Here at the Ferret homestead, the day isn’t complete without 2 espressos. Pretty essential when you’re leaving the house at 7.20 in the morning and not getting back until 7pm. So when our machine broke a few years ago, we had the pressing and expensive yet fun task of choosing a new coffee machine – and we decided to upgrade in a big way.  We initially had a standard pump-driven espresso machine, which ran on ground coffee, but replaced this with one that grinds the beans for you. The machine you see pictured above is what we currently own: the Saeco Odea Go. We’ve now had it for a couple of years and are very happy with it, as are our guests: some have commented that coffee from other places is tasteless compared to what our machine produces.

So what motivated us to choose this over other models? We liked the idea of our coffee being as fresh as possible, hence the inclination towards a machine with an inbuilt coffee grinder, rather than a machine that runs on ground coffee. We also did not want a machine that would tie us to one particular brand of coffee, such as a Nespresso machine (in any case, we don’t have much call for the range of flavours and strengths of coffee that these machines can provide). Size was also a consideration, as the flat we live in is only around the 50m² mark, so some of the enormous machines that are on the market were never going to suit. Saeco is a Phillips brand, so was always going to be reliable. However, cost was also a factor: this retailed at around £200, but we were able to pay it off in 3 goes interest-free – so at around £33 a month each, it was also not going to break the bank while still proving a good investment.

I suppose two of the most frequent worries about a whole-bean coffee machine would be cost and supply. Clearly this costs more per cup than instant coffee; let’s not beat around the bush there. But where we purchase our coffee, there’s absolutely no difference in price between ground coffee and whole beans. A 250g-bag can cost as little as €3 and last us more than a week, too – so definitely better value than a trip to the coffee shop. The supplier we have chosen also ensures that our coffee is ethically sourced, and that peace of mind is worth a lot more than the €3 a bag. However, perhaps not everyone is lucky enough to have such easy access to a Fairtrade coffee bean supplier (him indoors can go in on his way back from work quite easily) – so where are other coffee aficionados supposed to get their coffee beans? Fear not – most supermarkets sell whole coffee beans, and if you prefer to look elsewhere, there’s always high street faithful Whittard, as well as online retailers such as Coffee Bean Shop, Has Bean, Coffee Direct, and Next Day Coffee.

Even though we know that coffee machines have a limited life span, we hope we won’t have to replace ours any time soon. However, should the need arise, we’ve got our beady eyes on a Jura machine – specifically the Impressa C5 for its One Touch Cappuccino facility. However, with prices kicking off at £400, that’s quite a hike compared to the price of our current machine.

Nevertheless, I’d definitely recommend a bean-to-cup machine for full-on flavour at the touch of a button – it definitely gives a whole new meaning to waking up and smelling the coffee.