De'Longhi Eletta Explore review: a bean-to-cup coffee maker with hot and cold brew options

Convenience meets customisation in this premium, app-controlled coffee machine

De'Longhi Eletta Explore oncountertop
(Image: © Future / Victoria Woollaston)

Top Ten Reviews Verdict

The De'Longhi Eletta Explore is a versatile, user-friendly machine that offers a huge range of hot and cold drinks, intuitive controls, and smart features that make it ideal for households with various coffee preferences and needs. The addition of cold brew technology and cold milk foaming sets it apart from the vast majority of its competitors, and De'Longhi has given almost as much thought to cleaning and maintenance as it has to usability and quality. It's best suited for coffee enthusiasts who value convenience, variety, and customization but offer enough support for beginners. You won't find much better if you're willing to invest in a high-quality, feature-rich coffee maker.

Pros

  • +

    Wide variety of drink options

  • +

    Easy customization thanks to smart features

  • +

    User-friendly touchscreen

Cons

  • -

    Expensive

  • -

    Milk carafes not built in

  • -

    Coffee can lack nuance

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I'm a huge advocate of semi-automatic coffee makers and the control they give, but they can take a bit of practice and aren't always the most convenient of machines. At the same time, fully automatic machines are great for my busy life, yet often lack nuance and customization. 

The De'Longhi Eletta Explore promises the best of both worlds—albeit for a premium price—so I had to test it to see if it could answer my coffee-making prayers. And for the most part, it is. 

It makes 30 standard hot and cold drinks, plus the option of making tea using its hot water spout and a huge range of recipes available in the Coffee Link app. The touchscreen is intuitive and easy to navigate, or you can control the machine and its settings from your phone for the ultimate convenience. This includes being able to customize the size and intensity of your drinks. These features, coupled with the machine's 13 grind settings, bring a welcomed level of customization, providing a middle ground for coffee fans and beginners. Moreover, it's one of the few fully automatic machines with cold brew extraction technology.  

Keep reading to get my full take on the machine, including its app, smart features, worth the money, and coffee quality. In the meantime, check out our full guides on the best coffee makers and best single serve coffee makers to see how they compare to competitors.

Victoria Woollaston bio headshot
Victoria Woollaston

Victoria Woollaston has reviewed household appliances and gadgets for the past 15 years.  She has tested everything from vacuums to coffee machines, blenders, air purifiers, fans, and much more. 

De'Longhi Eletta Explore coffee machine: Key specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Row 0 - Cell 1
TypeBean-to-cup
Capacity60.8 ounces (6 cups)
Grinder?Yes
Frother?Yes
DimensionsH15.2 x W10.2 x D17.7 inches

De'Longhi Eletta Explore coffee machine: Price & availability

The De'Longhi Eletta Explore has an RRP of $1,799.99 and is available to buy in Titanium or Gray from De'Longhi and Amazon.

De'Longhi is renowned for its wide range of automatic coffee machines. The Eletta Explore, despite costing $1,799.99, is one of its mid-range models. It sits below the flagship Maestosa and PrimaDonna Elite lines and above the Dinamica, Rivelia, and Magnifica collections.

Outside of De'Longhi, however, the Eletta Explore is considered a high-end machine. It costs three to four times as much as rival bean-to-cup automatic machines from Phillips, Krups, Melitta, and Siemens. The most notable difference between the Eletta and cheaper models is its smart features. You're largely paying a premium to control and customize the De'Longhi model through your phone – a convenience and versatility I think is worth paying for. You're also paying for De'Longhi's deep coffee-brewing expertise. If neither matters to you, the price will seem excessive and could be overkill.

During my review period, I saw various discounts for the Eletta Explore across different retailers. They tended to top out around the 10% mark, but thanks to the machine's high RRP, this could still work out as a significant saving.  

Score: 4 out of 5

De'Longhi Eletta Explore coffee machine: Setup

Despite being relatively compact and slim, the Eletta Explore comes in a huge box. Each of the different accessories, including the filter and cleaning brush, LatteCrema systems, and travel cup, comes in individual bags and boxes. Many are then further wrapped in plastic to protect them. 

It can take a few minutes to remove all of the pieces from their boxes and unwrap them before you reach the machine and water tank at the bottom. That's not to mention the amount of garbage all of this creates. 

Once all of the components are unboxed and unwrapped, the machine's setup is relatively quick and easy. Plug it in, and the built-in LCD guides you through installing the water tank, flushing the system, connecting to Wi-Fi, pairing it with the De'Longhi Connect app, and setting up your profile. You can easily skip these steps and return to them via the app later. You also don't need to use De'Longhi's smart features to use the machine; it's a bonus rather than a necessity, but given that you're paying a premium for them and the benefits they bring, it's worth it. 

De'Longhi Eletta Explore in a box

(Image credit: Future / Victoria Woollaston)

If you don't have one, I recommend setting up a De'Longhi account before the machine arrives. Not because it takes a long time, but if you're trying to connect the machine and set up your account simultaneously, you can get caught in a cycle of repeatedly entering your login details. Once that was sorted, though, the app was easily found and connected to the machine.

De'Longhi Eletta Explore coffee machine: Design

Suppose you've ever worked in an office. In that case, the De'Longhi Eletta Explore should instantly remind you of the automatic coffee machines you can find in reception areas and office kitchens. I reviewed the Titanium model, which has a sleek, black, and stainless steel finish designed to suit and blend into most kitchen aesthetics. It has a large LCD display on the front. 

It's not the smallest or lightest coffee machine, measuring 10.2 x 17.7 x 15.2 inches and weighing 24.7 lbs, but it is surprisingly narrow for a machine with this much technology and features—especially when you consider the width and bulk of many of the best espresso machines. All of its components are neatly organized and easy to find and use, too. 

De'Longhi Eletta Explore bean hopper

(Image credit: Future / Victoria Woollaston)

The top of the machine features the bean hopper, which has a clear lid for easy monitoring of coffee bean levels. In the top-left corner is a grind size adjustment dial with 13 settings, giving you precise control over your coffee's coarseness. A small compartment, protected by a plastic lid, sits in the front of this hopper, and this is where you put coffee grounds if you're buying your beans pre-grounded or already have a separate grinder. I like that this hopper sits inside the machine rather than on top, which is standard for many machines. It creates sleek, flat lines and means the machine sits comfortably beneath cabinets. 

The 6-cup / 1.8-liter water tank neatly slides into the right-hand side of the machine. Often, the machine's water tank needs to be awkwardly slotted into the rear, and this can be difficult when it's full of sloshing water. The Eletta's design makes this whole process smooth and mess-free.

The front panel includes soft-touch buttons around a 3.5-inch color touchscreen display for selecting hot, cold, and stored drinks and adjusting your machine's settings. The panel and screen are large enough to make it easy to use but subtle enough not to look gaudy.  

Below this panel are the adjustable coffee spouts that slide up or down to accommodate a range of cup sizes, including travel mugs, up to 6.7 inches tall. I like to make my iced lattes in tall glasses, and I usually have to make the espresso shot in a cup before pouring it into the milk. As a result, I lost some of the crema that gave the shot its smoothness. With the Eletta, the coffee can be extracted straight into the milk, meaning I keep all the espresso goodness.

Speaking of milk, there's a small slot to the left of the adjustable spout where you attach one of the Eletta Explore's two milk carafes—the carafe with the black lid is used for frothing hot milk, while the carafe with a white lid is for cold milk foaming. These carafes are designed to be easily attached and detached, and the machine not only knows which carafe has been inserted but also what level of froth/foam has been selected via the dials on top of each. A spout that protrudes from the lid of each carafe can then be angled to sit in the cup or glass you're using for your drink. 

These carafes are bulky and made of plastic, which lets down the overall look of the Eletta Explore. They're also a pain to store. I appreciate the fact they give an impressive and welcomed amount of control over the texture of the milk— something I've never managed to master with manual milk frothers to the same extent—but their design feels like an afterthought. To save space and hassle, I kept these carafes topped up and stored in my fridge so they were ready to use each time. 

De'Longhi Eletta Explore with all accessories

(Image credit: Future / Victoria Woollaston)

The bottom of the machine includes a drip tray with a small, red water level indicator. When you pull out the drip tray, you'll find the coffee grounds container. This container slots in and out of the tray for easy emptying. 

Overall, the design of DeLonghi Eletta Explore itself has been well thought out. Its shape, finish, display, and smooth way of slotting all the parts together live up to the machine's premium price. It takes up a fair amount of space on a countertop, but not as much as you think for such a powerful machine. I don't mind this because it's attractive enough to stand out as a statement piece. At this price, I want to show it off, not have it blend into the background. My only complaint is the size and design of the carafes. 

Score: 4.5 out of 5

De'Longhi Eletta Explore coffee machine: Performance

Using the Eletta Explore is generally straightforward, thanks to the clear instructions on the screen at every step. This screen is responsive, and navigating the menu is intuitive and fast. At first glance, the huge number of drink options on the Eletta Explore's menu and their various size and setting options can feel overwhelming. Yet, chances are if you're willing to spend a thousand+ dollars on a coffee machine, you already know which types of drinks you prefer, and these are good places to start. 

Scroll through the drinks on the built-in LCD or via the app until you find one you like. You can then press the drink icon to start the process or press the plus button beneath each option to adjust the size, intensity, temperature, and milk settings (depending on which drink you've selected). The machine will automatically update these settings for the next time you make that drink and assign them to whichever profile was signed in when the changes were made. This is hugely convenient and welcomed. My only complaint is that it's not immediately clear how big the drink sizes—M, L, and XL—are. You have to look these up, and I often didn't add enough milk or used the wrong-sized cup while trying to figure this out. This could be more user-friendly with better initial guidance. 

Once you press Brew, the machine kicks into action, and you'll be guided through how to make your selected drink via the display. For example, if you're making an iced latte, the display will ask you to connect the Cold LatteCrema attachment and set the foaming dial to the "minimum" position. It detects this attachment automatically and will move on to the next step once it's connected. The iced latte example will then ask you to add ice before foaming the milk, grinding t, the beans, and delivering your espresso shot straight to your cold-foamed milk. 

De'Longhi Eletta Explore making an espresso

(Image credit: Future / Victoria Woollaston)

You will be asked to connect the Hot LatteCrema attachment and switch the foaming dial to the "maximum" position for cappuccinos. For espresso shots, you just need to put a cup or glass under the spout and press Brew. For Americanos, you pull an espresso shot before attaching the hot water "tap" and filling up your cup or pot. These are just a few examples, but they demonstrate how versatile the Eletta Explore is and how easy it is to experiment with new drinks. Making the machine great for novices and pros alike. 

De'Longhi Eletta Explore pouring milk into a cup

(Image credit: Future / Victoria Woollaston)

In terms of taste, the coffee produced by the Eletta Explore is consistently good. The machine uses Bean Adapt Technology to optimize the brewing parameters based on the coffee beans. The espressos are rich with a dark color and a silky, hazelnut-colored crema. The result is a regular, balanced flavor profile every time. Regardless of which drink you're making. My only complaint with De'Longhi's consistency is that it can sometimes fail to capture the nuanced flavors of more complex beans as fully as I can with my semi-automatic machine. Even when you tweak the grind and settings on the De'Longhi model, it might lack the depth and complexity true coffee lovers seek.

The milk-frothing capabilities of the Eletta Explore are a highlight because offering both hot and cold milk frothing is rare. The hot milk foam is creamy and dense, perfect for cappuccinos and lattes, while the cold milk foam is ideal for refreshing iced drinks. I just wish this feature was somehow built into the machine itself. Attaching and detaching the milk carafes can become tedious, especially if you frequently switch between hot and cold drinks. On the plus side, the machine automatically allows you to flush out and clean the carafes after every use – you don't need to pour any remaining milk out, it simply flushes and cleans the tube – and this almost makes up for the systems other flaws. 

De'Longhi Eletta Explore making a latte

(Image credit: Future / Victoria Woollaston)

Another rare and welcomed feature is the Eletta Explore's Cold Brew options. They require a little more time and effort than other drinks in the range, but if Cold Brew is your go-to, this is more than worth it. Cold brew drinks are characterized by a slower and pulsing brewing pattern, which means they are extracted drop by drop rather than via the steady stream seen during an espresso. It can also take a few seconds before the coffee starts coming out because it slowly infuses the cold water and grounds inside the machine. The taste is lighter and less rich than an espresso, making it a refreshing alternative.

In summary, the DeLonghi Eletta Explore offers reliable performance, a huge selection of high-quality coffee and milk options, and straightforward controls. Its different settings and adjustments balance convenience and customization and should appeal to people at various stages of their coffee journey. The use of profiles also makes it a solid choice for households with multiple coffee drinkers.

There are more than enough features and controls via the Eletta Explore's built-in display for you not to have to use the app, but in my experience, it adds a new level to the machine's versatility. Most notably, the built-in recipes and the option to create your own drinks. 

I became a little too obsessed with the Sunrise Spicy Coffee recipe while reviewing this machine. It's made using coffee, protein powder or milk, cocoa powder, golden syrup, cardamom, and ginger, and it reminded me of the types of seasonal drinks Starbucks releases. Once you've selected a recipe on the app, you simply "send" it to the machine, and the instructions appear on the display. I also attempted to make the Starbucks Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso using the official recipe, and while it was a little sweeter than the original, it wasn't far off. 

The rest of the app's features, such as adjusting individual drink settings, can be done on the machine, but if you want to manage your profiles—up to four at a time—this is better done on your phone. It's more intuitive and less fiddly. 

You can, technically, brew drinks directly from the app; however, due to the automatic system flushing at the start of each cycle and the fiddling around with carafes and milk frothing levels, this is great in theory but not so much in practice. The app additionally has an online magazine where you can read articles and get expert tips on machines in the De'Longhi range and coffee. 

Score: 4.5 out of 5

De'Longhi Eletta Explore coffee machine: Cleaning & maintenance

The Eletta Explore's extensive technology and range of features leave a lot of potential for problems. Thankfully, De'Longhi seems to have put as much effort into helping you clean and maintain the machine as they have into helping you use it. 

Most elements that require regular cleaning, from the drip tray and coffee grounds container to the carafes and water tank, are easy to remove, empty, and clean. They all pull out and slot back into place with ease, and all but the water tank are dishwasher-safe. 

The machine’s design includes a water level indicator in the drip tray, preventing overflow, and every time you turn the machine on, it flushes the system and spouts to keep them clean and clear. This does add a few seconds to your routine, and you need to remember to place a container under the spouts each time to avoid water pouring over your kitchen, but it's a reassuring feature. The display warns you when the coffee grounds container is full or the water filter needs replacing. 

Cleaning the milk carafes after each use is also simple. As soon as your drink is ready, turn the dial on top of each carafe to the Clean position, and the machine will automatically flush and clean the tubes. Again, remember to put a container underneath the spout to avoid a mess.

I wish it were easier to clean the bean hopper, especially when clearing an old batch of beans before adding another type. Removing this hopper is impossible, and because it extends so deep into the machine, it can be difficult to access the bottom. Elsewhere, the stainless steel exterior picks up fingerprints and watermarks. These are easy to wipe off, but add another thing to consider. 

De'Longhi Eletta Explore coffee machine: User reviews

The DeLonghi Eletta Explore coffee machine has generally received positive feedback from users, with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars from 248 reviews at the time of writing. 

Users praised the machine for its ease of use, intuitive touchscreen, and clear electronic instructions. They largely said that setup is straightforward, and the machine guides users through each step, making it accessible even for beginners.

Another feature that appeared throughout the positive reviews was the large variety of drink options, including both hot and cold beverages. Also mentioned were the ability to customize drinks and the high-quality coffee the machine produced. 

However, some users noted difficulties with the Coffee Link app, with a handful saying it's not worth the extra. Other users complained about how sensitive the water tank is because it requires you to refill it, even when it's still half full, and the confusing drink sizes were listed as another flaw. 

Despite these minor drawbacks, the machine is highly recommended, and even those who complained still largely left 4/5 stars. 

Should you buy the De'Longhi Eletta Explore coffee machine?

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Score Card
AttributeNotesRating
PriceYou pay a premium to control the machine on your phone – a convenience and versatility worth paying for but which may feel like overkill★★★★
DesignIts shape, finish, display and the smooth way all the parts slot together live up to the machine's premium price★★★★½
PerformanceReliable performance with a huge selection of high-quality drink options, although lacks nuance somewhat★★★★½

Buy it if...

You want a variety of coffee options

The Eletta Explore offers 30 standard hot and cold drink options, plus many recipes, giving you access to a wide range of coffee types at home.

You want a mix of convenience and control 

The Eletta Explore offers enough customization to please coffee fans, while fully automatic machines are appreciated by beginners or people with busy lives for their convenience and ease of use. 

You enjoy cold brew coffee

The Eletta Explore can make cold brew coffee, a rare feature in automatic machines. This offers a refreshing and smooth alternative to espresso.

Don’t buy it if…

You don't care about smart features

The app may feel overkill for some users and you could end up paying more for a feature you'll hardly or never use. 

You have simple coffee tastes

If you only drink a small selection of coffees or don't need advanced milk frothing options, this machine and its various features and attachments will feel excessive. 

You have limited counterspace

While the size of the machine is surprisingly compact for the amount of technology and features it offers, it's still not a small or portable machine. This could make it seem bulky and cumbersome in smaller kitchens. 

How does the De'Longhi Eletta Explore coffee machine compare?

If you like the look and design of the Eletta Explore, but it's out of your budget, its cheaper sibling, the $799.95 Magnifica Evo Espresso Machine with Frother, is a great alternative. It has similar touchscreen controls, detachable milk frother, and 13 grind settings, and you can personalize certain drinks and save them on the machine. All while being more compact. You lose the smart features and cold brew options, and the Magnifica Evo comes with seven standard drink options rather than 30, but it's also half the price. 

Suppose you want the benefit of Eletta Explore's smart features without paying such a high premium. In that case, Melitta's Barista TS Smart coffee machine lets you prepare 21 coffees straight from your phone using the Melitta Connect app. It comes with two bean chambers: one automatic and the other manual. This means you can automatically prepare delicious coffee using our prepared recipes or create one of your recipes using the manual bean select chamber. Granted, such features still don't come cheap – the Melitta model costs $1,259.99 – but this saves the De'Longhi version. 

At the other end of the spectrum, if you're after a fully automatic machine without the bells and whistles of the De'Longhi or Melitta ranges, the $475 Philips 1200 Series Fully Automatic Espresso Machine offers a touch display, classic milk frother. It allows you to adjust the strength and quantity of your drink. 

How I tested the De'Longhi Eletta Explore coffee machine?

I swapped my current semi-automatic coffee machine—the Smeg Espresso Manual Coffee Machine—for the De'Longhi Eletta Explore as my go-to coffee maker for three weeks. My partner and I used it every time we made coffee, and we also used it to create a large order of different coffee types for builders working on our house. 

Between us, we made a variety of hot and cold coffee drinks, giving me the opportunity to use the different carafes and adjust the settings multiple times. I also used the app's recipes to experiment with new drinks and use the machine's features in various ways. 

I tested everything from its ease of use to versatility, controls, the taste and texture of the coffee produced, and how easy it was to clean and maintain. 

Find out more about how we test.

  • First reviewed: May 2024
Victoria Woollaston
TTR Contributing Editor

Victoria Woollaston is a freelance lifestyle and technology journalist with almost two decades of experience reviewing gadgets, beauty tech and household appliances for the likes of WIRED, TechRadar, Expert Reviews, Alphr and more.