What makes capsule coffee machines great is that they’re designed for making coffee quickly and easily right at home. The drawback is that you are limited to a single coffee pod brand in most cases. And the reality of the situation is that each brand has its own upsides and downsides.
When it comes to the best brands, Dolce Gusto, Tassimo and Nespresso come to mind, but those are not the only ones that you should look out for, with brands like Lavazza, Illy, and Dualit make great alternatives.
So what we’re going to do in the remainder of this article, is take a look at each of these great brands and let you know in detail what to expect from them.
- What coffee pod system is the best for you?
- Comparing Capsule Coffee Manufacturers:
- Lavazza a Modo Mio
- Nescafé Dolce Gusto
- Nespresso coffee pod machines
- Nescafé Dolce Gusto pod machines
- Tassimo coffee machines
- Illy coffee pod machines
- Lavazza A Modo Mio pod machines
- Dualit coffee pod machine
- Pod Coffee Machine Buyers Guide – Everything you Need to Know
- Which pod coffee machine is best?
- Want more?
- Related content
What coffee pod system is the best for you?
So, which pod system should you get?
For Making Espresso Drinks:
Nespresso, Lavazza, and Illy are your best friends when it comes to espresso. These Brands focus on espresso drinks instead of offering any other kind of hot drinks or blends. You’ll find machines provided by these brands with a feature for frothing milk if you’re looking for milky coffee, like lattes and cappuccinos.
For Making a Wide Variety of Coffee Options:
If you’re looking for teas, hot chocolate or caramel macchiatos, or any other type of café-style coffee, then you’ll want to get yourself a Tassimo machine or a Dolce Gusto.
Comparing Capsule Coffee Manufacturers:
Below we have provided a quick breakdown of each of the manufacturers, with scores of each based on our tests and which ones are friendly to the environment.
|Illy provides a small variety of capsules with different strengths, in addition to single-origin coffee capsules. If you’re looking to make latte style drinks you will want a machine with a built-in frother, or a separate milk frother.|
It’s worth mentioning that Illy capsules are currently not recyclable in Britain.
|There are two available capsule systems:|
With its dedicated scheme, Nespresso capsules are recyclable. You can take Pods, using the recycling bags provided by Nespresso, to Doddle and CollectPlus. You can also take them to a Nespresso Boutique or keep them for Home Collection. Some compatible pods can also be composted or recycled, however this is not true for all of them.
Lavazza a Modo Mio
|Not many Lavazza own brand capsules available. A machine with built in steam wand, or a milk frother, would be required for latte drinks or anything similar.|
As of September 2020, Lavazza’s entire range is compostable.
Nescafé Dolce Gusto
|Works with own brand pods, but the availability of cheaper compatible pods is increasing. You can make up to 30 different beverages like hot chocolate, coffee, and green tea. To make milky drinks, you’ll have to use capsules with powdered milk. One drink requires two capsules.|
CollectPlus is where you can recycle Nescafe Dolce Gusto pods.
|Tassimo coffee machines work only with own brand pods. Teas, hot chocolate, lattes, and more than 30 other flavours/drinks are available. For milky drinks, you require additional pods of UHT milk.|
You can recycle T disc coffee pods at TerraCycle. One issue is that the drop-off points can’t be found everywhere.
|Seeing how Dualit manufactures Nespresso compatible capsules, you can use the pods with Dualit machines or even other Nespresso compatible coffee machines. Just like the other options above, latte style drinks will require an additional milk frother.|
Dualit pods are recyclable when dismantled. They also provide a number of compostable pods.
Nespresso coffee pod machines
- Machine price: from £90 to £450
- Capsule price: 33p to 39p for own brand, and 18p to 60p for compatible ones. Vertuo pods cost up to 62p.
- Availability: Nespresso.com and Nespresso Boutiques for their own brand. Compatible pods can be found online or in supermarkets.
The starting price of Nespresso machines is only £90, but keep in mind that the regular cost of capsules might add up. You also get a lot of choices when it comes to looks and aesthetics, so something for every home.
The majority of the machines provide the ability to buy them in a bundle that comes with a Nespresso Aeroccino milk frother. This adds about £50 to the total cost. Some more expensive models come with a steam wand or a built-in frother.
Nespresso machines are available from different brands, including DeLonghi, Magimix, Sage and Krups.
What does it make?
Any length and strength of coffee that you can think of, for the own-brand variety. As well as the common flavors, there are also:
- Capsules designed for brewing iced coffee.
- Pure origin options, with flavours specific to their original country.
- Exciting flavor combinations. You get orange and snowball, licorice and other typical flavors like chocolate and caramel.
- The most recent Vertuo systems have capsules and coffee machines which differ to the original design and are great for people looking for longer coffee drinks.
The Nespresso website, Nespresso Boutique and Amazon are the only places where you can buy Nespresso pods. They are only available in sleeves of 10 units. You’re able to find Nespresso compatible pods online and in supermarkets. They will work for the majority of the original line machines, however the same can’t be said for the Vertuo pods.
You can check out which Nespresso and Nespresso-compatible pods buyers love most (including some compostable ones), in our detailed review of Nespresso capsules.
How does it perform?
Nespresso machines are synonymous with simplicity. Most models have only a few buttons on them. All you have to do is simply put the pod in and wait for your drink. Some models give you the option of choosing the size of the drink before starting, whereas in others, you have to press the stop button once you reach the size you want.
The Vertuo system spins the capsules with a centrifugal force while the hot water goes through to give you extra frothy results.
What is the Best Nespresso Coffee Pod Machine?
If I had a choice of any, I would go for the Nespresso Creatista Plus by Sage. It looks fantastic and does a great job of making coffee for your family and friends.
- Very fast heat up time; 3 seconds
- Large selection of different coffees to choose from (Espresso, Cappuccino, Latte Macchiato etc.)
- Available settings: 3 coffee volume settings (from 25 to 150 ml), 8 milk texture/froth settings (from 2 to 30 mm) and 11 milk temperature settings (from 56 to 76°C)
Alternatively, all of the below are excellent choices and on sale right now!
- Automatic and programmable water quantity control
- Rapid 25 second heating time
- Removable container for used capsules (5 to 6)
- One machine for 5 beverages, alto (414ml), coffee (230ml), Gran lungo (150ml), double espresso (80ml) and espresso (40ml).
- An Exclusive system, freshly brewed long-cup, with naturally formed crema and traditional espresso
- 3 different capsule sizes :Large capsule for Alto and Coffee, Medium for Gran Lungo and Double Espresso and a small one for Espresso.
- Includes a selection of 16 different Nespresso capsules
- Fast 25 seconds heat up time. Dimensions(WxDxH)(cm): 13.0 x 27.8 x 37.2
- Removable 1 L water tank
- Ultra-compact design: Very small footprint 33 cm x 8.4 cm x 20.4 cm (L x W x H), easy to place and move in the kitchen/house
- Easy controls: Two programmable options for espresso or lungo with automatic flow-stop
- High-tech: 19-bar high-performance pump and fast heat-up in only 25 seconds
For the aluminum pods, Nespresso provides a recycling collection service. You’ll have to get a specific Nespresso bag, collect the Nespresso pods and take them to CollectPlus, Doddle or a Nespresso Boutique. You can also have a collection from your home, free of charge.
Nespresso compatible capsules are produced by several different manufacturers. You’ll find some that are compostable or recyclable but only if they come with dedicated schemes. However, they can’t be sent to Nespresso directly. You might have to disassemble the pods and clean them if you want to recycle them.
Nescafé Dolce Gusto pod machines
- Machine price: From £90 to £180.
- Capsule price: From p27 to 56p for their own brand, and 16p to 31p for compatible ones.
- Availability: Big supermarkets all around the country.
What’s great about these machines is that they are small and quite affordable compared to other brands. Once again, the ongoing capsule expenses are unavoidable.
You will find several models. There are compact ones like Oblo and more design-focused machines like the Drop.
Krups and DeLonghi are the leading manufacturers of Dolce Gusto models.
What does it make?
Dolce Gusto pods provide a wide range of coffee choices, and they can be found both online and in supermarkets. Here’s what you can expect:
- Several choices for non-coffee people, including hot chocolate and Chai tea.
- Online you can find exclusive flavors and limited editions like flavored tea.
- Caramel macchiato, mocha, and several other trendy coffee shop-style drinks.
A separates milk capsule (with dried milk) is required to make milky drinks. This is due to the fact that there is no milk frother or steam pipe in any Dolce Gusto models.
As of 2020, several compatible pods have started emerging from other brands and supermarkets. Sainsbury, Asda, Lidl, and Aldi, as well as some online-only sellers, provide their own brand pods for cheaper costs.
How does it perform?
You can either find models that give you manual control over the start of water flow and the size of the drink, or a model with a digital system. Models with digital systems have barcodes on pods which inform the machine about the required settings for each drink.
Control the strength
With the Nescafe Dolce Gusto coffee machines you also have an element of control as the water quantity is controlled by you, meaning you can create strong early morning espressos as well as smoother mid-morning Americanos, all from the same coffee capsule. This feature is unique to the Dolce Gusto and gives it an edge over the Bosch Tassimo range.
The Nescafe Nespresso System
The capsules are recyclable, but they will require you to dismantle them and clean them before doing so, which is a bit annoying and can be time-consuming. You can alternatively recycle them through CollectPlus. This would mean that you will have to get a specific bag which can only be acquired through the official Dolce Gusto website, put the pods in it, print a label and send it off to a CollectPlus point.
What is the Best Nescafé Dolce Gusto Machine?
The Nescafe pod coffee machine range was the very first pod coffee machine launched several years ago. The design and build quality of the Nescafe pod coffee range is unsurpassed to this day though some come very close. Dolce Gusto coffee machines are slightly more expensive than the Bosch Tassimo range but you get what you pay for, they are the best and they are still a lot cheaper than filter coffee, espresso or a bean to cup coffee machine and most people would agree that the pod coffee machines produce a great cup of coffee with lots of choice.
- Maximum 15 bar pump pressure for coffee shop quality. 40 varieties of hold and cold drinks
- Automatically shuts off power 5 minutes after the last coffee brew to save energy
- Easy to use and clean. Rated voltage/Frequency (volt~Hz): 220/240~50/60
- Compact automatic pod coffee machine - Mini Me machine is only 16 x 31 x 24 cm (WxHxD) with 0.8 Litre water tank
- Quality - Delivers professional quality coffees with a thick velvety crema, thanks to its maximum 15 bar pump pressure
- Variety - Over 50 hot and cold beverage varieties including NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto or STARBUCKS drinks
- Sophisticated high-pressure machine (up to 15 bars) compatible with the hermetically sealed NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto pods for professional quality coffees with a thick velvety crema
- Precisely control the preparation process to create recipes perfect to your tastes (adjustable temperature, drink size & espresso boost)
- Compact design - coffee machine (Width 11 x Height 27.2 x Depth 27.1 com)
What about all the other Nespresso machines?
As mentioned, Nescafe invented the pod coffee system including the pods and called it Nespresso. Nescafe make the coffee pods and license the system to other coffee machine designers to make the coffee machines that work with the Nespresso pods. This means that you can use the Nescafe Nespresso pods in any machine with the Nespresso name, giving you huge choice and great competition to reduce prices.
In my opinion the Dolce Gusto coffee machines are the best Nespresso coffee machines available today, they look great and are very affordable.
If I was to recommend one of the range, I would actually recommend the DeLonghi Nescafe Dolce Gusto Mini Me, even though it is the cheaper end of the range and the DeLonghi Nescafe Dolce Gusto Jovia Coffee Machine has a slightly higher rating, the Mini Me is my choice as it is cheaper, looks great and still delivers great coffee.
Tassimo coffee machines
- Machine price: from £100 to £200
- Capsule price: 21p to 62p
- Availability: Online and large supermarkets all around the country
Tassimo machines can be used for making a variety of beverages. This brand can cover a wide range of drinks, we’re talking about café-style coffee, tea and hot chocolate with a variety of T-disc pods.
What does it make?
- Chai tea and hot chocolate
- Black and herbal teas
- Wide variety of coffees which includes latte, espresso, and cappuccino from manufacturers like Kenco Jacobs and Costa.
Like many other brands, coffee pods and milk pods are separate. So for example, if you’re making a latte, you first take the latte coffee disc and then insert the milk disc (UHT milk).
When it comes to Tassimo, you won’t find any available compatible capsules. This would limit your freedom of choice a little bit.
How does it perform?
A barcode recognition system is used for the capsules. When the machine detects the barcode, it automatically adjusts the settings (drink stream, quantity of water, and brewing time). T discs are programmed to finish each cycle with a burst of steam to get rid of any residue between drinks. This means you can prepare a hot chocolate drink and follow it by a green tea right away without contaminating the flavor.
How do you use a Tassimo?
If you have ever wonders how to use a Tassimo coffee machine, take a look at the video below to see just how easy it is.
What Bosch Tassimo coffee pods are available?
The Bosch pod coffee machine range all use the Tassimo T Disc system of pods which are not compatible with the Nescafe Dolce Gusto pod system so if you buy a Bosch pod coffee machine you are restricted to using the T Disc coffee pods. The flavours available in the Tassimo T disc system is excellent with over 65 flavours available compared to 41 for the Nescafe Nespresso system. So it really is swings and roundabouts as to which you prefer. Our Tassimo pods guide lists all available pods by type, flavour and brand, it is definitely worth a look!
What is the Best Tassimo Coffee Machine?
The Bosch Tassimo pod coffee range are an excellent choice, they are well made and are amongst the cheapest on the market today. They look more like traditional coffee machines and less like coffee machines of the future and although they are slightly more traditional than the Nescafe Nespresso machines they fit in well in any kitchen today.
- Variety with over 40 drinks from well known brands
- Ideal drink quality thanks to Intellibrew
- Simple and easy to use one button operation
- The TASSIMO my way 2 personal touch! Set the intensity, size and strength as you like it!
- Better flavour through BRITA MAXTRA+ water filtration technology
- Perfect drink quality thanks to TASSIMO INTELLIBREW with the ability to make over 40 big-brand drinks
- Auto cleaning and descaling. Note: It is suggested to wait for 24 hours for the machine to unlock
- Height adjustable and removable cup stand with stainless steel drip tray: can be fully removed for tall latte glasses or travel mugs
- Easy to use, one button operation with Tassimo T-Discs
Tassimo Joy 2
If I was to pick the best of the range, I would definitely go for the Bosch Tassimo Joy 2 pod coffee machine. Its price is excellent, I like the design and I can use a travel coffee mug easily which is great when I am rushing out the door. Find best priceAlso, it is incredibly easy to use with its quick heat up time and auto cleaning settings.
Definitely one for your short list!
The plastic T disc coffee is recyclable in Terracycle points. It’s worth mentioning that these points are run by volunteers and they are not widely spread out, so you might have you do the recycling yourself.
Illy coffee pod machines
- Machine price: £110 to £415
- Capsule price: 38p to 44pvv
- Availability: Online and big supermarkets all around the country
What does it make?
There isn’t as much variety with the Illy brand as you might find with other capsule systems. The main focus here is single-origin pods for espresso, but you will also find lungo capsules. The single-origin blend is designed for those who want to experience the unique flavor of different countries’ coffee beans.
Recently, the company expanded and started selling a variety of filter coffee style pods. This will allow you to make several types of long coffees.
How does it perform?
The company says that it’s all about the two-phase extraction mechanism. A top opening regulates the water flow, instead of having the capsule pierced like other brands coffee pod makers. The water makes its way slowly through compressed ground coffee and then gets released through a hole at the end of the capsule giving you the espresso you want.
What is the Best Illy Pod Machine?
Just like the Illy pod coffee range, there is not a big choice of Illy pod coffee machines on the market, but what they do have look great, especially the X7 which you can see below.
- Automatic stop and capsule ejection
- Programmable temperature setting
- Removable 0.75lt water tank
- Modern and appealing design
- No contact between the machine and coffee inside the capsule for a clean system
- 28cm W x 33.5cm D x 32cm H
In the UK, Illy capsules can’t be recycled right now. So for anyone who cares about the environment, Illy may not be the best choice for you.
Lavazza A Modo Mio pod machines
- Machine Price: £60 to £70
- Capsule price: 27 to 37p
- Availability: Online and large supermarkets across the country
A Modo Mio coffee machines are designed to make espresso drinks only, so this could be a big attraction to caffeine aficionados. Some machines come with steam wands or built-in milk frothers, which is perfect for anyone looking to make a latte or other cafe-style drinks.
What does it make?
Lavazza offers more than 12 coffee pods:
- The brand is specificaly targeting espresso drinking consumers. This is why many of its capsules were created to be made black, without milk.
- It also gives you the choice between a couple of single-origin coffee.
- You get a range of caffeine intensities that starts from 5 and goes all the way up to 13.
The entire range can be found at supermarkets and high street stores. You can also make your purchases online.
How does it perform?
The copper foil, as well as the bottom, is pierced in different places once you put the capsule inside the machine. The hot water goes through the capsule at a pressure of 15 bar, flowing through the ground coffee and exiting from the lower end.
What is the Best Lavazza Pod Machine?
Lavazza make a great range of capsule coffee machines in a variety of colours and styles, so you should find something for whichever room in your house you keep it.
- Elegant and quiet, it allows you to prepare original recipes using coffee and fresh milk. Authentic espresso and the real Italian cappuccino, in one simple gesture
- Two programmable selections: Possibility of choice between classic espresso or lungo thanks to the double delivery button so you may enjoy all the pleasure of Lavazza taste, simply
- Milk Frother: The integrated cappuccino frother is the secret for a soft , creamy milk froth and for the preparation of all the most delicious beverages of the Italian caffetteria at home
- Tiny is the smallest Lavazza a Modo Mio coffee Machine. It is beautiful, compact and above all practical: with a single button It turns on, turns off and prepares coffee
- Selected coffee, roasted and ground, with slow extraction that maximizes flavours. Every espresso is a good opportunity to be among friends
- From Lavazza experience and passion for coffee, a system made of blends, single-origin selections and machines suitable for every need
- Super compact to fit into the smallest of kitchens - finished in a stylish shade of red
- Efficient - with just the touch of a button, this coffee maker jumps into life
- Removable water tank - To minimise refilling, Lavazza have installed a generous 600ml tank
As of September 2020, the whole Lavazza a Modo Mio pods range will be compostable, which makes them a very eco-friendly choice for those who care about the environment.
Dualit coffee pod machine
- Machine Price: £150 to £225
- Capsule price: 20p to 29p per capsule
- Availability: Online and stores like Lakeland and John Lewis
What does it make?
The NX capsules are compatible with Nespresso machines, so this gives you some freedom in using other brands. Some old Dualit models will need you to pierce the capsule before putting them into the machine.
The company provides a limited range of small machines that allow you the option of using Dualit NX capsules (requires an adapted portafilter), ESE pods or ground coffee sharks
You get more than 10 coffee blends:
- A decaf, a lungo, intense espresso, and a classic are all options provided by the company.
- The brand also provides compostable pods that are Nespresso-compatible.
- You also get a specific range of tea capsules.
How does it perform?
The coffee pod is placed in an adapted portafilter attachment, unlike other machines. The portafilter attachment is then inserted in the coffee machine but can also be replaced by another accessory if you want to use ESE pods or ground coffee.
What is the Best Dualit Pod Machine?
Like Illy, Dualit only make a couple of capsule coffee machines for you to choose from. The Cafe Plus make both coffee and tea and the Cafe Cino has a built in milk frother to make cafe style milky drinks like lattes.
- 3 in 1 Functionality Suitable for NX Capsules,ESE Pods and ground coffee. Height under filter holder : 10 cm
- Pressured at 15 Bar pump: The ideal pressure for the perfect ‘crema’
- Ultra fast Thermobloc (water heating on demand) rather than boiler
- Precise, automatic dose control
- Dedicated espresso, lungo, cappuccino and latte settings
- Built in milk frother with jug, cold, frothed milk option for milkshakes
NX pods can be recycled after dismantling, emptying, and cleaning them. You can also get several compostable capsules. They can only be composted through an industrial unit ( your local council’s food waste collection scheme for example)
Pod Coffee Machine Buyers Guide – Everything you Need to Know
How do Pod Coffee Machines work?
Pod coffee machines are really simple to use in general and do exactly what it says on the tin, i.e. you put a pod in the tray/slot or wherever that particular coffee maker has, press the button and the coffee maker makes coffee via the pod. Very simple and quick to use. Because of this, they are the ultimate no mess, no hassle coffee machines because everything they need, except water, is provided in each pod. You simply choose the coffee you want from a wide selection of pods, stick it in and press the button. Job done!
Will pod coffee machines make my favourite Coffee?
As well as being easy to use, quick and no mess, pod coffee machines are also very flexible when it comes to the drink you want. A few years ago when the machines first arrived on the market, there were only a few flavours to choose from but over the last few years the ranges have grown to suit the tastes of everybody and you now have pods available for every type of coffee as well as other drinks like hot chocolate.
Why should I buy a pod coffee machine?
Pod coffee machines are great for lots of reasons. They are a very affordable way to enjoy excellent tasting coffee and other drinks and importantly they are far cheaper than espresso machines or bean to cup coffee machines.
Tip – If you think you might like the idea of an espresso machine or a bean to cup coffee machine but aren’t sure if you will end up using it enough to justify the cost, a pod coffee machine is a great way to test the waters without spending much money.
Obviously there are a few compromises to flavour but the pods still make great tasting coffee and are full flavour. As per my tip above – if you don’t want to commit to a more expensive coffee machine, check out the range of pod machines as there is bound to be something that meets your needs.
Perfect for families
Pod coffee machines are great for families or individuals who have a wide range of tastes because these compact machines have so many flavour options. The ranges of pods are so big that you likely have not heard of all the types of drink you can make with them and it’s not limited to just coffee, you can also get a wide range of teas and hot chocolates in pod form too, something for all the family or mood.
Pods range from simple espresso, cappuccino and latte to all sorts of flavours like caramel latte macchiato, vanilla latte, Yunnan espresso, chocolate caramel, chai tea latte, mocha and lots lots more.
The tea ranges are also varied with lemon, peach, Marrakesh style, Twinings ranges, herbal and tea latte to name but a few. What this really means is that pod coffee machines aren’t just great for families, they’re great for everyone, especially when you have visitors.
- The Tassimo range has 65 flavours and options to choose from!
- The Dolce Gusto range has 41 flavours and options to choose from and growing every day!
Our Tassimo pods guide lists all available pods by type, flavour and brand, it is definitely worth a look!
Are coffee pods expensive?
The pod coffee machines themselves are very affordable but people are often put off thinking that it must be expensive to constantly be buying coffee pods. This was true a few years ago when they first came to market but not anymore.
Today, coffee pods are everywhere meaning that you can buy them from your local supermarket and on lots of websites at huge discounts like Amazon. You can always find deals and multipacks on offer which means that you can even buy in bulk to reduce the price further. As mentioned above, the huge range of flavours on offer means that you will never get run out of new flavours to try ever again.
Combine the low price of the coffee pods with the cheap, easy and quick to use pod coffee machines themselves and you can see why so many people are using them today.
Which pod coffee machine is best?
This depends on the type of coffee you like the most as explained previously in this article. Based on your requirements, the pod coffee machines below provide excellent value for money and do the job extremely well.
This decision comes down to either
Essentially, you will base your decision on:
- Design – futuristic design of the De’Longhi or the traditional design of the Bosch.
- Price – swayed by the cheaper price of the De’Longhi.
- Flavour – you know what you like.
Because the two are very similar, our choice is the DeLonghi Nescafe Dolce Gusto Mini Me, it really is a cracking coffee maker for the price and I am sure that if you buy one you will love it too.
DeLonghi Nescafe Dolce Gusto Mini Me Coffee Capsule Machine
- Compact designed machine with six boxes of pods (americano, cappuccino, latte macchiato
- Easy to use - all you need is the machine, some water and pods
- Easy to clean - as all the coffee grounds stay in the pods there is no mess, no fuss
To find out more about the Mini Me by Dolce Gusto, take a look at our detailed review and see if you agree with us.
Whatever you buy, enjoy and if you fancy something with a slightly more authentic taste check out our review of the espresso bean to cup coffee machines, again, you will not be disappointed.
- Bosch Tassimo coffee machine reviews
- Storing coffee pods with Tassimo disc holders
- Cleaning and descaling
- Reusable Tassimo pods
- Tassimo Coffee Machine Instructions
- Tassimo Pods