I think you’ll agree with me when I say:
Coffee doesn’t always have to be bold, strong, and intense.
Sometimes we just want something light and heavenly creamy.
And that’s when latte makers come in handy.
Who Should Buy a Latte Machine?
If you’re thinking “Why would I buy a latte machine when I can easily get my favorite beverage at a coffee shop?”, then you probably don’t love latte that much.
I’m just kidding.
I’m sure you love it. Still, you might be confused whether you should or shouldn’t invest your money (hundreds of dollars, if we are talking about a good latte maker) in a machine when you can simply buy your favorite beverage.
So, you would want to buy a latte machine if:
You want to save some money. Yes, you will have to invest quite a sum in your new coffee maker, but this will actually save you some money in the long run. You see, while your regular cup of coffee costs around $3.5 (depending on where you’re buying it), the price of your single-serve homemade latte is actually around $0.50-1. You can see the difference, right?
You want your lattes anytime. Your favorite coffee shop might never run out of milk and coffee, but it isn’t open 24/7. Additionally, they might not have your favorite type of milk or vegan options (if you need those). When you make your own lattes using your own machine, you can enjoy your favorite beverage whenever you want.
You appreciate convenience. There’s nothing better than enjoying your fresh, hot latte while still wearing your pajamas and lunging in your home. That’s what you can do when you have a latte machine. And if you don’t feel like brewing your coffee and learning how to make lattes, there are many machines that can do all the work for you. You just need to press a button. Convenient, isn’t it?
You want to be in control. This is simple: when you have a latte machine, you can pick your favorite coffee beans, your preferred milk, and even experiment with different ratios and flavors. You are in full control of your beverages, which means there are more chances they will turn out perfect.
How to Choose the Best Latte Machine: Points You Should Consider
So, you are ready to get your first coffee maker. But do you know how to choose the best latte machine? Don’t worry, I’m here to help.
Here are the factors you should consider:
Budget. Obviously, you need to decide how much you are willing to spend. This will narrow down the list of your options.
Capacity. Do you have one beverage at a time, or do you need a machine that can make multiple lattes at once?
Controls and convenience. If you are a beginner and this really is your first latte machine, it’s better to give your preference to fully automatic models (the ones that do the job for you). And once you get the hang of it, you can upgrade to a more advanced model.
If you want a more balanced brew and a more flavorful cup of coffee, you should consider a machine that has the pre-infusion function. The way it works is rather simple: it pushes a small amount of water onto the ground coffee before the actual brewing process. This works as a kickstart and prepares the coffee, revealing more of its flavor.
Size. Obviously, if you have a limited counter space, a large machine wouldn’t be an option. However, there are many good but compact models, so don’t worry.
Cleaning. Some models are a real headache to clean. If you want a fuss-free maintenance, consider models with an automatic cleaning function.
Extra features. If your budget allows for it, you can consider models that will make the coffee making process extremely easy. Some of them come with integrated grinders, automatic milk frothers, programmable timers, auto-start features, and so on. It really comes down to your personal preferences.
Durability. A good latte machine can be quite pricey, so you want to make sure that your new coffee maker would serve you for a long time. Typically, Italian espresso machines use commercial-grade parts, so they tend to be very durable. And when checking out other manufacturers, pay attention to the materials they use for their coffee makers. Avoid models that have too many plastic parts and give your preference to steel or brass machines.
Latte Machine Types for Different Latte Lovers
Now, I know that the world of coffee makers might seem overwhelming sometimes. All those features, specs, and names can be hard to distinguish. And the same rule applies to latte machines.
So, my advice is:
Start by learning about the two main types of all coffee/espresso/latte machines: semi-automatic and super-automatic.
Let’s start with the latter. Super-automatic machines do all the work for you. They grind the beans, tamp them, brew espresso, and even micro-foam your milk. Of course, they are on the pricier side. This type is ideal for people who don’t have a tight budget, absolutely cannot live without their lattes, and enjoy occasional espressos. Such machines also allow users to adjust different settings, like brew strength or coffee dosage. Therefore, they are perfect for those who have some experience in coffee making and know exactly what they want.
Keep in mind that the best super-automatic espresso machines should have durable construction and no (or a minimal number of) plastic parts.
The taste of your latte will directly depend on the coffee beans that you use. It is advised to buy freshly roasted whole-bean coffee and grind it right before the brewing process. This way, your beverage will be rich and full-bodied.
Now, when it comes to semi-automatic machines, this is when you get both reasonable price and convenience. These machines usually work the best if you have at least some barista skills (like milk frothing and layering). They don’t do all the work for you (hence the name), so the learning curve might be possible. These machines will not grind and tamp coffee for you, but they will brew excellent espressos. Some of them have automatic milk frothers, others employ manual ones. So, if you want a more affordable option and can make your own lattes, a semi-automatic model will suffice.
There are also capsule-based coffee-machines, which are ideal for beginners. They can be considered super-automatic since they do everything. You just need to insert a coffee pod and press a button.
So, the good news is:
There are models for every user and every level of experience! Decide what you personally need and enjoy your fresh lattes!
What Else Can a Latte Machine Do?
Now, I think it’s safe to assume that your favorite beverage is latte, given the fact that you are considering investing in a good latte machine.
However, you don’t have to buy a great espresso machine exclusively for lattes. You may want to try making other coffee-based drinks. Maybe you will have guests coming over and one of them is an avid Flat White fan. Or maybe someday you will feel like you want something a bit stronger than latte.
Whatever the case is, it may be handy to know the main differences between the common coffee-based beverages. So, let’s take a look at them:
- Latte. A proper latte has an espresso base combined with twice as much steamed milk and topped with a layer of rich, creamy foam. Lattes typically have a smooth texture and a creamy flavor, with subtle notes of that rich espresso base.
- Cappuccino. Cappuccinos are quite similar to lattes as they use the same espresso base. However, the amount of milk is less than in lattes. Typically, baristas use a 1:1 milk and espresso ratio for cappuccinos. There’s also the microfoam of top for that creamy finish. Cappuccinos taste stronger than lattes due to the smaller amount of milk.
- Flat White. This beverage is very similar to cappuccino but doesn’t have the microfoam on top (or has a really thin layer of it). Flat White comes from Australia and is favored by many coffee lovers for its balanced flavor, combining the strength of espresso and the creaminess of the milk.
- Cafe Au Lait. If you are feeling extra fancy, you can try this French morning coffee. You will need a drip coffee maker for it though. Cafe Au Lait is a mix of filtered coffee and warm milk. The ratio is usually 1:1, and you can steam the milk using your latte machine steaming wand.
- Mocha. For those who have a sweet tooth, Cafe Mocha is a combination of espresso, chocolate, and milk. You can use either hot chocolate or cocoa, whichever you prefer. Mocha is often described as latte with chocolate, which means you use a shot of espresso and twice as much milk. The amount of chocolate should be the same as espresso for a more balanced flavor.
Questions and Answers
Can I use any milk for lattes?
No, actually. It is advised to use 2% milk that was cooled down in a refrigerator.
How can I know whether the coffee beans are freshly roasted?
Look at them. Glossy and oily beans are freshly roasted. Also, check the roast date. Coffee beans are considered fresh during the first few weeks after being roasted.
Can I make lattes using an espresso machine that does not have a milk frother?
Yes. Basically, a latte is an espresso, to which you add steamed and foamed milk. So, you can brew coffee using your espresso machine, and then foam the milk by hand or using an external manual milk frother.
Can I make cappuccinos using my latte machine?
Yes, just add less milk and more foam.
How do I clean the steam wand?
Wipe its exterior after every use. For a more thorough clean, purge it by placing the wand into an empty container or cup and steaming it for a minute or so.
What is the correct grind level for lattes?
First of all, because lattes are based on espressos, you should figure out the correct grind for espressos specifically. Some experts say that it’s a matter of taste and there’s no “correct” grind level. However, the majority of baristas agree that your coffee should be really fine to make a good espresso.
Do you need crema for latte art?
Yes. The rich golden crema works as the canvas for the latte art. It gives the white foam a good contrast and makes the latte art more vivid.
What kind of milk do you use for latte art?
Usually, whole milk is the easiest to steam and it can make the best microfoam.
Can you make latte with regular coffee?
A regular latte requires an espresso base, but if you want a regular coffee variant, use the dark roast. For espresso-like strength, brew around 2 tablespoons of ground coffee using 5 ounces of water.
Is latte good for weight loss?
While some studies suggest that coffee can help you burn calories to generate body heat, drinking lattes won’t affect your weight loss drastically. In fact, if you take flavored lattes (with a splash of syrup, for example), you can even gain more weight as those sugary additives are usually quite high in calories.
My name is Yurii Brown. I am a passionate coffee geek and, concurrently, a certified coffee specialist.
I’ve been learning about coffee for a long time, testing various devices and practicing in home coffee brewing. I like to share my experience and insights with fellow coffee lovers so that my readers could enjoy the real taste of quality-brewed beverages.