An automatic coffee machine can be defined as one that delivers your coffee of choice with the press of just one button and the best automatic coffee machines produce coffee that is comparable to what you get in a coffee shop at a fraction of the price.
If you normally drink instant coffee at home and pay £3 for a coffee in a coffee shop and want to enjoy great quality coffee at home but you wouldn’t know where to start with the alien looking machines they use in Costa or Starbucks then a fully automatic coffee machine could be the answer.
The high street coffee shops actually use manual coffee machines to produce espresso and then they froth up the milk themselves with a steam wand to create all the various milk-based drinks such as cappuccino, latte and flat white.
They don’t make it themselves to put on a show so that you think it’s worth £3 for a large latte, its actually the best way to control all of the different aspects of a great cup of coffee.
But let’s face it, most people don’t have the time nor the inclination to faff around with a manual coffee machine to get the perfect amount of freshly ground coffee, make sure it is perfectly compressed (tamped) in the filter basket and then monitor it so that it delivers a double espresso in 25 seconds ready for the textured milk to be added if you like milk-based drinks.
You want all of those things but your brain is crammed full of one hundred things each day that are more important than learning the ins and outs of a cappuccino and the last thing you want to do is work out how it all works, spend 5 minutes making your coffee and then deal with all the mess afterwards.
Most of the time, we just go on autopilot and make a coffee first thing in the morning and guzzle it down without actually enjoying it and hardly even noticing it at all.
If that sounds like you then there are coffee machines that do it all for you, eliminate all the work and take all the stress out of the equation.
You get your daily caffeine kick, actually enjoy the coffee you are drinking and you will pay a lot less than you would at a coffee shop.
If convenience is your main priority then you need a machine that is automated and does it all for you without any hassle and no work.
There are many different types of coffee machine that will do all the leg work for you so you first of all need to decide how much you are prepared to spend on the machine in the first place.
How much do automatic coffee machines cost?
When it comes to the price of an automatic coffee machine you can choose to either pay upfront for a quality bean to cup coffee machine or you can pay a low cost to start with if you choose to buy a pod coffee machine but pay a premium for the pods during the time that you own the pod machine.
Let’s explain that in a bit more detail.
Pod coffee machines are the ultimate convenience. You just open the lid, pop in a pod, press a button and your coffee is delivered to you in under a minute.
There are many pod coffee machines available for under a hundred pounds making them very affordable to most people looking for a hassle-free way to good coffee.
However, it is very common when anyone buys one of these types of machine to overlook the cost of the pods and the price per cup of coffee.
With Nespresso, for example, you can easily pay 30p-35p per pod and sometimes, depending on the type of drink you like, you may need 2 pods per cup.
That can work out quite expensive over the course of a month if you like say 2 or 3 coffees a day.
Dolce Gusto and Tassimo are the same. Both of these very popular pod coffee machine manufacturers offer surprisingly cheap coffee machines and for good reason.
They are happy to not make any money on the coffee machine because once you have the machine then they will more than make up for it when you buy the pods that go in it.
There is nothing wrong with that but it is just something to be aware of before you go down that road.
And with Dolce Gusto and Nespresso you do not need to buy the pods that they make, you can opt for cheaper alternatives.
This article explains more about that:
So pod coffee machines are cheaper to start out with but can cost more over the long run once you take into account the price of the pods.
This article explains more and goes through some options for automated pod machines:
The other main type of automatic coffee machine is bean to cup coffee machines.
With pod coffee machines the coffee beans are ground in advance and then added to the pod and vacuum-sealed for freshness.
Whilst this is fine and produces decent flavour and is much better than instant coffee, it’s not as good as grinding the beans just before the coffee is made.
That’s what they do in coffee shops because it delivers the best possible flavour.
Bean to cup coffee machines have a built-in grinder and so you just add the beans to the container on top of the machine.
When you press the go button, the machine will automatically grind the beans, tamp the ground coffee and push water through the coffee at high pressure to deliver a double espresso into your cup.
Some bean to cup coffee machines also have a built-in milk carafe and will automatically add milk as well without you having to do a thing.
This article explains all about bean to cup coffee machines in detail:
Buying 1kg of your favourite coffee beans works out a lot cheaper than buying 1kg of coffee contained within a whole load of coffee pods.
Most coffee pods contain about 5g of coffee and if we assume 20p per pod that’s about £40 per kg.
If you buy coffee beans to use in a bean to cup coffee machine you can buy some really good coffee for £20 – £25 per kg or even less.
This article explains more:
With a bean to cup coffee machine, you will have to pay more for the machine up front compared to a pod machine but it will cost you less in the long run as you will likely have the machine for a good 3-5 years.
Another alternative which is very underrated in the UK is filter coffee machines.
These are more popular in the US and are often thought of as the type of machine that makes a pot of coffee and in the UK we like to drink one or two cups at a time.
But this is not the case at all as most filter coffee machines allow you to make one or two mugs of coffee and they work out very cost-effective as well.
The type of coffee they make is not as intense as the espresso-based drinks that bean to cup or pod coffee machines produce but they do represent really good value for money.
You can normally pick up a good one for less than £50 and you add ground coffee to it, press the button and the coffee is delivered into the pot below in just a few minutes.
With filter coffee machines the cost of the coffee is low and so is the cost of the machine so you are getting the best of both worlds.
This article explains more:
These are the best fully automated coffee machines in the UK:
This is a really well designed automatic coffee machine that makes producing fresh coffee a pleasure. Load up the beans into the top of the machine and select the strength of your coffee by turning the dial on the front of the machine.
This will adjust the number of coffee beans that get freshly ground each time you want a coffee. After a few goes you’ll have it set to just how you like it and then there are 4 default buttons that will deliver your coffee of choice by pressing one button.
The steam wand sits on the side for heating milk for cappuccinos and latte’s.
This machine offers true automation for all the coffee drinks you find in any of the high street coffee shops. A digital display allows you to select the strength of your coffee and the type fo drink you want and then just press one button.
A double espresso will be delivered first and then either more water will be added if you selected Americano or milk will be added for cappuccino, Latte or flat white. True one-touch operation.
This coffee machine has been a best seller for Delonghi for years. You get great coffee at a great price and its automatic as well. Those 3 things combined make this a great value for money option from the market leader in coffee machines in the UK.
You simply turn the dials on the front to choose the number of coffee beans you want to be ground and the other one to tell the machine how much coffee you want in your cup and hit go.
If you are not into high tech or digital displays and you just want something simple that delivers good coffee at a reasonable price then this is up there with the best.
This is one of our favourite pod machines. It looks amazing in an all over chrome finish and black coffee is delivered automatically by just lifting the lid, popping in a pod and hitting the start button.
We love that you can heat fresh milk (not powdered milk in a pod like some other pod machines) simply. Just add milk to the jug place it under the steam wand and it will automatically heat your milk and stop when done.
You choose from one of 11 milk temperature settings for full milk frothing automation.
This is the cheapest pod machine that Nespresso offer but it delivers coffee the same as the most expensive one. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the more expensive machines but 15 bar of pressure is used to deliver the coffee through the pod which is exactly the same as others that cost an awful lot more.
This machine is perfect if you like black coffee and you can easily add a separate milk frother for milk-based drinks.
A fully automated pod machine is about the easiest way to make a good cup of coffee. You never actually have to touch any coffee, just pop in a pod and choose your drink. Whether it’s an Americano, Espresso, Cappucino or Latte it will deliver for you with just one touch.
Very much a budget coffee machine but a great way to get low-cost great tasting coffee.
Another excellent automated filter coffee machine designed in classy stainless steel with a thermal jug that will keep your coffee hot for several hours.
Do automatic coffee machines need a separate milk frother?
Most automatic bean to cup coffee machines come with a steam wand integrated into the machine so the coffee is automatically delivered but the milk needs to be heated in a jug and then added to the espresso to create your milk-based drink of choice.
Some bean to cup machines come with a milk carafe integrated already so you don’t need to do anything if you want a cappuccino or latte, the coffee machine will do it all for you and offers true full automation.
When it comes to automatic pod coffee machines there are lots of different choices. If you only drink black coffee such as Espresso, Americano or Lungo then you don’t need to worry about milk at all and so its best to choose one that doesn’t have a steam wand or built-in milk carafe.
If you do like a cappuccino or latte and you opt for a pod machine then you can get them with or without a milk steaming wand and they also come with integrated milk carafes as well.
A good option to consider is to opt for one that doesn’t come with any milk heating options at all and then add an automatic milk frother separately. This can often work out a lot cheaper than buying milk pods and also cheaper when it comes to buying the machine.
This article explains more about milk frothers and their benefits: