Sometimes the world of specialty coffee, particularly espresso, can be a little intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be! With machines like the De’Longhi EC702 even complete beginners can tap into the excitement of espresso and specialty brewing.
So should you start your espresso journey with the EC702? Read on for a full, in-depth review of this espresso machine from our favorite features to some potential pitfalls (and some recommendations in case this isn’t quite the machine for you).
Details on De’Longhi
De’Longhi got their start as a manufacturer of household appliances and their presence in the realm of espresso machines started in 2008. Generally known as a well-loved, family-owned Italian brand. Their range stretches from entry to upper level espresso machines with a variety of semi-automatic to super-automatic machines.
Overall, De’Longhi is most well known for its accessible product range and is one of the brands responsible for bringing top-notch espresso brewing to the general public. Also, they pride themselves on their sleek look that is more common among expensive machines than it is with entry-level ones.
De’Longhi EC702 Review
Overall, the De’Longhi EC702 is a pretty solid choice for an entry-level espresso machine. It’s competitively priced with other beginner-friendly powerhouses like Mr. Coffee, and has the brand backing and vision of an industry leader: De’Longhi.
It’s good, but (like every machine) it’s not perfect. So here’s a quick look at both the good and the bad of this machine:
Things We Liked
- Pressurized portafilter is great for beginners who can’t invest in a serious grinder but still want fresh grounds
- Stainless steel components give this a hardy, durable look
- Can use both grounds and ESE pods for convenience
Things We Didn’t
- Emptying the portafilter is a little fiddly and messy because the basket is held in by a flipper rather than a screw-in or other securing design
- Not the most durable product; may only last a couple years
- Leaking seems to be a common issue
Features To Note
The De’Longhi EC702 measures 11 x 9.1 x 11.6 inches and weighs 11.5 pounds. All around, that’s a pretty average size that should fit under your cabinets and on your countertop.
Nonetheless, you should still make sure to measure your space before purchasing a new appliance. No one wants to have to pack up their machine in between uses just because it takes up too much counter space!
Moving onto the important part, let’s talk shots. First of all, the machine comes with the kit to allow for both single and double shot. Also, you can use either fine, loose grounds or ESE pods. Though we recommend fresh grinding the former, it’s nice to have the option for the sake of convenience.
Speaking of grinding, there’s no need to be intimidated with this machine. Because it has a pressurized portafilter, you don’t need a top-of-the-line, ultra-consistent grinder to pull a good shot. As we’ll explain later, pressurized portafilters tend to be a bit more forgiving.
So you can go with a nice, entry-level manual or electric grinder and be good to go. Trust us, it’ll seriously up the flavor of your brew.
For a basic-level machine, the milk frother actually works fairly well. The steam is appropriately hot, and it does produce a decent amount of foam. So you should be able to craft specialty drinks.
However, that said, the bubbles are a bit on the large side, even with tapping the jug on the counter. This won’t actually affect the taste of your drink, but it will affect your ability to do latte art. So if you want to do much more than a weak leaf or heart pattern, this isn’t the wand for you.
It may sound a little silly, but we actually love the design of this water filter. Rather than having an obtrusive, hulking mass of plastic sticking out from the side, this model actually has the water reservoir neatly tucked away.
The 44 ounce tank is side-accessible and removable. You can see how much water is left simply by glancing at the side of the machine, unlike other “hidden” tanks that actually hide what’s in them too.
Overall, this feature seems to be really thoughtfully designed, which we definitely appreciate. However, some users have complained that it’s a little difficult to get in and out.
The De’Longhi EC702 has a stainless steel cup warmer, which is uncommon for entry level machines. So if you want to feel like a real home-barista, little touches like this definitely help.
In addition to the one and two shot filters and filter holder that we mentioned, a plastic tamper and measuring scoop are included. However, the demitasse cups (small cups used for espresso) are not. So scoot on over to this article to see what you should do about that.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s a pressurized portafilter?
As promised, we’re going to tell you what’s up with this pressurized portafilter business.
In a nutshell, pressurized portafilters keep the water in contact with your grounds for a longer period of time. They have an internal screen that filters the brew into a holding area with a small hole at the bottom. The existence of this holding area allows pressure to build and eventually the coffee is brewed into your cup.
What’s the result of that? Better tasting coffee for inconsistent grinds. Because there’s more contact time and a gradual pressure build in the holding area, this type of portafilter will be more forgiving for beginners.
On the other hand, more technique and precision is required for a non-pressurized portafilter. However, the end result is an overall better shot than what you can achieve with an entry level machine with a pressurized filter.
How do you clean/descale it?
To descale your machine you have two options:
First, many sellers will send a descaling solution or powder with the machine. Plus, the user manual will have a step by step similar to what we have below detailing how much to use. If this is the case, go ahead and use this solution first when you get the machine and then every 200 drinks.
Once you run out, rather than having to re-purchase that solution, you can switch to a vinegar-based descaling solution that’ll work just as well. Which brings us to option number two:
All you need to do is fill 1 part white vinegar and 2 parts cold water (enough to pull a double shot). Then, pull the shots, running the full cycle through. Afterwards, turn the machine off for a couple minutes, and take this time to clean out the water reservoir and refill it with water.
Turn the machine back on and run a few just-water cycle to make sure everything is properly rinsed out. And voila! You’ve descaled your machine. If you need to clean the outside, a slightly damp wash cloth or paper towel will do the trick.
Does nice crema equal a quality machine?
No! There are a lot of factors that affect the crema on top of your espresso. The tan, slightly sour foam is affected by both the bean type and extraction technique.
On the machine front, you are looking for a nice, medium-thin foam on top, not a huge, frothy head like a beer. You’ll get this from high quality espresso machines. The thing about this machine is that it produces an okay crema, but it’s not as rich as other creams despite the look. That’s due to the pressurized portafilter
Pressurized portafilters will produce a “fake crema.” Rather than being a result of carbon dioxide being released from the beans during the high pressure extraction, it’s actually a result of aeration from being forced through the small hole at the bottom.
Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean this machine is bad. This is just a note to let you know that crema should not be the bar you are using to measure espresso machines in general.
What are ESE pods and should you use them?
ESE stands for Easy-Serve-Espresso. These pods are composed of two circular paper or fabric based filters that are sealed together with fine coffee grounds sandwiched in between them. Think circular tea bags, but for coffee and without a string.
We have similar feelings about these pods as we do for other pre-grounds coffee. The issue is that they are generally not as fresh as other coffee options. Ideally, you should be buying whole beans and grinding them yourself.
If that’s to feasible for you, then getting freshly roasted ground coffee is the next best thing. That’s coffee with a CLEARLY MARKED roast date. ESE pods generally don’t have this, which is a sign of sub-par freshness, which will shine through in your brew. Additionally, single-serve pods tend to be more wasteful than other options.
However, ESE pods can come in handy in a pinch or ultra busy routine. So it’s nice to have that option on a machine like this one that is marketed towards beginners.
At this price point, most of the “espresso” machines you come across are just going to be single serve pod brewers from Illy or Nespresso. However, here are a couple “real” espresso machines you can check out in this price range.
Mr. Coffee Dual Shot
If you want to save a little extra money and aren’t sold on the pressurized portafilter, this Mr. Coffee espresso maker is worth checking out. You can pull single or double shots, and like the other machines we’ve discussed, you can froth your own milk with the included steaming wand. It has a 40 oz water reservoir, thermoblock heating system, and even comes with a recipe book.
Delonghi Dedica (EC680)
Here’s another machine from De’Longhi worth checking out. It’s great for people who need to save a little counter space. The shots are similar in quality to the EC702, maybe even a bit better. The steaming wand is manual and easy to use. It can brew one or two shots and even accommodates larger/taller cups.
The Next Step
The main issue many users have with the machines we’ve mentioned so far is that they aren’t really built to last more than a couple years. If you are willing to save up to invest a bit more in a machine that’ll serve you significantly longer (and likely better), here’s our pick for a user- and beginner-friendly at a slightly higher price point.
Breville Bambino Plus BES500BSS
This machine starts an impressive 3 second heat-up time and a low pressure pre-infusion feature that gradually increases pressure to help ensure even and full extraction. It has a top quality 54mm porta-filter for a full flavor 19 gram dose.
The digital temperature control (PID) allows for precise espresso extraction. And the automatic microfilm milk texturizing allows you to customize the milk steaming temperature and texture while still taking out much of the guesswork. That way, you can get cafe quality microfilm with minimal effort. Plus, you can actually make latte art!
Lastly, there is an auto purge function that purges the. heat system after steaming to ensure each subsequent espresso is extracted at the exact right temperature. Overall, the controls on this machine are super easy to use, so this machine is hard to beat for anyone, especially a beginner.
In general, we recommend saving a bit more money and going for a machine that’ll last you much longer than this one, such as the Bambino Plus that ewe recommended above. But as far as the base-level class goes, this machine is one of the better ones that you can choose.
With decent milk frothing, a pressurized portafilter, the option for ESE pods, and overall pretty nice extraction, this is a great choice for people who are just looking to dip their toe in the waters without investing too much money.
Like we said, espresso can be intimidating, but this machine and others like it do their best to make it easy and accessible to a broader range of coffee enthusiasts.