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DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3300 Review: Affordable Legend

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The DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3300 has been around for almost a decade. It isn't the best espresso machine out there, but it's among the best affordable ones, for sure.

I confess that I can get a bit snobby about the coffee-brewing process. But, some days I want to drink a perfect espresso shot without any fuzz. In other words, I would enjoy the consistency and ease of use of a Super-Automatic Espresso Machine. This type of machine is equipped with a built-in coffee grinder, which means that it brews coffee from a freshly ground bean, offering a high-quality aroma and taste, very superior to pricier capsules and much more affordable than your local coffee shop, with a similar cup quality, if not higher.

If you love your espresso more than the brewing process and don’t want to spend significantly more than $ 1,000 on a Super-Automatic espresso machine, the DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300 might be your best option.

This espresso machine has been a consistent top contender among the affordable Super-Automatic sub-category during the last two decades. Competition in this price range has been increasing recently, so the DeLonghi Magnifica isn’t alone in the affordable Super-Automatic tier anymore.

I’ll do my best to help you to find if the Magnifica is the right fit for you.

Things to consider before buying a Super-Automatic Espresso Machine

Overall, the Super-Automatics are designed to offer a superior cup of coffee, consistently and easily. Additionally, most of them can be cleaned conveniently, which would be the most regular maintenance activity you would perform with any decent espresso machine. Finally, these machines can be a great investment in the long run. Compared to your local favorite coffee shop, your home-made espresso is a tiny fraction of the cost. Even compared to the lower-quality capsules [1], the Super-Automatic Espresso Machine is an efficient extraordinaire.

  • Cup Quality: the coffee brewed by a Super-Automatic is superior to any pre-ground alternative, even the best of the capsule-made shots, like the ones a Nespresso machine can offer. The best Super-Automatics grind the right amount of coffee beans for your shot. Overall, it’s impossible to brew a better cup with pre-ground coffee or a capsule. You’ll know that you found a great Super-Automatic Espresso Machine if it counts with most of the following features:
  • Easy-to-use: for most Super-Automatic lovers, this is the main reason they’re thinking about this category. The most affordable ones have simple panels with a few buttons without display, while the pricier ones can offer fancier looks and better customization capabilities. Overall, the best Super-Automatic can offer a bean-to-cup smoot extraction.
  • Consistency: A great cup of coffee doesn’t mean much if you can’t obtain it on a regular basis. Consistency is one of the most valued features of any brewing method, especially when we’re talking about Super-Automatic espresso machines. 
  • Maintenance: if you’re a fan of great, but easy coffee you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of an easy, smooth maintenance process. Super-Automatic Espresso Machines are easy to use and maintain when compared with manual and automatic ones. Still, they need regular cleaning and most complaints about the durability of these machines are related to poor maintenance. Not even the most expensive Super-Automatic can set us free from a regular and, sometimes annoying, cleaning process.

If you love great coffee at home, but don’t want to learn barista skills, you will love a Super-Automatic. On the opposite, if you enjoy brewing your coffee, as much as the final product, a Super-Automatic is a complete no-no for you. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’d love a Manual Espresso Machine instead, but I’m sure that you’d appreciate a more complex and slow ritual than simply pressing a button.

Before buying a Super-Automatic I recommend you considering some critical features:

  • Coffee Aroma and taste: these machines can offer a high-quality bean-to-cup coffee, which means you can extract the best aroma and taste from your bean.
  • Cleaning: most Super-Automatics are made to be conveniently cleaned and descaled. If you’re careful, your machine can last for more than 5 years without any major fix, on average.
  • Customer Service & Technical Support: any Espresso Machine is as good as the Customer Service & Technical Support behind its brand. If you don’t have local service centers specialized in your favorite brand, I recommend you to think twice about it and look for alternatives. Perhaps further service centers or another brand, but don’t compromise on this too much.

The Legendary & Humble DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300

As a brand, DeLonghi promises to offer the simplest brewing system capable of offering a top-quality cup of coffee. The Magnifica ESAM 3300 adds more to that promise, as one of the most affordable of the Super-Automatics, with almost two decades in the market. Overall, it doesn’t have an impressive design and can be harder to use than expected, but it has all of the features to be a good Super-Automatic Espresso Machine. 

  • Pros:
    • The consensus is that the Magnifica ESAM 3300 delivers a high-quality coffee cup, with the consistency expected for a good Super-Automatic.
    • Overall, this machine is easy to clean. The water reservoir and the brewing unit are detachable, which helps with the cleaning process. Descaling is relatively simple, as well. If you use filtered water, you’ll need to descaling your machine less frequently, and your coffee will taste better too [2].
    • Most users claim that this machine is durable and reliable when properly maintained. Many have bought a second Magnifica after having one for more than 5 years, although there are users that claim having used a Magnifica for over 9 years.
    • Although it’s made in Italy, this is one of the most affordable Super-Automatics in the market, ever. For years this machine didn’t face any serious competition in this price range. Although DeLonghi has made a few improvements to this model, it has been manufactured for almost 20 years without any serious modification. So, it isn’t only affordable, but it has decent technical support and available spare parts to fix it if needed.
  • Cons:
    • The water tank has only 60 oz capacity, so you will need to refill the tank now and then, especially if you’re a fan of Double Espressos or Americanos. 
    • It doesn’t look great. If you wondered why such a good machine would be this affordable, the design and materials used to build it might be the answer. It has lots of plastic parts, including some of its most visible ones.
    • The panel’s not easy to read, and many users claim that the warning lights can be confusing. Moreover, many users claim that you’ll need to read the manual carefully before turning it on to avoid mistakes that could damage the machine. Finally, the grinder settings can be tricky. Some of the happiest users claim that you might need a couple of weeks to learn, which is your favorite setting for the grinder, so you’ll need an open-minded, learning approach to deal with this machine. For many, saving more than 500$ is motivation enough.

A picture of the DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300 after serving two white espresso cups
The Magnifica ESAM 3300 is among the best espresso machines inside its price tier.

Features & Benefits

  • Consistent & High-Quality Brew: 
    • After you find your favorite setting to grind and brew your coffee, it can easily match an average barista, decently geared. So, the overall consensus is that the Magnifica ESAM3300 can offer a superior cup of coffee consistently.
  • Bean-to-cup automated brewing: 
    • This machine automates the grinding, tamping, and extraction. This is one reason this machine can beat even some of the pricier Super-Automatics. Despite having several usability issues, this feature provides a smoother, clean brewing experience. Additionally, it offers enough options to customize your brewing, in terms of espresso making and milk frothing. Some users miss the option to regulate the water temperature, as they would like to brew hotter coffee [3].
  • Easy cleaning: 
    • DeLonghi recommends cleaning your Magnifica regularly. Ignoring this can be tempting, but it’s really easy to do it, even thoroughly. Removing the water reservoir and the brewing unit is easy, and many users recommend using a small vacuum cleaner for the bean container. Finally, the drip tray and the coffee grounds container can be easily detached as well, so the complete cleaning process can take a few minutes and is quite simple to do.
  • Cup Warmer:
    • A unique and nice feature, the DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3300 is equipped with a Cup Warmer on the top. Baristas recommend warming your cup before serving your espresso, so it’s a nice touch for this machine. A pro feature, for this price range.

What did users say?

When checking out customer reviews I’ve found a consistent and positive perception about the DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3300. This machine counts with almost 20 years in the market, which allowed us to analyze hundreds of opinions.

Most positive reviews emphasize convenience, as well as cup quality and consistency. Some of them even assert that the DeLonghi Magnifica can pull an espresso as good as their local barista. On the downside, there are some complaints about the learning curve necessary to use the machine properly, even after reading the manual. The containers, as we stated before, can be too small. Finally, as containers are plastic-made, the cleaning and maintenance process can be boring.

Alternatives to the DeLonghi Magnifica:

Gaggia Brera

The Gaggia Brera is the closest competitor to the DeLonghi Magnifica that I could find in the market. The general consensus is that it’s affordable and reliable, although it has a more limited capacity than the Magnifica. 

This means too that it’s smaller in general, so it could be a better option if you have little space or don’t plan to brew more than a couple of espressos regularly. Depending on the season, the Gaggia Brera can have a lower price than the Magnifica, and still offers a great cup of coffee. The major downside for the Gaggia Brera is that Customer and Technical Service is not consistently great as its espresso, according to the huge differences between dozens of customer reviews. If you don’t mind too much about capacity and you know a local service center for Gaggia machines you can trust, the Brera can be a great option for you. 

Phillips Carina 3200

Although it’s a fairly recent model, it can offer nice features and counts with significant positive reviews among its users. It looks more modern, as it has a display and a touch display, instead of buttons, like the Brera and the Magnifica. However, this can be one of its main disadvantages, as some users complain about the display’s fragility and unreliability. It’s the easiest to use and includes a water filtering system that can improve the machine durability and will assure good water quality for your coffee.  

KRUPS EA8250 Fully Automatic Espresso Machine

The Krups EA8250 has a history as attractive as its name. I don’t have anything against the Krups brand, but this is the weakest alternative I can show you for the DeLonghi Magnifica. Still, this Krups Espresso Machine shows itself as one of the best affordable Super-Automatics. Although it can be quite more affordable than any other alternative in this review, including the Magnifica, the Krups EA8250 have almost the same percentage of enthusiasts as it has haters. That’s a red flag for me. Even good machines can have one or two complaints, but the Krups EA8250 has dozens. Literally, almost as much as it has compliments.

Overall, this Espresso Machine includes all of the features to be taken seriously. It has a decent size, a built-in grinder, and a milk frother. If you’re more an occasional espresso drinker, this Machine could be for you. According to users, it isn’t designed to endure daily use, and technical service isn’t awesome either. So, if you’ve felt tempted to buy the Krups EA8250 because of its price, I would recommend you to check the DeLonghi Magnifica and the Gaggia Brera again.

Conclusion

The Magnifica ESAM3300 is a good fit for you if you:

  • Want an affordable machine to pull your espresso at home, without learning any barista skills.
  • Appreciate the quality and consistency of a bean-to-cup espresso shot.
  • Are ready to spend a few days learning how to obtain your perfect espresso drink.
  • Don’t mind cleaning & descaling your Espresso Machine to have a more durable and reliable machine.

Overall, there are very few Super-Automatic Espresso Machines as reliable and affordable as this machine.

Notes:

  1. Coffee capsules are made by pre-ground coffee with a superior package system than regular bags but are still pre-grounded. Freshly ground coffee beans offer a higher quality cup of coffee. Hands down.
  2. Water hardness can be critical for the coffee cup quality. Most baristas recommend using filtered water. This will help both your Espresso Machine durability and your coffee’s aroma and taste. 
  3. I won’t argue about this, but keep in mind that if water is too hot it can over-extract your coffee, which will ruin your coffee taste.
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