Capsule vs Fully Automatic Coffee Machines: Who Brews It Best?

29 October 2019

What’s just as important as a cup of aromatic coffee in the morning? A good coffee machine. A reliable machine. A dump-in-coffee-beans-and-water-then-get-espresso machine — you get the idea.

If you can’t live without your morning java, you’ll know that your morning coffee runs can add up to an expensive habit.

Fast forward to the arrival of advanced coffee-making technology, making your favourite brew as easy as pushing a button. But, which machine to choose?

There are several contestants, but only two real contenders: Capsule versus fully automatic coffee machines.


a cup of hot mocha
Capsule vs fully automatic coffee machine: which produces better-tasting coffee? Photo from Kevin Menajang

Let’s begin with the taste of the coffee. We’re comparing a shot created from a sealed coffee capsule and a shot from fresh coffee beans.

With a capsule machine, you pop in the pod, push the button, and out comes a stream of a crema-topped espresso every bit as velvety smooth and creamy as the last one. The best capsule machines yield consistent results. But, the flavours may be less intense and even a little muddied.

A fully automatic coffee machine, on the other hand, sorts out a cup of a flawless espresso. Your coffee will come out rich, aromatic, and full-bodied with defined flavours. This is due to the freshly ground beans that are used.

The truth is, you can only get a truly great cup of espresso from the long, drawn-out method of brewing and pouring from actual coffee beans. And if the thought of grinding, pumping, and pouring your own coffee every morning makes you wince, a fully automated coffee machine can do the hard work for you.


a person pressing a button on the De'Longhi Prima Donna Elite coffee machine
Do you want a fully automatic espresso machine for a café-style perfection or would you prefer the simplicity of a capsule coffee machine? Photo from De’Longhi

It boils — or rather, brews — down to technology. Thanks to the advent of high-end coffee machines that can make any kind of caffeinated beverages, it’s easier to pull off than before. No barista skills required.

Load a pod in a capsule coffee machine and your morning ritual is done. These machines mean your morning espresso is prepared in mere seconds — no measuring coffee beans, no grinding, no brewing.

Because capsules are typically sealed immediately after roasting, it locks the freshness in by preventing any contact with oxygen or moisture. However, experts recommend using fresh milk for any milk-based beverages, as the flavoured or novelty drinks from capsules tend to fall short of expectations.

How does a fully automatic coffee machine compare?

All you need to do is pour coffee beans into a hopper and refill the water in the tank every few days, and the machine will do the rest — grinding the beans and compressing them into fine grounds, heating the water to a precise temperature, before the hot water is forced through the compressed grounds.

A fully automatic coffee machine takes out the tediousness of preparing your espresso and makes a great cup — rich, aromatic — no capsule machine can possibly match. We love all-in-one machines that include a touch display and a self-cleaning system. Even an app to customise and save your favourite coffee recipes!

How a $1,599 Fully Automatic Coffee Machine is Cheaper than a $288 Capsule Machine

the De'Longhi Dinamica Plus coffee machine
Featuring the Dinamica. Photo from De’Longhi

Here’s the breakdown: An average capsule costs between $1 to $1.50, ballparked at $1.30. While a bag of coffee beans may cost $20 per pound, which works out to approximately $0.35 per shot.

Assuming one has two shots of espresso every day, we did the math for the true cost of a fully automatic coffee machine and a capsule coffee machine.

a price comparison chart between a capsule coffee machine and a fully automatic coffee machine

It turns out that the less expensive capsule coffee machine isn’t always cheaper in the long run. One thing to note when making an investment like this: the upfront costs are never as important as the ongoing costs.

The Final Verdict: Which Coffee Machine Should You Buy?

Cue the drum rolls… the fully automatic coffee machine takes home the gold. If you’ve been on the fence, it’s time to invest in a good coffee machine. One that knows exactly what it’s doing. And exactly what you want.

Whether you’re a novice in coffee-making or an expert, a fully automatic coffee machine makes life easier by delivering freshly ground coffee at the push of a button. Top it with intuitive touches like an easy cleaning system, adjustable grinder and customisable drinks, and you can see why it’s easy to be a fan.

If you’ve got your heart set on a fully automatic coffee machine already, the De’Longhi eShop is the place to go.

This article features Fully Automatic Coffee Machines

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