Beko’s bean-to-cup machine is fantastic value: it makes great espresso and froths milk to barista quality. However, it can be confusing to use – which isn’t helped by the thin manual.
With a one-touch LED control panel, 19 bar pressure, a pre-brewing system, a steam wand and two espresso strength levels, the Beko bean-to-cup coffee machine packs in a lot for its price point.
But does it deliver? We drank a lot of coffee to find out.
Design and build
1.5 litre removable water tank
125g bean hopper capacity
The Beko bean-to-cup is pretty much a rectangular black box with a stainless-steel façade. At 38cm high, it’s not as tall as other bean-to-cups and, at 23.6cm wide and 43.6cm deep, its footprint is smaller than similar machines. But it is still a significant presence on your worktop.
One way that Beko has kept costs down is apparent at a glance: its design is somewhat basic. This is not a coffee machine that makes a statement in your kitchen. It’s functional, practical and lacking in style flourishes. Still, against the right backdrop, it has a certain minimalist appeal.
The 1.5-litre water tank is at the back. You can remove it to fill from the tap and the lid attaches with a swing hinge, so there’s no chance you will lose it or send it skating across your countertop by accident.
The bean hopper is at the top of the machine, above the grinder, as you’d expect. It has a snug-fitting, smoky-plastic, pull-off lid, and will take 125g of beans, with the option to choose between five different grinder settings. As is common with bean to cup machines, you can only turn the dial to alter the grinding settings while the grinder is actually working.
The façade of the machine hosts the spout, the steam wand, and the removable drip tray. The spout is adjustable up and down; if you remove the drip tray, you have the height to dispense into a latte glass, which is a feature you don’t get with some other machines.
The steam wand swings outwards to the right, and there’s the clearance to use a metal jug underneath. As for the drip tray, it has a metal grid, a plastic base, and pulls out to reveal the coffee grinds drawer behind.
It’s not too heavy a machine – about 7.5kg – but it is a little unwieldy to unpack. In the box are three descaler packets, a pin wheel, a brush and a cloth, alongside the manual. The manual is a little sparse, but more about that later.
The side of the machine hosts the hatch for the filter, which is easy to access.
Two coffee strengths
Hot water dispense
You control the machine using an LED touchscreen on top. The power button is on the left, followed by four illuminated icons: steam, hot water (which dispenses via steam wand), strong espresso and mild espresso.
Other icons will illuminate to alert you when you need to refill the water tank, the coffee bean hopper, empty the grinds drawer or descale.
Alex Greenwood / Foundry
19 bar pressure
On first use, after filling the water tank, you need to clean the machine by pressing the hot water button. This is very simple and uncomplicated for a machine of this type. There’s no special processes or tablets you need to use to flush out the pipes.
Obviously, you need to fill the bean hopper. The manual doesn’t tell you the quantity of beans it can hold, so you have to gauge roughly how many it will take so the lid will fit back on properly.
When switched on, the machine will auto-rinse into the drip tray. We found this means you need to empty the drip tray quite often or leave a vessel under the spout, as it will rinse itself out periodically if you leave it on.
You then put your cup underneath the spout and choose either strong or mild espresso by pressing and holding the button to set the volume of coffee you want. When the machine has dispensed the appropriate amount, from 25ml to 250ml, you release the button, it will beep twice, and thus set the amount for next time. This also works for the hot water button.
The back of the spout will light up while it is making coffee, and the grinds end up in the grind drawer.
And that 19 bar pressure really delivers. The coffee is great. It smells and tastes good, with a rich Guinness colour and a decent crema. It’s coffee shop quality.
Although its operation seems straightforward, problems can arise if someone tries to use the machine without knowing exactly what they’re doing. It is very easy to press a couple of buttons and find that you’ve reset the quantities. Unlike pricier machines, which may indicate the set coffee strength that’s been set, Beko’s machine does not provide any such feedback.
Nor will you get a lot of help from the manual. More detailed advice would have been reassuring at this point.
After a mistake along these lines, we had issues trying to reset the memorised volume and were never sure if it had been put right. In our experience, if you try to correct an error, you can make it worse. Given the appliance’s price point, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to find that its internal mechanism is a bit delicate.
Alex Greenwood / Foundry
Using the steam wand
Short heat-up time
To make a latte or cappuccino, first make your espresso, then press the steam button with the wand pointing to the drip tray. The residual water in the wand will drain while the red light flashes. When the red light stops, knock the wand sideways and place your milk container underneath to steam your milk. The extra heating process to produce the steam doesn’t take long.
Our assumption was that you press the steam button again to stop it but once again, we had to figure it out with trial and error. The manual doesn’t provide step-by-step instructions on operating the machine on a day-to-day basis after it’s set up.
The Beko has three different modes: default, eco (energy saving) and speed (faster brewing).
You change the modes by pressing the power button for five seconds in standby mode. Then the hot water, strong espresso and mild espresso buttons will flash. You then press the hot water button for the eco mode, strong espresso for speed mode, and mild espresso for the default setting. Two beeps will sound and set the mode.
Price and availability
There are three variations of Beko’s bean-to-cup machine in the range. All are considerably lower in price – by hundreds of pounds – than other available bean-to-cup machines. You can browse the full range on the Beko site. The most affordable model (£199) does not have a steam wand. The mid-range model that we tested does (£224) and finally, there’s a bean-to-cup with an integrated milk cup (£249). There’s not much price advantage from buying at any specific retailer, but make sure you’re getting the model you want.
There’s even a more environmentally friendly option, the BioCoffee model, where upcycled coffee grounds have been used to make parts of the drip tray and product housing. It’s available at the time of writing from Currys for £189.
The Beko bean-to-cup is phenomenally priced, makes great espresso and steams milk well. For that, we have given it a strong score. Still, and perhaps inevitably, there are compromises to be made because of its price point. It can be confusing to use and perhaps temperamental. We’d recommend careful treatment if you buy one.