The De’Longhi Icona ECO310 Espresso Maker is a semi-automatic machine suitable for entry level coffee lovers. Available is red, black, and white. The machine comes with two pressurized filter baskets (single and double shots). You can also use pre-ground coffee and pod for brewing. The water tank at the back of the brewing unit is 1 L. For a smaller countertop space, you can consider looking at the De’Longhi EC155 Pump Espresso and Capuccino Maker.
At $199.95, the De’Longhi Icona Espresso machine offers a good value with many features and a stylish retro-metal body. The top compartment holds two 240 ml, US size cups for heating and storage, so you have the option to warm up your coffee cup for a hotter and fresher espresso shot. The Icona machine has a stainless steel drip tray and a steam wand. There is a separate coffee and steam boiler for faster brewing and optimal temperature control.
On average, the machine takes several minutes to warm up. Once the machine is ready, you slot in your ground coffee or pod into the portafilter. Then you push the start button.
For your convenience, you can temp the ground coffee with the built-in temper in the machine. It is located on the left side right underneath the power switch panel. With this built-in tool, it makes your ground coffee more evenly distributed in case you overfill. It also gives you a good idea on the optimal amount of ground coffee the De’Longhi Icona takes.
The round knob in front of the cup rack is designed to adjust the intensity of frothing steam. In general, it takes a little more than 1 minute to froth 8 ounces of milk. The auto-frothing wand has an air hole, makes it very easy to steam milk.
To start frothing, press the steam button and wait for 30 seconds to heat up. When the steamer has a green light it’s ready to go! If you are using an ESE coffee pod, I recommend using half a cup of milk to make cappuccino. To get rid of any excess water in the frothing system, place a pitcher underneath the steam wand.
The rule of thumb for frothing is usually double the volume for your milk. When you see the milk starting to bubble, raise the pitcher up and continue to heat the milk until it is uncomfortable to hold. Then tap the base of the milk pitcher on your counter to reduce air bubbles and swirl around to mix in the foam. Milk is ready to pour! Pour the frothed milk slowly into your espresso shot.
Now you can make a nice cup of cappuccino in just 2 and a half minutes.
After frothing, it is recommended to steam again with an empty cup to clean the wand. Simply press the froth button again and adjust for more steam in the knob. You can detach the frother tip and its covering to wipe it clean.
The De’Longhi Icona has a 15 bar pressurized pump system which exerts sufficient pressure to make a cup of espresso with rich crema. Another convenient feature of the De’Longhi Icona is its capability to make two cups of espressos simultaneously. This machine also has a separate boiler coffee and steaming, which makes coffee brewing faster and more effective in terms of temperature control.
- No wait time between frothing and coffee brewing, since the heating element in the milk frother does not interfere with the one in the brewer. If you froth the milk before making your coffee, your brewer can heat up within one minute, ready for making coffee immediately.
- The brewing unit heats up quickly and with the pressurized system, it makes nice espressos, lattes, and cappuccinos.
- You can make two cups of coffee at the same time. Saves the hassle to wait for the heat-up time.
- Frothing wand is not so flexible. You can only turn from side to side. For anyone who own larger milk pitchers, it gets into the way as it is harder to turn the wand to a proper angle for optimal froth results. The froth is also tricky to control, as milk can overflow with small pitchers.
- The brewing and frothing process can be quite noisy from time to time. If you prefer a quieter machine, you can consider looking into the Nespresso Pixie Machine, the Francis Francis Ily X7.1 iperEspresso Machine or the Breville Barista Express.
Overall, this machine gives a nice, rich aromatic flavor to the coffee. It is clean and a convenient fit for pods, capsules, and ground coffee.
But of course with this budget, you will not get the sophistication of a shot from a higher-end machine.