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Avleen M.
Avleen M.Sep 24, 2020

Coffee Pod Machines Buying Guide

If you're keen on caffeine but constant cafe trips are burning a hole in your wallet, a coffee pod machine can make you quick coffees daily. In this guide we help you decide whether a coffee pod machine is right for you, and share the best coffee pod machines in 2020.

How do coffee pod machines work?

Nespresso Citiz coffee machine

You simply fill up the water tank at the back beforehand, then drop a compatible coffee capsule into the machine via the silver lever in the image pictured. Press the button for your chosen size/strength of coffee. This pierces the capsule, mixing the coffee inside with hot water to pour your shot.

Usually a capsule coffee machine has 2-3 buttons, to make a risretto, espresso or lungo. A risretto has the least caffeine but also the least water, making it the most concentrated shot type. A lungo contains the most caffeine, but also the most water, so tastes more diluted.

Some models have an integrated milk frother or one that uses a steam wand. More advanced models let you further customise your brew. For example, the Breville Nespresso Creatista Plus lets you choose the temperature, milk texture and type of drink you prefer, like a latte or cappuccino.

Do coffee pods work in all machines?

Colourful Nespresso pods

No, unfortunately not all coffee pods are compatible with all machines. For example, if you buy an ALDI Expressi Machine at selected times of the year, you'll then need to buy the compatible Expressi coffee pods, which are available exclusively from ALDI.

Nespresso machines are a little different; there are now several non-Nespresso brands that sell compatible capsules. Some of these include L'OR, Mocconna, and Starbucks capsules, all of which are available from your local Coles.

Some other pod machine brands like the award-winning Philips L'OR Barista Latte also accept capsules with boxes labelled 'Compatible with Nespresso pods,' making them more convenient to use.

Are capsule machines worth it?

Pros

  • Quick and convenient, thanks to speedy heat-up and brewing times
  • Suitable for beginners to using home coffee machines
  • Easy to clean, as there aren’t any small or intricate parts
  • Cheaper to purchase than other coffee machines, including manual coffee machines, semi-automatic and automatic

Cons

  • Hardcore coffee aficionados may find the coffee made in a coffee capsule machine lacking a full-bodied flavour
  • Sourcing compatible pods for your machine may be tricky if supply is limited, for example if you have an ALDI coffee machine but you don’t have an ALDI store near you to buy their exclusive pods
  • More expensive to run than other coffee machines due to the ongoing purchase of pods – but it’s still cheaper than going to the café

Saving time Clock icon

Capsule coffee machines are quick and easy to use, which is ideal when you're trying to rush out the door in the mornings. DeLonghi’s Nespresso Citiz and Essenza Mini both have a heat-up time of 25 seconds.

You also don't have to spend time making ground coffee like you would with a manual coffee machine, or fiddling with an excess of buttons, which is sometimes the case with an automatic coffee machine.

Saving money Dollar sign icon

Funding a daily cafe habit can get expensive. This makes a coffee capsule machine an ideal kitchen companion for anyone who craves a well-brewed cup, but doesn't want to pay handsomely for the luxury.

It's true that coffee pods pose an ongoing expense (averaging around $5 for a pack of 10 from Woolworths). However, considering you could buy about one barista-made coffee with this amount, they still work out to be cheaper than going to a cafe.

Environmental impact Leaf icon

Since most aluminium or plastic pods aren't recyclable, the majority end up in landfill every year.

Conscious coffee drinkers can look into options like SealPod, a reusable stainless-steel coffee pod. It's compatible with a number of machines, such as Nespresso, Aldi K-fee, Caffitaly and Nescafe Dolce Gusto. Nespresso also has a recycling program, which you can read more about below.

What is the best coffee pod machine?

Nespresso takes the win

Nesspresso has planted its seed far and wide when it comes to pod coffee. You might recall the Nespresso ads featuring a suave George Clooney, or the brand's colourful boutique pop-ups in your local Westfield's. Thankfully, the brand has matched its advertising efforts with quality coffee, according to reviewers. The top three rated coffee pod machines listed below are all Nespresso coffee machines.

Nespresso also makes recyclable aluminium pods, as an eco-friendly alternative. You can save used Nespresso-branded pods and return them to Nespresso for recycling - either at a boutique store, at a drop-off collection point or by posting them to Nespresso.

Breville Nespresso Creatista Plus

4.4

Breville Nespresso Creatista Plus

Features:

  • Three second heat-up time
  • Fully automatic steam wand can create 8 milk texture levels, like thick, creamy milk that’s ideal for latte lovers, as well as silky, micro-froth for cappuccinos
  • 11 milk temperature settings
  • Three shot functions: risretto (25mL), espresso (45mL) and lungo (110mL)
  • Digital display and fully automatic steam wand make this machine easy to use
  • Assisting cleaning function makes the steam wand less fiddly to clean
  • Includes a stainless steel milk jug and a tasting box of Nespresso capsules.

Points of praise for the Breville Nespresso Creatista:

Most reviewers positively raved about their Nespresso Creatista’s performance, which made it worth its $799 price. Some even purchased multiple units, while others used their pod machine up to 8 times daily, with consistently high quality coffee produced each time.

  • The Creatista Plus makes customised coffee, which reviewers loved. They could choose the size of their shot, as well as preferred milk thickness and frothiness. This made the Creatista Plus a favourite for all of the family. For example, many reviewers said it catered to their preference for immediately-drinkable coffee, as well as their partner's preference for piping-hot coffee. Kids also enjoyed the hot chocolates, as the Creatista Plus can make milk-only drinks, too.

  • The quality and consistency of coffee was applauded by reviewers. One reviewer summarised it aptly when they wrote: ‘We use it every day and have never had a bad coffee yet.’ Smooth coffees and silkily-frothed milk were highlights, along with temperature setting which pinpointed the accuracy of coffee quality each time.

  • Notably easy to use and to clean, the Creatista features an integrated LED display that walks you through every step of the process, while an assisted cleaning function ‘purges’ the automatic steam wand after each use for easier cleaning.

DeLonghi Nespresso Citiz

4.3

DeLonghi Nespresso Citiz

Features:

  • 25-second heat-up time using a Thermoblock system
  • Integrated manual milk frother with an included whisk
  • Pre-set functions to make two sizes of coffee: espresso and ‘long’ coffee, as well as cappuccinos, lattes, macchiatos, hot milk and hot water

What reviewers liked about the DeLonghi Nespresso Citiz:

  • Can often be purchased on sale for under $200, offering great value for a quality product
  • The longevity of this coffee machine was highly praised, with reviewers happily stating that their machine was going strong after 8 years. Multiple reviewers also replaced their old DeLonghi Nespresso Citiz with the exact same model when the time did come for it to die.
  • Makes just the right amount of coffee at the perfect temperature
  • Sleek, compact design made this a perfect fit for coffee drinkers with smaller kitchen benchtops
  • Has practical perks for daily use – it’s simple to use, easy to clean and quiet in operation

DeLonghi Nespresso Essenza Mini

4.5

DeLonghi Nespresso Essenza Mini

Features:

  • Heat-up time of 25 seconds
  • Two shot sizes available; espresso and lungo
  • Available in three colours and two designs – rounded or angular. Winner of the Red Dot Award for Product Design in 2017
  • Eco mode offers low energy consumption after three minutes, with an auto shut-off mode after nine minutes
  • Milk frother is available separately

What reviewers liked most about the DeLonghi Nespresso Essenza Mini:

  • The Essenza Mini’s small-but-mighty size was a favourite feature among reviewers. The minimalist design made it a shoo-in for kitchens with limited benchtop space, while the lightweight design meant it could easily be moved to different rooms in the home and office. Some reviewers bought an Essenza Mini for their caravan, and one even took it on holidays with them to substitute for the sachet coffee in hotels.
  • The ability to produce a consistently good, café-quality cup of coffee was lauded by reviewers
  • Easy to use, with the convenient bonus that the Essenza Mini works really fast. One reviewer attested to this, saying, ‘It takes less than 4 minutes to make a coffee, which is great for those busy mornings when you need to get out the door.'

Conclusion

A coffee pod machine could be a useful addition to your kitchen (or office, or caravan) if you're looking for quick, easy coffees to make when you're on-the-go. If you don't mind buying compatible capsules and you have the available benchtop space, a well-chosen coffee capsule machine can make several coffees daily for the whole household. Once you're ready to read feedback from fellow creatures of caffeine, head over to our coffee pod machine reviews page.