When I first got into home espresso brewing I was as confused as anyone else! The terminology is extensive and there are more features than anyone can expect to wrap their head around.
There’s the cost to consider as well, with the best machines costing thousands.
If you’re just keen to get a better brew in your morning though, DeLonghi has a machine called the EC155 that’s stood the test of time for more than 15 years.
It’s not without its limitations, but I think it’s proved itself to be a dependable, entry level classic for good reasons.
(If you want to explore more of my coffee content when you’re done here, take a look at the home brewing guide I have on the site.)
Buying an Espresso Machine
Machines like the De’Longhi EC155 15 Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker are tailor-made for those of you who want to move on from standard drip or French Press coffee.
You’ll be someone who wants an improved coffee drinking experience at home, but doesn’t have the time or desire to learn how to become an amateur barista!
These machines also typically include a steaming/frothing wand. These help you whip up the kind of froth you’ll need for lattes and cappuccinos.
Even at this more primitive end of the espresso market, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Keep the following in mind when you’re shopping around:
Do you live alone, or do you have a number of people in your household who’ll want a steady stream of espresso shots?
Some espresso machines take a lot longer to heat up than others. That’s not just for the initial set-up either.
If you’re making milky drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, the temperature will have to adjust from brewing to steaming.
The best machines in this category have dual boilers, maintaining the optimal temperature for both tasks.
That reduces the overall preparation time significantly, but comes at a higher cost.
You won’t need to worry about this if you’re only making occasional drinks throughout the day.
It’s a really important consideration with these machines though.
As with so many home appliances, you get what you pay for when it comes to espresso machines.
That doesn’t just affect the brewing features and espresso quality though.
The cheaper a machine is, the less time it will typically last before you have to replace or upgrade it.
With that said, DeLonghi has a very good reputation for build quality.
If you take a little time to care for the machine – cleaning and unclogging as needed – that durability will go even further in the long run.
How far do you want to be able to go in terms of fine control over the brewing process?
If you’re just looking for a fire and forget machine, there’s no point in paying for features you’ll never use.
On the flip side, if you decide you want to start spreading your barista wings a little more down the line, you’ll need to upgrade earlier than you might have liked.
This is a decision you can only really make for yourself.
This, of course, is the most important part of the equation. How good do you need the espresso to be?
The average coffee drinker will be well-served by the espresso quality produced by any of the most popular machines.
True connoisseurs will be able to spot the difference between espresso made by a cheaper machine, and that from a more advanced one.
As a bare minimum, you want a machine that produces at least 8 bars of pressure during extraction. I’ll explain why that matters so much when I look at this particular part of the EC155’s design
About the DeLonghi EC155
The DeLonghi espresso cappuccino maker has been around for over a decade at the time of writing.
During that time DeLonghi has tweaked and refined the machine for performance and durability. It’s become a hugely popular budget option for home espresso making.
DeLonghi positions the EC155 as making good quality espresso, with options for lattes and cappuccinos, at a truly entry-level price point.
If you’re looking for a machine that just about ticks the quality boxes, doesn’t take up much space, and won’t break the bank, it’s a very dependable option.
If you’ve a lot of espresso drinkers in your household though, you might struggle with the time it takes to heat up between drinks.
The machine heats up from a cold start in around a minute, but you can wait around 15 minutes to get another drink at the same high initial temperature.
- A compact machine that won’t clutter up even the smallest kitchens.
- Budget-friendly, and one of the most popular entry-level machines of its kind.
- Options to make good espresso based drinks such as cappuccinos and lattes.
- An extremely dependable espresso machine that’s stood the test of time.
- Cup warming design helps maintain the machine’s relatively low sustained temperatures.
- 15 bars of pressure, which is essential for good espresso. Very few machines at this end of the market come close to this standard.
- Lacks the temperature and oomph to make truly exceptional espresso.
- Results from light and medium-roast beans are more underwhelming than dark roast.
- Relatively slow if you’re pulling shots one after another.
- You don’t have any options to tweak the drink beyond adding the froth!
- It’s compact, but I don’t think it’s the most elegantly designed coffee maker on the market.
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Features of the EC155
That’s a very broad snapshot of what you can expect from the EC155, and who it’s suitable for.
In this next seciton of my De’Longhi EC155 review, I want to drill down much deeper into the fine detail.
As I mentioned a little further up the page, the pressure of your espresso machine makes a massive difference to the quality of the final drink.
The more pressure that’s applied to the coffee, the more flavorful the extraction will be.
The EC155 operates at 15 bar pressure, which is quite extraordinary for a machine at this end of the market. I’m not aware of any another machine that comes close to this power.
It is still a basic machine at the end of the day, so you’re not going to get the same results as you would from a high-end machine. Still, it’s pretty impressive stuff!
I would describe the espresso from this machine as more than acceptable for the investment you’re making.
Although I always recommend using freshly ground coffee wherever possible, it’s worth noting as well that the EC155 is compatible with ESE pods. That’s handy when you’re really in a rush in the morning!
A final note on ground coffee, however. There’s no built-in grinder here so you’ll need to either buy one separately or stick to pre-ground.
When you’re pulling small espresso shots, you obviously don’t have to worry quite so much about the capacity of the water reservoir.
In the case of the EC155, you’ve got a maximum capacity of 35 oz. That’s enough to make up to a dozen espresso shots.
Swivel Jet Frother
The EC155 features something called a Swivel Jet Frother.
This is the little wand you use to whip up a batch of froth to turn your espresso shot into a cappuccino or a latte.
I think the frother does a good enough job overall, and in much the same way the EC155 produces a good enough espresso shot.
Although you’re going to struggle to develop your latte-art skills with this thing, it’s perfectly adequate for the typical home user.
To use it, all you have to do is twist the control dial to the frothing function, then dip the tip of the wand just below the milk. Now just pour over your espresso shot.
You need a different temperature for pulling shots and frothing milk though. To manage this, the EC155 includes two thermostats for adjusting the temperature for each function.
That does mean you have to wait a little while between both steps. If you’re making lots of milky drinks one after another, you might find the machine to be rather limited in this regard.
Beyond that, my only real gripe with the frother is that I think it could be a little longer. It can also be a little bit messy to use, so have a cloth on hand for mopping up afterwards.
Controls & Ease of Use
As an entry-level machine the EC155 operates in a very simple fashion.
It’s a self-priming machine, which means all you have to do is switch it on and then wait for a light to confirm the machine has heated up and is ready to brew.
Apart from that button press, you control all elements of the machine with a single dial located on the front of the EC155.
Design & Build
The boiler, and all elements that come into contact with the espresso, are made of stainless steel.
Every other part is made of plastic though. That’s to be expected with a machine at this end of the market though, and helps keep the costs down.
Despite these materials, this is a machine that has been tweaked and refined over many years. It feels pretty sturdy too, and I would expect to get at least a few years’ service from it.
I don’t think it’s got much going for it in the looks department, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder! Think about where you’re going to locate the machine in your kitchen.
Cleaning & Maintenance
The EC155 doesn’t require much work at all in terms of cleaning and maintenance.
Both the reservoir and the drip tray are easy to remove for cleaning. Even better, you can put both of them through the dishwasher for those times when you really want to get them back to mint condition.
I think the portafilter’s pretty easy to clean ou toot, which is important because you don’t want old coffee building up in there and ruining future drinks.
Finally, the machine has a cleaning alert built into it. This lets you know when you need to descale the EC155.
It’s really important you respond to this when you see it. Mineral build-up in the machine won’t just ruin the espresso flavor over time, it’ll also damage the machine too.
A final note on the steam wand. Make sure you “purge” it after each use by giving it a quick blast when you’re done frothing your milk. That will stop it getting gunked up, and it’s a good habit to get into (it’s fun to play at being a barista too!)
As popular as the EC155 has become over the years, there are a few alternatives I recommend you look at as well.
Mr Coffee has carved out a pretty good reputation for itself in recent years.
The Cafe Barista is a bulkier machine, but does an excellent job of churning out lattes and cappuccinos. It pulls shots at the same 15 bar pressure as the EC155 too.
It’s about as simple to use as the EC155, and has a dedicated milk reservoir which snaps out easily for storage in the refrigerator.
I’ve reviewed the Cafe Barista elsewhere on Viva Flavor. Have a look that article if you’d like to read a deeper dive on this option.
DeLonghi’s ECP3120 is very similar to the EC155 but makes better milk froth in my opinion.
I also think it’s a much smarter design, so if you’re worried about how the EC155 will look in your kitchen, definitely consider this one instead.
The brewing functionality is much the same, with 15 bar pressure and options to whip up a froth for milkier drinks.
You can buy the Essenza Mini without an Aeroccino, but you’re limited to espresso shots only if you go down this route.
Although it’s more of a premium product, this thing makes incredible espresso. It’s also quite a bit faster than either of the DeLonghi machines I’ve mentioned in this review.
Just keep in mind that this is a pod-based machine, so you’ll be stuck with the Nespresso range.
The good news on that front is that I find Nespresso pods to be far superior to Keurig’s, for example. You’re going to get a mean espresso out of this thing, in a very convenient manner.
Have a look at my Nespresso Essenza Mini review if you want to learn more about the machine.
If you can accept the inevitable limitations of any entry-level espresso machine, I think the DeLonghi EC155 is a very good choice.
If you’re only making the occasional latte or cappuccino, it does exactly what you need it to. I can see why this one has proved so popular over the years!
It might not have the fine brewing controls of more advanced machines, but I think focusing on that would be to miss the point.
This is an extremely convenient, entry-level espresso maker. It brews better than most at this end of the market too.
Click here to learn more about the DeLonghi EC155, and find out how its many owners have been getting on.