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 good 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.
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 makers.
The Breville Barista Express has everything you need to make great cappuccinos at home. It's our top pick as it balances price, features, and comes with an inbuilt grinder.
Read on to see my top recommendations, individual cappuccino maker reviews, and a detailed cappuccino machine buying guide.
Best Cappuccino Maker - Top 5
1. Breville Barista Express - Our Pick
Whenever someone new to coffee asks me for a cappuccino machine recommendation, my first pick is always the Barista Express. This is because the Barista Express will satisfy the requirements for the majority of coffee lovers while balancing price, features, and durability.
The Breville Barista Express is a semi-automatic cappuccino maker with a built in electric coffee bean grinder. This is great as it promotes consistency, saves bench space, and saves you money by not having to buy a separate grinder.
The machine makes great tasting cappuccinos and espresso shots.
The only slight con is that you will need to practice to perfect your barista skills as you manually froth your milk and make your espresso. However manually making your milk and coffee will always produce better tasting results compared to a full automatic cappuccino maker. It is also quite fun learning to make coffee like a barista! And if you need help I have written an espresso pulling and milk frothing guide to help you get the most out of this machine.
2. Mr Coffee Cappuccino Maker - Entry Level Choice
The Mr Coffee Cappuccino Maker is a hybrid cappuccino machine that has an automatic milk frother and gives you the option to use either fresh coffee or compatible coffee pods to make your espresso.
This is a great entry level cappuccino machine for people who don't want to froth their milk and prefer a streamlined cappuccino making process. All you need to do is make the espresso, press a button to froth the milk, and then pour it in!
3. De'Longhi Lattissima Pro - Pod Option
This wouldn't be a complete cappuccino maker list without a pod machine from Nespresso. The Lattissima is one of the more popular Nespresso machines that makes cappuccinos with the use of its pod system and integrated automated milk frother.
This machine is another great option for the person that wants to make the cappuccino making process as easy as possible.
To use this machine you simply put in a pod, fill the container with milk, select your drink on the touch display, and the machine does the rest! The Lattissima will automatically extract your espresso and then pour the milk in the correct portions to create your beverage. It even comes with several pre-programmed drinks that it can make at a press of a button.
If you love automation, coffee pods, and have a little more money to spend, I would recommend this machine over the Mr. Coffee Cappuccino maker above.
The only drawback from this machine is that it can only use pods. So if you're looking for a super automated machine that also lets you grind fresh coffee, the next option may be a better fit for you. But if you love pods and ease of use, definitely consider this machine and make sure to check our our alternative Nespresso pod guide.
4. Delonghi Magnifica - Super Automatic Cappuccinos
The DeLonghi Magnifica is a super automatic espresso machine that automates the espresso grinding and extraction process. It also equipped with an automatic steam wand in order to create frothy milk and an internal coffee grinder.
This means that this machine grinds fresh coffee, extracts it, and then allows you to automatically froth the milk to pour into your cappuccino.
This machine is perfect for the person who wants to automate the whole cappuccino making process and use fresh coffee beans. It is also powerful enough to make mulitple coffees at a time, making it ideal for families and entertainers.
The way this machine differs from the Nespresso above is that it can use fresh coffee while the Nespresso can't as it only uses pods. So if you want to be able to buy fresh coffee beans to make your coffee, I recommend this cappuccino maker over the Nespresso as the price points are quite similar.
The only thing that the Nespresso has over this machine is that it automatically pours the milk into the beverage. The Magnifica requires you to pour your milk into the coffee once the milk is automatically frothed. But this is not a big issue in my opinion.
If you love freshly ground coffee and want ease of use to make delicious cappuccinos, get the De'Longhi Magnifica.
5. Breville Dual Boiler - Manual Option
The Breville Dual Boiler is an cappuccino maker that challenges more expensive prosumer machines in the coffee making game.
As its name suggests, Breville is a dual boiler machine with one boiler dedicated to extracting espresso and the other for steaming milk. What does this mean?
Simply put it means that the Breville allows you to make steamed milk and extract coffee at the same time and at a much faster speed compared to single boiler cappuccino makers while maintaining heat stability.
On top of this the Breville comes equipped with PID temperature controls that allow you to set boiler temperature, programmable volumetric controls, LCD display and shot clock.
This is a coffee geek's cappuccino machine.
I would suggest this machine for the person that wants to make coffee like a barista does at their local cafe. The drawback of this machine is it is the most expensive option on this list and it also requires you to buy a separate coffee grinder to make you coffee. However it is the best Breville espresso machine on the market.
However the benefit of this manual machine is that after you learn how to use it, you will be able to make the best tasting cappuccinos out of all of the machines on this list.
How To Buy A Cappuccino Maker
Hopefully now that we've gone through our top 5 cappuccino machines you will have a favourite machine.
But if you need more information, below you will find a buying guide that will help match you with your ideal cappuccino maker.
Cappuccino Maker Types
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:
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 espresso maker. They produce watered down espresso and cappuccinos and frankly are a waste of money.
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 coffee grounds. They are the perfect espresso machine for quick caffeination.
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.
Semi-Automatic Cappuccino Makers
Semi-automatic cappuccino machines are best suited for the coffee geeks that want to replicate barista style coffee found in a coffee shop.
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 (we have written a guide on the smallest coffee grinders that are great for kitchens).
They make the best coffee out of the three types but have a longer learning curve.
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 coffee beans, frothing the milk, extracting the espresso, and pouring the drink all with a press of a button!
Now that you know the differences between the three main types, there are a few more considerations you need to make to ideal 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 espresso machines the price range fluctuates anywhere between $100-$2000 dollars. You can find even more expensive espresso 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 when making espresso - 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 machine is their boiler systems. The boilers are a water tank system that heat up to produce the steam and hot water needed to make coffee. 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 boiler water tanks 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 machines. You tend to find heat exchange systems within mid-range machine.
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 cappuccino and perfect pressure to extract your espresso. Most dual boilers even allow you to set the temperature of the water taken from their water tank to experiment with brew temps. You tend to find high end cappuccino maker equipped with dual boilers.
Lastly you have to consider the build quality of the espresso 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 coffee 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 machines go all out with the stainless steel.
And that wraps up our guide on the finding the best espresso cappuccino machine for you. If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment below.