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A bean-to-cup coffee machine represents the ultimate luxury coffee maker, promising to do the hard work for you. You simply press a button or two and it makes you a drink so well crafted you’d think you’d kidnapped a barista.
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Of course, it’s possible to make great coffee at home anyway, but these all-in-ones aim to make it easier. So if you think that pod coffee makers are a waste of resources and manual coffee makers are a waste of time, these do-it-all machines are just the ticket.
You’ll get a quality caffeine fix with minimal effort, freshly brewed from your choice of beans. You can tinker with the settings to tailor the length and flavour. Many machines even offer posh styles of coffee that are otherwise laborious to make at home.
And it’s not just the controls that make the difference – the cleaning is easier, too. Instead of wiping and rinsing after every drink, you just need to empty it from time to time and refill the beans and water containers as required.
After thoroughly testing these models, we had just one concern: some are just too good. That sounds like a nice problem to have, but the ease with which you can make latte after latte means there is a risk of descending deeper into caffeine addiction. Proceed with caution. Or sometimes detox with decaffeinated beans.
Best bean-to-cup coffee machines
1. Krups EA907D40 Barista New Age – best overall bean-to-cup coffee machine
The Krups isn’t cheap but you feel like you get lots for your money because it’s gadget-packed. That means you can make better, and fancier, coffees with even less effort than budget machines. And it looks so cool, guests will marvel as it does its thing.
At this price, buyers either want to fetishise the entire unboxing process or else have it work perfectly out of the box. The Krups is more the former. Setup takes a while as you fit all the pieces.
There are nice premium touches, for example it comes with an attractive pair of glass coffee cups, but the ‘welcome pack’ is a little disappointing: it’s filled with useful cleaning products and a water filter, rather than delicious coffee beans.
Its party trick is being the first bean-to-cup machine with a self-cleaning steam wand. This motorised marvel descends into your cup of milk to froth it. Then the machine adds coffee shots on top. It’s amazing and actually reduces effort and cuts the cleaning burden.
You pop your cup, containing the right amount of milk, in one place and the machine does it all. You won’t need to clean a milk jug, you won’t even need to wipe the wand.
There are 17 automated programmes, all of them conveyed simply on the colour touch screen. You can tailor them and the machine remembers your preference for next time. There are also eight user profiles for personalised recipes, so you can design your own perfect coffee. You can adjust the grind level and temperature. You can also use single doses of ground coffee.
The milky coffees, including cappuccino and latte, are effortless and delicious. In fact, they’re moreish: this machine is so good that you could find yourself drinking too many. Our only criticism is that the grinder is noisy, the back of the machine even shakes as it grinds.
The cleaning burden is minimal. Everything is automatic but you’re in control. The steam nozzle cleaning happens internally and doesn’t make a mess. The drip tray is large enough that it doesn’t need emptying too often, despite the self-cleaning.
The Krups isn’t cheap, but you feel you’ve got something very special.
Ideal Home rating: 5 out of 5 stars
2. Beko Bean To Cup Coffee Machine Stainless Steel CEG5311 – best value bean-to-cup coffee machine
Sometimes you’re testing a group of products and realise that two are very similar to each other. What’s even more interesting: sometimes they’re priced very differently. So it was with the Beko and the Dualit.
Both machines have a narrow footprint (the Beko is 24cm) and use a 19-bar pressure pump to make deep, full-bodied coffee. They both have touch controls on the top, with simple icons to select your drink.
Out of the box, the coffee was a bit mild, but there’s a dial to adjust the grinder. Once the grind was finer, coffee was tastier with a better crema. Meanwhile the froth from the steam wand was excellent.
Features are very similar to the Dualit: touch controls on the top select from a limited drinks menu, the coffee dispenser slides upwards to accommodate mugs, and it self-cleans when turned on or off.
Like the Dualit, you can adjust the grind but not the length of coffee shots: instead, if you want a longer drink you top it up with hot water from the wand. And again its pre-brewing system wets the dose of coffee for a richer extraction, releasing oils to maximise aroma and depth.
We found the light-up touch controls on the top hard to see in bright sunlight from the skylight above. But that was our only niggle: this coffee maker is hard to fault in terms of bangs (beans?) for the buck.
It’s so similar to its pricier rival that it’s hard to justify buying the Dualit. If you don’t want to spend a fortune, or take up too much worktop space, buy the Beko.
Ideal Home rating: 5 out of 5 stars
At 24cm, the Miele isn’t wide but it feels more imposing. It has a neat, contemporary design. It achieves the clean lines thanks to a rubber tube that you attach to the side of the nozzle whenever you want to froth milk.
The double nozzle dispenses either single or double coffees, so you can make two drinks at once (or just make a giant coffee). There’s a central dispenser for hot water to make long coffees.
The display is easy to read and gives you supreme levels of control, to adjust grinder, coffee quantity, brewing temperature, pre-brewing, portion sizes. You can even tell it your water hardness. And there’s the option to use a dose of pre-ground coffee instead of beans.
You can make everything from ristretto to caffe latte to a coffee pot. The entire front head slides up a long way, to accommodate not just mugs but coffee pots of up to 750ml. You can also create two user profiles, with menus of your favourite drinks.
The coffee was superb. It made an outstanding lungo from a single shot: tasty with a sturdy crema, you get a lot from a single dose.
Your cleaning burden is low because it thoroughly cleans itself every time it turns on or off. But the self-cleaning means that the water tank needs refilling, and the drip tray needs emptying, a couple of times a day even with light use.
Thanks to its long menu of drinks and ease of use, we could see this being a firm favourite in a small office or co-working space, or the kitchen of someone who has everything. Your architect would definitely approve of the machine’s good looks.
Ideal Home rating 4.5 out of 5 stars
4. Gaggia Anima Prestige – best mid-priced bean-to-cup coffee machine
The Gaggia’s setup was comical as we followed the instructions, switched it on and it self-cleaned… before having attached the milk frother (this came on a later page). A jet of hot water spluttered out and we dived for the power button.
But after this hiccup, setup went fine and we were left with an impressive compact machine. It’s a similar size to the Dualit or Beko, taking up most of the depth of a worktop but only 22cm wide, but features are more automated. Instead of using a steam wand to heat or froth milk manually, you attach a reservoir of milk.
The machine feels roomy if you only want an espresso or espresso lungo. Add the milk frother, for cappuccino or latte, and it’s suddenly cramped. But it works well. When you press the button for a milky coffee, you’re prompted to slide out a spout from the milk pot. Milk is automatically frothed and dispensed, then the coffee shot is added afterwards. The milk jug works well and you can stow it in the fridge when not in use.
The machine cleans itself when you turn it on and off, and after each cuppa. A small amount of water comes out and lands in the drip tray, assuming there’s no cup in the way. The drip tray is well designed. Firstly, it extends under the whole machine, for a bigger capacity (empty it less often). Secondly, the bin for coffee grinds slides out at the same time, encouraging you to empty both.
There are just four choices of drink, with no manual controls: espresso, espresso lungo, cappuccino and caffe latte. They tasted great, the espressos flavoursome with a good crema and just the right level of bitterness, the milky coffees delicious and moreish.
But with a machine at this price, more options would have been good.
If a steam wand is too much hassle but you don’t want the expense, or worktop space, of a premium machine, this mid-priced model is well worth considering.
Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars
5. Dualit Bean to Go Coffee Machine – best slimline bean-to-cup coffee maker
Dualit’s first bean-to-cup coffee machine proves that they don’t have to take up lots of worktop space. Its 18cm wide footprint doesn’t impose much, even in smaller kitchens where space is at a premium.
There are five levels of grind and three modes: quick (no pre-brewing), standard (which moistens the grounds before extracting for a fuller flavour) and eco (no light and the machine automatically shuts off sooner). The coffee dispenser slides upwards 3cm to accommodate mugs.
Press the touch controls on the top to select a style of coffee. Its espressos, lungos and double shots were very good: perhaps not quite as tasty as pricier machines on test, but good enough. If you weren’t doing a comparison, you wouldn’t complain.
Unusually you can only use coffee beans, there’s no option to add a scoop of ground coffee directly into the machine.
The machine also serves up hot water and steam from a wand, so you can heat or froth milk. It made impressive flat whites and cappuccinos.
The coffee-making side of the machine cleans itself but you’ll need to wipe the wand down after each use. It alerts you when the grinds bin is full. The drip tray needs emptying regularly too, thanks to the small footprint.
Some bean-to-cup machines do even more of the work for you, but the Dualit is smaller and more affordable. The only major thing going against it is that the Beko is almost identical and costs even less.
Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars
6. Sage Barista Pro – best bean-to-cup coffee machine for wannabe baristas
Some coffee lovers want a machine to do all the work and dispense the perfect drink. Others enjoy and take pride in the process of making coffee. The Sage is more for the latter audience. This isn’t an effortless bean-to-cup machine, it’s more like a grinder and coffee machine combined. Everything you need in one unit, but you are the barista.
First up: the grinder. Weirdly it senses when you put the portafilter under it, then it automatically dispenses a dose of freshly ground coffee. You tamp the grounds and then use the supplied razor to ensure the perfect quantity. The instructions teach you a lot about how to judge what needs adjusting, in which direction. For example, we made the grinds coarser (it goes from 0-30, we dialled it up from 15 to 20). And the portafilter seemed too full, but after tamping we realised that the dose of ground coffee was perfect.
Then you attach the portafilter to make your coffee, telling the machine whether it’s one or two shots. And finally there’s the steam wand for frothing milk plus a separate hot water tap.
The controls are easy to use and the coffees tasted delicious but it’s a large machine (35cm wide) and doesn’t save you much effort. Cleaning is a chore too: you need to empty the portafilter each time, wipe the steam wand and probably wipe up spilled coffee grounds.
We felt the Sage missed the point of a bean-to-cup machine, but it does make good coffees. Plus, some people enjoy being more part of the process: one of our testers fell in love with this machine.
Ideal Home rating 4 out of 5 stars
7. De’Longhi Maestosa – best luxe bean-to-cup coffee machine
It was always going to be hard to justify such an expensive coffee maker. You could buy a decent second-hand car for less. But the De’Longhi at least does much more than rival bean-to-cup machines.
First, unusually, it has dual bean hoppers so you can have two preferred types of coffee bean (caffeinated and decaf? everyday and specialty? breakfast and after dinner? yours and theirs?) plus you can dose it with a measure of ground coffee for a third way. The machine also makes tea and has dual water heaters at two different temperatures, so there’s no compromise.
The De’Longhi has a five-inch colour touch screen and Bluetooth, connecting it to a smartphone app where you can tailor personal recipes. The screen works brilliantly: tap on a drink and hit the plus sign to tailor its length, aroma (dose), temperature, froth. The dispenser slides up and down, so you can also make a carafe of between 250 and 750ml.
The milk container is an insulated pot that you plug in when requested. Impressively a milk nozzle pivots from the front and ends up just in front of the coffee spouts, so once it’s in place you can just press a button to make a latte, cappuccino or similar. After making a cuppa it asks whether you want it to self-clean the milk nozzle.
Alternatively, attach the Mix Carafe for cold coffees, cocktails and more. You can add small ice cubes and sugar to make blended cold coffees. Or add the choco stirrer attachment for an impressive hot chocolate: on-screen instructions talk you through everything.
We found it easy to use and never needed the manual, despite the complexity, but it is pricey and multiple accessories means stuff to store. It’s a boxy design that takes up lots of worktop depth and 29cm width. The results are impressive but ultimately we felt that the pricey De’Longhi was over the top. That said, if you love the idea of blended cold coffees and money’s no object then you won’t be disappointed by this luxe machine.
Ideal Home rating 3.5 out of 5 stars
How to buy the best bean-to-cup coffee machine for you
How much should I spend on a bean-to-cup coffee machine?
The bean-to-cup coffee machines tested here start from a compelling £350 and you can certainly get great machines for under £600. Above that, sense-check whether the machine actually does more or makes things easier. Sometimes you’re paying for the design or the brand.
It’s a lot of money, but to look at it another way, it’s £1-2 a day for a year. Not bad if you’re weighing it up against buying a fancy coffee on the way to work every morning.
Too much for your budget? Check out Best pod coffee machines – the top capsule espresso makers for your caffeine fix
How do I clean my bean-to-cup coffee machine?
There’s no such thing as a free lunch and there’s no such thing as a coffee machine that doesn’t need cleaning. But there are machines that need cleaning less. All machines here except the Sage automatically dose themselves with ground coffee and then deposit the used grounds in a bin, so you’ll need to empty the bin regularly. You’ll also need to empty the drip tray – the water from self-cleaning ends up in it. Beyond that, you’ll want to give the machine a proper clean once a week to ensure it’s hygienic and tastes great.
Are there any downsides to bean-to-cup machines?
Aside from having to clean the things, other caveats are worktop space (they tend to use much of the depth of a worktop, but the width varies) and cost. And finally, note the above concern about some being too good: so easy to use that you can drink frothy but highly caffeinated drinks all day long. Note that the milk frothers are great for making soothing hot chocolates, too…