In our most recent evaluation of the best espresso machines, we chose the Mr. Coffee Café Barista as our best value pick. High-end home espresso makers can cost thousands of dollars, but this model will only set you back about $300. It’s a decent machine, but you get what you pay for.
During testing, we brought in a professional barista to walk us through all the machines and make drinks with each of them. Both she and our review team sampled the drinks made with the machines. The Café Barista earned a six out of 10 in our espresso and frothing quality tests, which is pretty good considering the machine’s price. You won’t spew its coffee out in disgust after you take a sip, but the machine doesn’t make gourmet drinks like the ones you get at your local coffee shop.
This espresso machine earned an eight out of 10 in our ease of use evaluation. While it’s not as simple to set up as some other machines we reviewed, once it is, it’s pretty easy to learn how to use. It has three dedicated buttons: one for espresso, one for cappuccino and one for latte. So, you can make your favorite drink with the touch of a button.
The Café Barista’s most unique tool is its milk frother, which is integrated into the machine itself. All you do is fill up the milk tank and slip it into the machine. Once you press your preferred drink button, the machine automatically froths the milk to fit the beverage you selected. This is great because it takes the guesswork out of frothing.
As with most of the espresso machines we evaluated, this model comes with a plastic tamper. The barista we consulted warned us about these low-quality plastic tampers. They may be good enough to get the job done, but a well-made metal tamper is needed to get a tight, even tamp.
Another one of the Café Barista’s shortcomings that’s worth noting is its relatively small water tank. At only half a liter, it’s the smallest one among the espresso machines we reviewed. Almost all the others hold at least 1 liter of water, and the Cuisinart even has a 2-liter tank. This shouldn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things, but you may have to fill up the tank more often than you would with another machine.
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If you don’t have the hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars it takes to buy a top-of-the-line espresso machine, then the Mr. Coffee Café Barista is a great budget alternative. Its espresso doesn’t taste as good as drinks made by more expensive machines, but you’ll definitely get your money’s worth and then some.
Contributing Reviewer: Danny Chadwick