Delonghi La Specialista Vs Magnifica: Which Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Should You Buy?

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If you are after an automatic espresso machine that is affordable, reliable, and easy to use, you won’t go wrong with the Delonghi La Specialista vs Magnifica. They are crafted with the purpose of facilitating the preparation of your daily decaffeinated beverages without any barista-level skills or knowledge

The Delonghi La Specialista hit the market in 2019 and quickly became a best-seller in the brand’s “bean-to-cup” lineup. This compact machine has almost every feature you want in an espresso machine except an automatic frothing system. That means you’ll need to unleash your inner bartender a bit.

The Delonghi Magnifica (ESAM3300) is also one of the models worth considering in this price range. This one gives you the convenience of making espresso at the touch of a button and some upscale features. While it may lack the extravagant add-ons of pricier machines, I would argue that it provides substantial value for your money.

Delonghi La Specialista Vs Magnifica: Comparison Chart

Image
TIE
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
TIE
De'Longhi ESAM3300 Magnifica Super Automatic Espresso & Coffee Machine, Silver
Model
Delonghi La Specialista
Delonghi Magnifica
Dimensions/Weight
12.5 x 14 x 14.5 inches/29.7 lbs
11 x 15.3 x 14.4 inches/23.2 lbs
Heating System
Dual Thermoblock Boilers
Dual Thermoblock Boilers
Interface
Rotate Buttons
Rotate Buttons
One Touch Drink Options
3
1
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/12 inches
Dual/2.75-4.25 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
2 liter/0.26 liter
1.77 liter/0.26 liter
Pump Pressure
15 Bars
15 Bars
Built-in Grinder
Stainless Steel Conical Burr Grinder
Stainless Steel Conical Burr Grinder
Grinding Settings
6
13
Pre-Infusion
Filter
Milk Frothing System
Panarello Steam Wand
Panarello Steam Wand
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
What I Like
Price
$1,198.00
$379.95
TIE
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 Boilers
Interface
Rotate Buttons
One Touch Drink Options
3
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/12 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
2 liter/0.26 liter
Pump Pressure
15 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
TIE
Image
De'Longhi ESAM3300 Magnifica Super Automatic Espresso & Coffee Machine, Silver
Model
Delonghi Magnifica
Dimensions/Weight
11 x 15.3 x 14.4 inches/23.2 lbs
Heating System
Dual Thermoblock Boilers
Interface
Rotate Buttons
One Touch Drink Options
1
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/2.75-4.25 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
1.77 liter/0.26 liter
Pump Pressure
15 Bars
Built-in Grinder
Stainless Steel Conical Burr Grinder
Grinding Settings
13
Pre-Infusion
Filter
Milk Frothing System
Panarello Steam Wand
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
What I Like
Price
$379.95
More Info

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

Delonghi La Specialista Vs Magnifica: Differences

This battle ends in a tie. Each has its distinct upsides and downsides, which I’ll clarify in the ensuing comparison.

Coffee Flavour

Winner: Tie

Built-in Grinder

Inside their bean containers, there is a sizable grinder that is ready to crush the coffee beans to pull out the aroma and flavor from them. This is a stainless steel conical burr grinder, which is to be expected from espresso machines in this price range. To my mind, it does have some big cons.

First and foremost, the stainless steel grinder is prone to overheating during operation. We all know how this affects the taste of espresso – the heat produced can scorch the coffee grounds, leading to espressos that bear undesirable bitter undertones. To counteract this, many manufacturers have outfitted their higher-end models with ceramic burr grinders.

A further downside to these machines is their significant noise production. Although these devices are advertised as working particularly quietly, believe me, the opposite is true. A morning espresso brew with one of them could inadvertently wake others, and I’m not one to relish my favored drink while drawing irked glances or criticisms. The truly silent models I’ve tried are those fitted with ceramic burr grinders or Jura machines with A3 Aroma grinders – Of course, they are more expensive.

How many grind settings are available is another factor to consider since choosing the right grind size is important for a perfect caffeinated beverage. Overly fine coffee grounds impede the water flow through the coffee puck, resulting in over-extraction. On the other hand, if the grounds are too coarse, the water flows too swiftly, leading to an under-extracted espresso. In the realm of espresso machines, the higher the number of grind settings, the more room you have for experimentation and perfecting your brew.

The Delonghi La Specialista has 6 grind size settings, which are not a wide range but on par with the industry average – I’d recommend using setting 5 or 6 for a milder espresso and setting 1 or 2 for a bolder cup. On the flip side, the La Magnifica boasts a generous 13 settings, ranging from super coarse to extra fine- I think it provides enough breadth to satisfy your preferences for the degree of coarseness/fineness of the grounds, although such an extensive range is surplus to my own needs.

delonghi la specialista vs magnifica's grind settings
Delonghi La Specialista vs Magnifica’s grind settings

Interestingly, the Delonghi La Specialista automates grinding and has a smart tamping system (which is why it doesn’t come with a tamper). This machine will start up automatically once you have the included 51mm portafilter installed. Then just pull a lever on the side for hand-free tamping. The best part about this system is that it leaves no mess behind since everything is internal – no coffee grounds on the coffee machine or your countertop.

the smart tamping system on delonghi la specialista
The smart tamping system on Delonghi La Specialista

Heating System

The Delonghi La Specialista vs Magnifica share a dual boiler heating system, allowing you to brew and steam at the same time – one boiler takes charge of espresso brewing while the other handles milk steaming. This is a significant advantage, especially considering most models in the equivalent price bracket feature only a single boiler.

Without two separate boilers, the machine is forced to brew the coffee first, cool down, then heat the water to the right temperature for steaming milk, or vice versa. This results in a waiting time that causes your drink to cool down – If you brew espresso first, it could potentially lose its heat by the time you’ve steamed your milk, or it might become colder than ideal before you’re done brewing.

On top of that, they are equipped with Thermoblock technology. Instead of heating large amounts of water like traditional boilers, the Thermoblock boiler only heats just the right amount of water for each process. That way, it only takes about 20 seconds to kick-start the process. This is called instant reheat by De’Longhi, but that’s simply how a thermoblock heating system works.

Brewing System 

One thing that the Delonghi La Specialista vs Magnifica have in common is the automatic pre-infusion stage, which essentially adds a bit of hot water to the coffee grounds before the extraction begins. This allows the coffee to expand or “bloom,” avoiding uneven extraction because of the channeling issue and ensuring maximum aroma is extracted.

The pre-infusion process is automatic and can’t be adjusted on these machines, while some machines have the flexibility to toggle the pre-infusion process on and off and tweak the interval, such as the Gaggia Velasca Prestige or the Gaggia Babila. During the process, the pressure gauge on the Delonghi La Specialista will be low, followed by a rise into the perfect pressure zone as the actual brewing takes place.

Then both extract espresso at a maximum pressure of 15 bars. Wow! This is significantly higher than the technically sufficient pressure of 9 bars required to make a well-rounded shot of espresso. And if you ask me, these espresso machines harness the power of pressure, not simply gravity, to extract the coffee.

The result? I found the coffee drawn from these machines to be delicious, radiating the true taste of fresh coffee beans. It’s the perfect pick-me-up you need to stay energized throughout the day, which you can make yourself right in your kitchen, saving you daily trips to your local coffee house.

Milk Frothing System

I don’t know about you, but if a “one-touch” frothing system is on your wishlist, be prepared to loosen the purse strings a bit and invest in a higher-end machine. The Delonghi La Specialista vs Magnifica has a Panarello steam wand, which requires a bit more hands-on work than a super-automatic system. But this special frothing wand is still easy enough for a non-trained or less experienced guy to whip up foam right in their own kitchen. All you have to do is make sure the steaming wand is submerged in milk, turn on the steaming knob, and then the machine will do the magic instantly. Just be careful when playing with hot steam!

delonghi la specialista vs magnifica's panarello steam wand
Delonghi La Specialista vs Magnifica’s Panarello steam wand

Unlike traditional steam wands, the Panarello wand relieves you of the need to master the technique of frothing, the creation of a vortex, or gauging when to push the wand deeper into a stainless steel milk jug. Still, making perfect froth art is a hard-learned skill that will only get better with practice. But once you master it, I bet it will be your preferred milk frothing method, and a fully automated system will lose its charm in your eyes.

Frankly, I ended up testing the La Specialista with flying colors since it could whip up lovely microfoam for both lattes and cappuccinos that echoed café-grade quality. I could alter the texture by moving the collar ring: the upper position for milk steaming (largely for lattes) and the lower position for milk frothing (mostly for cappuccinos) – there’s nothing this beast couldn’t tackle.

you need to froth milk yourself
You need to froth milk yourself

On the other hand, I found the Delonghi Magnifica’s wand to work surprisingly well in making pretty nice foam for a perfect cappuccino – I could even get an acceptable result on my first try with this one. But, seriously, it isn’t the best tool for home baristas to make perfect latte art. 

Design & Usability

Winner: Delonghi La Specialista

Dimensions, Footprint, & Weight

Delonghi La SpecialistaDelonghi Magnifica
Dimensions12.5 x 14 x 14.5 inches11 x 15.3 x 14.4 inches
Weight29.7 lbs23.2 lbs

The Delonghi Magnifica is a stainless steel semi-automatic espresso machine with a timeless look. It has no graphical interface, and all the controls are button operated. I didn’t find it aesthetically appealing. No, I’m not implying that it’s an ugly duck – I just believe that it’s not likely to win in design competitions and can’t bring a “wow” factor to any kitchen countertop.

The Delonghi La Specialista is another stainless-steel-bodied machine but with a very handsome, high-end look. The robust metal casing not only enhances its luxurious appeal but also provides strong resistance to corrosion, damage, and rust. Love it!

delonghi la specialista vs magnifica's control panel
Delonghi La Specialista vs Magnifica’s control panel

I was also glad that they aren’t big at all, or at least they’re smaller than most espresso machines I’ve tested. This is a big bonus point since, after all, not everyone has ample counter space for sizable kitchen gadgets. Yes, they are on the heavy side, primarily due to their robust stainless steel construction.

Pre-programmed Coffee Options

Delonghi La SpecialistaDelonghi Magnifica
Espresso
Coffee
Americano
Espresso

These machines basically offer nothing but one-touch espresso, and you need to roll up your sleeves and froth milk on your own to get some milky drinks. Depending on your skill, the result is a creamy, delicious cappuccino or just a sloppy combination of espresso and hot milk. Just don’t feel disheartened! Acquiring the knack for milk frothing has always been a demanding task.

Regarding adjustability, the DeLonghi Magnifica offers 10 lengths of espresso shot and 10 levels of coffee strength. The  Delonghi La Specialista, on the other hand, provides the option to modify the volume of coffee grounds, the lengths of espresso shot to your liking (and save it, thanks to the Memo function), and brew temperature (2 levels).

Both also have a hot water dispenser that you can use to brew tea, make hot chocolate, or simply prepare an authentic Americano by diluting espresso. So I believe they can get your kettle thrown away. 

The Delonghi Magnifica has a bypass doser for pre-ground coffee, which comes into play whenever you run out of coffee beans, want a cup of occasional decaf, or just want to brew a different type of coffee. As for the Delonghi La Specialista, you can also use pre-ground coffee directly in the portafilter (the pressurized basket is recommended) instead of relying on a separate compartment.

delonghi magnifica's bypass doser
Delonghi Magnifica’s bypass doser

Spout & Cup Clearance

Delonghi La SpecialistaDelonghi Magnifica
Spout TypeDualDual
Cup Height12 inches2.75-4.25 inches

I also want you to focus on its spout height since it would be a shame to jettison your favorite cups because they don’t measure up to your new espresso machine, right? 

The dual coffee spout of the Delonghi Magnifica is adjustable to fit different cup sizes. It struggles to accommodate larger mugs like insulated jugs or travel mugs but still fits a regular coffee cup. On the flip side, the Delonghi Magnifica has a maximum cup clearance of 12 inches, allowing it to fit even super-tall cups. There is a perch for the smaller ones to prevent any brewing splatters and preserve that lovely, creamy layer atop your espresso.

delonghi la specialista vs magnifica's dual spigots
Delonghi La Specialista vs Magnifica’s dual spigots

They can serve two espressos at once with just one touch, which is a great feature. I don’t know about you, but  I’d rather not play a high-stakes game of “who gets the first cup” with my wife. It’s a life-threatening game, dudes!

Water Reservoir & Bean Hopper

Delonghi La SpecialistaDelonghi Magnifica
Water Reservoir2 liter1.77 liter
Bean Hopper0.26 liter0.26 liter

Their water tanks are larger than many of the competition, and considering they are designed for home use, they won’t need to be refilled too often during the day. The La Specialista’s reservoir is placed at the back, which is not as user-friendly for refilling as the Magnifica’s side-situated tank. So housing it under a kitchen cabinet may not be the best idea.

However, what’s not great is the fact that they don’t have the option of a built-in filter to remove impurities from the water. Hence, you will need to use good quality water or descale the machine frequently. Another option is to use bottled or pre-filtered water, but that’s definitely not practical. Well, buying a water filter dispenser separately is also a smart move.

Their bean hoppers can hold up to 250g of coffee beans, but I personally recommend never keeping leftover coffee beans there since they aren’t airtight. That said, your beans are prone to exposure to the air and go stale quickly. Just put in the hopper what you grind, and only grind what you brew.

delonghi la specialista vs magnifica’s bean hoppers
Delonghi La Specialista vs Magnifica’s bean hoppers

Cleaning & Maintenance

Winner: Delonghi Magnifica

Unlike the La Specialista, the Magnifica has a detachable brew group, which needs to be cleaned manually under a tap. This might seem tedious at first, but it’s actually a blessing in disguise. Firstly, hand-washing the brew group with a sponge guarantees a more thorough and dependable cleaning than any automatic cleaning process. What’s more, if the brew group breaks, it can be conveniently replaced. Just remember, don’t put it in your dishwasher since it’ll damage the plastic and shorten the lifespan.

Regarding descaling them, all you need to do is fill the water reservoir with the DeLonghi Descaler and let the machine run the cycle automatically. These espresso machines don’t use water filters, so they will need to be descaled more often than models with built-in filters. If you want to do this task less often, just use water with low hardness.

As for cleaning the steam wand, let some steam go through it and wipe it down with a damp rag after each use to remove any potential milk residue. Just be careful as it can get very hot.

 Last but not least, you should clean some removable parts on a regular basis, such as the water tank, the drip tray, the dregs basket, the portafilter, etc. Their entire stainless-steel body is easy to clean and definitely requires less maintenance.

Utilities & Other Features

Winner: Tie

Cup Warmer

Both have a cup warmer on top that helps warm up to 3 or 4 mugs before brewing. This is a welcome addition but not a great one since it is only passively heated by the boiler.

Auto Off

I’m not an absent-minded guy, but in the morning flurry, I sometimes neglect to switch off devices. This has added to my monthly electricity bills, but thankfully, no fire incidents have arisen from this yet. If you’re on my side, you’ll love that these machines automatically shut down after two hours. If you think it is a bit long, you can shorten it.

Quick Rundown Of Delonghi La Specialista

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

Pros
  • Compact and elegant design.
  • Has a dual boiler heating system.
  • Thermoblock technology heats up quickly.
  • The Panarello steam wand is easy to use.
  • Has a large water tank.
Cons
  • On the heavy side.
  • No descaling indicator.

Quick Rundown Of Delonghi Magnifica

Sale
De'Longhi ESAM3300 Magnifica Super Automatic Espresso & Coffee Machine, Silver
  • Note: 1)Too coarse a grind, too little coffee, or insufficiently tamping the grounds before brewing can all lead to inadequate pressure for a proper brew. 2)It is important to note that the amount of espresso extracted will vary depending on the grind size and amount and reprogramming may be needed when the size and amount are adjusted
  • FRESH ESPRESSO FOR EVERY CUP: The professional burr grinder with 13 adjustable settings grinds fresh beans every time to ensure maximum freshness. You can also use pre-ground in the second chamber. Your choice of regular, specialty or decaf.
  • YOUR FOAM, YOUR WAY: A manual frother mixes steam and milk to create a rich, creamy froth for evenly textured drinks – just the way you like them.
  • CONSISTENT BREWING EVERY TIME: Each cup is automatically brewed to the perfect temperature, richness and density. And you can customize the settings to ensure its always just the way you like it.
  • EASY TO CLEAN AND HANDLE: The compact, extractable brew unit is not only easy to clean, it self-adjusts for one or two shots of espresso.

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

Pros
  • Has up to 13 grind settings.
  • Extracts at a maximum pressure of 15 bars.
  • Boasts two Thermoblock boilers.
  • Feature a large and easy-to-refill water reservoir.
  • Features a detachable brew group for deep cleaning.
Cons
  • No built-in filter.
  • Heavy.

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Rating 5/5 - (3 votes)