A cappuccino maker is really just an espresso maker with a steam wand that’s used to make steamed milk. To make cappuccinos worthy of your local coffee shop, you’ll also want to buy a milk frother to create the top layer of foam. For this reason, cappuccino makers may be sold as “kits” in which the espresso maker includes a number of accessories that ensures you can make various types of espresso drinks as well as clean and maintain the espresso maker itself.
The 3 Big Types of Cappuccino Makers
There are dozens and dozens of different models and features, but there are 3 basic types you should know about. Understanding how these machines work and their relative pros and cons can help you understand what you’re looking for in a cappuccino maker and narrow the search to a more manageable list of candidates.
Pod Makers: For those people who like cappuccino drinks, convenience, and affordability, a pod cappuccino maker may be the best answer. In terms of functionality, this works pretty much exactly as it sounds. The maker comes with individual espresso pods that can be inserted and removes the need to manually tamp the ground espresso beans. This is the cheapest of the options, and while the product may still be plenty pleasing to drink, most people will be able to tell the difference between pod cappuccinos and more conventional makers.
Semi-Automatic Makers: These makers are similar to those used by baristas at the local coffee shop. In fact, some of the pricier, higher-end models may be designed and marketed primarily for commercial use. This maker involves the longest learning curve and may produce some of the best—and worst—cappuccino results depending on the operation and condition of the machine. It’s like a gas burner stove in that it gives you more control over the cooking process and is generally preferred by skilled cooks, but which can be less convenient and user-friendly.
If convenience isn’t your top concern, but rather you’re interested in the art and skill of making a cappuccino, this is the type of maker you’ll want.
Super-Automatic Makers: These machines look to combine the convenience of pod makers with the quality cappuccino of semi-automatic makers. More or less, they mostly succeed. While the semi-automatic makers produce the finest quality cappuccinos, they may lack the consistency and reliability of these super-automatic makers. The convenience of these makers goes beyond making the drinks. Most of them also have sophisticated self-cleaning mechanisms. Some super-automatic makers may also have trouble, especially over time, with processing oily coffee beans. Otherwise, the only principal downside is the cost of these cappuccino makers.
Shopping for Your Cappuccino Maker
Once you have a beat on the type of machine you want, the shopping process itself doesn’t differ that much from other consumer purchases. Amazon, Google, and other sources publish reviews as part of their shopping experience. The most popular models are easy to find and updated on a regular basis to show the latest models and products. Here’s one resource and here’s another for some of the latest and greatest cappuccino makers in 2018.