There are two kinds of espresso machines, those with manual steam wands and those with automatic milk frothers built in. If you’ve ever used a manual steam wand you know how hard it can be to froth milk due to the learning curve involved. I for one had troubles frothing milk when I first started as a barista.
Luckily there's now an easier way to make cafe quality drinks, and that's by using an an espresso machine with an automatic milk frother. In this guide I'll outline my top 5 picks.
But how do machines with automatic milk frothers differ from standard “steam wand” coffee makers? Let’s quickly compare the two:
Manaul Steam Wand vs. Integrated Milk Frother
Manual Steam Wand
With a steam wand you’ll have to hold a pitcher under the wand and froth the milk manually – like a barista does at your local cafe. However this takes a lot of practice and time to get right.
Integrated Milk Frother
With intergraded milk frothers all you have to do is press a button and the machine does all the hard work for you. Some will even pour the frothed milk into your espresso and make a delicious latte.
Espresso Machine With Milk Frother: Top 5
Below you’ll find 5 great espresso machines with the best milk frothers. The list begins at the entry level and goes up to the high end.
The main difference between entry level and higher end options is their level of automation.
For example most entry level machines will automatically froth the milk but won't pour the milk into the beverage, whereas higher end “super automatic” coffee makers will complete the entire beverage with a press of a button: it’ll grind your beans, extract the espresso, froth the milk, and make your cafe latte.
The Keurig Rivo Cappuccino System
The Keurig is the cheapest espresso machine that automatically froths milk. The interesting thing about the Keurig is that it only accepts it’s own coffee pods rather than ground coffee. This means every espresso shot you create will be consistent, rather than having to grind your own coffee every time. Some people prefer this as it means less clean up and upfront cost as you don’t need to buy a separate grinder. The caveat is that you have to keep buying coffee pods in order to continue making coffee. I've written a guide here on where to buy k-cups.
In terms of the milk frothing ability the Keurig does a good job and is comparable in quality to milk frother jugs. It has three milk frothing functions: cappuccino, latte and cold froth. The Keurig automatically froths it milk in a seperate jug, and once the milk is complete you simply remove it and pour it into your espresso. I recommend the Keurig for the budget conscious looking to be introduced to automatic coffee machines.
Mr Coffee Espresso Maker
The Mr Coffee is the most popular budget espresso machine that automatically froths milk. There are two key differences between the Mr. Coffee and the Keurig above. The first is that the Mr Coffee accepts both freshly ground coffee and E.S.E pods (“easy serve espresso pods”). And secondly is that it both automatically froths the milk AND pours it into your espresso. This means it’s closer to a “one touch” system.
The milk it produces is on par with the Keurig above, but with the added convenience of pouring the milk directly into your espresso. However it also comes with an optional manual steam wand if you feel like testing out your barista skills. I personally perfer the Mr Coffee over the Keurig due to the dual ground coffee/pod functions. That’s worth the few extra dollars as you’re not locked into proprietary coffee pods. If you're interested in this coffee maker you read more in our full Mr Coffee review.
De’Longhi America Nespresso Lattissima Pro Machine
Moving up in the price range Nespresso and De’Longhi team up to create the Lattissima Pro. The Lattissima is an advanced Nespresso pod espresso machine with milk steamer. This means you have access to the entire range of Nespresso pods that automatically extracts espresso into your cup. Again, note the caveat of only being able to use coffee pods. But there is a lot of variety now thanks to third party Nespresso Pods.
Where this machine shines compared to the two earlier machines is in it’s milk frothing abilities, automation, and build quality. First off lets discuss the milk frother and automation as they’re linked. The Lattissima comes with a digital display that allows you to select and brew your beverage of choice. This includes cappuccinos, lattes, americanos, and espressos all with the press of a button! The milk frother is advanced enough to regulate the amount of foam density needed to create each drink. It also has a water container at the back of the machine that allows you to create americanos and black coffee. The two earlier machines cannot do this. It also looks rather fancy.
DeLonghi Compact Espresso Machine With Milk Frother
The DeLonghi Compact is the first “super automatic” espresso machine with milk steamer on this list. What makes this machine super-automatic is that with a press of a button it creates the entire coffee. A true “one touch” coffee making experience. However this does come with a price premium as automation is not cheap.
The Delonghi comes with a inbuilt burr coffee grinder, water tank, milk frother and espresso extractor and digital drink selector menu. All you have to do is press a button, supply the cup, and your milk will be automatically frothed and drink ready. The great thing about super automatic espresso machines is that they grind coffee on demand, this means you’ll always have fresh coffee upon brew. Also whole coffee beans are cheaper to buy than coffee pods.
SAECO Xelsis Espresso Machine With Milk Steamer
The final machine on this list is another super automatic espresso machine with milk frother – the SAECO Xelsis. The main feature we’re interested in with this machine is it’s integrated milk frother. But how does it differ from the Delonghi above? The main difference is that the SAECO comes with both an automatic and manual milk frother. This means you have the option of automatically frothing your milk or testing out your barista skills.
In terms of features it has all the same functionality as the Delonghi – inbuilt grinder, automatic milk steamer, water container, digital menu and espresso extractor. But the key way in which it differs is in its speed. The SAECO is a dual boiler espresso machine, while the Delonghi is only a single boiler machine with thermoblocks. This means the SAECO can steam its milk and create its espresso at a much faster pace than the Delonghi. It also has auto-cleaning features that activate after each use, so you don’t have to worry about cleaning the machine. I’d recommend the SAECO over the Delonghi if you have a coffee loving family or plan to regularly make more than 3 coffees simultaneously a day (e.g entertainers). However if you’re a 1-2 a day coffee drinker but still want a super automatic espresso machine, I’ll save some coin and go for the cheaper DeLonghi above.
That concludes this list! As always if you have any questions about espresso machines or coffee making in general, post a comment below and I’ll help you out. If you're looking for more options check out our good review on latte makers.