This particular machine was not something I purchased, but my wife and I received as a wedding present - unlike many wedding presents though, we do actually use this!
Even if you are thinking of spending your own money, these espresso coffee machines for the home user are very enticing purchases indeed, especially after seeing the professional versions in use at restaurants. After my experiences with this one I can say that on the whole they are worthwhile, but you need to be prepared to but a bit of work into it too.
IN THE BOX:
The machine here is easy to set up - supplied with it you get a pair of sturdy metal coffee filter holders, one which holds enough coffee for one cup, one which does enough for two cups, the overall device with handle in which they are placed and which you clamp to the machine, and a nozzle which can dispense steam for doing your frothy milk.
You get an instruction pamphlet, not really a book, which just about tells you enough to get you started. At least the quality of the English wording is pretty good.
There were also some espresso coffee pods with my machine, designed for one cup use only, and which suit quite well as a way of familiarising yourself with how it works before you invite those guests round.
HOW IT WORKS:
It is important firstly to press the ground coffee into the filters firmly by using the round compacting disc, but not too much, and then to clamp the handle on well, otherwise you'll end up with coffee dribbling everywhere except your cup. This part does take some practice and you'll be getting better everytime you use the machine.
A fairly large water tank on the back holds the cold water - another important step is to preheat the water and your 'flow tubes' before use to get better tasting coffee - a simple procedure which only takes a minute to do. This is all explained in the instruction pamphlet.
Once the water is at the right temperature the machine will let you know with a light, you can then start dispensing, and the quantity is entirely up to you, you tell it when to stop, which is excellent. Even when the 'OK' light goes out, you can still dispense water with no problems.
Another button will then start the steam production for the cappuccino milk frother nozzle, while a round knob allows you to control how much steam comes out. The buttons feel a little plasticky and I'm not too sure how they'll be working in a few months time - one of the drawbacks to this 'budget' type of machine.
There is a drip tray at the front to stop spills covering your worktop. It is easy to pull this section out for cleaning in water.
The machine is a little noisy but only when dispensing the water (it's the pump which rattles a bit). It does also use up a fair chunk of worktop space in the kitchen, but at least it's nice to look at!
One word of advice - if you use a coffee bean grinder make sure it's one which will grind very finely, mine doesn't unfortunately, and so I have to buy espresso ground coffee in packets.
Although with mine I received some handy little pods for use in the filters, there was nothing else other than the basic equipment to make it work, and a coffee scoop. So you will need to get yourself a suitable little jug for doing the frothy milk, and some nice cups which (make sure) fit underneath the coffee spout!
I paid £99 for my machine brand new in box.
Advantages Great device!
I don't know how much these cost as mine was a Christmas present.
I have to say it has been one of my best presents and I now look forward to having my "Starbucks" coffee without leaving the house!!!! Yes, I also received several packets of Starbucks coffee to go along with my new espresso machine.
This machine is small and compact enough not to take up too much space on the kitchen worktop. It is easy to use, once you have read the instructions!!! However, if you are like me you can't be bothered to read the boring booklet and want to get started straight away with any new gadgets! Don't do this with this machine, it is a lot easier to use if you learn how it works first!!!
SIMPLE TO USE
It is very simple to use, there are two holders for the coffee granules - a small one to make just one cup and a larger one for two cups.
You just fill these with coffee granules and then hold the cup and holder under the compacting device to press the coffee down.
You then twist the holder underneath the machine and you are ready to go! Oh I nearly forgot - you have to fill the tank with water first!!!! OOPS!!! Very important part that!!!! You should fill up with water first of all as the machine needs about 20 minutes to heat up before you use it at first.
At the right hand side of the machine is a device for making cappuccino and you just hold a container of milk underneath this for a couple of minutes until it froths. The sound is great while it is doing this!!!!
When your milk is nice and frothy you can then start dispensing the coffee into another container which you hold under the machine.
I have two jugs - one for the coffee and another for the milk and then it is easy to pour the different liquids into your coffee cups.
The machine is very simple to operate - on the front there are three switches. One is to switch the machine on and when the water is at the right temperature the light will come on. You then flick another switch to dispense the coffee and another for the milk.
There is also a knob which you turn to froth the milk and you can adjust the flow of this by how much you turn it.
I love my machine and use it all the time, it is not one of those gadgets that will sit unused at the back of a cupboard!
One word of caution, the milk dispenser lever becomes very hot when in use so do not allow children to use this machine.
The machine is easy to clean, you just unscrew the milk dispenser nozzle and the coffee holder and rinse, the grid also removes easily to allow you to wipe up any spills from the dispensed coffee.
Summary: Starbucks in your own home!
Short name: DeLonghi BAR-M 390