Delonghi finally caught word from Breville, that their Barista Express was selling like hotcakes – 5 years later. The Specialista seems to be Delonghi’s long awaited answer to their competition. In this review, we will look at how the La Specialista Arte EC 9155 fares in build quality, usability and price to performance ratio.
Features – What’s running on the Specialista?
The La Specialista is run by a so-called “dual-heating” system, which is thermoblock driven. Although the Arte contains a dual heating system, it cannot extract espresso and heat at the same time. It does however cool down the boiler automatically after steaming, which is a nice, ergnomic feature.
This is different for the Maestro and Prestigio models, which run on dual thermoblock systems, allowing simultaneous milk steaming and espresso extraction.
I think for Delonghi, the choice to go with a 51mm portafilter again was obvious. Their entire espresso machine lines run on 51mm, so it probably keeps costs down to stick with their standard. In my experience, I get great results from this size. Keep in mind, La Pavoni also has a smaller diameter portafilter.
Contrary to the Dedica, the Arte has a massive, heavy portafilter made out of stainless steel. It feels nicer in the hand with that heft, and should retain heat better.
Yipee! Delonghi finally decided to include non-pressurized baskets with their latest line of Specialista machines! That means we can actually grind for espresso, and with proper grind setting and puck preparation, we can make a proper espresso extraction, right out of the box.
Yes! Delonghi includes the special “Arte” steam wand with this machine, to make frothing for latte art much easier. This steam wand has enough power to steam nice creamy, silky milk. It is a one hole tipped steam wand, and it gets cooled down automatically after steaming, as the thermoblock is purged.
Keep in mind, this is also a „non-burn“ steam wand, so it is only warm and not hot to the touch.
The integrated grinder does grind fine enough for espresso, although more range would be nice. On the plus side, the included portafilter funnel helps avoid any messes, and acts as an excellent guide for WDT and plunging the tamper as well. There is an „extra grind range“ setting, but this just lengthens the grinding timer by an additional 10 seconds. It DOES NOT give the grinder extra range.
The pre-infusion phase of this machine is very long, at 8 seconds, plus the 0-2 second settable pause afterwards. Therefore, the shots do run quite quickly, since the puck is already saturated. One does get a nice crema, and good flavor from the machine, and it is possible to choose between low, medium and high temperature settings (92°, 94°, and 96° respectively at the thermoblock).
Curious to check out the machine offerings? Have a look below: