on April 23, 2007
I love espresso, and this little baby makes a great cup. Here are a few points that might be useful for you to know:
*It doesn't take up too much room on the counter and looks nice with it's silver metal accents.
*The water reservoir is a good size, you can make about 8-10 shots before you need to refill it, which is very easy to do, and there is a clear section behind the basket which shows the water level.
*Fast heat-up time (only about a minute), good frothing wand, no wait time between frothing and brewing (though you do have to wait a little between brewing and frothing).
*Frothing wand is only 3 1/4 inches from the counter top. Not a big deal, I just went and bought a frothing cup that is about that height.
*Distance from grounds basket to tray is only 2 1/2 inches, I usually use a small espresso cup.
*Built-in tamper sucks, buy a good metal one.
*You don't end up with a nice dry puck, the grounds basket is a watery soup after your espresso is made, so I dump it down the disposal.
*You will end up drinking more espresso than you mean to, it's that good!
Seriously, I chose this machine after a lot of online researching, and decided on this one based on its outstanding reviews and great price. What led me to it were the reviews of another DeLonghi, the EC140B, which is an older and less attractive model, but had reviews from people who had owned theirs for 6 and 10 years! I'm hoping that this one will have the same longevity.
-----> UPDATE: I've now had this machine for 8 months and it started running very slow. I'd been using only distilled water, so I knew it wasn't a calcification issue, so I looked into it and it turns out machines like this one (no backflushing) need to be cleaned every month or so to remove built up grounds that work their way inside the machine. So I ran some cleaner through it and all this nasty brownish liquid came out, and now it runs great again! So remember people, take good care of your things and they will take good care of you. A lesson I am still learning...
- and to answer a question commented on this review, my tamper is 2 inches in diameter.
on August 29, 2011
I am Italian, born and raised. Moved to US at 30 yrs old. Moved to an area where there's no Italian-American influence, no chance of going out for an espresso. Only Starbucks... no thanks. Thought I could go by without espresso for 6 years (what was I thinking??? I don't know). Then sudden espresso cravings made me buy this espresso machine. De Longhi is a very common brand in Italy for any type of home appliances. I've had this machine for 6 months now, using it every day. It's awesome. Like the espresso cup you'd get in Italy "al bar". It gives a thick layer of "crema" on top of each cup.
Here some answers to other reviewers' cons:
* somebody wrote the water was not coming out and returned the machine: you need to bang the water tank real hard in position, otherwise it doesn't connect. It happened to me first time using it... I thought machine was defective too because coffee was not coming out. My husband banged it in there and started working right away.
* ground basket is soupy: with espresso machines you have to fill the basket to its fullest, nothing like drip machines. You need to have coffee heaping out like an upside-down cone and then gently press it down with the tamper. Don't press too hard otherwise the water doesn't make it through.
* built-it tamper sucks: this puzzles me. A tamper is whatever flat surface you have handy. In Italy people don't use tampers, considered a fancy thing for coffee shops. People just uses the back of a spoon to tamper the coffee down. The spoon that comes with this machine is perfect for that by the way. You just need a flat round surface of same diameter to have a great tamper. The built-in one works great. You only need a minor pressure otherwise you compact coffee too much.
* takes long to heat up: maybe older version? Not sure about this. Mine is ready in one minute or less.
* no cup warmer: in the manual says the top metal part is the cup warmer. It is warm if you let it warm up. I personally live in warm climate so don't need cup warmer, plus the coffee comes out very hot. True that there's no railing so cups can fall off easily (done that...).
* frothing wand placement/length: I can't say much about it because I don't make cappuccino, I just drink straight espresso, black. One thing I'd say is that cappuccino in Italy is not what you know as cappuccino here, size wise. This may explain the wand dimensions. In Italy cappuccino is a single shot of espresso, with some frothed milk on top. When I say some, I mean really a little bit. The total output is less than one cup size for your cappuccino. That is very small. So when you need to heat up your milk, in theory you'd use a very small and short brick. If you'd see one of these you wouldn't believe it probably.
* bitter coffee: this is very important. Espresso is supposed to be a very sweet cup of coffee. I never got used to the drip coffee or store bought cup of coffee just because it's too bitter. Not used to it. The difference is in the roast and grind. You cannot use coffee you'd use in the drip machine for the espresso machine. For your first espresso, just buy Illy ground espresso coffee. I recommend the black label. Just try it and that is your standard to compare other coffee to. That is the sweet taste you should get. I also recommend to buy pre-ground coffee, because the grind for espresso requires a serious (expensive) burr grinder, professional level to obtain a fine and homogeneous coffee suitable for these type of machines.
To buy ground coffee, a cheaper option (cheaper than Illy) is Lavazza. I recommend "Crema e Gusto". This is the most commonly used brand in Italian families, that's all I drank in my family for instance. The "Crema e Gusto" variety gives a nice espresso.
I think I covered all the points I wanted. I will add if realize I forgot something worth mentioning :-)
Enjoy your coffee!
April 2015 Update: we have been using this machine daily since our purchase in 2011 and it hasn't had a single issue so far.
on January 1, 2008
First, a couple of disclaimers:
1. This is the first pump-driven espresso machine that we have owned.
2. We generally drink cafe Americano, which is an espresso with a little added hot water (or cold water with an iced Americano). We make an occasional cappuccino and have thus used the steam wand, but not extensively.
After doing a cost/benefit analysis in regards to our current cafe Americano habit (~10 per week), we realized that there would be some justification to buying a home unit. We first considered the Breville ESP8XL Cafe Roma Stainless Espresso Maker, but reviewers consistently lamented the unit's tendency to clog the filter, necessitating time-consuming cleaning. Also, not being completely sure that we would actually use the espresso maker, we balked at the $250 price tag.
We also considered moving up to one of the superautomatico machines that grind, tamp, brew and dispose of the grinds, but we worried about the reliability of technology that had only recently hit the consumer-grade appliances. After reading zillions of reviews, we realized that every mid-priced machine had some glaring flaw and, in the end, we decided to buy an inexpensive pump-driven unit and wait for the technology to catch up before investing a huge chunk of change in an espresso machine. Moving our investigation to low-end espresso makers, we were impressed by the reviews of the DeLonghi EC155 and purchased it from Amazon.
I put off writing a review in order to make sure that the DeLonghi was going to last until we had at least broken even on it. We received it in mid-July and since then it has produced about 200 double shots flawlessly. By my reckoning, that's about $400 worth of Americanos at the local cafe. Even considering the price of the coffee, we have more than broken even. So, here's our pros and cons:
- Price--we paid $91.28.
- Crema Production--this unit consistently produces a thick layer of delicious crema.
- Powerful Stream Wand--Easily froths milk.
- Mechanicals--After six months of nearly daily use this mighty-mite works as well as it did the day it arrived.
- Easy Cleanup--Filter cleans easily.
- Ergonomics--As other reviewers have noted, there could be a little more room between the area where the cup sits and the output nozzle. Also the steam wand could be longer.
- Features--No cup warmer. Not a big deal to us, especially considering the price of the EC155, but it will put off some buyers.
SOME THINGS WE HAVE LEARNED
- Using a coffee especially made for espresso, such as Lavazza, produces a much better espresso. Lavazza has the added benefit of allowing you to go for hours without blinking.
- Preheating the unit for 15 minutes and warming the cups in the microwave improves the results and experience.
on July 12, 2007
I really wanted to like this machine, I thought DeLonghi had given us an affordable pump-drive cappuccino maker. And it just isn't quite.
(n.b. I'm trying to get customer images up. If the technical difficulty goes away please refer to my customer images for visual reference.)
Things to like:
1. Pump drive! So much better than steam pressure machines. It works pretty well too.
2. The espresso comes out very good (though in small amounts, see below). All 3 proper layers are discernable, crema is especially satisfactory.
3. The removable tank is very handy. And large.
4. Price is right, I don't think there's a more affordable machine with such quality performance "guts".
These pluses are solid reasons to own this machine.
Why I am returning it:
1. The holder for espresso grounds is WAY too small. There are two of them and the bigger one is less than half the size of any standard equipment. Unless you only ever plan to pull 2oz at a time the espresso will come out weak. I usually pull 2-3 shots minimum and can't be bothered to pull, empty, and tamp for every 2 oz I want.
2. The frother is so low to the counter that even a small frothing pitcher won't fit under it. Boo.
3. The wand is so shallow that I cannot properly froth any decent amount of milk since the wand only goes down into the very top of the milk. Also boo. I can't make milk stretch with this gizmo and it's one of the reasons I picked this machine.
4. The only thing that fits under the espresso spout is a shot glass or espresso cup. 2 inches of clearance offers no flexibility for pulling into a mug or small pitcher. I could have lived with this if 1-3 were not already problems.
All of these issues, which I consider design flaws, could easily be corrected in a product redesign. The internal works are fine. A taller machine with a longer wand would fix all my problems. As is it takes too long to get coffee I don't want and there's always a clean-up mess.
I started with a super-cheap steam drive machine and upgraded to this one expecting an affordable way to take my coffee production to the next level. This machine should be great and instead it's just frustrating.
If you're only looking for a small shot in some modest foam and don't mind some hassle this is a fine machine. I regrettably will be looking for something else.
on February 11, 2012
I bought this machine because I love lattes and I was tired of paying Starbucks $3-4 a cup every day. I've never owned an espresso machine, I'm not a barista (just the opposite), and I'm usually challenged when it comes to everything kitchen & cooking related. That's why I ALMOST RETURNED THE MACHINE THINKING IT'S A BROKEN PIECE OF JUNK. The instructions that come with it are super confusing for someone who's never done espressos and milk frothing. I watched tens of YouTube videos, still unclear. People proudly show you the crema (foam) on their espresso shots and the milk foam, but don't explain how to make it.
Once you understand how to use it, this machine makes PERFECT espressos and lattes ALL THE TIME. I've used it for a month every day 1-2 times a day without any problems now. My lattes are better than Starbucks, always topped with thick layers of foam, always fresh. Here's what you need to do:
1) Turn on the machine to the wave position and leave it on for about 20 minutes -- it's A MUST. Unless the machine is warm enough, it won't work. The manual says you can use it as soon as the green light turns on. Well, the green turns on almost immediately but the machine is not really warm, which will make your espresso taste like drain water. So be patient!
2) Place a small coffee mug under the coffee basket (forget the shot glass). I use some of those cute European Ikea coffee mugs, they fit perfectly! Those of you trying to place huge cups under the machine, remember this is an espresso machine meant to produce tiny shots not super-sized coffee drinks.
Turn the knob to the cup/water drain position and wait for your espresso to pour into the cup. Now, here's the FIRST TRICKY PART: the green light might turn off now, which might may you think you need to stop the machine and wait for it to heat again. Well, don't! Just let the machine pour the quantity of espresso you want into the cup, then turn the knob back to the wave position.
If you only want espresso, you're done! If you want latte, keep reading!
3) Put milk into a milk frothing jug/cup, etc. I use a 12oz. stainless steel jug I got from Marshall's for $5, and fat-free or 1% milk. Pour only the quantity of milk required for one drink.
Turn the knob all the way to the left to the steam position and once again wait for the green light. Make sure the plastic tip on the steaming wand is tightly screw in, if it's loose the steam will escape on top of the wand rather than in your milk. When the green light is on, open the steam knob on top of the machine at least half way to full. At first, I thought that opening the steam knob a little is enough but that doesn't get you enough steam. You MUST open the knob close to full to get good steam. Dip the wand into the milk, but submerge only half of the plastic tip. Don't fully submerge the plastic tip or the metal wand in the milk. Now wait for your milk to froth and get warm regardless of the noises the machine makes, and regardless of whether the green light goes on and off. A lot of people tell you to submerge the wand -- it's a mistake. Others tell you to stop the frothing when the green goes off and continue when the green re-appears. Don't , don't, don't! Just forth the milk in one session till it's foamy and hot enough.
About the machine itself:
1) It's very small, but that to me is a plus (limited counter space).
2) You can only do 1 drink at a time. After the 20-min warming time, making one drinks takes about 2-3 minutes.
3) The steaming wand on the machine is indeed short, you can only fit a small 12 oz jug.
4) It rattles and shakes similarly to boiling water on a stove, it's noisy compared to a regular coffee maker that doesn't make any sound. But it's NOT extremely noisy.
What I like the most:
1) Price! with the sales rebate, I got this machine for $60! I still have to receive the rebate, but I trust I will.
2) You can use your own coffee (whatever type of coffee you want, freshly ground or otherwise), and your own fresh milk. I considered buying a Keurig or a Tassimo for the convenience of using latte and cappuccino pods, but I hated the thought of drinking all the sugar and chemicals and preservatives in those things. With this espresso machine, you work a little more for your latte, but it's fresher and way cheaper.
on March 24, 2007
I was always skeptical of expensive espresso machines and wondered why anyone would pay hundreds of dollars for an expensive machine. It turns out that the more expensive and quality machines are "pump-driven" rather than the typical "steam driven" found at your local Wally World and such. A pump driven machine will hit pressures 4-5 times greater than that of a steam driven machine and gets much better extraction from the espresso grinds (better flavor) and are the only machines capable of generating the "chrema" foam at the top of the espresso.
The DelLonghi EC155 is an excellent budget machine found for under $100 that is pump driven. I was happy with my old steam driven Delonghi, but once I received this I realized that I didn't even know what I was missing. This espresso is as good or better than anything you'll get in a nice Italian restaurant or at your local Charbucks. The chrema that this thing produced is flat out great (you'll get a nice 1/4 layer of tasty emulsified foam). The convenience of pulling a single shot is great too, and you really only need the machine to warm up a few minutes before you pull a shot.
The best feature about this machine in my humble opinion is that it is E.S.E certified (easy serve espresso). This means that you can pick up the ESE certified pods from Charbucks or a good online pod retailer and not have to go to the trouble of grinding and tamping. This is a HUGE feature that even some more expensive machines do not have and is what eventually sold me on this unit. Having grown accustomed to the convenience of pod coffee, it was only natural to look for the same thing in my espresso machine. Do note that coffee (senseo style) pods will not work in here as those are much larger than the ESE certified pod. Try a nice blend from Baronet or another find espresso brand and you won't be sorry.
I highly recommend this machine. In short, it has fantastic features for the money, makes awesome espresso chrema, and it ESE certified for pod use. You will definitely not do any better than this machine for under $100.
on January 4, 2013
This is one of the best purchases I've made in the last couple of months. As an admitted latte addict, the dough I'm saving by making my own coffee (versus paying five bucks plus at the local shop) will quickly pay for this machine, the grinder I had to buy, and the rest of the setup I've put together. I've posted a pic of my rig, which includes an Allsop Monitor stand, a Capresso grinder, etc. to the product page. The notes in the pic have links to the actual products. Hopefully, that will help some folks.
When I bought my unit a couple of months back, I wondered at the size of the frothing pitcher to buy. Please note that a 12 oz. size is perfect for a single large serving. Any larger and you'll struggle to get your pitcher under the machine and the frother-arm won't reach the milk.
on April 29, 2009
Having had this gem in my possession for a month now, I can give it highest marks for quality, performance and value. In reading the many other reviews that steered me to this unit, I think I might have a few solutions for common concerns.
1) Buy the Bodum cups, Terry's tamper and the Krupp's 20 oz short squat milk frother. You owe it to yourself to have some nice accoutrements and these will give you much bang-4-the-buck enjoyment with this unit. As you have gathered, the range of the nozzle and clearance of the cup space are compact; these items work perfectly with the EC155.
2) The coffee pods work well but are not the end-all be-all and I find grinding some French roast to a fine consistency (Mr. Coffee grinder) filling the "double" filter basket and tamping firmly provides a better cup of espresso.
3) I am currently using distilled water and do a flush run (basket with no coffee) once a week. Yes, some gunk will flush out.
4) I use the nozzle to pre-warm the Bodum cup as it shoots a bit of water when first activated. Once clear, I use the steam for cappuccino if desired.
5) I keep the Krupps frothing cup in the freezer and use Soy milk. I'm sure neither of these are essential but my wife is lactose intolerant. This works well for small quantities of foam and hot milk.
6) I pull a ~1.5oz shot with the crema being a ~1/2 inch in the cup.
Total time runs around 20 seconds (but who's counting)
6) Unlike other reports, I have yet to find a nasty puddle of grinds in the filter basket; a damp solid plug remains.
7) I may have a defective filter holder but when I use the thumb lever to hold the basket in place to dump the grings, a sharp piece of plastic is exposed. I plan to Dremmel grind this to avoid further cuts.
Well, there you have my review. I figure payback on a unit like this is 35 nice cups. I have 2 to go, never have to stand on line and the Bodum Pavina cups beat paper in function, form and style. While reviews of these cups suggest fragility, I have yet to ding one and wash them by hand. Don't imagine you'd want them near the microwave.
This is the fourth espresso machine I've owned since 1983 and by far, the best. The espresso consistently comes out dark, rich and very flavorful. I use a pinch of sugar and a twist of lemon peel to round out the flavors. My last Krupp's ran ~$200 and was problematic after a month of use. Reports here suggest these units have a reasonable life-span if cleaned and used correctly. Given the cost at gourmet coffee stands these days, I consider this both a luxury and an investment.
on March 18, 2012
So far I have been using this expresso/cappucino maker for past 2 weeks and I must say that I am impressed and have not been to Starbucks (5Bucks) since then.
Buy yourself a nice expresso or ground roast ... and save $4.00 everytime you make a cup ... after 20 some cups this machine will pay for itself.
The money you will be saving everyday going to Starbucks will compensate for high gas prices at the pump ;)
Absolutely love this unit here ... perfect cup every single time.
I have added a photo collage on how to make a cappucino
======= So its been over 10 months since I purchased this expresso maker =====
With over 550 cups made including for my friends, guest and family I must say this is one heck of a machine, I was not expecting this machine to last me this long. In my mind I had that as long as I get 200 cups out of it I got my money's worth.
So far I have cleaned this unit throughly with vinegar 3 times and there are no complaints. For most part I am using Lavazza Crema Gusto coffee ($3.49 on sale), filtered water and I use Deans Half and Half for cream. Excellent froth and crema every single time.
I ususally steam clean the stainless steel pod after using .. helps maintain the equipment.
Once you purchase this unit you will notice that your social life will improve, friends will stop often for a cup of coffee :) and for less than $0.35 cents a cup its the cheapest way to entertain your friends.
============ Over 3 years Now and still cranking cup after cup ==========
I must say I am impressed ... with over 2400+ cups of cappuccinos made and served to many family and friends I must say that I have gotten every single penny worth from this unit and then some.
My recipe for perfect cup:
Raw sugar - to your liking (1 teaspoon)
Deans Half & Half
Lavazza Crema e Gusto Expresso
on April 5, 2008
UPDATES FROM MY 2008 review:
I just ordered my second machine, so I am completely rewriting my review based on the life of the original machine and comparison with the machine I just received. Overall, this coffee maker did not stand up to the test of time as well as I would have liked. While these machines do wear out, based on my years of owning coffee machines, this one was shorter lived than any other that I have had, since this one was not used daily like my others were.
Due to the large inconsistency between the quality of brewed coffee between the first and second machines, this one will be my last from this particular manufacturer. The reason I ended up buying the same machine twice is the excellent quality of coffee that my old machine brewed. The difference in taste is noticeably poorer with the newer machine.
It is important to note that I can find no engineering improvements over the coffee maker I received in 2008 and the one I received in 2013 despite the need for some improvements.
* My machine lasted for approximately 1075 uses. Not very many uses if you plan on using this daily.
* The heating element burned out, which ended it's useful life.
PROBLEMS WITH BOTH MACHINES:
* The plastic steam wand still has no metal piece that has been countersunk into it making cleaning difficult. (see specifics below)
* It is very easy to cross thread the plastic piece when cleaning.
* I solved the problem by running the wand into clear water several times after each use to make sure the steam hole stays open rather than unscrewing.
* Both machines are messy when using your own coffee grounds rather than ESE pods. As the water gets pushed into the grounds, they splash up, making cleaning a bigger hassle than I would like. This can be completely solved by using pods.
PROBLEM WITH STEAMER:
* Due to condensation and the need for the wand itself to heat up, you will want to blow steam into an empty cup until it stops spitting out water before you attempt to heat up your milk, otherwise your coffee will be too weak. For a first use, you can easily blow 1/4 cup of water into a cup before the wand is adequately heated.
INCONSISTENCIES BETWEEN TWO MACHINES:
* My first machine made really hot expresso with a beautiful crema on top.
* The second machine does not get the coffee as hot, and there is little to no crema.
* My first coffee maker made much better coffee than my second, which tells me that they have some quality control issues.
ISSUES THAT OTHERS HAVE MENTIONED:
* Brewing Height- I have not found this to be a problem. The coffee maker will hold all standard expresso cups. You can also operate it without the metal grate. When the grate is removed, I have found that I can fit my standard size fine china cups. You will not be able to use coffee mugs.
* Steam Wand Height- I have not found this to be a problem. I can easily use an 8 oz. steaming cup with room to spare. For a large pitcher, you may need to raise the machine, but this coffee maker is really meant for individual servings rather than large groups of people.
SPECIFICS ON STEAM WAND
Steam wand problem- Here's one of the problems I've not read about, and it's a big one. After using the steam wand with milk you are supposed to unscrew the plastic piece and wash it. Makes sense right? Well, the threads on the inside of the plastic piece are plastic, not metal. That is a BIG problem. After washing it for the first time I cross threaded it even though I was being careful. It's easy to do because the wand's threads are metal and a lot sturdier than the plastic piece. DeLonghi should invest a penny and countersink metal threads into the plastic piece. This one inexpensive piece is definitely the weak link in this machine. Be very careful!