If your day starts with your first waking thoughts of the day about coffee, then you are an addict. If, on the other hand, your last thoughts of the day before falling asleep are about coffee, then you are a coffee lover, and whichever you are, the De’Longhi Dedica EC685 is the affordable espresso machine for you.
De’Longhi has secured the espresso market with an amazing espresso coffee maker that has the automated convenience of a home kitchen espresso machine but leaves room for a barista’s flair, using some tricks and simplicity to escort your ground beans through your espresso routine to an easy yet non-generic cup of coffee. Keep reading the De’Longhi Dedica EC685 review to make sure you’re making the right choice!
First Things First
Like dogs and cars, espresso makers reflect their owners, fitting into their lives to indicate how coffee fits into their day. If – and you know who you are – the hardest part of your day is getting to that first quality cup of espresso, the Dedica gets you there in style.
It produces reliable cups of espresso with minimal complexity and without turning everything over to the robot that lives inside a fully automatic machine. For more on automatic espresso machines, check out this article.
Above all else, this is a dedicated shot machine, and while some may see that as a failing when it comes to lattes and other forms of hot milk wizardry, if that shot of espresso is all that matters, the Dedica delivers.
This is the machine for anyone who cares about the beans, the grind, and the puck enough to still want to control the process but doesn’t necessarily want the steampunk gymnastics of a fully manual espresso machine to produce quantities of coffee. There are multiple manual options from De’Longhi and others.
De’Longhi Dedica EC685 Review
The Dedica is a true semi-automatic espresso machine that does nothing except pull shots of espresso and blast steam. It is a solid espresso machine for espresso lovers and excels in its niche for the aficionado who wants reliable, automatic repeatability of the pull, but still wants to stay hands-on with the grind and puck preparation.
Saying this machine is simple to use, easy to program, a no-brainer to maintain, and fits into the tiniest kitchen, yet still turns out excellent espresso sounds too much like a spiel, but in this case, it’s true. The Dedica will get you through those bleary mid-week mornings when you’re too distracted to focus.
But it also lets you impress your friends in more social times with exotic specialty bags of beans by intelligently finding the line between adjustability and reliability. It minimizes the chance of your lovingly prepared puck turning out espresso that tastes like it’s from a Holiday Inn buffet.
De’Longhi has been in the coffee machine business for a while now, with a good range of decent espresso machines reviewed here to fill every niche, with the Dedica comfortably in the middle. Do not be fooled by Dedica’s basic appearance. What presents as three simple buttons and a steam control belies a wealth of programmable options to get the precision you need for the shot that you want.
Features & Benefits
The Dedica has a compact design, comparable to a pod machine, and light enough that it could be stored away when not in use. That would be a shame as, in true Italian style, De’Longhi has made it attractive enough to be seen. The art deco exterior is a combination of robust plastic casing and aluminum and stainless steel parts, available in several colors that, like a classic Vespa, look cool but not silly.
To keep things streamlined, the water tank capacity is just over a liter, which empties fast if you’re frothing steamed milk, but is more than enough for a couple of people to blast through even the groggiest morning if only doing espressos. The tank slides in and out easily but needs real estate to align correctly, meaning a bench top without overhanging shelves.
Any machine is only as good as the user’s initiative allows it to be, and the Dedica truly shines here. The Dedica EC685 pulls 15 bars of pressure into a pressurized filter that delivers two delicious espresso streams for when you’re using two espresso cups.
It uses a programmed pre-infusion that waits a second or two for the grind to impart its initial flavors and take on some mass before going into the pull with reliable consistency. But don’t let this automation fool you.
While it is durable, it does lack some heft, a trade-off of being light enough to move around and skinny enough to fit into an apartment kitchen. It lacks the mass to have the basket slung in single-handedly, and you certainly won’t be knocking out pucks or probably even tapping grind into it.
None of that’s a game changer, but dreams of banging out shots with the noise and flair of a barista in Trieste won’t be realized with this machine.
The user interface is sleek, which is nice once it is set up, but requires a lot of button-pressing and holding to scroll through all the options, something for which you will need to keep the manual handy. For all its adjustability, the Dedica is still half-robot whether you like it or not, and as with all robots, the fun begins in riding the system that lets you manipulate it.
The programming options allow you to match all the qualities of your coffee bean, grind, and puck with the reliability of an automatic home espresso maker for shot after shot that a manual machine cannot duplicate and is a unique combination that only a semi-automatic machine offers.
Every factor, including water temperature, water hardness, and extraction time, is programmable to let you get the best from the beans, grind, and puck you use. And, it’s worth remembering that you can abort the pull at any point with the simple press of a button. This handy feature lets you truly have control, just like a manual pull, opening the door to the dark arts of ristretto.
While Dedica has sunk a lot into the shot-producing mechanism, this is not a machine you buy for its accessories. While the accouterments like the frothing wand, cup warmer, and included tamper will get you through, they feel like afterthoughts that barely match up to the Dedica’s ability to pull intense espresso.
The glass warmer is no more than a stainless plate that collects residual heat from the Dedica’s thermoblock technology. It won’t seriously warm a cup in the time it takes to prepare a shot, and probably not even with the additional heating time before the pump’s auto-shutoff feature kicks in unless you set it to 30 minutes. In reality, a blast from the steamer or a flush-through with hot water is a far better way of pre-warming your cup to an acceptable level.
The combined plastic tamper/spoon is a spoon first–and a pretty terrible one at that–and an even worse tamper second. De’Longhi probably shouldn’t have bothered, but they did, and you get a flimsy plastic implement that does neither job well and whose only good point is filling the gap to use with the slightly unusual 51-millimeter portafilter basket until you find a good one.
Yes, it will tamp, but it won’t do it well, as the cheap plastic form produces barely enough pressure to tamp the ground espresso, and the presence of a seam from the molding process guarantees an uneven finish, making this the perfect time to refer to our espresso tamper article to see just how things look when done properly with an amazing tamper.
The Dedica comes with a decent quality portafilter and three filter basket choices–single shot, double shot, and pod adapter. Slightly annoyingly, the Dedica has a 51-millimeter filter. The manual says the single coffee basket will hold 7 grams and the double will hold 15 grams of coffee grounds.
But, it is happier at around 5 grams and 13 grams. So factor that into your equation when weighing your coffee grounds, especially if you’re seeking the buzz associated with the solid 18-gram hit many now consider normal.
All the filters are the double-walled, pressurized type most non-professional machines use. They are far more tolerant of imperfect grinds by using higher pressure to force the rich espresso out of the filter through a single hole, rather than relying on the puck alone to create the pressure needed to extract the oils and flavors.
This gives you slightly less crema than a perfect shot, but more than when done at lower pressures, and will do up to a point that will keep many people happy. Anything beyond this will need an after-market bottomless basket filter, something De’Longhi doesn’t make, but several companies have.
The Dedica comes with what they call the Adjustable Cappuccino System, which means a steam wand that can be adjusted mid-use. In reality, the milk wand is only adequate; it is acceptable for weekend mornings or turning out hot water, but if your tastes are at the milky end of the coffee spectrum or getting artistic with froth matters, you will quickly find its limits.
As cool as the Adjustable Cappuccino System sounds, the water reservoir and the heating mechanism are too lightweight to keep up the heat to push out the blasts required to froth more than a couple of batches of milk. This is a good opportunity to investigate stand-alone frothers that match Dedica’s espresso, starting with our article here.
The first thing De’Longhi got right was the ease of brewing espresso, and the next thing was making a simple machine that lasts. While a hand-finished expensive machine at ten times the price range would be expected to last a lifetime, much like a pod machine in this age of disposable parts, expectations are not high for a machine at this affordable price point, but De’Longhi has defied them.
After over two years of daily use and only basic maintenance, the Dedica used for this review has proven itself durable, looking and performing like it did the day it arrived.
Even with the heat and pressure involved, the pump has never missed a beat, even after occasional over-pressurizing when the filter clogged. And more importantly, after thousands of shots, it has lost none of the filter seal that maintains the all-important pressure going through the puck.
De’Longhi has really delivered on a machine that requires minimal maintenance, both with daily use and over an extended time. Nothing more than a wipe down and rinse of the removable parts are required at an everyday use level.
Use dish liquid on the parts contacting milk, of course, and a convenient display flashes when it’s time for the descaling process that might only happen once a year. For something capable of close to cafe-level espresso, there’s certainly none of the before-and-after maintenance routine needed to keep it going.
If you have reached the limits of a pod or whole bean-to-cup machine, the Dedica is an excellent step toward the world of real espresso. Once you have your grind sorted, you can have a fresh shot of the real thing is not much more time than it takes to express a pod.
The Dedica has done exceptionally well filling its niche, especially at its price point, and you will need to go a fair way into the world of fully manual machines before producing a better double espresso.
The array of fine increments it can be programmed to, the ability to control shut off times, and the true baseline of great coffee–the freshness, grind, and tamping of the puck–are all still left to the user, making this an excellent machine if you’re still honing your skills but appreciate the safety net of automation that almost guarantees a good extraction.
There’s not as much competition as you’d think for another robot in the kitchen–and one that works so well–and almost none at this price.
At the lower end are the pod machines that don’t deliver anything close to the same product. Closer are the ‘bean-to-cup’ setups that truly deserve the name automatic and produce a result that tastes like it. Then higher up–and a giant leap in price and commitment–are the fully manual machines.
Of the semi-automatic machines out there, the closest with an Italian pedigree is the Gaggia Gran Deluxe RI8425, with almost identical features and numbers. The only real difference is the larger footprint in the kitchen.
Also from Gaggia is the RI9380 Classic Pro, another excellent machine, yet quite a step up in price. Compared to the Dedica, the Classic Pro is effectively a scaled-down commercial machine in both build and result, representing yet another niche on the espresso aficionado spectrum.
The Dedica is perhaps best described as the machine that fills the void between home and cafe. Whereas the Classic Pro replaces the cafe, perhaps even surpassing it if you’re too serious about your beans, grind, and puck to entrust them to the hands of another.
De'Longhi Dedica EC685 Review: Make Espresso In Style
The De'Longhi Dedica EC685 review is here! This smart coffee machine has many features including an integrated grinder. Find out more here!
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