De’Longhi Magnifica S review: A great compact coffee machine for the home
Quick verdict: The De’Longhi Magnifica S is a great automatic machine with manual elements that coffee lovers will enjoy. But it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of more expensive models.
- An automatic machine that still lets you customise to your liking
- Grinder and coffee machine all in a single place
- You can choose your intensity and how fine you want the beans ground
- You can’t make the coffee and froth milk at the same time
- Only 1 water temperature option
A couple of years back, I reviewed an incredibly fancy De'Longhi Maestosa. At $5,000, it could make a plethora of pre-designed coffees via a touch screen or even an app. You could also create multiple profiles for whoever was using the machine and it even frothed the milk for you.
It was a beautiful beast, but far too big for my at-home coffee needs. However, it did inspire me to downsize to the more modest De'Longhi Magnifica S.
The Magnifica is classed as an automatic coffee machine.
It doesn't have the fancy touch screens, profiles and plethora of coffee selections like more expensive machines, but it's petite and chic as far as home machines go. And you're still able to somewhat customise your coffee.
There's a dial that lets you choose the intensity of the coffee. There are also a few button options to make your coffee – short and long pours for both single and 2 cups at once.
There's no need to buy a separate grinder, because it has one built in. This automatically grinds your beans, and you can control how fine it does this. Alternatively, you can use pre-ground if that's your thing. The fact that this is all part of the one machine is a big plus for me.
What is certainly more manual is the milk frothing process. The Magnifica S has a wand, as opposed to an automatic frothing container some larger and more expensive machines have.
Lastly, it's a relatively compact machine, so it won't take up as much bench space as some of the beautiful but hefty home coffee machines out there.
The Magnifica S makes a beautiful cup of coffee. Being able to customise your beans (whole pre-ground) as well as how fine they grind makes a big difference here.
Similarly, the milk wand enables you to get the exact finished product you want. Yes, this makes it a more manual process. But for me, an ex-barista, this is actually a plus. I prefer to be able to control foam to milk ratio, as well as the heat of the milk.
I found myself enjoying the milk produced by the Magnifica S more than the $5,000 De'Longhi Maestosa, which sorted out the milk for me. It just couldn't get hot enough for my liking.
But while we're on temperature, you can't change the water temperature with the Magnifica S. While this won't be an issue for everyone, coffee aficionados may miss this functionality as different bean and roast types are best made at specific temperatures. It's not one size fits all. This didn't bother me, but if this extra functionality was there I'd certainly use it.
The cleaning process for the De'Longhi Magnifica S is also delightfully simple – just a button push with run water through the system to clean it out. And you can blow hot water out through the milk wand nozzle to avoid that getting dirty. Again, as a former barista, I implore you to do this every single time you use it. Those things can get gross if they're not taken care of.
And when it's time to clean out the coffee grounds and tray, they come apart really easily and conveniently. The machine also tells you when it needs to be descaled, which is handy. Please don't skip this process – it's worth it. Not only does it keep your machine as hygienic as possible, it means the taste of your coffee remains good.
The only thing I have found to be not-so-convenient is the fact that you can't froth milk and make the actual coffee at the same time. It's not a big deal, but I'd like this to be a little more streamlined.
The only concern I have with the Magnifica S is that, in the 18 months since I got it, it has broken. This has also happened to a friend who got it around the same time. That being said, online reviews from customers don't seem to reflect this being a widespread problem.
I wonder if usage has something to do with this. Both households drink a lot of coffee. So perhaps if your household is the same, it's worth being extra vigilant about cleaning out everything and descaling regularly.
Should you buy the De'Longhi Magnifica S?
- Buy it if you're after a solid coffee machine that won't take up all of your bench space.
- Don't buy it if you're looking for an ultra-fancy coffee machine with all the bells and whistles.
I definitely haven't regretted buying the Magnifica S. It's a fantastic home machine that has been a godsend during the various lockdown periods in Sydney.
Being a Wollongong girl originally, I've never been one to shy away from instant coffee. But getting to have a flat white even while locked at home during a pandemic has been a small but appreciated pleasure.
It doesn't take up much room, makes a great cup of coffee and is easy to use. It also looks chic as hell.
However, if you're looking for something even more automatic with app access, touch screens and different coffee profiles for your various household members, you'll want to look elsewhere. But be prepared to pay for it.
Pricing and availability
How we tested
The De'Longhi Magnifica S was tested multiple times a day over an 18-month period with both whole and pre-ground beans. It was used to make espresso, long blacks, lattes and espresso martinis.
Images: Tegan Jones
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