Skip to main content

Best coffee makers 2021: ranking the top coffee machines we tested

A coffee maker being used to create an espresso
(Image credit: Nespresso)

With one of the best coffee makers, you’ll be able to pull the perfect shot of espresso and master latte art like a pro. We’ve tested a huge range of coffee machines and have ranked our top picks in this guide, so whether you’re looking for the best espresso machine, or you need something that can make a mean cappuccino, we’ve got you covered. 

There’s a wide array of different types of coffee makers on the market, so we’ve put a range of different models to the test to help you decide which is the best for you.  Bean-to-cup coffee makers which, as the name suggests, double up as a coffee grinder and are fully automated so that you can press a button and the machine will produce a drink, although they are among some of the most expensive coffee makers you can buy.

If you prefer to keep things simple, consider some of the best espresso machines, which will create a fantastic shot. More affordable than bean to cup machines, they are a little trickier to use as you’ll have to manually add the ground coffee and add the right amount of pressure to compress the coffee grounds. We’ve gone into detail about how to use an espresso machine and how coffee makers work, if you’re new to the coffee maker world. 

Pod machines, which are also known as single-serve coffee makers, and are available from the likes of Nespresso and Keurig are the easiest of the machines to use. They are ideal if you want virtually mess-free coffee making and you end up with consistent results every time. While all coffee machines will require you to buy some coffee, pods can often be quite expensive so it’s worth factoring that in.  If you’re concerned about the eco-friendly aspect of pod machines, then read our guide on how to recycle Nespresso pods

The best coffee maker for you might simply come down to a machine that can make large quantities of coffee at once. For this, we’d recommend a drip filter coffee machine because these models can make up to 10 cups in one go. If you’re still not sure, you can find a more detailed breakdown in our article covering which type of coffee maker to buy

Find our round-up of top-rated coffee machines below. 

Best coffee makers 2021: ranked

Breville Bambino Plus

(Image credit: Breville)

1. Breville Bambino Plus

The best espresso machine

Specifications
Type: Espresso machine
Milk frofther: Built-in
Number of drink sizes: 2
Reasons to buy
+Allows for lots of customization +Quick heat-up time
Reasons to avoid
-Needs a good clean after each use-Can’t be used with pods

 The Breville Bambino Plus earns its place as the best coffee maker with ease because it’s straightforward to use but still allows you plenty of customization to brew your perfect coffee. This machine is small enough to not take over your countertops but it has everything to give you barista-style coffee. This model is available in the UK too, but it’s known as Sage rather than Breville.

Coffee lovers will enjoy the accessories that come with the Bambino Plus including the Razor tool to perfectly smooth off your ground coffee in the filter basket and the metal tamper which compresses the coffee grounds to help create a great shot of espresso. 

If you’re a fan of lattes and cappuccinos, this Breville coffee maker has three different milk temperature settings along with three texture settings so you can have your drink just how you like it. For added ease, milk frothing is automatic so you won’t have to stand there holding the milk jug - although, there is the option to manually froth milk if you prefer to take a hands-on approach. 

Admittedly, even the best espresso machine probably won’t be as mess-free as a pod machine but the Bambino Plus has handy features such as an automatic water purge on the steam wand to help you keep on top of cleaning. 

This Breville machine isn’t the cheapest in the market, but it performed exceptionally well in our tests and we think it’s well worth its price tag. 

Read our full review: Breville Bambino Plus 

Nespresso Vertuo Next

(Image credit: Nespresso)

2. Nespresso Vertuo Next

The best coffee maker for single-serve pods

Specifications
Type: Single-serve pod machine
Milk frofther: No
Number of drink sizes: 5
Reasons to buy
+Mess-free+Easy to use 
Reasons to avoid
-Pods are expensive -You can’t froth milk with it

 If you need an effortless way to make your morning brew, then the Nespresso Vertuo Next is the best coffee maker for you. This machine couldn’t be any easier to use - you simply place a capsule inside and press a button while the Nespresso takes care of the rest.

We tested the Nespresso Vertuo Next thoroughly and found every single coffee had a thick crema on top that reformed even after we stirred in some sugar.The Vertuo Next is one of Nespresso’s Vertuo line machines and that means, it can only be used with the brand’s patented coffee pods. While there is a huge range of pods available, recycling them can be quite time-consuming because they can’t go in your household recycling. 

The Nespresso Vertuo Next is an ideal choice for coffee drinkers that would like a choice of drinks because this machine can create five different sized drinks and it reads the barcode on each capsule so that it brews the coffee to make it as smooth as possible. 

If you’re a fan of lattes and cappuccinos, the Nespresso Vertuo Next won’t be able to froth milk but you can purchase a separate milk frother from the brand if you’re sold on the rest of the Vertuo Next’s features.

The real benefit of the Vertuo Next is just how simple it is to produce barista-level americanos and espresso, and because this machine uses pods, cleaning up takes seconds too. 

Read our full review: Nespresso Vertuo Next  

Smeg Drip Filter Coffee machine

(Image credit: Smeg)

3. Smeg Drip Filter Coffee Machine

The best drip filter coffee machine for large quantities

Specifications
Type: Drip filter coffee machine
Milk frofther: No
Number of drink sizes: n/a
Reasons to buy
+Makes large quantities of coffee+Keeps coffee hot for 40 minutes
Reasons to avoid
-Takes up a lot of surface space-Interface steams up

If you’re a fan of ground coffee and you like lots of it then the Smeg Drip Filter Coffee Machine is the best option for you. This machine can make several cups of coffee in one go and it’ll keep coffee warm for 40 minutes too. 

Finished in Smeg’s signature style and available in a wide range of colors, the Drip Filter Coffee Machine has some handy features to give you more than just simple brewing functions. For the ultimate convenience, you can set the timer on this machine and it’ll start brewing your coffee - ideal if you dream of having coffee waiting for you when you get up in the mornings. 

You can also choose between two different aroma intensities to suit your preferences. The carafe that’s included with this machine is made of glass which makes a nice change from plastic carafes that often come with these machines, and a reusable filter is included to prevent waste from paper filters. 

The Smeg Drip Filter Coffee Machine makes 10 cups of coffee but we did find these cup sizes were much smaller than standard coffee cups. Aside from that, the machine works so quietly, you’ll hardly notice it and the coffee it made was smooth and hot. 

Read our full review: Smeg Drip Filter Coffee Machine 

Nespresso VertuoPlus

(Image credit: Nespresso)

4. Nespresso Vertuo Plus

The best single serve pod coffee maker for effortless drinks

Specifications
Type: Single-serve pod machine
Milk frofther: No
Number of drink sizes: 5
Reasons to buy
+Convenient+Variety in coffee
Reasons to avoid
-Not easy to recycle-Expensive to run

Looking to add a pod machine to your life? The Nespresso Vertuo Plus is convenient and easy to use, creating great-tasting coffees of all types and sizes. If grinding beans and sourcing single-origin coffee aren’t your jam, pods are likely a better fit.

Think of it as the capsule coffee machine 2.0: Nespresso’s Vertuo recyclable pods come with a built-in barcode, which the machine reads in order to tailor its blending technique, with the pod spinning up to 7000 times a minute to create some impressively rich crema. 

The Vertuo Plus also has a moveable water tank – surprisingly useful if you’re finding somewhere to house this in an office or in your apartment – and of all the machines we tried, it was the most compact and intrusive. If you’re short on space, the Vertuo Plus is worth taking into consideration.

We tested this coffee maker for a month and the Centrifusion extraction technique worked every time, without fail – you could probably use this machine with your sleep mask still on.

The Vertuo machine will only read Nespresso pods, though, meaning no last-minute trips to refresh your caffeine supplies. And they’re not cheap either - a morning espresso habit could soon add up. There’s also little (well, no) scope for adding milk, although if it is a range of coffee flavors and not microfoam you’re into, you’ll have struck gold.

Read our full review: Nespresso Vertuo Plus

Smeg ECF01

(Image credit: Amazon)

5. Smeg ECF01 Espresso Maker

The best espresso machine for style and substance

Specifications
Type: Espresso machine
Milk frofther: Built-in
Number of drink sizes: 1
Reasons to buy
+Great milk frother +Stylish design  
Reasons to avoid
-Not the easiest to use -More effort than a pod machine 

The Smeg ECF01 Espresso Maker is just what you need if you want great coffee but also a stylish addition to your countertops. This espresso machine performed very well in our tests and we think it’d be a great fit for coffee lovers that want ultimate control over their coffee. 

If you’re looking for a one-touch espresso machine for ultimate convenience, this Smeg model won’t be for you, but instead, you can froth milk until it’s just the right level of silkiness and you only need to wait 40 seconds for the machine to heat up too. 

While you do have to do a lot of the coffee making work manually with this espresso maker, the Smeg ECF01 is far from basic. You can fill your mug to the desired level by holding down one of the machine’s buttons and it’ll remember your chosen cup size for next time. Some users may find the lack of a screen a little frustrating while trying to figure out what the machine is doing and how exactly it works, because this coffee maker will take a bit of getting used to. 

In our tests, the Smeg ECF01 created a silky smooth milk texture and the coffee was smooth with an impressive crema. What we really liked about this model was that it can be used with ground coffee or Easy Serve Espresso (ESE) pods, giving you flexibility. Biodegradable coffee pods are also suitable for use with this Smeg machine - something that makes it a very attractive choice if you’re hoping to avoid the waste that some other coffee pod machines produce. 

If you’re not into milk-based coffee and you just want a simple espresso, the Smeg ECF01 will still deliver, but this is really a machine for a coffee lover that wants to take the time to froth their own milk, or at least have the choice to do so. 

Read our full review: Smeg ECF01 Espresso Maker  

Breville The Oracle Touch

(Image credit: Breville)

6. Breville The Oracle Touch

The best bean-to-cup coffee maker for perfect lattes

Specifications
Type: Bean to cup machine
Milk frofther: Built-in
Number of drink sizes: 4
Reasons to buy
+Great coffee+Subtle design
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-A bit big

Serious coffee lovers can look no further than Breville The Oracle Touch - a superb machine that creates barista-level drinks. From automatic microfoam and coffee grinding, to perfect coffee doses and expert tamping, this machine does almost everything, and for its price, it needs to. But if you’ve always fancied yourself as a would-be barista, or just like the idea of raising your latte-art game, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a flaw.

Known as Sage The Oracle Touch in the UK, this coffee maker is semi-automatic and grinds and tampers by itself, while leaving coffee strength and milk texture down to you. Breville The Oracle Touch will fill your kitchen with that unmistakable coffee aroma, but there’s also a bit of mess from coffee grounds too – so if you need a tidier approach, consider a pod machine instead.

Using separate boilers for milk and coffee, the Oracle Touch produces enough steam pressure to create that ever-elusive microfoam. Digital thermometers cut off the steam to stop the milk from scalding, so all you have to do is pour it.

Don’t consider squeezing this coffee maker in between appliances, though. With the hopper on top, it’s hard to fit the Oracle Touch onto countertops if there's shelving above, so be sure to measure out where it could fit if you’re considering purchasing.

Read our full review: Breville: The Oracle Touch 

KitchenAid 5KCM1208 drip coffee maker on a white background

(Image credit: KitchenAid)

7. KitchenAid Classic 5KCM1208 Drip Coffee Maker

The best coffee maker for retro style

Specifications
Type: Drip coffee maker
Milk frofther: No
Number of drink sizes: n/a
Reasons to buy
+Makes large quantities+Keeps coffee piping hot
Reasons to avoid
-Takes a long time to brew-Expensive 

Fans of retro-inspired appliances will love the KitchenAid Classic 5KCM1208 Drip Coffee Maker which has the brand’s signature vintage style but with some more modern features. 

This coffee maker can brew 10 cups of coffee, however, we found the cups to be much smaller than a standard-sized cup. What is good about the KitchenAid Drip Filter machine is how it can keep coffee warm for over 30 minutes. And when we say warm, we mean piping hot - so you’ll need to give it a while to cool down. 

If you want to wake up to freshly brewed coffee, that will be a reality with this coffee maker as the timer function lets you choose when the brewing process begins. The KitchenAid Drip Coffee Maker also works very quietly so it won’t be a nuisance when it’s brewing. 

While this machine certainly isn’t small, it does offer a quiet way to make a large amount of coffee, just be prepared to wait for it to brew and it took 12 minutes to fill the carafe in our tests. 

Read our full review: KitchenAid Classic 5KCM1208 Drip Coffee Maker 

Wacaco Nanopresso

Image Credit: Wacaco (Image credit: Wacaco Nanopresso)

8. Wacaco Nanopresso

Best coffee maker for drinks on the go

Specifications
Type: Hand-held espresso machine
Milk frofther: No
Number of drink sizes: 1
Reasons to buy
+Great tasting coffee+Espresso on-the-go
Reasons to avoid
-Requires focus

The Wacaco Nanopresso is a pocket-sized coffee machine with the ability to brew hand-pumped espresso. So whether you’re not taken in by a blimp-sized domestic espresso machine or simply on the go so much that home means more than one place, the Nanopresso is a surprisingly worthy contender. There’s no battery or charging: it’s all done by creating up to 18 bars of pressure through hand-pumping, and the end result is comparable to what you’d be served in a cafe.

Lighter, smaller, easier to pump, and yet twice as powerful as its Minipresso predecessor, the Nanopresso comes with a built-in espresso cup and lightweight case that’s molded perfectly to house the device. 

If you’ve never used an outdoor espresso maker before, it takes a bit of time to work out what’s going on, especially when slotting it all back in together, but it gets much easier after the first few uses. This is definitely not a machine to try for the first time at 7 am on a weekday morning, but it’s great for taking high-quality espresso with you no matter where you go.

In look, price, and experience, the Nanopresso couldn’t be further than the Breville Oracle Touch, and yet the taste is almost on par. It is more of a nuisance, as it does involve boiling water and finding a flat spot if you’re outside, but the end result is seriously impressive.

Read our full review: Wacaco Nanopresso

How we test coffee makers

We take testing coffee makers seriously and put machines through their paces to see if they really can do everything they promise to. Each machine is slightly different, however, we test each coffee maker for the crema it produces on an espresso, how easy it is to use and set up, and also for consistency from one cup to another. 

When we’re testing, we take into account the overall design of each coffee machine - how it looks, how much space it’ll take up on your kitchen counter, whether the water tank is removable for easy refills, and how the machine looks as a whole.

For coffee makers with milk frothers, we test the milk texture to see if it’s silky and smooth and of course, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t drink plenty of coffee along the way to see how each cup measures up for the overall taste.

We test machines to see how much control you have over each cup of coffee, and whether it’s a case of simply pressing a button or whether more of a hands-on approach is needed. All coffee makers will require regular cleaning so we’re always sure to note what maintenance is involved and how easy these machines are to keep in top condition. 

What to look for in a coffee maker

There are so many different coffee makers on the market that it can be hard to know which is the best option for you. If you enjoy a simple americano and don’t like milk-based drinks, then a drip filter coffee maker will be a great option. Plus, these machines can make as many as 12 cups of coffee in one go. If you just want small quantities of coffee, we’d recommend a single-serve coffee maker from Keurig or Nespresso. 

If you do like milk-based coffee, then there are quite a few options available. Some coffee machines are fully automated and have a built-in frother that will be able to create a variety of milk textures. Alternatively, some espresso machines have steam arms which you place into a jug of milk and froth the milk yourself. There’s a third option too - and this includes buying a separate milk frother which is a stand-alone machine. You’ll be able to use these to make everything from lattes to hot chocolates, and they make a great accompaniment to a pod coffee maker. 

Coffee drinkers that like plenty of customization options will be best suited to a coffee maker that lets you adjust the strength of your brew and brew double shots of espresso. Many premium espresso makers will let you do both of these things, but you can also adjust the strength and the aroma of your coffee with a good drip filter model. 

The final thing to consider is how involved you’d like to be in the coffee-making process. Some machines are smart-enabled so you can simply switch them on from your phone, however, others will require you to compact ground coffee and pull your own shot of espresso before frothing the milk yourself. Others have self-cleaning systems which purge the steam wand to prevent milk residue drying in the pipes, and some have systems to flush out any build-up in the machine. 

How coffee makers work

 With so many different types of coffee makers on offer, it’s no surprise that each type of machine works slightly differently. Here we focus on espresso machines and pod coffee makers but for a more detailed explanation, head to our feature on how coffee makers work

Espresso machines work by using a pump to push pressurized water through coffee grounds so that it infuses with the water to make a smooth shot of espresso. If an espresso machine has a milk frother, it will use a boiler to push steam out of the machine which is then used to give the milk a velvety texture. Pod coffee machines work by using a compacted capsule of coffee and piercing a hole in the capsule. Hot water is then powered up through the machine and pushed through the capsule to create a coffee. Some more advanced pod machines, such as the Nespresso Vertuo Next, spin the coffee pod around at high speeds so that the contents evenly infuse with water for an even smoother cup of coffee.  

Can Espresso machines make regular coffee?

Espresso machines can be used to make an americano if they have the functionality to add hot water to a shot of espresso (which many machines do). If you want to make milk-based drinks, you’ll need to ensure that there’s a steam arm on the machine, or alternatively, you can purchase a separate milk frother.  

How to clean a coffee maker 

Keeping your coffee maker clean will not only ensure it looks great, but it’s crucial for maintaining working order and keeping it hygienic. We’ve written a full feature on how to clean a coffee maker and all its parts but the good news is that you’ll be able to clean thoroughly using products you’ve most likely got at home already. To clean your machine’s water tank, you can make a solution with one part water and one part white vinegar and simply leave it to soak inside your water reservoir for a couple of hours. To give the pipes a good flush through, let the vinegar solution run through the machine by switching it on as you would do normally for water. 

For more on coffee makers, don’t miss our other features: Nespresso vs Keurig: which should you buy? | Which Nespresso machine is best?