Delonghi Specialista Arte EC 9155 Review

Delonghi La Specialista Arte EC9155 Review
Delonghi La Specialista EC9155

La Specialista EC9155

Delonghi La Specialista EC9255

La Specialista EC9255

Abstract

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.

New for 2024 is the La Specialista EC9255 model, which includes an option even for cold brew.

What’s running on the Specialista?

Heater:

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.

Delonghi La Specialista thermoblock

Delonghi La Specialista thermoblock

Portafilter:

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.

Baskets:

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. The La Specialista comes with both a single and double basket. It also comes with a nice heavy portafilter, and a decent tamper with a metal base.

These are the single and double baskets of the Delonghi La Specialista

Delonghi La Specialista Arte single and double baskets

Delonghi La Specialista Portafilter, 51mm

Delonghi La Specialista Portafilter, 51mm

Grinder:

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.

Again, I really wish that this grinder allowed more than 8 grind settings, but with freshly roasted beans, you should be able to grind fine enough for a good extraction.

Another thing to note is that the grinder hopper and burr carrier are not removable. You will need to take the machine apart if you ever want to get to the grinder.

Espresso Extraction:

The pre-infusion phase of this machine is very long, at 8 seconds, plus the 0 to 2 second settable pause afterwards. Therefore, the shots do run quite quickly, since the puck is already saturated. You can 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).

Steam Wand:

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.

Milk Frothing with the La Specialista:

I find that the milk frothing is decent with this machine. It is similar to the Delonghi Dedica Arte. The nice thing is, the steam wand is a non-burn type. This means that the outside of the steam wand does not get hot, making it easier to clean after steaming.

What about the power? The power is ok, but nothing to write home about. It takes me about 45-50 seconds to steam 200ml of milk for my cappuccino. It’s strong enough to get a whirlpool going after injecting some initial air into the milk, but it’s not overly strong, like for example the Breville Bambino.

All in all however, I am quite satisfied with the milk steaming. The steam wand is on a nice articulating pivot, and it’s long enough to get deep in to a pitcher. Ergonomics of the milk frothing wand are quite good, therefore.

Delonghi La Specialista Steam Wand

Delonghi La Specialista Steam Wand

Americano vs Long Black?

You’ll notice this machine has a selector switch on it. With the selector switch, you can choose between espresso, americano, hot water for tea, and descaling. So what are these drinks? An americano is an espresso shot, then hot water on top of it to lengthen the drink. A long black is the exact opposite: first hot water in a cup, and espresso on top. I happen to like a long black more, because some of the crema stays intact.

What’s nice about the La Specialista is, that based on the selector switch, you can either just run an espresso, or you can automate the process to make an americano/long black. Pretty nice!

La Specialista vs Breville Barista Express?

I will be honest. Delonghi had every chance to take a look at the 10 year old Barista Express, and make their machine better – but they didn’t. The grinder doesn’t offer more adjustability, and the steam wand is not superior, either. I guess where Delonghi did beat Breville was on price. The La Specialista is a fair bit cheaper in most markets.

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Find your La Specialista below:

Delonghi La Specialista EC9155

La Specialista EC9155

Delonghi La Specialista EC9255

La Specialista EC9255