The Best Pod Coffee Machine

Or how to enjoy great coffee, quickly, easily and affordably.

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October 27, 2019
Best pod coffee machines

Pod Coffee Machines

Whether it’s the thought of the queue, the barista’s hipster moustache or yet another mason jar light that puts you off a café coffee, there is an alternative. The best pod coffee machine quickly delivers great-tasting coffee, for a fraction of the price, while being easy to use and clean. It’s worth remembering that without the fancy hardware of espresso machines, you’re not going to get comparable results with a pod coffee machine. Here are Australia’s top coffee pod machines, chosen from hours of research, including real Aussie customer insights.

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Our top picks

DeLonghi Essenza Mini
Best Overall

DeLonghi Essenza Mini

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Quick, convenient, small, customisable and affordable – the DeLonghi Essenza Mini has it all. It provides great tasting coffee in a great-looking machine with no unnecessary extras.
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ALDI Expressi Multi
Also Great

ALDI Expressi Multi

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The ALDI Expressi Machine is easy to use with an affordable range of coffee capsules. An entry level pod coffee machine, it delivers good, quick cups of coffee. Plus, Aussies love it.
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Pod Coffee Machines

Whether it’s the thought of the queue, the barista’s hipster moustache or yet another mason jar light that puts you off a café coffee, there is an alternative. The best pod coffee machine quickly delivers great-tasting coffee, for a fraction of the price, while being easy to use and clean. It’s worth remembering that without the fancy hardware of espresso machines, you’re not going to get comparable results with a pod coffee machine. Here are Australia’s top coffee pod machines, chosen from hours of research, including real Aussie customer insights.

Pod Coffee Machines
Cosier is reader-supported. If you click on or buy something via a link on this page, we may earn a commission. Learn more

How we picked

To find the best pod coffee machine in Australia, we were lucky that some of the hard work had already been done for us by reputable Aussie sources. We started with independent consumer advocacy groups’ research, including Choice (the Australian one), Consumer Reports (the American one) and Canstar Blue (an Australian consumer review and comparison website).

This let us know which coffee pod machines had been independently tested and reviewed. While Canstar Blue gave us the brands that Aussies love and trust, but not the specific machines. 

Next, we turned to ProductReview - Australia's first comprehensive consumer opinion site – and searched for capsule coffee machines. We were looking for 4+ star reviews and reviews that featured the opinions of more than 100 Aussies. 

We could then cross-reference the machines rated by the independent research with the machines rated by Australians. 

To get down to our final shortlist, we were looking for certain features. This didn’t include the taste of the coffee. Why? Well, not only is coffee subjective, but you can basically put any type of ground coffee into the pods that you want. Making a taste test a little pointless.

Instead we were looking for convenience – how easy the machine is to use, and speed – how long it takes for the machine to heat up and deliver your coffee. Given that a $5-a-day coffee habit soon adds up, we were also looking for affordability. This included not only the price of the machine, but of its pods too. Finally, a nice to have was what happens to the pods once you’re done with them – can they be reused, recycled or simply chucked into landfill?

Important features to consider

These are the standard features we’d expect every decent coffee capsule machine to have.

Range of pods

Most coffee pod machines only take 1 type of capsule (for example, Dolce Gusto, Nespresso or Tassimo). Although they offer a range of coffee varieties, you’re usually limited to the options they supply.

The market leader is Nespresso, of George Clooney-ad fame. Nespresso boasts the biggest range of coffee capsules, with fancy roasts and flavours. But they’re also the most expensive. 

You can get non-branded pods or cheaper alternatives, like the ALDI range. In return for more affordable prices, you’ll get less choice of beans, roasts and flavours. However, you’ll probably notice that your machine won’t admit that it can be used with non-branded alternatives. Be sure that using a non-branded pod won’t void your warranty. 

Some machines, like the Caffitaly, can only be used with their own branded capsules, further limiting your choice. 

How big a deal this is depends on how much of a coffee fiend you are. If you’re happy with a basic black or white coffee, the range of pods you’ll have access to won’t matter much.

Recycling of pods

Pod coffee machines generate a lot of waste. Each coffee uses 1 pod. 

If you’re eco-conscious, you’ll need to consider what happens with this waste. Some brands allow you to return empty pods to them for recycling, like Nespresso. However, if they reach capacity, like ALDI, you won’t be able to do this. 

One option is to use refillable pods, like Sealpods. These allow you to fill them with ground coffee. After use, simply wash and reuse them. 

If you’re really concerned about waste, the coffee pod machine isn’t the right choice for you. 

Clear and simple controls

Most of our picks don’t have a digital display. Instead, they simply use 1 or 2 buttons. This makes it super easy to use. However, digital displays can be easier to understand than indicator lights. If you choose a basic machine, buttons will be fine. If you upgrade to a more complex machine with multiple options and low water warnings, a digital display could be helpful. 

Removable water reservoir

This is essential for easy use. Every pod coffee machine should have a removable water reservoir for easy filling, emptying and cleaning. Don’t go near one that doesn’t have this. 

Pressure pump

You’ll notice when researching pod coffee machines that they talk about pressure a lot, like ’19-bar pressure pump’. Put simply, the pump provides the power needed to pierce the capsule’s film. From our research it seems that the industry standard, set by Nepresso, seems to be 19 bars. 

However, the  Italian Espresso National Institute (surely the people who know a thing or 2 about coffee) reckons 9-bar is enough. Do more bars make a difference to the coffee taste? The jury’s out on this. 

Auto shutoff

A useful feature is an auto shutoff. It saves you energy by automatically turning your machine off after a set period, if you forget to. All the machines we reviewed have this feature, even the most basic and affordable ALDI one.

What you get if you spend more

Will going to the very top end of coffee pod machines with all the bells and whistles deliver you a coffee that rivals anything you’d taste in Italy? In a word: no.

Here are some features you might enjoy if you shell out a little more, but it’s doubtful they’ll drastically change the taste result.

Milk frothers

More expensive pod coffee machines tend to include an integrated or standalone milk frother. The results aren’t anywhere near as good as with barista-made coffee. You’ll normally end up with large bubbles rather than light, fine foam. 

Cleaning milk frothers can be difficult. Milk can curdle inside which results in spoilt milk through all your coffees. Standalone milk frothers are usually easier to clean. 

Cup-warming tray

A cup-warming tray helps keep your cups at a warm, constant temperature, stopping the coffee from cooling down too quickly. If you’re sitting down to enjoy your coffee instantly, this may not be much use. Ditto if you’re chucking it into an insulated go-cup. 

Water tank empty reminder

With pod coffee machines being all about the convenience, a water tank empty reminder can deliver this. Rather than switching the machine on and it gurgling halfway through brewing your coffee, before spitting out air, a reminder will tell you to fill up your water tank before you press go.

With most water tanks being highly visible and transparent, you’ll probably get used to checking it’s full before beginning. Making this a nice-to-have but not essential.

Different coffee strength

Paying more means you should be able to customise the brew time or strength of your coffee to suit your taste. This is usually a standard feature on Nespresso machines. It’s good if you’re a coffee aficionado but probably overkill if you’re happy with a cup of standard white or black coffee. 

Height-adjustable

If you’d like to enjoy different sizes of coffee (say, espressos and lattes), look out for a height-adjustable spout or drip tray. This delivers you greater flexibility than its static sisters. If the machine fits the maximum cup size that you’re likely to use, this again is a nice-to-have.

Best Overall: DeLonghi Essenza Mini

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DeLonghi Essenza Mini
Quick, convenient, small, customisable and affordable – the DeLonghi Essenza Mini has it all. It provides great tasting coffee in a great-looking machine with no unnecessary extras.
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Quick, convenient, small, customisable and a super affordable price – the DeLonghi Essenza Mini has it all. That’s why we think it’s the best pod coffee machine in Australia. It includes both the coffee machine and the Aeroccino milk frother. This inclusion of the milk frother is what sets it apart from its sister, the Essenza Mini Solo.

It features 2 cup sizes (espresso, 40ml) and lungo (110ml). These pre-set recipes can be customised to your taste by adjusting brew times and shot pressure. It also includes a milk frother for barista-style fluffy foam. The milk can be hot or cold

It takes just 25 seconds to heat up, meaning you get your cup of coffee in no time. It has an eco-mode which activates 3 minutes after the last brew, plus an automatic shutdown after 9 minutes. This helps you avoid accidentally leaving it on, wasting energy. 

Because of its small, compact size, which produces 1 cup of coffee at a time, it can be placed anywhere, including a cluttered kitchen benchtop. This does mean the capsule container can only hold up to 6 empty capsules so will need to be regularly emptied.

Designed for Nespresso coffee capsules, you get access to Nespresso’s wide range of coffee options. 

The other reasons why we love this? DeLonghi tops Canstar Blue’s customer ratings for espresso coffee machines. It scored five-star reviews on key factors including taste quality, reliability, design, ease of cleaning and maintenance, ease of use and overall satisfaction. It’s also been thoroughly tested and reviewed by Choice, Australia’s leading consumer advocacy group.

Plus, Aussies on ProductReview.com.au love it.

Why buy the DeLonghi Essenza Mini

Easy to use – with no digital display, the Essenza Mini is easily operated by intuitive buttons.

Portable – its compact size and light weight means you can take it with you while travelling. If you have a power point, you’ll be able to enjoy great coffee anywhere.

Water reservoir capacity – at 0.6L, it holds enough for a few cups of coffee, especially if you’re only making espresso size cups. This means you don’t need to refill the reservoir each time you use it.

Easy to clean – the plastic exterior is easy to keep clean, and there are no areas for mess to get trapped in. 

Price – at under $200, it’s excellent value for money. We reckon that’s due in part to the fact it has everything you need for an excellent cup of coffee, and nothing you don’t.

Compatible with Nespresso – which means you get access to the widest range of coffee pods currently available in Australia. According to the Nespresso website, there are 24 coffee capsules available, including decaf, and different intensities and flavours. Because it takes standard Nespresso capsules, you’ll also be able to use non-branded alternatives, although check that this won’t void the warranty. 

The not-so-good bits

Small – because of its compact size, the capsule container only holds 6 empties. There’s also no cord storage, meaning if it’s not always plugged in, it could look messy on the side. Plus, the drip tray has a small capacity. Expect frequent emptying of both the capsule container and the drip tray.

Milk frothing – all coffee pod machines seem to struggle to successfully froth milk. Not surprising – they don’t exactly have the hardware of barista coffee machines. Our research suggests that the Essenza Mini is ok at frothing milk, but not great. You won’t get cappuccino-worthy foam. 

In summary 

The DeLonghi Essenza Mini makes the same Espressos and Lungos as other Nespresso machines in the same line – but it’s more compact and more affordable. It has everything you need for a quick, good cup of coffee and nothing you don’t, like Bluetooth connectivity or latte art. 

Also Great: ALDI Expressi Multi Beverage Capsule Machine

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DeLonghi Essenza Mini
The ALDI Expressi Machine is easy to use with an affordable range of coffee capsules. An entry level pod coffee machine, it delivers good, quick cups of coffee. Plus, Aussies love it.
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Perhaps best known for their bargain booze and canned goods, ALDI also makes a surprisingly great pod coffee machine which compares very favourably to our Essenza Mini winner.

The ALDI Expressi Machine features a 19-bar high pressure pump. This is the same pressure you’ll find in Nespresso machines. It reckons it heats up in 20 seconds, 5 seconds quicker than our winner. It has an automatic cleaning function and a 0.8L water tank – 200ml larger than the Essenza Mini.

Which of course means it’s not quite so small and sleek. ALDI calls it a ‘compact and stylish design’. We call it boxy and borderline ugly. Regardless, it features automatic capsule ejection for easy use and an energy efficient auto shut-off, like the Essenza Mini. Again, no digital display – it has 3 buttons to help you choose the right coffee size. 

It’s designed for the Expressi coffee capsule range. Currently, there are 12 options – exactly half of what Nespresso offers. They come in around 37 cents per capsule, compared to Nespresso’s that start at 71 cents. So, the coffee pods are far more affordable, even if there is less choice. 

ALDI is popular with Aussie consumers, coming third in Canstar Blue’s customer ratings for espresso coffee machines. There are also a whopping 900 reviews on ProductReview.com.au which overall give it a very respectful 4 out of 5 stars. Did we mention it was less than $100 to boot? 

Why the ALDI Expressi Multi Beverage Capsule Machine is worth considering

Price: at less than $100, the Expressi Machine is a rock bottom price – the cheapest of all the machines we reviewed. But it doesn’t compromise on quality (looks, maybe). 700 out of the 900 reviews it has on ProductReview.com.au are 4- or 5-star, which backs this up. 

Ease of use – 3 buttons allow you to choose the right size coffee.

19-bar pressure pump – exactly the same as the Essenza Mini. You’re getting the same technology but for a reduced price. 

Water tank – at 0.8L, you can enjoy multiple cups of coffee before having to refill.

Expressi capsules – there might be half the amount of choice as Nespresso, but they’re about half the price too. If you’re looking for choice, but aren’t bothered by fancy flavours like vanilla, Expressi capsules are a great option.

Auto shut-off – a great feature for such a low price. The auto shut-off helps you save energy and avoid accidentally leaving your Expressi Machine on 24/7.

The not-so-good bits

Appearance – simple with straight modern lines, it borders on the boxy – and ugly. It’s not as compact and beautiful to look at as the Essenza Mini.

Expressi capsules – only available at ALDI stores so ideally, you’ll live near one if you own this machine. Plus, they’re not currently being accepted for recycling meaning you’ll be generating a lot of waste. 

Not available online – breaking with Cosier tradition, the ALDI Expressi Machine isn’t available online. You’ll need to pop into your nearest store to pick one up. 

In summary 

The ALDI Expressi Machine is a worthy alternative to the Essenza Mini. Easy to use with an affordable, although slightly more limited, range of coffee capsules to enjoy, it’s an entry level pod coffee machine that delivers you a consistently good, quick cup of coffee. 

The Competition

The market for pod coffee machines is crammed, which means there are lots of good alternatives out there. Here are the machines we liked the look of but didn’t quite make the cut.

DeLonghi Nespresso Lattissima Pro EN750MB

The DeLonghi Nespresso Lattissima Pro EN750MB has all the bells and whistles. Like our ALDI runner-up, it has an auto-clean system to save you time. Like our Essenza Mini winner, it has a milk frother, this time called the ‘Rapid Cappuccino System’ which DeLonghi claims ‘offers best-in-class milk frothing’. One review on ProductReview.com.au backs this up: “It does an absolutely excellent job with frothing the milk”.

Unlike our winner, it features electronic touch controls with a pre-set beverage menu with 6 available beverages plus hot water. So, you’re getting more coffee choice and a clear, easy to read digital display. It heats up fast – around 25 seconds for coffee (the same as our winner) – and its removable water reservoir holds 1.3L – double our winner’s capacity. It also holds 15 used capsules, compared to our winner’s 6. It features the same 19-bar pressure pump as both our winner and our runner-up, plus an automatic shutdown after 9 minutes – the same as our winner.

The payoff? A far bigger price, around $600. But you are getting more – more coffee choice, more water holding capacity, more used capsule space. If you’re not concerned about space or price, the DeLonghi Nespresso Lattissima Pro is worth a go. 

VertuoPlus DeLonghi Titan ENV155T

Another DeLonghi, the VertuoPlus DeLonghi Titan offers 1-button brewing thanks to some smart technology. Once a Nespresso capsule has been inserted, the ENV155T reads the unique barcode and automatically adjusts the machine’s brewing, like the water flow, temperature and infusion time, to showcase the flavours and aromas of the capsule’s blend and size. It spins the capsule up to 7,000 rotations per minute to help achieve this. 

It can produce 4 cup sizes – Espresso (40ml), Gran Lungo (150ml), Mug (230ml) and Alto (414ml). The machine can handle 3 different capsule sizes to do this. 

Like our winner, it takes 25 seconds to heat up, is operated by 1 button rather than a digital display and has an eco-mode and auto shut-off after 9 minutes. Unlike our winner, it offers a larger water tank capacity (a whopping 1.77L) and a larger waste container, holding 14 capsules. It also doesn’t have a milk frother.

All these additional features make a bigger, although still attractive, machine. Due to its increased size, you can move the water tank to fit all size benchtops. 

The downside with the VertuoPlus DeLonghi Titan is that because it scans Nespresso capsules to produce the best taste results, you can’t use non-branded capsules. So, you’re stuck using the expensive Nespresso ones. We also haven’t found any reviews that testify the coffee tastes better than other machines. If you’re a diehard Nespresso fan, this could be the machine for you. 

Caffitaly System S24

The Caffitaly System S24 is an affordable pod coffee machine, similar in price to our ALDI runner-up. It can produce single (30ml) and double (60ml) espressos, which you can top up with the hot water button. It has an auto standby function and descale detection and can adjust to fit different cup heights. Due to its small size, it doesn’t take up much space. It holds 1L of water and 8 used capsules (both bigger than our winner), but only offers 15-bar pressure pump. It also doesn’t have a milk frother, but that’s not a surprise for a machine at this price point. 

The downside is you can only use Caffitaly System Capsules with it. However, these capsules are easily available online and in-store (including Woolworths) and are more affordable than Nespresso ones.  

It’s recommended by Choice, although there are mixed reviews on ProductReview.com.au. We reckon if you want an affordable coffee pod machine, you’re best sticking with the ALDI.

Breville Nespresso Creatista Plus BNE800

This is the most expensive pod coffee machine we looked at. It certainly delivers on looks, looking more like a barista coffee machine than a pod one. It can create 7 coffees and includes a fancy milk frother with 8 texture levels and 11 temperature settings so you can choose how you want your milk. This fully-automatic steam wand also lets you create latte art.

It heats up in just 3 seconds (compare that to the 25 of our winner), can handle 3 different coffee sizes and has the same 19-bar pump pressure. Its water tank capacity is 1.5L (about 3 times the same of our winner) and can hold between 8-12 used capsules. 

It’s loved by Aussies who praise how easy it is to clean, how piping hot the coffee is and how the coffee tastes so good they “don't buy coffee anywhere else anymore”. 

If looks are important to you, you’d like to recreate barista-style coffee at home (complete with designs drawn in the milk) and are happy to spend over $600 on a machine, this is a great choice.

DeLonghi Nespresso Citiz

We think the DeLonghi Nespresso Citiz is an upgrade to our Essenza Mini winner. It’s about double the price, it looks similar and takes up about the same footprint. It also produces 2 cup sizes (Espresso, 40ml and Lungo, 110ml) and includes the Aeroccino milk frother, 19-bar pressure pump, 25-second heat up time and auto standby after 9 minutes. 

Your extra money gets you a larger water tank (1L), a waste container that holds 9-11 used capsules and a steel tray that can be flipped up to make room for taller cups. 

With its larger tank and waste container, the DeLonghi Nespresso Citiz is more convenient than our winner although slightly bigger. It has the same sleek modern look and is popular with Aussies. If convenience is key for you, it may be worth upgrading to this. 

Breville Nespresso Inissia

This is a well-priced pod coffee machine with good consumer reviews. However, it hasn’t been independently tested or reviewed. It also offers basically the same as our winner, but for more money. This is 2 cup sizes, 25 seconds heat-time, automatic power-off after 9 minutes, the Aeroccino milk frother and 19-bar pressure. It does have a slightly bigger water tank (0.7L compared to the Essenza Mini’s 0.6L) and a folding drip tray for taller glasses. It also comes in a larger range of funky colours.

Aussies rate its durability and good looks but we don’t think its higher price offers significantly more than our winner.

The Bottom Line

Pod coffee machines are a brilliant alternative to café coffee. Thanks to using pods filled with the ground coffee of your choice, they all produce good-tasting coffee quickly and easily. They’re high on convenience factor and can be low on price. Especially if you choose a machine that’s compatible with non-branded pods and are conscious of how much these pods can cost. Pay extra and you’ll get a sleek machine that you’ll be proud to show off. 

We reckon the DeLonghi Essenza Mini is Australia’s best pod coffee machine. That’s because it’s a small, good-looking machine that has everything you need for great coffee at a great price. The included Aeroccino milk frother helps deliver barista-worthy foam.

If you’d like to try a machine without parting with too much cash, consider the ALDI Expressi Multi Beverage Capsule Machine. It’s a worthy alternative to the DeLonghi Essenza Mini, coming in at under $100 but with the same 19-bar pressure and auto shut-off feature. It doesn’t look anywhere near as lovely though.

Sarah Idle
Words by Sarah Idle

Sources

1. "Coffee Machines", Choice

2. "Best Pod Coffee Makers From Consumer Reports' Tests", Consumer Reports, August 16, 2019

3. "Espresso Coffee Machines Reviewed", Canstar Blue

4. "Capsule / Coffee Pod Machines", ProductReview.com.au

5. "The Certified Italian Espresso and Cappuccino", Italian Espresso National Institute, p.7