Are you partial to a latte but tired of constantly heading to the coffee shop?
If so, you’re in for a treat today as we’ve got a dozen machines below all capable of turning out gourmet latte from the comfort of home.
Before anything else, what is latte?
A café latte is just a shot of espresso with some frothed milk added and mixed in.
How you go about making it depends to a large extent on your budget and the equipment you have to hand.
What should you look out for when you’re hunting for a latte machine, then?
- Price/Performance: Cheap machines start out at as little as a hundred bucks while the pricier latte machines run into four figures. You should think beyond the bottom line and consider overall value offset against performance. Budget will, to a large extent, dictate the type of machine you buy.
- Type of Machine: Some basic espresso machines with onboard frothers work well for latte. A super-automatic machine will serve up maximum convenience at the expense of controlling the brewing method. The same applies to capsule-based single-serve machines. A semi-automatic machine is cheaper, highly effective and a little more flexible, too.
- Usage and Convenience: Think about how much patience you have when you’re brewing up coffee. If you’re purely interested in speed, opt for a pod machine or a super-automatic. Personalize this element of your buying decision and you’ll get the best machine for your needs.
- Grinder? If you’re looking for the ultimate quality, grind your beans directly before brewing. Many machines come with integrated grinders so look for one of these if you don’t already have a grinder in your kitchen.
- Frothing: A manual steam wand gives you complete control over foam while an automated version reduces your effort at the expense of customization.
- Cleaning: Make sure the latte machine you’re looking at isn’t too much hassle to clean. If a coffee machine takes too much trouble to clean up, it tends to simply gather dust in the cupboard. Don’t make this mistake.
With those basics in place, you should have a clear idea of what to look out for in the best latte machine.
We’ll push directly ahead now with our capsule reviews of 12 of the top machines up for grabs.
I. Our Top Picks for Latte Machines
|Products & Features||Image & Price|
Breville The Barista Express Our #1 Pick
Runner-Up: Mr Coffee Latte Maker
Mr Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
Keurig K-Café Coffee Maker
Breville Barista Touch Espresso Maker
DeLonghi Super-Automatic Espresso/Coffee Maker
DeLonghi America Lattissima Espresso Machine with Milk Frother
Mr Coffee One-Touch Espresso Maker and Cappuccino Machine
DeLonghi America Prima Donna Fully Automatic Espresso Machine with Lattecrema System
Nespresso Lattissima Espresso Machine with Milk Frother
Breville Dual-Boiler Espresso Machine
Saeco Incanto Super-Automatic Espresso Machine
II. Reviews of 12 Best Latte Machines
1. Breville The Barista Express Our #1 Pick
Breville makes a wide range of impressive and generally affordable kitchen appliances. This outstanding coffee machine continues that tradition and gets our vote for the best latte machine overall. What makes it so good, though?
Well, things get off to a strong start with the integrated burr grinder. To get the best quality coffee in your cup, it’s vital to grind fresh beans directly before brewing. Breville makes this easy without calling you to invest in a third-party grinder.
Choose from a single or double shot of espresso if you’re looking for a stiff eye-opener in the morning. You can use the espresso as a base for longer coffees, too. While the manual steam wand involves a little effort, you’ll be free to customize foam just the way you want it for the latte of your dreams.
Build quality is rock-solid and you can expect many years of faithful service from this stainless steel beast. It not only runs like a dream but it’s incredibly intuitive to use so what are you waiting for?
2. Runner-Up: Mr Coffee Latte Maker
Mr Coffee is proof positive you don’t need to outlay a fortune to bag yourself a great latte machine.
Surprisingly for an inexpensive machine, the aesthetics are sleek and striking so you’ll want to keep this latte maker on display rather than stashing it away.
You simply fire up the machine and start making your espresso or coffee while at the same time the frother will kick into gear. By the time your drink is brewed, you’ll have all the foam and milk froth you need for a lip-smacking latte.
If you tend to get stuck making the same drinks time and again, you’ll appreciate the recipe book bundled with this unit. Choose from 20 specialty coffees to really put your new machine through its paces.
To ice the cake, this machine is super-simple to clean so you’ll keep maintenance to an absolute minimum.
3. Mr Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
Mr Coffee serves up another superb model next with the Café Barista capable of making espresso, cappuccino, latte, and other gourmet drinks to get your day started the right way.
If you’re a fan of longer, creamy coffees, you’ll need to get started with a great espresso as your base. With a powerful 15-bar pump, you’ll get all the pressure you need for a wonderful shot every time.
You’ll be able to make latte and cappuccino along with your espresso. The machine will do all the work for you at the push of a button. Customize the froth by twisting a simple dial.
As you’d expect at this price-point, the machine feels slightly flimsy but you should still get plenty of service from it.
If you’re looking for a wide choice of drinks with push-button ease at a keen price, you can’t go wrong with this unit.
4. Keurig K-Café Coffee Maker
Keurig has the single-serve coffee space on lock and the K-Café is one of the most enduringly popular models. What makes it so good, then?
As with any single-serve machine, while you lose out on a little flexibility, making great coffee couldn’t be easier. All you need to do is insert a capsule and press a button after making sure the generous 60oz water reservoir is topped up. No messy clean-up either.
Choose from coffee, latte or cappuccino for a wide variety of beverages in a single unit.
If you fancy iced coffee when the weather picks up, you can do that by simply hitting Cold.
A sizeable reservoir and the ability to house just about any type of mug means the K-Café works well for all the family.
If you don’t object to investing in the capsules and you place a premium on convenience, the Keurig K-Café is hard to beat.
5. Breville Barista Touch Espresso Maker
While Breville make a broad range of very affordable kitchen appliances, they also include a number of harder-hitting models in their line including the Barista Touch. While you won’t need to spend out five figures, this espresso maker certainly isn’t cheap. What makes it worth the stiff price tag, then?
Precise temperature is key to making great espresso and, by extension, excellent latte. With digital PID control onboard, you’ll get the water heated accurately every time.
Equally important to making great coffee is grinding your beans directly before brewing. There’s an integrated conical burr grinder in place making this a cinch. Whether you want a fine grind for espresso or a coarser grind for pour-over or French press, the grinder is a superb touch.
When you want to rack up a latte, automatic foam from the steam wand lets you create the micro-foam and latte art you want without breaking a sweat.
6. DeLonghi Super-Automatic Espresso/Coffee Maker
The Magnifica by DeLonghi is a real looker but, fortunately, it’s not a case of form over function.
If you’re hoping for a lip-smacking latte, you’ll want to start by grinding your beans before brewing. This coffee maker comes with a conical burr grinder baked in so you won’t need any third-party kit. Choose from 13 grind settings to suit.
Once you’re done with that, the second component of a great latte is espresso. This machine gives you the choice of a single or double at the press of a button. Beyond that, you can also opt for cappuccino and latte. Hot water on demand complete a flexible batch of options.
Thanks to a manual steam wand, you’ll enjoy total control with foam and your latte will be finished to a turn.
For a coffee maker that looks great but delivers much more besides, the Magnifica is an affordable DeLonghi built to stay the distance.
7. DeLonghi America Lattissima Espresso Machine with Milk Frother
The America Lattissima is another sterling example of a cost-effective espresso and latte machine that doesn’t stiff you on the performance front.
If you live in an apartment or you have a small and cramped kitchen, this multipurpose unit won’t eat up too much real estate.
Manufactured by DeLonghi, you’ll enjoy a classic Nespresso machine so make sure you’re OK with the idea of buying pods on an ongoing basis. In general, a capsule-based machine works best if you’re not too heavy a coffee drinker. If you get through a great deal of coffee every day, you’ll probably find the cost starts to mount.
If you’re OK with the cost and the restrictions of single-serve, you’ll benefit from a remarkably user-friendly experience and a first-rate latte without going through any of the rigmarole involved in making it. Pop in a pod and let the machine do the hard yards.
8. Mr Coffee One-Touch Espresso Maker and Cappuccino Machine
Mr Coffee consistently produce affordable coffee makers that don’t force you to sacrifice quality to achieve a bargain. The One-Touch model here continues that tradition in fine style.
Equipped with a 19-bar pump, you’ll enjoy single or double shots of espresso at the push of a button. Since there’s no integrated grinder, you might want to invest in a conical burr grinder so you can smash up your own beans the easy way.
With a nifty automatic frother, you’ll enjoy access to the foam you need for cappuccinos and latte any time you fancy a longer and creamier coffee.
The thermocouple heating system gets things up to temperature in seconds flat.
Once you’re done, you can slip the milk tank out and store any residue in the fridge to minimize wastage and simplify clean-up.
9. DeLonghi America Prima Donna Fully Automatic Espresso Machine with Lattecrema System
Not everyone wants push-button simplicity when they’re making coffee. If you’re the type of coffee fiend who loves the pour-over method or using a siphon coffee maker, you probably won’t appreciate the restrictions of the DeLonghi America Prima Donna. If you’re motivated primarily by convenience, though, you can’t do much better than this.
With a burr grinder baked in, you can put those freshly ground beans to work and yield a fantastic espresso. There’s a Lattecrema system in place to build out that base into a longer drink if required. The dense and powerfully rich foam sets off your layered drinks wonderfully.
As you’d expect from a machine at this price-point, build quality is exceptional. The design is also eye-catching and makes a real statement on your kitchen counter.
10. Nespresso Lattissima Espresso Machine with Milk Frother
While they’re not the right fit for everyone, there’s something about the simplicity of a single-serve coffee machine that ensures they continue to fly off the shelves.
Along with Keurig, Nespresso dominate this market segment and the Lattissima is a particularly fine example.
With a potent pump kicking out 19 bars, you’ll have all the pressure you need for a solid espresso extraction every time.
An integrated milk frother allows you to create a range of creamy coffees, too. All you need to do is slip in the capsule and you’re good to go.
Heating occurs in seconds flat and the machine stays at the ideal temperature so you won’t need to wait between drinks.
11. Breville Dual-Boiler Espresso Machine
This dual-boiler espresso machine from Breville allows you to steam and extract simultaneously, perfect for those busy mornings when time is of the essence.
First thing’s first, this machine is quite costly. That said, we feel you’ll be truly impressed with the overall value. Build quality is exceptional and with assisted descaling, maintenance is minimal while lifespan should be superb.
With micro-foam milk texturing, you’ll be able to enjoy latte and cappuccino as well as short, strong shots of espresso in a single appliance.
The design of this machine is commanding yet still understated.
12. Saeco Incanto Super-Automatic Espresso Machine
While Saeco might not be the first name you bring to mind when you think of coffee machines, quality is exceptional and you’ll end up with the ability to make a wide range of coffee by doing little more than pushing a few buttons.
You get off on the right footing thanks to the inbuilt grinder packing ceramic discs for best effect.
With your beans freshly ground, just punch a button and choose from espresso, lungo, cappuccino or a latte macchiato.
Cleaning and maintenance are minimal which is always ideal with any coffee machine.
With those reviews of the finest latte machines put to bed, we’ll push on with some handy hints to make your life even easier.
To start with, how do you create that latte art in the first place?
III. How to Steam/ Rest and Polish/ Pour Milk for Latte
How can you froth up milk for your latte if you don’t have an espresso or latte machine?
We’ll walk you through using a machine below but if you don’t have one, don’t panic.
Start off by making yourself an espresso whether in a capsule-based machine or using a freshly brewed French press coffee instead. Start with 1/3 cup of strong coffee.
Pour your milk into a jar filling it no more than halfway. Screw the lid on snugly then shake the jar vigorously for up to a minute. By the time it’s ready, it will have doubled in volume.
Take the lid of your jar then pop it in the microwave uncovered. Heat for 30 seconds on high. The foam will rise up to the top.
Take the milk out and pour it over the espresso. Spoon as much foam as you want to finish your lip-smacking latte.
How about if you have an espresso machine? We’ll walk you through that next…
IV. Steps to Make a Latte with an Espresso Machine
If you’re looking to make a latte with an espresso machine, it’s super-simple and we’ll show you how right now.
Thanks to the steam wand, you’ll be able to create longer coffees as well as your shorter shots.
Here’s how to do this step-by-step…
- Purge the group head. Flush boiling water through the group head of your machine for up to 10 seconds. This serves to clean and rinse the shower screen. Leftover grounds that might otherwise contaminate your drink will be sluiced away.
- Grind your beans directly before brewing. Whether you use a grinder built into your espresso machine or a third-party grinder, you’ll need a fine grind for espresso. This should stop short of the powdery consistency you’d need for Turkish coffee and roughly resemble table salt. If you’re looking for a double shot, use 18g of coffee.
- Tamp the grinds. With your coffee grinds dosed into the portafilter, tamp them down. Tamping is when you press down on the grinds. When you twist the coffee grinds, this is known as polishing. With the grinds evenly distributed, you’ll enjoy the optimum extraction.
- Pull your shot. Lock your portafilter into the group head, pop your cup underneath and pour your shot of espresso. This is the base of your latte.
- Steam and froth your milk. The final and crucial stage of your latte involves steaming and frothing up your milk. As your coffee is brewing, pour cold milk into the frothing jug until it reaches the bottom of the indent on the spout. Purge the steam wand by wrapping a wet cloth around the end and opening the valve for 5 seconds. Pop the steam wand into the milk and angle it at 10 degrees. Make sure the wand is positioned off-center. Submerge the wand so the tip is under the milk and open up the valve fully. Lower your jug so the tip of the wand is at the top of the milk. You should hear a slight hiss if you get this right. A latte calls for roughly 0.5cm of micro-foam. This is roughly 1/5 inch. Use double if you’re looking to make a cappuccino. Aerate the milk then lift your jug so it can start emulsifying. Keep on heating the milk to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Close the valve.
- Purge and clean wand. Wipe down the wand with a damp cloth. Purge it again as above.
- Swirl the jug. Bang the base of the jug to pop larger bubbles and swirl things around to mix in the micro-foam. When the milk looks glossy and shiny, it’s ready to pour
See, grabbing yourself a latte from an espresso machine is pretty straightforward really.
What about the difference between latte and other drinks like cappuccino?
V. Difference Between a Latte and a Cappuccino
While many specialty coffees appear superficially similar, there are a number of key differences that bear pointing out before we round out today.
While we’ll be looking at the difference between a latte and a cappuccino, we’ll kick off with espresso since this is the base of most longer coffees:
- Latte Macchiato
- Flat White
A strong shot of espresso is the result of highly pressurized water being forced through finely ground coffee.
Enjoy as it is or use this shot as the foundation of a longer drink.
A latte, often called a cafe latte, is all about the foam.
The first 1/3 of a latte consists of the espresso shot. The remainder of the drink is steamed milk with a thin layer of frothed milk.
You create the layered look by pouring the steamed, liquid milk onto the espresso. Holding a spoon against it prevents the frothed milk from mixing in.
How does a cappuccino differ, then?
A cappuccino has equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk froth.
Cappuccinos are served in smaller cups than latte. Cup size is relevant since it impacts the ratio of espresso to milk in the cup. The delicate balance needs to be preserved to nail each drink down.
Foam can be either dry or velvety.
Dry foam will have large airy bubbles and plenty of volume while velvety micro-foam has tiny bubbles you can barely make out.
With a latte, you start out with espresso. When you’re making a cappuccino, by contrast, you kick off with the steamed milk. Fill 1/3 of the cup with this to get going.
Next, carefully pour in the espresso and to finish, spoon on some milk froth.
When making cappuccino at home, you could start with the espresso first.
What’s most important is getting the equal ratios spot on and carefully layering your drink.
With a latte macchiato, you start off with steamed milk then add in some espresso.
Milk foam is thrown on at the end to achieve that layered look.
We explore the differences between a latte and a latte macchiato in detail right here.
A flat white is a small latte with a little less milk than you’d normally use.
The foundation of a flat white is a double shot of espresso. Flat whites can be served with either very little foam or quite a large quantity.
Milk improves overall taste without overpowering or drowning out the intensity of the espresso.
Equal parts espresso and steamed milk, a macchiato is much like a latte and a cappuccino except there’s much less milk.
Where a latte tends to taste sweet, a macchiato has a much punchier and bolder flavor without overwhelming you.
An Americano is simply espresso with hot water added to make a longer drink that’s a little less intense.
The hot water softens up the flavor somewhat and you’ll have a drink that lasts a little longer and is much more sippable than a shot of espresso.
A mocha is coffee with steamed milk, chocolate and whipped cream for a real taste sensation.
This is the sweetest of all espresso-based drinks. Starting off with a great shot, steamed milk and chocolate come on top.
Mocha is more of a dessert coffee than something to get your day started.
Made like a cappuccino, a breve features half-and-half rather than milk.
If you thought a single shot of espresso was a miserly serving, you obviously haven’t seen the even smaller ristretto.
This is a much more intense flavor than espresso since you only use half the amount of water.
A red-eye is a mug of normal filter coffee with a shot of espresso added in. A black-eye includes a double shot and a dead-eye has 3 shots.
This is the type of drink to give you a shot of immediate if short-lived energy in the morning. If you’re feeling so tired that you need to call on the services of a red-eye, you’d be well advised to try aiming for more sleep rather than more coffee.
Along with all the above types of espresso-based drinks, you’ll also find plenty of sweet concoctions with syrup served. From vanilla and caramel to hazelnut and chocolate, if you fancy a dose of the coffee shop, why not buy yourself a bottle of syrup? These are reasonably inexpensive and last a long time. If you fancy a caramel macchiato without heading to Starbucks, you can easily get yourself everything you need to do that.
We very much hope this bumper guide to latte has filled in a few blanks for you. You should now be absolutely clear on how to make a latte the easy way and you should also see what you need to make these at home fuss-free. You should also see how to make a range of other specialty espresso-based drinks.
As with any coffee product, you should be absolutely clear about your needs before plunging into purchase. If you take the time and think closely about just what you want from a latte machine, you’ll maximize your chances of hitting paydirt.
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