DeLonghi are the biggest manufacturer of espresso coffee machines in the world by far. This Italian coffee machine manufacturer started off as a small family business in 1902, and are now an established brand trusted by millions of people across the globe.
To give you an idea of how popular DeLonghi are as a coffee machine brand, they command an astonishing 33% share of the espresso coffee machine market! Not bad for a company that only actually incorporated in 1950, spending the first 48 years as a small unincorporated family business.
Considering how many different companies produce coffee machines from well known brands such as Sage, Gaggia & Melitta to the lesser known Chinese manufacturers, for one company to be so dominant in such a popular product type as coffee machines is really quite a feat. They’re actually twice the size as their next biggest competitor!
They spend over 40 million Euros a year developing and improving products, which is more than most coffee companies take in total let alone just developing new products.
So you know DeLonghi produce popular coffee machines, but the hard part is working out which is the best DeLonghi coffee machine.
The good news is that I have done all the hard work for you and picked out the ones that represent the best value for money when you compare the quality of coffee that the machine produces and the features that each machine comes with.
Not only are there loads to choose from but there are a wide variety of different types of DeLonghi coffee machines as well.
There are around 76 different machines to choose from, at the time of writing, across various different brewing methods as follows:
Manual Espresso Machines
Manual machines are traditionally tricky to use, but in the hands of professional baristas can produce amazing quality espresso, and espresso based coffees such as latte, cappuccino, flat white, lungo & Americano.
While there are domestic versions of these kinds of espresso machines which still require fairly well-developed skills in order to produce amazing results (AKA home barista espresso machines) the manual espresso machines from DeLonghi are more aimed at the domestic, mainstream coffee machine market.
They’re generally easier to use than what I refer to as home barista machines. The user has to go through the motions in the same format, grinding the coffee, tamping it, locking in the portafilter and then hitting the button – but they’re made in a way that most people woule be able to take a Delonghi espresso machine out of a box and start making espresso based coffees straight away that they’re happy with.
Notice that I say you’ll need to grind your own coffee.
The easy approach would be to just buy pre-ground coffee from the supermarket, and you can, but you would be doing yourself a disservice in my humble opinion.
To me, buying a traditional espresso machine and then trying to use pre-ground coffee beans just doesn’t make sense. You’re never, ever going to get the same results from pre-ground coffee, not with espresso.
In fact, if you were to ask me the one thing that anyone can do to improve their home coffee quality with any kind of coffee brewing, whether that’s filter, cafetiere, Aeropress, Stovetop or anything else – my answer would be, grind your own – and of course make sure you’re buying great quality, speciality coffee beans.
For more on the best coffee beans:
The best coffee beans
For more on coffee grinders:
best burr coffee grinder
best manual coffee grinder
All of DeLonghi’s manual espresso machines come with a steam wand to heat and froth your milk so there is no need for a separate milk frother.
Just bear in mind that if you do go down this road you’ll need to put some thought into making your coffee and it will take a little bit of education and practice to get it right.
To get the same kind of quality coffee as you’d expect at a great coffee shop, you’d be looking at adjusting your grind size to extract your coffee to your chosen ratio and recipe. I tend to go for 1:2 extraction (for example 18g of ground coffee to approx 36ml of espresso), in 28-32 seconds.
This is with standard baskets, many of the DeLonghi coffee machines come with pressured baskets, so you don’t need to worry too much about shot time. For more info on this:
Espresso Terminologies. Pressurised Baskets Vs. Standard Baskets
If that all sounds a bit too much bother but you still want a quality cup of coffee but you want it to be hassle free then the next type of machine may well be what you are after.
Automatic Coffee Machines
DeLonghi call these automatic coffee machines and I can understand why because most of the process is automated, but they are more commonly known as bean to cup coffee machines.
There are two kinds of automatic machines, automatic and fully automatic, or automatic and one touch. The difference is that the fully automatic or one touch machines also handle the milk part for you, whereas with standard automatic or bean to cup coffee machines, you steam the milk using the attached steam wand.
Unlike manual espresso machines they come with a grinder built-in so you don’t have to worry about grinding your own beans, just add them to the hopper (the bean container) at the top and the machine does it for you.
You’ll need to do a little bit of experimenting at the beginning such as selecting how finely the machine should grind your coffee beans using one of the multiple grind settings that will be available to you, but there’s nowhere near as much prep required as there is with a traditional, manual espresso machine.
You can also pre-set the amount of water that gets delivered through your ground coffee and there are many other features depending on the machine you go for where you can bespoke things exactly how you like it.
That’s where the magic begins because once you have the machine set up how you like to take your coffee, there’s very little you need to do each time you want your perfect coffee. In fact, with the one touch machines, you basically just need to press a button (other than attaching the milk carafe for example).
The machine will grind the coffee for you, tamp it, and then push the water through the coffee under pump pressure – deliver your espresso and then eject the puck into the waste container ready to be emptied into the bin.
The standard automatic machines come with a steam wand to allow you to steam your own milk, but there are also the one touch machines which also sort out the milk frothing for you.
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the fully automatic or “super automatic” or “one touch” machines which also deliver the frothed milk, as you don’t quite have the same control as you do when you do it yourself so it just depends how fussy you are.
It’s the reason that you don’t see fully automatic bean to cup coffee machines in coffee shops and why you’ll always see a Barista heating the milk before pouring it to create the coffee of your choice.
The all singing all dancing DeLonghi bean to cup machines can start to get a bit expensive but if you want good coffee and you don’t want to do any work and you are prepared to pay for that luxury then they are worth having a look at.
Whilst this article is specific to DeLonghi I have another article that discusses bean to cup coffee machines across all the different manufacturers:
best bean to cup coffee machine
Filter Coffee Machines
DeLonghi have a number of different filter coffee machines to choose from but this article is going to be focussed on manual and automatic (bean to cup) coffee machines.
However, if you are interested in filter coffee machines I have a very detailed blog post that explains all the different types and the best ones on the market:
best filter coffee machines
Nespresso Coffee Machines
Nespresso specialise in coffee and not coffee machines and although there are plenty of Nespresso machines to choose from they are actually made by various other companies that specialise in coffee machines and who better to choose to make your machines than the market leader in coffee machines – DeLonghi.
So if you see a Nespresso machine that you may be interested in and it has “DeLonghi” written on it and you are wondering is it a DeLonghi coffee machine or a Nespresso coffee machine the answer is that it is a Nespresso machine made by DeLonghi.
As mentioned, this article is going to concentrate on DeLonghi manual espresso machines and bean to cup coffee machines but I have a very detailed specific article for Nespresso machines that can help:
best Nespresso machines
Dolce Gusto Coffee Machines
Where Nespresso concentrates on the premium end of the huge market in coffee pods and capsules, Dolce Gusto is more focussed on the entry-level, cheaper pod coffee machines for anyone that wants a coffee machine but doesn’t want to incur the upfront costs to buy one.
You can pick up a Dolce Gusto coffee machine for under £50 but it’s not personally something I would use myself or recommend because the pods work out very expensive and they use powdered milk to create “cappuccinos” and “lattes” which is a big no no in my opinion if you want to create a coffee that tastes good.
Nestle own both Nespresso and Dolce Gusto and so as well as making Nespresso machines for Nespresso, DeLonghi also make Dolce Gusto machines.
Because these types of machine don’t make very good tasting coffee (in my opinion at least) they don’t get a place on this list because great tasting coffee is a prerequisite for inclusion.
So let’s take a look at the best of what DeLonghi have to offer.
These are the best DeLonghi bean to cup coffee machines:
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- One Touch Coffee (espresso/lungo/Americano only, not one touch milk).
- 1.2L front removable water tank very easy to access from the front.
- 13 grind settings
- Dishwasher safe drip tray with a decent capacity.
- Good steam power and can be used as a panarello or pro style steam wand.
The Esam 4200 has been an incredibly good seller for years, and it’s easy to see why. I’ve used this machine, and it’s a lot of machine for a very low price!
If you’re drinking single or double espresso, lungo or Americano – you can use this as a one touch machine, meaning once you’ve got your perfect coffee, you can literally just press the button each time to get your perfect coffee.
If you’re drinking milkies – flat white, cappuccino, latte, cortado etc., – then you have two options for steaming the milk.
Option 1: Via the panarello.
A panarello, also known as turbo frother or auto milk frother, is a sheath of metal or plastic over a steam pipe which aerates the milk via a hole on the side.
They’re clever, actually – but other than the Dedica EC685M which I’ll talk about shortly, all other panarello wands I’m aware of are capable of making only one kind of milk foam, the thick, stiff foam used to make old school cappuccino.
If this is what you like, great, it’s very easy to produce this kind of milk foam with the panarello, so just leave it on, stick it in your milk jug, stop when your milk jug starts to get too hot to comfortably touch.
Option 2: Remove the panarello.
When you remove the panarello on the ESAM 4200 & other DeLonghi coffee machines, you get a steam pipe which can be used just like a single hole steam tipped wand.
There is a knack to this, and believe me, it’s harder than it looks ;-). I’ve been practising for years and I’ve only recently really got the knack of it, but if you check out some of my YouTube videos, I have quite a few milk steaming tutorials.
Subscribe to my YouTube Channel
I used the DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM 4200 for a week or two in order to write my review, and overall I was very impressed with the capabilities of this inexpensive machine.
Lots of fellow coffee botherers (that’s what I call my readers & viewers) have told me that they have this machine, and it’s rare that I hear anything but praise for it.
Yes, it’s a cheap machine, you’re not going to get the same kind of features as something like the Sage Oracle, but just keep in mind that the DeLonghi ESAM 4200 costs roughly 15 % the price of the Oracle! If you’re interested in the Oracle, though, see:
Sage Oracle Review
In a nutshell, if you’re on a tight budget, you’re not going to get much better value for money at this kind of price point than this DeLonghi machine, it’s very, very good for the money.
If you read my “warts ‘n all” review of the ESAM 4200 you’ll see I made a couple of observations about little niggles or quirks of this machine, but they’re only small, and the low price more than compensates for them.
Check Price - Amazon UK
Check Price – Amazon UK
- 1.8L Water Tank – Front Accessed
- Steam Wand Doubles as Hot Water Tap
- Adjustable Nozzle Height for Various Cup Sizes
- Relatively Quiet Grinding
- 13 Grind Adjustments
This is another popular low cost bean to cup or “automatic” coffee machine from DeLonghi, and again, I think this offers a lot of machine for the money.
It’s not a great deal more than the ESAM 4200, it looks a bit nicer in my opinion, it’s a bit smaller, the steam wand can deliver hot water as well as steam, and I think the controls make a bit more sense.
Given the similar price, I think I may be tempted by this machine over the slightly cheaper ESAM 42oo if I were buying a bean to cup machine.
This machine has a crazy number of Amazon reviews, which just shows you how popular this machine is given that the majority of people who will have bought the machine won’t have left a review. They’re mainly positive too, and most of the negatives appear to be reviews of the supplier and not the machine.
This is one of my pet peeves. When people leave a review on Amazon for a product, and they rate the delivery service or the supplier – there’s a different place for that, Amazon reviews are purely about the quality of the product. Anyway, I digress ;-).
This is another standard automatic or bean to cup coffee machine, meaning that you’ll need to sort out the milk yourself, but as I said earlier, personally I prefer that.
Each to their own, but I find most of the one touch milk foaming machines create overly stiff foam, every milk drink just ends up being some form of old school cappuccino. Steaming milk is a skill you’ll need to learn, but in my humble opinion it’s worth taking the time to practise.
As with the ESAM, you can use the panarello wand if you prefer, or slide it off to reveal the pipe underneath which you’ll then use just as if it was a pro steam wand with a single hole tip.
Check Price – Amazon UK
Check Price – Amazon UK
- Both Automatic and Manual Milk Steaming
- Nine 1 Touch Coffee Buttons Including Flat White
- Intelligent Control Panel
- Full Control Over Brewing – Including Coffee Temperature
- 2 Litre Water Tank – Easily Accessed From the Front
This is a fully automatic, or “super automatic” bean to cup coffee machine, or “one touch” machine, which will do everything for you at the touch of a button, including frothing the milk and delivering it into your cup.
Interestingly, this is a one touch machine that gives you the option also to use a steam wand if you don’t want to use the auto milk option.
Some may ask the question, why pay more for a one touch machine if you’re going to use a steam wand anyway – but I think that misses the point.
I think the point DeLonghi are cleverly addressing here is the fact that many people if just making one coffee for themselves, and if in a rush, might not want to mess about filling the milk carafe and then cleaning it out again after.
You can also remove the panarello and use the steam pipe as a single hole steam tip as with most panarello wands – and doing this also gives this machine flexibility when it comes to the kinds of users that the DeLonghi Eletta may be suitable for.
In other words, you may want to steam your milk manually for the very best quality flat white, but there may be others using the machine who couldn’t care less about that, and who just want to press a button.
This is a feature that makes the Sage Bambino plus popular, that is a manual espresso machine with the ability to manually create great textured milk if you’re a budding home barista, but also other people in the home or in the office who don’t have any manual milk steaming skills (and there’s a knack to it) can use the automatic milk steaming feature.
Personally, I’d prefer to go for something like the Bambino plus, because the milk created automatically by this machine is going to be way better than most one touch bean to cup coffee machines are capable of creating, but that’s just me – many people love one touch bean to cup machines and are happy with the milk texture they produce.
This post is about DeLonghi coffee machines of course, but if the Bambino Plus is of interest, see:
Sage Bambino Plus Review
As I mentioned earlier, DeLonghi are the biggest home espresso machine manufacturer on the planet, and you can see that they really know what they’re doing when it comes to creating popular machines.
This is another machine that has racked up a crazy number of Amazon reviews, and there are lots of positives. The biggest complaints refer to the quality of the milk foam and therefore the ability of this machine to create one touch flat whites as advertised.
In my humble opinion, one touch machines can’t make flat white. Having said that, many Baristas can’t either ;-).
Joking apart, you need a fairly wet foam for producing flat white, you don’t want what I refer to as old school cappuccino foam, and this is all one touch machines are really capable of. Flat whites produced on one touch or fully auto machines are going to be stronger cappuccinos basically.
I reckon the only bean to cup machines on the market capable of producing flat white with automatic milk steaming, are the Sage Oracle, Sage Oracle Touch, and the Gaggia Magenta.
Gaggia MagentaSage OracleSage Oracle Touch
I can understand the annoyance to be honest, if someone has bought a machine based on the claim that it can produce flat whites at the touch or a button, to find out that the “flat white” that is produced at the touch of a button isn’t what most people would accept as a true flat white.
But to be fair to DeLonghi, they’re not the only manufacturer who does this – and there’s no official rule on what and what isn’t a flat white – if there were, I think coffee shops up and down the country would be breaking it. I’ve had many flat whites which, similar to those produced by one touch bean to cup machines, are just a stronger cappuccino.
Also, this machine does have three foam texture settings, many one touch machines only have one, so this does give more control over the milk texture that you’re going to get with most other bean to cup machines, and it’s not actually that expensive either, given the features it has.
Check Price – Amazon UK
Check Price – Amazon UK
- 4.3 Inch touch screen display
- “Bean Adapt” technology to automatically adjust the grinding, dose and temperature depending on the bean.
- Flat burr grinder with 7 grind settings
- Removable washable brew group
- 2.2L Litre Water Tank – Front loading
- Dual boiler
- Puck bin holds 20 used pucks
- 500 gram bean hopper
- Fully adjustable auto milk texture
- Up 21 touch screen coffees including 5 personalised settings
- Coffeelink smartphone app
This is one of DeLonghi’s Primadonna range of feature-packed bean to cup machines, one of the highest cost bean to cup machines from DeLonghi. Also see ECAM650.85.MS Primadonna Elite.
This is a serious bean to cup coffee machine, with some serious technology – but the important thing is, if you read through the Amazon reviews (some very long detailed reviews on there along with videos and photos) you start to get the impression that this isn’t just about fancy technology, DeLonghi have produced a machine here which appears to make decent quality coffee & milk texture.
I’m not a massive fan of fully automatic bean to cup machines personally, just because I find that usually you end up not properly dialled in (there are usually only a fairly small number of grind adjustments) and the milk is often very similar for all drinks, you don’t tend to get velvety microfoam.
You don’t even have to touch the touch screen, just get out your smart phone, open the app, choose your coffee from the images on the app – or create a new one – and then press the prepare button on your smart phone. Sadly, the app doesn’t have the technology to get a cup out of the cupboard and place it on the drip tray, so you’re going to have to do that bit yourself.
The Bean Adapt technology is interesting too. The idea, essentially, is that the machine intelligently dials in the bean for you, with the information you feed it about the beans you’re using and how the shot looks and tastes.
You have a shade card sheet to hold up against your beans so you can tell the app if the beans you’re using are light, medium, medium-dark or dark roasted, you can tell the app if you’re using 100% Arabica, or a Arabica/Robusta blend. You can save your coffee by name in the app, and then ask the app to dial in for you, basically, by clicking the edit icon & clicking the “start” button.
You’ll then be guided through a process of pulling a shot, and you’ll be asked to rate it visually based on the look of the crema, and taste (too watery & week, OK, too bitter), it’ll adjust the brew temp and the grind sized based on this, and if you’re still not quite happy with it you can carry on dialling in via the app.
Very clever stuff, and I’d really be interested in trying this machine actually – even though, as I’ve said, I’m not usually a fan of one touch bean to cup machines.
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So there we go, that’s what I believe to be the best bean to cup or “Automatic” coffee machines from DeLonghi.
These are the best DeLonghi manual espresso machines:
When I say manual espresso machines, what I’m referring to are traditional semi automatic or “pump” espresso machines.
These differ from the automatic machines above in that they’re operated just in the way that a barista would operate a traditional commercial espresso machine.
You grind your coffee beans into the basket in the filter holder (known as a portafilter), tamp the coffee to compress it, lock the portafilter into the group head, pull the shot, knock the puck into your knock box.
Then, if you were in the mood for espresso, you’d just enjoy it as is. If you’re making a lungo or Americano you’d mix the shot with hot water, of if making a milky (latte, flat white, cappuccino, cortado) you’d then steam the milk using the steam wand on the machine, and pour it into your cup.
If that sounds really straight forward, even enjoyable – just beware, it’s not quite what it seems.
There’s quite a bit more to making coffee this way – the reality is that using a traditional espresso machine requires at least some home barista skills.
The amount of skill required really depends on how fussy you are, and/or how well developed your palate is.
If your palate isn’t all that well developed, and if you’re not all that fussy – you can use the pressured basket that most of the lower cost home espresso machines come with. You can even use pre-ground coffee. Even then, it’s still a bit of a learning curve.
If you’re fussy about the quality of your espresso and milk texture if you’re a milky fan like me (flat white is my fave), then just be prepared for a steeper learning curve. You’re going to have to swap the pressured basket for a standard basket (very easy to do), you’re going to have to have an espresso capable grinder, and you’re going to have to develop some home barista skills.
You’ll need brew scales, you’ll need to weigh your ground coffee and your shots, you’ll need to time the shot time, and you’ll need to learn how to pull a shot properly.
You’re going to have to learn about distributing, about carefully tamping, avoiding channelling, and dialling in the bean, which means adjusting the grind to get a better extraction. If you really catch the home barista bug as I have, then you’ll have a great hobby which results in amazing coffee shop quality (or better in many cases) coffee at home.
If you don’t, what you may end up with is a boatload of frustration, and an eBay listing ;-).
So I’d recommend thinking carefully before going for a manual, traditional espresso machine – if you think trying to use a manual espresso machine will drive you mad, you may be better going for a bean to cup machine.
De’Longhi Dedica Style EC685M
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- Very Slim at 15cm Wide
- Panarello steam wand capable of latte art quality milk texture
- Comes with pressured baskets but easily rectified
The DeLonghi Dedica EC685 and its predecessor the EC680 are very popular manual espresso machines from DeLonghi. This is what I refer to as a domestic espresso machine, but it does have home barista potential with a bit of modding.
To explain what I mean by that, domestic espresso machines are made for “normal” coffee drinkers, not for the home Barista market.
Machines that are specifically targeted at the home barista market start at the likes of the Gaggia Classic and Sage Bambino Plus or Duo temp pro. These are at the very entry-level, and they’re around £400.
Gaggia Classic Review
Sage Bambino Plus Review
The price just goes up and up from there, many of the most popular home barista espresso machines cost from one to two thousand, or even higher.
So many of us (myself included) when we start off on the home barista hobby, need to find a way to get started at a lower budget.
One option is to buy a used machine as I did. I started out with a used Gaggia classic, although these really hold their value these days so you’ll not get much change from a couple of hundred quid even from a second-hand machine!
Another option is to buy an espresso machine aimed at the domestic market, and if you’re not all that fussy – just use it as is, with the pressured basket. But if you want more control over the shot, and ultimately better shot potential, you’d do a little bit of tinkering, and pair it with a capable grinder.
The tinkering here is actually very simple, you’d just buy a standard basket to replace the pressured basket, or buy a bottomless portafilter (they’re cool) which comes with a standard basket. Like this one:
Which is the one I bought to use for my Youtube review of this machine, below.
Overall, with a bit of effort, it’s possible to get fairly good espresso from this machine once you’ve managed to work your way around the 15 bars of pressure.
There’s no over pressure valve on these machines, they’re really intended for use with pressured baskets, so you’re working under higher pressure than is ideal, which increases the chances of channelling – where some of the water flows through the coffee too fast, basically – leading to an un-balanced extraction, which means bad tasting espresso.
But as I say, with some effort it’s possible to get around this and the result is not bad espresso. As a home barista machine I’d expect this to be a stepping stone machine, meaning that you’ll probably upgrade it in the not too distant future, but as a cheap first machine, it’s not a bad shout.
When it comes to milk though, I’m really impressed with the Dedica E685.
Most domestic espresso machines like this one have what is called a “panarello” wand, or “turbo frother” – which is a sheath of (usually) plastic over the steam pipe, which enables anyone to steam milk with no learning involved.
Using a proper steam wand is actually much, much harder than it looks – I can tell you from personal experience, I’ve been learning to properly steam milk for quite a few years, and I’m still no pro! Using a panarello is easy, but usually results in one type of milk texture, which is stiff spoonable foam for “old school” cappuccinos.
If this is what you enjoy, great, but if not, usually panarello wands can’t produce the more velvety microfoam that many people prefer to use to make drinks like flat white & latte.
But on the EC685, the panarello has two settings, cappuccino, and hot milk. This makes it really simple to use in order to produce great milk texture via the panarello. Watch my tutorial video below to see how it’s done.
By the way, if you’re one of the many people considering buying the Smeg ECf01 espresso machine (I get a lot of emails about that machine) I would strongly consider buying the DeLonghi EC685 instead. It’s almost half the price, and from what I can gather the Smeg is almost identical internally.
I’ve come to the assumption that the Smeg is at least based on the Dedica, if not actually the very same machine just in a very characteristically Smeg shell. I do like the idea of the steam lever instead of the knob, and it does look very nice, but personally I wouldn’t pay an extra couple of hundred quid just for this.
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Check Price - Amazon UK
- 1.4 litre water tank
- Easy to operate
- Actual brew boiler
Yet another popular espresso machine from DeLonghi, this is a machine that I’ve seen in more than one large retail outlet in the past, and undoubtfully its looks has led to this machine ending up in many kitchens over the years.
It’s a bit bigger than the EC685, it has a bigger water tank, a bigger drip tray, and it has a boiler.
The EC685 like most lower-cost domestic machines has a thermoblock which is an on demand water heater. The Skultura has a small brew boiler, as does the Gaggia Classic.
Whether this actually results in better espresso is a difficult thing to say, there’s more to a machine’s potential shot quality than just whether it has a boiler or a thermoblock or thermocoil.
It doesn’t have the same panarello as the E685, but it’s still capable of decent microfoam – just not via the panarello. With this machine and most panarello machines, you can pull the panarello off, and use the steam pipe as a standard wand. Just keep in mind though that there’s a learning curve to using a steam wand, it really isn’t as easy as the pros make it look.
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Check Price - Amazon UK
- 2 litre water tank
- Integrated grinder with completely contained grinding
- Integrated tamping lever
- Pressure gauge
- Same intelligent panarello as the Dedica EC685
- Dedicated water spout & automatic water delivery for Americano
This is an integrated grinder machine, but this doesn’t make it a bean to cup coffee machine. This is a common misconception which often leads to the Specialista and the very popular Sage Barista Express & Barista Pro ending up in bean to cup coffee machine categories.
By the way, I’m going to refer to “La Specialista” as “The Specialista” in this post and not “The La Specialista”, otherwise I’m calling it the the Specialista, which reminds me of Mickey Blue Eyes. Great film!
Integrated grinder espresso machines share the integrated grinder with bean to cup coffee machines, and that’s where the similarity ends.
The Specialista is DeLonghi’s answer to the Sage Barista machines, but the difference is that they’ve made this machine for the everyday coffee drinker, not the home barista. I’ll explain what I’m on about, so bear with me.
Sage are the masters of integrated grinder machines, and they undoubtedly focus on the home barista market with their integrated grinder “Barista” machines.
Sage Barista Express Review
What Delonghi have created with the Specialista, I think, is a very clever integrated grinder machine for the every day coffee machine user.
It’s a pressured basket machine, which isn’t what you’d want from a home barista machine, but as an every day coffee machine user, it reduces the learning curve.
I won’t get into the technicalities too much here, but the long and short of it is that pressured basket machines usually have 15 or 19 bar pumps, and have baskets with one small hole on the bottom which espresso is forced through, mainly to replicate the visuals of a great shot, while not quite doing the same with the taste.
Standard basket machines on the other hand are filter baskets literally full of holes, and it’s trickier to get the shot right, but when you get it right the shot potential is on another level.
The Sage machines are capable of much better espresso in my humble opinion, but only with some effort and learning. Anyone would be able to take the Specialista out of the box and make OK espresso straight away, without a great deal of faffing around “dialling in” and so on (meaning to adjust the grind size to improve the extraction).
Also, to be fair “anyone” meaning most normal coffee drinkers, would quite possibly rate what someone with a well-developed coffee palate may rate as “OK” espresso, as incredible espresso.
If you’ve got the palate to be able to detect the difference, then you may find espresso from a pressured basket machine like this to be thin, lacking in body, and dull in comparison to a well pulled shot on one of the sage Barista machines.
But I think it’s important to address the fact that many people haven’t got the palate to be able to notice this in the same way.
Not that I’m saying this is a different class of person, by the way – I’m not a snob! It’s literally just a case of palate development. The more often you taste great coffee, the more your palate will develop.
If you think you’re more of a “normal” coffee machine user at present, and you possibly don’t have the palate at the moment to detect much difference in the cup from one shot to the next, then the Specialista may be worth a look, as it has some really user-friendly features.
They’ve “emulated” the Sage barista machines, no doubt about that, but they’ve definitely added some features to make this machine more “non-barista friendly”.
The big thing for me is the completely enclosed grinder cradle, you just lock the portafilter in & the machine takes care of the dosing and grinding, inside the machine, which means no mess. I actually think Sage need to take note of this, it’s a very smart feature.
The integrated “smart tamp”lever I think is very clever too, getting a consistent tamp pressure each time is a real skill, and this takes away the need for that. The fact that the Specialista automatically delivers the hot water for Americano I think is also very smart.
Looking through the Amazon reviews, though, DeLonghi appear to have had a bit of a mare with this machine with a common fault which many people have reported which has lead to a very wet kitchen. I don’t think I’d be overly worried given the overall review score, and I would hope that they’ve resolved this issue by now.
Best DeLonghi Coffee Machines – Conclusion
So there you go, my fairly comprehensive guide to what I believe to be the best DeLonghi coffee machines.
Overall, DeLonghi are a huge brand, one of the biggest when it comes to coffee machines, and they really focus on the main stream “normal” coffee machine user market. So if you’re in the mainstream when it comes to coffee, one of the DeLonghi coffee machines above may be perfect for you.
Before I sign off, I thought I’d answer a few other commonly asked questions:
Is DeLonghi a good brand?
DeLonghi are a company that spends millions of pounds a year developing new products and making sure that they understand customers needs and requirements.
We’re talking about the most purchased coffee brand in the world, a brand which sells more units than any other coffee machine brand at the time of writing.
This is a very well established (putting it mildly) and trusted, Italian coffee machine brand. If we’re talking purely about the mainstream domestic coffee machine market (and I’m not talking here about the home barista market) I’d say DeLonghi are the best brand.
As I say, I’m not comparing them with the likes of Sage Gaggia, Rancilio, Lelit, Profitec & so on – this is a completely different market, but focusing on the mainstream domestic coffee machine market, I can’t think of a better and more well-respected brand.
If you don’t consider yourself a “mainstream” domestic coffee machine user, and if becoming a home barista is something that interests you, the obvious brand to look at is Sage.
This article explains more:
best Sage coffee machine
How long should a DeLonghi coffee machine last?
I think it’s fair to expect longevity from investing in a well known brand such as DeLonghi, and it’s unlikely DeLonghi would have developed a massive 30% market share with products that don’t last.
Having said that, it’s important to note that the user has a part to play in how long their machine lasts. As with cars, it does depend on how much mileage (literage?) your coffee machine does, and how well it’s maintained.
Just as most cars will work absolutely fine for the first 15,000 miles or so, but may develop issues not long after if not regularly serviced and properly looked after, the same is true of coffee machines.
Whilst your DeLonghi coffee machine is unlikely to need to go off for servicing, and it definitely won’t need an MOT – regular descaling (depending on the hardness of your water) and genera cleaning (just go to the cleaning section of the manual for your coffee machine) should help to lengthen the life of your machine.
Generally speaking, if you look after it, and if you’re not unlucky to end up with a problem machine (and if you are, fingers crossed the problem presents itself within the warranty period) I’d expect the average DeLonghi machine to last for around 5 years, maybe more.
How To Choose The Best Coffee Machine For Any Budget
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This article firstly appeared at Coffee Blog – The UK Specialty Coffee Blog – For Lovers of REAL Coffee!