Considering it’s on the menu at your favorite coffee shop and probably every other café in America, it’s pretty safe to say the cappuccino is a supremely popular choice among java lovers across the country. From 2000 to 2005 alone, cappuccino sales increased by 11.4 percent, and since then, the cappuccino trend has continued rising in the U.S.
At a Glance: Best Cappuccino Maker
And we don’t blame anyone for making this switch. Something is comforting about sipping a creamy, frothy cappuccino, and knowing you didn’t have to wait in a forever-long line at the coffeehouse makes it even better.
An everyday drip coffee maker may be perfect for your daily cup of joe, but it won’t take long for you to realize making a cappuccino with it, your French press, or a Chemex is a bit challenging.
So, if none of those brewers can get the job done, what can? How do you choose a cappuccino maker that meets every last one of your frothy expectations, and which are the best?
Quick Summary: Best Cappuccino Maker
|NINJA SPECIALTY COFFEE MAKER
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|NESPRESSO VERTUO COFFEE AND ESPRESSO MACHINE
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|GEVI ESPRESSO AND CAPPUCCINO MAKER
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|MR. COFFEE CAFÉ BARISTA
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|BREVILLE THE BARISTA EXPRESS BES870XL CAPPUCCINO MAKER
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|KEURIG K-CAFE SINGLE-SERVE CAPPUCCINO MAKER
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|DELONGHI ESAM3300 CAPPUCCINO MAKER
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|NESPRESSO LATTISSIMA CAPPUCCINO MAKER
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|BREVILLE BARISTA PRO
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What Exactly is a Cappuccino?
The cappuccino is one of the most popular Italian coffee drinks, traditionally enjoyed with a good breakfast. Though its name makes it sound pretty fancy, the cappuccino’s recipe is pretty simple: espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam, all added in equal parts (usually two ounces of each ingredient).
Sometimes, the barista tops the drink with a sprinkle of cocoa powder or cinnamon, but those garnishes, while delicious, aren’t necessities.
The thick layer of milk froth atop the cappuccino is what sets it apart from the latte, which is espresso paired with steamed milk and just a touch of foam.
What’s the Difference Between an Espresso Machine and a Cappuccino Machine?
This is a pretty common question, especially among those who already have an espresso machine sitting atop their kitchen counter. Can the brewer you’ve already got manage to pull a shot worthy of the beloved beverage, or will you need to invest in a special cappuccino machine?
Let us explain it this way: because good espresso and perfectly prepared steamed milk and milk foam are the most important aspects of cappuccino, any machine capable of producing both can be considered a true cappuccino machine.
Roasty Rankings: Our Picks for Best Cappuccino Makers
Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker
The Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker tops our list of best cappuccino makers because of its versatility; it’s perfect for both novice and more advanced home baristas alike. No matter what kind of cup of coffee you’re after — hot drip, iced coffee, or the star of this article: the classic cappuccino — this brewer (which comes at a pretty affordable price, considering all it can do) can get it done.
This machine gives you the choice of brewing one of six different cup sizes, ranging from a single mug to a full 10-cup carafe. Unfold the machine’s built-in frother when you’re ready to top your flavorful espresso shot with a smooth layer of bubbly, foamy milk, and tuck it away when you’re finished using it.
The Gold Tone permanent filter eliminates the need for disposable paper filters, so goodbye, waste! The Ninja smart scoop guarantees you measure the perfect amount of ground coffee or espresso beans every time, and the removable water reservoir keeps refilling spill-free.
All of that, plus a recipe inspiration guide to help you brew drinks so well that they rival those of your favorite coffee shops, make the Ninja Specialty brewer a worthwhile buy.
Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine
If you want to enjoy a delicious cappuccino with minimal effort, the Nespresso Vertuo is the way to go. This pretty compact machine promises to give you your favorite coffee drink with the touch of a button. Plus, it’s relatively affordable!
Using Nespresso capsules instead of ground coffee makes the brewing process seamless and easy — this machine only needs around 15 to 20 seconds of pre-heating time. Once brewing is complete, the capsule is ejected automatically for easy clean-up.
While coffee pods won’t produce the same intense and flavorful brew that fresh coffee grounds can, Nespresso’s patented Centrifusion extraction technology, which spins the capsule up to 7,000 rotations per minute, continually blends the ground coffee and water to produce a pretty great-tasting cup.
Plus, Nespresso capsules are designed in such a way that they lock in the joe’s freshness. The extraction system recognizes each coffee blend and delivers the best in-cup result with no setting changes required.
Take advantage of the five cup size options — Espresso, Double Espresso, Gran Lungo, Coffee, and Alto — and use the separate milk frother (which is included with the machine, by the way) to create the perfect frothy finish for your cappuccinos, lattes, and flat whites.
Gevi Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
If you’re hoping to get your hands on a semi-automatic espresso machine, this 20-bar pressure system brewer from Gevi is an excellent contender. The high-pressure pump produces rich espresso with perfect crema, and the quick-heating system can brew your joe in just 45 seconds.
This machine has two separate thermostats, one to control the temperature of your delicious espresso and the other to handle your steamy milk.
And speaking of milk, this machine is equipped with a 360-degree rotating frothing wand that’s perfect for producing the foam you need to top off the contents of your cappuccino cup.
Mr. Coffee Café Barista
There’s a wide range of cappuccino-making machines on the market, and Mr. Coffee’s Café Barista is undoubtedly a popular one.
Use the one-touch control panel to choose either a single or double shot of flavorful espresso and let the automatic frother create bubbly, foamy goodness without the guesswork.
Much like many of the high-end machines available, the Mr. Coffee Café Barista extracts the coffee with 15 bars of pressure — just enough to make sure all of the coffee’s bold flavors make it into your espresso cups. Both the water and milk frothing tanks are removable for easy refilling and clean up, but you should note that neither of these is dishwasher-safe.
Whether you like to start your day with a creamy latte or cappuccino or prefer sipping simple black coffee in the form of an espresso shot in the morning, this three-in-one semi-automatic machine can make all your java dreams come true.
Breville the Barista Express BES870XL Cappuccino Maker
Next on our list is another semi-automatic espresso maker, Breville’s Barista Express. This baby is designed to deliver specialty, café-level coffee in the comfort of your home.
The brewer’s digital temperature control brings your water to the perfect temperature, ensuring perfectly extracted espresso brews every time.
Start your coffee journey with the Barista Express’s integrated conical burr grinder that cuts all your favorite beans down to the perfect size for brewing.
Next is a gradual increase of pressure as the water saturates the coffee grounds to create a balanced-tasting and evenly extracted shot of espresso.
Finally, use the built-in steaming wand to create frothy milk foam with a creamy mouthfeel — this stuff blends perfectly with the rich, strong coffee in your cup!
Before you fall head over heels in love with the Barista Express and insist you need it to carry out the coffee-making process, you should note that this machine isn’t among the lower-priced cappuccino makers — not even close.
This brewer and its stainless steel design come with a pretty high price tag, so we don’t recommend you splurge on one unless you’re serious about upping your at-home brewing game.
Keurig K-Cafe Single-Serve Cappuccino Maker
We know what you’re thinking — can a pod machine produce perfect espresso drinks? Technically no, since they don’t use enough pressure to pull authentic espresso.
Despite this, Keurig’s K-Cafe manages to create a decent substitute that satisfies just as much as the real thing — minus the beautiful crema on top. Plus, it’s affordable, simple to use, and easy to clean up!
These kinds of machines are great for those who like to make multiple coffees in a row, thanks to the large 60-ounce water reservoir. Let your brew drip right into an approximately seven-inch tall travel mug on busy mornings when you need to get out the door quickly. No matter how much of a rush you’re in, don’t forget to top your joe with a layer of foamy milk frothed to perfection by this machine’s capable frother.
Once the coffee-making process is over, don’t worry about turning the brewer off; it automatically shuts off after two hours of no use.
When you’re budgeting for this machine, however, don’t forget to factor in the cost of the K-Cup pods it requires; those costs can quickly add up, especially if you’ll be drinking more than one cappuccino per day.
DeLonghi ESAM3300 Cappuccino Maker
Though our list is jam-packed with high-quality espresso machines, this one from DeLonghi is extra special. These super-automatic machines are made for those who care more about getting a good cup quickly rather than sharpening their barista skills, as it does all the work for you.
The built-in grinder and patented Direct-to-Brew system guarantee freshly ground coffee just before the brewing process starts.
Here’s more good news about this coffee grinder: it has 13 adjustable grind size settings to ensure it satisfies everyone’s preferences. No time for DIY coffee grinding? No problem; this machine has a second chamber so that you can use your favorite pre-ground coffee!
This machine’s settings let you customize your espresso strength and cup size, so whether you like your joe strong or a little more mellow, this DeLonghi machine can give you what you need.
The integrated system maintains the optimal temperature for brewing multiple cups in a row, which is perfect if you’re someone who needs more than one cappuccino to get the day started.
DeLonghi’s super-automatic machine isn’t exactly a viable choice if you’re on a tight budget. Still, if you’ve got a few extra dollars to spare, you’ll appreciate its consistent brewing performance and manual frother that makes rich, creamy milk for specialty drinks.
Nespresso Lattissima Cappuccino Maker
Here’s another option for those who rely on espresso pods to concoct their morning cup: the popular Nespresso Lattissima brewing machine.
With its six pre-programmed recipes, this baby provides one-touch convenience and the power to give you a creamy latte, latte macchiato, or cappuccino in seconds.
The quick start-up and brewing time is possible thanks to the Dual Thermoblock heating system. The ideal water flow combined with 19 bars of pressure gets the coffee in your cup in less than 40 seconds! The automatic milk frother gives you foam that’s creamy and delicious — a must for anyone who wants to make a good cappuccino.
This machine is designed in Italy, so you can be sure that the Italian craftsmanship and sleek, compact design will complement your kitchen well. However, it’s not exactly a low-budget option, so if you’re pinching pennies, you’ll probably need to find something a bit cheaper.
And remember: these types of cappuccino machines that use pods aren’t going to give you the most flavorful drink, but what they lack in taste, they make up for in speed and convenience.
Breville Barista Pro
We mentioned earlier that when choosing a high-quality espresso and cappuccino maker, you’ll need to consider your skill level. If you consider yourself a “barista pro,” this Breville machine promises to provide a full coffeehouse experience at home.
Though this machine doesn’t exactly fit into everyone’s price range — it’s a little on the pricier side of the spectrum — it’s one of the best cappuccino makers on our list.
The brewer’s built-in burr grinder provides perfectly fresh coffee grounds every time, and the machine’s advanced settings give you the freedom to adjust water temperature and shot size.
The intuitive LCD interface guides you through every step of the process while keeping the Breville machine easy to operate. It even comes with accessories to further simplify your life: a milk jug, a magnetic tamper, and a trimming tool.
If concocting a good cappuccino is your priority (and we know it is!), you’ll be happy to know the steam wand on this one is excellent — just what you need to make the ever-important bubbly foam you need in your cup. The wand only takes a few seconds to heat up and makes a flavorful microfoam that’s good enough for trying your hand at latte art!
Things to Consider Before Buying a Cappuccino Maker
If you don’t have a cappuccino maker, or even a machine capable of producing a cappuccino, you may be on the search for one that will give you your favorite beverage at coffee shop quality.
However, before you purchase the first one you can find, there are a few things to consider.
Manual, Semi-Automatic, or Super-Automatic?
As with regular espresso machines, cappuccino makers are available in manual, semi-automatic, or super-automatic models. Which of these you choose ultimately depends on your priorities and skill level.
Manual machines are great because they allow you to control the entire brewing process, but because they usually require you to purchase a separate steamer or frother for your milk, they’re not technically cappuccino machines; they’re just espresso makers.
Semi-automatic and super-automatic machines, however, tend to come equipped with everything you’ll need to make a cappuccino. Semi-automatic coffee machines are our favorites, as they still leave some parts of the brewing process to you. Plus, there’s a learning curve for those of us who are still perfecting our barista skills.
On the other hand, super-automatic machines do everything for you, only requiring you to push a button. These are great for those who don’t care much about learning how to brew and just want good coffee quickly, but if you’re eager to hone your coffee-making skills, having such an advanced machine won’t help you.
Capsules or Ground Coffee?
Before you make a purchase, you’ll need to decide whether you want to brew with ground coffee beans or coffee capsules.
If you’re a longtime Roasty reader, you’re probably already familiar with our stance on the use of capsules and pods: they make the whole coffee-making process easy and mess-free, but they can’t produce a brew as good as one made with freshly ground coffee.
Plus, pod machines don’t brew with enough pressure to extract an authentic espresso shot, just an espresso-like concentrate, so any cappuccino made with one of these brewers technically isn’t the real deal.
Naturally, how much money you’re willing to spend on a cappuccino maker is important in determining which machine you choose.
Remember, more expensive doesn’t always mean better. If you know you won’t be filling your cappuccino cup very frequently, or this particular machine won’t be your primary brewer, splurging on a high-end product probably isn’t the wisest choice for you.
If you’ll be making multiple coffee drinks a day or brewing for the whole family, however, spending a few extra dollars on a high-quality machine is worth it.
Now, the presence of a removable water reservoir isn’t exactly a must for any espresso and cappuccino maker. Still, it certainly makes the entire coffee brewing process a whole lot simpler.
For starters, having a removable water tank makes refilling it a rather mess-free experience. When it’s empty, just carry it over to the sink and refill it there — no spills!
Plus, a decent-sized reservoir — one that’s 50 or 60 ounces, for example — saves you the trouble of having to add water every time you brew. Sure, doing so only takes a few minutes in the morning, but the less time standing between you and your first creamy cappuccino of the day, the better.
Finally, before purchasing a cappuccino maker — or any brewer, really — do some research on cleaning and maintenance. Properly cleaning and maintaining your cappuccino maker is the key to its longevity, ensuring you can brew creamy coffee drinks for years to come.
Keep a machine’s ease of cleaning in mind before buying it. If you’re anything like us, and you find cleaning your coffee machine to be a bit of a drag, look for one with a self-cleaning cycle. All you’ve got to do is press a button, and the brewer does the rest!
Frequently Asked Questions
We’re sure you have a few more questions regarding cappuccino makers, and we have all your answers here!
What Makes a Good Cappuccino?
While you should, of course, do enough research to be sure you’re buying the best cappuccino maker for your needs, we have to be honest with you: all the research in the world won’t guarantee your cappuccino will be delicious. As much as the brewer matters, all coffee enthusiasts should know that many other elements contribute to good coffee.
Things like correct brewing temperature, sufficient pressure, and extraction time influence just how good your Java will be. However, having the right equipment, like a good leveler, a tamper, and a steaming wand, also plays a role in making a good cappuccino.
Most importantly, though, you’ll need fresh, high-quality coffee beans ground to the correct size for use in your brewer of choice. It doesn’t matter how fancy your equipment is; if the beans themselves aren’t good, your brew wont be, either.
What if I Already Have an Espresso Machine?
If you already own an espresso machine but you don’t want to buy a cappuccino maker, you can use your favorite dark roast coffee beans and the machine you already have to pull a shot or two of espresso, then purchase a separate milk steamer and frother to give you the bubbly foam you’ll need for this drink.
How Do I Make a Cappuccino Without a Machine?
You can technically make a cup of cappuccino without an espresso machine, but it won’t be the same.
Use a Moka pot or AeroPress to make a coffee concentrate to substitute for straight espresso. Don’t fret if you don’t have a steam wand on hand; click here to read all about how you can steam your milk without one.
Though it is possible to make a cappuccino without an espresso machine, if you’re a regular cappuccino drinker, it’s a good idea to go ahead and invest in a proper brewer.
Can a Cappuccino Machine Make Regular Coffee?
No. You can’t make a regular cup of coffee with a cappuccino or espresso machine. Some dual-purpose cappuccino makers can make both espresso and coffee, but since espresso is made by forcing pressure through the finely ground coffee, the resulting taste is different than when utilizing gravity and making drip coffee.
However, if you like the taste of black drip coffee, you can make a long black with your espresso machine; it’s a lot like a regular drip but stronger.
What Size Cup is Best for Cappuccino?
Cappuccinos are typically smaller than lattes and traditionally come in cup sizes of about six ounces compared to a twelve-ounce latte. In these six-ounce cups, the cappuccino can fit equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam.
What is the Ratio of Coffee to Milk Cappuccino?
The ratio of coffee to milk in a cappuccino is usually 1:1:1 since, as we mentioned above, it’s made with equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk.
What Cappuccino Machine Does Starbucks Use?
To make cappuccinos, Starbucks uses their espresso machine since their steam wand can both steam and froth milk to the perfect texture.
The brewer they use is the Mastrena Machine, which has been their coffee maker of choice since 2008.
Cappuccinos are some of the most popular coffee beverages out there. The good news is that you don’t have to venture to a coffee shop to enjoy this indulgent experience; simply invest in a quality brewer and make one at home!
But remember, having the best cappuccino maker isn’t the only thing that makes a good cup of joe. You’ll also need to ensure you’re using fresh coffee beans ground to the correct size and a quality steaming wand or automatic milk frother. Both of these things, plus being certain the coffee is made at the perfect extraction time, influence the taste of your brew.