The DeLonghi ECAM 23.460 Review: New Machine or Next Italian Coup?

After working as a professional barista for many years, Arne Preuss founded Coffeeness.

Note: At the time of writing, the DeLonghi ECAM 23.460 isn’t available for purchase in the United States.

DeLonghi ECAM 23.455.b

Note: At the time of writing, the DeLonghi ECAM 23.460 isn’t available for purchase in the United States.

I have the vague feeling that DeLonghi wants to win some kind of race where nobody knows what’s actually at stake. The Italians are releasing new coffee machines in quick succession and at first glance you can hardly tell what their biggest selling point is.

That’s how I recently felt about the DeLonghi ECAM 23.460 super-automatic espresso machine, which I’ve already examined for you in a YouTube test video. Though it’s in German, keep reading, and I’ll explain everything here as well.

Costing around £665 on Amazon, the new ECAM representative is in the same price range we just celebrated with the DeLonghi Dinamica ECAM 350.55.B. The Dinamica is a real top-of-the-line machine, which is why we have to question whether we also need the ECAM 23.460.

The fact is that the slightly more affordable and smaller ECAM machine is a wonderful machine in its own right. It makes very nice espresso and scores points for milk froth.

Somehow, I just can’t shake the impression that the product design was a bit of a rush job, though. Still, that’s only due to details like a completely stupid button assignment — the quirkiest ever to appear in a super-automatic espresso machine review.

On top of that, someone apparently assumed that the consumer couldn’t be trusted with the concept of ‘espresso’, because there’s no such thing here — at least not explicitly. Even ‘milk foam’ seems too complicated. Read the test report, and you’ll understand what I mean.

However, I don’t give up that easily. Determined to extract an espresso from the ECAM 23.460, I poured my favourite beans (a dark roast with chocolatey notes) into the grinder. 

Somewhat redundant, but not at all bad.

A good device with somewhat confusing "language."

Good espresso & milk foam

Fine adjustment of the grinder

Top price-performance ratio

Easy cleaning

Confusing button naming

Overview — The DeLonghi As We Know It

If there’s one thing the Italian brands know how to do, it’s how to make fully automatic espresso machines instantly recognizable. The DeLonghi ECAM 23.460 is no exception. 

It looks just like its siblings, even if its two-line text display has more of a commitment to the modern look. This modernity runs through the entire front, which is made of stainless steel with black plastic accents.

The DeLonghi ECAM 23.460 fully automatic espresso machine with Arne.

This is especially evident when compared to the inexpensive, test classic DeLonghi ECAM 22.110.B, which has to make do without a display altogether. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether the design of the new ECAM model is prettier than the Dinamica version, but I, for one, like it.

Also implemented here without any problems are DeLonghi’s compact dimensions, which we’re used to having. The brand manages to create a unique selling point through the inclusion of an automatic milk frothing system, a cup preheater and the 2-cup function, none of which are a given when reviewing a machine in this price category. 

The DeLonghi ECAM 23.460 fully automatic espresso machine heating plate.

As always, the B in the name stands for the Black plastic version, and as always, you have the option to choose Silver or a mixed version. That said, the inclusion of stainless steel casing is pretty impressive in this price bracket. For proper stainless steel — even outside of the machine — you ordinarily have to shell out for the swanky DeLonghi PrimaDonna.

Category
Entry
ManufacturerDeLonghi
NameECAM 23.460
TypeSuper-automatic espresso machine
Removable brew groupYes
CasingPlastic black
Milk systemAutomatic
DisplayYes
AppNo
User profilesYes (1 Profile)
Water tank60 Oz
Minimum spout height3.3 Inches
Maximum spout height5.5 Inches
GrinderStainless steel cone grinder
Bean hopper250 g
Two bean hoppers/compartmentsNo
Grind settings13 levels
Powder chute for ground coffeeYes
Pot functionNo
Coffee specialties at the touch of a buttonEspresso, Cappuccino, Latte Macchiato
Coffee temperature settingsYes
Milk (froth) temperature settingsNo
Two-cup functionYes
Hot water functionYes
Hot milk functionYes
Milk froth portionYes
Water filterYes (1 water filter supplied)
Weight20 Pounds
Dimensions (H x W x D)13.3 x 16 x 9 Inches

Ultimately, the question of price isn’t much of an issue here because you get a lot of features for a mid-range machine:

  • Stainless steel conical burr grinder with 13 settings
  • Adjustable coffee strength, temperature, coffee and milk quantity
  • Automatic milk frothing system
  • Removable water tank (from the front)
  • 1 individual profile

Some of you will certainly feel like a single beverage profile isn’t enough. However, keep in mind, the basic settings of the DeLonghi ECAM 23.460 are quite different anyway. So, the lack of multiple profiles doesn’t have any impact — least of all negative.

Settings and Functions — Fifty Shades of Coffee

The DeLonghi ECAM 23.460 automatic coffee machine milk foam setting.

Without an instruction manual or a desire to try and fail, you won’t get the initial setting of the ECAM 23.460 right. Even I quickly began to despair at ever setting the right language. Before you get to that, though, you first have to sort out how to use the ‘OK’ button as intended. It’s — as always — the central control unit that stores all settings for coffee temperature, strength and milk quantity.

That doesn’t mean it’s not as obvious as it might seem: you have to press the button for a very long time for it to do its job. When it comes to naming the drinks and buttons, on other hand, things get really adventurous because there’s no espresso on the menu here.

Instead, there’s a ‘short coffee’, ‘medium coffee’, ‘long coffee’ and ‘extra long coffee’. With a bit of thinking outside the box, you’ll get the idea that a ‘short coffee’ is roughly equivalent to espresso, but this only works in reality when you increase the amount of ground coffee you’re using.

Seriously, what’s the point? Especially since the average coffee machine buyer has just gotten used to the concept of ‘espresso’ — with all its parameters — and pays more attention to quality than ever before.

Then comes DeLonghi, seemingly suggesting that it would be better to dissolve this complicated field and only offer coffee. This is utter nonsense because it also suggests that a fully automatic espresso machine can only master one style.

Yes, while this is fundamentally true, it doesn’t take into account the variety you can conjure up with a little tweaking. There’s also a lot of confusion when it comes to milk froth. For this, you have to press the big ‘Cappuccino’ button.

However, this doesn’t produce a Cappuccino, but rather a Caffè Latte — the closest thing you’ll get to a Latte Macchiato.

The DeLonghi ECAM 23.460 fully automatic espresso machine front.

Although you can also approximate a Cappuccino by tweaking the settings, you’re always forced to deal with the composition in detail. On the flip side, the DeLonghi ECAM 23.460 gives you maximum freedom and invites you to play around.

That said, I still think that this level of involvement is too much of a good thing for the average consumer. They want to feel confident with the factory settings and coffee drinks at the push of a button before starting to experiment on their own.

Even the in-house, hybrid machine DeLonghi La Specialista, as a blend of espresso machine and fully automatic coffee machine, offers more orientation — and it has already forced you to learn.

The DeLonghi La Specialista fully automatic espresso machine.

This doesn’t mean that the concept is so terrible that you’ll never get it. It’s just an unnecessary first hurdle that has to be overcome. Once you’ve done that, the machine can be regulated excellently — and, above all, in small increments.

The Grinder — DeLonghi Really Delivers

When it comes to the grinder, DeLonghi delivers its usual high-quality performance with the ECAM 23.460. Not only is the inclusion of 13 grind settings always exceptional at this price point, but the stainless steel conical burr grinder is also supremely adjustable.

The DeLonghi ECAM 23.460 automatic coffee maker grinder.

The DeLonghi components have no problem producing a consistent grind — even at the finest setting — and this has a significant impact on the espresso quality. On top of that, the hoses and components inside can effortlessly handle and transport this ultra-fine ground coffee.

As far as stainless steel grinders go, the ECAM 23.460’s version is neither particularly loud nor particularly quiet. The sound is just boringly normal — thought that’s certainly always a plus. For my fully automatic espresso machine review, I only had to turn the dial briefly and without force to achieve the finest grind.

Espresso and Milk Foam — No Complaints Here

DeLonghi can also pin another badge on itself for the quality of the espresso and milk foam. Again, I would have been surprised if that hadn’t been the case. The new ECAM series cuts a particularly fine figure in cup results at all price levels.

The DeLonghi ECAM 23.460 fully automatic coffee machine Espresso happy

For the test, I chose the finest grind for the espresso and opted for a ‘short coffee’, then adjusted the fill volume further down. The fill volume range here extends from around 20-180 milliliters (0.67-6 fluid ounces), which is just about convincing in the minimum range. I settled on around 25 milliliters (0.85 fluid ounces) and used the ‘very strong’ coffee quantity setting.

With this, the DeLonghi finessed a very exciting aroma out of my test beans,, which was hidden in a nicely drawn crema and a very full-bodied espresso.

Although the herbal nuances of these beans are very difficult to extract cleanly in a compromised device like a fully automatic machine, it certainly worked here. Plus, with a drinking temperature of around 70 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit), the espresso from the ECAM 23.460 was also pleasantly hot.

The LatteCrema System, with its integrated milk container, produces a nice, well-tempered milk foam at minimum operating volume. However, its firmness is definitely designed for Latte drinkers. Yes, you can readjust the consistency, but the result is always quite close to the Latte ideal.

This doesn’t bother me much because I have absolutely no problem with the pore size. The mouthfeel is excellent, and the ideal temperature translates into a very sweet, aromatic foam. Depending on the coffee beans, this can bring a fancy new component to the flavour. 

Cleaning — Standard Issue

Admittedly, quite often I find myself wanting to use ‘Everything’s Great, No Problems’ as a title for the cleaning section. To the manufacturer’s credit, I think this reflects just how much it cares about this important aspect, in general.

I also have nothing to complain about with the DeLonghi ECAM 23.460. The factory-set intervals for descaling and basic cleaning are already fairly well-integrated, so you only have to adjust them if you have particularly hard water.

You can also easily remove the brew group, rinse it under running water and replace it after drying. Like I always say, you should, ideally, do this after every day of operation.

The DeLonghi ECAM 23.460 automatic coffee maker brew group removed.

The coffee grounds container, drip tray and the removable components of the milk frothing system should be treated in the same way and can be put in the dishwasher without further ado.

The DeLonghi ECAM 23.460 fully automatic coffee maker coffee grounds.

You should clean the water tank and water filter just as often — preferably whenever you need to refill it. This takes a few seconds longer but ensures the best coffee quality. The only annoying thing here is that the machine takes rinsing very seriously, pumping water from the pipes before and after every cup of coffee. It’s only irritating because the drip tray fills up relatively quickly, so you have to empty it more often. Of course, I have no objections from a hygienic point of view.

The DeLonghi ECAM 23.460 fully automatic coffee maker drip tray.

Conclusion on the DeLonghi ECAM 23.460 — Great Machine, But Is It Necessary?

On its own, after the ‘teething problems’ and Babylonian confusion of terms, I’m very fond of the DeLonghi ECAM 23.460. It’s a great coffee machine with useful functions and provides a delicious result in the cup.

Somewhat redundant, but not at all bad.

A good device with somewhat confusing "language."

Good espresso & milk foam

Fine adjustment of the grinder

Top price-performance ratio

Easy cleaning

Confusing button naming

That said, I still have to ask myself whether this product is really necessary. At a similar price point, I’m still a touch more convinced by the DeLonghi Dinamica ECAM 350.55.B. It’s more modern, a bit quieter and even more intuitive, overall.

I also find stronger devices at both ends of the brand spectrum. With no display and a manual milk foam system, the entry-level DeLonghi ECAM 22.110 has been the price-performance category test winner for years. It helps that the buttons are also clearly named.

However, if you want to treat yourself, the DeLonghi PrimaDonna range is very feature-rich and sits comfortably in the higher-price points. On top of that, it has classic luxury additions, like lots of stainless steel and sexy special features.

What does that say about the £665 ECAM 23.460? Not much, per se. At most, it says that the manufacturers seem to be afraid of falling behind in a growing, yet limited market.

After all, once a customer buys a new fully automatic espresso machine, they probably won’t rush out again next week for the latest one.

Still, manufacturers like DeLonghi continue to flood the market with constant new releases. Even if there isn’t much innovation involved, there’s always the opportunity to hoist up a ‘new release’ banner. That doesn’t make the devices worse, just a bit redundant.

Nevertheless, I’m sticking to my opinion that with the DeLonghi ECAM 23.460, we’re dealing with a good fully automatic machine that, without a direct comparison with its brand siblings, is absolutely convincing. What do you think? Feel free to let me know in the comments.

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