Can a bean-to-cup coffee machine ever be worth the cost? I was a sceptic, but these four reasons converted me

Is there any way a pricey coffee machine can ever be cost-effective? And is the quality worth the price?

Kitchen with kitchen appliances and graphic tiled backsplash
(Image credit: Howdens)

Bean-to-cup coffee machines have a reputation not just for quality but also for stunning designs, with a look that can add so much to your worktop. But in an ever present cost of living crisis, can a bean-to-cup coffee machine ever actually be worth its price tag?

Even as Ideal Home's Kitchen Appliances Editor (which means I'm constantly plugged into what's on sale) the cheapest reputable bean-to-cup machine I've seen is around the £300 mark, and that's with a hefty discount applied. So, best believe that things are going to get pricey if you opt for this style of machine.

Despite the inital cost, I think that a bean-to-cup coffee machine is definitely worth it if a) you know you'll use it and b) it'll save you splurging on takeaway coffees. For quality coffee at home, bean-to-cup machines make it as easy as pushing a button. Here's a full breakdown of why one of the best bean-to-cup coffee machines can make a good investment if you want to create a cafe kitchen in your own home.

Are bean-to-cup coffee machines worth it?

I'll start with admitting that I've been completely converted to bean-to-cup after testing many coffee machines over the last two years at Ideal Home. In my opinion, an appliance like this elevates the experience you ordinarily get from one of the best coffee machines. But not everyone needs, or wants, that kind of involved coffee experience.

Here are a couple of scenarios in which a bean-to-cup machine will work for you - and the reasons that converted me.

1. If you want fresh coffee

Out of all of the at-home coffee machine types, a bean-to-cup machine will offer you the freshest coffee. That's because, as the name suggests, it allows you to go from beans (of your choice, another plus) to espresso in seconds.

Baristas (or just regular old coffee lovers) will insist that only the freshest coffee will do.

A white tiled kitchen with floral decor and a coffee machine

(Image credit: Future PLC)

That's the opinion of Francesca Chambers, Category Manager at renowned coffee brand De'Longhi too, who says 'If you’re looking for the taste you’d get from a coffee shop, then without doubt the answer is yes. If you’re drinking pod or instant coffee now, and you invest in a bean to cup, you will not look back.'

2. If you're in it for the looks

I've tested a huge range of coffee machines, and the simple fact of the matter is this: bean-to-cup machines look the best out of them all. At home, I've got the Sage Barista Express Impress, and it's by far the best-looking appliance I own (and I will admit, I've acquired a fair few over the years).

I'm a big fan of Sage machines, but Breville, De'Longhi and Smeg have similarly stunning designs for their bean-to-cup offerings. Though they're often quite a bit bigger than espresso machines, bean-to-cups do need to pack a lot more in order to deliver you that all-important quality coffee.

Francesca explains why these type of machines can be larger, saying 'A bean to cup takes a coffee bean and grinds within the housing of the machine it brews from. It's an all-in-one solution.'

These are just a few of our favourite looking bean-to-cup machines, though the colour range with these machines can be somewhat limiting, unless you opt for one of Smeg's pastel machines.

3. If you want total control

According to the experts, the ability to pull a good espresso is the key to everything coffee related, and a bean-to-cup machine is the easiest way to get there, thanks to in-built grinders.

Bryan Serwatka, Coffee Community Manager at Minor Figures says 'Nothing beats the taste of having freshly ground coffee and being able to enjoy this simple pleasure in the comfort of your own home means investing in your setup is 100% worth it.'

He adds 'If you ask anyone in the speciality coffee world what the most important piece of equipment for home is, they’ll always say a grinder. Additionally, if you’re on a budget or have limited counter space, a bean-to-cup machine is your best option!'

A white kitchen with silver-toned coffee machine and kettle

(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

Bryan goes onto say 'Right now, there are so many good bean-to-cup machines on the market, it’s easier than ever to have good espresso drinks at home.

Plus, there’s a lot out there which helps to demystify ‘dialling-in’ (calibration of the grinder) so anyone can nail it.'

Automatic bean-to-cup machines are the thing for you if a little more help sounds appealing. One of our recent favourites of that type is from De'Longhi, as we covered in our De'Longhi Eletta Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machine review. Spoiler alert: our reviewer gave that machine an easy five stars.

4. If you're investing for the long term

It may seem farcial for me to argue that a bean-to-cup coffee machine is a value for money buy, but hear me out: if you'll use it, and give up your takeaway coffee habit in the process, it's feasible you could save money.

The Guardian recently reported on the very real possibility of the £5 takeaway coffee, meaning that if that comes to fruition, three takeaway coffees a week could end up costing you around £780 a year.

For that price, you could splash out on a bean-to-cup machine instead, though I'll admit there is the extra price of your coffee beans to factor in. Over the years (if you use it!) then you'll most definitely break even on the cost of your machine.

Dualit kitchen coffee station

(Image credit: Dualit)

Stuart Wilson, Founder of Lost Sheep Coffee, is of the opinion that with this in mind, bean to cup is the only way to go. He says 'Bean to cup machines are great for busy parents and professionals who don’t have time to grind their own coffee and froth their own milk, as most machines are fully automated and do it all for you!'

He adds 'There’s also less milk and coffee wastage, as there’s no room for human error. What they give you is convenience; they’re easy to use and you know you’re going to get a decent, freshly ground cup of coffee every time.'

It's fair to say that I'm a signed-up bean-to-cup machine convert. Once you're grinding your own beans, I think you won't look back either.

Molly Cleary
Kitchen Appliances Editor

Molly is Ideal Home’s Kitchen Appliances Editor and an all-around baking and cooking enthusiast. She joined the team in September 2022 as an Ecommerce Editor after working across Real Homes, Homes & Gardens and Livingetc. She's been reviewing products for 4 years and now specialises in weighing up kitchen essentials' pros and cons, from air fryers to bean-to-cup coffee machines. 

She's always been a keen reader, so after graduating from the University of Exeter in 2020 she was thrilled to find a way to write as a full-time job. Nowadays, she spends her days at home or the Ideal Home test facility trying out new kitchen innovations to see if they’re worth a space on your worktop. Her most beloved and hard-working appliance is her Sage coffee machine though she also takes the title of Ideal Home’s in-house air fryer expert after writing about them religiously over the past few years.

When she's not thinking or writing about kitchen appliances, she loves getting around London exploring new places, going for a dip at the Ladies’ Pond and consuming every bit of pop culture she can get her hands on.