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Coffee Machine Buying Guide

Coffee machine Buying Guide

If coffee is an essential part of your day, bringing café-quality drinks into your own kitchen makes all the difference.

Our buying guide will help you make the perfect coffee at home, taking you through the varieties of coffee machines and the different drinks they can make. Plus find the accessories you need to bring out your inner barista and our top tips on how best to clean and maintain your coffee maker.

Types of coffee machines
Types of coffee machines

Espresso & cappuccino

This type of machine uses either fine or extra fine ground coffee or easy serving espresso pods that contain pre-packed grounds. They are inserted in a filter holder and water is heated to around 85 to 92C - the optimum temperature for making coffee. Many come with an attached steam arm so you can froth milk for cappuccinos, lattes and flat whites.

What to look for:

Bar pressure - Ensures the steam meets the coffee granules at the right speed and also creates the 'crema'. This is the extract that sits on top of your espresso and is full of rich aromas and lingering flavours.

Thermoblock - Heats water to the optimum temperature so that the coffee is not scalded and tastes perfect.

Built-in tamper - Used to level out the ground coffee in the filter and pass the water through evenly. There are espresso machines with manual tampers and with it built-in for convenience.

Filter - Holds the grounds and has small holes in it that allows the coffee to pass through. Some premium models have brass filter holders that retain heat longer.

Bean to cup

This method provides you with the freshest cup of coffee available by grinding beans especially for each individual serving. The machines grind, brew and pour at the touch of a button and filters catch the grounds. Many models also have a memory function which stores preferred measures and settings, while others integrate highly navigable LED displays so you can craft ideal cups of coffee with ease.

What to look for:

Bar pressure - Ensures the steam meets the coffee granules at the right speed and also creates the 'crema'. This is the extract that sits on top of your espresso and is full of rich aromas and lingering flavours.

Thermoblock - This heats water to the optimum temperature to brew coffee so it's not scalded and tastes perfect.

Filter - Holds the grounds and has small holes in it that allows the coffee to pass through.

Memory function - Lets you store the settings to make your favourite drink and select it at the touch of a button.

LED display - These are clear and simple displays with digital controls to easily navigate through coffee-making menus. They also have step-by-step guides so you can create the ultimate personalised coffee experience at home.

how to make an espresso

Pod/capsule

These machines simplify the coffee making process. The pods or capsules contain roasted and ground coffee that's sealed fresh for long life and easy storage. Coffee pods offer a wider variety of beverages including teas and hot chocolates and are convenient and easy to clean. Alternatively, Nespresso sealed coffee capsules are filled with Grand Cru coffee from premium world coffee origins and are also recyclable. Selected machines that use capsules have a milk frothing function that uses fresh milk.

Nespresso

Nescafe Dolce Gusto

Tassimo

how to make the perfect coffee

Coffee grinder

Making great coffee means getting the little details right and coffee grinders let you reduce your coffee beans down to the correct grain size for the equipment you're using. They work by reducing the beans either with a burr or a blade. The burr is the more precise option as it crushes beans to a uniform size. The blade, (also called mill) grinders provide larger, coarser grains with a chopping action.

home coffee

Cafetiere

Available in a range of sizes, cafetieres are an affordable and no fuss solution to keeping several coffee lovers happy at once. After letting boiled water cool so the coffee grounds aren't scalded, add it to the cafetiere and allow it to brew. A wire filter is attached to a plunger which separates the ground coffee from the water as it's pushed down. This type of machine is best used with a coarser grind.

how to use coffee maker

Filter

Ideal for making larger amounts of freshly brewed coffee. They use either replacement paper or reusable permanent filters and collect the coffee into a pot or carafe. These often have heated plates to keep your coffee at a delicious, drinkable temperature. Machines with flat bottom filters work best with medium grounds, while cone shaped filters are ideally paired with fine grounds.

Tips on maintenance
Tips on maintenance

• Store coffee beans and ground coffee in airtight containers otherwise it will lose the freshness after a number of days.

• Rinse machines through only using fresh water and after use to remove any residue that maybe left from the last brew.

• Always use fresh water for boiling and do not leave water in the tank for long periods of time between uses.

• Clean separate steam wands regularly and after each use blast it through with steam to clear any unused milk and to help prevent any blockages.

• Refer to your individual machine's instruction manual for guidance on maintenance but in general descale your machine 2-3 times a year dependent on frequency of use.

Brands
Brands