The ultimate guide to
Enjoying a rich cappuccino is one of life’s little treats, and it’s no longer restricted to coffee shops – the availability of compact and affordable machines mean you can indulge at home every day. If you’re looking to recreate that perfect cup of coffee, but really don’t know where to start, we’ll help you make sense of the technical stuff as we spill the beans on coffee machines.
Know your coffees
Not sure of the difference between a cappuccino and a latte? Don’t know your macchiato from your mocha? Read on – coffee shop menus will be a mystery no longer!
- Short, strong, intense and black – plain and simple.
- Espresso doppio
- A double shot of espresso.
- Espresso con panna
- Espresso topped with whipped cream.
- Literally ‘restricted’. A shorter extraction makes a smaller, thicker, intense espresso.
- Espresso with just a dash of steamed milk.
- Café au lait
- Similar to a latte, but made with strong coffee rather than espresso for a less intense flavour. About half coffee, half milk.
- Equal parts espresso, steamed, frothed milk, sprinkled with chocolate.
- Espresso diluted with extra hot water after brewing.
- Espresso with hot chocolate and steamed, frothed milk.
- Like a coffee milkshake – coffee, sugar and a little water are mixed, poured over ice and topped up with milk.
- A longer extraction – the same amount of ground coffee as espresso with twice as much water.
- A third espresso with two thirds steamed, hot milk.
Gone are the complicated, ‘need a degree to work it’ machines of old – many of the models nowadays require you to just add water and press a button to create the perfect crema-topped coffee. Here we guide you through the various types on the market.
For black coffee
Not really a machine, but if you’re new to proper coffee, or only make it occasionally, this is a great place to start. Also known as a French press, mix hot water and ground coffee, leave to brew, and as you push down the plunger, a wire filter separates the ground coffee from the water.
Grind & Brew/ Bean to Cup
For black coffee and espresso
If complete convenience and optimum freshness is your goal, these are the machines for you. A premium option for those in pursuit of the ultimate home coffee experience, they grind whole beans on demand, then brew your drink while the fragrant oils are at their finest, automatically dispensing and tamping the correct amount of grinds.
Espresso machine with milk frother
For espresso, cappuccino, macchiato and latte
Rich, intense espresso is the starting point for cappuccino and latte, and these larger machines have an option to make longer drinks, usually with a built-in milk steamer/frother, or an additional machine to warm and froth the milk.
For espresso and lungo
Quick, clean and easy to use, coffee is sealed into a capsule or pod for longer-lasting freshness – just drop it into the machine and press go – high bar pressure pierces the capsule to extract the coffee. A time-saving, convenient option, there are no messy grounds to clean up – Nespresso machines, for example, are absolutely foolproof.
Working with a Thermoblock system, water is heated to around 85-92°C, the correct temperature for brewing coffee without scalding, and a high-pressure bar pump forces water through the coffee to draw out the full character and rich aroma one cup at a time.
For espresso, cappuccino and latte
Water is boiled in a chamber, and when pressure and steam are built up, it forces the water through the coffee. The steam is also used for frothing milk.
For black coffee
Water drips through a filter filled with ground coffee, into a pot or carafe below. Some models have hotplates to keep your coffee or cups warm, and filters that are permanent and just need to be rinsed, or paper, which you simply throw away after use. Some newer models take filter pods – a bit like a teabag – these are clean in use as the ground coffee is neatly contained. Good for large quantities of coffee.
For black coffee and espresso
Available in traditional stove-top models or convenient electric versions, ground coffee is held in one part, with the required amount of water in the other. As water is heated, it is repeatedly forced up through the ground coffee, and then filtered coffee drips into the base. This brewing process is slower than with a coffee machine, but the rich aromas make it worth the wait.
- Stovetop Coffee Percolator
- The retro good looks of our polished stainless steel, kettle-style percolator with soft-touch handle come straight out of a 1950s diner
- Lagostina Stove Top Espresso Maker
- Stove top espresso pot. Suitable for gas, electric, solid plate, ceramic and halogen hobs.