Most helpful critical review
54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
Replacement machine better, but still has issues
on August 27, 2012
I purchased this machine in July 2012 from a local department store. Following is my original review from August 2012. Scroll to the bottom for updated (and much less positive) feedback.
I purchased an ESAM3300 4 years ago and I love it. I recently moved it to my vacation home, and I purchased a new ECAM22110SB to use in my main home. I have had the new machine about 1 month, and I love it even more than the old one. I purchased my machine locally, so if there were any problems, I could exchange it with no hassles. Fortunately, it performed perfectly right out of the box. I use both machines primarily to make cappuccino, and occasionally to make coffee. I use Peet's beans, which are oily.
Both machines make great tasting espresso and coffee. Note that the coffee is "Americano", i.e. diluted espresso, but it tastes great. Both machines are easy to clean. The milk frothers on both machines are idiot-proof, and work great with 2% milk. However, if you are a barista who likes to make Latte Art, then you should choose a different machine with a traditional steam wand.
The things I like the most about my new ECAM23210B as compared to my old ESAM3300 are:
1) After a break-in of about a week, I got perfect espresso and coffee with the machine left at its default settings. During the first week the results were a bit weak, and I needed to crank up the strength dial. Now I have it back at the middle setting and get perfect results.
2) It is much smaller.
3) It makes much less noise.
4) It has pre-sets for coffee and espresso. The old machine had separate dials for water and ground beans quantities, but required experimentation to figure out where to set them for coffee and espresso. The pre-sets on the new machine are much easier to use.
5) The milk frother is easier to use. The old machine would spit water out of the frother until it heated up, requiring an additional pitcher to catch the water. The new machine emits only steam (unless you specifically request hot water).
6) The beans hopper cover makes a tight seal, keeping the beans fresh longer.
7) Although both machines purge water into the drip tray, the water in the drip tray in the new machine remains clean with no coffee residue. The old machine collected water mixed with coffee in the drip tray, making it harder to clean.
Things I don't like about the new machine are:
1) Oily beans don't feed well into the grinder. I think this is due to the incline of the hopper interior being steeper, and the entry area to the grinder being larger, on the old machine. However, if I manually push the beans into the grinder opening during the grinding cycle, then the new machine grinds perfectly. I haven't tried removing the mushroom cover as suggested by Steve, but that would probably help as well. If you use drier beans than I do, you may not have this problem.
2) When the grounds hopper is full and needs emptying, the new machine usually indicates this when I first turn it on in the morning. The old machine would do this immediately after brewing. When I get up in the morning and I badly need a caffeine fix, the last thing I want to do is clean my machine first.
3) The cover of the drip tray on the new machine is shiny like a mirror, and scratches easily. I prefer the matte finish of the drip tray cover on the old machine.
A note on service: My old ESAM3300 did require service once under the warranty. Fortunately, there was an authorized service center in the city I live in. They were able to repair my machine in 2 days, and then it was as good as new. Many of the reviews for Delonghi espresso machines on Amazon complain about their mail-in service. You might want to check for service availability in your area before purchasing this machine.
In summary, I much prefer the new ECAM22110SB to the old ESAM3300, and I am very happy with my purchase.
Update May 2013:
About a month after I published the above review, I started to have problems with the "ground too fine" error indication coming on. The manual states this is due to the grinder being set to too fine a setting, which prevents water from flowing through the machine. However, I got the error during rinsing and steaming milk, never during brewing. I called Delonghi, and was told this error can come on any time insufficient water is flowing, even when not brewing. There was always plenty of water or steam flowing when the error occurred, so I think the error was being falsely triggered. Delonghi gave me some things to try that didn't help. So I took the machine in for service to my local authorized service center.
They cleaned and adjusted the machine, and it worked fine for a month, then the error reoccurred. This happened 2 more times. The 4th time the error occurred it persisted even after cleaning and adjusting the machine. So the service center replaced the electronics and the pump. It took 2 months for the parts to come in from Delonghi. I was not pleased with the long time to get the parts.
I had high hopes that the problem was really fixed, but two months later I started getting "ground too fine" errors again. By this point I had enough. I persuaded the department store I bought the machine from to take it back and exchange it for a new one. They assured me that if I have problems with the new one, they will take it back for a full refund. They said they have sold hundreds of these machines, and mine was the first to be returned.
I don't know if the original machine was a lemon, or there is something I am doing that sets off the error. I don't see any other reports of my specific problem online anywhere. I really hope the replacement machine works. I love it when it is working. If the replacement machine continues to work, I'll update the review and increase the star rating. Please wish me luck :)
Update June 2014:
The replacement machine works much better, but it has not been problem-free. During the first month it had an intermittent problem where the water flow would stop (although the pump kept operating) during the rinse or brew cycles. This happened just a few times. The machine was then problem free for almost a year. I though the water flow problem was just a break-in issue, however, it reoccurred a few times 2 months ago. The machine has been problem-free since then. I just hope that the machine doesn't fail consistently after the warranty is over.
At this point, I would only recommend this model if you really need the compact size and front-loading water reservoir. If mine fails after the warranty is over, I will try a different brand.