Pour perfect lattes with the best coffee machines with milk frothers – discover our favourite manual espresso and bean-to-cup options
For those days when a long black just won’t cut it, the best coffee machines with built-in milk frothers can make an essential addition to your kitchen worktop. These multifunctional machines can all create a great espresso, but fire up their steam wands or top up their milk carafes and you can whip up a variety of decadent hot, milk-based coffees. Whether it’s a flat white perfectly topped with steamed milk or silken, creamy layers of milk floated into a cappuccino, the choice is up to you.
If you’re someone who prefers their coffee served with milk, then your next coffee machine really should be equipped with a built-in milk frother. You can buy standalone milk frothers that both heat and froth the milk, but these are markedly inferior to the built-in milk frothers found on the machines recommended here. While a machine with a fully manual steam wand will give the best results once you get the hang of it, there are plenty of automatic and semi-automatic alternatives that can serve up beautifully steamed, frothy milk at the touch of a button.
Read on and we’ll explain which types of coffee machine you can choose from and explain their pros and cons. Scroll past our buying guide and you’ll find a list of our favourite manual espresso, capsule and bean-to-cup coffee machines at a range of prices to suit any budget.
Best coffee machine with milk frother: At a glance
- Best affordable manual espresso machine: Sage Bambino | £330
- Best affordable bean-to-cup machine: De’Longhi Magnifica S Smart | £480
- Best high-end capsule coffee machine: Nespresso Creatista Uno | £400
- Best high-end bean-to-cup machine: Melitta Caffeo Barista TS Smart | £739
- Best high-end manual espresso machine: Sage Dual Boiler | £1,145
How to choose the best coffee machine with milk frother for you
What kind of coffee machine should I buy?
If you already have a coffee machine you’re happy with, then check out our roundup of the best milk frothers you can buy. These can serve up steamed, frothy milk with minimal effort, but bear in mind that they won’t produce results that are as good as any of the machines here.
If you’re a real coffee aficionado, you’ll probably want to opt for a manual espresso machine. These add a degree of control and flexibility that let you eke out the best from your coffee. There’s more effort involved (manually weighing, grinding and tamping the coffee, not to mention cleaning up in between each shot of espresso), but the pay-off is worth it if you’re a connoisseur.
If you’re more of a grab-and-go coffee enthusiast, bean-to-cup machines can save a lot of time and effort as they can grind and brew your coffee at the touch of a button. More affordable models come with steam wands that require you to manually steam the milk in a jug and add it to an espresso, whereas the milk carafes found on pricier models open the door to cappuccinos, flat whites and more at the touch of a button.
One other option is a capsule machine. Some high-end models add a milk carafe for one-touch cappuccinos and so forth, while others add a steam wand to provide manual or semi-automatic milk frothing so that you can feel more like a barista in your own kitchen. Cheaper models, however, effectively bolt on an aftermarket milk frother so that you can pour an espresso, then add frothed milk yourself. If you already have a basic capsule machine, then buying a milk frother is a cheap, easy upgrade.
Manual or automatic milk frother?
Steam wands produce a jet of steam that can simultaneously heat and froth your milk to creamy perfection. These take a bit of practice to use effectively, as you have to position them just so into a jug of milk to get the best results.
Some machines opt for beginner-friendly steam wands that allow users to switch between frothy milk or flat, steamed milk with the flick of a switch, while others combine manual steam wands with a semi-automatic mode – simply place the steam wand into the jug of milk, sit the jug on top of a little temperature sensor on the machine’s tray, then press a button and let it do the hard work for you.
As we’ve already mentioned, pricier bean-to-cup and capsule machines provide a completely automated alternative: the milk carafe. Fill the carafe with milk, and these coffee machines can pour an espresso into your cup then steam and froth the milk in the carafe before adding it to your coffee. This is the least effort-intensive of the various milk frothing options, and the large capacity of a milk carafe versus a jug means that you can serve up several drinks before needing to refill it.
How much should I spend?
It all depends on your expectations and how much effort you want to put into the process. Manual espresso machines start at around £180, and quickly increase in price as features and capabilities improve. Bear in mind that you’ll either need to use pre-ground coffee or, for the best results, a good-quality coffee grinder.
Entry-level bean-to-cup machines start at around £300, and these come with a standard steam wand attachment. If you simply have to have one-touch cappuccinos available on your kitchen worktop, then you’ll be looking at nearer £700.
How we test coffee machines with milk frothers
We thoroughly test all the coffee machines on our round-ups at home, not just looking at them in isolation, but also comparing any given machine to other top models to gauge its performance side-by-side. To ensure consistency, reliability and quality, we use quality, single-origin beans from artisan roasters, grinding them with the popular and reasonably priced Iberital MC2 (£150) and weighing with a precise digital scale. This process allows us to make repeatable comparisons and accurately assess the depth of flavour that a model can extract from a quality coffee. Similarly for capsule machines, we use our favourite pods to assess the quality of flavour a machine can achieve, while also looking at the manufacturer’s own range of pods.
Alongside its coffee-making abilities, we also test the performance of any other features a machine may have. For this list, we took a particular look at the milk frothers on the featured machines, noting things such as their ease of use, whether they are manual or automatic, their frothing speed and the range of textures they can produce. We also consider how consistent each milk frother is, to ensure it produces similar results every time.
The best coffee machines with milk frothers you can buy in 2024
1. Sage Bambino: Best affordable manual espresso machine with steam wand
Price when reviewed: £330 | Check price at John Lewis This stylish, compact manual espresso machine from Sage packs a punch for its size and price, making a quality espresso that’s easily superior to cheaper machines. (Though, as ever, if you’re very serious about getting the most from top-quality coffee beans, it may be worth opting for one of the pricier models below).
When it comes to milk frothing, the Bambino comes equipped with a potent little steam wand. The wand does an excellent job of aerating milk to a silky microfoam, enabling budding baristas to experiment with latte art and coffee lovers to quickly transform fridge-cold milk into a hot, velvety dose of dairy.
The machine also comes with several handy accessories as standard, including a 480ml stainless steel milk jug and a handy cleaning tool for keeping the tip of the steam wand clear of blockages. For the money, this is one of the best starter machines out there.
2. Sage Bambino Plus: Best manual machine with automatic milk frothing
Price when reviewed: £330 | Check price at John Lewis The Bambino is a class act, but the Bambino Plus is perhaps the perfect manual espresso machine for beginners. Just like its smaller sibling, the Bambino Plus serves up a mean espresso, but the main attraction here is that it’s also capable of automatically steaming milk – simply place the supplied jug on the drip tray, select how frothy you would like your milk to be and press a button.
There are three adjustable milk temperatures, and the three different levels of frothiness provide a nice range to suit different milk-based drinks. You can steam manually, too, once you feel up to managing the process yourself.
Crucially, though, it produces a tasty espresso with a minimum of faff, and Sage’s helpful user manual makes it really easy for users to learn how to get better results or troubleshoot any issues they might be having.
One other handy upgrade over the standard Bambino is the addition of a solenoid valve. This means that stored-up pressure and water is vented automatically after the coffee is poured, which makes for less soggy coffee pucks and no dripping. Less mess, in other words, which is no bad thing.
3. De’Longhi Magnifica S Smart: Best bean-to-cup machine with milk frother
Price when reviewed: £480 | Check price at De’Longhi If you’re after fuss-free cappuccinos, De’Longhi’s more affordable bean-to-cup machines are a good place to start. Once you’ve loaded the Magnifica S Smart with water and coffee beans it will dispense a steaming cup of coffee at the touch of a button. Simply heat up a jug of milk using the steam wand alongside, and you can serve up your own flat whites, cappuccinos or lattes.
A sturdy machine with a 1.8-litre tank, the Magnifica S Smart might make you steam your own milk, but the steam wand is easier to use than those on more purist machines. A collar around the steam wand lets you flick between plain hot milk and frothy cappuccino modes, and there’s no skill required: all you need to do is press a button and place the wand into a jug of milk.
The strength dial on the front of the machine makes it quick and easy to adjust coffee strength, so it’s a great choice for busy households and exacting coffee drinkers who want their morning coffee just so. Whether you’re hosting a coffee morning or loading up your KeepCup before the commute, this good all-rounder saves time and faff.
4. Sage Dual Boiler: Best high-end manual espresso machine with milk frother
Price when reviewed: £1,145 | Check price at Amazon This magnificent manual coffee machine from Sage might be pricey, but it’s actually pretty affordable given how many high-end features it manages to pack in. Its dual-boiler setup means you can steam your milk and pour your espresso in tandem – there’s no waiting around, unlike single-boiler machines – and the adjustable brew temperature allows the Dual Boiler to eke stellar results from the finest coffees.
The one glaring caveat is the price: at £1,145, it’s not cheap. But it pours truly phenomenal coffee, coaxing delicate flavours from coffees that lesser machines struggle to reveal. The powerful boiler also makes light work of steaming milk, and the bundled set of accessories allow you to get brewing straight away. The only thing you’ll need is a great-quality grinder; a machine of this calibre needs to be partnered with the best one you can afford.
Granted, build quality is a tad plasticky compared to the metal-clad chassis’ of more professionally minded rivals, but the overall design, ease of use and generous range of features are unbeatable for the money. If you love coffee more than is entirely sensible, this is the coffee machine for you.
5. Melitta Caffeo Barista TS Smart: Best bean-to-cup machine for one-touch cappuccinos
Price when reviewed: £739 | Check price at Amazon If you want great coffee without the faff of a manual espresso machine, a high-end bean-to-cup machine is your best bet. While the results aren’t as good as a manual espresso machine, the 21 varieties of drinks the Melitta Caffeo Barista TS can whip up will soon have you forgetting that caveat.
A milk carafe connects via a small tube, and this allows the Barista TS Smart to serve up a range of milk-based coffees at the touch of a button. Simply choose your drink and the Melitta grinds, brews, steams and pours the results into your cup – it’s a digital barista on your kitchen worktop.
What’s more, it boasts two bean hoppers, so you can keep two different coffees on the go, and it serves up all the favourites such as espresso, cappuccino, macchiato, flat white and café crème.
The standard non-smart machine is also a great buy if you can find it for a good price, but the Smart model adds Bluetooth and lets you tweak drink recipes from your phone. For versatility and silky smooth beverages, the Melitta Caffeo Barista TS Smart is a smart choice indeed.
6. Nespresso Creatista Uno by Sage: Best capsule coffee machine with milk frother
Price when reviewed: £400 | Check price at John Lewis As well as manual espresso machines and bean-to-cup machines, fuss-free pod or capsule coffee machines are a good option for anyone short on space or time (or patience). Simply insert the pre-filled coffee capsule into the designated slot on the machine, hit a button and wait for your mug to fill with a rich brew. The only drawback to these capsule machines is that the refill pods can be expensive, and built-in milk frothers can often be underwhelming.
The Nespresso Creatista Uno is anything but, however. This apsule machine that sits on the premium end of the spectrum and employs the automatic milk steaming technology found in Sage’s Bambino Plus and other machines in the range. Simply fill the jug with milk, choose the temperature and level of frothiness you would like, and the Creatista does the rest. The results are excellent, too, and pairing the creamy, frothed milk with the range of standard Nespresso capsules is a match made in hassle-free heaven.
Other well thought-through features include a push-to-open used capsule receptacle, roomy drip tray for bigger mugs, and sizable 1.5-litre water tank. Even coffee aficionados might want to find room on their kitchen worktop for this one.