De'Longhi Dinamica ECAM 350.35.W Bean to Cup full review

The DeLonghi Dinamica prizes one thing above all others: simplicity. This is a bean-to-cup coffee machine for people who want great espresso coffee at home, but don't have the time to train up to be their own barista.

The flipside of that is that it likely won't appeal to serious coffee nerds used to manual machines - this is about as hands-off as you can get - but it's an ideal machine for anyone envious of the simplicity of Nespresso but too fussy about coffee quality to stick to pods.

Price and availability

First up, the model reviewed here is the Dinamica ECAM 350.35.W. The 'W' just refers to the colour, but the number you want to look for is the '35', as you might also see similar models numbered 75, 55, or 15. There are a few differences between the models, but the main ones are that the 15 lacks the LCD display of the other models, and that the 75 and 55 include a self-contained milk frothing system for an extra step of simplicity.

The ECAM 350.35.W is officially priced at £699.99, but it's easy enough to find it from Amazon or Currys for less than £500. Sadly the Dinamica range isn't out in the US right now, and we're not sure if it's on the way or not.

Express espresso

The key appeal of the Dinamica boils down to two things: speed and simplicity. Everything about this machine is designed to make it as easy as possible to craft a cappuccino through bleary eyes first thing in the morning, making it perfect for anyone who wants coffee shop coffee at home without mastering a 19-step espresso technique.

Turn the Dinamica on and it will automatically heat up and rinse the system, and then within 30 seconds it's ready to go, the LCD display brightly instructing you to choose your drink. Four presets - espresso, 'coffee' (americano essentially), long, and doppio+ - all give you a coffee with a single button press, and a couple presses more give you the additional options of an espresso lungo or a ristretto.

You can adjust any of these presets on the fly - adding more coffee for a stronger flavour or upping the water for a longer drink - and you can also save these tweaks in your own custom presets, so you can have your espresso just how you like it without having to fiddle around in the settings every time. There's also a dedicated button for hot water in case you ever want to make a coffee longer, or to use for tea.

Beans are stored in the built-in conical grinder, which has enough capacity for a standard 250g bag, and is well sealed to maintain freshness in the short-term at least. There's also the option to use grounds, in case you have some around to use up, though these have to be added one scoop at a time.

Got milk?

So that's the coffee side - dead easy. If you want to add milk, things get just a little more manual.

Along the front of the machine there's a milk frother which you can use to heat milk for a latte or froth it more thoroughly for a cappuccino. While some Dinamica models have a self-contained milk section, the model reviewed here is more hands-on.

As with the coffee, it's only a couple of button presses to get to the steam option, which fairly quickly gives you the hiss and splutter of steam hitting hot milk. It takes a bit of still to froth the milk just right - rotating and tilting in just the right way, using the right container, pouring it perfectly - but at it's core it's still simple. Put milk in a jug, put steam in the milk, and within a minute you'll have all the froth you could ask for.

Simply sleek

Simplicity isn't the only selling point of the Dinamica, and it also benefits from a smart, compact design that won't dominate even a dinky little kitchen, and puts ease of use front and centre.

The sleek size should fit into any kitchen, and it's impressive how much functionality De'Longhi has managed to fit into this form factor. We're also fans of the subtly retro-tinged stylings, with soft curves and chrome flourishes that make this a machine you'll want to show off, not hide away in a dingy corner.

It's practical as well as pretty. For example, if the water tank runs empty or the coffee grounds contain gets full, a message flashes up on the screen to let you know. The grounds can be accessed by quickly sliding out the bottom of the machine, and the water tank neatly slides out from the right-hand side. Both of these - and topping up the beans - are quick, easy, and clearly designed with convenience in mind, so you should never have to shift the whole machine around to get access to the bit you need.

The crema of the crop

So for all of that, what really matters is the quality of the coffee. And while the Dinamica hasn't absolutely wowed us on that front, the coffee is consistently strong, and can comfortably rival your high street coffee shop of choice. 

Espresso comes with an attractive, dark crema that's maybe a little thin for our taste, but not bad all told. That's partly down to the default settings, which come out slightly weak, but crank up the 'aroma' setting and you can get drinks with an awful lot more oomph if that's what you're looking for, and you can also play around with the grinder settings for further fine tuning.

The quality of your cappuccinos and lattes will depend slightly on how much of a knack you develop for the milk frother, but you can at least be confident that the coffee underlying it will impress.

Verdict

If the main thing you want from a coffee machine is convenience, the Dinamica is probably for you. It's conveniently sized, conveniently designed, and convenient to use, offering you freshly ground espresso in less than a minute, with just a couple of button presses.

Serious baristas will want to look elsewhere for more in-depth controls and customisations, but if you just want to get a good cup of coffee without having to think too much at 7 in the morning, this is a great choice.