Many coffee enthusiasts decide against home brewing because of the expense of most espresso machines. And, while it’s true that high-end domestic espresso machines usually cost a lot of money, there is a range of entry-level espresso makers at far more attractive prices that are more than capable of brewing good coffee.
The Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista is one of those more affordable options, and it promises to make freshly brewed espresso, cappuccino, and latte without the eye-watering price tag.
This review studies the pros and cons of the Mr. Coffee Café Barista to help you decide if it’s right for you.
Also read: Mr. Coffee espresso machine is the budget-friendly option of our best-picked semi-automatic espresso machines.
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Review
Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker Summary
- Very beginner-friendly and easy to use
- Attractive price tag
- Automatic milk frother, which reduces the learning curve
- Lack of control over the process
- Bog-standard design
- Quite loud when frothing milk
The appearance of the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso Maker is not particularly exciting. It neither looks as attractive as some of the higher-end espresso machines nor is it as elegant. Meanwhile, many of the device’s parts are built from plastic. However, on the plus side, it is compact, meaning if you have limited countertop space, it won’t take up much room.
The stainless steel front panel contains three buttons, which gives the impression of simplicity – never a bad thing if you’re new to domestic coffee brewing.
The left-hand side has a brew head to lock in the portafilter and accentuates that this is a semi-automatic coffee machine. The gap between the portafilter and drip tray underneath is sizeable enough for an 8oz cup. Meanwhile, if your cup is smaller, you can pull out the cup holder situated at the foot of the milk reservoir.
That removable milk reservoir is on the right-hand side, and there’s a small knob that you can turn to alter the amount of froth you need depending on the beverage. In addition, there is an adjustable frothed milk dispensing tube to ensure steamed milk reaches your cup smoothly. Finally, at the back is a removable water reservoir. It’s simple to fill, allowing you to brew multiple cups before it needs refilling.
Overall, you’re unlikely to be wowed by the design. However, the machine has a solid enough build quality and is sturdy. It also looks simple enough to appeal to newbies.
Of course, the main reason most coffee enthusiasts will swear by a particular machine is the quality of coffee it produces. So, how good is the coffee the Mr. Coffee Café Barista brews?
The machine can either brew single or double espresso shots. Meanwhile, it uses a 15 bar pump with pressurized filter baskets that produce a rich crema – even with pre-ground beans. This is because pressurized baskets offer more margin for error with the grind size.
Overall, the machine brews a good cup of coffee even if you don’t have a decent espresso grinder or the best brewing technique for the perfect extraction. However, while this is undoubtedly appealing to beginners, it’s not all good news. For example, this espresso maker may not always brew at the same temperature and pressure as a more expensive device.
Of course, for the price, the machine is aimed squarely at the entry-level market. Therefore, the people most likely to buy it may not require the perfect extraction or possess the refined taste buds needed to detect any difference in flavor from brew to brew. If that applies to you, the machine will offer a perfectly acceptable, hassle-free espresso.
Another big advantage of this machine is its cappuccino and latte-making capability. For some people, this will be the standout feature of the machine. Therefore, with the espresso only needed as a base from which to add steamed milk, it will more than suffice.
Milk Frothing Performance
The machine is built to make coffee-shop style cappuccinos and lattes at the touch of a button. In other words, once you’ve pulled your espresso shot, it takes care of the milk frothing.
It’s important to understand how cappuccino and latte differ. In cappuccino, the milk foam is thick and airy. Meanwhile, in a latte, it is thinner and less airy. The latte also has more steamed milk separating the foam from the espresso.
If you’re making a cappuccino, the coffee sits at the bottom while there’s a deep layer of foam on top. However, a latte sees steamed milk mix with the espresso with a thin foam layer on top.
Thankfully, the machine takes all the hassle out of this process, meaning you don’t have to hold the milk pitcher and alter the angle for the ideal milk texture.
However, the machine has an interesting quirk in the brewing process that sees it froth and pour the milk in the cup before pulling the espresso shot into the steamed milk. This is the opposite of the conventional brewing method. By brewing in this order, the Cafe Barista produces a gorgeous layer in the cup.
One drawback with the method is that you can’t control the milk texture, so you won’t have the freedom to make beautiful latte art from the microfoam. Also, the reservoir only has a ‘Max’ line, so the consistency of the milk foam might differ in the milk volume.
One other small drawback of the milk frothing process is the noise it makes – it is fairly loud, which could make it awkward to use the machine first thing in the morning, depending on your circumstances.
Ease Of Use
As we pointed out earlier, there are only three buttons on the one-touch control panel of the espresso machine, highlighting that this is an easy-to-use device.
The Cafe Barista is a combination of a semi-automatic and super-automatic machine. So, you brew the espresso manually, and it takes care of the milk steaming.
Ordinarily, brewing espresso is complicated, with considerations needed for grind size, tamping, brew ratio, and brew time. Check out our article detailing home espresso brewing instructions for more information.
However, the Cafe Barista removes the complexity. First, add fine coffee grounds or pre-grounds coffee for espresso to the filter basket, tamp it and attach the portafilter. Then, choose either a single shot or a double shot espresso with the touch of a button.
If you want a cappuccino or latte, pour milk into the milk tank, and it will froth the milk and brew the espresso automatically. Simple! Press the ‘Latte’ or ‘Cappuccino’ button again to add more milk, but ensure you point the milk spout towards your cup. Otherwise, there’ll be a mess on your countertop!
The major drawback to automatic brewing processes is you lose control over the coffee. However, the good thing about the Cafe Barista’s semi-automatic process is you still retain some of the control.
Ease Of Maintenance
You can easily remove the water and milk reservoirs for deep cleaning. However, while other espresso machines allow you to simply purge excess steam and wipe the steam wand for it to be ready to use again, the Cafe Barista’s milk reservoir will need cleaning every time you use it. So, more work is required, but it’s still no more than rinsing the reservoir and wiping it.
Another issue is it’s not dishwasher friendly, so if there is leftover milk in the water tank, you can put it in your fridge, but you shouldn’t leave it for longer than 24 hours.
The coffee maker also features an automatic clean-up function, which takes 30 seconds. To activate it, turn the milk reservoir’s knob to the ‘Clean’ position, press the button for three seconds, and it will begin. The function automatically shuts off when the process is complete.
Keep in mind that, as with other coffee makers, regular descaling is imperative to keep the Cafe Barista in good working order. Aim to descale after every 40 to 80 brew cycles.
Value For Money
One of the things that put off many coffee lovers from brewing at home is the often prohibitive cost of espresso machines. However, the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista is far cheaper than most, costing around the same as a mid-priced drip coffee machine. This makes it accessible for beginners who don’t want to spend a lot of money on an expensive espresso machine.
Entry-level espresso grinders alone generally cost more than $200. For a similar price, this machine allows you to enjoy a latte and cappuccino at home every day instead of spending several dollars a day in coffee shops. It’s one of the main reasons the machine has been around for nearly 10 years and remains extremely popular.
Last update on 2022-08-11 / As an Amazon Associate, if you buy via the links, Brewcoffeehome earns a commission at no extra cost to you.
As we’ve detailed, the Cafe Barista makes espresso, cappuccino, and latte, but it can also make other espresso-based drinks. Let’s look at some of the best.
Add a single scoop of vanilla ice cream to your cup, then pull a single espresso shot over it for the perfect summer dessert.
Add two teaspoons of sugar and chocolate syrup to your cup, then brew a single cappuccino with the Cafe Barista. After brewing is complete, stir to mix the cappuccino with the syrup and sugar for a delicious beverage.
For an alternative to a hot latte, put some ice cubes in your cup and brew a single latte with the Cafe Barista. Then, pour it over the ice and enjoy!
Feel free to use any syrups you like to your drink.
Alternative Espresso Machines
It is difficult to find a latte and cappuccino machine at a similar price range that is so easy to use. However, if you have more money to spend, here are some of the best alternatives to the Cafe Barista.
|Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine,...||1,851 Reviews||See on Amazon|
|Breville BES500BSS Bambino Plus Espresso Machine,...||1,068 Reviews||See on Amazon|
|NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto Coffee Machine, Genio 2,...||3,018 Reviews||See on Amazon|
Last update on 2022-08-05 / As an Amazon Associate, if you buy via the links, Brewcoffeehome earns a commission at no extra cost to you.
Gaggia Classic Pro is worth considering if you’re looking for greater control over the brewing process and want a higher-quality espresso to show for it. However, this semi-automatic machine is not particularly user-friendly, so it is unsuitable for beginners. However, if you can dial in and have a good espresso grinder, this is a good option. Check out our Gaggia espresso machine review here.
Breville Bambino is another excellent machine for brewing cappuccino and latte. A significant benefit is its auto-frothing steam wand that allows the user to customize the foam texture and set the temperature – perfect for beautiful latte art.
While these two machines represent reliable alternatives to the Cafe Barista, they cost twice as much and require a separate espresso grinder.
If you’re in the market for a hands-free latte or cappuccino machine, the Nescafe Dolce Gusto may be suitable. These machines are budget-friendly. However, rather than ground coffee, they are only compatible with Dolce Gusto coffee pods. While this isn’t particularly disadvantageous from the perspective of quality, they are more expensive, so over the long term, you will spend more.
If you choose this machine, there are pods for latte, cappuccino, macchiato, and cortado, and you can brew your beverage at the push of a button.
The Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista espresso machine is not only an excellent option for beginners due to its relatively low price and ease of use, but it is also the first espresso machine many coffee lovers turn to on their domestic coffee-brewing journey.
However, unsurprisingly, given that competitive price, it won’t make an authentic espresso shot as good as those produced by premium machines. Nor is the design as high-end or fancy as some of the higher-end espresso makers.
However, it is one of the most efficient espresso, latte, and cappuccino makers you’ll find for the price, and it won’t take up much of your precious countertop space.
If you’re a more experienced home barista, the machine is probably not ideal as it doesn’t offer the same control over the brewing process as you’ll likely desire. However, the machine can make excellent coffee drinks without requiring any expertise or experience for people just beginning their home barista journey. Not only that, but you can try a range of other recipes, so it does offer a degree of experimentation as you learn the process of domestic brewing.
Overall, the machine is a reliable and easy-to-use choice for people hoping to experience the enjoyment of brewing coffee at home without breaking the bank.