Breville Barista Express Vs Delonghi La Specialista: Detailed Comparison!

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Breville Barista Express vs Delonghi La Specialista: Both are robust semi-automatic espresso machines that allow you to make some coffee-quality drinks without spending an arm or a leg. And from my hands-on experiment, I found the latter to be better.

The Delonghi La Specialista was launched in 2019, and it became one of the best-selling models of the Italian brand not long after that. This one features two separate Thermoblock boilers, allowing it to quickly prepare espresso and milk froth at once. The Panarello automatic wand, complemented by the Advanced Latte system, makes it easier to froth milk for cappuccino and latte art.

The Breville Barista Express, in turn, is more lightweight and affordable. This one still heats up very quickly with a thermocoil heating system. Its manual steam wand might involve a bit of experimentation, but it is the best tool for latte art.

Breville Barista Express Vs Delonghi La Specialista: Comparison Chart

Image
THE WINNER (#1)
De'Longhi La Specialista Espresso Machine with Sensor Grinder, Dual Heating System, Advanced Latte System & Hot Water Spout for Americano Coffee or Tea, Stainless Steel, EC9335M, 1.3 liters
THE RUNNER-UP (#2)
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel, BES870XL, Large
Model
Delonghi La Specialista
Breville Barista Express
Dimensions/Weight
12.5 x 14 x 14.5 inches/29.7 lbs
12.5 x 13.5 x 16 inches/26 lbs
Heating System
Dual Thermoblock Boiler System
Single Thermocoil Heating System
Interface
Buttons
Buttons
One Touch Drink Options
4
2
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/12 inches
Dual/4 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
2 liter/0.26 liter
2 liter/0.24 liter
Pump Pressure
19 bars
15 bars
Built-in Grinder
Stainless Steel Conical Burr Grinder
Stainless Steel Conical Burr Grinder
Grinding Settings
6
16
Pre-Infusion
Filter
Yes (Optional)
Milk Frothing System
Panarello Steam Wand
Manual Steam Wand
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
What I Like
Price
$1,198.00
$699.95
THE WINNER (#1)
Image
De'Longhi La Specialista Espresso Machine with Sensor Grinder, Dual Heating System, Advanced Latte System & Hot Water Spout for Americano Coffee or Tea, Stainless Steel, EC9335M, 1.3 liters
Model
Delonghi La Specialista
Dimensions/Weight
12.5 x 14 x 14.5 inches/29.7 lbs
Heating System
Dual Thermoblock Boiler System
Interface
Buttons
One Touch Drink Options
4
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/12 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
2 liter/0.26 liter
Pump Pressure
19 bars
Built-in Grinder
Stainless Steel Conical Burr Grinder
Grinding Settings
6
Pre-Infusion
Filter
Milk Frothing System
Panarello Steam Wand
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
What I Like
Price
$1,198.00
More Info
THE RUNNER-UP (#2)
Image
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel, BES870XL, Large
Model
Breville Barista Express
Dimensions/Weight
12.5 x 13.5 x 16 inches/26 lbs
Heating System
Single Thermocoil Heating System
Interface
Buttons
One Touch Drink Options
2
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/4 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
2 liter/0.24 liter
Pump Pressure
15 bars
Built-in Grinder
Stainless Steel Conical Burr Grinder
Grinding Settings
16
Pre-Infusion
Filter
Yes (Optional)
Milk Frothing System
Manual Steam Wand
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
What I Like
Price
$699.95
More Info

Last update on 2024-02-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Breville Barista Express Vs Delonghi La Specialista: Differences

The Delonghi La Specialista wins the Breville Barista Express with a 4-2 win. Let’s read to the end of my detailed comparison to pick the one that aligns best with your preferences.

Coffee Flavour

Winner: Delonghi La Specialista

Built-in Grinder

Inside their conical bean hoppers, you will find big stainless steel conical burr grinders ready to crush the beans to extract the aroma and flavor from them. This saves you the hassle and cost of procuring a separate grinder to go with your espresso machine. And yes, these burr grinders “crush” the beans, not “chop” them as their blade counterparts do, so they can result in super-even results.

the stainless steel conical burr grinder
The stainless steel conical burr grinder

Another good thing about these built-in grinders is that they operate quite quietly. Their noise levels aren’t louder than an average vacuum cleaner, so I bet you can start your brewing cycle early in the morning without any concerns about disturbing your housemates or neighbors.

These grinders are also completely programmable. The Delonghi La Specialista offers a limited 6 grind settings, which I believe falls short in terms of customization. On the other hand, the Breville Barista Express takes your trial-and-error game to the next level with up to 16 grind-size settings, granting you a wider range to dial in the optimal grind size for the perfect shot.

breville barista express vs delonghi la specialista’s grind settings
Breville Barista Express vs Delonghi La Specialista’s grind settings

I was overjoyed to see that the Breville Barista Express comes with a magnetic, sturdy stainless steel tamper instead of the flimsy plastic one that usually comes with models in this price segment. But the Delonghi La Specialista even made me over the moon with its Smart Tamper system, operated by a well-made lever on the left of the machine. So rather than manually tamping, which requires a bit of practice and leaves a mess on the countertop, all you need to do is pull a lever. I hate mess, and cleaning is not my cup of tea, so this smart system is really a boon, at least for someone like me.

breville barista express's magnetic tamper and delonghi la specialista's smart tamper
Breville Barista Express’s magnetic tamper and Delonghi La Specialista’s smart tamper

The Breville Barista Express vs Delonghi La Specialista use well-made 54-mm and 51-mm portafilters, respectively. They feel sturdy, and surely they would get the job done, but I would like to see a commercial-grade 58mm portafilter for more even extraction, which can lead to better flavor and more consistent shots.

The Delonghi La Specialista comes with two pressurized filter baskets. Meanwhile, not only do you get single- and double-shot filter baskets with these units, but you can also choose between pressurized and non-pressurized variations. For the uninitiated, the pressurized filter basket is designed to compensate for inconsistencies in grind size and tamping technique, so even if your coffee grind isn’t perfectly dialed in or your tamping isn’t precise, you can still achieve a reasonably decent shot of espresso.

both come with four filter baskets
The Breville Barista Express comes with four filter baskets

Meanwhile, the non-pressurized filter basket is often preferred by experienced baristas and enthusiasts who have invested in a good-quality burr grinder and want to have more control over the extraction process. When used correctly, non-pressurized baskets can produce more nuanced and flavorful shots.

Heating System

Another main difference between these two machines is the number of boilers. The Delonghi La Specialista boasts a dual Thermoblock boiler system for preparing espresso and milk froth at once, with each boiler calibrated to provide the proper temperature for each task. In addition, the Thermoblock technology ensures it can heat up in as little as 20 seconds, which is a substantial improvement over traditional boilers, which can take about 20 minutes.

On the flip side, the Barista Express uses a single thermocoil heating system, which can heat water on the fly rapidly within around one minute. This heating technology is slower compared with thermo-jet or thermoblock, but it is still a notable feature in its price range.

You should also pre-heat their portafilters to maintain the optimal temperature for extraction and ensure that the coffee grounds are exposed to the right conditions to extract the desired flavors and aromas. This can be done by pulling an “empty” shot or two (a shot without the coffee grounds) or just dipping the portafilter into a cup of hot water.

pulling an “empty” shot to pre-heat the portafilter
Pulling an “empty” shot to pre-heat the portafilter

They have a built-in pre-warming plate for up to two cups. This is a welcome addition since pouring freshly brewed espresso into a cold cup can cause the temperature of the espresso to drop quickly, not to mention the heat loss that occurs while frothing milk. All of them can impact the flavor and aroma of the drink, resulting in a less-than-perfect shot.

the cup pre-warming tray
The cup pre-warming tray

Brewing System

As you’d expect from such automatic espresso machines, they use pre-infusion technology to introduce a small amount of hot water onto the coffee grounds before extraction at full pressure, which is essential for a complex and well-rounded espresso shot. But the Barista Express takes the lead here, as it allows you to control the pre-infusion interval to suit your espresso’s taste profile.

After the “pre-soak” phase, their 15 and 19-bar pumps (Breville Barista Express and Delonghi La Specialista, respectively) gradually increase to the maximum pressure to extract espresso. There is a circle pressure gauge located front and center on the control panel that displays if your coffee grounds are brewed at the optimal pressure range (a pressure of 9 bars is assumed to be the gold standard for espresso extraction).

I was pretty happy with the espresso shots these machines can pull. They carry the flavor of freshly ground coffee beans with a rich, velvety crema layer on top. Well, I think they are neck and neck with beverages crafted by expert baristas.

Milk Frothing System

The Breville Barista Express uses a manual one-hole steam wand, while the Delonghi La Specialista boasts a Panarello automatic wand. So the former demands a more hands-on approach to milk frothing, while the latter is designed to simplify the frothing process, making it notably accessible for beginners.

breville barista express's manual steam wand and delonghi la's panarello automatic wand
Breville Barista Express’s manual wand and Delonghi La’s Panarello wand

The Barista Express traditional steam wand comes with a learning curve and initially requires a bit of practice to reach the milk froth required for a latte or cappuccino. But it gives you a high level of control over the milk frothing process, and once you know what you’re doing, you’ll love it as much as many home baristas out there. You can even find the learning process enjoyable and take pride in the quality of drinks you can produce yourself. After all, who doesn’t want to raise someone’s eyebrows with something hard to earn?

On the flip side, the Delonghi La Specialista’s Panarello wand uses the patented Advanced Latte system, enabling you to choose the froth style for your drinks. Without any technique or skill, all you need to do is dip the wand into the milk pitcher, turn on the steaming knob, and move the collar on the wand to “foam” (mostly for cappuccinos) or “flat” (for lattes) positions, and it takes care of the rest. I found the Advanced Latte system to really work in lieu of a gimmick, but the manual steam wand on the Barista Express is still the best tool for complex latte art.

advanced latte system
Advanced Latte system

These steam wands can rotate 360 degrees, meaning you can froth in any desired direction without hassle. If you’ve ever worked with a steam wand that can only move in two directions, you’ll find this freedom to be a game-changer. Both come out of the box with a great stainless steel milk pitcher, but it’d be a bonus to have marked measurements to tell how much cold milk you should use for each specific drink.

Design & Usability

Winner: Tie

Dimensions, Footprint, & Weight

Breville Barista ExpressDelonghi La Specialista
Dimensions12.5 x 13.5 x 16 inches12.5 x 14 x 14.5 inches
Weight26 lbs29.7 lbs

These machines look very premium, with polished stainless steel housing that not only elevates the aesthetics of any kitchen but is also easy to clean and gives them a durable feel. Even their portafilters are made of stainless steel, so there’s no need to worry about the durability of these handsome guys.

Their control panels are simple, with buttons, knobs, and a large pressure gauge, but operating them is harder than it seems. Hence, keep the user manual close for your early days with the machine.

breville barista express vs delonghi la specialista's control panels
Breville Barista Express vs Delonghi La Specialista’s control panels

These bean-to-cup machines don’t look bulky at all, making them a significant “wow” factor on any kitchen countertop. Just get a helping hand when putting them in position since they are on the heavy side.

Pre-programmed Coffee Options

Breville Barista ExpressDelonghi La Specialista
Espresso
Hot Water
Espresso
Coffee
Americano
Hot Water

Each allows you to play around with several settings to find something that best suits your taste buds, including the coffee strength, the length of each shot, and the water temperature. Then they will be saved for future one-touch brews.

There is a dedicated hot water spigot next to their steam wands, which comes in handy when you make an americano or brew tea. Also, you can use pre-ground coffee with the pressurized filter basket to prepare decaf for your no-caffeine guests.

breville barista express vs delonghi la specialista’s  hot water spout
Breville Barista Express vs Delonghi La Specialista’s hot water spout

Spout & Cup Clearance

Breville Barista ExpressDelonghi La Specialista
Spout TypeDualDual
Cup Clearance4 inches12 inches

As always with portafilter-fitted machines, the cup clearance of both is fixed. The Breville Barista Express can fit most cup sizes, but you may want to remove its drip tray to use an insulated coffee mug. As for the Delonghi La Specialista, it features a small plate to lift your espresso cup a bit to preserve the beautiful crema.

breville barista express vs delonghi la specialista’s dual spouts
Breville Barista Express vs Delonghi La Specialista’s dual spouts

You can also get two cups of espresso at once with them, thanks to the double shot feature. This is a lifesaver on those hectic mornings where everyone wants to get their drinks as quickly as possible.

double shot function
Double-shot function

Water Reservoir & Bean Hopper 

Breville Barista ExpressDelonghi La Specialista
Water Reservoir2 liter2 liter
Bean Hopper0.24 liter0.26 liter

Their water containers are somewhat large for home use, so you rarely find yourself having to refill them more than once per day. They are placed at the back of the machine, which can pose a challenge for refilling if you plan to put your coffee machine under the kitchen cabinets.

The Barista Express’s water reservoir can house a water filter to remove impurities from the water, thereby minimizing the need for descaling the machine and enhancing the flavor of your espresso. The Delonghi La Specialista doesn’t offer such an option, necessitating more frequent descaling or the use of pre-filtered water.

Their bean hoppers have airtight lids to ensure your precious coffee beans don’t lose their aroma too quickly. They can be removed for deep cleaning and for easier access to the burrs (for cleaning, of course).

breville barista express vs delonghi la specialista's bean hoppers
Breville Barista Express vs Delonghi La Specialista’s bean hoppers

Cleaning & Maintenance

Winner: Tie

Cleaning and maintaining these coffee machines isn’t a daunting task at all. They have some detachable parts for easily rising under the tap, including the drip tray, the used grounds box, the bean hopper, the water container, and the portafilter. Delonghi said that all the parts are dishwasher-safe, but I still strongly recommend cleaning them under the tap. The entire stainless-steel body is not only resistant to scratches but also a cinch to clean from day-to-day messes.

After each preparation of a milk-based drink, give their steam wands a wipe with a damp cloth. The Barista Express’s Panarello wand. The Barista Express’s Panarello wand can be removed into pieces for deep cleaning under running water.

These machines will also tell you when you need to kick-start an automatic descaling cycle. Only stick to the manufacturer’s recommended descaling solution for the best results.

Utilities & Other Features

Winner: Delonghi La Specialista

Auto Off

Have you ever had to pay a long electricity bill because you often leave some electrical appliances running while out of the house? The good news is that these machines can keep this worry at bay thanks to their auto-off function. But while the Barista Express automatically turns off after a fixed interval of 3 hours, the Delonghi La Specialista is more flexible, letting you choose from 9 minutes, 1.5 hours, or a 3-hour timeframe.

Quick Rundown Of Delonghi La Specialista

Last update on 2024-02-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • Compact and elegant design.
  • Has a dual boiler heating system.
  • Thermoblock technology heats up very quickly.
  • The Panarello steam wand is easy to use.
  • Boasts a large and easy-to-refill water tank.
Cons
  • Not compatible with a filter.
  • On the heavy side.

Quick Rundown Of Breville Barista Express

Sale
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel, BES870XL, Large
  • Earn up to $200 cashback with a Beanz coffee subscription when you purchase a selected Breville espresso machine. Valid Aug 1, 2023 until Jun 30, 2024
  • The Breville Barista Express delivers third wave specialty coffee at home using the 4 keys formula and is part of the Barista Series that offers all in one espresso machines with integrated grinder to go from beans to espresso in under one minute, helping you make the perfect cup of Cappuccino or Latte
  • DOSE CONTROL GRINDING: Integrated precision conical burr grinder grinds on demand to deliver the right amount of freshly ground coffee directly into the portafilter for your preferred taste with any roast of bean
  • OPTIMAL WATER PRESSURE: Low pressure pre-infusion gradually increases pressure at the start and helps ensure all the flavors are drawn out evenly during the extraction for a balanced tasting cup
  • PRECISE ESPRESSO EXTRACTION: Digital temperature control (PID) delivers water at precisely the right temperature, ensuring optimal espresso extraction

Last update on 2024-02-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • Has a well built and stylish design.
  • Offers up to 16 grind settings.
  • The pre-infusion process is adjustable.
  • A lot of adjustable settings.
  • Thermocoil system heats up quickly.
Cons
  • Quite heavy.
  • Has a single boiler.

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References

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