Revolutionize Your Morning Routine with This Coffee Setup

We spent a week with De'Longhi's La Specialista home espresso machine to learn its ins and outs, and more importantly, stay caffeinated through the holiday rush.

delonghi
Gear Patrol Studios
  • Brand: De'Longhi
  • Product: La Specialista Espresso Machine
  • Price: $800
  • From: bestbuy.com

        There's something magical about waking up, walking into your kitchen, and making café-grade coffee right there in your slippers. That's the goal behind De'Longhi's La Specialista home espresso machine. Well, maybe not the slippers part, but certainly the café-grade coffee part. The machine is purpose-built to make pulling a perfect shot of espresso at home easy — even for the coffee novice. To see just how easy, De'Longhi provided us with a La Specialista to test for a week, to learn the ins and outs, get a feel for all of the features, and most importantly, stay well-caffeinated through the holiday rush.

        From the Brand

        “La Specialista is a beautifully designed espresso machine that allows you to handcraft consistently great espresso-based coffee drinks from the comfort of your home. We've incorporated four innovative features to make the process more streamlined and personalized, while preserving the hands-on creativity and satisfaction of brewing authentic espresso and Americano. With no additional heat-up time, and minimal cleanup, La Specialista empowers you to handcraft your espresso the right way.”

        delonghi
        Gear Patrol Studios
        delonghi

        What We Like

        Right out of the box, the build quality on the La Specialista is immediately noticeable. From the considered packaging to the polished stainless steel shell, the La Specialista makes a great first impression.

        But looks are only part of the story. What good is a pretty espresso machine that makes bad coffee? To find out if the La Specialista makes espresso as successfully as it turns heads, our tester went through the setup process and began to dial in the machine.

        It's easy to be intimidated by an espresso machine — there's something about the way baristas move swiftly and smoothly behind the café bar, with grinders whirring and steam rising that makes it seem like only professionals can pull a great tasting espresso shot. Thankfully, the La Specialista is anything but intimidating. The quick guide makes setup a breezee; clean the machine, drop your basket into the portafilter, grind some coffee and see where you're at. On first pull, our tester noted that the machine was surprisingly close to dialed in, and with some fine tuning was pulling Instagram-worthy espresso shots before needing to check in at work in the morning.

        The process of crafting a shot is remarkably simple with the La Specialista, as everything you need is built right into the machine — no tamps, separate grinders, milk frothers, doohickies, etc. De'Longhi's built-in grinder with Sensor Grinding technology lays a solid foundation. It delivers precise, consistent grinding and hits damn close to the optimal dose of grounds every time. But the grind is only part of the story. One of the biggest plights of the home barista is tamping; too hard or too soft and your shot is destined for failure. The Smart Tamping Station takes the majority of the human error out of the equation. For our tester, this was the most crucial of features on the La Specialista. The built-in lever lets you replicate the perfect tamp shot after shot. Top that off with the Active Temperature Control to keep your machine at a stable temp for optimal coffee extraction and you'd be hard pressed to make bad coffee on this machine.

        So, now you've got a great shot of espresso. But what if, like our tester, you prefer a milk drink? Say, a cortado, cappuccino or latte? De'Longhi has an intelligent answer for that too. The machine is equipped with the Advanced Latte System, which is more or less a slidable selector that allows you to switch between a flat steamed milk or foamy steamed milk. In practice, our tester noted that it was markedly easy to get great texture out of the Advanced Latte System, and more importantly, that there was no wait time between pouring a shot and steaming milk. That's thanks to the La Specialista's Dual Heating System, which is comprised of one thermoblock for extracting coffee and an independent heating system for steaming milk.

        And of course, we'd be remiss not to mention the knob feel and finishing touches that bring the La Specialista over the top. The knurling on the dials is at once both functional and industrial while showing a dedication to refinement that presents itself in the coffee as much as it does in the machine.

        delonghi
        Gear Patrol Studios

        Who It’s For

        The La Specialista makes a strong case to be for anyone who wants to make espresso-based coffee drinks at home, without the fuss of café-grade machines. The machine is incredibly easy to set up and is very approachable (box to espresso in under 30 minutes). Even the most novice of coffee drinkers will find using the machine intuitive, but old hat coffee pros will appreciate the hand-crafted yet simple approach of the La Specialista.

        Verdict

        If you've been missing your local café, the La Specialista makes it easy to recreate the handcrafted espresso experience at home. De'Longhi's take on a manual espresso machine factors in design, and aesthetics — two things that are more than welcome when you're sacrificing precious countertop space in your kitchen to have one. But the true beauty in the La Specialista isn't in what it gives you but what it takes away. De'Longhi has taken as much of the human element out of the equation as possible, while still offering the ability to tweak, fine-tune and handcraft your espresso. The result? Great coffee, dead simple to brew.

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