Coffee pod machines offer you café-quality coffee at the press of a button: no coffee grinding, no worrying about coffee roast dates and no steep learning curve.
However, it can be hard to know which model to purchase – especially when so many coffee capsule machines seem to have similar names but come from different manufacturers. And then there’s the issue of capsule compatibility and sustainability.
To help you purchase the best coffee pod machine for your household, we’ve reviewed some of the most popular coffee capsule machines on the market.
The Best Coffee Pod Machines in Australia in 2020
Our top five coffee pod machines in Australia are:
- Breville Nespresso Creatista Plus
- Philips L’OR Barista
- De’Longhi Nespresso Lattissima Touch
- De’Longhi Essenza Mini
- Breville CitiZ&Milk
Read on to find out more about these machines, along with why the ALDI Expressi Wave and ALDI Expressi Cube didn’t make the list.
How we picked
I’ve worked in the coffee industry since 2015, and during that time, I’ve trialled numerous coffee machines and coffee pod machines, both Nespresso pod machines and those from other manufacturers.
However, these recommendations don’t just reflect my personal and professional experiences. I’ve also turned to third party data, including Canstar Blue, ProductReview.com.au, Amazon reviews, speciality coffee reviews and a wide range of blogs (which I’ve linked to, where relevant).
Any coffee pod machines that received significant numbers of negative reviews, had reliability issues or seemed challenging to use well was cut from the list – no matter how good it sounded on paper.
What to look for
Looking for a Nespresso machine? It’s not that simple.
Nespresso might design coffee pod machines, but they don’t build them. Instead, they provide the design to a manufacturer – mainly De’Longhi and Breville – who then puts their own creative mark on the machine’s casing and cosmetics. These machines are normally co-branded unless they’re then sold in a Nespresso shop.
A De’Longhi and Breville Vertuo should, in theory, perform in exactly the same way. The only differences will be the appearance, warranty, customer service and where the company is based.
The warranty should be your biggest concern. All De’Longhi Nespresso machines come with a two-year warranty. Breville ones come with either a one- or two-year warranty, depending on the model. We have only recommended Breville models with the full two-year warranty.
Assuming the warranty is equal, the decision comes down to your personal preferences. If you want to support an Australian company, consider the Breville model. If you prefer the appearance of De’Longhi’s version, purchase that instead.
However, there are certain models that you just can’t get from competitors. The Lattissima range is a De’Longhi exclusive while the Creatista range is a Breville exclusive.
And then, of course, there are all the other companies who have designed their own capsule machine, such as Philips, Aldi and Kmart.
Some capsule machines are compatible with a wide variety of coffee capsules or pods, while others are only compatible with own-brand ones. The greater compatibility your machine has, the more choice you have about the coffee you drink, from its flavours through to its price and sustainability.
Since Nespresso cornered the coffee pod market early on, most up-and-coming capsule brands aim to be compatible with their machines. For this reason, our top five recommendations are either co-branded Nespresso or Nespresso-compatible.
Where there are questions surrounding compatibility, we have also drawn attention to this.
There are two main sustainability issues when it comes to coffee capsules: the environmental impact and the social and living conditions of the coffee farmers.
Recycling and Environmental Sustainability
Coffee pods have a bad name for environmental sustainability, but this is not entirely fair.
If you purchase compostable capsules and dispose of them correctly, they can actually have less of an environmental footprint than espresso or filter. In a study by the University of Bristol, only instant coffee came out better.
However, there are limited options for compostable capsules. Those that are on the market often require commercial composting, where the material reaches much higher temperatures than is possible in a home composting bin. And compostable capsules that are incorrectly disposed of are just as bad for the environment as regular capsules.
As for recyclable coffee pods, you cannot add these to your regular household recycling. Fortunately, most major capsule manufacturers, such as Nespresso, have a recycling scheme which is free to use. However, you will still need to post the used capsules off to them or drop them into store.
We have only recommended machines that are compatible with recyclable capsules.
From low prices to child slavery, the coffee industry often makes headlines for its poor sustainability. If you want to purchase more ethical coffee, you may want to look for certification such as Fairtrade, UTZ and Rainforest Alliance.
Fairtrade International works with cooperatives of smallholder farmers, who are often the most economically disadvantaged, to alleviate poverty and improve living conditions.
UTZ and Rainforest Alliance recently merged; traditionally, however, UTZ focused on supporting larger coffee estates to increase their profits while Rainforest Alliance’s objectives were to tackle deforestation, soil erosion and other environmental issues.
Smaller speciality brands that sell their own-brand capsules may also have their own non-certified sustainability criteria, so it may be worth asking about this or checking their websites.
All of our top picks are compatible with certified coffee pods.
Part of the reason we love our lattes, cappuccinos and flat whites is because of the steamed milk – but it’s not easy to prepare good milk at home. Everything from the milk texture to temperature affects the flavour and mouthfeel. For example, milk should ideally be steamed at 55°C to 65°C to ensure it’s sweet and appropriately frothy.
If you’re an Americano, long black or espresso drinker, this feature may not be important to you. But if you like your milky coffee drinks, you should prioritise this.
All of our top five either have an in-built steamer or are bundled with one.
Water Tank Capacity
The water tank capacity correlates with how many drinks you can prepare before you need to refill it. However, it will also depend on the drinks you’re making. A double-shot espresso will naturally require more water than a single-shot, while ristrettos typically require less water than espresso and lungos.
If you’re a one-coffee-a-day person, a large water tank might not be as important to you compared to if you and your large family all drink multiple coffees before 10am.
Where a capsule machine has a particularly large or small water tank, we’ve drawn attention to it in our detailed reviews.
Not all coffee machines are available everywhere, so consider which Australian stores you’ll be able to pick up your model in. Our preference is the coffee machine selection at Myer (see here) since they commonly seem to have the most in stock.
If you’ve got one nearby, HN is a close runner up (though we’re not such a fan of the in-store service) – the Harvey Norman coffee machine selection is wide, with good availability of most major brands.
The Best Coffee Pod Machine You Can Buy in Australia in 2020
Top Pick: Breville Nespresso Creatista Plus
At $799, the 19-bar Breville Nespresso Creatista Plus is a high-end machine that delivers exceptional capsule coffee. It is made of stainless steel and comes in silver different colour options: black (pictured above), grey, white and plain stainless steel.
Thanks to its café-style steam wand, you could almost mistake this model for an espresso machine. In fact, it’s the milk steaming settings that makes the Breville Nespresso Creatista Plus our top pick.
It has 8 texture levels, 11 milk temperatures and 3 cup sizes, so it doesn’t matter if you want a flat white, Australian-style cappuccino, Italian-style cappuccino or something that’s of your own creation – this capsule machine can deliver it.
You can also set the water hardness to get more accurate reminders about when to change the filter. The machine typically comes with an easy-to-use water hardness strip test, and if you need another, Breville sells them for $3.49. Alternatively, you can pick them up cheaply in DIY stores or order them from Amazon.
Although this might sound like a lot of things to programme in, the digital display is intuitive and easy to use. You flick through the different options until you find the right one for you. In fact, users praise the simplicity of use along with the easy drink customisation.
It has a 1.5L water tank and can hold 12 used capsules before you need to empty the container. Meanwhile, the warmup time is a short three seconds thanks to the ThermoJet heating element, and the steam wand has an auto-clean function. The warranty is two years long.
Capsule machines have a reputation for convenience, and the Breville Nespresso Creatista Plus does not disappoint when it comes to ease of use – but it also offers significant levels of drink customisation. For passionate coffee lovers, we believe it’s the best capsule machine on the market. Availability is a bit patchy, but you can currently buy it from Myer here.
Runner Up: Philips L’OR Barista
The 19-bar, $249 Philips L’OR Barista is an affordable option that stands out for its dual-shot technology. You can brew one shot in 30 seconds or two in under 60. There’s room for two cups on the drip tray, meaning you can either serve two one-shot drinks at a time or one extra-intense double-shot coffee.
Users loved the fast, 25-second warm-up time; sleek appearance and semi-integrated milk frother. You won’t need an extra cable to turn your espresso into a latte, cappuccino or even espresso macchiato. We also like the mixture of hot and cold recipes, making this ideal for summer as well as winter.
The 1L water tank contains enough water for eight drinks. The machine is also easy to clean, thanks to the descale indicator and dishwasher-safe parts, and comes with a two-year guarantee.
Another thing that stood out was Philips’ commitment to environmental sustainability, from the manual made of recycled paper to the less than 0.5W standby power usage.
As for the L’OR coffee capsules, these are hit and miss among users: some loved them, others found they weren’t to their taste. The good news about this machine, however, is that it is compatible with most major pods, including Nespresso, Moccona, Lavazza, Coles and Woolworths.
L’OR pods are UTZ-certified and can be sent off to TerraCycle to be recycled free.
The Philips L’OR Barista might not have all the features of the Breville Nespresso Creatista Plus, but its double-shot capabilities and extensive pod capability make it an option worth considering. If making two drinks at once is important to you, or you’re looking for something cheaper than the Creatista, we have no hesitation in recommending this model.
De’Longhi Nespresso Lattissima Touch
The 19-bar, $449 De’Longhi Nespresso Lattissima Touch is a De’Longhi and Nespresso exclusive – you won’t be able to buy a Lattissima from other brands.
While Breville prioritised customisability in their exclusive and highest-end Nespresso machine, De’Longhi have opted for enhanced automation.
You can make six drinks automatically: espresso, long, “milkylatte”, cappuccino, latte macchiato and steamed milk. Long refers to a lungo rather than a long black: with a lungo, more water is fed through the ground coffee, which pulls out different flavours and aromas from the beans. A long black, however, is an espresso diluted with water, meaning it still has a typical espresso flavour, but the mouthfeel becomes less intense.
All these drinks can be created with the touch of a button since the Lattissima Touch automatically steams and pours the milk for you. You can adjust the frothiness of the milk with a dial, but you cannot change the temperature.
Despite the name, the Lattissima Touch does not feature a touchscreen. It’s named for its ergonomic “soft touch” buttons instead.
It has a 0.9L water container and heats up in just 25 seconds. This is on par with our runner-up, the Philips L’OR Barista, but slower than the 3-second warmup time of our top pick, the Breville Nespresso Creatista Plus.
For a premium-range product, we would have liked it to have been made of stainless steel rather than plastic. However, we’re a fan of the auto-descaling programme that will help you keep it clean.
Users generally like how easy it is to use. However, some find the milk compartment hard to clean, while others report that the temperature of the coffee is sometimes too cool for their liking.
Some also mentioned difficulties in getting frothy-enough coffee with full-fat milk. The manual also recommends using skimmed or semi-skimmed milk if you want more froth. In contrast, most coffee shops use full-fat milk for increased creaminess and flavour.
The De’Longhi Nespresso Lattissima Touch is an all-in-one coffee pod machine and frother that is highly user-friendly. If you don’t want to spend more than $500 and are attached to the De’Longhi brand, this could be a good choice for you. Otherwise, we feel that the Breville Nespresso Creatista Plus offers a lot more choice over your drink.
De’Longhi Essenza Mini
Both De’Longhi and Breville both sell an Essenza Mini at identical price points and with a similar two-year warranty. We’ve opted for the De’Longhi Essenza Mini over the Breville purely for its cute and cheerful design. The Breville model is blocky and only available in black, while the De’Longhi version comes in red, silver and black.
On retail at $158.99, the 19-bar Essenza Mini is a budget-friendly capsule machine that takes up very little worktop space. Users praise the small size and ease of use, although some complain about the noise levels.
On the other hand, the water tank only holds a tiny 0.6L. If you’re a heavy user, this could quickly become irritating.
It can make espresso or lungo and comes bundled with an Aeroccino milk frother so you can make cappuccinos, lattes and flat whites. You can also reprogramme the volume of your espresso and lungo, which may be useful if you’re normally more of a ristretto drinker.
A low-energy mode automatically kicks in after 3 minutes, while it will turn itself off altogether after 9 minutes. It heats up in a standard 25 seconds.
While it has few features, the Essenza Mini is a cheap-and-cheerful budget option. If you just want a no-frills model that will perform relatively well and don’t plan to drink too much coffee, this may be a good option for you.
The $399 Breville CitiZ & Milk is very similar to the Essenza Mini. The biggest differences – after the price – are the noise and the size.
The Essenza Mini is marginally quieter than the CitiZ & Milk, but significantly smaller. The CitiZ & Milk comes with a 1L water tank, meaning it can go almost twice as long in between refills.
We’ve ranked the CitiZ & Milk below the Essenza Mini because we’re not convinced that the larger water container is worth paying an extra $130 for. However, this is highly subjective. If you prefer lungos over espressos, or plan to make morning coffees for a family of five, you might disagree.
And there is no doubt that the CitiZ & Milk is a well-performing entry-level coffee pod machine. Users love its reliability and performance, as well as the quality of the steamed milk created by the Aeroccino3 frother.
Still, if you’re willing to spend around $400 on a capsule coffee machine, we recommend looking at the Philips L’OR Barista, De’Longhi Nespresso Lattissima Touch or even the more expensive Breville Nespresso Creatista Plus. We believe they all offer better value for money.
ALDI Expressi Wave
The $69.99 ALDI Expressi Wave has a 1L water tank and comes in blue, grey, champagne, copper and more – when you can buy it. Unfortunately, you can only purchase it from Aldi’s website, where it’s out of stock more often than not.
It has one-button operation: simply insert the pod and press the right button for your ideal drink size. There is no built-in milk steaming or frothing option, although you can purchase a frother from Aldi for $29.99.
One of the ALDI Expressi’s biggest selling points is its affordable coffee pods, which retail at significantly less than Nespresso’s. However, they are only compatible with K-Fee capsules, which means you won’t be able to use Nespresso or other competitor ones. This significantly narrows down your choice of beverages – if you’ve got an artisan coffee place you love and they sell their own capsules, the chances are they won’t fit in this coffee pod machine.
And, while ALDI does have a capsule recycling scheme, they have currently paused it due to being overwhelmed by the quantity of capsules sent to them. They have not provided any suggestions for alternative recycling options.
Sydney-based company Pod Star claims they have made a refillable Expressi-compatible pod. We would check the ALDI Expressi warranty carefully before deciding whether to use them, however: it may void it.
Users were frustrated with the inconsistent coffee temperature, while several reported that the machine failed to puncture pods. On the other hand, many praised ALDI’s returns system, and it comes with a two-year warranty.
Given the lack of capsule variety and the design flaws, we do not believe it offers good value for money. For a high-performing budget capsule machine that will also steam your milk, try the De’Longhi Essenza Mini or our runner-up pick, the Philips L’OR Barista.
ALDI Expressi Cube
The $59.99 ALDI Expressi Cube comes in blue, red, black, white and more – but you’ll have the same issues purchasing this machine as you will the Expressi Wave. Ultimately, if you want to buy ALDI, your choice of pod machine will probably be down to luck more than personal preference.
It has a 0.8 water tank, making it smaller than the Expressi Wave, and a markedly different design. Depending on your perspective, the Expressi Cube could look sleek and powerful or boxy and outdated. We suspect this might also depend on the colour you get.
Again, it comes with a two-year warranty, has one-button operation, doesn’t have milk steaming or frothing and is difficult to find compatible capsules for.
However, in contrast with the Expressi Wave, it is noisier and tends to leak. If you really want to buy an ALDI Expressi machine, we recommend the Wave over the Cube. Alternatively, take a look at some of our other picks for machines that operate well and give you a wider choice of capsules.
Other Budget Capsule Machines Under $100
No-frills capsule machines at low prices can be an appealing option. However, we find that many of them have poor capsule compatibility, extraction control and recycling options, in addition to breaking down more quickly than we would like.
We do not recommend any coffee pod machine that has poor compatibility. If you do not like the taste of the capsules, or the brand stops manufacturing the ones you like, your machine will become useless and you will be forced to purchase a new one.
Meanwhile, the control over the extraction process can be the difference between delicious and watery, sour or bitter coffee – even when you’re using the exact same coffee capsule and water.
These low-budget machines also almost never have a milk frother, meaning you either have to buy it separately or go without hot, steamed milk in your coffee.
How Is Capsule Coffee Different from Espresso, Filter and Stovetop?
Although coffee pod machines are increasingly ubiquitous, they’re not the only home coffee machine you can buy. Which device is right for your household will depend on your preferred coffee flavour, budget and willingness to get hands-on.
Capsule Coffee vs Espresso Machines
Capsule coffee is designed to recreate the coffee you can get from your espresso machine but without the large price tag. And while coffee pod machines are increasing in price and quality, there’s no denying that a quality espresso machine will cost more – and that’s before you purchased the grinder. Take a look to my guide to espresso coffee machines here if you want more information on how to pick one.
There’s also a steep learning curve involved with espresso machines. If you’re new to making coffee at home, you might get better results with capsules. That being said, if you’re an experienced espresso maker (or willing to put the effort into learning how to do it), it is possible to get better quality coffee with an espresso machine.
Using an espresso machine will also give you access to an unlimited variety of coffee beans.
If you think that espresso is right for you, take a look at my previous review of Australia’s best espresso machines.
Capsule Coffee vs Drip Coffee
While capsule coffee is designed to emulate espresso and create a rich, strong taste with crema and a bold mouthfeel, drip coffee tastes distinctly different. It’s thinner and can, with high-quality coffees, allow you to taste more complex flavours.
The lack of crema results from the reduced pressure. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing: crema tastes pretty bitter.
Drip coffee is best drunk black. If you’re a fan of lattes or cappuccinos, we recommend sticking to capsule coffee or espresso machines.
If you decide drip is right for you, you can either purchase a batch coffee machine, which will allow you to make lots of coffee at once, or a manual brewer such as the Hario V60, Kalita Wave or Chemex. While batch brews are simple to use, manual brewers are tricky and only recommended for coffee aficionados with lots of patience.
You’ll also need to either purchase a grinder or buy pre-ground. If you go down the drip coffee route, take a look at my review of the best grinders available in Australia.
Capsule Coffee vs Plunger Coffee
The French press and AeroPress will get you something in between drip coffee and espresso. The equipment is cheap and easy to use, although you will need to buy a grinder. As for the drink, it will be relatively rich and intense but won’t have crema. And like drip coffee, it’s not overly suited to milk.
Capsule Coffee vs Stovetop Coffee
The Bialetti Moka pot was, prior to the invention of the capsule machine, the next best thing to espresso at home. It’s cheaper than a capsule machine and will never break down. However, you won’t quite get the same rich taste and it can be challenging to brew it well. Overly bitter coffee can be a common issue.
Coffee Pod Machine Warranties
The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) protects consumers’ rights and enforces automatic guarantees. However, it is also widely misunderstood, with many consumers believing it provides them with greater rights than is actually true.
One common myth is that the ACL provides an automatic guarantee for up to two years. This is not correct: the two-year timeframe is specifically for mobile phones bought under a 24-month contract.
There is no mention of capsule or coffee machines in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s guide to electricals and white goods under the ACL. We have only recommended capsule machines with a minimum two-year warranty. However, it is important to confirm the length when purchasing, as companies’ policies may change over time.
We also recommend checking exactly what is covered under the warranty. While some only extend to parts and labour, others cover replacements.
Additionally, should the manufacturer or retailer decide the fault was user-created or exacerbated in some way by incorrect use (e.g. using incompatible pods or not regularly descaling the machine), they may argue that they do not have to replace or repair the machine for free.
And although the manufacturer can only charge for repairs that are due to misuse, there may be fees for home collection and/or transport if, for example, it is not returned to the point of purchase.
The Bottom Line: Which Coffee Pod Machine Should You Buy?
Either of our top picks (Breville Nespresso Creatista Plus and Philips L’OR Barista) will make sure your morning coffee is quick, convenient and delicious. We think they are the two best coffee pod machines Australia has to offer this year.
Best coffee capsule machine for customisable drinks: Breville Nespresso Creatista Plus
Best coffee capsule machine for making multiple drinks: Philips L’OR Barista