6 Things I wish I knew before buying a pod coffee machine

Investing in a pod coffee machine is a true gamechanger, and there are a few things worth knowing before you do

L'Or barista coffee machine with two spouts
(Image credit: Future)

I don't think I knew just how much of a difference having a coffee machine would make to my mornings. After years of just using a cafetière, I started using one of the best pod coffee machines: the L'OR BARISTA Sublime, and now I wouldn't be without it. 

If you're browsing the Black Friday coffee machine deals and have a pod machine in your virtual basket, read the things we wish we'd known before buying one so you can make the most of yours (and learn from our coffee machine related mistakes).

L'Or barista coffee machine with two spouts

(Image credit: Future)

1. Don't just use default settings

'Always make use of any additional machine settings (such as brewing temperature) that are often present, over just the default settings,' says Dan Norman, Founder at Norlo Coffee 'A hotter brewing temperature will deliver a better espresso!'

It took me a few weeks to realise that by holding down the Lungo button of the L'OR BARISTA that I reviewed, you can get yourself a big old mug of coffee (pictured above with my favourite Le Creuset mug, reduced at John Lewis).

2. You're going to have to descale it

Image of Smeg A Modo Mio Lavazza machine

(Image credit: Lavazza/Smeg)

'I love my pod coffee machine from Smeg x Lavazza, but I wish I'd known how important descaling the tank was from the first day I bought it,' says Ideal Home Ecommerce Editor Molly Cleary. 'To descale, you need to remove the water tank and fill it with a descaling agent to clean it. 

'If you don't, the machine will flash at you until you do if the limescale situation has escalated, and you might notice a difference in taste. I live in a hard-water hotspot in London, so this step is especially important for me.'

Molly Cleary
Molly Cleary

Molly is the Ecommerce Editor for Ideal Home and is always on the lookout for the next must-buy product for your home. Covering all things appliance related, with an emphasis on floorcare and air fryers, she regularly visits Future's Test Facility in Reading to thoroughly put products through their paces. She's the proud owner of the Lavazza Capsule Coffee Machine by Smeg and uses it every single morning. 

We asked Dan Norman what to do about limescale, and his top tip is to always use filtered or mineral water to avoid unwanted build-up. And it'll make your coffee taste better. 'Spring or mineral water helps to round out the flavour profile of the coffee, owing to the mineral content of the water,' he adds.

You can get coffee machines with a built-in water filter, or try a BRITA filter jug so you've always got filtered water on hand. This eliminates impurities and will avoid issues caused by limescale.

3. Recycling the pods can be a faff

'Even if the brand says its pods are recyclable, take a good look at how this is done and think about whether you'd be able to do this easily in your area,' Millie Fender advises. 'Some require access to local recycling schemes which could require a long drive to dispose of your pods, whereas others can be placed in your household recycling.' If it looks like things could get longwinded, it's worth looking for a machine  that can use totally compostable pods or you'll just end up throwing them in the bin.

4. When you buy one, you're committing to the brand

'Make sure you buy a machine that's compatible with the shape of pods that your favourite coffee is available in,' says Ideal Home Assistant Editor Thea Babington-Stitt. 'There are only a few variations, but being that close and yet so far from the perfect brew can be frustrating.'

'One thing I wish I'd known is that when you buy a machine, you're often committing to a brand. If you opt for a Dolce Gusto, Nespresso etc, you're also saying that you'll only drink the coffee that's compatible with this machine,' agrees Ideal Home Head of Reviews, Millie Fender. 'So don't just look at the machine itself, take a look at the range of pods available and see if they sound like drinks you'd like.'

L'Or barista coffee machine with two spouts

(Image credit: L'Or Espresso)

5. You have in-built milk frothing options

'Some pod machines come with milk frothing (such as the Lavazza Desea, at Amazon which is the one I have at home) which is great for those who love a latte or a cappuccino,' says Millie Fender If you're someone who prefers a frothy drink, buying one with an in-built steam function may actually save you from having to buy a matching milk frother for your machine.'

lavazza desea coffee machine

(Image credit: Future)
Millie Fender
Millie Fender

Millie is the Head of Reviews for Ideal Home, working to ensure that the products we feature have been thoroughly tested before we recommend them to you. Previously Small Appliance and Cookware Editor, she remains our go-to expert for all things air fryer related. She's constantly reviewing the latest and greatest kitchen appliances, and has tested the large majority of options in this guide to tell you exactly what you need to know about them. 

6. Rinse it out before the first use

I totally didn't read the instructions when I first got my L'OR BARISTA Sublime coffee machine. I went in all gung ho and then realised you're supposed to run the coffee machine without a pod in it to rinse out the machine.

Millie Hurst
Senior Content Editor

Millie Hurst was Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home from 2020-2022, and is now Section Editor at Homes & Gardens. Before stepping into the world of interiors, she worked as a Senior SEO Editor for News UK in both London and New York. You can usually find her looking up trending terms and finding real-life budget makeovers our readers love. Millie came up with the website's daily dupes article which gives readers ways to curate a stylish home for less.