Carrying on my search for the perfect automatic espresso machine for the home, my search brought me to the DeLonghi Magnifica 3500 Espresso Machine. Having already reviewed the Gaggia 90951 Platinum Vision Automatic Espresso Machine which is in a similar price bracket, I thought i would be able to give a decent comparison of the two machines.
Expensive automatic espresso machines are fully capable of making quality espressos at the touch of a button, however you’ll always want to make sure you have quality beans. Without quality beans then it won’t matter how great your machine is, you simply can’t make great salad with rotten vegetables.
Yes, the best automatic machines are expensive, but depending on how often you use the machine, you’ll recoup your money from not having to visit Starbucks ever again. The cost per drink averages at around $0.20 compared to anywhere between $0.50 – $0.80 for a pod or capsule based semi-automatic machine. You also have the touch button convenience and low amount of cleaning which makes using almost any automatic espresso machine a total breeze. However, how will the DeLonghi Magnifica 3500 match up to scrutiny from a guy who knows what he’s talking, or writing about. Carry on reading for my full DeLonghi Magnifica 3500 Espresso Machine Review.
What is the DeLonghi 3500 Magnifica and how does it work?
It’s a top of the line automatic espresso machine for the home, it is designed in Italy but built in China. It has a built in burr grinder, which it should do for this price. So purchasing this machine will save you $500 on having to buy a decent grinder yourself. To work the machine, all you need to do is place your high quality beans in the bean hopper, ensure the water is topped up preferably with filtered water, then you need to adjust your preferences. You get to choose between the amount of drink you get and the strength which is determined by how much beans are used. Then it’s simply one button and the drink is made within about 30 seconds. The machine is very loud, as many have pointed out, but remember that it’s grinding coffee which is a loud business.
There is a little more to it of course, and i’ll go into each of the DeLonghi Magnifica 3500′s features, with a critical eye below:
Range of Drinks
There will be many who are solely interested in having espresso, in which case you won’t need to use the attached frother. The frother allows you to make lattes and cappuccinos with ease. The ability to make the extra drinks on the DeLonghi Magnifica 3500 is easier and more convenient than on the Gaggia 90951 which has a milk island. The problem with the milk island is that it is detached from the machine, is messy and provides inconsistent results. The DeLonghi Magnifica 3500 clearly doesn’t have this problem as the frother is built in. It also has its own boiler, which makes two boilers in total. This is advantages because it means you don’t have a long wait between the milk heating up and the espresso being made for a latte.
You use the buttons to set your strength which is determined by the amount of coffee the machine grinds and the amount of drink you will be served. You set the grind coarseness via a dial in the bean hopper, so this is separate to the control panel. The control panel also tells you when the machine needs cleaning and you use the buttons to send it through its internal cleaning cycle.
Built in Burr Grinder
This is really important, otherwise you’d be forking out a lot of extra money for one of these. Having said that, there is an extra bypass compartment where you can use grounds should you happen to have them, or if you want to use decaffeinated. You can adjust the grind coarseness via a dial on the inside of the bean flap. The further the setting to the left then the finer the beans will be ground down. This slows down the brewing process and ensures you have a stronger espresso with a thicker crema. Send the dial over to the right and your grind becomes a little more coarse which is used for a longer or weaker espresso.
This is a very important feature, especially if you’re drinking espressos. The tiny amount of liquid you get with and espresso can easily lose much of its heat the second it hits a cold cup. This can greatly impair the taste which is why I always recommend heating your cups with boiling water before you brew espressos. Thankfully, the top of the machines doubles up as a warming plate which saves you a job.
Attached Milk Container
This container slides on and off, so you can store it along with your milk in the fridge when you’re not using the DeLonghi Magnifica 3500. Unfortunately, this is where a lot of the machines problems come into play as a lot of people have mentioned that the container is a little tricky to slide in and out of position. Let me say that if you’re using this machine simply for espresso then this will be irrelevant to you. There has also been mention of the o-rings which connect the two breaking. I’ll also say that these o-rings need an annual replacement anyway, which will be most of the maintenance you’ll ever need.
The container, as stated before has its own boiler which is a great idea. The heated or steamed milk depending on your drink comes straight from the milk container. You’ll want to ensure you turn the hot water dispenser knob to clean the tubes after every single use. This should be a regular part of your cleaning routine. Doing this will ensure better longevity as well as a higher drink quality.
There is also a steamer attachment that comes with the machine, should you happen to want boiled water.
60 oz Water Reservoir
This part is fairly simple to understand. I’ll just point out that you need to ensure its topped up before making a drink. Otherwise the machine will stop halfway through the process and it can’t restart after topping up, but will instead start again from scratch. This will be a waste of coffee grounds.
Cleaning is very easy as most of it is done via the buttons on the machine. There is a light that comes on when it needs decalcifying, however you would probably need to descale more often than when it suggests to maintain quality. As long as you’re using filtered water, you’re not going to get limescale buildups as fast anyway. Remember to clean the milk tubes after every use, this takes about 5 seconds. Other than that, i would give the machine a thorough clean two or three times a year. You should use a dustbuster to vacuum out stray grounds and get a little brush to clean everything away from the brew group. Nice and easy cleaning!
I’ll also say that you get a DVD with the machine to take you through everything, but operating the system really is very simple.
What others are saying about the DeLonghi Magnifica 3500 Espresso Machine?
It has received an average review of 4 stars out of 5 on Amazon. It has been marked down by people due to the o-rings breaking, however there is no other espresso machine manufacturer that has more official dealers and repairers in the US than does DeLonghi. You can also order the o-rings easily on Amazon. It has also been marked down due to people complaining that the drinks aren’t always hot. If you’re having simply espresso then remember to use the cup warmer, or otherwise pour boiling water into your cup. I would also say the same about making a latte. If the latte temperature still bothers you then you should stop using milk straight from the fridge, perhaps you could heat it up in the microwave prior to putting it in the milk container.
Here are a few positive comments from other reviewers:
– Amazing tasting coffee; freshly ground at the touch of a button. Several people have told me that it tastes better than Starbucks coffee.
– I am very happy with this machine. Very easily it produces very good cappuccinos or espresso style coffees. The milk container is handy and there is a clever mechanism to clean the frothing spout without having to empty and wash the milk container, allowing me to return the container back to the refrigerator for the next use.
– It’s so EASY. You don’t have to do anything other than put your cup under the spout & hit buttons. You don’t even have to hold the milk container when frothing!
– This is really a great machine. It makes the best coffee I have ever tasted. It is completely automatic so you have nothing to do but fill it and empty it.
– Although I was initially hesitant about the price of the machine, I decided to try it. The result is exactly what I was looking for… restaurant-quality espresso & cappuccino at the push of a button!
Where can you buy the DeLonghi Magnifica 3500 Espresso Machine?
There are many places you can buy it from online, however here is the cheapest place i’ve found it to be. Don’t forget you can also get free delivery as well and the customer service is arguably the best anywhere. I hope you enjoy your espressos!