My Favorite Espresso Machines & Tips for Best Lattes at Home

June 13, 2007 Katja Presnal

Updated 3/2019

I make a lot of lattes at home

So, by now you know that I work full days here at Skimbaco. I love what I do, and often I still love it late at night. My secret, besides the passion, and a helping husband..? A LOTTA LATTE! Read my tips for the best lattes at home.

After spending so much money on Starbucks, and a couple hundred dollar espresso machines, I have two espresso machine brands I swear by. The low budget one everyone can afford and the high budget one that is worth the money if you drink as much coffee as I do.

Over the past 20 years I have owned multiple coffee makers, and tested other brands as well, but these are the two I keep going back to. I’ve almost fully stopped going to Starbucks, and really try to avoid buying coffee on the go anymore for environmental reasons, but I still collect the Starbucks mugs on our travels. Some old habits die hard.

My favorite Espresso Machines

1. The Splurge: DeLonghi MagnificaS Super Automatic Espresson Machine

After years of testing many espresso machines, both owning, and in rental apartments, hotels, AirBnBs, and as I have gotten some free ones to test from manufacturers, the espresso machine I keep going back to is the DeLonghi MagnificaS, super-automatic espresso coffee machine.

A true espresso machine, a woman’s best friend. A fast, reliable, and delivers perfect every time. The DeLonghi Magnifica is a little pricey (Over $700, but you can get refurbished for under $500), but my first one lasted I think at least 7 years, and I’ve had my new one now for a year. The reason why I lived without one for about 6 years was because we were moving between Europe and the US, and these are super heavy, and I didn’t want to buy a 110V before moving to Europe, nor 220V in Europe because we still moved back.

My first one was silver – this one is white. I was a little worried about a white coffee maker and keeping it clean, but it’s super easy to keep clean.

The DeLonghi Magnifica is a semi-automatic espresso machine. What it means that it’s semi-automatic? It means that you put water in one container, and you add coffee beans into another, and all you have to do is to push a button for the machine to grind the beans, and make a perfect cup of coffee.

Now, there are also coffee makers that have the milk container making them to froth the milk automatically too. There are two kinds of, those that keep the milk also cool (and thus adding a lot to the price) and those that have a removable milk container that you can keep in the fridge until you use it. The first kinds are out of my budget, and the second ones I don’t like because they just look weird when the container is missing. So the Magnifica S is perfect. You still have to have a milk pitcher or froth the milk directly in the cup, and you have to froth the milk yourself instead of it appearing to your cup just by the touch of a button.

2. The Low-Budget one: Bialetti Stove Top

My other favorite is on the other end… the least automatic of them all, the classic Bialetti stove top Moka. Yes, it takes a little more effort, especially if you grind the beans first too, but for a morning ritual Bialetti is actually really nice. Maybe not on the work mornings when you just need to get out of the house fast, but when your office is at home, making your first cup of coffee with Bialetti actually is a great way to start the day.

Read here how to use Bialetti stove top coffee maker.


Other coffee tips

I prefer buying my coffee in beans, and grinding them right before brewing, and Italian Illy is my favorite brand.

I’ve been really trying to reduce drinking milk, so I have been looking for vegetarian options for cow’s milk. There are multiple options these days, and oat milk is by far the best for environmental reasons, and also for health reasons. But I admit, I am not fan of the taste. My favorites are coconut milk and almond milk. When buying milk for your latte, choose the milk meant for lattes, so they will froth. They will have often a picture of coffee cup, or say they are for baristas or professionals.

What not to buy

Sure, I have wanted to buy a real jaw dropper and a kitchen-counter-charmer, like the Francis Francis X7.1 Iperespresso Machine in red, but I haven’t just wanted a piece of decoration, but something that was essential for my survival.

I’ve had multiple $100-$200 espresso machines, and yes, at first many of them like the Brevilles, have been good, but in a daily super use, they really are just not worth the money. I much rather splurge over $500-800 on a good machine that lasts for years, than keep buying a new one every year.

I also have been lured to use the Nespresso Vertuo Espresso Machine with the Nespresso pods, and well, I do like the taste of the coffee, and their pod selection is good. I’ve also used other pod coffee makers, and the Nespresso by far delivers the best taste experience. But for environmental reasons, I will refuse to use another pod coffee maker anymore. Pod days are over.

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Katja Presnal

Katja Presnal shows how to live Nordic inspired life to the fullest and plan your dream life. Katja owns Presnal5 strategic marketing intelligence agency and wants to help marketing professionals to combine a dream career and dream life via freelance work.Katja is an award-winning marketing strategist, and a well-known speaker. Katja has lived in five different countries, and seven states in the USA. Her three children were all born in different countries within three years. When not working or jet-setting the world, Katja is at home cooking big family dinners.She has been featured in NY Times, Glamour, Redbook, Fodor's, Forbes and Woman's Day magazines among many other national and international publications and written for MTV3 and Lifetime TV networks.

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