From Bean to Cup

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From Bean to Cup 

Kitchen coffee machines! When it comes to making coffee, there are an array of different methods for brewing the good stuff. You have french press, Aeropress, stovetop, siphon, coffee cone – everyone has their preference. Many of us go for something a little easier, faster and with a superior taste. That is the humble coffee machine. You can display your coffee machine proudly on the counter top, or tuck it away behind a roll down metal door. As a bespoke kitchen designer we have even made larder units for them.

The main coffee making countries are based in South America including Colombia, Costa Rica, Gautemala and Nicaragua. The climate is perfect for producing a quality coffee bean crop and these countries are renowned for making the best coffee in the world. The process is relatively simple – First you plant, harvest, dry and process the cherries to get the bean (which at this stage is a lot lighter in colour than you have probably seen in Costa). Once the beans have been dried and milled, they are exported and roasted – it’s unlikely roasting would happen before exportation as it’s the roasting process that defines the taste. 

Now you have your roasted beans you have some options – if you are using one of the coffee brewing methods above, you would either have bought ground coffee from your local supermarket or you have purchased roasted beans that you are to put in a grinder before each coffee is brewed. An alternative and popular method at this stage is to pop your beans into a machine that grinds, adds water (and a whole host of lovely things) for you to get your cup of coffee in less than a minute. If your budget can’t quite stretch to a commericial style coffee machine, we have some alternatives that you might want to look into. 

Types of Coffee Maker

Filter Coffee Machines


Filter coffee machines are simple to use and also relatively cheap. The low price doesn’t mean they can’t make excellent coffee, but they lack advanced features and can only make black coffee.

A filter machine works by dripping water slowly through ground coffee into a cup or jug. They are often available for less than £50 (although more expensive models may cost a bit more) making them a great choice for coffee-lovers on a tight budget.

An advantage of filter coffee machines is they can brew for more people at the same time. Many models can make up to 12 cups of coffee in one cycle, making them ideal for large families or parties.


  • Excellent value for money
  • Great for large families
  • Can use any ground coffee beans


  • Filter machines can only produce black coffee
  • Coffee isn’t freshly ground

Capsule or Pod Coffee Machines


Pod coffee machines are convenient for quick coffee with a variety of types. You just need to slot a capsule into the machine, click start and wait for your coffee to be ready.

Each pod contains hermetically sealed roasted or ground coffee beans. The machines can only make coffee from these pods – you can’t use fresh beans or pre-ground coffee.

The biggest downside to capsule coffee machines is you are limited to pods made by the machine’s manufacturer. The pods are also an expensive way to buy coffee. Even so, if you just want to make the occasional coffee for one or two people then a pod machine might be a good option. They aren’t the most cost effective type of coffee maker though.


  • The machines provide great value
  • Pods are very convenient
  • Can buy a variety of coffee types


  • Limited to pods made by manufacturer
  • Pods are expensive in the long-run
  • Coffee isn’t freshly ground

Traditional Espresso Machines


For making espresso using a variety of pre-ground coffees, espresso machines are probably the best option.

They are cheaper than bean-to-cup machines (because they can’t grind fresh coffee beans) and are also less bulky due to the lack of a grinder. Unlike pod machines, you can use ground coffee from any brand.

One of the advantages of an espresso machine is that they allow you to customise your coffee. This is achieved through changing the amount of water and coffee. While this is great for coffee-enthusiasts, if you just want a quick coffee a capsule machine is less hassle.

A downside is espresso machines only use pre-ground coffee. The coffee isn’t as fresh as espresso made using a bean-to-cup maker.


  • Cheaper than bean-to-cup
  • Use ground coffee from any brand
  • Allow for coffee customisation


  • Not as convenient as capsule machines
  • Coffee isn’t freshly ground

Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machines


Bean-to-cup coffee machines are for the real coffee-enthusiast. These machines grind coffee beans whenever you need it, so your espresso will always be fresh. Many also come with a milk frothing function for producing cappuccino or latte.

Aside from making the freshest coffee, they are usually simple to use. Many come with a variety of customisation options, such as grinding coarseness, water temperature and coffee strength. Most also allow you to use ground coffee if you run out of beans or want a decaf.

The main downside to a bean-to-cup coffee machine is the price. While there are some excellent models available for less than £300, they can cost up to £1500 for the most advanced models. You don’t need to spend this much to get a great cup of espresso though – many top-rated machines are in the £300-£600 range.


  • The freshest coffee
  • Extensive customisation options
  • Can often make cappuccino and latte


  • More expensive than other types
  • Can be bulky machines


While the coffee machine market can initially seem overwhelming, understanding the different types goes a long way to simplifying the buying process. Hopefully this blog post has clarified the pros and cons of the different types of coffee machines.

That’s why it’s vital to read reviews and do your research before you make a decision.

If you’re struggling to decide which type of machine to buy, here’s a quick summary:

  • Need a simple machine for brewing large amounts of coffee? Choose a filter machine.
  • Want convenience but don’t mind paying for pods and being limited to coffee from one brand? Get a capsule machine.
  • Love espresso but don’t want to pay for a bean-to-cup machine? Get a traditional espresso machine.
  • Love espresso and want the freshest taste? Buy a bean-to-cup.
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