DeLonghi ECO310 Espresso Machine Review

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delonghi-eco310-espresso-machine

Delonghi ECO310 is an entry level semi-automatic espresso maker designed more for a novice home barista. It’s equipped with basic features such as a 15-bar pump, stainless steel boiler and pressurized portafilter that allow you to pull a good espresso shot with some trial and error. At this low price point, it comes with some limitations. Is it the right machine for you? Hopefully at the end of the review, your question will be answered with facts so you can make an educated decision.

  Table of Contents
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1. Introduction
2. Features & Benefits
3. Brewing
4. Steaming
5. Display & Control
6. Additional Features
7. How to Clean
8. Accessories
9. Power & Cord
10. Dimensions & Weight
11. Warranty
12. Pros & Cons
13. Consumer Reviews
14. Price
15. Summary

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Features & Benefits

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  • 15-Bar Pressure Pump: This is a standard feature in many espresso makers on the market. To pull a good shot, the minimal pressure should be at 9-bar but most machines are designed with a 15-bar.

    A “bar” is a measure for pressure and the ambient pressure at sea level. A 15-bar pump will deliver 15 times of the pressure at sea level which is high enough to force hot water through coffee grounds to extract the coffee oil, aroma and flavor.

    To get the perfect shot, it involves multiple variables including freshly roasted coffee, consistent coffee grounds with the right granule size, appropriate tamping pressure and the pressure applied during the extraction process. There are two ways to validate the pressure level, one of which is to have a pressure gauge to see the extract pressure on the dial and the other method is by the final outcome, the shot.

    A few things to observe while brewing is in progress is the rate of flow, the color, the texture and of course, the crema. Crema is a term used a lot in describing an espresso shot that has a foamy layer on top of the espresso. The two extremes you’d want to avoid are overextraction or under extraction. In the overexaction scenario, the espresso comes out very slowly and it’s bitter in taste. In the opposite extreme, the underextraction exhibits in faster delivery (shorter than 20 to 30 seconds) with a sour note in taste.

  • Two Thermostats: The benefit of such is that the temperature for brewing and steaming is controlled independently. There is still a bit of downtime switching from brewing to steaming or vice versa. From brewing to steaming, you’d have to wait for the temperature to heat up more as steaming requires higher temperature and the opposite is true from steaming to brewing.
  • Versatile for E.S.E (Easy Serve Espresso) Pods and Ground Coffee: This is a great feature for people who might be in a pinch for time in the morning. Instead of grinding coffee beans, you can just use a pod to brew a cup for the drive to work. It saves a minute or so in grinding as well as cleaning time.
  • 48-Ounce Water Tank: For a compact sized machine, the water tank is considered “medium” in size so you don’t have to refill after every two shots or so. The water tank sits in the back of the unit and can be easily lifted from top or refill with a water jug.
  • Panerello Frother: The EC310 is a complete package from making espresso to cappuccino or latte with the built-in frother. It frothes and steams milk for a cappuccino or latte.
  • Cup Warming Tray: It’s heated by the residue heat from the boiler that at best keeps the cup warm. If you want to make sure the hot brew is not cooled down in a cold cup, you might want to run some hot water from the espresso maker or heat the cup with cold water in the microwave.

Brewing

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It’s highly suggested to preheat the espresso machine before brewing to ensure the machine is properly heated up. Follow the instructions in the User Manual on how to run just hot water through the unit.

To brew the espresso using ground coffee or pods, follow these steps:

  • Fill the water tank with fresh cold water
  • Select a filter basket for either one or two espresso and insert it into the portafilter
  • Grind fresh coffee beans using preferably a burr grinder
  • Fill the basket with one or two level scoop/s ground coffee; if using a pod, insert a pod into the single shot basket in lieu of ground coffee and no tamping is needed
  • Tamp the basket using either the built-in tamper or a metal tamper of 52mm in size; wipe off any excess loose grounds
  • Insert the portaholder into the unit and turn the handle to the right to lock into position
  • Place a warmed cup or two under the delivery spouts
  • Wait for the OK indicator light to be switched on to signal readiness, press the Coffee button once to start brewing. Press the same button again when the desired amount of coffee is dispensed
  • Turn the handle from right to left to release the portafilter

Steaming

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  • Press the Steam button
  • Fill a milk pitcher with ½ cup of cold milk for cappuccino or more for latte from the fridge
  • Wait for the Steam indicator to switch on
  • Turn on the Steam knob on top of the machine to release some steam and hot water for a few seconds and turn off the knob. By doing so, the machine should be primed at the steaming temperature.
  • Place the milk pitcher under the steam wand and dip the tip of the wand into the surface of the milk by a few millimeters
  • Turn the knob counter clockwise to start frothing
  • When the milk volume is doubled, dip the frother further down into the pitcher to heat the milk. The ideal temperature is between 140 to 150 F depending on your taste. Some people gauge it by how hot it is to the touch while others may use a liquid thermometer.
  • When it’s done, turn the Steam knob clockwise and release the Steam button.
  • Knock the pitcher on the counter to eliminate some of the bigger air bubbles and swirl it around to create a creamy consistency. Add the froth and milk into the brewed espresso and sweeten or flavor it to taste.

Display & Control

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It has a very simple control panel consisting of a Steam knob on top and a set of buttons with indicator lights on the front left panel. From top to bottom, they are On/Off, Coffee and Steam with an indicator light for each button to the right.

Additional Features

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None

How to Clean

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The downside of owning an espresso machine is the need for cleaning. The better you take care of the unit, the longer it will serve you. The cleaning is divided up into daily and periodic routines. The daily includes rinse the portafilter and the basket in warm tap water and dry them with a clean towel. Wipe clean the steaming wand with a damp cloth by taking it apart into two pieces. Empty the drip tray when it’s full.

The more elaborated cleaning tasks refer to cleaning of the filter, the boiler outlet and descaling. Adhere to the guidelines provided by DeLonghi on the frequency of each task and how to, including the required cleaning supplies.

Accessories

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Included Accessories

The purchase comes with a coffee scoop, two pressurized filter baskets for single and double shot and Instruction Manual.

Optional Accessories

The built-in tamper is made of plastic. If you want to do it right, get a metal tamper of 52mm in diameter. A milk pitcher becomes a necessity if you plan on making cappuccinos or lattes. Get one that’s 2 to 3 x of the milk volume. A burr grinder is a nice-to-have if you are serious about making espresso. Even a low-end one would cost about $100 but it does make a big difference in the quality of the shot.

Power & Cord

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  • Input Power (W): 1100
  • Voltage/Frequency (V-Hz): 120/60

Dimensions & Weight

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  • Dimensions (W x D x H inches): 9.06 x 10.24 x 11.81
  • Weight (lbs): 8.04

Warranty

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1-year limited warranty

Pros & Cons

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Pros

  • The stainless steel boiler is made to last so do the baskets for single and double shots.
  • Stylish and compact that you can lift it up in one hand.
  • It takes about a minute to heat up so you don’t have to wait long before pulling the shot.
  • If you follow the right steps to prime the unit and warm up the cup and the portafilter, you should be able to brew espresso at the right temperature.
  • It’s quite easy to operate the unit with a few push buttons and a knob.

Cons

  • It’s hard to affix the portafilter for the first few times but it does get easier with time.
  • Very limited clearance (3.5 inches) between the spouts and the drip tray for using larger mugs. You’d have to brew into a demitasse cup first and transfer the brew to a travel mug.
  • The frother wand is swiveled from side to side but not back and forth.
  • Most of the EC310 is made of plastic with some chrome color as accent.
  • No auto shut-off for brewing and steaming. You’d have to press the corresponding button again when the process is complete.

Consumer Reviews

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3.7 out of 5.0

The feedback about the DeLonghi EC310 is a mixed bag of positive and negative reviews. The happy customers said the machine provided good value for the price and it was capable of brewing good espressos at the right temperature and even with decent crema. The unhappy folks were disappointed by less than an ideal brewing temperature, the plastic material and poor customer service at DeLonghi.

Price

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Priced under $200, it’s clearly an inexpensive model for beginners.

Summary

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Like many things in life, it’s a matter of reality vs. expectation. The Delonghi ECO310, also known as the Icona is one of the lower-end models in the entire Delonghi product portfolio. While it’s designed with basic features such as a stainless steel boiler, 15-bar pump and a frother, it doesn’t come with fancy bells and whistles. For many lay persons, it’s not that cheap for under $170. However, in the entire espresso machine ecosystem, it’s indeed an affordable unit. DeLonghi does have a unit (EC155) that has some of the same features as EC310 but it costs about $50 less.

It’s meant for someone who has a new-found interest in making espresso at home but doesn’t want to spend a fortune in getting a high-end machine. It can brew good espresso shots in the hands of a more skilled home brewer. It takes time, persistence and tweaking to get it right. If you enjoy the process, it would be fun and rewarding. If not, you should consider getting a different type of espresso machine such as Nespresso where all the guesswork is eliminated for you. All you need to do is to insert a coffee pod and the machine will do the rest. I had written reviews of a few Nespresso models if you are interested.

 

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