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Coffee machines to avoid buying

Don't make a bad coffee mistake – these models rated lowest in our product tests.  

Products to avoid imagery_coffeemachines
Last updated: 10 May 2022

Need to know

  • We've tested more than 50 popular models from brands including Breville, Sunbeam, Kmart, DeLonghi, Nespresso and more
  • Our experts rate key factors including taste, ease of use and milk frothing 
  • Consider joining CHOICE to access our full reviews and best performers

Whether you're working from home more or trying to cut down your café spending, a coffee machine can be a very smart buy. We've shown they can be cheaper than takeaway coffees in the long run – unless, of course, you buy a bad one and end up not using it. 

Given that some cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, it's a mistake that can leave a hole in your pocket and a bitter taste in your mouth. 

To avoid such a coffee calamity, our experts have reviewed more than 50 pod/capsule and espresso machines (manual, automatic and semi-auto) from brands including Breville, Sunbeam, Smeg, DeLonghi, Kmart, Aldi, Nespresso and more. 

coffee machine test

We enlist industry experts for our coffee blind taste test.

We use an expert panel of barista veterans to score taste (based on crema, aroma, flavour, mouthfeel and aftertaste) in combination with factors including ease of use, milk frothing and temperature consistency. Learn more about how we test

So you don't get burnt, these are the models that rated lowest in our tests. 

Lowest rating pod machines

1. Nescafé Dolce Gusto Piccolo XS 9781

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 41%
  • Taste test score: 30%
  • Price: $79

Keen for quality coffee? Keep looking. This little machine came last in our test with an unforgivable CHOICE Expert Rating of just 41%. Not only did it rate terribly for taste and milk frothing, you have to work for it too – you'll need to stop the flow of coffee yourself and then ditch the pod immediately, as it has no storage for empties. Cancel that coffee order. Read our full review

2. Breville Nescafé Dolce Gusto Genio S Plus

breville nescafe dolce gusto genio s plus
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 46%
  • Taste test score: 30%
  • Price: $109

If you're counting on this machine for your morning cuppa, you might want to hit snooze instead. In our tests, it delivered poor-tasting coffee with a bitter flavour, watery mouthfeel and thin crema. Plus, it rated just average for milk frothing and the coffee temperature consistency was OK at best.

Our experts did find positives – it boasts customisable drink settings and is easy to clean and use – but they can't atone for its bigger sins of bad coffee. Read our full review.

Lowest rating non-pod machines

This category includes manual, semi-automatic and automatic machines. See our buying guide to read more about the different types. 

1. Sunbeam Café Barista EM5000

sunbeam cafe barista EM5000 compressed
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 47%
  • Taste test score: 30%
  • Price: $299

When you spend hundreds of dollars on an espresso machine, you'd expect to get great coffee in return. Sunbeam make some impressive models – our experts found this just isn't one of them. 

This semi-automatic model is great at serving up espresso at very consistent temperatures. But it scored a deal-breaking 30% in our blind taste test and rated only OK for milk frothing. That's a big cost for bad coffee. Read the full review.

2. Breville Duo-Temp Pro BES810BSS

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 59%
  • Taste test score: 45%
  • Price: $430

This model rates much better than the previous Sunbeam, but still lags well behind the top scorers in our tests. It does score very well for milk frothing and consistent coffee temperature, and also packs handy features such as a drip tray with full indicator, cup-warming plate and onboard tamper. 

Unfortunately, it earned a woeful taste score – our barista experts awarded it just 45%. No amount of well-frothed milk can make up for that. See the full review

Top tips for buying a coffee machine

If you're tossing up between a pod/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 need very little cleaning. Espresso machines are more work but generally have a better depth of flavour and let you make your coffee the way you like it. Read more about how to buy the best coffee pod machine

Remember, a poor-quality espresso machine can deliver mediocre flavour, and a badly designed pod or capsule machine can be tricky to use. So always make sure you do your research before committing. 

If price is a big consideration, check out our list of the best coffee machines for less than $600.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.