The De’Longhi PrimaDonna Soul is a very expensive fully automatic coffee machine, but it continues the brand’s very solid reputation of putting out class-leading devices designed for hard-to-please coffee enthusiasts.
Experimentation sits at the heart of the enormous $2,799 machine, which requires quite a bit of counter space and is perhaps a bit too large for smaller apartments. That cost is somewhat justified though.
Throug various features and user-friendliness, the PrimaDonna Soul actually makes you want to pursue that level of experimentation. With clever design, De’Longhi make it fun to explore the virtue of having multiple coffee beans and maximising them in a way that almost entirely eliminates the need to step into a coffee shop on your way to work. Almost.
A burly hunk of silver and black is given a little life with the PrimaDonna Soul’s smooth and eye-catching 4.3″ TFT touch display. Not only does this display seamlessly walk you through the painfully simple set-up process, but it packs in various settings, preset coffee modes, and is even smart enough to store several coffee profiles so various household members can access their favourites with a few simple touches.
It’s even Wi-Fi compatible, so coffee can be brewed remotely with the accompanying Coffee Link App. The app itself echoes just how flexible and adventurous De’Longhi have been with the machine’s smarts, worked up to a level that spans 21 one-touch recipes over 5 customisable user profiles. Through this, and the onboard touch controls, you can dial in and optimise a number of the machine’s precisely calibrated settings, all designed to make use of the key Bean Adapt Technology.
Bean Adapt Technology
Bean Adapt Technology is the key driver for the Soul and is the thing that takes the already well-established PrimeDonna line to the next level. De’Longhi has tapped various coffee scientists and extensive sensorial testing to develop the optimum settings for different bean and roast types. The machine considers more variables than any machine before it, creating this wider range which can then adapt to specific information fed to the machine by your input and coffee beans you choose to load into the 500g capacity bean hopper which sits on top.
Pretty much all you need to do is tell the machine, via the app, what type of beans are loaded and it decides how best to treat them so you get a barista-quality cup after a surprisingly quiet, and fast, automated process.
Grind level, dosage, temperature – all these variables are adjusted for a more precise extraction, which if anything will reiterate just how important it is to buy quality coffee beans and play around with provenance to find your exact taste. If anything, it’s a great way to constantly switch up your coffee preferences at home or in the office.
Features & Performance
Equipped with that Bean Adapt Technology, the Soul is easy to navigate and should only take a few hours to perfect. Perhaps the most impressive of all though is that, despite the ability to dial in exact parameters, the Soul still allows you to stay as close to the surface as you want. Scroll through and lazily select from the menu of cappuccino, flat white, latte, long black (etc.) and you can easily expect a well-made coffee with minimal input aside from just loading in the beans, making sure the water level is right, and ensuring that there’s some milk in the specialised carafe.
Speaking on milk. The LatteCrema carafe is just as smart as the machine itself. You’ve got a jug that automatically froths to your desired level and heats the milk so you won’t have to do it yourself. It’ll dispense the perfectly textured milk automatically, and rinse the spout when finished so all you need to do it detach and place it back in the fridge when done.
Value & Verdict
As good as the machine is, the PrimaDonna Soul is not a light investment. Fortunately for De’Longhi, Australia is full of time-poor coffee snobs who know exactly what they like and would pay good money to be able to re-create the barista experience outside of the coffee shop. That’s why expensive coffee machines always sell so well here, and it’s likely the PrimaDonna Soul is well-placed to continue that trend.
Still, you’re forking out almost $3,000 for an automated coffee machine. Fortunately it’s a good one, and if you really want to open up your coffee tastes to the huge variety of beans out there, this is an essential.
That being said, the Soul has been out for a few months now, and that price tag has been tempered by a few retailers. As of publish, JB Hi Fi are selling it for a much more reasonable $1,999.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Thoroughly impressive performance; considers multiple variables; reliably good coffee no matter what recipe you pick; easy set-up and use; user friendly app; milk frother works like a charm; easy to clean and maintain.
Lowlights: Ridiculously expensive.
Price: $2,799 (on sale right now)
Product supplied for review.