Best Cappuccino Maker Picks For Home: 2016 Barista Guide

top cappuccino machines

Finding the best cappuccino maker is exactly like buying a car.

The "Ferrari" of cappuccino makers is going to give you a TON of performance...but it'll empty your wallet just as fast!

Whereas the "Toyota" of cappuccino makers is going to do an okay job, just don't expect anything exciting.

It's a task of compromise where you have to match your budget with the machine’s features, automation, and build quality, as all these influence the price. 

So the answer to what’s the “best one” is “it depends” – annoying right? I hate the “it depends” answer too.

More...

Luckily I’m going to make this task a little easier by recommending some great options and sharing my barista insights to help you pick the best cappuccino maker. 

the breville barista express is the best cappuccino maker

Top Pick: Breville Barista Express

Although the right machine varies between people, I find that the Breville Barista Express is the perfect compromise between price, features and durability. That's why it won my editor's choice award two years running.

Read on to check out my barista picks for the best cappuccino machines, including a in-depth buying guide covering everything you need to know about cappuccino makers. It can get rather technical.

Best Cappuccino Maker: 6 Recommendations

Picture

Name

Type

Price

Rating

Mr coffee cappuccino maker

Mr Coffee Cappuccino Maker

Best Seller!

Super

$

barista express cappuccino maker

Breville Barista Express

Editor's Choice 2016

Semi

$$

Breville Dual Boiler

Performance Pick

Semi

$$$

Lattissma Pod Cappuccino Maker

Lattissma Cappuccino Maker

Best Pod Machine

Pod

$$

magnifica xs cappuccino maker

DeLonghi Magnifica XS

Best Super Automatic

Super

$$$

Rocket R58

The "Ferrari"

Semi

$$$$

How To Buy A Cappuccino Maker

The first decision you'll make when getting a cappuccino machine is what "type" is best suited for you. 

There are three main types and they all cater to different people:

  • Pod 
  • Semi-Automatic
  • Super-Automatic

Automation is how these machine differ.

For example “pod” and “super-automatic” machines have the highest level of automation, while “semi-automatic” cappuccino machines require you to steam milk and extract espresso just like a barista does.

You gotta know how these machines differ to make an educated decision. 

So lets cover the basics...

Note: Some websites sell "steam" cappuccino makers - stay clear of these as they're nothing more than cheap imitations of the real thing. They produce watered down espresso and cappuccinos and frankly are a waste of money.

best cappuccino maker with grinder

Warning: It's a Ferrari - Rocket R58 Cappuccino Machine

Pod Cappuccino Makers

Pop cappuccino makers are perfect for people who want low maintenance and easy clean up. Pop in a pod, press start, and you're all done!

They utilize coffee “pods” and automatic milk frothers. The advantage of this is consistency. Each shot will be relevantly the same. You also don’t have to worry about extra clean up or buying a coffee grinder.

The downside is that you’ll be locked into using the machine’s proprietary coffee pods. But luckily these days there are a lot of third party providers that are both cheaper and offer variety in coffee flavors.

Pros

Cons

  • Consistent.
  • Low cost.
  • Easy to use.
  • Proprietary pods.
  • Coffee pod waste.
  • No manual control.

Semi-Automatic Cappuccino Makers

Semi-automatic cappuccino machines are best suited for the coffee geeks that want to replicate barista style coffee found in cafes.

They're the most "hands on" and require you to make coffee manually just like a barista does. This means steaming your milk, grinding your coffee and extracting your espresso.

The main way semi-automatic machines differ is with their boiler systems and build quality. Generally the more expensive the machine the better espresso you can produce, but make sure you team it with a good grinder otherwise you’ll get sub-standard results.

They make the best coffee out of the three types but have a longer learning curve.

Pros

Cons

  • Makes the best coffee after learning curve.
  • Ability to "fine tune" machine.
  • No plastic waste.
  • Longer learning curve.
  • Extra money to buy grinder (can be a pro).
  • High end machines expensive.

Super-Automatic Cappuccino Makers

Super-automatic cappuccino makers are usually the most expensive option and for good reason. They combine the convenience you see with pod machines with the freshness of coffee semi-automatic machines produce.

Super automatic cappuccino machines usually automate all or most of the coffee making process. Generally the more expensive the machine that more it automates. This includes grinding the beans, frothing the milk, extracting the espresso, and pouring the drink all with a press of a button!

Pros

Cons

  • Complete automation.
  • Can program your perfect drink.
  • Uses fresh coffee unlike pods.
  • Generally more expensive.
  • No manual control (can be a pro).

Other Considerations

Now that you know the differences between the three main types, there are a few more considerations you need to make to find the best cappuccino maker for your home. These are:

  • Your budget.
  • Boiler type.
  • Build quality.

Budgeting For A Cappuccino Maker

Probably the biggest consideration you'll make when buying a cappuccino maker is your budget.

We all want the best bang for our buck after all.

In terms of consumer level cappuccino makers the price range fluctuates anywhere between $100-$2000 dollars. You can find even more expensive cappuccino machines but they cater to the prosumer market.

The main thing that influences the cost of a cappuccino machine is their boiler type, build quality, and technical features. The better machine the more expensive it is. So this is a task of compromise – i.e. balancing what you want within your budget.

Generally pod machines are the cheapest, followed by semi-automatics, then super-automatics, then prosumer semi-automatics.

But you can be smart with your budgeting.

Pick a machine that uses both plastic and stainless steel. This will greatly reduce the price.

Ask yourself: how fast and how many coffees a day will you drink? If it's only one or two then you probably don't need a dual boiler machine - save some cash and get a heat exchange or single boiler.

How much automation do you need? The more automation, the more expensive. Maybe you're happy with steaming your own milk - this will again save you cash. 

Then again you can also go all out and buy the top of the range model.

I did 😛.

But I'm barista obsessed with coffee. 

​Note: If you’re getting a semi-automatic machine you have to take into account the cost of a grinder in your budget. Although there are exceptions such as the Breville Express and Oracle that have grinders built in.

Boiler Type - The Engine Of The Machine

A key feature that influences the cost of cappuccino makers are their boiler systems. This is because a better boiler allows for better performance in terms of speed and temperature stability.

Below is a quick outline of the three main types of boilers (from cheapest to most expensive):

1. Single Boiler 

Single boilers are usually found in entry level cappuccino machines. As they only have one boiler this means you cannot steam milk and extract espresso at the same time, rather you have to switch a lever between these modes. The downside of this is that you're sacrificing speed. You have to wait for the boiler temperature to heat up to commence steaming, and once you've made your milk you have to wait for the boiler to cool down before extracting your espresso - otherwise you'll burn your coffee. This cooling and heating also affects the heat stability of the boiler.

2. Single Boiler (Heat Exchange)

Heat exchange boilers are modified single boilers that use a "thermoblock" mechanism to allow for the rapid heating of water through a series of coils. Heat exchange boilers usually have two thermoblocks that allows for simultaneous steaming and espresso extraction unlike normal single boiler cappuccino makers. You tend to find heat exchange systems within mid-range cappuccino makers.

3. Dual Boiler

Cappuccino machines with dual boilers have one boiler dedicated to steaming milk and the other to extract espresso. The main advantage of this is superior speed, pressure output, and temperature control. You can get instant steam to make your latte and perfect pressure to extract your espresso. You tend to find high end cappuccino machines equipped with dual boilers.

Build Quality

Lastly you have to consider the build quality of the machine. The lesson here is the same as when you're buying any kitchen appliance. The more expensive the more premium the materials. 

In the world of cappuccino makers this translates to plastic exterior vs aluminum vs stainless steel. Entry level machines tend to use a hard plastic, while mid range use a combination of materials, and high end (as expected) goes all out with the stainless steel. 

Cappuccino Maker Reviews

The following are the best cappuccino machines available today. The list is divided into 3 price points:

  • Entry level (under $300).
  • Mid range (under $700).
  • High end (over $700).

Each price point lists the best cappuccino maker for each type: pod, semi-automatic and super-automatic. Note that pod cappuccino machines don't get any more expensive that the mid range price bracket.

Entry Level Cappuccino Makers

Nespresso Citiz Milk Frother Combo

The Nespresso Citiz is the cheapest pod cappuccino maker. It comes bundled with the Aeroccino Plus milk frother. To use it simple put in a pod, extract your espresso, then pour in the milk from the Aeroccino Plus.

Nespresso Citiz Cappuccino maker

Mr Coffee Cappuccino Maker

The Mr Coffee Cappuccino Maker is a hybrid super-automatic machine as it has a automatic milk frother but requires you to extract espresso manually. This is a great option for people who have trouble frothing milk as you can create foam with the press of a button.

Mr coffee cappuccino maker

Delonghi 15 Bar Cappuccino Maker

The Delonghi Cappuccino Maker is the most popular budget cappuccino machine. It has produces 15 bars of pressure to extract fresh espresso and comes equipped with an assisted steam wand to create frothy milk. A great introduction to espresso. However in your in the market for a faster machine you’re better off getting something in the mid market range.

Best Latte Machine

Mid Range Cappuccino Makers

Nespresso Lattissima Pro Cappuccino Maker

The Lattissima is the lux upgrade of the entry level Citiz. The first thing you’ll notice is that the milk frothing and pod extraction systems are integrated. This saves bench space and streamlines the coffee making process. The Lattissima also comes with digital touch menu that allows you to create americanos, cappuccinos and more with a press of a button.

lattissma Cappuccino Machine

Breville Barista Express

The Barista Express is an interesting semi-automatic cappuccino maker as its one of the few that has a built in coffee grinder. This is great as it encourages consistency, saves bench space, and saves you money by not having to buy a separate grinder. The Express is best cappuccino maker for coffee geeks looking to start making great coffee right away.

breville barista express cappuccino maker

DeLonghi Magnifica XS

The DeLonghi Magnifica XS is a super automatic cappuccino machine that automates the espresso grinding and extraction process. It also comes equipped with an assisted steam wand in order to create frothy milk. As the name suggests the Delonghi XS is extra small and ideal for smaller kitchens.

delongi magnifica xs cappuccino maker

High End Cappuccino Makers

Breville Dual Boiler

The Breville Dual Boiler is a machine that challenges more expensive pro-sumer coffee makers in the coffee maing game. The Breville is a dual boiler machine with one boiler dedicated to extracting espresso and the other for steaming milk. This means that the Breville is much faster than single boiler cappuccino makers, produces steam on demand, allows you to brew coffee and steam milk at the same time, and maintains heat stability. On top of this the Breville comes equipped with PID temperature controls that allows you to set boiler temperature, programmable volumetric controls, LCD display and shot clock. This is the perfect machine for the coffee geek.

Nespresso Citiz Cappuccino maker

SAECO EVO Cappuccino Maker

The SAECO EVO is a super automatic cappuccino maker that automates the entire coffee making process. It grinds your coffee, steams your milk, and pours your drink all with a press of a button. It also automates the cleaning process and allows you to program in customized drinks. This is the ideal machine coffee loving families or entertainers that make several coffees a day. It also has an optional milk steaming wand if you prefer to test out your barista skills.

SAECO espresso with milk frother

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