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Choosing a coffee machine can be daunting. How do I know what I need in a machine and what are the right questions to ask?

Here are some guidelines to narrow down your choice.

• Do you drink the same type of coffee every day or do you want different options?
• Do you make a lot of coffee for guests?
• Do you prefer freshly ground coffee or a consistent pod choice?
• Where will it sit in your kitchen?
• Would you prefer to grind your own coffee?
• Will you purchase a free standing frother or would you like it to come with the machine?

Manual Machine

This is a great choice if you are new to the home coffee set. You can play around with different variations, different grinds, flavours and textures. Manual machines generally don’t have inbuilt grinders so this will be a separate purchase but worth the investment to really get to know your coffee preferences. Or, if you have a favourite blend of coffee, just buy it and off you go! Some models have a built-in steamer or rod which releases steam into a jug of milk to create froth. Milk frothers can also be purchased separately.

The great thing about manual machines is you do not have to spend a fortune to get into the market. You can pick and choose the extras your machine comes with making it easy to tailor your budget.

Automatic Machine 

These machines are very user friendly in that they basically make the coffee with little human intervention at all. They will grind the coffee to your exact preference and will have a built in frother to complete the task for you.

Pod Machine

These machines are a revolution in the world of domestic coffee. The attraction of these machines is you have a choice of different strengths of coffee, you decide on the one you like, then they deliver a measured consistent taste every time. No guess work or measuring involved. You can also purchase different flavoured pods so everyone’s taste can be catered for. You simply place the pod in the capsule area, lock it in, press the button and there you have it. Some have frothers attached for added convenience.

Some machines have what is known as a universal capsule container. These can be handy as they can take any brand of capsule so you can purchase alternatives if need be. Another advantage of the pod machines is they are often smaller than manual or automatic machines so take up less bench space.


The importance of specifications

So you’ve decided on a coffee machine but which one? A coffee machine is not a gadget that you are going to throw away after a couple of uses so you need to choose something that will work to its best capability and have the quality to stand the test of time.

Bar pressure: This is the speed the hot water is pushed through the coffee. Machines with good bar pressure are generally accepted as better quality machines, they will also deliver optimum temperature for the coffee. A minimum of 15 bars is considered the minimum for an A grade coffee.

Thermolock: This is the internal heating element that boils the water.

Wattage: The higher the wattage on a machine the faster the water is boiled.

Quality: As with all domestic appliances, they come with different fittings. The quality of these fittings will add to the longevity of your coffee machine. For instance, some parts will be made with brass, some with aluminum. Brass fittings are your better option. Warranties may vary as well too. With a more expensive machine you may get a longer warranty. An extended warranty may be something you can purchase with your coffee machine.It is important to note better quality machines may have things like cups warmers, adjustable cup height, automatic cleaning function and other added extras.

Accessories: You may be unaware why you prefer a coffee from one café more than another. It may be in the little things. They may have cup warmers, they may have a good quality grinder, they may clean their coffee machine regularly. This all comes down to available accessories, and when it comes to coffee, there are lots to get excited about so check the accessories available to complement the machine you choose.

Cleaning your machine: Coffee machines are no exception when it comes to maintenance. The method of cleaning coffee machines is known as descaling. It can be as simply as letting the hot water run through the machine without having a pod in or buying descaling solution to match your brand of machine. Also a very easy job. Built up coffee remnants produce coffee oil. It will not only affect the taste of your coffee but it will also affect the internals of your machine, clogging and griming the inner workings which will shorten the life of the machine.

Cost: The cost of coffee machines can vary greatly.

You perhaps need to consider how much you spend on coffee in a week. Can this be translated into purchasing a home coffee machine? Look for sales and redemptions which may affect the price you pay for the unit. Another way to offset the cost is if you have a birthday coming up or housewarming or marriage? This might be a good chance for you to choose a machine and people can donate to your coffee machine purchase.