HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >


I what to buy a cappuccino machine

Short of buying a commercial machine what would you recommend as the best one out there

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I have done a bit of research on and off about this. I want to plant a suggestion that I recently heard and I believe I may go this route first.
    Your grinder, may actually be MORE important than your machine. The grinder is referred by some as the "Rock Star" of your Espresso set up.
    One person said he would much rather have a great grinder, and a $200 machine, than a crummy grinder, and a $1200 machine.
    On a whim this week, I bought a can of pre ground espresso blend from Italy.
    I am blown away by the difference in the cup I got and the crema on my $200 machine.
    I would urge you to not short change your grinder. People online say you should spend about a third of your machine price on your grinder. So if you are looking just shy of commercial, that in my mind is $300 to $800 sort of money.
    Don't short change your grinder.

    1 Reply
    1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

      Can you recommend a grinder. I heard about and I am going is mispronounce which is like a burr grinder if that rings a bell. It in essence creates less heat than standard grinder

    2. I've had a Delonghi Magnifica for about 4 years. It's a one touch cappuccino/latte machine. Also makes great espresso, short, and long coffees with a nice crema. It is easy to clean. I know the price has dropped significantly since I bought mine. Either way, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pagesinthesun

        I just bought a Jura and hate it. The espesso is great and it has a built in grinder. I don't like the foamer, and I drink Cappucino. I am taking the machine back and I was going to get a Delonghi, which is what my friend has, and hers makes a great foam. Glad to hear that you like yours. I also find the learning curve on the Jura very steep.

      2. Do you have a machine now? Or is this your first? These days, there is manual, semi auto, and auto. I believe the one below us fully auto. You are going to want to figure out what generic category you want. I like to grind my own, tamp my own and do it as manual as possible. So I don't want an "auto" one. There are also Nespresso type machines that use only Pods. Again, I don't want that, but you might?

        6 Replies
        1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

          I don't want a auto. I need a new grinder I guess. I have beval right now. I also want to be able to steam the milk. What do you have and would you buy it again if you needed a new one.

          1. re: wdames

            How much are you looking to spend for BOTH your grinder, and your machine?

            Most can steam milk. I don't do steamed milk so I can't tell you mine is good for that or not. I like mine for Espresso but it is nothing special.

            I am looking at a grinder recently. It is $219 for just the grinder.

            What is your budget?

            1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

              I like to spin, cycle and cycle tour and drink coffee. I would start to back off at about $1000 for everything.

            2. re: wdames

              I think you mean Breville.

              Is the grinder Breville? Or your machine? I have a Breville Machine now.

              1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                Is Breville a Burr? I will try to check.

                1. re: wdames

                  The Breville Smart grinder is a Conical burr but I'd avoid it like the plague. They run $200 and they are not at all reliable. I killed 3 of them in a year before getting my money back. In general all around grinders are not the best best for espresso but if you want a grinder that will work well for both coarse and fine consistently the least expensive one I would suggest is a Baratza Preciso. I've been using one for about a year and it's a very nice machine. They run right around $300 unless you can score a refurb on the Baratza web site.

          2. Not sure what your budget is, but the Rancilo Silvia espresso machine is (or at least was a few years ago; I haven't been researching lately) is probably the best in its class. I had one for about a year before upgrading to an Isomac Tea. It made perfect ristretto shots, once you get the hang of the machine. if you're serious about your espresso, don't get anything that doesn't have an E61 group-head. You can get a Rocky burr grinder for not much $$ and be totally set.

            6 Replies
            1. re: TheCarrieWatson

              I've got the rancilo Silvia and rocky grinder and am extremely happy with them. We started with the Silvia and a cheap grinder and it was very inconsistent. Once we upgraded to the rocky grinder life was great and so was my espresso! The rocky weighs 18 lbs just to give an idea of how heavy duty it is.

              1. re: NorthernPanda

                Besides a La Pavoni, the Silvia is really *it* for machines in that price range. I researched the hell out of this stuff but that was a good 10 years ago so there might very well be some newcomers that I don't know about, but you can not go wrong with the Sylvia regardless. I've come really close to selling my Isomac and commercial grinder and going back to the Sylvia/Rocky combo just because of the smaller footprint. I was getting shots from my Silvia that were as good as most any you can get (except at Vivace) once I got used to the temp surfing thing. I love the fact that you can outfit the Rancilio with a PID kit, too. Great machine - a classic.

                1. re: TheCarrieWatson

                  I received a La Pavoni years and years ago. I've only seen one like it in a James Bond movie, and in the kitchen on "Absolutely Fabulous." I think it needs a gasket repair or something. I need to dig it our and tinker with it.
                  I think I'll bring it up from the basement now....

                  1. re: wyogal

                    Jeez, sitting on a shelf for 10 years must have done the trick. It seemed to work just fine.

                    1. re: wyogal

                      IIR it was a LaPavoni in the Talented Mr. Ripely that Jude Law used to pull shots. ;)

              2. Read the entire "how to" it will help you, and answer all your questions, and give you knowledge on what you need.


                it may be a good idea to go on Coffeegeek and join the conversation.


                1. At the $1,000 price point, you can't do any better than the Rancilio Silvia & Rocky. I'd buy them from Chris (no affiliation):



                  Good luck, and if you search the forum, you will find a number of very detailed discussions on the importance of a grinder.

                  8 Replies
                    1. re: jljohn

                      I appreciate your advice and did a little searching for what you suggested and this is the link I came up with.


                      Is this the complete package you were talking about.

                      1. re: wdames

                        Yes, but you may do better with the grinder with a doser (it's the container on the front of the grinder that catches the ground beans and then dispenses them into the portafilter). Different folks have different opinions on whether the doser or doserless is better, but I'm in the doser camp. Here's the link to the same company's package with the doser-grinder:


                      2. re: jljohn

                        John I got it but they forgot to send the CD. I was probably grinding to fine at 8 so now I am at 10 which seems to work. I made a mess the first couple of times because I didn't get the espresso cup or whatever you call it attached correctly. I might have that solved. I am making 1 shot to 2/3 of the container of 2% milk. I can't seem to get it creamy enough. Is there a trick? Maybe less milk so I have more space to steam.

                        1. re: wdames

                          I'm not quite sure that I understand what's happening, but hopefully this answers your question. Your grind should be such that, when tamped with 30 lbs of pressure (you can place your portafilter on a bathroom scale and push down until the scale registers 30 lbs to practice this technique), espresso starts to flow from the puck at about 7 seconds after activating the pump. The espresso should flow out thin, like angel hair pasta. And your desired amount of espresso should pull in 18-20 seconds. Don't let your shots go longer than about 20 seconds.

                          Upon re-reading your question, I think the issue is with the milk. Believe it or not, this is one of the more difficult steps to get just right. With the milk, you want to fill your pitcher about 1/3 full, and your goal is to achieve microfoam. It will be easier for me to direct you to a couple of resources (not necessarily the best, but just a couple of helpful ones I just pulled up via google). See this for a brief description: http://www.home-barista.com/espresso-... Here is a video that, although uses a different machine, can help you with both foaming technique and pouring art, if you are at all interested in that sort of thing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDK1XE...

                          Let me know if this answers your question!

                          1. re: jljohn

                            Thanks the learning curve is rather steep. I did shot of espresso which turned out ok. I then heated whole milk slightly tilted in the pitcher which is 1/3 full. I brought it to 150 or just under 160 but I am not getting that microfilm they are talking about. I poured the espresso in a larger cup and was hoping for those swirls at the endwhen I added the steamed milk. I need more molk to practice tomorrow. There obviously is more to it than bring up the temp of cold milk to 160. Can you get those swirls with the milk at the end. I have never seen it before today and now I want to be able to do it.

                            1. re: wdames

                              Here is a video that may help. They use one drop of dish soap instead of milk for the obvious economic reasons. One thing though 150-160 is too hot. Should peak out around 140. Or when the pitcher starts to get hot in your hands.

                              Don't worry about the subject of the video(latte art).The basics of steaming the milk is right on.


                              1. re: poser

                                Thanks I actually practiced with soap all morning and just made a wonderful capaccino with whole milk. I would like it a little stronger for one shot so I will back off on the milk but it was wonderful with a crude rosseta which I will get better at.

                      3. I agree with the silvia/rocky recommendations. I've been using them happily daily for many years. Keep in mind that it takes a while to get totally dialed in with this combo. The silvia doesnt do well with coffee thats not very fresh. Be prepared to experiment with the grind and tamp, and get a decent convex tamper. Read up on coffeegeek, whole latte love and even home barista. Dont be put off by the snobs. Its just coffee. And the silvia steams milk really well. I even use it to make hot chocolate and chai.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: chuckl

                          I am considering buy the following link. It is alot of money for a coffee machine but is it is as good as I think it might be it would be worth it. I have never been able to make really great caps or super expresso at home and I spend a fortune at Starbucks. The link follows and I would apreciate your opinion!

                          Rancilio Essentials Package - Espresso Machine

                          1. re: wdames

                            How serious are you about pulling a great shot of espresso? Are you interested in mixed espresso-based drinks such as cappuccinos, mochas, and lattes, or are you interested in straight ristretto pulls? Do you want a machine with a lot of 'curb appeal', or are you personally looking for something that will enable you to truly a shot of espresso that will surpass what you would get at your corner coffee joint?
                            Depending upon what your standards are, there is not going to be any plug-and-play solution resulting in a perfect shot. What is your intended use for this machine? Entertaining, personal use, etc?

                            1. re: TheCarrieWatson

                              I love cappuccino's and buy one every day at Starbuck's which is expensive but the corner gas station or Duncan Donut can beat the price but the quality is not there . I have been trying for years to usuccessfully to make one at home with sends mye running for Starbuck's. I certainly want to share it but I am not thinking about just making my friends happy:)

                              I have the Technivorm which makes a fantastic cup of Joe but that is it's limitations. I paid close to 300 for it and it has zero curb appeal but does coffee in 2 minutes at 200 degrees. Curb appeal is certainly a plus for anything you buy but I want the best espresso machine without going totally commercial. Do you think it is to expensive for home use or maybe for a little or allot less I could get the same quality but less glamour.

                              I posted here because I have always got honest and good advice. I appreciate your opinion.

                              1. re: wdames

                                "I want the best espresso machine without going totally commercial. Do you think it is to expensive for home use or maybe for a little or allot less I could get the same quality but less glamour."

                                I think that the Rancilio combo is at the least expensive end of the range you are shooting for. To get a really high end, home-use (i.e. non-commercial), setup, Id suggest that you are looking at at least $2,000 for a double boiler espresso machine (or about $1,500 for a heat exchanger espresso machine) and $600 for a Mazzer or MACAP grinder.

                                Given the expense involved, I think one should really be sure that they want to pursue home espresso making before diving in. The machines are expensive and there is a modest learning curve involved. If this is really something you want to do, and if you plan take the time to learn how to do it well, then I think that the Rancilio combo is a fairly 'standard' high quality entry-level setup. It will serve you well, but don't be surprised if a few years down the road you find yourself really wanting an HX or double boiler machine.

                                Hope this helps!

                                1. re: jljohn

                                  Thanks I am sold. learning to do it should be fun and I have not heard any negative input. I also think you have answered my question about why I should get the complete package visa the machine and cheap grinder.

                                  Oh I did have krup;s years ago and execpt for expresso I didn;t want to go down that route again.

                                  1. re: wdames

                                    I think that you have gotten great advice here - the Silvia/Rocky combo is a great one for someone who wants the hands-on experience of making espresso.

                                    The only thing I will bring up is to realize that making coffee with a setup like this is a bit of an 'event', especially if you are somewhat fussy about what comes out. This is fine if you intend to make a bunch of shots at one time, but if your routine is likely to be one cup and done, realize that there is a lot of work involved. I don't post this to be a downer, but to highlight the realities of making home espresso with this setup, which in my experience tends to be what contributes to a great many people giving it up after a relatively short exploratory period.

                                    - The machine must come up to temperature (it is not designed to be left on continuously).
                                    - Water must be flushed through the grouphead and portafilter in order to bring that large mass of metal up to temperature.
                                    - Coffee must be ground - this is where the doserless/doser debate comes in - if you have a doser, you have the opportunity to introduce a great deal of previously ground coffee into your single shot. Even so, the proper grind will change from day to day meaning that you will likely dispose of many shots.
                                    - Once you make an acceptable cup, you have a lot of cleanup - there will likely be grounds everywhere, you must clean the portafilter/basket, possibly the doser, empty the drip tray, clean the shot glasses and the milk pitcher if used.

                                    If you are the type of person to get into the 'process' of something, this may all be an acceptable tradeoff. If not, you may find that you are happier with alternative brewing methods day in and day out.

                                    Good luck!

                                    1. re: zhenya00

                                      +1 on zhenya00's comments.

                                      I won't dissent on the Silvia/Rocky combo, but you should be aware that it's considered a 'fussy' setup, meaning that the Silvia machine can be frustratingly inconsistent, especially for a new initiate to the world of home espresso making (you).

                                      If you're looking for is something better than Starbucks, then a nice Gaggia machine (like the Classic or Baby Twin) & quality grinder (like Cunill's Tranquilo) would be an ideal setup for around $700.

                                      1. re: Eiron

                                        Thanks zhenya00 and Elron for the most helpful advice I've found on the Silvia/Rocky combo.

                                        I'm looking for an espresso machine now. I like the price on this combo, and there's an overwhelming amount of praise for it in the right places all over the web, but my reality is I'm not into process and fuss on early weekday mornings. I'm more about one cup-and-done, but, I want that one cup to be top notch.

                                        So - any recommendations for an easy-to-use, top quality, reliable and long-lasting automatic under $3000?

                                        1. re: eating out

                                          At that budget level, probably the first Super-Auto I'd consider would be the Quick Mill Monza:

                                          1. re: Eiron

                                            Cool, thanks again. I'll include it in the comparison with the Jura and the DeLonghi super-auto models.

                        2. Visit Seattle Coffee Gear's site. They are super informative about everything to do with coffee.

                          Next, visit a reputable dealer(s) that stocks a good variety of machines. They will work with you to ensure that you get the machines to suit your needs.

                          If you want to buy "the best one out there" go for the la Marzocco GS3 without the paddle on the infuser and a Mazzer doserless grinder. I've had the setup for about 6 months and it produces the best espresso/cappucino/americano/whateveryouwanto you could ever wish for. I don't drink coffee out any more. It's that good.

                          If you want to gild the lily, get yourself a home roaster. I've had a Hottop unit for a year and it really is super for a home unit. You can program it or use it on a manual setting to control the roast to your specs. Roasting your own beans is extremely cost-efficient. I buy top quality green beans in bulk. I'm paying under $6 a pound for a high grade Panama that is retailing roasted for upwards of $18.

                          Importantly, remember the rule of 15.

                          Green coffee over 15 months old is stale.
                          Roasted beans over 15 days old are stale.
                          Ground beans over 15 hours old are stale.
                          Brewed coffee over 15 minutes old is stale.

                          I didn't make them up, but they're pretty spot on.

                          Good luck!

                          1. I agree with jammy.

                            Best home espresso machine: La Marzocco GS3 (but it runs about $6500).

                            Another great choice at a much lower price point is the La Spaziale Vivaldi II.

                            With either unit, good grinder (e.g. Mazzer) is a must.

                            None of the expensive gear above is worth anything without freshly roasted beans, and they should be roasted properly to a medium brown dry appearing bean, not a dark-brown oily appearance like most beans you find. So, either roast your own, or identify a good roaster in your city.

                            1. The Pasquini Livia 90 has served me well for many years. According to my mother, it blows away Starbucks.