What Is a Cappuccino Maker
I can’t think of one person that doesn’t love a good cup of cappuccino. The strong espresso is followed by a layer of warm milk and a cloudy foam on the top. But one thing I hate about it is that you have to dress up, start your car and go to the nearest coffee shop to get your frothy pleasure.
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Well, that ends here and now. We will teach you how to choose your home cappuccino maker so pay attention. No more running in the rain to get an overpriced cappuccino in a plastic cup. From now on, we make our own cappuccino!
Benefits of Using a Cappuccino Maker
Imagine how much money you spend drinking average quality cappuccinos outside of your house? Why not treat yourself (and your family) with a top-notch cappuccino machine? It’s a gift that just keeps on giving. After one year of use, it will make it worthwhile for you, financially.
But money isn’t the only issue here. How many times did you pay for a cappuccino that was just… so-so? Or even worse, totally undrinkable. With your own cappuccino maker, you control the whole process: no more watery espressos or overheated milk. You are the king of your cappuccino castle.
How Does a Cappuccino Maker Work
Unlike a premium single-serve coffee maker that needs K-pods for brewing, you only need freshly ground beans to start making a good espresso. But getting a good espresso is impossible without the proper espresso machine. And if that machine has a milk frother or a steam wand, or even better, totally automated way to make steam milk, you know how we call it? We call it a cappuccino maker.
Pros and Cons of a Cappuccino Maker
- The money. The average price of a cappuccino in the USA is $4.02. You can find a decent automated stainless steel cappuccino maker for cca $200.
- The taste. With your own machine, you can customize the taste of your cappuccino, from your favorite type of coffee to the sprinkle on the top.
- The prestige. Your family and friends will simply adore coming to your house and enjoying your perfectly brewed cappuccino.
- The range of drinks. Depending on the type of your cappuccino maker, you can brew espresso, cafe lattes, or even tea.
- The size. Just like the siphon coffee maker can range in size, so can the cappuccino maker. Automated or fully automated machines are usually larger and won’t fit in every kitchen.
- The learning curve. Be ready to learn a lot of new things until you master your barista skills. But with everyday practice, even a total beginner can become a great barista in less than a year!
- The maintenance. Expensive cappuccino makers require more maintenance, and also their spare parts can cost a lot. Always check the warranty and the feedback from the previous buyers.
Types of Cappuccino Makers
Automatic Cappuccino Maker
This is the best thing that technology has to offer. Most functions (or all of them) are fully automated, so your only job is to press the button. However, this doesn’t put you much in charge. You will get the cappuccino quickly, and it will taste good, but you can’t customize it.
Semi-Automatic Cappuccino Maker
This is our favorite choice, to be honest. You can decide when your espresso is long or short enough. You still have to push a button or two, though. And, you can master the frothing process and experiment with different types of milk.
Manual Cappuccino Maker
Manual cappuccino makers will give you full control of the process. However, if you are planning to use them just for cappuccinos, they are not quite the best choice. You will have to learn a lot of things, and that can be quite a rewarding process. But, if you need a quick cup of cappuccino, there are far better choices.
How to Choose the Best Cappuccino Maker
For a quick cup (or for a bigger batch), use automatic cappuccino machines. Also, automated machines are great for beginners.
Semi-automatic ones will give you full brewing pleasure and a decent cappuccino making speed. After all, they are the most sold type on the market.
If you opt for a manual maker, be ready to start learning about the coffee-making process. Also, get ready to drink the best cappuccino in your life after you get the hang of the process.
Your Skill Level
If you are a coffee greenhorn, stick to the simple machines until you learn all the secrets of a good cappuccino. Having an advanced cappuccino maker won’t help you. However, if you know your way around the beans, the sky is the limit for you. Well, that and the size of your kitchen.
Traditional or Pod Machine
Tricky question. Using pod coffee makers is simpler and more convenient, I’ll give you that. Also, it’s much quicker and keeps the kitchen intact. However, it will never have that rich espresso aroma. A shot of espresso made with freshly ground beans is something you cannot replace.
Water for your cappuccino must come out from somewhere. So, we have three main solutions:
- Removable water tank. This is the most common choice. A small removable water tank is easy to clean and easy to refill. Usually, the capacity is around one liter.
- Fixed water tank. This perk is usually reserved for larger machines. Large water tanks (up to 5 liters) are convenient unless you have to access them more often. And that leads us to:
- Steady water source. These are the most expensive ones and reserved for bars and coffee shops. When you start your day by making 200 – 300 espressos, you need a steady flow of water.
Two main choices exist in the cappuccino machines:
- Automatic milk frothers are ideal for the newcomers in the cappuccino galaxy. Put in the fresh milk and press the button. Fast, convenient, and safe.
- But, old coffee devotees will always go for a steam wand. The magic wand lets you control the milk temperature and thickness of the froth during the process. A bit more complicated, but a lot more rewarding.
Also known as “What else can you make”? Simple cappuccino machines will make you an espresso and leave the rest to you. With more advanced cappuccino makers, you can even get tea, coffee mocha, hot chocolate, or a few more choices, depending on the manufacturer.
Old Ben Franklin claimed that time is money, and he wasn’t wrong. Now:
- A high-quality machine will get you an espresso in under a minute. If you don’t like to wait for the coffee to drip into a thermal carafe, go for the espresso machine.
- Using a pod machine can match that result, but not the quality.
- Fully automated machines will do all the job for you. Press the button, sir.
- As for the simple cappuccino makers, you need to grind the beans, fill the water tank, steam the milk, wait for the espresso, and that takes a lot of time.
The price you are willing to pay for your cappuccino maker depends almost entirely on the frequency of usage. Buying a multifunctional machine is a waste of money if you don’t use it often.
But, machines with a bigger capacity will be useful if you have a house full of coffee addicts. Their price will be higher, but the return on investment is almost instant.
How to Use a Cappuccino Maker
Using a manual cappuccino maker is a form of art, while using a fully automated one requires you only to have a finger to push the button. So, we will teach you how to use a semi-automatic cappuccino maker.
Step 1 – Fill it with water
Fill your machine’s water tank with fresh, filtered water. Avoid using tap water, as it will alter the taste of your coffee. Instead, invest in a good water filter.
Step 2 – Preheating
Preheat your machine for a few minutes. If it’s not heated will give you a poor-quality espresso.
Step 3 – Attach an empty portafilter to the machine
Start the machine, so the hot water starts dripping from the portafilter. By doing this, you will preheat every part of the machine needed for the espresso-making.
Step 4 – Grind your coffee
If your cappuccino maker comes with a built-in grinder, the job is simple. In every case, set your grinder on a fine coarse. Just remember, the roast level also affects coffee acidity, taste, and amount of caffeine.
Step 5 – Dose your powder
The industrial standard for one shot of espresso is usually 7 grams. However, depending on the coffee type and variety, sometimes you will need up to 15 grams per shot.
Step 6 – Fill the portafilter with the coffee
Flatten the coffee and use a coffee presser. Uneven and unpressed coffee will result in a bad espresso.
Step 7 – Attach the portafilter
Attach the portafilter to the machine with a steady move so it fits snugly. A loose portafilter will not get enough pressure needed for a good espresso. On the other hand, if you tighten the portafilter too much, it can damage the group head gasket.
If you did everything right, your espresso shot would be finished in the next 20 to 30 seconds. Too quick or too slow drip means you made the wrong grinding choice, or something is wrong with your machine.
Step 8 – Frothing milk
Fill your milk jug up to one third. Use only fresh, cold milk, and don’t overfill it. You don’t want to be burned with hot milk. Sink the top of the wand in the milk, around half an inch under the surface. Adjust your wand to a 15-degree circle from the machine and you are ready to start frothing milk for a cappuccino. You should hear little popping noise, and the quantity of milk should increase by 50%. Dip the steam wand deeper into the milk jug. When your milk jug becomes too hot to keep in your hand, turn the steam off. This is a sure sign that the milk temperature has reached 120F. Any more heat, and you will burn the milk.
Step 9 – Release extra air
Kick your jug on the counter a few times to release the extra air bubbles. Swirl the jug around, so the milk starts spinning. Start pouring. If you did every step right, you would get rich, thick froth. Tilt the jug up and finish your cappuccino.
Grab a pinch of your freshly brewed coffee and decorate your cappuccino. Alternatively, you can use cocoa powder or cinnamon. Enjoy.
How to Clean a Cappuccino Maker
Cappuccino makers can cost an arm and a leg. So, we want our home cappuccino maker to last. Also, we want every cup of cappuccino to taste great. So, here’s a handy guide on how to keep your semi-automatic cappuccino maker clean:
Step 1 – Detach the portafilter and the basket
These are the parts where most of the coffee gets stuck. Stuck coffee means a bitter cup of espresso. Detach the basket from the portafilter. Rinse them both with hot water, and leave them on the side to dry. Avoid using chemicals if you don’t have any hardcore stains.
Step 2 – Seal scrubbing time
Seal (or gasket) is a part of your cappuccino maker where you put the portafilter. It is also a part where a lot of coffee grounds get stuck. Take a smaller silicone brush or a piece of a damp cloth, and clean the seal thoroughly. After you are done, run the water through the seal.
Step 3 – Detach the small sieve
Usually, a small screw keeps him fixated on the machine. Remove the sieve, and rinse it through hot water. Clean the inner part with your little brush or a damp cloth.
Step 4 – Putting the pieces back
When all the parts of the cappuccino maker are washed and dried by now. Put them all back, and run the hot water once more.
Step 5 – Clean your steam wand
You should wipe your steam wand immediately after every use. So if you did that, it’s clean now. But if you didn’t, soak it in a cup of hot water. After that, dry it with soft clothes. Don’t use any chemicals or steel wool, as they might damage the wand.
Step 6 – Clean your water tank
If your cappuccino maker has a detachable water tank, remove it and give it a good scrub. Fill it with fresh, filtered water and put it back in place.
Using clean clothes, wipe the exterior of your cappuccino maker, to remove any stains. Avoid using chemicals. Also, don’t forget to clean your drip tray.
How to Backwash Your Cappuccino Maker
We recommend you should do the backwashing process at least once a week. Backwashing fills your favorite cappuccino maker with hot water and rinses the inner parts.
Step 1 – Insert blind basket
From my experience, almost every cappuccino maker comes with a blind basket. It looks the same as the regular basket, but it doesn’t have any holes. So, to backwash your machine, insert the blind basket instead of the regular one.
Step 2 – Turn the water on
Hot water will come into the basket and will go back into the machine, rinsing everything on its way. Turn the water off after 10 seconds.
Step 3 – Clean portafilter
Empty the portafilter, rinse it, then attach it back on, and repeat the process a few times.
Step 4 – Put the basket back
Put the regular basket back. Clean out the blind basket, dry it, and put it away for the next week.
Does More Spending Mean More Quality
Tricky one. Spending more will get you more options. But, generally speaking, yes. Good coffee makers can cost a lot. That’s because they use top quality parts that guarantee you an extended lifetime of the machine, as well as your safety. Plastic machines can cost substantially less. But the stainless steel ones will provide you with years and years of perfect cappuccinos. However, the price shouldn’t be your only criteria when choosing your cappuccino maker.
Do’s and Don’ts With a Cappuccino Maker
- Do buy a stainless steel cappuccino maker. It will last you longer, and you won’t have to worry about the plastic parts. Also, you are 100% sure that you brew your coffee in a BPA free coffee machine.
- Do use only freshly brewed coffee, filtered water and fresh cold milk.
- Do clean your steam wand after every use to eliminate the risk of bacterias.
- Do buy some extra equipment. Blind basket, coffee presser, or a cream whipper for a nice whipped cream or brewing nitro coffee.
- Don’t purchase the too big or too complicated machine if you are a casual drinker.
- Don’t buy a manual cappuccino maker if you are not ready to learn.
- Don’t use cheap, low quality coffee and expect a perfect cappuccino. It doesn’t go that way.
FAQ About Cappuccino Makers
How do you make a cappuccino without a machine?
You can easily make a cappuccino without the cappuccino machine. However, it just won’t taste the same. If you don’t have an espresso machine, use your Moka pot or Aeropress to brew your coffee. You can even use your best travel coffee maker.
As for the steamed milk part, use French Press, plain mason jar (and a lot of shaking), microwave, or handheld frother. The final product will taste almost similar to a cappuccino. Almost.
Can a cappuccino machine make regular coffee?
You can only get an espresso from your cappuccino machine. But, if you are not a fan of espresso’s taste and aroma, you can always make a long black or an Americano (they are not the same!).
What’s the difference between a latte and a cappuccino?
The layer of milk froth on the top of your coffee is the difference. Latte is made with espresso, steamed milk, and a thin layer of milk froth. On the other hand, cappuccino has a rich, thick layer of foam that provides that extra nuance of taste.
Why do I need a cappuccino machine with a grinder built-in?
You should always make your coffee with freshly ground beans. Pre-ground coffee has a bland taste, with all the aromas lost due to exposure to air and humidity. Also, preground coffee loses all the vitamins and minerals in a decaf coffee or in the usual one. You can always buy a separate grinder, but that would just add to the mess in the kitchen.
What grind size do I need for making cappuccino?
A fine grind is a top choice for making espresso. Hence, you should use it for a cappuccino, too. Of course, you can always experiment with various grinding types until you find your favorite one.
What are the best SCAA certified cappuccino makers?
Unfortunately, they don’t exist. You see, the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) doesn’t rank espresso machines, French presses, or cappuccino makers. Only drip coffee maker can be certified SCAA coffee making machine.
You made it to the end of this fine article. Now, it’s up to you to choose which cappuccino maker suits your needs the most. Our money goes on the semi-automatic ones, as they are reasonably priced, easy to use, and will provide you with years of perfect cappuccinos. Got a different opinion? Write it down in the comment section. We want to hear what you think.
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