If you’re working from home more and visiting a cafe less, the least you should do is provide yourself with the best coffee you can. The instant coffee jar doesn’t cut it in 2021 and we’ve tested and found the best machines to suit any budget.
The capsule craze began over a decade ago and shows no signs of slowing down. The leaders in this space, Nespresso, took a new angle to the capsules recently with a new design. This meant that capsules could be suited to the size of the coffee you were preparing to ensure you have the right amount of ground coffee for your beverage. The Vertuo range starts from $169 and has a very small footprint, fit for any size kitchen. When Italian appliances meet Italian coffee, both with a long history, it’s a perfect pair.
The Lavazza A Modo Mio Smeg
The Lavazza A Modo Mio Smeg ($349) is an elegant, classic capsule based machine that will be a talking point in your kitchen. Simple to use and a wide variety of flavours to choose from you’ll be able to prepare an espresso in less than 30 seconds, they won’t even know you left the Zoom meeting.
The DeLonghi La Specialista
Moving into the world of beans is a fun yet potentially daunting experience. You’ve seen the barrister work a machine and assume it requires specific training. There is a machine however that allows you to balance between automatic and some cafe performance. The DeLonghi La Specialista ($699) looks like it belongs in a cafe, can grind and brew your coffee in the one machine and follows a three stage process. Initiate the grind, pull a lever to tamp, transfer to pour and place your cup underneath. After trying it, you’ll fall in love. The coffees produced are exceptional and you’ll now be able to hunt for your favourite coffee bean blends and even ask the local cafe for their beans.
If you’re flush with cash and want to step it up from this model, the bigger brother called Maestro ($1,799), adds further controls and an enhanced milk frother jug for those who want the perfect cappuccino.
If all of that sounds rather complicated and you simply want to pour your beans and water in the machine and let it do the rest, a fully automatic machine is on your shopping list. DeLonghi and Jura are both pushing the boundaries when it comes to these kinds of machines as it tries to take the guesswork out of a good coffee. The Jura E8 ($2,290) is a sexy piano black machine with a simple display and menu system for selecting your coffee. With Wi-Fi onboard and an app for your smartphone you are able to start your coffee order from anywhere in the house and even use Siri on your iPhone to make that latte using your voice. Your regular coffee order will be recognised and placed on the top of the home screen to save you time and with their latest foam frother creating the silkiest topping you will wonder why cafes don’t just install these as self service.
DeLonghi PrimaDonna Soul
The DeLonghi PrimaDonna Soul ($2,199) adds a level of science to your morning coffee. DeLonghi recognises that not all coffee beans are the same and nor should they be treated the same. So, upon pouring a new brand or blend of beans, you can advise your machine (via an app of course!) and it will automatically adjust the grind and other settings in the machine to ensure it pours coffee as the coffee roaster intended. In conversations with coffee roasters in Sydney they recognised the PrimaDonna Soul as a fully automatic machine that finally gets espresso to the level a manual machine does, and that’s the highest praise.
When it comes to coffee machines above those that use a capsule, there is a higher level of importance in the beans you put into it. Experiment with different brands and blends, tweak the settings on your machine and you’ll be very surprised at the difference it makes. The convenience of Wi-Fi on the machines at the higher end are handy and a great party trick if your guests are able to initiate their coffee order from the dining room but you’ll still need to place your cup under the machine in the first place and collect it when ready.
Lastly, the upfront cost of a high quality machine may seem high, but factor in how much you do spend at a cafe per year, consider how many coffee drinkers are in your home and it will quickly make sense. A good coffee machine is an investment into your productivity, ensuring you start your day in the best way possible and that jar of instant coffee can be disposed of for good.