With the increasing popularity of gourmet coffees, and the growing demand for coffee around the world in general, a coffee maker has become one of the most popular home appliances. To deliver that perfect cup of coffee, the kind that was once only available at some of the more upscale coffee shops, a large number of man of home appliance manufacturers are now making some incredibly complex systems for the home user.
It’s not a necessity, but having a shiny bubbling machine in your kitchen, does make life a whole lot simpler, particularly if you have a large coffee drinking ‘brood’, or you just don’t have the time to be waiting around for your cup of Java to brew to exactly how you like it. Even for the small office, for that matter.
Our favorite coffee maker is the Delonghi Magnifica S Beverage Center, which retails at the top of the range, at about a thousand dollars. We have written a fully comprehensive, unbiased review of the Delonghi Magnifica S.
If you are searching for a less pricy coffee machine, please check out our other recommended machines that follow the Delonghi S (you can go to them quickly by using our table of contents, just click on any link). These are our best find of lower priced and budget coffee maker, and we have highlighted the best features to help you decide on the right machine.
Also, if you are unsure which type of coffee maker to buy or what exactly you should be looking for in a new coffee machine, please read of even download our free Coffee Maker Buyers Guide and How to Choose the Right Machine for Your Budget.
Note: You can get to any part of this review by clicking any link below. You will go directly to that section.
What Should You Look For in a Coffee Maker?
Selecting the best coffee maker from the ‘mine-field’ of choice can be a daunting task indeed.
You probably already have your own ‘essential criteria’, but when I was searching for a new machine, the following list helped me:
- User friendliness
- Aesthetic appeal
- Size (how much space will it take up?)
- Wastage (of coffee, filters, electricity)
- Weight (you might need to move it, so can you?)
We have shortlisted the best three coffee machines, varying in price from $59.99 to $970.00
Choice #1 – DeLonghi ECAM23210B Magnifica S Beverage Center
Features at a glance:
- Has ever feature of the bigger coffee machines
- Patented ‘Direct to Brew’ 13 setting silent system of freshly grinding coffee beans
- Front removal of water tank
- Use either whole coffee beans or ground coffee
- Massive 77% energy saving
- Built in (tap) water filter for healthier living
- Patented Cappuccino Frother
- 5 Strength settings
- Cup warmer
- Removable drip tray
- Digital control panel
- Clean and decalcification programs
The Magnifica S Beverage Center is The Most Compact Yet Versatile Coffee Maker
This is a truly compact, all-in-one 15 bar automatic espresso/cappuccino maker. It is without doubt, the top of the line home designed coffee machine, which makes it our premier choice for this guide.
Its push button control panel is easy to navigate and offers five coffee strength settings, four cup size settings as well as settings for temperature.
The compact size of 11.25″ x 8.19″ x 12.5” allows for easy fitting under any standard sized kitchen cabinet while retaining all the features found in the larger more professional models.
Its transparent 1.7 liter water tank is removable making refilling more convenient. Contrary to the standard espresso machines, the DeLonghi Compact Magnifica S is capable of making a wide range of drinks ranging from lattes and cappuccinos to frothy specialities with its ‘Cappuccino System’ frother.
The patented frother system combines steam and milk to craft plush creamy froth for that spot-on drink each time. The additional hot water dispenser further increases the range of drinks to tea or hot chocolate.
The ‘Direct-to-Brew’ in-house system with lower pitch, professional quality burr grinder allows greater freedom in customizing the fineness of the grinds, so each cup of coffee is designed to suit the specific taste of the drinker.
This capability to customize the hot beverages to suit the needs of the individual drinker alone makes this machine stand out.
The Magnifica S is easy on energy consumption as well. The single boiler system and energy saving switch consume up to 77% less energy. Further energy saving is supplied by the three hour automatic shut off.
Additional features include the cup warmer which can preheat your cup for a steaming hot drink on those really cold days, while the reheat function minimizes waiting time allowing you to get your coffee faster instead of waiting around for the boiler to get to the right temperature.
Cleaning the Delonghi Magnifica S Beverage Center
The dispenser spout is adjustable and is able to accommodate demitasse or larger 12 ounce cups thus eliminating untidy splashes. A built-in system automatically sends out warnings when it is time to clean up.
The easily removable hopper and drip tray add to the ease of cleaning. The internal water filtration system guarantees the freshest possible cup of coffee while the tidy 5.3 ounce coffee storage container maintains freshness of the beans within easy reach of a flip lid. The compactness of the system keeps everything within easy reach making the system very convenient to use.
After the machine is powered off, the brew compartment can be separated for the side of the unit and rinsed under a tap of running water and just snap it back into position. The coffee grounds container is equally easy to detach and empty.
Is The Delonghi Magnifica S User Friendly?
Once the machine is purchased, setting it up for that first cup of coffee is as simple as taking it out of the box and plugging it in! The only thing standing between you and a great cup of coffee are the following few steps.
- Open the container situated on top of the unit and fill with whole coffee beans. However, if you so desire, skip this part and just use ground coffee instead as that option too is available.
- Glide out the water tank from the side of the machine, fill it to capacity without going beyond the MAX mark and position it back in the unit.
- With the touch of a finger, push the on/off button to get the machine started.
- The unit will spontaneously pre-heat and carry out the rinse cycle.
- When the hot water exits the spouts it will collect in the drip tray or you can collect in waste cups and discard.
- Next, press the coffee bean icon until the preferred strength is obtained and select the quantity of coffee desired by turning the quantity dial.
- Place either one or two cups under the sprouts and press the correct icon for the number of cups desired. After the icon for the number of cups is pressed, the Magnifica S will grind the beans (if you added the beans and not the pre-ground coffee), tamp the coffee and finally serve the drink.
For making a cappuccino or latte just add milk in frothing pitcher, insert the steam wand in the pitcher, and push the steam button. Once the desired consistency is attained, add the froth or steamed milk to the coffee and enjoy your very first heavenly coffee.
Are There Any Negatives to the Delonghi ECAM23210B?
As this is a completely unbiased review of the Delonghi Magnifica S, we must include this section, albeit very small, but quite important. While it is a superb coffee machine, the DeLonghi ECAM23210B is not without its flaws!
Even though the machine offers you the benefit of making decaffeinated coffee by side-stepping the hopper holding regular beans, you can only do this one cup at a time.
This is an advantage if you only need an occasional cup of decaf coffee, but not practical for frequent use.
Another issue is that at times the natural oils found in coffee beans, hinder the flow of beans into the grinder behind the unit. So at times the back lid has to be removed and beans pushed manually into the grinder.
While a perfectly safe practice, this can be tedious. But this issue can be eliminated by keeping the area free of oil built-up by wiping it down every now and then.
The DeLonghi Compact Magnifica S is a solid, Italian made piece of equipment. It is flawless in its ability to deliver exceptional drinks automatically and for those who enjoy tinkering with your drinks; it offers you that freedom as well. If you can spare the funds, it is a worthwhile investment as it provides gourmet coffee shop quality drinks at a fraction of the cost.
Where Can You Buy the Delonghi Magnifica S?
We recommend buying the Delonghi ECAM23210B Magnifica S Beverage Center at Amazon.com. Their prices are always very competitive, even lower that the manufacturers sites. You would think that this makes absolutely no sense, but it is often the case. So if you can save money buying from this popular shopping platform, it is a real bonus, yes?
Another feature/reason to head over the Amazon is that you can read real users reviews, top tips and advice from previous buyers.
Choice #2 – DeLonghi EN520 Lattissima Plus Nespresso Capsule System
The Delonghi Lattissima Plus is our second choice, so read on to find out why. And does it produce a ‘true’ espresso?
The first thing to understand here is that a Nespresso Capsule system and an espresso machine are two entirely unrelated systems. In fact, espresso produced with a Nespresso Capsule system does not even qualify as a true espresso when measured by the standards of the Italian Espresso National Institute.
The institute defines a strict code of certified coffee blends, equipment including grinder and dispenser and not to mention licensed personnel to prepare a true cup of espresso. Secondly, traditional espresso was never created from coffee stuffed in a capsule!
So if you are seeking that kind of true espresso, I suggest you go to Italy. For the rest of us willing to settle on a consistently good cup of coffee with crema that resembles authentic espresso and a great taste that a majority of the population will not be able to differentiate from the ‘true’ espresso, then the DeLonghi Lattissima Plus Nespresso Capsule System is a very good choice.
The thing about making an authentic espresso in even an automatic machine is that a lot of variables are up to the person preparing the coffee.
So at the very least this means that the taste of coffee will vary from cup to cup to some degree, and if the person does not have much practice in using the espresso machine, you may have to drink a lot of bad coffee before things get better.
Getting a good cup of coffee from an espresso machine requires time, effort and dedication, the Nespresso Capsule System eliminates these issues.
Features of the DeLonghi Lattissima Plus Nespresso Capsule System
Like it big brother (our #1 Choice, above), you can expect the Lattissima Plus to be a quality coffee machine.
- Energy saving auto-timer
- Patented single touch milk for ease and simple cleaning
- Illuminated controls
- Dimensions: L-12.5” x W-6.6” x H-10”
- Personalize/program your favorite drinks
- One touch automatic cappuccino feature
- Self cleaning functionality
- Thermoblock heating system for 40 second heat up time
The DeLonghi Lattissima Plus system is designed to heat water to the optimal temperature defined by the IENI standards, and push it through the capsules at a high pressure (19 bar) so all 900 coffee flavours and aromas can be extracted from the grounds.
Its Thermoblock heating system allows the machine to deliver great tasting coffee in just 40 seconds which minimizes waiting time. The easy to navigate, lit buttons allow a selection of drinks including lungo, latte, cappuccino or espresso.
A brilliant memory feature allows the machine to remember the amount of milk and coffee strength you prefer with the added benefit of water hardness settings that ensure a great drink every time.
The unit sits tidily on the counter top with the excess cord tucked away under the machine and there is even a used capsule holder with a ten capsule capacity to keep things clean. A sliding drip tray makes it possible to hold the smaller espresso as well as latte cups or glasses for macchiato.
The water reservoir at the back glides out with ease for refilling. The milk container for frothing or steaming milk can easily be detached with the best part being that it can be stored in the refrigerator until the next use. There is an adjustable dial which allows for selection of how you want your milk to be prepared.
The DeLonghi Lattissima Plus Nespresso Capsule System is Eco-friendly as it endorses recycling of Nespresso® capsules. Energy consumption can also be kept in check with the built-in energy save mode which allows for turning off the unit at varying time intervals.
Cleaning The DeLonghi Lattissima Capsule System
For all the laid back people who hate to tidy-up and even those pushed for time, this machine requires next to no time to clean and maintain. Most of the time all it needs is a wipe down while the automatic cleaning function takes care of most of the remaining cleaning.
Press a few buttons and you are done!
The coffee outlet/spout can be rinsed by pressing the espresso button.
All the removable parts like the used capsule container, water tank and drip tray can be rinsed under a tap while the milk container can be disassembled and placed in the dishwasher.
Finally when the machine needs to be descaled, the cappuccino button will turn orange.
A major issue with machines having built-in milk steamers, is cleaning. The DeLonghi Lattissima Plus takes care of this problem by allowing you to slide the milk tray to the front of the unit and with the push of a single button, the sprout gets cleaned! Once the cleaning operation is complete the tray can simply be pushed back to its original position.
Possible Negatives of the DeLonghi Lattissima Plus Nespresso Capsule System
There are a few glitches that for some people might be negative points, while other may not even notice them. The first item is the size of the drink, the amount of coffee that constitutes one drink is 200ml and same amount for milk.
So the maximum drink size is 200 ml without milk and between 200 to 400ml with milk, depending on the amount of milk added. I know some people who want an extra-large coffee in the morning, in which case this will be a limitation, whereas others want small drinks several times and in that case this is perfect.
The second possible point of contention may be that the milk based drinks tend not to be very hot. So if you like your coffee to be steaming you may have to nuke it for a few seconds after preparing it.
The amount of coffee in each pod is limited due to the small size of the pod. This means the drink you get may not have the strength you like, while this issue can be eliminated for most people by using extra strength pods, for others it may not solve the problem entirely.
Finally, you have to acquire the pods from the manufacturer, and if the manufacturer does not carry the coffee of your preference, then you are stuck. While there is a very large range of coffees to choose from, it is best to take a look at what is available before the purchase of the unit.
Summing Up the DeLonghi Lattissima Plus
This is a cost effective machine, roughly one-third the price of our primary recommendation (The Delonghi Magnifica S Beverage Center), which has the ability to provide some great tasting coffee. If you don’t enjoy the measuring, timing, temperature controls and the general dedication required in operating an espresso maker then this is the ideal coffee maker for you.
With minimal maintenance, it can service the needs of those who have little time or just don’t like the hassle.
Buying the Delonghi Lattissima Plus
Amazon is the best place to buy the Delonghi Lattissima Plus, because their shopping platform is very competitive and they offer a few options to make your purchase. At the time of writing this review, they are also offering FREE shipping and an overall saving of close to $200!
Choice #3 – The Cuisinart DCC-1100BK 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker
For many people the drip method of making coffee is still the only way to enjoy coffee. The technique is essentially old-school using the pour-over method, but done right can lead to a great wake-up call for your taste buds.
The secret to producing great pot of drip coffee is using good quality water at the correct temperature (roundabout 93 degrees Celsius or 200°F), and the freshest of beans. While all this may sound very elementary, not many automatic coffeemakers can pull it off.
Features of the Cuisinart DCC-1100BK
Water constitutes 98% of the coffee you drink and influences the taste of coffee greatly. The Cuisinart DCC-1100 employs two filters; a charcoal water filter and a gold tone coffee filter.
Together they work to remove the odours, calcium, chlorine and general bad tastes that come from tap water and can potentially give coffee it bad taste.
The gold tone coffee filter is washable thus a money saver, but if you don’t like the hassle then there is the option of using the #4 paper filter in its place. The clearly marked water reservoir can be filled with ease due to the convenience of flip cover.
To get a good cup of coffee a coffee machine must be able to heat the water to the correct temperature and disperse it over maximum amount of the grounds evenly so flavours can be extracted evenly.
Many machines employ the stream design dispersal system which only puts water over small area of the grounds, the Cuisinart DCC-1100 uses a showerhead design that allows water to be distributed evenly over the coffee grinds for maximum extraction of flavours and minimum fluctuation in water temperature.
The water temperature at the point of contact with coffee in the filter basket is 197°F, which is excellent. The auto on feature allows the unit to be programmed up to 24 hours in advance, ensuring that the coffee is ready when you need it and to eliminate electricity wastage there is an auto off button with delay setting from 0 to 4 hours.
Not everyone needs the full twelve cup capacity of coffee that the Cuisinart DCC-1100 can deliver, which is where the 1–4 cup setting comes in handy. Just set the knob to the desired quantity of coffee and brew a smaller pot.
Brewing smaller pots eliminates wastage and ensures fresh coffee every time. For those who can’t wait to get their hands on the morning Joe fast enough, just hit the brew pause button and pour yourself a cup in mid-brew.
The easy pour, no drip glass carafe is elegantly lined with metal casing and sits on a scratch resistant heating plate with non-stick coating. In case the unit gets unplugged or there is power interruption due to some other reason the back-up system for loss of power kicks in and maintains the programmed details, time and day information in addition to the auto on time and off time for a full one minute.
Cleaning the Cuisinart DCC-1100BK
The day to day cleaning involves nothing more than wiping the unit down with a damp cloth; use of any abrasive cleaners will only spoil the unit. The carafe can simply be washed with mild soap and warm water and the filter basket is dishwater safe.
Chemical built-up can ruin the taste of coffee so decalcification is needed from time to time and is determined by the amount of use and hardness of the water. The flashing clean light informs you when decalcification is needed and the procedure is simple enough.
Remove the charcoal water filter from its holder in the water reservoir.
To start the decalcification process, add 4 cups white vinegar and 8 cups water in the reservoir.
Push the Clean button.
Once the light in the Clean button starts to glow, turn the coffee maker on with the on/off button. The Clean light will continue to glow throughout the cleaning process. The sound of five short beeps will signal the end of the cycle.
One cycle is normally sufficient to clean the machine, but on rare occasion if the Clean light still flashes after the unit has been cleaned once, repeat the process a second time.
Upon completion of the cleaning process, run one cycle of tap water through the unit to remove any impurities left behind by the vinegar before brewing coffee.
Does the Cuisinart DCC-1100 Have Any Negatives?
There are some complaints regarding the size of the fill hole, with some people finding it to be a bit small and thus creating a mess when coffee is poured. For those who feel this is the case the removing the lid while pouring the coffee resolves it nicely.
The only other issue revolves around the clock not lighting up.
This very modestly priced machine (under a hundred dollars) turns out coffee that tastes similar to that found in restaurants and coffee shops and is available in four colours – red, pink, black and white, so you can match it with your kitchen décor.
It comes with just the right variety of features that makes it convenient and user friendly, without having to pay for extra features like a grinder that many people may not even use.
It occupies minimum counter space and is stylishly designed so it looks good sitting on the counter. The price, quality of coffee it produces and the insignificant drawbacks, make the Cuisinart DCC-1100 a great option to buy.