How to make delicious espresso-based drinks in your own kitchen

If you can’t start the day without a piping hot cup of coffee, you probably your favorite local coffee house pretty regularly. With all their fancy equipment, they can make impressive — and delicious — coffee-based drinks.

If you invest in a professional-quality espresso machine, you can re-create many of your favorite espresso- and coffee-based drinks in your own kitchen. Check out these tips for making some of the most popular espresso-based beverages at home.

In this article: Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine, Philips 3200 Series Fully Automatic Espresso Machine and Calphalon Espresso Machine 

What to look for in an espresso machine

If you want a barista-quality espresso machine for your kitchen, it’s essential to know what features to look for. 

Start by deciding whether you want a semi-automatic or a super-automatic espresso machine: 

  • Semi-automatic model: With a semi-automatic model, you need to grind the beans, tamp the grounds and steam the milk manually. 
  • Super-automatic espresso machine: A super-automatic espresso machine does all the work for you, so they’re pretty much foolproof. They cost more than semi-automatic machines, though.

The best espresso machines have a water tank large enough to hold enough water for all the drinks you’ll make in a day. Many tanks are even removable for quick, easy refills, and some also have a filter to ensure there aren’t any toxins or impurities in the water. 

Another important factor is the time it takes for the machine to reach the proper brewing temperature. Pro-grade machines can often reach their peak temperature in 10 minutes or less. Lower-end models usually require extra heating time. 

You’ll also want to consider whether the espresso machine has a built-in burr grinder for producing the super-fine grind you need to make espresso. If your machine isn’t equipped with its own grinder, you’ll need to purchase one separately. 

Most espresso machines have a built-in milk frother or steam wand, which is a necessity for making many espresso-based drinks. The frother or wand heats the milk and gives it a foamy texture you can then mix into the espresso or use to top your drinks. You can purchase a milk frother or wand separately if your machine doesn’t have a built-in frother.

How to make popular cafe drinks at home

With a high-end espresso machine in your kitchen, you can make nearly any espresso- or coffee-based drink you usually order at your favorite coffee shop. 

Americano: An Americano is essentially a watered-down espresso. Add a single or double shot of espresso to 6 ounces of hot water. You can adjust the amount of water depending on how strong you want your drink to be. 

Macchiato: A macchiato is a shot of espresso with a dollop of frothed milk on top. Start with a shot of espresso in an espresso cup, and fill it the rest of the way with steamed milk. You can add as much or as little milk as you like, but it’s traditionally meant to be equal parts espresso and milk. Finish off the drink by adding a spoonful of frothed milk on top. 

Cappuccino: A cappuccino is a balanced drink with equal parts espresso, milk and foam. Pull a shot of espresso into a cup, which is usually 1 ounce. Then add 1 ounce of steamed milk and 1 ounce of frothed milk. You can increase the amount of espresso to two shots, but you also have to increase the amount of milk and foam.

Latte: A latte is similar to a cappuccino, so it begins with a single or double shot of espresso. Then pour 4 to 8 ounces of steamed milk down the side of the cup, so it mixes with the espresso for an almost swirled appearance. You can then add a thin layer of microfoam on top. For a flavored latte, add the syrup of your choice to the milk before steaming. 

Cafe mocha: A cafe mocha combines espresso with chocolate and steamed milk. Start with a single or double shot of espresso, and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of chocolate syrup or powder. Next, add frothed milk until the cup is full. You can then top your drink with whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder.

Barista-quality espresso machines for the home

Best Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine

Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine

This pro-grade espresso machine has a built-in burr grinder that grinds directly into the portafilter. It offers optimal water pressure to extract the best flavor from the ground beans. It also features a powerful steam wand that’s ideal for making cappuccinos, lattes and other cafe drinks.

Sold by Amazon

Best Philips 3200 Series Fully Automatic Espresso Machine

Philips 3200 Series Fully Automatic Espresso Machine

If you’re new to brewing espresso, this user-friendly machine is for you. It has a clear, digital touch display that allows you to make espresso, coffee and other espresso-based drinks by pressing a single button. It also has a built-in ceramic grinder and milk frother and is extremely easy to clean.

Sold by Amazon and Sur La Table

Best Calphalon Espresso Machine

Calphalon Espresso Machine

With its precise heating technology, this espresso machine offers even heating that extracts the perfect flavor for your espresso. It also has a steaming wand for cappuccinos, lattes and other coffee house-inspired drinks. The hinged, removable water tank is easy to refill, too.

Sold by Amazon

Best GE Profile Semi Automatic Espresso Machine

GE Profile Semi Automatic Espresso Machine

This Wi-Fi-connected espresso machine features an Italian-made, 15-bar pump that provides the right pressure to draw out the best flavor for your espresso. It also has a built-in conical burr grinder with 15 grind levels. The Wi-Fi connection allows you to customize your drink preferences via the smartHQ app.

Sold by Home Depot

Best Breville Barista Touch Espresso Machine

Breville Barista Touch Espresso Machine

This high-end espresso machine is preprogrammed with a cafe drinks menu that lets you make a wide range of beverages with the press of a button. It also heats up in seconds and offers automatic milk texturizing for your drinks. Best of all, it doesn’t take up much space on your counter.

Sold by Amazon

Best Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine

Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine

This semi-automatic espresso machine is ideal for beginners but still features commercial-quality components. It uses dual heating elements to heat up in only five minutes and a durable chrome-plated brass portafilter similar in size and design to those in coffee house machines. It has a commercial-grade steam wand, too.

Sold by Amazon

Best Cuisinart EM-200 Programmable Espresso Maker

Cuisinart EM-200 Programmable Espresso Maker

With a 15-bar pump, this espresso machine brews a rich-tasting espresso that can make cafe-quality beverages. It has a 69-ounce removable water tank that’s easy to refill, and the stainless steel steam wand lets you make delicious lattes and cappuccinos. It also has a warming tray on top. 

Sold by Macy’s, Amazon and Wayfair

Best Capresso 116.04 Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine

Capresso 116.04 Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine

This espresso machine is perfect for anyone who wants to make espresso, cappuccinos and lattes. It comes with two filters, one that can be used with ground coffee and one for espresso pods. It also has a swivel frother that steams and froths milk and a removable water reservoir for easy refills. 

Sold by Amazon

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