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How to pick the perfect coffee machine: CHOICE

Expert advice to help you caffeinate with confidence.

coffee machine adrian
Last updated: 04 April 2023

Consumer group CHOICE has released their top tips for choosing a coffee machine that's right for you.

"Picking the right coffee machine is no easy task. 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," says CHOICE tester Adrian Lini.

"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," says Lini. 

Pod machine: Quick convenience

"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," says Lini. 

"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

"If you're short on time but taste is important to you, consider an automatic machine. 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.," says Lini.

"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

"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," says Lini. 

"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," says Lini.

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," says Lini.

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