The Best Latte Machine: Reviews and a Buying Guide

How do you find a latte machine that fits your needs? Espresso machines can cost thousands of dollars. You don’t want to waste your money on a machine that makes great espresso, but not-so-great lattes, right?

Here’s of amazing latte machines for your home, ranging from those ideal for newbies up to espresso machine veterans. No matter your skill level or budget, we’ll find you a machine that will help you make the latte you crave.

TOP PICK: Breville BES870XL Barista Express

breville espresso machine

The Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine gives you more control in making excellent lattes, espressos, and a host of other drinks at a great price. It comes with a 360-degree swivel-action steam wand that’s just perfect for lattes.

Buying Guide: How To Choose The Right Latte Maker

Before you dive into making such a big purchase, there are a few things to consider...

What makes it a Latte Coffee Machine?

The reality is that, while there are many things to consider, what we’re looking at here under that frothy “latte” exterior is a regular coffee machine that makes lattes really well.

As you know, a latte is drenched in milk, which means the milk part of the machine – the milk frother – is a really important factor. In fact, some coffee lovers even go as far as to say that you don’t need to worry much about the espresso side of things at all, as it’s such a small part of the overall milky taste of a latte. We beg to differ - for us, the best latte starts with the best coffee - but the point is well taken.

latte sitting on a kitchen benchtop

The goal here is to find a machine that handles the milk well.

The Difference Between Cappuccinos, Lattes, and Other Espresso-Based Drinks

This may seem like an obvious section (seeing how you like lattes enough to consider buying a latte machine!), and we realize that, so we’ll keep it short.

But it bears pointing out just what a latte is (a sweeter, espresso-based drink made with steamed milk and a top layer of micro-foam) and how it differs from so many other espresso drinks. You’ll want to have this in mind when you buy a machine specifically for lattes.

A cup of cappuccino

Not to mention, you’ll also want to know the nuanced differences between these drinks if you’re going to make them at home! A classic example would be a latte, which is milk-heavy, compared to a cappuccino, which has more foam. Remeber that there are two parts to effective frothing (1)

"Steaming milk is remarkably difficult to do well...Remember that there are 2 phases: aerating, (aka “stretching”) and emulsifying (aka “texturing"). You need both to have a creamy, velvety batch of milk with enough body to create latte art or a great cappuccino" - Chef Steps

For brevity’s sake, we found a couple of good sources (here and there) and a video below that breaks down the differences in espresso drinks.

Does It Froth Milk For You?

First off, know that it doesn't take rocket science to make a latte, but if you don’t have at least some knowledge on the subject, there’s going to be a steep learning curve… and a lot of wasted coffee.

If you don’t have any experience yet, though, that’s okay. Don’t panic! You’re just going to want to do some research on how to make a latte before you get your hands on your shiny new machine. Some latte makers will froth milk for you; others will require YOU to learn how to handle the milk.

Semi-Automatic vs Automatic Latte Machines

One important thing to decide before you go into the buying process is how much of the work you want to do yourself.

If you want to have more control over the whole process, consider a semi-automatic espresso machine like one of these. These give you more control over the whole latte-making process. However, some say they provide much less convenience. You’ll need to ramp up your game if you want to get a good cup of coffee out of a semi-automatic brewer (example, you’ll have to know how to use a steaming wand)

Automatic machines are built for convenience and are often very user-friendly. Most include a built-in coffee grinder that lets you add coffee beans and push a button. They frequently have an automatic milk frother, which takes the place of a steam wand (and doesn't require you to learn the skills to use one).

An automatic machine does most of the work for you, but some manual intervention is still required. A super automatic takes over the entire process, from bean to cup. It's like having a coffeehouse in your kitchen.

Super automatics are also technically more stable in delivering the same quality latte each and every time, as there is little to no human intervention. (It's worth noting that all latte machines, whether manual or some flavor of automatic, are essentially single-serve machines, due to the nature of the drink.) (2)

"As the temperature of milk rises, lactose becomes more soluble. As it does, its sweetness is more noticeable...It’s not that the milk is actually sweeter, but as it heats up its perceived sweetness increases." - Anna Brones 

The 5 Best Latte Machines of 2019

Remember, while these are generally espresso machines, this is not an espresso machine review listSo while they are all good espresso machines, we will be focusing on the details that help with lattes in particular.

IMAGEPRODUCTWHY?
hg-table__imageBreville Cafe Roma Stainless Espresso Maker
    An affordable semi-automatic option with a small footprint.
CHECK PRICE →
hg-table__imageMr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso/Cappuccino Maker
    An affordable option to make espresso and froth milk.
CHECK PRICE →
hg-table__imageBreville Barista Express
    Mid-ranged, affordable, and durable semi-automatic machine that creates high-end lattes.
CHECK PRICE →
hg-table__imageSaeco Picobaristo Super Automatic Espresso Machine
    High-end workhorse with storable milk carafe.
CHECK PRICE →
hg-table__imageGaggia Babila Espresso Machine
    Can choose between fully super automatic options or frothing the milk yourself.
CHECK PRICE →

Breville Cafe Roma Espresso Maker

We begin with an affordable latte maker that is a great starting point for any budding barista who wants to bring down the oppressive cost of buying a latte every day: The Breville ESP8XL Cafe Roma Stainless Espresso Maker. For less than the cost of a latte a day for a month from a coffee shop, you can get this baby set up on your counter and be ready to brew up a frothy latte at a moments notice.

This no-frills machine gives you everything you need to brew a decent espresso. You can also simultaneously use the stainless steel frothing pitcher (included!) and the frothing enhancer to prep your milk – a rare feature for machines on this end of the price range. Its 40.6-oz. water reservoir means you can brew up several lattes without having to refill. And customers love the warning when the drip tray is nearly full - a great way to avoid a mess.

It's also small, taking up less than a foot of space in its height, depth, and width, making it an appliance that respects your counter space as much as your desire for a quick, affordable latte. The cherry on top? Even at this low cost, it still comes with a 1 year (limited) warranty.

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Small footprint
  • Froths milk and brews coffee simultaneously

CONS

  • Not a high-end brewer (coffee can come out weak and inconsistent)

BEST SUITED FOR: Beginners and baristas-in-training... or anyone who just wants a user-friendly, affordable way to get a cheap latte on demand!


Mr Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso Maker

Don’t skip over this one just because its name has the word “cappuccino” and lacks the word “latte.” This is a good latte coffee maker. And it literally has a latte button!

The Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista is a very popular entry-level option, coming in at just a couple hundred dollars brand new. And don’t let that price tag fool you, this is a good super-automatic latte machine! Even at this price point, it has s 15-bar pump, considered the gold standard of home espresso makers.

Prep time is fast, especially since the machine automatically froths the milk for you, and the entire milk reservoir is removable and can be stuck in the fridge in between uses! Add onto that the fact that you can brew a latte by simply punching in your desired setting using the simple, user-friendly interface, and this machine screams convenience!

Once again coming in at around a foot in size, it tucks neatly away on your counter, patiently waiting to provide a great latte whenever you need one. It ships with single- and double-shot filter baskets to control the amount of coffee in your latte. And it even comes in red, so you can add a splash of color to your kitchen, too.

Finally, the machine comes with a limited 1-year warranty… and even a recipe book to fuel your coffee-brewing adventures!

PROS

  • User-friendly
  • Froths milk for you
  • Milk reservoir stores in the fridge

CONS

  • Not as durable as higher-end options

BEST SUITED FOR: Those who don’t care about their barista skills and just care about an ultra-convenient, affordable way to get their lattes!


Breville Barista Express

The next on our list of latte machines for your home is the Breville BES870XL. This machine is extremely popular and a perfect selection for any home barista who wants to upgrade from smaller, user-friendly coffee and latte makers to an all-in-one machine that will both develop their skills and increase the quality of their homemade lattes.

This semi-automatic machine was made with both great coffee and happy consumers in mind. The price means you’re getting high-quality parts, but it also comes with clever little additions like special “no-slip” feet that keep the machine from moving. Plus, the built-in conical burr grinder means you don't need to buy a separate grinder, or worse yet, buy pre-ground coffee to make your espresso: every cup is freshly ground before brewing.

Other features the BES870XL has in common with the best espresso machines include digital temperature control, dose-control grinding (between 19 and 22 grams per dose) for adjusting coffee flavor, and a grind size control which lets you customize for the level of crema you desire. The low-pressure pre-infusion cycle precedes a brew cycle that operates at the recommended 9 bars of pressure for optimum extraction. It also has a separate hot water dispenser for pre-heating your latte cup or making tea or other hot beverages.

More important to latte lovers, however, is the quality 360-degree swivel-action steam wand, designed to make lattes as easy as 1, 2, 3.

This machine is quite a bit bigger than the first two, and is particularly tall, standing at nearly 16 inches – so make some space on your counters while waiting for it to ship to you. 

PROS

  • Great quality for the price
  • Comes with a 360-degree swivel-action steam wand that’s perfect for lattes
  • Gives you more control over the process

CONS

  • Can be more complex to operate

BEST SUITED FOR: The home barista who wants to push things to the next level. It’s a high-caliber machine that will give you tons of control, and won’t break the bank in the process!


Saeco Picobaristo

At this point in our list, we’re taking a leap from some of the best low- and mid-range options to some of the best overall machines for your home, regardless of price.

The Picobaristo is a super automatic machine that delivers a vast array of coffee options, making it a very high-end espresso, cappuccino, and latte machine. And, of course, “super automatic” means it does the work for you. Everything from grinding and brewing the espresso to frothing the milk is done to perfection, while you just wait.

It allows you to personalize your drink settings to your own preferences, as well! If you're wondering how to make that latte macchiato a little bit more to your liking, just tweak the water temperature, shot length, dose, or milk volume, and save the setting. Then the next time you go to make a cup, hey presto, this amazing machine knows exactly how you want your coffee!

It also has a removable, plug-in carafe that allows you to store the milk in the fridge in between uses. And the integrated burr grinder uses ceramic burrs, preferred by some for their lower heat transfer into the coffee during grinding (relative to stainless burrs).

PROS

  • Saves your personal drink preferences
  • Storable milk carafe
  • Efficient

CONS

  • This one is big. You’ll want a dedicated space for it!

BEST SUITED FOR: A serious, committed latte drinker who wants a steady and dependable stream of coffee from one of the best home coffee machines money can buy.


Gaggia Babila Espresso Machine

The Babila Espresso Machine, the priciest on our list, is unsurprisingly one of the best automatic home latte machines on the market.

What kind of latte are you getting for this price tag? A pretty darn good one, along with a side of all of the coffee convenience that a high-end machine can deliver!

This super-automatic Italian-made brewer gives you brewing options and boasts the ability to customize your preferences when it comes to each cup of coffee it delivers. Eight programmable drinks, plus a flow knob to control the strength of your espresso, let you customize every cup you brew.

It has a one-touch, bean-to-cup option that allows you to sit back and relax while the machine does the work. Its 60-ounce water tank can give you dozens of drinks between fill-ups. And while convenience is nice, this machine can also accommodate the desire to take the wheel yourself, as it comes with both an automatic milk foaming carafe and a milk frothing wand that surrenders control over to you.

And while you can brew a latte with the touch of a button using the automatic milk attachment, the milk frothing wand means you can make microfoam to perfect your latte art. The Babila's 1400-watt heating system heats quickly, while the 50.7-oz water reservoir means you're not likely to run out mid-steam.

It also comes with a whopping 2-year warranty, so you can take your time learning how to use your awe-inspiring new machine. Keep in mind, though, that this one is another behemoth, measuring in at nearly 17 inches tall, making it the second tallest of the bunch.

PROS

  • Super-automatic bean-to-cup option
  • Steam wand option
  • Customizable coffee preferences

CONS

  • Very tall
  • Expensive

BEST SUITED FOR: The ultimate latte drinker, a person who wants a latte whether they simply want to push a button or take their time and froth their milk to their own, handmade preference.


THE VERDICT

All things considered winner right now is The Breville BES870XL Barista Express. Quality manufacturing, excellent coffee, ease of use, and a great price all set this machine above the rest when it comes to making lattes, espressos, and a host of other drinks.


Breville Barista Express

And there you have it - the best machines for making creamy latte. Once you pick one up, be sure to read this guide: how to make a latte. If you're looking for the best coffee-making equipment - our guides and reviews on coffee gear may just help you decide.

FAQs

Do all espresso machines make lattes?

No, not all espresso machines can make lattes (although every machine in this review does). Only machines with some kind of milk frother or steaming wand can make lattes. If your machines does not have a steaming wand, you can steam milk without an espresso maker using a milk frother - like one of these.

What's the difference between a latte and a cappuccino?

The difference between a latte and a cappuccino is the amount of milk and the amount of foam. A latte has more milk and less foam than a cappuccino. A cappuccino has less milk overall than a latte, but a mound of milk froth on top of the cup. Here's a guide.


References

  1. ChefSteps. (n.d.). Retrieved May 29, 2019, from https://www.chefsteps.com/activities/steaming-milk
  2. Brones, A. (2019, May 01). 8 Things Your Barista Wishes You Knew About Coffee. Retrieved May 29, 2019, from https://www.thekitchn.com/8-things-your-barista-wishes-you-knew-about-coffee-smart-coffee-regular-joes-217941
Alex
 

Alex is the Founder and Editor of Homegrounds.co. He is passionate about brewing amazing coffee at home, and teaching others to do the same.

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