The Insider: Ease the daily grind by making your own coffee

Starting the day with a good strong espresso is considered a basic human right by many caffeine addicts. But even if you can afford the prices at high-street cafés, you may still find yourself gulping your shot from a soggy cardboard cup, or burning your mouth on an over-heated latte.

Espresso machines come in a range of styles and prices, some surprisingly affordable and convenient, others more complicated, but also more authentic. Making your own coffee should save you money, plus, you can have a cuppa before you've even left the house.

"A coffee maker might seem like an expensive piece of equipment, but making a decent coffee at home can save you a small fortune compared to buying it on the high street," says Martyn Hocking, editor of Which? magazine. "It can cost as little as 8p a cup to make coffee at home, so even if you buy just one espresso each morning on the way to work, ditching the habit and investing in a machine for £100 could save you more than £200 a year."

Unlike coffee from a cafetière, espresso machines use pressured hot water to extract flavour from the coffee grains. With the best machines, the result is a much creamier, thicker drink, ideally with a crown of golden foam, known as "crema". With the addition of hot milk or froth, an espresso becomes a latte or a cappuccino.

Perhaps the most important decision to make before you buy is practical: how much kitchen space are you prepared to give up? The most authentic machines are large, heavy and noisy, but they do produce amazing coffee.

Generally, an electric heater brings the water to boiling point under pressure, then forces it through the coffee. In most models, the steam can also be diverted into a jet for frothing milk for cappuccinos. If that sounds like too much trouble, you could opt for a pump-driven machine. They use an electric pump, and heat only the exact amount of water needed for each cup. They are generally smaller, more affordable, and work faster.

If you are picky about your coffee blends, you need to consider the type of coffee your machine will accept. The most time-consuming option is using ground coffee, which gives you the option of choosing – and even grinding – the beans yourself. If you are less picky, most of the machines will also give you the option of using "pods" that take most of the mess out of the operation (although they tend to be more expensive than using ground coffee). The cheaper machines tend to only use pods. You may find that your machine only accepts one brand of pod, so make sure you like that blend before you buy.

Of the 19 machines tested by Which?'s experts, the Delonghi EC330 got the highest score, with a rating of 76 per cent. It costs £100, and produced the best coffee. At the other end of the scale, Which? gave a score of only 25 per cent to the Cookworks Espresso Maker. At £18, the price reflects the quality.

Where to buy

If you know what you're looking for, the best prices are almost always found online. Sites such as, whichcompare. and can help you find the best deal for the model you want.

If you'd rather shop on the high street, retailers such as Argos, Comet and John Lewis all have a good range of coffee machines. You can also order from these retailers online too. And make sure you factor in any additional delivery charges to the final price.

Five questions to ask...

Do you have enough room?

Compared to an ordinary cafetière, coffee machines take up a lot of space. If you plan to store it in a cupboard, check how easy it is to move.

Ground or pre-packed coffee?

Many of the cheaper machines only take coffee pods, which are less messy but more expensive in the long run than ground.

Does it have a milk frother?

If you like cappuccinos as much as espressos, make sure the model you buy has a built-in milk frother.

How impatient are you?

Generally, the cheaper machines work more quickly, but offer a lower level of taste.

How many cups do you need?

If you are likely to need only the odd cup, consider one of the smaller machines, which need refilling with water more often. If you have a big family of coffee addicts to serve each morning, you might want to look at a model with a large built-in tank.

The Insider is written in conjunction with the consumer group Which?. For more information visit or get a guide to 'best buy' espresso machines in Which? Money, on sale at Sainsbury's for £2.99. To get three issues of Which? magazine for £3, call 01992 822800 and quote INADVICE

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

    £600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

    The benefits of being in Recruitment at SThree...

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

    Test Analyst - UAT - Credit Risk

    £280 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Test Analyst, Edinburgh, Credit Ris...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

    Day In a Page

    Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

    The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

    What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
    Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

    Finding the names for America’s shame

    The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
    Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

    Inside a church for Born Again Christians

    As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
    Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
    Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

    Incredible survival story of David Tovey

    Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little