What to Look for when searching for the Best Cappuccino Maker?
Are you a cappuccino and latte lover like me?
Smooth, barista-prepared coffee drinks are definitely one of life’s little pleasures.
One thing that all the specialty coffee drinks have in common is that they start with a good espresso brew. If you can duplicate that at home, then you’re on your way to enjoying the same delicious coffee drinks for a lot less money.
Before showing you the best cappuccino maker in 2017 for home use, you need to know a couple things 🙂
There are two ways to prepare espresso, using either steam or pump pressure to extract the rich coffee flavor from the ground beans.
With the steam method, boiling hot water expands into steam and pushes through the coffee grounds.
The pump method forces hot water through the grounds.
While the steam creates enough pressure to make espresso, you’ll never get a premium cup using this method. Why not? Because the pressure just isn’t high enough to completely process the ground espresso beans. A good cup of espresso will always have a bubbly layer of crema on top, and steam processing won’t create this layer.
What is Crema?
Crema is the creamy layer of foam that appears on a good cup of espresso. It should be thick enough to close up again after dragging a spoon through the bubbles.
The only way to prepare a cup of espresso with a good top layer of crema is to use pressure pump brewing. With that in mind, we’re reviewing three pressure brewers today, along with some other interesting alternatives for your home-coffee-drinking pleasure.
Why is Pump Brewing Better?
A true coffee aficionado will never be able to create a cup of espresso with its layer of thick crema by using the steam method. And with steam brewing, the boiling hot water can release bitter notes from the ground espresso beans. The powerful, even pressure of a pump will create a cup of espresso without bitterness.
Table of Contents
- 1 What to Look for when searching for the Best Cappuccino Maker?
- 2 What is the Best Cappuccino Maker in 2017?
- 3 Cappuccino Maker Reviews
- 3.1 1. Mr. Coffee Automatic Dual Shot ECMP50
- 3.2 2. Mr. Coffee Café Barista ECMP1000
- 3.3 3. The Keurig Rivo Cappuccino and Latte System
- 3.4 4. Mr. Coffee BVMC-EL1 Café Latte
- 4 More Options for the Coffee Lover
- 5 A Superior Cup of Coffee
- 6 Buying a Cappuccino Maker Checklist
- 7 Brewing a Good Cup of Espresso
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Best Cappuccino Maker in 2017?
(L x W x H)
|Mr. Coffee Automatic Dual Shot ECMP50||11.4 x 13.7 x 13||12||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Mr. Coffee Café Barista ECMP1000|
|12.25 x 12 x 14||13||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|The Keurig Rivo|
Cappuccino and Latte System
|11.4 x 10.8 x 6.9||17||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Mr. Coffee BVMC-EL1|
|13.8 x 11.9 x 6.9||10.3||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|PowerLix Milk Frother||$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Epica Automatic Electric|
Milk Frother and Heater
|$||Check Price on Amazon|
Cappuccino Maker Reviews
Stainless steel | 11.4 x 13.7 x 13 inches | 12 pounds
This cappuccino maker has several things going for it. One of them is the large, 40-ounce reservoir that allows you to brew one cup after another without refilling the tank. However, the word ‘automatic’ in the name is misleading, as you do have to froth the milk yourself and combine it with the espresso.
Also, like the commercial espresso machines you see at Starbucks, the Dual Shot has a double sprout and the ability to make two cups of espresso at once. A coffee mug can be centered between the two sprouts if you’re making a 2-shot coffee beverage.
The machine has a 15-bar high-pressure pump, which is what you should look for when it comes to brewing power. There are some 8-bar machines that will do the job, but coffee made by an 8-bar espresso maker won’t have the same flavor and thick layer of crema on top.
There’s also a tray built into the top of this cappuccino maker that provides a handy storage area for the brew basket, milk frothing pitcher, and spoon. All of the parts that need to be cleaned are removable for easy washing. The Dual Shot is a compact appliance and it’s pretty loud when operating.
As with any espresso maker, you’ll need to use a fine espresso grind and the right beans to brew the perfect cup. The brewer basket will run into difficulty if you try to use a grind that’s too coarse. Luckily, the appliance comes with detailed instructions for easy use, and this includes several troubleshooting tips. You also get a plastic combination spoon and tamping tool.
This unit operates with a ‘thermal block heating system‘ and users report that it makes espresso with a great head of crema. The espresso maker and frother don’t operate at the same time, so you have to make the coffee first, then froth the milk.
Mr. Coffee Dual Shot Pros & Cons
Stainless Steel | 12.25 x 12 x 14 inches | 13 pounds
This model also has a 15-bar pressure pump and will brew one or two espressos at a time. The removable 55-ounce water reservoir holds enough water to create several coffee drinks before refilling. The main bonus in buying the Café Barista is that it’s completely automated. Of course, the price also reflects the upgrade.
There are three pre-programmed options that will brew espresso or create a cappuccino or a latte. Even the frothing is automated, with a container for the milk that froths it and mixes it with the espresso to make coffee drinks. While you can create lattes and cappuccinos with the press of a button, manual brewing and frothing are still available for those who want to create their own drink.
Cleaning is also automatic, with the push of a button. The manufacturer promises ‘light, creamy and perfect’ foam every time and users confirm that this is what you get. They report that the taste of the brew is superior, whether using the push button feature or the manual controls.
This is a loud appliance when operating but, since it’s fully automated, you don’t have to stand over it while waiting for your coffee to be made. Before using this machine, you’ll have to prime it. The steps are given in the instructions and it’s not too complicated. The coffee maker works best if you take the time to prime it every month or so.
Like the Dual Shot, all the parts that need to be cleaned are removable. The milk reservoir can also be stored in the refrigerator for later use, and frothing seems to works better with a full container of milk. With this model, you can create the same type of professional coffee beverages as your local barista but without working as hard for it.
Mr. Coffee Café Barista Pros & Cons
Plastic | 11.4 x 10.8 x 11.4 inches | 17 pounds
This system isn’t completely automated, but it comes close. Although the coffee maker froths the milk, you have to add it to the espresso yourself. Another 15-bar pump model, this unit brews the espresso by forcing it through plastic coffee pods or k-cups. For a double espresso, you simply use a special over-sized coffee capsule and hit the right button for two shots.
Because it’s a Keurig, the Rivo uses disposable coffee pods and, unlike some Keurig models, there’s not a fill-your-own brew basket option. This is a drawback, as the cost of the individual containers can add up over time. Also, while the coffee tastes excellent, it’s not up to par with the quality of the first two we reviewed.
On the other hand, the Rivo is more versatile in that it will brew regular coffee as well as espresso. Some people hit the brew cycle button two or three times using the same pod to brew the equivalent of an Americano, which is espresso with hot water added.
This isn’t a standard Keurig with k-cups that can be purchased in the grocery store, however. The capsules are custom made for this coffee maker and come in three variations of boldness, plus a decaf option. Classico, Intenso, and Delicato are the three varieties, along with decaf espresso blend.
Some people complain about the lack of coffee variety and choice since you can basically only use one brand of coffee in this model, from Italian coffee distributor Lavazza. On the bright side, this is a premium brand of Italian coffee and mostly what Italians are sipping in their sidewalk cafés.
One nice feature about this Keurig is that the k-cups are automatically ejected into a holding area that only needs to be emptied after several uses. This model is also a lot quieter than classic pressure-driven cappuccino makers.
The automatic frother won’t operate at the same time as the espresso maker. However, it does a very good job and makes a thick creamy foam, including a cold foam for iced coffee beverages. According to users, the coffee turns out best if the frother is operated first, then the espresso maker.
Keurig Rivo Cappuccino and Latte System Pros & Cons
Stainless steel | 13.8 x 11.9 x 6.9 inches | 10.3 pounds
Probably the easiest to use of all four choices is the Café Latte by Mr. Coffee, and it’s also the cheapest. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly an espresso maker. For true espresso, the water has to be forced through the ground coffee using steam or pressure. This unit is a traditional drip-style coffee maker with an ingenious way to add foam and make an espresso-style coffee beverage.
Like the Mr. Coffee Café Barista, the coffee and milk are mixed automatically. The milk is added directly to the coffee carafe, and the carafe lid has a heated frothing coil that reaches the bottom of the container. As the milk is being frothed this way, the espresso is brewed right on top of it. This coffee maker uses the drip method of brewing, so it can brew regular coffee as well.
However, because the water isn’t steamed or pumped, the coffee made by the Café Latte isn’t a true espresso. Buying espresso beans and having them finely ground will give a good approximation of the flavor, but you won’t be able to achieve the crema layer of a true espresso. The finished product would be more accurately referred to as a café au lait or coffee with cream.
Even though you don’t get the crema layer, this coffee maker does create a thick layer of foam on the top half of the carafe. It’s smooth and rich, and even thick enough to spoon onto your coffee. Users report that the coffee comes out very hot, but without any scorching, and it has a good flavor.
The carafe is large enough to make two lattes at a time, and flavored lattes are simple to make. Just add flavored syrup to the milk before it’s frothed, and you can instantly make your own mocha, hazelnut or mint coffee drink. You can also make hot chocolate and chai this way. The convenience and the low price give this coffee maker a lot of appeals.
Mr. Coffee BVMC-EL1 Café Latte Pros & Cons
More Options for the Coffee Lover
Not ready to invest in a cappuccino maker yet or just can’t make up your mind?
You could always try a milk frother in the meantime, to get an idea of which coffee drinks appeal to you. We looked at a few of them and these are the two best milk frother we found.
This is a lightweight, handheld frother that will work with hot or cold liquids. It’s simply a frothing coil on a metal wand, and you use it by moving the end up and down slightly, just under the surface of the milk.
If you already like your morning brew but have always wanted to have a rich, creamy foam on top, this is what you need.
There’s no power cord in the way because the PowerLix milk frother is battery operated. Two AA batteries power a strong and fast 19,000 rpm motor that will mix shakes as well as foam milk. Cleanup is easy because you just operate the frother in a glass of hot water until the coil is clean.
This tool will give you a chance to see if it matters to your taste buds whether your coffee is a true espresso or not.
If you can make a satisfying specialty coffee using your favorite coffee blend, then you should go for the ease and convenience of the Powerlix.
The Epica milk frother can make hot or cold milk froth and will heat the milk for you. This is a good in-between option if your favorite coffee drink is a latte. With the push of a button, it will make a thick, creamy froth or heat milk for a latte or hot chocolate.
The thermal carafe is vacuum insulated to keep your beverage hot and it holds one cup at a time. Although the unit is corded, the carafe detaches for convenience.
You can also make up a batch of whipped cream for your hot chocolate with the Epica.
The foam it makes is rich and dense, according to users. You can also get even more lift by frothing the milk once while it’s cold, then again using the heating option. Experimenting with various coffee syrups and flavorings is a great way to see if you can duplicate those expensive barista-made coffees we all love.
A Superior Cup of Coffee
It’s difficult to pick the best cappuccino maker out of the four we looked at because they are all good ones. Not to mention that the benefits of each type are most valuable depending on each individual’s particular requirements. For someone on a budget, the Café Latte is not only inexpensive but also easy to use, even though it doesn’t make a true espresso.
The Café Barista costs nearly three times as much, but you get true push-button cappuccino and latte, along with a premium espresso. The Keurig Rivo, in the same price range, is just as easy to use but will only brew Lavazza coffee. The mid-range priced Dual Shot makes a great cup of espresso but it’s a manual machine, unlike the others.
Brewing a Good Cup of Espresso
Choose a pump brewer over a steam brewer.
Make sure the pressure is at least 15-bar.
Choose a model that creates a thick layer of crema on top.
Read customer reviews for each model.
Follow all manufacturer instructions.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the characteristics of a good espresso?
The aroma of a cup of espresso is one indication of its quality. When all of the factors that make a good espresso come together, the aroma is splendid. This means that the water was the right temperature and the pump pressure forced the water through the grounds to release the flavors and oils without bitterness.
Why is crema so important?
This thick, foamy layer on top of the espresso is a combination of all the flavor elements of the espresso bean. When processed correctly, a cup of espresso will be enhanced in flavor and aroma because of the crema.
What is the best cappuccino maker for me?
There are many things to consider when buying a home cappuccino maker. Most important is to decide whether you want to craft your coffee manually or have it done automatically. A couple of the more mundane factors are the amount of space it takes up and the size of the water reservoir. Also, ask yourself how quickly it will make your coffee and how intensive the cleanup will be.