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The world of espresso-making can be quite intimidating for the new coffee enthusiast.
Fortunately, there’s a really good selection of machines out there that take all the production pain away. The best bit? They do so without compromising on the quality of the drink.
Our DeLonghi EC702 review takes a detailed look at a very popular machine of its type. It’s designed from the ground up to produce barista-quality espresso without you breaking a sweat!
What to look for
The whole purpose of these machines is to deliver great coffee without too much involvement on your part.
If you’re looking to buy an espresso machine like the EC702 though, there a few things to consider first:
Simplicity: Are the controls easy to use and see? You want to buy an espresso machine that keeps things as simple as possible, and gives clear indications for each step of the brewing process.
Brew Quality: It goes without saying, but make sure you pick a machine that doesn’t compromise on the quality of the espresso. It shouldn’t produce weak coffee, just because it’s aimed at beginners.
Reservoir: You’re looking for a water reservoir that’s large enough to meet your consumption needs. It also needs to be discrete enough that the whole machine doesn’t dominate your kitchen. Make sure that it’s easy to remove as well.
Frothing: If you’re going to make a lot of lattes or cappuccinos, you need to make sure the machine includes a good frother. Some provide plenty of control but have a higher skill ceiling to use. Others are automatic, which makes them simpler to use but you have less input on the texture of the foam.
Noise: By their nature, espresso machines can make quite a bit of noise. If you’re working in an office environment (or you have a very young family like I do), a quieter machine will be preferable.
The De’Longhi EC702
The DeLonghi EC702 15 Bar Pump Espresso Maker is designed for people who have very little experience of coffee brewing, but still want a high-quality espresso.
You get really good coffee, at a sensible budget, and without having to take too much control over the process.
You wouldn’t want to use it in a commercial environment, but for the average household or small office it’s one of De’Longhi’s go-to espresso machines.
- Very high quality espresso, delivered as a single or double shot.
- Extremely beginner-friendly.
- A generous and conveniently located water reservoir.
- Passive heating which warms your cups before use.
- Dual thermostats for regulating temperature of water and steam.
- Compatible with Easy Serve Espresso (ESE) pods.
- You have little control over the brewing process.
- Cup height is rather limited.
- It’s hard to make micro foam for ultra-smooth lattes.
- A simple machine you might want to upgrade from as your confidence grows.
Features & Benefits
That’s the basic overview of the EC702, then.
In the next section I’m going to take a much closer look at some of the machine’s most important features.
44oz Water Reservoir
What I really like about the water reservoir on the EC702 is its size and its location.
Many machines have a tank that’s situated to the rear of the machine. That’s nice for the look of the thing, but it can be very hard to remove them for refilling (or even to see how much water is left).
Here the tank is situated to the side of the brewing interface, which means it’s very easy to detach and top up. It also means the water level indicator is easy to read as well, so you get a really clear sense of how much is left.
As for the capacity, 44oz isn’t too bad at all. In fact, it’s one of the largest I know of on a machine at this level.
One of the most common problems you’ll encounter with entry-level machines is a reliance on a single heater.
I’m not a fan of that kind of set-up, as it means the milk gets steamed at the same temperature as the shot.
The EC702 has two thermostats though. That means the espresso is brewed at the correct temperature, while the milk enjoys its own optimal heat.
The end result is a much better drink overall. This is particularly important if you want to make drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, and not just espresso shots.
As an entry-level machine you wouldn’t expect the EC702 to have a huge collection of dials and brewing options. The core purpose of the machine is to provide beginners with amazing espresso, after all.
There are in fact just three settings for coffee brewing, steam and hot water.
I like having that last option though, as it’s always useful to be able to make a hot chocolate for the kids (and my wife’s more of a tea drinker anyway).
I do think it’s a bit of a shame that there’s no Auto On or Auto Off function on the EC702 though. Still, you get what you pay for with these things.
Design & Durability
The EC702 has a bright stainless steel finish on the front, so it definitely looks the part in the kitchen. Just be aware that some of the less prominent elements are made of plastic.
As for the dimensions, it’s not the smallest espresso machine in the world, yet it’s not the biggest either.
On the countertop it measures 11 x 9.1 x 11.6 inches and weighs just over 11.5lbs. Measure up first, and also make sure you’ve left enough space around the top and sides to clean up and get that water reservoir out.
The stainless steel finish makes it very easy to clean, although make sure you descale at least once every three months (and sooner than that if you live in a hard water area). If you don’t take care of the machine, you will notice a reduction in the espresso quality over time.
You should also be sure to purge the steaming wand after each use, as those things can get gunky fast!
As a rule of thumb, the cheaper the machine is the more prone they are to breakdowns in the long run. In fairness to the EC702 though, I would say that compared to other machines within this range it’s one of the more reliable.
I reckon you’ll get at least a couple of years of service from it. Given the quality of the espresso it produces, I think it’s just as likely you’ll want to get a more hands-on machine by that point anyway.
This is one of the few areas where I think the design of the EC702 falls a little short.
Even with the drip tray removed you’ve only got around 4.5 inches of space to play with in terms of cup size. With the drip tray in place you’ve just over 2.5 inches.
You can, of course, prepare a shot in a smaller glass and then transfer over, but it’s something that’s worth being aware of.
Machines like the EC702 exist to put exceptional espresso shots in the hands of even the greenest of baristas. I would say that De’Longhi lives up to its reputation on that front.
The pump operates at 15 bar pressure, which I consider to be a good baseline for making decent espresso.
It’s rich and hot, with a really high quality crema. You get separate filters in the box for making a single or double serving as well.
The EC702 makes use of something called a pressurized portafilter. This keeps the water in contact with the coffee grounds for longer, which improves the taste.
As with the frothing wand, this has been included to help beginners. It makes the brewing process a lot more forgiving, and it means you only need a very basic grinder to still enjoy great results.
The best way to think of it is that you’re trading flexibility for simplicity.
It’s all in keeping with the design brief of the machine, which is to give beginner’s better coffee. It’s hard to criticize from that perspective.
The only thing worthy of mention here is the quality of the tamper.
The EC702 is far from the only espresso machine to come with a rather weak tamper out of the box. Even so, I would recommend picking up something sturdier along with the machine.
Easy Serve Espresso Pods
As well as the two standard shot filters, you also get a filter that can accommodate Easy Serve Espresso (ESE) pods. Those are quite convenient, and work a little bit like tea bags but for coffee.
Honestly I don’t think the coffee tastes as good using these, and so I’d recommend grabbing a grinder (not included with the EC702), and grinding up some beans yourself.
They’ll be fresher, and the espresso shot you get will be much improved as a result.
A final thing that’s worth mentioning here. It’s quite common for these machines to make a lot of noise during the brewing process. You have to think of it as just part of the experience!
To reduce this though, the EC702’s pump is isolated from the rest of the mechanism. That means less vibration, and less noise. It also stops the drip tray from clattering about as well. Clever thinking.
The EC702 comes with a manual frother which sits off to the side.
On the one hand I like that as it doesn’t get in the way of the brewing. One drawback though is that it can’t quite hang over the drip tray, which means it can make a little bit of a mess.
The frother also makes use of something called a Pannarello wand. This black bit of plastic regulates the air coming to the milk, which ensures a consistent froth.
The only problem here is that the bubbles it produces are quite big. That’s OK for cappuccinos, but it’s no good for creating the kind of micro foam that’s essential for latte art.
Given who De’Longhi’s aiming this at though, I don’t think this is likely to be a problem for you.
If it is, you can actually remove the device and take full manual control of the frothing process. That of course involves a slightly higher skill ceiling on your part though!
There are a few other espresso machines like this that are worth looking at. Here are my top picks of the other options you have:
Mr Coffee’s another big name for ultra-simple coffee machines, and the Dual Shot is the closest equivalent to the EC702.
It brews a fair bit faster and has a 40oz reservoir, which isn’t far off the De’Longhi’s size.
It doesn’t have a pressurized portafilter though, so you’ll need to make a bit more effort with your grinding.
The water tank’s a bit smaller at 35 oz, but otherwise the EC680 makes espresso that’s every bit as good as the EC702’s.
Overall it’s slightly smaller as well, but despite this you do actually get more clearance space for larger cups.
Breville’s Cafe Roma is a similarly barebones machine, but gets a thumbs-up for including much higher quality accessories out of the box.
It’s slightly more compact than the EC702 as well, with an overall assembled size of 9 x 9 x 12 inches. You lose a very small amount of water capacity at just under 41oz.
As an entry-level machine I really like the EC702. It’s aimed at beginners who want minimal functionality, but still enjoy great espresso. In that sense it knocks its brief out of the park.
Although you’ll likely want to upgrade as your confidence grows, it’s a very beginner-friendly machine. With it, you’ll be able to experiment with all kinds of espresso drinks.
As long as you’re happy with the limitations that go hand in hand with this kind of machine, I think you’ll find it a great starting point for developing your love of coffee.
Click here to find out more about the De’Longhi EC702.