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DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3300 Review: Is This Super-Automatic Worth It?

If you’ve been paying attention at your local Starbucks, you probably have noticed that their espresso makers are a little different than your favorite non-chain cafe. All the staff have to do is press a button, you hear some whirring, and out pours some espresso. It’s not witchcraft, it’s super-automatic.

If you want to bring this technology into your own kitchen, the DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3300 is a great choice. Let's explore this coffee maker’s strengths and weaknesses.

SUMMARY: The DeLonghi Magnifica

DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3300
  • A great entry-level super-automatic espresso machine
  • High capacity water tank and spent grounds container
  • Easy to clean and maintain
“I've only had this guy for about a month now, but I am in love with it. I have no interest in getting coffee from Starbucks or Peet's or anywhere...I can now have the best triple shot in the comfort of my own home at the press of a button” - Varg, customer

DeLonghi Magnifica Super-Automatic Espresso Machine Review

DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3300
  • Convenience
  • Maintenance
  • Espresso
  • Milk Frothing
  • Maintenance
  • Reliability
4.22
ESAM 3300 side view

Convenience (5/5)

The biggest reason to choose a super-automatic espresso machine is convenience. If it isn’t easy to use, then what’s the point?

The Magnifica super-automatic espresso machine excels at ease of use. The control panel’s combination of buttons and knobs makes for an intuitive user experience. Adjust the volume dial to control how much liquid you want dispensed. Adjusting the strength dial raises or lowers the amount of coffee beans that the built-in stainless steel burr grinder dispenses.

parts of the DeLonghi Magnifica

One major advantage DeLonghi espresso makers like these have over some of its competitors, like the Gaggia Brera, is capacity. The DeLonghi has a 60-ounce water tank versus the Gaggia’s 40-ounce water tank. This is particularly important if you are using your machine to make Americanos or other beverages that are hot-water reliant. Of note, hot water is dispensed from the steam wand. The front access water tank is great for putting your coffee maker in tight spaces where side, top, or rear access would be challenging.

The DeLonghi can make 14 coffee beverages before needing its grounds tray emptied, while the smaller Gaggia Brera can only make 8.

If you find yourself craving a shot of decaf but don’t want to take your regular coffee beans out, the DeLonghi has a pre-ground coffee bypass.

The control panel has plenty of indicator lights and will let you know when it is time to refill the water tank, empty the grounds, or run the descaling program.

Espresso (5/5) 

While semi-automatic espresso machines can’t compete with a well-trained barista on a high-end manual machine, they are capable of delivering great espresso consistently. The DeLonghi is no exception and customer reviews agree that this machine makes great espresso.

does this machine make good espresso - find out in this delonghi magnifica review

Just like manual and semi-automatic machines, you’ll need to “dial-in” the DeLonghi Magnifica each time you change the beans. For a super-automatic, this process involves selecting the fineness of the grind and the amount of beans dispensed. Again, the DeLonghi excels in comparison to the Gaggia Brera, offering 7 grind settings versus the Brera’s 5 settings.

Milk Frothing (4/5)

Super-automatic espresso machines are known for their consistent espresso, but are less well known for their milk frothers.

The DeLonghi has dual stainless steel thermoblock heaters, with the brew side and the steam side each having their own. Unfortunately, you cannot brew espresso and use the steam wand simultaneously. However, this shortcoming is fairly common among super-automatic espresso machines.

Unlike semi-automatic espresso machines, most superautomatic espresso machines are not able to brew espresso and froth milk simultaneously.

The steam wand on this espresso machine is a panarello style, which injects air into the milk to create foam more easily (1). The milk frother is a plastic sheath over a stainless steel pipe, so it looks a little cheaper than the entirely stainless steel wands on models like the Gaggia Brera.

Not everyone is convinced by the results to be had from this type of milk frother, but the good news is the outside of the wand can be removed and the inner wand can be used as a traditional steamer. Despite not being entirely stainless steel, the milk frother is still easy to clean and use.

Maintenance (4/5)

If you want to keep your espresso machine running well, you’ve got to keep up on regular maintenance. The DeLonghi is the equivalent of a car that is simple enough that you can do most of the maintenance yourself instead of spending lots of time and money at the dealership.

One feature that sets the DeLonghi apart from nearly all of its competitors is the removable brew chamber. With the machine turned off you can remove the chamber and give it a thorough rinse in your sink.

Calcium deposits, also known as scale, are the enemy of all coffee makers. These deposits clog hoses, impact temperature control, and generally shorten the life of your equipment (2). The DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3300 comes with a water hardness test strip, and allows you to program the machine with the recorded hardness. The machine takes that information and sets a descaling interval accordingly and will prompt you when it is time to run a descaling program.

DeLonghi ESAM 3300

Descaling is simple compared to competing models, like the Gaggia Brera, which have lengthy and complicated descaling processes. All you’ll have to do is fill the water tank with the manufacturer’s recommended solution, let the machine dispense into a 34-ounce vessel, rinse and refill the tank, and repeat the process once more sans descaling solution.

If the water in your area is extremely hard you may want to use filtered water. Unfortunately, the DeLonghi coffee maker does not have the ability to have a filter installed inside the water tank so you’ll have to use your own filtration or bottled water. The DeLonghi loses a point for this.

The exterior of the machine is plastic, which unlike stainless steel or other metal exteriors is extremely forgiving and tends not to show water spots.

Reliability (3/5)

If the DeLonghi has an Achilles heel, it is reliability. Pump failures, leaking thermoblocks, and failed sensors are among the list of complaints to be found on YouTube and customer reviews. The good news is that repairs are easy to DIY. Just by removing a couple of screws you can access the innards, and there are plenty of YouTube videos showing how to handle most of the common issues (3).

the dashboard and buttons of the Magnifica ESAM 3300

Do Not Buy If…

You want the absolute best espresso for the money

This machine will make great espresso, but generally, for the money, super-automatic espresso machines can’t compete with semi-automatic espresso machines.

The more control you have over your espresso the greater the potential espresso you can make. However, the potential for good walks hand in hand with the potential for bad; more variables means that much more the user can mess up.

The advantage of super-automatics is that there is far less room for error. But, if you’re willing to put in more work for a superior espresso, look at the Breville Barista Express (BES870XL).

You already own an expensive grinder that you want to use

While the DeLonghi allows you to use pre-ground coffee, using it like this defeats the purpose of a super-automatic espresso machine. If you own a great grinder already, then the Breville BES840XL Infuser would be a perfect accompaniment. Coffee makers with grinders, are of course, bad choices for those who have already invested in a good grinder,

The Verdict

If you’re not excited about the idea of handcrafting each and every shot of espresso you drink, then a super-automatic espresso machine is your best bet. The DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3300 coffee maker delivers great espresso, has good milk frothing, and is easy to maintain. Reliability is only so-so, although the design is such that most repairs can be done with relative ease. 

front view of the ESAM3300

Compared to other super-automatic espresso machines in this price range, like the Gaggia Brera, the DeLonghi Magnifica has a large capacity and a wider range of flexibility in the grind.

If you think the DeLonghi ESAM3300 isn't the right one for you, perhaps you can pick one of our favorite automatic machines instead.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can the DeLonghi Magnifica make coffee?

The DeLonghi Magnifica can’t make coffee - it is an espresso maker, not a drip coffee maker. However, you can use this machine to make an Americano, which is a very similar beverage: just brew a shot of espresso and then add hot water from the steam wand.

Is the DeLonghi Magnifica a good value?

The DeLonghi Magnifica is a very good value. Semi-automatic espresso makers with built-in grinders often cost as much, and those without require you to purchase a grinder. A decent burr grinder can easily cost several hundred dollars by themselves.

Why are espresso makers so expensive?

Espresso machines are expensive for three main reasons: complexity, precision, and low production volume. These machines, particularly super-automatics, are very complex - involving many parts working together in a carefully orchestrated dance of heaters, pumps, and solenoids. Not only are the parts complex, but they are required to operate precisely within a narrow range of tolerances. The temperature must be held within a narrow window, “hot” doesn’t cut it, but neither does boiling. Further, the entire system has to be able to run under extreme pressure (9 Bar/130 PSI).


References

  1. Steaming and Frothing. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.gaggia-usa.com/pages/steaming-and-frothing 
  2. Perfect Daily Grind. (2018, July 20). What Café Owners & Baristas Need to Know About Water Quality. Retrieved from https://www.perfectdailygrind.com/2018/06/what-cafe-owners-baristas-need-to-know-about-water-quality/
  3. Seppala, T. (2016, December 30). Part 1 : Pulling apart my Delonghi magnifica. Info on several common issues. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFHxCPspzHA
Scott
 

Hi, I'm Scott, and I've traveled extensively through North America and Europe, exploring food and drink pairings around the world. My Love of coffee began during my teen years when a friend's family introduced me to the glories of the classic Italian Moka pot. That technology got me through too many early-morning final exams in college and eventually led to a manual espresso machine after graduation.

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