This guide will walk you through the nitty-gritty of purchasing the best cappuccino makers that the market has to offer. We’ve scoured the professional barista forums and blogs, researched the best-published material on the subject, talked to coffee experts and aficionados, and tried to brew our own coffee! Preparing a perfect cappuccino turned out to be difficult, it’s certainly an art form, no questions there, but can you do it at home? The good news is, yes, you can! Read on to discover tips and tricks of making perfect cappuccinos, things to look for when buying a cappuccino maker, and many more! We’ve also reviewed the TOP 6 Best Cappuccino Makers for a hassle-free shopping!
- What is a cappuccino?
- What is a cappuccino maker and how it works?
- Things to look for when buying
- TOP 6 Best Cappuccino Makers
- Tips for making a great cappuccino
I am a caffeine addict. I drink everything from coke and energy drinks to strong filtered coffee or double espressos. I know, it might not sound very healthy, but what the heck? We only live once, right? I can’t imagine my day without the strongest cup-of-Joe I can get. Cappuccinos, though, are great for a change. And the secret to the best cappuccino actually lies in the properly brewed espresso.
A cappuccino is a single shot of espresso underneath a subtle texture of microfoam milk. A perfect cappuccino is ⅓ espresso (one shot), ⅓ steamed milk, and ⅓ milk froth. Another important factor is both the quality of espresso and the texture of a microfoam. The former usually depends on many factors, such as the freshness and the type of beans used in preparing espresso, as well as the machine that makes it. The espresso maker either does a good espresso or it doesn’t. There’s not actually much you can do about it, except probably buy a new machine or experiment with the quality and type of beans you use, and follow some other basic rules, which we’ll cover by the end of this guide, in case you’re interested.
Another component of a great cappuccino is a properly created micro-foam. The foam is created by forcing hot air into the milk, which then gets caught between protein molecules, producing a lavishly prolific foam. To learn more about how to make a perfect foam proceed straight to Tips for making microfoam.
A cappuccino maker is a combination of an espresso machine with a milk froth system. The machines work by heating the water and forcing it through the ground coffee under a certain amount of pressure. A steam wand is used separately to froth milk and then add it to a drink of your choice.
If you’re a fan of Jamie Oliver (like I am), you probably know about Mike Cooper’s rubric about drinks on Jamie’s show. In one of the episodes, Mike went to Italy to La Marzocco coffee machine plant, where every single piece and detail is handcrafted. In this episode, Mike explains how the machine works and what effort and precision goes to its manufacturing process:
If you’re really keen on making a great cappuccino, then you perhaps know that you should start with making a great espresso first. To achieve a perfect shot you need to look for machines capable of producing a high pressure of 9 bars. Most of the modern non-professional machines would generate as much as 15 bars, and that’s okay too. But if you’re really into an authentic and true espresso, then 9 bars is what you have to look for.
Another important feature is a burr grinder. Cheaper coffee machines would have blades or fake burrs, which would not really grind your coffee, but rather smash it to little bits and pieces without creating a proper texture. Burrs are revolving abrasive surfaces rather than flat propeller-like blades.
Now, speaking of capsule coffee machines, then this feature is obviously to be disregarded since there’s nothing there to really grind.
Water tank capacity
That would mean a lot of you drink americano rather than cappuccino or espresso, because the smaller the tank, the more you’ll have to take rounds refilling it.
Now, for a cappuccino, milk has to be perfect, just as well as an espresso. Look how milk frothing is performed in a machine of your choice, is it manual or automatic? I suggest looking for a manual option because you’ll have plenty of options to experiment with how and what you’re steaming. The materials for a milk tank and wand are important as well. I do not advise plastic wands or pitchers, because they tend to break, disintegrate, can alter the milk taste, and interfere with the steaming process. Look for stainless steel pitchers or other metal alloys for these things.
If you’re more concerned about convenience rather than coffee, then perhaps you should take a look at the features of a machine. Some of the advanced models have programmable settings, different kinds of pre-sets for specialty drinks, and whatnot.
Beans should be perfect for espresso. If you see a coffee labeled as espresso, then it’s either finely ground or a blend that’s created for a balanced flavor for an espresso. Again, it’s a matter of personal choice and taste, but I’d suggest the following brands to start with, in case you are looking for advice: Lavazza Super Crema and Cliff Hanger Espresso from Kicking Horse Coffee.
Here we’ve chosen only the best models from the famous brands, so you can really choose any, they are all of high-quality. The prices fall in the range of 150 to 800 dollars. The best models that really brew authentic espressos are usually around 500.
Barista Express - Espresso Machine | Breville - best cappuccino maker with a burr grinder; 9 bars
Breville is an iconic global brand that originated in Australia and has quickly won the appreciation of consumers around the world for its brilliant innovation and thoughtful design. The company’s website says that a primary Breville’s mission is to empower people to do things in their kitchen they, otherwise, thought would be impossible.
This iconic centerpiece is a huge and powerful machine made of brushed stainless steel. The appliance has a number of impressive programmable options that would turn your kitchen into an awe-inspiring coffee shop, and your countertop to a barista bar. The Breville machine allows you to grind beans right before extraction, meaning you’ll get the freshest coffee possible. The interchangeable filters and a choice of automatic or manual operation ensure authentic coffee preparation just like you’d get at a high-end coffee bar. There are other powerful features of the Barista express, such as dose-control grinding, precise espresso extraction, micro-foam milk texturing, and grind size dial. There are a lot of variables in the machine, so you’ll really have to fine-tune it to suit your peculiar tastes.
What’s really great about this machine, is that it actually makes great coffee following the basic and yet important rules that other machines sometimes fail to obey. First, Breville doses from 19 to 22 grams of coffee for the rich and full-bodied taste, while other machines usually dose from 11 to 13 grams. Breville also uses a 9-bar extraction pressure, which is important for a proper espresso with a golden crema. The machine also features a digital temperature control technology that controls the temperature during the extraction to ensure the drink is prepared just right. This espresso maker has an authentic burr grinder, not a blade one or a fake burr. And if you’re a coffee addict, you probably know the difference it makes.
Of course, the best coffee is almost always expensive. But investing in Breville machine is totally worth it.
Breville Barista Express: Check the current price
K-Cafe Single-Serve K-Cup Cappuccino Maker | Keurig - capsule cappuccino maker with milk frother
Keurig is an American brand, which is most famous for its K-Cup pods, single serve coffee containers and the machines that actually brew coffee from these pods. K-Cafe that we feature here is exactly that machine.
Honestly, I am not a big fan of pods or capsules, because, they are more about convenience than the real taste of coffee. The coffee in the pods is obviously not going to be fresh and sometimes it tastes pretty weird, bland, or musty. Moreover, coffee capsules are extremely detrimental to the environment, because there are a few plants in the world that would be able to recycle the mix of plastic and aluminum these pods are made of. Hamburg, a German city, became the first to ban coffee pods form all governmental buildings.
However, if you’re more into convenience, rather than coffee, then Keurig is the best you can get for a capsule machine. It’s very easy and intuitive to use, it features a separate container for milk frothing, and has other special features that would deliver specialty coffee drinks, including shots, and different types of microfoam. Besides, it’s cheap compared to the first coffee machine from Breville, we talked a moment ago, and would cost you less than 200, which does seem like a very good deal. Seriously though, while Keurig offers an impressive degree of customization, you really won’t be able to really “brew” your coffee or experiment with the beans, pressure, and frothing milk, because the machine will do that for you automatically.
Keurig: Check the current price
Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker | Mr. Coffee - cappuccino maker with automatic frothing
Mr. Coffee is another super famous brand that’s been in the business for more than 40 years. The cappuccino maker we feature here is an absolute bestseller among Americans. It’s somewhat in-between Breville and Keurig in terms of the coffee it makes: it’s convenient and almost to the point. It’s really easy to use: pick up a single or double shot filter, select your grounds, fill the milk reservoir, and choose the desired brew. There’s the one-touch control panel, where you can choose between espresso, cappuccino, or latte. The pressure, however, is 15 bars, which way more that requires for an espresso, but if you don’t really care, then why not? The milk pitcher is also plastic, which is a downside, but the milk frother will do all the work for you, just push a button. If you like the degree of autonomy and convenience the machine provides, then this is a solid choice. The consumers, however, did share my sentiment in terms of the plastic milk frother and nozzle that fried the milk rather than steam it.
Mr. Coffee: Check the current price
Magnifica Coffee Machine | DeLonghi - cappuccino maker with a burr grinder and manual milk frother
If you have not yet heard about DeLonghi, then it’s about time! It’s an Italian brand, which is recognized as a global leader in coffee and other kitchen appliance. The machine we represent here is a perfect example of high quality and style so pertinent to the DeLonghi brand that you cannot really mistake it for anything else.
This machine also features a real burr grinder, which is a fantastic advantage, making it almost on par with the Breville machine, with 13 adjustable settings. A manual frother mixes steam and milk to create a rich, creamy froth for evenly textured drinks. And if you have read other parts of this guide, then you know, that I strongly advocate for manual or almost manual brewing and frothing to create really authentic drinks.
The machine’s brewing is pretty consistent, it automatically adjusts the perfect temperature for you, but you can customize the settings to ensure it’s the way you like. The pressure though is 15 bar, not 9 bar, that’s ideal for espresso, but if you’re not a fan of espresso anyway, then it should not matter to you that much.
The appliance is also easy to clean and take care of with the removable brew unit and drip tray. You can use specialty drinks, in case you don’t have time to prepare them manually.
Among things noticed by consumers were a concern for a lightweight plastic bin for grinding coffee, or that the rubber frothing milk wand was making “overbeating egg whites rather than silky bubbles”. Some consumers actually noticed the improvement in the quality of steaming when they took that rubber coating off.
Honestly, comparing this unit and Breville, which are both priced relatively the same, I’ll go for Breville.
DeLonghi: Check the current price
2-IN-1 Touch Cappuccino Espresso Machine | KRUPS - super-automatic cappuccino maker with a touch display
The last item on our list is from Krups, another famous brand but now from Germany, which has been around for more than a century. This is the most expensive item on our list, however, so it’s better to be good. Let’s find out.
The machine has an intuitive and large color touch display, where you can set up your own brewing programs. There are auto-start and auto-off functionality with a programmable clock, which certainly makes this machine technologically superior to the ones we’ve covered above. There’s also a milk suction pipe that’s easily attached to a cappuccino block. There’s a burr grinder, too, and 9.5-ounce coffee-bean container. Pressure is 15 bars.
Considering the machine exorbitant price (over 1,000 dollars if not on sale), it’s hard to recommend for someone who is really concerned about coffee, rather than a touch screen display or programmable clock. But if those features are important to you, then perhaps, it’s worth its money.
KRUPS: Check the current price
Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine with Aeroccino Milk Frother | Breville - best budget mini capsule coffee maker
If you’re not yet prepared to spend a fortune on something you’re not sure you’ll be capable to tame, then lucky for you, Breville has a mini espresso machine that comes in a bundle with Aeroccino milk frother. If you’re single or live alone, then this is by far the best choice for lonely winter mornings.
Don’t be discouraged by the machine’s small size, it’s almost ideal for a single-serve espresso maker, which is built without compromising the quality of the drink. It won’t be on par with the real cappuccino maker from Breville we’ve covered earlier, but it’s also much easier and more convenient to use, and wouldn’t require any additional coffee making skills from you.
One-touch operation, automatic auto shut-off, adjustable cup size, and two programmable buttons for espresso and lungo, as well as a gift of 14 Nespresso capsules, make this cappuccino maker easy to recommend for a budget single-serve capsule machine.
Aeroccino is extremely easy to use, just pour over the milk and push a button. I’ve had a pleasure of tasting frothy milk from Aeroccino when I was working in the office. And while I truly enjoyed using the machine, I noticed that after a while it built up a stale smell from the milk, maybe because it was not cleaned properly or because some people in the office seldom forgot they left the milk there. In any case, learning how to care for the machine is important.
Breville Nespresso Essenza: Check the current price
Comparative chart of Cappuccino Makers
Breville Barista Express
|9 bars |
Grind size dial
54mm stainless steel portafilter
67 fl. oz. removable water tank
Volumetric control & Espresso pressure gauge
Thermocoil heating system
Removable drip tray
60 fl. oz. removable water tank
Temperature and strength control
|15 bars |
Automatic Frothing with Removable Milk Tank
Filter for Single and Double Espresso
|Burr grinder with 13 settings |
Extractable brew unit and removable drip tray
Ester tank 60 oz
|Burr grinder |
Milk suction pipe
Touch screen display
Programmable settings; clock; auto-on/off
Water tank 57 oz
Breville Nespresso Essenza
|19 bars |
Capsules (16 free included)
2 programmable cup sizes
Water tank 20.29oz.
Is this true that the cappuccino makers designed for homebrewing make the same good cappuccino that’s served in coffee bars and restaurants?
With the first Breville machine we’ve covered, you’ll be able to do even better. Espresso should be consumed within two minutes after preparation, this is why coffee in coffee bars is always better than in restaurants where you have to wait for a waiter to bring coffee to your table.
Should I buy inexpensive cappuccino makers under $100 or this is just a waste of money?
Well, some inexpensive models from trusted brands are good for home-brewing, so why not? If you don’t care about what kind of pressure is used in the preparation of espresso, and you’re more concerned about convenience, then I think it’s all worth it.
What’s the best cappuccino maker for a home can you recommend?
All the options described above are perfect for home brewing. However, the best option is the Breville Cappuccino Maker.
What’s the best cappuccino maker for office?
In the office, you’ll probably want something really quick and on the go, without the need for experiments. We’d advise on the K-Kafe hassle-free capsule cappuccino maker.
Is there anything like a cappuccino maker for camping?
There are actually a few options here. Either buy a portable espresso machine, like this one from MiPress, and a separate battery operated milk frother, like the one from Powerlix. Or buy a camping style stovetop coffee maker, like the one from nCamp, and a milk frother.
What cappuccino machine for a restaurant can you suggest buying?
Breville machines are superb. For a restaurant, I’d recommend dual boiler espresso machine.
What cappuccino machine for the gas station can I buy?
Any options from above are going to serve you well. But perhaps, the best one would be K-Kafe capsule machine for faster service.
Since making a perfect cup of cappuccino really incorporates two separate processes, first brewing espresso, and them steaming and frothing milk, we’ve included tips for both:
These set of tips were gleaned from various professional barista blogs and taken from an article, published by Reuters, where the reports talked to Luca Mastantuoni, a coffee trainer from Lavazza:
- The original recipe of an espresso calls for keeping the pressure in the machine at 9 Bars (or atmospheres)
- The water should not be brought to a boiling point, but rather 194 - 203 degrees Fahrenheit (90-95 degrees Celsius)
- Use freshly ground beans
- Make sure you grind beans to the granularity that makes the brewing for approximately 25 seconds. If you’re really into making a great cup, then use a timer and calibrate your grinding accordingly
- Tamp the coffee grounds with a real tamper slightly at first, to ensure coffee is evenly distributed, and then tamp it into a compressed lump for consistent extraction
- Ensure your machine and filters are pre-heated. Usually, high-quality machines will run hot water through it to keep it at just the right temperature
- Crema is the best indicator of high-quality espresso: it should be thick and of hazelnut color
- Choose a thick porcelain cup for your espresso so it doesn’t lose its temperature and aroma quickly
- Drink your espresso within two minutes after preparation, otherwise, the delicate yet thick aroma will be lost
- The milk pitcher and milk should be kept in the refrigerator
Begin steaming milk by moving rapidly clockwise, then get to the surface and work it for about 15-20 seconds
- Submerge the wand back into the milk and roll
- The temperature of the milk should not exceed 170 degrees Fahrenheit (preferably in-between 140 and 170 degrees)
- Tap the pitcher several times on the counter to evenly distribute the foam and force the bubbles out, then roll the milk slightly for consistency
- Voila! Serve on top of espresso for the best cappuccino
Pros and Cons of cappuccino makers
- You’ll be able to finally save money on all those coffee rounds you made to coffee bars and shops for cappuccinos
- You can learn how to make high-quality coffee in the comfort of your own home
- You can impress your family and friends with your coffee brewing skills
- The best machines are expensive (around 500 dollars)
- It takes a lot of time and effort to really learn that new skill (baristas learn it for years)
- The higher the cost, the higher the maintenance
Preparing the best cappuccino really takes a lot of time and effort but with these powerful machines, you can achieve the results much faster. So why waste time? Buy a cappuccino maker now and start brewing the best coffee ever!