De’Longhi PrimaDonna Elite Review
Our coffee connoisseur Louise Woffindin examines one of the premium De’Longhi bean to cup coffee machines in her De’Longhi PrimaDonna Elite review found below. Read on to see if this machine suits your needs and is worthy of the investment…
When you love great coffee, you want a great coffee machine. However, spending a month’s salary on a bean-to-cup coffee machine is a big commitment so you want to make sure that what you’re getting is worth the investment.
Thankfully, due to a huge rise in the interest in proper, barista-style coffee recently, there are more and more reasonably priced bean-to-cup machines that do a great job. Yes, they’re expensive, but so are takeout coffees – you don’t get much change from £5 these days in a coffee shop so spending upwards of £1,000 on a machine is totally worth it if it’s a good one!
Today, we’re reviewing the De’Longhi PrimaDonna Elite. This stylish bean-to-cup coffee machine is designed to craft professional coffee at home. Let’s take a look at what we found in our full De’Longhi PrimaDonna Elite review…
First Impressions Of The PrimaDonna Elite
We were so excited to try this coffee machine and we couldn’t wait for it to arrive. First impressions-wise, we were impressed with how well packed the machine was. When you’re paying a lot of money, you want to make sure that it arrives in perfect condition and so De’Longhi didn’t disappoint.
After removing the packaging, it’s very obvious that this is a high-end coffee machine. It feels solid and sturdy and looks every bit as elegant as you hope.
If you’re wanting subtle and small, look elsewhere – the De’Longhi elite is anything but! In fact, it will probably be deeper than any other kitchen appliance you own.
However, large stature aside, the thing that draws your attention the most with this coffee machine is the huge display. It really does feel more like a computer device than a coffee machine. This certainly creates a ‘wow’ factor that will impress anyone that visits your home.
Looks aside, its functionality is similar to other bean-to-cup machines. You still have the milk reservoir, coffee beans at the top and a water tank. If you’re already familiar with bean-to-cup machine setups, the De’Longhi is just an extra-techy version.
Machine Specs & Features
When considering buying a coffee machine, it’s important to know its specs and the features you’re paying for. In this section, we’ll go through all the technical aspects about what makes up the PrimaDonna Elite. Let’s take a look.
The De’Longhi PrimaDonna Elite has an impressive 1450 W power output and makes use of a 19-BAR water pump pressure system. It measures 375 mm high x 260 mm wide x 480 mm deep, and the height-adjustable coffee spout is 140 mm. There is a removable 2-litre water tank and an integrated milk container that holds 0.5 litres.
The coffee machine weighs a whopping 12.5 kg and is solid. There’s no chance of this machine being knocked off your countertop. It has stainless steel burrs.
At the top of the coffee machine, you’ve got a colourful touchscreen control panel. Apart from the power button on top, there are no old-fashioned buttons or dials. Instead, the machine uses touchscreen technology to operate it and control it.
On/off switch and standby button
The on/off button is more like a standby button. It is located behind the cup warmer plate on the top of the machine. The machine can also be turned on/off and used via a smartphone app, hence why this button is more like a standby mode.
There is a main on/off switch behind the machine. If this is turned off, you can’t use the smartphone function.
Coffee bean tank
The coffee bean tank can hold 400g of beans and the capacity for coffee grounds is 14 portions.
There are heaps of different drinks you can make with this machine. When preparing black coffees, it’s possible to prepare two at a time. However, if you’re using a recipe with milk, you can only do single coffees.
You can adjust many settings too. The grinding level has 13 possible adjustments, for example, and you can also programme the portion size and adjust the volume of milk foam produced. In terms of coffee strength settings, you can choose five strengths. Temperature-wise, you have four heat settings.
Once you’ve found the perfect mix in your settings, you can save it to one of the six available user profiles.
The bottom of the machine is home to the drip tray. This is a removable drip tray and has a flood valve inside.
Water tank and milk tank
The 2-litre water tank is located at the side of the machine and has a lid. The milk tank is located to the left of the machine and can hold 500 ml of milk.
We loved this feature! The PrimaDonna Elite has cup lighting, which makes it a real professional experience when making your brew.
The touchscreen display
As well as being large, the display can be altered to suit your tastes. There are four different display backgrounds to choose from, including shaded blue, coffee brown, dark blue, and stainless steel.
Yes, unbelievably, the De’Longhi PrimaDonna Elite has Bluetooth functionality. This means you can make drinks directly from an app on your smartphone.
The De’Longhi machine comes with a number of accessories. These include a water indicator paper to test the hardness of the water, a measure for pre-ground coffee, a descaler, a water softener filter, a cleaning brush, and an ice cube tray (for making those cold drinks).
The De’Longhi PrimaDonna Elite coffee machine comes with a 24-month standard warranty.
Using The De’Longhi PrimaDonna Elite
Thanks to the technology of the machine, it’s really easy to get started. The screen will take you through set up so you can start enjoying your first drinks relatively quickly.
As this is a high-spec machine with a huge range of possible drinks to make, it can take a little while to get used to all of the settings. But once you’ve found your perfect drink, it’s really easy to make it exactly the same way time and time again.
In order to write this review as accurately as possible, we followed the De’Longhi PrimaDonna Elite coffee machine manual’s instructions to make our first coffee with the machine. Here’s how we got on.
Preparing for the first cup
After putting the machine together and plugging it in, we saw the screen light up with instructions to follow.
- “Select Language” – we used the arrows to scroll to the right language flag.
- The display then showed “fill water tank with fresh water.” After filling to the MAX line, we closed the lid and put it back into place.
- The screen said, “insert waterspout.” At this point, you need to check the waterspout is inserted into the nozzle then put a container of water (100 ml) below it.
- The next thing on the display will read “water circuit empty, press ok to start the filling process.”
- After pressing ok, the machine is ready to use.
Due to the machine being empty the first time it’s used, it will be noisier than normal. The noise will become less once water is running through the system. You also need to make 4 to 6 drinks before the coffee machine is making optimal drinks.
Making a coffee
You’re now ready to start making drinks!
Firstly, you’ll need to fill the container with your coffee beans. Once your beans are in, place your cup under the spouts – it’s best to have them as close to the cup as possible as this makes for a creamier coffee.
Then, on the display, press the arrows to choose the drink you’d like to make. When you’ve chosen your coffee, you’ll see an image of it on the screen along with a progress bar. If needed, you can interrupt the preparation by pressing ‘stop’ on the screen. If you want to add more coffee when it has finished, you just need to press ‘extra’ and then ‘stop’ when your desired amount is reached. You can now enjoy your first coffee.
If you only have pre-ground coffee at home, you can still use it in this machine. In this case, you’d need to measure out one level measure only. Any more than this will cause the insides of the machine to become dirty. After inserting the grounds, prepare your coffee as normal.
Using the milk function
The milk container should be filled with enough milk as required for your drink. You should be careful not to exceed the MAX fill level on the milk container. The marks correspond to around 100 ml of milk.
With the milk container filled and in place, you can then choose the drink from the menu. The options for milk-based drinks include cappuccino, latte macchiato, espresso macchiato, caffe latte, flat white, hot milk, cappuccino mix, and cappuccino+ (a stronger coffee).
Other drinks functions
It’s also possible to make tea, hot chocolate and cold coffee with this machine – and you’d better believe we tried them all!
PrimaDonna Elite Taste Test
Before tasting any of the coffees and other drinks we could make, we were already impressed. We really hoped the machine would live up to our expectations when it came to coffee taste and experience. Ultimately, when you spend over £1000 on a machine you want the coffee not just to taste good but to taste really really good.
The good news is we found the De’Longhi PrimaDonna Elite truly lived up to our hopes and expectations. The coffee was great!
There are potentially thousands of different things you can tweak with this machine so you can truly customise the coffee you get. Really though, what matters to most people is making a rich espresso that has a good crema and a nice milk froth feature that delivers. Does the PrimaDonna Elite have that? Yes, it does.
Once we’d made a few coffees, the machine’s potential truly kicked in. The PrimaDonna Elite produced a long-lasting, dark crema on each espresso we made.
Even though it has heaps of customisation options, it’s also pretty hands-off too, which is good for people who want this convenience.
The milk system does the job well for an automated milk system. The milk froth lasted well at various volumes and the milk itself never tasted scaled.
Like any machine with adjustable settings, it is possible to produce coffee that tastes burnt or over-extracted but you soon figure this out and find a setting that works for your personal tastes.
What Makes The PrimaDonna Elite Coffee Machine Different?
When comparing this product to others in a similar price range, what sets it apart is its ability to deliver a delicious bean-to-cup coffee with a relatively hands-off approach. For anyone who likes a cappuccino or latte but doesn’t want to use a milk frother wand, this is ideal.
It’s not quite a one-touch cappuccino machine, rather a swipe then tap machine, but this display and user interface is another thing that makes it great.
Of course, you can’t expect it to have slickness like an Apple product who specialise in touchscreens, but it would be unfair to apply these tablet standards to a coffee machine’s touchscreen anyway! We also loved the fact you can make your coffee using a smartphone app. However, the machine’s touchscreen display is much more reliable (and less buggy) than the app. We found the app to be fantastic for programming in a new recipe from the comfort of the sofa but it was, very occasionally, buggy (we used the Android version).
That said, it is highly unlikely that anyone will buy this machine just for its smartphone capabilities. I mean, the function is great and you could technically place your cup under the night before and then make your coffee from under the covers. However, if you prefer a milk-based drink this isn’t practical as you wouldn’t want to leave milk in the container all night. But then you might also have the “what if I forgot to place the cup under the dripper” thoughts running through your head too. Great idea, just not very practical!
Realistically though, it doesn’t take that long to make a coffee, so you’re not going to buy this solely for this feature. It’s a nice little gimmick though, nevertheless.
Other things we liked about this machine compared to some others we’ve tested were its convenience. The water reservoir is loaded from the front (which, given the depth of the machine, is very appreciated), and the bin for used grounds is a good addition. We also liked how the machine prompts you when the bin or drip tray are full and when the water tank needs to be refilled too.
Overall, the De’Longhi PrimaDonna Elite is a great coffee machine for anyone looking for a higher-spec bean-to-coffee machine that delivers a range of drinks. If you just drink one type of coffee, you could get away with a different machine with fewer features but for those who love entertaining and inviting people over for coffee, this is ideal.
The smartphone Bluetooth integration is a little gimmicky but also neat at the same time. With the IoT (Internet of Things) coming up more and more in the next few years, it’s nice to see what the future could hold for coffee machines. We just need a refrigerated milk container and an automatic cup dispenser, though.
In terms of the user interface and touchscreen, we were impressed. It works well without being ‘too much’ – you still almost get the one-touch coffee feel from a more complex machine.
Is it worth the expense? We’re not so sure. The cost is prohibitive for many and is it really worth three times some of the other bean-to-cup machines out there? We really don’t think so. Yes, the smart user interface is cool but realistically it comes across as a try-hard addition to what is a rather conventional bean-to-cup coffee machine, albeit a high-end one. Therefore, unless you’re really into customising your drinks on an intricate level, you could save some money on a machine that’s not as flashy and still have a great-tasting coffee.