Delonghi are the undisputed coffee machine kings. There is no other manufacturer that comes even close to the number of machines that Delonghi sells worldwide.
And they are no one hit wonder. They have been around for over 100 years and have their headquarters in Italy.
So if you are looking for a good coffee machine then you can do a lot worse than start with a brand that have been around for a century, sell more coffee machines than anyone else and are based in Italy!
What you will need to do is navigate your way through the maze of different choices that they present you with.
If there is one criticism that we would make of Delonghi it’s that there is simply too much choice. Whether you are looking for a filter coffee machine, a traditional pump espresso machine or an indulgent bean to cup coffee machine they have a mind boggling choice of over 30 different machines to choose from.
Some machines sell for a lot more than others but add very little extra value for the extra money so we are here to break it all down and ensure that you get the best for your available budget.
The Delonghi ECP31.21 pump espresso machine is one of Delonghi’s entry level coffee machines.
If you are getting tired of paying through the nose for a coffee at the one of the big high street chains and you want to give it a go yourself at home without compromising on quality then this is a good place to start.
But at this price does it deliver the goods?
Overall Score 9.7/10
Delonghi have moved towards a modern looking design for most of their coffee machines but in this case they have stuck with a more traditional looking appliance which would probably be best suited to a modern classic or traditional type kitchen.
At this price you wouldn’t expect to get anything grand from a good looks perspective and whilst it may look unexceptional at first you do quickly warm to it when you see that Delonghi have mixed the all black body with a blend of chrome on the dial that sits on the front of the machine to go with the chrome fitting which holds the portafilter.
This isn’t a roast dinner with all the trimmings, it’s more like egg and chips but it doesn’t mean that it is any less satisfying.
At 24cm deep, 18cm wide and 30.5cm tall this not going to take up much space.
In the box you will get 3 different filters, one for a single shot, one for a double shot and one that looks so shallow that it looks like it is good for nothing at all. But it is.
If you are looking for ultra-convenience in a way that is not dissimilar to a Nespresso pod system then the 3rd and smallest filter may be the one you will use the most. This takes ESE pods which stands for easy serve espresso. They look a bit like teabags but with coffee in.
Simply slip one into the filter and in less than 60 seconds you will have an espresso without any of the hassle of adding the ground coffee and making a mess putting the coffee into the filter and then cleaning it out afterwards.
You do compromise a bit on flavour because its not as fresh as freshly ground coffee but that may work for you if you are in a rush or if you are not big on preparation but you still want a decent cup of coffee.
The water tank holds 1.1 litres of water which is plenty. Try and keep the water as fresh as possible to ensure the best tasting coffee.
A button on the side turns it on and it only takes about 40 seconds to heat up to the correct temperature and be ready to go. The “OK” indicator lights up so you know it’s ready.
Once the portafilter has been filled with the coffee of your choice and you have a cup in place underneath simply turn the dial to the right to begin pushing water through the coffee and into the cup.
Once the coffee has been delivered you will need to stop the flow of water yourself by turn the dial back to the middle. This gives you the advantage of being able to fill it up with the amount of coffee that suits you.
However, make sure that you do not over extract the coffee because that will have an adverse effect on the flavour. Keep an eye on the colour of the coffee. When it first comes out of the filter it will be a thick black colour and will quickly dilute so that it becomes lighter and eventually watery. When it turns light stop the coffee delivery as you know at that point all the coffee has been extracted.
Around 25 seconds should be right for a double espresso and don’t let it ever go beyond about 45 seconds. If you want an Americano then deliver a double espresso and top it up with hot water using the hot water function incorporated into this machine.
For hot water turn the dial on the front and the level on the left at the same time to get hot water from the steam wand. That’s a pretty good function to get on a machine at this price.
If your drink of choice is Latte or Cappuccino then turn the dial to the left and then flick the lever on the side down to start the steam and froth your milk up.
The steam is powerful and will take less than a minute to get to a nice creamy texture. As a general rule of thumb when the base of the jug becomes too hot to hold then it ready. To be more accurate get yourself a thermometer – 70 degrees is perfect.
Top marks here. One turn of the dial to the right delivers coffee and another turn of the dial to the left for steam.
If you are a man then you will be pleased to know that you won’t even need to read the manual to work it out – its that easy.
Get the best coffee that you can afford. This way, even a budget pump espresso machine like this one will produce something pretty close to what you will pay through the nose for at Starbucks.
Try and steer away from the cheap supermarket stuff if you can and even better get fresh coffee beans if you can. Grinding them yourself just before brewing will give you the best possible flavour.
You can get a cheap blade coffee grinder for less than you think.
If you are looking for something functional that does the job with no frills then this will work for you.
It has a good 15 bar pump, a strong steam wand and a hot water function. At this price that represents an excellent buy.