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In this guide
A café coffee is, undeniably, an absolute treat. From the thick, fluffy milk, complete with cute drawing, to the fact you haven’t had to make it yourself. But there are many reasons why you might decide to give it up. Whatever that reason (and being sick of yet another mason jar light is totally legit), there is an alternative.
Meet the best pod coffee machine. It quickly delivers great-tasting coffee, for a fraction of the price, while being easy to use and clean. Though it’s worth remembering that without the fancy hardware of home espresso machines, you’re not going to quite get barista-worthy results with a pod coffee machine. Here are Australia’s best coffee pod machines, chosen from hours of research, including real Aussie customer insights.
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?
The best pod coffee machine for most
Choose this if
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.
What we love
Easy to use
With no digital display, the Essenza Mini is easily operated by intuitive buttons.
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.
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
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.
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.
Quick, convenient, small, customisable and an 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? It’s been thoroughly tested and reviewed by CHOICE and Aussies on ProductReview.com.au love it.
Related: The Best Coffee Machine
The best value pod coffee machine
Choose this if
Eye-catching award-winning Italian styling, a small footprint and easy to use, the Lavazza A Modo Mio Jolie ticks a lot of boxes. With its 1-cup capacity, we reckon it’s perfect for small households or kitchens. Did we mention it comes in around $100?
What we love
We love the rounded award-winning Italian design and reckon it’s a worthy addition to any benchtop.
It measures just 12.4cm wide, making it great for small kitchens.
Adjustable cup rack height
It can hold both small and large cups to meet all your coffee needs.
Easy to use
With just 1 backlit button to press, it couldn't be easier to use.
Lavazza reckons it’ll make your coffee in around 25 seconds.
Even at this price point, it has an auto shut-off safety feature.
It has a RRP around $100 making it very affordable.
Loved by Aussies
It gets almost 4.5 stars on ProductReview.com.au.
The not so good bits
Ideal for making 1 person their morning coffee, but anyone else is going to miss out.
Small used capsule drawer
It’ll hold 4-5 used pods.
10-bar pump pressure
This is the lowest we've seen and might put off any true coffee geeks (although if that's you, maybe consider an espresso machine rather than a pod coffee one).
Even the name of the Lavazza A Modo Mio Jolie sounds so delightfully Italian. We trust their pod coffee machine already. The smallest and quietest of the A Modo Mio range, cute styling combines with a compact footprint to look great on any bench top. Its looks have turned heads; it’s a multi design award winner.
It measures just 12.4cm wide, with a depth of 33cm and a height of 21cm. It weighs a tiny 2.5kg. This makes it an ideal pick for small kitchens where space is limited. Because it’s so compact, it can only produce 1 cup / shot at a time. Although you can adjust the cup rack height to handle different cup sizes. It's packing 10-bar pump pressure which is the lowest we've seen. Check out our Important features to consider for why we reckon this isn't a deal-breaker.
Again because of its size, it has a smallish water tank (0.6L) and can hold 4 or 5 used capsules before it needs to be emptied. But for its ease of use (simply press the lit button), looks, compactness and price (Lavazza has a RRP around $100), we reckon it’s Australia's best budget pod coffee machine.
Related: The Best Reusable Coffee Cup
The best looking pod coffee machine
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If you want a coffee pod machine, that doesn’t really look like a coffee pod machine, meet the Breville Nespresso Creatista Plus. Sleek and compact with 5 colour options, it’s perfect for any modern kitchen. It has a fully automatic steam wand and offers plenty of customisation, including 3 cup sizes and multiple milk options.
What we love
Sleek, compact and available in 5 colours, it’s a good looking pod coffee machine.
3 cup sizes
So whether you’re after an espresso or a latte, it can handle it. The pop-out cup tray gives your small espresso cup a place to sit.
Fully automatic steam wand
For that cafe-quality latte art, at home.
With 8 texture levels and 11 temperature settings, you can have your milk, your way.
Colour digital display
For easy use. It’ll guide you through different recipes and help you personalise them to your tastes.
Quick heat up
It heats up in just 3 seconds so you’ll have your coffee in no time.
Large water tank capacity
At 1.5L, you won’t be constantly refilling.
Used capsule capacity
You can make 12 coffees before needing to empty it.
Auto clean function
Once you’re done with the automatic steam wand, it’ll purge itself for easy clean up.
Loved by Aussies
It gets almost 4.5 stars from over 150 happy Aussies. It’s even a ProductReview.com.au 2019 and 2020 award winner.
Breville was founded in Sydney in 1932 and although it’s since expanded throughout the world, it’s still HQ’ed right here.
The not so good bits
Look, we get it. There can be some serious snobbery around pod coffee machines. If you want a pod coffee machine you can be proud of, meet the Breville Nespresso Creatista Plus. The most expensive pod coffee machine we looked at, it delivers on looks, looking more like a barista coffee machine than a pod one.
It offers a lot of choice. There are 3 programmable cup sizes (25ml, 40ml and 110ml). It has a pop-out cup shelf for your smallest cup to hang out on. Plus the milk frother offers 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. Use the digital display to be guided through different coffee recipes, personalising them to your tastes.
The other great things about it are how it heats up in just 3 seconds (compare that to the 25 of our DeLonghi Essenza Mini top pick) and the same 19-bar pump pressure as our top pick. Its water tank capacity is 1.5L (about 3 times the size of the DeLonghi Essenza Mini) and it can hold up to 12 used capsules. When the automatic steam wand is done, it automatically cleans itself.
It’s loved by Aussies. It gets almost 4.5 stars on ProductReview.com.au from over 150 reviews, where it’s been an award winner in 2019 and 2020. Aussies 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”.
Related: The Best Coffee Grinder
Others worth considering
The DeLonghi Nespresso Lattissima Pro EN750MB has all the bells and whistles. Like our ALDI pick (see below), it has an auto-clean system to save you time. Like our Essenza Mini top pick, 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 the Essenza Mini, 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 the Essenza Mini) – and its removable water reservoir holds 1.3L – double the Essenza Mini's capacity. It also holds 15 used capsules, compared to the Essenza Mini's 6. Also like the Essenza Mini, it has 19-bar pressure pump plus an automatic shutdown after 9 minutes.
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.
Perhaps best known for their bargain booze and canned goods, ALDI also makes a surprisingly great pod coffee machine: the ALDI Expressi Machine. Its features include a 19-bar high pressure pump (the same pressure you’ll find in Nespresso machines), a quick heat up (20 seconds), automatic cleaning function and a 0.8L water tank.
The downside? Its looks. 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. There’s no digital display – instead 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.
The ALDI Expressi Machine is popular with Aussie consumers, There’s a whopping around 950 reviews on ProductReview.com.au which overall give it a very respectful 4 out of 5 stars. Did we mention it’s less than $100 to boot?
The Grinders Little Collins Capsule Machine is an affordable pod coffee machine, at around $130. It can produce single (30ml) and double / long (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 DeLonghi Essenza Mini top pick), 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 Grinders Caffitaly compatible capsules with it. However, these capsules are easily available online and in-store (including Woolworths) and are more affordable than Nespresso ones. It’s been reviewed by CHOICE, and gets around 3.5 stars on ProductReview.com.au.
We think the DeLonghi Nespresso Citiz is an upgrade to our Essenza Mini top pick. 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 the Essenza Mini 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.
The DeLonghi Nespresso Inissia 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 Essenza Mini, 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 the Essenza Mini.
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 Lavazza A Modo Mio Jolie. Not only does it look great, it’s compact, making it ideal for small kitchens and households. It’ll turn out 1 cup of coffee in around 25 seconds and will set you back around $100.
On the other end of the price scale is the Breville Nespresso Creatista Plus. It comes in at around $850, the most expensive we reviewed. For your investment, you’re getting a sleek, compact pod coffee machine. It has a fully automatic steam wand for creating latte art at home. Once you’ve finished using it, it has an auto clean function. As well as being easy clean, it’s easy to use too thanks to its colour digital display. With 3 cup sizes and multiple milk options, it’ll help you create your perfect cuppa. It’s loved by Aussies on ProductReview.com.au - it’s a 2019 and 2020 award winner.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How does a pod coffee machine work?
Very easily! Simply pop in a coffee pod (also called a capsule), press a button and let the machine do the work. The machine pierces the capsule and hot water flows through. It then automatically brews and pours your espresso. Some fancier (read: more expensive) models froth the milk for you too.
Are pod coffee machines worth buying?
A pod coffee machine might be perfect for you. Let’s look at the pros and cons.
Pod coffee machines are great because:
- They’re quick and easy to use.
- There’s a huge range of coffee pods available, with plenty of flavour and roast options.
- They’re easy clean.
- They’re usually compact, which means they fit well in all kitchen sizes.
They’re not-so-great because:
- The coffee flavour isn’t as good as from other types of coffee machines.
- Normally the pods are 1-time use, which means they get chucked into landfill which isn’t great for the environment.
- Pods are more expensive than freshly ground coffee (although they’re still cheaper in the long run compared to cafe coffee).
How much do pods cost?
It depends. Branded ones (like Nespresso) are most expensive. Supermarket own brands are least expensive. But you might find your machine isn’t compatible with pods that aren't made by your machine’s manufacturer. Although you can give them a go, if something goes wrong, you’ll have voided your warranty.
CHOICE reckons pods can cost as much as $100/kg. In comparison, ground coffee or coffee beans from the supermarket can cost around $12/kg. So, that’s a huge price increase. In fact, CHOICE has worked out that if you drink 1 standard coffee a day, using 1 standard coffee pod, “you could be adding an average cost of about $182 per year on top of the cost of your machine”. That’s based on the average cost per pod of 50c.
Of course, if you drink 1 coffee a day from your local cafe (at an average cost of $4) that’s a whopping $1,460 a year. Which will probably cover a fancy machine and your pods.
What’s the difference between a pod coffee machine and an automatic / manual / semi automatic espresso coffee machine?
A pod coffee machine is the simplest and easiest type of coffee machine to use. It’s very hands-off. Insert a pod, press a button and the machine will do the rest. The payoff? Less great tasting coffee.
An automatic coffee machine is similar to a pod coffee machine in terms of how easy it is to use. But rather than capsules, you use freshly ground coffee. Then put your mug under the spout and press a button to get a certain shot size / coffee type. Because they’re fully automatic, they’re normally expensive, heavy and large.
A manual espresso coffee machine is the closest you’ll get to an at-home barista experience. Grind your beans, put them into the group head (the metal attachment which stores the coffee) and set the machine off. You’ll then need to cut the flow of coffee yourself. Manual espresso machines are good for coffee connoisseurs but take a while to learn how to use properly.
A semi automatic coffee machine is similar to a manual. The only difference is that it automatically cuts off the coffee flow for you. Again, there’s a learning process with a semi automatic.
Are pods bad for the environment?
In short: they can be.
Let’s start with what they’re made from. Most pods are made from aluminium and plastic. Aluminum uses a lot of energy to manufacture it. Nine times more than steel, to be exact. So you have an energy-sucking material to begin with.
After their 1 use, you normally throw the pod out. It takes between 150-500 years to break down in landfill. Some (but not all) pod manufacturers do offer a recycling scheme, like Nespresso. You drop your used pods off in store or at a collection point or post them. We can’t find any data that shows how many pods Nespresso has actually recycled in Australia.
Some pod coffee brands offer compostable, biodegradable or recyclable pods. They’re mainly compatible with Nespresso machines though. Beware, compostable pods might only be recycled by industrial composters, not your home compost bin. ‘Recyclable’ plastic pods might actually be too small to be commercially recycled. Which means they’ll fall through the sorting sieve and end up in landfill anyway.
You can also get reusable and refillable stainless steel coffee capsules. These allow you to fill them with the ground coffee of your choice. After use, wash them and use them again (and again). This filling and cleaning process does reduce the convenience of a pod coffee machine. (Which is probably the biggest reason you’d buy one in the first place.)
If you’re really into sustainability and protecting the environment, you should opt for reusable and refillable coffee capsules or skip a pod coffee machine.
- "Coffee Machines", CHOICE
- "Best Pod Coffee Makers From Consumer Reports' Tests", Consumer Reports, August 16, 2019
- "Espresso Coffee Machines Reviewed", Canstar Blue
- "Capsule / Coffee Pod Machines", ProductReview.com.au
- "The Certified Italian Espresso and Cappuccino", Italian Espresso National Institute, p.7
Or how to quit your daily café-coffee habit (by enjoying it at home instead).
Or how to keep the fresh goodness in your kitchen protected, 24/7.