Delonghi Specialista Arte Evo Espresso Machine With Cold Brew Review: A Little Weird

The counter space in my kitchen is at a premium. It’s valuable real estate, and every square inch matters. So when a new espresso machine arrives at my door, I always have to play a high-stakes game of countertop appliance Tetris to figure out how everything will fit—or who needs to get banished into a cupboard. When the De’Longhi Specialista Arte Evo rolled into my kitchen, I was ready to make tough decisions.

From the box’s size, I was sure the rice cooker or the food processor would have to be exiled. When I got the De’Longhi out of its box, though, my appliances breathed a sigh of relief. This is a svelte espresso machine, and it fits perfectly without sending any of my favorite appliances to a pantry gulag. Things were off to a good start, and it only got better—mostly.

Slim and Consistent

The first couple of shots I pull out of any espresso machine will usually require some finagling. When an espresso machine has an internal burr grinder, that’s just one other thing I have to dial in from scratch. By the second shot, I was happy with what I was getting out of the Specialista.

The espresso poured into the cup in two streams of luxurious caramel-gold liquid, the crema gathering on top in an even layer. I changed the settings and pulled more tester shots to see how it performed with different grind consistencies and amounts for testing purposes, but by that second shot, I knew I’d found the sweet spot.

Closeup view of the knobs buttons and meter of a silver home espresso machine

Photograph: Jaina Grey

Something I always like about De’Longhi espresso machines is the knobs. A lot of different models from the company up and down the price spectrum have really good knobs. The ones here are a joy to use. They’re raised from the surface of the control panel, and the outward face has the signature concentric circles of machined steel; the sides are adorned with textured metal accents. One controls the amount of coffee to grind, and the other toggles between brewing modes.

When you turn the grind knob, there’s a little resistance, just enough to feel like you have very fine control. The mode knob has a satisfying click when you switch from one mode to another. How much you enjoy using a device is important, and these little details make the Specialista Arte Evo feel good to use.

The Specialista Arte Evo comes in at a delightfully narrow 11.2 inches, sparing quite a bit of my counter space—especially since this is taking the place of two appliances, an espresso machine and a coffee grinder. There are smaller espresso machines—the new KitchenAid Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine is about as narrow as the Specialista—but most that have a built-in grinder are a little wider.

Front view of silver home espresso machine on kitchen counter

Photograph: Jaina Grey

Some Assembly Required

The Specialista’s built-in conical burr grinder can grind coffee fine enough for espresso and coarse enough for drip or other brewing methods, so it’s capable of replacing a stand-alone grinder. There is one little quirk, though. The portafilter can’t slot into place underneath the grinder unless you attach the “grinding and tamping guide.” This component is a short cylinder of plastic that locks onto the portafilter to guide the grounds directly into the basket and help direct the tamp down onto the grounds.

It’s weird. The guide doesn’t feel as high-quality as other parts of the Specialista, almost like a cheap 3D-printed plastic. If you try to slot the portafilter underneath the grinder without the guide, you have to hold it there the whole time, and the grinder will likely spill some grounds into the drip tray. It feels like the grinding and tamping guide was added as a fix to the issue of the grounds spilling out.

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