I don't know how many times I've had to revise this guide. No sooner than I decide this or that DeLonghi super-automatic espresso machine is a test winner in a given price range than the Italians come around the corner with the next device.
I don’t know how many times I’ve had to revise this guide. No sooner than I decide this or that DeLonghi super-automatic espresso machine is a test winner in a given price range than the Italians come around the corner with the next device.
Sometimes, only the milk container changes — or the descaling program starts in a different service menu. Sometimes, there’s just a new color or new marketing term (for example, “one touch” instead of “coffee and milk foam from the same nozzle”).
This device-dropping goes hand in hand with a twisted love of stupid serial numbers that no human can tell apart. Nevertheless, a DeLonghi model currently leads in practically every category of the super-automatic espresso machine test 2021 — or it’s right at the top. The only question is which DeLonghi beats which DeLonghi?
First, so that there’s a constant in this guide, I used the same fair-trade coffee beans specially blended for super-automatic machines to allow for the aroma to develop fully.
Back to the equipment: the Italians used to only offer something in the entry-level class. Now, they’re making inroads in the mid-range, upper-range and even luxury classes. These days, a comparison between a DeLonghi fully automatic coffee machine and, say, a Jura fully automatic coffee machine is completely normal.
What’s next? A DeLonghi with a fixed water connection for the catering trade?
Actually, that doesn’t seem too far-fetched, seeing as every new coffee machine turns the innovation dial a little further and penetrates new market sectors. Still, any price comparison is consistently in favor of DeLonghi.
You can practically buy blindly, safe in the knowledge that you’ll get a very good latte macchiato, espresso or cappuccino in your cup, all at the push of a button.
How could this happen? What makes any DeLonghi coffee machine so interesting? Which machines make the best espresso, coffee and cappuccino? Most importantly, how can you tell the difference between the endless model variations?
Let’s sort them out!
You can also check out the most important coffee machines in a new video comparison:
Note: This video is in the German language.
Table of Contents
From the ECAM 22.110.b to the PrimaDonna Soul: An Overview of the Most Important DeLonghi Coffee Machines
With machines like the ESAM 5500S (Perfecta) and the ECAM 22.110 (Magnifica S), DeLonghi established a solid reputation as an entry-level supplier and plastic booth manufacturer about 10 years ago. Back then, talk of water connections and gastronomy would have been downright ridiculous, but it was in keeping with the times.
People were just learning about fully automatic espresso machines. So, it was enough to offer an automatic coffee machine with a brewing group, water tank and manual milk frother that didn’t cost much, yet could make coffee at the touch of a button.
A display, automatic milk frother, sexy guide, hidden cleaning program or as many automatic specialty coffees as possible?
Even though everyone now has a favorite milk container and even looks for features like an automatic shut-off before buying, the entry-level sector hasn’t evolved at all.
Still, that’s no reason to complain.
Features like a touchscreen, jug function, adjustable milk froth or a colorful display just aren’t available in the low-price bracket, and a DeLonghi coffee machine reminds us even today that such things don’t actually matter.
The main thing is that the coffee beans are ground as finely as possible, brewed into coffee with the right pressure from the brewing group into the cup, and that’s it. A good cleaning and thorough descaling program are also important — the rest is freestyle.
However, it immediately became clear at the 2017 Berlin Consumer Electronics Show (IFA) that this manufacturer was no longer interested in being “lower class.” The message was pretty clear: if a latte macchiato came from a DeLonghi, then please treat it with the same prestige as the competition from now on!
Even if it seemed a bit cutesy at first, this image change has been successful. I currently recommend five DeLonghi machines from each price range:
- DeLonghi Magnifica ECAM 22.110 — Top performer as an automatic coffee machine under $900 (around £300).
- DeLonghi Dinamica ECAM 350.55.B — Great benchmark for super-automatic espresso machines around £750. Not available in the U.S.
- DeLonghi PrimaDonna — DeLonghi upper-class classic around $3,000 (around £900).
- DeLonghi Maestosa — Game changer with an exceptionally high price of around £2,600. Not available in the U.S.
- DeLonghi PrimaDonna Soul — Successful cross between the Maestosa and PrimaDonna, costing around £1,000. Not available in the U.S.
In addition to the sexy five, there are also less exciting perennial favorites that are clearly more anonymous in my super-automatic espresso machine test. Now, I have nothing against most of them, I just prefer to pour my beans into other versions.
DeLonghi Super-Automatic Espresso Machines by Price & Model Year: My Tests at a Glance
As it stands, I’ve tested 11 super-automatic espresso machines from Treviso, looking at everything from the water tank to the crema. I didn’t even count the espresso machines and other DeLonghi kitchen accessories (many bear the series title “Living Innovation”).
Apart from the fact that coffee machine A doesn’t always clearly stand out from coffee machine B in the test, DeLonghi super-automatic espresso machines have the worst model-name-number combinations in the entire industry.
I now present you with the following 11 DeLonghi super-automatic coffee machines, each with a price comparison, ranked by scale and feature set.
If you’re looking for precise information on the grind settings, automatic cappuccino features or other details, the respective test reports provide a wealth of information. Of course, you can also find exciting test results on Coffeeness’ YouTube channel — if reading is too tiring.
Keep in mind that the list might change again tomorrow or the day after, even if the Italians prove to have a longer model life span than the competition. However, keep in mind that this doesn’t apply to all series, without restrictions.
The following devices are only still available from third-party providers, but their reviews are, as always, an eternal source of important info for you:
- DeLonghi ESAM 2900 (Sold only in the UK)
- DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM 3500 S (Sold in the U.S. and the UK)
DeLonghi Super-Automatic Espresso Machines up to $1,000: You Can't Do Without the DeLonghi Magnifica S
In the entry-level class, DeLonghi continues to be one of the few serious players. At least, I can’t think of any other automatic coffee machine under $1,000 (around £300) that can keep up with what DeLonghi offers.
If you’re a first-time buyer, and you aren’t looking for a milk container with a disco light or sophisticated LatteCrema System, you just can’t go wrong with a DeLonghi super-automatic espresso machine.
DeLonghi Magnifica S ECAM 22.110.B: best small coffee machine under $1,000.
The DeLonghi Magnifica S ECAM 22.110.B super-automatic espresso machine (branded as the Magnifica XS in the U.S.) came onto the market back in 2011 and has consistently cost under $1,000 (around £300). Theoretically, that would be a reason to ignore it.
However, in this price range, the small plastic machine with a manual milk frothing nozzle does everything right: 13-stage conical burr grinder, easy-to-drink espresso and coffee, simple operation and is pretty much perfect for anyone.
Though, the powder could be a bit finer because the finest grind setting overtaxes the device. For milk foam, you’ll need to do more and be aware that “self-cleaning” doesn’t describe this model.
However, unlike many other older models, the Mini Magnifica is readily available and is frequently advertised at a discounted price. That says a lot about its classic status.
DeLonghi ESAM 3000.B: a superfluous machine.
Again, since 2011, DeLonghi has been trying to convince us that there’s a meaningful difference between the ECAM and ESAM models, with the ESAM 3000.B fully super-automatic espresso machine. So far, they haven’t succeeded in doing so.
In terms of coffee, espresso and price comparison, the older ESAMs are baloney, while the ECAMs are always recommended as automatic coffee makers. Is that how it’s supposed to be? I don’t know.
Although it isn’t sold in the U.S., the ESAM 3000 is still available in the UK, costing around £400. Though there’s no real reason to buy it.
DeLonghi ESAM 3200: nice try.
The DeLonghi ESAM 3200, introduced in 2012, only costs around $700 (around £400). It also doesn’t provide a single good reason to buy it, further proving my ESAM-ECAM argument.
The way it differs from its “sister” ESAM 3000 is evident, and it always turns out to be the disadvantage of the 3200 version. That’s why I saved the video for the test.
DeLonghi Super-Automatic Espresso Machine Around $1,000: New Momentum Thanks to Dinamica
I’ve got a bold theory: the only fully automatic espresso machine to really make a lot of noise in the $1,000 price range is the DeLonghi Dinamica. Classics like the Siemens EQ.3 or the Melitta Caffeo CI have a similar price tag, but you always have to accept minor sacrifices. Note: The Siemens EQ.3 is available in both the U.S. and the UK, while the Melitta Caffeo is currently only available in the UK.
The formula was clear: if you want more, you have to pay more.
Then the Dinamica spoilsport came into play.
DeLonghi Dinamica ECAM 350.55.B: one of the best super-automatic machines in the middle class.
I still have a crush on this 2016 model. The DeLonghi Dinamica ECAM 350.55.B is one of the best super-automatic espresso machines around $1,000 and delivers exceptional quality. It’s available in the UK for as little as £600.
It comes fully equipped with 13 grinder levels (in the conical burr grinder) and a lot of settings that you’d have to pay way more for elsewhere. You can set the automatic milk frother (LatteCrema System), use a modern display and have total control over the coffee preparation.
The Dinamica is a reference model.
This machine can do as much as some heavyweights, but only costs as much as the mid-range competition.
Of course, DeLonghi has shot itself in the foot with this, making its other models in this class appear somewhat redundant.
DeLonghi ECAM 23.420.SB: overlooked, yet good at espresso and milk foam.
In the mid-range, under $1,000 (around £700), the DeLonghi ECAM 23.420.SB super-automatic espresso machine has been lurking around almost unnoticed since 2010 (!). Note: This machine isn’t available in the U.S., but you can still find one in the UK for around £500. It’s “nice” in the best sense of the word, even if it looks adventurously antediluvian compared to the current product range.
DeLonghi ECAM 23.466.B: solid preparation, pale functions.
I don’t really know what this 2015 model is trying to say for just under $600: the DeLonghi ECAM 23.466.B is solid but faceless, especially when compared to the Dinamica. Note: This model isn’t available in the U.S.
You can learn more in the YouTube video: “Delonghi ECAM 23466 B Test | What Can the Fully Automatic Espresso Machine Do for €500?” Note: This video is in the German language.
DeLonghi Super-Automatic Espresso Machines Above $1,000: How the Soul & Maestosa Raise the (Affordable) Bar
For me (and you), super-automatic espresso machines starting at $1,000 (around £700) always require an explanation, as the price is harder to justify. I don’t have any problems with the Italians, though.
In view of the joyous performance and quality of the DeLonghi upper-class coffee, latte macchiato and cappuccino, the price tags again seem almost audaciously cheap.
DeLonghi PrimaDonna: uncluttered series with great coffee machines.
The name for this series of fully automatic coffee machines costing around $3,000 (around £900 in the UK) is pretty apt — even if you spend hours trying to sort out the various models first.
However, in each classic version, the elegant DeLonghi PrimaDonna delivers the right mix of snobbery and arrogance, looks and aroma, operation, cleaning and performance.
A PrimaDonna lines up effortlessly next to Siemens or Miele models, but it could be said that it accomplishes more for less money.
DeLonghi Maestosa: then everything changed.
I really, really, really wanted to hate this 2019 model with an introductory price of around £2,600 because a price like that is just plain stupid. Note: The DeLonghi Maestosa is unavailable in the U.S.
However, the DeLonghi Maestosa was the world’s first fully automatic coffee machine with two electronically controllable grinders (the Jura Z8, which is available in both the U.S. and the UK, has since followed suit). It’s also very high quality, user-friendly and makes excellent coffee, espresso and cappuccinos.
DeLonghi PrimaDonna Soul: innovations and a pleasing price comparison.
If DeLonghi hadn’t come up with the PrimaDonna Soul themselves, I would have written a letter to the editor at some point.
This coffee machine, the latest model in the current round of launches, combines the innovative electronic grinder of the Maestosa with the convenience and luxury of the PrimaDonna — and shrinks the price down to an affordable number. The PrimaDonna Soul costs around £1,100 in the UK, but isn’t available in the U.S.
I love the Soul for the joy of its push-button performance, the very useful Coffee Link app, and all the gadgets that make even a professional happy. I find myself putting my cups under this machine more and more often … simply because it’s fun.
How to Make Coffee at the Touch of a Button: How Does the DeLonghi Compare?
Coffee machine brands are like people. Siemens is a somewhat world-weary professor who always has something clever to contribute. Saeco is the actor who has to open furniture stores when his glory days are over. Melitta, the only one not available in the U.S., is the mom who always has a handkerchief.
I used to see DeLonghi as a grubby urchin who ate sand while playing. However, that impression has changed with each new fully automatic model. Apparently, DeLonghi has traded in the sandbox for a sexy coffee diploma.
DeLonghi super-automatic espresso machines are now a bit like Apple products, except they deliver less hype and more compelling features, all with a balanced price tag.
That’s because they have everything we can ask for in a fully automatic espresso machine:
- Even the cheapest model has at least 7 grind settings.
- You can always tweak the temperature, coffee strength and fill quantity settings.
- If there’s an automatic milk foam system, you’re allowed to regulate this more and more often.
- The dimensions are comparatively compact.
- The price is always below the category level.
- The results for espresso, coffee and milk foam are consistently good.
- No need for instructions: operation is mostly self-explanatory.
- Cleaning is easy and thorough: you can remove the brew group.
- Technical gadgets (app, etc.) are only ever supplementary, never compulsory.
- The look is becoming increasingly modern without saying goodbye to the DeLonghi style.
- Repairs and spare parts are cheap.
DeLonghi’s fantastic press people confirmed to me at IFA 2019, that the changes at DeLonghi are huge. However, it was also clear that the formerly unadventurous Italians are currently still struggling to settle into their new role.
For example, the family-owned company is really bogged down when it comes to the topic of fair-trade coffee beans, and it also doesn’t quite know yet how to market the machines’ great functionality to a young and eager-to-buy target audience.
Besides the issue with the beans, there are other functional points of criticism about the DeLonghi super-automatic coffee machine:
- When using the finest grind in the inexpensive machines, the grinder, brew group and pump quickly become overwhelmed. Thus, you can’t always grind the coffee beans as finely as you need for an espresso.
- The company pops out model variants for every series that don’t make sense, overwhelming the customer and scaring them off.
- The “crutch” plastic usually feels very much like a plastic booth on the low-priced models. Even in high-end vending machines, there’s way too much plastic involved.
The second point, in particular, gets on my nerves because this is a smoke-and-mirror tactic designed to pull money out of your pocket and spread FOMO. If you don’t know what really differentiates the machines, you’ll end up buying the next most expensive device — or you’ll get a pointless update.
My friends, a slightly more spacious water tank or a more colorful display are not good reasons for buying a new device. The milk container, grinding capabilities and ultimately, the coffee always remain visibly the same within a series. My tests prove this time and again.
The DeLonghi Code: What Do the Model Designations Mean?
As mentioned earlier, there’s a noticeable difference between the ESAM and ECAM models, with it becoming more and more obvious that the ECAM class will win the race in the long run. Why? That’s because the best DeLonghi super-automatic machines are, without exception, ECAMed:
- DeLonghi Magnifica S ECAM 22.110.B (DeLonghi Magnifica XS in the U.S.)
- DeLonghi Dinamica ECAM 350.55.B (Not available in the U.S.)
- DeLonghi PrimaDonna Class ECAM 556.75.MS (Not available in the U.S.)
- DeLonghi PrimaDonna Soul ECAM 612.55.SB (Not available in the U.S. or the UK)
The top model EPAM 960.75.GLM Maestosa (not available in the U.S.) is an exception because it heralds a new class of appliances and thus, deserves a new abbreviation.
Additionally, with DeLonghi, you can derive an approximate price classification from the numerical code.
The higher the number before the first point, the more expensive the fully automatic machine. Three-digit numbers are usually reserved for the respective top models or can be an indication of a newer ECAM model.
These numbers also show a ranking of the basic model alignment. For example, all DeLonghi versions build on each other according to the 23.XXX.X scheme.
It seems to be the other way around for the numbers after the first point: if it only has two digits, the model is newer and better. Thus, a higher two-digit value indicates more lavish equipment and more functions as well as programmed “coffee specialties.”
As for the letter combinations at the end, I’m 100% sure what they mean. They indicate nothing more than the color of the outer casing. B stands for Black, MS stands for Metal/Silver, T for Titanium, etc.
Don’t be fooled by these designations: just because the color says metal doesn’t mean you can hope for a stainless steel case. That luxury is only available for well over $2,000 (around £900).
DeLonghi Comparison Table: Which Makes the Most Automatic Espresso & Cappuccino?
There you have it: a real comparison of the four most exciting DeLonghi automatic coffee machines. This battle isn’t fair, for sure, but it does show what constants DeLonghi delivers, and what you’re paying for with each price jump.
|Grinder||Stainless steel cone grinder||Stainless steel cone grinder||Stainless steel cone grinder||Stainless steel cone grinder|
|Grinding stages||13 stages||13 stages||adaptive||adaptive|
|Buttons||Sensor keys and display||TFT touch||Touch, App|
|Coffee strength/temperature/ fill quantity adjustable||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Milk frother||Steam nozzle||Integrated||Integrated and milk frothing nozzle||Integrated|
|Size water tank||1,8 l||1,8 l||2,1 l||2,2 l|
|Size bean hopper||0.55 lbs||0.66 lbs||3x 0.63 lbs||1.1 lbs|
|Approximate price at the reporting date in euros||300||550||2.500||1.100|
Conclusion: Everything Under Control
If we disregard the milk container, space for coffee beans, a modern automatic shut-off and, of course, innovation points, the main difference between DeLonghi models is the ease of use by which the coffee powder is processed into a finished beverage.
No matter which DeLonghi you choose, it’ll really meet the basic requirements for the best espresso machine for home use because you’ll have finely tuned control over the most important elements of a successful espresso from a super-automatic machine.
Honestly, what more could you want?
What do you think of DeLonghi? Do you have any questions? Feel free to leave me a comment!