This buyer's guide is brought to you in partnership with ExpertReviews.
Coffee machines look set to be one of the biggest technology sellers this Christmas. If you're fond of the daily cup of Joe and want to bring that barista experience home for you or your loved ones, where do you start? There are machines out there priced from £90 to £1,159 — how can you spend your money most wisely for the best home-style caffeine kick? Our friends at ExpertReviews can help.
Firstly, what kind of machine do you need? Check out this excellent buying guide to work out the difference between espresso machines, manual espresso machines, capsule coffee machines and bean-to-cup machines, and scroll down for the pick of each type.
Manual espresso machines
1. Sage by Heston Blumenthal The Dual Boiler
The Dual Boiler from Sage by Heston Blumenthal is a serious machine aimed at people who want the full coffee shop experience at home. It's exceptionally well made, has industrial-quality components and dual boilers so you can steam milk and pour espresso at the same time. More importantly it delivers absolutely amazing coffee. It's expensive, but for the real enthusiast it up there with the best.
Price when reviewed: £1,159. For the latest prices, see the full Sage by Heston Blumenthal The Dual Boiler review
Dimensions (HxWxD): 405 x 378 x 377mm, Water capacity: 2.5L, Cup warmer: Yes, Milk frothing: Yes (steamer wand), Coffee type: Ground
2. De'Longhi Scultura Coffee Machine
If you want great coffee from a machine that looks brilliant, the shiny metal De'Longhi Scultura is for you. Simple operation coupled with perfect water flow make it easy to produce a great shot of espresso at the right temperature. With a tap to control steam, milk drinks are simple, too.
Price when reviewed: £200. For the latest prices, see the full De'Longhi Scultura Coffee Machine review
Dimensions (HxWxD): 305 x 242 x 382mm, Water capacity: 1.4L, Cup warmer: Yes, Milk frothing: Yes (steamer wand)
3. Philips Saeco Poemia
Espresso on a budget is what the brightly-coloured Philips Saeco Poemia does best. It's neat and compact, and produces a decent, if not a little frothy, shot of espresso. With a long wand for steaming milk, this is a sound choice for anyone on a tight budget. If you want to spend a little more, the Gaggia Gran Prestige is the same machine, but made of metal.
Price when reviewed: £115. For the latest prices, see the full Philips Saeco Poemia review
Dimensions (HxWxD): 297 x 200 x 265mm, Water capacity: 1L, Cup warmer: Yes, Milk frothing: Yes (steamer wand)
1. Melitta Caffeo Barista TS
As a bean-to-cup machine, the Melitta Caffeo Barista TS comes highly recommended. As well as regular espresso and long drinks, the Caffeo Barista can automatically steam and pour milk for perfect cappuccinos and lattes: all available from the touch of a button. With two bean hoppers, so you can have a variety of coffee on the go, user profiles that members of your house can tweak to get coffee the way they want it, and incredibly simple maintenance — this really is the king of automatic machines.
Price when reviewed: £999. For the latest prices, see the full Melitta Caffeo Barista TS review
Dimensions (HxWxD): 365 x 255 x 465mm, Water capacity: 1.8L, Cup warmer?: Yes, Milk frothing: Yes (automatic), Adjustable grind: Yes, Adjustable strength: Yes (five steps)
2. Krups EA850B
If you want an espresso machine that can do absolutely everything brilliantly, look no further than the Krups EA850B. It might be one of the most expensive bean-to-cup machines, but it can pour you an espresso, cappuccino and latte automatically. Excellent results for all types of drinks makes this a triumph of quality and convenience.
Price when reviewed: £850. For the latest prices, see the full Krups EA850B review
Dimensions (HxWxD): 375 x 275 x 420mm, Water capacity: 1.7l, Cup warmer: No, Milk frothing: Yes, Adjustable grind: Yes, Adjustable strength: Yes
3. Melitta Caffeo Varianza CSP
The little brother of the Caffeo Barista TS (see above), this fully automatic bean-to-cup might not quite have the same range of features or flexibility, but it does produce the most important thing: excellent coffee. From espresso that's the equal to that made by the best manual machines, to longer drinks with fluffy textured milk poured automatically, the Varianza CSP does everything exceptionally well. It's neat and compact, excellent value and easy to maintain. At this price, nothing else comes close for quality.
Price when reviewed: £750. For the latest prices, see the Melitta Caffeo Varianza CSP review
Dimensions (HxWxD): 405 x 380 x 253mm, Water capacity: 1L, Cup warmer?: Yes, Milk frothing: Yes (automatic), Adjustable grind: Yes, Adjustable strength: Yes (five-steps)
Also see: Gaggia Brera at £450 which came 4th in the list.
1. De'Longhi Lattissima Pro
There's no simpler way to put it, the De'Longhi Lattissima Pro is the best countertop Nespresso machine we have ever seen tested. It's also one of the most versatile, capable of making simple Espresso and milk-based drinks automatically. It looks fantastic and produces great-tasting coffee — what more could you want?
Price when reviewed: £429. For the latest price, read our full De'Longhi Lattissima Pro review
Dimensions (HxWxD): 274 x 194 x 332mm, Water capacity: 1.3L, Cup warmer: No, Milk frothing: Yes (automatic)
2. Krups Inissia, £90
The Krups Inissia is the new entry-level Nespresso machine. To keep the price down, it's made from plastic, but you shouldn't let this put you off. It looks gorgeous and comes in a range of bright colours to suit any room. The one thing it doesn't do is steam milk automatically, although you can buy an Aeroccino 3 frother separately. At this price, this is a great introduction to real coffee.
Price when reviewed: £90. For the latest price, read the full Krups Inissia review
Dimensions (HxWxD): 230 x 120 x 310mm, Water capacity: 0.7L, Cup warmer: No, Milk frothing: No
Filter coffee machines
1. Melitta Aroma Elegance Therm Deluxe, £110
If you want the best quality filter coffee, the Melitta Aroma Elegance Therm Deluxe is the machine for you. It's extremely easy to use, has a removable water reservoir for easy filling and, most importantly, it produces excellent coffee with no hassle. Thanks to its use of paper filters, you get the best quality and the opportunity to tweak flavour by changing papers.
Price when reviewed: £90. For the latest price read the full Melitta Aroma Elegance Therm Deluxe review.
Dimensions (HxWxD): 335 x 265 x 270mm, Water capacity: 1.25L, Machine type: Filter, Stay warm: Yes (thermal flask)
2. Melitta Look Timer, £60
High-quality coffee doesn't have to be expensive, as the Melitta Look Timer shows. Despite its reasonable price, this is one of the best filter machines on the market. It takes paper filters, which ensure fresh-tasting coffee, while giving you the opportunity to adjust taste by using different types of filter. It's solidly built, delivering excellent tasting coffee: there's even a dial to adjust the strength and flavour of your coffee.
Price when reviewed: £90. For the latest price read the full Melitta Look Timer review.
Dimensions (HxWxD): 330 x 240 x 225mm, Water capacity: 1.5L, Machine type: Filter, Stay warm: Yes (hot plate)