Will you love it or hate it? Delonghi ESAM3300 review

De’Longhi has been in the home appliance game for quite some time.

They have a reputation for quality products and mediocre customer service – but, given that they are one of the “budget” brands as far as espresso machines go, sometimes customer service can be overlooked.

The De’Longhi ESAM3300 Magnifica is a super automatic espresso maker that aims to take the work out of getting a perfect morning cup of espresso, latte, or cappuccino, but does it live up to the expectations set forth by the brand?

We did a full review of the unit to let you know what you’re getting into. Here’s what we found

If you want a super automatic espresso machine without spending a fortune, and don’t mind a few extra steps to get everything just right, the De’Longhi Magnifica is a great beginner’s machine that lets you customize the machine for your exact preferences. If you’re looking for overall convenience, this machine falls a little flat

Matt
Master Reviewer

The Good

  • Fits underneath cabinets with at least 14 inch (35.56 cm) clearance. However, you will need about 18 inches (around 45.75 cm) clearance in order to open the machine, and more to fill it
  • Bean hopper is said to hold about 7 oz. of beans, but we found the actual capacity to be around 11-12 oz
  • Some tinkering will let you get the perfect customization you crave, although those who don’t want to mess around can get a good cup with minimal effort
  • Unit has a “Clean” light to let you know when it’s time to do a full cleaning. Don’t ignore this light, and if possible, try to clean your machine before this light comes on
  • Unit has a grinder bypass feature to use pre-ground coffee
  • Low price for a super-automatic machine

The Bad

  • We found it was better to use the one-cup cycle as many times as necessary to fill your chosen cup size. Any settings used for the one-cup function will be carried over when you use the two-cup function
  • It takes a bit of experimentation to get your settings just right. Familiarizing yourself with these settings before trying to brew can help minimize the time it takes. They may need to be adjusted any time you change coffee, but those who aren’t particular about their morning cup probably won’t feel the need to adjust.
  • As with most other super automatic machines, regular use of the steam wand will require more maintenance. We lubricated with high-temperature food-grade grease and replaced our O-rings every couple of months, which seemed to help cut maintenance. You will still need to rinse it regularly
  • There is a one to two shot delay before the ground beans are actually used. We recommend the first cup go to someone who adds flavorings to their drinks, as the grounds may have been sitting since you brewed your last cup the day before
  • Quality control on these units doesn’t quite live up to De’Longhi’s strong reputation, so it’s best if you fully check your machine on arrival to make sure there are no issues. De’Longhi’s customer service is a bit lacking, which will make it worthwhile to learn how to fix problems on your own. Unfortunately, this can still be a time-consuming process, so those who don’t want to tinker with their machine would be best to choose a different model   

In-Depth De’Longhi ESAM3300 Review

On first unpacking our De’Longhi ESAM3300 Magnifica, we were initially surprised when the unit failed to initialize. A quick look inside the back panel let us know that there were some connections off, which were easy enough to fix, but for a company with such a strong reputation, we expected quality control to be a little better. Now prepared for a little pre-use maintenance, we continued to see what other problems we could find.

Preheating our Magnifica was a fast and pain-free process. It reached optimum temperature within a minute, which helped to offset the inability to program the machine to be ready when you get up. Be advised that this unit actually grinds the beans ahead of time, so there will be a one to two cup delay before the beans that were just ground are actually used. If you’ll be adding flavorings to your first cup and then brewing several more cups, this isn’t a problem, as it’s only the first cup or two that are “old” grounds. The quality of the third and subsequent cups are easily Starbucks quality or better.

The built-in milk frother performs pretty well, for those who are used to super automatic machines. The foam is consistent, with very few visible bubbles, and with practice you can even do basic latte art with it. Those who want a more customizable experience will likely find adjustments that can be made, although these will void any warranty you may have, as they do mean “breaking” your machine.

De’Longhi ESAM3300 Review Continued

As with any other super automatic espresso machine, you will need to clean the steam wand immediately after using, in order to cut back on overall maintenance that needs to be done. Even if you don’t choose to modify the steamer in any other ways, we recommend getting some high-temperature food-grade grease to lubricate the control knob, since it does seize up after a bit of regular use. We also replaced all the O-rings every time the lever started to stick – these can easily be found at your local hardware store. We changed these every two to three months, but your experience may vary, depending on how frequently you use the milk functions.

Exploring the settings was a fairly straightforward process. Some people may be put off by the manual lamp-lit interface, as opposed to a touch screen design, but we felt that these buttons gave us more control over our final product. In fact, we were able to set our “main settings” pretty quickly. Of course, these settings make things a little more difficult if someone in your house takes their coffee a different way, as we were unable to find a way to save multiple preferences. This is minor, however, and if your family all takes their coffee the same way, it’s not a problem at all.

One of our biggest complaints with this machine is that there is a lot of maintenance necessary, for a super automatic. With any espresso machine, there is bound to be a routine to keep it working at its best, but there are common, recurring problems that will require trips to a repair shop. Aside from De’Longhi not providing the level of customer service we’d like to see, we also learned that the replacement parts for this machine will need to be ordered from Italy – which adds to the time the machine will be in the shop whenever you need to send it in.

Key Facts

  • Super Automatic Espresso Machine
  • $$$$ (out of 5)
  • Single Serving
  • Coffee Beans or Ground Coffee

If you’re performing the required maintenance (including thoroughly cleaning the machine when the light comes on, or preferably before then), the trips to the shop will be minimized, but it’s worth noting that these repairs will happen, and they will be expensive and time-consuming. De’Longhi’s customer service was not very receptive to customer complaints, which is always a little unsettling. Still, the problems are common enough that other customers have posted their workarounds on YouTube – if you don’t mind doing repairs yourself, you can save time and money on most issues this way.

Thankfully, most of the cleaning for this machine is automated – not only will the machine tell you when it needs to be cleaned, but it will also let you clean it with the push of a button. We found that unplugging the machine after you’re done brewing for the day will also cause it to do a self-clean when you plug it back in. This results in better tasting coffee, and will extend the amount of time between full cleanings. Using coffee with a lower oil content will also help minimize maintenance; we recommend mixing oily coffees (such as Starbucks espresso) with a less oily coffee, to minimize the impact it has on your machine.

De’Longhi ESAM3300 Overall

Overall, we chose this machine for the convenience of a super automatic, but it didn’t exactly deliver on that promise. We had to do a fair amount of experimentation and modification to get things just perfect, but once we figured out the quirks of this particular machine, we were impressed by the drinks as they came out. For users who just want a perfect cup right out of the box, this machine is going to be a pretty big disappointment, but if you’re just looking for something a bit simpler than managing everything separately, the De’Longhi Magnifica does provide a balance between cost and convenience.

matt@mycoffeecupisempty.com