The DeLonghi La Specialista Prestigio is the new and improved version of the original Delonghi La Specialista. The original La Specialista has been one of the most popular semi automatic espresso machines in the market in the past few years. If you are looking to learn more about the new La Specialista Prestigio and decide if it is right for you, keep reading.
We were finally able to get our hands on this updated version of La Specialista to bring you this review. We have also gathered other users’ experiences to share some different perspectives.
Overall, we found the Delonghi La Specialista Prestigio to be a good option for a mid-range budget automatic espresso machine. However, it is not the right machine for everyone. La Specialista Prestigio is more suited for beginners as it includes many features that make it easy to use. More advanced home espresso brewers may still find that the grinder, with only 8 grind settings, does not provide enough flexibility to perfect your espresso shot.
In this review, we will cover all the details to help you decide if this would be the right machine for you. We will talk about pros and cons, features, espresso quality, durability and alternatives to consider.
If you are in a hurry, we will first share an overview. Keep reading for more.
DeLonghi La Specialista Prestigio Overview
Reasons to get it
- Built-in grinder with dose control will get you the right amount of grounds for your shot.
- Easy smart tamping system.
- The water temperature remains stable for even brewing
- The updated steam wand is powerful enough to make great microfoam.
- Unlike the original La Specislista, this new version uses non-pressurized portafilters.
Reasons not to get it
- Grinder has only 8 settings so it is not the best for fine tuning your espresso.
- Milk frothing is manual.
- The steam wand is not very mobile. It can be hard to get the pitcher in the right position for milk frothing.
- You cannot use it with ESE pods
Detailed DeLonghi La Specialista Prestigio Review (EC9355M)
Quality of espresso 8/10
La Specialista Prestigio is capable of producing a decent shot of espresso but it is not top quality compared to what high end machines can offer. This is mainly because of the grinder. The 8 grind settings do not provide enough options to properly fine tune a shot of espresso. The jump from one grind size to the next one is too large and it could go from too bitter to too watery.
However, not all is bad news when it comes to brewing capabilities. The Delonghi La Specialista Prestigio uses pre-infusion technology to wet the grounds before brewing and improve espresso quality. Also, the internal temperature regulation system is capable of maintaining a stable brewing temperature to improve espresso flavor and texture.
More good news, La Specialista Prestigio gives you the option to adjust the brewing temperature. You may not have many grind size options but changing the brewing temperature is another way in which you can adjust the espresso flavor.
Ease of use 9/10
The Delonghi La Specialista is generally easy to use and beginner friendly. However, milk frothing is manual which adds a certain level of difficulty.
This espresso machine has a built-in grinder with dose control that will grind just the right amount of coffee grounds you need for a shot. The grinder also has a sensor that will start the grinding process as soon as you insert the portafilter.
The smart tamping feature helps beginners apply the right tamping pressure. You can simply pull a lever and the machine will properly tamp the grounds into the portafilter making the process a lot more consistent and less messy.
Finally, there is a dial that lets you easily choose a type of drink between espresso, americano, and coffee. You can also adjust the volume for any of the drinks to get a single or a double serving.
In summary, La Specialista Prestigio includes features that can help reduce human error such as automatic dosing and tamping. The interface is also easy to understand and use without even reading the instructions.
Build quality 7/10
The DeLonghi La Specialista Prestigio is a resistant stainless-steel machine with a retro and elegant look. While we have had no major issues with the quality, other users have reported a few problems. Some people say that the machines started to leak after a few months and they had to get it replaced. This may indicate that the interior build is not the best quality.
The DeLonghi La Specialista is not cheap. It is a mid-range automatic machine and the value is not great when it comes to espresso quality. For instance, this machine is usually compared to the Breville Barista Express which sells at a slightly lower price and offers higher quality espresso.
However, this machine may still offer the best value for you. The top value proposition of the Delonghi La Specialista is the ease of use which makes it perfect for beginners. The smart tamper is a great feature to get an even coffee puck for better extraction. Similar features are usually only found in super-automatic machines.
The quantity and quality of features is definitely the strength of La Specialista. We are still giving it 8 points because the grinder could be better.
Built-in grinder with dose control
This machine has a built-in burr grinder which is a great feature to have if you do not already own a burr grinder.
The hopper of the grinder is fairly big and it can store an entire standard 250g bag of coffee
The best part about the grinder are the automated functions. First, the dose control function lets you choose the amount of coffee grounds you want to use. You can adjust this dose and the grinder will make sure to grind just the right amount of beans to get the desired dose.
The other cool automatic feature is the grinding sensor thanks to which the machine will begin
to grind as soon as you put the portafilter in place. No need to initiate the process manually.
The downside is that the built-in grinder has only 8 grind settings which is not enough for fine tuning an espresso. When dialing an espresso shot you need to make slight adjustments to the grind size and having only 8 options with only 2 or 3 being fine enough for espresso does not give you enough flexibility. In comparison, other machines in the same price range offer 16 settings and stand alone grinders can have up to 60. Of course, if you do not plan to use the machine to try to dial the settings for each espresso shot and want a more hand-off experience and some decent espresso, this should not be a problem for you.
One of our favorite features of the Delonghi La Specialista Prestigio is the Smart Tamper. The tamper is built into the machine and tamping is as simple as pulling a lever.
In most semi automatic machines, the tamping process is manual which means you need to have at least some tamping technique. Also the process can be messy with loose coffee grounds on your countertop. The smart tamper makes this process a lot simpler and cleaner.
Internal temperature regulation
Thanks to the internal temperature control technology, the Delonghi La Specialista can keep the coffee at optimal temperature during the duration of the brewing process. The optimal brewing temperature is between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit.
A common problem in many semi automatic espresso machines is that the temperature does not remain stable during the brewing process. This can impact the flavor and texture of the resulting espresso shot.
Adjustable brewing temperature
Another great feature you get with La Specialista Prestigio is the options to adjust the brewing temperature, even if you can only choose out of 3 temperature levels.
Adjusting the brewing temperature can help you tweak the taste of your espresso shot. Hotter temperatures will help extraction happen faster making your espresso more full-bodied and sweet. On the other hand, lower temperatures usually result in a brighter shot.
Despite the grinder limitations, the Delonghi La Specialista Prestigio can still create a good shot of espresso thanks to the pre-infusion technology.
If you want an indicator that a machine is capable of producing high quality espresso, you should be looking for pre-infusion technology. Pre-infusion means that the coffee grounds come into contact with some water before the brewing even begins. This helps avoid channeling and uneven extraction resulting in a better shot of espresso. The pre-infusion technology can execute this process automatically.
Dedicated hot water spout
Having a dedicated hot spout is great for when you want to make an americano or simply get some water to make tea. A lot of espresso machines use the steam wand as the hot water spout or simply do not include one.
Smart Dial for select the type of drink
The Delonghi La Specialista has a dial on the control panel that you can rotate to choose between three types of drinks: americano, espresso and coffee.
This single dial makes the machine easy to use. However, there is no digital display which is a feature many appreciate in a semi automatic machine.
My LatteArt steam wand
The DeLonghi La Specialista features an upgraded and more powerful steam wand compared to the one in the original La Specialista.
While milk frothing is not automatic with La Specialista Prestigio, the steam wand is powerful enough to make velvety microfoam for latte art. Of course, if you are new to milk steaming, you will need to practice a few times before you get the ideal microfoam texture. DeLonghi has a video where they show you how to operate this wand.
The one thing we did not like about the steam wand is that it is not very mobile. This made it harder to get the pitcher in the ideal position but we eventually got the hang of it.
Breville Barista Express
The Breville Barista Express is, in many ways, similar to the DeLonghi La Specialista Prestigio. The Barista Express is an automatic espresso machine in the same price range that offers similar features. However, there are a few differences that make the Barista Express different and better for the right target market. Personally, we recommend the Barista Express over the DeLonghi La Specialista Prestigio.
The main difference is that the Barista Express offers more grind settings which gives you more flexibility when dialing your shot. However, unlike the La Specialista Prestigio, the Barista Express does not include the smart tamper function. This can leave more room for human error in this process.
In summary, we believe these machines target different users. If you want to get a machine that offers more control and the potential for better espresso but also has a steeper learning curve, go for the Breville. If you want something easy to use that requires minimum skills and can still make decent espresso, go for the Delonghi La Specialista Prestigio
DeLonghi Dedica Arte + Grinder
Another option is to get a cheaper espresso machine without a grinder that can focus on producing great espresso. Then get a stand alone high-end grinder that will give you the flexibility you need to dial your espresso shot.
Staying in the DeLonghi line, we will recommend the DeLonghi Dedica Arte, a machine that retails for about a third of the price of La Specialista Prestigio. The Dedica Arte is a very compact automatic espresso machine that has many of the features also present in La Especialista Prestigio. To mention some of them, the Dedica Arte has the automatic flow stop function and the My LatteArt steam wand.
The downside of the Dedica Arte is that it does not give you the option to adjust the brewing temperature or the pre infusion time. But, this may not even be important for you.
The grinder that we recommend to go with it is the Breville Smart Grinder. This is our favorite burr grinder. It has 60 grind settings so it is perfect if you want to practice your espresso brewing skills by dialing your shots. It is on the expensive side for grinders but the added price of the Dedica Arte and the Breville grinder is still cheaper than La Specialista Prestigio.
DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro
Do you like the DeLonghi La Specialista Prestigio but wish it would include automatic milk frothing? Then, you may like the DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro. This is the premium machine in the La Specialista line. It includes 6 pre-programmed milk drinks and automatic milk frothing. This machine also has 5 brewing temperature settings instead of three. However, the jump in price is pretty significant and the grinder still has only 8 settings.
The Delonghi La Specialista Prestigio is ideal for those who want a hands-off brewing experience and do not mind sacrificing espresso quality. Do not get us wrong, this machine can still make good espresso shots but you will not be unlocking the full potential of the coffee beans.
If you want to learn some real barista skills, you should look for a machine that has a better grinder and that provides for customization options. The Breville Barista Express is a good option at a similar price point.