(Updated in November 2016.)
This review continues the series of coffee machine comparisons that will help coffee lovers and those new to the world of coffee to understand the range of machines available. It will help you to make an informed decision on which is the right Capsule Coffee Machine for you, and which of the three popular coffee machines under £100 featured below, we think is the best buy. If you would like to know more about the Manual Espresso Coffee Machines then please see our Product Comparison: Three Manual Espresso Coffee Machines under £100.
Capsule Espresso Coffee Machines explained
If you love coffee but have never considered having your own coffee machine before then the capsule coffee machines could be a good place to start. They have been around for a few years now and have gained in popularity as they boast an easy way to get a ‘Coffee Shop’ style coffee at home. The main difference between Capsule Coffee Machines and other types of coffee machine is that the coffee is provided in ready made capsules. These capsules are filled with ground coffee and you simply ‘pop it in’ to the machine. For most machines the coffee making process is quite simple, turn the machine on and wait up to 30 seconds for it to heat up, fill up the water tank, pop in the desired capsule, press a button or pull a lever to start the process and wait for your perfectly made coffee to start pouring in to your cup. Simple.
Most of these coffee machines don’t have a built in milk frother, the frothy milk comes from another capsule or from your own milk mixed separately. So if you like frothy milk, then there are additional milk frothers you can buy to go with your machine or purchase a package of coffee machine and milk frother. Some machines supply milk capsules as well as coffee capsules, for example, cappuccinos and lattes come with two capsules which you swap during the coffee making process to add your frothy milk. Although some people complain that these milk capsules are too sweet.
The down side to capsule machines is that you are limited to the manufacturers own brands of coffee. Some have a wide range, others are more limited, but you don’t have the option of experimenting with different types of coffee. If you choose the right machine there are compatible capsules around now which broadens the range of coffee available. If you like to experiment with different kinds of coffee, or grind your own, then perhaps a Manual Espresso Coffee Machine would suit you better.
What to look for in a Capsule Coffee Machine
We think the following things are important to consider when looking for your perfect Capsule Coffee Machine. Many of these things are down to your own personal taste or use of the machine so think carefully about what is right for you and how you will use the machine before you decide on the best one. Consider the following points:
- The size of cup you expect to use with the machine.
- Are you happy with standard size coffees, (restretto, espresso, lungo) or do you want to control the volume of water that goes in to your coffee?
- What particular brands of coffee do you like, and is there a manufacturer that provides this brand?
- Do you want your machine to make drinks other than just coffee?
The Three Capsule Coffee Machines
The following three Capsule Coffee Machines were all chosen to suit a budget of up to £100.
1. Bosch Tassimo Joy 2 Capsule Coffee Machine
The Bosch Tassimo TAS4502GB Joy 2 Hot Drinks and Coffee Machine is a Tassimo T-Disc pod or capsule coffee machine. The Bosch Tassimo machine is usually a higher priced machine at £139.99 but at the time of writing it is currently on offer and falls into our under £100 price bracket at £59.99. (Prices updated in November 2016).
The Tassimo machine has a 1.2 Litre water tank that also has a Britax Filter system included. This is a great addition especially if you live in an area where limescale is a problem. It has an adjustable cup stand for different size cups and a changeable drink size for longer or shorter coffees. Most reviewers say that the machine is easy to set up and use for the first time, it doesn’t make a mess, and is easy to clean.
The Bosch Tassimo coffee machine incorporates a barcode reader for the capsules that are used by this machine. Each capsule has a barcode which is read by the machine to produce the perfect coffee every time. Then if you want to add extra hot water you just press and hold the button. But make sure you have the correct size cup underneath as the initial amount of water is automated.
Not only can you make loads of different types coffee, lattes, and cappuccinos with this machine, but also hot chocolate and teas. The milk and coffee capsules can be bought separately to mix and match and there are a wide range of Tassimo discs around from brands including Costa, Kenco, Carte Noir, Cadbury, Oreo and a variety of Twinings teas. So if any of these are your favourite this could be the machine for you. The capsules can be a little pricey so it is wise to shop around to find the best prices, usually by buying in bulk or special multi-packs. The price per capsule can be around 40p. Tassimo discs can also be found in many supermarkets making it easier to purchase them with your weekly shop.
This Bosch Tassimo Joy 2 coffee machine overall has great reviews. Some people aren’t happy with the temperature of the coffee that is produced, but heating the cups first and adding warm milk can help. Although the majority of people found it easy to use, some complained that the instructions weren’t easy to follow. The main downside is the price of the capsules, the descaling tabs and the extra cost of changing the filters in the water filter. All things to factor in when choosing your machine.
2. De’Longhi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Capsule Coffee Machine
The Nescafé Dolce Gusto Coffee Machine EDG250.B Jovia by Delonghi is another capsule coffee machine that uses it’s own brand of capsules. There are many different versions of the Nescafé Dolce Gusto coffee machine, some are made by Delonghi and others by Krups. For this comparison we have chosen the Jovia machine by Delonghi as it is a more modern machine and seems to have had some of it’s initial issues fixed. The Nescafé Dolce Gusto Jovia is currently on special and depending if you want the black version or the red, it is currently reduced to approx £29.99 from the original price of £89.99. (Prices updated in November 2016.)
If you like Nescafé coffees then you could be in for a treat with this capsule coffee machine. There are over 30 different types of Nescafé drinks available including hot chocolate and chai tea. The pods are specially designed to let enough water through at a certain pressure to create the perfect cup, so an espresso coffee would need less water at a higher pressure, whereas the milk capsules would need much less pressure. Unlike the Tassimo T-Discs, the Dolce Gusto capsules are bought in types together, so the latte box is capsules of milk and coffee, and so is the cappuccino. This means it’s harder to mix and match the types.
The Dolce Gusto has a 0.8 litre water tank, an adjustable drip tray to allow different size cups and a 15 bar pressure pump to create a good coffee crema similar to coffee shop coffees. It is classed as a manual capsule machine as you control the amount of water that comes through the machine to make your coffee. Recommended amounts are listed on the instructions that come with each coffee type, then it is up to you to make a judgement call on what is 250ml and allows you to change the amounts according to your own taste. Some people find this difficult to judge themselves and so would probably benefit from a more automatic machine that delivers the exact amount of water. If you like to be flexible, or like the flavour of a particular coffee but would like it stronger or weaker, this machine allows you to make the adjustment. Of course remembering what you have done from time to time may require a post-it note if you have a memory like mine!
Most reviewers are happy with this machine, previous versions had problems including leaking and having a European plug attached instead of a UK one, but this one doesn’t seem to have those problems. Some people say the instructions are hard to follow, and they don’t like the fact that you have to measure the water yourself. People like the sleek oval design and it’s compact nature, but the biggest problem seems to be the bright red lead and plug. On a black machine a lot of people have returned the machine just for that reason alone. Nescafé have said that the red lead and plug is to adhere to their brand image which now has a red accent over the last ‘e’. This seems to be a design flaw for a lot of people, and the colour of the plug is the most asked question on amazon.
The main issue with the Dolce Gusto apart from the red lead and plug is the price of the capsules, they are more expensive than the Tassimo discs, when using two discs for coffee and milk at 65p each the whole coffee is then costing £1.30p. Slightly more than Tassimo’s 40p each capsule. So although the machine costs less than the Tassimo machine, the capsules are more expensive and it would ultimately depend on which flavours and brands of coffee you prefer and your budget as to which is the better of the two.
3. Krups Nespresso Inissia Capsule Coffee Machine
The Nespresso Inissia Coffee Capsule Machine by Krups is the final of our three capsule coffee machines and is competitively priced between the others at £64.94. (Prices updated November 2016, the Krups Nespresso Inissia machine has held it’s price and remains popular.) The Inissia by Krups comes in four colours, white, blue, red and fuscia and is an almost retro looking design with a small work top foot-print and very clever drip tray and waste collection unit.
It is wise to note the difference between the Nescafé machines and Nespresso machines as they are quite often confused. Nescafé is a brand of coffee that now have capsule coffee machines made by Krups and Delonghi. Nespresso is a brand of coffees that are made by Nestlé and have their own capsule machines also made by Krups and Magimix. Nespresso capsule coffee machines are also popular and their whole branding gives them a more ‘designer’ feel.
The Inissia machine is a very highly rated coffee machine. It can be both automated and manual for complete control of your coffee making. You can also reprogram the espresso and lungo buttons to your own specific amounts of water so that you can press the button the next time and walk away without fear of overflowing. The drip tray folds up if you want to use a larger mug and when filling the 0.7 litre water tank it simply slots in and out. It boasts an awesome 19 bar pressure pump to give a creamy coffee crema. The main complaint with this machine is that it can be very noisy, so if you can put up with that for a good, easy to make cup of coffee there’s nothing to worry about.
The Inissia, like the Dolce Gusto and Tassimo doesn’t have a milk frother, but it also doesn’t have milk capsules so if you want to add milk you have to add it yourself with or without a frother. For most people this is not a problem. The best thing about the Inissia and Nespresso machines is that there are more and more Nespresso compatible capsules coming onto the market. Lidl and M&S do their own nespresso compatible capsules that fit and work well with the Inissia. This makes the cost of capsules quite competitive and you can pick them up for as little as 16p each, which is quite a bit cheaper than the others. This also means there is room to try out different kinds of coffee and you are not so limited to only Nespresso capsules. The Inissia comes with a selection of Nespresso coffees to try when you first buy a machine, a great introductory gift so you can find out which you like. Nespresso coffees can be purchased on line from the Nespresso website, or from special Nespresso Boutiques around the country. With prices per Nespresso capsule ranging between 29p – 35p these are still cheaper than the Tassimo and Dolce Gusto capsules.
The Nespresso Inissia Coffee Capsule Machine by Krups is a great little machine, it ticks all the boxes for its design, robustness, versatility and ease of use and the compatibility of the capsules and their price. Although you pay a bit more for the Inissia than the Dolce Gusto, in the long run you will pay a lot less on capsules and accessories. The Bosch Tassimo Joy 2 comes a close second, although it is not quite so versatile with it’s water volume control it does have a wide variety of capsules at a fairly average price and the added bonus of a water filter. The Dolce Gusto has had problems in the past, and we feel it is for those who like Nescafé coffee and don’t mind the quirkiness of the design and the more expensive capsules.
The Krups Nespresso Inissia was also chosen as one of our Editor’s Choice products. You can read a review about it here: Review: Nespresso Inissia Capsule Coffee Machine by Krups.
We hope you have enjoyed this article and have a better understanding of what to look for in a capsule coffee machine. Please leave any recommendations you have about the best coffee or machine in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.