12 of the best pod coffee machines for a quick and quaffable brew

Me + coffee = two peas in a pod

A selection of three pod coffee machines available in the UK: Morning coffee machine, Grind One and Nespresso Vertuo Pop in Aqua green color
(Image credit: Future)

It's official: Pod coffee machines have a lot going for them and are a step up from the "hasbeans" that first came to the market. These days, capsule coffee makers can trump traditional appliances on the time it takes to brew a cup and, of course, the clean-up before you need to dash out of the door.

Gone are the days of pod coffee makers relying on plastic-heavy caps to make a drink — local authorities can recycle some, and a few are even biodegradable. But if you're worried about stale grounds in their cases, you'll be pleased to know that manufacturers have come up with ways to lock in the freshness for your espresso or lungo. So if you're sitting on the pod coffee machine fence, our top picks will clear the water and cut through the noise of a saturated market.

Here are the 12 pod coffee machines we rate the most, as tried, tested, and approved by our Real Homes reviewers. From the likes of Nespresso, Illy, Smeg, and Breville, here's what's hot right now for 2023. Out of the 25+ pod machines we've tested, these are the ones we've given no less than 4 stars out of 5. 

12 of the best pod coffee machines

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Real Homes review process — how we test pod coffee machines

Pod coffee machines in Future Plc test kitchen

Pod coffee machines in Future Plc test kitchen

(Image credit: Christina Chrysostomou)

Our Future Plc test kitchen is the perfect place to brew a cup of joe... or seven. It's not the prettiest coffee shop-style spot but it does have plenty of plug sockets, sinks, mugs, and kitchen bins to get on with the job in hand. Together with our testing panel, we spent the day (a little wired) thoroughly reviewing each machine that the brands kindly sent us, creating a variety of different coffee types to suit even the most discerning buyer.

Meet our pod coffee machine reviewers:

Christina illustration
Christina Chrysostomou

Christina has tested five of the 12 pod coffee machines in this buying guide — and enjoyed them all for different reasons. She was blown away by Morning's smart features, liked the mid-century modern feel of the Lavazza X Smeg collab, was impressed by the Lavazza Desea A Modo Mio's milk-frothing abilities, and saw the potential in the Nespresso Pop as a way for readers to introduce colour into their kitchen scheme.

What is the best pod coffee machine?

If you want our number one pod coffee machine, then we highly recommend you buy the Sage Nespresso Creatista Uno SNE500BKS (opens in new tab). It's expensive, but a great all-rounder that accepts Nespresso pods and comes with a steam wand for frothing milk. But if you're a sustainability-conscious consumer, the Grind One pod machine (opens in new tab) is a top pick. It's got a stainless steel build that looks great and is really built to last. 

Why buy a pod coffee machine?

Pod coffee machines have a lot in their favour. They are easy to use and easy to clean, and they can deliver a delicious cup of coffee. But what coffee aficionados might not appreciate is that they can also pull off the same fancy tricks as espresso machines, with the ability to froth milk as a feature of some machines.

What should you consider when buying a pod coffee machine?

Before you buy a pod coffee machine, take a look online or in your local supermarket to see how much the various pods retail for. This will give you a rough price per cup — and note that while some brands offer a cheaper machine, the pods can be more expensive.

Also, look at the pod range. If you like a straightforward espresso or Americano, then your options are wider, but for those who fancy a flavoured latte or perhaps the choice for hot chocolates, Tassimo and Dolce Gusto ranges will serve you best. You could alternatively opt for a pod coffee machine with an attached milk frother to expand your drink choices to lattes, cappuccinos and milky coffees. Otherwise, you can get a separate milk frother if you've got worktop space.

Up next: How to clean a coffee machine to keep your caffiene tasting its best

Christina Chrysostomou
Ecommerce Editor

Bonjour, Yasou, Hello — I'm Christina, ecommerce editor at Real Homes. Along with my super creative colleagues, I create content to help you create a chic home on a budget. I live in a two-bed maisonette with a garage and garden in Essex. Geographically, it's perfect; I've got the forest on my doorstep, and London is just 15 minutes by tube or car. I specialize in small kitchen appliances so that you can prepare food with ease at home. Prior to working for the Future plc family, I've worked on a number of consumer events including the Ideal Home Show, Grand Designs Live, and Good Homes Magazine. With a plethora of experience in digital marketing, editorial, and social media, I have an eye for what should be in your shopping basket.

With contributions from