The latte. It’s quite amazing what you can make with just coffee, water, and milk. The café latte (quite literally, milk coffee) is that simple drink we all love. It’s the drink we ordered the first time we ventured into a coffee bar. That step between the average cuppa Joe and the world of professional coffee beverages.
But we don’t need to tell you this! You’re here to look for the best latte machine, so you can replicate this world-famous drink from your own, humble kitchen.
Finding a suitable latte machine depends on your priorities – do you need a quick machine to save you time in the morning, or do you need a top-of-the-range latte maker that has all the bells and whistles you’ve always dreamed of?
This is Nespresso’s official latte maker, and it is fantastic. It is more expensive when compared to some other machines on our list below, but it offers the complete latte experience. Our previous best choice was Mr. Coffee’s latte maker, but it is largely unavailable for purchase, and it is about $100 more expensive than Nespresso Lattissima.
Espresso vs Latte Machine
Let’s get something clear: a latte is made of an espresso coffee and frothed milk. If you use any other kind of coffee, from the French press, for example, you aren’t making a latte.
So, a latte machine will also be an espresso machine… but an espresso machine isn’t necessarily a latte machine!
Owning an espresso machine is the dream for many coffee lovers, but the space they take up, the skill needed to make an espresso well, and not to mention the cost, puts people off. A machine that can handle the skill for you, and even make additional beverages like a latte, makes the high price more worth it.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t buy an espresso machine – especially if you want to perfect your barista skills. We won’t lie to you, there aren’t many experiences in this world that beat that first sip of your self-made espresso. You can always learn how to make a latte yourself, with a frothing wand.
To find a genuine latte machine, look for:
- A true espresso maker, 9 bars of pressure and all.
- A frothing arm or internal milk heater and frother.
Without these 2 components, you cannot make a true, barista-quality latte.
Nespresso Lattissima Touch
Lattissima is, in my opinion, quite lovely to behold. The model we reviewed was a creamy off-white color that will either clash horribly with your kitchen or fit in perfectly. Of course, this does mean that you’ll need to keep it clean of coffee oils if you want to maintain that creamy color. Silver and black colors are also available – but no matter which you choose, it’s still made of plastic.
It’s on the cheaper side, but still a good $200 more than our best budget buy. You can make a latte, as well as 5 other coffee recipes, with just a push of a button. The automatic milk frother deposits the foamed milk directly into your coffee mug, with no need for manual frothing wands.
It boasts a 19-bar pump, 0.9l water tank, removable drip tray, back-lighted buttons, intuitive descaling reminders, Nespresso pod compatibility (only works with pods) and rapid heat up time.
It does exactly what it says on the box. It produces a very nice, perfectly balanced latte very quickly.
The only faults we really have are the plastic components and only pod-compatibility. You might view that as time-saving, but we think this latte maker could create even better lattes if we could choose our own coffee beans.
Mr. Coffee Latte Maker
What really stands out about the Mr. Coffee Café Latte Maker is the ease of use and pure simplicity. Anyone who’s tried to make a latte using real espresso before will know it’s not as easy as it looks.
This coffee maker churns out the latte into a latte pitcher, which you can then pour into your latte mug. At first, we were apprehensive as this machine doesn’t contain any pressure system, it brews rather than extracts… yet the resulting coffee beverage tasted remarkably like a latte. It was so surprisingly good it’s found itself at the top of our list.
It is a true latte maker. It only makes lattes. It’s not an espresso maker with a frothing wand added at the last minute. You’ll find 20 latte recipes included in the box!
It features a latte carafe that can hold up to 24floz (2 or 3 medium mugs), milk frothing and water heating tech both inside the unit, and only uses ground coffee rather than pods for a fresher beverage.
We highly recommend this latte maker for anyone who wants the ultimate latte making machine. The Mr. Coffee Latte Maker costs about the same as many other espresso makers on this list that can do much more than make a latte. But, if you want quality over quantity in your latte maker, this should be your first choice.
Hamilton Beach 40792
For a budget option that’s under $100, this is a fantastic purchase. Usually, any true espresso machine with pressure system costs at least 4x that price. The Hamilton Beach features a decent sized 0.6l water reservoir, the slide and lock portafilter for ease of use, milk frothing arm and a cup warmer.
Hamilton Beach have striped away many of the intricate features only a barista knows how to use and adjust to create an affordable, effective latte coffee machine.
Using ground coffee or espresso pods, simply slide the portafilter in and lock on, select your desired beverage with a twist of the dial and press start.
Steaming milk is as easy as holding the frothing wand in a jug of milk – latte art skills not guaranteed!
It’s not the sturdiest of espresso makers, but we felt it could last several years when used a few times a week and meticulously cleaned. You can’t adjust temperatures, monitor pressure levels or change settings to fine-tune your espresso. So, for making any basic espresso beverage, we highly recommend this coffee maker for beginners.
One last tip – make sure you thoroughly dry the portafilter once washed. It’s made of a cheap (but food safe) material that can rust pretty quickly if left damp.
The Breville latte machine we’re reviewing is the dual-boiler espresso model with frothing arm. It’s just so nice to look at… and it’s just 16 x 15 x 15 inches, which is very reasonable considering the tech that’s inside.
It boasts; a lovely LCD display, digital temperature control (PID) tech, low pressure double boiler for pre-infusion (ensures an even saturation), auto steam wand, overpressure valve (prevents bitter flavors), auto-start timer, a 2.5l water tank, hot water outlet (for Americano or just a cuppa tea), and 2 year limited warranty as the cherry on top.
The only thing it’s missing is a built-in grinder. You’ll need to buy one separately.
It has all the features you need to create a beautiful latte – but with the ease-of-use and functionality of a home coffee maker. The dials, menus, and options might take a while to get used to, but compared to the traditional espresso maker, this is a breeze.
Of course, a machine that’s both easy to use and provides professional, high-quality lattes isn’t going to be cheap. Expect to pay at least twice the price of all other latte makers on this list.
Rancilio Silvia Espresso
It’s like a miniature version of the espresso machine in your nearest coffee bar. Complete with the portafilter, milk frothing wand and space on top for all your little espresso mugs. It doesn’t have all the fancy features of the Hamilton Beach or the Breville that make them just a bit more amateur-friendly, but it is still a carefully designed traditional espresso machine for the home.
The huge advantage of the traditional portafilter method of making an espresso is the precision it allows you.
In other words, there will be one precise way of making beautiful coffee with your beans… and a million ways to mess it up. This is the best latte maker for the man or woman who loves coffee, wants to be a professional and has the patience to learn to make espresso like a pro. There are no shortcuts.
The water tank is a tiny 0.3l, the buttons are a bit clunky, the appearance is not amazing and the reservoir is disappointingly plastic. If you can get past all of that, this is a good latte maker that can handle daily use (clean it properly!) and is a great way to make your own latte following the exact method used by your favorite barista.
The KRUPS all-in-one “latte” machine has the milk frothing capabilities inbuilt, rather than requiring manual work with a frothing wand. 15 bars of pressure make this a compact sized yet professional espresso machine that can pour out an incredible total of 60 espresso shots from the 1.8l water tank.
Like a traditional espresso machine, you’ll need to put in whole beans for the conical burr grinder. But that’s where tradition ends. The 15 bars of pressure is applied, and your espresso poured out with just a tap of a button. To make a latte or cappuccino, you simply select them from the LCD screen menu. The in-built milk frother dollops out a dense amount of milk foam on top of your coffee beverage at the end of the process.
The problem is, there’s no option to make a latte. The cappuccino option pours out a sort of hybrid version of a latte and cappuccino. Yes, the coffee tastes very nice (10/10 for flavor) but is it a traditional latte? No.
A good espresso machine that we’d certainly recommend if you’re looking for a versatile coffee maker (it does hot water for tea too) and you’re not fussed about tradition so long as it tastes good.
The Ninja CF112 does a lot. And we mean A LOT. Iced coffee, hot coffee, hot chocolate, tea… the list goes on. The recipe book included contains 40 recipes alone.
It’s certainly worth mentioning these features as they’ll undoubtedly impact your decision on whether to buy it, but for the sake of this review, we’ll be focusing purely on its latte-making abilities.
This isn’t an espresso machine, it relies on drip coffee (36oz water reservoir, paper filters needed, not pod compatible) to fill a single serve cup or travel mug that stays toasty warm on the hot plate. There’s no grinder so you’ll be using pre-ground coffee. The frothing wand is easy to use, but we recommend heating your milk in the microwave first. It doesn’t need to be pulled out or twisted to reach your milk – the machine is designed with the frother ease of use in mind, rather than being added on last minute.
The latte it makes is drinkable, but real coffee lovers will instantly notice the difference without the espresso. It’s passable. It’s made our best latte machine list because the reasonable mock-latte, number of features and durability of the machine makes it amazing value for money!
How We Picked the Best Latte Machine
The first thing we did for every machine was set it up and make a latte. Each machine is ranked according to the flavor of the latte and how easy/pleasurable it was to make it.
A machine that is very easy to use won’t necessarily provide a great latte. Likewise, a complex espresso machine may make a bad latte – but it can be more enjoyable to make and has the capability to produce a delicious latte with practice and adjustments.
After assessing the latte, we analyzed:
- Price – not just which cost the least, but which gave you the most value for your money. We also considered long-term costs. Replacing portafilters, buying pods rather than whole beans and warranty are all factored into the overall running cost of the machine.
- Materials, tech, and controls – do they work well and are they actually useful? Plastic isn’t a bad material – if it’s used where appropriate. Using poor quality materials to create components that are used frequently is a bad practice.
- Extra features – what else can it do if you’re sick of lattes? Our number one choice can only make a latte, true… but Mr. Coffee made the effort to include 20 different recipes to change the flavor of our latte. That’s 14 more beverages than Lattissima in second place.
- Coffee capacity – how much coffee is produced from the machine? Can you just make single serve lattes or can you make multiple cups? Can you adjust the coffee output for different mug sizes?
- Grinders – included grinders are more convenient, but there are drawbacks to having an all-in-one machine. If that grinder breaks, chances are you’ll need to replace the entire unit. Having a separate grinder might cost more upfront, but you can choose a grinder that works best for you and have more versatility with what you can use the grinder for.
- Milk frothers – built-in, auto frothers are more time effective. Frothing wands allow more precision but will take more time and effort (and washing up) on your part. You also need to consider the design of the frothing wand. Is it easy to access? Does it come out at a strange angle? Will it easily snap off? How do you clean it?
- Water reservoirs – bigger isn’t necessarily better. Detachable is best for ease of use, but natural wear and tear is more likely to occur when regularly moving it around. Leaving water unused in the reservoir will make your coffee taste stale when used, and it could leak into the machine. Consider how many lattes you’ll be making at a time and only fill the reservoir with as much water as you’ll need.
- Cleaning and maintenance – dishwasher friendly mugs, drip trays, carafes, and milk jugs are all something to keep your eye out for. They’re not that common. Be prepared to keep your espresso machine very clean if you want to maintain its high performance. Even the smallest amount of dirt in the portafilter can ruin extraction and create bitter coffee.
The essentials needed to make espresso, steamed (frothed) milk and hot water are:
- A coffee grinder,
- An espresso machine,
- A milk frothing wand,
- A milk jug,
- A latte mug.
And that’s really it.
But depending on the latte machine you buy, you might need to adjust the list.
An espresso maker with no frothing capabilities will mean buying a separate milk frothing wand. If the machine has a frothing wand, you’ll just need a milk jug with an easy-pouring spout. If it has an inbuilt milk frother, you don’t need to worry about any extra equipment for the milk.
When choosing a grinder, you need one that can produce a very fine grind. Coarse grinds are not good for espresso – it results in under extraction.
As for the traditional latte mug, look for ceramic mugs or glass coffee cups (must be glass that’s designed to withstand hot temperatures) that can hold 6 to 8 fl oz. This is the traditional size of the café latte.
If you need to pour your latte yourself, remember that you’re aiming for 1 part espresso, 3 parts milk.
Anthony is a professional barista in the city of Chicago. He has written for many online publications on various topics related to coffee.