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Delonghi Magnifica S review: Easy to learn, easy to master
A coffee machine for the coffee snob who isn't really a coffee snob.
Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to the Delonghi Magnifica S, a coffee machine that consistently makes great cups of java with little to no thought required.
There's an art to making the perfect cup of coffee. Measuring out the exact amount of beans, getting the grind just right, hitting the temperature that will really make your brew sing. There are a lot of variables you can tweak in the pursuit of flavour, but sometimes you just need a coffee to be good enough.
Sure, you're not getting to settle for pod coffee or instant, but you don't want to think about it too much. That's where a machine like Delonghi Magnifica S is at its best. The kind of coffee machine that makes a damn fine coffee with minimal fuss.
It's a coffee machine for the coffee snob who isn't really a coffee snob.
How much does the Delonghi Magnifica S cost in Australia?
Expensive for entry-level, cheap for enthusiasts
At an Australian RRP of $749, the Delonghi Magnifica S is far from the cheapest home espresso machine available. Depending on what you're comparing it to, it's almost double the price-tag of other entry-level options from Sunbeam or Breville.
That said, $749 is hardly high-end when it comes to home espresso machines and, depending on who you go with, you can probably come away paying a little bit less. Our survey of Australia's biggest appliance and electronics retailers found that Amazon currently offers the best price for the machine.
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Delonghi Magnifica S - Setup and Features
Easy to learn, easy to master
The Magnifica S is a mostly automatic espresso machine where simplicity is the name of the game. Fill up the water tank, fill it with unground beans, press a button, get a coffee. You don't have to muck around with a portafilter (the handle thing you put your coffee into in a classic espresso machine) or tamping down your ground beans and inevitably spilling them all over the kitchen floor.
When making a coffee, you have four options to pick from: a short black, a long black, two short blacks, and you guessed it, two long blacks. The spout is adjustable so cups of most sizes will fit under it. In the same vein, you can drop it rather low, to avoid splashing if you're using an espresso cup.
The only manual part of the process is frothing milk if you're making a cappuccino or latte. The Magnifica S has a frothing wand rather than a milk reservoir as we've seen on some machines. While manual frothing is a bit more time consuming than an automated option, the quality is a big step up from my experience. And it's kinda fun too.
Despite the overall ease of use, the Magnifica S still has a few manual settings if you want a bit more control over your brew. There are 13 levels of fineness control for your grind, and there's a dial you can use to adjust strength - essentially, how many beans are ground per shot of coffee. You also get limited temperature controls, but you're really just picking from hot or hotter. You can't set a precise temperature, or anything remotely close to it.
If you prefer your espresso shorter or your long black longer, the Magnifica S lets you adjust pour sizes. The process is simple enough, but not exactly precise. Instead of tapping the coffee button of your choice, you hold it down until it starts making coffee. You then tap it again when your cup is full enough, and that becomes your new default pour.
Delonghi Magnifica S - Performance and Maintenance
Set, forget and hope for the best
Keeping in theme with the machine's set-and-forget nature, you don't have to worry too much about maintenance with the Magnifica S. It comes apart easily and everything is easy to clean. It even rinses itself every time you turn it on and off. The machine will bug you when you have to empty out the ground tray, but it's definitely worth being a bit more proactive about it - it's very easy for mould to grow otherwise. You should also naturally clean the frothing wand after every use - I always froth some water, and then run some through the spout. You'll also need to descale it every three to six months, depending on how much you're using it.
If you're in a smaller kitchen, it's worth considering the Magnifica S' size. Thanks to a 23cm by 43cm footprint, it isn't exactly streamlined. I wouldn't call it an overly large machine, but it does still take up a good chunk of bench space when compared to more compact machines.
While my experiences with the Magnifica S have mostly been great, I should note that my original model broke about six months after I purchased it. The heating element carked it. This was repaired at no cost, but the issue kept recurring, until Delonghi eventually replaced the machine. I've had the replacement model for over a year now and haven't had any issues, but a friend who bought the Magnifica S around the same time I did also had their machine die. These experiences seem to be the exception rather than the rule based on most customer feedback online, but at the least, Delonghi support was pretty easy to deal with for the most part.
Is the Delonghi Magnifica S worth buying?
Convenience beats cheap
Priced at $749, the Magnifica S is a great option for consistent espresso at home that you don't have to think too much about. I love the simplicity and ease of use when compared to a manual machine. While it's on the pricier side for a home machine, the convenience factor and coffee quality make it a good buy for caffeine fiends who make multiple cups in a day.
How does the Delonghi Magnifica S compare?
The table below breaks down how the Delonghi Magnifica S compares to a few of the other coffee machines we've reviewed.
How we review coffee machines
The short answer: by making (and drinking) a lot of coffee. The longer one: We spend some serious time not just using the coffee machines we review, but also thinking about the type of users they're for. We don't just read and regurgitate a spec-sheet. We take stock of what the landscape looks like, and how machines like the Delonghi Magnifica S fit into it.
Even if there are clear differences between home espresso machines like this one and cheaper pod-based options, those differences can be bridged by a thorough assessment of how successful both approaches when it comes to solving the problem of delivering the quality homemade coffee possible with as little effort as possible.
For a full breakdown of our approach to reviewing coffee machines, visit this page.
Delonghi Magnifica S FAQ
The main difference between the Magnifica S and Magnifica S Smart is the Magnifca S Smart has an adjustable steam wand that gives you more control over your frothed milk.
The Magnifica S Smart and Magnifica S Plus are identical - the names are just different depending on which country it is sold in. The machine goes by the name Magnifica S Smart in Australia.