Buying a coffeemaker is like buying a new car. There are so many instructions and twiddly bits that it’s tempting to make your decision based solely on the colour. Pale blue? Perfect, goes with the toaster, we’ll take it.
After all, how do you know if a machine costing £1,400 is really going to turn out a better cappuccino than one for £120? Should you bother with a frother? Pods or beans? Enter the calm voice of reason from John Lewis, which, admittedly, has a bean or two to grind as they sell a lot of coffeemakers. Their guide to buying leads you through what you want the machine to do.
First, they advise, decide which type of coffee you prefer. Are you a cappu, latte, filter or espresso person? If you are fine with filter, a simple cafetière from Bodum, £18 (left), is as good as anything. For fuss-free traditional coffeemaking, stove-top models are cheap and effective. The classic Moka Alessi Espresso in aluminium is only £26 from Alessi.
But in the 15-bar pressured world of cappu, espresso or latte macchiato you’re looking at serious beans. The Which? guide says the best coffeemakers aren’t always the most expensive. As they point out, you can test some features in the shop – like how easy it is to remove the drip tray – but you can’t know how fast or noisy or simple to clean it is until you have handed over your credit card and taken it home.
In some cases, you’d also need a kitchen work surface as big as a billiard table. The Gaggia Accademia espresso maker (left) is 52.5cms high and the same in depth. That’s more than 20 inches in real life, the size of a border collie (without the tail). However, it does look as impressive as the flight deck of an Airbus. It uses ground coffee and beans, has an integrated grinder with eight fineness settings, and includes a 1.6-litre water tank. It’s £1,400. Stockists include Amazon UK.
Size does matter if your kitchen space is limited. The Dolce Gusto Circolo (left), which comes with a two-year warranty from Krups, is a good mid-priced coffeemaker in a slim, egg-shaped design. For £79, you get 15-bar pressure, a 1.3-litre water chamber and a box of pods to start you off. It comes in dark gray, silver, metallic red and white. See Dolce-Gusto (though I warn you, the music on the site is beyond annoying).
Among coffee afficionados there can be a whiff of one-cupman-ship. If your 100 per cent gourmet arabica was handpicked by virgins in the Yemen, you might consider investing in the new Swiss-made Jura Impressa Z7 Bean-to-Cup machine (left), costing between £1,795 and £1,995 and available to order from John Lewis. It makes extra strong espresso for a morning kickstart, uses zero energy in stand-by mode and comes in snazzy colours.
It is available in chrome for £1,914 from Fairfax Coffee, which also sells ex-display coffeemakers, considerably cheaper than new, plus the beans to put in them. They have a shop in London’s Swiss Cottage.
I have a soft spot for the Francis Francis! espresso machine, designed by Italian architect Luca Trazzi. The retro design would look right at home in a traditional Italian café: it has a brass boiler, 18-bar pressure, makes a cappu, espresso or a latte and costs £199 from Espresso Crazy. Delivery is free. But I’m afraid it doesn’t come in pale blue…