I loved the coffee from my pod machine, but one day I looked in the bin and was horrified, it was time to search for an espresso machine without pods. In this article we are going to look at a more sustainable way of getting that caffeine fix.
In this article we’ll review a list of pods free espresso machines and compare how they fare both in quality and sustainability.
My personal favorite from the list below is the De’Longhi EC680M Dedica. It’s a simple yet durable capsules free, zero waste espresso machine that produces amazing cups of coffee.
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- 1 Top 5 Espresso Machines without Capsules
- 2 Why are Coffee Pods bad for the environment?
- 3 Twenty Best Eco-Friendly Espresso Machines
- 4 Which plastic free espresso machines to choose?
- 5 What is the benefit of grinding your own coffee?
- 6 Are there biodegradable coffee pods?
- 7 Are coffee pods bad for your health?
- 8 Why is fresh ground coffee better?
- 9 Where can I get plastic free coffee beans?
- 10 My favorite espresso machine without pods
Top 5 Espresso Machines without Capsules
Why are Coffee Pods bad for the environment?
My first ever coffee machine was a pod machine, it was only a few weeks after purchasing it that the sight of so many pods just being thrown away horrified me. The waste is more than just the single use plastics, there is also the packaging waste. Compare a well packaged pack of ground coffee, perhaps upwards of 50 cups, and compare it to a pack of 10 pods they are more or less the same.
After having no great success with re-usable pods, which I found quite fiddly and produced coffee of variable quality, I bought the bullet and bought my first no pods espresso machine.
Twenty Best Eco-Friendly Espresso Machines
If you’re looking for an espresso machine without pods there are certainly simpler devices out there, but for sheer functionality, there are few that are going to beat Breville BES870XL Barista Express. A feature packed device that’s perhaps not for someone just wanting a quick coffee. But if you want to drink coffee like the pros – this machine is what you need.
The reviews are generally positive with most people saying it makes super drinks quickly although there is a learning curve to get the best out of it. However, some machines have broken quite quickly and Breville customer support has been reported as being poor.
Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino maker is set out to simplify the coffee making process as much as possible, with automatic milk frothing and a one-touch system to select your shot size this single serve coffee maker without pods would be ideal for those not wanting to get too technical about their coffee.
Both the water and milk reservoirs can be removed for easy refill and washing, and the milk reservoir can be stored in the fridge to cut down on wasted product.
Mostly the reviews are positive with many users reporting on how easy the machine was to use, although it did have to be primed before first use, to be fair to Mr. Coffee though, this is made clear in the instructions.
It has to be said though that there are a fair few negative reviews, reliability seems to be the main concern, although one or two did mention the poor performance of the milk frother. I would temper the latter argument by saying a lot of people were delighted with the milk frother.
This De’Longhi espresso machine is perfect for those who have little room to spare, at only 6” wide this is a very compact espresso machine without capsules. It features a filter holder that can take different size filters to allow you to make two espressos at a time.
It also features a 15-bar pump and can reach operating temperature within 35 seconds. A simple machine for those who want good coffee in a hurry.
The reviews are a bit of a mixed bag for this espresso machine without pods. Although the coffee was always being praised and a lot of people commented on its ease of use, reliability issues seem to be the top negative review. Issues have been reported about the power button, whilst other reviewers have reported leaks
This Ninja coffee maker is unique in that it doesn’t use a pump to make its espresso, indeed it doesn’t make espresso in the true sense of the word, instead it has a ‘specialty’ mode that is tuned to make an espresso type drink using no capsules.
It also features a stay warm function that can keep your coffee warm and still delicious for up to a few hours. This machine really operates in its own little niche, and its design reflects this.
It is difficult to find too much negativity about this product, the consensus seems to be it makes fantastic coffee, which is the primary objective of any coffee maker without pods. Many reviewers reported liking the stay warm feature.
The major gripes are a user reporting a warped lid and one who described it as just a basic coffee machine with a cool shape.
The De’Longhi machine has a sleek and space saving design which is unusual for an espresso machine without pods, this machine can actually use pods, of a sort at least. These pods are actually more like teabags than true pods and can be fully compostable.
It features a manual milk frother and a separate steam thermostat to ensure that your coffee is always at the perfect temperature.
There is nothing fancy about this machine, it is simply a coffee maker in its purest sense and the reviews reflect that fact. It has been described as a perfect starter machine. Negative reviews have commented on the cheapness of its looks with a couple mentioning that it started leaking after a few months.
The first Krups espresso coffee machine without pods that we’ve covered, this is another machine that at its heart is simply a coffee machine. It doesn’t have too many bells and whistles with the whole design ethos tailored towards producing a decent cup of coffee with minimum fuss.
One feature that this has above most other zero waste espresso machines, is the cup warmer which means your coffee stays at the desired temperature for longer.
Mostly positive with many reviewers commenting on its ease of use and the quality of the product. And while a few people have commented on the good quality of build as they would expect from a company of Krups stature, others have bemoaned the fact that it broke after a month and in instance a few days.
The Brewsly coffee machine makes no great boasts apart from delivering great coffee, which is the kind of promise you like to hear about an eco-friendly espresso machine. A simple machine that performs what is asked of it well.
The main body is sturdily manufactured from stainless steel giving it a more robust look than some of the other machines reviewed and is another machine that features a hot plate on top to heat your cups.
Many reviews have said positive things about the stainless steel construction, calling it nice and weighty, while one review noted that although the exterior design was stainless steel, the innards including the boiler was plastic, the suggestion being that they’d have preferred it the other way around.
One reviewer did go back and re-review a positive review after the machine stopped pumping at the required pressure after a week’s usage. But this seems to be a one-off thing.
Jassy offers another in the simple yet practical range of coffee machines, one notable fact that’s worth pointing out is its 19-bar pressure pump, where most others have boasted of 15-bar at most. I think it’s worth pointing out that while this seems like a big positive, general opinion is that anything over 9-bar is ample for a good espresso and increasing the pressure does not make that much of a difference.
Apart from that it is a no fuss machine, with a simple yet modern look and all the features you’d expect from an environment friendly espresso machine.
However, it does boast a fully automatic milk frothing system.
Whilst the reviews are all positive, I should temper that statement, by saying there aren’t that many reviews, certainly at the time of writing. With all reviewers saying the coffee was delicious and one reviewer saying how much they enjoyed using the auto-frothing feature.
I’ve previously touched on the benefits of higher pressure, so we’ll leave that one. Apart from that, Gevi Espresso Machine has a nice sleek looking design with a simple LCD screen to let you see what options are chosen. Another to feature separate temperature controls for steam and water and like others it also features a quick ramp up time.
I would like the instructions to be a bit clearer, it seems to be a case of bad translation as opposed to unclear as there are certainly plenty of them.
Okay the reviews are a mixed bag on this one, people that have enjoyed the experience have commented on its good looks and the quality of the coffee. However the flip side is other reviewers have mentioned the noise and perhaps more worryingly are the number of people who have stated that despite its claim of 20-bar pressure, the box it comes in states 15-bar.
This sustainable espresso machine has all the features you’d expect from a De’Longhi product. It boasts adjustable controls to allow you to modify your preferences depending on taste and a manual milk frother to get the perfect cup of coffee.
Designed with a narrow footprint. Meaning it can easily fit on all but the very smallest of gaps on your kitchen countertop. I do confess that I had this model’s predecessor for many years, so I do approach this from a biased, although educated point of view. But, if it’s anything like its older brother then it will be a solid performing and reliable machine.
The reviews are generally good, most reviewers are enjoying good and consistent cups of coffee with one reviewer having had daily use of their machine for over 6 years. That being said one of the major gripes is reviewers having issues with their machine after a few days or weeks. This is a pattern that is becoming quite familiar with most machines having a share of user reviews reporting quickly occurring faults
The Calphalon BVCLECMP1 Temp IQ Espresso Machine is a nice-looking espresso machine that is robustly constructed. However, although it looks metal, most of the construction is plastic making it perhaps not the greenest espresso machine without pods.
It comes with its own stainless-steel milk pitcher and also a cleaning pin and tamper. It comes with a larger, café-sized filter, that helps with flavor. It also has a feature called pre-infusion designed to ‘bloom’ the ground coffee before the espresso is extracted.
Generally, a well-received product, the taste of the coffee was commented on often with even some of the poorer reviews commenting that indeed the coffee tasted great. The major problem reviewers were commenting on was the power of the steam wand, with a few complaints saying it was too powerful for reliable foam.
There are some systems that are simply a single-serve coffee maker without pods. Not this one, if there is a bell or whistle that could be added this machine has it. It comes complete with a separate coffee grinder, cups, a built-in milk reservoir and steamer and a host of accessories.
Of course, none of that would matter if this espresso machine without pods couldn’t make a decent cup of coffee. Which it appears to able to, with its built-in milk reservoir you can have a cup of layered cappuccino with a single button push.
Most users seemed to find it an easy to use system that produced good coffee. However, once again several reviews have complained that the system broke in one way or another quite quickly. The positive about this though was the people at Espresso Works seemed to be on the ball as far as customer support goes.
A coffee grinder designed with 60 precise grind settings.
- Stainless Steel conical burrs minimize grinding heat protecting the essential oils in the coffee bean
- Grind settings from the finest espresso to the coarsest French press
- Precision timer
- Grind direct into filter
- 16oz Coffee bean capacity
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In a break from espresso machines without capsules, we are going to look at a coffee-bean grinder from Breville. If you’ve moved to a capsules free system and now want to take it a step further, then grinding your own beans gives you more flexibility and control over the quality of your coffee.
Breville BCG820BKSXL is a fully featured grinder that can be timed in increments from as little as 0.2 of a second and has a range of 60 grind settings. Perhaps not one for a beginner not certain if they’re going to take that step, but if you already grind your own beans and want to step it up a notch, then this might be for you.
The reviews are generally positive, with people loving the consistency and flexibility that this grinder offered. Thera are a few complaints about the plastic impeller failing due to wear and a lack of spare parts, but on the other hand other reviewers have shown you how to work around this. Overall a well-received product.
amilton Beach Espresso Machine seems to have put in some effort into making this a green product with its use of BPA plastics. Although any espresso machine without pods is always greener than the pod equivalent (even when using re-usable pods) it is nice to see that they have taken some care over the materials used in their coffeemaker.
The machine itself is a nice looking functional machine without too many added extras, a small footprint and a once cup capacity might make this a good choice for single-people or those with real space concerns.
Most customers have reported positive experiences with this machine, with the flavor good and the machine easy to use and maintain. One issue that has been repeated is the aluminum filter holder which some reviews have reported as oxidizing.
Sowtech Espresso Machine is definitely the most basic espresso machine without pods that we’ve covered. However, the point of any coffee machine is to make coffee and it that is it what this does without any fuss. A unique system that allows you to only use the amount of water you require ensures that this is going to cut down on water usage, which is a great feature for an eco-friendly coffee machine.
Interestingly, while most machines have boasted a 15-bar or above pump, Sowtech Espresso Machine seems to get great results from only 3.5 bar, which in turn uses slightly less power.
Perhaps surprisingly for what must be considered a budget machine the reviews are generally quite good. Many reviewers have reported that it is a nice simple machine which makes a lovely cup of coffee. The downside is that a number of users have been disappointed with build quality and one complained that the machine literally blew up.
Another point made was that the 3.5 bar pressure was not enough to produce genuine espresso.
Gevi Espresso Machine is another machine without pods that could be considered an entry level model that is suitable for beginners. Although basic in its features it still boasts a pump capable of 15-bar and double temperature control.
As with the other Gevi machine we reviewed the instructions could be better translated, but still the system is simple that no-one should have any difficulty figuring out how to operate it.
The reviews are generally good, with some people saying it felt heavy and well built while others reported the exact opposite! On the whole most people enjoyed its simplicity which they felt hadn’t compromised on the flavor of the drink.
Barsetto seem to be making a wide variety of machines to fit a host of budgets, this could be described as a mid-range coffee machine. It looks sleek and clean and still maintains a small footprint, making it suitable for smaller kitchens or work surfaces.
A simple three button control allows you to select one-shot, two-shot or manual, so no rocket science is needed, which is just as well because, as is par for the course with this brand, the instructions although ample, are badly translated.
Good reviews that mostly sing the praises of the coffee quality, however once again I feel I should point out that although they claim a pressure of 20-bar, it may be the case that it actually is 15-bar. While this shouldn’t detract from the quality of the coffee, it does make you wonder. Several reviewers have mentioned this.
Another all-in-one system by Espresso Works that comes with a host of accessories, if you’re wanting to take a step up from a more basic machine, this might be a good stepping stone with everything you need to get started, including coffee grinder, stainless steel milk frothing jug and 2 espresso cups.
Unlike its bigger brother that we covered in another review, this one does not come with an integrated milk frother. However, it does have a manual frothing wand. If you’re looking for an espresso machine without pods that does a bit more than the average, but doesn’t break the bank, this one might be worth a look.
While most people liked the quality of the coffee from this machine, there were others who complained about the flavor being lackluster and watery. However, the general consensus reports a good machine that makes great tasting coffee and is backed by a company with great support.
Gaggia Pro Espresso Machine doesn’t pertain to do any fancy tricks. But, what it does do it does very well, high quality engineering and build quality ensure that this is one of the best espresso machines without pods for those who want a reliable machine that produces perfect coffee time after time.
It uses commercial components and has them housed in a sturdy stainless steel housing with a minimalist yet stunning design.
Most reviewers were pleased with the machine and pointed out its simplicity of use and great coffee production. A couple of negative reviews were from people whose machine had broken after some months and one reviewer had cut her finger on the drip tray.
COSTWAY Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine is nother all-in-one machine that features everything you need to take you from coffee bean to espresso as painlessly as possible. The grinder has 30 presets allowing you to grind the coffee beans to your own preferences and a quick heat up time means you can be enjoying coffee within 10 seconds.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many reviews available to see how other users have fared, the only one I could find was positive but didn’t go into any great detail.
Which plastic free espresso machines to choose?
Unfortunately, there is no espresso machine without pods on the market that can be truly plastic free. However, all the machines listed are capsule free and therefore can be truly considered eco-friendly when compared to their capsule devouring brethren. The choice, therefore, is really down to budget, complexity, size and build quality.
It is a choice that is affected by so many factors that it is impossible to say who should buy what, but if you read through the article it will at least show you what factors should be considered when buying the perfect espresso machine without pods to suit your needs.
If you fancy a coffee but not espresso there are also eco-friendly Filterless Coffee Makers that could be more up your street, or maybe it’s tea that’s your thing, then an eco-friendly Tea bags without plastic solution could be right for you.
What is the benefit of grinding your own coffee?
For me, the epiphany came at a friend’s house when I was knowingly for the first
time outside of a café, served freshly ground coffee. The difference in taste and freshness was noticeable immediately.
The other advantage is the ability to control the coarseness of the grind which allows you to impart a slightly different range and strength of flavor.
Are there biodegradable coffee pods?
A recent statistic I came across was from the UK, an estimated 350 million coffee pods are being used annually in that country alone. A statistic that is both staggering and frightening. But what if you’re stuck with a pod machine for the moment? Are there other, less environmentally harmful, options?
First you could consider switching to re-usable pods. I’ll be honest here, although I have friends who swear by this option, personally I found the process to be time consuming, a bit fiddly and with variable results.
Alternatively, aluminum pods can be recycled, although you will need to empty them and clean them before recycling.
The last and perhaps the easiest option is to plump for biodegradable or compostable pods. While all of them aren’t suitable for garden compost, some are and the others can be taken for commercial composting.
Are coffee pods bad for your health?
There is some evidence that the plastics in coffee pods can be bad for your health. The range of plastics that includes BPA’s for instance has been linked to hormone imbalance, weight gain and fertility problems. Aluminum also has it health concerns with increased exposure to aluminum being linked to a number of brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety and even auto-immune diseases.
One further point is that pod machines are a prime habitat for growing mold and mildew.
Why is fresh ground coffee better?
Like everything you buy from the greengrocer or other fresh supplier, the fresher you get it the better. Also having control of the coarseness of your grind is a factor that shouldn’t be underestimated, this has a huge bearing on the flavor of your drink.
Where can I get plastic free coffee beans?
There are more retailers and specialist suppliers supplying plastic free coffee beans and ground coffee than ever before. A quick hunt on the internet will bring up a host of suppliers, whilst there are numerous online shops who will ship nation or worldwide, choosing a supplier closer to home helps local businesses and cuts down on the carbon footprint from delivery.
My favorite espresso machine without pods
Since I first spooned a heap of instant coffee into a mug, I have been a coffee fiend. I’ve been through the stages from instant to filter to French press and everything in between. These days it is espresso for me every time. After I bought my first pod machine, I realized very quickly that I couldn’t with a clear conscience carry on using it. Think of that one statistic – 350 million pods annually in one country alone, that is simply not sustainable.
Now I’m heading to the kitchen to get myself a nice cup of coffee.
I have now been a happy De’Longhi user for many years and I admit at the start of this article that I have a bias towards them. That is why I still list the De’Longhi EC680M Dedica as my favorite. There are machines out there that do more, that grind your coffee and froth your milk automatically. But here’s the thing, I don’t need that, I have a coffee grinder and milky coffee is not my thing. And ultimately De’Longhi machines have never let me down, treat them with care and attention. Clean them regularly, nurture them, talk to them, be nice. After all they are in their own little way helping to save the planet.
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