Below average joe
Snapping up a reasonably priced coffee machine in the end of financial year sales is a smart way to save money on buying barista-made coffees – but only if it does a decent job. Some of the models we've tested performed so poorly they'll have you running straight back to your favourite cafe, KeepCup in hand.
We review capsule and espresso coffee machines from brands like Breville, DeLonghi, Electrolux, Nespresso and Sunbeam. We use an expert panel to rate the taste of the coffee, while our experienced kitchen testers score the machines on other measures like ease of use and temperature consistency.
The experts agree: you're better off leaving these three models on the shelf.
Sunbeam Café Barista EM5000
This barista-style espresso machine is great at serving up cup after cup at very consistent temperatures, but unfortunately the coffee is lacking in taste, with our expert tasting panel rating it an appalling 30%.
If you're looking to perfect your latte art, you'll also be frustrated by this machine's mediocre milk frothing performance.
At $299, with an overall score of just 47%, the Sunbeam Café Barista is definitely not the smartest way to get your morning fix.
Nescafe Dolce Gusto Lumio NCU600
You don't always need to spend a fortune on a coffee machine to get a good cuppa (the Kmart $89 espresso machine is a case in point), but in this instance, you get what you pay for.
The $99 Nescafe Dolce Gusto Lumio delivers poor-tasting coffee, poor milk frothing and inconsistent temperatures, contributing to an overall score of 49% in our review.
It's also unpleasant to use, as the coffee can splash during delivery and the unit has no waste storage, meaning you have to remove every capsule manually after use.
Despite using a different capsule system, this machine bears an unpleasant resemblance to the Nescafe Dolce Gusto, with a price point of $99 and an overall score of 49%.
Just like the Nescafe system, the Espressotoria produces poor-tasting coffee at inconsistent temperatures.
The machine doesn't come with a milk frother, but we bought the optional Veloce milk frother for $35 and – surprise, surprise – it also did a substandard job.
Coffee machine buying tips
If you're tossing up between a pod or capsule coffee machine and a manual espresso machine, there are a few factors to consider.
Pod or capsule machines are much easier to use and require very little cleaning. On the other hand, espresso machines require more work but generally have a better depth of flavour and let you make your coffee the way you like it.
But remember, a poor-quality espresso machine can still deliver mediocre flavour, and a badly designed pod or capsule machine can be tricky to use, so make sure you do your research before committing.
For more top tips, visit our coffee machine buying guide.
Looking for the best coffee machine? We rate models from Breville, DeLonghi, Electrolux, Nespresso and Sunbeam and more in our coffee machine reviews.