- Simple to use
- Not too expensive
- 15 bar pressure pump
- Compact size
- Adjustable spout
- Pre-infusion extraction
- Low maintenance
- Customize your coffee with water and grind settings
- Grinder is very loud
- Oily beans can jam grinder
- Water and bean chambers are small/need refilling often
- Slow coffee making
Fully automatic bean-to-cup coffee machines can be quite expensive. So, what to do when you have filet mignon tastes but a cheeseburger budget? A good entry into the market is the DeLonghi Magnifica.
It makes a superior cup of espresso at a reasonably wallet friendly price.
You may not get all the trappings of some of the high end machines, but it’s the quality of the coffee that counts. Great tasting coffee in addition to ease-of-use and you have a winning combination.
It might not look as sexy as, say, the Jura E8 or the Oracle by Sage. The lack of bells and whistles is actually a selling point for some. For the minimalist, the Delonghi Magnifica is function over form at its best.
Of course, to know if it’s the right machine for you we need to take a closer look at the features. Every machine has its pluses and minuses. It’s up to the user to decide what are the must-haves and what are the deal-breakers.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the DeLonghi Magnifica coffee machine, one of our top 5 bean to cup machines.
Setting up the DeLonghi Magnifica
The whole point of a fully automatic bean-to-cup espresso machine is that it should be easy to use. Some machines, however, make it more difficult than it needs to be by adding too many extras and require a learning curve.
The DeLonghi does what all automatic machines claim to do.
Its simplicity begins with the set-up out of the box. Plug it in. Turn it on. Let it self-clean. Install water filter. Fill with water and your favourite beans. It’s that simple. From the unboxing to the first sip of coffee is less than 10 minutes. Without much fuss or reading page after page of a user manual.
Included is a water hardness tester. If you suspect that you have a problem with too much calcium in your water, test it. Then you can adjust the water settings of the machine to optimize performance.
You have your water tested and machine adjusted for hard water. It is cleaned and filled with water and beans. Now what?
It’s time to customize your coffee
Rather than a complicated touchscreen control panel, there are two dials.
The first is for water volume. Select a minimum of 15 ml for a tight espresso, up to a maximum of 237 ml for an Americano.
The next is a dial to set your coffee strength. A smaller dose to the left of the dial for a weaker coffee. Stronger as you dial it right.
Under the bean hopper lid you will find a dial for the coarseness of the grind. 7 settings makes it easy to find just the right grind for your tastes.
There are two programmable buttons. One for single and one for double. A single gives you whatever amount of water you have selected. A double will give twice as much. Note that it doesn’t double the coffee dose, however. You will need to move the dial to a stronger dose if you want a double shot.
It is a good idea to play around with the settings a few times to find your ideal cup. You might waste some coffee at this point if you find the first cups either too weak or too strong. Once you have your preference dialed in, then you no longer need to change it.
There is one disadvantage to not having a touchscreen. You might have your ideal cup customized, but it can’t be saved if somebody else has different preferences. You will need to remember where on the dial you usually set it and return it to that position anytime it gets changed.
Do you like to have a decaf after dinner? Then select the bypass doser and load your coffee powder into the chamber. Included is a handy scoop that tucks away under the lid for the powder chamber.
Having dials rather than a long list of menu settings makes for a very user-friendly and intuitive process. It might take longer to make a coffee than with other machines, but you make up for that by spending less time adjusting your settings.
What about frothing?
This bit might just be a deal breaker for some. To others, it is a selling point. You must froth the milk yourself. It is not a one-touch programme that will have your milk steamed and frothed for you.
You might not be comfortable making your own froth. Yes, there is a learning curve here. But be bold! You might just find, after some trial and error, that you make a better foam than the automatic milk steamers, anyway. Google and YouTube are your friends!
For the user that likes to be in control of this part of the process, the DeLonghi patented pannarello wand makes a nice tight foam. The dual boiler system means that the machine doesn’t need to warm more water after the milk is steamed. It can’t make a coffee and steam the milk at the same time, but as soon as the milk is steamed it is ready to make the espresso.
How good is the coffee it makes?
The DeLonghi Magnifica makes an exceptional coffee. The pre-infusion system gently lifts the coffee grounds and surrounds them with hot water. Then, the 15 bars of pressure blast the hot water through the grounds, extracting the essential oils within.
A caramel coloured stream of coffee is dripped into the cup leaving a rich layer of crema floating on top of the dark espresso.
The coffee connoisseur will find this coffee at least as good as any you will find in the high-end coffee houses. In some cases, it’s actually better. When you go out for coffee, the quality of the cup depends on who is making it. Some days it’s good enough, some days it’s excellent. With the DeLonghi Magnifica, it is consistently great every time.
Italians are experts at coffee and are very demanding. They expect nothing less than perfection. DeLonghi understands this and engineers their machines accordingly.
What other features does it have?
As mentioned, the Magnifica is designed for ease of use.
It will alert you when the water chamber needs refilling. Which is simple to do as it is front loading. Simply pull out the chamber and fill it in the sink. It slides right back in when it’s full.
Another alert means the dregs box is full. The box also slides right out from the front. In it you will see it full of neat little pucks which are easy to dump. A quick rinse and it’s back in action.
The coffee spout raises and lowers. It can accommodate a large coffee mug for when you want a large Americano at 237 ml. Lowering it down for espresso shot glasses will prevent any splashing should it sputter.
On top of the machine there is a metal tray area for cup warming. Keeping your cups stored on this tray will keep the mugs toasty. If the machine was recently powered up and the tray is not yet hot, the steaming wand also disperses hot water so a cup can be filled and heated.
The machine is mainly self-cleaning. It has an automatic descaler for a one touch deep clean of the inner workings of the machine. However, once a week or so, you should remove the brew unit and give it a good rinse. It takes only a couple of minutes and will prolong the life of your machine.
Frequently Asked Questions about the DeLonghi Magnifica
Can it make an Americano?
Yes. An Americano is a long espresso. Setting the water dose to 237 ml will give a regular sized coffee. Adjusting the coffee dose will set the strength to your preference.
Can I use oily beans?
It is not recommended to use oily beans. They are likely to leave a residue in the burr grinder which will cause it to jam. That being said, it might not jam. Use your best judgement, but be prepared to have to service the machine of you do use oily beans.
Is there a warranty?
There is a 2 year warranty that covers any manufacturing defect. It does not cover any accidents or misuse on the part of the user.
How big is the machine?
The dimensions are 27.94 x 38.86 x 36.48. It weighs 10.5 kilos.
Is it self-cleaning?
It purges itself before a coffee is made keeping the inner workings clean. It does need to be periodically cleaned by taking the brew unit out and rinsing in the sink.
Who shouldn’t buy the DeLonghi Magnifica?
Anybody who loves using the latest technology will find some shortcomings with this machine.
It is not programmable. If there are multiple people using the machine with different preferences, it will need to be reset manually every time.
It does not have a timer to automatically turn on at a set time. You will have to switch it on in the morning and wait a few minutes for it to warm up before you can brew your coffee.
For the person that likes an oily bean, there is the risk of jamming the grinder. This is not unique to this machine, however. In fact, most bean-to-cup one-touch systems will have the same problem.
Who should buy the DeLonghi Magnifica?
The person who doesn’t want to pay extra for the theatre of using an automatic bean-to-cup machine will appreciate the no frills appeal of the Magnifica. It’s ideal for the coffee purist who is not interested in anything other than the end product
The reason for buying an automatic system is first and foremost for a superior cup of coffee that matches or exceeds what can be bought at a coffeehouse. It should also be uncomplicated to use. The magnifica delivers wonderfully on both fronts. The coffee is excellent and it is intuitive to use.
The compact size ensures there is a place for it in any kitchen.
The price makes it approachable to just about anybody in the market for an automatic espresso and cappuccino machine. The reliability makes it an excellent purchase that will pay for itself long before it takes its last gasps, years after the purchase.