DeLonghi La Specialista (EC9335M) Espresso Machine Review in 2020

DeLonghi La Specialista Review

Tired of tamping and grinding your coffee? DeLonghi La Specialista has a solution for you. This is a top-class espresso machine with higher versatility and tons of new features.

The first thing you’ll notice is the automated grinding and tamping. The grinding will start as soon as you lock the portafilter in. And once you’re done, you can pull the lever at the side to tamp the coffee.

Additionally, you can brew and steam your coffee all at the same time! The La Specialista (EC9335M) uses two separate heating units; one for the steam wand and one for the brew boiler. 

One thing you should be wary of is that La Specialista (EC9335M) is not recommended for use in cafes. You should put too much pressure on the machine, especially if you’re using hard water.

After reading all of this, you start to wonder: is La Specialista De’Longhi worth it? 

We’ve taken a closer look at the machine and compared it to two similar products. Have a read:

Pros

  • Uses a separate boiler for brewing and steaming.
  • Automates grinding and tamping.
  • Includes a grinder and bean hopper.
  • Includes a pressure gauge.
  • Can make Americanos, lattes, cappuccinos, and espressos.
  • Advanced Latte system.

Cons

  • Not compatible with ESE pods.
  • No integrated PID control.
De'Longhi La Specialista Espresso Machine with Sensor Grinder, Dual Heating System, Advanced Latte System & Hot Water Spout for Americano Coffee or Tea, Stainless Steel, EC9335M
  • Sensor grinding technology: Exclusive sensing technology delivers precise, consistent grinding and the optimal dose for espresso, every time. Plus, the bean sensor ensures you’ll never run out of beans while grinding.
  • The smart tamping station: Simply pull the lever to tamp the ground coffee with the right pressure for perfect results. There’s no need to remove the porta-filter, so you get to enjoy a mess-free experience.
  • Active temperature control with dual heating system: The best temperature stability for optimal coffee extraction and milk texturing. La Specialist is equipped with two independent heating systems. One thermoblock for extracting coffee and an independent heating system for steaming milk or frothing ensures immediate beverage preparation
  • Advanced latte system: Choose your style of froth: Micro-foam frothing for Latte Art or rich froth for cappuccino. Just place your cup under the spout and select flat or foam. Once it’s finished, you can enjoy your flat hot milk, or the perfect foam to express your latte art creativity.
  • 1 second quick start: Power the machine on, grind and tamp your dose, then immediately brew authentic espresso – no additional heat up time necessary. Thanks to a second heating system dedicated to the advanced latte system, you don’t have to wait to steam your milk, either. La Specialist is ready when you are.

Is A Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine What You’re Looking For?

You may have heard the word “semi-automatic espresso machine” quite often. But what does it really mean?

Semi-automatic espresso machines are the type that automates everything except the extraction pump. It means you get to control the amount of water that goes through the portafilter. This lets you control the saturation of the shot you want.

The other type is the super or fully automatic espresso machine. Here the machine controls the extraction and saturation. These fully automated machines also tamp, grind, and start the brewing process on their own. The only thing you’ll need to do here is steaming the milk.

If you want to save time to make a coffee shot, a fully automatic machine may suit you more. It will free up your hands and give you time to perform other tasks.

Similar espresso machines you might like

FeaturesDe’Longhi La SpecialistaDe’Longhi DedicaBreville BES870XL Barista Express
TasteRich and flavorful, no PID.Balanced and rich taste, no PID.Saturated taste, includes PID.
Brewing capacity67 single shots, 33 double shots.35 single shots, 17 double shots.67 single shots, 33 double shots.
User-friendlinessPressure gauge, knobs, pushbuttons.Knobs, push buttons.Pressure gauge, knobs, pushbuttons.
Design and materialsStainless steel, plastic.Stainless steel, plastic.Stainless steel, plastic.
Cleaning and maintenanceIncludes brush, descaling solution, and indicator.Does not include a descaling solution or indicator.Includes descaling tablets and indicators.
FrothingFully articulated, advanced control.Stainless steel Pannarello wand.Fully articulated, rubber handle.
GrindingAutomatic grinding and tamping.No grinderIncludes grinder.
Additional featuresAdvanced latte system, Active Temperature Control, Dual Boiler.Saves space, simple and easy to use.Auto shut-off, PID control, low-water indicator.
Value for moneyMeets the value.Meets the value.Meets the value.

DeLonghi La Specialista Review:

Taste:

DeLonghi La Specialista Taste
DeLonghi La Specialista Taste

La Specialista extracts your shot from every grain of espresso in the portafilter. It uses a special active temperature control technology that heats the brew and steam boiler separately. 

Each shot of espresso has a rich taste and saturated aroma. It uses a 19-bar pump to extract the flavor. The taste may be a bit metallic in the first few rounds. That is why it’s recommended to run a few cycles with just water.

Unfortunately, La Specialista does not feature PID control. Has this been featured, you would’ve been able to control the temperature precisely. If you don’t usually use PID control, then there’s no reason to dislike the Specialista.

The Breville Barista Express, however, does feature PID control. And it uses a carbon-reins filter in the water tank. It helps in extracting the best flavor out of your coffee grounds.

Similarly, the Dedica DeLonghi also produces rich and flavorful espresso shots. But just like La Specialista, it doesn’t feature PID control.

Brewing Capacity:

La Specialista Brewing
La Specialista Brewing

La Specialista is a great product meant for use in both homes and offices. It has a large tank capacity of 2 liters, which is approximately 67.63 fluid ounces. A typical espresso shot is 1 fluid ounce, and a double shot is 2 fluid ounces. So going by that conversion, you can make up to 67 single shots and 33 double shots of espresso.

What this means is that the reservoir won’t require refilling frequently. You can simply fill it once and it will last you weeks or even months depending on your drinking habits. 

Another thing to note here is that there are 3 different presets for Espresso, Coffee, and Americano. Additionally, there is a bean hopper that can hold up to 1.7 pounds of beans. It isn’t recommended for commercial use, though.

The same reservoir capacity is featured on the Breville Barista. It can make up to 67 single shots and 33 double shots. Moreover, the bean hopper can hold 0.5 pounds of beans. So you can see straight away that the hopper size is smaller.

What you’ll notice in the Dedica, however, is that it’s a smaller size espresso machine. The water reservoir can only hold 35 fluid ounces. It’s more oriented towards compactness and space-saving, so maybe we can let this one go. 

User-friendliness:

DeLonghi La Specialista User Friendliness
DeLonghi La Specialista User Friendliness

A good user-interface is what makes an espresso machine stand out. The control panel featured on the La Specialista offers both simplicity and full control. The first thing you’ll notice is the pressure gauge in the center, followed by the large bean hopper at the top. The interface mainly consists of buttons and dials.

There is a steam wand with two different modes: foam and flat (more on that later). You’ll also find a removable drip tray and a hot water dispenser for Americanos. La Specialista has three preset modes: Espresso, Coffee, and Americano.

What’s more? There’s a smart tamping station. Simply pull on the lever to the left, and the portafilter will be tamped automatically. Furthermore, the grinder will start immediately as you lock in the portafilter. 

The Breville Barista Express also features a pressure gauge and a dial interface. You get to choose the ground size and texture, a tamper holder and a hot water dispenser. There’s also a steam wand with a rubber-padded elbow and handle.

As for the Dedica, the main focus is on space-saving. The design is minimal, with just one knob on the right and three push buttons at the very top. There is no pressure gauge, bean hopper, or hot water dispenser.

Design and Materials:

DeLonghi La Specialista Design
DeLonghi La Specialista Design

La Specialista is an innovative creation that uses a full stainless steel body. The use of stainless steel is an excellent choice here. It’s resistant to rust, corrosion, and impact damage. And it can withstand high temperatures.

It’s been designed to appeal to even beginner baristas. The interface is simple, and you get both a pressure gauge and a bean hopper. The stainless steel steam wand has a rubber padded elbow with two choices of foam. And the drip tray and cup warmers are also made from stainless steel.

Unfortunately, due to the size of the large hopper, there is not much space for warming your cups. There’s space for a few, but not many. 

The Breville Barista Express is an exceptional case in that it uses stainless steel for just about everything. The brew group, boiler, even the portafilter are all made from steel. Only the bean hopper and drip tray are made from plastic.

As for the Dedica, it uses a plastic brew group along with a plastic drip tray. Plastic is not the best for the brew group, but it retains heat better. Everything else is made from commercial-grade stainless steel.  

Cleaning and Maintenance:

Now for the real deal. Is La Specialista easy to clean? 

With the right accessories, yes, it is. La Specialista is a great candidate for backflushing and descaling. It comes with a descaling solution as well as a small cleaning brush. The brush can be used to clean out dirt from crevices and between mating surfaces. 

It is a good thing as simply wiping down the unit won’t remove dirt from the nooks and crannies. The descaling solution means you don’t have to rely on third-party chemicals. And the best part is that there’s a whole pack of the solution, not just a few tablets.

Furthermore, since the housing and most parts are made from stainless steel, you can simply wipe the machine down. It may not be safe for the dishwasher. The water can get inside the machine pretty fast.

The Breville Barista Express is no exception. It’s easy to descale and backflush. You get two descaling tablets along with a rubber disc to keep the water inside the unit. You may need to run more cycles for backflushing.

Finally, the Dedica De’Longhi does not lag in terms of ease of cleaning. The unit is small and has lesser parts, which means cleanup is a breeze. 

Frothing:

La Specialista Frothing
La Specialista Frothing

La Specialista uses two separate heating coils: one for the brew group and one for the steam wand. In this way, you can brew your coffee while simultaneously having the steam wand ready.

As for the wand itself, it’s fully articulated, meaning that it can move in all four directions. What’s more? There is a rubber padded elbow to prevent burns and blisters. The rubber section is quite substantial, so you get enough space to hold the rod from.

Plus, there is a knob that lets you control the type of froth you want. Choose foam for latte art or Flat for cappuccinos. There is also a hot water dispenser for making Americanos and hot chocolate. 

The Breville Barista Express also uses a stainless steel fully articulated steam wand. The wand only has one hole at the top, so the steam is more concentrated. There is no flat or foam option, but you do get a rubber handle that is signature for most Breville models.

Just like that, the Dedica also makes use of a stainless steel Panarello wand. And what’s so special here is that the wand has a “Hot Milk” or “Cappuccino” option.

Grinding:

Delonghi La Specialista Grinder
Delonghi La Specialista Grinder

Now on to the grinding, the La Specialista is one of the few espresso machines that come with a grinder. It uses a sensor-based grinding technology that gives you the precise amount of grounds. You can control the texture and consistency of the grind from the hopper itself. 

Along with that, you also get a smart grinding station. The grinding will start automatically as soon as you place the portafilter in. So make sure to set your preferences before locking in the portafilter. After you’re done grinding, pull down the tamping lever at the left to tamp the portafilter smartly.

More so, there is a sensor in the bean hopper that detects the bean level. The unit will inform you when you’re about to run out of beans. It’s a fool-proof way to make grinding quicker and easier.

You get an in-built grinder with the Breville Barista Express as well. But the process is not automated. And the tamping isn’t automatic either, although there is a station to hold the tamper. A knob lets you control the grind amount.

The De’Longhi Dedica, unfortunately, does not include a grinder. You will need a separate grinder for it. But good news: it’s compatible with both ESE pods and ground coffee. So you can operate it without a grinder too.

Additional Features:

Perhaps the most significant and useful feature of the La Specialista is the quick and easy startup. It only takes one second to power on the machine. And grinding and tamping are fully automated. 

La Specialista makes use of its Active Temperature Control technology. Through this, you get to control the temperature more precisely. It’s still not PID programmable, but the added temperature control is a good feature to have.

Moreover, La Specialista has an Advanced Latte System that allows you to choose the type of foam you want. There’s a lot of special attention given to the steam wand.

Moving towards the Barista Express, this machine uses a powerful 15-bar pump that extracts the best flavor from your coffee. It uses a unique thermocoil heating system that allows for better temperature stability.

As for the De’Longhi Dedica, its most prominent feature is its size. This small espresso machine has a height of 1 foot and only takes up 6 square feet of space. It only weighs 9.3 lbs. and is lighter when carrying around.

Value for Money:

Finally, we delve deep into the main question: should you buy the De’Longhi La Specialista? Is it worth your money? 

Let’s take a look at the features one by one.

First of all, La Specialista uses some unique technologies not found in any other machine. The automatic grinding and smart tamping are just one of such technologies. Then you have to consider the premium quality design and the control panel. Only a handful of espresso machines feature a pressure gauge.

Apart from that, there’s a smart sensor-based grinding system. And you also get an Advanced Latte technology. Moreover, La Specialista uses two separate boilers for the steaming and the brewing unit.

When you put all of these together, it becomes evident that La Specialista is definitely worth the price.

The Breville Barista Express has a similar price but doesn’t feature these technologies. It does have a separate boiler for the steaming and brewing units. And you have to consider the fact that there’s a grinder built-in as well. So for those reasons, the price is more or less justified.

Similarly, the De’Longhi Dedica is also justified for the price. It doesn’t include a grinder or any special technologies, which makes it perfect for lower-end espresso machines. It still retains the quality found in other DeLonghi models.

Who Should Buy The DeLonghi La Specialista?

La Specialista is a highly sophisticated espresso machine. We recommend it for use in offices and homes. If you’re very picky about the taste and texture of your coffee, then go for the La Specialista.

It’s quite versatile too. You can make lattes, cappuccinos, espressos, and even Americanos on this. You should also buy it if you’re looking for an espresso machine with a grinder built-in. 

If you already have a grinder, this is still a good choice due to the automated grinding feature.

Who Shouldn’t Buy The La Specialista DeLonghi?

You shouldn’t buy the De’Longhi La Specialista if you don’t want the added grinder. Also, if you’re the type of person that likes programmability, then this isn’t for you. 

It is a highly sophisticated product that may deter beginners. So it’s not recommended if you’re new to coffee making. An entry-level espresso machine with fewer features and a smaller price would be a better consideration.

Finally, if you’re the type of person who uses ESE pods, don’t buy the La Specialista. It’s only compatible with ground coffee and beans.

Pros

  • Uses a separate boiler for brewing and steaming.
  • Automates grinding and tamping.
  • Includes a grinder and bean hopper.
  • Includes a pressure gauge.
  • Can make Americanos, lattes, cappuccinos, and espressos.
  • Advanced Latte system.

Cons

  • Not compatible with ESE pods.
  • No integrated PID control.

FAQs for De’Longhi La Specialista 

Will a 4-inch mug fit in La Specialista?

Yes. The De’Longhi has enough space for shot cups as well as standard 3-4 inch mugs. There is plenty of space underneath the brew group. It even comes with a type of platform to hoist up smaller cups.

Is this unit ESE compatible?

Unfortunately not. The De’Longhi La Specialista is only meant for use with a single cup filter or a double cup filter. When you use an ESE pod, the water will just go around the pod instead of through it. You can use pre-ground coffee, however. Or you can grind your coffee.

How often do I need to descale the machine?

For most espresso machines, it’s recommended to descale every 3-4 months. What’s so great about the La Specialista is that it has a “Clean Me” light. When the light is on, you know that your unit needs descaling. 
You can also use the included test strip to check the hardness of the water. The harder your water, the more frequently the machine will need decalcification.

Conclusion:

DeLonghi’s La Specialista is a landmark in home-use espresso machines. This machine has it all, from two boilers to smart grinding and even an advanced latte system. 

It has a high level of automation that most espresso machines don’t have. And you get a handful of accessories to complement your new machine.

That’s it for the La Specialista review.