The Best Coffee Machine With Milk Frother

If you like coffee with milk, you want the milk to be creamy, silky smooth and you want to produce bouncy, aerated froth that makes a cappuccino or latte that is better than any of the high street coffee shops then you’ll need a coffee machine with a milk frother of some type.

Not all milk frothers are the same and many will leave you wondering why you can’t produce the same thick froth that you see at your local Costa or Starbucks but the best coffee machines with milk frothers are more than capable of creating milk texture that will make you wonder why you ever bothered paying through the nose for your favourite milk-based drink at a coffee shop when you can replicate it yourself for 25p at home.

Before we get into the individual coffee machines with the best milk frothers you first need to decide what kind of machine is best suited to your lifestyle because if you want to grab a quick coffee in the morning there is no point in choosing an espresso machine that requires a separate coffee grinder and will take you 10 minutes to make a coffee.

On the other hand, if you want to really get into understanding coffee and all the variables that make up producing a cup of coffee that becomes a sensory experience rather just a caffeine guzzling habit then you’ll want to choose a machine that is capable of coffee heaven but takes a little more time to prepare.

There are three main types of coffee machine with milk frothers to consider and then within that you also have manual milk frothers and coffee machines that have integrated coffee containers or carafes which means you don’t need to do a thing, just press one button and the machine does the rest.

Understanding the difference between manual milk frothing and automatic milk frothing is important because depending on how fussy you are with creating a cappuccino or latte or flat white will determine which option you go for.

It may not seem like it at first glance but frothing milk can be a bit of an art form and getting the right amount of air into the milk at the right time and controlling the temperature of the milk and the overall froth level all contribute to producing coffee shop quality coffee drinks.

If detail is important to you then go for a machine that has a manual milk frother. Also, within that you can get very different levels of power that will heat and froth the milk at different speeds.

If you choose a machine with a powerful milk frother then you get less time to prepare the milk so your technique needs to be polished and accurate.

Ideally you want to get the milk temperature up to 60-65 degrees but no more because over that and the sugars in the milk or milk alternative will start to burn and the flavour will become impaired. Times vary wildly to get to the desired temperature with some frothers taking as little as 20 seconds and others taking more than a minute.

The quickest isn’t always the best though as you may want some time to get it just right. If you have a spare 17 minutes then you can check out this detailed video I made showing how to steam milk with the Gaggia Classic Pro.

There are three main types of coffee machine to consider that all come with milk frothers. Stand alone espresso machines, bean to cup coffee machines, and pod coffee machines. Let’s take a look at each of them individually.

Stand alone espresso machines

Stand alone espresso machines are actually split into two main categories, which I refer to as domestic espresso machines, and home barista espresso machines.

Domestic espresso machines

Domestic espresso machines are consumer appliance level espresso machines, also known as “cheap espresso machines”, and these are generally priced from around £100-£200, and usually feature:

  • Thermoblock water heater (except for the entry level Gaggia coffee machines which feature small brew boilers)
  • Pressurised filter baskets
  • 15 bar brew pressure
  • Panarello steam wand

If the above has just confused the heck out of you ;-), don’t worry. All you need to know is that this kind of espresso machine is made differently from the home barista machines, to make them more affordable and to make them easy for the “normal” coffee drinker to use without any barista skills.

They’re also made to be used with pre-ground coffee beans, or with cheaper coffee grinders.

Home barista espresso machines

Home barista espresso machines, also known as “prosumer” espresso machines, are based on commercial espresso machines that you’ll see being used by professional baristas in coffee shops, but smaller and (usually) more affordable.

These kind of machines tend to start at around £400 and up, and they tend to feature:

  • Brew boiler(s), although some do use thermocoils, similar to thermoblocks but a bit more modern and more reliable
  • Standard filter baskets
  • Overpressure valves set to ensure a shot pressure of 9 bars (although there are couple that don’t come set to 9 bar and need a slight mod)
  • Professional steam wand
  • Better temperature stability than domestic machines
  • Better steam power than domestic machines

Again, if the above is baffling to you, don’t worry. All the above mumbo jumbo means is that these kind of machines are made for better results in the cup, better coffee – but they require some skill.

Using a machine like this means becoming a home barista, which is why I refer to them as home barista espresso machines. Don’t be intimidated by this, though, it’s not all that difficult, just like anything else it’s simply a matter of going through the learning curve.

Being a home barista isn’t for everyone though, which is fine because there are espresso machines to suit everyone.

If learning barista skills and spending £400+ on an espresso machine plus spending money on a capable espresso grinder (at least another £150-£200, if not more – or spending around £500-£700 on an integrated grinder espresso machine) doesn’t float your boat, then you can go for a bean to cup machine, or a domestic espresso machine, for example.

Personally, though, even if you do decide to go for a domestic espresso machine, which can be used with pre-ground coffee, I wouldn’t. You’re always going to get the best results from the best quality coffee beans and also from grinding fresh.

To find out more about why you should use whole beans and not pre-ground, see:

How To Choose Coffee Beans

When it comes to coffee grinders, its best to stay away from the super cheap “blade” grinders because they don’t actually grind your beans at all, they simply chop them up into bits, leaving you with big chunks and also tiny flakes, so poor grinds consistency which will lead to bad tasting coffee.

The right level of fineness and uniformity of grind important when it comes to producing great tasting coffee, so if you decide to go for a stand alone coffee grinder it’s worth paying a little more for a burr coffee grinder that properly grinds your beans.

This article explains more about how to choose a coffee grinder:

Best Budget Burr Coffee Grinders

And I’ve also done this video on the best coffee grinders under £200:

When it comes to the milk side of things, stand-alone espresso machines will always come with a steam wand of some description. The cheaper domestic espresso machines usually come with a panarello wand, which is a steam pipe with a sheath around it with a hole on the side. The air is introduced automatically via this hole.

These kind of steam wands tend to produce thicker, spoonable foam, for what I usually refer to as “old school cappuccino foam”. If you like this kind of foam, then great.

If you’re looking for velvety microfoam, though, for better-distributed milk drinks, especially for flat white, you can still usually achieve this with these kinds of machines, simply by pulling off the panarello and using the steam pipe as a pro steam wand. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s definitely possible.

Home barista or “prosumer” machines, though, usually come with a professional steam wand. These are a bit easier to use than using the steam pipe with the panarello removed, simply because they’re longer so it’s easier to reach the milk in the jug, and also the more premium machines tend to have multi-hole steam tips.

This is the reason I, personally, wouldn’t go for a bean to cup coffee machine with one touch milk, known as “one touch cappuccino” machines, simply because they use frothers to automatically create the foam, most of them create old school cappuccino foam, and the user has either little or no control over the milk texture.

It’s the reason that you’ll still see the barista in your local coffee shop still manually heating and frothing the milk themselves because that’s how you get the very best results.

If both types of stand alone espresso machine sounds like too much hard work, then the next type of coffee machine with milk frother may be the solution you are looking for.

Bean to cup coffee machines

These have become incredibly popular in recent years because as everyone’s lifestyle has become busier and time becomes even more premium than ever before we are increasingly looking for solutions that will save time without compromising on quality.

Whilst bean to cup coffee machines with milk frothers won’t give you the exact same results as you would get if you have a separate coffee grinder and a standalone espresso machine, if you choose the right one, they can get very close and unless you are a coffee connoisseur most people won’t notice the difference anyway.

So if you don’t want to learn about dose control and mastering grind fineness levels or shot extraction times (maybe that sounds like a different language to you) then a bean to cup coffee machine takes all that away and simply does it all for you.

The secret is in the name. These machines will turn coffee beans into coffee with the press of just one button.

You literally just add the beans to the container on top of the machine (called a “hopper”) and the machine will grind the beans for you, compress the ground coffee and force water through at high pressure and deliver a double espresso without you having to do a thing.

To convert the double espresso into your favourite milk-based drink such as cappuccino or latte you’ll then need to heat and froth up some milk.

Some come with manual milk frothers and others come with integrated coffee carafes so you can do it yourself or if you have better things to do with your time then go for a machine that does it all.

I have produced a very detailed article on everything you will ever need to know about bean to cup coffee machines here:

Best Bean To Cup Coffee Machine

Bean to cup coffee machines are split into two types, standard or “semi automatic” bean to cup coffee machines, and fully automatic or “super automatic” machines which in the UK we tend to refer to as “one touch” machines, or “one touch cappuccino makers”.

Semi automatic / standard bean to cup machines

These kind of machines are only one touch in terms of the coffee, you just press a button, the machine does everything else where the espresso is concerned.

They have a steam wand, usually a panarello – and the same is true as with the stand alone espresso machines with a panarello, you can pull them off and use the steam pipe as a steam wand to create really good microfoam for velvety milk texture capable of latte art.

Fully automatic “one touch cappuccino” machines.

These are split into two types, the more cost effective machines usually use what’s known as a “cappuccinatore” or “cap in up” system. You put the pipe into your milk bottle, and the milk is drawn up into the frother, heated and frothed and then delivered into your cup.

The more premium bean to cup machines usually have carafe systems, and these work more or less in the same way as the above, but they do it in one unit comprising of the milk carafe and the frother, and this slots into the machine.

As I mentioned earlier, these kind of one touch milk machines don’t give you much (many don’t give you any) control over the milk texture, so you get what you’re given, which is usually old school cappuccino foam, which is fine if that’s the kind of milk foam you enjoy.

Pod coffee machines

If you are looking for the ultimate convenience and you don’t even want to touch the coffee before you start drinking it then a pod coffee machine with a milk frother is ideal for anyone with a super busy life that doesn’t want to think too much about coffee but still wants to enjoy something half decent.

The first thing that’s worth me getting across if you decide to go down this road is that in my opinion it’s best to stay away from any pod coffee machine that offers milk pods as part of the range.

Milk pods are both very expensive and also don’t taste very good (not a good combination!) because they either contain milk powder (Dolce Gusto) or milk creamer (Tassimo).

Milky coffees (flat white, cappuccino, latte etc) always tastes best when using fresh milk, so stick with espresso pods and add fresh milk, or your chosen milk alternative, to create your personal favourite

Nespresso don’t do milk pods of any kind because they are fully on board with the concept of fresh milk being best for milkies so they don’t try and sell you something inferior and to that end you’ll find a couple of recommendations from them below with both a manual milk frother and with an integrated milk carafe.

If you want to see all of the best Nespresso machines then this detailed article explains more:

Best Nespresso Machines

So now I’m going to list what I believe are the best coffee machines with milk frother, split up into the various types of coffee machine:

Stand alone domestic espresso machines

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Features:

  • Water tank: 1.2L
  • Various colour options
  • Thermometer 
  • Possibility to mod this  machine for use with standard baskets
  • Size & weight: 28.5 x 20 x 31.5 cm. 3.6Kg

My Observations:

The Swan Retro espresso machine is a low cost, domestic espresso machine with milk frother (panarello steam wand), which is actually not a bad little machine for the very little price tag.

It’s a cheap machine, it’s made in China I believe, and sold all over the world under various different brand names including Kmart Anko in Australia and New Zealand, Aldi Ambiano, and more.

But for the price, this is a machine with not bad steam power at all, and the fact that it has a thermometer – quite a rare thing to find on an espresso machine, is actually quite helpful when it comes to getting the best shot quality from it.

The issue with these kinds of machines is that on top of the fact that they pull shots at 15 bars of pressure, they also tend to over heat. The fact that you have an idea of the brew temp, and you can do something about it by running a cooling flush, gives you some feed back and a level of control you wouldn’t usually have with a cheap machine like this.

It’s also fairly simple to mod this machine to make it a standard basket machine, with a very simple mod to the portafilter. Just be careful if doing this though, as I’ve had a few comments on my YouTube video to say that they’ve ended up having to replace rubber seals after doing this mod.

For my blog post review on this machine see:

Swan Retro Espresso Machine Review

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Features:

  • Water tank: 1.2L
  • Thermometer
  • Very simple controls
  • Size & weight: 34.5 x 20.2 x 30.3 cm. 3.4Kg

My Observations:

I think (although I don’t know for sure) that this is the same machine internally as the one sold under the brand name Swan Retro (and others), above. It has all the same or remarkably similar features, including the thermometre, and it looks almost the same. 

So you may question why I’m including this machine if it’s the same as the one above, and the simple reason is: choice. If a machine like this or the Swan Retro look like a good match for you, given they’re so similar, you have a choice if one brand is out of stock or if one happens to be available at a better price than the other, although they’re both usually a similar price.

Gran Gaggia - Best Cheap Espresso Machines

Gran Gaggia - Best Cheap Espresso Machines

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Features:

  • Water tank: 1L
  • Internal storage for other baskets etc
  • Aluminium brew boiler
  • Size & Weight 20 x 29.7 x 26.5 cm. 4.3 Kg

My Observations:

One of the major differences when it comes to the cheaper domestic espresso machines Gaggia produce, and those from nearly all other brands, is that the Gaggia ones come with actual brew boilers, not thermoblocks. 

This is a fairly big and sometimes contentious topic, so I don’t want to get into it in too much detail, but in a nutshell –  thermoblock boilers are cheaper, and brew boilers can help with overall temperature stabilitiy and can be more durable in the long term.

Note that I say “can”, as there are several variables – and in fact Gaggia’s flagship home barista espresso machine, the Gaggia Classic, which I’ll discuss a bit later on, is known for poor temperature stability without learning to “temperature surf” (which doesn’t require a wetsuit) or fitting a PID (electronic temperature controller).

But nontheless I do think it’s interesting that the Gaggia lower cost espresso machines all have brew boilers, while most of their bean to cup machines have thermoblocks.

I’ve used the Gran Gaggia, and as you’ll know if you watch my video below, I was relatively impressed with it for the price. The only issue for me is that it’s the basket itself which does the pressurizing, and it doesn’t appear to be simple to mod, so I don’t think the Gran Gaggia is the obvious choice if you were looking for a cheaper machine to mod to use as a standard basket machine.

See also  Difference between Instant Coffee and Regular Coffee

The only other thing I’ve found to be slightly annoying when using this machine is that with the machine I’ve used, the drip tray is very easily nudged away from the machine. I’m not sure if this is a common thing or just an issue with the one I was sent. It’s not a huge deal, I just found it mildly irritating.  

If I were thinking of buying a cheaper espresso machine at this kind of price point, and if I wasn’t bothered about using it with standard baskets and I was more than happy to use it as intended with the pressurized portafilter, I do think I’d be persuaded to go for a Gaggia machine vs most of the other brands available for the same kind of cost.

The reason for this isn’t the Gaggia badge as such. Don’t get me wrong – Gaggia is a brand with a very long history in espresso machines, in fact the first Gaggia espresso machine is the ancestor of all modern espresso machines.

But, these are very cheap machines, and I think when you’re buying a well known brand name but at the very entry level, the brand name only really makes a small difference.

Although Gaggia are an Italian company and their more premium machines are Italian made, their cheapest machines are made in China, so I think to a certain degree when you’re spending not much more than a hundred quid on a brand new machine, you’re going to get a very similar quality machine regardless of the brand name. 

So the reason I’d be inclined to go for a Gaggia machine if I were spending this kind of money rather than a lesser known brand, is simply that they’re supplied and supported by Gaggia Direct, in Elland, near Halifax, who I know to be an old fashioned, customer service oriented company who you can simply pick up the phone and call if you have a problem.

These are the people who were Gaggia UK before the Philips take over, and they then continued as the UK re-seller for Gaggia, so they have a lot of history with Gaggia machines.

Gaggia Viva Coffee Machine.

Gaggia Viva Coffee Machine.

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Features.

  • 1 Litre Water Tank
  • Size & Weight 20cm wide x 26.5cm deep x 29.7cm tall
  • Single stainless steel boiler

My Observations:

The Viva range is the other low cost range of espresso machines from Gaggia. They’re similarly priced and have similar features, the only noticeable difference other than more colour options being available, is that there’s one dial to switch between espresso and steam, instead of buttons. 

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Features:

  • 1.5L Water Tank
  • Simple controls
  • Removable Panarello
  • Size & Weight 34 x 33 x 25.6 cm. 3.9Kg

My Observations:

This is another option at a similar price to the Swan Retro and Cooks espresso sub one hundred quid machines, and it doesn’t have a thermometre, but it does have a bigger 1.5L water tank.

With cheap machines like this you really can’t expect a lot – I’ve read some comments in the reviews saying this machine looks a bit cheap, but it is! ;-).

One of the positive things about this machine when it comes to steaming milk, is that the pipe which is revealed if you decide to pull off the panarello sheath and use it as a pro steam wand, is a bit longer than on some machines, so you’ll be able to get it comfortably into your milk jug, which is a bit of an issue with some machines.

DeLonghi Dedica Style EC685M

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Features:

  •  1 L water tank
  • Only 150 mm wide
  • Size & Weight 14.9 x 33 x 30.3 cm. 4.2 Kg
  • Control over brew temperature
  • Automatic pre-infusion
  • Great milk texture possible even with the panarello

My Observations:

We’re at the higher end of the cheaper domestic espresso machines now, and the Dedica is possibly the best ever selling espresso machine of this category, it’s certainly up there.

It’s a bit more money than the others I’ve mentioned so far, but you’re getting more machine for more money, you’re not just paying for looks or name.

It’s noticeably better than the other cheaper machines in terms of build quality, being a fairly solid little machine, and technically speaking it’s quite a bit ahead of most of the cheaper machines I’ve mentioned. 

You have three brew temperatures to choose from, and control over brew temp is very rare among cheaper coffee machines. 

There’s automatic preinfusion, which means water is introduced to the puck of coffee in the basket first before the shot is pulled, and helps to reduce the chances of channeling, which is what happens when the water finds paths of lesser resistance through the coffee, and leads to reduced shot quality. 

Also, it’s quite simple to use this machine as a standard basket, home barista machine.

OK, you can’t get away from the 15 bars, there’s no way I’m aware of to reduce the pressure, but you can really simply use a standard basket, by either getting a naked portafilter with basket included, such as this one which I bought for use in my video, below – or just buying a 51mm standard basket and putting it in your delonghi portafilter. 

If you opt to get a standard basket, you’ll need to remove the screw at the bottom of the portafilter, and you’ll need to bend the lips of the basket around the portafilter.

Unlike nearly all other cheaper espresso machines, the panarello on the Dedica EC685 has two settings, cappuccino and hot milk – and this actually allows you to produce great microfoam with the panarello, by starting off at the cappuccino setting to aerate, and then switchin it to the hot milk setting to simply heat and distribute the bubbles, as I demonstrate in the video below.

Although as I discuss in my video below, the panarello wand (specifically with the newer version, the EC685) is capable of great milk texture, or you can remove the wand and use the steam pipe below as a steam wand, as long as you secure it with a tie wrap.

For more on the DeLonghi Dedica, see:

DeLonghi Dedica Espresso Machine Review

Stand-alone home barista espresso machines

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Features:

  • 1.9L water tank
  • PID (digital temperature control)
  • Newer “Thermojet” thermocoil for fast heat up and steam ready 
  • Stainless steel 
  • Great milk texture both manually and automatically
  • Self-cleaning steam wand
  • Automatic and manual preinfusion
  • Size & Weight 31 x 32 x 31 cm. 6.6 Kg

My Observations:

For the past couple of years now, the Sage Bambino plus has been one of the most popular choices for entry level home barista machines. 

By the way, if you’re wondering why the heck I’m wearing a gas mask at the beginning of my video review above, my kids dared me ;-). This was a tongue-in-cheek nod to the situation we were just entering at the time of this video, as I filmed it just as we were going into the first UK wide lockdown.

But forgetting my daft sense of humour and going back to this machine, I’m a fan of this little espresso machine. I’ve had it for a couple of years, I sometimes use it as my home espresso machine, I’ve taken it on holiday (as it’s such a small machine, doesn’t take up much room in the car), and personally I think it’s one of the best choices at this kind of price. 

In fact at this price point there’s only really one or two other options that come close. 

The Sage Duo Temp pro is slightly bigger, has the older slightly slower thermocoil so steam isn’t ready as quickly, and it’s not shot ready as quickly after steaming. If this machine was a lot cheaper then I’d be more likely to recommend it, but given the fairly small price difference I’d recommend the Bambino plus.

The Gaggia Classic pro, which I’ll discuss shortly is another option – and I’m just as impressed with this machine but for completely different reasons, and these machines are poles apart, which I’ll talk about in a minute.

I won’t go into too much detail here as I’ve put so much detail in my main review of this machine, but in a nutshell – the espresso quality this machine is capable of, the quality of the microfoam it produces both via automatic steaming and manual steaming, and the control you have over the milk with the auto steaming feature, and the beginner friendliness of this machine, are incredible for such a low cost machine.

You might not think it’s low cost, to the uninitiated around the four hundred quid mark probably seems a lot, especially given that you’ll need to buy a grinder too, but as you’ll soon discover, this is very cheap, relatively speaking, for a home barista setup.

It’s not cheap to build espresso machines capable of decent espresso, there are a number of components that go into it and they all add up. The same is true of espresso capable coffee grinders, even the burrs alone can cost anything from £30-£150 or even more, before we consider the cost of things like the motor, gearing system, hopper, controls and so on.

For my full detailed post on the Bambino Plus see:

Sage Bambino Plus Review

Gaggia Classic Pro.

Gaggia Classic Pro.

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Features.

  • 2.1 Litre Water Tank
  • Pro steam wand
  • 80ml boiler (Aluminium)
  • Chromed brass brew group
  • Stainless steel body
  • 58mm commercial sized portafilter
  • Size & Weight 23cm wide x 24cm deep x 38cm tall. 7.3Kg

My Observations:

The Gaggia classic was released back in 1991, and quickly became one of the best selling home espresso machines. It became a go-to machine for home baristas too, with many new home baristas starting out with a classic.

I’m not sure if this is something Gaggia were aiming for. I think possibly not given the panarello steam wand, but everything else about the machine screamed home barista, including the fact that you could easily mod the pressure, the 3 way solenoid valve, and how close to commercial machines it was internally in the way it was built.

It’s a very simple machine inside, any espresso engineer or just someone with a bit of confidence twiddling with electronics and so on would have no problem opening up an original classic and doing a bit of maintenance or a repair. 

This changed to a certain degree sometime after 2009 when Philips bought Gaggia, and they started messing with it, including moving manufacture out of Italy, doing away with the 3 way solenoid, adding bits of plastic, changing the boiler, and so on.

This continued until what’s known as the 2015 model (not all of which were made in 2015, I think they were made for a few years from about 2013/14) which is about as far removed from the original classic as you can get. 

But then Gaggia surprised everyone (well, I was surprised anyway) by going back to very close to the original classic, and appeared to acknowledge the home barista appeal of the classic, by adding a professional steam wand. 

The new “Gaggia Classic Pro” also known as the Gaggia Classic 2019, features the 3 way solenoid valve, the small 80ml Aluminium boiler, the old rocker switches (although the on/off button looks like a rocker but is actually a more modern push button switch due I think to EU regulations concerning auto shut off times).

Most people were impressed with the new classic pro, even the most hard core classic fans weren’t utterly disgusted ;-), although there was a few moans and groans, for example the fact that it comes with the over pressure valve set to around 13/14 bars while most home baristas would want that at 9 bars. 

It’s very simple to mod this though, you can just swap out the spring in the over pressure valve, or just get a new valve, a very quick and cheap mod. 

You’d also need to fit a PID to the classic to tame this little beast when it comes to temperature stability. As with the Rancilio Silvia which I’ll discuss shortly, the type of group used and the fact that there is no PID (electronic temperature control) means that the temperature will go up and down over quite a range, requiring the use of a skill known as temperature surfing. 

This is the only issue with machines such as the classic and the Rancilio silvia at the entry level when it comes to prosumer or home barista machines, they’re not really ready to use out of the box, and require a bit more time and money being invested to get them to home barista standards. 

This is why, personally, although I really do like the classic (I have one, mine is from 2003) if I were just getting into the home barista hobby again, I might bypass these machines and throw a few hundred more at something like the ECM Casa V, which I’ll talk about shortly – which is going to deliver the results I’m after straight out of the box, home barista skills permitting of course.

For more on the  Gaggia Classic Pro see:

Gaggia Classic Pro Review

 

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Features.

  • 2.5 Litre Water Tank
  • Pro steam wand (insulated, cool to touch)
  • 300ml brass & chrome alloy boiler
  • Chromed brass brew group
  • Stainless steel body
  • 58mm commercial sized portafilter
  • Size & Weight 23.5 x 29.0 x 34.0 cm 14Kg

My Observations:

The Rancilio silvia has been a very popular machine among home baristas since its release in the late 90s. 

Rancilio are traditionally a manufacturer of commercial espresso machines, used in coffee shops etc., and they made what was originally referred to as “Miss Silvia” purely as a thank you gift for its distributors, but later were persuaded to release the machine as a home espresso machine.

For a good while there was a bigger price gap in between the Classic and the Silvia, which saw a lot more beginner home baristas going for the classic – now, though, there’s not quite as much in it, given that the latest version of the Silvia has come down a bit in price and the opposite is the case with the Gaggia Classic, so there’s only £100 price difference now.

As with the Gaggia Classic, the Rancilio Silvia is known for being a big of a bugger when it comes to temperature stability, but fitting a PID will resolve that – or getting into the knack of temperature surfing. 

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Features.

  • 3 Litre Water Tank
  • Pro steam wand (insulated, no-burn)
  • 400ml brass boiler
  • Saturated brew group for high temperature stability
  • Pressure Gauge
  • Polished stainless steel body
  • 58mm commercial sized portafilter
  • Easily accessed brew pressure adjustment
  • Size & Weight 21 x 37 x 38 cm 14Kg

My Observations:

This is a very well designed and built (German engineered) espresso machine from ECM, one of the leading German espresso machine manufacturers. 

OK, this is nearly £400 more than the Gaggia Classic and nearly £300 more than the Rancilio Silvia, but I think you do need to keep in mind that you’d need to spend a bit of cash modding both of these machines to get them up to the same standard as this machine in terms of temperature stability – and also the really high build quality of this machine.

The Casa V has a nice big 3L water tank, a slightly bigger boiler than the Silvia at 400ml vs 300ml, and also a bigger element at 1200W vs 993W for the Rancilio Silvia. There’s a shot pressure gauged, and if you want to modify the brew pressure, this is very simple to do on this machine as the OPV valve has an adjustment screw which is very easy to get to.

For more options when it comes to home barista espresso machines see: 

Espresso Machines at Shop Coffee

Semi automatic bean to cup coffee machines

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Features:

  • Front loading easy access water tank: 1.2 litres
  • 13 grind settings
  • Large dishwasher safe drip tray
  • Good steam power
  • Adjustable group hight
  • Max cup height 10.5 cm
  • Size & Weight ‎37.5 x 28.5 x 36 cm, 10.52 Kg

My Observations:

Best Bean to Cup Coffee Machine? Latte Art.
As you can see, with the panarello frother removed, the steam wand produces latte art quality micro foam.

Given the fact that this is one of the cheapest bean to cup espresso machines you’ll get your hands on, it really is quite an impressive machine for the dosh.

It’s a little bit noisier than some of the slightly more expensive options, and the volume and strength dials don’t have any settings on them which I’ve always found a bit odd, but other than that – this is a lot of machine considering the very little price tag. 

It’s a relatively compact machine, it’s really quite straight forward to use, the front-loading water tank is easy to access, the drip tray isn’t a bad size, it’s capable of as good a shot of espresso as you’re going to get with most bean to cup machines including probably some at two to three times the cost, and it’s capable of decent milk texture with the panarello removed. 

For my detailed blog post on this machine see:

How To Choose Coffee Beans

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Features:

  • Easy access front loading water tank: 1.8L
  • Adjustable brew group height for different sized cups
  • Max cup height 13 cm
  • Size & Weight 23.8 x 43 x 35.1 cm, 9 Kg

My Observations:

This is a slightly newer machine from DeLonghi with some additional features and refinements compared to the Esam 4200, and given that it’s only roughly fifty to sixty quid more, I can see why it’s also become a very popular machine over the past couple of years. 

As its slightly older sibling does, it has a crazy number of reviews online which gives a clue to just how many of these have sold, and the bulk of them are positive. 

It has a larger water tank than the older model, bigger max cup size, and for me the controls are a bit more straight forward.

In terms of the milk frother side of things, you’ll be able to produce just as good microfoam with this, with the panarello removed, as is possible with the ESAM 4200, or if you like spoonable milk froth, just use the panarello frother.

Gaggia anima bean to cup espresso machine.

Gaggia anima bean to cup espresso machine.

Check Price – Gaggia Direct

Features.

  • 1.8 Litre Water Tank
  • Top filling water tank for uninterrupted shots
  • Panarello steam wand
  • 5 grind settings
  • 5 strength settings
  • Size & Weight: 22.1cm wide x 43cm deep x 34cm tall, 12 Kg
  • Maximum Cup Height: 15 cm
  • Ability to program descale frequency based on water hardness
  • Adjustable brew temperature

My Observations:

The Anima is one of Gaggia’s best selling bean to cup machines, and it packs a punch in terms of features for a relatively low price for such a capable bean to cup coffee machine. 

See also  Ageing

It has a fairly good sized water tank at 1.8L and a bigger waste coffee drawer capacity than most of the others, too. You can add more water to the tank as you’re pulling a shot due to the top filling water tank, which is handy if you notice the water tank is nearly empty while making coffee. 

You can input your water hardness (after doing a water hardness test) too, and then the machine will give you descale reminders at an appropriate frequency given how hard or soft your water is. 

Being able to adjust the brew temperature is another feature that you don’t often find on bean to cup machines at this kind of price, it’s something I’d usually expect on more expensive machines. 

For more on the Anima see: 

Gaggia Anima Review

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Features:

  • 1.8 Litre Water Tank
  • Top filling water tank for uninterrupted shots
  • 250g Bean Hopper Capacity
  • 5 grind settings
  • 5 strength settings
  • 4 fully customisable touch button coffee selections
  • Very simple memory option
  • Full colour user interface
  • Hot water option for Tea
  • Size & Weight: 22.4cm wide x 43.5cm deep x 35.7cm tall.
  • Maximum Cup Height: 15.5 cm
  • Ability to program descale frequency based on water hardness
  • One Touch Americano
  • Adjustable brew temperature
  • Double cup selection prompts double grind, not two cups from the same amount of ground coffee
  • Professional Steam Wand

My Observations

If you’re mainly into milkies, and if milk texture is of supreme importance to you but you still want the decent bean to cup features, the Gaggia Magenta may be your perfect match.

There aren’t many bean to cup coffee machines which have a pro steam wand, and the other ones I’m aware of that do, cost around three times the price of the Gaggia Magenta, or more.

The pro steam wand isn’t the only thing going for the Magenta, though – as you can see from just some of the main features I’ve listed above, this is a feature packed machine from Gaggia, with a touch screen display with coffee selections which you can customise very simply, by just selecting “yes”, when you’re asked if you want to save the setting, which you’ll be asked when ever you make a change.

As milk texture is important to me, if I were going for a bean to cup machine, and if I didn’t have the budget to go for something like the Sage oracle touch, I’d probably go for the Magenta Plus. 

One touch bean to cup coffee machines

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Features:

  • Auto pre-infusion (for enhanced shot quality).
  • Compact & stylish
  • Easy cleaning
  • Cappuccinatore system for one touch milk
  • Simple to use

My Observations:

One of the lowest priced one touch bean to cup coffee machines or “cappuccino makers”, this is an impressive machine from German company Melitta. 

Melitta is a very well established coffee brand, in fact one of the oldest. A lady by the name of Melitta Bentz invented the paper coffee filter in the early 1900s when she came up with the idea to put holes in the bottom of a brass pot & cover the holes with blotting paper.

Naturally Melitta has more of a history in filter coffee than espresso, but they have been producing espresso machines for a while now, and they’ve built up a good reputation among their customers particularly with bean to cup machines. 

So we’re talking about one touch machines now, press a button and the machine does everything including frothing the milk, and the Solo does this for you with a cappuccinatore. There’s a pipe, you stick this in your milk bottle, and then the machine will froth the milk and deliver it into your cup. 

As I said earlier, you don’t get much control over milk texture or milk temperature with most one touch machines, unless you spend quite a bit more, but if you’re not too fussed about that and if you’re on a budget, I think this machine is well worth a look.

Gaggia Naviglio Deluxe Coffee Machine.

Gaggia Naviglio Deluxe Coffee Machine.

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Features:

  • 1.5 Litre Water Tank
  • Cappuccinatore system for one touch milk
  • 5 grind settings
  • Size & Weight: 25.6cm wide x 44cm deep x 34cm tall, 8Kg
  • Programmable Espresso and Lungo Buttons
  • 3 strength settings
  • Maximum Cup Height: 11.5 cm
  • Double shot capability

My Observations

Another cappuccinatore or “capp in cup system” as they’ve started to call them more recently, this one is from Gaggia, and we’re still in reasonably affordable territory here, you’ll get some change out of four hundred quid, which is really at the entry level as far as one touch machines go.

The Naviglio is a simple machine to use, it’s not full of bells and whistles but it does have some basic but helpful features including a 1.8L water tank, three strength settings for producing shots from 7, 9 and 11 grams of coffee, espresso and lungo buttons which are programable, and the ability to create a double shot from 14 – 22 grams of coffee beans.

Most of the Gaggia bean to cup machines are good in this way, by the way, when it comes to “double shots”. Some machines will give you longer coffees by simply pushing more water through the same amount of ground coffee beans, but with this machine if you select a double shot and you’re at the 11 gram strength setting for example, it’ll grind 11g of coffee, pull the shot – and then do the same again.

The Naviglio doesn’t have a bypass chute for pre-ground coffee, which is something to bear in mind if this is something you want, as a lot of bean to cup machines do have this feature.

It’s because many people will have a bag of pre-ground decaf for the occasion that the user or a guest wants a decaf, and it means you can just load some through the bipass chute.

I don’t quite understand this option, to be honest, when it comes to decaf. You can get some really high quality wholebean decaf, such as the caramelised biscuit decaf I sell at my coffee website The Coffeeworks, and whole beans retain their freshness (and therefore their taste) for much longer.

So I think it makes a lot more sense to keep a bag of wholebean decaf in the cupboard, and don’t fill up your bean hopper, just put in there what you’re about to use whether it’s full caffeine or decaf.

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Features:

  • 1.4 Litre Water Tank
  • Carafe system for one touch milk
  • Auto cleaning milk system
  • One touch hot water button for tea 
  • LED display
  • 13 grind settings
  • Size & Weight: 19.5cm x 34.0cm x 47.7cm, 9.7 Kg
  • Programmable coffee presets  & “my coffee” function
  • 3 strength settings
  • 3 milk froth settings
  • 4 brew temp settings
  • Ability to program descale frequency based on water hardness
  • Maximum Cup Height: 11.5 cm
  • Double shot capability

My Observations

This is a carafe one touch machine from DeLonghi, which means that you just put milk in the carafe, slot it in – and then press a button, the machine handles everything for you. 

De’Longhi do quite a range of bean to cup machines, including some much more expensive one touch systems, comparatively speaking this is priced at the low to mid price bracket, and it’s a capable machine for the money.

You do actually have some control over the milk texture with this machine, although to be fair it’s not much, you have “no froth” which I’m fairly certain will still produce froth ;-), min froth, and max froth. Still, I suppose some choice is better than none, but like I’ve said, if you wan’t control over your milk texture you’ll be much better off going for a coffee machine with a steam wand.

One of the issues with one touch systems is you really do need to keep on top of cleaning the milk system, otherwise you can end up with off milk in the gubbins (technical term) of your machine, and that’s rank (another technical term). But this is one of the machines which features automatic cleaning of the milk frother after each use, which is a good thing.

There’s a one touch hot water button, so if you’re making a brew and the coffee machine is on and you can’t be bothered putting the kettle on, you can just slot the hot water spout part on, and press that button, that’ll probably come in handy.

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Features:

  • 2 Litre water tank
  • 9 one touch buttons including flat white.
  • Complete control over each coffee including coffee temperature & strength
  • Adjustable brew group height for different sized cups
  • Intuitive touch control panel
  • 2 litre water tank
  • Size & Weight ‎26.01 x 35.99 x 46 cm, 10.97 Kg

My Observations:

Another popular one touch machine from DeLonghi, this machine has a tonne of reviews online, and overall they’re pretty impressive. 

There are some moans and groans of course, no manufacturer is going to please everyone with every machine, and to be fair it’s not a surprise there are unmanaged expectations at times when you look at some of the daft claims and statements in marketing blurb ;-).

One of the complaints you will see if you have a look through the reviews is that the one-touch flat white button doesn’t produce a flat white. 

While I’d agree with that, I’d go further and say that unless you’re spending thousands on a commercial bean to cup coffee machine, you’re not going to get anything close to flat white from a bean to cup coffee machine. But, then again, you’re not going to get proper flat white from most coffee shops anyway, and who actually knows what a “proper” flat white is? This is a very contentious issue among baristas. 

In my humble opinion, though, flat white is made from a double shot of either espresso or ristretto, its a small, strong drink, 5 or 6 ounces, and it’s made with a slightly wetter foam than latte, but the important thing is that the milk texture needs to be super velvety, and most of it needs to be distributed within the coffee, not sitting on top as floating foam. 

If you can show me a domestic one touch bean to cup machine capable of exactly the above, I’d be very impressed – I think more than likely with bean to cup machines offering one touch flatties, you’re going to get a stronger latte, which isn’t quite a flat white, but you’ll get the same at a lot of coffee shops too.

Gaggia Accademia One Touch.

Gaggia Accademia One Touch.

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Features.

  • 1.6 Litre Water Tank
  • Dual Boilers
  • Top filling water tank for uninterrupted shots
  • Carafe milk frother + manual steam wand
  • One Touch Cappuccino
  • One Touch Latte Macchiato
  • Self cleaning milk carafe
  • 15 grind settings
  • 3 strength settings
  • 3 taste settings – delicate, balanced, full-bodied
  • 3 brew temperature settings
  • 3 Froth density settings
  • Flow rate knob
  • Size & Weight: 28.2cm wide x 42.8cm deep x 38.5cm tall, 17 Kg
  • Maximum Cup Height: 16.5 cm
  • Ability to program descale frequency based on water hardness
  • Adjustable standby time

My Observations:

This is one of Gaggia’s two main flagship one-touch machines, the other is the Babila. 

These really are feature packed bean to cup machines from Gaggia, like no other really. They’re the only true bean to cup machines with some of these features including the two milk frothing options, dual boiler and the control over the coffee side of things.

Both of these machines are dual boiler, meaning there’s a boiler to deal with coffee, and a separate boiler to deal with steam.

There’s a carafe system to froth the milk, and three froth density settings on the Accademia (this is one of the few areas that the Babila differs, as there’s no variable foam with the Babila), but there’s also a pro steam wand, so you can swap and change in between steaming your own and letting the machine do it for you. 

This is clever feature, in my humble opinion, because it opens the machine up to being used by different people in the household or office, with different requirements.

For example if you’re using the machine at home and you’re working on latte art skills, someone else using the machine might just want to press a button, so these machines are versatile enough to be more things to more people.

The Accademia and Babila are machines are quite unique in how much focus has gone into the espresso side of things, too, with 15 grind settings, flow rate controls and three preinfusion options.

In my humble opinion these machines are about as good as you’re going to get from bean to cup coffee machines both when it comes to the milk and the coffee, except for the Sage Oracle and Oracle touch, which I’ll get to next, and we’re jumping price range quite dramatically now.

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Features: 

  • Dual Boiler – pull shots and steam milk at the same time for faster coffees
  • 2.5L water tank
  • Low-pressure pre-infusion for increased shot quality
  • Adjustable PID control – stability of, and control over brew temperature
  • Auto on and off – set it to be ready to use when you wake up needing coffee
  • Full sized commercial 58mm portafilter 
  • Auto Dosing & Auto Tamping for as close to perfect extraction every time
  • Auto milk steaming with full control over milk temp and texture
  • Auto steam wand purging
  • One touch Americano / long black – water delivered via a separate water tap, not dispensed through the coffee grounds.

My Observations:

As I’ve just mentioned, we’re jumping in price quite a bit now from the likes of the Gaggia Babila and Accademia, so just keep that in mind when I’m raving about these machines from Sage, because yes I do think they’re amazing, but they should be for the money ;-).

Although to be fair to the Sage machines, too, they’re not the most expensive bean to cup machines on the market, despite the fact that in my humble opinion, they’re the best.

The Oracle machines have far more grind settings than other bean to cup coffee machines, 45 to be exact.

Thanks to this control over the grind, combined with the way the coffee is dosed and tamped, the traditional standard filter baskets used, the pre-infusion, 9 bars of pressure vs the usual 15 bars of pressure you’d usually expect – you are likely to get much better quality espresso from the Oracle machines than you’d get from other bean to cup machines.

Sage’s approached the bean to cup quandary from a different angle to other manufacturers. The way bean to cup machines are made usually ends up putting a lot more emphasis on convenience and all things other than quality.

This isn’t intended as a put down at all. Bean to cup coffee machines are actually quite a feat of engineering and electronics, and they’re not cheap things to make, even just to handle the basics.

To allow the machine to be able to expel the used coffee grounds internally for example, and to not allow the user to let the container overfill, just the mundane basics like this will take up a big chunk of the manufacturing budget.

But the market demands convenience, and it demands low prices. To produce the level of convenience required and to also take coffee quality into the realms of home barista machines, just isn’t possible for a machine retailing at five or six hundred quid.

But Sage (Breville Australia, known as Sage in the UK as the brand name was sold here in the 80s) took a different approach. They decided there was a market consisting of people who demanded both the convenience and the home barista quality, and who were prepared to pay the price for such a machine – and it seems they were right! 

I think one of the reasons the Oracle range has done so well, though, was actually a byproduct of their plans to maximize the build budget and allow them to pack more into the machines.

One of the mundane basics I just mentioned, dealing with expelling the coffee grounds internally and getting the machine to acknowledge the fact that the grounds bin must be full and to then alert the user – they cleverly did away with the need for any of this, by simply putting this task in the hands of the user. 

So the user handles a portafilter as they would with a traditional espresso machine, puts this into the grinding area where the coffee is ground into the basket and then tamped. The user then moves the portafilter from the grinding cradle and locks it into the group head, and then unlocks the portafilter and knocks it into the knock out box.

While this move may have been made purely from a build cost perspective, allowing them to put more money into other areas of the build, what it does is brings more of an authentic home espresso making experience to these machines, and I think this is the key to the success of the Sage Oracle and the newer Sage Oracle Touch. 

It’s a similar thing with the milk element. While most of the other premium one touch bean to cup machines have carafes – with everything that comes with that including the carafe, the frother, the cleaning system and so on, Sage decided to put this in the hands of the user.

But not with a standard steam wand, instead they put some of that build budget they saved on the carafe etc., into producing an auto frothing steam wand with a thermomstat, which allows the user to simply put the milk jug in place and then select the exact froth volume and milk temperature required. 

So again the user gets to feel like a home barista, even learning to pour latte art, but without the same kind of learning curve usually associated – and I can tell you from personal experience, there really is a learning curve to creating great milk texture with a pro steam wand.

I think that the kind of person who’s willing to pay the price tag of a machine like the Oracle is often the kind of person who’s into coffee enough that they also enjoy looking and feeling more like a barista, handling the portafilter, pouring the milk from the jug & so on, but without having to develop the same level of barista skill that they’d have to without the “onboard Barista” – so it’s no surprise to me that these machines have done so well.

See also  Best Cheap Espresso Machines

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There’s no need to go into detail on the Oracle touch, it’s basically the exact same machine but with touch screen controls – although don’t be fooled by that, there’s more to the touch screen controls than might meet the eye.

What it means is that instead of manually creating your milk based drinks by producing the espresso and then selecting the required froth volume and milk temp, you have them all programmed in so you can literally just swipe, touch, and then assist the machine when it comes to handling the portafilter, putting the jug in place and then pouring.

Not only this, but you can edit the drinks to your heart’s content when it comes to strength, milk texture and temperature.

You can even create up to 8 coffees with your own name, for example maybe I want a flat white which is slightly different, so I create a flat white exactly how I want it and then save it as “KevFW”, and just keep altering that setting until it’s perfect, so I’m not forcing anyone else using the machine to have their flat white the way I have it.

Pod Machines

OK so if you really favour convenience, you might be thinking of a pod machine – which is fine, there’s nothing wrong with pod machines – in particular, there’s nothing wrong with Nespresso machines, and Lavazza machines, in my humble opinion. 

When it comes to coffee machines with milk frother, there’s no point in me discussing the likes of Tassimo and Nescafé Dolce Gusto, as I mentioned earlier they deal with the “milk” in pods, and it’s either powdered or it’s creamer. If you’re looking for a coffee machine with a milk frother, you’re wanting proper fresh milk or fresh milk alternatives, not some weird white stuff from a pod.

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Features: 

  • 1.8 L water tank
  • 5 coffee sizes
  • One touch brewing
  • Aeroccino milk frother
  • Size & Weight 32 x 42 x 14 cm, 4.7 Kg.

My Observations:

This is the newer Newer vertuo machine from Nespresso, not the original Nespresso machine. The vertuo system has a much bigger range of coffee pods available, rather than just the ristretto, espresso and lungo pods available for the Nespresso original – which makes it a better choice if prefer bigger cups of black coffee – Americano / long black. 

It’s an option for milkies too though, coming with the Aeroccino, Nespresso’s electric milk frother – and it’s a low cost option.

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Features: 

  • 0.6L water tank
  • Integrated milk frother
  • Size & Weight 36 x 25 x 25 cm. 4.6 Kg

My Observations:

The Lavazza A Modo Mio system is very similar to Nespresso Original, it was even invented by the same guy, the fella who invented the Nespresso machine. Interesting story that, by the way, I’m surprised a movie hasn’t been made about it. The guy came up with the idea, and then played the long game to sell it to Nescafe, even getting himself a job there and working his way up to the point that he could pitch the CEO.

The pitch fell flat, but no bother, he continued with Nestle, ended up becoming one of their food scientists, was sent to Nestle Japan to work on something, pitched the Japanese CEO while he was there, and finally Nespresso was born.

Anyway,  he then invented what we know as the Lavazza A Modio Mio machine, which is used on license – or whatever – by Lavazza.

Generally speaking the Lavazza machine creates a very similar coffee to the Nespresso original, only in the tests I’ve done I’ve found it to be slightly hotter and slightly stronger than Nespresso. 

This system has an integrated milk frother, Lavazza’s answer to the Aeroccino – and the integrated bit, just means that it fits on the base which comes with this machine.

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Features: 

  • 0.9L water tank
  • Milk carafe system
  • Size & Weight 17 x 32 x 25.8 cm. 4.5 Kg
  • One touch milkies (cappuccino, latte, latte macchiato + hot milk)
  • Milk froth density dial

My Observations:

This is a one touch pod machine, so it’s similar to the one touch bean to cup machines, but via pods vs integrated grinder.

It uses a carafe system, and it’ll do one touch cappuccino, latte, latte macchiato as well as hot milk for hot chocolate and so on, and it does have froth level selection which gives you a bit of control over the milk froth. You don’t have control over the milk temperature though. 

Overall, I think this is a pretty decent option if you want milkies via a pod machine, if you’re on a tight budget, as this is usually available at under £200.

The one thing I think that would put me off, personally, is that you do need to keep on top of the cleaning of the milk system on machines like this, and this machine has no auto milk cleaning, you have to do it manually by pressing and holding the milk cleaning button until it’s finished cleaning, which looks like something which would “do my head in” if I’m honest. 

If it were a single button press to clean the milk system each time, while I go & do something else for a minute, no problem – but to require my continuous presence and effort every time the system needs cleaning (which is basically every time you use the machine, even if you don’t clean it after each time you’ve used it to deliver steamed milk) that would be a deal-breaker for me, I have better things to do that to stand there with my finger on a button.

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Features:

  • Pro steam wand with auto milk texturing
  • 3 second warm up time
  • Programmable water hardness
  • 3 milk texture selections
  • 3 milk temperature selections
  • Auto cleaning steam wand
  • 1.5L water tank
  • Size & Weight 16.8 x 41.4 x 31 cm. 5.2 Kg

My Observations:

In a nutshell, the creatista range of Nespresso machines from Sage are to other Nespresso machines what the Oracle range is to other bean to cup coffee machines.

These machines feature the same milk steaming technology as with the stand alone home barista espresso machine the Sage Bambino Plus, and they’re going to provide better milk texture than you’re going to get with any other pod machine on the market, that I’m aware of.

Read my Sage Bambino Plus Review

All three creatista machines have the same newer “thermojet” thermocoil from Sage, which provides crazy fast 3 second ready time, and very fast steam ready time.

What this means, is that with the creatista machines you’ll have your coffee faster, as the whole process of steaming your milk is likely to take less than most other options when it comes to pod machines.

The Uno is the cheapest in the range, it features more plastic in the build and less stainless steel, and although it’s capable of the same milkies, the user has to adjust the settings manually via a very clever quick recipe card which tells you what to change the settings to for each drink – while the more expensive plus and pro have the drinks programmed in for you to simply select and adjust if required.

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Features 

  • Pro steam wand with auto milk texturing
  • 3 second warm up time
  • 7 pre-programmed and adjustable coffee selections
  • 8 milk texture selections
  • 11 milk temperature selections
  • Auto cleaning steam wand
  • 1.5L water tank
  • Size & Weight 16.8 x 41.4 x 31 cm. 5.2 Kg

My Observations:

This is the same machine as the Creatista Uno but with these differences: 

  • Less plastic & more stainless steel
  • Colour screen display
  • 11 temperature settings 
  • 8 milk texture settings
  • Drinks are pre-programmed

So the main reason I’d go for the plus over the Uno, is the drink selections and the enhanced fine-tuning for each drink.

Re the selections, this allows you to very simply scroll through the drink selections on the colour screen with the dial, and choose your drink – so far more convenient than having to look at the recipe card and do this yourself each time.

Re the fine tuning, instead of 3 temp settings and 3 froth options, with the plus you have 8 texture settings and 11 temp settings, allowing you to finely adjust each coffee to your liking, and you can then save your drinks once you have them exactly how you prefer them, so from then on in you can just select & walk off with your coffee.

I’m amazed by what they’ve manages to do with this Nespresso machine to be honest, this level of control over your milkies, and this kind of quality milk texture, with the level of convenience that pod machines bring, is just genius. 

The Plus is around £120 more than the uno at RRP, and while I would pay this for the additional convenience and control, if you shop around, you’ll sometimes find the Plus for a similar price to the Uno, either on Amazon or on the Sage Appliances website. 

It’s always worth dropping me an email if you’re considering buying a Sage machine, by the way, as I sometimes have discount codes from Sage Appliances to give to readers. 

Sage Creatista Pro Nespresso Machine.

Sage Creatista Pro Nespresso Machine.

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Features 

  • Pro steam wand with auto milk texturing
  • 3 second warm up time
  • 7 pre-programmed and adjustable coffee selections
  • 8 milk texture selections
  • 11 milk temperature selections
  • 7 hot water volume selections
  • Touch screen coffee selections
  • Dedicated hot water spout
  • Auto cleaning steam wand
  • 2L water tank
  • Size & Weight 19.7 x 42.9 x 32.8 cm. 6.5 Kg

My Observations:

This is the same machine as the Creatista Plus but with these differences: 

  • Colour touch screen display with swipe and touch coffee selection
  • Dedicated hot water spout for one touch Americano / long black, with water delivered via its own pathway separate to coffee
  • Bigger 2L water tank

While the touch screen is cool, personally I wouldn’t pay the extra cash for that alone, as I think the dial selection with the colour screen on the Plus is just as convenient. 

What would prompt me to chuck the extra cash at this machine would be the water spout situation, if I were going to be making a lot of Americano, or what Nespresso call Long Black. The Pro has a dedicated hot water spout, and a one touch long black button.

This means that the water being delivered into your cup is always fresh hot water, as it doesn’t share the channel with coffee. This isn’t that much of a big deal really, but the one touch long black button will be a big deal for anyone who is mainly going to be drinking long black / Americano.

It also has a nice big 2L water tank, which is handy as it means re-filling the tank less.

This machine is two hundred quid more than the plus, though – so it just depends if you like your long blacks enough to pay that much more ;-). Having said that, you’ll occasionally find them on offer, so it’s worth having a shop around. You can also get them at times on eBay either reconditioned or used “box returns” via a Sage-approved retailer, from around four hundred pounds.

Sage Creatista Plus on eBay

A quick tip on buying Sage machines on eBay – in my opinion, if you can buy a pre-owned or reconditioned machine from a Sage approved reseller, and they clearly explain the warranty terms in the listing, it’s worth considering to get a Sage machine for less.

New machines being sold on eBay though, just be wary. Sage only honour the manufactures warranty on new machines sold by themselves or approved resellers, and they don’t allow any reseller to sell new machines on eBay, only recons or pre-owned.

Best coffee machine with milk frother – conclusion

So if you came here with a vague idea of wanting a coffee machine which also froths milk but wondering which might be the best option, hopefully by now you know a lot more about coffee machines in general, and I really hope this post guides you in the direction of the perfect coffee machine for you. Cheers. 

Finally I’ll just end by answering some of the most commonly asked questions.

What is the best coffee machine for home use?

There are many different ways to brew a great cup of coffee and your lifestyle and budget will pretty much determine how to make the right choice.

If you want to spend less than £50 then you can make a perfectly good coffee with something as simple as a cafetiere or a filter coffee machine.

Whilst these brewing methods won’t deliver coffee shop favourites such as cappuccino, latte or flat white they will produce coffee that is far superior to instant coffee so if you just want to drink something better than the nasty coffee granules that occupy the supermarket shelves and you want to experiment with something low cost then going down the road of a cafetiere or a filter coffee machine is a good place to start.

This article goes into a lot more detail:

Best Filter Coffee Machines

If you are looking to get into espresso and all the milky favourites that you find in your local Costa or Starbucks then you’ll find these starting at about £100 or maybe slightly lower.

At these lower prices you need to be very careful because they often don’t have the capability to produce good quality espresso for a variety of reasons but if you are just starting out on your home barista journey and you don’t have the budget or you want to experiment with the concept before shelling out more then this article will help:

Best Cheap Espresso Machines

Which is the best brand of coffee machine?

This is a very common question, and a difficult one to answer really as it does depend on the type of coffee machine you’re thinking of buying. Generally speaking, the coffee machine brands which are commonly though of as among the best, and who certainly make some of the most popular coffee machines are: 

DeLonghi Sage Gaggia

Which is the best coffee machine with milk frother under £100?

If your budget is £100, realistically speaking you don’t have many options. One of the low cost domestic espresso machines mentioned above such as the Swan Retro espresso machine – or a pod machine with milk frother, although you’ll struggle to get something like a Nespresso machine with an Aeroccino for that kind of cash – but you could get a nespresso or Lavazza machine and another option for frothing milk. For more on milk frothers see:

Best Milk Frothers

Are expensive coffee makers worth it?

I hate to use this phrase but it really does depend. If you normally drink instant coffee, and you’re fairly happy with how that tastes, then spending several hundred pounds on a coffee machine in order to fix what isn’t broken, seems like a waste of money really.

What I’d recommend if you’re finding yourself on a journey with coffee, is to just take the next logical step wherever you are, there’s no need to make huge leaps. So if you currently mainly drink instant coffee, start out with an Aeropress, or another manual coffee maker, warm your milk in the microwave and use a super cheap hand frother – take it from there.

You can even make something similar to espresso with nothing more than a seive or strainer, see my video below for more on that.

If you’re at a point in your coffee journey, however, where you’re valuing the coffee itself and the coffee-making experience to the degree that you feel like investing more significant amounts of monty into it would make sense, then I’d say go for it – but just be as certain as you can be that you’re going down the right route, and hopefully, this post will have helped you in that regard.

For example if you’re feeling that you want to get into the home barista hobby, you want to invest time, energy and money into honing your skills and continually improving the coffee that you and those around you are enjoying, then you’ll want to make sure you’re investing in a suitable machine to begin or continue your home barista journey.

If, however, you just want better coffee – and you want the machine to take care of everything for you, then buying a home barista setup is likely to cause frustration, and a bean to cup coffee machine is more likely to be a better choice for you. 

Its not so much a question of “is an expensive espresso machine worth it” really, it’s more a question of “am I investing in exactly the right kind of machine for my needs” – and if you are, then I think whatever you decide to invest, is likely to end up being worth it.

If you’re on a tight budget and you think a domestic, consumer-level espresso machine would be right for you see:

Best Cheap Esprsso Machines

If your budget isn’t quite as tight, and you’re a bit more open-minded about which kind of coffee machine you should go for, I’d recommend giving this post a read: 

Best Coffee Machines Under £500

Or if you’re set on an espresso machine, but you’re not sure what kind of espresso machine is right for you, have a read of this post: 

Best Espresso Machines

If you’ve decided on going down the bean to cup coffee machine route, this would be the best place to find out which might be the best bean to cup coffee machine to go for: 

Best Bean to Cup Coffee Machines

Life is like a box of chocolates, so join my Brew Time list, subscribe to my YouTube Channel, become an accredited coffee botherer (Patreon supporter), try my coffee at The Coffeeworks (use discount code coffeebotherers), follow me on Twitter & Instagram, follow the coffeeblog FaceBook page, and that’s all I have to say about that. 

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This article firstly appeared at Coffee Blog – The UK Specialty Coffee Blog – For Lovers of REAL Coffee!

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