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DeLonghi Icona Espresso Maker

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    15 Reviews
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      12.03.2014 19:34
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      Good entry level coffee machine

      I absolutely love how the Delonghi coffee machine looks out on the work top, definitely an eye catching design as well as a practical piece of kit.

      Disassembly / taking parts apart for cleaning is intuitive. I'm a bit if a gadget thicky but I can easily get everything apart, washed and back on in its right place easily. The water reservoir is removable so easy to refill. The section for coffe comes with two sizes of holder for either a 1 or 2 coffee delivery.

      It does have some down sides though:
      Bottom section has a removable drip tray which in theory is great but if you leave it in then the platform that rests on it us so high that it's hard to fit a coffee cup on! I've ended up removing the drop tray to be able to fit coffee cups on.
      The steamer seems to lose pressure quite quickly /easily.
      The steamer nozzle also drips when not in use. Not a lot but shouldn't drip at all.

      A good entry level coffee machine.

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        03.01.2014 22:06

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        Beautiful, but not for keeps

        How do I start...when my beautiful, blue DeLonghi icona arrived for Christmas in 2011, I was totally in love. Not only was she gorgeous, bringing light and joy to my kitchen, but she made an amazing cup of coffee with very little effort (that is, if you only wanted 1 cup. Making for a group of people is a bit more of a faff). The espresso part of the machine is super easy to use and clean, and the steamer also works for hot water, so it is easy to make a simple espresso or a regular americano. Likewise, the steamer is brilliant, so bringing Starbucks quality cappuccino and lattes into your own home is no problem at all. So imagine my dismay when after only 18 months of ownership, the motor blew. Although the machine is fixable, it ain't cheap. Next time, I'll pack a bit more lunch behind my buck, and get a more expensive - and hopefully longer lasting - model.

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        13.02.2013 19:07
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        a good quality espresso machine

        The product I am reviewing today is the Delonghi ECO330 Icona Espresso pump machine. In my opinion it is an excellent product. The amount of money I spent at coffee shops especially during 2010 and 2011 was beginning to look too high which was the main reason I invested my money on this product. It is available at Argos super store for £169.99 although I managed to buy it during a special offer price of £149,99p, The product with all things considered is not that expensive at all. An additional point to note is that this product is recommended by the Which magazine and this can be seen on the Argos book itself. When I had a look at the Argos book I looked at this model and some more expensive models of coffee machines and came to buying this product.

        Having tried a number of different ground coffee products you can certainly taste the difference between each bag of coffee when making an espresso using this espresso machine.
        The design of this product is quite good without being too fancy. It is a functional, easy to use and simple to maintain machine. The main body of the machine is red and is not too bright. It is a product that is easy on the eye, and has a stainless steel top and a tray at the bottom. There is a milk frother attachment that can be used to make the milk used on top of capuccino drinks and there is a water container at the back of the machine.

        It takes about a minute for the water to warm up and about 10 seconds after pressing the OK button for the ground coffee to be made. From my own experience the coffee warmth is just above lukewarm and not excessively hot.

        The spout that you put the ground coffee beans in has to be cleaned after each use. The filter of the coffee also has to be wiped clean to remove the ground coffee residue left. Also regarding the cleaning the tray occasionally has to be wiped if you spill the coffee. I also noticed the tray at the bottom of the machine also has to be emptied from time to time, but overall minimal cleaning is required when owning and using this machine. The spout is easy to clean and I have tipped the coffee residue into a pot so I can recycle the coffee into my garden soil. To clean it simply requires putting the spout against the water tap and drying it with a clean cloth.

        When making the coffee the machine is quite loud but does not slip, however the noise made by the machine when used does often makes my espresso cup move ever so slightly. To be honest, this is not a problem or a major product issue it just requires placing the cup in line of the 2 dripping parts where the coffee liquid flows from.

        15 bars of pressure noise would be enough to wake up other people in the house in the morning if using this too early, before they wake up. Although really I do not find the noise from the machine to be really loud. It takes about one minute for the water to get warm and then around10-20 seconds for the machine to make an espresso.

        I have found that there are slight disadvantages using this machine because to make a cappuccino drink you have to make 2 shots of espresso and this can take extra effort. Also when the espresso is being made, the power button has to be turned off to stop the coffee flowing.
        The manual is not really required other than that I had to clean the coffee machine and parts before I started using it. I also have had no maintenance required in the 2 months since buying and using it so far. I could have bought an extended warranty for around £30 for 2 additional years, although I can see this coffee machine lasting a fair while.

        Regarding the value for money perspective there are far more expensive coffee machines that would make a cup of espresso or other types of coffee much quicker than this machine, but the price would be much higher. I feel that within the past 2 months of using this machine, I have saved on the need to go out so regularly to coffee shops and have managed to experience a range of quality ground coffee products in this time.

        More importantly from my experience, the coffee I have tried so far tastes good and has made this purchase well worth the money. All of a sudden, I have also avoided instant coffee which I feel is inferior, if not sub standard. Within a few minutes I am able to make myself a good tasting espresso, and if I wanted to make myself a Americano or double espresso it would take me a bit longer. Overall I would say that this machine does not take that much time to make a good espresso. It is safe to say that the coffee produced by this machine is very good indeed. Since buying this machine I have saved myself a lot of money and have enjoyed many good quality espressos.

        As mentioned before this product is recommended by the Which magazine, and I too recommend this coffee machine highly. I really think highly of this espresso machine.

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          19.07.2012 22:10
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          The ideal espresso maker for any home.

          Having recently decided to add a bit of variety to my beverage selection, I decided to purchase an espresso machine. Going with experience meant that Delonghi was a good place to start. A bit of browsing through their range and I purchased the Icona ECO310.R model.
          Being Italian means that styling is always going to be a premium, although occasionally this can come at the expense of reliability. However, my experiences with the brand seem to suggest otherwise and initial feelings with this machine are good too.
          The Icona ECO310.R is available in a multitude of colours all with a high gloss finish. To fit in with my rather minimalistic kitchen, I opted for the Onyx Black. Boring I know but neither the scarlet Red or Azure Blue would quite blend in!! In terms of its' size, it measures a measly 33x23x26cm, so it is not going to be crowding the kitchen space of even the smallest property. It does weigh nearly 5kg but I tend to think that goes to emphasise the build quality. It doesn't rely on cheap lightweight materials and the weight is the end result. You can see that in the stainless steel used on the milk frothing arm and the removable drip tray. D'Longhi has built this machine in a stylish design that's also very easy to use, with a no fuss, simple three button control system.
          In addition to the ease of use is its' inherent speed. Evidently, it has been designed f or people with busy lifestyles who want their favourite coffee fast and made to perfection. The instruction book suggests standard preparation time to be around fifteen minutes. In my experience, half that time is all that is required.
          It has a two in one feature which allows for the use of easy serving espresso pods or ground coffee & also features a manual control milk froth arm. The variable steam emissions, mix steam, milk & air to create a rich and creamy froth for an exceptional cappuccino.
          This Icona ECO310.R coffee machine is built to accommodate 2 fully sized cappuccino cups or 2 espresso sized cups. The coffee steam boiler produces fast results while offering optimum temperature controls and also features a tamper and incorporated crema device. Other features included is the 1ltr water tank, stainless steel drip try which is removable and a handy cup warmer. It delivers great tasting coffee as a result of the 15 bar pump pressure. There are free Coffee granules included with this machine so you're ready to start using the machine right out of the box and you can continue to use the machine with either granules or the easy serve espresso pods.
          The box contains...
          1 x De'Longhi Icona ECO310.R Pump Espresso Machine
          1 x Product instruction booklet
          1 x two in one filter holder
          1 x UK fitting plug
          You can pick one of these up from Amazon for around £125, although the keen shopper may find them cheaper. As with most devices of this nature, it comes with the industry standard 1 years warranty. Down points, well there aren't any. You get what you pay for. The machines you see in coffee houses cost in the thousands, so the results here won't be as good. However, they are not a million miles away and I'm very glad I have mine. I can have an espresso waiting for me when I wake up in the morning, rather than having to face the long trek to work first. And that is a very nice feeling, I can assure you.

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            31.01.2012 20:22

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            Theres better

            If you are like me and love a good cup of coffee then this machine certainly makes that! Makes fantastic coffees, lattes and a good cappuccino too! It is fairly easy to use although you do have to fiddle about with it a bit and the other downside is that it takes a lot of cleaning and looking after. The downside however, and there is always a downside is that mine broke and just started making a weird noise and not frothing the milk or realeasing the coffee. After a thorough clean and a good looking at it still wouldn't work. The whole thing was taken to pieces and it was just unrepareable. So alas it was not as good as it first seemed. It did look very good on the kitchen side but very expensive for a kitchen ornament. Personally I think there are better coffee machines about for your money

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            09.01.2012 13:11

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            Nice looking machine that produces good coffee.

            I got this coffee machine over a year ago along with the matching kettle and toaster.

            Style
            This looks fantastic. It is very stylish and looks great sitting beside it's matching appliances. It's available in red, black and cream - possibly more. We opted for the cream and I have to say, over a year later I still think they look great. So for style, this wins top points.

            Coffee
            I love coffee...good coffee. My coffee of choice is an americano. This machine gives a lovely crema to the coffee and I can't complain about the coffee quality - of course a lot depends on the actual blend of coffee you use. As I don't drink lattes or cappuccinos I can't really comment on the frothing wand. I have used it a couple of times to make coffee for friends and seems to work well for a small machine.

            Cleaning
            I think with any cup of nice coffee there comes a little pain in the cleaning up - coffee grinds are annoying! However, I think this machine is very easy to clean. There are no especially awkward bits and so I'm pretty happy.

            Negatives
            The biggest negative I would have to say is the noise - this machine is noisy!! It sounds like it's getting ready to fly off my worktop! That asides, for coffee quality - no complaints!

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            21.11.2011 16:30
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            Buy because you love it not because you need it

            I have an obsession with everything matching so when I saw the Delonghi kitchen appliances I knew I had to have the lot. The most expensive yet the most wanted part of the set had to be this coffee machine. I've had it three years now and absolutely love it however I must admit it is more of an expensive ornament.

            The look...

            I love anything retro and this coffee machine looks fantasic, it's just like a minute version of what you should see in an American 50's diner. The size is just about right. I only have a small kitchen yet there is no way I would hide this beauty in a cupboard and it really doesn't take up that much worktop space. I have this in the dark grey finish and it looks fantastic. It really is fantastic quality.

            The practical bit....

            I must admit I'm not a coffee drinker so this is mainly used by my husband. It is very simple to use and you can have an espresso at just the touch of a button. A latte does take longer since you need to froth the milk however this is also very simple. It also comes with two different measures for a single cup or two cups. Although it's really easy to make your drink, it will take you longer to clean it. There are different attachments that need to be washed but these come of easily so they can be cleaned. Getting rid of the used coffee can be messy but you can buy pods to make the process easier.

            Teething problems...

            After about a month our machine did stop working. Every time we turned it on water would leak everywhere. It seemed that the water was coming out everyplace it could apart from where it should. Unfortunately my husband had lost the receipt and thrown the box away. We initially thought that we had made a very expensive mistake however we called the DeLonghi customer service number who were fantastic. They put us in touch with a repairer in our local area who fixed the problem completely free of charge. Apparently one of the tubes had come loose. Hopefully this isn't a common problem and shouldn't put you off this great item. The customer service we received more than made up for the issue.

            It is also a shame that this product doesn't come with a small metal milk jug to use when warming milk. It took us ages to find one and did make the process so much more simple rather than warming the milk in a mug.

            The verdict...

            This is a great little machine but I must admit isn't totally practical. It looks good and is a bit flash but boiling the kettle is easier and takes much less cleaning. I paid £125 for this item and probably use it just a couple of
            times a month so it probably isn't great value for money for me however the design outways the practicality.

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            12.05.2011 21:38
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            Good price

            I love proper coffee. I love going to costa coffee all the times and getting Latte's. They are my favourite drink and are quite filling. So I spend lots of money in Costa coffee mainly, and thought it would be so good to have my own coffee machine as it would save me lots of money and be fun to do.

            So after 'wanting' one of these, but them being quite expensive, I got one for Christmas off a family member. It was about £100 at Christmas time because it was on offer pretty much every where. You could get them in a range of colour. Black, White, Silver, Blue and Red. I did want black because I thought it looked stylish and posh. I thought it was the best looking one out of the lot, also I thought black goes with any colour for when I move out and get my own kitchen.

            When I first opened the box, I was amazed how good it looked. And it was bigger than I thought. Straight away I wanted to try it out even with all the things going on on a Christmas day. I had bought coffee beans days before in preperation for getting it. And some lovely cravendale full fat milk.

            The handle is really big and fits nicely into the machine. I also had bought a bean grinder ready for the day. Which was also made by Delonghi (£20). So I grinded the beans and put it in the cap in the handle thingy. You get two different sizes to put in. A smaller one and a larger one. If you like it stronger then use the larger one obviously.

            The machine is really easy to understand as it has lights to indicate whn certain things are ready. For example this is how it goes. You put the grinded up beans in the machine and when the light comes on you press the button. You press the button again to turn it off. That is the coffee coming out the spouts. Then you oush the button for the throther and when that is ready the light comes on, and then there is a knob you turn to get the throther going. It is also called a steamer on some coffee machines. So its easy to use and udnerstand.

            On the top is a cup warmer which honestly I always forget to use but I imagine it would be really helpful because sometimes your Latte can go cold quite quickly. It doesnt take long to be ready. Also if there is no coffee in the machine it pours out hot water which could be helpful. You dont just have to make Latte's you can make anything. The one thing annoys me is that the spout where the milk comes out is quite short so you have to hold your jug there until its done. It would be a lot easier if it was longer.

            You need to remember to get cups and something for the coffee to go in straight from the machine. I use a little tea cup for that. I think its fairly easy to keep clean as when I read most reviews they say its a pain to keep cleaning. I find this really fun also then just watching the lady make it at the coffee shop.

            The one thing I dont like about this machine is it can be quite loud depending what type of surfice you have it on. Your more than likely going to have it on a kitchen surfice and that can be loud and it vinrates quite a lot.
            I recommend this to anyone who likes proper coffee and also if anyone just wants something nice to put in their kitchen :P 4 out of 5!

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              29.04.2011 18:55
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              a good all round machine

              As a household of espresso fiends we have got through a few coffee makes over the years and this has to be one of the best.

              It is stylish, easy to use and most importantly makes good coffee!

              You can use either 'coffee pods' ( 'easy serving espresso' is the brand name and whilst we have only been able to find these online but find them easy to use and much less messy than grounds.) or any ground coffee suitable for an espresso machine.

              This is seriously easy to use, it's pretty much a push of a button and you're done! The coffee is good, you can get a rich 'crema' on top and the coffee is rich and potent. The espresso produced does tend to be on the 'long' side, you can fill an expresso cup to the top with one serving which is really quite large comapred to many coffee shop brews.
              I would say this produces very good coffee for a home machine, it doesn't match a good espresso made on a big professional machine but it is very satisfactory. I am a fan of strong coffee and have found it has provided me with enough of a 'hit'.

              It is a very good looking machine, we have the red version. It is styled like a mini version of the big retro cafe machines, with a small stainless steel area on to to keep your cups.

              Being a black coffee drinker I have not tried out the capuccino side of things so I cannot comment.

              For a coffee lover this a good addition to any kitchen, serving you a good espresso in less than 5 minutes with minimal fuss.

              In contrast to other reviewers we have had no problems with the machine breaking down or any faults.

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              22.02.2011 13:09

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              I am on my third ones of these. Two have broken, each after about 10 months so I managed to get them replaced.The first one the pump stopped working, the second the heater for the milk frother.All three of them have constantly dripped whenever switched on which means that you have to frequently empty the drip tray.So you are taking a chance if you buy one. It is fortunate that they expire before the 12 month warranty does, but if they ad held on for a few more weeks than i would have had to pay for the replacement myself.

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              17.01.2011 15:32

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              A good attractive machine. A good purchase.

              I got this coffee machine as although not a big coffee drinker I do like a nice Cappuccino at the weekends.
              The machine comes with 2 filters- one for a single shot of espresso, or a large one to make 2 shots. There is a flattener on the side of the machine to compact your coffee into the filter. The top of the machine acts as a cup warmer and is made of stainless steel. The water tank on the back is fully removeable to allow for easy cleaning and filling. The milk frother is controlled by the large knob on the front top of the machine. The machine also features a drip tray.

              Positives
              1. The machine is nice and compat- does not take up too much room on the worktop in the kitchen.
              2. The machine comes in a number of colours- black, red and blue, so you can pick a colour to match your kitchen.
              3. You can make both esppresso and cappuccino with this machine, and can make one or two cups at a time.
              4. You can use both loose ground coffee or the ready made 'pouches' or espresso. When I bought the machine it came with 30 free illy coffee espresso pouches to use.
              5. Froths the milk very well
              6. Looks really good on the worktop- very attractive

              Negatives
              1. The machine is quite noisy. It does vibrate quite a bit when pushing the water through the coffee and filter, although it isnt too noisy when heating the water or frothing milk. The vibrations it creates does make everything else on my worktop shake. I haven't used any other espresso makers, so I don't know if this one is worse than others.
              2. The tube on the coffee frother is not quite long enough. The tube only pivots away from the machine where it is attached at the top, so you do need to froth the milk in a fairly shallow jug to reach the bottom.
              3. The cup warmer on the top does take a very long time to warm the cups, so I wouldn't say it is particularly useful.

              Overall, I am pleased with the quality of the coffee I can make this machine. I just wish it wasn't quite so noisy.

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              22.11.2010 00:01

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              alot better than i imagined

              We went looking for a espresso machine because my partner and I both love coffee and were spending far too much on it. The machine its self would not be out of place in any kitchen, and is available in several different colours. Un-boxing and setting up the machine was easy and straight forward thanks to the enclosed manual that has step by step diagrams. Although I expected the machine to come with a coffee sample, it didn't and I had to go and buy some. We also got a metal milk jug which seemed to help getting the milk to the right temperature, and also got two espresso cups for measuring. The coffee has been fantastic even from the very first cup, because the machine has been very easy to use. The ground coffee holder can be very hard to fasten sometimes due to it needing to be tightly sealed, and was advised to put a little bit of olive oil on the metal parts but we haven't needed to do this. The milk-frother is also very good making the milk very hot quickly and producing lots of thick froth.
              Overall we would recommend this machine to anyone as we use it several times a day and it makes a great coffee every time.

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              14.10.2010 16:16
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              Mine broke, I lost my money and my coffee!

              I want to start off this review by giving my honest opinion: This is a piece of junk! Seriously.

              I bought this in February of this year and it broke within 3 weeks. The only positive is that when it did work, the coffee was rather nice and I liked the fact that you didn't have to use replacement filters, you simply measured out your coffee into the one or 2 person receptacle and latched it into place. This was a good idea, and couple this with the built in frother, I thought I was on to a winner.

              Thats where the honeymoon ended. On the third week I went to make a cup of coffee and pressed the normal brew button waiting for the green light. Once this came on I pressed the usual button and it made its usual loud noise but nothing came out.
              O.K. maybe something got stuck so I had a quick look round and nothing. Then I gave it my usual technicians fix by tapping it on the top and it started working. I thought maybe there was some hard water in there or something. Once this was done I Went to use the frother. Nothing came out of it. I took the plastic nozzle off and looked to see if anything was blocked, but I could blow through the nozzle so it wasn't. Then I moved the nozzle up and down on its swing arm to see if it was not engaging ready for the steam. The steam light said O.K. but it still didn't work.

              I turned the nozzle on the top, to get the steam out and it released a huge amount of pressure, sending steam through all the gaps of the machine, burning my hand quite badly and was so hot, it started to soften the plastic nozzle!

              I threw this thing in the skip I had out back and will never by another Delonghi device again as I found this quite dangerous! If anyone else out there has better luck with this I probably got a dud.

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                28.07.2010 04:27
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                Coffee lovers should definitely invest in this smart, simple, stylish machine.

                I am a complete coffee machine novice and even I can work this out so it's great if you want a coffee machine that is fast, easy to use and easy to maintain. (It also looks rather trendy in my kitchen)!

                My boyfriend is an avid coffee and espresso drinker so we decided to invest in this little beauty at Christmas (2009). We had done a lot of research and weighed up the differences between all of the different machines out there and after a lot of "umm-ing" and "rrrr-ing" we decided to buy this machine from Debenhams. It cost us £120 and is already well worth the money as we use it almost every day. We liked the fact that this is stylish, not too expensive and not too big and bulky.

                The machine itself is easy to fill with water and coffee powder so if you are worried about there being fiddly bits then worry no more. I am always worried about breaking things like this but my boyfriend is quite heavy handed and, thus far, the machine has proved to be sturdy and robust. In fact, the handle that you can see clearly on the picture that holds the coffee powder requires quite a significant jolt to release from the machine but not so much of a jolt that a weaker person would struggle. (I am a petite young lady)!

                Coffee is ready in a matter of minutes and the machine is not too noisy when in action. The frother is a handy little feature that can be used to make your coffee look and taste even more delicious (sounds silly but the froth does it give it an extra kick).

                The chrome is easy to clean and does not have big smear marks when you wipe it down with a damp cloth (something that drives me insane as I like to have my kitchen and all its appliances looking spotless) and the water tank at the back is well hidden when postioned against the kitchen tiles. It doesn't come with any cups/jug and although that might be obvious, don't forget to buy them too!

                Overall, this coffee machine is great if you don't want to faff about with those pods/capsules and prefer to buy coffee powder. I also think that because of the design, the machine won't look out of date very soon as it has been designed with a classic feel and finish.

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                15.07.2010 13:20
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                Quality mid-sized pump espresso/cappuccino maker.

                *This has also been on Ciao, for I am tallulahbang. That's also now my Mafia name, incidentally.*


                'Psst. I've got something for you. Something you wanted.' Such was my mother's opening line after a recent visit. The rest of the conversation went a little something like this:

                'Oh. Okay. Why are we whispering?'
                'Well, you never know, do you?'
                'Never know what, mum?'
                'Who's listening. You never know who's listening.'
                'There's only you and me in the house, mum. And the dog. Or do you think he's a double agent?'
                'Don't be ridiculous. I meant Norman next door. He has connections in the middle east.'
                'Mum, Norman next door owned a factory that made Yasser Arafat's headscarves. It's not like he's a member of Black September. Also, he's nearly 80, deaf and called Norman. How much of a threat do you think he's going to be?'
                'I don't want to compromise my contacts.'
                'Your contacts? Do you mean Alice from the gardening club?'
                'No, the contacts I got your present from.'
                'Oh Christ. Are you in the Mafia, mum?'
                'I wanted to be when I was younger. But then, I wanted to be a nun as well. You grow out of things. I hope you like your present. If you don't, though, you can't take it back or get a refund. That's not how this arrangement works.'
                'Why not?'
                'I told you. My contacts don't work like that. *You* know.'
                'I swear to God, I really don't.'

                So, my dutiful daughterly visit has equipped me with the following: a brand new DeLonghi espresso/cappuccino machine and the knowledge that my mother is possibly working for the mob. I take solace from the fact that she's probably not one of their hitwomen, though, as she hates getting stains on her twin-sets. That said, she has just texted me to ask what the Japanese word for flower-arranging is. There are two possibilities with this: either she's doing the Saturday Times mega-big crossword, or my answer 'ikebana' is my tacit agreement that I'll off Joey Five Fingers and hide the body.


                Until I locate the weapons cache, though, I thought I'd have a bash with my new toy.


                ~*~Appearance~*~

                Mine is black, but they're also available in red, blue and white. It has a footprint that's roughly twice as big as the average kettle and it's about as tall as a microwave. It'll fit pretty neatly on the average kitchen counter.

                It looks quite sleek and expensive although it is reasonably lightweight (i.e. can easily be lifted one-handed) and should therefore be a doddle to put in a kitchen cupboard if you don't have the room to keep it out all the time.


                ~*~How to make it work~*~

                Take a deep breath because the instructions are of next to no use. The English is fine and it does all kind of make sense in isolation, but put together in paragraphs it becomes like the manual for flying a stealth fighter. Too many pictures (29! Which increases to 50(!) if you include the utterly bewildering and misleadingly-named 'quick start' guide) and too many instances of 'for advice on this, refer to previous paragraph points 5, 6, 7 and consider diagram A.1'. Luckily, I used to work in a Virgin cinema where one of the many perks of the job was serving coffee to the film-viewing public, so I'm something of a pro (seriously. I once served Liam Neeson a cappuccino and an ice lolly. Friend of the rich and famous, me).

                Essentially, it works much like any other coffee machine: there is a clear plastic water tank at the back which can either be removed and filled via the tap or filled with a jug. Once the machine is turned on, this water is heated and filtered through the coffee.

                There are three buttons on the machine: the top is on/off; the one below has a ready light - when it turns green it is ready and the button can be pressed to allow water to trickle through the coffee in the filter holder - and the last button is for the milk steamer spout. When you've made your cup of coffee you press this button, wait for the ready light to turn green and then use the knob at the top of the machine to control the level of steam that comes out through the spout.

                Once you've figured out what to do, it is much less complicated than the instructions would have you believe. Before making your first cup of coffee DeLonghi recommend that you run water through an empty filter at least 5 times, presumably to clean out all the Mafioso juice.

                Two filters are included; a shallow one for pre-prepared pods, and a deep one for your own ground coffee. A box of Illy espresso pods is included with the machine and these make a *really* good cup of coffee. They are mess and hassle-free, as the pod is just thrown away afterwards, but the downside is that the cheapest price I can find for them is £9.95 for a box of 18 from coffee-beans-direct.com. The machine will take any ESE pods, so you might be able to find an alternate supplier for a cheaper price.

                I've tried the machine with Douwe Egbert ground coffee and this way also makes a great brew. Just use the scoop provided to put one and a half scoops of ground coffee, press it down with the tamper that's on the left hand side of the machine, fix the filter into the machine and follow the same procedure as with the pods. Obviously the filter will need to be thoroughly cleaned of grounds after use, unless you're a student or my aunty Anne as both of these categories think you can get 3 cups of coffee out of one portion of grounds.


                ~*~Features~*~

                * Warming plate* The top part of the machine is metal with a guard around it, and this is where the steam knob is. The metal plate has room for two cups and heats up sufficiently to keep a cup of coffee warm whilst you froth the milk. It doesn't get so hot that a hand can't be placed on it and thus there is no risk of a burn.

                * Frother* This is the bit that elevates it beyond being a bog-standard espresso machine. The frother is on a small lever at the right hand side of the machine and can be moved away from the machine by a couple of centimetres so you can fit a jug of milk under. Obviously, the amount of froth depends on how skilled you are. If you've achieved the dizzying heights of barista-dom that I have, it should be a doddle.

                * Hot water dispenser* If, having forked out over a hundred quid for your espresso/cappuccino machine, you decide you don't like coffee, the machine can be used just for hot water. Just don't attach a filter and press the on button, then the hot water tube button and hey presto, hot water is dispensed and you've bought what is, essentially, the most expensive kettle EVER.

                * Drip tray* The machine comes with a cup tray and a drip tray to facilitate easy cleaning. With the metal cup tray in place, though, a regular sized mug won't fit underneath (although a teacup/cappuccino cup will). It is easily removed if you like to drink your hot drinks from a suitably plebeian vessel.

                * You can get matching stuff* Admittedly, that's not really a feature, but it is handy to know if you're the kind of person who gets a bit OCDish about all their appliances looking the same.


                ~*~Cleaning~*~

                Admittedly, I'm not one of life's clean freaks, but this is an easy beastie to clean. If using grounds, rinse the filter after every use. The drip tray and cup tray can both be easily removed and washed in soapy water. The outer part of the frother can be removed and washed; the actual nozzle just needs wiped clean as soon as you've finished using it. DeLonghi recommend that you descale the machine using their own brand descaler once every 200 uses but I would imagine this is dependent on water hardness. I live in a soft water area and I'm proud to say I've never descaled anything in my life.


                ~*~Where to buy~*~

                Any electrical retailer should supply it, although prices vary from £130 up to £200. As ever the best deals are usually to be found online and Amazon has it for £128.99 with free p&p.


                ~*~Reasons not to buy~*~

                I'll be honest, it is a little bit fiddly to make your coffee and then froth milk but this probably isn't something you'll mind if you're a real caffeine fiend. Otherwise, it isn't the quickest machine in the world: it recommends that you only run coffee through the filter whilst the green ready light is on and for no longer than 45 seconds, so it takes about 4 short bursts to make an average sized mug of coffee. The same is true of the frother - it takes about 30 seconds to reach temperature and should then only be used in short bursts. All in all, I'd say it takes 3 minutes to make an espresso and around 5 minutes to make a cappuccino. It should be noted that the coffee won't come out boiling hot - but true coffee aficionados wouldn't want it that way.

                Fairly obviously, part of the machine dispenses steam so the opportunities for scalds are plentiful. If you have children who are very young or eejits who don't know to stay away from hot things, you might be better getting a cafetière.

                DeLonghi also suggest that you shouldn't be allowed near this if you have 'reduced physical, sensory or mental capabilities'. So, if you're nuts and have poor circulation in your hands, it looks like you're going to have to stick to Nescafe.

                Lastly, if it comes as a present from my mother, you shouldn't underestimate the possibility that you may be enjoying your first cup of coffee as a horse's head stares at you from your pillow. In every other case, though, that's a pretty unlikely scenario.

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