- Relatively easy to use and maintain
- Great coffee for the price
- Compatible with your favorite espresso-ground coffee, or use ESE pods
- Critics say it is not "true" espresso
- No compatible double-shot pods
- 1-year warranty could be longer
Good coffee is essential to being alive. After going through several coffee machines, I decided to try the DeLonghi Stilosa espresso machine and I’m glad I did. That said, there are some tradeoffs you should know about.
- Brew lattes, cappuccinos and espressos in the comfort of your home.
- Contemporary and Compact Design: The perfect addition to your modern kitchen counter top, without taking up too much space, plus it’s easy to clean.
- 15 BAR Pump: Guarantees the optimal pressure to extract a single or double espresso, so your coffee drink comes out perfectly rich.
- Manual Milk Frother: Texture your milk with ease to create an authentic cappuccino, latte or flat white.
- Stainless Steel Boiler: Robust design, durable construction of this boiler is engineered to last long and work for years with consistent performance.
- Includes portafilter and two filters: An ergonomically designed portafilter has two filters, for single or double espresso.
- Two level cup holder: Allows you to use a variety of cup sizes so you can have as much—or as little—espresso as you’d like.
I’m used to making large pots of coffee and drinking a couple mugs throughout the day, but after I went to Italy and experienced authentic espresso, I was convinced that I needed to change my ways. I like this machine a lot!
The difference between an espresso machine and a coffee machine
It’s pretty simple: a coffee machine lets hot water drip through coffee grounds. An espresso machine uses added pressure to force hot water through coffee grounds, giving you more highly-concentrated coffee because of science. The result is a stronger-tasting brew that many have come to prefer. An espresso machine also usually includes a milk frother for fancier drinks.
Espresso has more caffeine than coffee, but you usually drink more ounces of coffee than you do espresso, so I actually drink less caffeine in 2 espressos than I did drinking 2 mugs of coffee.
Also, I don’t have proof of this, but in my mind, the lesser quantity of espresso at one time in the day will likely stain your teeth less than more quantity of coffee throughout the day.
The DeLonghi Stilosa: is it espresso or coffee?
By definition, because of the 15 bars of pressure (~217.5 psi), it is espresso and is marketed as an espresso machine.
Critics of this machine say that the espresso is not the same quality as an $800 machine that applies more pressure. Does this machine make the same espresso I had in Italy from a $1k+ espresso machine? No. But for a machine that puts hot water through coffee grounds, you can spend 1/10th the price with this machine than you would spend on a high-end “real” espresso machine and still get great-tasting coffee/espresso.
With this machine you have two options: use espresso-ground coffee with the included filter baskets, or use ESE (easy-serve espresso) pods, similar to Nespresso machines (but not cross-compatible). I have used both and I recommend using your own grounds for one reason: I have only been able to find single-shot ESE pods that are compatible, and no one on Earth wants 1 shot of espresso. By default, almost all espressos at coffee shops are actually 2 shots, so a single-shot pod would give you half of that amount. Using your own grounds with the 2-shot filter basket lets you not worry about this. Although cleanup is more of a hassle, I think this is worth it.
I recommend Cafe Bustelo because it’s cheap and tastes good and works well with this machine. I’ve also tried a handful of local espresso blends that have turned out well, but I find Cafe Bustelo actually better than most for some reason. Whatever you get, make sure it’s an espresso blend and espresso-ground, or else the result won’t be as strong of a flavor.
What about Nespresso?
Nespresso machines make okay espresso, but with machines that can only use pods, you’re locking yourself into a world of predetermined coffee blends at higher prices that are bad for the environment. The inventor of the Keurig doesn’t even use a Keurig because of how much waste it produces. Sure, you can get compostable pods, so that solves one of these problems, if you actually compost them correctly. I think because of these reasons, pod-only machines are not worth it.
Does Ted Approve?
This machine packs a lot of quality into a sleek, functional design and produces great drinks for the price.