When it comes to getting a tasty latte into our hot little hands, we have two options— we can go to a cafe or brew one at home.
If we were going to discuss the former, this wouldn’t be much of an article, would it!? No, because we’re all about brewing coffee, we will talk about the latter— brewing lattes at home and the art of steaming milk.
There are loads of machines on the market that will get the job done— from automatic latte makers to full-on espresso machines. Below, we sift through the pack and see our picks for the best latte machine of 2021, but if you’re in a rush, here’s the top pick:
If you’re looking for a coffeeshop at home, this one’s pretty close. Grind, tamper, froth and brew to your hearts content!
7 Alternative Cafe Latte Machines
Latte Machine VS Espresso Machine
There are many choices when it comes to latte machines, and some specialize in this type of brew, and others offer you the ability to make lattes, cappuccino, or whatever milk and coffee your heart desires!
Comparing a dedicated latte machine to a legitimate espresso machine is like comparing a toaster to a frying pan. Sure, both can crispy up some bread, ready for a thick slather of Vegemite. But there are a few key differences between the machines.
Brewing lattes with an auto latte machine, ‘the toaster’, is the easier option. Press a button and let the machine do the rest.
But brewing a latte using an espresso maker, ‘the frying pan’, gives us more control over the brewing process. We can tweak anything we want to achieve optimal extraction. Semi automatic machines also give you control of steaming the milk for perfect microfoam and thus latte too.
The 8 Best Latte Machines 2021
When it comes down to latte machines, this is my favorite.
While the Breville BES870XL Barista Express might not be fully automatic, it is an all-in-one grind, brew, and steam machine. It is a solid starting point in the world of pulling shots and will brew a tasty latte easily. It’s the perfect pick for a true coffee lover.
- Includes a stainless steel conical grinder
- Lots of programmable features
- Swivel action steam wand
- A real espresso machine capable of brewing delicious coffee
- Harder to use than an auto latte machine
The built-in stainless steel conical burr grinder is housed on the left side of the machine. In fact, the entire left side of this machine is dedicated to grinding. On this side, we’ll find multiple programmable coffee controls, including dose, basket size, and grind size.
The grinder contains conical steel burrs that are made to produce grounds quickly. With a bean hopper capacity of 8 ounces and a water reservoir of 64 ounces, the BES870XL can brew cup after without the need to refill.
The right side of the machine is brew central. Here you can find the group head, swivel action steam wand, and a hot water dispenser. There are also 2 programmable shot buttons for control.
These buttons are volumetric, meaning you can program one button to pull a shot using 20ml of water and the other using 50ml for a single or double shot. The perfect brewer for multi-person use!
I know all of these features might sound overwhelming, but you don’t need to use them all. You could just adjust your coffee grounds then use the machine as is. But you do have the option to tweak it all. Play with the dosing, temperature control, and even get down with some preinfusion to play with your shots and latte making.
The bottom line?
You’ll need to experiment to learn how to use machines like the Breville BES870XL, so if you want a quick plug-and-play style latte, this might not be the machine for you. But, if you’re a coffee lover who’s willing to experiment with the milk frother, you can perfect your latte making skills with its swivel action steam wand!
If you’re unsure about espresso, and your desire to make it on a daily basis, the Breville Cafe Roma might be right up your alley. It is a super affordable, entry-level semi automatic espresso machine with milk frother for brewing lattes.
- Comes with everything you need to start pulling shots
- A simple to use, entry level machine
- It will take some practice to create creamy microfoam
- Can’t fit a large mug under the portafilter while brewing espresso
The Cafe Roma uses a 15-bar thermoblock pump heating system, which is more than enough to pull a decent shot. Because of this style of heating system, you won’t be able to pull a shot of espresso and steam that sweet microfoam while you wait.
You’ll need to do one, then the other. This isn’t specific to the Cafe Roma, but is the case with most domestic espresso options with a single boiler.
Thanks to the pressurized portafilters that come included, it is pretty easy to make a tasty shot using this machine. Pressurized portafilters like these can be great if you don’t own the best grinder. You’ll get some rich, crema-heavy espressos, even if your grind isn’t perfect. If you have a solid grinder and want to go a little deeper, you can pick up non-pressurized portafilters.
When it comes down to performing as a latte machine, this brewer performs pretty well for its price point. It steams milk easily and relatively quickly, with a looper for your finger to improve ergonomics.
The Breville Cafe Roma is a great first espresso machine. It has pretty much everything a commercial machine offers, just paired down. Perfect for learning the craft of espresso and how to aerate your milk for perfect latte microfoam.
Related read: In-depth Breville ESP8XL review
The Philips 3200 LatteGo is about as hands-off as you’ll get with its one touch operation capabilities when it comes to latte machines! We’re talking about a coffee machine that grinds, brews, steams milk, and even cleans itself (aka a super-automatic).
- A true all-in-one automatic latte master
- Features multiple controls including coffee dose and shot size
- Produces high quality foam
- Won’t produce coffee as good as a real espresso machine
- Only for people with a hefty budget
This is one of the pricer options on the market for latte lovers, but you do get a lot for your money.
The grinder on the 3200 uses ceramic burrs and features 12 grind adjustments to turn beans into ground coffee. You’ll fit 10 ounces of beans in the hopper, or 283 grams for those of us playing from Australia (or everywhere else in the world!). You can also use pre-ground coffee directly.
When it comes to milk steaming duties, this machine features a removable, well-designed milk frother. As opposed to almost all other latte machines, the milk here doesn’t come into contact with any tubes or pipes. This means that it can’t build up and go sour inside these pipes. Why it took a manufacturer so long to think of this idea, I have no clue! But it’s good.
The frothy milk produced by this machine is decent. I mean, it won’t be winning any awards at a latte art competition, but it’s a decent auto milk frother, better than most that I’ve seen.
If you are looking for a super automatic latte machine that lets you control a small amount of the latte brewing process, and you have the budget, the Philips 3200 LatteGo is a solid contender.
The Gaggia Brera is a super automatic espresso machine. What does that mean? Does it do more than other semi automatic machines? It means no manual grinding of coffee beans, dosing, or tamping. It also means super easy milk, and all in a single unit – aka a latte machine that works on a press of a button.
- Well priced for what you get
- You do have some control over your shots
- Solid ceramic grinder
- The grinder doesn’t have enough settings to really fine-tune your shots
- Coffee dosage for the shots is very low, forcing you to pull multiple smaller ones
This machine will brew shots at the touch of a button and quickly steam milk for your lattes. But the fun doesn’t end there. It has a few different elements of programmability for those who like to tinker.
With 3 different dosing options, we can choose between 7 and 10.5 grams of coffee beans. Given the fact that most commercial machines use around 20 grams of coffee, 10.5 is not a lot. It’s an interesting choice that Gaggia made, choosing such a small dosage amount.
Shots can be dialed in further by changing the grind size. Though there are only 5 settings on the grinder, this should be enough to pull something tasty. You can program the shot sizes via two volumetric buttons on the face of the unit.
Steaming milk for your latte on the Brera is fast. It uses a steam arm known as a ‘Panarello’ steam arm. A Panarello steam arm is essentially a stainless steel tube with a nozzle, just like a regular steam wand. But the difference is that the Panarello milk wand comes with a hole in it, high up on the shaft. As a result, it works perfectly paired with this brewer to function as a latte machine.
This hole draws in more air. What this means for you is foamy milk without doing anything. You pretty much just hold the jug, and the Panarello steam arm will do the rest. This kind of steam arm is a little frustrating if you already know what you’re doing, but it is a godsend for beginners as it ensures perfect latte friendly foam.
With everything considered— the quality of the machine, the built-in grinder, and the easy to use steam arm, the Gaggia Brera is a good option for latte lovers at a hard to beat price when it comes to automatic machines.
Check out our full Brera review to learn more about this pick.
Breville has been killing on the coffee front these days, much more than De Longhi in my opinion. Not only do they make a couple of really decent grinders, but they also make some great espresso machines with steamers for latte making. And the Breville Bambino is no exception.
- Heats up incredibly quickly
- Automatic steaming with a temperature sensor
- A real espresso machine capable of pulling great shots
- Pressurized baskets mean you can’t get too deep with your tinkering
- Doesn’t include a grinder
First of all, this brewer is tiny! Certainly one of the smallest on the market. It is designed with beginners in mind. With its pressurized portafilters and auto steam wand, you should be able to brew a tasty latte without too much trouble.
The Bambino is well constructed, built mostly of stainless steel. It feels solid, especially when compared to other machines. Around the back of this tiny brewer is a massive 64 ounce water tank, meaning you’ll be able to make multiple coffees before refilling. A 64 ounce water tank on a machine this size is ridiculous and amazing!
Now, let’s get into how this machine brews coffee. It uses pressurized baskets, which is great if you don’t have the best grinder. Even if you can’t dial in the perfect grind, you’ll still be able to extract rich, sweet shots.
The Bambino offers preinfusion, which is similar to a bloom phase, allowing the grounds to degas a little before the main extraction. The preinfusion is programmable, which is pretty cool and rare on a brewer in this price range.
One of the really unique things about this espresso brewer is the way that it goes about steaming milk. It has a built-in temperature sensor. The temperature sensor sits at the bottom, flush with the drip tray. We can tell this sensor how we want our milk by choosing from one of the three temperature settings. Not many latte machines at this price point have this functionality, so its definitely a plus.
We can also tell the Bambino how frothy we want it to be, again, with one of three settings. And when we are done steaming, the machine will automatically purge the steam wand so the pipe doesn’t get clogged. How cool is that!?
The bottom line?
The Breville Bambino is an ultra-compact coffee maker capable of brewing some rich, sweet espresso and creamy microfoam. Though there is still a bit of a learning curve with this one when it comes to brewing, the milk part couldn’t be easier. The perfect latte machine if you’re looking for a compact semi automatic option!
The Silvia is the perfect pick for those of you who are beyond the beginner home brewer stage, and if you want more control to put your own spin on latte making.
- Powerful steam wand
- Premium group head
- Stainless steel finish
- Symbol controls can be confusing
- Lacks temperature and steam gauge
With a stainless steel exterior, this pick looks as good as it brews. While it’s not necessarily the best choice for a newbie, its commercial-sized group head, portafilter, and three-way solenoid valve give you full control to make great coffee while being easy to clean.
It has only 4 buttons with symbols on the front, making it pretty simple to use, but these can also be confusing to newbie brewers given the lack of a pressure gauge and its unrestricted flow level.
When it comes to performing as a latte machine, the Silvia has a single hole steam arm which quickly steams your milk; although here, you’ll need to do much more of the work when compared to automatic machines.
Overall, when it comes down to latte machines exclusively, there are better choices than the Silvia. However, if you enjoy the coffee itself as much as the microfoam, the Silvia is certainly worth buying and experimenting with for coffee shop quality brews.
Related read: In-depth Silvia review
The Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker lies somewhere between a semi automatic espresso machine and an automatic latte maker. It does use a portafilter, meaning that you will be able to adjust and tweak the shots.
However, this machine has complete control over the steamed milk, so there will be no tweaking done there, other than the amount of foam you choose. But, this does make it super beginner-friendly latte machine.
- Incredibly simple to use
- You do maintain some degree of control when pulling the shots
- Features a self-cleaning cycle
- Decent for its price tag
- No control over the milk frother
- Build quality could be better
This brewer features two removable reservoirs— one for water and one for milk. The water reservoir is pretty simple, top it up with water, reseat it, and it’s good to go. The milk reservoir has a couple of different parts— a froth adjustment dial that controls the amount of foam and a dispensing nozzle that acts as the milk frother.
The cafe barista includes both a single and a double filter basket, allowing you to brew either a single or double shot. Also included in the package is a scoop with a tamper on one end. The included tamper is ok to get you started, but you’ll probably want to swap it out with a metal one if you are brewing regularly.
With automatic frothing and a self-cleaning cycle (including the milk reservoir), the cafe barista is a decent option overall, given its price tag if you enjoy lattes.
Overall, for those who want an easy latte at home and on a budget, this might be a machine to consider without the experimentation. However, if you frequent specialty cafes and are super picky about your brew, this is most definitely not the machine for you. But for ease of use, it can’t be beaten!
Up until fairly recently, I’d avoid pod-based coffee like the plague. The mere mention of Nespresso would make me shudder— all those terrible hotel brewing experiences flooding back.
But things have moved on since my early experiences, and It is now possible to brew quick lattes using coffee pods and a Nespresso machine!
- It is possible to brew decent shots if you choose the right pods
- Can produce some creamy steamed milk
- Very easy to use
- Isn’t an all-in-one latte machine
- Only accepts coffee pods
The Breville Vertuo Next isn’t really an all-in-one latte machine, but rather two separate devices. One of the devices brews the Java, while the other device froths the milk. First, we’ll look at the coffee portion of the combo. Then we’ll dive into the milk for latte making.
The Breville Vertuo Next takes care of the coffee side of the latte story. And it works just like a standard Nespresso. In fact, it is a typical Nespresso brewer!
The Vertuo Next is nice and compact at just under 14.5 inches tall and exactly 5.5 wide. If you already have a bloated bench full of appliances, this small size might be attractive.
This coffee maker takes standard Nespresso capsules and can brew anything from a single shot up to 18 ounces. Nespresso devices tend to work best, producing single or double shots— anything beyond that ends up watery and over-extracted.
The next part of this setup is called the Aeroccino. It is a simple device that heats and froths your milk for your latte. The Aeroccino comes as essentially two parts— a jug, and a base. We add our cold milk to the jug and place on the lid, pop it onto the base and turn the device on. Making lattes and coffee in general is a breeze here.
I’m actually pretty impressed by the quality of the milk that the Aeroccino produces. You can choose between a super frothy or a flatter milk with the two included attachments. My biggest issue with this device is that one of the attachments creates too much foam, the other, not quite enough for my liking when it comes to lattes.
The Breville Vertuo and Aeroccino combo is great for single-serve lattes. If you want a quick and easy latte from a super easy to clean brewer and don’t want to deal with coffee grounds, this is the setup for you.
Read our post discussing single serve brewers to learn more about picks this this.
The Latte Machine Buying Guide
With so many great cafes around, why look at latte machines?
I’d say there are two distinct reasons why most people get into buying a latte machine for home. And these two reasons couldn’t be further from one another.
The first reason, and what I hope is the main reason is that brewing is fun! You get to experiment like a mad scientist. Adjusting the grind size, tasting, adjusting the yield, and tasting again. Playing with water temperature and brew times two make specialty coffee drinks — it really is quite addictive.
Second, making coffee at home can be incredibly convenient. This is especially the case when we’re talking about automatic latte machines. Going into a cafe, ordering and waiting for your drink can take time. Making your own at home can mean you already have a brew ready to drink. Just like a cafe at home!
As a result, the best latte machines produce perfect milky coffee and usually function as espresso makers. But, there is a possibility to make a non-traditional latte via a drip if you’re looking for something budget.
Espresso vs Drip For Latte Machines
You might have noticed that a couple of the coffee makers on the list don’t actually brew espresso. Some of them brew drip coffee instead.
Why choose one over the other? Are there any advantages to using a drip brewer rather than espresso for lattes? How does that affect the flavor of the latte?
Drip Coffee Machines For Home
A Cappuccino machine using drip coffee instead of espresso is cheaper. Much cheaper. An Espresso coffee maker needs a boiler or a thermacoil heating system for correct espresso extraction. A drip doesn’t.
But that is also the downside of using drip coffee in a cappuccino.
Because drip brews can’t achieve an extraction under pressure, the result is a weaker cup of Joe. It lacks the richness that we want from an espresso shot. While it will still work and taste pretty good in a latte or cappuccino, it won’t taste like real espresso if consumed on its own.
Having said that, some people do find an espresso-based cup of coffee too strong. A drip coffee latte maker will provide a gentler cup of Joe.
Latte Machines For Coffee At Home
Both a latte and cappuccino are traditionally made using either a single or double shot of espresso.
They are the best way of getting everything we can out of a particular brew. We can bring out the sweetness, the acidity— pretty much everything a coffee has to offer. And when we add milk to a double espresso shot, it won’t taste too diluted because it is so intense.
The biggest downsides to brewing espresso at home are either the cost and/or the difficulty.
Now, the easier an espresso maker is to use, the more expensive it becomes. A one touch automatic latte machine or cappuccino maker with an included conical burr grinder and automatic milk frother is pretty costly. But it is also straightforward to use.
This type of espresso cappuccino machine is the kind you’ll want if you’re after coffee shop style brews with milk at home.
A semi automatic latte machine like the Breville Barista Express is cheaper than the super automatic Phillips 3200 LatteGo. But it requires more experimentation to get the brew right vs non super automatic machines.
The bottom line is that if you are used to the kind of latte you’d get in a coffee shop, and your budget allows it, go for latte machines that brew real shots and top it with freshly steamed milk.
The Final Verdict
I’m a big fan of the buy it once policy. I would much rather buy one quality latte machine that I know has everything I might need in the near future.
That is why the Breville Barista Express is my top pick for the best latte machine and espresso machines in general too.
The bottom line?
Not only does it have everything you need to brew some bangin’ espresso, but it also has features you might not use right away. You’ll be able to grow into it and use the features as you need them. It contains a large water tank, big enough for brewing multiple shots, and a grinder that will have no trouble keeping up.
It’s easy to froth your milk and experiment with the aeration too. Perfect for coffee lovers!
So if you want to make your best latte right there inside your warm, toasty home, and if your budget will allow it, the Breville Barista Express is an awesome choice when it comes to coffee machines.