Espresso Coffee Machines Reviewed

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Compare espresso coffee machines from De’Longhi, Nespresso, ALDI Expressi, NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto, Breville, Sunbeam & Caffitaly on taste quality, reliability, value for money, design, ease of cleaning & maintenance, ease of use and overall satisfaction.

See our Ratings Methodology.

Most Satisfied Customers | De’Longhi

De’Longhi has topped our customer ratings for espresso coffee machines. It scored five-star reviews on key factors including taste quality, reliability, design, ease of cleaning & maintenance, ease of use and overall satisfaction.

De’Longhi brews up best in coffee machine ratings

There are typically two options when it comes to quality coffee – splash out around $5 at your local café every day, or invest in a coffee machine for your home so you can enjoy a cup as often as you like. If the second option sounds appetising to you then you’ve come to the right place, because our annual review compares coffee machine brands on customer satisfaction, so you can find out what other Aussies think about the compared brands before you go ahead with a purchase. Think of it as like asking hundreds of your closest mates what coffee machine they think is best!

There are many types of coffee machines out there, and if you’re a coffee snob like us, you’ll want to make sure you’re not disappointed with the result of your home-made espresso. So which brand do Australian consumers love the most? To find out, we surveyed over 600 coffee-lovers across the country to get their critique on the coffee machine they most recently bought and used, based on factors like taste of coffee, reliability, value for money and more. Seven leading brands received the minimum sample size to be included in the ratings, but only one earned five stars for overall customer satisfaction – De’Longhi.

This year’s espresso coffee machine review saw seven major brands compared, rated in the following order for overall satisfaction:

  • 1st De’Longhi
  • 2nd Nespresso
  • 3rd ALDI Expressi
  • 4th NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto
  • 5th Breville
  • 6th Sunbeam
  • 7th Caffitaly

Nespresso, ALDI Expressi and NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto achieved four stars overall, while Breville, Sunbeam and Caffitaly had to settle for three stars in this year’s review. While De’Longhi claimed top spot overall, other brands had their strengths in other aspects. ALDI Expressi and Caffitaly were the only two brands to achieve five stars on value for money, while NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto joined De’Longhi in rating five stars for ease of cleaning & maintenance, as well as ease of use.

These ratings incorporate all types of coffee machines, including manual, capsule/pod and automatic. So let’s review what each of the seven brands in this year’s review has to offer.

Top Espresso Coffee Machine Brands

De’Longhi 

Italian kitchen appliances designer De’Longhi has one of the biggest coffee machine ranges on the market, covering manual espresso machines, fully automatic coffee machines, and capsule machines (collaborating with Nestle to produce the NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto range). The manual coffee machine range covers a number of colours and styles, from sleek modern designs to retro throwbacks. These are also compatible with ESE pods, thanks to the 2-in-1 filter holder. Some models also include an automatic milk frother and dispenser. Prices range from $299 to $629. The fully automatic coffee machine range stretches well into the high end of the market, with prices starting from $899 for an entry-level model, up to $3,199 for the PrimaDonna Elite.

De’Longhi cleaned up in this year’s coffee machine review, scoring five stars for overall satisfaction and in most categories, except value for money where rated a still respectable four stars.

Nespresso 

Famous for its advertisements featuring George Clooney, Nespresso has established itself as a boutique coffee experience. Nespresso capsule machines cover a wide range of appliances from the Essenza Mini standalone capsule machine – priced at $159 – to the rather extravagant Lattissima Pro priced at $899. Across the machine range, there is a choice of capsule machines without milk frothers, with a separate frother appliance, with an automatic milk frother that dispenses right into your cup, and for the most authentic experience with a fully-automatic steam wand. Unlike other capsule products, Nespresso’s capsules can be purchased individually so you can custom-create your very own assortment starting at 69c each. Visit a retail boutique, reseller, or the Nespresso online store to explore the range.

Nespresso was rated four stars for overall satisfaction and in most other research categories this year, but fell short on value for money with three stars.

ALDI Expressi 

The ALDI Expressi espresso machine includes a 19 bar high pressure pump, automatic capsule ejection, cleaning function and automatic shut-off. It comes in either titanium or white exterior finishes, priced at $79.99. A milk frother can be purchased separately for $28.99. Spare parts can be purchased online at the Expressi Shop. The capsule range includes coffees of diverse intensities, plus hot chocolate, white hot chocolate and chai latte milk-based capsule drinks. Capsules are priced at $5.99 for a box of 16.

ALDI’s coffee machine was rated four stars overall in this year’s review, as well as for taste quality, reliability and ease of cleaning & maintenance. It scored three stars on ease of use but recorded five stars in regards to value for money.

NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto

For coffee at home, at just the touch of a button, NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto offers a wide range of capsule machines, from the classic Piccolini priced from $89, to the futuristic circular Eclipse for $349 (pictured). The fully automatic Eclipse is shaped as a loop, which opens up to reveal the coffee dispenser, while the Stelia design was apparently inspired by a drop of coffee. All Dolce Gusto coffee machines operate at a maximum 15 bar pressure and can be used to brew both hot and cold drinks. Boxes of NESCAFÉ capsules can be purchased from most major grocery and home supplies retailers, as well as online from the Dolce Gusto website. Flavours include the expected coffee range, plus the likes of chai, hot chocolate and even soy cappuccino.

NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto was rated a solid four stars for overall satisfaction, and for taste quality, design and reliability. It rated three stars on value for money but finished with five stars for ease of cleaning & maintenance as well as ease of use.

Breville 

Breville produces both manual and capsule coffee machines, plus a drip coffee appliance. The manual machine range starts with the Compact Cafe with a 15-bar pressure Italian-made pump and steam wand for $199.95. At the other end of the price spectrum is the Oracle Touch fully automated machine with a built-in grinder and automatic tamper, colour screen and digital temperature control, hands-free milk frother, and self-cleaning function, priced at $3,599! There are two types of standalone milk frothers available. Many models come in a choice of stainless steel, cranberry or black sesame exterior finishes. Breville also collaborates with Nespresso to create a significant proportion of the Nespresso capsule machine range.

In this year’s review, Breville was rated three stars for overall satisfaction and in every other category except taste quality, where it was rated four stars.

Sunbeam

This Australian home appliance brand produces a range of manual coffee machines, choosing to stay clear of the capsule trend. The Sunbeam range covers all budgets, starting with the Piccolo Espresso single-cup espresso and steam wand appliance at $129. At the highest end there is the Sunbeam Torino Espresso Machine & Grinder for $1,999 with a one-touch grinder, LCD screen, pressure gauge, hot water dispenser, temperature-sensing steam wand and many more cool features that are said to produce a professional-tier barista experience at home. Sunbeam also produces a drip filter coffee machine and a number of different coffee grinders.

Sunbeam was another brand to be rated three stars for overall satisfaction in 2018, and in four other categories – ease of use, design, value for money and reliability. It was rated four stars for taste quality and ease of cleaning & maintenance.

Caffitaly

The Caffitaly one-touch systems range from compact espresso-only devices for smaller kitchen spaces, to fully automatic cappuccino machines with either a fully automatic milk frother and dispenser with removable milk jug or a traditional steam wand. Prices for the various devices range from $119 to $220. A standalone milk frother is available for $55. Caffitaly machines can only use Caffitaly System capsules, but the brand has partnered with a number of other brands including Gloria Jean’s, Grinders, Moccona and Woolworths to create a range of compatible coffee capsule flavours to choose from. Details are on the Caffitaly website.

Caffitaly was rated three stars for overall satisfaction and in all other categories except for ease of use where it received four stars and value for money where it earned five stars.

Things to consider when buying a coffee machine

As well as rating the coffee machines they have purchased in the last three years, respondents to our survey also helped to paint a picture of what to look for when buying a machine in the first place. Sure, we all want great-tasting coffee, but what other factors help determine overall customer satisfaction? Below are the key drivers of satisfaction for coffee lovers from our research:

  • Taste quality: 35%
  • Reliability: 25%
  • Value for money: 16%
  • Design: 13%
  • Ease of cleaning and maintenance: 9%
  • Ease of use: 2%

Let’s now delve a little more into each of these categories.

Coffee taste

What’s worse? A coffee machine that’s prone to breaking down, or a bad cup of coffee? With a good cup of coffee on the go, you might be able to overlook some things not going to plan. But if the coffee isn’t up to the standards you expect, it will only highlight those other factors even more. Reliability and coffee quality were comfortably the most important drivers of satisfaction to emerge from this year’s review.

For taste, De’Longhi earned a five-star review, followed by Nespresso, ALDI Expressi, NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto, Breville and Sunbeam with four stars. Caffitaly rated three stars for taste.

Reliability

Our research identified reliability as the second most important factor in shaping customer satisfaction with coffee machines – and it makes perfect sense! You can own the most sophisticated coffee machine in the world, but unless it works perfectly every time, you’re going to question its real value. Imagine the frustration of not being able to make that first coffee of the morning! We’ve all been there.

De’Longhi was the only brand to rate five stars for reliability, followed on four stars by Nespresso, ALDI Expressi and NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto. It was only three stars for Breville, Sunbeam and Caffitaly.

Value for money

When it comes to buying a coffee machine, you certainly have some cheap options, including the ALDI Expressi coffee machine already mentioned. But ‘cheap’ doesn’t always mean the ‘best’ value. For your purchase to represent good value for money, it will likely need to deliver on the aforementioned points regarding coffee taste and reliability, as well as some of the factors still to come. Value for money is very subjective, but our customer ratings offer a helpful guide as to where you will find it.

In the value for money stakes, ALDI Expressi and Caffitaly were top of the class. It was four stars for De’Longhi, with the rest stuck on three stars.

Design

After all the functional factors mentioned above, you’ll also want a coffee machine that is easy on the eye – and impresses your guests when they pop round for drinks. Some espresso machines more closely resemble alien spacecraft than traditional coffee makers, but perhaps that’s the look you’re going for? Whatever your tastes, you might be better advised to concentrate on the above points rather than the appearance of your coffee machine.

De’Longhi was praised in the design stakes, scoring five stars. Nespresso and NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto rated four stars, while ALDI Expressi, Breville, Sunbeam and Caffitaly all scored three stars.

Ease of cleaning & maintenance

You might be surprised to learn that coffee machines – even espresso machines – require a fair bit of love and care in order to keep them working effectively. So considering how easy a coffee machine is to clean is important before splashing out hundreds of dollars. Like the above point, if your coffee machine is hard to clean, you’ll probably be less likely to actually use it.

For ease of cleaning, De’Longhi was the only brand to earn a five-star review from customers along with NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto, while Nespresso, ALDI Expressi and Sunbeam rated four stars. Three stars went to Breville and Caffitaly.

Ease of use 

No espresso coffee machine should be overly difficult to use, but our ratings suggest that some are easier to operate than others – and that’s to be expected. It stands to reason that the harder a coffee machine is to use, the less likely you will be to use it! Keep this in mind when picking the best machine for your home. The most sophisticated coffee machines may deliver the best coffee, but unless you can operate the machine properly, you won’t get to enjoy it. A third (32%) of survey respondents said they don’t use their coffee machine as much as they thought they would.

Following a similar pattern as previous drivers, De’Longhi rated five stars for ease of use, along with NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto, followed by Nespresso and Caffitaly on four stars. ALDI Expressi, Breville and Sunbeam rated three stars.

What types of espresso coffee machines are there? 

There are three main types of espresso coffee machines you can buy including:

  • Manual machine: become a barista in your own home with a manual coffee machine that gives you full autonomy over the results of your coffee. This type of coffee machine lets you control the coarseness of your grounds as well as the frothiness of your milk.
  • Capsule/pod machine: is typically easy to use with no tamping required, plus can add a full range of exquisite flavours to your taste palette. It’s also ideal if you’re limited on bench space.
  • Automatic machine: takes all the guess work out of your morning coffee from tamping your grounds to frothing your milk. For those who aren’t able to function without their coffee in the early hours of the day, perhaps this one’s for you!

You’ll find these domestic coffee machines above in all shapes and sizes to help suit whatever your expectations or expertise are.

How much do coffee machines cost?

Typically, espresso coffee machines can cost anywhere between $80 to $6,000. As a general guide, expect the following figures for each type:

Coffee Machine Type

Price Range

Manual machine

$200 – $3,400

Capsule/pod machine

$80 – $999

Automatic machine

$500 – $5,950

General Guide Only

On average, our respondents spent $361 on their espresso coffee machines, meaning you don’t need to splash out a fortune on one of these bad boys when considering that some can cost as much as $5,950. However, spending over $300 on one isn’t necessarily a cheap buy either, so doing your research prior to your purchase is a wise idea.

Which coffee machine should I buy?

Apart from considering the key drivers, types of machines and price, our 2018 survey also revealed the following insights: 

Picking the best coffee machine for your home is clearly a challenge, but our ratings offer a helpful guide. Ultimately though, it all comes down to personal preferences – and your budget of course! Consider how often you are likely to use your coffee machine. Our research found that two-thirds of adults (66%) use theirs every day, but a sizeable proportion (32%) said they don’t use their machine as much as they thought they would. If you’re not sure, it’s probably a smart move to go for a relatively cheap option in the first instance.

Also consider how much you spend on coffee away from home. Those takeaway coffees on the way to work quickly add up, so work out how much you want and stand to save by making your drinks at home instead. This could be a good guide as to how much it’s worth spending on your home coffee maker. Our survey found that almost three in four (73%) of respondents are spending less on takeaway coffee since purchasing their own appliance. However, just over half (55%) prefer the taste of their homemade brew, leaving the remainder with a preference for café taste.

You’ll also have to consider things like:

  • Space: If you plan on keeping your coffee machine on your kitchen bench, make sure you don’t buy one that’s too big. But if you keep it hidden in a cupboard, you might find it starts to gather dust!
  • Ongoing costs: Make sure you get an idea of how much any coffee capsules and other accessories will cost you going forward. The price of coffee machines is often in line with the cost of the capsules you use with it, so if you’re going for a high-end piece of kit, you can expect premium capsule prices.

When all is said and done, coffee machines can be a great addition to your kitchen, provided that you get adequate value from them. For many consumers, they probably fall into the category of impulse purchase, so give it some thought before diving in.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Canstar Blue surveyed 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased and used an espresso coffee machine in the last 3 years – in this case, 661 people.

Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.

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