Delonghi La Specialista review
Planning to buy the De’Longhi La Specialista? I would highly recommend reading this Delonghi La Specialista review. I am not really happy with this machine, and I’ll tell you why.
First, the DeLonghi La Specialista is a very user-friendly espresso machine.
Certain parts have been automated as much as possible, which ensures a top-class user experience. It’s also possible to make tea with this machine.
If you’re a beginner, this might be something for you. Looking at espresso enthousiasts, this machine is probably not for you. Instead check out the new Breville Barista Touch Impress.
DeLonghi La Specialista Prestigio review: Easy-to-use but pressurized dual wall baskets
The DeLonghi La Specialista review is rated 3.5 out of 5. Thanks to the automatic tamper and (optional) automatic steam wand on the Maestro-version, this espresso machine does a lot automatically.
2-in-1: how did this device come about?
What you need to know about Delonghi La Specialista is that it is basically a well-known De’Longhi Dedica with a Delonghi KG520 grinder and some useful features.
Because the device has a built-in coffee grinder, you save on buying a separate one.
This combined in a beautiful body that resembles a good looking Breville espresso machine.
The La Specialista EC 9335.M above is the first version. Now in 2023 there are two newer versions available. That’s the Maestro and Prestigio.
Below we mainly look at the review of the De’Longhi La Specialista Prestigio. I have tested this extensively and I will tell you all about it!
In terms of design, this is a very nice machine. The De’Longhi La Specialista scores high on design. Everything is neatly finished and nothing has been missed by the manufacturer.
The model ‘La Specialista’ is punched into the metal on the front of the drip tray. A nice feature for the design.
A large part of this espresso machine is stainless steel.
The control panel is made of a glass-like (hard) plastic.
The UV-protected bean hopper is made of hard plastic, just like the inside of the drip tray. In addition, the border of the control panel is chrome.
Compared to, for example, the Breville Barista Express, this model is a lot more luxurious in appearance.
The finish with straight lines in particular looks neater. And the large pressure gauge on the device looks retro!
When we look at the controls, we naturally zoom in on the control panel:
First of all we find the on and off button at the top left.
Below that you will find the button for the amount of ground coffee.
You can also set here whether you want to use pre-ground coffee, such as for decaffeinated coffee.
Next to it we find a small cup with ‘x2’. This logically allows you to make two cups of each type of coffee.
Make sure that you use the double filter for this.
We then see a button to set the temperature. You can choose between three different temperature levels.
The ‘OK’ button is located in the middle, below the pressure gauge. This confirms your coffee choice and starts the coffee brewing process.
There is also an option for tea. To make tea, use the button under the tea icon.
By using the “MY” coffee button you can program the quantities according to your personal preference.
La Specialista then remembers this setting for each subsequent preparation. Press the “MY ” button three times to reset the setting.
Finally, there is the dial to select your type of coffee. Choose from americano, espresso or normal coffee. At Breville they don’t do americano.
The water reservoir is located at the back of the machine. You can easily remove this as you can see in the photo below:
The bean container sits on top of the machine and is closed with an airtight lid. This way the coffee beans stay nice and fresh!
The left part of the DeLonghi La Specialista is the bean grinder.
It has little grind settings. Choose from 1 to 8, with 1 being fine and 8 coarse.
This is NOT good for an espresso machine. With grinders ranging from 1 to 60+, 8 is bad.
I tested it and dialing in your espresso is very hard with only 8 settings.
Beginning barista’s will be pleased with a good espresso instead of coffee from pods.
But if you’re experienced or have any expertise on coffee – this is not for you.
A new feature is an integrated automatic tamper with pressure limiter.
With the DeLonghi La Specialista you don’t have to manually tamp the coffee into the filter.
This saves a lot of mess in the kitchen. We’ve seen this also on the new Breville Barista Express Impress.
Use the lever on the left side of the machine while the filter holder is under the grinder.
This lever pushes down the cylinder, which tamps the coffee.
No matter how much force you use, the integrated tamper limits the tamping force to an ideal value for espresso.
Because the holder is attached, you also get an ideal 90 degree angle.
What I noticed, is that if you tamp slow the ground coffee will be tamped smooth. If you do it very quickly, the tamping is not as consistent.
Quality test: Espresso, Americano and Milk foam
I also tested the quality of the espresso and the milk foam of the Delonghi La Specialista.
As you can see the crema on the espresso is pretty nice. Also the amount of espresso seems good.
The only thing here is, that with pressurised filter baskets (Dual wall), the espresso machines creates pressure inside the filter – instead of inside the machine.
Therefore, this might not be for you if you really like espresso. But as a beginner, it’s great to set a decent espresso with ease.
The overall espresso quality of the Delonghi La Specialista is rated 3 out of 5.
A unique function on this Delonghi machine is the americano function. I’ve not seen this before on any mid-range priced espresso machine.
Of course the more expensive machines like the Oracle (Touch) from Breville have options for that. But in this price range it’s unique.
What the machine does, after it sets an espresso it produces some hot water and puts it directly into the cup, without you doing anything.
Is this a marketing-trick from Delonghi?
Yes, because there’s always a hot water function on any espresso machine. This function only ‘helps’ you to not have to press another button, but it does make the machine more expensive.
Milk foam quality
For producing milk foam, you’ll have to switch the button on the side of the machine to ‘steam’.
It takes about 8-9 seconds before the machine produces steam.
That’s really fast compared to Breville’s Barista Express with around 24 seconds.
Frothing the milk is really easy, the steam wand is good quality and has enough power to create good foamy milk.
The overall quality of milk foam from the Delonghi La Specialista is rated 4 out of 5.
Delonghi La Specialista comparison: Prestigio vs Maestro
The Delonghi La Specialista comes in two versions, with the Prestigio the most popular one.
About the Prestigio
With the La Specialista Prestigio you can use ESE servings. These are a kind of coffee pods with pre-ground coffee. This is useful if you want to be fast!
The Stand-By function was missing from the first version. This is now built into the Prestigio.
With the warming plate you can keep or make your cups warm. This was also missing from the first version.
Another important difference is the heating system. In the new version this is a double thermoblock, while in the first version it was a single thermoblock.
With a double thermoblock, the device heats coffee and milk at the same time. If you make a cappuccino you will benefit from this.
And those were the differences with the first version La Specialista and the Prestigio.
What about the Maestro?
There was not much difference between the EC9335.M and the Prestigio. But the Prestigio and Maestro have a lot more differences.
The water reservoir is a bit larger: 2.5 liters instead of two liters.
In addition, a built-in thermometer has been added, with which you can see exactly how hot your cup of coffee is being brewed.
The milk frothing method is also slightly different. The manual steam wand has been replaced by an automatic one.
This means you simply choose which coffee you want, and the machine does the rest.
You can choose from the pre-programmed coffee types via the display.
6 of these have already been set up for you with the Delonghi La Specialista Maestro vs 3 on the Prestigio.
In short: you have some better functions with this Maestro variant. It is also easier to make coffee thanks to the pre-programmed coffee types and the automatic steam pipe.
Conclusion: Delonghi La Specialista could’ve been better
In conclusion, the DeLonghi La Specialista is decent machine with pressurised filter baskets and only 8 grinder settings. For beginnings home barista’s it’s good enough, but real coffee lovers like me would benefit from more grinder settings.
To be clear, the Breville Barista Express has a lower price tag (approximately $599). It is an important competitor for La Specialista. The functions of the Prestigio are almost identical to the Breville.
La Specialista is not just focused on espresso. It’s possible to make almost all types of coffee.
Since it is a combined device (grinder + espresso maker in one body), it will be difficult to upgrade if, for example, you decide to buy a more professional grinder.
So if you are a real coffee lover, choose an espresso machine without a built-in bean grinder. But if you’re looking for an all-in-one starting package, this might be a good option for you.