Let’s talk about getting a delicious espresso first thing in the morning as you crawl out of your bed. There are two ways to do this;
1) Order UberEats Starbucks or
2) Get one of these two espresso makers
Breville and De’Longhi brew true espresso and have the features needed to turn that into other great coffee-based beverages. While this sounds like a dream come true, it’s not as easy as randomly choosing one. They create specialty drinks very differently.
Researching these machines was a blast. I got to flex my barista muscles with the Breville and then got to stand in awe of the automation installed in the De’Longhi.
There are only two kinds of people in this world, Breville people and De’Longhi people. Find out which one you are below.
Highlights at a Glance
More control over brewing pressure
Double boiler for optimal temperature
Longer and more durable adjustable steam wand
Emphasis on style and aesthetics
Larger water reservoir
Dual boilers create the ideal temperature
More compact machine
Easy to use for newer espresso lovers
Sleek and simple designs
More offerings at reasonable prices
Two Companies, Two Stories
This Australian company started in 1932 and took almost 70 years for them to find their calling as a home espresso machine manufacturer. They’ve become more popular in their native country over the last two decades but are now recognized as one of the premier espresso brewing machines and have a worldwide presence.
Started by Harry Norville and Bill O’Brien—who came up with the name by combining theirs—wanted to create an espresso machine that would be able to provide amazing espresso for espresso enthusiasts at home.
Breville puts a lot of effort into how their machines look but don’t let its good looks fool you. These machines are made for espresso enthusiasts who want to tinker with the settings and achieve the best cup of espresso possible. Use the pressure gauge on the front to monitor the bars of pressure so you know how to improve your next great-tasting espresso.
Coffee lovers who want not only a great brew but also a centerpiece to their kitchen will praise Breville products as the company has amassed a die-hard fanbase.
Double Boiler system controls milk temperature separately
Lots of control over machine settings
Exquisite design and appearance
Prominent pressure gauge and removable water tank
Takes up a lot of kitchen countertop space
The Italians know a thing or two about making coffee, so it’s nice to see that an Italian company makes one of the best home espresso makers in the homeland of espresso. This family-owned business started in 1902 and didn’t start selling high-quality espresso machines until 1993, and even then, they didn’t gain popularity until about 2007.
Although their rise to glory was slow, it was also inevitable, given how great their machines are. Consumers love their compact design as they fit in many different kitchens.
While they may not have the customization of Breville products, they are a lot easier to use. These entry-level espresso machines have many presets already programmed, so you don’t have to fuss with the button interfaces too much. Some of us just want to drink espresso and not have to spend time doing all the legwork.
The espresso quality and appearance seem too good for a machine in this price range. As the cheaper option, this has been a considerable advantage for De’Longhi over Breville.
More automated functions
Automatic frother and integrated grinder
Slimmer designs need less counter space
Quick heat uptime
Smaller water capacity
Our Favorite Models
|Breville BES920XL||De’Longhi ECAM44660B Eletta|
|Weight||30 pounds||14.17 pounds|
|Height||14.7 inches tall||13 inches tall|
|Width||14.8 inches wide||18.11 inches wide|
|Brew Speed||Less than 30 seconds (after warm-up)||Less than 2 minutes (no warm-up)|
|Fully Custom Controls||Yes||No|
|Water Reservoir||84-ounce water tank||67-ounce water tank|
If you’re going to get a Breville, go all out. This premium machine has everything a coffee shop has except a smug college student who spells your name wrong.
Breville’s are known for their style and curb, or should I say counter appeal? The BES920XL is a quintessential Breville design that stands out and will put a smile on your face every morning. The options are vast, and with adjustable milk temperature, bars of pressure, cup sizes, and micro-foam milk, you can create quality coffee that you won’t find anywhere else.
This is not an entry-level machine. The programmable settings offered and level of control require an experienced hand, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn.
The steam wand, buttons, levers, and knobs are easily within reach, so you can quickly make adjustments on the fly. Its stainless steel casing gives it weight but is kept in place with tacky rubber feet on the bottom. To move it, remove the drip tray to access a knob that lowers its wheels. Now you can move it around or access the water tank for cleaning.
A fun bonus feature of this machine is that the tamper magnetically hangs above the removable drip tray for easy access but is also out of the way.
Dual boiler for perfectly steamed milk
Manual control over espresso shots via bars of pressure
Auto-on feature to save preheat time
Digital temperature control
360-degree swivel steam wand
Stainless steel casing for a contemporary design
Nifty magnetic tamper
On the expensive end of the price spectrum
Takes a knowledgable user to optimize the extraction process
De’Longhi ECAM 44660B Eletta
If the Breville 920 is all about manual control, then the De’Longhi Eletta is a super-automatic machine. It’s a great contrast to the Breville because it also produces perfect espresso, just in a much different way.
All you have to do is fill it with water, milk, and beans. Then everything is controlled by the easy-to-use control panel at the top.
Even though this machine is automatic, you still have a lot of say in how your coffee is brewed.
The milk carafe is a genius aspect. There are three types of foam to choose from, so you can have everything from simple hot milk to light and airy foam. The milk carafe is removable as well, so you can store it in the fridge when not in use. Before doing so, make sure you hit the auto clean button, which will run a cycle of water and steam through the milk components. This keeps it clean for continued use to and from the fridge.
With the user-friendly control panel, you have the added benefit of notifications. This machine will tell you when to refill beans and water. It also tells you when it’s time for a full descaling job. This is important for the taste of your beverages and the machine’s longevity.
Lastly, this machine has a key feature that is tough to find outside of industrial machines. On top is a metallic warming tray for your mugs. This is a huge selling point for those living in colder climates.
Automated control panel is easy for anyone to use
Adjustable milk frother produces excellent micro – foam milk
Automatic grinder has 13 different grind settings
Notifications for refills and cleaning
Includes metallic warming tray to heat your mugs
Auto-on and off feature
Not as professional looking
Completely reliant on digital display
Buying Guide – Feature Breakdown
When it comes to making a buying decision between the two brands, there are some crucial aspects to consider. Let’s get into them.
Brewing & Drink Quality
These are two elite-level coffee machines. Both create smooth espresso with rich crema that is the perfect way to start your morning or kickstart your afternoon. I recommend using nothing but high-quality coffee beans and filtered water for both.
However, with Breville’s customization abilities, you have the opportunity to create something tailor-made to your liking. If quality is in the eye of the beholder, then a Breville machine brews at the highest level in the espresso market.
It may take some experimenting until you’re fully espresso ready, but once you get the settings dialed in, most would agree that the brewing quality of Brevilles surpasses that of any De’Longhi.
Settings & Control
Here’s where these two machines take different approaches. The controls on each are designed with two different people in mind.
On the one hand, you have the De’Longhi, which is controlled by a digital display and buttons. On the other, Breville’s are controlled by buttons, levers, and dials that also interact with a digital display so you can keep track of it all.
Controlling a Breville is a bit like sailing a boat; you have to have experience and enjoy the process of making last-minute adjustments to get the most out of your vessel. De’Longhi’s are more like a motorboat; fill it up, turn it on, and hit the gas!
Despite the ease at which De’Longhis operate, you still get a lot of choices when it comes to how your ground coffee is prepared.
It’s not too much to ask that your high-quality machine provide many drink options while requiring little effort. The milk texturing on the Eletta is limited to only three machine settings, but they’re ideally suited for many different cups of coffee.
There’s also a second attachment that lets you do your own milk frothing. This can also be used to dispense hot water for americanos and hot chocolate.
The Breville’s versatility is undeniable with the menu of drinks it offers. It has programmable settings, so once you find your favorite shot of espresso, you can save the settings and re-create it repeatedly.
Another stark contrast between these two heavyweights is their approach to design and appearance.
Immediately, we can see that the Breville is impressive. They make me thirsty just looking at them, and having that professional look fills me with confidence that I’m about to have an amazing cup of coffee. Having a stainless steel casing makes for easy cleaning and provides durability, but it also looks fantastic. As this machine ages, it won’t lose any of its glamour.
De’Longhi has taken a more understated approach that may be more versatile for various home decors. Not everyone wants to feel like they live in Central Perk, so a classic black look with streamlined edges is just the ticket.
The design of De’Longhis also creates a smaller footprint on your countertop. So if space is scarce, you may not have a choice but to get a De’Longhi.
Cleaning & Maintenance
You’d be correct if you guessed that the more automated machine would be better equipped to handle cleaning duties. The De’Longhi has thorough messages and processes to ensure your machine stays healthy and produces amazing coffee.
My favorite feature is the cleaning cycle through the milk frother. Before you put it away in the fridge, turn the dial to “clean,” and it runs steam and water through all the milk components. This keeps the milk tasting fresh each time.
Ease of Use
It would be easy to say that the De’Longhi super-automatic espresso machines are easier to use, but it’s not that simple. Once you’re familiar with the controls, it will get easier, but at the beginning, there are a few things you’ll have to learn.
The machine is only automatic after you tell it what to do. So you still have to tell the ‘automatic grinder’ what grind size you want your coffee grounds, how strong you want your coffee, how big you want it, and what kind of milk texture you want. After that, it’s all “automatic.”
If you have experience making true espresso, you won’t need all these prompts and can just jump right into making barista-style coffee with the Breville. The ease of use is also in the eye of the beholder.
The best way to describe these two is that A Breville is a Ferrari and a De’Longhi is a top-tier Mercedes. They are both quite pricey, but De’Longhi seems to be making an effort to make their machines available to the masses.
Breville seems content in building exquisite coffee makers a half-step below industrial coffee machine companies. The difference is in the materials, as a lot more metal and stainless steel is being used on Breville’s than De’Longhis.
Although you have to be more hands-on with cleaning your Breville, ‘Patrick Brown’ points out a few things that are improved in the 920 that other Brevilles lack;
“[My first Breville] died due to a need for serious scaling. The new one I just bought has overcome this issue on a number of fronts. There is a new water filter system that is much bigger and more likely to prevent serious scaling. There is a water hardness setting based on water samples used to reduce damage from hard water. This is done by actually testing the water. There is a well-documented way to use an access port to adjust descaling all the way down to the bottom of the boilers. The machine itself has a solid connection of water going through the head. What a difference 7 years can make.. Bravo Breville!”
There does seem to be a common observation among Breville users who all agree that the outside construction of these machines is excellent, but Davey Williams makes a strong point here;
“So here’s my dilemma – I love this machine and its features. However, I feel like Breville has opted for cheaper INTERNAL parts and components to keep this thing in this price range. I am not sure that any of these units are going to be in operation in ten years. For my next espresso machine, I will definitely do some research and see if I can find a solidly-constructed alternative that might feature fewer nifty perks, but which might last much longer.”
The De’Longhi reviews were slightly less animated, but just like the Breville, they scored very high star ratings with minimal negative comments. Only minor issues as ‘Charley’ identifies one here for us;
“What lets this coffee machine down is the stainless steel drip tray. After just 3 weeks of use it’s scratched and badly marked by the milk container. Scandalous for what you pay for this machine that’s why it only gets 3 stars.”
It’s complicated to back just one machine here. In short, the Breville can produce the same product as the De’Longhi, but I’m not sure the opposite could be said. Due to the customization of Breville’s operating method, you can create one-of-a-kind coffee beverages.
Even though De’Longhi has many options, it’s still very automated, and so you will always be hamstrung by those. Casual coffee drinkers will never get bored, but if you feel your love of brewing coffee rising, then take the plunge and learn how to use a Breville. Get the exact coffee you want all the time; not many people can say that.