De'Longhi La Specialista Maestro review: an espresso machine for a variety of drinks

Bring the coffeehouse home

De'Longhi La Specialista Maestro on a countertop
(Image: © Future)

Top Ten Reviews Verdict

The De’Longhi La Specialista Maestro Espresso Machine looks like something you would see in your favorite coffeehouse, and it functions like one as well. The high-end espresso maker has a built-in beans container and grinder, tamping station, and five temperature controls. It can make Americano, coffee, espresso, cappuccino, latte, flat white, and a variety of other drinks. And the latte crema system can adjust the micro-foam or you can manually control it. It’s pretty close to perfect. The only drawback may be the budget-busting price.

Pros

  • +

    Beautiful design

  • +

    Gauges are stylish and functional

  • +

    Built-in bean hopper and grinder

Cons

  • -

    Quite expensive

  • -

    Heavy

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De’Longhi is known for making some of the best coffee makers with their line of automatic espresso machines, manual espresso machines, and collaboration with Nespresso machines. The De’Longhi La Specialista Maestro is the most expensive of the manual espresso machines, but it also has the most bells and whistles.

For starters, it really does look like the type of professional espresso machine that you’d see in a coffee house. Literally every component is made of stainless steel (aside from the black trim on the panel and bean hopper). The cup warmer on top, and the three gauges (technically, only one is a true gauge and the other two serve to display selections) add to the beautiful design.

But the De’Longhi La Specialista Maestro is as functional as it is beautiful. Many espresso makers have a built-in grinder, but the Maestro goes the extra mile with broadly-adjustable grind dosing settings (with eight levels) as well as suggested dosing ranges that are based on the roasting level. Smart tamping helps ensure the right dose and eliminates messy transfers.

The 19-bar high pressure pump also has a gauge indicator, and the generous, removable water tank (67.6-ounce capacity) eliminates the need to keep refilling the tank. The machine makes coffee, Americano, espresso, latte, latte macchiato, cappuccino, and even hot water for tea or hot chocolate. In addition, the dual milk system lets me use the automatic LatteCrema system, or I can manually use the latte art option.

At $1,399, the De’Longhi La Specialista Maestro is a high-end machine with a high-end price. Keep scrolling to see if the many features justify the price.

Terri Williams freelance writer
Terri Williams

Terri is a freelance writer living in Birmingham, AL. She has tested hundreds of products, including kitchen appliances, vacuums, bedding, furniture, luggage, and tech gear. Terri has bylines at Architectural Digest, Forbes, Popular Science, CNN Underscored, NBC News, The Daily Beast, USA Today, and US News & World Report, as well as Tech Radar, Homes & Garden, and Tom's Guide. Follow her adventures @Territoryone.


Terri drinks (decaf) coffee every day, and tested the De’Longhi La Specialista Maestro Espresso Machine on and off for several months, evaluating design, user-friendliness, flavor, and consistency. She was allowed to keep it for ongoing use

De’Longhi La Specialista Maestro: specifications

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Type of coffee makerEspresso
Wattage1450
Pressure19bar
Wate tank67.6 ounces
Bean hopper8.8 ounces
Average noise level50 dB
Dimensions18.5 x 16.5 x 14in (h x w x d)
Weight35.27 pounds

De’Longhi La Specialista Maestro: Price & availability

The De’Longhi La Specialista Maestro Espresso is priced at $1,399.95, but currently on sale for $1,250.00 at Amazon. It’s also sold direct-to-consumer at De’Longhi, or through other retailer such as Williams Sonoma.

De’Longhi La Specialista Maestro: First impressions

I’ve had the De’Longhi La Specialista Maestro Espresso for four months, and as I recall, it was packed well to protect all of the components from damage. In addition to the actual machine, accessories include the stainless-steel milk frother carafe, single and double coffee filters, cleaning bush, descaler, water hardness test indicator paper, outlet cleaning disk, and cleaning cloth.   

The power cord is removable, which makes it a lot easier to position the espresso machine flush against the wall, if needed. There’s also a removable water tank (with a handle) in the back – which makes the container much easier to fill, pour out, and clean.

In my humble opinion, this is hands-down the most beautiful espresso maker that I’ve ever tested. The design is so sleek and stylish and the quality components make it look like a luxury product – granted, for the price, I would expect nothing less.

The beans container has a lid to keep the coffee beans fresh, and the burr grinder has an adjustable grind dose dial to accommodate various types of beans. In addition, the tamping feature helps to ensure the perfect dose. There’s a 1-cup coffee filter, and a 2-cup coffee filter. Both have a laser mark inside to identify the level of coffee that produces a perfect dose. The ability to reach the perfect dose after tamping creates a great cup of coffee. It also helps me understand where I need to make changes. For example, if the coffee is at the right dosage level, but the coffee is pouring too slowly, then the grind needs to be coarser, and if it is pouring   too quickly, it’s under-extracted and the grind needs to be finer.

De’Longhi also takes other steps to ensure the perfect cup of espresso. For example, the water hardness test indicator paper is used to determine the level of water hardness – and then the machine can be programmed for the descaling light to come on more or less often depending on the test results. A descaler is also included, which helps to remove minerals from hard water. In addition, a tube brush is included for cleaning the smart tamping station.

The drip tray, drip tray grille, and cup grill are dishwasher safe. However, the water tank, beans container, milk container, portafilter, and filters should be washed in the sink. The steam wand should be cleaned with a damp cloth after each use, and using the steam function provides a deeper cleaner. When using the automatic milk feature, I can merely press the Clean button to clean it and then wash the milk container, spout, and intake tube in the sink (although these parts are dishwasher safe).

The espresso machine is a relatively large appliance that’s 18.5 x 16.5 x 14in (h x w x d), and it weighs 35 pounds, so this isn’t something you’d keep moving around. It’s only available in the stainless-steel finish, but I can’t imagine it in another finish.

De’Longhi La Specialista Maestro: Performance

Before using, I washed all of the parts, inserted the drip tray and cup grills into the machine, filled the water tank, and started out a brew cycle to rinse out any steam (inserting a large container underneath to catch the water). Next, I moved the container under the portafilter and frothing wand, pressed the steam button, and opened the steam dial to clean that section.

After completing these tasks, I was ready to start testing the De’Longhi La Specialista Maestro.  I added some beans to the hopper, and set the grind level on 5, which is the factory setting (the range goes from 1 for fine to 8 for coarse). Here’s something to understand about the grinding process. There’s a knob on the beans container, and it can be turned to adjust the grind settings. However, don’t confuse this with the Dose Level gauge (the gauge on the far left side of the control panel). The numbers (from 1 to 30) shown on the Dose Level indicator are not the  same as the grind setting. Instead, those numbers are suggested ranges based on the type of coffee beans used. For example, extra light corresponds to 1, medium corresponds to medium, 15 is for the medium dark range, 20 is a good range for dark, 25 is suggested for extra-dark, and if extra-grinding is required, that would be in the 30 range.  

After choosing the appropriate range, I inserted a filter into the portafilter, locked it into place, and the grinding process started. When the grinding stopped, I pulled the tamping level toward me, removed the portafilter, and then attached it to the brewer.

The next step was brewing. The control panel includes a variety of buttons: On/Standby, coffee dose dial, X2 button for use with the 2 coffee filter, Coffee Temperature button, Active Rinse Button, OK/Confirmation button, Hot Water button, Descaling button, My/customization button, and Beverage Selection dial. The gauge on the far right side displays the selections to choose from: Espresso, Americano, Flat White, Latte, Cappuccino, and Coffee.

I selected an Espresso the first time. For the second drink, I selected an Cappuccino using the manual frothing method. I filled the milk jug with milk, turned on the steam wand to ensure there was no condensation, and then placed the nozzle on the surface of the milk, and then just under it. The third time, I selected a Cappuccino and used the LatteCrema System. I put the lid on the milk jug, and selected my preferred froth level (using the knob on the lid, I can choose from no froth, minimum froth, and maximum froth). The milk container is then attached to the espresso machine, the the milk feature starts as soon as the brewing cycle has finished.

I appreciate there are various icons that flash as alerts if I’m doing something wrong or forgetting a step. For example, a cup/bean icon will flash if the beans container is empty, and the water pitcher icon flashes if there’s not enough water in the water tank or if the tank isn’t inserted correctly. There are other icons that appear or flash to remind me to clean the LatteCrema System after every use,

De’Longhi La Specialista Maestro: Taste Test

When testing the espresso machine, I used whole beans from both Bluestone Lane and Zend Coffee. I also used the De’Longhi dosing recommendations to help determine the grind settings based on whether I was using light, medium, and dark roasts. This helped to ensure the drinks would not be watery or too strong.   

In addition, the Active Temperature Control has five profile settings that can be adjusted based on the type of bean. Each one provides a different temperature rate for brewing and flavor infusion. And, the pre-infusion function ensures the grounds are evenly wet, based on density, for a perfect extraction. These are the types of features that help to contribute to rich and flavorful drinks.

Admittedly, I’ve tested several De’Longhi espresso machines, and they’re almost fool-proof. So, in my experience, you have to try really hard to have a bad experience that doesn’t result in flavorful coffee. It’s never bitter, sour, or acidic.

I like milk and sugar, so I prefer a latte or cappuccino to an espresso. And those drinks were more appealing – actually mouth-watering - during my testing. However, the espresso drinks were flavorful as well.

pouring coffee with the De'Longhi La Specialista Maestro

(Image credit: Future)

De’Longhi La Specialista Maestro: should I buy?

Buy it if...

You like fancy-schmancy espresso machines

This top-of-the line espresso maker is comparable to what your favorite coffee house uses. It has high end features that can produce results as well as a professional coffee establishment.  

You like to alternate between manual and auto milk frothing

The De’Longhi La Specialista Maestro provides the opportunity to manually froth drinks yourself (which can be fun if you like to create latte art with the steam wand – or you just like more control), and also auto milk frothing, which doesn’t require you to do anything.

You like buttons

Some people don’t like one or two button espresso makers. They like advanced machines with plenty of features and lots of options to choose from. If you fall in the latter category, you’ll appreciate the advanced features on this model.

Don't buy it if...

You don’t like stainless steel

This espresso machine is completely stainless steel with some black trim. And all of the accessories are stainless steel as well. If you’re not a fan of stainless steel, you’ll be overwhelmed by this finish.

You don’t like to fuss with machines

If you like simple machines, keep in mind that this one has eight buttons, 3 dials, and a lever. So, you might find this too complicated for a shot of espresso.

You don’t like cleaning

Whether you’re using auto or manual milk frothing, the components need to be cleaned. The bean hopper also needs to be cleaned for the machine to function properly. And the stainless steel need sot be wiped down to prevent fingerprints.

De’Longhi La Specialista Maestro: how does it compare?

The Seattle Coffee Gear Diletta Bello+ Espresso Machine is an unusual looking contraption that also makes high-quality espresso drinks. However, it does not have a built-in burr grinder, and at $1,899, it’s even more expensive than the De’Longhi La Specialista Maestro.

The Breville Barista Touch ($1,499.95) has many of the same features as the De’Longhi, including a coffee bean grinder, plus, it also has a guided touch screen. However, the milk frother is manual. 

How I tested the De’Longhi La Specialista Maestro

  •  Tested for four months, alternating between the various types of drinks 
  •  Tested with a variety of coffee beans  

I tested the De’Longhi La Specialista Maestro for several months, off and on. I have a massive kitchen island that can hold several appliances, so sometimes, I would put it aside, and then come back to test it again. When testing, I evaluated build quality, ease of use, performance, ease of cleaning, and, of course, taste.

Read more about how we test 

Terri Williams
Freelance Writer

Terri is a freelance writer living in Birmingham, AL. She has tested hundreds of products, including kitchen appliances, vacuums, bedding, furniture, luggage, and tech gear. Terri has bylines at Architectural Digest, Forbes, Popular Science, CNN Underscored, NBC News, The Daily Beast, USA Today, and US News & World Report, as well as TechRadar, Homes & Gardens, and Tom's Guide.