For most of the people, the smell of a good cup of coffee in the morning is one of the essential things needed to start your day. The interesting fact is that coffee has been making our mornings more pleasant for the last five hundred years.
One of the most beautiful things I love about coffee is the variety of different tastes and ways it can be made. But, when it comes to buying the perfect coffee machine, these things can make your decision-making process much harder. For those who aren’t a coffee connoisseur just yet, finding the perfect machine can be an overwhelming experience.
If you are still trying to choose the best machine for your needs and you can`t decide which machine to get from the hundreds of different machines on the market, then this guide will hopefully make your decision much easier.
I will help you learn the difference between the basic types of available coffee machines including their functions, styles, working speed and accessories. I will help you decide between which type of machine will make the best long-term investment. It’s better to buy one machine that is going to last you for many years, rather than buy 2 or 3 different machines (trust me I’ve been there) until you get one that not only produces good coffee, but also is cost-effective over the long term for the amount of coffee that you drink.
There are 3 main types of coffee machines available on the market. These include ground coffee machines, bean to cup machines and capsule machines.
Type #1 – Traditional Ground Coffee Machines
The first ground coffee espresso machine was made almost 140 years ago. Until today, it has been the best choice for all the people who prefer enjoying the extensive range of a ground-coffees available on the market.
Espresso machines are not strictly associated with a specific coffee brand, like say a Nespresso machine would be. There are many brands that make espresso machines. Their most noticeable advantage is the price – generally speaking, they are much cheaper than most other coffee machines on the market.
The ground coffee machine is made for all those coffee lovers who love to handle and control the whole coffee-making process by themselves. It enables you to choose the strength of every single cup of your coffee, which also means it is more demanding to use and maintain. Some people who have enough time to prepare their cup of coffee will agree that this is also part of a coffee-making ritual and enjoy the process of making it.
Traditional ground coffee machines are the perfect choice if you are looking for a coffee machine that has a more conventional coffee shop design. Most of the brands available on the market have decent-looking machines and include many different features like water filters or cup warmers.
They usually require a lot more care and maintenance. Standard equipment usually includes frothing jug, usually made of stainless steel, and specialized cleaning tools. It certainly makes it look like a more demanding way of making your coffee, and it is.
What are the main disadvantages?
Although the ground coffee machines allow you to enjoy the coffee-making ritual fully, they are rather tricky to clean. It makes the whole process a bit messy and time demanding. So, if you are not an “early bird” or if you merely enjoy drinking your coffee as opposed to getting involved making it, then this machine probably is not the right choice for you.
You should also take enough time to read the instructions and learn how to avoid bad-tasting mistakes. When it comes to a matter of flavour, you should know a ground coffee tends to develop slightly stale taste after a few weeks of opening a bag. To avoid this problem, you have-to use the whole coffee package as soon as possible, which means that ground coffee machines are ideal for people who love to drink a lot of coffee in a day.
Type #2 – Bean to Cup Coffee Machines
If you are searching for a more sophisticated way of enjoying the diversity of your coffee taste and don’t mind spending a bit more money on a machine, then you will probably be interested in buying a bean-to-cup coffee machine.
Why? Because it combines the essential value of a traditional coffee-making process with simplicity as a result of developments in technology. Just press a button and taste a cup of a fresh coffee made from freshly ground beans in each cup, but without all that demanding and a rather fussy process.
Every bean-to-cup coffee machine has a hopper that holds the coffee beans which are automatically grounded down, packed and poured into your cup. All of the used grounds are placed into an internal holder afterward, which needs to be regularly emptied and cleaned.
Although it has a bit less hands-on approach to the coffee-making process, it doesn`t mean you are unable to control the taste of your coffee. The machine does it by itself, and you get to choose the proper flavor, strength and intensity of your coffee by manually adjusting the grind and how much coffee you would like in your cup.
When it comes to milk frothers, cheaper bean-to-cup machines have manual versions which demand a manual control of the milk heat. Take some time to practice using them, and you`ll get a good grip quite fast.
The more expensive solution is a bean-to-cup coffee machine with an automatic milk frother. They are much easier to use since all you need to do is to fill up the milk container and choose the type of froth you want. By simply pressing a button, the machine once again does the whole work by itself. More deluxe models provide an even more customized approach which allows you to create your own coffee recipe and fine-tune things a little bit further. They are simple, clean and practical to use.
Higher initial machine cost but lower priced coffee
The main disadvantage of a bean-to-cup coffee machine compared to other machines available on the market is its price. The truth is they are a more expensive choice than a traditional ground coffee machine, but this investment is reasonable if you consider its simplicity, working speed and a given taste of a coffee.
Unlike ground coffee machines, the whole coffee beans inside a bean-to-cup machine don’t get a stale taste after some time, no matter how frequently you use your coffee machine.
When looking at different beat-to-cup machine models, one thing to take note of is the size of the water reservoir in the machine. You should choose at least one litre capacity because in that way you won`t have to refill it so often once you put it in use.
A bean-to-cup machine also requires regular cleaning, but it is a much simpler process compared to a ground coffee machine as it makes a lot less mess as everything is contained. It’s just a case of emptying the compressed discs of used coffee grounds from the container in the machine.
Depending on how much coffee you drink, you will usually need to empty the used coffee grounds container every few days, though it’s best to empty it every day to prevent any mold from forming on the warm, moist coffee grounds.
Type #3 – Capsule Coffee Machines
This third type of coffee machine is the most simple and clean to use, and it can be a kitchens centerpiece too. You`ll always recognize a capsule machine by its elegant, sophisticated and modern design, which can be important if you are a more esthetic type of person.
Lots of people who own capsule machines will agree that one of their best advantages is that they provide a consistent quality of coffee taste and freshness in every cup. You don`t need to have any specific skills or know-how when using them, and between you and a cup of a tasty coffee is only one press of a button.
Another advantage is an extensive range of coffee types and strengths, which you can change with every single cup of coffee since one capsule makes one cup of coffee and you can buy variety packs of capsules.
Just like with bean-to-cup coffee machines, many capsule machines also contain an automatic milk frother, which adds the preferred amount of hot or cold milk into your cup.
Capsule machines are considered to be an extension of a specific coffee brands range since they are usually designed under a specific already well-known coffee brand name in partnership with one or more coffee machine manufacturers. They are usually catering to coffee connoisseurs who like a premium quality coffee that has been prepared as fresh as it could possibly be in the comfort of your own home.
But this also means that once you buy a capsule machine, you have also determined the brand of coffee you are going to drink from now on as a capsule machine will only fit one type of capsule. There is no mind-changing for capsule machine owners.
A Nespresso machine is Nescafe’s capsule offering and will only fit machines designed to work with Nespresso capsules, similarly, a Tassimo machine is Kenco’s capsule offering and will only work with Tassimo capsules.
Lower initial machine price but more expensive coffee
Although they are affordable initially, buying a capsule coffee machine can end up being a rather expensive long-term investment. The reason for that is the capsules themselves. You see, in many cases, the only available option for refilling the coffee machine is the original capsules, which are an expensive solution.
If you only need one or two cups of coffee a day to get your fix, that shouldn`t be such a problem. On the other hand, if your household has several coffee-lovers, this could become a significant long-term cost. A box of 10 capsules will make you 10 cups of coffee, whereas for the same price, you can usually get a small bag of coffee beans or grinds that will make you 20-30 cups of coffee in either a bean-to-cup machine or espresso machine.
Another thing to consider is that some capsule coffee machines also use UHT or powdered milk instead of a natural one, which results with a noticeable difference in the coffee taste.
Final Things to Consider When Choosing the Perfect Coffee Machine
Now we have compared the 3 most popular types of machines on the market, it’s time to think about what your needs and preferences are.
Let`s begin with the little less important issues here, such as design. No matter whether we are looking at bean-to-cup, ground or capsule coffee machines, there are many available design options on the market. If a coffee machines looks are your biggest concern, don`t worry. You`ll be able to find a countless number of colors and styles to match your interior.
The price range across various machines can vary significantly too – from the rather expensive luxury brand models, to the supermarket and high-street coffee machines which almost everyone can afford. Keep in mind though that there is always a good reason for the price difference. Usually if you buy cheap, you buy twice.
Consider the long-term cost of your machine, not just the initial cost
One thing that customers and buyers tend to forget is that a coffee machine total cost is a long-term issue. On the one hand, there is an initial price you`ll pay to buy a coffee machine. On the other, there is even more significant cost of using and refilling the coffee machine on a weekly or monthly basis.
Let me explain. Considering its initial price, buying a capsule machine might seem like a good investment. But if you count in the monthly cost of refilling your machine, which can be rather expensive as explained earlier, your long-term investment becomes questionable. On the other hand, bean-to-cup machines bring more significant initial cost but are more economical to use and maintain which makes them a better long-term investment.
It’s a bit like the dilemma between buying a cheap inkjet printer only to realize that when you come to replace the ink cartridges, a full set costs half the cost of the printer did in the first place, whereas a more expensive printer might have cartridges that cost only a few dollars each.
Bean-to-cup machines also offer a much wider selection of different coffees which gives you the freedom to try difference coffees once your taste buds get bored of a particular brand of coffee.
What are your coffee preferences?
Although some people might not define them as the “real coffee machines”, the capsule machines provide a full range of tastes and strengths and usually have very exclusive, quality coffees that have been specially selected and sourced by the coffee brands, or at least that’s what they say.
Still, those tastes are usually limited to only one coffee brand name. On the other hand, traditional ground coffee and bean-to-cup coffee machines give you the ability to choose almost any available coffee taste. If you are a true coffee-lover than a bean-to-cup machine is your choice since it combines simplicity and the traditional coffee-making process.
Pay attention to technical features
When you go to the store or shop online for coffee makers, the price and the design will probably be your primary concerns. Still, there are other issues which tend to become more and more important once you start using your machine.
One of them is a water-tank capacity, which becomes essential the first time you try on making several cups of coffee at the same time. So, if you want to avoid unnecessary wasted time on refilling the water tank in your coffee machine, consider buying a model with a larger capacity.
If you don`t have enough time to prepare a cup of coffee in the morning, another critical issue is your machine`s working speed. Imagine a typical morning which begins with you running late for work, grabbing a cup of coffee, and running to the office. The whole scenario could become even more frustrating if your coffee machine works too slow. Remember, a good coffee machine will serve you a cup of coffee in less than 15 seconds.
Even if it`s one of the most beautiful coffee machines you have ever seen, it will become annoying if it`s too complicated to use. This is particularly important if you are searching for a way to enjoy the coffee-making process fully and get hands-on.
Choosing a more sophisticated solution like a bean-to-cup machine over the traditional ground type doesn`t mean you are less of a coffee lover. It means you know how to fully enjoy in every cup of your coffee more simply, easily and cleanly.
Coffee machine accessories are necessary too
It`s important to know if a coffee machine includes all those extra parts and accessories so you have everything you need to make a cup of coffee. Milk jugs, frothers and coffee grinders all become necessities. If you can avoid buying them later on as an additional expense you should.
If they are not included with your machine, you should at least factor them into your cost-analysis. For example, a bean-to-cup machine has a coffee grinder built-in, as well as a milk frother and a milk jug built into the machine as well in many models. An espresso machine might sound like the cheapest option when just thinking about the machine itself, but if you need to buy all of these extras, the true cost of the machine can increase significantly.
There are many things to consider while choosing the best coffee machine for your needs. After reading everything from above post, the conclusion can be resumed to the following advice – pick the coffee machine which can provide you with a cup of coffee exactly the way you like it, a machine that is simple to use, and is an excellent long-term investment.