Most helpful positive review
1,675 of 1,685 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Machine and Value
on May 14, 2010
After purchasing and returning a cheap Mr. Coffee steam espresso machine that produced nothing close to a real espresso, I decided to get serious about finding a solid "entry-level" espresso machine. I did an exhaustive (ie: ridiculous) amount of research, reading reviews at a myriad of sites, comparing prices, talking to friends who consider themselves "espresso experts", etc. What I found first is that you will never find 100% agreement on a given machine. Second, you have to establish your price range. It does seem that with espresso machines, the more you're willing to pay, the more you get, either in features, design, longevity or performance. For me, despite my friend raving about his newest $700 "it does everything except read the paper to you" machine, as a first time home machine buyer, I wanted to limit my first expenditure. So I set a max budget at $250 and learned about every possible option.
I won't go through the reasons I didn't buy other machines and it is possible that many I chose not to buy would have been perfectly good. What I will tell you is that thus far, about 3 months and 100+ espressos later, I am extremely happy with my DeLonghi EC702. The bottom line is that it produces a perfect crema with a rich taste. The steaming wand, though not perfectly designed, works well and I can make excellent Lattes. I feel it is important to add that like any machine, it takes some practice to produce the perfect espresso. There are so many human variables that come into play - how long to let the pump run, proper warm-up time, type of coffee, the grind, how much you compact/tamp the coffee, etc. - that no two people will get the same results. However, the performance of this machine has been flawless. I have not experienced any leaks or problems. I have followed the instructions carefully from the first use, kept it properly cleaned and it has rewarded me with a great cup every day.
Some other positives:
- Very good clearance between the bottom of the filter holder and the base. I have a nice size cappuccino mug (in addition to standard espresso cups) and it fits perfectly. Apparently this is a problem with some other machines.
- Two size filters - one for single shot and one for double shot espressos.
- Filters also use the ESE pod system if you're into that. I don't use pods.
- Large, easily removable and cleanable water holder.
- It looks great. All silver, mostly metal. Doesn't have any of that cheap looking black plastic.
- Warming tray on top really works. I store my cups and filters on top and they are nice and warm after about 15 minutes, which is the recommended warm-up time. And BTW - this is not a problem. I get up, walk in the kitchen, turn it on. By the time I come back into the kitchen after getting the kids going, it is ready. Those people who complain because they have to wait a few minutes need to re-evaluate their addiction to coffee.
- Great price point. Under $200.
- Yes, it is somewhat noisy for the 15 seconds it produces the coffee - but it is a pump machine, which you must have. My kids running around in the morning make far more noise than the machine.
- Your first 5-6 cups will taste like battery acid. I was warned of this from an experienced friend. All new machines must be broken in to eliminate that metallic taste. So when you get it, after following the directions and running water through it a few times, then make several throw-away cups of coffee as well. I used a less expensive coffee for this instead of wasting my good stuff. Allowing the coffee flavor to permeate the filters will properly prep the machine.
- You must clean it at proper intervals. The machine even comes with a bottle of descaler.
- Buy an external tamper. It will make it much easier on you, help you be consistent in your tamping and will keep the machine cleaner. I bought the $8 Terry's Tamper on Amazon and it is the perfect size for the DeLonghi filter. Don't waste your money on expensive tampers.
- Make sure you use the proper very fine grinds meant for espresso machines. I took one bag of beans to a grinder at Trader Joe's and set it to the finest grind, which I thought was great. However, I later bought a can of Illy pre-ground for espresso (a fabulous coffee by-the-way) and learned that my public grinding was nowhere near as fine. So my espressos improved even further using a better grind.
So there it is. I actually purchased mine at Bed, Bath & Beyond as a 20% off coupon brought the price down to equal the generally better Amazon prices, but also allowed me an easy, walk-in no questions asked return policy if I wasn't happy.
I hope this helps people. I felt I owed a review as thanks to all those whose reviews I leaned on. My final thought is that once you get hooked on making your own espressos, even with a good machine like the DeLonghi, you do start to see the value in the really expensive machines that are fully automatic and even grind the beans like my friends $700 gizmo. But for the regular guy who doesn't mind a little manual labor and doesn't have $700 to drop, I highly recommend this machine.