The Best Latte Machine -Does Your Espresso Machine Steam Milk?

Many espresso machines come with latte or cappuccino-making functions but they can cost thousands of dollars. Which ones can prepare a decent milk-based beverage? After hours of searching the net, we’ve found options to help you find the best latte machine for you!

What is a Latte Machine?

Caffè e latte is an Italian word which means coffee and milk. It is popularly known for its shortcut name latte. This coffee drink is the creamiest among other espresso selections made with espresso and hot steamed milk. 

Latte and other espresso drinks can be prepared manually by using latte machines by use of the hand or automatically. A latte machine can be a sole appliance you can use after pulling a shot from your coffee maker or an integrated part of an espresso machine. 

These two espresso machines that can prepare a latte, cappuccino, and other espresso-based drinks are more favored than single latte machines because of their compactness and ease of use. Aside from these facts, espresso machines allow you to control your espresso and your milk froth. 

Coffee lovers know by heart that a decent latte is created by a machine that can handle the milk well. So if you’re to shop for the best coffee machine, you might consider its functionality as a latte machine as well.

What’s the Difference between a Cappuccino Maker and a Latte Machine?

Aside from the capability to make better milk froth for cappuccino drinks and latte, there isn’t much difference between a cappuccino maker and a latte machine. These are similar machines as latte machines, and cappuccino makers can prepare both drinks.

What makes these machines different is the way they are marketed. If you pay attention to the components that make cappuccino and latte, you’ll realize they are similar because both coffee beverages consist of:

  • Espresso
  • Steamed, hot milk
  • Milk foam (or froth)

Yet, these two milk-based drinks differ in one thing: the milk proportions. Cappuccino drinks have meringue-like milk foam at the top while latte beverages have an observable thin layer of micro-foam at the surface, which serves as the canvas for latte art.

To create a decent latte and cappuccino drinks in one machine, you have to look for high tiered espresso machines, but worry not! We’ve searched the best latte machines to help you prepare these two drinks.

What is the Difference Between Cappuccinos, Lattes, and Other Espresso-Based Drinks?

Looking at the gourmet coffee menu usually served in cafes, and restaurants like Starbucks and Scooter’s as a first-time drinker of milk-based coffee beverages can be daunting. Since you’re on the lookout for the best latte machine, it’s best to know what sets cappuccino, latte, flat whites apart from other espresso-based drinks to help you identify which one you like to drink.

Latte, a coffee beverage drenched in hot steamed milk, is a sweeter, espresso drink with a thin layer of micro-foam about 5mm at the top, decorated with latte art of preference. A flat white coffee has a very thin layer of steamed milk and nothing else. Likewise, it has more concentrated coffee and more pungent taste with a creamy mouthfeel than a sweet-toned latte.

On the other hand, a traditional cappuccino consists of equal distributions of espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk with chocolate or cinnamon powder as decorative toppings. It’s a well-rounded espresso drink that tastes strong and bold with hints of the milk and sugar or syrup sweetness as a flavoring.

If we were to deconstruct cappuccino, latte, flat whites, and macchiato by parts, the image below best describes it.

espresso drinks illustrated
photo courtesy of lokeshdhakar.com

Semi-Automatic Vs Automatic Latte Machines

Now that you’ve identified the differences between espresso-based drinks, it’s time to find out what gives you convenience in preparing these drinks. Is semi-automatic better than automatic latte machines?

The semi-automatic latte machine for coffee is different from manual latte machines in terms of operation. To operate the latte machine manually, you have to pull down a lever to trigger the piston. WIth semi-automatic, the electric pump does this for you. Afterward, you press a button or two to pull the espresso shot.

With a semi-automatic, you’re the boss of your espresso drinks. You’re in control of the grind size to load, the amount of coffee to use, and when to stop the espresso shots. The manual steps you have to do with a semi-automatic latte machine is grinding the coffee beans, loading the grounds in the portafilter, and operating the machine to make the shots.

Yet, some people still find semi-automatic latte machines too daunting, so many prefer using an automatic latte machine. There’s not much difference between semi-automatic and automatic latte machines, but the latter offers many conveniences.

The only difference that makes automatic latte machines advantageous to semi-automatic is that you no longer need to repeatedly press a lot of buttons to control the flow of water. 

Automatic latte machines utilize an internal timer that helps in cutting off the shot in a period. Since you allowed the device to decide when to pull out the shots, it takes away your control over the shot timing relevant to making a flavorful coffee.

To really appreciate the benefits of having your own machine, you should perfect your skills using the steam wand. While an automatic machine can certainly perform some functions, steaming your own milk is satisfying and can drastically affect the flavor and quality of your latte. 

Things to Consider Before Bringing Home a Latte Machine

To ensure that you’ll land with the best deal, there are things you should consider as you shop for a home latte machine. These are:

Machine Size

Appliances vary in shapes and sizes, and latte machines, too. Whether you’re living in a campervan, a studio-type flat, or has a small kitchen, picking a compact size latte machine can help you save kitchen countertop space.

Some espresso machines come in numerous features despite their size, while other bulky espresso makers exhibit the essential elements. When you shop for a latte machine, it’s best if the device’s compactness can give more or less than its assigned value.

Capacity

Are you a casual coffee drinker who only needs coffee for a morning kick, a hardcore coffee drinker who drinks more coffee than water in a day, or a social coffee drinker who shares your favorite beans with your friends and family? To know if the espresso maker is the right machine for you, look for the prospective espresso machine’s water tank capacity. 

Some espresso machines can brew 8 to 15 cups of coffee and prepare milk froth for your latte and cappuccino drinks, while others can prepare just 4 to 6 cups of coffee.

Milk Frother

When you window shop for an espresso machine to make espresso and milk-based coffee drinks, look for the ones with a milk frother. It’s an essential component of an all-around espresso machine as some machines are only good for making regular coffee.

Check if the machine has a built-in steam wand with a decent pressure capability to ensure that the espresso machine can create good milk froth for your latte and cappuccino. Again, this will point back to the water tank capacity. Does the machine have just one or a special tank just for creating steam? 

Cleaning

The longevity of your espresso machine relies on how well it’s maintained and the ease with which it can be cleaned. Choose a latte machine that is easy to clean and maintain but can still prepare you a drink after a long day.

Price

Added features have a direct effect on the price of the machine, but this should not discourage you from considering them. More elements aligned with proven technology is a plus for creating a decent coffee drink. Do the math and be honest about how much you spend on espresso drinks at the coffee shop and how much you are saving by making your own.

Likewise, higher end products guarantee longevity as materials used to create them are durable, aesthetically stylish, and sustainable. Best of all, home latte machines allow you to enjoy barista-quality coffee drinks with unlimited refills at a cheaper cost.

Warranty

Warranties for latte makers ensure that you will be able to use the machine longer. You don’t have to spend much for a broken part when there’s a warranty that you can use to get it repaired. If you want to get the most of your money from buying latte and coffee making machines, look for a device that offers 2 to 5 years of warranty.

Frothing Milk

If you’re aiming to buy a latte machine so you can prepare espresso-based drinks for your family and friends, one feature you should look for is the machine’s ability to create milk foam. Milk frothing is as vital as grinding and tamping your coffee grounds before you brew it. 

Understanding the science and art behind creating froth out of milk enables you to optimize your coffee drinks’ overall taste and flavor. Aside from this, you should be able to understand what a latte machine can do for you and how to operate it properly.

Do the machines froth the milk for you?

Yes, but the frothing capability of an espresso machine depends on the technology integrated into the device. Most espresso machines that can create a decent milk froth often feature Panarello-style steam wands and milk frothing technologies such as Lattissima +, LatteCrema system, HP3 Milk Delivery System, Professional Fine Foam Frother G2, etc. 

Panarello Steam Wand Image
Panarello Steam Wand

Likewise, some espresso machines can perform simultaneous milk frothing after brewing coffee, while others ask you to wait for the brewing process to finish before you can use the steam wand to froth milk. Although espresso machines can automatically froth milk for you, the process still requires your intervention to achieve that smooth, layered microfoam.

How to Froth Milk Quickly? (Steps)

The type of milk to use is essential in milk frothing. If you desire a thick, creamier foam for your coffee, the most recommended is whole milk. For a milk foam with large air bubbles, you’ll need either low-fat or skimmed milk in significant quantities to make it. Yet, if you’re a vegan, the alternatives don’t stop with almond or soy milk. You can read the  full review here.

Now that we have identified the right milk to use in milk frothing, below we’ll show you how to make foam, froth, and textured milk.

To foam milk, what you need is fresh, cold milk and the following steps:

  1. Pour the fresh milk into the belly or straight-sided jug. Fill the container a third of the way up, allowing enough room for the milk to expand.
  2. Turn on the steam and purge it to remove any water left and build pressure before using it.
  3. Position the steam wand with its tip touching the surface of the milk.
  4. Turn up the steam arm to its full power.
  5. Listen closely to the sound it creates. If the sound you’re hearing is splattering, it means you’re positioning the steam arm too high.No sound indicates that the steam arm is too low, while a high-pitched, chirping sound means you’re hitting the sweet spot.
  6. Pay attention to the features of the milk. As it froths, slow lower the jug but keep the wand’s tip just underneath the milk’s surface.
  7. Once your gauge hits temperature between 40 to 45 degrees Celsius, it’s time to switch to milk texturing.

To add texture to your foamed milk, you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Position the steam wand near the milk jug’s side by raising the pitcher for a few centimeters and making sure that the tip is underneath the milk’s surface.
  2. Break down the bubbles by slightly moving the jug into an angle position. Such positioning will create a whirlpool effect, which will create a denser and smoother foam.
  3. Turn off the steam when the temperature of the milk hits 60 degrees Celsius. It will eventually reach 65 to 70 degrees Celsius since thermometers register the temperature a bit late. Yet, rest assured you’ve got the correct temperature for the textured milk.
  4. Break any surface bubbles by giving a firm tap to the base of the jug.
  5. To avoid milk build-up on the steam wand, wipe the steam arm with a damp cloth. The arm is too hot to touch, so don’t hold it.

These processes are much easier to execute with a semi-automatic espresso machine because you still control milk froths. Yet, we advise NOT steaming the milk for a second time as it will create a low foam. 

It is the same reason why semi-automatic and automatic latte machines are highly praised for their ability to determine the right amount of milk to use for frothing. Thus, milk spoilage is prevented.

Our List of the Best Latte Machines

After hours of searching for the best latte machine, we’ve come up with a list that Big Cup of Coffee highly recommends for that velvety espresso drink you desire. These are:

Breville Oracle One Touch (Fully-Automatic)

Best in Class
Breville Fully Automatic Espresso Machine, Oracle Touch
  • SWIPE. SELECT. ENJOY: With automation at every stage, simply swipe and select for espresso, long black, latte, flat white or cappuccino and enjoy caf? quality coffee at home
  • DOSE AMOUNT: The integrated conical burr grinder automatically grinds, doses and tamps 22 grams of coffee, similar to the commercial machine in your favorite cafe
  • PRECISE WATER TEMPERATURE: The difference between an ashy or balanced tasting espresso can be caused by temperature change as little as 2?F. The Oracle Touch uses digital temperature control (PID) technology, this ensures the temperature is kept at its optimum range.
  • OPTIMAL WATER PRESSURE: The Over Pressure Valve (OPV) is a commercial feature included in the Oracle Touch. This limits the maximum pressure throughout the extraction, helping prevent bitter flavors in the coffee shot. It also has true low pressure pre-infusion, which gradually increases the pressure to gently expand the grinds for an even extraction.
  • SUFFICIENT STEAM PRESSURE: A cafe quality coffee is a delicate balance of espresso flavor and rich sweet milk with a micro-foam texture. The steam wand, powered by a dedicated steam boiler, automatically textures milk to your taste and preferred temperature, delivering barista quality silky micro-foam that enhances the flavor of coffee. Then it cleans itself!
  • TRIPLE HEAT SYSTEM: 1. Dedicated steam boiler with integrated Heat Exchange aids thermal stability. 2. Dedicated espresso boiler with Digital PID control delivers precise water temperature. 3. Heated group head?PID controlled embedded element maintains thermal stability.
  • WARRANTY: 2 Year Repair Warranty. Construction Materials: Brushed Stainless Steel, Stainless Steel Dual Boiler.
  • SETTING: Touch screen operation. 5 pre-programmed Caf? favorites. Create, save and name 8 customizable coffee settings. Adjustable Grind Control. Programmable Milk Temperature and Texture. One/Two Shots. Hot Water. Voltage - 110–120 Volts


Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API or Directly from the Manufacturer. #CommissionsEarned

Breville Cafe Roma (ESP8XL) Stainless Espresso Maker

The Breville Cafe Roma is a classic-looking espresso maker that can create a creamy, velvety milk foam with its full 15-bar pump pressure. You can enjoy a coffee with its Thermoblock heating system, which extracts the coffee beans at a perfect temperature. With this stainless steel espresso maker, you can brew coffee, froth, and foam milk effortlessly. This is recommended for people who have little kitchen space. Usually, this coffee machine is offered to beginners and baristas-in-training because it’s user-friendly and comes at an affordable cost. 

Breville ESP8XL | Cafe Roma Stainless Espresso Maker

Thermoblock heating system extracts espresso at the right temperature. A full 15 bars of pressure maximizes crema for a rich, barista-style aroma and taste. The Café Roma™ features a heating indicator light. This light glows orange as the machine is heating up, then turns off when the temperature and pressure are ready to make espresso.

Model: ESP8BSS1BCA1

Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API or Directly from the Manufacturer. #CommissionsEarned

Breville The Barista Express (BES870XL) Espresso Machine

The Barista Express by Breville is a semi-automatic espresso machine that has a built-in, conical burr grinder. It utilizes a bean-to-cup system; that’s why you won’t need any separate devices to brew coffee. You can control the temperature, does-grinding as well as the grind size through its digital control panel. 

The Breville Barista Express also features a steam wand that can do micro-foam milk texturing that enhances your coffee flavor. Likewise, the texturized micro-foam allows you to create the latte art of your choice. 

Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine

The Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine is a semi-automatic espresso machine that is built to last. The machines’ linearly designed housing is made with iron frame wide side panels made of stainless steel. It can produce a perfect latte quality with its articulate stainless steel wand that can perform a complete range of motion when steaming milk. Ultimately, you can control the texture of the milk foam with its steam knob.

Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine | Iron Frame and Stainless Steel Side Panels
$735.00
  • Rugged Brushed Stainless Steel housing
  • Commercial three-way solenoid valve. Capacity water tank - 2,1 liter
  • Commercial-style 58mm chrome-plated brass portability and brew group
  • Commercial steam wand. Rotating steam want movement type
  • Easy-to-use rocker switch controls


Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API or Directly from the Manufacturer. #CommissionsEarned
10/26/2020 01:34 am UTC

Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista is your 3-in-1 semi-automatic espresso machine that can also serve as your home cappuccino maker and latte maker. It uses a 15-bar pump system to produce a delicious espresso with shots you can control in a button’s touch. This espresso machine also froths milk automatically and can be adjusted with a control knob. It’s a savvy cappuccino maker as it can determine the amount of milk needed to make a foam. 

Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker | Café Barista , Silver
$179.99
  • Semi automatic 3 in 1 espresso maker, cappuccino maker, and latte maker
  • 15 Bar Pump System Brews Rich Tasting Espresso Coffee
  • Trouble Free Automatic Milk Frother Removes the Guesswork.Do not wash the water reservoir in the dishwasher
  • One Touch Control Panel for Drink Selections
  • Easy Fill, Removable Water and Milk Reservoirs
  • Cord Length: 26 Inches; 1040 Watts
  • Important: It Is Important to Note, Instruction Manual Must Be Followed to Prime Unit Before Using Café Barista for First Time (Pg; 8, Steps 1 and 2); The Total Amount of Beverage Can Vary Depending on Type of Milk Used and Froth Control Knob Setting; It Is Advised That Frothing Tube Be Cleaned After Each Use Because That Can Cause a Variance in the Frothing as Well


Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API or Directly from the Manufacturer. #CommissionsEarned
10/26/2020 04:33 am UTC

Nespresso Lattissima Pro Original by De`Longhi

The Nespresso Lattissima by De`Longhi features an automatic cappuccino system that allows you to create a perfect layered espresso drink. Every cup is guaranteed to top with dense, rich, and long-lasting foam you’ll love from start to finish.

Among our list, it’s the only espresso machine that uses Nespresso pods to brew espresso that provides ultimate convenience. The Nespresso capsules are reusable pods, which are made from recyclable aluminum.

Nespresso Lattissima Pro Original Espresso Machine by De'Longhi, Silver
$449.95
  • It's all about the foam: The De’Longhi Automatic Cappuccino System creates perfectly layered espresso beverages, with dense, rich, long-lasting foam in every cup from start to finish.
  • Nespresso capsule system: The ultimate convenience. The recyclable aluminum capsules contain the finest espressos for authentic taste without measuring or cleanup. Milk carafe capacity (l)- 16 ounce (.5 liter)
  • Brings out more flavor: De’Longhi’s patented espresso extraction system creates the ideal flow of water with 19 bars of pressure – the ultimate amount for drawing the most flavor and desired temperature in each cup.
  • The perfect amount of milk: During the extraction process, the integrated carafe dispenses milk in adjustable levels for taste. Simply remove from the unit to keep freshly refrigerated. The unit is also designed so no milk comes in contact with the machine – and is dishwasher safe.
  • Rapid heat-up time: No need to wait for a delicious espresso. The Thermoblock heating system speeds cold-start heating time to seconds. Used capsule container: 15 capsules


Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API or Directly from the Manufacturer. #CommissionsEarned
10/25/2020 11:34 am UTC

Our Verdict: The Best Latte Machine

Each latte machine we’ve included in our list have promising features to consider. Breville Cafe Roma allows us to enjoy a tasty espresso, which is extracted at an adequate temperature. Breville, The Barista Express, can prepare a flavorful, texturized microfoam that adds character to the espresso drinks. 

The Rancilio Silvia promises longevity with its sturdy built out of stainless steel and iron frame. Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista gives you full control over making milk froth. Lastly, Nespresso Lattissima offers us a sustainable way to enjoy a delicious espresso withs reusable coffee pods. 

Yet there can only be one winner for best in class and best entry-level latte machine. These are:

Best in Class: Breville The Barista Express

We have an eye for the Breville Barista Express as the best in class as it’s a type of espresso machine that gives you total control on your espresso drinks without breaking your bank. This latte machine comes with a swivel-action steam wand, which you can rotate in 360-degrees to create a perfect latte.

The machine might be complicated at first use, but once you get a hand in controlling the brewing and frothing process, you’ll find yourself preparing barista-quality coffee drinks effortlessly.

Best Entry Level: Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista

Mr. Coffee Barista is a popular entry-level latte machine because it only costs a few hundred bucks. Yet, it offers a plethora of features that is more than its value. It’s a super-automatic espresso machine with a fast prep time because it automatically froths milk for you.

Its efficiency doesn’t stop with its milk frothing capability because its milk reservoirs are detachable, which allows you to store it in the fridge. If you’re aching to have a cappuccino, latte, or flat whites any time of the day, just hit the button to activate your desired brew settings.

Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker | Café Barista , Silver
$179.99
  • Semi automatic 3 in 1 espresso maker, cappuccino maker, and latte maker
  • 15 Bar Pump System Brews Rich Tasting Espresso Coffee
  • Trouble Free Automatic Milk Frother Removes the Guesswork.Do not wash the water reservoir in the dishwasher
  • One Touch Control Panel for Drink Selections
  • Easy Fill, Removable Water and Milk Reservoirs
  • Cord Length: 26 Inches; 1040 Watts
  • Important: It Is Important to Note, Instruction Manual Must Be Followed to Prime Unit Before Using Café Barista for First Time (Pg; 8, Steps 1 and 2); The Total Amount of Beverage Can Vary Depending on Type of Milk Used and Froth Control Knob Setting; It Is Advised That Frothing Tube Be Cleaned After Each Use Because That Can Cause a Variance in the Frothing as Well


Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API or Directly from the Manufacturer. #CommissionsEarned
10/26/2020 04:33 am UTC

Have you experienced making milk foam with manual and automatic espresso machines? What can you say about the texture of the milk foam created from each device? Please share with us your milk foam experience at the comments below.

Cheryl De Torres

Cheryl De Torres

Author

Writing content for 3 years and it wouldn't be possible without a cup of coffee in the morning. And yes! The stronger, the better.

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