Coffee enthusiasts know the difference between specialty coffee and ordinary ones. Just a sip, and they will distinguish the quality and intensity within seconds.
Store-bought specialty coffee is a tricky affair. First of all, it is costly. Secondly, the constant trips whenever you crave a cup are strenuous. There is absolutely no reason, then, why you shouldn’t buy your own specialty coffee maker!
At first, the first specialty coffee maker purchase (along with specialty beans) might torture your wallet. In the long run, it will prove to be a worthy investment. Don’t be surprised if you end up becoming the neighborhood barista! Your mornings will never be the same again.
Why You Should Brew Your Own Specialty Coffee
Ever heard the phrase ‘rise and grind’? A coffee connoisseur must have said it. Grinding and brewing coffee is a great morning therapy. From the aromas to the buzz of the specialty coffee maker, you are bound to be put in a fantastic mood.
Creating a morning routine is healthy for the mind, body, and soul. There is no better way to kick-start your day.
They say people value things that they have made themselves. This is known as the IKEA effect. It can’t hurt to test this theory with homemade specialty coffee. It could be the best you’ve ever had.
Brewing your own coffee is way cheaper. Cafe-bought coffee costs up to four times as much as making it at home. A 2.2-pound pack of specialty coffee costs roughly $14. Suppose it makes 70 cups of double espresso. That is $0.20 per cup.
Now, your favorite coffee shop sells a double espresso cup at $3.25. That is $227.50 for 70 cups. Compare the price. Thank me later.
It is safe to argue that the price is equal to what you would pay for a specialty coffee machine. In truth, you will break even sooner than you think.
Quality assurance is guaranteed when you buy your own specialty-grade coffee. You know the best brands, local or imported. You will also make your specialty coffee just the way you like it. Furthermore, there is room for experimenting with different flavors and combinations with your specialty coffee maker.
Now that you know why making your specialty coffee is essential, it’s time to look at the specialty coffee makers themselves.
Best Specialty Coffee Makers
There are thousands of specialty coffee makers in the market: the good, the bad, and the best. Don’t waste your time trying to find out which is which. Read ahead and find out the five best ones on the market in 2021.
1. The Ninja CM401 Specialty 10-Cup Coffee Maker
The Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker is one of the most outstanding specialty coffee makers on the market. And no, it is not just hype. It is Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) certified. This Certification means your specialty coffee maker will give you the best of the best.
One of the attractive features the Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker boasts is its six brew sizes. The brew sizes offer you versatility when brewing coffee for large groups or yourself.
It has the standard size of 9.5 oz, the XL cup at 11.5 oz, a travel mug option of 14 oz, the XL multi-serve at 18 oz, five cups of half carafe each at 25 oz, and ten cups of a full carafe, which are 50 oz.
The Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker has four brew styles to choose from. These are rich, classic, over-ice, and specialty brews.
The rich brew has an intense taste, while the classic option is more balanced in flavor. Over-ice brew results in delicious iced coffee. Don’t worry about compromise on taste; it does not water down.
The over-ice brew is also an excellent compensation for the lack of cold brew in its hot and cold brew counterpart.
The specialty brew is as unique as it sounds. It only brews a small amount of coffee but with a burst of flavor. This type of brew is highly concentrated with strong caffeine content. This brew is cafe-quality and similar to espresso.
The Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker has a delay brew button if you wish to make your coffee later in the morning. You can snooze your alarm a little bit more! If you thought that was it, this machine has an intelligent Drip Stop switch. If you want to sip your first cup of morning coffee before brewing your main pot, it will do just that.
There is an Intelligent Warming Plate at the bottom of the Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker. The purpose of this plate is to adjust temperatures for coffee in the glass carafe. You can control how long you want it to stay on within a four-hour time frame.
There is the option to manually adjust the warming plate’s temperature on the Stay Warm dial.
You do not need pods for this specialty coffee maker. You will enjoy endless variety and experiment with your brew. While you are at it, you will save the environment with zero plastic waste.
The Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker stands at 12 x 8.8 x 15 inches. It is made of stainless steel, plastic, and glass.
This specialty coffee maker has a fold-away milk frother with a mobile and convenient arm. Furthermore, it has a Ninja Scoop that recommends the number of scoops you need for every brew. It can’t get cooler than that, can it?
The base of this coffee maker is designed to accommodate the glass carafe, tumblers, and travel mugs. You do not need to guess if the warmer is on or not. A red light will indicate that for you.
The Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker has a 50-oz portable plastic reservoir. It indicates the fill lines so that you can tell the minimum level for each brew.
The Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker has a straightforward user interface. You can easily select your preferred brew by pressing the button it corresponds to. Brewing your coffee also takes a short time- about 10 minutes for a full carafe. It will take a much faster time to brew a classic standard cup.
You can disassemble this specialty coffee maker into parts and clean them easily. The pieces are dishwasher safe so that you can save yourself some cleaning trouble. The Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker has an intelligent Clean button feature. This button detects when there is calcium buildup in your coffee maker.
The Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker has high performance in terms of brewing. Its hot plate ensures your coffee stays warm whenever you brew a cup. Furthermore, it surpasses expectations with its over-ice feature.
This machine produces high-quality brews and is pretty quiet.
- Intelligent warming plate
- Multiple brewing styles
- Foldable frother with mobile arms
- It does not require pods
- Easy to clean
- Durable material
- Easy to use
- You have to heat the milk separately for froth
- Coffee may burn on the warming plate
2. Keurig K-Cafe Single Serve K-Cup Coffee Maker
It has button controls that are easy to use. The Smart Start feature enables the coffee makers to heat and brew in one go. This is a brilliant feature as you will not have to wait for your machine to heat up before brewing.
This coffee maker uses a K-Cup pod giving you versatility as you brew your coffee. When you insert a K-Cup pod and press the buttons, you will brew delicious coffee or cappuccino immediately.
The Shot button allows you to brew a shot of concentrated coffee. You can then froth your milk for a creamy latte. Take it a notch higher and enjoy an iced latte or cappuccino with the cold setting.
The Keurig K-Cafe boasts four cup sizes, in six, eight, ten, and 12 ounces, so that you can enjoy your favorite brew in any size. It also has a 60-ounce water reservoir. You can brew up to six cups before having to refill it. Moreover, it is portable, so you can move it to your water source and return it when full.
Another noteworthy feature is the auto-off. This feature detects when your brewer has not been in use for a while. It automatically turns off your machine after two hours of inactivity to save energy.
For ease of maintenance, the Keurig K-Cafe will remind you when your machine needs descaling. This regular reminder ensures you maintain your brewer for constant quality-tasting coffee.
For the cherry on top, the Keurig K-Cafe comes with a frother. The frother is dishwasher-friendly so that you can enjoy creamy and frothy drinks with the touch of a button. Don’t worry about the mess.
The Keurig K-Cafe measures 12.5 x 15.3 x 11.7 inches. It has an asymmetrical design, with the right-wing of the machine lower than the rest of the device. It has a sleek and modern look and can fit on most countertops.
Although it is made of plastic, it is durable.
The Keurig K-Cup is designed to make one cup at a time. That is why you refer to it as single-serve. You have to use K-Cup pods to brew your coffee. Choose from a variety of K-Cups or select top-rated ones to brew your blend of choice.
Ease of Use
The Keurig K-Cafe’s brewing process is fast and straightforward. It has an easy user interface where all functionalities are done through the touch of a button. You do not have to panic when you forget to shut down the coffee maker. It has an automated shutdown in two hours.
The Keurig K-Cafe comes with a guide on the cleaning process. Cleaning out essential parts is an easy affair. The frother is dishwasher safe to make matters sweeter, so you can clean it as regularly as you wish. The Keurig K-Cafe comes with a guide on the cleaning process.
This coffee maker brews espresso-quality cups without the tedious steps of an actual espresso maker. The user interface makes it easy to maneuver through the different brew types you want. The Keurig K-Cafe also makes your favorite cup within minutes.
The frother creates foamy, frothy milk that is perfect for your latte and cappuccino. These beverages may not be on the same level as you would have in an espresso machine. However, the margin is small.
- K-Cup compatible
- It comes with a dishwasher friendly frother
- Easy to use
- Easy to clean
- No carafe brew option
- Has no water filter holder
3. Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine
The Breville Barista Express is one of the best semi-automatic coffee makers in 2021. Voted top in the best espresso machine under $1000, the Breville Barista Express has gained popularity among expert coffee brewers and amateurs alike.
It is a third-wave specialty machine with an integrated precision conical burr grinder. This feature grinds your specialty beans on demand. You will have freshly ground coffee in your portafilter in less than a minute in the right amounts.
The Breville Barista Express has precise espresso extraction. It has a digital water control feature that delivers water at the right temperature for optimal espresso extraction. Another desirable feature is the optimal water pressure.
Pressure increases during pre-infusion, ensuring all the flavors are brought out at the start and evenly distributed as you extract coffee for a well-balanced and flavorful cup.
This coffee maker has a powerful steam wand. This steam wand steams milk for drinks like cappuccinos. It is mobile, and you can move the rod around your milk jug to effectively steam the milk.
Moreover, the hand-textured foam brings out more flavor and allows you to create art with your cup of coffee.
Another stand-up feature the Breville Barista Express boasts is the grind size dial. You have the autonomy to choose your grind size. It does not matter the bean type. Speaking of grind size, this coffee maker’s grinder is highly efficient.
The machine’s grinding cradle will allow you to grind the beans directly into the portafilter. This convenient quality is the real deal for the best espresso.
Setting up this coffee maker is a bit tedious because of all of the parts involved. You have to read through the manual and learn all the processes before you begin brewing. You may also need to clean and flush the machine. Don’t panic, though; the steps are painless.
The Breville Barista Express is 12.5 x 12.6 x 13.1 inches and weighs 23 pounds. It is made of stainless steel, aluminum, and plastic and has a classic and polished look. It has all its accessories intentionally placed for convenience.
For example, the steam wand’s mobility allows it to remain in place and not interfere with the machine’s space when it is not in use.
A great addition to this coffee maker’s design is the customizable settings. You can easily adjust certain features to your satisfaction. Moreover, the manual explains step by step how to change attributes such as the grind size. Rest assured, you will achieve the best extraction.
Ease of Use
The Breville Barista Express takes time to get used to. It is semi-automatic, meaning some manual effort goes into its operation.
Using this coffee maker takes practice. Practice makes perfect. The more you brew, the more you hone your techniques and earn yourself a barista badge. If anything is not clear, the manual is there for guidance.
You will also have to clean the machine after use to avoid stubborn stains. There are drip tray and descaling sensors that will alert you whenever the device needs deeper cleaning out.
The Breville Barista Express is fast once you get used to brewing with it. It also gets easier to use with time. It only takes a maximum of three minutes to get a shot or two of espresso.
This machine is consistent in the quality of espresso it produces. Furthermore, the beverage you brew surpasses coffee shop standards once you get the hang of it. In terms of performance, this coffee maker is spot on. Only you need to practice to be the barista that your heart knows you are.
- High blending power
- Sturdy and quality material
- Programmable user interface
- Built-in steam and milk frother
- Difficult to use for first-time users
- Heavy build
- Noisy grinder
4. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker: Café Barista
If you are a beginner coffee brewer, The Mr. Coffee Café Barista is just the machine for you. It is a semi-automatic specialty coffee maker that is easy to use. It has a 3-in-1 functionality: espresso, cappuccino, and latte. Moreover, it boasts a 15-bar pump for a rich taste.
It has a clear one-touch control center, with buttons that are labeled with the respective drinks. You can either choose manual or automatic options. There is a removable milk reservoir in the Café Barista unit convenient for use. You can remove it and store the milk in the fridge if it is not being utilized.
It is important to note however, that the removable milk reservoir is not dishwasher-friendly.
The Café Barista has a frother that has a control knob that regulates how much coffee goes into your drink. In addition, this coffee maker has a measuring spoon that also serves as a tamper for pressing your coffee into the portafilter.
Two filters fit within the portafilter. One is for single shots, while the other is for double shots. Moreover, there are two dip trays. One dip tray is underneath the portafilter, while the other is a pull-out from the milk reservoir.
The Café Barista measures 11.22 x 8.86 x12.6 inches and is sleek, with an upscale design. It is compact and can fit on most kitchen countertops and shelves.
For convenience, all parts are clearly labeled to avoid time wastage while figuring out where and what to press. All the unit’s parts are removable as well, so they can be easily cleaned and refilled.
Ease of Use
Mr. Coffee Café Barista is a simple specialty coffee maker to use. The machine itself is simple in its user interface, and the instruction manual is easy to follow. All that is needed before use is to wash the removable parts and prime the machine.
This specialty coffee maker’s simplicity has earned it a spot as one of the best latte machines that produce expert lattes without an effort.
The Mr. Coffee Café Barista is automatic for the most part. Therefore, it will brew your espresso quickly. You can make your favorite beverage with the touch of a single button.
While you would expect the lack of effort to produce sub-standard coffee, the result is quite the opposite. The machine still makes strong espresso and even better-tasting cappuccinos and lattes.
- Easy to use
- Quick espresso brews
- Easy to clean
- High blending power
- One-touch functionality
- Cleaning up takes time
- Poorly made tamper
- Not durable
5. Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine
The Gaggia Brera is the Holy Grail for espresso machines with built-in grinders and is versatile. This specialty coffee maker is value for money and lets you enjoy bean-to-cup specialty brews in the comfort of your home.
This specialty coffee maker has a bean hopper with an 8-ounce bean capacity. It also has a ceramic burr grinder that you can set from fine to coarse in 5 levels. The Gaggia Brera also has an Adapting System that will adjust your grind time automatically.
One of the best features this specialty coffee maker has is the Pannarello steam wand. This wand heats up in less than ten seconds, allowing you to have a quick fix, whether it is plain espresso or frothy cappuccino.
Another Gaggia Brera feature, that is a favourite,.is the water filter, which uses a 4-stage Mavea water filtration system. The result is superior tasting water for exceptional tasting coffee.
This filter also reduces scale buildup in your machine.
This machine has a pre-infusion feature that slowly introduces your ground coffee to the water. This process allows maximum extraction of aromas and flavors for top-class brews in a short amount of time.
The Gaggia Brera has a 15-bar brewing pressure, which is well within industry standards for espresso brewing. You can fit up to 4.5-inch cups under the machine’s adjustable spout.
All the Gaggia Brera features are easily accessible. It has a removable water reservoir with a 41-ounce capacity. The reservoir and dregs drawer are both located at the front of the unit for easy accessibility. Other than accessibility, this specialty coffee maker is energy-efficient.
After one hour of inactivity, the machine automatically shuts off. It is also designed to use less energy. Another intelligent feature worth mentioning is its ability to detect when your unit needs maintenance. This way, you will not suffer the disappointment of your machine breaking down because of neglect.
The Gaggia Brera stands at 10 x 15.5 x 11.5 inches, so it is pretty compact and can fit in most kitchens. It is robust and durable and is built to last a long time. It is made of stainless steel, with the top and sides made out of plastic.
This brewer has an elegant design that can feature on both modern and traditional kitchen countertops.
Ease of Use
This super-automatic specialty coffee maker is relatively easy to use. It has an intuitive user interface with an LED screen and icon-style buttons for easy operation.
The cleaning process is easy and straight to the point. All the parts that need to be cleaned are already at the front of the unit. All you need to do is remove the parts, wash them with soap and water and return them.
The dregs drawer carries discarded coffee worth up to eight brewing cycles. You do not have to empty the drawer regularly.
You may, however, have to get to the Gaggia Brera’s rinsing cycle. The water tank also needs constant filling, so you may have to keep reminding yourself.
Despite alarming you when your machine needs descaling, you have to do it manually. The process, however, is practical.
- It is compact
- Easy to steam milk
- Fast warming
- Superior coffee taste and aroma
- Easy to access brewing elements
- Stand-by energy mode
- Super-automatic so it is easy to use
- It takes time to clean
- The water tank is small
- Small bean hopper
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does a specialty coffee maker make espresso?
Yes, most specialty coffee makers make espresso, but not all. Specialty Coffee Makers such as the Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker do not make espresso. However, they have a specialty brew feature that makes an espresso-like drink. So all is not lost.
2. Do all specialty coffee makers need filters?
No, not all specialty coffee makers need filters. However, it is advisable to use a filter. It is a minor component that goes a long way while brewing your coffee. It filters out harmful oils and produces ground-free and smooth coffee specialty coffee brews.
3. How do you use specialty coffee makers?
Not all specialty coffee makers have the same brewing procedures. Some have coffee bean grinders, while others do not. Similarly, some specialty coffee makers are manual, others semi-automatic and fully automatic. Refer to your machine’s manual for instructions on how to brew in your specific specialty coffee maker.
4. Do all specialty coffee makers make lattes?
Not all specialty coffee makers make a latte. Coffee makers with frothers are designed to make lattes. Other machines are specifically designed to pull espresso only.
5. How long will my specialty coffee maker last?
A good quality specialty coffee maker should last between 5 to 15 years with proper cleaning and regular maintenance. Its longevity will depend on the quality of the material that built your machine.
To Wrap It Up
Finding your ideal specialty coffee maker does not have to be a tedious task. As you have read above, there are specific features you should look out for as you make your grand decision.
You want to have the best of the greatest. Do not be deceived by beautiful specialty coffee maker designs. Otherwise, it would beat the purposes of brewing specialty coffee at home. Browse through reviews on previous purchases for further insight.
In addition, buy high-quality coffee beans or ground coffee for a classic brew. It would be a waste of resources to buy the best specialty coffee maker and buy low-quality beans. Quality goes both ways.