So, you’re thinking about making a cup of espresso with your very first espresso coffee machine. But with so many options out there, it can be challenging to pick out the right espresso coffee machine for your nuanced needs - especially if you are getting into artisanal coffee.
There’s so much to consider when it comes to getting the right espresso coffee machine, from the quality of espresso you desire down to the type of steam wand used. Not to mention, with the investment you’re making, the coffee espresso machine you choose to get should also look stunning on your kitchen countertop.
Any De’longhi coffee machine will likely make a great choice, but to make it even easier, we have narrowed down your choices to two if you’re looking for only the best of the best: the De’Longhi La Specialista Arte and the De’longhi La Specialista Prestigio. And while they belong to the same La Specialista family, they offer uniquely different features and benefits. But don’t worry, we’ve broken down all you need to know based on your caffeinated needs:
1. Type of Coffee
Knowing what coffee you want is the most important factor in getting your first coffee machine. Some coffee machines are naturally going to be better at producing espresso than the preset americano most office workers are used to.
The good news is that the De’Longhi La Specialista Arte does both. With a simple turn of the knob on the mode selector, you can switch between three pre-set settings: Espresso, Americano, and Hot Water. Making café-quality coffee has never been easier. The best part? With the La Specialista Arte, you can even programme the presets to do double shots for that extra kick when needed.
The La Specialista Prestigio goes even further with an extra pre-set. The ‘Coffee’ setting on this machine gives you an extraction perfectly balanced between an espresso and an americano - just in case you like your americano with a little more kick. And while the La Specialista Arte comes with a ‘Hot Water’ setting, the La Specialista Prestigio has a dedicated hot water system which allows you to make teas and other infusions along with your usual coffees.
2. Grinding & Dosing
As all-in-one coffee machines, both the La Specialista Arte and La Specialista Prestigio come with a built-in grinding and dosing system. So, you don’t ever have to worry about losing your hand-crank coffee grinder ever again.
Just add fresh beans to the hopper and choose the grind setting you need. Once the portafilter is locked in, the grinder will start automatically. Both espresso coffee machines have up to eight settings from coarse to fine. With this level of precision, the La Specialista gives you the option to try out more exotic coffee for optimal flavour extractions.
And while both De’Longhi espresso coffee machines boast an equally proficient griding system, the La Specialista Prestigio is just a touch more distinguished, with its in-built sensor grinding technology that adapts the burrs to give consistent dosages regardless of the coffee beans you use.
The secret to consistent delicious coffee is having an even tamp in your De’Longhi espresso coffee machine which puts equal pressure on your coffee grounds. An even tamp also reduces the likelihood of channelling, which is when water escapes the coffee puck through a narrow path instead of flowing through the entire bed. Channelling not only ruins any clarity in taste, but it also wastes grounds as only certain parts of the grounds are extracted properly.
Both La Specialista Arte and La Specialista Prestigio have their own solution when it comes to tamping.
The La Specialista Arte comes with a barista kit which includes a tamping mat and a dosing funnel. The tamping mat keeps your portafilter stabilised, allowing you to adjust pressure with your tamper. Meanwhile, the dosing funnel prevents any grounds from spilling so you can rest easy knowing you won’t have any dents in your coffee puck.
The La Specialista Prestigio comes with something special for the advanced coffee enthusiasts out there. Built into the grinder is a smart tamping station that allows you to transfer the coffee ground directly from the grinder and tamp. Just pull down the lever while removing the portafilter and you will have a perfectly even tamp ready for extraction every single time; no handheld tamper is needed.
Now that we have gone through all the preparation needed for great coffee, let’s talk about the extraction process itself. Even your favourite ice lattes require espresso that is extracted under immense heat - we are looking at a range of about 92° to 96° C. The temperature also needs to be consistent even after coming into contact with cooled coffee grounds.
Both the De’ La Specialista Arte and La Specialista Prestigio have got you covered in that department. In both De’Longhi espresso coffee machines, the water temperature is precisely controlled throughout the entire brewing process to ensure the ideal temperature stability for extraction.
Both coffee machines offer up to 3 infusion temperatures ranging from 92° to 96° C. Each setting has been optimised to bring out the best flavours from dark to light roast respectively, so you can expect to get a great cup of coffee no matter what roast you’re using.
And yes, the La Specialista Prestigio comes with a few extra features in this regard as well, such that you can easily keep your water piping hot. Its dynamic pre-infusion capabilities automatically adjust the pre-infusion length to the density of your coffee dose, so that water is evenly distributed throughout. Paired with active temperature control that keeps temperature consistent regardless of pressure, the De’Longhi La Specialista Prestigio makes it impossible for you to walk away with cold and unruly coffee.
5. Steam Wand
For the latte lovers out there, it is common knowledge that a good steam wand is a must to achieve silky smooth milk. Thankfully, both the La Specialista Arte and La Specialista Prestigio come with a professional barista-approved steam wand built into the coffee machine.
Of course, latte art requires a little skill on the barista’s part, but the My LatteArt steam wands of De’Longhi La Specialista coffee machines are built to be durable and flexible, making latte art easier for baristas of all skill levels.
Having a professional steam wand also gives you full control over the kind of frothed milk you want. While the La Specialista Arte has a 1-holed nozzle that makes it easy to froth a velvety smooth texture, the 3-holed nozzle of the La Specialista Prestigio makes for microfoamy perfection if one is skilled enough.
The My LatteArt system in De’Longhi La Specialistas is also easy to use while still being comparable in technology to industrial coffee machines used in cafés and the likes. Just put the nozzle into the surface of the milk and froth. You’ll be amazed at the raw power coming from the steam wand. Alongside a rubber handle, the double-walled steam wands of our La Specialista coffee machines mean you won’t have to worry about burning yourself, thanks to our cool-touch technology. Their dual heating systems also ensure your coffee extraction won’t get in the way of your frothing, allowing for frothed milk that triples in volume if you have the right level of latte art skill.
Besides functionality, each De’longhi coffee machine boasts a sleek design inspired by the early industrial coffee machines. The La Specialista Arte sits at a comfortable 14.37" x 15.87" x 11.22" weighing around 9.8kg (21.5 lbs), making it just a little more portable that its heavier cousin, the La Specialista Prestigio which comes in at 15" x 14.48" x 17.5" with a weight of 13.5 kg (29.76 lbs).
If you’re looking for an espresso coffee machine that you can place anywhere, the La Specialista Arte is probably your best bet. It’s also great if you just want to turn a little slice of your home into a coffee-making corner. But if you’re serious about the coffee arts and want something more established, the La Specialista Prestigio is probably the way to go.
And we haven’t even talked about the breath-taking look that ties together each machine. The stainless steel finish gives each machine the same professional look you would get in any Italian café. Not only does the robust finish ensure each coffee machine will look just as good for the years to come, but their silvery sheens also make them perfectly suited to whatever interior style you’re going for, making it the perfect functional centrepiece for just about any kitchen.
Deciding on the right coffee machine depends on your needs – especially if you’re planning to get a pump espresso machine, which is a little more advanced and hands-on than the automatic drip coffee machines we love. However, the results are very much worth it if you can’t go a day without perfect velvety espresso.
Either machine from the La Specialista series will get you professional results, but if you want something closer to the stuff they serve in high-end cafes, the De’longhi La Specialista Prestigio has a sleuth of features designed for that consistent luxury indulgence. The La Specialista Prestigio optimises every step of the coffee-making process, making it an easy favourite for veteran coffee connoisseurs.
Of course, the De’longhi La Specialista Arte is also an excellent choice for any intermediate barista who wants to get down and direct with pulling shots. Not only is its compactable size a great fit for pretty much any space, the La Specialista Arte teaches one the fundamentals of coffee-making and how to get everything to come together to create that perfect shot.
But if you just want a small taste of what the world of coffee has to offer, consider joining De’Longhi’s Coffee Home Trial – the most convenient way to enjoy cafe-quality coffee everyday without ever having to leave your home.
Either way, be sure to check out our full line of coffee essentials at De’Longhi Singapore today!