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DeLonghi The Specialist Arte delivers for home baristas

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If you’re ready to make the step up from an espresso-based espresso machine, but don’t want to shell out the big bucks for a fully automatic machine, the DeLonghi La Specialista Arte fills that niche. La Specialista Arte has an integrated grinder so you can pick your beans. And it controls everything from bean grind and dosage to pressing pressure and water temperature. In short, for $699.95, the La Specialista Arte is a very versatile machine that delivers excellent results whether you’re a beginner or an espresso enthusiast. However, if you’re looking for one-button simplicity, this probably isn’t the car for you.

DeLonghi La Specialista Arte on a wooden table with all accessories.  dosing funnel, stopper and mat to hold the filter while pressing, milk frother, single shot basket, double basket, portafilter, cleaning brush and milk frother cleaner.

IMPORTANT parts

La Specialista Arte is a manual espresso machine with an integrated conical burr. The grinder offers eight fineness levels and you can control the dosage level from nada to 40. it’s just a reference you can use to adjust the dosage depending on the roast level of your beans and your personal tastes. In practice, somewhere between 15 and 20 has always worked best for the variety of medium to medium dark roast beans I’ve used in my testing, and I can’t imagine going much higher or lower than that.

If you come from a pod-based world, you may find the process of getting the right amount of beans a little frustrating. But it’s hard to go too far wrong if you follow the included dosage guide; you may just need a little trial and error to get it perfect. And when you call, there’s no need to adjust the settings unless you change the type of beans you’ve purchased.

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Keep handy with a funnel and ground coffee beans and portafit.

Where the La Specialista Arte differs from other espresso machines with integrated grinders (including DeLonghi) is its “barista kit,” which includes a measuring funnel, a baffle, and a mat to hold the filter while pressing. Designed for the average home user, I’ve found that the measuring funnel helps reduce the mess from contamination, making cleanup easier. The throw rug took up extra space on my counter and I kept it on top of the machine. La Specialista Arte includes both single and double filters. They’re a pain in the ass without breaking a nail (a butter knife helps), though you’ll likely be using a double-shot filter more than 99 percent of the time, so it’s not a big deal.

DeLonghi La Specialista Arte accessories.  measuring funnel, brush and mat to hold filter while pressing, milk frother, single shot basket, double shot basket, portafilter, cleaning brush and milk frother cleaning tool.

One thing the Arte lacks is a bean sensor that stops the grind when it runs out of beans and allows you to add more beans before the dispensing is done. Although not a common occurrence, it’s frustrating when you have to throw away a partial dose or try to guess how much coffee is in the filter because you don’t know how far the machine got before hitting empty.

La Specialista Arte also provides customization of water temperature and quantity. The amount of each drink: espresso (single/double), Americano (single/double), hot water, can be individually set in a wide range of volumes. Most people will probably stick with the default 70ml for a double espresso. For those who like large coffees, the Americano defaults to 8 ounces, but can be set up to 14 ounces. Unfortunately, the clearance of coffee dispensers is only high enough for a standard 12 oz coffee cup. taller cups or mugs can only be accommodated by removing the drip tray. The water temperature offers three settings: 197.6F/92C, 201.2F/94C and 204.8F/96C. In my testing, the machine warmed up in less than 20 seconds, and it was ready to go by the time I was done grinding and pounding my beans. The La Specialista Arte pre-soaks the grinds to ensure a more even extraction, and the total process of delivering a double espresso takes about 30 seconds.

The pressure gauge indicates whether your grinding and pressing efforts have been successful and you are extracting your espresso at the “optimal” pressure (which should be around 9 bar for grinding). There is no option to adjust the pressure of the car (the pump is rated at 15 bar); This won’t be a problem for most homebrewers, and problems with improper pressure are usually related to your grinding, slurping, or quantity adjustment.

A close-up of the managers of La Specialista Arte.  dose level, single and double shot, OK button for making espresso, temperature setting, coffee type: espresso, Americano, hot water - steam button and pressure gauge.

La Specialista Arte has an integrated steam arm that swings out for use and retracts when not in use. The Arte uses the same pot to produce both espresso and steam, so there’s about a 10-second delay after the drink is finished and the frother has enough pressure to steam the milk. The frother is a standard all-metal design (none of the plastic bits on other machines) and does a good job of producing microfoam for your cappuccinos, although I wish it had a little more freedom from the device for your frothy pitcher. When reversed, the frother can be cleaned directly into the drip tray. La Specialista Arte includes a stainless steel frothing jug in the box and I use this frothing thermometer to monitor the temperature of my milk to avoid scalding.

Ease of ownership

Aside from the occasional cleaning (as with any espresso machine), La Specialista Arte requires little maintenance. Drip trays slide out for cleaning and can go in the top rack of the dishwasher. All other parts, such as the filters, can simply be washed in the sink after use or wiped with a damp cloth (I like to keep one of these cheap microfiber cloths next to the machine for a quick wipe down of the wand after use. )

The Arte looks attractive sitting on your kitchen counter. The stainless steel exterior and quality buttons look and feel expensive. It also doesn’t take up much space at 11.22″(w) x 14.37″(d) x 15.87″(h) – a real plus in my small kitchen in NYC.

The integrated water tank holds 56 ounces and lasted me quite a while before needing a refill.

Must buy it

There are a variety of espresso machine options that meet a wide range of consumer preferences for convenience, quality, and price. Models based on Nespresso and others are at the convenient end of the spectrum. I’ve used the Nespresso Lattissima Pro for years (read my full review here ), and you just can’t beat its simplicity for making quick espressos and cappuccinos. But that convenience comes at a… well… price, as those pods cost between $.50 and $1.00 a pop, and I go through two of them per drink. And while pod-based drinks taste pretty good (probably as good or better than most chain coffee shops), they just don’t compare to the richness of “real” espresso.

Super-automatic espresso machines like the DeLonghi Eletta will do all the work for you, grinding the beans, frothing, and even frothing the milk for your cappuccino (the Eletta uses the same frothing system as the Nespresso Lattissima). But at a whopping $2,200, it’s in a very different budget category. Even there, though, it can pay for itself over time versus a pod machine just from the bean savings.

La Specialista Arte falls in the middle at $699.95. You get all the cost and quality benefits of grinding your own fresh beans without the insanely high prices of a fully automatic machine. The trade-off is that you get to handle some of the bean preparation yourself (which is a good thing if you’re involved in the espresso process), and you get to steam your own milk for cappuccinos and lattes. Although in testing different types of machines, I found that manual milk frothing does indeed produce a higher quality of microfoam than I get from automatic frothers, with the added bonus of being able to adjust the temperature of the milk to your liking.

An alternative to the Arte is the new DeLonghi Magnifica Evo (ECAM29043SB), which provides automatic bean processing and manual milk frothing. Retailing for $799.95, it’s a bit more than the Arte, but a better choice for those looking for a simpler job, especially if you occasionally have guests using your espresso machine and don’t want to use them. basic barista training.

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[Image credit: Josh Kirschner/Techlicious]

Josh Kirchner is the co-founder of Techlicious and has been involved in consumer technology for over a decade. In addition to his love of technology, Josh is an avid hobbyist and home cook who has traveled the world and eaten just about anything. He was recognized as the “World’s Best Chef” by his children.