When looking to buy an espresso machine, you’re guaranteed to come across DeLonghi products. The DeLonghi ECP3420 has an almost unbeatable price but the reviews are mixed. How to decide if this it’s worth the price or low quality?
I’ve used different machines in the past and decided to give DeLonghi ECP3420 a try. I recommend the ECP3420 as a starter machine for home espresso drinkers. It has an attractive design, small footprint, and fast heating time that makes solid espresso. However, you should be aware the ECP3420 has budget internals – it doesn’t create microfoam and the pump isn’t powerful to work with fine grind sizes. This machine won’t brew espresso with perfect crema like your local coffee shop. Hey, if that works for you, keep reading!
I’ll do a full DeLonghi ECP3420 review of the features and talk about how well it worked for me. I’ll also include a buying guide so you know what to consider before buying your espresso machine.
DeLonghi ECP3420 highlights:
- Dimensions: 7.25 x 9.6 x 11.9 in
- Adjustable drip tray height
- Stainless steel boiler
- Rapid brewing system for brewing coffee cups in succession
- 15 bar pressure pump
- Self-primer technology
- Steam wand for milk frothing
- Removable 37ounce water tank
- Can use ESE pods with 3-in-1 portafilter
Easy to clean and descale.
It’s a compact size, so it can fit anywhere.
You can brew a single shot, double shots, or ESE pods.
A removable drip tray means you can use almost any coffee cup size.
Great value for an espresso coffee maker.
Weak milk-steaming abilities due to poor steam pressure; you won’t make stunning latte art.
Too fine grind or over-tamping can easily clog the portafilter.
The coffee maker can start to leak water over time.
Overview of the DeLonghi ECP3420
Here’s an overview of important De’Longhi characteristics, so you can decide if this espresso machine suits your needs.
DeLonghi ECP3420 is a budget-friendly machine, so it makes sense that it’s not made with stainless steel. Instead, this coffee maker is made with durable ABS plastic. Overall, I was satisfied with the materials and the build. It feels sturdy.
Even though it’s not entirely made of stainless steel, the build quality and materials are pretty solid. Plus, the coffee maker does have some stainless steel accents. These elevate the machine look and help it fit into any kitchen decor.
However, I would prefer if the important parts such as the tamper and portafilter were stainless steel instead of plastic. The plastic tamper, in particular, is a downside for me. I found plastic tampers don’t make a nice flat, puck of coffee grounds in the portafilter.
One plus of the plastic body is that this coffee maker is lightweight. It weighs 2.3 pounds which is easy to move around the kitchen. It will come in handy when moving, redecorating, or even just cleaning coffee grounds around the machine.
Finally, it’s a compact machine — 9.6 x 7.25 x 11.9 inches. The small footprint allows this coffee machine to fit into any kitchen space.
Espresso Performance and Quality
DeLonghi ECP3420 has a 15 bar pressure pump and a pressurized portafilter. It’s important to get an espresso machine that generates at least nine bars of pressure. You need to get optimal pressure to extract the full flavor from espresso and get a rich crema.
You can adjust the pressure as well to change the level of extraction and give your espresso more or less body. I also liked that the portafilter is a 3-in-1 holder for single shot, double shots, or coffee pods.
This is a manual espresso machine, so it doesn’t stop pouring on its own. You’ll have to keep an eye on it and stop the brewing process on time.
The DeLonghi ECP3420 has a fairly fast heating time, less than one minute from the start. It has a rapid reheating system so can serve several espresso shots in quick succession or switch to steaming in about 30 seconds. That’s not the same as a Breville Barista model, but it’s pretty fast.
This machine uses a boiler system to heat water, but it’s not very powerful. Be careful not to over pack the coffee grounds or use too fine a grind, or the water won’t flow. It’s one of the main issues that comes up in reviews, and you have to be aware of what you own.
You can’t pull perfect ristrettos with this machine. Make sure to use a slightly coarser grind size so the machine doesn’t get jammed.
This DeLonghi machine comes with a steam wand to foam the milk and create espresso-based drinks. The wand is the biggest drawback of the De’Longhi ECP3420.
The biggest issue is the wand runs out of pressure within 30 seconds, which isn’t enough time to heat milk. The machine starts steaming with a lot of pressure, but the pressure drops quickly. The steam turns lukewarm, enough that I could even run my hand under it.
To steam milk with the ECP 3420, you have to do a second round of steaming. Turn off the team, let the machine heat up again (wait for the green “ready” light to turn on), then do steam again to get to a proper 150o F temperature.
Also, the nozzle is too short for a proper milk jug. The ECP 3420 comes with a plastic sheath that extends the nozzle, but it doesn’t submerge the milk for proper aeration. You either need to add more milk to the jug (which makes an already long process even longer) or use a short cup.
Then, the nozzle tends to spit out water. It waters down the espresso drink and doesn’t produce microfoam. You can make a big foam for a cappuccino, but certainly not a proper latte.
Sometimes, you get what you pay for.
Ease of Use
Even though this is a fairly manual espresso machine, it’s user-friendly. It’s a good choice for barista beginners as it’s easy to brew an espresso shot.
This has a dial that’s used to brew delicious espresso shots. Turn the dial to “on” to heat, then switch to the brew. You’ll have to time the brew to make sure you’re getting the desired amount. I recommend getting a scale or a two-ounce glass to make sure you’re getting consistent espresso shots.
Besides using coffee beans to brew coffee, you can also use coffee pods. Keep in mind that De’Longhi ECP3420 doesn’t use Nescafe and Nespresso pods, but E.S.E soft pods, such as Lavazza ones.
The machine has a self-priming setting which is great when you’re in a hurry. It means DeLonghi ECP 3420 will be ready to use in about a minute, and you can start brewing the espresso beans quickly.
The water reservoir is easy to access. It’s only about 37 ounces or 4.5 cups, which is less than high-end espresso machines. That’s still decent enough – you’ll have to refill it twice per week. It’s also a removable water tank, which is easy to refill
You can take out the drip tray and there is a second underneath, so you can accommodate larger cups of coffee. This is useful for brewing different kinds of coffee drinks.
Buying Guide for Entry Level Espresso Machines
For entry-level espresso machines (under $200), make sure to focus on basic durability and the internal espresso components. I’ll go through all the features to look for in detail.
Nobody wants to buy an espresso machine that will stop working in a short time, so durability should be one of the main considerations. Check what kind of material the espresso maker is made of.
Most are made with stainless steel, with some lower-end machines being plastic. While it’s true that stainless steel is more durable, don’t disregard plastic machines either.
For example, De’Longhi ECP3420 is made with durable plastic and stainless steel accents, so it’ll last for a long time. Its stainless steel water boiler is top-notch. However, expect some issues to develop, such as water spills and blockages.
As for the performance, think about features such as how many bars of pressure the machine has. Espresso makers should generate at least 9 bars of pressure, as everything under this will be under-extracted. Look for something that generates pressure with pumps, which are more reliable than steam machines.
Milk frothing is an important consideration if you plan to make macchiatos, lattes, and other specialty beverages. Expect that coffee machines with automatic milk frothing will have a higher price tag.
Milk frother should be powerful enough to produce enough steam pressure to create microfoam for lattes and even latte art. A good machine should make a big cloud of steam when running.
The De’Longhi espresso machines come with a steam wand. However, it’s definitely not coffee shop quality. It’s strong enough to heat the milk, but it doesn’t make microfoam.
Ease of Use
Even if you haven’t made espresso before, it doesn’t mean you have to go for a basic espresso machine. Instead, choose something that you can learn and grow your coffee-making skills on.
De’Longhi ECP2340 doesn’t come with bells and whistles. It’s a straightforward machine with a manual knob to make espresso and steam milk. It’s a good starter espresso machine that will allow you to experiment with different coffee grounds, learn how to make good espresso, and steam the milk.
Ease of Cleaning the Machine
In general, espresso machines require a lot of cleaning. Expect that you’ll have to wipe the machine after each use. Also, most machines nowadays have an automatic descaling alert, but it’s still a good idea to check if the machine you’re interested in has this option before making a purchase.
The De’Longhi ECP3420 is easy to clean. After you’re finished brewing the espresso grinds, tap out the grinds from the filter and rinse the portafilter. The milk frother has to be cleaned after each use as well. Twist off the tube, pull off the nozzle and rinse both under water. Finally, wipe down the steam nozzle.
The DeLonghi machine also has a descaling alert. You’ll need to get a descaling solution for this. Run the solution through the coffee maker just like you did with water in the initial setup. Don’t forget to run water through the machine afterward, or you won’t get an authentic espresso flavor.
Our Recommendation: Should You Buy The De’Longhi ECP3420?
Yes – I recommend the De’Longhi ECP3420. BUT, it’s not for everyone. Consider buying if you fall in one of these camps:
- You’re on a budget — This is a great value and one of the most affordable espresso machines you’ll come across.
- If you have limited space — It has a small footprint, and it’s lightweight, so it can fit into any kitchen space.
- You’re a beginner barista — If this is your first espresso machine, and you give something a try. It’s also good for infrequent espresso drinkers. It can make a drink a week easily.
- You don’t have a lot of time for preparing coffee — It brews espresso quickly, and when it’s ready, you can make multiple drinks.
DeLonghi ECP3420 is one of the most affordable espresso machines on the market. It has a small footprint, adjustable drip tray, and 3-in-1 portafilter that takes ESE pods. Keep in the price tag comes with lesser internals – don’t expect perfect microfoam and be careful not to overpack the portafilter.
I would NOT recommend the De’Longhi ECP3420 machine if you want a daily espresso machine go-to for the next ten years. If you want to start brewing exceptional espresso and make excellent lattes or cappuccinos, go check out our Breville Barista Pro review. The DeLonghi ECP3420 is the cheapest way to get started brewing espresso, which is a great option if you’re not committed. But, you’ll want to step up your coffee game within a few months of daily use.
Alternative: Other Comparable Machines
If you want to check out some other budget espresso machines, here are two alternatives.
Breville Bambino is our favorite entry-level espresso machine. What it lacks in extra features, it more than makes up for in quality. The Thermojet heating system starts in three seconds and the PID controller creates consistent espresso extraction. The steam wand is powerful and acts as a hot water dispenser too. It’s a great price point to get started with a small footprint.
Breville Bambino is an affordable machine that will give you high-quality espresso. It also doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, which makes it easy to use. You’ll love this if this is your first espresso machine.
The Breville Bambino uses the ThermoJet heating system, which heats water in three seconds. It will generate the bars of pressure you need to make perfect espresso every time. There’s also a powerful steam wand that can switch on in a few seconds of brewing espresso.
The Bambino can also make hot water and has a small footprint.
DeLonghi EC155 is another inexpensive machine that’s one of our favorite DeLonghi machines. It provides a lot of value for the price.
This semi-automatic machine is great for beginners and can serve as a stepping stone to more high-end models. It has a 15 bar pump that pulls a great shot with solid crema.
Its footprint is even smaller than the ECP3420, so this could be a good solution if space is a big concern. It also comes with a steam wand, which is a fantastic feature considering its extremely affordable price.
Finally, same as the DeLonghi ECP3420, you can use E.S.E pods with this coffee maker.
DeLonghi ECP3420: Final Thoughts
If you’re looking to start making espresso, The DeLonghi ECP3420 has an unbeatable price and it works. But, you get what you pay for with the steam wand.
That said, it’s a great option to start and you can upgrade later. The ECP3420 espresso machine’s fast heat time, stainless steel water boiler, and adjustable drip tray are all features that will make daily use and pulling espresso shots simple.
If you’re ready for something a little more expensive and much more reliable, check out our Breville Bambino vs. Bambino Plus comparison.