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 on the pricy end of things even by those standards.

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 you can get it from De'Longhi itself or John Lewis or Harrods. We've also found it for £400 less - (just) £2,225 - from Coffee Italia, if you're willing to break away from the big name retailers. There's no official word yet on US availability or pricing.

If that's a bit much for you then you might want to look at our review of the much more affordable De'Longhi Dinamica, or our guide to the best coffee machines we've tested so far at any price point.

Good things come in twos

The Maestosa's best features aren't entirely new, but instead it takes stuff you'd find as standard elsewhere and does them twice.

First up - and best of all - there are 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 a 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 two milk frother spouts on the included hot milk attachment, 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 on most machines it's stubbornly manual. The Maestosa 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, though since this one is on the side of the machine you might find that it's blocked by another appliance or wall, forcing you to take the whole tank out (from the front) anyway.

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.

Quality coffee

Of course, all the convenience is worth nothing if the coffee itself can't live up to the hype and if you don't mind putting a little work in then the De'Longhi 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 itself 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.

The cappuccini are 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.

The challenge is that with so many settings to play with, it's just as easy to get things wrong as it is to get them wrong. To make the most out of the machine you'll need to invest some time into learning which settings work for you - and be ready to tweak them again if you get in new beans.

Once you've got the Maestosa tuned how you like it it'll produce some of the best coffee around out of an automatic machine, but it will take time to get there, and you should be ready to put up with a few disappointing drinks on the way to perfecting things.

Smart stuff

Beyond all the core conveniences, the Maestosa also boasts smart support through the De'Longhi Coffee Link app. This essentially gives you remote access to all the main controls of the machine so that you can make a drink remotely.

This would be great if it worked better, but as it is the Maestosa's smart features are borderline broken. Testing the app on multiple Android devices I found that even pairing the device to the app was unreliable - most of the time the app simply wouldn't recognise that I had a machine at all. With no troubleshooting support in the app and no alternative ways to pair, that left it simply unusable from a smart perspective.

On occasion the app would switch languages without warning - exactly what you want when you're bleary-eyed first thing in the morning - and if you read user reviews of the Coffee Link app you'll find that those issues are widespread. The connection is only over Bluetooth, not Wi-Fi, so then even if you can get it working you'll have to stay nearby to use the smart features at all.

As with any smart coffee machine, you'll obviously also 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.

There's no support for Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri either, so you can't link the Maestosa up to the rest of your smart home ecosystem or control it using voice commands. It's a notable omission in the machine - especially given the price - and it feels backwards given how entrenched those smart home systems now are. If a £20 lightbulb can support Alexa then a £2,625 coffee machine should probably be able to fit it in somewhere.

The good news is that most of the rest of the smart features are just a different way to access the same personalisation settings you can access on the machine itself - drink settings, user profiles, favourite drinks and so on. So if you can't make it work you'll only really miss out on the option to make drinks remotely, but at this price it's pretty wild that access to a core features would be up in the air at all.

Verdict

As a coffee machine the Maestosa is pretty phenomenal, packed with features, add-ons, and conveniences that back up the fact that it also just makes bloody good coffee.

As a smart coffee machine however, the Maestosa is a flop. Smart support is of questionable value in a coffee machine at the best of times, but here it barely works at all. That would be a problem in any machine, but at this price point it's pretty outrageous. 

My advice? If you'd be willing to drop two and a half grand on an automatic bean-to-cup machine that wasn't smart, then take a serious look at the Maestosa. But if it's the smart stuff that's got you tempted then steer clear and wait for De'Longhi's app to brew a little longer.