De'Longhi Maestosa full review
It's no surprise to anyone that automatic bean-to-cup espresso machines can be very, very expensive, but even so there's always a sharp little gasp of surprise when you hear the actual price of one. And so it is with the De'Longhi Maestosa, which at a wallet-numbing £2,625 is slightly on the pricy end of things.
Still, if you're the sort of person who would consider dropping a couple of grand on a coffee machine - and you probably know if you are - the Maestosa looks likely to be a difficult machine to beat. With two bean hoppers, dual milk frothers (for two milky drinks at once) and a suite of smart features, this is a coffee machine at its most comprehensive.
Price and availability
The De'Longhi Maestosa is available now for £2,625. In the UK the machine is exclusive to Harrods at launch, and you should be able to buy it either online or in-store. There's no official word yet on US availability or pricing.
Good things come in twos
The Maestosa's best features aren't entirely new, but instead take features you'll find as standard elsewhere and do them twice.
First up - and most impressively - there are now two bean hoppers, in addition to a separate container for pre-ground coffee. Each hopper can hold 290g - enough for a standard-sized bag and then some - and they sit next to each other on top of the machine.
Every time you make a coffee you can select which beans you want to use (via either the 5in touch screen or accompanying smartphone app) to suit your mood. You can also choose the grind - on a 14-point scale - with the help of some on-screen advice regarding the best grind settings for specific bean types. You can even then save different default grind settings for each hopper - a recurring feature on the machine, which goes out of its way to let you save your preferred settings for just about everything.
Throwing in a second bean hopper may sound like a small tweak, but if you have different users with different taste, or prefer more bitter coffee in the morning and something smoother in the afternoon then this will save you awkwardly shuffling beans in and out of the machine or cross-contaminating your bean varieties.
That's not the only thing De'Longhi has doubled up though. There are now two milk frother spouts, which means you can now make two cappuccinos or lattes at once. Again, it's arguably a minor refinement, but it's the sort of convenience that adds up over time - especially when combined with the automation and smart controls.
That's really the other strand that runs through the Maestosa's design: everything has been designed to be just a little simpler and more convenient than before. The milk frother will automatically adjust to the right setting for a cappuccino versus a latte - whereas before it was stubbornly manual. The machine will also automatically offer to steam-clean the pipes after each milky drink, and the milk jug is insulated, so you can keep milk cool for up to four hours.
There are even smaller touches too. You can pour milk directly into the jug to top it up - no need to remove it from the machine - and the same is true of the water tank too. There's even a sensor that detects when you open the lid to add in grounds, bringing up an on-screen prompt to ask if you'd like to use pre-ground coffee. De'Longhi is essentially doing its best to predict every annoyance you might have with the machine, and head them off in advance.
Of course, all the convenience is worth nothing if the coffee itself can't live up to the hype. I'll be putting the Maestosa through its paces properly soon enough, but on first impressions it definitely delivers.
There are 19 recipes included in the machine - all customisable with grind, aroma, milk frothiness, and so on - ranging from the standard espresso and cappuccino through to the iced coffees and frappuccinos that are a bit less common in home machines.
Beans are ground quickly and surprisingly quietly, and the brew is similarly subdued in terms of volume. If you want frothy milk it'll take an extra 20 seconds or so on the automatic settings, though there's also a manual frother option if you'd like to practice your latte art.
I started off with an espresso to keep things simple, and cranked up the aroma a notch to see how the Maestosa handled it. The crema was a stunner from the off, with a rich, thick layer of foam that lasted until the end of the shot. Bitter notes dominated the flavour a little too much even for my taste, but it's hard to know what's down to the machine, and what's the beans - I'll be looking at the flavour more closely in the full review.
A cappuccino was just as impressive. As with previous automatic De'Longhi machines, the Maestosa did a good job of layering the milk, foam, and coffee so that every sip gets you a bit of everything, rather than forcing you to down three mouthfuls of froth before you ever get a hit of caffeine.
Beyond all the core conveniences, the Maestosa also boasts smart support through the De'Longhi Coffee Expert app. This essentially gives you remote access to all the main controls of the machine so that you can make a drink remotely.
As with any smart coffee machine, you'll obviously have to remember to leave a cup at the ready, and beans in the hopper. If you want a milky drink you'll also have to make sure there's milk in the jug - though it's worth noting that even though it's insulated, the company only recommends leaving milk in it for up to four hours, so it's not really designed for leaving milk overnight for a morning flat white.
Other than making drinks remotely, you can also use the app for all sorts of personalisation. You can save custom preferences for every drink on the menu, including different settings for each bean hopper, so that you can make each drink exactly the way you like it with one press.
The machine also supports up to six different profiles, which you can name through the app, so that each user of the machine can set their own preferred settings and defaults. The user interface is also smart enough to remember your favourite drinks, tweaking the order they appear in (both on the machine and in the app) so that each user's favourite drinks pop up first.
There is one major limitation to the smart features though: there's no support for Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri, so you can't link the Maestosa up to the rest of your smart home ecosystem or control it using voice commands. It's really the only notable omission in the machine - especially given the price - and it feels a bit backwards given how entrenched those smart home systems now are.
I'll need to spend more time with the Maestosa to decide if it can really justify that intimidating price point, but so far it's hard to fault - except for the lack of proper smart home integration.
It's essentially a machine designed to be as convenient as humanly possible without compromising on coffee quality, and after a morning with the machine it seems like it might deliver.
I'm certainly not the target market for a £2k+ coffee machine myself, but if you are the Maestosa should definitely be on your shortlist.