Want a coffee machine that grinds beans fresh and looks just like the one in your local coffee shop? The DeLonghi La Specialista might be the one for you.
It’s one of a new breed of bean-to-cup coffee machines that aim to combine the experience of using a traditional coffee machine with joy of a freshly-ground brew.
Most modern bean-to-cup machines do all the thinking for you, dispensing your drink straight into the mug at the press of a button, but the La Specialista gives you chance to be your own barista – although it still secretly does a lot of the legwork.
At £720, it’s no small investment, but it’s not the priciest model out there. You won’t find any touchscreens or smart app controls like you might on rival models either. This machine is all about the old-style temperature gauges, dials and levers.
Is it good-looking at the expense of being user friendly? Read the full DeLonghi La Specialista EC9335.M review to get our verdict.
DeLonghi La Specialista: features
1. Play the at-home barista
This machine grinds coffee directly into a portafilter (the part that holds the ground coffee). You then tamp it (compact the ground coffee for more even extraction) using a lever and re-position the portafilter to extract your espresso.
Most bean-to-cup machines do all this internally, without any input from you. This can be easier but gives you less control, and can mean a tricky cleaning job if something goes wrong.
2. Make your own milk froth
The ‘Advanced Latte System’ is essentially a steam wand you can use to foam milk for drinks such as cappuccinos and lattes. You can easily switch between foam and hot milk using a sliding control on the handle.
Some bean-to-cup machines come with a steam wand, but many have automatic frothing systems. These suck milk into the machine from a container on the side and dispense it as froth straight into your coffee cup.
This is good if you like a hands-off approach, as you can just press a button and come back to a ready-made latte, but again it gives you less control, and more fiddly parts to wash up (or stash in the fridge between drinks).
Use our coffee machine reviews to find the best models with automatic milk frothing
3. Customised drink sizes
Although it has a traditional look, the La Specialista has some user-friendly additions. It comes with three pre-programmed drink sizes for quick selection.
You can also set your preferred amount and save it, so it dispenses the perfect amount of coffee for your favourite mug.
4. It’s modern on the inside
It may look traditional, but under the hood there’s some serious technology designed to make the process flow smoothly.
The grinder has sensors to ensure you get the right dose of coffee, and the tamping system monitors pressure when prepping your coffee grounds.
Built-in temperature controls are designed to ensure the coffee making process is consistent, and there are two independent heating systems so you don’t have to wait before frothing your milk.
Other traditional-style bean-to-cup coffee machines
The La Specialista isn’t the first coffee machine of this type we’ve seen. Sage has a range of bean-to-cup machines which have a similar look and feel, including the Sage Barista Express, which is cheaper at around £500.
The newer Sage Barista Touch (£850), has a colour touch control screen for a blend of traditional and modern features.
Top five bean-to-cup coffee machines – see our recommended picks for the freshest brews
Other new coffee machines to consider
We’ve just tested a selection of coffee machines to suit different tastes, budgets and lifestyles. Here are some notable models:
Cheap coffee machines
Asda George Home Pod coffee machine (Nespresso compatible), £60
This compact own-brand Asda coffee machine works with Nespresso and compatible coffee pods (including Asda’s own pods). It could be ideal if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get your caffeine fix – simply pop in a pod and press a button to dispense your drink.
At just £60, its one of the cheapest Nespresso machines around. Unlike some other coffee pod brands, there are a wide range of Nespresso-compatible pods to choose from, including compostable options, so you’ll have plenty of coffees to choose from.
Read the full Asda Nespresso machine review to find out if it’s one to snap up.
Swan Retro Coffee Machine SK22110, £77
If traditional looks and affordability are both high on your coffee machine priority list, the Swan Retro coffee maker could be for you.
This machine uses ground coffee, which you dose out and prepare, so you can make coffee just the way you like it. It comes complete with a steam wand for making milky drinks such as cappuccinos.
It’s more hands-on, but is it easy enough to make a brew and are the results worth it? Find out in the full Swan Retro Coffee Machine SK22110BLN review.
Hands-free coffee making
Lavazza Deséa, £199
The Lavazza Deséa is a compact pod machine with a built-in milk frothing cup for fuss-free milky drinks. This is quite unusual – most other capsule coffee machines use either a standalone milk frother or milk pods.
In the spirit of making it easy to create your favourite coffee quickly, there are eight pre-programmed drink options. You can also tailor the temperature and froth level to taste.
It’s one for coffee purists, as you can only use Lavazza coffee pods in this machine, of which there’s a limited range. Find out what we thought of the frother – and the coffee – in the full Lavazza Deséa review.
DeLonghi ECAM370.95.T Dinamica Plus, £1,100
Want a completely hands-free experience? This premium bean-to-cup coffee machine does it all for you – for a price. Simply select a drink from the touchscreen menu and wait for your coffee to be prepared. You can personalise the drinks options, and set it to work remotely using the smartphone app.
Does it turn out a lovely latte? Find out what our expert tasting panel thought in the full DeLonghi ECAM370.95.T Dinamica Plus review.
Which coffee machine is right for me?
Not sure what type of coffee machine you want? It’s worth thinking about more than just price and looks before you buy, as the type of machine you go for affects what coffees you can make, the type of coffee you can use, and how expensive your daily brew will be – as well as how much effort it will be to get your caffeine fix.
Get the full lowdown on the different types of coffee machines and features to look out for in our coffee machines buying guide.