Would it surprise you to hear that a cappuccino is just coffee and milk? The same ingredients as your latte and very similar to an Americano. Some baristas would have you believe that you need a million-dollar Starbucks coffee bar to make one… but that’s not true, you can make them yourself with an affordable cappuccino machine.
So why not satisfy your cappuccino cravings at home with one of our hand-picked best cappuccino makers!
We also ran a small informal test amongst the Coffee Dorks team. Making your own cappuccino and pretending to be a pro barista is between 100% and 150% more satisfactory than putting up with the barista in your local coffee shop. Fact.
The BES870XL is the Michael Phelps of cappuccino machines. It is absolute gold in terms of quality, durability, brewing, and grinding. If you are willing to stop your research here – I can’t blame you.
This Breville comes in Black, Red, and Silver – so it is ready to strike in the heart of any kitchen decor.
Stop compromising on the quality of your brew today!
Not a Breville kind of person? The price is too high? No problem! Below we have 6 more machines that can help you perfect your barista skills at home.
List of the Top 7 Cappuccino Makers
What to Consider Before Buying a Cappuccino Machine
Obviously, the first thing you need to think about is how much you love cappuccino. Will you drink it every day for the next 3 decades, or are you just going through a coffee phase?
We’ve got some affordable home cappuccinos on the list but investing in a professional cappuccino maker can also be expensive. So, considering your budget before you peek at our list will help avoid disappointment.
Space is also a big consideration. Dedicating a large portion of your kitchen countertop to a coffee maker that only produces one drink is, well, not always going to go down well with your partner or housemates. Consider the practicality of the cappuccino maker carefully.
Learn How to Make a Cappuccino
First thing’s first, you need to know how to make one. Don’t jump in blind and buy a cappuccino brewer when you don’t know the work involved.
Ingredients you’ll need to stock up on: coffee (usually grounds, but your coffee maker might use pods or include a grinding component) and milk.
Obviously, you need water, a cup and source of electricity to power the coffee brewer, but that’s a given.
A cappuccino is made of an espresso shot (1oz) topped with milk. 50% of that milk will be steamed, the other 50% will be milk foam or froth. The difference between a latte and a cappuccino is the foam layer. In a latte, the milk foam or froth is only a very small layer at the top.
To make a cappuccino:
- Brew a single espresso shot directly into your cup.
- For every espresso shot (sometimes you might want to use a double to make a larger drink) you need the same in milk foam and milk steam. For single espresso, you need 1oz of milk steam and 1oz of milk foam in your jug.
- Using a steam wand, hold the jug at an angle with the tip hovering just below the surface of the milk – steam the milk until half is foamy, slowly moving the wand deeper as the milk heats up.
- Tap the jug to remove any larger bubbles.
- Pour your milk on top of the espresso, starting from a low height and moving to a greater height, allowing the foam to follow the steamed milk.
Voila, that’s a cappuccino. It’s more than likely going to go wrong the first time. And the second time. But you’ll get to grips with it – choosing the best cappuccino maker is going to make that easier for you.
You might find that your milk ratios are a tad off as you practice. Here are 2 handy terms to make it seem like you know what you’re doing:
Dry Cappuccino – more foam than steamed milk.
Wet Cappuccino – more steamed milk than foam.
Machine Cost, Quality and Expectations
Prices are always fluctuating a little, but the average cost of the cappuccino makers on our list is around a few hundred dollars.
That’s a lot lower than the cost of a professional barista coffee bar, so can we realistically expect them to perform as well?
Yes and no. To make cappuccino machines compatible with home kitchens, simplifications have been made. The process has been shortened and, put simply, these cappuccino makers haven’t been built to churn out hundreds of coffees a day to tired office workers and pretentious hipsters.
So, you can expect fewer things to go drastically wrong, as the machine handles the work for you. But the downside to that is, you don’t have as much of an opportunity to use your barista skills and take your cappuccino to the next level.
There are also other costs associated with a cappuccino maker. While you might have loved your favorite beans in your drip coffee maker, finding beans that work well with espresso is another matter. Then there’s the grinder, the cups, the milk jug, the thermometer and all those little things that add up.
And if you want to keep down maintenance costs, which you really should, you need to keep it clean. Having a larger, more complex coffee maker in your kitchen is going to mean there’s more upkeep required to keep it clean, functional and like-new. Start shopping for a cappuccino maker with these aspects in mind.
The last expectation that you might want to discard before we start is that you’ll instantly be able to turn out pro cappuccinos. Sure, these home coffee makers might make it a little easier… but learning to use a new coffee maker can take time. Be patient with yourself and don’t blame your tools!
Functions & Features
To follow the basic cappuccino recipe above, you need a cup, milk jug, thermometer, and steam wand.
Unless you pick a cappuccino maker that froths the milk automatically and disperses it onto your coffee, there’s not really any way to get out of buying these. Fortunately, they’re all things you can find easily online, particularly on Amazon, if they’re not included with the cappuccino maker.
Then there are the extra bits that aren’t essential but do make you seem a bit more professional. A grinder, for example, produces a fresher, more flavorful coffee by grinding coffee beans. But you can be pre-ground if you want to cut this corner.
Generally, we advise that you avoid just buying the recommended grinder from the manufacturer. Instead, pick the best burr grinder you can afford. It WILL make a difference to the quality of your coffee, particularly as even the slightest difference in grind size can drastically alter the extraction during the espresso making process. Getting a consistently fine, evenly distributed basket of coffee grinds is essential.
Cappuccinos are traditionally served in a 5oz or 6oz cup (not a your “world’s best dad” mug), with a small handle and a large surface area for the milk foam. A cappuccino is elegant and if you’ve gone to the trouble of buying a home cappuccino maker, you might as well push the boat out with some new ceramics.
When it comes down to buying the best cappuccino maker you can afford, you should focus more on the quality of the machine than the extra parts. Cups, jugs, thermometers and frother wands can all be replaced with a more effective model with relative ease. Replacing an espresso maker part or buying an entirely new maker when it dies on you, is both stressful and money-draining.
The 7 Best Home Cappuccino Machines
Most lists you’ll find are the 5 best makers or the 10 best machines… but not ours. We wouldn’t include subpar cappuccino makers or cut out some good options, just to get a round number. So, we’ll be counting down our top 7 cappuccino makers, starting with the best of the best.
Breville BES870XL the Barista Express Espresso Machine
The best overall cappuccino maker is the Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine. It’s a semi-automatic espresso maker with built-in grinder, 2-liter water reservoir (removable), thermocoil heating system, milk frothing arm and many adjustable features. You also get the thermometer, milk jug, tamping tool and all the other bits and pieces you need to get started.
Although it’s a home espresso maker, it can’t produce a cappuccino at the press of a button. You need to go through the process of tamping your coffee grounds, creating the espresso, steaming the milk and pouring it all together. It’s high performance and will deliver an artisan cappuccino – if you put the effort into learning how to use it. It’s not rocket science, but you will need to dedicate a little time to master it.
Yes, the price is pretty eye-watering, but in our opinion, it’s most definitely worth the money. You are getting a miniaturized barista-style espresso maker that offers you the same versatility as a commercial coffee maker with a little help from the instructions manual.
- Allows you to play barista and fine-tune settings
- The in-built grinder is great quality and makes your life easier
- High price (although cheap compared to similar models)
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Cappuccino Maker
The Mr. Coffee Café Barista is a fully automatic espresso maker at a respectable price. Unlike our top choice, this maker really will turn out a cappuccino or latte at the press of a button.
It features the espresso maker (just add coffee grounds and water) and milk steamer. Unlike a wand, the milk is steamed internally. Fill the reservoir with milk – you can take this off the machine and store in the fridge – and press the cappuccino button. The machine then automatically steams the milk to the right ratios and onto your espresso.
It’s a very easy to use machine that creates a standard cappuccino you’d get in an ordinary coffee house.
The biggest downfall is also the most convenient aspect of this cappuccino maker. You can’t adjust any of the settings – meaning the inconsistent temperature cannot be fixed and you can’t adjust the extraction time to suit specific coffee beans. Instead, you’ll need to go to the trouble of finding coffee beans that suit the machine and grinding them with a separate grinder.
- Makes a cappuccino at the press of a button
- Ease of use and cleaning is unbeatable
- Espresso quality is average
- Brewing temperature is inconsistent
Keurig K-Cafe Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
A cappuccino, Keurig style.
As you’d expect, it’s highly convenient, stylish and tastes good. It also creates a lot of waste from K-Cups and takes away some of the magic of creating your own espresso. Still, it offers you more control than the Mr. Coffee model.
The Keurig K-Café brews a concentrated shot of coffee – not an espresso – that can be turned into a regular cappuccino using the milk frother. Or a dry cappuccino, or wet cappuccino. Impressively, it’s also capable of delivering an iced cappuccino. It will also create a latte or regular coffee just as easily. Temperature isn’t controllable, but at least you have more control over the milk quantity and coffee you use.
You can use any coffee K-Cup to create your espresso giving you a wide range of choice without compromising convenience. After testing it, we agreed it makes a nice cappuccino. The flavor isn’t a 10 out of 10, but in terms of ease of use, price, and style, the Keurig K-Café is hard to beat as a cappuccino maker.
- Brew a cappuccino with your favored K-Cup
- Also makes wet, dry and iced cappuccinos
- Doesn’t make true espresso
- Electrical faults can occur
De’Longhi EC155 Espresso 15 BAR Pump
Our best budget option is De’Longhi. It manages to pack in the 15 bars of pressure needed to create a true espresso without even stepping on the toes of the affordable Mr. Coffee or Keurig.
It contains a built-in tamper, so once you’ve added the coffee grinds or pods it will tamp for you. Just fill the basket with coffee, lock on and press the button. Steaming the milk is done by hand, using the steam wand at the side. Despite the cheap design of the De’Longhi, to keep the cost down, the steam arm is sturdy and won’t snap off easily. We just wish it had a bit more oomph to give us glossy, frothy milk.
You can create an espresso shot, cappuccino or latte with this coffee maker. Add hot water and you’re on your way to an Americano. But that’s it, there are no additional features to impress guests.
It’s half-way between the convenience of the Keurig and versatility of the Breville. Yet the price is incredibly low. What’s not to like?
- Excellent price
- Built-in tamper and compatible with pods and fresh grinds
- Not the sturdiest design
- Milk frothing arm strong but ineffective
The ultra-simple Nespresso Inissia joins our list as it comes with an Aeroccino, as part of a package. This allows you to froth the milk needed to turn your speedy espresso into a cappuccino.
At just 12cm wide, this coffee maker will fit practically anywhere in your kitchen. The water reservoir is only 700ml and there’s no grinder or frother attached – the sacrifice you’ll make for a single-serving espresso maker of a compact size. This is a great option for the coffee lover who lives alone.
It uses pods, which are quite pricey, but as a reward, you have an insanely fast brew time, energy efficient heater, programmable buttons, and auto-shut off features. It’s easy enough for beginners to use and churns out a reasonable tasting espresso.
Make sure you buy the Nespresso Inissia package with the Aeroccino so you can make cappuccinos! Timing them both together so your milk froth is as hot as your coffee takes a little practice, but it’s no hardship. That’s the beauty of coffee pods.
If you don’t mind the standard coffee flavor as a compromise for the unparalleled speed and convenience of this espresso maker, it’s perfect for you.
- Very fast and programmable
- Compact size for small kitchens
- Flavor quality is standard
- Lacks features
Saeco HD8927/47 PicoBaristo Super Automatic Espresso & Cappuccino Maker
I can’t begin to tell you how envious we all are that you are considering this cappuccino maker! If you have a bottomless wallet, it’s the best.
The Saeco features an in-built grinder and milk frother, simple button control panel, 5 strength settings, and adjustable brew time and temperature. On top of that, it’s fully capable of creating 11 different coffee beverages including a cappuccino and baby cappuccino.
Most importantly, the cappuccino it makes tastes divine. We loved testing this out to make hundreds of coffees. From the ceramic burr grinder to water filter to quick-heat boiler, every stage of creating an espresso has been carefully thought over and improved for your convenience.
Even the cleaning is a dream, with auto-clean functions for internal cleaning and dishwasher safe external components.
The only question you need to ask is whether it is worth the price. Even with the range of functions available, will you use all of them enough to warrant spending that vast amount?
- More features and adjustable settings than any other automatic espresso maker
- Flavor is spectacular
- Quite loud to operate early in the mornings!
Gaggia 1003380 Accademia Automatic Espresso
Finally, we come to our choice in the high-end cappuccino maker category. The Gaggia Accademia is still expensive but not quite in the realms of the Saeco.
Get past the slightly 90s button design and display screen and you’ll find a fully functional, sturdy espresso maker beneath. It can grind beans with a ceramic burr grinder and turn it into a cappuccino with the press of a button – with the option to use pre-ground beans through bypassing the grinder.
When it comes to steaming milk, an important part of your cappuccino, you have the option to froth it yourself using the commercial style steam wand or let the coffee maker take care of that for you.
The cappuccino maker also offers you an easy way to adjust the extraction levels, without having to get technical and consult the manual. Anything you want to adjust or monitor can be done just by glancing at the front panel.
It’s convenient, moderately quick and reliable. Possibly the most reliable on our list!
- Adjustable settings allow you to play barista
- Automatically makes a cappuccino with one button
- Looks aren’t great!
Anthony is a professional barista in the city of Chicago. He has written for many online publications on various topics related to coffee.