If you’re looking for a latte machine, we have some news to break: Latte machines don’t actually exist. What you’re looking for is an espresso machine and a milk frother, whether attached or separate.
If you thought, I already have an espresso maker and I’m pretty happy with it, then we’ll direct you over to our breakdown of milk frothers.
But if you’re open to getting another machine, a better one, one with a milk frother attached, or whatever reason, welcome! You’re in the right place.
Good latte machines don’t come cheap, though, and lower cost ones don’t always offer the right features, quality, or longevity.
This means that a lot of this decision is going to depend on your budget.
If you’re serious about getting a solid espresso latte machine that’s going to stand the test of time and offer quality performance, you’ll want somewhere between $200 and $600 dollars to play with.
Let’s break down what this gets you.
The easiest way to distinguish between these two types of machines is based on the amount of work you have to do.
Super Automatic machines will do virtually everything for you. They make the espresso, froth the milk, even microfoam without much more input from you than the push of a button. While this can be appealing, it does take away any personal control. Consistent quality is the name of the game.
Semi-automatic machines are what you see at the local coffee shop. Machines that produce espresso shots and have attached milk frothers, where you froth your own milk, separate the foam, pour the milk, the whole thing. This is the sort of setup that allows you to dabble in latte art, which is always enticing.
This isn’t something that’s thought about often, but deciding between a single or double burner primarily has to do with the quantity of espressos being produced.
If you’re just make a latte for yourself every morning, no problem. One burner is totally sufficient for making one latte each go around. If you have a full house that you want to provide lattes for one after the other, you’ll definitely want to look into options with two burners otherwise it’ll take what’ll feel like an eon to make multiples.
There are a lot of latte machines on the market and prices vary widely. Figure out what you want, your budget, and find the right machine for you!
The Hamilton Beach Espresso, Latte, and Cappuccino Machine with a milk frother is surprisingly affordable while offering a solid starting place for those interested in making lattes at home.
The easy slide-and-lock mechanism keeps the portafilter in place without any fuss or muss, and there’s a luxurious cup warmer on top of the machine so you don’t have to suffer the indignity of letting perfectly heated espresso drip into an ice-cold cup.
Providing 15 bars of pressure, it provides the right force and steam for rich crema extraction. The attached milk frothing wand swivels for easy access.
This Nespresso bundle doesn’t have any attached wand, but it comes with the Aeroccino milk frother. Nespresso’s espresso extraction is pretty well-liked, but there is a damning flaw to opting for this machine: you have to use the Nespresso pods.
The VertuoPlus can make five different sizes of drink, which makes it a versatile machine that can work for multiple types of coffee drinkers. On top of making espresso shots, double espresso shots, gran lungo, a standard coffee cup, and an Alto coffee cup.
Other than the size, the VertuoPlus takes the majority of control out of your hands. Press a button, get your shot, and use the Aeroccino to froth your milk, which is as simple as it is to make the espresso. Pour milk to the line, set on the base, and it does all of the magic for you.
The Ninja Specialty Fold-Away Frother Coffee Maker is a unique mention on this list, I’ll give that. It doesn’t quite make espresso, but it makes a 4 oz. specialty concentrated brew that’s rich and creamy. It also makes delicious coffee in general, which I consider a huge perk.
The fold-away milk frother is what earns it a spot. Whether cold or hot, it can froth up milk for a solid latte, cappuccino, or macchiato. Top it all off with the fact that this beaut is SCA certified, meaning it meets high-quality standards for even saturation, coffee blooming, and consistent temperature.
Mr. Coffee’s been in the game since 1970, and it shows. The Espresso and Cappuccino maker offers a unique world of customization and super automatic function. The electric 15-bar pump can make a single or double shot of espresso at your desire while also frothing the milk.
It takes care of virtually everything for you except for combining the espresso shots and milk. The removable reservoirs make it easy to fill both water and milk into your machine, and it comes with a measurer and tamper so you can get a nice packed portafilter.
This Keurig is another bit of an outlier—it doesn’t necessarily make espresso. Like the Ninja mentioned previously, it can make a concentrated coffee “shot” that can be used to create lattes and cappuccinos.
Another versatile model, you can make a number of brews using this one, very uniquely shaped machine. The milk container both heats and froths your milk based on the option you choose, there are three: latte, cappuccino, and cold, making it super easy on you.
The Latissima One is on the list of Oprah’s Favorite Things from 2018. Not that that automatically gains it a spot on our list of the best “latte” machines—it’s both affordable and functional.
Producing a surprising powerful 19 bar shot of espresso, you can choose between either an espresso or lungo, either a single or 5 oz. cup. The attached frother has convenient measurement lines and easy-to-use wand that froths the milk directly into your cup.
Mr. Coffee has a lot of options and a lot of models on the market, but the Mr. Coffee One-Touch CoffeeHouse Espresso Maker is definitely on the top of the list. The easy one-touch buttons allow you to make espresso, a cappuccino, or a latte with the single push of a button.
The thermocouple heating system evenly heats water for hot drinks and the milk jug is easily removable for fridge storage and cleaning. Froth milk for lattes with the push of a single button into either a regular cup or travel mug easily since the drip tray is removable.
The Nescafe Dolce Gusto Coffee Machine has one of the most remarkable designs on the list—the circular shape and gaping open front below an LED screen are by far the most unique design of the day.
It makes both hot and cold drinks, including this long list on its resume: Americano, Cafe Au Lait, Caramel Latte Macchiato, Chai Tea Latte, Chococino, Dark Roast, Espresso Intenso, Grande Intenso, Latte Macchiato, Lungo Decaf, Medium Roast, Mocha, Skinny Cappuccino and Vanilla Latte Macchiato.
This is the first taste on this list of something that’s truly automatic — there’s no visible want and nothing for you to do except choose which of the 15 drink types you want.
There’s a considerable jump in price on this model but what comes with it is more customizable options that on any we’ve seen before. The Breville Nespresso Creatista Uno features a fully automatic steam wand, three levels of milk temperature, and a simple user interface.
The water reservoir holds up to 50 ounces, albeit no built-in milk jug. It sort of makes up for it with the advanced micro foam milk technology, which I’m just assuming means it makes a lot of those delicious little bubbles for optimal foam.
The Breville Bambino has the local coffeehouse feel that many of us are going for in the morning. It’s the mini version of what the local barista works and there’s something undeniably attractive about that.
The 3-second heat up time is ideal for those mornings when you just cannot wait for some caffeine, while the portafilter allows for a full 19 grams of ground beans, ideal for a full, delicious pull on your espresso shot.
The frothing wand is where we’re seeing the extra customizability that often comes with an increase in price tag. Choose your milk temperature and texture while still enjoying microfoam—the kind perfect for making some of that insta-worthy latte art!
Breville’s “The Barista” Express Espresso Machine is a fan-favorite and it’s honestly not hard to see why—between the built-in bean grinder, the true barista feel, and the array of fun gadgets that comes along with the machine, it’s hard to hate.
The Barista can grind your fresh beans using a conical burr grinder directly into the portafilter. Within 3 seconds from cold, the digital temperature control (PID) will pump 15 bars of pressure right through for a delicious shot of espresso.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one deal, the De’Longhi Magnifica is another great option to consider. Featuring a built-in grinder, 15 bars of pressure, and frothing wand, it can handle the latte prep from beginning to end.
Customized one-touch drinks can make mornings easy peasy, but you can also opt to set the temperature, coffee strength, and cup size to your preferences whenever you’d like! The beans are ground right into the portafilter and Magnifica takes it from there!
If you’re looking for the optimal machine for entertaining without actually buying the same machine the Starbucks barista uses, the Breville Dual Boiler Espresso Machine will get you pretty close.
The dual stainless steel boilers and dual Italian pumps give you the ability to extract and steam at the same time—something you couldn’t do in any of the previously listed models. Using an Over-Pressure Valve (OPV) and Electronic PID temperature control, the Dual Boiler Espresso machine provides perfect pressure and temperature for every shot you pull.
With a boiler solely dedicated to steaming milk, it’s unsurprising that it froths the kind of microfoam that allows for fantastic
Now that you’ve had a chance to review our favorite latte machines, let’s take a look out how to craft a delicious latte at home.
First off, to do this right, you’re going to want to buy fresh beans. Fresh whole beans, to clarify, because yes, you’ll want to grind them yourself using a conical burr grinder. If you just rolled your eyes and grumbled about buying pre-ground, I’d like to direct you over to this article that succinctly explains our entire argument regarding grinders.
Every machine is going to come with its own quirks and specifics, but the quick and dirty rules for making a Latte are as follows:
Grind your whole bean coffee using a conical burr grinder. While “espresso beans” don’t actually exist, there are beans that are really complimented by the high pressure involved in creating espresso. We have a handy list of those for you.
Froth your milk. For best results, use whole milk. Almond milk also tends to work well! Skim milk is the only one that will definitely not create the microfoam needed.
Before adding 5 to 6 ounces to the espresso shots, scoop off the microbubbles. Use the button 2/3rds to make your latte.
Top with a thin layer of foam!
And done! Happy sipping!
Café latte consists of two shots of espresso, steamed milk, and a layer of foam. For those with some coffee know-how, that sounds a lot like cappuccino, but it’s all about ratios. Lattes have more milk, light on the foam in comparison.
Many will confuse a café latte with café au lait, and while they have two of the same components, the ratios are off — and, as you now know, the difference between many coffee drinks is the ratios. Café au lait is one part coffee to one part steamed milk, over-indexing on the milk-to-coffee ratio.
Not to mention that café au lait is clearly French and directly translates to “coffee with milk.”
Café latte originated in Italy, the same boot-shaped country we attribute a lot of coffee’s origins with. It’s also speculated that latte art got its start there, which is unsurprising — it’s a sign of quality!
Latte machines are difficult, though, largely because they require more finesse than the average coffee maker. There are a lot of options on the market at a crazy range of prices, so let’s take this by price.
If you’re on a tight budget, the Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker has our vote. If you have some room to talk about price, but would like to stay below the $400 grand, we’d say the Breville Nespresso Creatista Uno is a good way to go.
Above that? The Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine has our vote. Not to mention, if you’re spending that much money, it should have a built-in bean grinder.