You’d be surprised by how much you can achieve with just a Nespresso machine and a milk frother. Although Nespresso coffee makers are simple pod brewers, famous for their quick and easy espressos, they can be used to create barista-type drinks that you’d spend good money on at the coffee shop. It’s similar to how you’d use a more advanced espresso machine, just without all the complicated parts.
Nespresso make some of the best coffee makers available, but my machine is relatively basic compared to most. It’s the Nespresso Essenza Mini, part of the Original line of coffee makers that offer limited functions compared to the newer Vertuo line.
This didn’t deter me, though. Read on to discover how I mastered eight rich and creamy coffees with my Nespresso Essenza Mini and a milk frother, and to find out how to froth milk without one.
What you’ll need to make barista coffee with your Nespresso machine
From flat whites to latte macchiatos, I brewed eight (very) tasty coffees with my Nespresso Essenza Mini, and used the milk frother on my new Jura GIGA 10 coffee machine – but you don’t actually need one for hot or frothed milk.
Everyone has their own tastes, but I used a selection of Nespresso’s Ispirazione capsules (the Ispirazione Roma capsules are a personal favorite). You can find the Nespresso Ispirazione Variety Pack at Amazon. And if you want more choice, a Nespresso Vertuo machine like the Lattissima would take your brewing possibilities even further.
How to froth milk at home
Adding hot, steamed, or frothed milk to an espresso in different ways can create drinks like lattes, flat whites, and so many more.
You don’t necessarily need a milk device for this either. You can heat milk in the microwave or on the stove, and you can froth milk by whisking it or shaking it in a jar.
If you’re looking for a milk frother, the Aeroccino4 is Nespresso’s best and latest model, designed to be used with Nespresso coffee machines to heat and froth milk in four different ways. Or, this hand frother from Zulay is a more affordable frother alternative (but you’ll need to heat up the milk yourself).
Espresso: The classic
Of course, all Nespresso machines can brew an espresso. It’s the traditional base of any barista coffee, meaning any simple espresso machine can be used to brew a whole variety of beverages.
Flat white: Strong & smooth
A flat white has long been my go-to coffee order. It’s like a smaller latte but with a stronger, more intense flavor. For me, this is the ideal coffee to milk ratio, with that creamy, velvety texture creating a smooth drinking experience.
It’s made using a double espresso shot as its foundation, then you pour steamed, velvety milk on top. A good ratio to follow is 50ml (1.69 fl oz) espresso to 60ml (2.03 fl oz) hot milk, but of course this can be changed to your preferences.
For mine, I frothed the milk slightly to give it a thicker body and, after taking the above picture, mixed it all together and enjoyed a creamy coffee that was ready in minutes.
Cappuccino: Satisfying & milky
Cappuccinos are a classic – the rich, satisfying flavor makes it a popular choice for any coffee drinker. And it’s actually fairly easy to make at home.
Traditionally, cappuccinos are made using a third espresso, a third hot milk, and a third frothed milk. This allows for the espresso’s intensity to be mellowed out by the milk, and the frothed/hot milk combo provides more diverse textures.
This is definitely one of my favorites to brew at home. I like my cappuccinos milky, so I added a bit of extra hot milk before pouring the foam. And when mixed, it was thick and creamy enough to taste like a barista had done it.
Latte: Extra frothy
Barista drinks often start with espresso as the foundation, and a latte is just espresso with rich and creamy milk poured on top. It’s one of the more milky coffees, with the ratio often being around one part espresso, three parts hot milk, or 40ml espresso to 120ml hot milk (1.35 fl oz / 4.06 fl oz).
I decided to make my latte a bit frothier than usual to make the most out of my Jura machine – and it tasted great. And don’t worry, I gave it a good mix before drinking.
Latte macchiato: Good-looking, triple-layered
Lattes start with espresso first, then milk. But a latte macchiato starts with milk with the coffee then poured on top. It’s a subtle difference but one that can really change the look and texture of the drink.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to start with 150ml of frothed milk (5.07 fl oz), then pour 40ml of espresso (1.35 fl oz) on top. As the espresso sinks below the milk froth, this creates the distinct, visually-satisfying three layers.
Mocha: Indulgent chocolate infusion
It’s one of the most popular flavor pairings for a reason. Anyone who loves coffee and chocolate will appreciate this, and will have likely tasted many mochas in their time.
Especially as the weather gets colder, learning how to make a mocha at home can make all the difference. There are different ways to make one – you can even use dark chocolate blocks or ice cream for a really thick and indulgent result – but it doesn’t take much to brew a simple, delicious mocha.
Using espresso as the base, I added two teaspoons of hot chocolate powder (this time I used Lindt’s – one of my personal favorites), then poured a generous amount of hot and frothy milk on top. This creates a smooth balance of chocolate and coffee, with the milk mellowing out the taste so that neither flavour is overpowering.
Espresso macchiato: Smooth & intense
To make an espresso macchiato, all you need is an espresso shot with a small amount of frothed milk on top. It’s best to use frothed milk that is relatively stiff, so that it sits nicely on top of the dark espresso crema.
Espressos are naturally intense, so adding a spoon of frothed milk can smoothen the experience. It’s a quick and easy way to make your espresso shot a little less intense.
Americano: The easy one
Americanos are very simple to brew: all you need is a shot of espresso, topped up with hot water.
This is a great way to weaken the intensity of an espresso shot while making your coffee last longer. The flavor is diluted into the water, so be sure to pour the right amount to your desired coffee’s strength and size.
This is only the beginning of the long list of coffees you can brew with a Nespresso machine. Once you start throwing in ingredients like whipped cream, chocolate, and ice cream – you can use a Nespresso to make some of the fancy coffees you’d expect from a coffee shop like Starbucks.
And if you’re looking to upgrade your home coffee station, be sure to check out our Black Friday coffee maker deals hub for all the biggest discounts on coffee machines this year.