If you love espresso, you’re bound to want to pull a shot with as much expertise as a professional barista. For that reason, it’s natural you’d be in the market for a semi-automatic espresso machine rather than a super-automatic machine. The semi-automatic espresso machines give you more involvement and control while brewing, and this is both satisfying and enjoyable.
If you’re interested in purchasing a high-quality, mid-range semi-automatic espresso maker that is both easy to get to grips with and use, this review is for you. The De’Longhi La Specialista espresso machine is perfect for newbie espresso brewers who would like to have fun making beautiful espressos without a steep learning curve.
Let’s take an in-depth look at the De’Longhi La Specialista espresso machine.
Detailed Review Of The De’Longhi La Specialista Espresso Machine EC9335M
De’Longhi La Specialista EC9335M Summary
- Built-in Coffee Grinder – Everything you need to pull a shot of espresso
- Friendly to Beginner – It offers more assistance such as grinding, dosing, and tamping.
- Smart tamping station – Consistent tamping every time
- Advanced Latte System – Easily froth rich or micro foam for your drinks.
- Reasonable Price – An affordable entry-level semi-automatic espresso machine
Build Quality And Aesthetic Design
The DeLonghi La Specialista EC9335M is a stainless-steel bodied semi-automatic espresso machine resistant to impact damage, corrosion, and rust. It also benefits from a high-end, handsome look.
Despite its premium appearance, the machine is designed with the beginner in mind. It has a straightforward interface and also has both a bean hopper and a pressure gauge. There is also a steam wand, built from stainless steel, that has a rubber-padded elbow and offers two foam choices.
What is most immediately apparent about the De’Longhi La Specialista, though, is its elegant and professional design. It’s both compact (measuring 14.5″ x 12.5″ x 14″) and sturdy, with a solid-looking rectangular shape smoothed out by its elegant rounded edges.
Meanwhile, the stainless steel main body adds to the overall impression of a pristine product for serious espresso lovers. This machine would look good in a commercial setting and will lend a significant “wow” factor to any kitchen countertop.
Ease Of Use
The fact the Delonghi La Specialista EC9335M is very easy to use. It’s designed perfectly suited to beginners is another significant benefit of this particular espresso machine.
The machine’s control panel gives the user total control while also being simple to operate. You can alter the dose amount with a simple turn of the dial situated on the left-hand side or opt for single or double shots. Meanwhile, on the right-hand side, there are several pre-set coffee drinks recipes to choose between, including Espresso, Americano, and Coffee.
On the left of the La Specialista is a sensor grinder, while you can change the level of coarseness with a turn of the bean hopper. The machine will begin grinding your coffee immediately after you insert the portafilter.
The machine’s smart tamping station prevents the kind of tamping errors commonly made by beginners. This means you won’t need to concern yourself if your tamping pressure lacks consistency. You can have a completely flat coffee puck with the help of the smart tamping. Once grinding has been completed, all you need to do is simply pull the lever down on the left. It will properly tamp the ground coffee in the portafilter.
You can also set the three recipes’ volume settings to your preferences very quickly with the programmable feature.
On the whole, the machine’s design helps avoid the most common pitfalls beginners tend to fall into with ratio, grinding, and tamping. This means enjoying an exquisite cup of espresso can be achieved very easily while still having an input in the process.
With the removable drip tray and auto-rinse feature, maintaining and cleaning the machine is not a time-consuming task. The water tank has a capacity of 2.0L, you only need to refill after making many cups of coffee.
Built-In Coffee Grinder
This is an espresso machine with sensor grinder, which means that you won’t incur the extra expense of needing a separate espresso grinder to get started. So, if you’re taking tentative steps with espresso-making and are not yet sure you’ll fully embrace it, a machine such as the De’Longhi La Specialista EC9335M, which is both a brew and grind coffee maker, is a good one to start with.
The grinder houses advanced a bean sensor that will let you know when you’re running short on coffee beans. It also very cleverly alters the dose when you adjust the coarseness.
Whether it is dialed to a setting of 5 or 6 to make a milder espresso or 1 or 2 for a more robust cup, the grinding time will adjust to suit the grinder automatically.
To put it another way, whatever coarseness you need, you will automatically get the ideal dose every time. This smart sensor grinding technology delivers precise consistent grinding for your espresso.
One of the drawbacks is the number of grind settings – or lack of. This machine only has six, which doesn’t offer the range required for precise adjustments. However, to counter this problem, the De’Longhi La Specialista has a more forgiving pressurized portafilter.
Quality Of The Espresso
For beginners, using pressurized baskets is a good option because they take away the requirement to dial in a shot perfectly by altering both the grind amount and the settings.
The De’Longhi La Specialista has 51mm pressurized filter baskets. This helps build up pressure and make crema by pushing the coffee through a little hole. However, if you have a mainly reserved palate where it comes to espressos, you might find the result a little thin and lacking the body of higher-quality espresso.
Pressurized portafilters are usually a feature of cheaper espresso makers, and the DeLonghi La Specialista’s box doesn’t contain unpressurized baskets. However, rival Breville Barista Express has both unpressurized and pressurized portafilters.
The La Specialista will pre-infuse the coffee automatically before it begins brewing. A small amount of water goes in the coffee puck before brewing. So the grounds will be soaked thoroughly, then expand, which reduces uneven extraction and channeling. Thanks to the ‘Active Temperature Control’ that guarantees the temperature stability for optimal coffee extraction and milk texturing. However, it doesn’t feature PID control. With 19 bars of pump pressure, you will get a decent cup of espresso.
Will the espresso of De’Longhi La Specialista be on a par with the quality produced by other semi-professional machines? It isn’t very likely. However, even if you’re starting on your espresso-brewing journey, you’ll still get an excellent espresso with this machine.
This is worth considering when deciding which semi-automatic espresso machine in this price range you’re going to choose. Would you rather eschew some of the premium espresso flavors for a machine with promises of a more straightforward process that will lead to less going wrong? If you would, the La Specialista could be your best bet. If not, machines are available to make better espresso, but they take more effort and will require a steeper learning curve.
The De’Longhi La Specialista espresso machine is equipped with two independent heating systems. One thermoblock for extracting coffee, while an independent heating system especially for steaming milk or frothing offers the coffee’s immediate preparation.
On De’Longhi’s official website, it has highlighted the “1-second quick start,” and it’s not merely a marketing gimmick. Once you’ve turned on the machine, grind, then tamp the dose, then you can brew espresso without the heat-up time you’d need to factor in with many other machines. Thermoblock ensures the rapid heating of the water and delivers more steam and hot water than the boiler.
The machine also has an “Advanced Latte System” and, together with two independent heating systems, enables you to make several cappuccinos, one after the other. After pulling a shot, you can start steaming milk almost immediately and begin brewing another cup of coffee straight away. However, you won’t be able to steam and brew simultaneously.
Machines meant for home-use usually have a single boiler to heat both the milk and the espresso, but that presents a problem – you’ll need different temperatures for heating milk and coffee. Because of this, you’ll have to let the thermoblock reduce in temperature from steam to coffee temperature before you can brew another one. The De’Longhi La Specialista espresso machine gets around this issue.
The DeLonghi La Specialista EC9335M comes equipped with a 360° rotational Panarello steam wand. Thanks to the “Advanced Latte System,” you’re able to select your froth style – either rich foam for a cappuccino or, for Latte Art, microfoam frothing. Simply position the cup beneath the spout, then move the ring to select flat or foam, depending on your requirements.
As we mentioned earlier, the dual heating system for milk frothing ensures immediate beverage preparation that allows you to make the transition almost instantly, and this machine steams more quickly than rival machines, including the Breville Barista Express.
This hands-free way to froth milk is one of the features of the De’Longhi La Specialista EC9335M that you’ll find most satisfying. You can enjoy café quality lattes and cappuccinos effortlessly.
Additional Great Features Of La Specialista Espresso Machine
Separate Hot Water Spout
The Delonghi La Specialista comes with a separate hot water spout. There is a tube positioned right above the cup close to the portafilter. Choosing the “Americano” recipe will add the required hot water to the espresso and make an authentic Americano without moving the cup. You’ll find how convenient it is to use a coffee maker with hot water dispenser.
Value For Money
One of the machine’s disadvantages is the cost, which is quite expensive when considering what it offers. For example, the Breville Barista Express is a similar price, but it offers higher-end features and produces better quality coffee.
However, despite this reservation, the big selling point of the Delonghi La Specialista is the ease of use, which makes it an excellent choice for the beginner espresso enthusiast. That’s because of the features it provides, including sensor grinding, integrated smart temping, and a dual heating system. So, while your budget will take a hit, an investment in the Delonghi La Specialista will take the hassle out of espresso making and lead to fewer errors and less frustration.
Do You Need A Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine?
Before you take the plunge and buy a semi-automatic espresso machine, you need to be sure this is the type of machine you need.
Because it’s only semi-automatic, there is a greater risk of failure, even if, as with the La Specialista, it’s designed to make it as easy as possible to use.
On the other hand, the super-automatic machines offer beautiful, consistent coffee with the push of a button. The elements needed to use the semi-automatic machines, such as tamping, grinding, dosing, brew time, temperature, etc., can impact the quality of your beverage.
Regardless of which semi-automatic espresso machine you opt for, you will have to learn how it all works. If you’re entirely new to brewing espresso, you’ll have to be prepared to learn as you go with a semi-automatic machine.
However, suppose you’re already familiar with the process of using semi-automatic espresso machines. In that case, there will not be an issue. And the De’Longhi La Specialista is more comfortable and easier than most to get to grips with.
There’s also the consideration of enjoying the process. Suppose one of the reasons you want to get into making your espressos is the satisfaction of knowing your input helped with the finished product. In that case, a semi-automatic espresso machine could be ideal.
However, if you’d rather have an easy and rapid way of getting an espresso without needing to buy one from a local coffee shop. You’ll probably require an automatic model as they will deliver just that at the push of a button.
Are There Any Alternatives?
The main rival of the La Specialista is, without doubt, the Breville Barista Express, which is similarly priced, and sometimes can be found a little cheaper. The Barista Express benefits from more professional features. These include digital temperature control (PID), a more comprehensive range of grind settings, and the inclusion of both non-pressurized and pressurized filter baskets with more professional diameter. Indeed, the Breville Barista Express gives the impression of bringing the coffee shop to your home.
At the almost same price tag, you can buy Barista Express’s big brother – Barista Pro BES878, which is even more powerful. We have been using this machine for a while, here is our hands-on review of Barista Pro.
Our Verdict – La Specialista Is A Great Option For Beginners
The De’Longhi La Specialista espresso machine’s main selling point is its convenient features, making pulling a shot easy enough for beginners and taking out the frustration and number of failures.
It’s so intuitive that there’s very little chance of making a mistake whether you’re tamping, grinding, or pulling a shot. One negative to this is that it will restrict your opportunity to improve your brewing techniques. So if you want to improve continually, you’re not going to be able to do so with the La Specialista and will need to look for a more professional model.
Having said that, if you’re not too interested in reaching the skill level of a professional barista but would like some input into the process of brewing espresso that you won’t find with an automatic machine, the De’Longhi La Specialista espresso maker is a great option.