Coffee machines has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 1908.
From a very simple drip coffee maker design, today’s machines come with a plethora of features that make them the equivalent of 21st century smartphones.
This is a fully automatic espresso maker that combines a stunning look with optimum coffee making convenience.
The DeLonghi Prima Donna Fully Automatic Espresso Maker
De’Longhi is to small appliances as Ferrari is to performance sports cars. Both are Italian brands that produce some of the world’s most loved design-centric products. Established in 1902, De’Longhi is best known for its amazing air conditioners and portable heaters.
However, it has expanded its product line to include other home appliances. The company is famous for its Artista series of espresso makers. Its Prima Donna line is another series that is making a huge impact in the lives of coffee lovers around the world. One of the most iconic models of the Prima Donna line is the Exclusive ESAM 6900.
This machine has almost everything you need in a super-automatic. Its beverage offerings may not be as varied as what other brands can offer. However, being able to provide at least 7 different hot beverages that you can tweak to suit your tastes is already a great start. The machine offers enough customization that should stimulate the creativity of avid coffee drinkers. Creating a barista specialty coffee is now possible with the unique programming of the ESAM 6900.
One feature that is worth mentioning is the LatteCrema system. This guarantees a more defined milk foam that you can put on a variety of drinks and not only espresso. The machine’s double boiler design allows the making of beverages in a flash. You will also love the hot chocolate drink-making capabilities of the De’Longhi 6900. The company already provides you with two separate carafes for your milk and chocolate. The best part is you can store these carafes in the refrigerator.
The machine’s 13-level grinder is something that coffee purists will love. It gives them more leeway in fine-tuning the strength of their drinks. This is in addition to setting the preferred volume and the ideal temperature of the water. There is an integrated active cup heating tray, too, for those who want a hot cup of joe.
The different technologies integrated into the De’Longhi ESAM 6900 make it an expensive machine. However, it is still more affordable than some brands that have almost the same feature set as the ESAM 6900.
- Provides consistently amazing drinks
- Makes hot chocolate with a press of a button
- Very easy to program, customize, and operate
- Allows for the storage of 6 user profiles
- Features the LatteCrema system
- Good number of grind settings
- Easy to maintain with its integrated alerts and auto-cleaning cycles
- Comes with refrigerator-safe milk and chocolate carafes
- Provides active cup heating
- Small water tank capacity for its price
- Large footprint
- Requires purchasing special cleaning products
- Not touchscreen
Aesthetics, Footprint, and Form Factor
The De’Longhi ESAM 6900 is a very elegant machine. This is even though it has a greater proportion of ABS plastic in its construction than metal. The machine has a very characteristic European styling that De’Longhi decided to enhance with its own brand of design. It pays that the ESAM 6900 has a good mix of black and silver in its styling.
The control unit features a large TFT display that provides very simple messages to go with colorful images. What we were surprised to see in this espresso machine is the customizability of its wallpaper. Other brands that have the same display do not let you change the way the screen looks.
Below the screen is a row of 6 buttons that correspond to the preset user profiles of the machine. each button has a shiny silver finish that adds to the overall elegance of the unit. The buttons are very nice to the touch, too. On both sides of the screen are LED-lit touch keys. These allow you to make the appropriate selections that are displayed on the screen. There are no knobs to turn, except for the grinder settings control which De’Longhi placed next to the hopper.
The ESAM 6900 is a bit large. However, a standard US kitchen countertop should still be able to accommodate its 15.55-inch deep by 11.02-inch wide footprint. It is also a bit taller than other brands with a height of 16.73 inches. We have seen coffee machines at this price range that are only 13 inches tall. One thing you need to remember is to put an allowance to the machine’s vertical space requirement. This is because the 6900 comes with a top-loading bean hopper. Opening the hopper lid will increase the machine’s height to 18.75 inches.
Features and Functionalities
There are plenty of reasons why many people love the De’Longhi ESAM 6900. This is a machine that has a stunning look that more than complements its awesome performance. Of course, no machine is ever perfect. In this section of our review, we shall explore the noteworthy features and functionalities of this machine. We will also point out some issues that may be deal-breakers for some people.
Convenient Beverage and Cleaning Programs
The De’Longhi ESAM 6900 features several coffeeshop style recipes that people love. Fancy a delicious, pressure-pulled shot of espresso? The ESAM 6900 can give you this beverage in less than 30 seconds. The machine also delivers amazing lattes, macchiatos, cappuccinos, and ristrettos. It also has a dedicated program for making a wonderful mug of heartwarming hot chocolate. There is a hot milk option, too. Unfortunately, the machine does not have a flat white coffee program.
We are amazed at how stunning and rich the milk foam that the machine produces. This is possible because of the ingenious LatteCrema system integrated into the programming of the machine. You can add a rich and dense layer of foam in every espresso shot. The best part of the milk foam is that it never loses its consistency.
There are also maintenance programs in the ESAM 6900. These include maintenance alerts and automatic self-rinsing and descaling of the unit. While these programs can make for easy cleaning and maintenance, they do require some specialty products to accomplish their tasks.
Ample Personalization Options
Customizing the temperature and volume of water for each beverage is already a standard among super-automatics. The same is true with the strength of the coffee dosing. You will see these three customization options in the ESAM 6900.
However, De’Longhi provides more latitude when it comes to beverage customization. The unique programming of the machine allows up to 6 different users to program and store their preferred beverages in the ESAM 6900. The machine already comes with 6 preset user profiles. These include coffee latte, chocolate, latte macchiato, cappuccino, milk, and long. You can tweak the settings of these profiles to suit your specific needs.
The user-specific customization also includes programming the machine’s auto-on and auto-shutoff feature. This is very handy in large households that may have members who have different coffee preferences and different drinking habits. For example, if one member drinks only macchiato at 5 in the morning, then that member can program the ESAM 6900 to turn itself on a few minutes before 5 AM. He only needs to press the specific user profile and the machine does the rest.
Modest Capacity Tank and Hopper
This is one aspect of the ESAM 6900 that we have mixed feelings. We find its 47-ounce water tank capacity to be small for its price. The less expensive De’Longhi ECAM 28465M model holds 67 ounces. It is still large, considering that the machine can produce about 20 double shots of espressos or about 10 cups of regular coffee.
While its water tank capacity is modest, the ESAM 6900’s bean hopper capacity is quite voluminous. You can put about half a pound (9 ounces) of coffee beans in the hopper.
Efficient Grinder and Double Boiler Design
The ESAM 6900 comes with a double boiler design that works to process both coffee and milk at the same. Both boilers feature the industry-standard Thermoblock technology to hasten the speed of making hot beverages. We must give De’Longhi a big plus here. We have seen similarly-priced espresso machines that only have a single boiler design.
In addition to the double boiler system, the ESAM 6900 also features a very durable and efficient conical burr grinder. While almost every other machine has this type of grinder, we find it very remarkable that the ESAM 6900 has 13 grind settings. Again, this is already impressive for most people. Do take note that some more expensive machines only provide 5 to 6 grind settings. The grinder does not create too much noise. This is perfect when trying to sneak out at night to get a quick cup.
Milk and Chocolate Carafe
De’Longhi thought it more appropriate to include two carafes with the ESAM 6900. This makes the unit more appealing, since it already comes complete with the right tools you need to make a fantastic beverage. We are also amazed at the design of the carafes. Take note that you cannot interchange the two. You should only put milk in the milk carafe and chocolate in the chocolate carafe.
The milk carafe has a built-in frothing wand that allows you to make amazing foam. We could almost see the wide smile of coffee purists who prefer a frothing wand over an automatic mechanism. It is not fully manual, though. A dial controls the action of the frothing wand. You can adjust the cream-to-foam ratio in your preparation.
The chocolate carafe, on the other hand, features a pair of mixing blades at the bottom of the container. When you pour your chocolate powder or syrup and place the carafe under the hot water or milk spout, the carafe blades automatically mix the different ingredients.
One very useful feature of these carafes is that you can remove them from the ESAM 6900 and store them in the refrigerator. No beverage will ever be wasted.
Integrated Cup Warming Technology
People always say that the coffee they get from a super-automatic is simply not hot enough. There are a few ways modern coffee machine users can address this issue. One is to crank up the temperature of the boiler. A machine that has a double boiler design can deliver ‘hotter’ drinks than a single boiler machine. You can increase the temperature of either or both coffee and milk boilers.
The other, often-overlooked, way of achieving the desired temperature of one’s drinks is by using a cup warmer. Most of the machines on the market feature a passive type of cup warming. It can raise the temperature of the cup, but only by a few degrees. The best solution is to use an active cup heating system. Thankfully, the De’Longhi ESAM 6900 has this feature. You will no longer complain of a coffee that is not of the ideal temperature, even though you have already set the temperature parameters of the boiler to the maximum
Operation, Cleaning, and Maintenance
De’Longhi engineered the ESAM 6900 with optimum convenience in mind. From the way you operate the machine up to its maintenance, the ESAM 6900’s ingenious programming is a breeze to manage. However, it is important to realize that mastering the different functions of any given super-automatic requires time. The learning curve will depend on one’s tech-savviness and the amount of time and effort exerted in learning more about the machine. Suffice it to say, you can master the different controls and programs of the ESAM 6900 in less than a day if you put your mind to it.
Maintaining the espresso machine is also easy. However, we do have to caution you about becoming overly confident with the machine’s controls. This espresso maker already has a self-cleaning feature. You need to program this during the initial setup of the machine. It is also important to set the correct level of water hardness before you start making coffee. This will help make the maintenance of the ESAM 6900 easier.
One thing we love about this De’Longhi product is that it already gives you step by step instructions on how to clean it. There are also reminders and alerts that the machine displays on its screen. Even if you do not have a logbook to keep the machine’s maintenance schedule, the ESAM 6900 will do it for you.
There is one very specific advantage of this machine over other brands. De’Longhi allows you to remove its brew unit for manual cleaning. Other brands use cleaning solutions that may not remove all the impurities in the brew unit. Manually removing the brew unit allows you to perform a more thorough and deeper cleaning.
The main downside to cleaning the ESAM 6900 is the different products you need to purchase to keep the machine in pristine condition. You cannot use any ordinary cleaner. These cleaners should meet the exacting standards of De’Longhi.
Who this Product is for? / Should You Buy This?
The De’Longhi ESAM 6900 is great for anyone who has the money to bring home the appliance. While expensive, this machine will only cost you half the price of other premium coffee machine brands. It has many of the features of more expensive units, while also showcasing its own feature set that other machines do not have.
The ESAM 6900 is also ideal for households that cannot do away with drinking coffee every day. Given its capacity, however, the machine is not ideal for households with multiple power drinkers. The machine is only capable of producing a limited number of beverages for every refill of the tank. Power drinkers can still buy the ESAM 6900, provided they do not mind refilling the tank every now and then.
Because of its programmable user profiles, the machine is perfect for large households with members that have different beverage preferences. Each member can program his or her own beverage and store it as a user profile in the machine. This sets up the ESAM 6900 for its unparalleled one-touch convenience.
The De’Longhi ESAM 6900 is one of the most sought-after super-automatic espresso makers today. It is pricey and its water tank capacity is not that noteworthy when you consider its price. However, the features that the machine offers and the convenience that it provides make the ESAM 6900 a wonderful choice for coffee lovers everywhere. Its elegant design can make any kitchen look more stunning. When you consider all the pros and cons of this machine, you know that you are getting more than your money’s worth.