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The 3 Best Espresso Thermometers for Your Home Kitchen

Paul's passion for making and consuming coffee extends back over thirty years. An extensive traveler, he currently lives in Florida.

Read on for my recommendations for the best espresso thermometers currently available...

Read on for my recommendations for the best espresso thermometers currently available...

I've learned from experience that making the perfect latte or cappuccino is not is not just about the coffee brew, the milk has to be just right too. Getting the temperature of the milk right can be difficult. If you heat it too little, it won't have the correct consistency, heat it too much and it will become burned.

The best way of ensuring that the milk has reached the ideal temperature is through the use of an espresso thermometer. A temperature between 150ºF and 155ºF generally works best. Go above above 170ºF and the milk will be scorched.

Top 3 Espresso Thermometers

Here are my 3 choices.

  • The Norpo 5981: Affordable and Easy
  • The CREMA PRO: Sturdy and Accurate
  • The CDN IRB220-F ProAccurate Insta-Read: Perfect for a Smaller Pitcher

I explain my selections and give my experiences below.

The Norpro 5981 Espresso Thermometer is accurate, attractive and won't take up too much of your drawer space. The dial has a red area to let you know when your milk is at the right temperature. .

The Norpro 5981 Espresso Thermometer is accurate, attractive and won't take up too much of your drawer space. The dial has a red area to let you know when your milk is at the right temperature. .

The Norpo 5981: Affordable and Easy

When it comes to value for money, the Norpro 5981 is difficult to beat. You can generally pick them up for under $10 online. I used one of these thermometers for over a year before losing it during a house move.

Attractive and functional, I found this device to be perfect for use with milk frothing pitchers.

Norpro Thermometer Pros

  • The clip that enables you to fasten the thermometer to pitcher is very useful. You can slide the clip, if the thermometer is too long for the pitcher.
  • The dial is around 3/4 inch in diameter, with a very visible colored zone to let you know optimum temperature (somewhere around 150-160F or 65-72 C is generally accepted to be the ideal temperature for a perfect latte foam).
  • Generally speaking, very straightforward and easy to use.
  • Old style spring style thermometer so no batteries required.

Norpro Thermometer Cons

  • Needs to be hand washed to avoid damaging it.
  • Needs to be re-calibrated, if it goes off. Not a difficult procedure but sometimes necessary. There is an hex nut at the rear of the dial that can be used for this purpose.
The CREMA PRO Milk Thermometer.

The CREMA PRO Milk Thermometer.

The CREMA PRO: Sturdy and Accurate

I have been using a CREMA PRO for the past year. It's well built and consistently accurate, in my experience. I find it easy to use and the dial is clear, it does exactly the job it's supposed to, the thermometer clips in at an angle, but that's fine. I've had no issues and I like it.

CREMA PRO Pros

  • Well designed and constructed.
  • Both the clip and the stem are sturdy.
  • It works well with the larger pitcher that I use nowadays.
  • It came with a tool for calibrating, though it was accurate on arrival, when I checked.
  • It does its job well and is reasonably priced.

CREMA PRO Cons

  • The dial is easy to use, but moves fairly slowly.
The CDN IRB220-F ProAccurate Insta-Read is an ideal device for use with a smaller frothing pitcher.  It's easy to read and accurate dial won't get in the way of your wand and the CDN IRB220-F won't take up too much space in your kitchen drawer.

The CDN IRB220-F ProAccurate Insta-Read is an ideal device for use with a smaller frothing pitcher. It's easy to read and accurate dial won't get in the way of your wand and the CDN IRB220-F won't take up too much space in your kitchen drawer.

The CDN IRB220-F ProAccurate Insta-Read: Perfect for a Smaller Pitcher

The CDN IRB220-F ProAccurate Insta-Read is another very affordable thermometer and perfect for a smaller milk frothing pitcher, I used one when I was living alone and making smaller amounts of frothed milk for my coffee.

CDN Insta-Read Pros

  • Inexpensive, they can be bought for under $10 online the last time I looked.
  • Versatile. I've tried it for making yogurt and it worked just great. It's also great for candy and deep-frying and other high temperature cooking.
  • I've seen complaints online about the size of the dial, but I like it and find it easy to see when milk reaches right temperature.

CDN Insta-Read Cons

  • The clip worked well for a year or so, but did become a little loose after repeated use.
  • Needs calibrating occasionally (not difficult but may put some people off).

Once you wake up and smell the coffee, it's hard to go back to sleep.

— Fran Drescher

A Brief History of Coffee

According to legend, coffee first came to the attention of people in the Ethiopian highlands in the 9th century, when a goat herder named Kaldi noticed that his animals became more lively when they ate the berries from a certain plant.

The truth of the legend is difficult to assess, but we do know that coffee originated in that region of the world and by the fifteenth century it was cultivated and imbibed as a drink in southern Yemen. By the sixteenth century coffee drinking had spread to Persia, Egypt, Syria and Turkey.

Coffee houses, known as "qahveh khaneh" started to spring up in cities across the Near East. People would drink coffee, socialize and talk, enjoy music, watch performances, play chess and catch up on the latest news of the day.

By the 17th century, coffee had made its way to Europe. There was some suspicion and controversy over the dark drink, however, and there were calls to ban the beverage, until Pope Clement VIII condoned its use in 1600.

Coffee houses sprung up in England, France, Germany, Austria and Holland, and quickly became centers of social activity and interaction. Artists, brokers and merchants would meet there. In many places, women were banned from coffee houses at this time.

Coffee arrived in New York (then known as New Amsterdam) in the mid-1600's, and just as with Europe, coffee houses quickly began to appear everywhere. Tea was still the most popular drink, however, until the colonists rebelled against a heavy tax imposed on tea imposed by the English in 1773. After that, American loyalty switched to coffee.

Demand for coffee continued to grow. For centuries the cultivation and trade of the dark bean was controlled by the Arabs, but in the late 1600s the Dutch got hold of some young seedlings and began cultivating crops on the island of Java.

Coffee cultivation continued to spread around the world. By the finish of the 18th century, it had turned into one of the world's most profitable export crops.

I don't know how people live without coffee, I really don't.

— Martha Quinn

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Paul Goodman

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