It’s no secret that espresso machines are crazy expensive.
But there are some great, budget-friendly options out there.
In this DeLonghi ECP3420 review, I’ll give you a rundown of a great little entry-level espresso machine.
It’s perfect for beginners and doesn’t break the bank.
Let’s get to it!
DeLonghi ECP3420: A Quick Overview
DeLonghi was founded way back in 1902, but they didn’t start making coffee machines until the late 1990s.
Does that mean their coffee machines aren’t good? Not at all. Their experience making other household appliances translated well to the coffee machine market.
And the ECP3420 is no different.
It’s an entry-level home espresso machine with a stainless steel boiler. It brews single or double espressos and has DeLonghi’s Cappuccino Milk System.
It’s a fine home espresso brewer for beginners. But I wouldn’t recommend it to experienced baristas.
The nice part is that the ECP3420 is easy to use and intuitive. The steam wand is semi-automatic, and the brewing process is straightforward. Add to that an easy-to-remove and clean water tank, and you’ve got yourself a nice little machine that fits most kitchens.
- Full 15-bar pump gives you real cafe-style espresso
- The Cappuccino Milk System is easy to use, and beginner-friendly
- The 3-in-1 portafilter means you can brew one or two shots of espresso, or use an espresso pod
- The removable water tank makes cleaning super easy
- You don’t get a lot of control in the brewing process, so it’s not a great machine for experienced baristas
- The water heater can take a long time before it’s ready to brew
Let’s Take a Look at DeLonghi ECP3420 Features
Alright, now we need to take a look at each feature of this DeLonghi espresso machine.
I’ll give you an overview and then tell you what I like and don’t like about each one.
What does it look like?
Okay, the design isn’t my favorite out there. But it is simple and classic. And let’s be honest, the design should always come second to the coffee.
The body is made of black plastic with silver accents. It’s really a timeless color scheme, so there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just nothing innovative.
The size of the machine is great. At just about 7” wide, it’s small enough to fit most kitchens without taking up too much space.
The maximum cup size is a little small, just big enough for a demitasse and certainly not big enough for a travel mug.
That means you’ll have to pour your coffee into a different, taller cup to add milk to your latte.
But the reality is that this is an entry-level machine. It isn’t winning any design awards, but it’s also not meant to.
It’s simple and does what it’s advertised to do.
What I like: It’s simple and has a small footprint. It doesn’t try to do anything fancy.
What I don’t like: Maximum cup height is pretty short, so you’ll need to pour your espresso into larger cups to drink it with milk.
How does it perform?
The big question with home espresso machines is always how well they brew espresso.
I know it sounds simple, but there’s actually a ton of technology behind brewing espresso. So making a quality home espresso is pretty difficult.
That’s why a lot of the top-end home espresso machines are so expensive.
But this machine is friendly for most budgets. Does that mean it performs as well as a more expensive machine? Kind of.
An easy starting point for understanding espresso machines is how much pressure it produces. You need the pressure to extract the coffee into espresso.
Espresso should be extracted at around 9 bars of pressure or 9 times the regular pressure of the atmosphere.
The ECP3420 is capable of producing up to 15 bars of pressure.
Why so many?
Think of bars like cylinders in a car’s engine. A smaller engine can still get up to speed, but it takes more effort and higher RPMs to get there. A bigger engine will get up to speed quickly and without as much effort.
A machine that can produce 15 bars of pressure will work more efficiently than a machine only capable of 9 bars.
One thing to note, though, is that the water heater takes a long time to heat up. DeLonghi actually recommends pulling a shot of water before pulling an espresso shot to speed up the process.
But it does produce a decent espresso once it gets hot enough.
What I like: This espresso maker is powerful for its size and price. It is capable of producing a quality espresso with enough patience and practice.
What I don’t like: It takes a long time to heat up, meaning you’ll stand around waiting for enough hot water to pull a shot.
What’s the water tank like?
When I think of water tanks in espresso machines, I look at two things: how big is it, and how easy is it to clean?
The answer to the first question in the ECP3420: it’s big enough.
And the second: pretty easy.
When I say big enough, I mean just over 1 liter of water. That’s enough to pull a handful of shots in a row before needing to refill.
It’s still a little too small to pull a ton of shots all at once, but it’s enough for a couple of people to have a coffee each morning.
And, to be honest, if you plan on using an espresso machine a ton I would recommend something a little bigger and sturdier than the ECP3420.
The water tank is removable, though, which makes it really easy to clean. It’s dishwasher safe, so you can feel alright tossing it in the dishwasher when it needs a clean.
The one problem is that the water tank lifts up from the top instead of the back or side. That means you’ll have to move the entire machine if you store it under a cabinet to get to the water tank.
What I like: It’s big enough for a handful of uses each day without needing a refill. The water tank is removable and easy to clean.
What I don’t like: It’s not big enough for a lot of people at once. The water tank lifts out of the top, meaning you’ll need clearance to refill the tank.
Does it have a good steam wand?
Milk frother tends to be the scariest part of home brewing for beginners. If you’ve never been around milk-steaming before, it can be pretty intense to jump straight into it.
But the steam wand on the ECP3420 is pretty beginner-friendly. While it’s not totally automatic, it is semi-automatic.
Basically, there are two types of milk wands for home machines: manual and assisted.
A manual steam wand means you are in control over the entire wand. As in, when to turn it on, or off, how to hold the steaming jug, etc.
An assisted steam wand is one where some or all of the work is done for you.
This steam wand is somewhere in the middle. It has DeLonghi’s advanced cappuccino system, which means that it has a selection of hot milk or cappuccino milk.
You do still have to hold the milk jug and get used to the sensation of steaming milk. But you don’t have to worry about frothing to the right texture or temperature. The machine does that for you.
What I like: It’s a semi-automatic steam wand that’s easy to use even for beginners.
What I don’t like: It still takes some getting used to and some knowledge of milk steaming to get the best milk froth.
Is it easy to clean?
Cleaning your espresso maker is super important. After all, that’s how you prolong the life of your machine and keep getting tasty coffee every morning.
A lot of people neglect their espresso machines and then wonder why their coffee tastes bad, or their machine doesn’t work right anymore.
Bottom line: clean your dang machines!
And you shouldn’t have an excuse when cleaning is as easy as with the ECP3420. It’s hard to find a machine that’s easier to clean.
The water tank is removable, first of all, and dishwasher safe. So there’s nothing stopping you from popping the water tank into the dishwasher once a week.
Other removable parts of your Delonghi espresso maker, such as the drip tray and filter basket, should be cleaned regularly too.
The other thing you’ll need to do is descale your machine. Descaling is the process of removing mineral buildup throughout the pipes and inner workings of a coffee machine.
While it might sound scary or hard, it’s actually really easy.
You will, though, need a descaling solution. DeLonghi says to buy their solution, but any descaling solution will work just fine.
I always recommend referring to your owner’s manual when running a cleaning cycle. The cleaning cycle on the ECP3420 is pretty easy.
You fill the water tank with the cleaning solution. Then you pull a few espresso shots and run the steam wand for a while, then pull a few espresso shots with just water to rinse everything out.
Then you’re finished.
What I like: The water tank is super easy to clean, just pop it into the dishwasher or clean it manually with hot water and some dish soap. The rest of it can be cleaned with a damp rag.
What I don’t like: The descaling process is a little intense, and there’s no dedicated cleaning cycle for the machine, so you need to do it manually.
How easy is it to use?
We can talk about design and steam wands and performance all day, but in the end, it still comes down to one question: how easy is it to use this coffee machine?
The answer, unfortunately isn’t an easy one.
On the one hand, it’s an entry-level machine, so learning how to use this machine is pretty simple. And in all honesty, if you take the time to learn how to use this machine properly, you’ll get some pretty good coffee.
On the other hand, there’s a learning curve to using this DeLonghi. It does take a little bit of practice to work this machine.
But to be honest, DeLonghi machines are pretty easy to understand. And once you have the basics, the rest is just practice.
For that reason, I’d recommend this to someone looking for a decent entry into home espresso. I probably wouldn’t recommend it to a casual coffee drinker who wants an espresso every now and then.
What I like: It offers a great entry point for home brewing beginners. While it takes some time to perfect, it’s pretty forgiving.
What I don’t like: It still requires some actual work. So you’ll need to learn how to pull espresso. If you don’t want to learn, then this probably isn’t the machine for you.
Does it have any special features?
The only special feature that this DeLonghi has is its compatibility with espresso pods.
You can buy prepackaged espresso pouches and place them in the portafilter for a precise espresso without having to measure or grind the coffee bean.
Are these really that good?
Yeah, kind of. They’re a good way to ensure you get the correct dose.
But I always caution against pre ground coffee. And coffee pods of any kind are the best.
What I like: Coffee pod is a nice option to have, especially if you don’t have a good coffee grinder yet.
What I don’t like: Espresso pods aren’t the best-tasting coffee out there. And the filters can be wasteful.
My Final Verdict
The DeLonghi ECP3420 isn’t the right machine for everyone.
But it is a great machine for beginners who want a simple, budget-friendly, and relatively easy-to-use espresso machine.
The 15-bar espresso pump is plenty enough to get cafe-style espresso. The water tank is large enough to make a handful of drinks in a row.
The steam wand is semi-automatic and user-friendly.
And the whole thing is easy to clean and maintain.
It’s perfect for someone looking for their first espresso machine.
Check out the DeLonghi ECP3420!
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