Breville Oracle vs Delonghi La Specialista: Which Is The Better Automatic Espresso Machine?

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My review for the debate Breville Oracle vs Delonghi La Specialista has arrived! And after putting them to the test, it is obvious that Breville Oracle outperforms Delonghi La Specialista.

Breville Oracle‘s price may not be for the faint of heart, but its features and capabilities make it well worth the money if you want to invest in a truly good-valued model. A dual-boiler system, PID, customizable espresso shots, and other amazing features set this super-automatic espresso machine apart from the competition.

However, the second-place Delonghi La Specialista is also a good option for a stylish semi-automatic espresso machine. The machine includes dual heating, integrated smart tamping, and sensor grinding. The biggest reason why it loses to Breville Oracle is that the device doesn’t have such great control over temperature and grind-size settings as its rival.

Breville Oracle vs Delonghi La Specialista: Comparison Chart

Image
THE WINNER (#1)
Breville Oracle Espresso Machine BES980XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
THE RUNNER-UP (#2)
De'Longhi EC9335R La Specialista Espresso Machine with Sensor Grinder, Dual Heating System, Advanced Latte System & Hot Water Spout for Americano Coffee or Tea, Stainless Steel,67.6 oz, Red
Model
Breville Oracle
Delonghi La Specialista
Dimensions (WxDxH)
14.7" x 14.5" x 17.6"
14.5 x 17.5 x 15 inches
Weight / Voltage / Wattage
34.5 Pounds / 120 V / 1800 W
29.7 Pounds
Bean Hopper Capacity
8 oz
8.8 oz
Water Tank Capacity
84 oz
70 oz
Pre-infusion
Heating System
Dual Boilers
Dual Thermoblock
PID Temperature Control
Built-in Grinder
Grind Size Settings
45 settings
6 settings
Automatic Tamper
Milk System
Auto MilQ Steam Wand (Auto & Manual frothing)
Advanced Latte System Steam Wand (Auto & Manual frothing)
Adjustable Milk Temperature
Adjustable Coffee Strength
Auto Purge
Auto Off
What I Like
Price
$2,199.95
$899.95
THE WINNER (#1)
Image
Breville Oracle Espresso Machine BES980XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
Model
Breville Oracle
Dimensions (WxDxH)
14.7" x 14.5" x 17.6"
Weight / Voltage / Wattage
34.5 Pounds / 120 V / 1800 W
Bean Hopper Capacity
8 oz
Water Tank Capacity
84 oz
Pre-infusion
Heating System
Dual Boilers
PID Temperature Control
Built-in Grinder
Grind Size Settings
45 settings
Automatic Tamper
Milk System
Auto MilQ Steam Wand (Auto & Manual frothing)
Adjustable Milk Temperature
Adjustable Coffee Strength
Auto Purge
Auto Off
What I Like
Price
$2,199.95
More Info
THE RUNNER-UP (#2)
Image
De'Longhi EC9335R La Specialista Espresso Machine with Sensor Grinder, Dual Heating System, Advanced Latte System & Hot Water Spout for Americano Coffee or Tea, Stainless Steel,67.6 oz, Red
Model
Delonghi La Specialista
Dimensions (WxDxH)
14.5 x 17.5 x 15 inches
Weight / Voltage / Wattage
29.7 Pounds
Bean Hopper Capacity
8.8 oz
Water Tank Capacity
70 oz
Pre-infusion
Heating System
Dual Thermoblock
PID Temperature Control
Built-in Grinder
Grind Size Settings
6 settings
Automatic Tamper
Milk System
Advanced Latte System Steam Wand (Auto & Manual frothing)
Adjustable Milk Temperature
Adjustable Coffee Strength
Auto Purge
Auto Off
What I Like
Price
$899.95
More Info

Last update on 2024-05-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Breville Oracle vs Delonghi La Specialista: Differences

The Breville Oracle wins 4-0 against the Delonghi La Specialista in all assessments except the cleaning and maintenance aspect. Let’s go into detail about how the Breville Oracle won my heart.

Coffee flavor & Brewing system

Winner: Breville Oracle

Built-in grinder & tamper

Both machines have built-in automatic grinders, but for me, the Breville Oracle grinding system is better than that of the Delonghi La Specialista. It is because the Oracle provides me with more grind size settings, which include 45 settings, with 1 being the finest and 45 being the coarsest. Meanwhile, the La Specialista has only 6 grind-size settings.

With more grind settings, I can get the right fineness for the coffee grounds, though it may take more time for trials and failures. My friend often sets the grind size at 14 while mine is at 24 for the best flavorful shots matching our preferences.

On the other hand, the grind size settings on the La Specialista are quite limited. The coffee ground from its grinder in the finest setting is somehow not fine enough to be considered a good grind, at least for me. However, the La Specialista offers an option to use pre-ground coffee. So, you can buy coffee powder from the supermarket and use it without minding dialing in an ideal grind size every time making espresso.

Breville Oracle has more grind size settings than Delonghi La Specialista
Breville Oracle has more grind size settings than Delonghi La Specialista

Besides, the Oracle and La Specialista are equipped with built-in tampers. Built-in tampers are an amazing feature of these machines because it helps lever the ground in the portafilter uniformly to avoid the channeling issue. The difference between their tampers is that the Oracle tamping is automated. In contrast, the tamping on La Specialista needs your engagement.

In particular, after grinding and dosing the right amount into the portafilter, the Oracle automatically tamps the coffee ground for you. Moreover, this machine allows you to adjust the tamping force and time. I used the factory tamping settings, so if you want, you can play around with it to figure out which is proper for delivering you the best espresso taste.

Regarding the La Specialista, after dosing, you have to pull the tamping handle on the left side of the machine to lever the espresso ground. Some people may find that the tamping force is relatively lighter than its rival because it is considered a manual tamper but has a better tamping mechanism.

The automatic built-in tamper of Breville Oracle
The automatic built-in tamper of Breville Oracle

Dosing and brewing

The dosing on Breville Oracle and Delonghi La Specialista is automatic, depending on the cup amount you want to brew and the selected grind size. Though automatic dosing is convenient, it has a small drawback: dosing inconsistency.

This inconsistency comes from the lack of precise control over the volumetric setting, which can be problematic for home baristas aiming for precise and consistent espresso shots. The inconsistency variance is around 0.5-1.0 grams of coffee grounds, which may seem small but significantly impacts the consistency of the resulting shots.

If you want dual-boiler espresso but still want to precisely dose the coffee ground, I believe getting the Breville Dual Boiler together with a separate coffee grinder is the better option.

However, for home use and convenience, the automatic dosing feature of both Oracle and La Specialista is great, and I can say that they pull beautiful espresso shot after shot. However, considering the consistency and richness of the espresso flavor and body, I would vote for the Breville Oracle.

Both machines can deliver a nice 9-bar extraction pressure, but the Breville Oracle is superior due to its programable pre-infusion time and pressure. With the ability to set the pre-infusion time and force, I can extract consistent full-body espresso shots unless I change the grind size setting. 

Heating system

What I really like about the Breville Oracle and Delonghi La Specialista is their dual heating system. Specifically, the Oracle features a dual-boiler system with PID temperature control, while the La Specialista uses a dual-thermoblock system. This means both machines can brew the espresso and steam milk simultaneously.

However, the heating system of the Oracle is more consistent than that of the La Specialista, technically. It can be attributed to its integrated PID temperature control and Oracle’s use of boilers, not thermoblocks.

The double boilers are known for their greater water-temperature consistency than other heating systems. Moreover, the Breville Oracle offers an adjustable brewing temperature setting from 195°F to 201°F. So, I can pull the espresso cup with amazingly consistent hotness while preserving the flavor, rich body, and nice crema between espresso shots.

Yet, the dual-boiler heating system requires a longer heat-up time and is more expensive than the thermoblock. This is why Oracle’s price is higher than La Specialista’s one.

Breville Oracle and Delonghi La Specialista can brew espresso and steam milk at the same time
Breville Oracle and Delonghi La Specialista can brew espresso and steam milk at the same time

Design & Convenience

Winner: Breville Oracle

Drink options & Programmability

Unlike higher-end super-automatic machines, their preset drinks are limited. Still, once you master your skills, you can make varieties of espresso drinks like one shot/two shot espresso, americano, long black, and milk-based espresso such as latte, macchiato, and cappucino.

The preset drinks that I can dial in with a touch of a button on the Delonghi La Specialista are Espresso (1 and 2 shots), Americano, and Coffee. In the Coffee preset, the brewing process does not involve the pre-infusion stage, so the extraction will be more delicate in flavor. With the Breville Oracle, I have the Americano/Long black, and 1 and 2 shot Espresso presets.

So, they can pull 1 and 2 shots of espresso with a volume from around 1.2 oz to 2.4 oz, respectively. However, regarding the americano/long black cup size, presets are relatively different between the Breville Oracle and La Specialista. Specifically, the preset americano volumes for the Oracle are about 6 oz, 8 oz, and 12 oz for the corresponding small, medium, and large cup sizes. Meanwhile, the La Specialista can produce approx. 4.2 oz (single shot) and 8.4 oz (double shot).

Programmable functions on the Breville Oracle
Programmable functions on the Breville Oracle

Definitely, these presets can be overridden according to your preferences. This means these machines allow me to manually stop the hot water flow and espresso extraction once I get the desired amounts for my cups. The machines will remember such changes for the next brewing. I often manually place a scale under my cup or use the liquid measuring cup to get the best settings.

Besides, the group head of both machines is fixed, and my travel mug (about 6 inches in height) does not fit under their brewing head. So, I think using the cup with a height of less than 4 inches can work perfectly with the Oracle and La Specialista.

Capacity & Dimension

The Breville Oracle and Delonghi La Specialista are not compact machines. They definitely take some counter spaces. Their heights are around 17.8 inches from the bottom to the top of the bean hopper. Thus, if the space between your hanging cupboard and counter is smaller than 18 inches, you should consider carefully before purchasing because they will not fit and may cause inconvenience.

Can refill the Breville Oracle's water tank from the front
Can refill the Breville Oracle’s water tank from the front

The Breville Oracle boasts a larger 84 oz water tank, compared to that of the Delonghi La Specialista (70 oz). Both of them have their water reservoir removed from the back, but I can refill the Breville Oracle from the front. Such a feature makes using the Breville Oracle more convenient than using the Delonghi La Specialista.

Besides, the Oracle and La Specialista have indicators showing if the water amount is sufficient. Specifically, the Oracle shows the ‘Fill Tank’ alert on the display while the La Specialista has the ‘No water light’ on.

On the other hand, the Delonghi La Specialista has a little bigger bean hopper than the Breville Oracle. The capacities of the Oracle’s and La Specialista’s bean containers are 8 oz and 8.8 oz, respectively.

Breville Oracle alerts when to fill the water tank
Breville Oracle alerts when to fill the water tank

Pressure gauge & hot water spout

These two machines all have separate hot water spouts for making americano or pre-heating the cup before brewing. Additionally, their hot water spout position is close to the group head, so I don’t have to move my cup to get hot water after pulling my espresso shots.

The difference here is that the Delonghi La Specialista features a pressure gauge, while Breville has removed this gauge on their Oracle. Instead, the Oracle shows the brewing time (including the pre-infusion time) for each shot on its LCD screen, and you can adjust the pre-infusion pressure and time to dial in the most suitable flavor. In my opinion, this makes learning to brew the good shot easier.

Meanwhile, the Delonghi La Specialista is in a more traditional way with a pressure gauge that assists you in tracking if the extraction pressure is in the optimal zone for the best shot. In this way, you can adjust the variables, such as the grind sizes and dosing amounts in the portafilter for the next shots.

Delonghi La Specialista's pressure gauge and customization buttons
Delonghi La Specialista’s pressure gauge and customization buttons

Milk system

Winner: Breville Oracle

These two machines feature an automatic milk steaming system that allows me to adjust the milk texturing from flat to foamy for different milk-based espresso drinks. The “Flat” setting is to steam the hot milk (not frothing). Meanwhile, in the “Foam” setting, their milk wands introduce more air to be infused, creating a foamier texture, which is suitable for making cappuccino.

The frothed and steamed milk obtained using the Breville Oracle and Delonghi La Specialista is creamy and hot. I can also use non-diary and low-fat milk products with these machines. However, the Breville Oracle milk system is more impressive to me.

It is because the Breville Oracle allows me to adjust the milk temperature in a range of 104-167°F. Once the milk reaches the selected temperature, its steaming/frothing process automatically stops. Moreover, it offers 9 levels of milk texture to play around with so that I can get the most appropriate milk texturing results even though I haven’t had much experience.

Moreover, the Oracle has the programmable airflow setting in the advanced setting section. This setting is particularly to determine when air is introduced to the milk. One of my friends, a professional barista, told me that when using low-fat milk for frothing, introducing the air earlier into the milk will help get a better texture. Thus, this feature of the Oracle does useful for those who use milk products with lower fat content.

Adjust milk texturing on the Breville Oracle (left) and Delonghi La Specialista (right)
Adjust milk texturing on the Breville Oracle (left) and Delonghi La Specialista (right)

Cleaning & Maintenance

Tie!

Both machines will prompt you to run descaling cycles. On the Delonghi La Specialista, you will descale when the descaling light is solid red, while on the Oracle, the descaling alert is shown on its LCD screen. Their descaling cycles are also easy to do; all I need is to follow the demonstrated steps in their manuals.

However, cleaning the milk wands on both machines is a little different. The Breville Oracle’s milk wand has an auto-purge function to automatically release all the excess steam and milk residues in the wand tip. Meanwhile, you have to do the manual purging after steaming milk with the milk wand of the La Specialista.

Besides, the La Specialista’s milk wand has a rubber steam connection nozzle, and this steam nozzle can be taken off and washed with dishwasher. On the other hand, the tip of the Oracle’s steam wand can be removed for thorough rinsing to remove blockages (demonstrated on page 33 in the manual). Apart from that, you need to carefully wipe their milk wands with a damp microfiber cloth after use to avoid residues building up.

The water filter is optional for either Breville Oracle or Delonghi La Specialista. However, if your living areas have hard water, I believe using water filters is essential to pull delicious espresso. Additionally, the water filter is useful to soften the water so that the need for regular descaling can be reduced, helping to save your time and recurring cost.

Breville Oracle has auto-purge function
Breville Oracle has the auto-purge function

Utilities

Winner: Breville Oracle

Auto On/Off

Delonghi La Specialista and Breville Oracle allow you to set the auto-off time after a specific time without interaction. Specifically, the Oracle auto-off time can be set for 5-20 mins. Meanwhile, this can be adjusted for 15 minutes, 1.5 hours, and 3 hours on the La Specialista.

However, the thing that separates the Oracle from the La Specialista is that the Oracle allows users to set the time for the machine to be turned on automatically. In this way, the machine can heat up and be ready to use by the time you wake up. 

This auto-on function is really convenient for me, especially on hustle mornings, as I can immediately get my espresso brewed without waiting for the Oracle to heat up. And remember to set the clock on the machine so that this function can work precisely to save your busy day.

Other features

  • LCD screen

The Breville Oracle features 3 LCD screens in addition to the button and knob controls. The LCD screen is a great feature for convenience because it shows the parameters and changes I made to each setting. Thus, I know whether the adjustment is applied visually and more straightforwardly. So, I prefer the Oracle to the La Specialista for this visuality factor.

  • Small cup tray

The Delonghi La Specialista has a small hold-down cup holder for placing the short, small cups when brewing your shots. This helps reduce the splashing while the espresso is extracted into the cup. Though the Oracle does not have this small pop-out tray, I can improve the splashing problem by placing a small thing with flat surfaces under the cup. So, this feature is not a deal-breaker for me.

Delonghi La Specialista has a fold-down cup holder
Delonghi La Specialista has a fold-down cup holder
  • Others

These are things unique to the Breville Oracle, contributing to its convenience:

– The Breville Oracle has a small storage tray behind the drip tray, which I often use to store unused filter baskets and other stuff, such as cleaning tablets and cleaning tools.

– Moving the Breville Oracle is very easy, owing to its hidden locking wheel under the drip tray. By unlocking the knob, the wheels support the machine to slide on the counter with less effort.

– It has LED lighting for the working drip tray area, and the light brightness can be adjusted by accessing the SPOt advanced setting.

The drip tray spotlights on the Breville Oracle
The drip tray spotlights on the Breville Oracle

Quick Rundown of Breville Oracle 

Breville Oracle Espresso Machine BES980XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
  • Earn up to $200 cashback with a Beanz coffee subscription when you purchase a selected Breville espresso machine. Visit earn-cashback.breville.com purchase to claim. Valid Aug 1, 2023 until Jun 30, 2024
  • The Breville Oracle fully automatic delivers third wave specialty coffee at home using the 4 keys formula; It has a professional Dual Boiler construction that delivers unparalleled temperature control and simultaneous extraction and steaming
  • DOSE CONTROL GRINDING: The integrated precision conical burr grinder automatically grinds, doses and tamps 22 grams of freshly ground coffee, for maximum flavor
  • OPTIMAL WATER PRESSURE: The Over Pressure Valve limits the maximum pump pressure throughout extraction, helping prevent bitter flavors; Low pressure pre infusion gradually increases water pressure to gently expand grinds for an even extraction
  • PRECISE ESPRESSO EXTRACTION: Dual stainless steel boilers and heated group head controlled by digital temperature control (PID) delivers water at precisely the right temperature, ensuring optimal espresso extraction

Last update on 2024-05-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • PID temperature control
  • Dual boiler for efficient brewing and frothing
  • Mechanically measures, dispenses, and tamps coffee
  • Very little mess made
  • You can modify your espresso thanks to advanced programmability
Cons
  • High price

Quick Rundown of Delonghi La Specialista

De'Longhi EC9335R La Specialista Espresso Machine with Sensor Grinder, Dual Heating System, Advanced Latte System & Hot Water Spout for Americano Coffee or Tea, Stainless Steel,67.6 oz, Red
  • Sensor grinding technology: Exclusive sensing technology delivers precise, consistent grinding and the optimal dose for espresso, every time. Plus, the bean sensor ensures you’ll never run out of beans while grinding.
  • The smart tamping station: Simply pull the lever to tamp the ground coffee with the right pressure for perfect results. There’s no need to remove the porta-filter, so you get to enjoy a mess-free experience.
  • Active temperature control with dual heating system: The best temperature stability for optimal coffee extraction and milk texturing. La Specialista is equipped with two independent heating systems. One thermoblock for extracting coffee and an independent heating system for steaming milk or frothing ensures immediate beverage preparation
  • Advanced latte system: Choose your style of froth: Micro-foam frothing for Latte Art or rich froth for cappuccino. Just place your cup under the spout and select flat or foam. Once it’s finished, you can enjoy your flat hot milk, or the perfect foam to express your latte art creativity.
  • 1 second quick start: Power the machine on, grind and tamp your dose, then immediately brew authentic espresso – no additional heat up time necessary. Thanks to a second heating system dedicated to the Advanced Latte System, you don’t have to wait to steam your milk, either. La Specialista is ready when you are.

Last update on 2024-05-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • Fast brewing
  • Steaming milk while pulling an espresso shot is possible
  • A messy tamping station can be avoided with the Smart Tamping Station
  • Portafilter and milk pitcher that is strong and durable
Cons
  • No temperature control technology
  • Less grind size settings

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References

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