Barista coffee machine alternatives


Why you don’t need to spend hundreds of pounds on an expensive coffee machine.

Yes, we all enjoy the thought of being a barista in our own home. Popping the beans in the grinder, slamming home the tamper, wiping down the frother wand and bathing in the hiss and steam of the machine as it rattles through the process of making a frothy cappuccino. And this vision of barista Nirvana can be yours for just a few hundred quid.

Or you could spend less than £60 and get more or the less the same great tasting, very frothy coffee. Sounds too good to be true? Not at all. All you need is:

  • French Press.
  • Handheld milk frother.
  • Coffee grinder.
  • Milk frothing jug with thermometer.

With these few inexpensive little appliances, you can create a frothy coffee just the same as the one you would get from an expensive barista machine. You just have several appliances instead of one.

Now, I realise this isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Or indeed frothy coffee.

And yes, there is a lot of faffing around. But, if you’re on a budget, just don’t want to pay out big bucks for something you may not use very often, or you have a righteous sense of thrift our poor man’s frothy coffee solution should be right up your street.

Must read article: What is the difference between a coffee machine and a milk frother?

Of course, you won’t get that authentic barista experience. But you will be able to make foamy cappuccino, latte and any other frothy coffee in the comfort of your own kitchen. All while having that smug sense of satisfaction that comes from knowing you’ve saved a bundle of cash.

It’s true. You could spend hundreds of pounds on this:

Barista holding pitcher full of milk frothing in the cappuccinatore of coffee machine

And get this.

Cup of cappuccino coffee on wooden table

Or spend less than £60 on this:

barista coffee machine alternatives appliances

And get this

Cup of cappuccino coffee on wooden table

Ok, I’m sort of convinced. Tell me more.


How to make frothy coffee using our barista coffee machine alternatives

In essence it’s very simple. You make an espresso and add frothy milk to it. That’s it in a nutshell. Why make espresso? The shot of espresso is the base of many of your frothy coffees. Cappuccino, cafe latte, flat white etc all use a shot or two of espresso as the base.

You can use strong Italian blend filter coffee instead of espresso shots but won’t get the same kick. So, espresso it is with warm (or sometimes cold) foam added to it.

Must read article: Barista style coffee machines under £200

Right – now that’s cleared up where do we begin?

OK – bear with me. This may seem a complicated process but it really isn’t. It’s just a matter of getting everything in the right order. With this in mind I’ve broken the whole thing down into a series of easy-to-follow steps.

1 – Grind your beans. For espresso you need a fine grind. One thing to remember here is to use good quality beans. The better the bean the better the coffee.

2 – Make your espresso in the French Press. If you’re not sure of the process we’ve laid it all out in this article. Don’t forget to come back if you head off to that page now.

3 – Warm your milk in the microwave to around 60 degrees. This may take a bit of trial and error before you find how long your particular microwave takes to warm the milk. Remember to use the thermometer to make sure the milk doesn’t get too hot. If the milk boils or scalds it will be bitter and won’t froth.

4 – Froth your warm milk for around 30 seconds using the handheld frother. If you’re not sure how to do this check out the video below.

5 – Pour the prepared coffee into your cup and top with the frothed milk.

And that’s it. Not that difficult really, is it?

Nah – that’s not for me

What? Really? OK – I hear you.

Must read article: 7 tips on how to use a moka pot

There is undoubtedly a lot of messing around with different appliances using my method. But all you’re doing is mimicking the process you’d go through with your barista machine. But I respect your point of view. But, just to clarify, and putting my neutral hat on, here are the pros and cons of using our barista alternatives


  • Inexpensive.
  • Less to go wrong. If one of the component units breaks you just have to replace it. If a part of the barista machine breaks you have to return the whole thing.
  • It’s got a touch of the mad scientist about it. Which appeals to me. Though possibly not to you.
  • Did I mention it’s a cheap alternative?


  • You don’t have the convenience of using just one appliance.
  • It’s not as much fun as having a cool barista machine.
  • You’ll never get a job at Starbucks making coffee this way.

Still not convinced? Let me remove some of the faff

I do agree there’s a lot of faffing around using all those different components. So, let’s shorten the list a little. But we will be raising the cost.

Must read article: Drip coffee machines vs espresso machines

Barista coffee machine alternatives – plan b

With our alternative, alternative you only need:

  • French Press.
  • Coffee grinder.
  • Automatic milk frother.

We’ve raised the cost to around £70 but cut out a lot of the faff. Making frothy coffee this way is so easy to do.

1 – Grind your coffee beans.
2 – Do your thing with the French Press.
3 – Pour milk into the frother and Press the button for warm foam.
4 – Pour the prepared coffee into a cup.
5 – Add frothed milk to the coffee.

Actually, thinking about it this is probably the easiest way. But I’ll stick to my thrifty roots and still say, through gritted teeth, I prefer our original and cheaper method.

Anyhoo…. If you do want to try our barista coffee machine alternatives here’s our recommended shopping lists. You can get them all in one place at Amazon and, if you have Prime, they’ll all be delivered to your door free of charge and usually within 24 hours of ordering.

If you don’t have Prime yet it’s well worth getting. Free next day deliveries, free movies, sports and boxed sets. You also get free music and even eBooks. What’s not to like? You can sign up to Prime using this link.

But, back to the shopping lists:

Plan A

Plan B

You may also be interested in:  Buyers Guide    Frother Reviews    Veletiser Review    Milk Boss

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