At no time in history has the UK’s love for a freshly brewed cup of coffee been greater. There’s barely a city centre road that has escaped the pavement being invaded by tables and and chairs outside a minimalist café. Even the big chains like Costa and Starbucks are nearing saturation point, with outlets in nearly every decent sized town up and down the country.
It’s not just the café culture that has exploded into life, though, as a nation we have started to see ourselves as budding baristas, witch sales of coffee machines on the incline again for the first time in decades. More and more commonly, you’ll see your neighbours and friends presenting you with an impressive beverage, often from freshly ground beans as these machines now aren’t limited to producing with pre-ground filter coffee. They boast grinding technology that makes easy work of turning the humble coffee bean into a hot drink in barely two minutes, in simple to use pre-programmed cycles. Some machines are even getting to the point where they’re able to self clean too, something which has put people off in the past.
Here, Lizzy shows us how to beat some of the common mistakes people make that let coffee machine owners down:
It can be tough to choose a good coffee machine, and it’s something that you’ll probably do at some point in your life if you drink coffee regularly. Compared to the cost of a cup on the high street, a home coffee machine will pay for itself quickly, so long as you can resist the temptation to indulge at home as well as when you’re out shopping!
The most popular brands of machine include familiar names like Delonghi, but you have to look a little further afield if you’re looking for the best results for the best price. For example, the German company Melitta are very popular at the moment, as they’ve managed to create a range of machines that are much cheaper than their rivals, but haven’t achieved that at the expense of quality. You can see this in reviews of the Melitta range, where they highlight the value while at the same time give high praise to the richness of the coffee. Their Caffeo Bistro review in particular stands out for its ease of use on top of that value and functionality winning combination.
For those that are willing so spend a little more to get something that stands out in the field of coffee makers, Heston Blumenthal’s Sage range are the clear market leader at the moment, but they’re probably both too expensive and too complicated to learn for the average coffee lover, who’s looking for something that’s just a step or two up from the instant coffee we talked about earlier.
These bean to cup coffee machines are popular because of the combination of ease of use, the resulting drink (that can be as good as your local Costa!) and the kudos you’ll get from your friends when they pop around for a coffee and a chat. It’s a great way to impress, and even if you’re home alone, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy a great coffee along with the peace and quiet!
So, is there such thing as great instant coffee? Many people say no, but frankly, I don’t always have the time or inclination to fire up the bean to cup machine and get brewing at home. Sometimes, for example when I get back from dropping the kids off at school, I just want to stick the kettle on in between other jobs. That morning routine is hectic to say the least – walk through the front door, put the kettle on, head to the office and fire up the computer so it can grind into life while I go back downstairs to make a quick hot drink. The computer is the only thing grinding at that time on a weekday, the coffee beans stay on the shelf!
My favourite instant by a country mile, but I recommend a decent sized mug not a glass!
I have three brands of instant that I swear by. The first two vary by what happens to be on offer in Asda, and it’s mostly their own brand of gold blend. If I’m lucky though with the current promotions on the shelves, I do prefer Nescafe’s equivalent. Those two are separated only on price, though. The third is the ‘posh’ instant, and I’m a sucker for Azera. It’s the Americano version I like best, and it’s a definite cut above the freeze dried instant varieties.
I’m sure I’m going to get people telling me I’m wrong, but while a freshly ground pile of beans is always going to win hands down, there’s something great about the convenience and speed of this as a trade off, and it’s not half bad either!