Coffee pod machines offer the fastest and most convenient way to make coffee. All pod machines work in the same way: The user inserts a pod of coffee, presses the button, and the engine pumps hot water through the pod and into the cup.
The best espresso machines can brew a rich, aromatic shot of espresso in less than 30 seconds. They use capsules or pods that contain the exact amount of coffee pre-ground for one shot.
These machines are great because they remove the messy bits from the coffee-making process – grinding, dosing, and tamping the grounds. The whole process is faster, and the gadgets don’t need to be as sophisticated. For example, the burr grinders on bean-to-cup coffee machines or Espresso machine accessories, such as portafilters, must be cleaned of coffee oil after each use.
These machines are not without their environmental implications. There are many coffee pods in UK shops and on the internet, including Nespresso and Dolce Gusto.
The casings for coffee pods are often made of plastic and aluminum, which is recyclable but a waste when combined.
Halo Coffee published a report a few years ago that revealed that 29,000 of the 39,000 capsules that are produced every minute around the globe end up in landfill. More recent research from the University of Quebec showed that the carbon footprint of coffee pods was lower than that of traditional filter coffee.
ESE pods (easy-serve espressos) are a compostable option consisting of ground coffee that has been dosed and tampered with. They are sealed between filter papers. Third-party brands strive to make compostable options more accessible and cheaper.
Best coffee pod machines at a single glance
- Best coffee pod machine for quality espresso: Nespresso Vertuo Pop, PS59
- Best specialty coffee pod machine: Opal One coffee pod machine, PS144.99
- The best blowout coffee pod machines: Nespresso Vertuo Creatista from Sage, PS649.95
- Best for pod versatility: Nespresso Vertuo Next, PS149
- Best eco buy: illy coffee pod machine, PSD115
- The best affordable coffee pod machine: Lavazza Jolie PS65
- Best for retro styling: Lavazza A Modo Mio SMEG, PS199
- The best all-around coffee pod maker: Lavazza A Modo Mio Desea, PS199
- Best coffee pod machine for flavor: illy Iperespresso X7.1 coffee maker, PS156
- Best cheap coffee pod machine: Bosch Tassimo Vivy 2 TAS 140X, PS39.99
- The best coffee pod machine for busy families: Russell Hobbs 2630 Brew and Go PS30
- IKOHS Potts capsule machine, PS104.95
- Dualit Espress Auto 4-in-1 Coffee and Tea Maker, PS199.99
Best coffee pod machines for 2023
Nespresso Vertuo Pop coffee pod machine
Best espresso machine with coffee pods
- Espresso rich, dark, and with thick crema
- Easy to use
- Looks appealing
- Small footprint
- Unloading and cleaning are simple.
- The manual is too large
- A little noisy
- Use only Nespresso Vertuo pods
- The lid is stiff when you lower it
Star rating: 4.5/5
This machine is available in six colors and has a smooth, round body. It’s perfect for those on a tighter budget. The device is compact and has intuitive controls.
The setup was time-consuming. Because the manual is too large, it covers all models in the Vertuo line (rather than being product-specific), and you’ll have to sift through instructions that are only sometimes relevant. Once we were up and running, the Vertuo Pop was very user-friendly.
It was necessary to use two hands when locking in the Vertuo capsule. The Vertuo is stiff and requires firm pressure to lower the lid. It produced a coffee rich in flavors with a thick, creamy crema and without bitterness.
Opal One coffee pod machine
Best Speciality Coffee Pod Machine
- Slimline and sleek machine
- Produces quality espresso
- Brew temperature can be adjusted
- Features that are easy to use
- Quick heat up
- Clean easily
- The manual contains some confusing and poorly written sections
- After brewing, you should drink a lot.
Star rating: 4.5/5
The Opal One, a slimline, modern machine that looks great and is easy to use, has been designed to brew specialty coffee pods.
The manual includes written instructions with diagrams. Most of them are clear, but some text can be clunky. We had no problems during setup, and the controls were intuitive.
The interface has three options for espresso: regular, lungo, and short. You can also adjust the temperature to make hotter or colder drinks. The handle on the water tank lid was also a great feature, as it reduced spills when we moved it from and to the sink.
Although the makers of this machine recommend using specialty pods, we used generic Nespresso-compatible pods, to be fair – and were impressed with the results. Our espresso was hot and had a thin, glossy hazelnut crema. Then we tried Gesha from Colonna Coffee and noticed a big difference: thick, silky, rich espresso with a touch of acidity.
Nespresso Vertuo Creatista by Sage
Best blowout coffee pod machine
- It comes with a milk-steaming function
- Customizable and easy to use
- Video instructions and QR codes to access them
- Large water capacity
- Height adjustable tray
- Costly for a pod coffee machine
- Large Footprint
- Only Nespresso Vertuo pods are compatible
Star rating: 4.5/5
This glossy gadget is an excellent option for those who want a high-spec machine with many features. The Nespresso Creatista is a collaboration between Sage and Nespresso. It offers a variety of cup sizes and coffees and has an adjustable steam wand to make frothy lattes and cappuccinos. Also included is a stainless steel milk jug.
The quick-start guide has QR codes that link to well-explained videos. It’s noisy when it starts, and the steamer screeches briefly, but once it gets going, everything works well. This is a big machine that’s best suited for those who have more counter space.
Our espresso was wealthy and robust in flavor, with a thick, bubbly, creamy crema. The milk frother is also programmable to create a specific microfoam texture depending on the drink that you are making. It produced consistently creamy results every time.
This machine is more expensive than most other coffee pod machines, but it’s a good value if you want the polished stainless steel build that Sage is known for (generally at a higher price).
Nespresso Vertuo Next coffee pod machine
Best machine for pod versatility
- You can count on a consistent crema regardless of the drink’s size.
- Made from recycled plastic, 54%
- Nespresso offers a wide range of pods.
- Tad loud
- Takes Nespresso Vertuo pods only
Star rating: 4.5/5
The coffee pod has only one button but can produce five different drinks. How? Each pod has a unique barcode scanned by the machine to determine which drink it should brew. This machine will brew espresso, double espressos, gran logos, mugs, and altos, all with a thick layer of silky foam. This machine is the perfect hazelnut color for crema. Although a little foamy, it’s an excellent addition for crema fans.