When it comes to choosing a home espresso machine, for many the question becomes Breville vs. DeLonghi. Both well-established brands offer high-quality machines at reasonable prices. So how do you choose? This article will delve into the details to help you decide which company is making the right machine to meet your needs.
We’ll start with a look at both brands and then move on to some face-to-face showdowns between their respective machines.
An Introduction to DeLonghi
DeLonghi is the elder company, founded in Italy, the homeland of espresso, over a century ago. Only within the last few decades have they gained substantial market share in the home coffee and espresso machine market. We rated their top models here.
DeLonghi machines stand out physically from Breville’s thanks to their slim profile and stainless steel casing. Inside, they are more likely to feature dual boilers, a huge advantage for a latte machine (1).
Double boilers solve the problem of having differing temperature needs. Water for brewing should be at 200 ℉ and it needs to hit 212 ℉ for steam.
Along with this, Delonghi favors the Pannarello steam wand, which generates fine microfoam for latte art.
- Dual boilers for espresso and steamed milk
- Standard stainless steel casing
- More programmability
- Compact units save space
- Smaller water reservoirs
- Less manual control
All About Breville
Breville was founded in Australia in 1932 by Harry Norville and Bill O’Brien. The two partners combined their names, and Breville was born. The company rose to prominence with the introduction of the toaster in 1974, and since 2000, has become a global force, producing some of the best espresso machines in the market. We’ve reviewed some of their best models.
Aesthetically, many people favor the artistic style of Breville machines. They further stand out from Delonghis for their button interfaces, which allow the user more control over their espresso. They also feature larger water reservoirs and longer steam wands with 360° swivel.
- Beautiful design
- More manual control over espresso shots
- Long, articulated steam wands
- Less programmability
- Higher price
The Face-to-Face Showdown
Now, let’s have a look at the different machines each brand has manufactured across a variety of categories and see how they compare.
Automatic Espresso Machines
Automatic espresso machines require little to no input from the user, removing human error from the equation and guaranteeing consistency. For this reason, an automatic espresso machine really showcases a brand’s technology, making this category a great place to begin.
We’re going to compare the popular Breville Barista Touch and DeLonghi La Specialista automatic espresso machines. The Breville Barista Express is another common comparison, though it’s closer to a semi-automatic in its operation.
Both machines feature a built-in stainless steel conical burr grinder. The Breville has more grind sizes, but the DeLonghi offers its patented sensor grinding technology for the optimal dose every time.
The DeLonghi has a more powerful pump, at 19 bars to Breville’s 15 bars, but either is plenty to produce a true espresso with a rich crema.
Only the DeLonghi offers dual boilers, which guarantees the ideal temperature stability for optimal coffee extraction and milk texturing at the same time.
The Breville is easy to operate, with a touchscreen to navigate a large collection of pre-programmed drinks and a pressurized filter basket included for novice espresso makers. An included water filter means descaling is rarely required.
The DeLonghi offers a 1-second quick start. Turn the power on and start grinding, and the machine will be ready when you are. When it comes to cleaning, DeLonghi is one of few machines with a removable brew head for easy rinsing.
Both machines feature an easy-to-clean and stylish stainless steel exterior.
Both machines offer automatic milk frothing, but the Barista Touch offers far more control. The milk can be programmed to between 110 and 170 ℉ and to 8 levels of froth density, from dense steamed milk to airy foam. The La Specialista steam wand also provides for hands-free frothing, but you can only choose between flat and foam options.
Winner: It’s a tie! Both of these machines make a mean espresso. We love the DeLonghi for its dual boilers and higher pressure pump, but if lattes and cappuccinos are your thing, the Breville’s milk frothing system is superior.
Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines
Semi-automatic espresso machines put dosing and extraction time in the hands of the user. Though they lack the guaranteed consistency of automatic machines, in the right hands, they can produce a superior espresso.
Two entry-level models to compare are the Breville Cafe Roma ESP8XL and the DeLonghi ECP3630 Espresso and Cappuccino Machine.
Both machines feature a 15 bar pump, more than enough for true espresso. The Cafe Roma has a thermoblock heater, while the ECP3630 has a stainless steel boiler coupled with its patented Rapid Cappuccino System to maintain optimal temperature.
For milk frothing, the Breville comes with a standard steam wand equipped with a froth enhancer, while the DeLonghi has an automatic steam wand. The former can generate better results for a skilled user, but the latter will be easier and more consistent for a new user (2).
For someone new to coffee, steaming and texturing is a big challenge. Not only is it technically difficult but there’s so much intimidating equipment.
There’s a clear choice here for you to make based on whether you’re wanting to look into the craft of making good coffee or just want an easy way to get your hands on a latte.
As an entry-level machine, the Breville Cafe Roma is built to be easy to use. It comes with dual-wall single and double portafilters, ensuring even novices can pull a delicious shot, and its top surface is a convenient cup warmer.
A nice feature of the DeLonghi is its self-priming operation, making start-up quick and easy, and it has an automatic tamper. Both machines are compatible with easy-serving espresso pods for ultimate convenience.
When it comes to style, these two machines are quite similar. Both feature a durable stainless steel exterior and are of similar size, though the Cafe Roma is a few inches wider. The Breville has a slightly larger water reservoir, which offers the further advantage of an external window to monitor the water level.
Winner: DeLonghi: These two stainless steel entry-level machines are very similar, but we prefer the Delonghi for its convenient automated steam wand and space-saving narrow profile.
Nespresso has partnered with both Breville and DeLonghi to manufacture machines that brew its proprietary capsules. These single-serve pod-based machines are popular for their convenience and can be found in over 40% of US households (3).
Two of the best are the Breville Creatista Plus and the DeLonghi Silver Lattissima Plus.
The Lattissima features a powerful 19 bar pump, 2 coffee strengths, and 3 milk options. Milk is frothed automatically from a carafe, which offers great airy foam for a cappuccino but can’t match a steam wand for fine microfoam. When not in use, the carafe can be stored in the fridge.
In contrast, the Creatista, also with a 19 bar pump, is the first to pair Breville’s high-end automatic steam wand with a capsule brewing system. The user can select from 11 milk temperatures and 8 textures, to produce top-quality lattes and cappuccinos.
The Creatista measures 6.7 x 16.1 x 12.2 inches and features a sizable 50-ounce removable water tank.
The Breville is a remarkably attractive machine, with a retro design reminiscent of the original manual espresso machines.
The Lattissima is more compact, measuring 12.5 x 6.6 x 10.2 inches, and features the stainless steel casing for which DeLonghi’s are known. It holds 30 ounces of water and 12 ounces of milk, enough for 3 or 4 drinks before a refill.
The Nespresso capsule system ensures ease of use in both cases. The Lattissima offers the option of one-touch cappuccinos and lattes, thanks to its automatic milk frothing. It also has a self-cleaning cycle and an adjustable auto-off timer. Though the Creatista doesn’t offer one-touch drinks, the automatic steam wand makes cappuccino creation a breeze, and the ThermoJet heater offers a 3-second heat up time.
Winner: Breville: Though slightly pricier, Breville wins this round for its superior milk frothing, larger water reservoir, and incredible aesthetics.
When you get down to it, there’s a reason that both Breville and DeLonghi are such popular brands. They both make great espresso machines. So the best one is liable to be the one that meets your individual needs.
Go for Breville if:
- You want the option of manual control.
- You regularly drink milky drinks.
- You enjoy the characteristic style of Breville machines.
- You prefer a larger water reservoir.
Go for DeLonghi if:
- You prefer “set it and forget it” style programming over manual control.
- You have a small space and want to prioritize a compact machine.
- You want a durable stainless steel casing on an affordable model.
DeLonghi splits its manufacturing between China and its home in Italy.
All Breville products are designed and engineered in Australia and manufactured and assembled in China.
ESE stands for Easy Serving Espresso pod, a small packed coffee pod with a paper filter covering. First created by Illy, the standard ESE pod is open to all coffee roasters and machine manufacturers.
- Prinsloo, M. (2018, November 9). How Do Espresso Machines Work? Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2018/11/how-do-espresso-machines-work/
- Aupiais, S. (2018, February 19). Barista Basics: How to Texture Milk in 14 Steps. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2018/02/barista-basics-how-to-texture-milk-in-14-steps/
- Bedford, E. (2020, March 10). Share of U.S. consumers who own a single-cup coffee brewing system from 2005 to 2019. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/316217/us-ownership-of-single-cup-brewing-systems/