fbq('trackCustom', 'view_shop_gear'); var trackEvent = 'shop_gear'; Tradition and innovation have historically been at odds. Yet,…
Tired of the same ol’, same ol’ when it comes to your morning coffee routine? Maybe that old drip maker or Keurig just isn’t cutting it anymore. If you find yourself going out almost every day for a cappuccino, you might want to consider buying your own cappuccino maker. Having one in your own home can save both time and money – plus it can make a downright delicious cuppa.
Besides, what better early holiday or birthday present to get oneself?
But which machine should you choose? Is there one that works better than all the rest? Whether you are looking for an affordable option or something a little more high-end, I’ve got some suggestions for the best cappuccino maker to buy.
Okay, before we leap into which is the best cappuccino machine on the market, let’s talk about what a cappuccino machine is and how it functions. This is simply a machine that makes cappuccino – a drink perfected and popularized during World Wars I and II. What you have is a shot of espresso as the bottom layer, steamed milk in the middle, and milky foam on the top. You can personalize your drink with a flavored syrup and/or a dash of cinnamon or cocoa powder on the top.
Unlike an espresso machine, a cappuccino maker can easily make you an espresso-based drink with milk with the quick touch of a button.
Aside from just going the manual route, you can buy either a semi- or super-automatic espresso machine. Semi-automatic machines require you to press a button to get the shot, as opposed to pulling a lever. But you still have to grind the coffee. While they are user-friendly enough, they still have steep learning curves. Of course, you get full control over your brewing variables and can spend some time honing your barista skills.
A super-automatic machine does most of the work for you. It will grind the coffee, set up the portafilter and tamp, pull the shot, and steam the milk for you. This makes them rather convenient, especially for the untrained hand. And they’re incredibly consistent. But – and this is a big “but” for many aficionados – you get almost no control over your brewing variables. You might also need to get your machine professionally cleaned, as it will get dirty fast.
Depending on your skill level, you might want to opt for semi-automatic. It doesn’t require a ton of strength to pull the shot, but you get a good amount of control over the brewing variables. You also get to practice your skills as an in-home barista with the semi-automatic espresso maker. It is just a tad more fun and doesn’t require a crazy pro-level cleaning.
One of my absolute favorite espresso machines to use for making a cappuccino is the Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine. It comes in either stainless steel or black sesame tone, so you can choose whichever looks best in your kitchen.
One of the handiest features of this machine is the built-in precision conical burr grinder that grinds your coffee beans on demand. The benefit of having this feature is that the machine can serve up the correct amount of ground coffee into the portafilter in order to create your preferred taste. And, yes, it does this with any roast bean.
The machine's low pressure pre-infusion system will incrementally boost pressure at the start of brewing. It ensures that every flavor is extracted evenly to create a well balanced, tasty cup of espresso. Additionally, the digital temperature control serves up water at an exact temperature, resulting in an optimal espresso extraction process. Microfoam milk texting is manual, allowing you a good amount of creative control there.
You can move the grind size dial to select your ideal grind size, and you can let the machine do the grinding for you. It's ideal for beginner and intermediate at-home baristas!
The downsides? Some buyers report trouble contacting customer service - as in customer service almost doesn't seem to exist. A few buyers also note paint chips on the black sesame model after receiving theirs.
If you do want to get a super-automatic, the Jura S8 Automatic Coffee Machine is a high-quality model to try. It is a lot more high-end than other models and will therefore cost you quite a bit more money. But it could be worth it if you plan on using it every day. This machine grinds your coffee, brews the espresso, and will add the steamed milk for you with the mere touch of a button. It is a mostly hands-off process for you, but you get to choose from a whopping 15 different drink options - and all of them are barista-level quality.
The Jura S8 comes equipped with an accurate and quick AromaG3 grinder that grinds whole beans to your desired fineness. Nothing here is capsuled, so you get that fresh quality taste every time. If you're feeling like tea instead of coffee, you can hit one of the hot water options; there is one for green tea specifically. It all depends on what you want to drink.
Aside from the beefy price tag, the Jura S8 has a touchscreen that can be somewhat slow to respond to your inputs. Also, you are only able to adjust the grinder while the machine is on; when the machine is off, you can't make even a minor adjustment.
If you're looking for something a little more affordable, the Philips 3200 Fully Automatic Espresso Machine EP3221 might be right up your alley. This cappuccino maker does not include a frothing cup (meaning you will have to buy your own separately), and it can be fairly noisy to run. However, it can make a mean cup of espresso when you want one.
This machine can make a few different cups at your request: espresso, hot water, coffee, Americano, and Espresso Lungo. The 60-hertz intuitive touchscreen display is remarkably easy to use, even for a non-tech savvy beginner. A built-in grinder is included in this design, and you get a 12-step grinder adjustment set-up. What's best is that the aroma seal should keep your beans fresher for longer. With the AquaClean system in place, you can brew up to 5,000 cups without a descaling.
This machine might automatically shut off too quickly for some users. It goes off within 30 minutes, so if you are going to wait at least half an hour for your next cup, you will have to power the machine on again.
Another super-automatic option you might want to try is the Saeco Picobaristo Super Automatic Espresso machine. Both functional and attractive, this machine can quickly and easily make one of 15 different drinks. And, with the AquaClean system equipped, you can go 5,000 cups without descaling. On top of that, the Saeco Picobaristo adds the hygiesteam function, which cleans the entire milk circuit utilizing steam from the spout to clean down deep into the milk tubes.
You get to select from five different strength settings and 10 adjustable grinder settings for optimal intensity control. Fine or coarse, this cappuccino maker can get the right blend.
But beware, some people have reported malfunctions early on in ownership, including the magnet on the hopper door malfunctioning. Sending it back for repairs can take weeks. Some people have simply resorted to putting the magnet back in and taping it down with Scotch tape.
Perhaps you want something that is pod compatible. If you're on the hunt for something that can accommodate pods (since, let's face it, they're a lot less messy than dealing with grounds), the De'Longhi ESAM3300 is where I recommend you start looking. You can buy it with the glass espresso cups or save a few bucks and just use your own.
The pro-grade burr grinder has 13 adjustable grind settings to ensure that you get your ideal grind every time. The manual frother helps you get your froth just the way you like it. The brewing itself seems quite consistent, as the machine gets each cup to the right temperature each time. This machine is compact and easy to clean when you need to. The display panel's controls are easy to use so that you can quickly set up this cappuccino maker to serve up a flat white, a creamy latte, or delicious macchiato.
Note that these machines are reported to break down quickly and require a bit of descaling from owners. Another common issue is beans getting stuck in the grinder, leading to a watery cup of espresso.
Let's talk about a more affordable option here - the Mr. Coffee Café Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker. My rule-of-thumb with coffee makers of any sort is that you get what you pay for. But I kinda-sorta have to break my own rule here. This Mr. Coffee contraption is one of the best affordable cappuccino makers on the market. While I have a deep fondness for the red model (it goes with the rest of my appliances - a rarity for me), the silver and white models are equally eye-catching. If you want, you can order a grinder separately - this machine doesn't have one built in.
The Mr. Coffee Café Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker is a semi-automatic 3-in-1 latte/espresso/cappuccino maker. The user-friendly control panel makes it so that all you have to do is press one button, then voila! Your drink is done. One of the things I like is the 26-inch cord. If, like me, your closest outlet is a stretch to get to, this long cord comes in handy. There is also a 15-bar pump system that produces barista-level drinks as well as an automatic frother that cuts down on the work you have to do.
While it is hard to find fault with the machine's functions, some people have received products that stop working after a few months. For a few folks, it has just worked inconsistently while, for others, it totally stopped working after two or three months. It might also require regular cleaning to prolong its lifespan.
If you don't want to deal with an overloaded touchscreen display, I recommend the Gaggia Classic Pro. While this entry-level semi-automatic cappuccino maker definitely looks like one of those no-frills cappuccino makers, it has some commercial-grade functionality going on. This machine comes with its own commercial-grade steam wand that steams and froths the milk for you. The shot quality is consistent thanks to the pressurized filter baskets. And the chrome-plated brass 58 mm porta-filter is on par with what coffee shops use.
One of the things you won't find in every cappuccino maker is a 3-way solenoid valve. This valve removes pressure from the coffee to produce a dry puck you can simply discard. Also, the updates stainless steel frame offers a more streamlined appearance with easier access to the water reservoir. The pump mounts have been improved on this model as well. This machine only takes 30 seconds to heat up whereas others might take double that.
Of course, no machine is perfect. This one has a free height (which is what we call the space from the bottom of the porta-filter to the drip tray/platform)that is only 3 inches. This means only short cups can fit beneath it. Also, the water reservoir is still somewhat hard to get to since it is placed behind a bunch of other components.
When it comes to Nespresso, the Nespresso Vertuo gets the job done best. It is one of those cappuccino makers that serves up barista-grade brewed single-serve coffee or espresso cups with the mere touch of a button. Of course, you can only use it with the Nespresso Vertuo capsules - nothing else. So, if you're someone who wants to grind your own coffee and use a wide variety of brands, this might not be the best choice for you. But for Nespresso fans, it will do.
This machine is built with a massive 54 oz. water tank and a huge 17-count used capsule container. Its heat-up time is a super snappy 15 seconds, besting most machines out there. This system utilizes Nespresso's Centrifusion technology, which scans barcodes to serve up consistently good cups. With coffee, you can make either 5- or 8-oz. cups. As far as espresso, you can do a single or double shot at once.
Now, a few people have received defective products. Customer service reps will try to walk you through the cleaning process if you call, but this troubleshooting method might not work. Additionally, some folks claim that the coffee doesn't come out hot for them, just luke-warm.
If you've been using a standard Keurig for a while and want to switch things up a little, the Keurig K-Cafe is the best cappuccino maker to try with K-Cup pods. You can brew regular coffee, a latte, or cappuccino, and you can use any K-Cup pod to do so. You can also get a refillable K-Cup pod and either use your preferred pre-ground coffee or grind your own beans. You have a lot of options.
With its 7.2-inch free height, this machine works for everything from shot cups to travel mugs. The top rack is dishwasher safe, making for some easy clean-up. The 60-oz. water reservoir lets you brew up to six cups before you need to refill it. You also don't need to wait for the machine to heat up thanks to the Smart Start function.
Some users might be disappointed to get a model that works for less than a year - that has happened. When trying to turn the pump on, the machine might power down. Also, this machine draws a lot of amps and can therefore trip GFI circuit breakers. It is best to plug the machine into its own circuit.
The best over-all pod-compatible machine outside of a Keurig is the De'Longhi Dedica Pump Espresso Machine. This machine can be ordered with or without glasses and only takes up 6 inches of counter space. Amazingly, though, it has a 35-oz. water reservoir while still managing to be so compact.
De'Longhi's patented manual cappuccino system produces thick, rich, and long-lasting foam to be enjoyed each morning (or - let's face it - noon and evening too). You can set it for a single or double shot of espresso, and the machine gets to the ideal heating temperature in 40 seconds. Buttons on the control panel are illuminated, so if you need to see them in the dark, you can.
While this is a nice, compact option, it has a few known issues. One is that the steam light (which tells you if the machine requires descaling) might not go off when you actually need to descale. You also cannot tamp down the grounds with this machine since it can cause the pump to labor too hard, resulting in barely any espresso coming out.
Need something quick and easy to clean? I recommend opting for pods. But if it is bold flavor you want, use grounds. In fact, buy whole beans and use your own grinder or the grinder built into your cappuccino maker.
You can get one of three types of milk frothers on an espresso-cappuccino maker: a frothing wand, a frothing tank (generally found on an automatic model), or a separate frother (like what you get with the Nespresso). Wands are messy and loud but provide more control. Frothing tanks are quick and easy to use but take time to clean. The separate frother is a space-saver, but their effectiveness varies.
How much counter space can you spare? Bear in mind that espresso-cappuccino makers are often wider and longer than drip coffee makers. Measure your space ahead of time and make sure the cord length will actually reach a nearby open outlet.
Espresso actually means “to press out”, not “to express” or expedite. Speeds vary. It takes about 30 seconds to pull an espresso shot, but a machine can take anywhere from 15 seconds to nearly 30 minutes to heat up. Automatic machines save the most time but are more restrictive in terms of control.
Fully automatic cappuccino makers do most of the work for you while semi-automatic models do only some of the work. A super-automatic machine does pretty much everything with just the press of a button. As mentioned above, they all have their benefits and drawbacks. If ease-of-use is the top priority for you, a super-automatic is the way to go. However, most semi-automatic models are easy enough to use once you work through the learning curve.
Cappuccino makers require some clean-up. Grounds should always be dumped post-use, and a brush should be used to scrub the porta-filter and grouphead to wipe away grounds. Wipe the end of the frother to keep that tidy. The frother will need an occasional rinse too.
Backflush the portafilter by locking it into the grouphead and running the brew cycle a few times until it is clear of debris. At home, you can do it every few days. Doing it every few weeks with detergent makes it even cleaner.
Descaling is crucial for removing residue. Manufacturers recommend doing it once a month, but some machines really only need it every two to three months. You might want to use vinegar with soap water, but check your user’s manual first to ensure that it is safe to do so.
One of the things to keep in mind is that practice makes perfect. Your first cup won’t be your greatest. Start by getting more foam than milk, then brew your espresso – single or double – using your desired setting on the machine. Swirl the milk around to release air bubbles; you can tap the milk jug against a counter if there are persistent bubbles. From a low height, pour the milk over the espresso. Then give the milk a gentle wiggle to make sure the foam transfers into the cup.
A cappuccino is an Italian-style drink that involves three layers: an espresso shot, steamed milk, and a layer of froth.
If you're going to the coffeeshop several times a week, you can save money by buying a cappuccino machine.
Some espresso machines can make cappuccinos, but a few don't. Check with the manufacturer before you buy.
You might need to buy shot glasses, a cup drawer (for pods/capsules), and a grinder if your machine doesn't come with it.
This is the hand-held basket attached to your machine that lets you brew. It is also referred to as a grouphead.
Starbucks uses a super-autmated machine called Mastrena, which was specifically developed for them by Swiss manufacturer Thermoplan AG.
In the US, Costa will be using a coffee barista bot designed by Briggo.
Hoffman helped develop the Eagle One with Victoria Arduino and uses that.
The Linea Mini is extremely comprehensive and commercial-grade.
With the right grounds and a honed frothing technique, you can make a good cappuccino at home.
Finding a cappuccino maker that gives you some control over your drink is essential for making a great drink. While you might face a bit of a learning curve, you can make your own customized delicious drink.
That’s what I like about the Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine. There are a number of settings that allow for greater customization. Texture the milk by yourself while the machine delivers smooth and even flavor. It makes for just the right blend of machine functionality and human control.