If you’ve been looking for a mid-range semi automatic espresso machine for home use, you’ve done right by considering La Specialista by DeLonghi. This machine comes as a direct competitor to the beloved Barista Express by Breville, and is the first of its kind by DeLonghi, a brand that usually excelled in making smaller Espresso machines (like the Dedica) or super automatic espresso machines.
In this post, you’ll read about the features of the DeLonghi La Specialista, how it compares to the Breville Barista Express as well as the more compact choice Dedica espresso machine.
Features of La Specialista Espresso Machine:
- Built-in coffee grinder with adjustable settings and smart sensor to deliver consistent grind and optimal dose every time.
- Built-in smart tamping station: just as your beans have been filled in the portafilter, pull a lever down for the built in tamper to tamp your coffee perfectly and evenly.
- Active temperature control helps keep your machine’s temperature optimal and stable for espresso extraction and steaming.
- Incredibly fast one second start up time.
- Dual heating system, so you don’t have to wait between coffee extraction and milk frothing.
- Pannarello steam wand style allows you to create professional textured milk for cappuccino or latte without any work on your part. Simply adjust the steam wand to the type of texture you want to create.
- Built-in hot water dispenser for Americanos or tea.
- Pre-set buttons for espresso, americano or coffee. You also have a ‘My’ button to program your own recipe.
- Rinse button rinses the group head and portafilter to heat it or clean it.
- Gauge allows you to see what temperature your machine is operating on and when it has reached optimal temperature.
- 2 liter water reservoir capacity.
- 250gr hopper capacity.
- Includes: 2 filter baskets, dual-wall single and dual-wall double baskets.
- Also includes a stainless steel frothing jug.
Video Review of DeLonghi La Specialista:
DeLonghi La Specialista vs. Breville Barista Express, How Are They Different?
As I already mentioned, the DeLonghi La Specialista comes as a direct competitor of the popular Barista Express. As the time I write this post, the DeLonghi La Specialista is higher in price than the Barista Express, so there’s a price difference to start with. But performance and features wise, which machine do you choose?
Now, both machines have quite similar features:
Built-in grinder, hot water on demand, temperature gauge, button controls, hands-free grinding directly into portafilter.
So at this point, it would be easier to see what differences these two machines have:
Grind Settings: the Barista Express has 18 grind settings giving you a variety of options when it comes to grinding different coffee beans and how it can turn out. The La Specialista only goes from 1 to 6 in grind settings, so it’s less options when it comes to coffee ground.
Included Filter Baskets: the La Specialista comes with two filter baskets, a single shot dual wall basket and a double shot dual basket. The Barista Express includes four baskets in total, a single and double shot baskets, single and dual walled. Dual wall baskets are usually a better choice for someone who is still not advanced in dosing and extracting espresso, as it controls pressure better.
Steaming Wands: DeLonghi has been known for its Cappuccino system on their espresso machines for a long time. They use pannarello wands that require no work on your part to get the right texture either for cappuccino or latte. You simply have to set a selector and let it do the work. This is a great choice for a beginner or anyone who is not keen on practicing the art of milk texturing. On the other hand, the Barista Express has a more traditional frothing wand, which will require some practice to get the milk to the right texture, so it’s not as straight forward as a pannarello wand, but it is a better choice for someone who wants to learn the professional way of texturing milk.
Built-in Tamper: The DeLonghi La Specialista has a smart tamper. The built-in tamper, smartly located inside the same head where the portafilter goes to collect the coffee grind from the grinder, requires one single pull of a level (located on the side of the machine) to tamp the coffee perfectly. You don’t have to worry about any mess or any uneven tamping, this built-in tamper does it just right, every single time! The Barista Express has a tamper that is magnetically attached to the machine, but tamping is done manually. And just like milk texturing, tamping is an acquired skill.
Pre-sets: La Specialista has three pre set drinks, espresso, coffee and americano. Upon selecting coffee or Americano, hot water is added to your espresso shot (in different volumes according to recipe). Water pours in automatically and you don’t have to even move your mug, as the hot water nozzle is conveniently located right by the portafilter. On the Barista Express, the hot water nozzle is slightly behind the portafilter, so you do have to relocate your mug slightly and you have to manually start the hot water.
Dimensions: La Specialista is slightly larger than the Barista Express. One noticeable difference is the height of the bean hopper on the La Specialista vs. the hopper on the Barista Express. This might be a problem for someone who is limited on space or cabinet height, so do check the dimensions and compare them to your available space.
Should You Buy the DeLonghi La Specialista or Breville Barista Express?
As you can see, there’s really not much difference in these two machines. However, one wins over the other in terms on advancement:
If you want the manual experience, but do not want to work on learning skills like milk texturing, playing with coffee grind or tamping, the La Specialista would make a better choice. Having less grind settings is not necessarily a bad thing, not everyone wants to get experimental with grind fineness. So, initially, you’ll need to try out from a limited number of settings to get your shot right, then you’ll be good to go. The automatic tamping is great, too. You don’t have to worry about an uneven tamp, which leads to a bad shot, or the mess that comes along with tamping. Last but not least, the Pannarello wand makes milk texturing such a breeze.
On the other hand, the Barista Express gives you more room to experiment and practice. If you’re new to semi automatic machines, you’ll most likely need to make a few shots before you get it right. Same goes for tamping and milk texturing. Since it’s somewhat manual, you’ll have to practice until you get things right. So if you feel like you want to acquire some barista skills, and don’t mind the practice and experimenting part of it, you’ll certainly enjoy using the Barista Express.
You can learn more about the Barista Express on the following links:
Breville espresso machines have been ahead of the competition for quite some time now. Apart from having one of the best design, Breville uses advanced technology to ensure that you end up with the most delicious brew. Its compact size and stainless steel surface are part of its appeal. It is just the right espresso machine to have in your home if you want barista style coffee without a lot of complication.
Features of Breville Barista Pro Espresso Machine:
This machine comes with some incredible features that are designed to transform your beans to a delectable cup of coffee within minutes. Every single component functions optimally, and the result is nothing but a bold brew that is hot enough to welcome you to a new day. With the Barista Pro in your home, you will be enjoying every single cup of coffee just the way you like it and without compromise.
Here’s what makes the Barista Pro a great machine:
An interactive display:
You will no longer have to make your coffee blindly. This is because this machine has a nice LCD display. The display is designed to enable you to see the whole coffee making process. Through it, you can set and see the grind size, amount of coffee grounds and the temperature of the water you are using among many others. The details are boldly written and it also comes with backlight to amplify its visibility further. The display shows you all elements you need to pull the perfect shot of espresso.
Built-in Conical Burr Grinder:
Any coffee lover will tell you how important a burr grinder is when it comes to brewing coffee or espresso. Having a built-in grinder saves you from buying one separately. It allows you to choose the exact grind size you want as well as the dose of coffee. The correct choice of these two is significant and often determines the kind of brew you will end up with.
The consistency of the coffee you get is dependent on the kind of porta-filter incorporated in the machine. For absolute consistency and balanced coffee, Breville espresso maker comes with a 54mm porta-filter which will ensure that you get a smooth cup of full-flavored barista quality brew.
Digital temperature control (PID):
Most espresso machines fail to produce quality coffee due to the temperature of the water used. This is where Breville Barista Pro shines. Its digital temperature control feature allows you to get just the right temperature of water required to extract full flavor from the coffee grounds. When the water trickles through the coffee grounds, the machine makes sure it is hot enough to extract ever flavor from the coffee grounds, this makes your espresso shot bold, flavorful and with an incredible aroma.
A powerful steam wand:
The steam wand is a big part of the espresso machine you own. Its incredible functionality enables it to have micro-foam milk texturing capabilities which is what you need for creating latte art. This part will require some practice from you, especially if it’s your first time using an espresso machine. But once you get it right, you’ll love the delicious creamy coffee drinks you’ll be able to make.
Some other great features that you will find in the Barista Pro are: 2L capacity water reservoir, 250g bean hopper, and 1 and 2 cups volumetric control.
Your Barista Pro will include:
- Single and Dual filter basket
- The Razor Precision Dose Trimming Tool
- 480 ml stainless steel frothing jug
- Built-in magnetic tamper.
- Cleaning Kit
- Water filter
Breville Barista Pro vs. Barista Express, What’s The Difference?
The Breville Barista Express has been a best seller on our site for years now. It’s the most loved by our readers, and I can’t blame them! It is reasonably priced while packed with so many features that deliver a fantastic at home barista experience. But how does the Barista Pro compare to it? And should you go for the newer model or go for the Barista Express?
The Barista Pro and Barista Express are somewhat similar and can offer you similar results, but one sure offers a more intuitive experience than the other:
Starting with the controls, the Barista Pro has an LCD screen and the Barista Express doesn’t. The LCD display gives you precise measures of everything you’re doing: the grind size, shot timer, options for customizing your shot and other information you need to create your shot as you want it. On the Barista Express, you have the same options for setting your grind size, filter size, number fo shots and volumes, but you’ll have to do it sort of “blindly” without exact numbers but only using button controls. On the other hand, the Barista Express has an important feature on its control panel that the Barista Pro lacks, and that is the gauge. A lot of user find the gauge to be extremely useful in letting them know the temperature of the machine and the best time to switch between brewing and steaming.
Another difference is the machines heating systems. The Barista Pro has a ThermoJet heating system that heats up in as little as 3 seconds and can switch between espresso and steam almost instantly. The Barista Express has a Thermocoil heating system that takes about a minute or two to heat up and requires a bit of a wait to switch from brewing to steaming. And that’s why the gauge is needed on the Barista Express but not the Barista Pro.
Apart from that, both models have the same capacity in water reservoir and bean hopper. There are some difference in design, but nothing that affects the function of the machines.
Learn more about the Barista Express:
- Is the Barista Express Worth It?
- Breville Barista Express vs. The Infuser vs. Duo Temp Pro
- Breville Barista Express vs. Barista Touch
Breville Barista Pro vs. Barista Touch, What’s The Difference?
The Barista Touch is another great variation of the Barista Express, featuring similar functions but more upgrades that might or might not be useful to you. I would say that the Barista Touch ranks highest among these three models, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best. If it has more features than you need, then go for something else. That’s the great thing about having similar models with some variations.
So how is the Barista Touch different than the Barista Pro?
The Barista Touch is more automated, even easier to use and puts all popular coffee recipes at your finger tips. This model is equipped with an impressive colored touchscreen where all coffee recipes are already programmed and ready for you to enjoy. And of course, there’s always room for customization where you can control the volume of the coffee, the coffee strength and milk texture and temperature.
And how do you control milk texture and temperature? Well, that’s another automated step in the Barista Touch. The machine uses a special milk jug and automatic steam wand that will heat and texture your milk to your desired temperature and foam/texture level.
Another great thing about the Barista Touch is, since it allows you to customize your recipes, it also allows you to save them under unique names for later use. You can create and save up to 8 recipes.
The Barista Touch has the same ThermoJet boiler as the Barista Pro, so heat up time is just as quick.
When it comes to the built-in grinder, bean hopper and water reservoir capacity, all three models have the same capacities: 1/2 lbs bean hopper capacity, 67oz water reservoir and adjustable conical burr grinder.
Which One Do You Buy?
Now you’ve read everything you need to know about the Barista Pro, Barista Express and Barista Touch, it’s time to decide which one to buy.
First thing you need to know is that all of these models should give you similar results if used correctly. But here are some pointers to help you with your decision:
- Budget: these models are priced differently, and the price difference can affect your decision. So make sure to check the prices at your time you’re ready to purchase your machine as prices can vary from time to time.
- Controls and Automation: Like I previously mentioned, the difference between these machines should give you the same coffee results, but what will change is your experience in making these coffee drinks…
The Barista Express is a semi-automatic with nearly no guidance from the machine other than the steam gauge, which should help you know when the machine is to switch between extracting or steaming. The grind size is set by hand using a dial (with no numbers assigned) and your espresso shots are presets and can be reset either by pressing the buttons longer to going fully manual.
The Barista Pro offers you guidance using the LCD display where you can see everything that has to do with your shot. Grind size, shot timer, single/double and other customizations that help you in making a shot exactly how you want.
Last but certainly not least, the Barista Touch, which is fully automatic. If you don’t want to deal with all the details, this model has all recipes set and ready to go at your fingertips. Simply scroll through the recipes and pick what whichever drink you’re in the mood for. And if you’re feeling quite particular, you still have to option to customize your drink and save them as new recipes, too!
Gaggia is well known for making the best entry-level semi automatic espresso machines for home use. The Gaggia Classic is a favorite among home baristas, and is has been for many years. It’s a classic machine, alright! Another great choice for a home machine is the Gaggia Carezza Deluxe, which is the subject of this post. It’s a close competitor to the Classic, but just how close (or far apart) are they in terms of features? And which would make a better choice?
Keep reading for the answers…
First, let’s start with the features of the Gaggia Carezza Deluxe:
- Compact semi-automatic espresso maker.
- Pressurized portafilter can extract ground coffee or ESE pods.
- Pre-infusion functions wets the coffee ground before extraction to ensure full saturation and an even extraction.
- Pannarello steam wand which doubles as a hot water dispenser.
- Water reservoir located at the front of the machine with a visible window for water level inspection. 47 oz capacity.
- Heat up time is around 1 minute.
- Controls: buttons and a dial knob for steam.
- Wattage: 1300
- Housing: stainless steel with plastic.
Features of Gaggia Classic:
- Commercial style stainless steel espresso maker.
- Commercial 58mm portafilter. Can be used with pressurized baskets, too.
- Pannarello steam wand doubles as a hot water dispenser.
- Controls: switch buttons and knob for steam.
- Water reservoir capacity: 72 oz.
- Wattage: 1450
- Housing: stainless steel.
Gaggia Carezza Deluxe vs. Classic, What’s The Difference?
Although both espresso makers can make a quality shot of espresso or a nice creamy cup of cappuccino, there’s difference between the two machines:
The Gaggia Carezza has a pressurized portafilter, while the Classic model gives you the option of using either a pressurized basket or non-pressurized.
Pressurized vs. non-pressurized portafilters:
If you’re wondering about the difference between pressurized and non-pressurized filter baskets, and if it should mean something to you, here’s how they’re different:
- With a pressurized basket (the basket with a screen filter), the machine forces the coffee grounds into those tiny holes, the water usually stays in contact with the coffee longer before the coffee comes out. The Pressurization is what usually makes the crema on top of the espresso shot. This type of filter is a great option for beginners with moderate grinders, because in this case, the precision of the grind isn’t as important (it still has to be fine ground, though).
- With a non-pressurized filter, the quality of the shot is all on you. The coffee grind has to be precisely right, the contact time has to be perfect and any inconsistency will definitely result in a bad shot.
- The Carezza combines stainless steel with plastic. But the body is mostly plastic.
- The Classic is mostly stainless steel with few plastic parts.
Water Reservoir Capacity:
- Carezza: 47 oz
- Classic: 72 oz
- Carezza: 1300 watts
- Classic: 1450 watts
Which One Do You Buy?
We actually prefer the quality of the Classic way over the Carezza Deluxe. It’s a commercial-style espresso maker but made to accommodate the home user without any complications. With the Classic, you have the option of using a pressurized or non-pressurized basket, so you have the option for an easy shot extraction with room to practice the use of non-pressurized shots. The built of it, stainless steel housing, makes it a more durable machine. The only problem with the Gaggia Classic over the Carezza Deluxe is that it takes longer to heat up, up to 5 minutes, but that’s because it’s a more powerful machine, so that’s understandable.
More Reads on the Gaggia Classic:
Breville is at it again with an espresso machine that is stunning as it is easy to use. We’re no strangers to espresso machines by Breville. An all time favorite is the Breville Barista Express followed closely by the Breville Infuser. So let’s have a look at the Breville Bambino, how it works and how it compares to its elder siblings.
Features of Breville Bambino Plus:
- Commercial-like quality while being compact in size and easy to use for the home user.
- Full brushed stainless steel body.
- Automatic microfoam milk texturing. The steam wand automatically froths milk to the temperature and texture you want.
- Fast heat up time: the machine is ready to work in 3 seconds.
- 54mm porta filter with 19 gram dose for the best coffee house quality drink.
- Pre-infusion setting saturates coffee ground with low pressure water to ensure full saturation before extraction.
- Digital temperature control delivers water at the exact right temperature for optimal espresso extraction.
- Auto purging ensures your machine is clean for the next use.
- 64 oz water reservoir.
Who Is The Breville Bambino Plus Right For?
We all know that semi-automatic espresso machines come with a learning curve. You take your time to get your milk texturing skills right, getting the temperature right and handling your machine correctly, overall. And milk texturing is where everyone usually goes wrong. That micro foam texture is the dream of every beginner’s!
Some at-home baristas though do not have the patience for all that. They want the flexibility of a semi-automatic, but do not want to spend a lot of time getting things right. That’s where a machine like the Bambino Plus comes in…
The Bambino Plus gives you room to adjust your coffee shot volume, temperature and texture and it will remember things for you. Also, there are pre-sets all ready for you to use. As for the hard part of milk texturing: the automatic steam wand does it all for you! Select your temperature and your texture (how much foam you want) and it will be done for you. Your coffee drink comes out perfectly right the first time.
How does the machine know the right milk temperature, though? It’s all thanks to the included milk jug, which contacts a sensor placed right under its place where the steam wand goes. The sensor works to measure the temperature of the milk as it heats up and will stop when it reaches your desired temperature.
Breville Bambino Plus vs. Breville The Infuser, What’s The Difference?
The Breville Infuser is also a semi-automatic espresso machine with some programmable features. But it does not have the automatic features that the Bambino Plus has:
- The frothing wand on the Infuser is not automatic. There’s no selection for temperature or texture like the Bambino Plus. So you’ll have to do your own tests til you get the temperature and texture you prefer.
- The Infuser features a gauge that should make it easy for you to see where your machine at, temperature wise.
- The Infuser has a built-in tamper and a built-in hot water dispenser. Bambino Plus has a tamper included as an accessory, but doesn’t have the hot water dispenser.
- Although The Infuser is physically bigger than the Bambino Plus, it has a slightly smaller water reservoir with 61 oz capacity ( vs. 64 oz for the Bambino Plus).
So, there are some trade-offs between the two machines. If you’re someone who does not want things done automatically and willing to learn, then go for the Infuser. However, keep in mind that it isn’t as compact as the Bambino Plus, if space is an issue for you.
Breville Bambino Plus vs. DeLonghi Dedica Deluxe:
When it comes to size and footprint, the DeLonghi Dedica is quite comparable to the Breville Bambino Plus. In fact, it’s even smaller. The Dedica Deluxe is only 6″ wide, while the Bambino Plus is about 7.6″ or so.
So, how else are they comparable?
- Both have a single or double shot buttons that can be programmed.
- The steam wand on the Dedica is not as advanced as the Bambino’s. There’s no temperature or texture settings. However, you can adjust the frother so it either foams or heats milk (without creating foam). But it’s quite hard to get the right texture or micro foam (which is what you need for latte art) with this kind of frother.
- Heat up time on the Dedica Deluxe is 35 seconds vs. only 3 seconds for the Bambino Plus.
- Water tank capacity is 35 oz on the Dedica Deluxe and 64 oz on the Bambino Plus, so that’s quite a difference.
- Cleaning wise, the Bambino Plus has auto purge which is purge out water to automatically clean the steam wand after each use. With the Dedica, you’ll have to manually clean your wand after use so it doesn’t clog up.
How do you choose between the Breville Bambino Plus and Dedica Deluxe?
There are some clear trade offs between the two machines. If you want automatic milk texture and temperature, as well as automatic cleaning, then Bambino is your choice. The Bambino produces better and more professional quality milk foam. The Dedica, even on its high foam setting, does not produce enough foam.
However, it’s important to note that there’s a big price difference (in the time of writing this post, at least) between the two machines. So you certainly get what you pay for here.
Breville espresso machines are known for their sleek and precise design. They’re packed with features, have superior quality and are available in a range that works for both beginner or intermediate and professional espresso machine users.
In previous posts, we’ve looked at machines like the Breville Infuser and Barista Express and have compare them to each other. In this post, we’ll look at the Beville Duo-Temp Pro, its features and how it compares to other Breville espresso machines.
Features of the Breville Duo-Temp Pro:
- 15-bar Italian Pump.
- 1600W thermocoil stainless steel heater that accurately controls water temperature.
- Auto purge function automatically adjusts water temperature after steam use.
- Pre-infusion function applies low water pressure to the coffee ground to expand it before extraction.
- Electronic PID control for increased temperature stability.
- 61 oz removable water reservoir.
- Hot water can be dispensed through the frothing wand for making Americanos or for pre-heating cups.
- Built-in storage for accessories.
- Included accessories:
- Tamper magnetically attached to the machine
- Razor Precision Dose Trimming Tool
- 54mm portafilter with 4 filter baskets.
- 16 oz stainless steel frothing jug.
- Cleaning tools.
- Water filter holder and a replaceable filter.
Breville Duo-Temp Pro (BES810BSS ) vs. Breville The Infuser (BES840XL) :
There’s a lot of similarities between the Breville Duo Temp and the Infuser, but they’re not quite the same. The Infuser has some extra design features that you won’t find in the Duo-Temp Pro:
- On the Infuser, there are two programmable buttons for a single or double shot. You can reprogram the volume metric for these buttons for automatic extraction. On the Duo-Temp Pro, there’s just one selector button for Steam or Hot Water, and then with the dial knob you can either choose to extract, froth or dispense water.
- Speaking of dispensing water, the Infuser has an independent spout for dispensing hot water. While the Duo-Temp Pro uses the frothing wand for dispensing water.
- On the Infuser, you’ll see there’s a gauge on the middle of the front panel that allows you to monitor the pressure of the machine. The Duo-Temp Pro doesn’t have this gauge.
- The Infuser is available in 3 colors.
All other features like water tank capacity, accessories, power and pump are the same.
Breville Duo-Temp Pro (BES810BSS ) vs. Breville Barista Express (BES870XL):
The Barista Express is rather a big jump from both the Duo-Temp Pro and the Infuser. While the do share the basic features, the Barista Express makes an all-in-one coffee bar without the need for additional gadgets:
- It has a built-in stainless steel conical burr grinder with a sealed bean hopper.
- It has a 67 oz water reservoir, so it’s larger than both the Duo Temp Pro and The Infuser.
- It has a portafilter cradle that allows for hands-free automatic grinding.
- On its control panel, you’ll find: grind amount selector, single/double shot buttons, program button, filter size selector, pressure gauge.
- Like The Infuser, it has a dedicated hot water dispenser.
- The Barista Express is available in 3 colors.
Like the other Breville Espresso machines, it comes included with all accessories: cleaning kit, portafilter with 4 baskets, water filtration, frothing jug.
Breville Duo-Temp Pro vs. Gaggia Classic:
The Gaggia Classic is a manual espresso machine that packs a lot of power. Like the Breville Duo-Temp Pro, there’s no progammability, you start and end your shot manually. Other features of the Gaggia Classic:
- 72 oz water reservoir, so it’s notably larger than the 62 oz Duo-Temp Pro reservoir.
- The controls on the Classic are switch buttons. On the Duo-Temp Pro the controls are LED backlit press buttons.
- It has a chrome-plated brass portafilter and brew head, which gives you more temperature stability over your shot.
- It has a 58mm portafilter, which is bigger than Breville’s 54mm portafilter.
- The Classic has a 17 1/2 bar pump pressure. While the Duo-Temp Pro (and other Breville espresso makers) has the standard 15 bar pressure.
- The Classic includes: single/double filter baskets, measuring scoop and coffee tamper. You’ll have to buy a frothing jug separately.
Which Of These Espresso Machines Should You Buy?
When it comes to choosing the right espresso machine for you, it is very important to know exactly what you’re looking for. More expensive doesn’t always translate to the best choice, a bigger or more advanced espresso maker could be great but it can also have features that you might not need, so in a case like this, you could save some money to put towards another thing for your at-home coffee bar.
- If you don’t need programmability and automatic brewing, then either the Breville Duo Temp Pro or Gaggia Classic would be an excellent choice that will save you around $100 to $150 or even $300 ( in comparison to the more advanced Barista Express or Infuser) that you could put towards a decent conical burr grinder for example.
- If you prefer an all in one solution instead of buying separate gadgets, the Breville Barista Express would make an excellent choice. You’ll have everything you need right out of the box. And although it looks complicated to use, it isn’t. It has automatic as well as manual, so you have room to learn and grown your barista skills.
- Overall, the Breville machines give you great value for your money thanks to their great quality and the great bundle of accessories included with every machine.
Watch These Video Reviews:
Review of Breville Duo-Temp Pro:
Review of the Breville Infuser:
Review of Breville Barista Express:
How To Make a Cappuccino with Gaggia Classic:
Features of the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II:
- Heat Exchange copper steam boiler provides high heat for a hot espresso and best steaming/frothing experience.
- A newly designed, extra-long articulated steam wand.
- Water reservoir with a sensor lets you know when the water level is low.
- Touch buttons for a single shot or a double shot, both can be reprogrammed to your preferred volume.
- Commercial size 58-mm non-pressurized portafilter.
- Stainless steel housing.
- Water reservoir capacity: 2.8 liters.
- Heat exchange boiler allows you to brew and froth at the same time.
Features of the Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine:
- Dual Stainless steel boilers and dual Italian pumps allow you to extract espresso and steam/froth milk at the same time.
- Electronic PID temperature control offers optimized water temperature.
- OPV (Over Pressure Valve) limits the extraction pressure for the perfect shot every time.
- Backlit LCD display shows you temperature, shot timer or a clock
- Two programmable buttons for single shot and double shot. Another button for manual brew.
- Pressure gauge shows you exactly when your machine is ready.
- 58mm portafilter size.
- Built-in tamper and hot water dispenser.
- Water reservoir capacity: 2.5 Liter
- Stainless steel articulated steam wand.
- Full stainless steel housing.
- Available in colors: Stainless steel, Black or Cranberry red.
What Is The Difference Between the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II vs. Breville Dual Boiler?
If there’s one thing that these two espresso makers have in common is the fact that both use dual boilers, which means a boiler for espresso extraction and another for milk frothing. So, while single boiler espresso makers require that you wait a few minutes between extraction and steaming/frothing, a dual boiler machine allows you to do both at the same time.
Other than that, here are the differences:
- The Oscar II has copper steam boiler which offers incredible heat for steaming and frothing.
- The Breville Dual Boiler has two stainless steel boilers.
- On the Oscar II, you’ll find two buttons for a single and double shot. These buttons can be reprogrammed to your desired volumes. However, there’s no option for a manual shot. Also, there’s no LCD display for any additional information.
- The Breville Dual Boiler has three buttons, a single shot, double shots and a manual shot button. The single and double shot buttons can be reprogrammed. You’ll find an LCD display that displays the temperature, shot timer as well as a clock when not in use. There’s also a gauge on the front panel that shows you the level of the steam pressure and when the machine is ready to use.
The Steam Wand:
- The most notable thing about the Oscar II its extra long steam wand. It is extremely powerful and gives great milk texture in less time.
- The steam wand on the Breville Dual Boiler is the standard length.
- The Oscar II has a 2.8L water reservoir with a sensor that notifies you when the water level is low.
- The Breville Dual Boiler has 2.5L water reservoir and a front facing window where you can see the level of the water.
- The Breville has a built-in tamper as well as a dedicated hot water dispenser. Both of which the Oscar II doesn’t have.
- The Oscar II housing has stainless steel sides and front, while the top and back are plastic.
- The Breville Dual Boiler has a full stainless steel body and plastic top.
Which One Should You Buy?
It’s a tough call between these two, however, we do like the Breville Dual Boiler more than the Oscar II for these reasons:
- If you need to manually extract espresso, then only Breville’s Dual Boiler can offer you this.
- Also, if you need a bit of guidance, you’ll like that the Breville Dual Boiler has a pressure gauge, LCD display as well as light indicators. It also has a timer which can pre-heat your machine for you.
- The Breville Dual Boiler has self-cleaning cycle which is quite helpful when it’s time to clean the machine.
- You get a built-in tamper and a hot water dispenser as well as a razor dosing tool for precise dosing.
The one thing we find the Oscar II is better at than the Breville Dual Boiler is the steam wand. On the Oscar II, the steam is definitely more powerful and will give you the perfect texturized milk in no time.
Watch The Machines in Action:
Review of the Breville Dual Boiler:
Review of the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II:
We’ve mentioned both the DeLonghi Dedica EC680 and Gaggia Classic as two great choices for a beginner’s first espresso maker. We know that many will disagree with us on this, these two espresso makers are not the cheapest and not the easiest to use. So on what basis did we decide to recommend them for a beginner?
Perfecting a shot of espresso isn’t an easy task, it takes some practice until you get the ratio and timing right. The DeLonghi Dedica and Gaggia Classic will help you develop your skills, you get to really control your espresso shots manually or automatically. They’re not the type of espresso makers that you’ll use for a few months and then outgrow, these models will last you a long time before the need to upgrade. And that’s why we recommend them as your first machines!
But the question now is, which one of them should you choose? Let’s start by listing their features:
Features of the DeLonghi Dedica EC680M:
- Very slim design, takes about 6″ of counterspace.
- Sleek stainless steel housing.
- 15 bar pump pressure.
- Quick 40 seconds start up time.
- Cappuccino frothing system.
- Automatic stop flow.
- Pre-set espresso measurement, all can be re-set to your taste.
- Can be used with manual options too.
- Water reservoir capacity: 1 liter.
Features of the Gaggia Classic:
- espresso maker with 17 1/2 bars pressure pump.
- 72 oz water reservoir capacity (about 2 liters).
- Stainless steel housing.
- Brass portafilter and grouphead to help stabilize temperature.
- Only manual brewing.
- Frothing wand doubles as a hot water dispenser.
What Is The Difference Between the DeLonghi Dedica EC680M vs. Gaggia Classic?
- The Dedica has a 15 bar pump pressure which is standard for most espresso makers.
- The Gaggia Classic has a 17 1/2 bar pump pressure.
- The Dedica has a 1 liter water tank capacity.
- The Gaggia Classic has a 2 liter capacity.
- The Dedica is quite compact with only 6-inches in width.
- The Gaggia is about 8 inches wide.
- The Dedica has both automatic and manual options. It’s overall easier to use than the Gaggia Classic.
- The Gaggia Classic is only manually operated. Using the switch buttons, you’ll have to manually start and stop the shot. This is harder to do, but it’s good practice.
Which One To Choose?
- If you’re looking for a fool-proof way to create delicious coffee drinks, you’ll love using the DeLonghi Dedica. Its preset and programmability give you room to quickly make your drink, and if you’re ever in the mood for an espresso brewing lesson, you can use the manual settings.
- On the other hand, if you’re serious about your espresso brewing skills, you’ll want the Gaggia Classic for sure. It’s a commercial grade machine designed with the home user in mind, and it is able to produce a better shot due to its temperature stability.
Watch How They Work:
Brewing a shot of espresso using Gaggia Classic:
Having your own espresso bar at home, you’ll be making your own delicious espresso and coffee drinks how you want and when you want. It’s not only fun, but it will save you a whole lot of money (no more trips to expensive coffee shops).
To be honest, if you’re looking for the best gear out there, then $500 is not considered to be a high budget. However, we can absolutely work with it. Your budget will go on an espresso machine and a conical burr grinder. The grind and consistency of your coffee will make all the difference in the quality of your espresso, so it’s important not to skip the grinder.
Below, we’ll list a number of espresso makers and conical burr grinders with a sum price of $500 or less. Please note that these prices can change by their sellers which we have no hand in, but we do our best to find you products at these prices.
Best Espresso Makers For $300 Budget : *Cost a little less or more than $300*
Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine:
This is a favorite among many people, because for its price, this is a top-notch espresso maker. Gaggia is an Italian brand well-known for its high quality. The Classic is a manual machine that will allow you to practice barista skills with ease.
- 17 1/2 bar pump pressure.
- 72-ounce water reservoir.
- Stainless steel housing.
- Brass portafilter and grouphead for temperature stability.
- Frothing wand and hot water dispenser.
Our Gaggia Classic Reviews and Comparisons:
- Gaggia Classic vs. Saeco Aroma
- Gaggia Classic vs. Breville Cafe Roma
- Gaggia Classic vs Rancilio Silvia
Breville 800ESXL Triple-Priming Espresso Machine:
A beautiful machine from Australian brand Breville. This die-cast espresso maker doesn’t only look good, but has enough features to make it such a steal for its price:
- 15-bar pump pressure.
- 75 oz water reservoir with a front window that shows the level of water.
- Auto-purge function adjust water temperature after steam for the best espresso extraction temperature.
- Triple Prime function releases 3 bursts of hot water to wet the coffee ground for an even extraction and full flavor.
- Stainless steel housing.
- Dial knob allows you to select from espresso, steam or hot water.
DeLonghi Dedica Espresso Machine:
This espresso maker by DeLonghi is exceptionally slim in width, but don’t be fooled by its size, you can use it to make fantastic coffee drinks.
- Only 6-inch wide, doesn’t take a lot of counterspace.
- Quick 40-seconds heat up time.
- Stainless steel exterior.
- Auto flow stop.
- Cappuccino frothing system for a delicious and creamy froth.
- Pre-set and reprogrammable settings.
- Can be used manually, too.
Conical Burr Grinders Under $200:
Bodum Bistro Conical Burr Grinder:
The Bodum Bistro is a mid-range conical burr grinder that gives you many decent features for its price range.
- Choose from 14 grind settings from fine to coarse.
- Borosilicate glass ground bean container that reduces static ‘jumping beans’
- Timed grind setting allows you to set a timer for your grind.
- 220g bean hopper capacity.
- 11 oz coffee ground container.
Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder:
The Capresso Infinity is somewhat similar to Bodum’s Bistro with some slight differences. For example it has 16 settings instead of 14, which isn’t huge, but can make some difference in the result of your preferred coffee method.
- 16 grind settings from coarse to fine.
- 8 1/2 ounces bean hopper capacity.
- 4 oz coffee ground container.
- Built-in timer.
- Available in plastic housing or die-cast housing.
Breville Dose Control Pro Grinder:
- Choose from 60 precise grind settings.
- Built-in timer allows you to choose from increments as little as 1 second.
- 12 oz bean hopper capacity.
- Holder allows you to grind directly into a portafilter, gold-tone filter or coffee container.
- Stainless steel housing.
Watch Video Reviews:
Here are some videos of the gear featured above for action:
How To Use Gaggia Classic:
Pulling an Espresso shot using the Breville Triple-priming Espresso Machine:
Full Review of the DeLonghi Dedica:
Review of the Breville Dose Control Pro Grinder:
Breville’s Barista Express espresso machine has been one of the best selling espresso maker through our website for a while. In this post, we’ll give our thoughts on the machine, why it’s worth your money and if you should buy it or not.
In this post:
- What Is The Barista Express
- Comparison Between Barista Express Models
- Is The Barista Express Worth The Money?
- Should You Buy the Barista Express?
What Is The Breville Barista Express and How Does It Work?
The Barista Express is a semi-automatic espresso machine that has an integrated conical burr grinder. The grinder grinds only the amount of coffee you need right into the portafilter, so your coffee is extracted only seconds after grinding, giving you a truly aromatic shot of espresso.
The Barista Express has the ability to work automatically with pre-set shot volumes, as well as manually. All pre-sets can be reprogrammed to your preference.
The grinder on the Barista Express has a dial where you can adjust your grind and a Grind Amount dial dose the amount of grind to suit the grind size.
Other Features of the Barista Express:
- 1600 watts thermocoil heating system.
- Electronic water temperature control for temperature stability.
- Purge function automatically adjusts water temperature after steam use for the best results.
- Pre-infusion function applies low pressure water to coffee ground at the start to allow for an even espresso extraction.
- Portafilter includes stainless steel baskets for a single or double shot.
- Removable 67 oz water reservoir.
- Hands-free cradle holds the portafilter when grinding directly into it.
- Bean hopper capacity: Half a pound.
- Breville’s patented Razor dose trimming tool
- 54mm stainless steel portafilter.
- single shot basket (1 cup and 2 cup)
- Double shot basket (1 cup and 2 cup)
- Coffee scoop and tamper.
- Stainless steel frothing jug.
- Cleaning tablets, cleaning brush.
- Water filter and water filter holder.
Comparisons Between Models of the Breville Barista Express:
The Barista Express is available under two model names: BES870XL and BES860XL. It is also available under variations BES870CBXL and BES870BSXL. Wondering what’s the difference between them?
We’ve done full comparisons between all these models in previous posts, which you can read by clicking here. But here’s a quick recap:
- The BES860XL is an older version, therefor slightly less expensive, where the BES870XL is the latest version of the Barista Express.
- The BES870XL has more power, 1600 watts compared to BES860XL’s 1450 watts.
- It has a redesigned bean hopper.
- The BES870XL has a hot water dispenser and it has an auto-off option that the BES860XL lacks.
- Lastly, the BES870XL gives you better control of coffee and water temperature.
As for the names BES870CBXL and BES870BSXL, these simply refer to the colors the BES870XL available in. The added CB refers to Cranberry, which is the deep red version and the BS refers to Black Sesame which is the Black version. The Barista Express BES860XL is only available in Stainless Steel.
Is The Barista Express Worth the Money?
As the Barista Express is at a range of $500 to $600, some might wonder if it’s worth your price.
If you’re keen on creating a coffee bar at your home that will last you a long time, you’ll have to buy:
- a high quality, nicely built espresso maker.
- a high quality conical burr grinder.
- All necessary accessories like a frothing jug, tamper and more.
If you do the math, you’ll find that the Barista Express is a cost-efficient purchase that includes everything you need in one unit.
The Barista Express is made of high-quality parts, stainless steel housing that is easy to maintain and clean, and it has storage within it for all its accessories like portafilter, cleaning tools and such. So for what’s included with the machine, as well as the machine itself, it is absolutely worth the price.
Who Should Buy The Barista Express?
This machine is perfect for beginners as well as intermediate at-home baristas. For a beginner, it could be tricky to use at first, but it’s a great learning tool and you should be able to get it right in no time. And there’s always the automatic option where the machine can do it for you if you can’t.
While some might advice beginners to start with a small and easy to use espresso maker, we advice against this. It’s better that you pay more for something that will last you for a long time than spend less money on a machine that you will outgrow soon enough. So why not invest in a proper espresso maker that you won’t get bored of or have to replace soon after.
Is Cappuccino your favorite coffee drink? Are you looking to purchase an espresso maker mainly for making delicious frothy Cappuccinos? While all espresso makers can make Cappuccinos, some makers make the task easier than others, especially for beginners.
In this post, we’ll highlight the best espresso makers for creating the perfect cup of Cappuccino.
Best Automatic Espresso Makers for Cappuccino:
These are push-button espresso makers that make all sorts of coffee drinks, including Cappuccino:
The Nespresso CitiZ is the perfect Nespresso for creating your favorite coffee drinks, Cappuccino or Lattes. Simply insert a coffee capsule, push a button and watch your coffee brew. With the built-in milk frother, you’ll be able to make hot or cold milk froth for your Cappuccino in about a minute.
The DeLonghi Lattissima Pro takes automation to another more advanced level. Also powered by Nespresso, simply insert a capsule, choose your drink from the menu on the LCD display and hit brew, the machine will do everything for you.
This automatic espresso and cappuccino maker comes from Keurig and is powered by Lavazza, the famous Italian coffee brand. The machine uses espresso pods made by Lavazza, and with a touch of a button, you can choose from Cappuccino, Latte, Machiatto or Espresso and let the machine do the rest.
Watch a Video Review of the Rivo:
If you’re not a fan of using espresso capsules, the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista gives you the automation of the previous machines with the ability to use ground coffee. Using the buttons on the control panel, choose your preferred drink and you’re set!
Manual Espresso Makers For Cappuccino:
The DeLonghi EC702 is a classic espresso maker perfect for making your daily dose of Cappuccino. It’s a manual machine made with the home user in mind, so it’s not complicated to operate. The milk frother is simply to use and creates the perfect froth.
Watch a Demo of the DeLonghi EC702:
The Dedica, also by DeLonghi, is a semi-automatic espresso maker. It features automatic flow stop, so you’ll get the perfect measure of espresso for your cappuccino, you can also reprogram it to your taste. The frothing wand is stainless steel, which gives you a better froth and it’s easier to clean. It is also worth mentioning that this is the slimmest espresso maker you can find, taking only 6″ of countertop.
Super-Automatic Espresso Maker:
Super automatic espresso machine are very high-end. Yes, they’re as expensive as you’d imagine, but they’re expensive for a reason. They feature built-in grinders, frothers and pretty much everything you need to get the freshest and most aromatic cup of coffee with a push of a button. Here’s an example:
The DeLonghi Gran Dama Avant features a built-in conical burr grinder, detachable milk frother, touch buttons and a backlit LCD display. Everything on the machine is programmable and customizable. Choose your coffee strength, cup size, the amount of milk, the type of grind and the machine will memorize your options and saves them. It is also one of very few espresso maker that are able to make drip coffee.