Shipping to
United States
  • Words by Mr Nick Compton

I remember when Starbucks was still cool. I remember reading a feature, at the tail end of the last millennium, when the writer accompanied the Beastie Boys on a long search, in a car, for a branch of Starbucks so they could get their fix. A search! Coffee shop chains, Starbucks and its many imitators, now dominate high streets, main streets and malls across the world of course, and the knowledgeable seek out "third wave" operations with their roasted-on-site speciality beans and science-lab siphon coffee makers. Coffee's shift from grab-and-go staple - or worse, instant approximation - to considered indulgence, as worthy of connoisseurship as fine wines or whisky (and encouraging similar debate about terroir and blends) has been remarkable.

On the home front, the upgrade has been just as radical. Drip coffee machines half full of tepid gloop that tasted like tar and jars of the instant variety have been replaced with all manner of percolators, presses and now domestic espresso machines, offering all the punch of a shop-bought shot. The arrival of the Nespresso pod system, which despite reservations produced pretty decent coffee, has inspired a wave of me-too systems and machines to process them. The grind and tamp has been replaced by a pop and go, though aficionados will always prefer the effort and reward of the manual system. Here, then, are 10 of the best-looking domestic Java machines out there.