DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro Review 2022: The Master of Espresso Machines

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

With the release of the DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro EC9665M, shoppers looking to buy a mid-range automatic espresso machine were presented new questions.

Arne mit der DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro

With the release of the DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro EC9665M, shoppers looking to buy a mid-range automatic espresso machine were presented new questions.

  • Should I buy the DeLonghi La Specialista or La Specialista Maestro?
  • What’s the difference between the original DeLonghi La Specialista and the Maestro?
  • Can I justify the difference in cost for the Maestro version?

I’m going to answer all of these questions and more for you today.

Successful innovations

Delonghi La Specialista Maestro

A solid upgrade!

High-quality appearance

Steam wand with plenty of power

Heats up quickly

Produces fantastic milk foam

Requires constant cleaning due to splashes when making espresso

The DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro Look

Visually, the La Specialista Maestro EC9665M is based on its predecessors. I guess there’s no reason why DeLonghi should have changed the appearance. After all, the stainless steel, black or red housing with black trim looks as chic and high quality as ever.

Still, if I had to nitpick, the corresponding symbols light up behind the reflective surface when the bean hopper is empty. That’s really small potatoes, though.

The generously protruding buttons and dials lend the machine a touch of retro-cool. In addition to the familiar pressure gauge for measuring the brewing pressure, you’ll also find two additional digital display panels on the front. One displays the dose amount and uses sensors to register micro adjustments. The other is for selecting drink types such as espresso or cappuccino.

This mix of controls results in a coherent overall look that’s somewhere between old-fashioned and modern. I like it.

DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro Overview

Not much changed much about the general layout of the DeLonghi La Specialista. On the left, it’s all about processing the coffee beans: grinding, dosing and tamping. On the right, everything revolves around espresso extraction and steaming milk.

A closeup of the De’Longhi La Specialista Maestro bean hopper and cofee grind settings.

The 250 gram (8.8 ounce) bean hopper sits unchanged on top of the machine. Thanks to the exceptionally simple click system, you can place it on the grinder or remove it in seconds.

The DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro Grinder

You’ll find the grinder settings below the bean hopper. The DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro adds two more even finer options, with eight grind levels in total.

If you’re like me, you might feel like this is overkill, but it really depends on which coffee beans you’re using. That said, I found the finest of the six levels in the previous version more than sufficient for espresso preparation.

In any case, it doesn’t hurt to have the option. The same goes for the sensors in the grinder, which are supposed to ensure that the ground coffee is dosed even more accurately.

The Maestro Smart Tamping Station

The “Smart Tamping Station” is the same and still reminds me of a casino visit every time I use it. Once the portafilter and the ground coffee are latched on the left side, you pull the tamper lever toward you like a one-armed bandit.

The DeLonghi Maestro Smart Tamping Station in action.

Although Breville does this automatically on their flagship Oracle Touch, I like engaging in the process. I feel like a modern barista who waits in vain for flashing symbols and the jackpot but gets delicious espresso instead.

DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro: in the Box

It appears that the manufacturer didn’t read my original DeLonghi La Specialista review. I expressed a desire for a sturdy knock box to get rid of used coffee pucks, but it hasn’t materialized. Oh well, maybe next time. Anyway, here’s what’s included with this DeLonghi espresso machine:

  • Single-wall filter baskets (two sizes)
  • Descaler
  • Test strips for water hardness
  • Cleaning brush & cloths
  • LatteCrema system (as well as a milk pitcher)

Apart from that, the DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro manual explains even the smallest icon in detail. Therefore, I’ll skip that here and limit myself to the crucial functions and key data.

DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro Specifications

 DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro EC9665M
Model NumberEC9665M
Housing MaterialStainless steel
Color OptionsStainless Steel
DisplayYes
Water Tank2.5 L (84.5 fl oz)
GrinderStainless steel conical burr grinder
Grind Levels8
Auto TampingYes
Bean Compartment250 g (8.8 oz)
Pre-Ground Coffee OptionYes
Double ShotYes
Preset DrinksEspresso, americano, flat white, latte macchiato, cappuccino & coffee
User ProfilesYes
Adjustable Water TemperatureYes
Hot Water FunctionYes
Adjustable Milk Foam TemperatureNo
Automatic Milk FrothingYes
Max. Pump Pressure19 bar
Removable Water TankYes
Water FilterSold separately
Number of Boilers2
Power1,450 W
Weight 35.27 lbs
Dimensions (Height x Width x Depth)18.5 x 14 x 16.5 in
Warranty1-Year
Current price on Amazon$1,299.95

First Things First: How Do You Use the DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro?

I’m still a little confused. You can manually adjust what you want with all the buttons, dials, scales and digital displays, so you have to know what you’re doing. However, the machine’s many automatic mechanisms ensure that nothing ever goes wrong with the really important things like pressure, dosing and brew temperatures.

Does the DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro simply want to give me the feeling of being a true professional?

In any case, the displays allow you to learn a lot about the interaction of the individual preparation factors.

A closeup of the DeLonghi Maestro steam wand in a pitcher of milk.

When it comes to using the semi automatic steam wand, get ready to put in some practice time. With its three nozzles, this thing packs quite a punch.

Still, once you have a handle on it, you can shape the texture of the milk as you like.

On top of that, you have the usual convenient bells and whistles for saving custom settings, programs and profiles. Once you’ve dialed it to perfection, the DeLonghi espresso machine can always remember your favorite ratio of bean quantity, grind, water supply etc.

Feel free to go crazy with your home latte art! I’ll tell you more about the LatteCrema system in a bit. In the meantime, check out this video from DeLonghi about creating latte art on the La Specialista Maestro.

Maestro Startup and Preparation

First, plug it in. Then, turn the power switch on — it’s alive! All the digital display elements light up and you know you’re good to go.

Moreover, you’re always safe in the knowledge that an icon will remind you to refill the bean hopper or begin tamping.

When you unpack the coffee machine, I advise you to clean it thoroughly. Rinse all moving parts under hot water, and rinse outlets and hoses on the machine itself.

To do this, press either the button with the water droplet icon, the tea button or start a coffee brewing cycle. Remember to purge the steam wand for ten seconds via the large rotary knob.

For this to work, you first have to fill the 2.5 liter (84 ounce) water tank at the rear of the DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro.

Because this is such a large tank, you might be tempted to use leftover water from the day before. Resist that urge and use fresh water instead! Your taste buds will thank you.

Pros:

  • High quality appearance
  • Steam wand with decent pressure
  • Heats up quickly
  • Silky fine milk foam

Cons:

  • Constant cleaning due to coffee splashes when pulling shots of espresso

Now you can start playing home barista with your DeLonghi espresso machine and make your first coffee drink. I’ll tell you how it worked out for me, which buttons are the best and what the results were like.

Espresso from the DeLonghi Maestro

I was already up to speed from my first DeLonghi La Specialista review. I admit that I was being a bit of a jerk about it then, but this time around I knew the drill. Still, I had to familiarize myself with the Maestro’s additional gauges and buttons.

Setting the Dose on the Maestro

First, you regulate the dose on the large left-hand dial. The round display above it shows your setting (0 to 30).

On top of that, the display shows you which step you are currently in via a circular progress bar. If you want a double shot, select the “X2” button to the right of the dial. Easy.

Each filter basket has a level marker to indicate the ideal coffee dose. However, whether that’s your ideal dose or not remains to be seen.

Grinding Coffee on the La Specialista Maestro

Now, insert the portafilter and lock it into place. I had trouble during my previous DeLonghi La Specialista review, but the less said about that, the better.

The grinding process starts automatically. The display now shows grinding. Thanks, DeLonghi, we wouldn’t have otherwise known what that grinding noise was. Well, I guess the main thing is that something flashes.

If you want to adjust your grind, this is the right moment to do it. Use the dial just below the bean hopper and please only make adjustments when the grinder is operating.

You’d expect an RPM (revolutions per minute) and grind rate sensor to ensure even dosing of the ground coffee. It worked out nicely for me, the ground coffee arriving neatly in my portafilter. Even so, whether or not that was necessarily due to the fancy sensors is anyone’s guess.

A closeup of evenly distributed ground coffee in the portafilter.

Using the DeLonghi Maestro Automatic Tamper

Now you’re finally allowed to gamble — again, the display tells you: tamping. So, you pull the lever toward you and hope for a good result. Like I mentioned before, I was definitely happy: the ground coffee was evenly compacted and there was no mess.

However, you’ll need to practice this process a bit. Should you pull the lever twice? How fast should you pull the lever, and how long do you hold it?

Before you move the portafilter to the next station and start the brewing process, you can adjust the ActiveTemperature Control.

This feature for regulating the brewing temperature is unique to the La Specialista Maestro and has a direct effect on espresso extraction. Have fun playing around with that as well!

Making Coffee in a DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro

Using the dial on the far right, you now select your desired beverage: espresso, cappuccino, americano, flat white, latte macchiato or coffee. Depending on which one you choose, the machine may change the preparation steps slightly.

A closeup of the DeLonghi Maestro coffee drink selection dial.

Don’t forget to put a glass down under the portafilter and press the OK button in the middle. After that, the dynamic pre-infusion starts, then the actual brewing process. What does the round display tell us? That’s right, brewing. I was amazed at how quickly the machine heated up. It only took a few seconds!

Side note, which is always important to you: a large latte macchiato glass fits underneath easily. For small espresso glasses, there’s a foldaway cup grille to reduce the distance from the spout. 

Although this minimizes coffee splashes I still created a few. You’ll have to be prepared to wipe down the shiny front on a regular basis to keep it looking snazzy.

Back to the espresso and its crema: I achieved a nice golden brown result with a fine-pored, creamy and dense consistency. I admit: this wouldn’t have worked out so smoothly if I hadn’t already reviewed the first La Specialista version.

As I said, this espresso machine takes you by the hand and does a lot automatically, but you still have to learn to run it yourself. No worries though. It won’t take more than a few attempts to dial in the settings that work for you.

Milk Foam: Steam Wand vs LatteCrema System

If you’re making a milk-based coffee specialty, you can simply use the automatic LatteCrema system. To do this, fill the container with milk that is at refrigerator temperature. Next, click on the lid and insert it into the LatteCrema system on the right-hand side. Then select your desired beverage and start the brewing process.

When you aren’t using the milk frother system, you can simply cover the holder with a screen.

The espresso machine when not using the automatic milk frothing system.

Milk Froth from the DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro

For my test run, I prepared a latte macchiato. To be honest, I wanted to trick the DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro. Devious, I know.

It didn’t work, though. The clever LatteCrema system wasn’t fooled and let the milk run into the glass first. The espresso followed. Everything was done correctly.

So this DeLonghi espresso machine has a certain intelligence. It controls the coffee and milk dispensing differently, depending on the beverage. This puts it quite a bit ahead of many would-be baristas. They always say the AI will replace us!

You can also use a dial to select one of three froth levels.

As a stickler for craftsmanship, I couldn’t help but try out the manual steam wand again. I had no problems whatsoever with the three nozzles — the result was a fluffy, fine-pored milk foam. Nevertheless, I was left with the feeling of having to admit defeat by the automatic milk frothing system. I liked the consistency the milk frother produced just a touch more.

Although the DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro does have dual heating systems, you can’t prepare espresso and manually steam milk at the same time, which is a little strange. You can pull a shot of espresso and froth milk back to back though, which is much better than waiting and waiting for the water to reach the correct temperature range.

DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro Cleaning

Since this is a hybrid espresso machine with grinder, cleaning is relatively simple. The coffee grounds never come into contact with water inside the machine. This takes care of the mold problem for the time being. However, you should regularly rinse the shower screen via the hot water outlet — wet grounds can collect there.

Otherwise, all moving parts can be easily removed. Thoroughly rinse them under warm water but don’t go near the dishwasher. Spend a little time and show your DeLonghi espresso machine the love it deserves!

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You can use the included brush to get into all sorts of openings on the machine. Scrub the shower screen and go through the grinding channel to remove all coffee residue. Remember to always start with dry areas before moving to wet ones. Otherwise, you run the risk of starting a mold farm in the machine.

You can easily remove the bean hopper to reach the grinder. This makes it easy to brush out dust and remove bean remnants. A vacuum cleaner is also a good friend to have here. Hold it, vacuum, add a new bean variety, done.

The only thing that annoyed me a little was the appearance of coffee splashes during espresso extraction. To keep the machine looking decent, you actually have to wipe the front briefly after each shot, before the drops dry on. Or have I just been clumsy?!

Here’s an informative training video from De’Longhi about La Specialista Maestro cleaning.

How Long Does It Take To Descale DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro?

For descaling, DeLonghi provides you with an extra liquid — and an extra button. That solves the mystery. I was looking forward to a special feature, but all I got was a descaler button. Depending on your water hardness, the whole process takes around 20 minutes.

You can read exactly how everything works in the user manual. By the way, it tells you that you should only use DeLonghi descaler. Absolutely! Otherwise, death by coffee is imminent and you’ll end up in Nespresso coffee capsule hell.

DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro vs DeLonghi La Specialista

DeLonghi La Specialista vs DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro.

The DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro EC9665M is available on Amazon for $1,299.95, while the DeLonghi La Specialista EC9335M sells for $880.00. That’s a fairly big difference, especially when supply chain shortages run prices up.

The extra investment gets you a more advanced user interface. It also gets you a coffee bean grinder with eight adjustment settings as opposed to six. The Maestro grinder works in conjunction with two sensors that measure micro adjustments for accurate dosing. The original La Specialista also uses sensors in this way, but without the addition of the precise digital dosing dial.

Both automatic espresso machines have active temperature control to optimize extraction.

The DeLonghi Maestro is equipped with the superior LatteCrema Milk System, though it’s worth mentioning that the milk frother on the original La Specialista is also quite good.

Size wise, the La Specialista Maestro is slightly larger than the La Specialista. It weighs in at 35.27 pounds, whereas the former La Specialista weighs 29.76 pounds. The maximum cup height on the Maestro is 14 centimeters (5.5 inches) as opposed to a maximum cup height of 12 centimeters (4.7 inches).

Now, as to the question of whether it makes more sense to buy the La Specialista Maestro instead of the original La Specialista coffee machine … that’s a harder call that you’ll have to make. Though I highly recommend the DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro and believe the difference in price is justifiable, the original La Specialista has a lot to offer.

If you have the money and can swing the Maestro, you’ll enjoy it. However, if your budget is tight, you can’t go wrong with the original version.

Another consideration is operating costs. If the Maestro just barely fits in your budget, you might be better off spending the difference in price on quality coffee beans.

It’s worth reading my original DeLonghi La Specialista review before you make your decision. Both of these coffee machines are fantastic!

DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro vs Breville Barista Touch

Breville Barista Touch vs DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro.

While the DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro has a beautiful interface, it’s still not as user friendly as the color touch screen on the Barista Touch coffee machine.

The Maestro does walk you through the process of making drinks, but not with the same level of ease that you get from Breville.

The DeLonghi LaSpecialista Maestro has two heating elements as compared to a single Thermojet heating system on the Barista Touch. However, you still can’t use these simultaneously, which makes this a moot point.

Both coffee machines offer pre-programmed drink recipes and customizable drink profiles.

The Breville Barista Touch has an automatic steam wand with a built-in thermometer, just like the more expensive Oracle Touch.

Check out my post: Best Breville Espresso Machine: Which One Fits Your Lifestyle? That will give you a deeper understanding of what the Breville coffee machine offers. I explain why I named the Barista Touch the “Best Overall” mid-range semi automatic espresso machine.

In the end, if you take advantage of my research, you’ll have greater peace of mind about your purchase decision and know you got the best machine for your particular needs.

DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro vs Breville Barista Express

Breville Barsta Express vs DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro.

The DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro is much closer to a true espresso machine than any of the espresso machines that Breville sells.

The interface on the DeLonghi La Specialista is more advanced than the one on the Barista Express BES870XL automatic espresso maker.

In my review of the Breville Barista Express, I mentioned the hybrid machine’s limitations. Still, for many of you, it’s an excellent choice — especially if you’re just starting out with espresso preparation. That’s why I named the Barista Express one of the best espresso machines for beginners.

Although the DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro coffee machine is in the same price range as the Barista Express, it has a much steeper learning curve.

When it comes to the La Specialista Maestro, you’re investing significantly more cash and committing to an even more sophisticated machine.

Without a doubt, it will take you a bit longer to achieve the perfect cup of coffee, americano, flat white, cappuccino etc. Perfect extraction takes time to learn.

La Specialista Maestro, La Specialista, Barista Express and Barista Touch Compared

 DeLonghi La Specialista MaestroDeLonghi La SpecialistaBreville Barista Touch Espresso MachineBreville Barista Express Espresso Machine
Model NumbersEC9665MEC9335M, EC9335BK, EC9335RBES880BSS, BES880BTR, BES880BSTBES870XL, BES870BSXL
Housing MaterialStainless steelStainless steelStainless steelStainless steel
Color OptionsStainless SteelStainless Steel, Espresso Machine Black, Espresso Machine RedBrushed Stainless Steel, Black Truffle, Black Stainless SteelBrushed Stainless Steel, Black Sesame
DisplayYesNoYesNo
Water Tank2.5 L (84.5 fl oz)2.5 L (84.5 fl oz)2 L (67 fl oz)2 L (67 fl oz)
GrinderStainless steel conical burr grinderStainless steel conical burr grinderStainless steel conical burr grinderStainless steel conical burr grinder
Grind Levels863016
Auto TampingYesYesNoNo
Bean Compartment250 g (8.8 oz)250 g (8.8 oz)226.7 g (8 oz)226.7 g (8 oz)
Pre-Ground Coffee OptionYesYesYesYes
Double ShotYesYesYesYes
Preset DrinksYesYesYesNo
User ProfilesYesOnly for water volumeYesNo
Adjustable Water TemperatureYesYesYesYes
Hot Water FunctionYesYesYesYes
Adjustable Milk Foam TemperatureNoNoYesNo
Automatic Milk FrothingYesYesYesNo
Max. Pump Pressure19 bar19 bar15 bar15 bar
Removable Water TankYesYesYesYes
Water FilterSold separatelySold separatelyYesYes
Number of Boilers2211
Power1,450 W1,450 W1,680 W / 110-120 V1,600 W / 110-120 V
Weight 35.27 lbs29.7 lbs26.45 lbs23.0 lbs
Dimensions (Height x Width x Depth)18.5 x 14 x 16.5 in17.5 x 14.5 x 15 in16.0 x 12.7 x 15.5 in11 x 12.0 x 13.5 in
Warranty1-Year1-Year2-Year1-Year
Current price on Amazon$1,299.95$899.95$999.95$659.99

Verdict: A Successful Class Champion

I see no reason not to recommend the DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro espresso machine to you. The grinder is excellent, the crema is convincing and the coffee drinks taste great.

The milk foam is also fantastic, no matter which preparation method you use. This could just be the best espresso machine with grinder available to date … or at least be capable of giving the Breville Barista Touch a run for its money.

In case you were wondering, I have firmly resolved to defeat the LatteCrema system. What can I say? I like a challenge from my coffee machines!

Successful innovations

Delonghi La Specialista Maestro

A solid upgrade!

High-quality appearance

Steam wand with plenty of power

Heats up quickly

Produces fantastic milk foam

Requires constant cleaning due to splashes when making espresso

Like many newly launched espresso machines, the DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro has arrived with a cascade of marketing promises. Dynamic here, Automatic-Adapt there and a bit of Intelligence somewhere. Whether that ultimately tips the scales, I dare to doubt.

But it doesn’t matter, because the result is right. The two additional grinds, the LatteCrema system and the larger selection of beverages justify the upgrade and the price jump from the original DeLonghi La Specialista coffee machine.

Whether you really need them is another matter and you’re the only one who can make that decision.

Just as only you can decide if you’re up for all the fiddling and trial and error.

I like a challenge, so I’m now turning my attention to the De’Longhi La Specialista Maestro steam wand. Have any of you had experience with this high end espresso machine? I look forward to your comments!

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