Top positive review
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Great espresso with crema! With answers to others negatives
on August 29, 2011
I am Italian, born and raised. Moved to US at 30 yrs old. Moved to an area where there's no Italian-American influence, no chance of going out for an espresso. Only Starbucks... no thanks. Thought I could go by without espresso for 6 years (what was I thinking??? I don't know). Then sudden espresso cravings made me buy this espresso machine. De Longhi is a very common brand in Italy for any type of home appliances. I've had this machine for 6 months now, using it every day. It's awesome. Like the espresso cup you'd get in Italy "al bar". It gives a thick layer of "crema" on top of each cup.
Here some answers to other reviewers' cons:
* somebody wrote the water was not coming out and returned the machine: you need to bang the water tank real hard in position, otherwise it doesn't connect. It happened to me first time using it... I thought machine was defective too because coffee was not coming out. My husband banged it in there and started working right away.
* ground basket is soupy: with espresso machines you have to fill the basket to its fullest, nothing like drip machines. You need to have coffee heaping out like an upside-down cone and then gently press it down with the tamper. Don't press too hard otherwise the water doesn't make it through.
* built-it tamper sucks: this puzzles me. A tamper is whatever flat surface you have handy. In Italy people don't use tampers, considered a fancy thing for coffee shops. People just uses the back of a spoon to tamper the coffee down. The spoon that comes with this machine is perfect for that by the way. You just need a flat round surface of same diameter to have a great tamper. The built-in one works great. You only need a minor pressure otherwise you compact coffee too much.
* takes long to heat up: maybe older version? Not sure about this. Mine is ready in one minute or less.
* no cup warmer: in the manual says the top metal part is the cup warmer. It is warm if you let it warm up. I personally live in warm climate so don't need cup warmer, plus the coffee comes out very hot. True that there's no railing so cups can fall off easily (done that...).
* frothing wand placement/length: I can't say much about it because I don't make cappuccino, I just drink straight espresso, black. One thing I'd say is that cappuccino in Italy is not what you know as cappuccino here, size wise. This may explain the wand dimensions. In Italy cappuccino is a single shot of espresso, with some frothed milk on top. When I say some, I mean really a little bit. The total output is less than one cup size for your cappuccino. That is very small. So when you need to heat up your milk, in theory you'd use a very small and short brick. If you'd see one of these you wouldn't believe it probably.
* bitter coffee: this is very important. Espresso is supposed to be a very sweet cup of coffee. I never got used to the drip coffee or store bought cup of coffee just because it's too bitter. Not used to it. The difference is in the roast and grind. You cannot use coffee you'd use in the drip machine for the espresso machine. For your first espresso, just buy Illy ground espresso coffee. I recommend the black label. Just try it and that is your standard to compare other coffee to. That is the sweet taste you should get. I also recommend to buy pre-ground coffee, because the grind for espresso requires a serious (expensive) burr grinder, professional level to obtain a fine and homogeneous coffee suitable for these type of machines.
To buy ground coffee, a cheaper option (cheaper than Illy) is Lavazza. I recommend "Crema e Gusto". This is the most commonly used brand in Italian families, that's all I drank in my family for instance. The "Crema e Gusto" variety gives a nice espresso.
I think I covered all the points I wanted. I will add if realize I forgot something worth mentioning :-)
Enjoy your coffee!
April 2015 Update: we have been using this machine daily since our purchase in 2011 and it hasn't had a single issue so far.