Once you start adding up the cost of a daily Starbucks, you may well find yourself eyeing up a suitable home espresso machine instead.
There’s an upfront cost, of course, but it doesn’t take long at all to break even on an entry-level machine. Pick one with a good reputation for durability and it won’t be all that long before you’re saving money.
In my Delonghi Dedica EC680M review, I’m taking a close look at an espresso machine that’s proved very popular in recent years.
(Head back to my massive home coffee brewing guide when you’re done for more help with this side of kitchen life!)
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Buying an Espresso Machine
Home espresso machines are designed to deliver a top-notch espresso experience in your own kitchen.
It’s fair to say that the most advanced machines cost a pretty penny, but there are plenty of options even if you’re on a tighter budget.
Unless you’re a really dedicated coffee lover, most people will be more than satisfied with one of the many machines that sit at the lower end of the market.
A machine like the Delonghi Dedica is very well suited to those of you who have limited kitchen space. You want a great espresso from a trusted brand, and don’t need to serve up dozens of cups throughout the day.
Before picking this – or any other – espresso machine, there are some purchasing considerations to think about.
If you want to use pre-ground coffee, I don’t know of a single espresso machine that can’t accommodate you!
Certain machines are also compatible with the kind of coffee pods you might be familiar with if you’ve used a Keurig or Nespresso machine in the past.
If you want to get maximum flavor out of your espresso, you’ll want to buy whole beans. The moment you smash a bean open, so much of its potential vanishes.
You’ll have to grind them yourself though, so you’ll either need a machine with a built-in grinder, or be prepared to pick one up as a separate accessory.
The Water Tank
The water reservoir is one of the bulkier components of any coffee maker. Compact machines tend to have smaller water tanks as a result.
If you don’t want a machine that hogs the whole countertop, you’ll need to make a concession in terms of how often you’ll need to fill it.
If you want to make lattes and cappuccinos as well as regular espresso shots, you’ll want a machine with a steam wand built in.
This will allow you to froth the milk up to just the right texture and consistency before adding it to the shot.
Like bean grinders, these aren’t included with every machine. If you’re never going to need it though, don’t spend the money on a machine that includes one.
If the machine you like doesn’t have a frother, you can always buy one separately if you want one later on down the line.
How much control do you really want over the brewing process?
If you want to be able to tweak every step of the brew, from temperature control to the frothy finish, you’ll need a machine that lets you do so.
These sorts of machines tend to be quite expensive. Equally pricey are those machines that take care of literally everything for you!
A machine like the Dedica sits somewhere in the middle, offering a little bit of control with the same convenience of a simple machine.
Size & Design
Some espresso makers at the cheaper end of the spectrum are quite “plastic-y”.
Far more stylish stainless steel machines are available, although they tend to be a little pricier.
Still, these metal makers tend to last much longer, and so it can be a false economy to focus too much on the price.
As for size, you should first make sure the machine will fit in your desired kitchen location. You’ll also need to be able to detach the water tank easily for refilling.
Delonghi Dedica Overview
Delonghi’s Dedica is designed to produce barista-quality espresso in your home, with only the minimum of effort on your part.
The Dedica isn’t enormously difficult to use by a long shot. There are some elements – particularly the frothing – which you’ll need to get on top of if you’re making things like lattes and cappuccinos.
If that makes you nervous, you might consider something like the Mr Coffee Cafe Barista. It makes good espresso and also handles the milk function for you.
Who will like the Dedica?
If you need a super compact espresso machine then Delonghi’s Dedica is one of the best options on the market.
If you only have one or two coffee drinkers in your household, it’ll do a great job of keeping you both fueled with high quality espresso.
Although it doesn’t have the most advanced steaming wand, it produces an acceptable froth if you like to dip into lattes and cappuccinos from time to time.
Who’s it NOT for?
If you don’t own a dedicated grinder, then you won’t be able to use whole beans with the Dedica.
You’ll always get the best results by grinding at home, as the freshness has a big impact on the coffee’s flavor and aroma.
If you have a whole family of coffee drinkers, you’ll also find the water reservoir on the Dedica to be quite limiting. It really depends on how happy you’ll be to keep filling the thing up.
This is a machine built around convenience. If you’re an experienced home barista, you won’t have access to the kind of fine control you’ll want for tweaking your espresso to perfection.
- An usually compact espresso machine: 5.9” (W) x 13” (D) x 12” (H). Suitable for even the smallest kitchen spaces!
- High quality espresso from a machine at this end of the market. Operates at 15 bar extraction pressure, which is well above the minimum performance level.
- A well-built, durable espresso machine that’s also elegantly designed and looks smart in any kitchen.
- Water heats up very quickly. You can get a brew going within a minute.
- Auto shut-off feature means you don’t have to worry about the machine heating up constantly in the background.
- Water level indicator is very clear, and you’ll know when the Dedica’s water tank needs topping up.
- Typically more expensive than other espresso machines at this performance level.
- The water reservoir is a little on the small side, so it’s only really practical for a household of one or two espresso drinkers.
- The milk frother is adequate but not exceptional. If you’re making a lot of milk-based drinks you might consider getting a separate standalone frother.
- If you want to use fresh whole beans, you’ll need to pick up a separate grinder too.
- The plastic tamper included with the machine isn’t great. You’ll find it hard to put the right amount of pressure on the puck.
Features of the Delonghi Dedica
In this next section I’m going to review some of the key features of the Dedica:
As a bare minimum you want the espresso extraction to take place with 9 bars of pressure. That ensures the flavor is properly extracted.
Like other Delonghi espresso machines the Dedica actually operates at 15 bar. Not many other entry-level machines come close to this kind of performance.
In terms of brewing options you can use either pre-ground coffee or ESE-compatible coffee pods.
What you can’t use is fresh, whole coffee beans. If you want to go down this route, you’ll need to buy a good quality burr grinder to go with the Dedica.
In terms of heating up time, the Dedica’s an impressive piece of kit.
The machine makes use of something called a thermoblock heater. This draws water from the tank as it’s needed into a heating coil, which dramatically reduces the overall heating time.
It’s worth mentioning that the machine is a little noisy at times, but that’s not a problem unique to the Dedica. It’s simply part and parcel of owning a machine like this.
Overall I would say the Dedica’s espresso output is excellent while not extraordinary. I think most coffee drinkers will be perfectly happy with the results.
The Dedica has a basic but effective built-in steam wand. This allows you to make milky espresso drinks like lattes and cappuccinos.
Although it’s quite a simple wand, you will need to practise a little until you’ve got the hang of things.
Still, once you’ve mastered this side of the machine, you’ll be able to enjoy a pretty rich cream on your espresso.
Unlike higher end machines though, the Dedica isn’t supplied with a frothing jug. That means you’ll need to pick one up as an additional accessory.
I’ve already talked about how much I like the look of the Dedica, and it’s definitely a cut above the rest at this end of the market.
It’s about as compact as you could hope for, and there are a few extra design features I really like.
For a start, there’s a built-in passive cup warmer section on the top of the machine. Pop your espresso cups up here and they’ll be nicely warmed by the boiler.
All of the elements of the machine feel very sturdy too, from the chassis to the heft of the portafilter.
Apart from the plastic tamper, everything feels extremely durable and professional.
Given this is such a compact machine, it was a clever thought for Delonghi to include rubber pads on the bottom of the machine.
That stops it moving around when you’re inserting and pulling out the portafilter.
The water tank on the Dedica isn’t the largest at XX oz. If it was any bigger though, you’d have to compromise on the machine’s main selling point ie its size.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this review, this won’t be a problem if you’ve only a couple of coffee drinkers in your household.
Just be careful when you’re putting the tank back in after a refill. If it’s not seated correctly, the machine will either leak a little, or brew without properly drawing the water!
It’s a little disappointing that a stainless steel milk frother isn’t included with the Dedica. If you don’t already have one in your kitchen, you’ll want to pick one up for lattes and cappuccinos.
The plastic tamper that comes with the machine is also not very effective. It’s hard to apply the right amount of pressure with it, so I’d recommend grabbing Delonghi’s inexpensive stainless steel tamper.
I think the milk frothing is perfectly fine with the built-in steam wand. If you want a really high quality milk finish though, you might want to look into buying a separate accessory.
Honestly though, I think for the average home coffee drinker the results from the Dedica are perfectly fine.
The Dedica’s a really good espresso machine at this level, but there are some other models you might want to look at before settling on it.
I’m not sure the quality of the espresso from the Cafe Barista is quite as good as the Dedica, but this is a great option for super-easy brewing. You can read my Mr Coffee Cafe Barista review if you want to find out more.
This machine takes away all of the guess work, and will automatically whip up a frothy cappuccino or a creamy latte.
The milk tank pops out for refrigerator storage too, which is great for avoiding waste.
It’s a bigger machine overall, and not quite as fancy-looking, but it’s very popular for very good reasons!
Although not a household name, Calphalon’s equivalent espresso machine has picked up a lot of positive reviews over the years.
Again, this is a much bigger machine overall but the espresso extracts at the same 15 bar pressure of the Dedica and the results are excellent.
It’s not as elegant as the Dedica, but you get very high quality accessories out of the box. That includes a stainless steel tamper and a very sturdy milk frothing jug.
It’s extremely simple to use via the single control dial, and the water reservoir’s bigger at 70oz as well. If you’ve a large household of coffee drinkers, it’s a worthy alternative.
I’m really impressed with the Dedica. The espresso extraction is excellent for a machine at this price point, and it’s great to be able to have this kind of machine in even the smallest kitchen.
I’d like to have seen a few more accessories out of the box, but you’ll have to weigh up how important they are for you.
There’s a small learning curve to overcome, but I don’t think it will take you long to get on top of things!
Overall it’s a very versatile machine, and if you have a small household of coffee drinkers I think you’ll be impressed.
Click here to find out more about the Delonghi Dedica, and see what other people make of this espresso machine.