De'Longhi fully automatic coffee machine purchasing advice: how to choose the right product

  • The most important facts in brief
  • Fully automatic coffee makers prepare various coffee specialities at the touch of a button.
  • De’Longhi offers a wide range of machines for pure coffee preparation as well as fully automatic machines.
  • De’Longhi’s fully automatic coffee makers can be divided into entry-level, mid-range and premium models.
  • Standard features include individual adjustment of grind, coffee strength and cup capacity, as well as a cleaning programme.
  • Premium machines increase the ease of use with a large colour display and app control. They also offer a particularly large selection of beverages.

Coffee specialities at the touch of a button

For many Germans, coffee is an integral part of their morning ritual. While some like to drink it small and black as an espresso, others prefer it as a coffee-milk drink such as cappuccino, latte or latte macchiato. Various coffee specialities can be prepared particularly quickly and easily with a fully automatic coffee maker. Models with a milk foam system even produce fluffy milk foam at the touch of a button. One of the most popular manufacturers of fully automatic coffee machines is the Italian company De’Longhi.

Diverse product range

De’Longhi was founded in 1902 as a handicraft business and soon developed into an important supplier of components for the household appliance industry. Today, the traditional company manufactures more than six million appliances per year in various product areas and is particularly known for espresso machines, portafilter machines and fully automatic coffee machines. In addition, De’Longhi offers small kitchen appliances such as kettles, toasters and microwaves as well as air conditioners and heaters. De’Longhi’s vision is always to provide its customers with innovative household appliances with unmistakable Italian design and outstanding quality. In its product development, the company focuses on local and cultural characteristics, taste habits and traditions.

four fully automatic coffee machines from DeLonghi

Coffee makers for every taste

In the “Coffee” product line at De’Longhi, you will find various devices for preparing the popular, caffeinated hot beverage: from coffee grinders to filter coffee, electric mocha and capsule machines to fully automatic coffee machines, portafilter and espresso machines, it’s all there.

On the company website, De’Longhi helps its customers to find the right coffee machine for their needs with a small questionnaire. Users select the desired preparation method (with coffee beans, with ground coffee, with capsule system), the coffee speciality (espresso and coffee, filter coffee, mocha) and the preparation method for coffee-milk drinks (at the touch of a button, with manual milk frothing nozzle, with capsule system). The following table summarises the De’Longhi recommendations:

Machine typeFully automaticEspresso & portafilter machineCapsule machineElectric mocha potCombination machineFilter coffee machine
With coffee beansβœ“βœ˜βœ˜βœ˜βœ˜βœ˜
With ground coffeeβœ“βœ“βœ˜βœ“βœ“βœ“
With capsule systemβœ˜βœ˜βœ“βœ˜βœ˜βœ˜
For espresso / coffeeβœ“βœ“βœ“βœ˜βœ“βœ˜
For filter coffeeβœ˜βœ˜βœ˜βœ˜βœ“βœ“
For mochaβœ˜βœ˜βœ˜βœ“βœ˜βœ˜
Milk foam at the push of a buttonβœ“βœ“βœ“βœ˜βœ˜βœ˜
Manual milk frotherβœ“βœ“βœ“βœ˜βœ“βœ˜
Milk foam with a capsule systemβœ˜βœ˜βœ“βœ˜βœ˜βœ˜
An overview of the various devices for preparing different coffee specialties.

With the large product selection, almost every coffee drinker will find the right product at De’Longhi. Particularly popular coffee makers are fully automatic machines, which we focus on in this comparison. In the following, we will look at the advantages they offer, what makes De’Longhi models stand out and what you should look out for when making your choice.

The advantages and disadvantages of fully automatic coffee makers

With a fully automatic coffee maker, you can prepare various coffee specialities at the touch of a button. The fully automatic machine grinds the coffee beans using an integrated grinder and brews the powder with water in the brewing group. Depending on the model, the machine even froths milk fully automatically.

Ease of use and a wide choice of beverages

One of the biggest advantages of fully automatic coffee makers over other coffee-making appliances is their ease of use and versatility. You choose from a variety of hot drinks such as coffee, espresso, cappuccino and latte macchiato, and your coffee machine prepares the desired speciality for you. For this, you neither need a filter as with the filter coffee machine, nor do you produce waste in the form of coffee pods or capsules.

Various coffee specialities

Aromatic coffee prepared quickly

Compared to filter coffee machines, fully automatic coffee makers prepare more aromatic coffee thanks to the high brewing pressure. The pressure ensures that the aromas can develop better. In addition, the fully automatic coffee maker brews the coffee powder for a shorter time, which means that fewer bitter and tannic substances get into the drink. This makes fully-automatic coffee more digestible than the variant from the filter machine. In addition, the fully automatic coffee machine is particularly fast. It usually takes no longer than 30 seconds to brew coffee or espresso, and you rarely have to wait longer than a minute for a milk-based coffee drink. In contrast, it takes at least eight minutes to brew a pot of coffee with a filter coffee machine.

High price and only two cups per run

The high ease of use and the large selection of beverages come at a price. Compared to filter, capsule and pad machines, fully automatic coffee makers are considerably more expensive. While you can get a simple filter machine without a grinder for as little as ten euros, you have to budget at least 250 euros for a fully automatic coffee maker.

Another disadvantage of the fully automatic coffee maker compared to the filter coffee maker is the preparation quantity. While you can brew a whole pot of coffee in one go with a filter machine, a fully automatic machine only produces one or two cups. If you want to offer coffee to several people at the same time, the latter is impractical. However, De’Longhi has already eliminated this disadvantage with a model with a pot function. The De’Longhi Perfecta Evo machine can make up to six cups in one go with the jug function.

Advantages

  • Very aromatic coffee
  • Preparation of various coffee specialities
  • Freshly ground coffee
  • Preparation at the touch of a button
  • High ease of use
  • Short preparation time
  • Little waste

Disadvantages

  • Comparatively high price
  • Often only one or two cups per run

Standard functions and additional features of De’Longhi fully automatic coffee machines

Even the De’Longhi entry-level models, which are available from around 350 euros, allow you to adjust the grind, coffee strength and cup fill quantity individually. In addition, you can adjust the height of the spout so that you can place different sized cups or glasses underneath without it splashing or getting too crowded when filling. In addition to the bean hopper, the machines have a powder compartment so that you can also fill in already ground coffee. Furthermore, all De’Longhi models have an automatic switch-off and a stand-by and energy-saving mode. So you don’t have to worry about rising electricity costs.

The grinder: Durable and precisely adjustable

All De’Longhi fully automatic coffee makers are equipped with a quiet 13-stage cone grinder. Such a grinder grinds the beans between a fine-toothed cone and funnel. Due to their design, cone grinders are very durable and wear-resistant. They also allow the grinding degree to be set precisely. De’Longhi relies on high-quality materials and knows how to convince with quality.

Cleaning and descaling programmes

Another standard feature of De’Longhi fully automatic coffee makers is a cleaning and descaling programme. In addition, the water hardness can be programmed for all appliances. Many De’Longhi models are also equipped with a water filter that you insert into the water tank. This is particularly useful for consumers in areas with very hard tap water. The filter removes limescale from the water, which would otherwise have a negative effect on the taste of the coffee and damage your machine in the long run. The removable brew group has the advantage that you can easily remove it for cleaning under warm water. In addition, in the event of a defect, you do not have to replace the entire fully automatic machine, but have the option of replacing only the brew group.

On models with an integrated milk frothing system, the milk carafe has an automatic cleaning function. After you have prepared your drink, the fully automatic machine cleans all parts that came into contact with milk with hot water and steam – including the milk carafe. This is not only more convenient than rinsing the parts by hand, but also more hygienic. The carafe is also removable, so you can rinse it by hand if necessary.

Interesting extras of various De’Longhi models

In addition to the standard functions, De’Longhi fully automatic machines from the mid-range and higher price segments starting at around 500 euros come with some practical additional features that increase ease of use or allow you to prepare special drinks. These include, for example, the long coffee function, with which the machine brews the coffee in a gush brewing process with longer extraction time, similar to a filter machine.

Create your own coffee specialities

The De’Longhi fully automatic coffee machines from the upper price segment already offer a very large beverage selection with about 20 pre-installed coffee recipes. In addition, you have the option of creating your own specialities and saving them in your user profile. The models in the PrimaDonna Elite Experience range also come with a special container, the so-called MixCarafe. This comes with an aero and chocolate stirring wand and a magnetic stirring system. You can use it to prepare hot chocolate, creamy cold coffee and cool milk foam.

Real-time control with Coffee Link app

The models in the Dinamica Plus and PrimaDonna Elite ranges are particularly easy to use: these fully automatic coffee machines can be connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth and the Coffee-Link app. With the app, you can conveniently edit all the settings of your De’Longhi fully automatic coffee machine from your smartphone, have all the speciality coffees prepared and compile completely individual recipes. For example, you can order a cappuccino with extra milk foam from your sofa and get it from the kitchen when the app indicates that it is ready. The only thing missing from complete luxury is that the fully automatic machine fetches the cup from the shelf and brings the coffee to your sofa.

Fully automatic coffee machines DeLonghi App

The app also supports you with tips and advice on the maintenance and care of your fully automatic coffee machine. In addition, you can download the operating instructions for your fully automatic coffee machine via the app and access an interactive manual.

Find the right De’Longhi model

De’Longhi offers a wide range of models: There are currently over 50 different fully automatic coffee machines on the manufacturer’s website. According to size, features and price, the machines can be divided into entry-level, mid-range and premium models and are suitable for different requirements. We highlight the most important selection criteria in the following:

Beverage selection

For many consumers, the beverage selection offered by a fully automatic machine plays an important role. With simple De’Longhi models from the entry-level range, for example the Magnifica S ECAM 21.116.SB, you only choose between a coffee and an espresso. In addition, you have the option of adjusting the grind, coffee strength and water temperature individually.

Mid-range models such as the Dinamica ECAM 352.55.SB have four direct selection buttons for espresso, coffee, cappuccino and latte macchiato. With the MyMenu programming function, you can customise the drinks to suit your taste. Among other things, you can set the amount of milk and coffee. Some models also have different coffee strengths preset; for example, the ECAM 23.466 model has five.

Premium models such as the Eletta ECAM 45.766 prepare Caffè Latte, Flat White and Espresso Macchiato at the touch of a button, in addition to the drinks mentioned above. They also have the Long Coffee function for lovers of long brewed coffee. You get even more options with fully automatic coffee machines from the Dinamica Plus and PrimaDonna Elite ranges. They allow you to create your own coffee specialities and save them in the menu.

Coffee selection

With the PrimaDonna machines, you can also prepare hot chocolate. Fully automatic coffee machines in the PrimaDonna Elite series even have direct selection buttons for white, green, black and oolong tea. If you want to use your coffee machine to make cold coffee and milk foam or other toppings for your drinks, a PrimaDonna Elite Experience model with MixCarafe is recommended.

The milk system: nozzle or fully automatic

The possible beverage selection is influenced by the milk system of the fully automatic coffee machine. De’Longhi fully automatic coffee machines can be divided into models with a manual milk frothing nozzle and those with an integrated milk system. The machines with a manual milk frothing nozzle are usually a little cheaper, but they cannot make milk-based coffee drinks at the touch of a button. Instead, you first run the coffee through and, in a second step, froth the desired amount of milk in a separate container with the steam nozzle. Models with a manual milk frothing nozzle are suitable for those who mainly drink coffee or espresso and only occasionally want to prepare milk-based coffee specialities.

If you want your coffee machine to make a cappuccino or latte macchiato at the touch of a button, choose a model with an automatic milk system. This is equipped with a milk container that you only need to fill with cool milk. The machine does the rest. You can remove the container and store it in the fridge between coffees. The latest De’Longhi models with automatic milk frothing are equipped with the new patented LatteCrema system, which produces particularly fine-pored and creamy foam. In addition, the system mixes just the right amount of steam, milk and air for each milk coffee speciality.

Milk container of a fully automatic coffee machine

If you are still not satisfied with the consistency of your milk foam, simply adjust it to your liking with the Vario control dial. With the Auto-Clean function, the LatteCrema cleans itself automatically with hot steam and water.

Foam from plant-based milk alternatives

Good news for all those who don’t drink cow’s milk but still don’t want to give up their cappuccino or latte macchiato: The LatteCrema system from De’Longhi also produces creamy milk foam from soy, almond or rice milk.

The controls: buttons and knobs or large touch display

A good automatic coffee maker is intuitive and convenient to use. Differences between the various De’Longhi fully automatic coffee machines can sometimes be found in their controls. The comparatively inexpensive models in the Magnifica range do not have a display, but are operated exclusively via labelled buttons. Although these machines are easy to use, they offer hardly any additional comfort features and only a few setting options.

De’Longhi fully automatic machines from the mid-price segment usually have a two- or four-line text display. Some models, for example the PrimaDonna S Evo ECAM 510.55.M, have an LC display that shows, among other things, the status of the beverage passing through. The Dinamica and PrimaDonna machines from the premium class have a 3.5-inch colour display that you can use to conveniently select your beverage and save individual settings in your own profile.

Display of a DeLonghi fully automatic coffee machine

The Maestosa EPAM960.75.GLM model with its 5-inch display and full-touch technology is particularly easy to use. In addition, this fully automatic machine, like the models in the Dinamica Plus and PrimaDonna Elite ranges, can be controlled via smartphone using the Coffee-Link app.

The machine size

The question of appliance size is particularly relevant for people who have little space in their kitchen. The De’Longhi range includes both compact and large automatic coffee machines. Narrow models, such as those in the Dinamica range, are 23 to 24 centimetres wide, while wide models are up to 28 centimetres wide. At 43 centimetres deep and around 35 centimetres high, Dinamica machines are very compact overall. Large De’Longhi fully automatic machines, on the other hand, are up to 47 centimetres deep and 47 centimetres high. The more bulky fully automatic machines mainly include models from the Magnifica ESAM and PrimaDonna ranges.

Bean hopper and water tank capacities

The capacities of the two tanks determine how often you need to refill beans and water. The more often you use your fully automatic machine, the larger these components should be so that you don’t have to constantly refill them. Most De’Longhi fully automatic coffee machines have a water tank with a capacity of 1.8 litres. Only a few machines, such as those in the Perfecta Evo range, have a slightly smaller tank of 1.4 litres. Some models in the Prima Donna range have a particularly large water tank with a capacity of 2 litres.

The De’Longhi models differ more in the size of the bean container. If you prepare no more than two cups of coffee a day, you should get by with a smaller bean container, i.e. a capacity of 200 grams. Several models in the Magnifica range and the two CaffΓ¨ Corso ESAM machines have one. The bean hopper of most De’Longhi fully automatic machines holds 250 or 300 grams. The fully automatic coffee machines in the PrimaDonna Elite series offer a particularly large water tank with a filling volume of 400 grams – ideal for people who want to drink several cups of coffee several times a day. The De’Longhi Maestosa EPAM960.75.GLM offers a special feature: it is equipped with two bean containers, each with a capacity of 290 grams. The model is suitable for consumers who want to fill their fully automatic coffee machine with two different types of beans.

The capacity of the drip tray

With De’Longhi, you don’t have to make a decision about the drip tray into which the coffee powder falls after brewing. With all models, you must empty it after 14 speciality coffees have been brewed.

The height of the coffee spout

When it comes to the coffee spout, it is important that it is height-adjustable so that it can be adapted to different cup sizes. All De’Longhi fully automatic coffee machines meet this criterion. In most cases, a height of 8.5 to 14.2 centimetres can be set. This means that you can place a 5 or 6 cm high espresso cup under the spout without the drink splashing out of the cup due to the drop height. On the other hand, a 13-centimetre-high coffee cup also fits underneath. On a few De’Longhi machines, the spout height is only 7.5 to 10.5 centimetres. This is a tight fit for latte macchiato glasses or large coffee mugs.

What does a De’Longhi fully automatic coffee machine cost?

In terms of price, De’Longhi fully automatic coffee machines can be divided into affordable and medium- and high-priced devices. Entry-level machines, for example from the Magnifica ESAM series, are available from around 300 euros. Even with these models, you get a high-quality fully automatic machine. De’Longhi entry-level models are usually equipped with a manual milk frothing nozzle and the standard functions. They can be operated via labelled buttons, and some also have a two- or four-line display. For 500 to 1,000 euros, you get a De’Longhi machine from the mid-price segment with a fully automatic milk system, a larger beverage selection, additional setting options and a colour display. In this price range you will find the machines from the Dinamica series. For premium fully automatic machines from the PrimaDonna and Maestosa series, you pay between 1,000 and 2,000 euros. For this, you get the highest level of operating convenience with a large TFT display, various additional setting options and the option to control the machine via smartphone.


Fig. 1–6: Β© De'Longhi