Coffee pod machines: 6 of the best single-serve capsule models 

The best coffee pod machines for coffee lovers Credit: Freddie/Stockimo/Alamy

Capsule coffee or pod coffee machines provide you with a simple, speedy way to prepare homemade espresso. Since it's neatly pre-packaged, there's no need to get messy with loose coffee. But which is the best coffee pod machine?

It's worth thinking carefully about which machine you choose to invest in, since they're compatible with only certain coffees, and prices vary. Some brands have more pods and capsules to choose from: Nespresso has coffees with a range of intense, balanced and fruity, flowery profiles.

The key brands to have on your radar are Dolce Gusto, Dualit, Illy, Delonghi, Lavazza, Nespresso, Senseo and Tassimo. Argos have a range of good value coffee machines too. 

Single serve capsule models are often cheaper than ground coffee machines or bean-to-cup machines, and easier to clean. If time is of the essence, it might be the right choice of the best home coffee machine for you. However, if you're a cappuccino rather an an espresso drinker you may need to pay extra get a model that can froth milk (with the exceptions of Tassimo and Dolce Gusto, that use milk capsules).

Generally, the more you pay, the more variety you have in terms of the coffees you can create: some new-generation "smart" coffee machines even give you the option to plan and program beverages on your phone.

Though the machine is cheaper, it's also worth remembering that coffee pods and capsules are expensive compared to using ground coffee or beans, so they can actually be more expensive long-term - and some capsules are only available to buy online or from specific stores. According to, making a single cup from a branded capsule can cost "anything from 23p to 60p – whereas a typical espresso shot made with ground coffee is around 7p". 

You might also consider the environmental impact of coffee capsules and pods: the packaging is often a mix of different materials, often including alumninium and plastic. This, combined with the organic waste from leftover ground coffee, makes them difficult to recycle (so much so that last year the German city of Hamburg banned coffee pods from state-run buildings in an attempt to reduce waste).

If this is a concern for you, be sure to look out for compostable capsules with biodegrable packaging. 

1. Nespresso VertuoPlus

£170 - £199.99, John Lewis

The new Vertuo machine from Nespresso has pods available in four different sizes so that your drink can easily be tailored to suit your preference. It's the Good Housekeeping Institute's top coffee pod machine, and boasts a user-friendly design as well as a movable water tank to suit the counter space you have available. It's a cream coffee machine which produces a great tasting coffee with a rich, thick crema. Do bear in mind that it it uses specific Vertuo pods, which are different from the standard Nespresso pods.


2. Under £50: Nespresso Inissia coffee machine by Magimix

£139, Amazon

Recommended to us by the people behind Colonna Coffee, this Nespresso machine has no milk heating or frothing facility, but still makes a great espresso, which can be watered down to make a decent Americano. It doesn't take up too much room on the worktop (it's just 12cm wide), and is easy to program. For those in a rush in the mornings, the internal bin is a useful feature for storing used pods. We'd recommend it highly as an entry-level, compact coffee pod machine. 


3. Dualit Espress-auto 4-in-1 coffee and tea machine

£196.99, Amazon

This works with ground coffee as well as capsules, and has a sizeable capacity of 1.5 litres. Although it’s a bit more tricky to use than the Inissia model, it's one for coffee aficionados looking for cafe quality versatility: it works with ground coffee, ESE pods, Nespresso compatible coffee capsules and fine tea capsules alike. You can make everything from a textured, velvety latte or a flat white to a perfectly formed cappuccino with the help of the traditional-styled steaming wand. We were as impressed with the tea as the coffee: an added temperature boost makes for a well-brewed, hotter cup. It looks rather smart, too. 


4. Under £100: Krups Dolce Gusto Oblo

£34, Currys

This unusual, quirky design of this Dolce Gusto coffee machine would look at home on the set of Star Trek, and it allows you to add as much water as you like to your coffee pod. It's affordable, and easy to use: as well as classics such as espresso and cappuccino, you can also use it for Nescafe Dolce Gusto iced coffee, chai tea latte and hot chocolate (there's options such as the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Chococino coffee pods. £4.49, Asda, for hot chocolate fans, and even latte macchiato pods). Rather than being tall and slim, it's short, light and square, so it's ideal stored under snug units. However, it only has a capacity of 800ml. The manual lever for running the water through your pod takes a little getting used to, too. 


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5. KitchenAid Nespresso coffee machine

£309.95, John Lewis

A cool-looking, showstopper of a machine from a well-loved household name, the KitchenAid Nespresso coffee machine offers six different size settings for your cup of coffee, and is likely to inspire not a little envy.  Compatible with the wide range of popular Nespresso pods and capsules (our current favourites include the Robusta Uganda espresso with cocoa notes, and the fruity Arabica Ethiopia Harrar). For your money, you get six settings, from ristretto to lungo, a 1.4 litre removable water tank for multiple servings, volume control and variable coffee strengths. The coffee heats up fast, and the descaling mode assists with cleaning.  We also like it in red.


6. Tassimo Vivy II Coffee Machine by Bosch

£79.99, John Lewis

This clever Tassimo coffee machine can detect whether you are making tea, coffee or hot chocolate by reading the bar code on the Tassimo disc, and adapts the amount of water, brewing time and temperature accordingly (the technology is called "Intellibrew". There's also an LED indicator to let you know when to descale or refill the machine. The cup stand is height adjustable and removable for a variety of mug and cup sizes, but the water tank only has a capacity of 0.7 litres. It's compatible with the Tassimo T-Discs, which offer a choice of over 40 hot drinks including espresso, cappuccino, latte macchiato, and hot chocolate. 


Our favourites

There's much to recommend the new Nespresso VertuoPlus (£170 - £199.99, John Lewis). One of the latest great all-rounder coffee pod machines on the market, it's easy to clean, simple to use, and produces a range of great tasting coffees. In terms of showstopping, cash-splashing capsule coffee pod machines for true coffee lovers, we rate the KitchenAid Nespresso coffee machine (£309.95, John Lewis). If you're looking for a machine with both the versatility of ground coffee functions and the ease of coffee pods, the Dualit Espress-auto 4-in-1 coffee and tea machine (£196.99, Amazon) is your best bet.

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