DeLonghi PrimaDonna Review: A Top-Tier Machine With an Identity Crisis?

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

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Note: At the time of writing, the only PrimaDonna model available in the United States is the PrimaDonna S, Cappuccino Maker with LatteCrema System.

Note: At the time of writing, the only PrimaDonna model available in the United States is the PrimaDonna S, Cappuccino Maker with LatteCrema System.

When I can’t fall asleep at night, I count fully automatic espresso machines … mostly from DeLonghi. The Italians, who have a talent for winning my super automatic espresso machines reviews, are experts at creating a plethora of machine models at various price points. At the entry level, this is a reasonable approach.

In my experience, the more expensive of a machine you look at, the more difficult it is to understand the differences between models. This is especially apparent when it comes to the DeLonghi PrimaDonna series.

Just recently, this top-tier fully automatic espresso machine received some new additions. With the introduction of four new versions of the PrimaDonna, there are now more than a dozen machines under the PrimaDonna label. What’s the point of having so many? I have no idea, to be honest. Though it would seem that even DeLonghi notices this is a bit out of control.

Whatever the case may be, being unclear about the differences creates a lot of confusion in understanding the names. Just look at the comments since the first edition of this guide below.

Coffee aficionados have been sitting in front of DeLonghi’s espresso machines for days and weeks now trying to sort out what distinguishes a DeLonghi PrimaDonna XS ETAM 36.366.MB. In today’s world of readily available information, where buyers like to feel informed when making purchase decisions, it makes no sense to complicate things like this.

Still, you’re probably left wondering if a bargain price on a discontinued PrimaDonna Avant model is even worth considering, and how PrimaDonnas, in general, stack up against models from other brands.

The short answer is that it doesn’t really matter which PrimaDonna you choose. Every one of them, no matter what part of the world you live in, can hold their own. You won’t have any problems with any of the PrimaDonnas, so don’t worry about ending up with a paper weight in the shape of an espresso machine.

It’s just that no one really knows how to distinguish between models that well. Compared to the otherwise image-strong DeLonghi range, this crowded series clearly lacks contours and obviously, unique selling points — at least from a marketing standpoint. However, this isn’t due to the machines themselves. They’re all extremely high-quality, versatile and feature-rich.

Robust senior

Definitely recommended. It’s robust and well-thought-out

Great espresso & milk froth

High-quality manufacturing

Simple & intuitive design

Effective cleaning features

Quiet & smooth running

Water reservoir & bean hopper a bit too lush

Beans are slightly heated by the cup warmer

From the DeLonghi PrimaDonna Class to the Elite: All the Specs!

DeLonghi PrimaDonna


Model number


Product category

Super automatic espresso machine

Removable brew group

Housing material

Stainless steel

Color options

Stainless Steel

Milk frother

Integrated carafe

User interface

Touch screen with buttons


User profiles


Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

60.9 fl oz / 1.8 l

Number of boilers


Pump pressure

15 bar

Maximum cup height

5.6 in / 14.2 cm

Minimum cup height

3.4 in / 8.6 cm


Stainless steel conical burr grinder

Grind adjustment levels


Bean hopper capacity

12.7 oz / 360.0 g

Pre-ground coffee bypass

Grounds discard container capacity


Specialty drinks



Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

Adjustable milk temperature

2-cup function

Yes (non-milk drinks only)

Pot function

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

1450 W


25.4 lb / 11.5 kg


13.6 x 9.4 x 17.4 in
34.5 x 23.9 x 44.2 cm


2 years


Included Accessories: Measuring scoop, Hardness test, Cleaning supplies, Instruction manual.

Current price on Amazon


All specifications

What Can DeLonghi PrimaDonna Espresso Machines Do?

Those who reach for PrimaDonna machines with names like “Elite,” “Class” or “Avant” are looking for luxury in the form of stainless steel and amazing coffee-based drinks. So, a cheap cappuccino from a cheap machine isn’t going to fly! However, the joke with PrimaDonna has been that though the machines look ultra-fancy, they’re more plastic than stainless steel.

At least on the external housing, that is. Inside, everything is sleek and neatly put in its place. The components, like the brew group, all feel high quality. How’s that saying go? It’s what’s on the inside that counts.

The DeLonghi PrimaDonna fully automatic espresso machine in stainless steel.

Beyond this apparent lack of uniqueness, brilliant features and great attention to design details abound. Whether you’re dealing with a DeLonghi ESAM 6900 Exclusive, an ESAM 6700 Avant, a PrimaDonna Class, a PrimaDonna S Deluxe, or anything else in between, you’re basically always getting:

  • 13-stage cone grinder made of stainless steel

  • High-quality cladding & finish

  • Intuitive operation via a clear display

  • App control*

  • Push-button setting options

  • Small footprint for countertops

  • Quiet & smooth operation

  • Very good espresso & milk froth

  • Multiple beverage options

*Note: The DeLonghi PrimaDonna S available in the U.S. doesn’t offer communication with the DeLonghi Coffee Link app.

Each of these factors gets special attention in my coffee machine test — and the PrimaDonnas are very good to excellent on each of these points. On the other hand, these points are typical criteria for top-tier machines, and there’s hardly any clear differentiation from other brands and devices in the same price range. As always, the DeLonghi is at least somewhat cheaper, and the features are a bit more modern.

However, this hardly adds up to anything special. If it were up to me, DeLonghi would only offer a handful of machines in each series from now on and give the latest and greatest ones the marketing attention they deserve.

The DeLonghi PrimaDonna Soul fully automatic coffee machine - Arne up close.

In comes the DeLonghi PrimaDonna Soul, which has finally brought distinctive selling points, a clear focus and, above all, extremely convincing arguments for why to buy one. When I think of the Soul, I immediately know what I’m getting. It lives up to its name and delivers impressive features that take the “soul” of coffee to the next level at the touch of a button.

The DeLonghi PrimaDonna Class: Still Clearly Defined Class

The DeLonghi PrimaDonna Class -- Arne up close.

Though my original DeLonghi PrimaDonna review is just a few years old, the original PrimaDonna Class machine is no longer available in its purest form — at least not on Amazon. There, the machine is only available in white plastic, which may appeal to some people, but not me.

Nevertheless, I don’t want to withhold my test results from you, as I consider this model to be a typical — successful — representation of the entire series. With a discounted price of around £900 in the UK as it’s currently unavailable in the U.S., this model is now below the average price of other models in its “class” — so, it might be worth the investment. Despite the supposed product age, the features read like a wish list for a decent high-end machine:

  • Water reservoir & milk container can be removed from the front

  • Large touchscreen display, plus connection to the Coffee Link app

  • 13-stage stainless steel cone grinder

  • 3-stage adjustable LatteCrema System

  • Individually programmable milk froth for coffee-based drinks

  • 6 coffee profiles and 3 user profiles (+1 guest profile)

  • Extra clip-on hot water nozzle

  • Active cup warmer

A fully plastic casing is naturally inferior to high-quality stainless steel from the brew group to the housing — which probably explains the current price. That’s why we always order the stainless steel model when several variations are available.

Choosing Your Initial Settings

Whether it’s the Magnifica, ESAM 6708 or PrimaDonna Class, you can always rely on DeLonghi for ultra-light operation, as every Italian machine is more or less self-explanatory. Plus, with a large display, colorful pictures and enjoyable features in the app, it’s really fun.

Similarly, you can — for the most part — rely on the fact that the highly capable grinder, with its typical 13 levels of adjustment, fudges a bit on the ultra-fine setting. Still, the PrimaDonna Class also brings you closer to the perfect cup of espresso.

The DeLonghi PrimaDonna main switch.
The DeLonghi PrimaDonna power switch.

In addition, you won’t have to do much tweaking to the presets for the beverages themselves. Though, as always, it’s important to adjust the extraction amount for the espresso downward. All settings — except for the coarseness of the grind — can be conveniently controlled via the app.

Its user interface is intuitive and tidy, but the Class shows that the “outdated” Bluetooth connection is still a bit shaky compared to the ones on the Soul or Maestosa. Meaning, you shouldn’t move too far away from the machine with your smartphone. The clickable LatteCrema milk frothing system, with its three levels — “heavy,” “medium” and “light,” as I like to call them — were already a great idea back in the day, and continue to be, for that matter.

Even if the barista in me wants to default to the lightest variation of milk froth available, you get the best results on the medium setting. It seems DeLonghi doesn’t think much of the hype surrounding ceramic disc grinders and instead relies on a stainless steel cone grinder, even for top-tier machines.

The DeLonghi PrimaDonna grinder.

I think this brand, in particular, is an excellent example of how the grinder design doesn’t matter — for the most part. You can read more about this in my guide to coffee machines with ceramic grinders, but the most important thing is that this grinder does its job excellently and sounds pleasant despite the allegedly “inferior” quality of the grinder and noisier materials. It also contributes significantly to the quiet overall impression of the Class. On another, albeit annoying note: if you unplug or turn off the main switch, the user profiles you worked so hard on will be deleted. It’s stupid, I know.

Espresso & Milk Froth

To combine espresso and milk froth from a PrimaDonna Class coffee machine into the cappuccino of your dreams, you need to produce a minimum amount of coffee and froth before you can save the whole thing to your profile. However, this production is pleasantly quiet and apparently very clean — no splashes, rumbling or clattering.

The Delonghi PrimaDonna espresso.
The DeLonghi PrimaDonna milk froth.

The spout is easily adjustable and has a maximum clearance height of 6 inches / 14.2 centimeters, making it without a doubt above the IKEA glass standard. The minimum height of 3.5 inches / 8.4 centimeters is tolerable as well.

When I conducted my test, I chose a fairly dark roast of espresso with a stronger flavor profile. It yielded coffee with a bend toward the quality that comes from a portafilter, so I was pleased with both the temperature and the settings I used to froth the milk.

How to Clean a DeLonghi PrimaDonna

I really like it when a super automatic espresso machine bluntly reminds you to clean it regularly. On top of that, the DeLonghi PrimaDonna Class automatic coffee maker refuses to trigger another milk froth draw if you haven’t pushed the button to perform an automatic rinse in between.

However, this also can tempt you to just refill the milk instead of cleaning the milk container in between. So, keep that in mind.

The DeLonghi PrimaDonna water reservoir.

The front removable water reservoir is very hygienic in design. After all, it’s super easy to remove, rinse and reinsert. As always, it’s best to do this daily. The brew group, drip tray and coffee grounds container should also be part of your machine’s daily cleaning program and are just as intuitive to install and remove.

The DeLonghi PrimaDonna brew group.
The DeLonghi PrimaDonna drip tray.

Oh, by the way, looking inside the grounds container will give you an idea of how dry and compact the coffee pucks are. That’s always a sign of a well-thought-out, well-functioning machine that places value on excellent coffee.

In addition, you’re safe to assume that less grime will settle in the hoses and coils of the machine. Don’t take that to mean you can get away with cleaning less, though. Cleaning is extremely important to the life and health of your DeLonghi espresso machine. The same applies to descaling. So, whether you’re filtering your water or not, it’s necessary.

The DeLonghi PrimaDonna Elite Experience: A Current Class Leader?

If you’re able to figure out the — horribly cluttered — manufacturer’s site, the DeLonghi PrimaDonna Elite is currently the frontrunner of the series. Though I find that a bit funny, as the Elite machines are either no longer available or only available via third-party sellers on Amazon. According to the manufacturer, there are currently four — more or less — different versions to choose from:

  • PrimaDonna Class

  • PrimaDonna Soul

  • PrimaDonna Elite

  • PrimaDonna Exclusive

The Exclusive is said to have the most pros in its favor because of its hot chocolate function (an extra clip-on whisk in the milk container), a tea function (hot water nozzle) and the ability to prepare cold milk froth. In addition, the whisk is a really great thing, as it practically turns the coffee maker into a food processor. I once prepared a demonstration on the Maestosa. Check it out.

Note: This video is in the German language.

Otherwise, it’s a lot like other Elite espresso machines: an app connection, colorful touch display, 13 grinding levels, multiple user profiles, great coffee, etc. If we look at the machine’s declining lack of presence on Amazon though, the Elite is probably on its way out, as is the Class — at least in its current form.

Side note: I know Amazon is not the end-all when it comes to retailers. However, having a presence there is a good measure of how a product is doing. If a manufacturer’s device no longer has representation on Amazon, they either have good reasons (Jura, Nivona …) or the device is on its way out.

Of course, we also know that a supposedly “outdated” fully automatic coffee machine can hardly be described as a piece of junk. Apart from clear innovations like the electronically controllable grinder, there are hardly any worthwhile innovations in the coffee machine world that justify an upgrade. So, if you ever see a bargain price on a past model, you can still take advantage of the sale with peace of mind. That applies to the Elite series, too!

The DeLonghi PrimaDonna S EVO: A Best-Seller in the Market

While there is a lot in common with other models from the PrimaDonna Class, the DeLonghi PrimaDonna S Evo ECAM 510.55.M seems to be a best-seller. That’s because this UK offering has “already” been on the market since 2017, but unlike its brothers is readily available on Amazon.

If I’ve decoded the system right, the “S” stands for “small,” so the dimensions are actually a bit below average for the class, even though all of them are pleasingly compact here anyway. Compared to the larger units, the feature set is also somewhat reduced:

  • Touch display is “only” 2.8 in (the big ones offer up to 4.3 in)

  • “Only” 2 user profiles (instead of up to 6)

  • Smaller water reservoir (by about 15.5 oz / 400 ml)

When I look at what is available here — or not — I don’t find the price totally exorbitant, but I also don’t see a real reason to buy, either. We merely have to look at the mid-range models and theDeLonghi Dinamica, which are available for between $800 and $1,200 (£800 to £1,000).

Within the Dinamica line, there’s pretty much the same tendency to overcrowd the space with models that have little difference between them. I mean, great, this version isn’t app enabled, but that one is. Who really cares about that feature anyway?

Which DeLonghi PrimaDonna Espresso Machine Should I Buy?

Let’s get back to the issues at hand. Most of your questions about the PrimaDonna series revolve around comparisons of the model numbers. At least in part, you’re looking for an answer as to what the difference is between a 656.85, a ESAM 6650 or an ESAM 6850.

Robust senior

Definitely recommended. It’s robust and well-thought-out

Great espresso & milk froth

High-quality manufacturing

Simple & intuitive design

Effective cleaning features

Quiet & smooth running

Water reservoir & bean hopper a bit too lush

Beans are slightly heated by the cup warmer

Many of you find yourself torn between the Class, Avant or Exclusive or trying to wrap your head around confusing model designations. Truthfully, this mind-boggling question is better left alone because, in general, you can’t go wrong with any DeLonghi PrimaDonna espresso machine out there.

So, it really doesn’t matter what the model number is. It also doesn’t matter how “old” the machine is.

If you ask me about the best DeLonghi PrimaDonna espresso machine for any given year, my answer is the PrimaDonna Soul.It’s not only the latest and greatest but also the most innovative model released; both beautiful and fast. In addition, it extracts flavors from beans well — and the price is more than acceptable for what you get. However, if you find bargains on oldies like an ESAM 6750 or a 556.75, trust the dealer and are in the market for a new machine, you won’t be disappointed with your purchase.

Like I’ve said before, a fully automatic coffee machine is neither a smartphone, a game console nor a TV — you can’t get more coffee-centric than coffee itself.

For the most part, updates in the espresso machine world are only about the look and a few minor control options. Nowhere is this more evident than in the PrimaDonna series. That’s why I can’t wait for the day to come when DeLonghi does some decluttering of their product line. When it does declutter the product line, that’s when people will really take notice of DeLonghi’s machines!

I’m still curious about your experiences: which PrimaDonna models are your favorites? Leave a comment below!

Your coffee expert
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Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

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