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De'Longhi La Specialista Arte Review

A solid semi-automatic machine that is great for busy people or beginners looking to churn out good espresso and microfoam
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De'Longhi La Specialista Arte Review
Credit: Matt Lighthart
Price:  $700 List
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Manufacturer:   De'Longhi
By Lesley Robinson and Jason Wanlass  ⋅  Apr 16, 2024
70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 11
  • Espresso Quality - 40% 7.5
  • Ease of Use - 20% 6.2
  • Ease of Cleaning - 15% 5.7
  • Milk Steaming - 15% 8.1
  • Machine Customization - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

The De'Longhi La Specialista Arte didn't receive an award amongst our top-ranked espresso machines, but it was certainly in the running. This unit is solid, sleek, and performs well in the areas that matter most. The espresso it produces is close to cafe-quality. It excels at steaming milk and offers more automated features than most of the devices in our lineup. The Specialista's push-button features and forgiving steam wand make it ideal for budding baristas or for those on the go who simply want to enjoy decent espresso drinks without the need to control every step of the process.
REASONS TO BUY
Semi-automatic
Well-built
Great for beginners
Tons of accessories
Great steam wand
Makes great espresso
REASONS TO AVOID
Puzzling control panel
Grinder lacks power
Limited pressure

Compare to Similar Products

 
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Bottom Line A sleek, well-built unit that excels at what's most important — espresso and microfoamIf you don't mind a little learning curve and elbow grease, this is some of the best espresso you can make at homeThis machine makes top-notch espresso if you're experienced at manually pulling shots, but it may flummox beginnersA small machine that makes great espresso and perfectly steams milkAn inexpensive option that gets the job done, but doesn't do it exceptionally well
Rating Categories De'Longhi La Specia... Breville Barista Ex... Rancilio Silvia Breville Bambino De'Longhi Stilosa
Espresso Quality (40%)
7.5
8.0
9.5
6.0
4.0
Ease of Use (20%)
6.2
7.0
7.1
9.1
5.4
Ease of Cleaning (15%)
5.7
6.2
4.0
6.6
4.9
Milk Steaming (15%)
8.1
9.1
6.7
8.6
4.0
Machine Customization (10%)
7.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
4.0
Specs De'Longhi La Specia... Breville Barista Ex... Rancilio Silvia Breville Bambino De'Longhi Stilosa
Lifetime Cost Per Shot $0.83 $0.83 $0.90 $0.67 $0.59
Number of Cafe Replacement Lattes to Make Up List Price 167 167 208 72 29
Measured Dimensions 11.2" x 14.4" x 15.6" 12.5" x 12.4" x 15.7" 9.3" x 12.1" x 13.7" 6.3" x 13.7" x 12" 8.1" x 10.2" x 11.4"
Measured Cup Clearance 4.25" 4" 3" 5" 4.2"
Pre-Infusion Yes Yes No Yes No
Cappuccino Time 4 min 27 sec 4 min 27 sec 3 min 32 sec 3 min 36 sec 2 min 48 sec
Number of Cafe Replacement Shots to Make Up List Price 285 285 353 122 49
Portafilter Size 51 mm 54 mm 58 mm 54 mm 51 mm
Steam Wand Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Measured Water Tank Capacity to Max Fill 62 oz 66 oz 76 oz 47 oz 34 oz
Integrated Pressure Gauge Yes No No No No
Hot Water Delivery Hot Water Spout Hot Water Spout Steam Wand Steam Wand Steam Wand
Extraction Yield 20% 19% 19% 18% 12%
PID Temperature Control Yes Yes No Yes No
Included Accessories Integrated Conical burr Grinder (8 Settings)
Dosing Funnel
2 Filter Baskets
Tamper
Tamping Mat
Water Hardness Test Indicator Paper
Descaler Sample
Stainless Steel Milk Pitcher,
Cleaning Brush,
Cleaning Needle Tool
Integrated Conical Burr Grinder (16 Settings)
Dosing Funnel Attachment
Tamper
The Razor Precision Dosing Tool
16 oz Stainless Steel Milk Jug
4 Filter Baskets
Coffee Scoop
Cleaning Disc
Espresso Machine Cleaning Tablets
Cleaning Brush
Cleaning Tool
Water Filter
2 Filter Baskets
Cleaning Disc
Tamper
Plastic Tamper
16-ounce Stainless Steel Milk Jug
4 Filter Baskets
Steam wand nozzle Cleaning Tool
Combo Tamper and Coffee scoop
2 Filter Baskets

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


de'longhi la specialista arte - locking in our portafilter for the next shot.
Locking in our portafilter for the next shot.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Espresso Quality


Generous, above-average brews, silky crema, and extraction yields on par with industry standards, influenced the solid score awarded to the La Specialista Arte for this metric. It didn't produce the best espresso we've ever tasted, but its shots certainly caught our attention.


Although tasty, the shots we pulled from the La Specialista Arte initially released slightly bitter tones, followed by a calmer sweetness. Additionally, the shots felt a little thin in comparison to their dense extraction yield.

de'longhi la specialista arte - the la specialista arte has one of the most well-balanced tds ratios...
The La Specialista Arte has one of the most well-balanced TDS ratios in our lineup.
Credit: Lesley Robinson

Extraction yield refers to total dissolved solids (TDS), or how much actual coffee material is in your espresso. So, based on our results, shots pulled from the La Specialista Arte were about 20% coffee and 80% water — one of the most well balanced ratios we've encountered, considering the industry standard for TDS is 18% to 22%.

de'longhi la specialista arte - pulling an excellent double shot at the push of a button.
Pulling an excellent double shot at the push of a button.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

We took small samples from each shot this unit produced and then examined them through a refractometer in order to determine its TDS. We were also impressed with the volume of shots the La Specialista Arte was able to produce. It turned 19 grams of espresso grounds into 36 grams of espresso in 32 seconds. This is the highest volume of all the machines in this review.

Using a stopwatch to time our shot. The Specialista Arte doesn't pull quickly, but its end result is still very good.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Ease of Use


We loved that the Specialista arrived fully assembled, right out of the box. It's super easy to set up and beautiful to look at, but its control panel is a bit involved, the grinder is a little weak, and its extraction times are longer, giving it an average score for this metric.


We loved the automatic brewing features of the La Specialista Arte. We also liked its sturdy portafilter, pressure gauge, and removable 62-ounce water tank. This unit also comes with a decent-sized drip tray and a ton of accessories. The built-in, conical burr grinder is a nice touch, but it only offers eight settings, so it doesn't offer a full range of grinding options. It's also a little weak and seemed to struggle when grinding a full load.

de'longhi la specialista arte - popping the lid off the hopper. this unit's grinder produces decent...
Popping the lid off the hopper. This unit's grinder produces decent grounds, but it's a little weak and seems to occasionally bog down.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Although the Specialista requires a little more time to produce a cappuccino, this semi-automatic machine is fairly user-friendly, making it a good choice for beginner and intermediate espresso lovers. During our timed cappuccino tests, it ranks at the bottom, but we were still happy with the end result.


The La Specialista Arte is one of the more expensive units in our lineup; however, in the long term, it offers a ton of savings compared to daily runs to the coffee shop. Based on 300 shots per year over eight years, we calculated the cost per shot over a lifetime. And, although the Specialista doesn't directly compete with all of the machines we tested, it still saves you a lot of cash.


Overall, the Specialista Arte is relatively simple to use and can complete a wide range of functions at the push of a button. Its steam wand is forgiving toward beginners as they learn to make their first batches of microfoam. This machine does have a few quirks, but it's well-made and has great curb appeal.

Ease of Cleaning


Espresso machines require a fair amount of routine cleaning and upkeep, so we rarely give above-average scores in this metric. The La Specialista Arte fell within these norms and received average marks during our ease of cleaning tests.


Using the Specialista comes with the typical chore list: dump the filter basket, rinse the portafilter, purge and wipe down the steam wand. The daily hose-down of this machine is simple and straightforward. However, we were a little disappointed by the lack of instructions specifically focused on weekly and monthly cleaning routines and maintenance. For descaling, the manufacturer insists on using a specific Delonghi descaling solution (Ecodecalk). The entire process is fairly self-contained, but it does require supervision and takes nearly 40 minutes — one of the longer times of the whole bunch. One thing we did like was the water hardness test strips included with the Specialista. They make it easy for the user to program the machine according to the actual hardness of their water supply.

de'longhi la specialista arte - the la specialista comes with a hot water spout which makes it easy...
The La Specialista comes with a hot water spout which makes it easy to clean off spare grounds.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Milk Steaming


All-things-milk is what the La Specialista Arte does best, earning it one of our best scores during our milk-steaming tests. Specifically, this unit's steam wand is perfect for beginners looking to boost their steaming skills.


Our in-house baristas were able to produce excellent, cafe-grade microfoam with the La Specialista Arte. It poured like paint and made great latte art. This machine's steam wand pivots well, maintains temperature, and produces consistent, gentle pressure. The result is evenly steamed and frothed milk that is less likely to scald. It's a perfect feature for newbies, but the added time may be annoying for the more experienced.

de'longhi la specialista arte - the specialista's magic wand. its steaming system is a little slow...
The Specialista's magic wand. Its steaming system is a little slow, but it's super steady, produces excellent microfoam, and is very forgiving for new users.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Machine Customization


The La Specialista Arte offers a slew of automated features, earning it above-average scores during our customization tests. We love that its programmable functions make it easy for beginners, but they also can be adjusted to suit espresso enthusiasts with more know-how.


Depending on your roast, the Specialista offers three infusion temperature profiles (198°F, 201°F, or 205°F). It also allows the user to adjust the volume of the pre-programmed drinks, or go rogue, and pull shots manually on those mornings when more caffeine is mandatory. The Specialista also offers three pre-infusion settings (none, 1 second, 2 seconds) if you prefer to wet your puck before pulling a shot. Additionally, we really love the preset options, which deliver a single or double espresso shot, Americano, or dispense ~8 ounces of hot water — all at the touch of a button. Our favorite feature is the ability to control the descaling frequency by adjusting the water hardness setting to soft, medium, or hard.

de'longhi la specialista arte - showing off one of our favorite dials: simply turn for espresso...
Showing off one of our favorite dials: simply turn for espresso, Americano, or hot water.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Should You Buy the De'Longhi La Specialista Arte?


We can't give every machine an award, but if it were possible, the La Specialista Arte would certainly be a candidate. This is a solid machine that performs well in the areas that matter most: espresso quality, milk steaming, and machine customization. This unit offers more automated features than any machine in our current lineup, making it perfect for beginners or latte lovers who simply want push-button convenience.

de'longhi la specialista arte - the de'longhi comes with a sturdy tamper.
The De'Longhi comes with a sturdy tamper.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

What Other Espresso Machines Should You Consider?


If you'd like to compare the Specialista to a similar machine, we suggest researching the Breville Barista Express. It functions like the Specialista but scores higher in some areas. If you're a pro who doesn't believe in automation, the Rancilio Silvia may be more your style.

de'longhi la specialista arte - multiple shots at the push of a button.
Multiple shots at the push of a button.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Lesley Robinson and Jason Wanlass