Set on buying a new espresso machine?
One of the models you probably came across is Delonghi La Specialista.
But what makes it so special?
In this article, I’ll show you the ups and downs of this espresso maker.
I present to you, a Delonghi La Specialista review.
Delonghi La Specialista: A Quick Overview
Delonghi La Specialista hit the market in 2019. And it wasn’t long before it became one of the brand’s best-selling models.
Why, you might ask?
Because it checks many boxes of a coffee machine for casual at-home baristas. For more than a decent price tag, it has most features you want in an automatic espresso maker.
If you’re not a pro at making espresso, don’t worry. This model is designed to make your job easy, regardless of your skill.
From grinding to brewing, all you need to do is press a few buttons here and there. The machine will do the hard part.
Thanks to the Pannarello wand, steaming milk is also pretty straightforward.
Just choose whether you prefer the foam to be flat or bubbly. Then, grab the milk jug and stick the wand underneath the milk’s surface. The wand will do the steaming.
La Specialista is your best buddy in the morning, for two reasons. First, it heats up within a second, so you can brew as soon as you open your eyes. And second, it’s pretty quiet. Other household members won’t be awakened by the sizzling and cracking of the coffee machine.
Finally, it’s also worth noting that maintaining this machine is pretty simple. With an automatic steam flush and descaling program, your input comes down to pressing a few buttons.
- You can save up to three different coffee settings for faster brewing in the future
- The Pannarello-style wand allows you to steam milk without much skill
- Very fast and quiet, you can brew coffee in the morning without waking the whole household
- The automatic shutdown feature saves you energy and prevents short circuit accidents
- The plastic parts, such as the portafilter, will wear out in time
- Only has 6 grind settings to choose from
Rundown Of Delonghi La Specialista Features
Sounds good so far?
Let’s elaborate more on each of the features.
Design & Build Quality
Delonghi never misses when it comes to design. La Specialista has a sleek retro look that’s quite an eye candy in every kitchen.
Aside from looking good, it’s also well made. This Delonghi espresso machine has a body made of stainless steel, so it’s corrosion and abrasion-resistant.
Most removable parts, however, are made of plastic. These include portafilter and bean hopper, two pieces that you’ll be using every time you’re making coffee.
Were it not for these plastic parts, I’d say this machine will surely last you for decades. But I’m pretty sure they’ll break from use at some point.
I’m not saying it will break tomorrow or even next year. But it probably won’t be something you’ll pass down to your grandchildren.
On another note, one thing I especially love about this coffee machine is how quiet it is. Unlike many other espresso makers, this one won’t wake the entire household when you brew your first cup in the morning.
La Specialista espresso machine comes with a built-in conical burr grinder, saving you the need to have a separate appliance just for that.
The grinder is made of stainless steel and offers six grind settings.
To be honest, that’s a bit underwhelming for such a machine. When making espresso, you want to be able to fine-tune the grind size depending on the beans you’re using.
Don’t get me wrong. The six options you have available are enough for making a nice cup of espresso. But if you’re the type of person that likes to play with settings to find a perfect cup, this coffee machine is not the best for that.
I really like the hopper on this coffee machine. With a capacity of 8.8 ounces, you can make roughly 10 espresso cups before you need to refill it.
La Specialista espresso machine also features a coffee bean sensor, which does two things:
- It lets you know when too few beans inside the hopper for an espresso
- It adjusts the dose depending on the grind size
Now, the second point is really interesting. This feature assures exactly the right amount of coffee ground gets into the portafilter every single time. No need to get your coffee scale and measure the ground coffee before brewing.
And not just that. But by grinding just the right amount, there is no leftover ground coffee that can go stale before you brew again.
Delonghi says that La Specialista heats up instantly, and that’s in no way an exaggeration. Within a second, the machine is ready to start extracting coffee.
And since it features a dual heating system, you can brew coffee and steam milk simultaneously. You see, these two actions are done at different temperatures.
With a single boiler, your machine has to stop brewing espresso and heat up even more to make steamed milk. Then, if you’re making another cup of espresso right after, you need to wait for the machine to cool down again.
With La Specialista espresso machine, that’s not something you need to worry about. This is especially useful in a household with several coffee drinkers.
Now, let’s talk about brewing.
La Specialista allows you to choose from three beverage options:
The difference between the first two options lies simply in the amount of water used for the drink. For espresso, the machine uses 1.2 ounces of water. For coffee, on the other hand, one cup requires 2.4 ounces instead.
As for Americano, the machine first makes a regular espresso shot. Then, it adds hot water from a separate spout. I like the fact that the hot water spout is placed right next to the coffee spout. That way, you don’t have to move the cup when making Americano.
Keep in mind that these are default settings, and you can change them in the control panel. Once you find your preferred settings, you can save them on one of the three available profiles. This makes brewing with fewer button presses in the future.
La Specialista has a few tricks up its sleeve to make sure coffee is optimally extracted each time. Two of those tricks, or better say features, are:
- Pre-infusion Technology
- PID Sensor Control
Pre-infusion basically means soaking coffee grounds inside the portafilter with some hot water. This step assures that every coffee particle is saturated. So as the machine forces water through them with pressure, they get equally extracted.
What PID sensor control does is regulates water temperature inside the machine. As you probably know, the perfect temperature for optimal coffee extraction is between 195° and 205° Fahrenheit.
But the temperature inside the machine can be affected by different factors, such as the external temperature. So, for instance, if you were to cool down your kitchen with AC, that would also cool down the water inside the machine.
Well, this cool feature assures the water temperature stays the same regardless of the external factor. That way, your coffee is always optimally extracted.
When it comes to frothing, La Specialista makes your job quite easy.
The Pannarello-style wand it comes with is designed to do most of the job for you. Thanks to the thick nozzle and air holes throughout, you don’t have to move the jug around to add air to the milk.
Are you making a bubbly froth for a cappuccino? Or a velvety microfoam for latte art?
Doesn’t matter, this machine can do both. Just turn the ring on the warm to “flat” or “foam”, depending on what kind of milk texturing you need.
The upkeep of La Specialista is relatively quick and simple.
Removable parts, such as a drip tray, water tank, and coffee filters, should be cleaned on a regular basis. You should always rinse them under the sink. The detergent used in dishwashers can be too harsh on them.
As for the steam wand, you should flush it every time you finish steaming milk. This assures no milk residue stays inside the machine, where the bacteria can grow.
Thanks to the descaling alert, you can easily keep up with the schedule. As soon as you see the light blink, run the cycle with a descaling agent.
The whole thing takes no more than half an hour, and it assures your coffee tastes great. Additionally, it keeps your machine in a tip-top shape.
Ease of Use
The control panel of La Specialista consists of rotary dials and buttons and is relatively simple to use.
I say relatively because I find certain options to be weirdly marked. For instance, there’s a “my” button that saves your coffee preference for future brewing. Well, figuring out what this button does without looking at a manual was quite a task.
But once you decipher what each button and knob does, setting up your brew will be a piece of cake.
And since this is considered to be an automatic espresso machine, it’s designed to be simple to use – even for beginners.
This is pretty clear with La Specialista. From grinding to pulling the shot, the only thing you manually need to do is put a cup underneath the spout.
Even steaming is made simple. You just need to choose between two types of foam and hold the jug. The Pannarello wand will do the rest.
There are a few other features also worth mentioning on this machine.
As you can see, La Specialista has tons of features you expect to see in a machine marketized as “professionally inspired.” But a pressurized filter basket it comes with is not one of them.
This type of filter basket features a single hole on the bottom where water flows through. The point of this design is to make brewing coffee a simple task anyone can do, no matter their barista skills.
Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t necessarily a bad feature. If you’re new to making espresso, or simply don’t want to deal with a steep learning curve, then you’ll love this type of filter.
But if you want to practice your barista skills, a pressurized filter might be a bit underwhelming.
Smart Tamping Station
The smart tamping station is one feature that makes your life easier – or at least less messy. Basically, the machine does the ground leveling and tamping for you. There’s absolutely no way your coffee grounds end up packed too heavily, preventing coffee from flowing through evenly.
This is especially handy for beginners, as it assures you get a perfectly flat coffee puck every single time. And since the machine does all the work, there are no leftover grounds that you need to clean up after.
I’m guilty of forgetting to turn off the appliances after I’m done with them. The fact that it increases my energy bill is apparently not enough to get into the habit of turning them off. And to be honest, I’m surprised that I still haven’t gotten anything on fire due to my carelessness.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll love this feature.
You can set the machine to turn off automatically after being idle for some time. There are three options to choose from: 9 minutes, 1½, or 3 hours. And really, the first one is the only setting you should use.
There you have it, an in-depth overview of Delonghi La Specialista.
This automatic espresso machine is great for a beginner coffee drinker as well as more experienced at-home baristas.
From grinding and tamping to brewing and steaming, there’s little input required from you. What’s more, automatic cleaning programs make maintenance a piece of cake.
Interested? Check out the Delonghi La Specialista.
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