Been hugely surprised that about 90% of machines on offer seem to be of the coffee pod variety. The salespeople have also been pushing this sort of machine quite heavily when ever either I or the wife have made enquires. We're not coffee snobs in anyway but am weary of this system. The ease of use seems attractive but I'm concerned at being locked in to a manufacturers system where we have little to no control over the quality or cost of the coffee.
Does anyone have any thoughts good or bad?
We have a budget of £150.
my advice: give in to it, find your inner coffee snobbery, look away aghast from this pod heresy and spend your 150 on a nice stove top espresso pot and your own grinder.
theres a time and a place for all coffees, but what if society collapses, the proles mutiny and its time to stand to be counted? do you really want be left with no choice but a nespresso machine?
We do have a POD system at work, although it's actually owned by the a member of staff, but we all use it, and she buys huge boxes of coffee pods at a time.
I suspect that it's a bit like an ink jet printer or Sony PlayStation scenario, where the initial hardware is just a small part of the cost, and the company makes huges wads of money on having the customer locked in to their system, and they make all the money on selling the PODs themselves, which is why the salespeople are being told to sell sell sell the systems.
Plus I suspect they are not very environmentally sound as you are binning a sizeable chunk of plastic every time you make a coffee.
Can't help on advice about other coffee machines, but thought I ought to have that little rant-ette
Those creepy ads with George Clooney should be enough to tell its wrong. Bland reliable corporate nickel and diming.
There is a learning curve if you're into stretched milk drinks but if you just want straight espresso it's just as easy as a pod machine and easier to clean also. It means you can have whatever coffee you want as well.
In terms of environmentally friendly-ness, obviously the pod ones have a larger amount of waste but some of them use very little electricity compared to a traditional machine which you may have to wait for it to heat up.
Also if grinding beans make sure you get a burr grinder.
Then save up and get one of these
Bella Barista is a great company with fantastic service. A machine like this will last you a life time.
pod machines: all very nice & convenient, but such a waste of (plastic, tinfoil) etc...and what happens when you run out unexpectedly?
straight espresso: aeropress for about £20. love mine, worth a spin?
Coffee machines? Pah.
All this stuff about high-tech complication for making coffee is just a distraction and a way of getting your money out of you. Really good coffee depends on three factors alone: (a) decent beans (b) freshly ground to the right grain (c) with the correct amount of just-off-the-boil pure unchlorinated water over them to give you the strength you like.
If you insist, use a cafetière--I do. Beyond that and your coffee-grinder, any further technology is just money down a hole.
(Above all, do get decent fresh coffee beans, and don't grind them till you're actually using them. Turns out the right way to spend your money to get really good coffee is to spend it on the coffee, not on the machine-- who'd have thought it?)
Good quality beans are a must, so I would shy away from the pod kind of machine. Not sure £150 would be enough for a decent machine, so maybe just get a cafetiere and a grinder instead?
> Coffee machines? Pah.
> All this stuff about high-tech complication for making coffee is just a distraction and a way of getting your money out of you. Really good coffee depends on three factors alone: (a) decent beans (b) freshly ground to the right grain (c) with the correct amount of just-off-the-boil pure unchlorinated water over them to give you the strength you like.
> If you insist, use a cafetière--I do. Beyond that and your coffee-grinder, any further technology is just money down a hole.
> (Above all, do get decent fresh coffee beans, and don't grind them till you're actually using them. Turns out the right way to spend your money to get really good coffee is to spend it on the coffee, not on the machine-- who'd have thought it?)
I use a cafetiere which cost a tenner. With decent beans, you cant go wrong. Spend that £140 you have spare on a good softshell which will give you far more use.
I have a "milk thing" in my fridge. It's called "a bottle". It costs 99p for 2l from Tesco :-)
Mind you, even this page isn't completely free of beverage bollocks. It includes the phrase "novice coffee or tea drinker". "Novice drinker"?? As opposed to expert? I'm sorry--I thought drinking was something we learned to do in the first hour or so after birth. Is there something complicated about orally self-administering caffeinated beverages that I'm not seeing?
As stated before, 3 factors are important.
1 Good beans
2 Grind you beans freshly as they oxidise within 3 days
3 Correct temperature which is 89-92 degrees cel
I find that a bit of cold water on the coffee just before adding boiling water works perfectly to get good taste and creamer.
its a fair point -for work the nesspresso thing functions well - for zombie situations I have two stove top espresso devices, a couple of caffetieres and a MSR filter thingy - along with the omni-fuel and manual oil aga I hope to be able to hold out until the last of the coffee supplies - but what then?
> Coffee machines? Pah.
I'm sorry but I have to disagree, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with having coffee like that, it's a nice enough drink and each to their own but we're talking about two different drinks. If you can't tell the difference between a brewed coffee and a pulled espresso from a pressurized machine you have no taste buds.
Some people like brewed coffee and if you're one of those people then that's fine but why inflict that on other people? So you don't like thick, syrupy, creamy espresso, hence you don't have an espresso machine. Isn't it possible that for people who like espresso that they might get more use out of a machine which makes them than someone who just likes watery home brew? It's like saying a good omelette is all about good eggs, that's true but there's a difference between doing it in the microwave and doing it in a pan. Good coffee beans are important but you can't extract the same concentration of flavour without pressure to force the water through the grounds.
Turns out that people have been using pressurised espresso makers for over 100 years, if only you'd come along and to let them know they'd all been wasting their time.
> its a fair point -for work the nesspresso thing functions well - for zombie situations I have two stove top espresso devices, a couple of caffetieres and a MSR filter thingy - along with the omni-fuel and manual oil aga I hope to be able to hold out until the last of the coffee supplies - but what then?
Come on, we've all been there and thought, "I wonder if tea works..."
> Come on, we've all been there and thought, "I wonder if tea works..."
> It doesn't
I have to beg to differ, tea does work - but for ruminating rather than rapid action
Agree absolutely. And the best grinder (of several that I've tried) is the Bodum one.
I've got the gaggia espresso pure which doesn't quite pull as good a coffee as the classic I bought for my dad (also second hand off ebay).
Then you need a good burr grinder (Dualit make an ok one for sensible money, bus the best are £150+) and fresh beans. I'm really struggling to find good beans in Chamonix. France is a coffee forsaken nation!!!
The aeropress I have a work is pretty good too, the best cheap option.
I freely admit to being a total coffee geek though and I use the Gaggia Classic but for freshly ground coffee I use a MC2 grinder - the grinder is more important than the machine to be honest for fresh ground and that is the absolute minimum grinder worth getting.
However taking the cheapness down a little. My coffee maker of choice for the office and at home a lot of the time is my trusty Aeropress and Hario slim hand grinder - 50 quid for the lot and with freshly roasted coffee beans will produce superior coffee to most chain coffee shops and home machines. I love the aeropress.
I am having an aeropress right now. I boil up water to 90c exactly on the stove with a wee thermometer in the tea pot, pour, stir, steep, press and enjoy :) amazing coffee. yum.
Stove top espresso pots are decent but it is way to easy to burn the coffee in them and you get a saturated over extracted bitter tar experience. Trick to the stove top is remove from the heat the very second it starts to bubble up through the top and as soon as it bubbles through the right amount you want to get the coffee out the pot and away from the heat.
If you can't tell the difference between a brewed coffee and a pulled espresso from a pressurized machine you have no taste buds.
If you don't know how to make brewed coffee so it tastes exactly like a pulled espresso then you don't know how to make brewed coffee.
> If you don't know how to make brewed coffee so it tastes exactly like a pulled espresso then you don't know how to make brewed coffee.
Surely that is a contradiction there?
You get well made and extracted brewed coffee and well made and extracted espresso and crap versions of both. Espresso is delicious when made properly. I.e. not with stale beans, preground coffee or pods.
> If you can't tell the difference between a brewed coffee and a pulled espresso from a pressurized machine you have no taste buds.
> If you don't know how to make brewed coffee so it tastes exactly like a pulled espresso then you don't know how to make brewed coffee.
Maybe yesterday I didn't know how to make brewed coffee but we all know now, because you just gave us the instructions. It needs three things, (1) good beans, (2) the correct and fresh grind and (3) the correct temperature, unchlorinated water poured over the them. You don't even need any other equipment! So you are telling me if I follow those instructions I will get a thick emulsion espresso with a 1/4 inch thick crema sitting on top?
It's impossible, hence why someone invented the espresso machine. They're two different processes that effect the grounds in different ways, the effects of forcing water through coffee grounds will always give a different result to steeping the grounds without pressure.
As I said, it's not wrong, just different.
You won't get the crema, but if you make it strong enough, with the right beans, yes, you'll get an espresso (the way they drink it in Italy).
Bought a Mocca Pot about a year ago and never looked back. How I got to 60 without discovering the delights of the device I will never know!
Easy to use, great coffee, always nice and hot - it now goes everywhere with us.
excellent. thank god someone is thinking clearly on this.
what happens when the coffee goes? amphetamines my friend - when things are that bad its all bets off and we take the game higher.
as ben sharp so correctly points out: tea will not do at this stage. fine, yes, to gather ones thoughts, but when facing the end of the world..? no.
i know this thru experience.
Machine and grinder both ok, not exceptional but I enjoy the coffee it gives me. Milk steamer a bit duff but the machine heats up in about a minute and I have a cup 2 minutes later.
Would probably invest in an MC2 but won't do that till the current one breaks.
This probably* makes me a bit of a coffee philistine, but I use the kenwood coffee grinder attachment (it is a burr grinder) and a simple cafetiere. I use Old Brown Java beans, straight from the coffee roasting house (Pumphrey's in Blaydon)- I make a pilgrimage there every few weeks for 2kg.
I even have a cafetiere mug so I can have proper coffee wherever I go that a a glass cafetiere isn't practical (such as on a steam engine when I'm on the shovel).
*almost certainly. Sorry.
hmmmm, must think of an excuse to get hold of some - or maybe just the 4-aminopyridine and ephedrine cocktail....
> You won't get the crema, but if you make it strong enough, with the right beans, yes, you'll get an espresso (the way they drink it in Italy).
Isn't that just a strong brewed coffee, very like a pulled espresso but a different drink, which it sounds like you agree (if one has a crema and one doesn't then they aren't the same drink). There is a reason a pulled espresso has a crema and that also has an effect on the rest of the drink, and the flavour as well. The pressure in the basket is what gives you the emulsion, at normal atmospheric pressure the oil is insoluble in the water and your "espresso" will be thin. It also allows a greater depth of flavour to be extracted and gives the espresso that guiness effect. You really can't get that with brewed coffee, even if you make it strong.
Again, I'm not saying that a strong brewed espresso isn't nice but I just can't understand why someone would think it was the same drink as a pulled espresso, two completely different processes yielding the exact same drink, sounds implausible.
Get this one:
this one is only £15?!
Then once you get bitten by the bug like me, you can invest (as I have) in home roasting equipment - so many variables to play with to search for that perfect coffee!
home roasting? Nonsense, you should be growing coffee from seed to get a real brew...
<as thread descends into a monty python sketch>
I have an army of tame Civets to eat em and shit em.
embarrassingly, ive actually tried that - with roots dug from my lawn.
not bad as a diuretic i recall, but when the zombies arrive i will be reaching for the speed.
better to go down a gnashing, feverish motorhead than to die with a cup of twinings in your hand...
I love ukc coffee threads . Just need some one to start talking about how teAs better . I use just About all the methods mentioned above bar a cheap espresso machine. Each has it's place , each can make great coffee given a bit of care and research ( that's hard these days isn't it ) . I like the coffee from all the different methods , when it's well done.
Probably the most fool proof is the mocha pot because you don't have to worry about water temp , which in all the other methods is critical and hard to control. Next would be the aero press , quick , easy , and very forgiving of variable grind, wil make a passable cup with just about any grinds you can get hold of .
Home espresso is a world of financial pain . If you really want a machine for 150 then as has been mentioned a gaggia classic from eBay is a good starting point but you ll need a burr grinder to get anything passable from it . If you just want to spend the 150 on coffee equipment then as has been said spend 140 on a grinder and get a French press or an aero press . I ve seen mazzer grinders go for a little as 150 , with some new burrs this will last you a life time and will allow you to play coffee for ever . The problem with some of the cheaper burr grinders is that they won't go fine enough for espresso but they will make avert good job of grinding for all the other methods.
A finall thought, I've got a frankly silly amount of coffee making gear , I love playing with it and faffing about endlessly , but on road trips or other excursions away from home I can still make a very nice brew with some super Market pre ground , a a platic filter cone and a filter paper
You're thinking of spending one hundred and fifty pounds, when you could buy a jar of Mellow Birds?
£150 gets you an excellent setup with change to spare. You need a little bit of equipment and some patience. Basics are as mentioned above: beans, grinder, extraction method. In about that order of importance.
Good beans means freshly roasted (within weeks, and preferably just days) so ignore supermarket stuff, it's shit. Look for Hasbean, Origin, Extract and Square Mile roasters instead, and be spoiled for life. Store your beans in a low-volume airtight jar somewhere dark and cool.
A fresh grind is equally as important as a fresh roast, the coffee's aromatic compounds decay rapidly so grind just before use. You also need a good quality grinder: over or under-extraction of even a small proportion of the coffee being used will result in nasty flavours in the cup, so evenness of grind is key to ensure consistency. Big lumps or over-fine powders in your grind will mess up the taste badly.
Look for second-hand antique burr grinders on ebay (Peugeot), alternatively Porlex and Hario make good modern ones for not too much money (about £30-60). Don't buy anything which plugs into the wall at your budget: cheap electric grinders (sub-£200) cannot achieve a consistent grind. Some good hand grinders below:
Extraction method: as far as espresso machines go, don't bother unless you're willing to spend £350+ second-hand. Even then results can be hit and miss and depend hugely on the quality of the grind. Crap is crap regardless of branding so don't waste your money.
An Aeropress makes wonderful coffee. It doesn't produce espresso, regardless of the strength, as the pressure simply isn't high enough (absence of crema is the giveaway). Instead it creates a rich, sweet 'essence', refreshing on its own or with milk and sugar added for an outstanding 'coffee NATO'. Despite having a good espresso machine at home the Aeropress is one of my favourite coffee methods.
...I hope that helps, but frankly UKC will only go so far in your quest for better coffee.
Wow, Thanks everyone!! some really excellent advice.
We decided to stay with a traditional machine. Being in London getting good beans is fairly easy (The Algerian Coffee Stores?) I know that some coffee errr...snobs? will throw their hands up in horror but we get the shop to grind the beans for us. We then keep them in an airtight container in the fridge.
The main reasoning behind the move to coffee pods was that breakfast time is the most hectic part of the day so being able to save time/mess/faff seemed like a good idea but the compromise was that the coffee was of unknown quality, costs were dictated by the machine manufacturer.
Anyway the wife found a Gaggia model in the sales reduced from £299.95 to £169.95. A bit over budget but its a solid looking thing so should last.
It was mentioned above about descaling our old machine. We do that on a fairly regular basis as we live in a 'Hard' water area. The machine to be honest had just plain worn out being about 6 years old and having made coffee most days since it was taken out of the box.
The Algerian Coffee Shop is sublime! I always get my coffee from there and they have a good selection of beans.
I walked past it for years thinking it was one of those trendy shops that add a goodly mark up just for being in central London but a friend went in to get a coffee and got charged £1 for a Latte and a good one at that. Bought some beans and have been going back ever since. A bit of a find really.
Fair enough! So if you're using a traditional machine you're going to be creating espresso; on its own or as a base for coffee drinks. Either way you will want to be making an espresso which has a full extraction and is neither too bitter nor too sour.
Below is a link to a page which explains the basic process and techniques of espresso more eloquently than I can, but truly you can't get consistent flavourful espresso with pre-ground coffee. You'd just as well get pods, as you don't have any control over the flavour of the coffee in the cup regardless of the quality / freshness of the beans. Buy a hand grinder, that way you get a high-quality grind without too much expense (an electric grinder producing similar grind will cost around 5x as much). Stating the hugely obvious, the bigger your grinder, the faster it will grind :)
I love the coffee my Aeropress produces. It's almost as good as the stuff my espresso machine churns out, but with the huge benefit that I can enjoy it in the office, in a tent, in a bothy, hotel room etc etc
I see you are in Glasgow as well. Where do you get your coffee? I walk down to Finnieston from my office in the City centre once a week to "Coffee Chocolate & Tea"
They roast all their own beans weekly and have a good selection. At the moment I have a bag of the espresso blend, Guatemalan and Costa Rican beans. I am usually all over their central and south american beans.
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