Need to know
- Our experts tested more than 50 coffee machines from popular brands like Sunbeam, Lavazza, DeLonghi and Smeg
- Our testing revealed cheaper models that performed well against models costing hundreds of dollars more
- We rate coffee machine performance on metrics like taste, temperature, milk frothing and ease of use
What kind of coffee machine should you buy?
In short, the kind of machine that's right for you depends on how much involvement you'd like to have with the coffee-making process.
"If you like a good coffee but want to get it without any fuss, an automatic machine would be best," says CHOICE appliance expert Rebecca Ciaramidaro.
"You can still experiment with specialty coffee beans and these machines still offer some customisation like coffee strength.
"A capsule machine is also suitable if you want to get your coffee with minimal fuss – however, you're limited to the coffee blends provided in the capsules."
There's also the cost, both financial and environmental, that you'll need to take into account if you're buying capsules.
If you want to nerd out over every single element of coffee making, get yourself a manual machine
At the other end of the spectrum, if you want to nerd out over every single element of coffee making, get yourself a manual or semi-automatic machine (and a good grinder if your machine doesn't have one).
"If you take pleasure in spending time making a coffee, then a manual machine will give you a much higher level of satisfaction than a pod or automatic machine," says CHOICE coffee machine expert Adrian Lini.
"However, manual machines require more knowledge in terms of operation and maintenance. You'll also need to make sure you keep the beans and grounds fresh, which is more work compared with just using pods."
Serious hit: What kind of coffee machine you buy depends on how seriously you take your coffee (and many of us take it very seriously indeed).
What you may miss out on when buying a cheaper machine
While price is no indicator of performance, the unfortunate fact is that certain coffee-machine features will just cost you extra. So what will you have to forego if you're buying a cheaper machine?
"Cheaper manual machines may be smaller and take longer to build steam or froth milk," says Adrian. "They may also be made of cheaper materials that can potentially break or wear out more easily during use.
Cheaper manual machines may be smaller and take longer to build steam or froth milkAdrian Lini, CHOICE coffee machine expert
"The biggest factor may be foregoing control over your coffee machine. A cheaper machine might not give you the ability to change settings like grind setting, bean type, pressure of grinds in the group head or extraction."
There's no doubt, though, that in the long term, you'll save money making your own coffee than buying from a café. We've crunched the numbers for you and found that it's definitely worth buying a home espresso machine – you could save yourself some serious cash by going DIY on your caffeine hit rather than buying from your local café.
Top rated coffee machines under $600
To help you find the best coffee machine for your coin, we've compiled the best buys for less than $600 based on our test results.
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Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.