The De’Longhi Dedica machines have been one of the best selling domestic espresso coffee maker machine 2020 in the UK for quite a while. In fact the current model, the EC865 is the best selling espresso machine on Amazon at the time of writing, and had several thousand amazon reviews.
But this isn’t what I’d call a home barista machine, and it’s not a machine you’ll usually find me reviewing or talking about on coffeeblog. In fact this is of the level of machines I was referring to earlier when I said that I noticed a neighbour had bought an awful espresso machine. It wasn’t this exact one, but a similar type of very low cost domestic espresso machine.
As a very quick rule of thumb, if an espresso machine retails at less than around £300, I’d be sceptical, simply because the components required to make semi decent espresso would usually make it difficult to produce a machine so cheaply.
When you consider how much the build cost would have to be to retail the machines at this price once various parties have taken their slice, you’re talking about machines that have had very little money spend on the build, and to make proper espresso requires various components which don’t cost pennies.
Another thing that would make me skeptical, by the way, is “15 Bars of Pump Pressure” featuring in the marketing blurb. This is not the sign of a quality machine, it’s the sign of a super cheap machine which probably should be avoided if you’re looking for a home barista setup.
Just see this list of best selling Espresso machines on Amazon, and “15 Bars of Pump Pressure” is something that most of the cheap espresso machines towards the top of the list, boast. But it’s not something to boast about. We don’t want 15 bars of pressure for espresso, we want 9 bars.
The reason the super cheap domestic machines achieve 15 bars of pressure is that to achieve the lower 9 Bars without causing problems for the machine would lead to higher build costs. To achieve 9 bars without issues, a decent expansion valve is required, and a decent expansion valve doesn’t cost pennies, it costs probably £30-£35 or more, which in some cases is likely to be way more than the total build cost of the machine. So build cost is lowered either by skipping the expansion valve, or using a cheap one, both which would make 9 bars a no go.
But instead of being honest (marketing and honesty don’t exactly go hand in hand), brands spin this to make it appear that 15 bars is desirable, which it isn’t.
But I digress.
Going back to the Delonghi Dedica, I’ve decided to include this cheap espresso machine in this post because I’m aware that there are many home baristas who’ve started out with a Delonghi Dedica such as the EC685 or the previous model the EC680, many of whom appear to have done OK with it if they’ve followed some of the tips I’m about to share.
It’s a very slim machine at just 15cm wide, so that’s a good thing if you don’t have much kitchen worktop space. It has a 1 litre water tank, which is about usual for a domestic espresso machine at this level, and it comes in black, white, red or silver.
It has a 51mm portafilter, and although this isn’t the standard 58mm, there are quite a few aftermarket baskets and portafilters on the market at this size, meaning you can swap out the baskets (as I’ll get to shortly) and the portafilter if required.
It has a panarello steam wand (which I’ll talk about shortly) and the newer EC685 model has more space under the portafilter, allowing you to use larger cups.