Testing Aldi’s Delta Espresso Coffee Machine.
I have owned a number of consumer-type espresso machines (costing around £150). They were fine whilst they worked, but actually they didn’t last as long as I hoped. One failed when warranty was nearly up and was repaired, another failed in warranty and was simply replaced.
I have probably used the machines more than the average consumer (who might have a single Espresso before catching their train). I will pull a few Espressos or Lungos (long Espresso) every day. But it’s not like I am running a coffee shop – and so I have been disappointed that my machines didn’t last longer.
It was after the failure of my last machine that I started to considered the purchase one of the “big gun” machines. But they are pretty expensive, and it’s a big decision.
When looking around for a new machine, I saw that Aldi were selling an Espresso machine branded as Delta (model CM4637). And given that I was without a machine and the purchase of a big guns machine was going to take some careful pre-sales consideration, I though that the Delta machine costing just £49.99 might just “tide me over” until I bought a big gun machine.
In fact – it has proved to be a terrific, although admittedly quite basic, machine. It has, for the past 8 months been a solid and reliable machine – to the extent that I haven’t yet bought the big gun.
The basic nature of the machine has appeal. It has a simple on/off button, a light to say the power is on, a light to say when it’s up to temperature, and one lever to select either water or steam. That’s it! I know it sounds basic, but it’s really simple to use unlike my more expensive machines that had extra knobs, programmable buttons and the like.
It comes with a combined spoon/tamper, a frothing cup, two steel ground coffee holders, and a Nespresso capsule holder. The smaller of the steel holders also accommodates an ESE bag. So, I have the choice of ground coffee, ESE or Nespresso. Not bad for under £50 (my more expensive machines were ground coffee only). And it comes with a 3-year warranty.
It has some rather nice touches.
- The height of the outlet is slightly higher than on some other espresso machines, so I can easily pull a Lungo into my favourite cup.
- The plastic sleeve on the steam wand is easily detached for cleaning. I know its plastic (not stainless) but it works fine.
- Each coffee holder drops into the funnel handle, with a cute notch to help hold it in place. This, together with a nifty flip-up handle, stops the filter from dropping out when emptying the used grinds.
Notch and Flip-up handle
For its price, I’m sure it’s a single heater design (thermoblock I guess) using a vibration pump. It also doesn’t flood the same amount of water into the drip tray as my previous machines (when the pressure is released at the end of a pull). With my previous machines, the trays required more frequent emptying.
Adding water to the rear mounted tank is as fiddly as other machines I have used, and personally I have resorted to using the (clean!) frothing cup to fill the talk. The tank holds about 1 ¼ litres.
On the niggly side, the Nespresso holder is not easy to use. Because the holder has to be removed from the funnel handle for every coffee, the cute notch on the holder (so useful for ground coffee) makes it fiddly to remove. It’s also hot, and the user manual says you should wait for 3 minutes between capsules to allow cooling; so it’s not great if you want to make a coffee each for you and a friend. Plus the Nespresso capsules didn’t seem to quite fit and some force is needed to close the filter holder onto the capsule. Lastly, the pod filter holder is quite tall, so there is only room for an Espresso sized cup. None of these are big problems for me as I usually use ground coffee, but Nespresso fans would be better off perhaps with a machine designed specifically for those capsules.
The machine is use
Warm up time is about 45 seconds, and the steamer wand is pumping steam after only a few seconds after selecting steam. I use the machine mainly for Espresso and Lungo, and the resulting coffee is good with a nice crema. I find its milk frothing to be quite quick and easy, on the odd occasion when I use it.
Some technical Details
For those interested in the finer details…As far as I can tell (and recall), the pump is 15 bar. I am sure that’s about right as it takes about the same time to pump as my other 15 bar machines.
Water temperature is important in coffee brewing, and so I have measured the temperature of the coffee to be (up to) 86C, once the funnel and other metal parts are warmed up. Not scientific, but it shows that the heater is probably reaching the desirable 90C (internally). The power rating is between 1250 and 1470W, and you have to be sure to switch it off when you’re done to save energy.
I know many coffee lovers will claim that big guns coffee machines are the best, and they are probably right. But if you consider that bean freshness, water quality, grind consistency and tamping pressure are as important as water pressure and brewing temperature, there is no reason why a “small guns” coffee machine cannot make good coffee. And this machine does.
In summary, this machine has provided great service, is easy to use, is terrific value for money, and (most importantly) makes nice coffee. I might just hold onto the £500 (or thousands) it’s going to cost me for a big gun machine – for a while at least.