Retro-design junkies who adore espresso, filter fans with an eye for the futuristic, students with a taste for Italian luxury, obsessives who want to roast their own beans... There are all sorts of coffee-lovers, and for each one there's a perfect machine. David Baker tests the best on the market

Bodum Santos

Bodum Santos

This electric integrated filter machine uses vacuum pressure to make up to 12 cups in eight minutes.

Pros The Santos has its own easy-to-wash plastic mesh so messy paper filters (which can trap flavoursome oils) are a thing of the past. And because the unit is closed, you don't lose any delicious aromas while the coffee is brewing.

Cons Filter coffee contains more caffeine than espresso.

Looks Stylish – available in orange or blue translucent plastic. It has already won a number of design awards.

Value for money Not bad considering how good it looks.

Price £89.99/1.5l; £49.99/75cl, Bodum, 020 7240 9176

Siemens Porsche filter

A handsome electric filter machine in brushed stainless steel, the Siemens Porsche makes two to eight cups (for a single cup, try the Bodum Filtre Belgique, £6.99) and incorporates a separate water jug.

Pros The strength of the coffee can be adjusted according to your tastes. While the vacuum pot keeps the coffee nice and hot.

Cons As with all filter machines, coffee drips will eventually stain the hotplate if you don't wipe them off.

Looks Handsome and ergonomic.

Value for money Not cheap, but the adjustable-strength feature makes this worth paying for.

Price £99, John Lewis department stores, 08456 049 049

Swissmar Alpenröst

One for real coffee bores, this roasting machine allows you to control the whole process from bean to cup. You buy green beans (there are plenty of suppliers) and roast them to the flavour you want.

Pros Unlike most domestic roasters which force hot air through the beans, the Alpenröst uses a drum to give slower roasting times and a mellower fuller flavour.

Cons You'll need time (and a lot of beans) to get it right, or it'll end up in the attic with that ice-cream maker.

Looks Practical.

Value for money If you use it a lot, fine. If you don't, it's an expensive toy.

Price £325, Drury Tea & Coffee Company, 020 7740 1100

Gaggia Tebe

There are no frills, just a reservoir, water heater and an electric pump that delivers 12 to 15 bars of pressure – essential for good espresso with foamy crema – in this model from the inventors of espresso machines. Powerful enough for a dinner party's worth of espressos, and it will still have enough steam to foam the milk.

Pros About as professional as home espresso machines get.

Cons You'll need to get the grind, amount and density of coffee right.

Looks Clunky but unobtrusive. Comes in grey, red, two blues and green.

Value for money About the price you should be paying if you're serious about your coffee.

Price £250, Gaggia, 01422 330 295

Dualit Grinder

For the freshest possible coffee, you'll need a grinder. These divide into the cheap – which batter rather than crush the beans – and the good, like this Dualit model, which grinds the beans between two metal plates.

Pros A nice-sized hopper for holding the beans. The grind can be set to fine (for espresso), medium (for filter) and coarse (for cafetières).

Cons Aficionados prefer even more grind settings.

Looks Manages to cram a lot into a compact design.

Value for money You could pay less but you would get worse, and you would still need to find somewhere to store your beans.

Price £59.50, John Lewis, as before


Ask anyone at Starbucks, foaming milk is pretty hit-and-miss. In theory, with this battery-operated whisk, you just heat some milk in a cup and whisk it for about 10 seconds.

Pros Dispenses with all the fuss about steam pressure, metal jugs and the right kind of milk. And it's even endorsed by Lavazza.

Cons Doesn't always work, especially with low-fat milk. And if you're not careful, you'll have milk wallpaper.

Looks It's a whisk.

Value for money At this price you can't go wrong. Plus, it's does milkshakes.

Price £17.50 (with chocolate sprinkler),, 01359 233 210

Gaggia Automat Nespresso

The fully automatic espresso machine uses "pods" containing exactly the right amount of coffee, perfectly ground and tamped (pressed). Select your blend (a carousel holds a selection) and press the button. Comes with a set of cups and 40 capsules.

Pros Every cup is as good as the last. Makes good foamy milk and cleans and descales itself.

Cons Not cheap – pods are 21p each and you end up with a bin full of plastic waste.

Looks As hi-tech as you'd expect.

Value for money There are cheaper ways of making good espresso.

Price £475, John Lewis, as before

La Pavoni Europiccola

The gold standard for cool-looking espresso machines. La Pavoni's design dates back to 1961 and is the purists' choice.

Pros Unlike automatic machines which pump the water through the coffee at a constant speed, the lever allows you to manage the process manually to get it just right.

Cons Using it properly isn't easy. This is a skill you'll have to learn if you want to get the best out of the machine.

Looks Unmatched for that loft apartment.

Value for money Fine engineering, but you pay a premium for the looks.

Price £360 (brass model, £450), Whittard of Chelsea, 020 7819 6400

Bialetti Moka Express

The coffee machine Italians use. Available in six sizes, from one to 18 cups, these simple stove-top pots force water up from the bottom chamber, through the coffee grinds and into the top.

Pros The coffee is almost always great. Best used on a gas stove so you can vary the heat (slow to begin, a burst at the end). For office use, Bialetti makes an electric version.

Cons Easy to forget it's on the stove.

Looks A classic.

Value for money Excellent. But you'll need to change the rubber ring every so often, or buy a new pot.

Price £15 to £60, from most good coffee shops

Grunwerg Cafetière

This thermal-walled cafetière is a cross between a traditional coffee press and a vacuum flask.

Pros Keeps your coffee nice and hot while you work or as the after-dinner conversation drags on.

Cons Cafetière coffee is unpredictable. The fact that the grounds sit in the water for so long can make brackish coffee with a high caffeine content if you're not careful.

Looks Looks like an elegant, classic coffee pot.

Value for money Won't break the bank, but ordinary (admittedly less pretty) cafetières are much cheaper.

Price £35 (three-cup); £45 (six), King's of Hagley,