The home espresso machine market is dominated by a couple of big players. And, no matter what your budget is, two of the biggest players are Breville and DeLonghi.
They both have some very similar machines at the same price points. But what separates Breville vs DeLonghi is who their espresso machines are aimed at. Whilst DeLonghi focuses on ease of use, Breville offers up exceptional espresso quality as long as you’re willing to put in the effort.
When looking for the perfect home coffee machine, it’s best to find a manufacturer that best fits your needs. So, in this DeLonghi vs Breville battle, we take apart the two coffee machine giants that have recently moved from entry-level to more premium offerings to help you decide. We’ve put their machines head-to-head at 3 different price points so you can find the best espresso machine for you.
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When parting with your hard-earned cash, knowing just how good the coffee will be is a very good place to start. And coffee quality definitely separates Breville from DeLonghi.
If you’re opting for one of the DeLonghi automatic or super-automatic espresso machines, you can expect a decent espresso. Ultimately, they wouldn’t be successful if their machines couldn’t achieve this. But espresso quality isn’t the primary focus of DeLonghi. Instead, they prioritize ease of use and affordability.
On the other hand, Breville focuses almost exclusively on the quality of its espresso. Their proprietary “4 Keys Formula” ensures excellent coffee through a larger dose, pre-infusion followed by consistent extraction, high-quality steam, and PID-controlled extraction temperature.
This does mean that Breville machines might suffer in other areas at times. But their dedication to allowing you to pull professional-level espresso is superb.
Ease of Use
Where DeLonghi pulls ahead is just how easy their machines are to use. They make choosing and customizing your drinks simple. So, if being as easy to use as possible is a big factor for you, then a DeLonghi espresso machine will be the better choice.
Breville puts more of the decision-making and control in your hands so there is a skill level required. They don’t really offer “one-touch” coffees. Even on their top-of-the-range machine – the Oracle Touch (click for full review) – you have to move the portafilter.
How a machine looks might not be your primary concern. But these are pretty big coffee boxes that need to sit out on your countertop, so at the very least, you don’t want them to look hideous.
DeLonghi machines tend to use more plastic in the outer casing. Whilst this is pretty common for super-automatic espresso machines, their automatic options also use plastic as a material. On the plus side, this often means there are a couple of color options to choose from.
Breville sticks much more to a classic stainless steel look. While some models are available in a few colors, most of the range is solely available in brushed stainless steel. This commitment to a more expensive and durable housing for their machines is a nice touch.
Breville focuses its features in 2 areas: espresso customization and milk customization. This may seem to cover all bases but, in reality, means more grind, dose, temperature, and milk foam settings. They leave the combining of these things to you.
Whereas DeLonghi offers more in the way of automatic drink options. Their machines are feature-packed with many offering app connectivity and “over ice” coffees, which is incredible. They’ve given you as many “one-touch” coffee recipes as they can think of rather than offering up 1000 different ways to customize your espresso shot and milk foam.
So whether this means Breville or DeLonghi is better comes down to what you value most.
Espresso Machine Range
DeLonghi has a huge array of options at nearly all prices and styles. From the super basic up to the all-singing, all-dancing bean-to-cup machines. So there’s almost certainly a DeLonghi machine that fits what you want from an espresso maker.
Taking a more focused approach, Breville’s range is much smaller. There are fewer options available but all within the same style of machines. So choosing between them is really a question of how much work you want the machine to do and how many customization options you want.
As a result, Breville machines can be quite expensive for the lack of automatic. But that’s what you buy a Breville for – customization options and more involvement in the brewing process.
Breville is an Australian home appliances manufacturer founded in the 1930s. They started off making radios, then TVs, and finally kitchen appliances including coffee machines. Now, they sell appliances in over 70 countries, always focusing on quality and innovation but in Europe, they are known as “Sage”, not Breville.
The main aim of Breville espresso machines is to bring barista-quality espresso into your home. The range starts at just over $300 and tops off and just under $3000 but they all use the classic portafilter and milk wand design. However, their most expensive espresso makers offer all the automation of super-automatic espresso machines too.
They are the favorites of espresso lovers on a budget – and those who are not. This is because Breville has expertly bridged the gap between semi-automatic and super-automatic espresso makers. So there’s something for everyone.
Say Hello to DeLonghi
DeLonghi is an Italian company that started life in 1902 in Treviso, Italy. But they didn’t make their first coffee machine until 1993.
At the time, DeLonghi initially focused on affordable, quality espresso machines. However, in 2004 they signed a deal with Nespresso to manufacture DeLonghi-branded Nespresso makers.
Now, they are transitioning from their initial entry-level focus to more premium super-automatic espresso machines. All whilst still retaining their reputation for value and high build quality. The range they’re creating includes feature-packed machines than outperform their modest price tag.
Choose Breville if you want:
- To feel like a barista by using the large portafilter and manual milk frothing wand
- To practice your espresso-making skills
- A classic espresso machine design
- Professional quality espresso
Choose DeLonghi if you want:
- A feature-packed machine that can make coffee at just the touch of a button
- Something that is beginner-friendly
- A more modern design
- Great value for money
With so many espresso machine options spanning a plethora of price points, it can be hard to know where to start. So we’ve narrowed it down to 3 key Breville vs DeLonghi head-to-head battles. We find this the best way to get an overview of the best espresso machines and to identify the overall strengths and weaknesses of the brands.
But if this is all a little brief for you, we have individual espresso machine reviews linked for each to give you a more in-depth analysis.
DeLonghi Dedica Arte
- 5.9 x 13 x 12 inches
- Manual milk wand
- Operated by 3 buttons and a steam lever
- 2-year warranty (+ 1 year if you register your machine)
Design & Build Quality
DeLonghi Dedica Arte
The Dedica Arte is a truly compact espresso machine with a super slim width of only 5.9 inches. The stainless steel look is a classic that will fit in most homes.
The interface is simple – there are just 3 buttons, a portafilter, a steam lever, and a milk wand. Ok, so the design isn’t going to blow anyone away but it’s still a nice-looking espresso maker.
With a 2-year warranty as standard plus an extra year if you register your machine, DeLonghi clearly isn’t concerned with the build quality. So you shouldn’t be either.
The whole machine is quite light (it is pretty small after all). So it may be a little disconcerting at first that you have to hold it steady whilst you attach the portafilter. But the inner workings are well built.
In general, DeLonghi coffee machines last a long time and the Dedica Arte is no exception.
The Breville Bambino is ever so slightly wider at 6.3 inches. But the design is incredibly similar, just with a different button configuration. Plus you have a button for the steam rather than a lever.
Similar to DeLonghi, Breville’s Bambino has a premium look with brushed stainless steel. With a simple, user-friendly interface, portafilter, and milk wand, this is another nice-looking compact machine.
Where Breville falls down in comparison to DeLonghi is the lackluster 1-year warranty. Having said that, the build of the machine itself feels more solid than the Dedica Arte. Everything from the drip tray to the portafilter and water tank just feels a little more sturdy, and more likely to last.
Comparing the DeLonghi Dedica Arte and Breville Bambino on looks alone is pretty hard. The espresso machines are just too similar.
But when it comes to the build quality, Breville just sneaks the win on this round. Whilst using it, the Bambino just feels more solid and reliable. So we are willing to forgive the shorter warranty.
Ease of Use
The Dedica Arte is an automatic espresso machine. So while it will measure the amount of water being poured through the puck, that’s all the help you’re getting.
Dosing, grinding, and tamping are all up to you. As is the milk frothing, if you’re making a milky espresso drink.
To get the shot time right, we find the factory settings just a little off so you’ll probably need to adjust them. Luckily, this is really easy to do – you need to self-time your shot by pressing and holding down the single or double button until your preferred amount of water has gone through. Then, the DeLonghi machine will remember your settings for next time.
It’s still one of the more beginner-friendly espresso machine models. It comes with double-walled baskets which are great when you’re starting out to iron out any mistakes (you can upgrade to single-walled when you’re more confident). Plus, the included tamper isn’t terrible.
But you’re going to have to put a little effort in to get a great espresso from the Dedica Arte. Some practice will be required with the steam wand too.
This Breville Bambino is very much in the same boat as the Dedica Arte:
Your shot length is saved so you only need to measure it once to dial in your machine. But you’re doing the rest yourself.
The Bambino also only has a couple of buttons, all with handy icons, so it’s pretty fool-proof – even before caffeine. It also comes with double-walled baskets to start you off, then you can move on to the included single-walled when you feel more confident.
How good your final coffee taste all comes depends on your dosing, grinding, and tamping skills though. Oh, and the quality of the coffee beans you’re using, of course. But you can get some excellent espresso shots from the Bambino.
This is a tie between two excellent coffee machines because:
- They’re basically identical to operate
- Both the Breville and DeLonghi machines can be used by beginners. Then you can take the training wheels off (double-walled baskets) as you get more confident. Although the Bambino does come with single-walled baskets included so it gets an extra gold star there.
This makes them similar to other espresso machines at this price. But they’re a little easier to use than popular semi-automatic espresso machines due to the water volume being saved.
DeLonghi Dedica Arte
With both espresso makers being so similar, it makes sense to look at the individual elements more than the overall features. First up is the milk frothing abilities.
The Dedica Arte comes with a manual steam wand, or the “My Latte Art” wand as they call it.
This means you’ll need a little practice to get the kind of milk you want for your cortado, flat white, latte, cappuccino, or whatever. The steam is decent and you can get an OK microfoam from it. But it’s not the best milk wand and it’s pretty difficult to get the kind of glossy, wet paint look needed for latte art.
Part of the Breville “4 Keys Formula” for better espresso is producing steam at 266°F (130°C). This means the Bambino steam wand is really powerful and gets you a good microfoam very quickly.
It’s also possible to get latte art quality milk, or any other that you prefer. This is one of the Breville espresso machine pros. Arguably, it’s the most impressive steam wand on any espresso machine under $400.
The steam from the Breville Bambino is streets ahead of the DeLonghi Dedica Arte. So if you enjoy making milky espresso drinks, or if you want to learn how to, then the Bambino is the clear choice.
Dedica Arte by DeLonghi
Now to the juicy bit: how good can the coffee be from the Dedica Arte?
The answer ultimately depends on the type of coffee beans you use, the dose, grind, tamp, etc. But, if you get everything right then you can get a damn good espresso shot from the Dedica Arte.
To get that great flavor, you need to use single-walled baskets (not included) and a large dose (9g for a single, 18g for a double espresso). Then you can extract all the flavors from your beans and get a rich, flavorful shot.
Overall, this is excellent quality for a budget espresso maker.
Bambino by Breville
The Bambino also pulls an excellent espresso shot.
It also has a larger portafilter (54mm compared to 51mm on the DeLonghi) which can take a larger basket with an 18g max dose. But the Bambino pulls ahead in one important area:
You can manually pre-infuse your grounds. Holding down the single or double espresso button for more than one second will start “pre-infusion pressure” for up to 10 seconds. This allows the gases to escape from the grounds and gives sweeter, fuller-flavored espresso shots. Then, to start extraction you can just release the button. This is a really great feature for a budget coffee maker.
This round of the Breville vs DeLonghi battle goes to the Bambino thanks to it having manually adjustable pre-infusion.
If you’re looking to really get great results, this is the kind of thing you need to be playing around with. It’s a superb feature, especially considering it’s in a more budget, entry-level espresso machine.
And the Winner Is…
For us, the Breville Bambino is the clear winner. In two machines that are incredibly similar in design and price, the Bambino produces better milk foam and better espresso. And surely that’s what it’s all about? For the price, this is an excellent espresso machine.
DeLonghi La Specialista Arte
- 11.2 x 14.4 x 15.9 inches
- 2 pre-programmed drinks (plus hot water)
- Manual milk wand
- 8 grind settings
- Simple button and dial interface
- 2-year warranty (+ 1 year if you register your machine)
Design and Build Quality
DeLonghi La Specialista Arte
The brushed stainless steel with dials, buttons, and a big central pressure gauge probably won’t win any beauty contests. But we kinda love that the La Specialista espresso machine looks a little like a piece of industrial machinery. Although we understand that it isn’t for everyone.
It’s relatively compact for this style of espresso maker:
At just under a foot wide it needs space but it won’t dominate your counter. It’s just under 16 inches high, and you need to refill the bean hooper from the top so be aware of any cabinets sitting above the machine for clearance.
Overall, the La Specialista Arte is a well-built DeLonghi espresso machine. It comes with DeLonghi’s standard two-year warranty, plus an extra year with product registration. This is amazing and a true testament to the quality of the internal parts of the machine.
Some elements (like the portafilter and tamper) feel a little lightweight. But we trust DeLonghi. If you’re really into espresso you’d almost certainly replace both anyway.
Breville Barista Express
Brushed stainless steel with buttons and a central pressure gauge… this feels awfully familiar. Now, I’m not accusing anyone of copying designs, but the Breville Barista Express espresso machine did come out a long time before the DeLonghi.
Again it’s maybe a bit “functional” looking for some people. But if you like an espresso machine that looks like, well, an espresso machine. Then it’s quite nice.
When it comes to warranty, Breville is lacking compared to DeLonghi – you only get a single-year warranty with the Barista Expresso. But we do get a more premium feel to things like the tamper and portafilter. The tamper is genuinely excellent and has a really nice storage space next to where you dose your portafilter.
The Breville Barista espresso machine is slightly wider than the DeLonghi. We’re only talking 1.3 inches wider, but countertop space can be precious so these things are important. Otherwise, it’s basically the same size so you need to make the same considerations for any cabinets above the machine.
The DeLonghi La Specialista Arte takes the win for being slightly smaller and having a much longer warranty. Even with the caveat that it’s worth replacing the tamper and portafilter straight away.
Ease of Use
La Specialista Arte
Grinding, dosing, and extraction are all handled by the machine. The only part you have to actively participate in is the tamping. Which makes things nice and easy for the espresso novice.
The dial for adjusting the dose isn’t the easiest to use. For starters, you have to turn it to 15 before you get anything approaching a good enough dose, which is weird. Especially since DeLonghi’s “Brew Guide” recommends setting it to 5 for a light roast and 10 for a medium roast.
We find that the only useful dose settings are 15-20 for a single espresso shot and 30-40 for a double. Over half the settings being useless is one of the biggest DeLonghi espresso machine cons.
But everything else works quite nicely:
You have the big pressure gauge on the front to check on pre-infusion and then that your extraction is at the ideal 9 bar of pressure. This is also really helpful for diagnosing any problems with your extraction. Plus it’s very simple to adjust the grinding and temperature settings, and the length of the shot.
The Barista Express has a similar system to the DeLonghi for dosing, with a dial to adjust how much you get into the basket. It’s slightly easier to use and more of the settings are actually useful. To get your ideal dose, we agree with Breville’s recommendation to start with the dial in the middle, then adjust accordingly.
A good 75% of the settings can end in a decent espresso. This is a marked improvement over the La Specialista Arte. Again, you have to manually tamp but Breville provides a much better tamper than DeLonghi. Plus, they give you an excellent trimmer tool.
Everything else is as simple as it’s possible to be with these types of espresso machines:
There’s a big pressure gauge so you can check pre-infusion and extraction pressure. And, just like the La Specialista Arte, you can use this to diagnose any potential issues.
The Barista Express sneaks this one purely because the dosing dial is easier to use than the one on the La Specialista Arte. But, they are so similar in appearance and function that it was a tightly run race. These small differences really do matter on an espresso coffee machine where precision is everything.
La Specialist Arte by DeLonghi
The La Specialista Arte has 8 grind settings, 3 temperature settings, 20 dose settings, and a manual milk wand. As previously mentioned, most of the dose settings aren’t useful and the same can be said for the grind settings. The 4 finest are ok, but we don’t use the others at all.
On the plus side, all 3 of the temperature settings brew a decent espresso. Hooray for fully useful settings. I’m not entirely convinced by DeLonghis’s guide to using the highest temperature for light roast only and the lowest for dark roast only. But each to their own, I suppose.
The milk wand might not be the fastest or easiest to use, but it’s decent and you can create a serviceable microfoam with some practice. So, if you’ve never used a manual milk wand before, you’ll be able to learn pretty quickly and easily.
Barista Express by Breville
The Barista Express has 16 grind settings, 3 temperature settings, a stepless dosing dial, and a manual milk wand. While we say “stepless” for the dosing dial it really doesn’t have more settings than the La Specialista, just more useful ones.
Additionally, while the grinder may have 16 settings, we only found the 5 finest settings to really be worth using. And even that may be generous. Some other espresso machine reviewers didn’t use anything but the finest setting for espresso.
Just like the DeLonghi machine, the 3 temperature settings are all ok. The Breville doesn’t come with a brew guide for which settings to use depending on your chosen espresso beans, so you’ll have to decide for yourself. We generally stuck to the highest setting and got good results.
The Barista Express also comes with a PID system. Basically, it uses fancy math to ensure super-accurate water temperature for brewing espresso. PIDs are usually a sign of a quality coffee machine.
The milk wand is also excellent. You can easily and quickly get near professional-quality microfoam. This is part of the Breville “4 Keys Formula” which means 266°F (130°C) steam and a really good milk wand.
When it comes to functional settings, this round of the Breville vs DeLonghi battle clearly goes to the former.
The Barista Express has more usable settings, even with the issues around the grinder settings. It also has a better milk wand and a PID temperature control system for more accurate water temperature. Plus, the thermocoil heating system means the water takes around 3 seconds to heat once the machine is already up to temperature.
Ease of Cleaning
The great thing about manual espresso machines that use a portafilter is how easy they are to clean. Oh, and the fact you can use bottomless portafilters if you really want to get into espresso. But the cleaning thing is also great.
Simply knock out the puck after brewing, rinse the portafilter, and you’re done. And, after every use, remember to wipe down the milk wand and blast a little steam to prevent any nasty milk build-up.
You’ll also need to empty the drip tray and make sure there are no grounds stuck on the shower screen daily. But both the machines from Breville and DeLonghi are really quick and easy to keep clean.
Every couple of weeks, the grinder will need to be cleaned. If you avoid using very oily beans (always a good idea anyway), you can simply vacuum it out making it a two-minute job.
Descaling does need to be done every couple of months and is a bigger task. But that’s the same for basically all espresso machines and it’s hardly arduous, just a little time-consuming. Failing to do so will result in poorer quality espresso and a shorter lifespan for your machine.
It’s a dead heat as these espresso machine models are basically identical in terms of how they work and thus how easy they are to clean.
And the Winner is…
Once again we prefer the Breville espresso machine. It’s easier to use than the La Specialista Arte, the settings are more relevant for espresso making, and the steam wand is better.
That said, the DeLonghi La Specialista espresso machine may be marginally better looking. But for everything else, we prefer the Breville Barista Express.
DeLonghi Eletta Explore
- 10.3 x 17.5 x 15.1 inches
- 40+ pre-programmed coffees
- LatteCrema automatic milk frothing (hot or cold)
- 13 grind settings
- Intuitive touchscreen and soft-touch buttons
- 2-year warranty (+ 1 year if you register your machine)
Design and Build Quality
DeLonghi Eletta Explore
The Eletta Explore is a new espresso machine and has continued DeLonghi’s love of backlit pictures of the drinks as buttons. The 4 options of “To Go”, “Cold”, “Hot”, or “Favorites” are used to narrow down the selections on the touchscreen. Now they might look a little “Fast Food Menu” for some, but it would be harsh to say they look bad. The screen itself is beautiful and overall the machine looks pretty good.
The Eletta Explore is only 10.25 inches wide. Now, this is still not “compact” but as super automatic espresso machines go, that’s pretty narrow. It is, however, over 17 inches deep and just over 15 inches high. Height is the only thing we’d worry about as bean hopper access is from the top and cabinets have a nasty habit of getting in the way.
DeLonghi gives a 2-year warranty as standard, plus one extra year for registering the product which is great peace of mind.
The two milk carafes are really nicely built and everything feels premium. Considering the high level of functionality and (relatively) low price, we expected pieces to feel “cheap.” So this was a nice surprise.
Having brushed stainless steel and the “classic” espresso machine look is the hallmark of the Breville range. The collection of LED screens makes the Oracle look less like a high-level espresso machine. You either want this style of machine or not in our opinion. But it’s absolutely not “ugly.”
It’s a bit of a monster at 16 inches wide and nearly 18 inches tall. And, whilst it’s only 15 inches deep, that’s still big for a home espresso machine. But as double boiler espresso machines go, it’s about standard.
Providing a 2-year warranty is a good start on an espresso machine over $2000.
Breville has a very high build quality and the Oracle feels like a seriously premium machine. The buttons and dials are all very tactile and the dual boilers are superbly built. Many espresso lovers use their Breville machines for around a decade, so I trust them.
This is a split decision:
The Eletta Explore is smaller, and arguably, better looking than the Oracle – those LED displays just don’t cut the mustard these days.
However, the stainless steel design and build of the Oracle means I’m much more confident in the longevity of the machine than the Eletta Explore. Even if the 3-year warranty (when registered) is one of the DeLonghi espresso machine pros.
Ease of Use
At first, the DeLonghi Eletta Explore can be a little overwhelming. With a choice of over 40 different drinks, it can even be a little intimidating. But you can narrow down the list by selecting either hot, over ice, or to-go right from the start. Then the menu will only show those types of coffee drinks for you to choose from.
But, like with all super-automatic espresso machines, the rest is simple. DeLonghi has even given the Eletta Explore some personality:
The display will tell you what’s going on and offer little hints too. This is all really nice, especially if you’re more of a coffee beginner.
All the settings are easily navigable through the display or on the app. Once you’ve nailed your favorite drink, you can save it to your in-app profile for later. Or you can save it to a “favorites” menu so the De’Longhi espresso machine shows your favorite coffees from the start meaning less swiping to find the perfect match.
With the Oracle, Breville has gone in a slightly different direction from DeLonghi.
Everything is still done automatically for you – grinding, dosing, tamping, extraction, and milk frothing. But there’s no screen to select the drink you want to make – you have to pay around $700 more for the Oracle Touch to get that (full Oracle Touch review here).
Instead, you need to remember what settings you need for your favorite coffee.
This may seem daunting at first but it all depends on how differently everyone in your household likes their coffee. If you can all agree on settings for a single and double espresso, then all you need to do is adjust the milk depending on your drink.
Compared to the Eletta Explore, this is obviously a lot more work.
When it comes to simplicity, this round of the DeLonghi vs Breville battle goes hands-down to the Eletta Explore. It’s clearly a much easier machine to use than the Oracle.
All you need to do is select your drink and everything else is done for you. Plus you have up to 4 user profiles to save settings to, removing any fights over what your coffee should taste like. The lack of “one-touch” drinks is one of the Breville espresso machine cons.
Eletta Explore by DeLonghi
The dizzying array of over 40 drinks options is counted from the ability to have “Cold” or “To Go” versions of the same thing. Which is awesome – as long as you like or need those options.
The Over Ice and Hot drinks have 4 standard size settings and 5 “Aroma” (strength) settings to choose from. You can also set completely custom lengths for your coffees and save them to your profile if the presets aren’t to your liking.
Of the 13 grind settings, 6 are useful in our opinion.
For an espresso machine approaching $2000, this isn’t actually all that much customization. The focus is really on having the “Over Ice” options rather than letting you tweak away to your heart’s content. There’s obviously nothing wrong with this, it just means it’s aimed at different people to some other high-end machines. Ultimately, you should only ever pay for features you actually want.
The “To Go” options come in 3 large sizes depending on your travel mug and the drip tray lifts up for your cup to fit. Honestly, if you like to take coffee on your commute, these options are fab.
If, like me, you’re surgically attached to your phone, there’s also app connectivity.
the Oracle by Breville
Ever feel your creative flair is being stifled by your automatic espresso machine? If so, the Breville Oracle is everything you’ve been waiting for.
With this machine you could spend years and never see the same settings twice as you get:
- a staggering 45 grind settings
- volume or time shot control
- the ability to adjust coffee and milk temperature in 1°F increments
- milk texture adjustments
Even if we assume that only 50% of these settings will actually be useful for you, that’s still far more than most espresso machines allow you to tinker with. It also means you can get deep into the weeds of dialing in your espresso shots while having the machine control all the other factors.
Basically, this is a phenomenal home Breville espresso machine with a safety net for beginners.
This customization is aimed at people much more serious about their espresso than those looking at the Eletta Explore. It’s more in-depth but also harder to adjust on a whim.
In terms of pure customization options, it’s a clear win for the Breville Oracle. There is basically no other automatic espresso machine that allows this level of tinkering (except its bigger sibling, the Oracle Touch).
If you want to “dial in” your machine but would like some training wheels, the Oracle is perfect.
If you want more drink options and fewer settings to play with on those drinks, then the Eletta Explore is the better machine for you.
Ease of Cleaning
As with most super-automatic espresso machines, as much of the cleaning as possible is automated. The machine will flush water through after each use and also at the end of the day. You still need to clean the drip tray, puck bin, milk carafes, and your cup though – DeLonghi hasn’t worked out how to do that yet.
To be able to customize the milk for hot and cold drinks, the Eletta Explore comes with two milk carafes which is annoying. I know it makes cold and hot foamed milk which is very cool, but I’d also really prefer not to have two to clean. This is assuming that you use both of course, which I’m sure many will not. Or at least not every day.
The Eletta Explore will need descaled every few months, as all espresso machines do. But the wonderfully helpful display talks you through everything and it takes around 30 minutes to complete. It is possible to remove the brewgroup for deep cleaning too (unlike DeLonghi’s other competitor, Jura).
Being a portafilter machine, the Oracle is nice and simple to clean.
After each coffee, you simply need to knock out the puck and rinse the filter. If you use the milk nozzle, you’ll also need to wipe it down and blast a little steam to make sure no milk gets lodged in there.
The Oracle will also need descaled every few months and it’s just as simple as the Eletta Explore (without the handy hints). And it takes roughly the same amount of time too.
Having the portafilters and shower screen visible may keep you happier about the cleanliness of your machine on a day-to-day basis. But maybe that’s because I’m so accustomed to this style.
The Breville Oracle wins this for us as cleaning out two milk containers daily is a task that we, and arguably no one else, wants. If you reckon you’d only use one of the containers per day, maybe cold in summer and hot in winter, then this round is probably a dead heat.
Coffee and Milk Foam Quality
DeLonghi Eletta Explore
Now for the juicy bit of this machine comparison: do they actually make good coffee?
With the Eletta Explore, the coffee is good and the milk foam is also good. But neither is great.
If you enjoy a casual café style drink then you’ll love the coffee you get from the Eletta Explore. The “Over Ice” options are also really good as long as you follow the instructions on the correct number of ice cubes to add to each.
The compromise that DeLonghi has made to get all these features into such a good-value machine is that the espresso will never hit the dizzying heights of some other coffee machines (like the Breville). Now for a good chunk of coffee drinkers, you’d never notice or care about this. Which is great.
But for those who really want to taste some nuance from their beans or maybe have that perfect flat white foam, the Eletta Explore will fall short.
Thanks to the 22g portafilter, dual boiler, PID temperature control system, and top-level steam wand, you can really get some exceptional espresso from the Oracle.
With the myriad of grind settings, precision temperature control, and shot volume it’s really simple to nail top-quality espresso. Or, if you want to play on “hard mode” you can get a 58mm bottomless portafilter and really delve into the weeds of espresso making.
You can also get professional-level milk foam if you’re willing to use it in manual mode and practice. Or you can’t get 95% of the way there on auto – we explain how to do this in our detailed Breville Oracle review.
The automated milk wand really is amazing. You can just set it up and leave it to do its thing. You can also get pretty close to latte art foam too. But for those willing to practice their milk steaming, really great results are possible.
When it comes to quality, Breville is miles ahead of DeLonghi.
Yes, you can make a total mess of it with the Oracle and pull an awful coffee. But that’s surprisingly hard to do. The Oracle really is a machine for those who want to experience the delicate flavors of coffee beans, not just the overall flavor of a good coffee. The Eletta Explore is more about ease and options.
And the Winner is…
Comparing the top-end Breville vs DeLonghi models is hard as they’re clearly aimed at two entirely different groups of people and they’re both great espresso machines.
The Eletta Explore is cheaper, easier to use, and has a wealth of coffee options to keep everyone satisfied. The profiles mean everyone can save their favorite drinks or just use the app on their phone. Simple, good quality coffees.
Plus it has the “Over Ice” options which are amazing at this price. And the “To Go” drinks are an added bonus for anyone who uses travel mugs. Overall, this is a real crowd-pleaser of a machine with way more features than basically anything else at the same price.
The Oracle, however, is much more for the coffee nerds. Maybe you want to play with settings but find manual or semi-automatic machines daunting. Maybe you don’t want to invest *that* much time into perfecting espresso.
If so, the Oracle gives you the ability to easily tweak your settings to nail extraction and get top-level flavor from your beans. Yes, you have to do some work but the payoff is massive.
Many of the machines are exactly the same just with DeLonghi or Breville branding depending on the factory it was made in. For example, the Vertuo Plus (read our full review) and Vertuo Next are the same prices from either manufacturer and are essentially indistinguishable.
There are also some high-end options that are unique to the different manufacturers (or direct):
- Breville has the “Creatista” range of capsule espresso machines. These machines have the excellent Breville milk frothing capabilities and a cool chrome design.
- DeLonghi has the “Latissima” series which includes automated milk frothing and a sleek matte color design.
If a Nespresso machine is calling your name, we would urge you to explore the bean-to-cup machines by either Breville or DeLonghi. Many of them are the same price or cheaper than these high-end Nespresso machines. And the coffee is so much better from fresh beans than from pods. Plus, you don’t run into the issue of recycling all your used Nespresso pods.
You can also pick any coffee beans in the world to chuck into your machine, instead of a select group of branded coffee options. Plus, if you buy the right beans, it’s also better for the hardworking folks who grow our coffee. If you’re not sure what are the “right” beans, check out our guide to ethical coffee labels.
Whilst the bean-to-cup options create a small amount more cleaning, they’re cheaper, produce better quality coffee, and are better for the environment.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use espresso maker that will make a good coffee then DeLonghi has the better coffee machines. They have great value options from around $700 upwards. All of which are simple to use for casual coffee drinkers.
But when looking at semi-automatic and automatic espresso machines, Breville is the clear winner for us. The focus on coffee quality means much better espresso and milk foam are possible compared to the DeLonghi options.
The real Breville vs DeLonghi winner comes down to how much work you’re willing to put in to get your morning espresso. Once you’ve decided that, the other decisions come easily.
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