(If you’re in a hurry and just want to know our pick of the best bean to cup coffee machines, we recommend the Gaggia Anime Prestige for most home kitchens.)
If you love barista-quality coffee but don’t have the time or patience to learn the necessary skills, there is another option.
If you’re in a position to invest in a premium machine, there are coffee makers that will handle every aspect of the brewing process.
From grinding the beans to adding a perfect milk finish, they’ll take care of the whole job.
In this article I’m going to review five of the best bean to cup coffee machines on the market today.
I’ve also included some important information that will help you pick the right one for your own kitchen.
(Want to learn more about home coffee brewing? Take a look through my guide for other brewing methods, buying guides and more.)
In this article I’m going to be reviewing the following coffee makers:
- Gaggia Anima Prestige – *** TOP PICK ***
- DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3300
- Gaggia Brera
- Breville Barista Touch BES880BSS
- Jura E8
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Bean to Cup Basics
As these machines require quite an investment, it’s worth doing your homework carefully before settling on one.
I want to start by covering some of the most important buying considerations. After that I’ll walk you through five of the most popular options.
How much will it cost?
Let’s deal with the elephant in the room right away. These things are typically very expensive compared to the average coffee machine.
Or at least, the ones worth getting are.
The best models combine amazing grinding with exceptional espresso extraction, and great frothing for milk drinks. Oh, and they do all the hard work for you once you’ve pushed a button!
It’s very hard to achieve all this without building a premium machine, so it’s something you need to be aware of.
Prices do vary, but expect to pay between $500 and $1000 for a high quality machine in this category.
Assuming you’re still in the market for a bean cup coffee maker, think very hard about the features you’re paying for in each case.
Will you really use them in your own kitchen? Can you save a little money by doing without?
You can save some cash by not going with the biggest brands as well. When it comes to the likes of Melitta and DeLonghi, you’re paying quite a bit for the sheer prestige of the manufacturer.
There’s another way to look at cost though.
These machines require a big up-front investment, but don’t underestimate how quickly a $4 Starbucks adds up over a 220+ working day year!
If you’re in a position to take a longer view of things, these machines will almost certainly save you money in the long run.
Do you really need one?
These machines are tailor-made for people who want to be able to to push a few buttons, and in return receive a cup of coffee that’s every bit as good as the one they’d get from their local coffee shop.
What makes them so good though?
For a start, the machine grinds the whole beans directly before brewing them. That preserves much of the bean’s flavor profile and aroma. You also get to control aspects like brew strength and volume.
Next, the espresso is extracted at immense pressure, and at an optimal temperature. That gives you the best possible shot.
Finally, the machine will add whatever frothy milk finish you’d like to complete your drink with.
Consider the size of your kitchen carefully though.
These things tend to be quite imposing, and are more than capable of occupying the entire depth of your countertop. They have to do a lot of jobs in one unit, do them very well, and make you feel like you’re getting value for money.
You also have to make sure the water reservoir is large enough for your household’s consumption needs. No one wants to be filling the thing up all the time!
How much maintenance do they require?
When I invest in a machine like this, I accept that a certain amount of cleaning comes as part of the deal.
There’s no point spending all this money, after all, if you’re not going to give the machine the servicing it needs to pay for itself in the long run.
You should be willing to give a high-end bean to cup machine a good clean at least once as week. It’s also a good idea to purge the steam wand after each use as well. Just get in the habit and you’ll find yourself doing it without thinking.
Some of these machines are easier to take care of than others, so read the description and reviews carefully. The very best models include an auto-clean function which is incredibly useful.
How often will you use it?
I’ve got the answer for you right here.
More than you would have with just about any other coffee machine.
You will find yourself dipping into this sort of luxury coffee far more often than you think.
If you want to actively reduce your caffeine content – perhaps by drinking fewer, higher-quality servings – I’ve got bad news for you. You will almost certainly find yourself indulging more.
Beyond that cautionary note, you should also consider whether the very occasional latte or cappuccino, however good it may be, is worth the money you’ll need to front for this sort of coffee maker.
Do you need filtered water?
Many of these machines come with a pre-installed water filter, however I find them lacking more often than not.
If you’re going to invest in a bean to cup machine, treat yourself to a good water filter at the same time.
It can be as simple as a filter jug, but even this step is an essential one.
Not only will your espresso taste better, you’ll have less mineral build-up forming in the interior of the machine.
That means less cleaning, less descaling and your machine will keep chugging away for much longer as a result.
Are premium coffee beans essential?
I’m pretty confident that any bean you put through a dedicated bean to cup machine will taste better than just about any other method.
As with all things, the end result is only as good as the ingredients you add at the start.
If you’re getting serious enough about your coffee to get a machine like this though, you’re probably already buying the good stuff.
It’s not all about paying a premium, however.
Whole beans are typically less expensive to buy than pre-ground. As you’ll be buying a machine with a built-in grinder, you should be able to use that saving to buy much better beans.
It’s worth mentioning as well that dark roasted beans work much better with these sorts of built-in grinders. They’re drier, whereas oily beans have a tendency to clog up the grinder.
Most bean to cup machines will come with all the settings you need.
If you think you might like to experiment with volume and brew strength over time though, look for one that lets you tweak and store the settings.
Bean To Cup Machine Reviews
That was a lot to take in I know!
To help you cut straight through to the best options, I’ve reviewed five of the most popular coffee machines in this category.
I’ve tried to include the best across a wide variety of budgets, so there should be the right machine for you here.
(When you’re done here, my guide to brewing coffee at home contains plenty more tutorials and buying tips!)
DeLonghi’s Magnifica machine (also known as the ESAM3300) has long been the go-to option for those looking for a mid-range coffee bean machine that still makes outstanding espresso.
There are 13 different grind settings to choose from and they cover most of the bases.
The extra-coarse setting is great for French Press, while the finest settings make for a really impressive espresso, for example.
The Magnifica features a steel burr grinder. I’d rather have ceramic, but it does a very good job of preparing the beans.
This machine actually has two separate chambers for the grounds. That means you can carry on using your favorite pre-ground brands, and speed up the process even more.
The ESAM3300 also has a pretty impressive manual frother. The fact that it’s manual means you will have to prepare the froth yourself if you’re making lattes and cappuccinos. It’s pretty easy to use though and you’ll improve quickly with practice.
The design of the Magnifica is very much in keeping with the kind of machine you’ll find in coffee shops. A pair of dials allows you to tweak things like the brewing temperature and coffee strength. A row of buttons above these are there to select single or dual shot size.
It’s not difficult to use by any means – and you may even like the more industrial aesthetic – but just be aware that there isn’t an LED screen on the Magnifica.
- An unusually quiet machine at all stages of operation.
- Easy going when it comes to cleaning, with little build-up of residue inside.
- A tried and tested machine that’s proved a hit with owners.
- Outstanding espresso extraction at this price point.
- Takes a little bit of practice to get a consistently good milk froth going.
- I would have liked the water reservoir to be just a little larger.
- No quick way of seeing how many beans you have remaining in the hopper.
- Fiddly to refill if you situate it beneath a kitchen cabinet.
I consider Gaggia’s Brera to be one of the best espresso machines the company’s ever released.
It’s got a real focus on speed as well, which is really useful when you’re making lots of drinks for guests. It heats up fast, brews quickly while still producing exceptional espresso, and shifts to milk steaming very quickly.
Obviously the coffee’s the thing that matters here, but I’ve also always loved the look of the Brera.
It’s a super-clean design, but without looking overbearingly industrial (like so many other machines of this type). The combination of minimal push buttons and a clear LED means it’s very easy to get the brew setup just how you want it.
It’s really easy to get at the water reservoir and dreg box too, with both “popping” out of the front of the machine. That helps to keep the overall, real-world footprint of the machine down considerably.
This Brera’s another machine that features a bypass doser, which means you can carry on using pre-ground coffee.
If you do go down the whole bean route though – something I definitely recommend – I’m impressed that Gaggia’s opted for ceramic burrs in its grinders, rather than steel.
These are much better at handling the heat generated during the grinding process, which is kinder to the beans and better for your drink!
The Brera also has some primitive intelligence for improving drinks over time. If you use a certain type of bean consistently, the machine will delicately tweak the grind performance to accommodate them.
As with DeLonghi’s Magnifica, you have to control the wand manually but it produces very impressive foams for both cappuccinos and lattes. I don’t think even newcomers will struggle to get a good froth going right away.
- One of the more affordable bean to cup coffee machines.
- Pre-infusion prepares the beans very nicely for extraction.
- Simple but clear controls.
- Extremely durable and likely to provide years of good service.
- Grind settings are very easy to adjust.
- A very small water reservoir compared to other popular machines.
- Quite wide in design, so check carefully if you have limited countertop space to play with.
- Steam wand requires frequent cleaning to prevent accumulation of dried milk.
- Low dispenser, so check the height of your cups first.
Breville’s one of my favorite espresso machine manufacturers.
Even their smaller machines pack a mean cup of coffee, and the Barista Touch has long been popular for those wanting to flex their brewing muscles a little.
The touchscreen is generously sized, with all of the options very clearly – and cleanly – laid out.
You simply select your grind options, brew strength and size, brewing temperature, and milk finish.
You can also save up to eight presets on the machine and even name them. My wife and I both like very similar drinks prepared with some subtle differences. It’s easy to just add our name to each twist on the established formula.
It’s got a really good automatic frother as well, which produces surprisingly good micro foam for smooth lattes.
As for the brewing itself, the machine gets off to a pretty fast start. It only takes a few seconds for the Barista Touch to reach extraction temperature, and you’ll need more than that just to set your brew up!
The BES880BSS also features high-end PID technology, which controls the temperature precisely for the best possible extraction.
The burr grinder doesn’t do anything too special but the results are good enough. It also features a special doser which adds just the right amount of coffee for each brew as it’s needed.
- Clear color display makes set up very simple.
- A great selection of presets for all kinds of different coffee drinks.
- Customization options let you explore and develop your brewing skills.
- Milk frother stays cleaner than many other machines, thanks to an auto-purge.
- Rear-mounted water reservoir can be problematic in smaller kitchens.
- Grinder can make a bit of a mess when preparing certain drinks.
- The dispenser sits low, so make sure your favorite cups fit before purchasing.
- You may have to play around with the presets a little to get the best possible drink.
Gaggia has a second, very popular machine in the bean to cup category.
The Anima Prestige is more of a premium option, but I really like the automatic milk frother – it’s a truly hands-off machine.
That frother makes consistently great cappuccinos, macchiatos and lattes, and there’s a dedicated reservoir from which the machine draws the milk.
That offers an extra layer of convenience, and it’s detachable too. That’s very useful as it means you can pop it in the refrigerator and avoid wasting milk.
Much as I like the look of the Brera, the Anima Prestige elevates things further in my opinion. The display screen is extremely clear, and it’s very easy to program.
On that subject, you have the option to make use of presets that cover a wide range of drinks. Alternatively, you can tweak those settings to make your own custom drinks.
As with other machines in this review, you can also take advantage of the bypass doser if you want to keep using some of your personal pre-ground picks.
You won’t have a huge selection of brewing temperatures to play with, but there are three in total: 177.5, 132.9 or 184.5 degrees. That’s probably going to be enough for the home coffee enthusiast to experiment with though.
Like the Brera, the Anima features a very high quality burr grinder. Again, it adjusts itself to suit the beans you use consistently over time.
- Separate milk reservoir can be detached for cold storage.
- Some of the best espresso you can get from an automatic machine.
- Truly hands-off, without compromising on quality.
- Clear controls and a really stylish, compact design.
- Really poor instruction manual, although this can be remedied with internet guides.
- Coffee grounds drawer pops out easily which can cause a bit of a mess.
- Milk could be just a little bit hotter. Not a deal-breaker for me, but it’s a niggle.
- Frothing options aren’t exactly “one-button”. You have to work through a few steps to input the milk settings.
Once you start exploring Jura machines, you’re entering the real high-end of the market.
With that said, they haven’t become this successful without really delivering on performance.
The E8 is one of the more popular Jura machines. It makes whatever you want from it: espresso, cappuccinos, lattes, flat whites, macchiatos and many more. This is your ultimate robotic home barista.
There are twelve different espresso drink options provided as presets, which I think is going to be more than enough for most home kitchens.
You can also adjust the intensity level of each brew. This is useful if you have household members who like stronger or weaker versions of any given drink.
The brewing quality of the machine is quite phenomenal, and makes use of something Jura calls a “Pulse Extraction Process”.
This optimizes all aspects of the extraction process for each drink type. The results in terms of aroma and flavor are genuinely stunning.
If the thought of frothing your own milk doesn’t appeal, the E8 is a truly automatic machine. Once you’ve chosen your settings, you just let it do the whole job from start to finish.
As you’ve probably already guessed, I really, really, love the E8 but this kind of quality and convenience comes at quite the premium. Take a deep breath before looking this one up…
- The broadest range of drinks and settings options.
- Delivers outstanding coffee drinks and offers the most convenience for achieving them.
- State of the art brewing technology produces extremely consistent drinks.
- Jura’s machines have a good reputation for durability and long life.
- All that quality comes at quite a price. This is high-end stuff, but worth it if your budget can take the hit.
- Requires ongoing maintenance and it’s recommended that you use Jura’s official cleaning products. This is a machine that requires long-term investment.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore the Jura E8. If budget isn’t a concern for you, this machine is going to tick every box going when it comes bean to cup brewing.
You don’t have to spend that much money to get a top tier experience, however.
For that reason, my personal pick is the Gaggia Anima Prestige.
The espresso it makes is excellent, and everything about the design is focused on convenience and overall quality.
It’s a true bean to cup machine, taking care of each stage of the process for you. I love it!
Click here to find out more about the machine, and read more reviews.