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Best coffee maker 2021: ranking the best we’ve tested

Included in this guide:

Delonghi Dinamica Plus, Nespresso Vertuo Next, Breville Bambino Plus on a green background
(Image credit: TechRadar)

The best coffee maker lets you whip up coffee shop-style hot drinks at home. There’s a wide array of different coffee machines on the market that let you have as little or as much input as you like when it comes to creating espresso, cappuccinos, and other coffee-based drinks. 

So whether you want to enjoy your favorite hot drink with minimal fuss, or you want to become the barista and have full control over your brew, there will be a coffee maker to suit you. 

Which coffee maker should I choose? 

When it comes to choosing the best coffee maker for you, you may be left feeling confused about which type of machine you should plump for. The best bean-to-cup coffee makers are expensive but fully automated, taking on every step of the brewing process from grinding the beans to measuring the coffee, and in some cases even texturizing the milk. This means you can get your favorite drink at the touch of a button. 

The best espresso machine will ensure you can take on the role or barista and allow you to experiment with pressure and brew time to ensure you get an espresso shot that suits you. How to use an espresso machine offers more information on what you can expect from these coffee makers. 

If you’re looking for coffee-shop-worthy hot drinks with minimal fuss, then consider one of the best single-serve coffee makers. Nespresso and Keurig are the most well-known brands making these machines, which are often known as a pod coffee maker. More affordable than other types of coffee makers, they use capsules containing coffee grounds to brew a cup of Java. Although this does come with sustainability implications. Our article offers step-by-step instructions on how to recycle Nespresso pods

For those that drink coffee in large quantities, one of the best drip coffee maker will ensure you never run out of your favorite hot drink. For an in-depth look at the different types of machines, read how coffee makers work

Once you've decided which coffee maker is best for you, check out our round-up of the best cheap coffee maker deals and ensure you grab a bargain. 

We’ve put a range of different coffee makers to the test from brands including DeLonghi,  Nespresso, Breville, and KitchenAid, discovering how effective they are at brewing espresso and other coffee-based drinks to discover which is the best coffee maker you can buy right now. 

Best coffee maker 2021

Breville Bambino Plus

(Image credit: Breville)

The best espresso machine

Specifications
Type: Espresso machine
Milk frother: Built-in
Number of drink sizes: 2
Reasons to buy
+Produces a smooth, intense espresso+Allows for lots of customization +Quick heat-up time
Reasons to avoid
-Can only brew one shot at a time-Needs a good clean after each use

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 espresso machine, which is known as Sage rather than Breville in the UK, produces a smooth, intense espresso, and is quick to heat up. It can also froth milk, and offers three different milk temperature settings along with three texture settings so you can have your drink just how you like it. 

This machine is small enough to not take over your countertops but it has almost everything to give you barista-style coffee. Although it's worth noting, that, unlike some espresso machines, it can only brew one shot at a time and it needs a good clean after every use. 

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 

De’Longhi Dinamica Plus on a white background

(Image credit: De’Longhi)

The best bean-to-cup coffee maker

Specifications
Type: Bean to cup machine
Milk fother: Yes
Number of drink sizes: 5
Reasons to buy
+All drink recipes can be personalized+Automatic milk frothing+Simple interface with an app for additional control
Reasons to avoid
-Takes up lots of space-Requires experimentation to create your perfect coffee recipe

If you're looking for a machine that completely automates creating a smooth cup of coffee, from finding the beans to frothing the milk, the De’Longhi Dinamica Plus is the best you can right now. 

Simple to use, the color touch display walks you through every step of choosing and customizing your coffee - from the grind level, strength, and quantity to the froth level of milk, and temperature. Although this does mean, it will take some experimentation to achieve the perfect drink for you. 

On test, the coffee machine produced an intense, smooth coffee with a thick crema every time, while the automatic milk frother ensured the bubbles were thick, velvety and remained stable. However, it's a bulky appliance, which takes up plenty of room on a kitchen countertop, and compared to espresso and sing-serve machines, it's expensive, too. 

Read our full review: De’Longhi Dinamica Plus

KitchenAid 5KCM1208 drip coffee maker on a white background

(Image credit: KitchenAid)

The best coffee maker for those on a budget

Specifications
Type: Drip coffee maker
Milk frother: No
Number of drink sizes: n/a
Reasons to buy
+Keeps coffee piping hot+Retro design+Quiet in use
Reasons to avoid
-Takes a long time to brew-suggested cup size smaller than expected

If you're looking for an affordable coffee machine, the KitchenAid Classic 5KCM1208 Drip Coffee Maker is one of the best affordable machines on the market. 

This coffee maker, which has the brand’s signature vintage style but with some more modern features, 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. 

The KitchenAid Drip Coffee Maker also works very quietly so it won’t be a nuisance when it’s brewing. 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 

Nespresso Vertuo Next

(Image credit: Nespresso)

The best coffee maker for single-serve pods

Specifications
Type: Single-serve pod machine
Milk frother: No
Number of drink sizes: 5
Reasons to buy
+Mess-free+Easy to use +Can create five different sized drinks 
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 coffee maker for you. The best single-serve pod coffee maker we've tested, it 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.

On test, the Nespresso Vertuo Next created smooth coffee with a thick crema on top that reformed even after we stirred in some sugar. It can create five different-sized drinks, and because this machine uses pods, cleaning up takes seconds too.

However, the pods can work out more expensive than buying ground coffee, and 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.

Read our full review: Nespresso Vertuo Next  

Smeg Drip Filter Coffee machine

(Image credit: Smeg)

The best drip coffee machine

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

If you’re a fan of ground coffee 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. 

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. It's finished in Smeg’s signature retro style and available in a wide range of colors, too. 

However, on test we found the Smeg Drip Filter Coffee Machine's interface steamed up quite a bit, and the coffee maker takes up a lot of space on the countertop too.  

Read our full review: Smeg Drip Filter Coffee Machine 

De'Longhi Dedica Style EC685 on a white background

(Image credit: De'Longhi)

Best espresso machine for double shots

Specifications
Type: Espresso machine
Milk fother: Yes
Number of drink sizes: 2
Reasons to buy
+Compact+Simple to use+Takes Easy Serving Espresso (ESE) pods and ground coffee
Reasons to avoid
-Can’t make espresso straight after steaming milk-Some dripping after espresso is poured

The De'Longhi Dedica Style EC685 is the best espresso machine if you want to brew two shots of espresso in separate cups at the same time.  

Compact and simple to use, on test this coffee maker produced rich, intense coffee with a thick crema that reformed after we added sugar to the drink. We were impressed it can be used with ground coffee or Easy Serve Espresso (ESE) pods too.

However, we were disappointed that the machine can’t make espresso straight after steaming milk. If you're planning on making several coffees with milk, then you'll need to brew all of the espressos before starting on the milk. We also experienced some dripping after espresso was poured. That said, this is a good value espresso machine for the price. 

Read our full review: De'Longhi Dedica Style EC685

Nespresso VertuoPlus

(Image credit: Nespresso)

The best single serve pod coffee maker for large quantities

Specifications
Type: Single-serve pod machine
Milk frother: No
Number of drink sizes: 5
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use+Large water tank+Can create five different sized drinks 
Reasons to avoid
-Pods are expensive -You can’t froth milk with it

With a larger 1.9-quart / 1.8-liter water tank compared to the Nespresso Vertuo Next, this is the best single-serve pod coffee machine for that want to be a lot of coffee, without having to top up the water regularly. 

The Nespresso Vertuo Plus is just as easy to use as its sibling, as it takes the same capsules. Just insert them into the coffee maker, select one of five different-sized drinks and Nespresso does the rest. However, this means you have the same issue regarding cost, as the pods can work out more expensive than buying ground coffee, and once again there's no way of nothing milk from the machine. 

That said, during our review, the Nespresso Vertuo Plus produced smooth coffee with a thick crema on top every time, making it an ideal choice for those look for mess-free coffee. 

Read our full review: Nespresso Vertuo Plus

Smeg ECF01

(Image credit: Amazon)

The best espresso machine for style

Specifications
Type: Espresso machine
Milk frother: Built-in
Number of drink sizes: 1
Reasons to buy
+Stylish design + Smooth coffee with an impressive crema+Takes Easy Serving Espresso (ESE) pods and ground coffee
Reasons to avoid
-Not suitable for beginners -Expensive compared to the rest of the market

The Smeg ECF01 Espresso Maker is just what you need if you want great coffee but also a stylish addition to your countertops. During testing, it created smooth coffee with an impressive crema every time and can be used with ground coffee or Easy Serve Espresso (ESE) pods, giving you flexibility. 

It's not a machine suitable for beginners, as it takes patience to perfect the brew that's right for you, but once you've mastered it, you'll never be without excellent coffee again.  It's also expensive compared to the rest of the market but is a worthy investment if you want to level up when it comes to barista skills.

We were also impressed at its ability to 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. 

Read our full review: Smeg ECF01 Espresso Maker  

Breville The Oracle Touch

(Image credit: Breville)

The best bean-to-cup coffee maker for customization

Specifications
Type: Bean to cup machine
Milk frother: Built-in
Number of drink sizes: 4
Reasons to buy
+Smooth intense coffee every time+Stylish design+Offers plenty of customization
Reasons to avoid
-Takes up a lot of space-Expensive compared to the rest of the market

Serious coffee lovers can look no further than Breville The Oracle Touch - a bean to cup machine that takes on the grinding and tamping of the coffee, leaving the strength and milk texture down to you. 

Known as Sage The Oracle Touch in the UK, this coffee maker produces smooth, intense coffee every time. Using separate boilers for milk and coffee, the Oracle Touch produces enough steam pressure to create that ever-elusive microfoam, too. While digital thermometers cut off the steam to stop the milk from scalding, so all you have to do is pour it.

The Breville Oracle Touch is a bulky coffee machine and it comes with an eye-watering price tag, making it the most expensive coffee maker we've tested, but if you’ve always fancied yourself as a would-be barista, it's worth the investment.

Read our full review: Breville: The Oracle Touch 

Wacaco Nanopresso

Image Credit: Wacaco (Image credit: Wacaco Nanopresso)

Best coffee maker for drinks on the go

Specifications
Type: Hand-held espresso machine
Milk frother: No
Number of drink sizes: 1
Reasons to buy
+Great tasting coffee+Comes with a built-in espresso cup and  case+Compact
Reasons to avoid
-Time-consuming-Require boiling water

The Wacaco Nanopresso is a pocket-sized coffee machine with the ability to brew hand-pumped espresso. 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.

Compact and lightweight, the Nanopresso comes with a built-in espresso cup and lightweight case that’s molded perfectly to house the device. On test, it produced smooth, intense coffee - as long as you've got a supply of boiling water.

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.

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 consider when buying 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 different sizes of hot drink. 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. 

If you’re still not sure, you can find a more detailed breakdown in our article covering which type of coffee maker to buy

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 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.  

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?