DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro review: The best semi-auto coffee machine money can buy?

This coffee machine is smart. And there is perhaps no smarter created to date, reimagining the do-it-all semi-automatic machine to make it more accessible for a great variety of coffee drinkers, whether they have barista experience or not. And while it is quite pricey, that’s a valuable thing to have for the office or the home, opening up the world of coffee and giving people plenty of options when it comes to experimenting to find their perfect cup.

The La Specialista Maestro is a rework of DeLonghi’s popular model, but worked in collaboration between Italian and Australian teams to dial in features specifically designed to appeal to Australia’s particular tastes. A more sophisticated brewing system and a sharper focus on volumetric output has assisted in this, creating a coffee machine that is nothing short of pure brilliance.

Design

The La Specialista Maestro is chunky, and demands quite a lot of space on the kitchen table. Not only is it a hefty investment price wise, but you’ll want a dedicated space before you even think about picking up this model. Everything seems to be carefully designed to simplify the idea of a manual coffee machine, even though it still looks quite intimidating with various dials, knobs, a tamp, a built-in water flow meter, and a automatic milk frother with a fully manual milk steaming wand. This is something you’d see in a high-end cafe, but once you look at the menu and do a day or two of digging, going from no experience whatsoever to making barista-quality coffee is simple.

All the major pre-set styles of coffee are here, just choose between a flat white, cap, espresso etc first and foremost. The beans go in the generously sized hopper on the top of the machine, and you simply choose to tweak various aspects of a coffee’s character such as dose size, grind, brew temperature and more, dialling in the specifics according to what beans you happen to be using. This ensures you get the most out of your coffee, but it would be wise to pay attention to how many beans you are loading into the hopper. I advise not to fill it up, as leaving beans in a vacuum-sealed pack is much better to preserve character than leaving them overnight in the hopper. Only put in as much as you’re going to use.

The process is simple. Select the dose size, insert the portafilter into the grinder and wait for the machine to do its thing. Tamp the coffee using the manual level on the left of the machine, then then detach the portafilter and move it to the middle head. The filter basket will be pre-infused with water at the precise pressure, after the complicated brew system has considered various aspects of the beans and your preferences. The machine then completes the brew to the exact volume, as a function of your chosen style of coffee. The simple process betrays just how complex the system is, doing all the work without needing you to do it.

For beginners, the machine is delicate enough to give you an education while you’re working it out. I highly doubt even the most inattentive coffee maker won’t be getting better and better as they engage more with the machine and figure out how the several variables work together to give off vastly different results. This makes it even more exciting to explore and look for different beans and brews from your favourite coffee shops, although DeLonghi have some great blends and single origin beans available as it is.

An overwhelming strength of the machine is just how clean and seamless it all is, from the tamp to maintenance, it’s all very simple and requires even less effort tan it does to make a coffee. Anyone who used a manual machine before would know that tamping can be rather messy, but as long as you’ve got a steady hand, you’re not going to get the same experience here.

Verdict & Value

So how much does possibly the best semi-automatic coffee machine on the market cost? It costs $1,999. That’s a lot to fork out for a kitchen appliance, although if money is little issue to you, this one makes all the sense in the world. It’s seamless, educational, smart and beautifully built to ensure you end up with not just the perfect coffee, but consistency unmatched.

FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Highlights: The best version of a semi-auto coffee machine you could think of; very clean and easy to maintain; everything has been considered and it all works in efficient harmony.
Lowlights: requires a lot of space; expensive.
Manufacturer: DeLonghi
Price: $1,999
Available: Now

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review and a freelance travel writer. You can reach him on Instagram by following @chrisdsingh.

Tags: