Best Espresso Machine Espresso machine reviews

Espresso machine buying guide

Pump-driven espresso machines

De'Longhi Icona ECO310.R Pump Espresso Machine

The De'Longhi Icona, a traditional pump-driven espresso machine

The traditional espresso coffee machine gives you a lot more say on what your coffee tastes like but compared to a pod machine there’s  more mess and cleaning up to do afterwards!

The majority of traditional espresso makers operate using a motor-driven pump to drive hot water through a thermoblock to heat it up to the correct temperature then through the coffee. The strength of the pump is measured in bars.


With your pump-driven traditional machine you get to decide the amount and type of coffee you use along with the amount of water so with a bit of trial and error you can make an espresso exactly to your taste and requirements.


Pump machines will take ground coffee which as well as offering you a great variety in taste and price will more than likely be a lot cheaper than a pod machine. For less than £300 you can get a cracking espresso coffee machine. You can of course pay a lot more or a lot less!


All in all what you get with a traditional machine is total control over your coffee but with the caveat that there will more than likely be more mess.

Pod coffee machines

The Nespresso Essenza, a capsule based espresso machine

Pod machines are the kings of convenience when it comes to coffee making. Easy and quick to use you add either a pod or capsule of pre-packaged coffee to your machine and before you know it you have fresh coffee warming your hands and no coffee grounds to clean up.


ESE (Easy serving espresso) are pre-measured amounts of coffee wrapped in filter paper – capsules are small plastic pots of ground coffee – both contain enough coffee for one espresso shot. As with the traditional machines hot water is forced through the capsule/pod.

Many traditional pump-driven machines are able to use either ground coffee or pods.


There are many choices under £200 – results can very between pod machines even using the same coffee pods.

The main negative is the price of the pods and the variety. Whereas pods that produce a single cup can vary in price from 20p to 30p, a single cup made from ground coffee will cost you a third of that. And even if a machine such as the Dolce Gusto has a range of pods there is the chance you will get bored of them or hanker after some freshly ground coffee from the deli up the road.


In short, you get perfectly acceptable coffee quickly and conveniently but expensively.

Bean to cup espresso coffee machines

The Gaggia Brera, a bean-to-cup espresso machine

The main advantage of the bean-to-cup coffee machine is that you get truly fresh coffee from freshly ground coffee beans.

They have an inbuilt coffee grinder. You can spend a hell of a lot of money just on a separate coffee grinder for use with a traditional machine just as you can spend a hell of a lot of money on a bean-to-cup machine.


Add coffee beans to the machine and you have an espresso delivered to you pronto. You are only limited to what type of coffee beans you can lay your hands on!


Bean-to-cup machines are generally more expensive than traditional and pod-based machines. You can pick up traditional machine for as little as £40, a pod for under £100 but you are looking at the £350 mark for an entry level bean-to-cup machine.


These machines are more expensive than traditional and pod machines but have both convenience and the choice of coffee you don’t get with a pod machine.

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