Looking to buy your first coffee maker, or want to make the step up from Nespresso and other pod machines? There's already a growing range of relatively cheap bean to cup coffee options… and now there are two more, courtesy of De'Longhi. They have two brand new bean to cup coffee machines for you. In fact, technically three, since there are two varieties of one of the models. The new machines are the Magnifica Evo Coffee, the Magnifica Evo Milk and the La Specialista Arte.
A bean to cup coffee machine gives you something like the convenience of a pod machine, since it's all done via one unit with no need for an external grinder or spooning ground coffee into a machine. The fact the beans are freshly ground, plus more upscale components means you should get much better tasting coffee as well. Not that there is anything wrong with what you get from the best pod coffee machines but a bean to cup should always be a step up.
Bean to cup machines can be very expensive, but these are pretty cheap, with the Evo starting at just £400. That makes it an alternative to waiting for the Black Friday sales if you want a caffeinated bargain.
Of the two, the De'Longhi La Specialista Arte is definitely the sexier option. Designed for those who want to get more creative with their coffee making, it's no doubt intended as a rival to Sage's excellent 'home barista' coffee makers.
Having said that, De’Longhi Magnifica Evo may prove to be more popular, because it doesn't require much creativity at all – you just press a button and great latte or espresso pours out. Which is right for your stylish, modern. kitchenette?
- Jura Z10 – a serious bean to cup that can even make cold brew coffee
- Smeg BCC02 – a bean to cup that's barely bigger than a Nespresso machine
- Lavazza Voicy is a talking coffee machine with Alexa built in
The official version from De'Longhi is that La Specialista Arte (left) 'recreates the authentic cafè experience at home with De’Longhi’s most hands-on espresso machine to date' while Magnifica Evo (right) 'is specifically designed to introduce the automatic coffee machine world to entry level coffee lovers, looking for a one touch experience and modern machine design.'
Something for everyone, then.
If you favour affordability and simplicity – and who doesn't? – then the Magnifica Evo could be for you. All you have to do with this is feed it water and beans – the tank is concealed in the body while the bean hopper is the thing on top – and let the Evo do the rest.
Continuing the theme of ease, all the everyday working parts can go in the dishwasher, while the shiny plate on the drip tray has a premium, anti-scratch finish. If you haven't used a bean to cup coffee machine that might not sound like much, to you, but believe me, having to hand wash coffee maker parts is a pain, and even the most expensive ones usually feature drip tray plates that scratch and fade with alarming rapidity.
De'Longhi's coffee machines used to be a bit hit and miss in terms of results but they have really cracked it in recent years, which gives me a lot of confidence that the Evo will produce consistently good coffee. Another old issue of De'Longhi's was that the coffee it served you always tended to be scalding hot. However Evo can serve at 'hot, medium, or low temperature'. Presumably not that low. There's also three strength settings for what comes out.
There are actually two models of this one. The Magnifica Evo Coffee makes coffee and has a steam wand so you can heat and froth your milk. That is often easier said than done, so lovers of cappuccino and latte should consider the Magnifica Evo Milk. This adds a built-in LatteCrema System milk frother carafe thing that does the milk texturing for you. Three smart sensors 'assess positioning of the carafe' – which can be stored in the fridge between uses – and discern the milk quantity needed for each recipe.
Whatever drink you prefer, both Evo models serve it up with just one touch of the 'colour display control panel' (ie: not a touchscreen).
The pricing of the Evo is extremely keen. Honestly it is just on the cusp of making me wonder if the coffee will be any good but De'Longhi has the chops to deliver. I'll have a review for you soon once review units materialise.
Magnifica Evo: price and availability
Magnifica Evo Coffee (ECAM290.21.B) is available from today (October 3) for £399.99, and the Magnifica Evo Milk (ECAM290.81.TB) is available from 8th November 2021 for £549.
I don't have overseas pricing yet but that equates to $545 and $750 in the USA, or AU$730 and AU$1005 in Oz.
De'Longhi La Specialista Arte, by contrast, is a more semi-professional, Sage-style coffee machine, aimed at those who want to experiment with their daily cup, create latte art and generally ponce about.
As with the Evo, this handsome machine is compact – less than 30cm wide – and very affordable by bean to cup standards. That makes it a perfect inclusion for even smaller kitchens. Although as it is still considerably larger than your average Nespresso machine, perhaps still not one for the smallest kitchen spaces.
Cramming features from De'Longhi's swank-tastic La Specialista Prestigio and La Specialista Maestro machines into a smaller and cheaper coffee maker is no mean feat. For just £649 it looks like you're getting a lot of stainless steel and a lot of features, including the following:
8 Setting Grinder You can adjust this according to the coffee beans you're using. Although again, in my experience with bean to cup coffee machines, you will usually want to set it at very nearly its finest setting, and then leave it.
3 Pre-set Recipes Espresso, Americano and, erm, 'Hot Water' can be further personalised to your taste.
MyLatte Art Steam Wand Yes, you will have to steam and texture your own milk with the La Specialista Arte. I am absolutely crap at this, but maybe you will master it like a barista boss.
Mess Free Dosing & Tamping Thanks to 'premium barista-quality tools'. From experience I would say any early attempts will not be mess free at all, but the included tamping mat will at least keep it off your worktop.
Two Unpressurised, single wall Filter Baskets One for single espresso (up to 12 grams of coffee) and one for a double dose of up to 20 grams. De'Longhi describes them as 'the same as professional baristas use in coffee shops. They allow for greater control meaning a fuller-bodied extraction full of coffee bean flavour.'
Active Temperature Control Prefer your coffee at 92, 94 or 96 degrees? The choice is yours.
Despite the much more pro approach and look, La Specialista Arte has 'detachable and dishwasher safe parts.' Phew.
I'm really looking forward to trying this one, even if my milk frothing efforts remain hapless. On paper, it gives you a lot of real quality features for a very reasonable price.
De'Longhi La Specialista Arte: price and availability
La Specialista Arte costs £549 which should mean it is around $750 and AU$1005 in America and Australia respectively.
You also get a 'free Home Barista Collection' including coffee beans, syrups, and stencils, 'encouraging inspiring home baristas to practice their skills.' De'Longhi says this is worth £75 ($100/AU$140)