If your idea of kicking back on a lazy afternoon includes a good book, some soothing music playing in the background, and a cup of coffee to invigorate your senses, then perhaps what you need is the best cappuccino machine in your kitchen to give you ample supply of your favorite beverage. After all, who wouldn't love this type of creamy, aromatic coffee drink? From the sweet fragrance of coffee beans mixed with milk, to the froth on top, and the delectable taste with every sip, this is the perfect beverage for your do-nothing day, or perhaps to start your morning right.
But did you ever wonder about the origins of this drink? Most of all, how did people prepare their cappuccino before high-tech coffee makers were invented? Let's take a look at the history of this popular beverage, the evolution of the cappuccino machine, and some tips on how to buy one for your personal or commercial use.
How It All Started-The History of Cappuccino
Cappuccino has its roots way back in the 17th century, in Europe. It first came into existence in coffee houses in Vienna, where it was popularly called as the "Kapuziner". This beverage consisted of either coffee with cream, sugar, and spices, or simply coffee with sugar and cream. Whipped cream was also added on top to further enhance the aroma and taste of the coffee. There were also some coffee shops outside of Vienna that featured this well-loved drink, and the beverage became known as Cafe Viennois or Viennese Coffee.
But the preparation for the kind of cappuccino we all know to this modern day first began in northern Italy, during around the 1930s. Instead of using whipped cream with chocolate or cinnamon powder, the Italian style of cappuccino featured steamed milk. About two decades after, espresso machines took the world by storm. This is why the present-day cappuccino is prepared with espresso to replace standard coffee as the base. But typical Austrian coffee shops still offer the classic Kapuziner.
Soon enough, cappuccino's fame spread to other parts of the globe, including the United States. It was in the 1980s when Americans became acquainted with this fascinating beverage. Little did they know that this drink dated back several centuries ago when it started in Europe, before the Italians came up with their own special preparation technique.
Cappuccino and the Capuchins
As we have mentioned earlier, the cappuccino first made its appearance in Viennese coffee shops back in the 1700s. Then, it evolved further in 1850, when spices where added to it for an extra flair to the drink. But why was the drink called cappuccino, anyway? Where exactly did the name come from?
Since this coffee variant has the same shade of brown just like the robes the Capuchin friars wear, the name "cappuccino" was given to them. There was also a similar beverage called Franziskaner, although this one had more milk than the Kapuziner or cappuccino. The Franciscan monks, who wore robes with a lighter brown color, became the inspiration for the name of that other drink.
In Italy, the drink was called "cappuccini", which was quite popular in various restaurants and cafes in the country. Although espresso machines were already available at that time, these were commonly seen only specialized cafes because of the bulky and complicated design. Since then, it has become a popular Italian culture for people to sit at pavement cafes while they enjoy their cappuccinos, espressos, or cafe lattes and engage in conversations with their friends, family members, and even strangers.
Cappuccino During the Post World War II Era
During the 1930s, drinking cappuccino was only possible whenever you go to a cafe because of the limited availability of the intricately-designed espresso machine. However, this has changed after World War II, thanks to the improvements made in the process of preparing this type of coffee. Espresso machines became more accessible, which is why the "Age of Crema" so to speak, also began. Several coffee houses in different parts of Europe followed suit in including cappuccino as a part of their beverage menu.
In fact, it was only during this time that we can say more aptly the modern cappuccino was conceived. All the elements that make the finest cappuccino – or at least the one that we know in this present time – are found in every cup of this beverage. These components include the best espresso, crema, and a balanced portion of steamed milk and frothed milk. All of these key elements are then poured into a preheated, small porcelain cup to complete the unique qualities of a genuine cappuccino.
Continental Europe first popularized cappuccino, but this beverage soon became available in various parts of the globe. In England, this beverage was widely accepted because of the Brits' fondness of drinking coffee served with milk. In fact, they were the ones who made espresso renowned in the world, as they steeped their coffee and mixed some milk afterwards. But of course, cappuccino is not simply made from regular coffee and just plain milk. Thus, the technique that people used in the preparation of cappuccino became more refined to deliver the extraordinary quality of this beverage.
Soon enough, the fame of cappuccino spread to Australia, the rest of Europe, and South America. In the 1980s, the United States caught on this fascination with the beverage. Back then, diners in America only served black coffee. However, in the 1980s and moving on to the 1990s, cappuccinos and lattes became a huge hit throughout US coffee houses.
Modern cappuccinos include three key components – espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk on top. But there are still some countries that prepared this drink the Viennese Kapuziners style, which contains whipped cream, spices, and espresso or regular coffee. Among the places that offered cappuccino in this style are Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Bratislava, and Trieste, a city in Italy. Coffee houses in the 1950s, however, served both the Kapuziners and cappuccinos as some of the options in their beverage list.
In Greece, people sometimes prepare the cappuccino Freddo, or the cold version of this drink. This means that the frothed milk is cold, and this is added on top of the espresso. There are also portions of Italy that featured the shakerato or espresso with ice mixed in (iced espresso), as well as the gelato da bere or espresso with Italian iced cream. As for Canada, there are iced cappuccinos available as an alternative to the usual warm beverage. This drink is frozen coffee with thick black syrup, and there is chocolate milk and cream blended in.
Varieties of Modern Cappuccino
When the cappuccino was first invented in Austria and Italy, there were varied styles that other countries used to immitate this drink. For instance, their version of the cappuccino included brewed coffee mixed wtih milk substitute or powdered milk. The milk is not even frothed or foamed, but bubbles where created by whipping the milk inside the machine. This was not even anything close to the kind of cappuccino they made in Italy,
But what really makes a fine cup of genuine cappuccino is the perfect combination of all the right ingredients. First, a shot of espresso needs to be perfectly made, along with achieving the desirable temperature and texture of the milk. Next, microfoam is attained by allowing small air bubbles to form into the milk, which is available in steamed milk cream. With a standard cappuccino, there is hot frothed mik poured on a cup of espresso. The amount of milk also depends on how you want the cappuccino to be like. Cappuccino chiaro or light/wet cappuccino contains more milk while scuro cappuccino or the dark/dry cappuccino has less amount of steamed milk.
The Cappuccino Machine – Its Evolution and The Different Types to Choose From
Different designs of the espresso machine were created to achieve the finest-tasting espresso. This also had an impact on the overall taste and quality of cappuccino, considering the fact that espresso is used to make this beverage.
In 1945, the piston-driven espresso machine was first created in Italy by Achille Gaggia. He was the founder of Gaggia, which is a manufacturer of the espresso machine. This design comes with a lever, which is used for pressurizing hot water before it is sent through the coffee grinds. It is also termed as a manual espresso machines considering the manner in which a shot is produced.
Developments on this type of espresso machine were made, which were featured in the released of the pump-driven machine in 1961. Commercial espresso bars used the Faema E61, which made use of a motor driven pump in brewing espresso. The machine used water coming straight from a supply of cold water, and there are also varieties where there is a separate tank that needs to be manually filled with water.
With modern designs of the cappuccino machine, it may get a little overwhelming to choose one for your personal use. There are key features to look into, as well as the price point, since cappuccino makers can be rather expensive. But if you are truly interested in making the finest cappuccino, just a regular coffee maker won't cut it. Steam or pressure is necessary to force water through your finely ground coffee to release the desired taste. Some of the steam is also used to achieve the perfectly frothed milk.
This is why it may be worth looking into the following types of cappuccino makers available in the market to have a headstart of the unique features and capabilities of each.
1. Pump Cappuccino Machine
If what you look for is a robust and highly powerful cappuccino machine, then the pump machine is what fits the bill. It is capable of heating water between 190 to 197 degrees F, then water is sent through the finely ground coffee beans once the desired temperature point is reached. It takes only 20 to 30 seconds for the process to complete, while ensuring the signature froth of the espresso.
2. Pod Machines
When it comes to ease and convenience, the pod coffee machine with a capability to make cappuccino is a solid option. With this type of machine, you only need to put the coffee pod into the machine, pour the right amount of water, then press the button to get the coffee-making process started. The only thing about thing machine is the lower quality of the beverage prepared, as compared with the outcome from using a steam or pump machine.
3. Steam Cappuccino Machine
A smaller and cheaper version of the pump machine, you can count on the similar functionality of the steam cappuccino maker. However, you cannot expect this machine to ensure a consistent water temperature or water pressure level, so it is not bound to make the perfect cup of cappuccino or espresso all the time. The quality is still much better than what you can achieve from a pod machine, though.
Features to Look When Buying a Cappuccino Machine
Now that you know the types of cappuccino machines in the market, it may be worth exploring further on the features to consider when buying this piece of equipment. Basic aspects to look into include the amount of coffee you can make, the manner in which water is obtained, speed of operation, and other functions that enhance the maintenance of the machine.
1. Water Supply
There are cappuccino with a built-in water tank while others come with a removable one. If you want convenience, one with a removable water tank is preferable since you can easily refill this reservoir without the need to navigate around and pour water into the machine. If you opt to buy a good quality cappuccino maker, there is a feature that allows you to hook it up straight to the water line in your home. This way, there is no need to fill the tank or worry about the amount of water left in the reservoir for brewing your beverage.
The quicker you can make your cappuccino, the more energy savings and less time needed to wait for you to take a sip of your drink. Some cappuccino machines allow you to achieve a piping hot espresso in less than a minute. There are also machines that can froth and add the milk automatically to the coffee. If speed and convenience is what you look for, but with some compromises on the quality of coffee, then a pod machine is your best bet.
3. Types of Coffee Made
There are cappuccino makers that can allow you to produce a wide selection of coffee types. Aside from cappuccino and espresso, you will able be able to prepare regular coffee for several options. In this case, the machine may have a coffee carafe and a cappuccino cup. This allows you to make several cups of regular coffee and a cup or two of the finest cappuccino for you and another person to enjoy. High-end cappuccino makers may even allow you to make as much as a dozen cups of coffee per brewing.
The toughest part of making coffee is cleaning the machine after use. This is why it may be worth looking into cappuccino machines that can self-clean. Such type of equipment only requires you to pour a small amount of a cleaning solution directly into the machine to get rid of stuck gunk in it. This is only required to be done a few times a year. Another convenient feature is a milk frother with self-cleaning component, which eliminates the difficulty in maintaining the unit.
5. Milk Frother
To further enhance your overall experience in preparing the best cappuccino, why not look for a unit that comes with a milk frother? This means that the machine can automatically froth your milk, then this will be added to your brewed coffee.A steam wand and a separate cup is also found in other units, and these allow you to froth the milk manually. Thus, an automatic milk frother should be a convenient feature, along with a self-cleaning function. Just remember, however, that these add-on features will hike up the price of the unit.
6. Automatic Grinders
The perfect cappuccino can be achieved with the finest coffee grounds, in addition to the water pressure and temperature, or the frothed milk added to it. So, it may be worth looking into some units with automatic grinders and quality tampers. Your only task would be to pour in the right amount of coffee beans, then push a few buttons to get the whole process started. The rest is up to the machine to do the grinding, the packing of the beans, and the brewing.
This may be one of the last things you want to look into when buying a cappuccino maker unless aesthetics is very important to you. There are units that come in black, stainless steel, or red color. If you want to achieve a sleek look in your kitchen, then the aesthetics may be an essential deciding factor for you.
Naturally, your budget can impact your choice of a cappuccino machine. As we all know, the more complex and advanced the features are, the higher the price of the unit. You need to think about the price you are willing to pay, your preferred features, and how often you plan on making coffee. In the end, though, it is certainly much more practical to buy your very own cappuccino maker than to regularly purchase your beverage at a coffee shop. But just be careful about choosing the unit and its features to make sure your desired budget is met.
For instance, if you think that you will be making cappuccino several times a day or in a week, a more expensive unit may be worth it since it will not just be stored in the kitchen cabinet. On the other hand, there is no point in buying a pricey machine if your goal is to make cappuccino on special occasions only. Cheaper models would suffice in this case.
Other Things to Consider
Some cappuccino makers come with solenoid valves, and this feature is found in higher end models. These valves are responsible for controlling the pressurized water, so you will be able to brew and pull shots of the espresso. This is common with commercial machines, as this adds to the ease of use of the unit. Then, there are additional features that enhance the entire coffee-making process such as the time display, adjustable size of the beverage, automatic timer, and the carafe or cup warming plate. These all allow you to make the best cappuccino that you have always wanted.
Final Word on Buying a Cappuccino Machine
Before you head out to the store and purchase a cappuccino maker, make it a point to conduct extensive research. The price tag may vary by extensive margins, so you will need to look carefully into the features you prefer. Self-cleaning components and solenoid valves typically increase the price of the unit, and it does not make sense to get a machine with these features if you do not intend to use it regularly. Find out the features that matter most to you, and this should help you determine whether or not the cappuccino maker in question is the right option for your needs.
Keep in mind that freshly and finely ground coffee beans have a massive impact on the taste and overall quality of the cappuccino you make. So, it is certainly worth choosing a unit with a premium coffee grinder that can ensure the perfect outcome of every cup you make. Never compromise the quality by zeroing in only on the price tag since you may only end up regretting your purchase if your standards are not met.
With all these things in mind, conduct a thorough comparison of the different options available in the market. Take a look at the features they offer, the benefits and drawbacks, and your budget. By taking into account these basic aspects, you should be able to find the best cappuccino machine you have always wanted. Here are some of the best cappuccino machines on the market today.
De’Longhi EC155 15 Bar Pump Cappuccino Maker-OUR TOP PICK!!
This coffee maker from DeLonghi is currently the #1 Best Seller on Amazon. The pump espresso and cappuccino maker uses high-quality stainless steel boiler and 15 bar pump pressure, which will have you enjoying your coffee for years to come. It comes with two separate thermostats built-in which allow for water and steam pressure to be controlled separately.
The swivel jet frother lets you prepare a perfect cappuccino every time. It features self-priming operation, which allows you to eliminate annoying start-up preparation. The price of this machine is surprisingly inexpensive so it’s a bargain compared to most similar products out there.
- You don’t have to worry about the annoying start-up preparation. The device features the self-priming operation to have your coffee prepared instantly
- Two separate thermostats featured in the machine allow water and steam pressure to be controlled separately
- The stainless steel boiler used in this machine is high-quality, which assures durability and reliability of the product
- The instruction manual included in the packaging is easy to follow, and you can also watch the video from the Amazon listing’s image section
- The dual function filter holder allows you to use ground coffee as normal and convenient coffee pods for faster preparation of your cappuccino
- The machine is easy to clean with its removable 35-ounce water tank with indicator light and a removable drip tray
- There is very little room between the area where the cup sits and the output nozzle
- The built-in tamper fails to match the quality of the machine as a whole. You will require a substitute
The EC155 from DeLonghi is a magnificent cappuccino maker. The machine is easy to use, pours out amazing coffee and the material used for its construction is of high quality, so you can be assured that you’ll be drinking coffee from this cappuccino maker for a long time. The fact that it stands tall as the #1 Best Seller on Amazon is saying something.
Krups XP1000 Steam Espresso Machine with Frothing Nozzle for Cappuccino
Krups has always been known for its top-notch coffee makers and this one stands up to the reputation. The machine is easy to operate; it features a 3-way switch knob and the steam wand lets you froth milk easily so that you can jazz things up into something like a latte or a cappuccino. This unit is quiet and compact and looks pretty good too. The machine is pretty simple and straightforward and is marked at a reasonable price of about $100.
- The unit is easy to operate. It heats water quickly and produces a nice strong, smooth brew
- Coffee makers aren’t really quiet, but this one works fairly quietly and has a nice look to it, too
- Maintenance is hassle free and cleaning is also an easy task. It comes with removable drip tray grid
- You can froth your milk within seconds, and use it to make a delicious cappuccinos in no time
- The milk frother isn’t positioned that well. The frother is placed bit too close to the side of the unit, and the tighter fit might not be convenient for everyone
- There have been complaints about the faulty products being shipped and the steamer not being of a quality material. However, the good news is that the Krups’ customer service is rated very highly. Make sure you contact them if the problem arises with your product
The XP1000 is a fine coffee maker popular for its simplicity, good looks and quietness. It’s got all the features to brew a perfect espresso and all the drinks based around it. It comes with a 2 years of world-wide warranty from the company. Krups have always been popular for their remarkable service and they do not disappoint with this product either. It’s fantastic value for money.
Keurig Rivo Cappuccino and Latte System
This cappuccino maker from Keurig is among the most highly-rated products on the market. It’s equipped with plenty of features to make you addicted to coffee. It comes with automatic on/off function and an energy saving mode and is capable of 15 bars of pressure. The company claims the unit to be capable of brewing under 1 minute.
The device is well-engineered, and allows you to brew espresso on one side and froth milk on the other side. Also, you get two espresso size options: Short (1.4 oz.) and Lungo (2.8 oz.) It’s a little more expensive than the other two products mentioned on the list for around $170 at present.
- This unit differs from the rest because of its automatic on/off function and the energy saving mode
- This machine features a good frother and the convenient design allows you to brew espresso and froth milk at the same time.
- You can also choose between the three frothing modes: Cappuccino, Latte, and Cold Froth
- You can only brew a certain amount of milk at a time, as it will overflow if you fill the milk to the maximum
- The plastic cup seems to be cheaply-made and there have been complaints about stress cracks
The Keurig Rivo Cappuccino maker is definitely a device to consider if you have been looking for a quality cappuccino maker. It has easy-to-use features and has been engineered well. Granted, it’s slightly more expensive than the aforementioned products, but does not fall short in terms of quality by any means. It’s a product worth having in every household, which is bound to save you a lot of money in due time.
Comparing the products, all of them seem to be equipped with similar features and only differ in terms of design and their price tags.
After carefully weighing the pros and cons of each one of the items, we have reached the decision that the DeLonghi ECC 155 is certainly the best cappuccino maker. It’s been equipped with a high-quality stainless steel boiler and features two separate thermostats, making it unique. You don’t have to worry about the annoying start-up preparation with the self-priming operation. It’s a fantastic value for money, too.