Should I buy an espresso machine or milk frother?


It seemed such a strange question to me when it popped into my inbox. A reader asked; “Should I buy an espresso machine or a milk frother”? Is this a common question I wondered. And yes, a quick search on Google showed other people had the same query. Well, happily, it’s an easy question to answer. You should not buy one rather than the other – you should buy both.

Let me explain.

Why you need an espresso machine AND a milk frother

The question becomes mute if you only drink espresso. Quite frankly if that’s all you drink all day, you’ll be so wired you won’t be able to stand still long enough to even think about a milk frother. You’ll only need an espresso maker to provide your shots.

The converse is true if you choose to only use instant powder rather than brewing your coffee. In this case you’ll only need a milk frother to give a bit of texture to your drink. But honestly, if you only drink instant coffee, you’re probably looking at the wrong website and even more importantly you’re missing out on so such caffeine inspired happiness.

young woman drinking frothy coffee made with vegan barista blend milk

But, to get back on point. The reason you need both an espresso machine AND a milk frother is because with the two of them you can create a huge number of different coffee drinks all of which will be the equal of or better than anything you can buy after standing in line at Starbucks.

Many of the most popular and best-tasting frothy coffees in the world can be made in your own home. The basic process is the same; the volume of the milk and coffee will vary and there may be some additional ingredients, but the steps are the same.

How to make great coffee with an espresso machine and a milk frother

  1. Brew your espresso – in your espresso machine of course.
  2. Heat your milk – either in your automatic milk frother, on the hob, or in the microwave.
  3. Foam your milk – with your milk frother.
  4. Add one or two shots of espresso to your cup.
  5. Add the warm and frothy milk to your espresso base.

And that’s it. Using those basic steps, you can make anything from a cappuccino to a latte to a Cortado. And, if you miss out the step on warming your milk you can make summertime drinks such as frappe.

You can find out more about this on our milk frother recipes page.

So, we’ve established you really need an espresso machine and a milk frother. Which is all well and good but which one’s do you buy? And won’t that filter machine which has sat forgotten in the kitchen cupboard do just as well?

Let’s start with the filter / drip coffee machine that I’m sure 99% of us have and that very few of us use regularly.

Why you need an espresso maker and not a drip coffee machine

espresso coffeeIt’s all about pressure. To make ‘proper’ espresso the hot water needs to be forced through the coffee beans at a very high pressure. This is what creates the intense espresso flavour.

Drip coffee machines can’t create that pressure because… they drip. So, the flavour is different.

The beans for espresso are also ground finer than the coarser grind you’d use for a drip machine.

Another advantage with an espresso machine is being able to make one or two shots at a time.

With drip coffee machines we tend to make larger volumes of coffee which is inevitably left to ‘stew’. This then becomes bitter compared to the freshness of just made espresso.

Which espresso machine and milk frother should I buy?

You have choices. So many choices.

There are literally hundreds of different devices out there to pick from. If you’re looking for a milk frother we’ve rounded up the best choices for home use in an easy-to-read guide.

In the article we explain the different options and recommend what we believe to be the best appliances for the home frother. You can find the guide here.

If it’s an espresso machine you’re after you might find the following selection interesting. These are this week’s best-selling espresso makers on the Amazon marketplace. Any of them will do a good job for you.

SaleBestseller No. 1
Swan Retro Pump Espresso Coffee Machine, Grey, 15 Bars of Pressure, Milk Frother, 1.2L Tank, SK22110GRN
  • High performance - 15 Bars of pressure and a self-priming system means the Swan Retro espresso...
  • Generous 1.2 litre detachable water tank and with room to make either one or two cups at a...
  • Compatible with easy serve espresso (ESE) pods and ground coffee, using the professional spoon...
SaleBestseller No. 2
De'Longhi Dedica Style, Traditional Pump Espresso Machine, Coffee and Cappuccino Maker, EC685M, Silver
  • Create all your coffee shop favorites with a real barista experience at home
  • Prepare and deliver your perfect espresso with fresh ground coffee
  • Adjustable milk frothing steam device for frothy cappuccino and silky smooth latte
SaleBestseller No. 3
Sage Barista Express Espresso Machine - Espresso and Coffee Maker, Bean to Cup Coffee Machine, BES875BKS, Black Sesame
  • The Sage Barista Express delivers third wave speciality coffee at home using the 4 keys formula...
  • DOSE CONTROL GRINDING: Integrated precision conical burr grinder grinds on demand to deliver...
  • OPTIMAL WATER PRESSURE: Low pressure pre-infusion gradually increases pressure at the start and...
SaleBestseller No. 4
De'Longhi ECP35.31Traditional Barista Pump Espresso Machine, Coffee and Cappuccino Maker, Black
  • Premium finishing
  • Adjustable milk frother to enhance the quality of the steamed milk
  • Ability to use E.S.E pods as an alternative to ground coffee
Bestseller No. 5
20 Bar Espresso Coffee Machine With Foaming Milk Frother Wand 1 Or 2 Shot, 1350W High Performance No-Leaking 1.25 Liters Removable Water Tank Coffee Maker For Espresso, Cappuccino, Latte, Machiato
  • ☕Thermo Block System: Aluminum alloy thermo block with stainless stell heating channel to...
  • ☕ Multifunctional espresso machine: This 1450W portafilter machine has an instant heating...
  • ☕ Easy frothing: Professional 20 bar pressure portafilter machine with steam nozzle for the...


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

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