Mixed Style Coffee Machines – Explained
There used to be a time when making coffee was very simple. It usually involved your favorite coffee mug, a kettle and unscrewing a jar of your favorite instant coffee. In recent times, we have become regular coffee connoisseurs, some people prefer a cappuccino and some like an Espresso Wake Up Call but either way, we are a lot more fussy nowadays. Here is a simple guide to the modern coffee machine.
There are so many ways to make coffee and more than you might realise, but these are the main options available:
Filter Coffee Machines
You pour cold water in the top of the machine where it is warmed by a heating element before dripping down through a basket of coffee into a jug below, this is kept warm by a hot plate. You can use any ground coffee, so very uncomplicated and easy to use.
Pod or Capsule Coffee Machines
The coffee is in a pre-packaged capsule that you put into the machine. When you press a button the pod is pierced and hot water is sent through it and into a waiting mug. These are usually easy to clean, but you tend to be limited to the type of capsule or pod sold by the machine manufacturer.
Ground coffee is inserted above a water chamber. As the water boils it is forced up a tube and down through the coffee back into the compartment below. You can get stove-top versions or electric versions which contain a heating element.
Pump Espresso Maker
Typically, a pump espresso maker will use a thermostatically controlled boiler which heats the water to its optimum temperature for coffee (between 85C and 92C). When this temperature is reached the water passes through the ground coffee at the correct bar pressure. These machines are versatile and usually include a tool for steaming milk, so can be used for lattes and cappuccinos.
This machine will grind the coffee beans and then run hot water through them before dispensing your drink. It is essentially a pump espresso maker with a built-in grinder.
8 Examples of the Best
Nespresso Krups Pixie
The smallest of the Nespresso range, the pixie is compact enough to squeeze into even a tiny kitchen and provides a good-quality single or double espresso from a capsule in as little as 25 seconds. It doesn’t, however, have the capacity to froth milk, so if you like to guzzle down your cappuccino and latte’s, you might want to upgrade to a bigger model, or buy a stand-alone milk frother.
Morphy Richards Accents 47087
Sometimes the idea of messing around with capsules or coffee beans is too much to cope with in the morning, you can’t go wrong with a filter coffee machine. This Morphy Richards’ coffee maker is simple to use, makes up to 12 cups and keeps the pot warm for several hours. It also has a timer function, so you can set it to greet you with a cup the instant you step out of bed.
This cheap-and-cheerful gadget has a cult following among those in the know. Simply place a spoon of whatever coffee you like in the tube, add hot water, then press down with the plunger. Within 30 seconds, you’ll have a smooth cup of coffee (though admittedly without a coffee-shop style crema). Cleaning up is easy, and they come with 350 disposable micro filters, meaning they are low-cost to run.
Bosch Tassimo TAS2002GB
This sleek black machine makes over 35 varieties of drink, from lattes and macchiatos to hot chocolates and tea. Other than the quality of the coffee, its stand-out feature is that it’s very low-maintenance. The product has an automatic cleaning and descaling program, while the 1.5L water tank means you don’t have to fill it too often. You’re limited to the maker’s capsules (or “T-discs”, as Bosch like to call them), but there is a good range available, including some made by a famous coffee chain.
De’Longhi Magnifica ECAM22 110 B
The real coffee connoisseurs out there swear by bean-to-cup makers, which grind coffee beans on the spot for a more intense, rich coffee. Such appliances can cost a huge amount of money, but this coffee machine range is one of the better-value high street options. This model lets you adjust everything from the strength of the coffee to the temperature and also lets you use ready-ground coffee – ideal for those caffeine emergencies.
Sage by Heston Blumenthal
This machine is perfect for you if you fancy yourself as a true barista (and don’t mind a machine that is more on the expensive side), this Heston Blumenthal branded monster will tick all of your boxes. This stainless steel machine is solid and stylish and will grind beans on any of the 18 settings from coarse to fine, depending on how you crave your cuppa. The machine helpfully has “clean me” and “empty me” lights which remind you when it needs a little bit of TLC.
Nescafe Dolce Gusto
This little machine is quirky looking and looks a bit like a penguin. This is a very popular choice. Small and easy to clean and comes in a multitude of bright (or more sober) colours. It has a pressure pump so you can get a sturdy crema on your espresso. The appliance works through capsules but bear in mind there isn’t a steamer. Making a milky coffee requires both a coffee capsule and a milk capsule, which will bump up the running costs a little.
If Nespresso’s Pixie is a little too modest for you because you are latte crazy, upgrade to this equally sleek design, which also has a separate milk-frothing container. It’s a quick, no fuss machine and allows you to add as much milk as you want to your drink. Like most Nespresso machines, it has a useful automatic power shut-off feature to help you save energy if it’s not being used.