I live in a flat where space is at a premium – my kitchen is minuscule! I still wanted a small coffee machine that wouldn’t take up valuable worktop space, but still made good coffee.
A compact coffee machine was the way to go, so I researched the best, smallest coffee machines in the UK. They’re compared below, along with a few key features and some pros and cons, so you can decide which small coffee machine is right for you.
All these recommended machines include dimensions so you can see if it fits your small space, too.
Nespresso Essenza Mini
Dimensions: 32 x 11 x 20.5cm
Boasting that it’s Nespresso’s most compact coffee maker, this neat little machine looks the part – and plays it pretty well, too. The clue is in the ‘mini’ name. My cousin swears by hers in a (tiny) home office.
- Space-saving – takes up about as much room as your average kettle
- Sturdy build – the shell is plastic, not metal, but it doesn’t feel fragile
- Works well even with non-Nespresso capsules
- Water barrel is easy to top up
- Nespresso 24-hr helpline is very helpful and they’ll talk you through any issues with the machine
- The strength of the coffee can be easily varied
- If you like your coffee piping hot, you might have to add a little boiling water to your cup – but I prefer coffee at non-scorched temperatures.
- Small water barrel
The capsules it uses are the same as every other Nespresso machine, so unless you’ve got your heart set on stainless steel, the Essenza Mini is probably the best value for money of the Nespresso range.
It’s automatic, easy to use and while you’ll have to buy a separate device for milk frothing if you’d like a perfect cappuccino, it’ll do the job for a reasonable price.
Nescafe Dolce Gusto Jovia
Best For: Value
Dimensions: 17 x 33 x 23 cm
If you’re on the fence about what you need from a coffee machine, or just want something basic, cheaper and non-intrusive, the Dolce Gusto Jovia is one of the most reliable budget coffee makers on the market, from big-name Nestle.
It’s not automatic, though, and whilst some may appreciate being able to manually control the strength and volume of their coffee, others don’t want to have to supervise their machines so it’s really a question of personal preference.
- Small, simple, no fuss
- Easy to set up and clean
- Coffee comes out very hot
- Short power cord – will need to be close to a plug. Also the power cord is red, no matter what machine colour you choose. Weird.
- Requires specific coffee pods – but they’re readily available in supermarkets.
Russell Hobbs Brew and Go
Best For: Filter Coffee rather than espresso
Dimensions: 28.8 x 31.7 x 42.3 cm
If you’re not so fussed about fancy coffee pods or you’re looking to cut down on plastic packaging, the Brew and Go might be a better fit for you. You can choose fresh coffee grounds or soft coffee capsules, and you can set the machine to a timer so that you wake up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning.
It’s not flashy – there’s no milk option and it’ll only make enough for a single mug, but if you’re pressed for time and need a quick, easy caffeine fix, this machine fits the bill. You can also take the cup out with you – an added plus.
- Permanent filter – there’s no need to change paper filters
- Includes a stainless-steel coffee flask
- Programmable timer
- Attractive steel casing
- Fits on a countertop or even a bedside table
- Travel mug lid doesn’t seal, so keep it upright if you take it with you
- Only makes a single mug
- No milk option
Dolce Gusto Mini Me
Best For: Very small and includes pods
Dimensions: 16.5 x 25.7 x 29.6 cm
Speed is of the essence with the Mini Me – it might look like a rejected Star Wars character, but it packs a punch, producing an 8oz cup of coffee in under 40 seconds.
It comes with a snazzy rotating pod holder and unlike all the others listed here, it has three boxes of pods included to get you started. It only takes Nestle’s Dolce Gusto pods, but these are widely available and reasonably priced.
- Very fast
- Also makes hot chocolates, tea and cold drinks
- Very small footprint – best space-saver
- Auto stop
- Removable tank
- Only usable with Dolce Gusto pods
- Only pours 8oz cups.
Best For: Travel and Portability
Dimensions: 7.11 x 6.1 x 17.53 cm
The Minipresso machine is less for your kitchen and more for your backpack – it’s a handheld contraption that you manually pump in order to get a shot of espresso. It’s pretty light, and whilst it only makes one shot at a time, it’s quite easy to use once you’ve got the hang of it.
Running hot water through it first is the best way to get a piping hot coffee, but so long as you take a flask or two with you, you’ll be able to make a good quality coffee wherever you are. I take mine to hotel rooms with me, to have ‘proper’ coffee instead of instant!
- Great for travel – handheld and compact
- Sturdy stainless steel
- Can use whichever coffee grinds you prefer, or choose the Nespresso pods model
- Ground coffee or pods, but not both
- You’ll need a flask of boiling water if you don’t have access to a kettle
How to Choose the Best Small Coffee Machine
With the average Briton spending over £300 on coffee per year, small coffee machines are becoming a popular alternative to the morning coffee run. They’re more efficient and compact than ever before, and the right investment could save you a pretty penny in the long run. So how do you decide which machine will suit you best?
It all depends on what you’re going to use it for. If you’re a coffee connoisseur, filter coffee just isn’t going to cut it, and a machine that uses higher quality pods like the Mini Me might be the best option. It’s also verrrry small indeed.
If you’re concerned with space-saving and don’t want a hulking machine taking over your kitchen, the Jovia or the Essenza are neat and no-nonsense. Of course, if you’re a keen hiker or you like to travel light, something manual and compact like the Minipresso is probably the best for you. For taking coffee in the car, I’d choose the Brew and Go.
Things to Look For in a Small Coffee Machine
Compact Coffee Makers: Pod or Filter?
Due to the space-saving design of most small coffee makers, you’re not going to get your higher-end espresso or bean-to-cup machines. Your main options are filter coffee or capsule coffee.
Filter coffee is the next step up from instant – if you’re not bothered about fancy lungos or iced macchiatos, filter coffee machines will make a great cup of coffee and, like the Brew and Go, most come with timers so you can start the day with the perfect brew.
Capsules are a little more flexible – most brands now do a very wide range of drinks in capsule form and if you go for a machine with a milk frother, you’ll broaden your options even further.
Cleaning Small Coffee Machines
Some machines are easier to clean than others. Pod coffee machines tend to need less cleaning because the coffee grind stays within the capsule, and usually have removable water tanks and drip trays so any build-up of dust or gunk is easy to get rid of. These parts are also often dishwasher safe, so it’s easier than ever to keep your machine clean.
Machines that use ground coffee tend to be messier, as you’ll need to remove all the leftover grinds before you make another espresso shot.
All coffee machines will also need descaling from time to time – especially if you live an area with hard water. Hard water contains more minerals which can build up in your machine over time, and might impact the taste or even clog up the machine if left uncleaned.
If you’re worried about descaling, you might want to go for a machine that lets you know when it’s time for a clean, or even has an automatic descaling function. If you’d like to learn more about how to descale your machine, this article talks you through it step by step.
Small Coffee Machines = Lower Noise levels
If you like your coffee before the rest of the family is conscious or you’re planning on using it in a shared workspace, the sound of the machine is an important feature to consider.
Compact coffee machines tend to be quieter than larger ones, even those that are faster, and the higher the pressure, the less lengthy the disturbance. By going for a pod or filter machine, you also won’t need to grind any coffee, meaning these machines are generally much quieter than their larger and more substantial counterparts.
Small coffee machines are a great way to save yourself some time and do away with disposable cups, and they also won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
When it comes to choosing one, knowing what you’d like from a home or office coffee maker is the best place to start, and all these compact machines offer something slightly different – all that’s left to do is pick which best suits you and your space.