The Delonghi ECP3420 has long been one of the best-selling home espresso machines on Amazon. With a compact footprint and affordable price tag, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular.
We decided to test one of these espresso machines out to see if it is worth investing in.
Delonghi ECP3420 Overview
The Delonghi ECP3420 is a bare-bones espresso machine that does a decent job of producing espresso. As with everything, you get what you pay for, so this machine will never rival a prosumer espresso machine. However, with a few mods, it can pull a semi-decent shot of espresso and froth milk well. It is compact, simple to use, and a great machine if you want to do espresso on a budget.
Delonghi ECP3420 Review
The Delonghi ECP3420 is a basic, no-frills espresso machine that is simple to use. Measuring 7.25″ x 9.62″ x 11.87″ it has a small, space-saving design, easily fitting into even the smallest kitchen spaces. The machine weighs just 10.8 lbs, making it easy to maneuver, but this does mean you may need to stabilize it when inserting the portafilter.
The machine has a sleek design and is available in either black, stainless steel, or a combination of both. While it incorporates some stainless into the design, most of the machine is composed of plastic, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given the price point.
While the Delonghi ECP3420 is an entry-level espresso machine, it does incorporate some practical features, including a 37oz removable water tank with a convenient front window for water level monitoring. The drip tray is also removable and easy to empty and clean, although there is no indicator. A helpful feature of the drip tray is that it can be removed to fit taller cups. A cup warmer on top and two basket holders inside the top lid add to the machine’s overall convenience.
Upon purchase, the Delonghi ECP3420 includes a plastic measuring spoon/tamper, a 3-in-1 portafilter, and three filter baskets for a single shot, double shot, and ESE or easy serve espresso pod usage. The plastic tamper is not ideal and we recommend upgrading to a stainless steel tamper if you intend on using ground coffee with this espresso machine.
Ease of Use
The Delonghi ECP3420 is an entry-level espresso machine so has been designed with the beginner in mind. Given this, it is very simple to operate. On the front of the machine is a dial with four symbols: steaming, off, on, and espresso brewing. The dial is switched on to heat up, and an indicator light glows green when the machine is ready. Because of the small boiler, the espresso machine only takes a few minutes to heat up. The dial is then switched to brew to pull an espresso shot. As this is a basic machine the espresso shot needs to be stopped manually, so it is helpful to use a scale or timer to ensure you’re getting consistent results.
For steaming you turn the dial to steaming and wait for the machine to come up to temperature. There is then a dial on the side of the machine to initiate steaming.
Espresso Performance And Quality
While the Delonghi ECP3420 is not going to deliver the same quality of espresso as more expensive espresso machines, it does perform well considering the price. Equipped with a 15-bar pressure pump and pressurized portafilter baskets for single and double shots, the machine caters to pre-ground coffee users. These baskets are more forgiving, allowing you to pull a decent shot with crema even if the grind size isn’t quite on point. Additionally, an ESE pod holder adds versatility to brewing options.
Inside the machine is a small stainless steel boiler, controlled by two thermostats- one controlling the hot water temperature for espresso, the other for the milk frother. The stainless steel boiler is small and the vibratory pump is not all that powerful, struggling to push water through very fine coffee grinds. Because of this, you may need to use slightly coarser grinds rather than a typical espresso grind.
The espresso produced from this machine is not all that consistent and in part it comes down to how you are using the machine. There are two ways you can use this machine the beginner or advanced way. If you are a beginner you can use the machine with preground coffee and the pressurized portafilter baskets. It is simple to use and can produce a decent shot of espresso, however, the quality of espresso improves a lot if you invest in a single-walled portafilter basket and use freshly ground coffee.
It is also worth noting that this is a manual machine, so you need to manually start and stop each espresso shot. We have found to get better espresso you need to preheat the machine for at least 15 minutes to ensure the group head warms up and you may need to do some temperature surfing (flushing the hot water out of the group head) after steaming to cool the boiler down and ensure espresso is extracted at the right temperature.
The Delonghi ECP3420 comes with a Panarello steam wand. This wand is good for beginners and makes it easy to foam milk. However, the downside of it is that it offers very little control over the milk texture and produces a lot of milk foam. Once again, there are two ways to use the milk frother. If you are a beginner you can stick with the Panarello steam wand. However, if you want to produce better-quality milk we recommend removing this attachment.
With the help of a cable tie to hold the steam nozzle in place, you can use the steam nozzle without the Panarello to produce more evenly textured drinks. If you do opt for this method, it is worth noting that the nozzle is very short, so you need to use a small milk pitcher to froth the milk.
The Delonghi ECP3420 also does not have the best steam power, so you don’t want to be steaming large quantities of milk, otherwise it will run out of pressure and then you will have to wait for the boiler to come back up to temperature and do a second round of steaming.
With this hack of removing the Panarello and using smaller quantities of milk, we have been able to produce creamy and velvety microfoam for latte art.
Cleaning and maintenance is a key factor in the longevity of any espresso machine. The Delonghi ECP3420 is pretty straightforward to maintain. After each use, you should wipe down the machine and the steam wand with a clean cloth. The portafilter and basket need to be rinsed in warm water after each use. The easy to clean removable water tank and drip tray should be washed with hot, soapy water regularly. Finally, Delonghi recommends descaling the machine after every 200 coffees.
Who Is The Delonghi ECP3420 Espresso Machine For?
The Delonghi ECP3420 is a machine for the beginner who wants to make espresso on a budget. And we must admit, the price of this machine is very enticing. The Delonghi ECP3420 is never going to be an end-game machine, but rather a stepping stone to learning espresso and moving on to better models. The Delonghi ECP3420 is easy to use, compact, and affordable. While it can be used as is, if you want to get the most out of the machine you should pair it with a good coffee grinder and purchase a few additions:
These simple additions will make a huge improvement in the quality of coffee produced.
Alternatives To The Delonghi ECP3420
Breville Bambino Plus
The Breville Bambino Plus is another compact espresso machine that is ideal for beginners. This machine has a better build and more advanced technology that can produce high-quality drinks with little effort. The highlight of this machine is the automatic milk frother which produces silky microfoam with no skill required.
Breville Barista Express
The Beville Barista Express is another popular espresso machine for beginners. Unlike the Delonghi ECP3420, the Barista Express comes with all the accessories to brew espresso- a built-in grinder, stainless steel milk jug, tamper, and single and dual-walled filter baskets. The Barista Express simplifies brewing with programmable buttons to brew a single or double espresso and a better steam wand. While this machine costs a lot more, it will last a lot longer.
Delonghi ECP3420- The Verdict
So would we recommend the Delonghi ECP3420? The answer is yes, but not for everyone. The Delonghi ECP3420 would be a good option for someone on a budget, someone with limited space, or a beginner. However, you do get what you pay for. Don’t expect this machine to compare to more expensive models. If your budget can stretch further or you want a machine that will last longer we recommend the Breville Barista Express.
Overall, the Delonghi ECP3420 is the best budget espresso and cappuccino machine at this price point and a great option if you want a low-cost entry into espresso brewing.