Updated: March 13th, 2021
This De’Longhi coffee machine is pretty high tech for the investment. It includes in the design a conical burr grinder as well as a milk frother. But what really make it seem cutting edge are the display screen and the way you can select different settings to brew your coffee to match your particular tastes.
Grinding coffee has never been easier
Among the things you can adjust for your brew are the grind fineness (13 settings), the amount of ground beans used (basically the shot’s strength), the size of the shot (from 90mm to 120mm), and the shot’s temperature. The grind is adjusted within the grinder but everything else is done via simple button presses. In truth, the symbols on the buttons aren’t all that intuitive but it isn’t overly complicated and the manual gives good instruction. Now that I’m used to them, I don’t even look at the pictures anymore. It also has a memory function for your favorite setup and you can even set it to begin brewing at a certain time everyday!
The display also shows you all sorts of diagnostic information such as when it is out of water and, surprisingly, when it needs descaling. The digital readout and control panel really takes this machine to another level. The ease with which I can brew custom cups of coffee takes the machine beyond the realm of luxury all the way to the border of the kingdom of need, for me at least. This is one of those items where now that I’ve tried it, there is no going back. With my ESAM 04.320, I can brew a variety of drinks.
It offers ‘long’ coffee option
Not only does the machine make excellent espresso with real crema but it can also handle Americanos that are much more than an over pulled shot of espresso. There are few similar machines that offer this ‘long’ coffee option and this helped to make my decision easier because my appetite for coffee grows seemingly every month. This machine’s versatility makes it hard not to try out every drink it is capable of producing.
Adjustable steam wand allows lattes and cappuccinos
This model comes equipped with an adjustable steam wand for café lattes, latte macchiatos, and cappuccinos. The adjustment is done with a simple slider that basically lets you choose to simply heat the milk or froth it up, which it succeeds at fairly well. You can also input the amount of coffee and water to further customize how the wand is operating for you. It would be nice if it had a little more movement but as long as you use the right cup you won’t have much issue. This wand is only one of the great aspects of the machine’s design.
Additional quarks of the machine are geared toward making setup, operation, and cleanup of the machine easier and less time consuming. When I bought mine initially, I followed the manual and ran five cups before I started brewing seriously. This was the only time it ever needed warming up. It only takes about a minute to reach brewing temperature and it only takes another minute for my beans to become espresso which is great for my rushed lifestyle. If you’d rather, you can use instant coffee but I really don’t see why you would ever do that when you have a bean to cup machine. The machine does require some maintenance but it is actually less than I expected of a coffee machine with so many moving parts.
It is a bit hard to clean though
When the machine brews coffee it does so smoothly, without making a mess, which is essential. The brewing unit is also completely removable so you can get it completely clean with relative ease. I can only find three aspects where cleanup time could be reduced. The first and least annoying is that the grounds sometimes miss the tray meant to catch them. I also have a hard time getting the steam wand completely clean. Lastly, the unit uses entirely too much water. To prime and rinse the system, the machine purges water that goes directly into the drip tray. For convenience sake, they should have made the drip tray (and arguably the water tank) much larger. For the environment’s sake they should have found different engineering solutions. Balance these points against the device’s capability to tell you when it needs more water, the drip tray emptied, descaling and decide for yourself how easy it will be for you to maintain.
Overall, it is an amazing bean-to-cup machine
De’Longhi’s ESAM 04.320 is my first ever bean to cup coffee machine and I really have a hard time understanding how I thought I was living a full life before. A bean to cup machine yields coffee with unrivaled freshness and aroma. I feel fortunate that the one I selected was this De’Longhi’s ‘long’ coffee model because I now drink much more coffee. It is just too easy to get a quality cup from my own kitchen worktop for me to resist firing it up three or four times a day! I wish I had started my coffee life with this machine and recommend it to just about anyone. If it lasts, it will probably go down as my best buy of all time. I certainly put it through its paces and I don’t see an end until it croaks. Be careful, this one forms habits!