Choosing the right cappuccino maker can seem like a daunting task. I mean after all, one glance at Amazon and I see prices ranging from $65 to $1,700! What gives with that? How can one cup of specialty coffee require a $1,700 machine to make it? Well, since cappuccino is made from espresso, it all goes back to how to make a really great shot of espresso! Once you understand that, buying the right cappuccino maker will be a cinch…if you’ve got the dough, that is!
Okay, there are basically three types of espresso makers, steam, pump driven models, and automatics. The price difference between steam powered cappuccino makers and the automatics is huge. For instance, a Mr. Coffee steam machine will set you back a mere $65 or so. A DeLonghi Magnifica Digital-Super Automatic Cappuccino machine costs more than $1,400! Is it worth it? Well, “worth” is a relative concept, but sure…why not.
Steam Espresso Makers
Steam powered cappuccino machines are really the low end of the spectrum. You can have fun with them, sure, but if you’re really serious about your cappuccino, then no… a steam powered machine won’t work.
Firstly, the water temperature for brewing espresso should be way under the boiling temperature. Pushing steam through the coffee puck results in boiling the grounds. Not a desirable brewing technique…
Secondly, the pressure that the machine pushed the water through the coffee grounds is too low. You’ll never get that rich flavor, and that layer of froth of authentic espresso. In a cappuccino the featured drink is espresso, and milk is added just to tone it down a bit. You can see why getting a real espresso machine is a must, when you prepare a cappuccino.
Pump Driven Espresso Machines
Pump driven espresso machines can create the steam and pressure for an authentic shot. They also have good frothers, so you can steam your milk nicely. However, semiautomatic espresso machines are not that easy to use; you have to get everything else right, for a great cappuccino. For instance, how finely you grind the beans, how hard you tamp your grounds in the portafilter, and many other parameters, are very important for you final result. These machines are also known as semi-automatics. They are great for hobbyists, and for the aficionados, but not so great for the busy mom who has the busiest schedule ever.
Fully Automatic Espresso Machines
This is where automatic cappuccino makers come into the picture. With the mere pressing of a button, you have a perfect cup of espresso. With a computer controlled temperature for the frothed milk, you’ve got perfect cappuccino. It all comes at a price, however. If your budget allows it, get a super automatic, if you are willing to learn the skills, and use a semiautomatic, you can save a lot of money. Here are some great cappuccino makers, ranging from $100 to over $1000. When choosing one of those machines, there is no wrong or right, it’s what works best for you.
Tips and Tricks to Make Great Cappuccino
There is an art and a science behind making a very good cup of cappuccino. A cappuccino has three layers: espresso, steamed milk, and the top layer is the milk foam which results from the steaming. For an ideal cup of cappuccino, these three parts have to be in a perfect proportion and at the perfect temperature. According to Illy, the renowned Italian coffee roaster, a cappuccino contains 25 ml of espresso, and 85 ml of milk. Just a few years ago, making a cappuccino was reserved for the skilled barista, and making it at home was not possible. However the widespread availability of automatic machines has made it very simple for anybody to make a cappuccino.
Semi-Automatic vs Fully Automatic
A semi automatic machine will brew espresso, the most fundamental ingredient in a cappuccino. The semi-automatic has a frother, the will help you steam milk. Depending on the level of automation, you can have additional controls like a PID, and an0 advanced temperature control device.
With fully automatic machines, all operations will be done for you: grind the espresso beans, tamp the coffee puck, control the pressure and the temperature, steam the milk and finally mix the coffee and milk. It will even dump the coffee puck after brewing, and self clean when needed. Quite impressive …
If you ask me, the fully automatic machine is the right choice; however, the budget dictates what we buy many times.