Nothing says good morning like a coffee, and nowadays, most of us can find a first-rate filter and flat white wherever we live or work. But when expectations are high and energy levels low, often the best cup of coffee is the one you brew at home. To make reliable, barista-quality coffee in your own kitchen, you need a few core items: a great coffee-maker, good beans, and the right grinders and accessories.
To help you find the right gear, we sought out highly caffeinated professionals across the U.K. and Europe and asked them about the best equipment for brewing coffee at home. We talked with eight experts, including cafe owners, coffee roasters, and experts in sourcing and training (among them several National Barista and Cup Tasting Competition champions). Below, 11 of their favourite coffee-makers for every type of coffee drinker — from Aeropress lovers to macchiato sippers, coffee nerds and novices alike.
Note: For the best coffee at home, it’s important to consider a few factors alongside your chosen coffee-maker. We’ve written about our favourite grinders over on our U.S. website and have discussed them in our articles about pour-over coffee-makers and automated coffee-makers for U.S. buyers. You can find guidance on other valuable gear, such as scales and kettles, in our guide to the best gifts for coffee lovers.
Best overall coffee maker
The Aeropress is a perennial Strategist favourite and was endorsed by three of our experts. “Probably the go-to brewer for most aspiring home brewers,” says Colin Harmon, owner of Dublin’s 3fe Coffee, four-time Irish Barista Champion and author of What I Know About Running Coffee Shops. “The Aeropress is a cheap, easy-to-use, and dynamic brewer that can brew coffee in many different ways with a multitude of flavour profiles.”
Dan Dunne, Head of Training at London-based coffee company Climpson & Sons, likes that the Aeropress is both unique in its extraction method and versatile in its possibilities. Dunne uses the Aeropress to make filter-style black coffee, and with the right recipes, it’s also possible to make espressolike shots (for Americanos or lattes) or a good base for iced coffee.
Ewelina Kania, general manager of London’s Prufrock Coffee, agrees that the Aeropress is “the most practical coffee-maker ever.” It’s great at home or on the go, she says, as “it’s unbreakable, light, and you can store a grinder inside.” It’s easy to clean and comes with a stack of paper filters, which can be replaced with an eco-friendly metal filter. The original Aeropress comes in one size, suitable for one to two cups of coffee, so it’s easy to store in an office drawer but not intended for a party.
Best automated coffee-maker
If you need to make coffee for a crowd, or if you like the idea of a coffee-maker you can flick on and off, the Wilfa Classic+ is our top pick for automated brewers. It came strongly recommended by five of our experts. These filter coffee-makers are made by the Norwegian-owned company Wilfa and are prized for their simplicity. To make coffee, you simply fill them with the correct ratio of water to grounds, then the machine will brew your coffee with no timer or oversight necessary.
As Ewelina from Prufrock says, it’s “delicious coffee with the switch of a button.” She considers the Wilfa a great option for filter coffee at home or in a small office. “Within five minutes, anyone can do one to ten cups,” she says. “Perfect for someone who is in a rush or someone who just doesn’t want to spend time hand-brewing coffee.” She adds that “an adjustable flow brewing cone with a shutoff valve allows even extraction” and that the machine includes a cleaning indicator and a hotplate. Colin from 3fe also picks this model as a top-choice coffee-maker, emphasising that it’s great for busy parents. “There are better brewers out there with more stable temps, better build quality and more even extraction,” he admits, “but bang for buck, it’s hard to argue with the Wilfa. It’s probably the brewer I use the most. It’s ideal for anyone who has young kids at home and just needs a quick, user-friendly solution without any fuss.”
Dan from Climpson & Sons adds that the Wilfa is the Climpson & Sons’ coffee brewer of choice for home and office use because “it delivers consistent, delicious coffee and looks great.” He also compliments its user-friendly features, like a manual stopper that prevents coffee dripping on the hotplate. The machine brews up to one litre of coffee and requires standard paper filters.
Best (less expensive) automated coffee-maker
If you’d like to keep your budget to £50, one of our experts pointed us to the Aromaboy Filter Coffee Machine. This compact, simple filter coffee-maker — which is made by the German coffee giant Melitta — is designed for a small kitchen. Although it can’t claim the same quality or consistency as the Wilfa Classic+, it does the job and looks cute on the countertop. It uses paper filters and makes two cups of coffee.
Best pour-over (drip) coffee-maker
If you’re looking for a no-fuss cup of coffee, Celeste Wong — a barista, coffee/lifestyle blogger and café consultant (also known as @the_girl_in_the_cafe) — recommends this pour-over setup from Oxo. “I think a filter coffee is the most satisfying coffee to make and drink in the morning,” says Celeste. Celeste likes the Oxo because it’s so straightforward: it has pre-marked measurements for water and coffee, works with a normal kettle, and doesn’t need to be watched over.
“I often use this when I’m in a rush. It means I can do other things to get ready in the morning and come back to a hot, freshly brewed cup of coffee.” Although Celeste gives the Oxo top marks for price, efficiency, and convenience, she notes it’s best suited for one person and isn’t particularly chic. “It’s a lazier way to make coffee, but it does the job!” We’re already big fans at The Strategist — we’ve written about this coffee-maker in our This Thing’s Incredible column, and we’ve recommended other products from the Oxo Good Grips range.
Best espresso machine
This espresso machine is made by the U.K.-based, Breville-owned company Sage Appliances. It’s the most expensive item recommended but comes strongly recommended by Colin from 3fe and Dan from Climpson & Sons. It’s small enough to fit on the counter but powerful enough to deliver high-quality espresso: it heats up in three seconds, ensures an ideal water temperature and has an interactive LCD interface.
According to Dan, Sage offers “the best ‘budget’ espresso machines on the market” and that they perform fantastically compared with other domestic espresso machines. He particularly likes the powerful steam wand, which is excellent at texturing milk. For Colin, “What makes [the machine] more enticing is that it has a pretty decent grinder built into it, so you don’t need to fork out any more money or counter space in your kitchen. It’s incredibly intuitive to use and is a really tidy design to boot.”
This could be a great investment for households that want an all-in-one, bean-to-cup espresso setup — indeed, this is the only coffee-maker on this list that doesn’t require a separate grinder. However, if you don’t want to spend so much, Sage does offer an entry-level espresso machine model called the Duo Temp Pro (£380). It offers some of the same specifications as the Barista Pro but loses the inbuilt conical burr grinder, the fast heat-up time and the LCD interface.
Best (less expensive) espresso machine
If you’re looking for a less expensive home espresso option, the 9Barista comes strongly recommended by Dan from Climpson & Sons. It’s a stovetop coffee-maker for espresso, invented by a jet engineer, and just introduced to the market via Kickstarter. “It’s innovative, aesthetically pleasing, and has revolutionised the old-school [Bialetti] Moka Pot,” says Dan, comparing the machine to the traditional stovetop coffee method. “Where the Moka Pot arguably produces watery, burnt coffee, the 9Barista performs like an actual espresso machine.” The name hints at how the machine works: “It can produce nine bars of pressure like a commercial-grade espresso machine,” says Dan. “This might not mean much; however, pressure provides that beautiful body and crema.”
The 9Barista also ensures that the water is kept at the right temperature — so it’s a more foolproof stovetop method than eyeing the hob and listening for a gurgle. Although it’s not cheap, the 9Barista offers a less expensive method for espresso, and with no need for electricity. At 18 centimeters tall, it’s also a space saver: a great size for people with small kitchens. It’s made of brass and can be used on all hobs (including induction and, apparently, camping stoves). It makes one double espresso at a time.
According to Marisa Crocetta, the director of London’s iconic coffee supply shop Algerian Coffee Stores, if you’re looking to invest in a new French press, you can’t beat the U.K. kitchenware supplier Grunwerg. “Our Grunwerg Café Stal Thermal Wall cafetières are a little more expensive than your regular cafetières,” she notes, “but the double thermal wall keeps your coffee nice and hot for longer.”
Unlike most French presses, she says, you can make a big pot without fretting about your second cup going cold. With its classic stainless steel design, the Cafe Stal is also a clean-lined, sturdy alternative to the ubiquitous Bodum French press — and there are shiny or matte finishes to suit all tastes. The cafetières come in a variety of sizes, up to eight cups, for dinner parties or solo sippers. “They’re also dishwasher safe,” says Marisa, “which is handy for people with busy lifestyles.”
Best (less expensive) cafetière
For a more affordable cafetière, Colin from 3fe recommends this glass model from Timemore, a Shanghai-based coffee equipment company. It is built in the same style as the classic Bodum French press but adds a clever design tweak: a filter in the spout as well as in the plunger. According to Celeste from @the_girl_in_the_cafe, there are only three factors that set French presses apart: size, look, and the quality of the mesh filter. Accordingly, Timemore promises that its dual-filter system provides extra filtration for a smoother, sediment-free cup of coffee. Their French press also has a nonslip rubber base. It makes enough for two to four cups of coffee.
Best stovetop coffee-maker
For a more classic stovetop coffee, Dave Loughton — a member of the sales team at Algerian Coffee Stores — recommended this coffee-maker from the well-known Italian brand Ilsa. (We’ve recommended one of Ilsa’s stovetop coffee-makers before.)
According to Dave, Ilsa’s stainless steel products are sturdy, elegant, and long-lasting. He likes the versatility of this particular model: It comes with a gasket reducer that, unlike most stovetop coffee-makers, allows you to adjust the amount of coffee you want to make. “So if you have a six-cup machine, pop in the reducer, add half the amount of water, and make half the amount of coffee,” he says. “It’s a great way not to waste and saves you from buying various sizes, too.”
As well as being adaptable, the Turbo Express comes in a large range of sizes (from one to nine cups). Although this coffee-maker is not compatible with induction hobs, Ilsa produces similar models that work across all cooktops.
Best coffee-maker for camping
For hikers, campers and outdoorsy coffee enthusiasts, this coffee-maker may be even more portable than the Aeropress. The Snow Peak Collapsible Coffee Dripper was recommended by Anne Lunell, co-founder of Sweden’s Koppi Coffee Roasters, which supplies many top-notch U.K. cafes. The Snow Peak brews coffee in a similar style to the Oxo: a hybrid of manual pour-over and drip.
“This is the perfect coffee brewer when you are on the go … perfect for a person who travels a lot or simply loves spending time in nature, making coffee.” True to its name, the dripper makes pour-over style drip coffee. It requires a little patience but very little gear — just coffee, water, and paper filters (Anne uses Hario V60 filters). The dripper is made of a lightweight stainless steel, and it folds flat, so it can easily slide into a backpack. It’s made by the Strategist-approved Japanese outdoor equipment company Snow Peak, so, as Anne says, “you can expect high quality.” We’ve recommended Snow Peak products in our other coffee-making articles — their double-walled mug is another favourite among caffeinated campers.
Best coffee-maker for design lovers
If you’re design-minded, you might want a coffee-maker that looks as beautiful as its coffee tastes. Anne from Koppi recommends the Tias Kettle. “This carefully designed stainless steel kettle for boiled coffee (or kokekaffe as it is called in Scandinavia) is a piece of art.”
The Tias kettle is the result of a collaboration between a Norwegian coffee roaster and industrial designer. It’s a remake of the classic coffee kettle, but with modern tweaks: an inbuilt sieve to catch coffee grounds, a readable scale for coffee and water on the kettle interior, and a base that works with all stovetops (including induction). According to Anne, the kettle is easy to use and easy to love: “a great gift for someone that wants to nourish old traditions and, at the same time, have an excellent, rich cup of coffee.” Looks great on the counter, too.
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