little bit of practice to get it like you would in a coffee shop but you can find out exactly how in this article on how to froth milk
The bean “hopper” hold up to 260g of whole coffee beans which is more than most machines hold so you won’t find yourself having to refill it on a daily basis unless you drink more than 10 cups of coffee a day!
For fresh convenient coffee this is a super easy to use coffee machine that produces good coffee with no fuss.
This coffee machine is not cheap so you need to probably have owned a Miele product in the past to consider this because just by looking at it and seeing the functionality that it has would make it hard to justify the asking price.
Sometimes the most expensive becomes the cheapest in the end because they just consistently deliver time after time, year after year. You can expect this product to last many years and outlive most others. Miele are more well known for their washing machines and they consistently sell for a significant premium over other top brands because everyone knows that the performance and reliability is second to none.
It has a very sleek modern design with an electronic control panel which sits beautifully flush to the front of the machine providing true one delivery for all your favourite coffee drinks.
For more information see the full review of the Miele CM6150 coffee machine
This is another fully automatic machine where you can select your drink of choice from an on screen menu and it will whip up any drink of your choice at the touch of just one button. A valid alternative to Delonghi or Sage, Jura is a Swiss based company that use high end component parts and this particular machine comes with a unique “pulse” coffee extraction that pushes the water through the coffee grounds in a pulse action for a high quality end result in your cup.
You can tailor the amount of milk that gets delivered so if you like a dry Cappuccino or a wet latte this machine will be able to cater for your needs without you having to worry about the milk side of things.
A stunning looking machine that is extremely aesthetically pleasing, Delonghi have put as much thought into how good this looks as the quality of coffee it delivers. The top and sides are finished in a stunning piano black high gloss that is complemented by a full stainless front and drip tray. This can take pride of place in any kitchen.
This mid-range bean to cup coffee machine benefits from a digital display that allows you to select from 5 different levels of coffee strength from extra mild through to extra strong with the touch of just one button. This selection determines the amount of fresh coffee beans get ground.
Once you have chosen the amount of coffee you then get 5 different levels of water delivery to choose from ranging from short to extra long and when you combine one of those with the 5 levels of coffee strength you will have a tailored cup of coffee to suit your taste.
You also get 4 different temperature settings so you can select how warm or hot you want your coffee to be delivered.
If however the default settings don’t quite match exactly what you have in mind then Delonghi offer a “my coffee” option with this model that allows you to set the amount of coffee and water delivery to whatever you want.
This particular model comes with a steam wand for manual milk frothing which gives you full control over the level of froth and temperature of the milk to create the perfect cappuccino or latte.
This is an excellent value for money coffee machine that once set up to your taste will provide a one touch coffee shop quality cup of coffee.
How is it decided that these are the best machines?
The only way to truly access “the best” is to combine quality with value. It’s no use have a really cheap machine that makes an awful cup of coffee and there is no point in having a really expensive machine that does the same things as machines that are a lot cheaper.
We have comprehensively researched the entire market and meticulously filtered out the expensive machines that do no more than the less expensive ones and we can assure you that there are a lot of those.
Furthermore, we will only recommend products that are already recommended not only by us but thousands of happy customers. You will be able to see each and every one of those reviews on Amazon and combine the information that we provide you with here and all of the independent reviews of people that have actually bought each product to allow you to make a fully informed decision before you commit your hard earned cash.
Is it better to get a machine with or without a milk carafe?
You get more control over the final quality of your coffee if you heat and froth the milk yourself but you also give away some of the convenience that a bean to cup coffee machine provides if you go down that road so it just depends if you are willing to forego the one touch coffee and put in a little effort to make the perfect cappuccino or latte.
There are several things to take into account if you are thinking of going for a built in milk container. Firstly, they are not as convenient as you think. Although the milk container can be removed from the machine and stored in the fridge, in our experience you need to replace the milk every day because it simply does not stay fresh once you pour it out of the bottle into the container leave it attached to the machine whilst it makes you a coffee and then you put it back in the fridge.
If you do that twice or three times a day by the time you get it out of the fridge the day after the milk will certainly not be fresh anymore and worst case scenario could have gone off. So you need to empty it out daily, clean it and fill it up again. it may look good when it makes the drink but just beware of the extra work you need to put in.
The next thing is that with the exception of the most expensive machines, you will not be able to set the temperature of the milk and will have to go with whatever the default temperature the manufacturer has decided is best. In the UK we tend to like a hotter drink than our European counterparts so you may find that the temperature is not hot enough.
You also cant closely control the amount of froth or the texture of the milk with a built in milk container, you just have to go with whatever it offers. Most people will be ok with that but if you like your coffee a certain way and are a bit fussy about it then a built in milk frother may not be the way to go.
Our view is that you are better off with a steam nozzle. Our advice is to choose a milk pitcher with built in thermometer and that you can then heat and froth your milk to the exact temperature that you like it at. 65-70 degrees is perfect for milk for cappuccino or latte.
A quick wipe of the steam wand when you are done and you are good to go again. No messing about with refilling and cleaning a milk container.
So in our opinion, you are better off with a machine with a steam wand rather than a built in milk container but if it’s ultra convenience that you are after then go for the milk carafe.
Whether your budget is around the £300 mark or you are prepared to spend over £1000, you are now in a position to make a fully informed decision on what will best suit your needs from this list of the best bean to cup coffee machines on the market.