How to buy your perfect coffee machine
T ime was when making a coffee involved putting the kettle on and unscrewing a jar of Red Mountain, but the boom in outlets selling freshly ground brews has made us a bit more particular. Sales of coffee machines have been growing with a fifth of homes now owning one, according to Mintel. Whether you're about to join them, or your existing machine needs replacing, here's a guide to your options and how much you can expect to pay.
There are more ways to make coffee than you might realise, but these are the main options:
Filter coffee machines You pour cold water in the top of the machine where it is warmed by a heating element before dripping down through a basket of coffee into a jug below, which is kept warm by a hot plate. You can use any ground coffee.
Pod or capsule coffee machines The coffee is in a pre-packaged capsule which you put into the machine. When you press a button the pod is pierced and hot water is sent through it and into a waiting mug. These are typically easy to clean, but you tend to be limited to the type of capsule or pod sold by your machine manufacturer.
Percolators Ground coffee is inserted above a water chamber. As the water boils it is forced up a tube and down through the coffee back into the compartment below. You can get stove-top versions or electric versions which contain a heating element.
Pump espresso maker These use a thermostatically controlled boiler which heats the water to its optimum temperature for coffee (between 85C and 92C). When this is reached the water passes through the ground coffee at the correct bar pressure. They usually include a tool for steaming milk so can be used for lattes and cappucinos.
Bean-to-cup This machine will grind the coffee beans and then run hot water through them before dispensing your drink. It is essentially a pump espresso maker with a built-in grinder.
If you are buying a machine without an integrated grinder and you want to use beans, there is one major consideration. As Elizabeth Plummer, senior buyer for Whittard, says: "Making good quality coffee is all about getting the grind right. You should spend more on the grinder than any other piece of equipment. You want to achieve an accurate and consistent grind so that you get the best extraction of liquid."
Crema. the foam on your espresso, is one of the main indicators of a good cup, Plummer says. "Freshly roasted coffee produces the best crema. To achieve this you need to use a high quality blend of coffee and ensure your machine is set to the right water pressure and correct pour time (18-24 seconds)." Here are more details on making the perfect Espresso .
We have picked some popular machines and looked for the best prices. But these change rapidly so please put any better deals you spot in the comments section below.
Filter The Morphy Richards Mattino takes 10 minutes to make 12 cups of coffee and has a thermostatic hotplate to keep the coffee at a
constant temperature. The filter is permanent and can be cleaned. It costs £50 at some retailers, but you can buy directly from Morphy Richards for £29.99 including P&P.
Pod or capsules The Magimix Nespresso M190 CitiZ and Milk uses Nespresso capsules. It can make small or large cups of coffee and has an integrated milk frother for cappuccinos and lattes. It has an RRP of £199.99 but is available in cream at Go Electrical for £169.94. John Lewis is selling the black version for £180 and will throw in a free £40 Nespresso gift card if you buy before 30 June.
The Bosch TASSIMO TAS4011, meanwhile, uses T Discs. There are more than 40 varieties all with a unique bar code that tells the machine what quantity of water, temperature, pressure and brewing time is required. Choose from a Costa Americano to a hot chocolate via a chai lemongrass latte. Currys is offering the machine for £99.99.
Percolator The electrical Dualit coffee percolator 84036 has a heatproof handle and a non-drip spout, and can make up to 10 large cups of coffee. The best price is online with Go Electrical at £57. or if you prefer to buy on the high street from John Lewis for £69.95.
Alternatively, the name Bialetti is synonymous with stove-top coffee and its six-cup Moka Express Espresso Maker is best priced with Amazon at £21.09 .
Espresso pump action The De'Longhi EC152 Pump Espresso Coffee Machine offers 15bar pressure for your espresso. It also has a swivel steam pipe that allows you to make cappuccinos and lattes. It can make two espresso cups at a time. Tesco is offering the best price through its "click and collect" service, where it costs £74.97.
The Gaggia Baby 74820/RI8155 is one of Which?'s best buys – it describes its performance as "spot on". You can choose between ground coffee and ESE (easy serve espresso) pods. It has a steamer attachment that rotates so you can froth milk to make cappuccinos and lattes while also being able to heat water for other hot drinks. Amazon leads the major retailers pricing it at £185.69 .
Bean-to-cup The cost of these machines can run into the thousands. We have looked at entry-level versions.
The De'Longhi Magnifica ESAM 04.350.S grinds beans internally and has an integrated carafe for frothing fresh milk. The burr grinder has seven coarseness settings helping you define your coffee taste from strong (the finer setting) to weak. The coffee quantity can also be changed, allowing you to dispense between 7g and 11g. Tesco Direct is selling it for £553.96 via "click and collect", a great deal given one major retailer is charging a scorching £750, plus you get 553 Clubcard points.
The Krups EA6930 Falcon Picto has a 15bar pressure pump and a conical burr grinder, which gives a more consistent cut of the bean than a wheel grinder. This also has automatic rinsing, cleaning and descaling programmes. Harts of Stur beats other retailers by quite some way with a price of £399.95.
Do you have any tips on which machine to choose – and how to get the best out of it? If so, please share your thoughts.Source: www.theguardian.com