If you are reading this you are probably a fan of your creamy, frothy cappuccinos topped with a decadent sprinkle of chocolate. Now this delicious beverage can easily be made from the comfort of your own home whenever you want!
In this article we review the best cappuccino makers with different options available for all budgets and skill levels to help you make an informed choice when investing in your next espresso machine.
What is a Cappuccino?
A cappuccino is a creamy, frothy drink that consists of a single or double shot of Espresso (1-2 ounces), with 2 ounces of steamed milk and topped with 2 ounces of milk froth. Modern cappuccinos may often be topped with a sprinkle of chocolate or cinnamon powder. The milk in a cappuccino is more aerated than what you would find in a latte or flat white. When poured over espresso the milk forms more distinct layers and doesn’t incorporate as much with the espresso. This makes a cappuccino a more intense drink.
A Cappuccino is a 5–6 oz coffee and milk beverage that should produce a harmonious balance of rich, sweet milk and espresso. A cappuccino is prepared with a single shot of espresso, textured milk and a minimum of 1 cm of foam depth (assessed vertically).World Barista Championship (WBC) and Specialty Coffee Association (SCA)
The History of the Cappuccino
Step back in time to Vienna in the 1800s and Voila! the Kapuziner was born. It was a small drink consisting of brewed coffee mixed with either cream or milk until it resembled the colour of the monks Capuchin robes. This was the first appearance of the word cappuccino, but the drink itself was a lot different to the modern day cappuccino. Fast forward to Italy in the 1900s and we see the birth of the modern day cappuccino. The cappuccino was an integral part of Italian culture and was commonly consumed once a day in the morning. The Italian cappuccino looked a lot different to what we would think of as a cappuccino today. It generally had a white, foamed top with a brown ring of espresso around the edge of the cup (none of this fancy latte art!). The traditional Italian Cappuccino was made quickly to be consumed quickly.
What do we need to make a Cappuccino?
If you are looking to make cappuccinos then you will need a machine that can produce espresso and some way of frothing milk. While there are ways of making similar drinks without a machine (such as using a Moka Pot or Aeropress or a Keurig machine), because these can’t technically produce espresso we will not go into them.
What is Espresso?
Espresso is a concentrated form of coffee that is produced under high pressure. Basically high pressure forces water through finely ground coffee with a very short extraction time (of about 30 seconds). This results in a concentrated shot of coffee with a thick layer of crema on top. It is the base of many milky drinks but can also be drunk straight. To be able to make espresso a cappuccino maker has to be able to produce 9 bars of pressure.
How do you froth milk?
Getting the frothy warm milk to top your cappuccino with can be done in many ways. Ideally you would want a machine equipped with a steam wand to allow you to produce microfoam. However if you do not have one of these available you could use a milk frother or even heat the milk in your microwave and use a french press to form foam.
Cappuccino Maker Buying Guide
If you are looking at investing in a cappuccino maker there are a few things you should consider first before deciding which one to go for…
Type of Machine
When it comes to Espresso Machines there are basically 4 types of machines available:
Cappuccino makers come in all sorts of price ranges. In our review we have listed them in order from least to most expensive. Before buying a machine you need to consider how much you are willing to spend. You should factor in who will be using the machine and how often. If it is just for the odd cappuccino you might want to opt for a cheaper model whereas if the whole family will be using the machine everyday it is better to save a bit more money and invest in a good quality machine that will last.
How much experience have you had in making coffee? Are you wanting to develop your skills or just get a machine that will produce a quick, convenient cappuccino? If you are wanting a quick caffeine hit we recommend opting for either a super-automatic or capsule machine, whereas if you are wanting to work on those barista skills try a semi-automatic or manual machine.
How much counter space do you have available in your kitchen? Some cappuccino machines are absolute mammoths, while others can be very compact. Consider where you will be putting your machine and how much space you can sacrifice for your coffee maker. You should also factor in whether you will be using a coffee grinder or if your machine has one built in.
The Best Cappuccino Makers 2020
The De’Longhi cappuccino maker is a semi-automatic espresso machine. This is a nifty little machine that is very affordable. It has a very small footprint so would be a good option if you don’t have much bench space. This is a very basic machine equipped with a single or double shot filter basket, however when paired with a good quality grinder it is capable of producing some good espresso. It also has a pannarello steam wand so you can froth your own milk.
Given the price this machine does have a lot of plastic parts and is not the highest quality however it is a good option for a beginner just entering the world of espresso who is looking for an affordable, basic machine.
The Mr Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker sits somewhere between a super and semi automatic espresso machine. You grind and tamp your own coffee but the milk is frothed automatically into your cup with the push of a button. The machine itself is very simple to use with the options of a single or double shot of espresso and the option of milk frothed for either a latte or cappuccino. You are also able to adjust the amount of milk froth produced. The machine has a removable milk reservoir that you can store in the fridge when not in use. This is a great cappuccino maker for those wanting a basic, entry level machine that is very simple to use.
The Nespresso Vertuo is a capsule machine. Nespresso machines are known to be good quality machines that are very simple and convenient to use requiring very little clean up. The Nespresso Vertuo is one of their latest models and is able to produce 5 different sizes of drinks ranging from 1.35 oz to 14 oz (Espresso, Double Espresso, Fran Lungo, Coffee and Alto). There are a range of 16 different types of coffees and 10 types of espresso capsules to choose from with varying intensities. If you are going to opt for a Nespresso Vertuo we recommend buying a bundle which includes an Aerocchino so you can froth your milk.
The Gaggia Classic Pro is a semi-automatic espresso machine. It has a sleek, compact design and is available in a range of different colours. Gaggia is a trusted brand in the coffee industry known for making quality, reliable machines. The standouts of this machine are its commercial grade quality as well as its design which is built for longevity. This means that the grouphead and portafilter are both made of heavy duty brass which stabilises temperature as well as lasting a long time.
Other features include a 58mm commercial size grouphead, a 72 oz. water reservoir, a 17.5 bar boiler, and the solenoid valve which allows for a quick turnover between shots. The machine also comes fitted with a high quality steam wand capable of producing microfoam. The Gaggia Classic Pro is not as customisable as some other machines but it isn’t meant to be- this coffee maker is really about one thing which is making a great shot of espresso. This is a great cappuccino maker for the beginner wanting to invest in a quality machine that will last a long time.
The De’Longhi ESAM3300 is a super automatic espresso machine. The machine basically produces a great cup of coffee with the push of a button. The machine automatically grinds the beans, tamps them and pulls a shot. It comes equipped with a steam wand so you can steam milk for your cappuccino. The built in grinder is a stainless steel burr grinder with 7 different grind settings. This machine is also very easy to clean with easily removable parts and an automatic descaling indicator. It can brew coffee at five different strengths and in three different sizes.
Some of the downsides of this machine are that the pannarello steam wand is not of the highest quality, the machine is definitely on the bulky side, and it is fairly expensive. But if you are looking for a cappuccino maker that makes good coffee and requires little effort then this is a good option.
The Breville Barista Express is a semi-automatic espresso machine. This is an excellent cappuccino maker to consider and also comes with a built in grinder! The machine is almost identical in features to its younger brother the Breville Infuser with the addition of an inbuilt grinder and is capable of brewing a great tasting shot of espresso. You can see our full review of the Breville Infuser here. The espresso machine is well built with a stack of fantastic features including a PID controller to ensure water is at the optimal temperature for espresso extraction, an easy to use steam wand, and a pre-infusion function for consistent extraction. The grinder on the machine has conical steel burrs with 18 different grind settings. It also has dose-control grinding, delivering the correct amount of ground coffee into the portafilter. If you are looking for a cappuccino maker that can make great coffee and are willing to learn how to use an espresso machine then we highly recommend the Breville Barista Express.
Finally, I couldn’t help adding this superb machine to the list. It is almost definitely both the highest quality and the most expensive coffee maker that you will ever consider buying. It is a super espresso machine and will literally make a coffee to compete with if not beat your local cafe. This is a top-of-the-line coffee maker that requires no skill and makes a delicious cup of coffee. You simply push a button, move the pre-tamped portafilter, place the milk jug under the steam wand and you are away laughing.
Perhaps the best feature of this high end machine is the automatic steam wand. This piece of advanced technology means that you simply put the milk jug under it and it will automatically steam the milk perfectly for you, allowing you to make that perfect cappuccino! So if you love really good coffee, have the money to spare, and don’t want the rigmarole of making the coffee yourself, then this may be the last coffee machine you will ever need!
As you can see there are plenty of different options of Cappuccino machines available for every price and skill level. We recommend the Breville Barista Express if you are looking for a great all round machine. It is a high-quality machine, comes with a built in grinder and can produce a decent cup of coffee. It also allows you to grow in your barista skills!
If you are looking for a cappuccino maker with a cheaper price tag the Gaggia Classic pro is also a fantastic option, being a high quality machine perfect for those starting out.