Updated: March 13th, 2021
I purchased my ‘Magnifica’ a year and a half ago and haven’t looked back. I had been poking about in the bean to cup market for about a year waiting for my pokey old coffee maker to call it quits. I mucked about with instant coffee for about two weeks before I decided on this wonderful machine.
This is an all-round coffee machine
After getting the manual prescribed first few cups out of the way, I began to try what I was brewing and soon realized that this machine was going to make me a much pickier coffee critic. I highly recommend reading the entire manual for it will help you figure out how you should set the machine for your tastes as well as reveal a few hard to discover quarks. In the end though, finding your best cup will come down to your willingness to experiment and gain experience. The burr grinder itself has 13 different coarseness settings and you shouldn’t shy away from adjusting it whenever you, for example, change beans. You can also regulate the amount of beans to be used as well as the amount of water that passes through it. You can even adjust temperature. All characteristics are determined by knobs right on the front panel. Probably too enthused when I first received it as a gift, I would brew cup after cup just to see what I could whip up. Now I brew cup after cup because I can’t get enough.
Make the most of the steam wand
All of that practice has paid off because I am now a successful cappuccino serving host. Similar to learning the techniques involved in making coffee with the machine, practice is required to become a competent steamer of milk. It is important to do some research into different methods and shortcuts if you want to make the most of the steam wand. Now that my skills are on par with it, my machine is seemingly always on because I can make what I want too quickly not to use it.
Dispense espresso in just a minute
My machine consistently reaches brewing temperature in under two minutes which is the best advantage of the thermoblock system. It then dispenses one or two cups of espresso in under a minute, including time taken to grind the beans. Straight from the grinder into the brew head: this is why this type of machine makes superior coffee. It is also much faster and less messy than using a separate grinder to make your coffee. Though the bean hopper only holds 200 grams, this actually helps to ensure that your cup is made from fresh beans. A dual boiler system would allow you to immediately use the steam wand after you have your espresso but this machine actually reaches the extra degrees required in 40 second or less anyway. About the only slow aspect of making drinks on this machine is if you want to then jump back down to espresso temperature. You can reduce this time, however, if you know to run hot water from the steaming wand to cool the system. In addition to the 4200’s drink making efficiency, all of the regular maintenance of this machine is set up in a straightforward manner.
Self cleaning function that makes your life easier
The first and best thing I will mention is that the water container loads from the front! This is infinitely more convenient than moving the thing around to get to the back. I actually just pull it out part way and fill it from a pitcher instead of bringing it to the tap. At 1.8L, the tank could be a bit bigger, but then the design would be undoubtedly less compact. Next, the tray that catches the used grounds is quick and easy to remove and dump. It too, is a little small, but it catches the majority of what it is supposed to and the compartment it sits in is easy to wipe out once the tray is removed. The drip tray has a water level indicator to let you know when to clean it out. Maybe this could be a little larger as well, because the 4200 uses quite a lot of water. But dumping a drip tray is no difficult feat. Finally, the machine is equipped with both a self cleaning and descaling function which only increases the machine’s hygiene and life span.
In purchasing a bean to cup machine, the determining factor for me was whether I could get a quality result from my effort and this buy delivers on that beautifully. To be fair though, I should note that this machine is no pretty lady but rather a clearly plastic appliance that will need a permanent place on your worktop. For me, it’s a workhorse so that is a non issue but being a workhorse it is running quite a lot and it does make a fair amount of noise. It goes in the kitchen, so I suppose it fits in well enough but depending on your living situation one might want to consider this.
My De’Longhi ESAM 4200 will likely go down as one of my all time favorite purchases. I get a ton of use out of it and it is delightful to operate. I feel myself getting better with it every single week. While I still do not consider myself a professional, the machine has helped me to become proficient at recognizing more nuances of brewing coffee and making coffee drinks. About the only aspect of the process you cannot adjust is the tamping of the coffee puck but I am content letting the machine handle that for now. It brews quickly and produces lovely crema. I recommend this model to anyone who has a budding love for quality coffee and wants to save money. This machine can handle a lot for the price tag.