Pod machines mean a great tasting coffee without the messing about.
The coffee grounds are packed into a little capsule, which is inserted into the machine. Press a few buttons, and your cup is full. No complicated loading, preparing of beans or controls.
You don’t need to mess around with buying the right beans to match your taste preferences, nor step anywhere near a grinder.
Admittedly, no pod machines would probably make it into any top 3 best coffee machines rundown, but they are convenient and take up minimal space. Not only this, but there are now more varieties out there than ever before, both in terms of brands and of drinks.
They also give the user consistent results which can be hard to achieve when you’re rushing for work in the morning and using an espresso or bean to cup machine (see our favourites here).
How To Buy The Best Pod Coffee Machine
When you buy a particular brand of a capsule machine, you are essentially committing yourself to that particular brand of coffee, too. This may form the biggest part of your decision before you even read further.
For example, if you know that your local supermarket has a huge range of one brand of pods which you can pick up when you do your weekly shop, you may pick that. Or, you may already drink a certain coffee in your French Press, and want to continue.
If you want to know more, however, we have compared the four biggest pod brands here in the UK, based on drink variety, ease of use, price and availability:
Lavazza – Best For Proper Coffee
This has to be our top pick. Many users claim it makes the best coffee out of all capsule machine brands, tasting like a proper cup of professional coffee as opposed to slightly ‘fake’ hints.
The A Modo Mio system makes it just as easy to pour a milky coffee as an ordinary espresso or black coffee. Just place a tall glass with some milk in under the pouring spout, and the espresso sinks to the bottom, automatically making a latte.
You can pour as much coffee as you like into the cup, or leave it to do the job automatically. The range is however designed to produce only espresso-based drinks, so you will need to do a bit more for milkier options.
There are no compatible pods around, so you’re limited to a small range of drinks from the brand themselves, but this won’t bother anyone who just wants an easy, decent coffee in the morning. There are also not many machines around, so not best for someone who wants a lot of customisation such as colour.
- Machines Available: Not as much choice as other brands, but the designs are solid and will suit any decor
- Pod Variety: They stick to coffee blends, but there are various strengths available
- Cost: Branded pods around 27p per serving. The machine is around £40 to £100
- Highlights: Compostable pods (Eco Caps), Stylish machines, Proper coffee in pods
Nespresso – Best For Machine Choice
Want to spend the bare minimum? Or maybe you want to splash out on something that is a handy pod machine but comes with a million extras, such as milk frothers.
Nespresso has a huge range of machines. They have worked with the likes of De’Longhi, Krups, Sage and Magimix to bring you a vast selection, all with their unique attributes.
They have two varieties of machines – the Original, and the Vertuo.
Their Vertuo range is one of the best options for making speciality coffees, as it has unique barcode technology which can automatically adjust the water length and power needed to blend the perfect cup. The pods are also available in five different sizes, to give the user more options.
Nespresso Original machines are also one of the best options if you will be using third-party pods, such as those from supermarkets or subscription boxes. They have the best choice of compatible pods, although bear in mind that this only applies to Original machines and not Vertuo.
The budget varies hugely – you can find a simple pod machine for under £100, but their milk frothing machines and brand collaborations can near £500.
- Machines Available: Dozens. Most popular picks include the high-end range by Sage and the Lattisima with a milk frother
- Pod Variety: Mostly coffee-based. Brands include Starbucks, L’Or, Kenco and Nespresso themselves
- Cost: Branded pods around 30p per serving. Machines £50 to £400+
- Highlights: Recyclable pods, Boutiques around the UK, Membership perks
Dolce Gusto – Best For Other Drink Choice
Want more than coffee? Have a family who also likes hot chocolate, flavoured tea and really frothy coffee?
Dolce Gusto machines are the best for variety when you want those fun coffees as well as getting your money’s worth by making other hot drinks too. Classic coffees like the Americano or Latte are there, as is a Cold Brew, but they also have Caramel Macchiato, Cappuccino Ice, and Decaf options for something more luxurious or for every hour.
The choice of teas is also great, whether you’re a builders brew lover or prefer something from Marrakesh. Brands such as Nesquik, Maltesers and Galaxy bring chocolate drinks, and there are also plenty of own-brand supermarket options out there which will save you some pennies for everyday use.
All of their machines are perfect for smaller spaces, with curved edges and some slightly ‘different’ looking designs too. Their pods are ‘Smart’ too, able to automatically regulate the pressure that goes into them.
- Machines Available: Good choice of looks, colours and styles. Many perfect for smaller spaces
- Pod Variety: Huge. Goes beyond coffee. Also from brands such as Costa Coffee, Starbucks, Horlicks and Nesquick
- Cost: Branded pods around 56p per serving. Machines from £50 to £200
- Highlights: World’s largest Coffee Sustainability programme, Well priced machines, Smart pods for good taste
Tassimo – Best For Milk Coffee
With a range of single-cup brewers, Tassimo can deliver authentic café-style beverages using unique INTELLIBREW™ technology.
Simply put, this means less work for you. Insert the pod, and the right amount of water, temperature, and brew time are all sorted automatically. It will read the barcode printed on the label, which specifies beverage size, brewing time and optimal temperature required to prepare the drink.
Milky coffees come all-in-one with a liquid creamer, which is ideal if you don’t want to have to add it separately or buy separate fresh milk pods, and you can also venture away from coffee if you wish with teas and chocolates available.
They will only use the T-Discs because of the barcode, so you are tied to the brand and won’t be able to pick up some pods from your favourite independent roaster. But most drinks are ready in under 60 seconds, and machines are relatively inexpensive.
- Machines Available: Limited, but most are made by Bosch so it is a reliable brand
- Pod Variety: Good for coffee. Different roast levels and flavour profiles are available, as well as picks from the likes of Maxwell House and Gevalia
- Cost: Branded pods around 50p per serving. Machines from £50 to £150
- Highlights: Range of hot drinks
Are There Other Brands Available?
You have a few options. Illy makes ESE coffee pods, and there are a couple of machines available from brands such as Francis & Francis. They are hard to come by, however, and are mostly classed as espresso machines technically.
Dualit is another brand, more known for their pods than the machines – the NX pods are Nespresso-compatible, so can be used in Nespresso Original line machines and Nespresso-compatible models. This works the other way too. Their machines aren’t available in most ordinary stores, and they are generally targetted more at commercial premises.
There are plenty of non-branded machines out there too, from high-street names or through sites like Amazon. Some will use branded pods or refillable pods, but will not be as reliable or supported as the big four brands.
The Best Coffee Pod Machine For…
Got a very particular wish in mind? These are the brands which excel for the top things to look out for
Dolce Gusto for all hot drinks. Nespresso for coffee options, with ability to choose roast levels and origins
Good quality coffee
Lavazza. Limited in choice compared to other brands, but proper coffee shop quality
Lavazza. The Eco pods can be disposed of in your regular rubbish, which cuts out faff. Nespresso is fine if you have access to recycling facilities however
Own brand pod price
Lavazza again. Amongst some of the lowest prices, yet superior coffee. Nespresso is not far behind
Nespresso Original. Can pick them up from the supermarket or brands such as Dualit, L’Or and Costa. Dolce Gusto is a close second
Nespresso has a huge range, some at the more professional level end too, as well as those around £50. Dolce Gusto is good if you don’t want to spend too much but want a very different, particular style, with all machines looking different
Pod machines are easy anyway, but sometimes you don’t want to have to even change any settings. The Tassimo T-Discs will tell the machine what to do. Nespresso Vertuo is also great for this. But there will be no option for straying away from the brand
Multiple servings/tank size
You will have to look at individual machines as opposed to brands, but some of Nespresso’s pricier picks are good if you also have guests