If you’re in a hurry and just want to know our top pick, we consider the Mr Coffee One-Touch Coffee House to be the best latte maker on the market now.
Picking a dedicated latte machine can be quite an intimidating task.
It’s true that there are some very simple machines on the market. For the most part though you’re going to be developing your budding barista skills to at least some degree.
There are super-automatic and semi-automatic machines, for example. Then there’s the issue of built in or standalone coffee grinders. Oh, and would you like your milk frothed or delicately foamed?
There are quite a few things to get on top of, but don’t worry! I’m going to help you cut through the noise and find the best machine for you. Given our increasing consumption rates of the humble latte, you can save a lot of money in the long run by making your own.
In this guide to choosing the best latte machine, I’ve clearly explained everything you need to think about first.
I’ve then highlighted some of my favorite machines, and explained why they’ve made the cut. Here are the latte makers I’ll be reviewing:
- Mr Coffee One-Touch Coffee House
- Breville Barista Express
- Mr Coffee Cafe Barista
- Keurig K-Cafe
- Breville Bambino Espresso
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Semi or Super-Automatic Machine?
Automatic Machines come with all the bells and whistles you can think of. They steam and foam the milk to perfection, and you can adjust every setting to get your coffee brewed just right.
Because of this they provide very consistent lattes, made to your own exacting standards. There’s no risk of a disappointing drink, or one made by a barista with their own inevitable brewing biases.
If your automatic latte machine features milk micro-foaming, you’ll also enjoy an exquisitely smooth drink. The experience is superior to foamed milk in just about every way.
The flip-side of all this is that you pay big for the privilege. If you’ve got deep pockets then this won’t be an issue, but don’t worry if you think you’re going to be locked out of all the fun…
Enter the semi-automatic latte machine.
Although these machines tend to cost quite a bit less than super-automatic coffee makers, you will need to work a little harder to get your latte just how you want it.
In particular, you’ll often have to steam the milk just right, although you’ll also have more overall control over the finished cup. Budding latte artists will also prefer this kind of appliance.
So, which one should I buy?
If you just want an exceptional latte delivered without any fuss, then a super-automatic machine is going to be the best choice for you. You set everything up, choose your settings, and then let the coffee maker do the rest.
If you want to develop your skills, then a semi-automatic machine is the way to go. You’ll also need one of these if you want to start working on your latte art skills.
How many cups are you making?
If you’re making your lattes one by one, then a machine with just one boiler will do.
If you have friends over and want to show off your latte-making skills, you’ll want one with a boiler for the espresso and a separate boiler for steaming the milk.
You won’t look like such a super-hot barista if everyone’s twiddling their thumbs for half an hour, waiting for your next masterpiece…
How advanced are your skills?
If you’re just dipping your toes into the world of custom latte-making, you’ll want to start off with a relatively simple semi-automatic machine.
Don’t shy away from pushing yourself, but do be aware that some of these machines can get quite complicated.
Just because your local barista can flick and whizz their way around the machine with barely a glance (they’ve done this thousands of times before), doesn’t mean you’ll be able to. Not right away at least!
You’ll get there, but if you’re very inexperienced then you might want to consider taking a long view here. Start off with a machine that will build your confidence, and then think about upgrading when you want to spread your wings a little bit.
That doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself though! Semi-automatic machines still provide a huge amount of flexibility and will give you plenty to work with.
Is it easy to clean?
Whichever machine you pick, don’t expect the ease of cleaning you’ll enjoy with something like a Keurig single serve coffee maker. A quick wipe down with a damp cloth is not going to suffice here!
That said, you don’t need to worry about your countertop looking like a tinkerer’s workshop once you’ve disassembling everything for cleaning either.
As long as the core components can be easily removed, you’ll not have too much trouble getting the thing sparkling again.
How big is the water/milk reservoir?
There are two things to look for when it comes to the reservoirs on your latte machine: their size and how easy they are to remove.
Unless you’re brewing strictly solo, you’ll want a water reservoir that’s big enough to keep up with your entertaining requirements.
I also recommend looking for a reservoir that you can detach from the machine. Unless you spend a lot of money on a plumbed-in appliance, you’re going to be filling this thing at the sink, every time.
If you can remove it from the machine, then you can refill it more easily. You also avoid the risk of dropping the whole thing!
Do you need a grinder?
The better the grinding of your coffee, the better the eventual taste. A killer latte is, after all, what we’re all trying to achieve here.
Many machines have a grinder built in, but not all of them do. If the machine you’ve settled on doesn’t have this feature – or those that do lie beyond your budget – just buy a separate grinder instead.
If you’re not using beans at all and going straight for the ground stuff, you won’t need to worry about this.
What’s your budget?
Consider how much money you really want to throw at a latte machine before committing.
They can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, so use this buying guide to decide exactly what you’re going to need before settling on your choice.
How big is the machine?
Dedicated latte machines come in all shapes and sizes, so think carefully about how much countertop space you have to play with.
It’s a question of compromise, really. Think hard about everything I’ve talked about in this buying guide, and work out what you really need.
Combine that with the space you have available, and you’ll find it much easier to settle on a final machine.
Latte Machine Reviews
Those are the sorts of things you want to consider when looking for the right latte machine.
In this next section I’m going to take a closer look at five of the most popular coffee makers in this category.
The Mr. Coffee One-Touch Coffee House is a very popular automatic machine for making lattes and other coffees.
It passes the first test of working at a 19-Bar pressure (15 is considered the minimum here), and the coffee that comes out of it is extremely tasty.
You also have the choice of a single or double espresso serving. This is nice when you want to have a big caffeine boost in the morning, but wind things down a little as the evening approaches.
The Coffee House also has an automatic milk frother, which you can adjust with a dial for lattes or cappuccinos. I love how lightly the milk is frothed, and I think it produces a very consistent finish cup after cup.
As well as lattes it also has settings to produce espressos and cappuccinos. In all cases you can choose one of two sizes, depending on who wants how much of what.
All of the options are really easy to set and the process of using the machine is really simple:
- First, pick the froth you want for the kind of drink you’re making.
- Add the espresso coffee to the filter and tamp it down.
- Attach the filter back onto the machine.
- Direct the frothing tube from the milk reservoir to your cup.
- Select the size of drink you want.
- Wait for the machine to make your drink.
That’s it! It’s about as simple as these things get and I’m really impressed with how it performs.
As for cleaning and maintenance, the milk reservoir is easy to remove, as is the water reservoir which fits in just behind the milk.
(As a handy tip, you can store the milk in its container in your fridge if there’s going to be downtime between use.)
Overall I think it’s a really elegantly designed piece of kit, it’s easy to keep it looking nice, and the lattes it produces are superb.
- Extremely easy to use and disassemble for cleaning.
- Heats up quickly so you can get your first cup nice and fast.
- Elegantly designed and won’t look out of place in even the fanciest kitchens!
- Produces a versatile range of high quality drinks – not just lattes.
- Very simple to use and get exactly what you want.
- A little on the loud side.
- No measuring line on the water or milk reservoirs.
- Instructions aren’t very clearly written.
- The froth is on the light side and may not suit those who want a heavier finish.
- Moving the machine can cause gradual leaks as the water reservoir gets dislodged.
Perfect for: Those who want great lattes with no hassle, and also have the option to make espresso and cappuccino drinks.
This is where things start getting serious. The Breville Barista Express is one of the most advanced machines in this round-up, and you should know what you’re getting into before buying one.
This particular latte machine is all about control. The built-in grinder delivers exactly the right amount of ground coffee into your portafilter. You can also adjust the grind size, to suit the exact beans you’re using.
If you want to be able to fine tune even these most basic elements of your latte, this is the right machine for you.
Once the coffee is ready to brew, this machine uses digital temperature control to make sure that the espresso is extracted at just the right precision temperature.
This is really important, as a weaker temperature won’t make a rich espresso – and you’ll taste that immediately.
Budding latte-artists will particularly like the steaming wand on the Barista Express. With it you can apply micro-foamed milk to your coffee. This not only helps you make very pretty coffee, but also means the texture of the drink is extraordinarily smooth.
As with most of the machines in this round-up, you can select whether you want to brew a single or double shot of espresso.
- Despite this machine’s relative complexity, once fired up your drink is ready in around one minute.
- Produces perfectly brewed espresso coffee, thanks to precise temperature control.
- Adjustable grind sizes to suit the coffee beans your brewing and the strength you want.
- Micro-foaming means velvet smooth lattes, perhaps with a little of your artistic flair added on top!
- Many users have reported owning this machine and enjoying incredible coffee from it for years.
- No water level indicators, so you’ll need to keep an eye on the reservoir for topping up.
- Careful practice is required to get the most out of this coffee maker.
- More cleaning maintenance required to keep the machine in top condition.
- Breville’s customer service can be a little lacking.
- Drip tray requires regular emptying and cleaning up.
Perfect for: Those who want to really get stuck into the nitty gritty of latte-making. You should be prepared to pick up plenty of new skills along the way.
The Cafe Barista is aimed at those wanting a similar experience to the One Touch Coffee House but are operating on a stricter budget.
There’s a lot to like about it though. For a start it reaches that 15 Bar pump minimum to make sure you get really good coffee from it.
This semi-automatic latte machine also produces cappuccinos and plain espressos. In that sense it offers the same kind of versatility as its bigger brother.
The water reservoir clips onto the back of this machine, so make sure you have enough space to detach it. You’ll find the milk reservoir at the front and it’s very easy to remove.
Again you’ve got two sizes to choose from when making each type of drink, and the control panel is very simple to navigate as well.
One of the things I really like about this machine is the adjustable milk frother on the front. If you really want to play at being a barista and steam your milk manually, this is where you’ll get to show off your frothing skills!
A nice touch for the latte-making newcomer is the recipe book that’s included in the box. In here you’ll find step by step instructions for getting your lattes right first time. This will help give you loads of confidence in the process.
I recommend making sure you following the proper priming instructions first though. You’ll need to run water through to set the machine up properly, otherwise you’ll end up with a disappointing first brew to say the least. That’s a great way to lose your enthusiasm.
- A more budget-orientated latte maker that still achieves great taste.
- Switches off automatically after a few minutes, but watch that milk!
- Enough fine control with the milk frother to stamp your own mark on your lattes.
- “Clean” function keeps the milk dispenser free of gunk.
- Very simple controls. Just press each button once for a small serving, twice for a larger serving.
- Needs to be primed properly to achieve correct brewing temperatures.
- For best results you should hand grind your coffee.
- The larger servings are *large*! Make sure your cups are bigger enough to handle them.
- You may want to invest in a sturdier tamper than the one that comes in the box.
- Light frothing is perfect for lattes, but less so if you want to make a cappuccino.
Perfect for: Those of you who are working to a budget but still want a latte that punches above its weight.
Keurig may not be the first name that springs to a coffee connoisseur’s mind, but they are the kings of convenience. You get a very tasty latte or cappuccino from the K-Cafe, without any fuss at all.
The K-Cafe Coffee Maker is a cinch to use, and has dedicated buttons for each coffee type. You can also select different brew sizes using the radial dial on the top.
Just know that you’re restricted to using Keurig’s range of K-Cup coffee pods. That’s unless you buy the reusable coffee filter for your favorite coffee grounds. If you stick with the official pods though, you have hundreds of coffee flavors to choose from.
You should also know that it’s not “true” espresso coffee either. It’s not brewed under pressure, and instead it uses the well-established Keurig pod-brewing technology. It does, however, have a Shot function which – as the name suggests – produces a more intense shot of coffee.
The K-Cafe is the best choice if you want a standard latte and you don’t want to do any tinkering at all. The milk frother is also dishwasher-safe, which means there’s less of a clean-up job to worry about afterwards.
This is very much the convenience choice in our round-up, but there’s no shame in choosing it if that’s what you need!
- Ultra-convenient latte-making, with very little mess to worry about afterwards.
- A wide range of official K-Cups, providing almost endless flavor experimentation.
- Automatic milk foamer makes life very easy on that front.
- Extremely easy to use interface, with clear options for getting the drink you want.
- Completely hands off brewing, which means you have limited control over the end result.
- You need to use official Keurig K-Cups in the K-Cafe, although you can continue using your favorite ground coffee if you buy the reusable K-Cup.
- Recycling K-Cups properly can be a bit of a faff. They’re a real blight on the environment if not disposed of properly though.
- Keurig machines have a bit of a poor reputation when it comes to longevity.
Perfect for: Latte drinkers who want maximum convenience without any control over the brewing process.
If you like the idea of the Barista Express but think it’s going to be too intimidating for you, the Bambino is a great alternative to consider.
You still get the micro-foam technology which produces a super-smooth drink, and you’ll also be able to start working on your latte-art skills too. That foam’s made automatically too, so you can be sure of getting a consistent pour.
Temperature is once again controlled digitally, which means you’re brewing your espresso at the optimal heat at all times. What you get out is the best possible shot your favorite beans can produce.
It’s quicker to get going as well. Breville promises a three-second warm-up before the beans can start brewing. That means you’ve always got an amazing cup of coffee just around the corner.
Once it’s finished, the Bambino also purges the heat so the next cup starts brewing at the right temperature. I like the consistency here, as it means my wife and I don’t argue about who gets the better cup first!
- The same high quality coffee as the Barista Express but less intimidating to use.
- A very slim and generally compact machine considering the performance.
- Great for starting your journey with latte art.
- A generous water tank which means you won’t need to refill it so often.
- Room for a cup much bigger than your standard espresso shot.
- Auto-purge prevents the wand from clogging up over time.
- Still a bit of a learning curve involved to get the most out of this latte maker.
- You’ll need to practise getting the tamping just right, so you don’t choke the machine.
- You need to empty the drip tray after every three or so brews.
Perfect for: Those of you with limited kitchen space but who still want control over their latte brewing.
Overall, I think the Mr Coffee One Touch Coffee House is my favorite latte machine available right now.
It makes really great tasting espresso, and the water / milk reservoirs should be generous enough for even the thirstiest latte guzzlers.
I like that it’s very easy to both use and look after as well, and that the removable milk tank can go in the fridge to avoid waste.
If you’re looking for more control over every step of the latte-making process, then you might want to consider the Barista Express instead.
It’s a great stepping stone for more advanced machines, and I think even your early work with it will knock your socks off!