What is a Bean to Cup Espresso Machine

The bean to cup espresso machine is a fairly newcomer to the market, and allows the budding barista to pour the coffee beans into the top of the machine and control all manner of things from the singular control of the machine. But are they any good? What are their advantages? What type of money do you have to spend to get a decent one? And are you just better off buying a grinder and an espresso machine? Let’s explore;

What is a Bean to Cup Coffee Machine?

A bean-to-cup espresso machine is a type of coffee machine that grinds coffee beans and prepares espresso shots automatically, without the need for manual grinding. The machine typically has a built-in grinder that grinds the coffee beans and then automatically doses the ground coffee into the portafilter. You’ll move the portafilter to the group head and the machine then brews the espresso shot.

Now there are different levels of automation involved between different machines, and upgrades that can be made to improve the process such as precision baskets or bottomless portafilters but think of it this way, it is a single machine that does most or all of the task of making your coffee.

Who should get a bean to cup coffee machine?

Bean-to-cup coffee machines are popular among coffee enthusiasts and those who are looking for a convenient and high-quality coffee making experience at home, but don’t want to, or maybe don’t have the room for multiple pieces of equipment.


What are the best Bean to Cup Machines Available?

Here are a few of the best options, along with their target audience and budget range:

  • Sage the Barista Pro: The Sage Barista Pro is the go to for many home barista that want the balance between accessibility and customisation, but even though this is the number one bean to cup machine on our list. If you are looking to take up espresso as a hobby, then not many of these machines are going to be suitable. However, The Sage Barista Express gives you just enough controls, and just enough customisation to keep you engaged and create good enough drinks.

    But what it does, it does well, and fast. This machine can produce a cappuccino in a minute and a half, that’s quicker than from the fast food chain and if you are using quality fresh beans, the quality of the espresso is going to be good enough for most people. It’s intuitive to use whilst also being tactile and interesting with giving you just enough freedom to experiment. At £669 it ticks a lot of boxes.

  • De’Longhi La Specialista Arte: This machine is suitable for those who are looking for a high-quality and reliable bean-to-cup machine with a relatively modest budget. It is a great option for both espresso and cappuccino, and it has a budget range of £400-£500. 

    Here we are only moving more away from the espresso process, as baristas may be frustrated with the lack of information provided by the La Specialista on coffee dose coming out of the in-built grinder. Meaning you’ll need to tip it out to weigh your dose. 

    The machine itself is easy to use, comes with all the additional tools needed to tamp the coffee and will provide you access to guides via QR codes taking you straight to FAQs and Youtube video guides.

  • Jura ENA 8: At this level we are increasing the cost of the machines and the Jura Ena 8 comes in at a whopping £1500-£2000. This isn’t really suitable for those looking to mess around with espresso, but those looking for great convenience. This is the clear choice for households where coffee will regularly be consumed, be it done by the homeowner or via guests. You see these in Boutique hotel lobbys and car dealerships quite often. 

    The Ena 8 is a machine that’s practically autonomous, with the ability to operate without any input from you. You can program it to make one-button drinks from espresso to latte macchiato and it’s engineered to be as easy to maintain as possible.
  • Gaggia Magenta Plus: Gaggia on the whole create top quality machines and the Magenta range is no different. The stand out feature of the Magenta is its innovative, professional-style steam wand, giving coffee enthusiasts more control over their beverages. 


    With its rapid temperature reach, you can quickly craft any type of drink with ease. However, there is a waiting period after brewing an espresso and limited mobility, only moving from side to side. Nevertheless, it's a great choice for those who start their day with lattes or flat whites.

  • Sage Oracle Touch: This machine is a bean to cup in the traditional sense, but unlike the others in this list, allows a lot more of a Barista process of the espresso. The cost of the machines is around £2000 and at that price, you could be getting a real top quality separate grinder and coffee machine. But what the Oracle does offer is a faff free experience, a stylish touch screen and a range of features and functions.

What are the downsides of a bean to cup machine?

Now it’s not all bells and roses, they aren’t for everyone and there are some reasons that may mean the whole concept of a bean to cup machine is a non-starter for you;

  • Cost: Bean-to-cup coffee machines are not by any means the most budget friendly, and obviously as it is doing the entire process it requires many different components which also increases the cost. 
  • Maintenance: Bean-to-cup coffee machines require regular cleaning and maintenance to keep them in good working order. Because if one part goes wrong or breaks beyond repair, then you may have to get rid of the whole thing, whereas if you had separate machines you would only have to replace one. 
  • Limited control: While bean-to-cup coffee machines are specifically designed to be easy to use, many limit your control over the brewing process. Fine-tuning and dialling in your espresso shots is an important part of the process and some machines have limited or frankly no control. 
  • Space: Bean-to-cup coffee machines can be large and take up a significant amount of counter space. If you have limited kitchen space, you might prefer a more compact coffee-making solution. 
  • Not serious enough for a hobbyist: Bean-to-cup machines don't really offer enough control for the serious home barista, who may be better off with a combination of equipment like an espresso machine with a steam wand, and a proper grinder.

Final Thoughts

Bean-to-cup machines are a great choice for those looking to enjoy barista-style coffee conveniently at home, while also saving on counter space. However, because of their cost and limited control, they may not be suitable for coffee enthusiasts or those wanting to take up coffee-making as a hobby. It’s important to consider your specific needs and the features you’re looking for in a machine to decide if a bean-to-cup machine would be the right choice for you and your family.


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