De’Longhi Eletta Review
Our resident coffee expert Jack Simpson examines this premium home coffee machine in our De’Longhi Eletta Review. Find out how got on with it right here…
The De’Longhi Eletta is a bean to cup coffee machine that is designed to make great tasting, fresh coffee at the touch of a button – but does it deliver?
In this review we are going to be putting the De’Longhi Eletta through its paces – first we will look a little at the company itself, before taking an in-depth look at the specifications and features of the machine.
Then it will be time for a step by step walkthrough of what it is like to use the De’Longhi Eletta – to give you a clear picture of what to expect if you were to buy one, and then the crucial taste test – does it really make great coffee? We will then deliver our final verdict and suggest who this machine might be suitable for.
De’Longhi (the company) was founded in 1902, in Italy, by the family of the same name. They started off making industrial parts in their workshop before moving on to make heaters and air conditioners.
Throughout the 20th century they continued to grow and expand their range into the kitchen appliance market, first producing a coffee machine in 1993. This culminated in the acquisition of British company Kenwood in 2001, and with it a whole range of kitchen and household appliances.
Next came a unique partnership with Nespresso in 2003 to further cement their position as one of the main players in the coffee machine industry. They have since moved into the production of professional coffee making equipment.
The De’Longhi Eletta is a bean to cup machine, and priced towards the upper-mid range for a machine like this. But does it warrant the money? Let’s take a look.
De’Longhi Eletta Specifications & Features
Where to start with the De’Longhi Eletta? Well, as we alluded to above, this is a machine that promises a lot, and is probably slightly above average in terms of price for a machine of this calibre – so how does it justify the expense?
Fortunately, it really does. It has a stylish black finish that really compliments the angular body of the unit. It gives off a no-nonsense vibe – this is a machine that is going to get the job done. This is offset by the clear milk dispenser, which when full will offer a delicate counterbalance to the stern look of the unit itself. The LED display on the top of the machine adds to the image of a functional, yet modern, machine that won’t let you down.
In terms of size, the De’Longhi Eletta measures 36 x 26 x 46 cm (note that some of the listings have this wrong, suggesting it is a tiny machine!) which is a decent size, but without being overwhelmingly big for your kitchen counter. The size, coupled with the hefty 11kg weight, adds to the feeling of security and confidence in this machine.
Enough of what it looks like – what can it do? Well, as this is a bean to cup coffee machine, let’s start with the grinder. An integrated grinder is simply the best feature for getting the freshest coffee into your cup. It means that the coffee doesn’t come into contact with oxygen between getting ground and getting brewed – all those aromas and flavours stay trapped in.
The grinder in question here is a burr conical grinder – these are the best grinders, much better than the metal blade ones which ‘chop’ the beans. A burr grinder will crush the beans, meaning you get a more even grind. It is also adjustable so you can select a different grind size for different drinks and for different types of bean. This can be fun to experiment with.
We should point out here that it is also possible to use pre-ground coffee with this machine, it just needs to be loaded into a separate compartment, bypassing the grinder.
The Eletta has within it a twin thermoblock boiler. This enables it to heat water very quickly, allowing you to make a drink within seconds of switching the machine on. The fact that it is a twin boiler means that it can be heating the water for the coffee and the water for steaming milk at the same time, which should again really cut down on the amount of time it takes to make a drink.
The coffee is brewed using a 15-bar pump. The optimum amount of pressure that you need to brew coffee is around 9-bars, so it’s reassuring to have that extra little bit. You can set it for a ‘pre infusion’ where the water is introduced to the coffee and then the pressure is slowly built up – giving more time for infusion. The idea behind this is that you extract more flavour out of the coffee and into your drink.
The brewing unit is easily removed from the machine, which makes keeping it clean and hygienic incredibly easy. This is a nice touch, as any build up in there can really impact on the taste of the coffee.
Now onto the drinks themselves. Right at the start of our introduction we mentioned that the goal of this machine was to make great drinks at the touch of a button – so what drinks? The fully automated system can make a cappuccino, caffe latte, single or double espresso, ristretto, a long coffee or latte macchiato all with one touch – or an americano or flat white with a little more effort.
All of this is selected via the user display on the top of the machine. From here you can select what drink you would like, select the grind size, choose how you would like your milk and adjust the length of your shots. It is a really simple and intuitive menu, so it shouldn’t take too long at all to master.
You can also personalise drinks and store the settings in the memory – you select the milk quantity, coffee quantity, aroma level and temperature – then every time you want that drink you can have one made for you at the touch of a button.
When it comes to producing the drinks, the Eletta has the LatteCrema System. This is a special way to make the milk that will accompany many of the drinks it makes. Basically, it is specially designed to create the perfect creamy milk for your drinks, whichever one you select.
The milk carafe is also removable, so if you have milk leftover in there, you can take it out and put it in the fridge, ready for your next drink. This also helps with cleaning, of course. The carafe is also double-walled – this helps to keep the milk at a good temperature when it is out of the fridge. The LatteCrema System also has an auto-cleaning function.
While we’re talking about cleaning – the milk carafe isn’t the only thing that can be removed from the unit. The drip tray, the coffee ground container and the milk feeding tube are all completely removable, so you can give them all a thorough clean as and when you need to. On top of that, the machine is fitted with automatic cleaning, rinsing and descaling programmes – this is designed to ensure the upkeep is as simple as possible and the machine is always running at full capacity.
Using The De’Longhi Eletta?
In order to give you a full impression of what it is like to use the Eletta, we thought it would be a good idea to run through how to make a drink, step by step. Obviously different drinks can sometimes require different methods, so we normally use a cappuccino as our ‘base’ drink. Let’s take a look at how the Eletta performs.
To begin, we first need to check that there is enough water in the water tank, located on the back of the machine. This has a capacity of 2 litres, so you will probably find that you don’t need to top it up very often, but we would always recommend using fresh water whenever is possible.
The next thing to check is the amount of coffee in your grinder. As the lid is airtight you don’t need to worry about leaving beans in there that you are not going to use immediately as they will stay fresh in there for a while. If you use the machine at least once a day, then you may as well keep it topped up.
Next up it’s time to position your cup underneath the spout, or cups if you are making two coffees. The double spout will really save you time if you tend to make a couple of drinks. The positioning of the spout is also key here. You can slide the spout up and down, and you’ll want it to be as close to the cup as possible. As the liquid falls into the cup, if it splashes from a great height, you won’t get as creamier a cup as when it just slides in nicely. So be sure to lower the spout as much as possible.
Next it is time to select your drink. There is a ‘Cappuccino’ button just below the LED display on the top of the machine, simply press that and it will use the preset settings to produce your drink – the milk will start to be dispensed while the beans are being ground, and then the coffee will be brewed directly into your cup or glass to produce your drink. The whole process takes around 45 seconds – that’s it. Ultimately, to make a cappuccino all you need to do is position your cup and push the Cappuccino button…
If that is all you want to use this machine for, that’s absolutely fine, but there is much more that it can do. Other than the large range of drinks that you can make (you can select these from the menu on the display – the machine will take care of everything else), you can also customise the machine to make your perfect coffee.
You can alter the size of the grain that the grinder produces by turning the dial on the grinder to one of thirteen settings. As a guide, the finer grain size, the stronger and more bitter the coffee will taste – so aim for a very fine grain for an espresso, but a more coarse one for longer drinks.
You can also adjust the strength of your coffee by pressing the ‘Bean’ button and then pressing the arrows to either increase or decrease the size of your dose – obviously the higher the dose, the stronger the coffee. You may have different preferences on size of grain and size of the dose depending on which coffee you are using – some mild coffees may benefit from a larger dose than some more bitter tasting coffees. The fun here is in the experimentation.
The milk frother is also a great source of fun and customisation. The dial on the carafe lets you alter how frothy the milk is – ranging from just heating the milk with no froth (perfect for a flat white) to a really airy froth which is ideal for a cappuccino.
You can even select one of four temperature settings for your coffee, to get it exactly how you like it. Sometimes I find that if I am drinking out of a decent travel mug, the coffee stays ‘undrinkably hot’ for the duration of my commute, so I like to set it to come out a bit cooler on those days. It’s nice to have that option.
You can also choose how many drinks you would like to make by pressing either the ‘one cup’ or ‘two cup button’. I won’t insult your intelligence to tell you which buttons on the display these are – suffice to say it is intuitive!
The cleaning is also pretty simple, as we alluded to in the previous section. It is all automatic. When you have finished making your drink, turn the milk dial to the ‘Clean’ position and it will run hot water through the system to rinse it out. To descale the system, simply select ‘Descale’ from the menu on the user interface – it will instruct you what to do from there.
The Eletta Taste Test
I am delighted to tell you, therefore, that this machine produces some truly wonderful coffee. As with any machine with an integrated grinder, it has a head start – grinding the beans directly before making the coffee will always give you great results as you are using the freshest possible coffee, and that really does make a noticeable difference.
But there’s more to this machine than that. You get a great crema on top of your espressos – creamy and rich-tasting, plus beautiful to look at. Then there’s the milk – for a fully automated machine you get a pleasing amount of control over your milk and it really does a great job at creating light microfoam – as good as any machine that I’ve tried.
In terms of recreating the sort of drinks that you would spend a few pounds on in a café or coffee shop at the touch of a button, this is one of the best machines around. While we are mentioning the cost, after the initial outlay of the machine itself, De’Longhi estimate that the machine produces a coffee with milk for around 15p a time. Compared to buying a coffee in a shop, I would say that you would save enough money in less than a year of using this machine.
If you are waiting for a twist in the tail of this review, I am afraid that you are going to be disappointed… I haven’t really kept it a secret – I am a huge fan of the De’Longhi Eletta.
The most crucial factor is that it produces truly great coffee. These drinks are both wonderful to taste and wonderful to look at – the way the layers of the drink slowly merge together is genuinely mesmerising. We wholeheartedly recommend you use a glass for these drinks to get the full experience.
The ease of use is also a huge selling factor. I consider myself to be a coffee fanatic – I love being hands on when it comes to making coffee. Sometimes, though, it is just nice to press a button and let a machine do all the work – especially when the drinks taste as fantastic as these do.
The price will put some people off, and that is understandable – this is not a machine that you buy on a whim. It is a serious investment. However, if it is within your budget, and you like the idea of great coffee being made for you at the touch of a button, then this has to be on your shortlist. I think you may have just found your new bean to cup coffee machine.