De'Longhi Stilosa Review
Compare to Similar Products
$119.71 at Amazon
$349.95 at Amazon
$189.05 at Amazon
$159.99 at Amazon
$165.00 at Amazon
|Pros||Inexpensive, good milk-heating element, easy to operate||Great espresso, impressive milk steaming performance, compact design||Easy to use, quick and convenient, decent frothed milk||Good espresso and milk steaming, quite inexpensive||Highly customizable, renders great shots, compact|
|Cons||Poor microfoam, slow to heat up, limited to 14 grams dose||No built-in grinder||Uses expensive capsules, limited flavors available||Doesn't quite achieve cafe quality results, somewhat slow, no built-in grinder||Lots of components, lots of cleaning, requires separate kettle and milk frother|
|Bottom Line||This basic machine may be appealing due to its low cost, but there are better options for producing good espresso if you're looking to save money||One of the smallest machines we've found that can achieve cafe-quality results||This easy-to-use espresso machine and milk frother package is a great choice if you don't mind paying a little extra in the long run for convenience and so-so espresso||Offers good taste and overall quality at a far below average price||This manual machine is for espresso lovers that like to dial in every aspect of their espresso, but it requires additional purchases to make a cappuccino|
|Rating Categories||De'Longhi Stilosa||Breville Bambino||Nespresso Evoluo||Gevi||Flair Classic|
|Espresso Quality (40%)|
|Ease of Use (30%)|
|Ease of Cleaning (15%)|
|Milk Quality (15%)|
|Specs||De'Longhi Stilosa||Breville Bambino||Nespresso Evoluo||Gevi||Flair Classic|
|Dimensions||8.1" x 13.5" x 11.2"||7.7" x 12.6" x 12.2"||9" x 12.2" x 12.3"||13" x 10" x 16"||14" x 10" x 4"|
|Milk Frother||Steam Wand||Steam Wand||Electric Stand Alone||Steam Wand||None|
|Measured Water Tank Capacity||34 oz||47 oz||54 oz||42 oz||2 oz|
|Cost per Shot||$0.37||$0.45||$0.85||$0.45||$0.42|
|Lifetime Cost per Shot||$0.42||$0.58||$0.93||$0.50||$0.49|
|Number of Cafe Replacement Shots to Make Up List Price||46||118||93||51||64|
|Number of Cafe Replacement Lattes to Make Up List Price||28||70||52||30||N/A|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The De'Longhi Stilosa will jump out as an affordable alternative to many of the expensive espresso machines in the class. However, this device makes so-so espressos and cappuccinos due to its thin, bitter brew and stiff steamed milk. There are several other issues with the machine that make it a poor choice but suffice it to say that your money is better spent elsewhere.
Our espresso metric looks at the quality of the shots pulled from the machine and the ability to customize the coffee extraction method. We use a team of testers to give us feedback on the quality of the shot, its balance of flavors, its consistency, and its mouthfeel. We also look at the ability to adjust the coffee dose, the water ratio, preinfusion, and pressure. The De'Longhi Stilosa did not fare well in this evaluation largely due to its limited adjustability. However, the quality of the machine's shots was an issue, too.
The espresso pulled from the De'Longhi Stilosa is on the weak side because of the limited grounds that the machine will process at a time (14-gram max). Exacerbating this issue is that the water passing through the puck isn't evenly distributed, making for irregular extraction. As a result, the espresso is watery and bitter tasting — many testers noted that the crema was thin, too. The machine does not allow the user to adjust to the pressure and to pre-infuse the grounds. That said, one can adjust the water ratio, but this adjustment rendered only minor improvements in shot quality.
Ease of Use
While espresso quality is the most important metric, ease of use is not far behind. In general, making espresso is not a simple feat. There are a lot of variables to manage when pulling shots and frothing. A poorly designed machine can make these tasks a real pain. Unfortunately, the De'Longhi Stilosa delivered a below-average performance in this metric. Yet, the device is easy to set up, and the interface is quite simple compared to others.
In addition to being easy to set up, the De'Longhi Stilosa's tank is easy to fill. Simply pull out the tank, fill it with water, and reinsert it. This may seem mundane, but some models are difficult to fill without making a mess. We also like that the unit has adjustable tray height to accommodate varying cup sizes. Yet, the clearance is still limited and requires us to remove the tray to fit a standard coffee cup. Finally, the Stilosa takes a bit more time to heat up than other units in the class at 3 minutes and 33 seconds to pull a shot and froth the milk for a cappuccino.
Ease of Cleaning
Like the ease of use metric, ease of cleaning contributes greatly to the user's experience because it's no fun to do a bunch of cleaning just to have a tasty espresso. Most espresso makers have daily, weekly, and semi-annual cleaning requirements — the De'Longhi Stilosa is no different. While the Stilosa isn't a breeze to clean, its requirements are about average for the class.
The daily cleaning of the Stilosa is pretty basic: clean the puck out of the portafilter, and rinse it and the basket. Our only complaint is that getting the espresso puck out was a bit hard. But, aside from that, the cleaning is straightforward. There are no specific weekly cleaning requirements, but the manufacturer calls for descaling the unit every 200 shots. The good news is that this process only takes 10 minutes.
If you're looking to make cappuccinos, you'll be interested in the milk quality metric. As the name implies, this assessment examines microfoam production and steam wand consistency. In short, the Stilosa does not make microfoam but milk with big bubbles and a stiff consistency that quickly degrades. The temperature of the steam that the machine produces is hot enough to do the intended work. However, the inconsistent steam pressure that the machine yields counteracts the heat and produces subpar milk.
Should You Buy the De'Longhi Stilosa?
If you're looking for top-tier quality, this is not your espresso machine. While it has a competitive price point and the interface is simple, don't be deceived. The espresso that comes out of this machine is nowhere near café quality. And, when combined with the microfoam that the machine produces, the result is a pitiful cappuccino.
What Other Espresso Machines Should You Consider?
Those readers who want to make a high-quality espresso should consider a high-quality machine like the Calphalon Temp IQ. While this machine is a bit spendy, it makes ridiculously good espresso, and the frothed milk is divine. The IQ is easy to use, too. However, if the IQ is a bit out of your budget, consider the Breville Bambino. It's about twice as much as the Stilosa. However, the espresso it makes is many times better.
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More