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Best pod coffee machine 2022: Top machines for capsule coffee

Making a coffee in the morning doesn’t have to be a difficult task, and with the best pod coffee machine in front of you, it should be an absolute breeze.

Pod coffee machines are the easiest way to make coffee, with no experience required and virtually no mess to tidy up at the end.

Knowing which machine to go for though can be a bit of a headache, given the rather large choice on offer, so this is where we’ve decided to step in, as our team of experts has tested a great selection of the best pod coffee machines, putting them through standardised tests to sort the good from the bad. We’ve also tested how easy a coffee machine is to use, as well as the temperature of outputted beverages and how well they each froth milk.

If you can’t find a pod coffee machine you like now, then it’s worth bookmarking this page as we’ll be updating it frequently as more excellent candidates make their way into the Trusted Labs. Also, if you aren’t set on using pods to get your coffee fix, then go and have a gander at our general list of the best coffee machines.

Best pod coffee machine at a glance

How we test

Learn more about how we test coffee machines

We put all of our coffee machines through the same set of tests, so that we can tell the good ones from the bad ones. For those that take coffee beans (or ground coffee), we use our own home-roasted variety; pod machines are tested with a variety of the manufacturer’s capsules.

We test milk frothing, coffee temperature and how easy each machine is to use. Find our more in our guide to how we test coffee machines.

Nespresso Atelier

The best pod machine
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Pros

  • Automatic milk frothing
  • Can make hot and cold drinks
  • Great range of coffee

Cons

  • Fiddly to use with your own mugs

If you’re after the original Nespresso experience with the convenience of pod coffee, the Nespresso Atelier is the machine for you.

It offers a familiar look if you’re used to the styling of Nespresso’s other pod machines as it’s got a deep yet narrow frame, although key differences, including nine recipe buttons on the top, signal the types of drink it can make. This is a machine capable of dealing with regular Nespresso coffee – lungo, espresso, and ristretto – as well as hot drinks in the form of hot foam, latte macchiato, cappuccino and mocha, and if you want it to, the Atelier can also make cold drinks – both cold foam and iced frappes are available there.

The ability to make such a vast selection of drinks comes by the fact the Atelier features a milk frother with the machine’s magnetically attached whisk. The ability to get the drinks right isn’t as a result of the fact this machine is able to froth milk in the cup you’re using, but in the quantity of milk you use. To make sure to get it right, you need to either use Nespresso’s own View glasses or mugs that have a 7cm opening and can fit a minimum of 80ml of milk, and that quantity of milk shouldn’t exceed the halfway point of the mug. While it may sound scientific, once you get the right glasses, using the Atelier is easy with coffee only a button press away.

In addition, the 1-litre water tank will allow you to make multiple drinks before it needs refilling and simply lifts out of the machine when you need it.

Nespresso machines offer an excellent variety of pods, whether you want to go for smaller espresso-style drinks, or the longer Lungo variety. Regardless of which type you go for, the Atelier makes an amazing cup of coffee with a brilliant flavour that rivals more advanced bean-to-cup style machines. The coffee it makes hot, with a measured temperature of 67.9ºC, but still towards the upper limit of what a good espresso should. The milk frothing here is also remarkably consistent with the combo of steam and whisking helping the Atelier along nicely; milk came out with a wonderful velvety texture in a cappuccino which tasted great.

The main benefit of Nespresso machines is the wide range of pods available, both in traditional espresso volumes and the Lungo longer-drink variety. It’s the quality of the brew that counts, and a Nespresso machine is capable of producing a quality shot of espresso, one that can rival what you’d get with actual coffee beans and a manual machine.

In terms of its maintenance, the Atelier largely takes care of itself and there isn’t much to do. Its used capsules drop into a bin, and as they tend to be a little wet, as well as emptying the used capsules (and recycling them via Nespresso’s free scheme), it’s worth cleaning out the bin and drip tray to keep things dry. The Atelier also features a light to tell you when the machine needs descaling, which is handy, so you can keep it in the best working order possible.

Reviewer: David Ludlow

Full review: Nespresso Atelier review

Nespresso CitiZ

The best budget Nespresso machine
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Pros

  • Stylish
  • Good size
  • Excellent temperature and flow control

Cons

  • No descale warning light

The Nespresso CitiZ is one of Nespresso’s smaller machines, nearly in line with the original Nespresso Pixie, although the CitiZ is slightly taller, which allows it to have a larger 1-litre water tank, meaning you will be able to make more coffees.

The CitiZ also has a larger used capsule container, which holds 11 capsules. To dispose of these, you can get free recycling bags and organise a collection or drop them into your local store. This is a free service, and an especially handy one at that.

The CitZ doesn’t have milk frothing, but its brewing method is easy as you open the lid, put the capsule you want in, close it, and press either the espresso or lungo brew button depending on the size of capsule. The cup stand is designed for a standard mug size, but you can use either espresso cups in conjunction with the small fold-out stand as well as larger mugs when you flip up the drip tray.

The CitiZ heats up rather quickly, and is ready for action in 25 seconds. You can go from having an empty cup to one with coffee inside in under a minute. Apart from the very first shot, each lot of espresso came out exactly at the same level, as well as the longer lungo capsules too.

There is a vast selection of Nespresso capsules to choose from too, which take into account nearly every taste, as well as special flavoured capsules, too. The coffee was delivered with a temperature of 60.1ºC, which we’d call just right to drink straight away while also maintaining excellent flavour. The Lungo capsules did output higher temperature coffee, at 73ºC, but this was still more than drinkable.

Given this is a pod machine, the maintenance required is minimal. You will need to regularly wash out the drip tray and descale the machine to keep in it the best working condition you can. Unfortunately, there isn’t an automatic indicator to tell you when to descale, so you’ll have to manually keep track. The frequency at which you descale depends on the whether you live in an area with hard or soft water – for hard water, Nespresso advises you descale the CitiZ every 300 cups, while for soft water areas, it’s 1200 cups.

Reviewer: David Ludlow

Full review: Nespresso CitiZ review

Lavazza A Modo Mio Smeg

Best for espresso
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Pros

  • Attractive design
  • Easy to use
  • Makes great espresso

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Fiddly water tank

The Lavazza A Modo Mio Smeg is a wonderful-looking machine, and part of Smeg’s fifties style range. It comes in three colours: black, red, or cream.

It’s a rather deep yet narrow machine, with a total width that barely exceed a two-socket mains outlet. The rounded water tank is a little form over function, with it being quite fiddly to handle with that rounded shape and small indentation for holding onto it. To go with the retro aesthetic, this machine also offers a luxury feel with a metal capsule loader lever and other chromed plastic accents too.

There are also some particularly convenient controls with a pair of buttons for either an espresso or lungo coffee, and the pod bin has a removable basket for draining away any excess coffee – handy for maintenance.

We found the coffee here to taste pretty good, with a typically Lavazza flavour – that is, a slightly acidic taste that’s balanced out by the sweet aftertaste. It definitely didn’t taste too bitter either. It took around 30 seconds to brew a 30ml espresso, while a 60ml lungo took around 40 seconds, with good, drinkable temperatures of 65°C and 74°C respectively. There’s no milk optio with this machine.

This Lavazza Smeg machine will requite descaling, but both of the buttons on the top will flash when the machine needs to be descaled. For extra cleaning. the drip tray, used capsule container and water tank (apart from its lid) are dishwasher safe, and while the pods are industrially compostable, you can’t do this at home – as long as you’ve got a food waste bin at home, you’ll be able to dispose of the pods properly.

Reviewer: Helen Harjak

Full review: Lavazza A Modo Mio Smeg review

Bosch Tassimo My Way 2

Best for easy milk drinks
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Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Filter option for water tank
  • Memory function

Cons

  • Uses sweetened UHT milk
  • Occasionally splashes a little

The Bosch Tassimo My Way 2 is a coffee machine that aims to make the process of making good quality coffee as easy as possible.

It has a built-in Brita water filter, and offers you plenty of control over how your coffee comes out. There’s a way of making your drink slightly shorter with different cup settings, for small medium and large mugs, which is especially handy, and you can also cycle through different temperature options, too.

Nevertheless, Bosch provide a lot of convenient features such as their Intellibrew tech, which scans the barcode of a pod and automatically adjusts settings such as brewing time, water and temperature levels to make sure you get an optimal cup of coffee. It’s also a machine that comes in a range of colours, including black, cream and red, and while it isn’t a small machine, it definitely feels substantial.

Making a coffee requires a pair of pods, one for coffee and one for milk. With a latte, the milk felt creamy, although overly sweet as a result of the fact all Tassimo milk pods contain sugar. Making an espresso on its own proved better with Costa’s signature flavour reproduced well in pod form, although the coffee was quite frothy, it must be said. With a cappuccino, the Tassimo provided a flavour similar to a latte macchiato, as the machine uses the same process to make both drinks. Our best success arguably came with a gingerbread latte, which offered coffee with a consistent flavour and form to it, and tasted excellent.

The My Way 2 will alert you when it needs descaling, and to start the process, you’ll need to remove the Brita water filter and its holder, as well as use the orange cleaning disc. The drip tray is dishwasher safe if you want to give that a clean, as well as the removable parts of the brewing unit, while the water tank and lid should be washed by hand. The pods can be recycled through Terracycle, but drop-off points are limited.

Reviewer: Helen Harjak

Full review: Bosch Tassimo My Way 2 review

De’Longhi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Genio S Touch

Best small pod machine
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Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Wide range of pods available
  • Customisable drinks

Cons

  • Small tank
  • Artificial milk taste

If it’s an especially small pod coffee machine that you want, the De’Longhi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Genio S Touch will be a great option.

Its small form factor should be able to fit even in the most crowded of kitchens and the Space Grey frame with black and metallic accents also means this particular Dolce Gusto machine looks rather smart, too. The smaller nature of this machine also extends to its 0.8 litre. although that size won’t be noticeable if you’re making a cup of coffee or two at a time.

As much as this is a small machine, it’s also one that provides plenty of control for making coffee: you get four different temperature options, as well as a choice of the amount of water, as indicated by four green bars. There’s also an adjustable drip tray that can be moved up for when you’re making smaller drinks, and an especially handy Espresso Boost button to work with those shorter drinks to help strengthen the coffee aroma.

The coffee it produces is good, with the latte and café au lait options we made featuring that well-known Nescafe artificial powdered milk taste. Admittedly, plant-based milk powder and coffee fared a lot better, with our coconut flat white featuring a creamy texture and pleasant aftertaste. This is also an especially speedy coffee machine, with a latte ready to drink after 90 seconds, and an Americano took 50 seconds. In addition, the orange temperature level proved perfect for longer drinks, with a range of 65-70°C, while the red level proved necessary for shorter drinks such as espressos.

The Genio S touch will show a red shower icon light when it needs descaling, and if the manual is right, that should happen after 300 extractions. In addition, the pods can be returned to Nescafe for recycling, while most of the machine’s components can be easily hand washed for a proper clean.

Reviewer: Helen Harjak

Full review: De’Longhi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Genio S Touch review

Nespresso Vertuo Next

The best for mugs of coffee
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Pros

  • Simple to use
  • Delivers excellent mug fulls of coffee
  • Excellent choice of pods

Cons

  • Slightly fiddly to close the lid

Nespresso’s Vertuo Next acts as a handy refinement to the original Vertuo machine, which utilises larger capsules in order to make longer drinks (up a mug full) a pleasure to make.

It’s arguably a neater looking machine that provides better build quality, although you do notably lose the motorised lid, which has now been replaced by a manual lid. To actually get the machine to work, make sure this lid is locked shut. The Vertuo Next is also remarkably simple to operate with a single button proving all that’s needed to make some excellent coffee. Press it and the machine will automatically adjust to make sure it dispenses the right amount of coffee to suit the pod inside. On that note, there’s a massive range of Vertuo pods, from espresso up to a carafe size.

During testing, the Vertuo Next created a smooth drink of coffee complete with a thick and luxurious feeling crema. While there may not be a milk option, you can add a separate milk frother if you so wish, but you arguably don’t need it simply given how great the coffee this machine outputs is – it’s one of the best Nespresso machines hands down.

Reviewer: David Ludlow

Full reviewNespresso Vertuo Next review

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FAQs

Can you put any pods in a coffee machine?

In short, no. There is no universal coffee machine as it were that fits each and every capsule type. Different manufacturers have different pod types, and sometimes within each manufacturer’s ecosystem there can be more than one pod type – take Nespresso and their more standard pods, as well as the larger Vertuo systems, for instance.

Is pod coffee better than instant?

Pod coffee certainly tastes better than instant coffee, simply given that you are actually making a proper cup as opposed to mixing water with a powder to make a beverage that resembles coffee, as it were.

Can pod machines be recycled?

Most pods have recycling options available to them, with the smaller companies partnering with Podback. Nespresso has its own recycling service, although its aluminium pods can technically be cleaned out and recycled with your other waste. You’ll need a product such as the Dualit EcoPress to properly clean out Nespresso pods.

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