If you’re embarking on your first steps as a domestic barista, you may find it overwhelming deciding which is the best espresso machine to get you started. Two standout options are the entry-level options manufactured by De’Longhi and Breville.
Even then, though, there are still many things you need to consider to determine which is the best machine for you. This article will look at the De’longhi La Specialista and Breville Barista Express Impress, considering their similarities and differences to help you work out the best suited to your needs.
Similarities Of De’Longhi La Specialista And Breville Barista Express Impress
When it comes to entry-level espresso machines, the De’Longhi La Specialista and the Breville Barista Express are the most popular. Each has a built-in grinder, meaning freshly ground coffee directly goes into the portafilter, ensuring excellent espresso quality.
They are both listed in our favorite semi-automatic espresso machines reviews.
About The Breville And De’Longhi Models
There are two versions of the Breville Barista Express – the BES 870 and the newer BES 876 (the Impress). There isn’t too much to choose between them, but the main difference is the automatic dosing and tamping system in the newer model.
Previously we compared the Breville Barista Express Vs Express Impress Vs Barista Pro, you can check it out for more details.
There are different models to choose between with the De’Longhi La Specialista too. For example, a basic model uses a Panarello wand and pressurized filter baskets. That differs from the upgraded La Specialista Prestigio, which has a one-hole commercial-style steam wand and non-pressurized filter baskets. The most expensive is the La Specialista Maestro, which has more preset recipes, automatic steaming, and a new bean Adapt technology. Delonghi offers espresso machines for home baristas at different levels.
This article will compare the Breville Barista Express Impress and the De’Longhi La Specialista Prestigio. The reason? They are similarly priced. Each espresso machine has a built-in grinder and specially designed tamping system, so they are ideal for novice domestic baristas.
DeLonghi La Specialista vs Breville Barista Express Impress – Side-By-Side Comparison
Design And Build Quality
The Breville Barista Express range has a button-driven interface and stainless steel casing. Meanwhile, there is a useful pressure gauge on each machine that allows you to diagnose your shots and improve extraction. The newer Breville Barista Express Impress is not dissimilar to the basic model in design, but there is an automatic tamping endorsing system on the left.
The DeLonghi La Specialista has a similar layout to the Breville series, including a pressure gauge and buttons on the front panel. On that note, the black front panel looks high-end. Don’t let that deceive you, though, as there are more plastic parts in the build than on the Breville Barista Express.
The Winner – Breville Barista Express
Both espresso machines are aesthetically pleasing and made by reputable brands, which offers each trustworthiness. The designs of each as similar too, although the De’Longhi is slightly taller and wider. Of course, aesthetic design is subjective. However, the build quality is one area where the Breville Barista Express is the undisputed winner. It is a more robust, well-built machine, which gives it a clear edge over its competitor.
The basic Breville Barista Express espresso machine lacks a tamping system, meaning you need to grind the coffee beans, then distribute the coffee grounds and tamp them manually. That can very easily create a mess on your table. Meanwhile, you will also need to purchase extra equipment to improve your workflow.
Recognizing this flaw, Breville updated the machine with the Barista Express Impress. It has a lever on the left, allowing you to grind directly into the portafilter by pulling it. This ensures it will tamp the grounds using the optimal pressure. Not only is this beginner friendly, but it also improves the workflow.
The De’Longhi La Specialista had an integrated tamping system on its espresso machines several years before Breville. It works similarly to the one on the Breville Barista Express Impress.
The Winner – it’s a tie
Each machine is suited to those looking for a semi-automatic espresso machine with a conical burr grinder.
The basic Breville Barista Express has 16 settings. However, the upgraded Breville Express Impress has 25 grind settings which you can further calibrate within the grinder. That’s ample steps for dialing in for different roasts and coffee beans. The espresso machine also measures the depths of the grounds in the basket to inform you if you need to grind more or take some out. It then remembers the right dosage for the next time you use it.
The De’Longhi La Specialista Prestigio only has eight grind settings. However, on the plus side, it has censored grinding technology which detects if the bean hopper is empty and ascertains the optimal dosage.
The Winner – Breville Barista Impress
The Breville Barista Express and the Express Impress use thermoblocks. As a result, they are not quick to pre-heat, and there is a slower transition between brewing and steaming.
On the other hand, the DeLonghi La Specialista espresso machine has a dual heating system, which is far quicker. Indeed, it allows you to begin brewing with just one second of start-up time. You can also begin steaming milk immediately after pulling a shot.
The Winner – De’Longhi La Specialista
Ease Of Use
Each espresso machine has a 2L removable water reservoir and removable drip trays with large capacity. However, the Breville Barista Express has a bonus – a storage compartment located discreetly beneath the drip tray. Meanwhile, the De’Longhi has a foldable tray for smaller cups.
Because each machine uses buttons rather than a digital display, the interfaces are not particularly intuitive. Therefore, you will most likely need to study the manual to learn how to use them.
Both coffee machines have a hot water spout. However, the De’Longhi La Specialista allows you to choose your drink from a menu on the panel and add water automatically. That’s useful if you mainly drink Americano. Unfortunately, neither the Breville Barista Express nor the Impress has a similar option, meaning you will need to turn the dial on the right to activate the hot water spout.
The Breville Barista Express and the Impress have two single-wall and dual-wall filter baskets. That means you can use pre-ground coffee with pressurized baskets and still get a tasty espresso. In contrast, the De’Longhi only has two single-wall baskets.
The Winner – it’s a tie
Each machine offers user-friendly features. Consider which features you need the most to determine the best option.
Both two espresso machines have pre-infusion, adjustable brew temperature, and PID digital temperature control to ensure optimal coffee extraction. Meanwhile, the pump in each generates the necessary pressure required for extracting coffee.
The Breville Barista Express Impress has a standard 54 mm filter basket. Meanwhile, the 25 grind settings we mentioned earlier make dialing in for the best extraction easier. In addition, the machine has a standard nine bars of pressure, meaning you can get an even flow and an optimal espresso extraction.
The DeLonghi La Specialista Prestigio uses non-pressurized filter baskets rather than the pressurized baskets of the basic model. That’s an improvement for the espresso taste. It also lends itself to a velvety smooth crema.
The De’Longhi espresso machine’s portafilter is smaller than the Barista Express’s at just 51mm. It also has an unusual design. While it’s difficult to determine whether or not smaller baskets lead to inferior coffee, the limited grind settings are a big downside. For example, a one-step adjustment may be the difference between coffee being too coarse or fine and there is no room in between to find the sweet spot.
The Winner – Breville Barista Express
The Breville Barista Express and the Barista Express Impress have a one-hole steam wand, which is ideal for making microfoam for latte art. It does take time, though, at around 75 seconds. However, thanks to a ball joint, the steam wand is easy to move, making it easy to adjust the angle.
The De’Longhi La Specialista Prestigio’s steam wand is similar, allowing you to froth milk manually for latte art. However, the basic model uses a Panarello wand, which doesn’t produce microfoam, even they call it an advanced latte system. Therefore, the Prestigio is your best option if you want to perfect latte art. One drawback compared with the Barista is it’s not as easy to move. On the plus side, the milk takes less than a minute to reach the optimal temperature.
The Winner – De’Longhi La Specialista Prestigio
Value For Money
Each machine has a similar price and excellent features for making espresso easier. Neither is cheap, though. Indeed, they cost as much as some entry-level super-automatic machines.
The Breville Barista Express is the best budget option, while the upgraded Barista Express Impress, with its smart tamping station, is pricier. The De’Longhi La Specialista Prestigio is somewhat overpriced, considering the limited grind settings. Therefore, the Breville machines represent better value for money, and you won’t need to upgrade.
The Winner – Breville Barista Express
If you’re in the market for an entry-level espresso machine, either brand will serve you well, although the Breville Barista Express offers the most value. In particular, the Breville Barista Express Impress is an excellent option if you’re interested in the assisted tamping function.
However, don’t disregard the De’Longhi La Specialista Prestigio. It has its advantages, including faster milk-steaming time, and its dual heating system, making it the more efficient option. However, its slightly inferior build quality and limited grind settings are undoubtedly limitations.
As is often the case, the best practice is to weigh up your preferences and make a decision based on which machine offers more of what you require. Both are impressive espresso machines to start your home brewing journey.