Whole Latte Love Blog

The Complete Guide to Milk Based Coffee Drinks

by Jahasia Cooper Updated: March 11, 2020 33 min read

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How to Make Common Milk Coffee Drinks

Many coffee lovers look forward to picking up their iced mocha latte or caramel cappuccino on their way to work to help them get through the day. But if you’re not well-versed in all of the details about coffee and espresso drinks and find yourself ordering the most basic drink on the menu at your local coffee chain without giving it a second thought, let this be a quick reference guide for the most common milk-based beverages, the differences between each one and how you can even make them in the comfort of your own home.

The Complete Guide to Coffee and Espresso

The Complete Guide to Coffee and Espresso

This guide covers everything you need to know about brewing the best coffee and espresso at home along with our recommendations on which espresso machines to buy.
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The difference between most milk drinks depends on the espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam ratio. Getting the right consistency of steamed milk and milk foam and pulling a great shot of espresso could be the difference between you creating a latte or a cappuccino, let’s get into more details about each drink.

Coffee 101: Coffee for Beginners

Coffee 101: Coffee for Beginners

New to the coffee and espresso world? Here’s your coffee guide on how to get into coffee and espresso for beginners.
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Cappuccino

A cappuccino is undoubtedly one of the most recognized coffee drinks around the world. The drink consists of a double shot of espresso and with equal parts steamed milk and milk foam. The result will be stronger than most milk-based beverages because there’s less steamed milk diluting the espresso.

Cappuccino or Latte: What is the Difference?

Cappuccino or Latte: What is the Difference?

Is your cafe doing it right? Join Whole Latte Love's "Espresso Professor" Mark Jackson as he shows you the difference between a cappuccino and a latte. Learn how to steam and froth milk like a pro with the Espro Pitcher and the Expobar Brewtus IV.
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Macchiato

A macchiato, also known as a ‘stained’ or ‘marked’ espresso beverage, is quite literally a shot of espresso marked with a dollop of milk. It’s important to note that the traditional Italian macchiato uses much less milk than the North American macchiato. Italian macchiatos often mark the beverage with milk foam while North American macchiatos will use an ounce or two of milk in the macchiato. Experiment with different ratios of milk to find the sweet spot of this delicious espresso beverage.

How to Make a Macchiato

How to Make a Macchiato

What is macchiato? Find out how to prepare both styles of this popular milk beverage.
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Flat White

A flat white is made similarly to a latte with the same ingredients of espresso and steamed milk, but with different ratios. The result will taste much stronger than your normal latte because the espresso will be more concentrated and less diluted by the milk and milk foam.

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Flat White Espresso Drink

Some call it a wet cappuccino... Others call it a short latte... It's a down under creation from the 1980's. Maybe from Australia, or is it New Zealand?
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Latte

A latte contains only 2oz of espresso but 10oz of steamed milk. The high volume of milk and the large size of the drink make them a popular target for special flavors, though the natural sweetness of steamed milk is enough for most people.

Broccoli Brew - A Fun Way to Increase Your Veggie Intake À La Latte

Broccoli Brew - A Fun Way to Increase Your Veggie Intake À La Latte

We should have seen this coming. Sooner or later the coffee and fitness & health communities would meet and create a new fad to hit the coffee and espresso scene. Who knew we could enjoy a latte with a healthy serving of...broccoli?
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Mocha

A delicious milk beverage most notable for its chocolaty taste, a mocha consists of espresso, and equal parts chocolate sauce, steamed milk, and milk foam, in that order.

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Mocha Slippers Cookie Recipe

These delicious cookies combine the buttery goodness of shortbread with the silken luxury of coffee-infused chocolate for taste. With 7 steps, you'll be on your way to indulging in Mocha Slippers cookies in no time.
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Coffee Creamer, Flavors and How Much You Need

Coffee creamers have become a popular staple in many people’s morning Joe. Many creamers don’t contain dairy which is a great option for people who are looking to add sweetness to their bold coffee without lactose. Creamer has also become really popular because of the wide variety of flavors that many brands offer including hazelnut, mocha, caramel, and french vanilla, and even holiday-themed flavors including peppermint and marshmallow.

How much you’ll want to add to your morning coffee is really up to you. However, one tip that we suggest trying is to add a little creamer at a time while tasting in between. You want to avoid adding too much at once because this will not only make the coffee really light and you might not be able to taste much of your coffee because of the flavor, but if it turns out that you don’t like that much creamer, then, unfortunately, that’s one good cup of coffee down the drain. Trust us, we’ve all been there.

4 Ways To Change Up Your Espresso Routine This Fall

4 Ways To Change Up Your Espresso Routine This Fall

Fall is undoubtedly my favorite season of the year, the leaves are changing, the weather is perfect and I get to delve into all of the yummy seasonal drinks that my favorite cafes have to offer.
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Different Types of Milk for Milk-Based Espresso Drinks

Whole milk is a staple when creating milk-based espresso drinks for getting that perfect consistency for latte art or to add to your cappuccino. But if you don’t drink whole milk or have been thinking about using other milk alternatives, we conducted a small experiment grading 10 different kinds of milk to see how they perform and taste in milk-based drinks, here’s what we found.

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Whole Milk

Whole milk scored a 5 out of 5 in all categories for steaming/frothing quality, pouring into the espresso and overall taste. Whole milk is the most popular option when making milk drinks so we weren’t really surprised about the overall result. It created the perfect consistency for latte art and foam for cappuccinos while maintaining its natural sweetness and not overwhelming or masking the taste of the espresso.

2% Milk

2% milk resulted in a watery and flavorless latte for lack of better words. It scored a 5 for steaming/frothing quality, and a 4 for pouring quality and taste. The milk cut right through espresso but separated almost instantly. While it did well initially, we wouldn’t suggest 2% milk if you want your drink to be packed with delicious flavors, natural sweetness, and to really hold your drink together.

Lactaid (Whole)

Infographic showing high grades for Lactaid milk for frothing coffee milk drinks

Lactose really surprised the Whole Latte Love team with how well it performed and tasted. It scored a 5 for steam/froth quality and taste and a 4 for pouring quality. We initially thought that the results of using Lactaid would result in a lackluster latte, but the lactose-free milk maintained it’s sweetness, it cut through the espresso beautifully while holding the beverage together and created a beautiful latte.

So, if you’re looking for an alternative to whole milk, then Lactaid would be a great option to keep all of the fats and natural sugars that you would normally use with whole milk without the lactose.

Oat Milk

Oat milk was a bit of a letdown. Some Whole Latte Love team members had high hopes but in the end, we were left with milk that steamed and frothed well, scored a 5, but tasted flavorless, scored a 2. While the oat milk had a similar consistency to the Lactaid and whole milk, the actual flavor had a strong nutty taste that overwhelmed the taste of the espresso and just didn’t mix well.

Cashew Milk

Cashew milk was another alternative where the overwhelming taste didn’t create a great result. It scored a 4 for steaming/frothing quality, a 2 for pouring and a sad 1 for taste. The cashew milk left a not so good aftertaste and was extremely thin which didn’t leave much hope for creating latte art. Overall, we’d say cashew milk is delicious, but not so much when paired with espresso.

Almond Milk

Infographic showing average grades for almond milk for frothing milk coffee drinks

Most people reach for almond milk when seeking out other milk alternatives, so we were excited to give almond milk a shot and see how it stacked up to the other milk. Unfortunately, the almond milk didn’t do extremely well nor did it wow any of our in-house baristas, it frothed okay, scoring a 3, poured okay, scoring a 2, and tasted, you guessed it, okay, which scored a 3. The almond flavor consumed the taste of the espresso and although it wasn’t as thin as the oat milk or cashew milk and didn’t separate instantly, it still didn’t wow us.

Soy Milk

Like almond milk, soy milk is another popular alternative and many cafes but for us, it didn’t sweep us off of our feet. It scored a 3 for steaming, frothing and tasting, and a 1 for pouring quality. We found that it took quite a while to froth for latte consistency and the taste was quite bland. However, we did give the soy milk the benefit of the doubt; there are some brands like Silk that offer sweeter soy milk that might add more flavor to your latte, but we’ll leave that up to you guys to experiment with for now. Also, keep a look out for any soy milk brands that have "barista series" versions available. These tend to offer much better milk froth.

Macadamia Nut Milk

Macadamia pretty much saved this test. We weren’t expecting it to hold up so well but little did we know this milk made it to our top 3 winners. It scored a 3 for steaming, frothing and pouring quality and a 5 for taste. Sure, it didn’t pass the first two categories with flying colors but we couldn’t get over how well it held together with the latte and how the natural sweetness blended so well with the espresso.

Coconut Milk

Infographic showing low grades for frothing coconut milk

Coconut milk just didn’t cut it. It was watery, didn’t add much flavor, and scored the lowest out of all the types of milk; a 2 for steaming and frothing quality, a 1 for pouring quality and a 1 for taste. It was a bit of a downer, but because the milk was so thin we should have expected the resulting latte to not be the best quality.

Goat Milk

We tried out goat milk just for fun, and oh boy did we make a big mistake. Although it scored a 4 for steaming, frothing, and pouring quality we couldn’t get over the strong smell, taste and look of the actual milk in the latte, so we gave it a 1. One of our taste testers suggested that we try it, and to be honest, that’s the last time we’ll attempt using goat milk in a latte.

Overall, our top choices for creating the best quality latte were Whole, 2%, Lactaid and Macadamia Nut milk. So, if you’re searching for the best options whether you’re a home barista or own a cafe, we suggest going with these options.

Machines That Produce Exceptional Milk-Based Coffee Drinks

If you really love having a latte, cappuccino, flat white, cortado or any other milk-based beverage multiple times a day, then you’ll be happy to know that we have a huge selection of machines that are known for their ability to produce café-quality milk-based drinks, whether you’re looking for a prosumer, semi-automatic or super-automatic.

Prosumer Espresso Machines

Dalla Corte Mina in stark contrast against a light gray backdrop

Prosumers are machines for perfectionists. Odds are, if you’re eyeing a prosumer machine, you’ve worked your way up the ranks and have made your fair share of mistakes when it comes to brewing and steaming beverages. You’re ready to take things to the next level and invest in a machine that gives you the capability to pull barista-style shots in your own kitchen and froth smooth and velvety milk foam for cappuccinos and lattes.

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Top 5 Prosumer Espresso Machines

Marc and Morgan from wholelattelove.com reveal their top five picks in the prosumer semi-automatic espresso machine category. Their picks include heat-exchange and dual boiler machines ranging from great values to those of extreme quality.
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Here are some of our favorite prosumers that’ll give you the best results when crafting milk coffee.

Dalla Corte Mina

The Dalla Corte Mina is well praised at Whole Latte Love, we even have one sitting in our kitchen for the staff to enjoy making their morning joe because that’s how much we love this machine. The manual flow control lever, the Mina app, the milk control system and it’s precision performance are all features that stand out on the Mina and make the brewing and steaming experience top of the line.

The Mina provides an unprecedented capability to take control of your morning coffee with a wealth of programmable options and manual functions. If you want a drip-style coffee, utilize the Mina’s manual flow control lever to control the flow rate of water through your coffee, if you don’t have much time on your hands to froth milk manually, take advantage of the second steam wand that froths milk automatically with the push of a button.

There’s so much to love about the Mina and it’s really a machine for those looking for the best prosumer that gets the job done with ultimate control over the process.

Dalla Corte Mina Espresso Machine (110v)

Dalla Corte Mina Espresso Machine (110v)

1 Reviews
The Dalla Corte Mina is a commercial dual boiler espresso machine with an acute focus on repeatable, consistent results. A manual lever offers control over flow rate, offering the ability to create fundamentally different extraction profiles based on your tastes. The Mina App opens the door to automatic brewing with flow control and a wealth of adjustable features.

Rocket Espresso R58 - Walnut Accents

The Rocket Espresso R58 is a great machine on its own with dual PID temperature controllers, a commercial rotary pump, a reimagined E61 brew group and the option to connect to your waterline. What stands out even more on this prosumer is the walnut wood accents, which really brings this machine to life.

The balance between a natural touch and stainless steel housing with a mirror finish can bring warmth into any kitchen space. The R58 is a great machine for making milk coffee: with a direct water line connection you can brew and steam throughout the day without having to refill the water reservoir, and with dual PID temperature controllers you have the ability to regulate the temperature of your steam boiler to ensure you’re getting the right temperature for your morning cappuccino.

Rocket Espresso R58 Espresso Machine - Walnut Accents

Rocket Espresso R58 Espresso Machine - Walnut Accents

19 Reviews
The Rocket Espresso R58 with wood accents features dual boilers, each regulated by a PID temperature controller for consistent brewing. Its rotary pump is near-silent and lets you plumb the machine directly into a water line for even easier operation.

ECM Synchronika Dual Boiler Espresso Machine with Flow Control

The ECM Synchronika with Flow Control represents the pinnacle of non-commercial prosumer espresso machines. With steam performance that punches upwards toward machines like the La Marzocco GS3, dual PID stability, and manual flow control, it is an incredible value.

Flow control is the ability to control the flow of water to your puck of coffee during extraction. With this technology, the Synchronika is capable of long, low pressure pre-infusion and is capable of teasing more nuance and flavor from your favorite coffees. The Synchronika also features an updated PID and safety valve for higher steam pressure. Each machine ships with an ECM tamper, single and double shot portafilters and baskets, and a backflush disc.

ECM Synchronika Espresso Machine With Flow Control

ECM Synchronika Espresso Machine With Flow Control

158 Reviews
The ECM Synchronika with Flow Control is a powerful upgrade over an already adept dual-boiler machine. Impeccable build quality is complemented by Flow Control, giving you further access to the nuances hidden in your coffee.

Profitec Pro 500 PID Espresso Machine

The Profitec Pro 500 PID is a heat exchanger espresso machine equipped with a PID temperature controller. The inclusion of a PID allows that machine to maintain stable brewing temperatures while still retaining a supply of steam to froth milk on demand.

Including a PID on a heat exchanger machine might have defied conventional wisdom in the past, but it has since become the new standard. The PID and thermosiphon system of the Pro 500 PID eliminate the need to perform a cooling flush to keep brew water from overheating. Quality of life features like Profitec’s impeccable German engineering and wear free valves guarantee years of consistent brewing performance from the Pro 500 PID.

Profitec Pro 500 PID Espresso Machine

Profitec Pro 500 PID Espresso Machine

121 Reviews
The Profitec Pro 500 PID is a highly capable heat exchanger espresso machine, packed with commercial parts, a quiet vibration pump, and equipped to compete with more expensive machines. The PID is a stand-out feature that puts this heat exchanger espresso machine a cut above the rest.

Bezzera BZ10 Espresso Machine

The Bezzera BZ10 is a heat exchange machine made for milk drink lovers who appreciate quick heat-up times and need a machine that doesn’t take up a ton of counter space. This is a small espresso machine with a lot to offer including an electronically heated BZ group head, a heat-exchange boiler, a toggle steam, and a hot water wand, and it’s manufactured, designed and assembled in-house, for a personal touch. The steam wand toggles on for powerful steaming, which is a great feature for steaming and frothing milk coffee drinks.

Bezzera BZ10 Espresso Machine

Bezzera BZ10 Espresso Machine

12 Reviews
The Bezzera BZ10 is a heat exchange machine with a specially designed group that heats up in a short ten minutes. It’s super compact and perfect for those who want to break into prosumers without breaking the bank or taking over the kitchen.

Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines

Portafilter locked into a Bezzera New Hobby espresso machine against an all wood backdrop

Semi-automatics are great machines for espresso lovers who want the best of both worlds and are working to improve their home barista skills. Semi-automatics are undoubtedly the most popular here at Whole Latte Love for our wide range of machines available for baristas at any skill level. With that said, here are just 5 of some of our favorite semi-automatics ranging from entry-level friendly to pro-barista level.

How to Operate Semi-Automatic Machines

How to Operate Semi-Automatic Machines

Learn about the features and nuances that define brewing on a semi-automatic espresso machine.
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Gaggia Classic Pro

The Gaggia Classic Pro is named the best entry-level machine time and time again and for a great reason. Not too long after it’s release in 2019, we reviewed the Classic Pro and loved all of the upgrades from its predecessor, the Classic. It features updated rocker switches, improved pump mounts, a 3-way solenoid valve, an updated frame, and a commercial steam wand. This is an awesome home espresso machine for espresso drinkers looking to dab their toes in brewing and steaming their own drinks ranging from ristrettos to flat whites.

One feature that many users love is that it’s a machine that can grow with you: it features many accessories that allow users to upgrade their machine without purchasing a brand new one. So if you’ve passed being an entry-level barista, new accessories can give your machine an updated performance and feel even at the intermediate and pro-barista level.

A Review of the Gaggia Classic Pro

A Review of the Gaggia Classic Pro

The Gaggia Classic Pro is one of the best espresso machines for entry-level home baristas. Here's our take on this Italian-made, semi-automatic espresso machine.
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Bezzera New Hobby

Bezzera’s New Hobby is notable around Whole Latte Love for having incredible steaming power. This means if you’re reading this list, looking for a machine that gets down to business when frothing milk for lattes and cappuccinos, you’re looking at the right one. The New Hobby is equipped with an 8.4 fl. oz boiler that bursts with incredible steam power.

Not only that, this single boiler machine sports a 3-liter water reservoir compared to many other machines in its class that offer a 2-liter reservoir. You can brew and steam away without having to refill the reservoir every so often. Click here for a full review of the Hobby.

Bezzera New Hobby Espresso Machine

Bezzera New Hobby Espresso Machine

7 Reviews
The Bezzera New Hobby is a compact semi-automatic espresso machine equipped with impressive steam power, a 3-way solenoid valve, and an impressive 3-liter water reservoir.

Rancilio Silvia M

The Rancilio Silvia M has a long history of offering home users the best experience brewing and espresso and milk drinks with its quality commercial parts. With an iron frame and stainless steel housing, the Silvia M is all about durability and delivery of great espresso. The 12-ounce boiler offers steaming power unseen on other machines in its class, giving users the ability to froth milk with ease.

The Silvia M is designed like Rancilio’s commercial espresso machines with a 58mm commercial portafilter, the same switches as Rancilio’s S20 series commercial units and a heavy-duty chrome-plated brass filter holder to keep temperatures stable. With the Rancilio Silvia M you can expect to invest in a machine that’s given the same durability, quality, and attention as Rancilio’s high-end commercial machines.

Rancilio Silvia M Espresso Machine

Rancilio Silvia M Espresso Machine

353 Reviews
Updated for 2020 the Rancilio Silvia M, features an updated black brew group cover, stainless steel steam wand, and includes a 58mm wood handle tamper.

Profitec Pro 300

The Profitec Pro 300 is a classic machine in Profitec’s Pro line. Early users loved the with the dual boilers that allow them to brew and steam with no wait time and still appreciate other features including the PID controller, the internal plumbing and the top-quality German engineering.

The Pro 300 is a durable machine that’s made to last through all of your brewing and steaming needs, whether you’re hosting a small dinner for a couple of friends or making a milk beverage for a slow Sunday. Being able to control the temperatures of the boilers gives you the power to control the result of your end result, and we all enjoy a nice, hot cup of coffee.

Profitec Pro 300 Dual Boiler Espresso Machine

Profitec Pro 300 Dual Boiler Espresso Machine

28 Reviews
Profitec presents the Pro 300, a powerful dual boiler espresso machine boasting a level of performance that outpaces its impressively low price-point.

ECM Classika PID

ECM’s Classika PID is a handmade, high-end and compact machine that has the option to upgrade with Whole Latte Love’s flow control device. This will allow you to control the flow rate of water through your coffee and customize the end result whether you’re looking to tone down the acidity of your very fresh coffee or if you’re going for a more drip-style coffee. The Classika PID can fit into almost any kitchen space, so that gives you room to utilize the fully articulated steam wand when making milk coffee drinks.

ECM Classika PID Espresso Machine

ECM Classika PID Espresso Machine

60 Reviews
The ECM Classika PID packs cafe performance and high-end features expected of much more expensive machines into a compact frame, providing unmatched quality among machines of similar size.

Super-Automatic Espresso Machines

JURA GIGA 5 on Kitchen Set

Super-automatics are all about convenience. You’d rather press and button and head out the door with your latte. We get it, it’s easy and owning a super-automatic doesn’t require a hefty learning curve like other machines. But, that doesn’t mean you have to cop out on a machine that doesn’t make quality milk beverages. We have more than enough machines here that fight for that top spot when it comes to the best milk beverages. Here are some of our favorite super-automatics that you should consider getting if you love lattes and cappuccinos.

Best Automatic Espresso Machines

Best Automatic Espresso Machines

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JURA GIGA 6

The JURA GIGA 6 is a luxury dual boiler espresso machine and offers everything a super-auto lover could want including two hoppers, two grinders, two thermoblocks and plenty of programmable and customizable settings to play with. This machine is perfect for an office full of coffee and espresso drinkers who look forward to whipping up an espresso or milk-based drink to start off the workday.

What’s great about this machine is if it’s a busy morning at the office, the GIGA 6 can make two milk-based beverages at once, so if you an a coworker want a cappuccino, neither of you have to wait, you can press a button and the GIGA 6 will take care of everything for you. This super-automatic machine delivers luxury at your fingertips, and with the J.O.E. app, you can access everything you need to operate the machine, customize settings and more.

JURA GIGA 6 Espresso Machine

JURA GIGA 6 Espresso Machine

6 Reviews
The JURA GIGA 6 is a luxury dual boiler super-automatic espresso machine that brings the cafe to the home or office. Equipped with two thermoblocks, two grinders, two hoppers, and a wealth of adjustable settings, you can expect full control over it's 28 specialties.

Gaggia Brera

The Gaggia Brera is one of our most popular super-automatics. It’s a machine that many entry-level users love to start their espresso journey with while still offering programmable settings that are simple to operate. With Gaggia’s notable pannarello wand, home baristas have a foolproof way to automatically froth milk for lattes, cappuccinos and more, so there’s absolutely no skill required, anyone can use the Brera and make incredible espresso and milk-based beverages.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Brera is the least expensive super-automatic machine that we offer at Whole Latte Love, so if you’re on a budget, you can be sure that you’re still getting a great quality machine that over 200+ of our customers have fallen in love with.

Gaggia Brera Espresso Machine in Black

Gaggia Brera Espresso Machine in Black

306 Reviews
The Gaggia Brera is a super-automatic machine designed for incredible value and convenience. It grinds, tamps, and brews in one-touch, and frothing is made easy by Gaggia’s patented pannarello wand, which automatically aerates the milk for cappuccinos and lattes.

JURA S8

If you love the GIGA 6 but are looking for a machine that is geared more for personal use, then the JURA S8 is a great option. It sits with the rest of JURA’s super-premium to premium line of machines and offers users a full range of espresso and milk beverages, 15 to be exact. For milk coffee drinks, the S8 gives you the option to customize milk foam, a portion of milk and even milk temperature.

The S8 is convenience at its finest for the home barista. No need to leave the comfort of your home to stand in line at a coffee shop, when you have your very own at home, that can brew your favorite drinks, just how you like it and more.

Jura S8 Review

Jura S8 Review

JURA coffee machines are known for being some of the most modern bean-to-cup machines on the market. In this review, we cover every detail about JURA's S8 machine.
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Gaggia Naviglio Milk

The Gaggia Naviglio Milk is the newest addition to our collection of home espresso machines and the hottest thing about it? The one-touch cappuccino function. The Naviglio can produce fine and silky milk suitable for creating barista-style cappuccinos at the touch of a button and programmable strength and volume so you’re really taking control over the results of your espresso without the hassle of grinding, tamping and brewing: for such a great price, the Naviglio Milk can’t be beaten. So if a cappuccino is your jam, we’ve found the perfect match for you.

Gaggia Naviglio Milk One-Touch Cappuccino and Espresso Machine

Gaggia Naviglio Milk One-Touch Cappuccino and Espresso Machine

11 Reviews
The Gaggia Naviglio Milk is an affordable super-automatic espresso machine with a focus on value. For the price, its one-touch cappuccino and espresso can't be beat.

Gaggia Accademia

The Gaggia Accademia will always be on our list of favorite super-automatic machines. The slim and modern design gives an edge to the one-touch machine market, and the integrated milk carafe takes convenience to the next level. No need to worry about milk entering or clogging the machine when using the carafe. It runs through an automatic cleaning cycle and purges after each use, so you can brew any milk drink and go. The only thing you need to do is detach the carafe and store it in the fridge for next time. This is a home espresso machine that everyone from beginners to the most experienced barista can enjoy.

Gaggia Accademia Espresso Machine

Gaggia Accademia Espresso Machine

251 Reviews
The Gaggia Accademia is a super-automatic machine that brews and steams espresso and milk-based drinks at the press of a button. It offers control over the coffee flow and milk frothiness, plus a manual steam wand to ensure every drink is exactly the way you like it.

Looking for accessories for your super-automatic? Check out our blog below!

How to Clean Automatic Espresso Machines

How to Clean Automatic Espresso Machines

Here’s a quick guide on cleaning your espresso machine including tips for cleaning automatic espresso machines and answering your questions about using vinegar!
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Milk Frothing for Beginners

No one is born creating exceptional milk froth for latte art. Learning how to decipher between the perfect consistency for lattes, cappuccinos and other milk drinks take practice, and even the most experienced baristas will tell you that they still don’t always perfect latte art. So, if you’re a beginner, don’t give up after the third try, we’ve got some tips to help you become a milk frothing master in your own kitchen.

Beginner's Guide to Latte Art

Beginner's Guide to Latte Art

AJ takes you step-by-step through frothing and pouring milk for latte art on multiple types of espresso machines.
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In our videos, Five Basic Tips for Frothing Milk and Milk Frothing for Beginners, Marc and Morgan give five valuable tips to make sure you’re frothing milk the right way and making top-quality milk coffee, here’s a quick rundown of our tips.

Tips for Frothing Milk

Steam wand jetting air into a pitcher of rolling milk

1) Start with a 12 oz /350 ml pitcher

A 12-ounce pitcher will give enough volume for lattes. It’s also easy to handle for entry-level machines and baristas. Some of our favorite 12-ounce pitchers include Rattleware and Espro Toroid. The Espro Toroid pitcher is specifically designed to encourage milk rotation to accommodate machines with less steaming power.

2) Start with cold milk and a cold pitcher

Using cold milk and a chilled pitcher gives you more time to effectively inject air into the milk for steaming and frothing. Using cold milk also allows the milk to heat up properly so that it can cut straight through your espresso whether you’re making a latte or a cappuccino.

For example, if you’re using warm milk, the milk will heat more quickly, but that’ll give you less time to get the proper consistency for a cappuccino which requires more milk foam than a latte, so the milk will be much hotter than you’d want for your drink.

3) Purge before and after steaming

Steam wand purging steam into glass measuring cup after frothing milk

Purge your steaming wand beforehand to prevent any condensation and water from getting into your milk. After frothing your milk, immediately wipe down your steam wand with a clean cloth to keep things hygienic and prevent any milk residue from sticking onto the wand and purge again to push out any residual milk from inside the wand.

4) Clean the air intake on auto-frothing wands

All auto-frothing wands like Gaggia’s pannarello wand, for example, have air intake holes. When you’re frothing milk it can clog the intake hole which can greatly reduce the frothing quality and performance of the steam wand. You’ll want to make sure to clean out the intake holes after use to prevent any issues with steaming and frothing moving forward.

5) Proper steam tip position

Overhead view of a frothing pitcher full of milk with the steam wand resting in the spout

Start by filling the pitcher with milk so that it’s just below where spout forms, this will give you about 5-ounces of milk if you’re using a 12 oz pitcher. Be sure not to overfill the pitcher with milk, as you’re steaming the milk will expand and you don’t want hot milk spilling out of the pitcher. When steaming, avoid burying the steam tip too low in the milk, you won’t get enough air in to create milk foam and properly heat the milk, if the steam wand is too high, milk will go everywhere and you’ll make a sticky mess, so the sweet spot is to bury the steam tip just under the surface of your milk.

6) Inject air in early and roll

As we mentioned earlier, cold milk takes in air better so make sure you start quickly after taking it out of the fridge. Ideally, you should be done adding air into your milk before the outside of the pitcher gets warm, from there get the milk rolling. Find a position for the wand to dip right below the surface of the milk that creates rotation in your pitcher, this will help to break up larger bubbles and creates a smooth, uniformed texture.

7) Keep it cool

If you want your milk sweet, creamy and to compliment your milk beverage then don’t get it too hot. For best flavor, we recommend steaming to 140℉ for smaller drinks like cappuccinos and 155℉ for larger lattes. Once you hit 160℉ you’ll start to lose flavor and sweetness and at 165℉ you’ll start to scald the milk.

8) Make sure the machine is up to steam temperature

White Gaggia Classic closeup against an all wooden backdrop

If you’re using a single boiler, make sure the machine heats up to proper temperatures before steaming your milk. A quick tip, however, for getting the machine to steam a bit longer is to start steaming right before the machine indicates that it’s at proper steam temperature. This will cause the heating element to stay on which will generate more steam while frothing. If you wait until the machine indicates it’s at steaming temperature, then the heating element will turn off, and stop steaming while you’re frothing.

How To Froth and Steam for Lattes & Cappuccinos

Overhead view of latte art depicting a frond in a white cappuccino cup and saucer set

Everyone wants to be the star of the show as a home, office or café barista and known as the one who makes the most amazing lattes and cappuccinos. We want you to be the star of the show, so here’s exactly how to froth and steam milk for lattes and cappuccinos whether you’re making it for yourself, family, friends or your customers.

Quick Tip: If you have a very fresh coffee you may want more espresso and less milk to balance out the flavors. If you have a coffee that’s not so great, try reversing the ratio and use more milk.

The first thing to keep in mind is that a standard latte is normally made in an 8-12 oz cup with a double shot of espresso, steamed milk and a little froth on top. Start by injecting a small amount of air in milk until you get to about 140 degrees, if you get much hotter than that you’ll lose the texture and the flavor of the milk which adds a natural sweetness to the latte.

By definition, a standard cappuccino consists of ⅓ espresso, ⅓ steamed milk and ⅓ milk foam made into a 5-7 oz cup. Frothing milk for a cappuccino is almost the same as a latte. The difference is that with the cappuccino is that you inject air into the milk for a longer period of time. The milk temperature will remain the same, around 140 degrees, but when you’re done you’ll have more air in the milk so it will separate a little better and create that nice cap of foam on top that cappuccinos are known for.

For more details about mastering the taste, texture, and presentation of milk-based drinks, check out our video How to Froth and Steam Milk for Latte Art, Cappuccinos, and More.

Milk Frothing Do’s & Don’ts, and Common Mistakes

Even if you’re the most experienced barista, there are still small things that we all forget to keep an eye on when we’re frothing milk. In our video Quick Tip: Six Common Milk Frothing Mistakes, Morgan walks us through things to keep in mind when you’re steaming and frothing so that you can create the best consistency and temperature for any milk beverage.

Top 6 Milk Frothing Mistakes

1) Not purging

Every steam wand has some water in it and you don't want it in your milk, so it’s really important to purge the steam wand. Open the valve and the purge residual water into a drip tray or another container. Keep in mind that after steaming, a bit of milk gets sucked into the wand, so make sure to wipe off the wand and purge.

2) Steam tip too low

Have you ever started steaming your milk and you hear a terribly loud hissing sound? This happens when the steam tip is too low. When this happens, there’s no way to develop a nice rolling current of milk to break up the air and mix it into a creamy microfoam. When you’re not adding air, you want the tip just below the surface of the milk.

3) Steam tip too high

A steam wand that's too high up in the frothing pitcher, causing the milk to bubble

Another common mistake is having the steam tip too high above the milk. You’ll quickly recognize this mistake because you’ll start getting sprayed with milk and it’ll start bubbling over the pitcher. You want the tip to sit just below the surface of the milk. If you’re adding air, bring the tip up just a bit so you’ll hear an occasional rip. Once you've added enough air bring the tip down just below the surface and get the rip rolling.

4) No roll in pitcher

The key to getting great quality milk suitable for milk-based beverages is to properly heat and stretch the milk to break up the bubbles, and to do that you need to get a good roll going. Make sure to keep the pitcher steady to give the milk a chance to roll.

5) Milk too hot

You’ll know you’ve been steaming for too long if you aren’t able to hold your palm comfortably at the bottom of the pitcher. Milk starts to scald at 165℉ so keep it between 140℉ for smaller drinks like cappuccinos and 155℉ for larger drinks like lattes.

Quick tip: Using a thermometer can be super helpful in this process, but keep in mind that there will be some lag, so your milk temperature could still rise as much as 10 degrees than the thermometer indicates.

6) Clogged Air Intake

This tip only applies to auto-frothing and pannarello wands. These wands do the work for you by automatically injecting the right amount of air. Every auto frothing wand has an air intake hole. If it’s obstructed or totally blocked, little or no air gets in, so you'll get little or no froth. So make sure to keep it clean and check the intake hole if you’re having issues.

Auto-Frothing Wands, Manual Steam Wands & Handheld Milk Frothers

Auto-frothing wands, like Gaggia’s pannarello wand, are great for entry-level baristas or baristas who prefer the convenience of a foolproof way to steam and froth milk for lattes, cappuccinos or any other milk-based beverage. Many machines incorporate an auto-frothing wand that injects air through an intake whole to expand the milk and create light and airy milk foam.

Some machines that have an attached auto-frothing wand include the Gaggia Brera, the Breville BES500BSS Bambino Plus, and the Gaggia Anima. Some machines like the Gaggia Brera allow you to remove the outer layer of the wand to access the manual wand for better control of frothing milk or to make latte art.

The Gaggia Latte Art Pannarello Wand

The Gaggia Latte Art Pannarello Wand

Auto-Frothing steam wands make it easy for just about anyone to produce a reasonable froth for a cappuccino or latte. But what if you want to go beyond reasonable and create a froth that’s smoother and creamier?
Read Article 
At Whole Latte Love, we also offer handheld milk frothers if your machine doesn’t have an automatic or manual steam wand. You can find a list of our handheld milk frothers here!

To get you started on the right foot of your journey as a barista, here are our top 10 of our favorite milk frothing accessories! You can find a full list of milk frothing accessories here.

10 Milk Frothing Accessories To Get You Started

10 Milk Frothing Accessories

    Recipes for Desserts & Drinks

    Who doesn’t love a good dessert and a delicious cappuccino after dinner? If you’re hosting for friends and family or if you’ve got some time on your hands to try out some fun recipes, here are a couple of our favorite coffee and espresso drinks and desserts that you can make in your own kitchen!

    Desserts

    Coffee Cream Pie - Our Coffee Cream Pie recipe is pure bliss. A coffee base with a sweet meringue topping never sounded better.

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    Coffee Cream Pie Recipe

    Coffee Cream Pie is an indulgent treat that combines flaky pastry with savory coffee cream for an out of this world dessert.
    Read Article 

    Dark Chocolate Bacon And Coffee Cupcakes - Bacon + Cupcakes = The best dessert that’s ever existed. In our Dark Chocolate Bacon and Coffee Cupcake recipe, we show you how to whip up a sweet and savory dessert that any bacon and coffee lover will fall for.

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    Dark Chocolate Bacon and Coffee Cupcakes Recipe

    If you're looking for the best dark chocolate cupcakes, these dark chocolate bacon and coffee cupcakes are just the thing for your savory and your sweet tooth.
    Read Article 

    Coffee Creme Brulee - You don’t need to travel to France to enjoy this famous French dessert. If you happen to have a blow torch on hand or a professional chef as a friend who can whip up this Coffee Creme Brulee dessert, you’ll be on your way to creating a delicious twist on a classic treat.

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    Coffee Creme Brulee Recipe

    Coffee Creme Brulee is a twist on the traditional flame finished dessert. We've combined the savory flavors of coffee to the burnt caramel of creme brulee.
    Read Article 

    Espresso Fondue - Do you have a fondness for fondue? Our espresso fondue recipe is a great way to treat yourself to a sweet dessert. You can’t go wrong with this super simple, 4-ingredient recipe.

    Espresso Fondue Recipe

    Espresso Fondue Recipe

    This easy espresso fondue recipe will help you get some extra culinary mileage out of your coffee habit. Make delicious coffee drinks and fondue!
    Read Article 

    Coffee Chili - We don’t know where you live in the world. But here in Rochester, NY, all of this snow makes us want to snuggle up with a blanket and a comforting bowl of chili. Two Whole Latte Love staff members created this delicious and irresistible coffee chili for days where you need something savory and comforting.

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    Coffee in Chili Recipe

    Ever wonder what coffee in chili tastes like? Our Coffee Chili recipe will keep you warm in the winter months and delight with the savory flavor of coffee.
    Read Article 

    Marinating Lamb with Coffee - Are you a master chef at the grill? Try marinating your lamb with coffee to really impress your guests!

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    Lamb Chops Marinated in Coffee

    If you're looking for the best lamb marinade, try coffee! This unique recipe is great for preparing savory, tender lamb chops, perfect for grilling.
    Read Article 

    Espresso Chiffon - A chiffon cake is a great way to create a classic dessert that’s super easy to make. Adding a dash of espresso takes this classic treat to the next level.

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    Espresso Chiffon Cake Recipe

    Want to learn how to make a delicious chiffon cake? Give our espresso chiffon cake recipe a try and wow your guests and your taste buds.
    Read Article 

    Drinks

    Vegan-Friendly Recipe: Maple & Macadamia Nut Iced Cappuccino - Our maple and macadamia nut iced cappuccino is a creative take on a delicious drink for all vegans to enjoy. If you have a nut allergy, feel free to swap out the macadamia nut syrup for another delicious flavored syrup, this iced cappuccino is a treat you can’t pass up, vegan or non-vegan.

    Vegan Iced Cappuccino Recipe

    Vegan Iced Cappuccino Recipe

    Who said our vegan and vegetarian coffee-lovers can’t have fun with espresso this summer? Satisfy your sweet tooth with this delicious Maple & Macadamia Nut Iced Cappuccino recipe to keep you cooled off this summer.
    Read Article 

    Chocolate Banana Coffee Smoothie - Who said you can’t be healthy and treat yourself to a coffee on gym days? This two-in-one drink is a healthy smoothie to nourish your body and cure your pre-coffee brain.

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    Coffee Banana Smoothie

    Bananas are a common ingredient for smoothies, but what about coffee? Try this unique recipe and make your own coffee banana smoothie today!
    Read Article 

    Rustic Al Fuego Mexican Cinnamon Latte - Turn up the heat with this Rustic Al Fuego Mexican Cinnamon Latte! It’s a great recipe to make if you’re hosting guests for dinner and really want to show off your home barista skills.

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    Rustic Al Fuego Mexican Cinnamon Latte

    This spicy cinnamon latte took the #5 spot in our 2015 Changing Flavors contest! Brew one this fall and turn up the heat!
    Read Article 

    Eggnog Rum Latte - Not quite ready to let go of the holiday season? Grab eggnog, espresso and your favorite rum to create this smooth Eggnog Rum Latte.

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    Spiked Eggnog Latte Recipe

    If you like eggnog, you have to try this spiked eggnog latte! Flavored with eggnog, rum, and your favorite espresso, take a chance on an eggnog latte.
    Read Article 

    Loving these recipes? There’s a whole lot more where those came from. Check out the recipe section on our blog for more creative and tasty desserts and beverages that you can make at home.

    Jahasia Cooper
    Jahasia Cooper

    Jahasia is the newest Copywriter at Whole Latte Love. She has previous experience working as a Barista and on the management team at a coffee shop and is happy to share everything she knows and loves about the world of coffee and espresso. While she's not writing awesome content for Whole Latte Love, you can find her sipping on her daily cup of joe and daydreaming about becoming an empowered female Gazorpian.