Bean to cup coffee machines of this type were until recently out of the reach of most people’s budget.
Just a few years ago this coffee machine was selling for close to £1000 and represented the cutting edge of one-touch fully automatic bean to cup coffee machines.
The ETAM 29.660.SB is still very much part of Delonghi’s ongoing range of machines but due to the introduction of other products to the range like the Delonghi Prima Donna S which has taken over the mantle of Delonghi’s luxury coffee machine, there has been a dramatic price reduction on this product.
This used to be the private jet of coffee machines but now you can buy one if you fly Easy Jet.
We would compare this in a similar way to plasma and LCD TV’s. At the beginning they cost thousands and gradually as technology improved and parts became cheaper to produce, a TV that cost £2000 quickly became £500 during the course of just a couple of years.
It doesn’t mean that the product is any worse, it just means that other factors which benefit the consumer cause a significant price drop.
Delonghi offers so much choice when it comes to bean to cup coffee machines that you can easily spend more than you need to for very little improvement in functionality so it’s important to understand if you are getting value for money for the machines you choose.
Functionality, design, ease of use and coffee quality all roll up to determine if you are getting overall value for money compared to other machines at differing prices
When you are spending a lot of money on the indulgence of a bean to cup coffee machine you want to make sure that the one you buy does everything you want it to at the best possible price.
Let’s find out if the Autentica ETAM 29.660SB does that.
Before you read the full review, this model provides full automation with a milk carafe that will deliver the milk for you. If you prefer to heat the milk yourself in a jug using a steam wand then the ETAM 29.510B is a little cheaper and still does a tremendous job.
If you specifically want a fully automatic bean to cup machine that has a milk carafe built in then we prefer this model over the Delonghi ECAM 23.460.S. At first glance they may seem similar but on closer inspection, this one has more to offer so if they are available at or around the same price this one offers much more.
A few of the additional features are a Doppio+ button that gives you a nice strong double espresso with just one touch instead of having to mess around with the personalisation functions. You also have a “long coffee button” on this model that provides a one-touch Americano. You get rapid steam on the 29.660 and not on the 23.460 making heating and frothing much easier and more effective on this model and also Delonghi’s cappuccino system for the perfect frothing which you don’t get on the 23.460. So at the same price or a few pounds more this one is definitely better.
Overall Score 9.95/10
Delonghi has spent a lot of time thinking about how to make this coffee machine as aesthetically pleasing to look at as it is to use. This is a really lovely looking appliance.
The main front panel is finished in an alluring, smooth matt silver that blends in perfectly with the chrome drip tray, the black base and the black control panel.
A lot of these types of coffee machines are just a big oblong shaped lump with little or no attention to detail paid to make you feel like you want to keep it out on display.
With the Autentica ETAM 29.660 Delonghi have created a curved top just behind the control panel to match the curve from the trip tray to the base and the chrome cup warmer on top finishes it off nicely.
There are much less straight edges on this appliance showing the attention to detail that has helped Delonghi become by far the number one global seller of bean to cup coffee machines.
It will certainly look splendid in any kitchen but leans more towards a modern/contemporary look with the matt silver and curved body.
This is one of Delonghi’s most attractive designs and at just 19.5cm wide, 47.7cm deep and 34.0cm tall it has a good compact footprint that will sit comfortably on your work surface without dominating it.
This falls within the category of a fully automatic bean to cup coffee machine because it includes a milk carafe that will automatically dispense milk into your glass for milk-based drinks such as cappuccino or latte
Pretty much any drink that you can think of or you could order at one of the high street coffee shops can be made with this machine.
Some examples of the pre-programmed drinks that can be made with just a single touch are:
That should cover almost everyone’s requirements but full personalisation is also available within each of those options as well.
If you want a cappuccino with a little less milk, no problem. A latte with more milk than normal, no problem. How about an Americano with more water, all doable.
To keep it simple they have the most common selections as single buttons on the front of the machine – espresso, amerciano, cappuccino and whether you want one or 2 cups.
They have reserved one of the buttons on the front for what they call “my coffee” that allows one person in the house to have a fully personalised drink precisely how they want it. A few clicks though the menu and a little bit of testing and you will have EXACTLY what you want every single time just by pressing the “my coffee button”.To save any arguments just don’t tell anyone else in the house that the button exists and keep it to yourself as a secret – you have paid for it after all!
As if all of that wasn’t enough you can set 4 different levels of temperature for the water so no more lukewarm coffees ever again!
Coffee too strong or too weak? Not any more. You have 5 different levels of coffee strength to choose from ranging from extra mild through to extra strong.
There are also 13 different levels of grind size that you can choose from as well which will further adjust the amount of coffee being delivered into your cup.
There is also a hot water button if you fancy a cup of tea or if you want to top up your Americano.
We can understand why this bean to cup machine was sold at twice the price when launched a few years ago because it really does offer a very high level of personalisation combined with the full automation of a milk carafe.
The interesting thing is that there has not been any new technology introduced that makes this coffee machine outdated in terms of the drinks it can produce making this exceptional value for money.
It not like TV’s where it goes from HD to 4K screen resolution and so the standard HD becomes less desirable, the coffee that this machine produces is in our opinion as good as ones that are much more expensive and with the same features and level of personalisation.
The most popular drinks are accessible on the front control panel so you will literally get a cappuccino delivered to your cup with a one finger press of one button.
Very impressive and super easy.
It’s all about the coffee. With a machine as good as this you can replicate what you get in a coffee shop BUT only if you use good coffee.
Get the beans from a specialist coffee shop if you can and completely ignore the use-by date. Look for the roasting date or production date and try and get beans that have been roasted in the last month.
If you follow these guidelines and pay a bit more for the best beans then don’t be surprised if you enjoy the coffee that this machine produces MORE than what you get at one of the big chains and for a fraction of the price.
To put this coffee machine into context one of Delonghi’s flagship top of the range bean to cup coffee machines is the Prima Donna S
In our opinion, this machine can do everything that the Prima Donna can do but it’s about half the price and it even looks the same as well!
This is a little hidden gem that offers tremendous value for money.
If you want all your milk-based drinks delivered with just one touch then this is about as good as it gets for the money with a milk carafe but if you prefer to heat your milk up yourself in a jug with a steam wand then the one to go for is our 10/10 ETAM 29.510.B