Coffee Machine Compared

So, you’re thinking of buying a coffee machine. A question you’ve probably asked yourself is how does it compare to other methods of making coffee? Well, here at Appliance City, we’ve been putting some of the most popular methods to the test and have reached a verdict on how they fare against other methods.

Before we go any further, please note that this is simply our opinion based on factors that go beyond just taste alone. Coffee puritans will recoil in horror at the mere idea of a capsule coffee machine, but when you consider their unmatched convenience and versatility, we think they fare very well against other more traditional and widely-used methods.

We’re going to be looking at the following:

  • Coffee Machine vs Aeropress
  • Coffee Machine vs French Press
  • Coffee Machine vs Moka Pot
  • Coffee Machine vs Chemex/Drip-Over
  • Coffee Machine vs Instant Coffee

Our comparisons are based mostly on capsule coffee machines but also apply to the built-in coffee machines you’ll find in our small appliances section.

Coffee Machine vs Aeropress

The Aeropress is the new kid on the block for brewing coffee. Created in 2005, it was created by the company Aerobie and is a sure-fire way to make a good cup of coffee. It involves using an Aeropress kit, which comes in anywhere between £25 and £100, depending on who you buy from. The aeropress apparatus looks a bit like a giant syringe and is very clinical way of making a brew. Already the Aeropress has the coffee machine pipped on price.

Where the coffee machine makes up for lost ground is in its sheer convenience. To make the perfect cup of coffee with an Aeropress, you have to grind the beans yourself, using either a mortar and pestle or an expensive grinder, you have to make sure the water is exactly 80 degrees centigrade when you add it, you have to stir lightly otherwise you can ruin the flavour and you have to plunge it at the correct pace.

The coffee machine requires you to put a capsule in it and produces a cup at the push of a button.

As you can see, for convenience and speed, the coffee machine clearly wins. But what about taste? Well, there is not much separating the two, as it comes down more to what kind of coffee you’re using. The aeropress takes the edge off of bad coffee better and when done right, is arguably the better testing cup by a very small margin. But the coffee machine produces its taste consistently and with minimal effort.

Verdict: Draw

We concluded that it’s a dead heat between the coffee machine and the aeropress. And if anything, they should be used in tandem. For busy schedules during the week, stick to your coffee machine. Its ease of use is essential, especially if you’ve got morning brain. When you’ve got more time and focus, break out the aeropress. The hand-made nature of it weirdly gives you a sense of having ‘earned’ it and coffee-lovers will definitely enjoy having that extra control over the brew and its overall more sensory experience.

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Coffee Machine vs French Press

Patented in the late 1920s, the French press or cafetière is a classic method of brewing coffee. You add your grounds to it, pour in your hot water, give it a stir and let it brew for a short while, press the plunger and voila.

This was a very close contest. Again, the coffee machine comes out on top for convenience and speed. But the French press isn’t far behind. In terms of price, the French press is the clear winner with your most basic cafetières coming in at under £10.

But taste is where it gets interesting. Capsule coffee machines produce coffee that is closer to an actual espresso. Whereas the French press has an overall cleaner taste. So, in terms of taste, it comes down to your own. Do you want your coffee to pack a punch, or have a more smooth and subtle quality to it?

Verdict: Draw

It’s another dead heat for us. And again, something we would recommend using in tandem with a coffee machine. French presses are great for entertaining guests. Buying a large one means you can put it on the table and your guests can help themselves and drink as they please. However, you don’t need the faff of using a French press in the morning before work.

Coffee Machine vs Moka Pot

The Moka pot is an Italian invention that is used widely across Europe and Latin America. Its silhouette has become somewhat of an iconic design figure and is a widely celebrated way of making coffee. But how does it fare against the modern technology of coffee machines?

Again, the coffee machine is beaten on price. A good-quality Moka pot that serves more than 2 cups of coffee at a time can often be around the £80 mark. Quite dear for a rudimentary bit of kit, but still cheaper than a coffee machine.

The Moka pot’s downfall is in how long it takes to prepare coffee using it. As it is a stove pot method, you could end up waiting for as long as 15 minutes for it to boil. It’s much harder to control the quality of a Moka pot brew. You have much more control over how it will turn out but there’s also much more that can go wrong. There’s also not a discernible difference in taste quality.  The Moka pot will give you a thick and rich coffee, but the machine will achieve much more complex flavours and brews.

Verdict: Coffee Machine

For us, the Coffee Machine comes out on top. If you’re an out and out coffeephile, the Moka pot is another sensory coffee experience, where the extra effort is all part of its appeal. However, the only area where the Moka Pot can clearly be said to outperform is price.

Coffee Machine vs Chemex/Drip-Over

The Chemex is featured in the Museum of Modern Art in New York for its clean, modern design. Created in 1941, it’s a way of brewing coffee that incorporates the drip-over method. It has won plaudits the world over and is a staple of the coffee-lover’s arsenal of paraphernalia.

Alongside the Chemex, you can buy coffee drippers. These are essentially funnels, which you put filter paper in. You then put the grounds in the paper and pour hot water through the grounds, resulting in a delicious, bright, clean coffee. Coffee drippers like a Hario v60 are good for making individual coffees. The Chemex is good for making a bigger batch of pour-over coffee.

The Chemex and coffee machine are both easy to clean, but coffee drippers and Chemexes are both easier. There are no mechanical parts to wear out or that be susceptible to clogs. You have much more control over your brew with a dripper and Chemex than you do a coffee machine.

The coffee machine offers quicker speeds, as always, and more versatility again. Chemex and drippers do not come with a steam lever, for example. Coffee machines do not require beans to be ground and are ready to go in an instant.

Verdict: Draw

This was the closest competition of the lot. It really comes down to what you’re looking for with your coffee. For speed, variety, accuracy, consistency and convenient, it’s the coffee machine. However, the drip method isn’t massively behind in those categories except variety and is ahead on price and taste. Another method we would suggest using in tandem with a coffee machine. When time isn’t a factor, we recommend using the Chemex. For day-to-day and use on the go, a coffee machine wins again.

Coffee Machine vs Instant Coffee

This is where the coffee machine meets its match on speed. You only have to wait for the kettle to boil with instant coffee. You put your instant blend in your mug, add boiling water, add sugar and milk to taste and there you have it. A coffee machine may have you waiting an extra couple of minutes for its finished article.

This one was fairly straightforward for us.

Verdict: Coffee Machine

No real competition here. The couple of minutes that you save by using instant coffee aren’t worth the complete lack of variety and distinct shortcoming on taste. The whole point of coffee machines was to give people the power of having a barista-style brew from home in almost the same time it takes to make an instant coffee. Which it pretty much does. Instant coffee wins on pure speed and price. The coffee machine dominates on everything else.

As you can see, the coffee machine does pretty well in its various duels. Its speed, convenience, consistency and versatility are very, very hard to match. The most common complaint about coffee machines, particularly the capsule coffee machines are the price of the capsules. If the price of capsules are going to be a problem, we suggest that you save them for the mornings. If you’re using roughly five a week then you should make them stretch for a long time. Consider investing in a traditional method like a Chemex for the evenings and weekends. You’ll get a variation in tastes and putting a bit more effort in makes it that little bit tastier.

Browse from our coffee machines in our small appliances section, where you’ll find other nifty bits of gear like blenders, kettles, stand mixers and toasters. We also have an amazing selection of products on our refrigeration, laundry and cooking pages. For great prices, reliable delivery and expert advice, shop at Appliance City.