Coffee machines are all the same, right? Well, they are in the sense that they'll all make you a cup of coffee in the morning. But in truth, there's a wide spectrum when it comes to taste, style and functionality, and choosing the right machine for you and your kitchen can be a headache.
To make the task easier, a selection of our readers tested a range of machines that we believe cover all the home-brewing bases.
For starters, we had the Illy Francis Francis Y5 Milk – a pod-type machine that uses Illy's own proprietary capsules, so put that Nespresso one away! It's an espresso/ coffee machine with a milk container and integrated frother, so you can choose to have a shot of the black stuff or a full-on latte.
Then there was the KitchenAid Nespresso – a conventional espresso-making machine that creates coffee using Nespresso capsules. The Artisan, also by KitchenAid, is the coffee-experimenter's choice, with a barista-style handle for adding coffee, and a separate milk frother for lattes.
Finally, we had the crème de la crème (milky pun intended), the Jura Z6 – a fully automated coffee machine to rule them all, with bean grinding built in and a price tag to match. But which offered coffee nirvana? Six coffee fans got drinking and gave us their shaky verdict…
Caffeine Addiction: Latte
Liked: The Jura was easy to use, with a handy screen for choosing the type of coffee you want. It seems more suited to an office, though. For me, the easiest to use was the KitchenAid Nespresso - just pop in a capsule and go!
Disliked: The barista-style KitchenAid Artisan was a bit messy to use, but I did like the fact that you can froth the milk yourself.
Verdict: They're all good machines, but I liked the design and ease of use of the KitchenAid Nespresso. Choose your capsule, choose your strength and – boom - job done. No mess, no fuss.
Caffeine Addiction: Cappuccino
Liked: All the machines were good in their own unique way. The Illy is a great all-in-one machine with a decent price tag. The Jura is the smartest machine.
Disliked: The KitchenAid Artisan takes a lot of working out – though I reckon that once you get the hang of it, you could really start experimenting with different types of coffee.
Verdict: If I could afford it, I'd buy the Jura. It makes really tasty coffee, it's easy to use and it looks perfect. But considering I'm not made of money, I'd probably go for the KitchenAid Nespresso.
Caffeine Addiction: Latte
Liked: The Illy machine makes surprisingly good coffee, and I like the fact that you get a milk container, which you don't often get built into capsule machines.
Disiked: Though I didn't dislike the Artisan machine, I prefer the mess-free style of the pod machines.
Verdict: The Jura is a very cool, very civilised way of making coffee; it's just a shame about the price! So for me, the Illy is the one to have. It's stylish, easy to use, and it makes great-tasting coffee – I'd be happy to have one of these in my kitchen.
Caffeine Addiction: Flat white or espresso
Liked: I thought the KitchenAid Artisan was the most beautiful machine on test. The Illy, on the other hand, looks like it's from the Eighties. Taste-wise, the Jura made the best coffee, thanks to the freshly ground beans.
Disiked: I'm not a fan of capsule machines – they just don't seem right! And I found that, while it was fun to use, it was tricky getting the perfect cup of coffee from the Artisan.
Verdict: None of the machines were faultless, but the Jura definitely stood out – great coffee and easy to use.
Caffeine Addiction: Soya caramel latte
Liked: The KitchenAid Nespresso looks really cool in a retro kind of way, and it was super-easy to use. I'm a sucker for high-end tech, though, and the Jura certainly ticks that box, even though it's a bit hefty to put in smaller kitchens.
Disiked: There's no milk frother with the Nespresso. The Illy looks good but I didn't find it easy to use and the coffee was only OK.
Verdict: The Jura looks amazing and there's no mess or faffing around with capsules. It would minimise my trips to Starbucks!
Caffeine Addiction: Espresso
Liked: I like my espressos, and the Illy seemed to make them the strongest – tasty, too. It's just a shame it doesn't look that great. The Nespresso machine was the easiest of the bunch, as well as being the best-looking.
Disliked: I don't want to mess up coffee when I'm in a rush, so the Artisan wouldn't do it for me - it's just too much like hard work.
Verdict: Sure, the Jura would be the perfect machine, but I could never afford it! I loved the one-push operation of the KitchenAid Nespresso, and the capsule system is a no-brainer.