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Food and drink

Here’s how to pick the perfect coffee machine for you

- April 6, 2023 2 MIN READ
Coffee
This one's a bit big... Photo: AdobeStock
Consumer group Choice has enlisted the experts to help you caffeinate with confidence by choosing a coffee machine that’s right for you.

With takeaway coffees now rising about $5 a cup – 2 a day and you have a $50 weekly habit – Choice tester Adrian Lini said a number of factors and personal preferences come into play if you’re going to shell out hundreds of dollars on a machine – alongside the ongoing cost of the coffee.

“You need to choose something you know how to operate and will be happy to use every day. If you don’t, you might be left with a bitter taste in your mouth,” he said.

“Whether you want a machine that’s quick and easy to use or one that allows you to geek out and control your brew, our advice will help you find the machine that’s the perfect match for you.”

Pod machine: Quick convenience

According to Lini, Pod machines are quick and easy to use – making them perfect for busy households. No need to worry about frothing milk or grinding beans, just pop in a pod and press a button 

“A basic pod machine can cost as little as $70, so buying one won’t set you back in exchange for the convenience. The drawback is you lose all control over the coffee you’re making. Pods are also far more expensive to purchase than beans,” says Lini.

Automatic machine: Coffee at the press of a button

Consider an automatic machine if you’re short on time but big on taste. Like pod machines, you can make yourself a cup with a press of a button – but instead, you’ll have coffee made with freshly-ground beans.

“Unfortunately, automatic machines don’t come cheap. The cheapest, and lowest scoring machine we’ve tested is $569, and the most expensive is $4199. They also require regular maintenance such as emptying the coffee grounds and drip tray, filling the water tank, and descaling the machine,” says Lini.

Semi-automatic machine: Easy, tasty coffee

According to the Choice expert tester, Semi-automatic machines mix the control of a manual machine with some of the convenience of an automatic machine, so you’ll get a cafe-quality coffee faster.

“These machines automate some of the steps of a manual machine like grinding or extracting while still giving you control over how your coffee is made. This will likely give you a better tasting coffee than a pod machine would,” Lini said.

Manual machine: Full control

If you’re serious about coffee, a manual machine is the one for you. If you invest the time needed to perfect your technique, a manual machine will give you the best-tasting coffee of all the machines.

“You’ll have full control and can create cafe-quality coffee for a fraction of the price,” says Lini.

“Manual coffee machines are very labour intensive and leave a lot more room for error than in machines with some kind of automation. If you’re not confident in your coffee making abilities, this probably isn’t the right fit for you.”

Check out Choice coffee machine reviews here.

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