You can use a standard coffee maker to make a latte, but you will usually get better results if you use an espresso machine to do the job. The problem the coffee maker presents is that you need something to froth the milk. Otherwise, what you end up with is a cup of coffee with milk in it – hardly a latte.
An espresso machine is obviously a better choice, as most models come with milk frothers. Stovetop espresso makers normally do not however, and if you go that route, the end result might a cup of espresso with a milk in it. A milk frother is therefore a necessity for making a latte. Fortunately, milk frothers can be purchased separately, and they are not terribly expensive.
Use a Coffee Maker to Make a Latte
If you have a high-quality coffee maker, with Keurig being one of the better brands, you can use espresso grounds or an espresso K-cup to make an excellent latte. You will of course need a milk frother. One advantage to this approach is that coffee makers are less noisy than most espresso makers, and they tend to be much more reliable than a comparably-priced espresso machine. As for the milk frother, you can find a battery-powered one at Amazon or IKEA for under $10 that will work perfectly fine.
Or, Pay a Bit More and Use an Espresso Maker
If using a coffee maker simply won’t do, you’ll need to shop for an espresso maker. Don’t bother with models costing under $100 unless you only enjoy a cup of espresso or a latte on seldom occasions, as the cheaper models tend to be trouble prone. An exception might be the DeLonghi Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker which retails for around $90. DeLonghi models that sell for more would probably be a better choices however, the DeLonghi BCO320T model, which retails at $150 being but one example. If you visit a coffee shop or espresso stand on a regular basis however, an espresso machine in the $250 to $300 range will still pay for itself in just a few months, and you could end up saving several hundred dollars a year.
Another good choice is the Cuisinart EM-200, a programmable espresso machine. It also retails in the $150 range. The Keurig Rivo 500 Cappuccino and Latte Brewing System at $199 make an authentic Italian espresso and a perfectly frothed cup of milk at the touch of a button. You can of course go to a higher priced machine. In the world of latte coffee makers and espresso machines, a rule of thumb is that the more you pay the better quality, and the better cup of java, you usually get. Super expensive brands like Jura, Breville have their cons. They just have fewer of them.
Three Attractive Alternatives
If your lifestyle includes having a good latte to start the day, here are three approaches you might consider. First, if you already have a Keurig coffee maker, use an espresso grind or pod, and purchase a milk frother. About the only disadvantage will be the need to heat the mill separately if you want it warm or hot. Second, look into the Keurig Rivo 500 Cappuccino and Latte Brewing System or the DeLonghi BCO320T espresso machines. A third approach, and something well worth considering if you have been thinking about purchasing a coffee grinder, would be to purchase a combination coffee maker/grinder to make a truly fresh cup of coffee or a truly fresh latte. Breville vs DeLonghi-What is the difference?, Cuisinart, and Krups are three brands well worth considering. You will of course still need to fork over $10 or so for the milk frother.
If you like to enjoy a latte every day, a mid-priced espresso maker would make the most sense. If enjoying a latte is a once-in-while thing, purchase espresso grounds, or grind you own, and a frother.