It's all too easy to recklessly spend thousands of dollars in pursuit of the perfect home espresso. If all you crave are modest cafe-style drinks, than a budget machine will do the trick and for a tenth of the price. Splurging a little, however, does have its rewards. Case in point is the $300 (£200 UK, $369 AU) De'Longhi Dedica which has the power to pull lots of flavor from finely ground and lightly roasted coffee beans, a feat beyond the abilities of cheaper espresso makers.
Of course the Dedica can't match the raw brewing abilities of professional-caliber appliances. For instance, while the machine has more reliable temperature control than its low-cost rivals it's by no means flawless. Likewise, the extremely fine grounds that more expensive espresso makers transform into concentrated coffee ambrosia regularly bring the Dedica to its knees.
Standing 13 inches tall by 6 inches wide and stretching 13 inches deep, the De'Longhi Dedica is certainly less bulky than drip brewers such as the. It is noticeably thinner and taller than its simpler sibling, the , and flaunts a more sophisticated chassis complete with plenty of shiny stamped metal and faux-chrome plastic surfaces.
Like many other home espresso devices I've taken for a spin, the De'Longhi Dedica has few controls. On the face of the machine are three circular buttons that activate single-shot brewing, double-shot brewing and steam. Labelled with symbols instead of letters, the small keys are backlit and either emit a steady glow or blink to convey the Dedica's status.
The left side of the espresso maker holds its steaming wand for frothing milk in short order. Thanks to the machine's narrow width and the wand's comfortable distance from the brew head, it's easy to slip the tube into your steaming vessel of choice.
Unfortunately, though, the big steam control knob (above the wand) is either open wide or closed shut completely. I prefer the more nuanced handling of a free-spinning steam dial, a feature De'Longhi incorporates into its EC155 model.
You'll find the Dedica's brew head front and center on the machine. It accepts a metal portafilter implement, essentially a handle on one end and round basket on the other. You use the gadget to both load the machine with grounds and brew espresso shots under extreme temperatures and pressures.
To that end De'Longhi includes a pair of silver-colored metal filter inserts that snap snugly into place within the basket. The shallow single shot filter accepts 7 grams (0.2 ounce) of coffee while the deeper dual-shot filter maxes out at between 12 grams (0.4 ounce) and 14 grams (0.5 ounce) depending on grind size.
A handy drip tray sits below the brew head and portafilter to collect any liquid spilled. There's a bright red float here too that pops up through a slot when the tray is full, a nice touch. Around the back of the Dedica is a long, removable water tank. The reservoir is a cinch to pull out and drop into its designated bay. It has a sturdy flip-top lid, and its max fill line tops out at 37 ounces (1.1 L).