For most people, a bean to cup machine isn’t a cheap purchase. They can range in price from hundreds to an eye-watering thousands of pounds. Choosing a machine is even more difficult if you are buying a gift for a coffee nut.
Here are a few things we would consider when buying a machine:
- The resulting brewed coffee is more important that how “pretty” the machine looks. Don’t buy on glossy looks alone – look at what it does.
- Look for a machine that takes pre-ground coffee as well as beans.
- If your lucky giftee likes specialist beans such as “candied beans” then check the machine can handle those specialist beans. Some machines cannot use them.
- The water tank won’t stay full for long! so get a machine where the water tank is easy to access and/or easy to fill.
- If the giftee likes milked coffee, make sure it has a steam wand. Some machines don’t have one.
- Coffee and milk are prepared at different temperatures, so if the user will be making lots of different coffees (like at dinner parties), then a “dual-boiler” machine will be good (each boiler being set for coffee or milk). But they are more expensive. Alternatively, some makes offer guidance or a method to lower the temperature for coffee after steaming milk.
- We think a “conical burr” grinder is the best for these machines so we would only buy a machine with one of those.
- Although it sounds trivial, a variable-height spout or cup platform can be really important. When making small drinks like espresso, splashing from a height is not a good thing.
- Check it has control over important brew parameters such as water temperature, grind coarseness, volume of water and amount of coffee (grind).
We tested the De’Longhi ESAM 2800 Bean to Cup machine and we thought it made great coffee, was well designed and well-made. We think this machine would make a great gift for a coffee nut (or as a treat for yourself!).
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