Licensed Q Arabica Grader, M.A. Journalism
- December 23, 2019
Frothy, indulgent milk mixed with a perfectly pulled espresso shot. For many people, this is the pinnacle of coffee enjoyment.
And if there’s a bit of latte art on top; well that doesn’t hurt.
To make this kind of coffee concoction, however, a couple of things are crucial:
This is my guide that will teach you how to acquire both. Read on if you want to learn everything about latte and cappuccino machines.
Before we get into specific latte and cappuccino machines, let’s just briefly talk about what separates these models. It might surprise you, but there’s no real difference to speak of.
A latte machine can make cappuccino and vice versa.
Then why are people talking about latte machines and cappuccino makers like they are two different things?
I guess the main reason is either ignorance or marketing purpose.
You see, lattes and cappuccinos are very similar drinks. They consist of:
The main difference lies in the proportions.
Cappuccino, traditionally had a thicker layer of almost meringue-like bubbles on the top, whereas the latte is known for having a thinner layer of micro milk foam on the surface – a perfect canvas for latte art.
Contrary to what you might think, it’s more challenging to steam milk for a latte than a cappuccino because you need to avoid big air bubbles. It will require a more powerful steam wand on your espresso machine as well as more technical abilities.
If you have a quality espresso machine, you’ll be able to make both cappuccinos and lattes (as well as flat whites, cortados, macchiatos, and whatnot).
However, today you see many cheaper machines that try to re-think the standard Italian setup (espresso machine + powerful steam wand).
These machines often rely on pods and capsules for the coffee, and different technologies to heat and aerate the milk.
Hence, since they aren’t technically espresso machines, the smart people from the R&D department has invented so-called “cappuccino and latte makers.”
These machines work on the assumption that you don’t need a perfectly pulled barista level espresso shot to get a delicious latte.
Instead, you can get away with a strong cup of coffee. This type of machine is trying to cut some corners, but the upside for you is that it might be a lot cheaper than investing in the old school Italian espresso machine.
Another benefit is that the workflow and learning curve is a lot more straightforward.
I think that there’s infinitely more charm in getting the legit latte made the traditional way. However, at the same time, I also realize that mixing espresso with milk changes the equation dramatically. Suddenly, the job of the coffee is to add flavor to the hot milk, so yes, you can get away with something that isn’t technically an authentic espresso.
So to recap:
The video below is quite frankly the best thing on the internet when it comes to steaming milk. Check it out if you want to learn about the mythical ‘vortex‘
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This is a modern twist on the classic Italian espresso maker. It makes espresso and froths milk according to the ancient prescription. However, some advanced technology (such as PID) has been built in so it suddenly becomes a lot easier to do all these things you previously needed a Barista License to do.
The steam wand is quite powerful at 1650 W so you’ll be able to create the swirling motion in your milk pitcher when you’re steaming. This means that you can make microfoam instead of the chunky and inconsistent big air bubbles that you get with cheaper models.
If you want to get 95 % of the barista experience for a fraction of the price, then this model is a safe bet.See more reviews
The Rancilio Silvia is legendary among home baristas. The design hasn’t changed much since it was released in the early 1990s.
It has a correct commercial size 58 mm portafilter, and a powerful steam wand. The look is metallic and classic Italian. It’s almost like having a coffee shop from Florence or Venice on your countertop.
You’ll be able to create professional level cappuccinos and lattes with this machine — no doubt about that. However, this is also a model that requires some practice. Expect to watch quite a few instructional videos on Youtube before you pour intricate latte art.See more reviews
I like the Delonghi. There’s a particular timeless attractiveness to the brand. At the same time, it’s very approachable.
I got this home cappuccino machine early on my coffee journey when I was less snobbish than I am today. Still, I think back on this machine with fondness. It does a surprisingly decent job for the price.
The espresso is strong with a beautiful crema and the machine heat in a hurry. The steamer isn’t the best one around, but nobody expects it to be. It will be more than fine for a cappuccino with some big airy foam, however, forget about latte art.
If you’re looking for a reasonable compromise between a home cappuccino maker and a more sophisticated Italian espresso machine, this is a very decent option.See more reviews
Okay, by now we all know that Nestle is an evil corporation and that the capsule coffee doesn’t taste that well compared to real espresso. However, for a particular group of people that doesn’t matter. They crave cappuccino but don’t want to deal with loose coffee grounds and all the tamping, twisting, frothing, waiting, it entails.
In that case, Nespresso is one of the most convenient options there is. Honestly, I won’t blame you if this is what you’ll end up with. If you’re going to mix the espresso with milk anyway, I think the quality of a capsule machine is sufficient.
Yes, Nespresso capsules are not that cost effective compared to buying coffee from a real roaster, but it’s still a lot cheaper than getting a takeaway every day.
This machine comes in a bundle with the Aeroccino frother. It creates milk froth by whisking instead of steaming. Purists won’t like it, but plenty of other people do. With more than 2000 review on Amazon and the vast majority at five stars, I dare to say that this a great home cappuccino maker.See more reviews
Keurig’s approach is similar to Nespresso’s: Make some espresso-coffee with the press of a single button and mix it with some heavily whisked warm milk.
Again, this is not going to win any barista competitions, but if you want a cappuccino in a hurry with minimal effort involved this works.
Should you choose Keurig or Nespresso? That depends on you. With Keurig, there are more options in the US, while Nespresso is the better choice if you’re in Europe or Asia. The former is usually a bit cheaper as well.
The shot isn’t really on a high level with either brand, but if you mix it with gallons of hot milk, it’s not that important in the end.
The bottom line is that this latte maker from Keurig gets insanely good reviews from thousands of customers. So if you’re looking for this exact kind of coffee contraption, the chances are that you’ll be satisfied.See more reviews