The function of an espresso machine hasn’t changed much in the past 100 years, but its style and convenience has. Our need for quick, reliable caffeine has been through the ringer as well, so finding a coffee machine that balances both usability and good coffee is super important to us.
The DeLonghi EC685 Dedica Deluxe 15-Bar espresso machine is a sleek and attractive machine that makes a solid cup of espresso in just a few minutes while taking up a minimal amount of counterspace. While the flavor of the espresso it produces might seem a bit lacking to the coffee connoisseurs among us, this model is extremely easy to use (once you know how) and utilizes ESE pods as well as ground espresso, so you can fill all your coffee needs quickly and from the comfort of your own home.
Compact with good looks
Right out of the box, it’s apparent the EC685 is an attractive machine. We reviewed the silver version, which nicely complimented the rest of our stainless-steel appliances. It also comes in white, red, and black, which would have added a nice pop of color. At just 5.8 by 12 by 13 inches, the EC685 fits well on almost any countertop, including under your cabinets. It has four rubber pads that help affix the body to the counter, so it won’t slide around when you are attaching the portafilter.
The back of the machine houses a removable water container that can hold enough liquid to make several beverages (it’s hard to say what that number would be exactly, since you can make a variety of drinks with this machine). The steam spout is located on the right side of the body, with an on/off dial above it. Directly on the spout is a rubber switch, which determines how much foam your milk will have when you steam it. This is a marked difference from the EC680 we reviewed a few years ago that had all these options integrated onto the dial on the machine, making it a bit tricky to use.
The EC685 makes a solid cup of espresso while taking up a minimal amount of counterspace.
The front of the machine has a metal portafilter (DeLonghi refers to it as a filter holder) that looks and feels like a professional-grade filter. It has a good weight to it and makes you feel like a real barista when you’re using it. Even if you’re using the pods, attaching the filter with a firm twist is still really satisfying – nothing like popping a pod into a Keurig. The EC685 comes with three filter baskets, a removable drip tray and stand, and a plastic scoop/tamper. While you don’t need tiny espresso cups and a frothing pitcher, these accessories make the whole experience more seamless. You can buy these separately through DeLonghi or through your favorite manufacturer.
The first cups
There is a bit of learning curve when it comes to using the EC685. The “Get Started” instructions, which includes tips and tricks for producing a good cup of espresso as well as how to set up the machine, is almost entirely pictures. While there are a few explanations below the pictures, the basic instructions can be quite confusing.
There is a much more in-depth guide included in the box that details some of the more technical data, but if you don’t know a lot about making coffee, it can be a bit overwhelming. We know our way around a cup of coffee, but it honestly took us longer than it should have to comprehend some of the finer workings of the machine.
That’s not to say it isn’t worth getting if you are new to making espresso. The process of making the espresso is simple once you know how to do it, and there is plenty of information included in the box if you are willing to spend some time decoding it.
Simplicity can equal confusion
After several minutes of frustration, we popped out the attached filter on the portafilter and inserted the one we wanted, but not before pinching a finger in the process. A lot of the pieces fit together very tightly out of the box, but after several uses, they began to loosen up. That means that this machine will likely last for a very long time before needing to be replaced.
Once you get the hang of the machine, its convenience is hard to beat.
Once we set the machine set up correctly, loaded coffee into the filter, and put a small bandage on our index finger, making a cup of coffee was as easy as attaching the filter and pressing a single button. You can make a single shot of espresso or two simultaneously by clicking the corresponding button on the top of the machine. It will make a fairly loud whirring sound (don’t worry, that’s normal) as it sucks water from the reservoir and pushes through the coffee beans.
The coffee will pour out of the two spouts at the bottom of the filter and into your cup. If the machine whirs but no coffee comes out, or if only a small amount drips from the filter, you may have tamped down the beans too hard. There is a helpful guide to troubleshooting in the back of the in-depth instructions.
One thing that bothers us about the machine is the height of the head. While the machine itself is compact, you have to use a smaller cup than you probably want to in order to catch the espresso.
Solid espresso without the coffee shop
Once you get the hang of using the EC685 and get all the settings just the way you like them (which can take a bit of time), the convenience of the machine is hard to beat. It can take a few minutes to warm up properly, and pulling an empty shot before you add coffee is recommended in order to get the hottest temperature. Now you have fresh espresso available whenever you want it from the comfort of your own home (or in our case, office).
The espresso that comes out of the DeLonghi EC685 is consistent across all settings but lacking in flavor depth.
It’s hard to beat having an espresso machine within 50 feet of our desks. During testing, we drank much more coffee than we usually do, partly because of how convenient it was. We’re also coffee nerds, so messing with all the settings and seeing how that might change the flavor of the coffee was really fun. With that being said, the espresso that comes out of the DeLonghi EC685 is decent and consistent across all of its settings, albeit a bit lacking in flavor.
It’s by no means the same as getting a really strong cup of espresso from a coffee shop where you can taste the different flavor notes and see that nice layer of crema on top. We used a higher end roast of coffee for this review and compared it to one from the actual shop across the street, and the results were noticeable, with the DeLonghi espresso failing to match the strong flavor from the coffee shop. This is definitely worth considering if you like a strong cup of joe.
Using fresh ground coffee versus the cheaper pods changed the flavor as well. Bumping up the temperature and pouring one shot versus two didn’t seem to do much for the flavor regardless of what we used, but it was solid, and the customization from the steamer wand make this a decent and reliable espresso machine.
Clean-up and maintenance
The included instructions come with a strip to test your water hardness at home. If you find that your tap water if especially hard, it’s worth installing a filter into your machine or only using filtered water to ensure you don’t have to descale it as often. There are detailed instructions on how to descale and deep-clean the machine and water tank in the instructions.
The EC685 does require somewhat regular cleanings, particularly the drip tray and the steam wand. If you are steaming milk regularly, it is important to not only clean the nozzle after each use, but also to detach the pieces and clean those as well, as milk has a way of getting trapped inside. The water tank and drip trays are dishwasher safe, but the portafilter, tamper, steam wand, and filter baskets need to be washed by hand, which can get a bit annoying if you make a lot of coffee.
The DeLonghi EC685 Dedica Deluxe espresso machine comes with a one-year manufacturer warranty.Our Take
Is there a better alternative?
If you are looking for a convenient, reliable way to make espresso at home, then this is what you want. If flavor is more important to you than convenient caffeine, splurging for a slightly more expensive model is probably your best bet. If you want good coffee only occasionally, it’s probably cheaper in the long run to just swing by your local coffee shop once a week.
If you are looking for something slightly cheaper, DeLonghi still makes the Dedica Deluxe EC680 we reviewed a couple years ago. It doesn’t have as many features, and isn’t quite as refined, but is still a solid machine. If you are looking for a stronger cup of joe and a more professional feeling, then the Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine is an excellent choice.
How long will it last?
Making espresso is a pretty timeless venture, so you won’t be needing to upgrade this machine to a newer version anytime soon. It will require proper maintenance, such as rinsing the boiler after every 200 coffees, deep-cleaning the filters and steam wand semi-regularly, and descaling when needed. But, the machine doesn’t feel flimsy and is made of solid parts, so it should be very durable.
Should you buy it?
If you need strong espresso, probably not. If you want delicious, albeit slightly lighter coffee from the comfort of your home and at a reasonable price, then yes. The DeLonghi EC685 Dedica Deluxe isn’t the cheapest home espresso machine, but it’s far from the most expensive. It’s also one of few mid-range espresso machines that utilize both the pods and fresh ground coffee beans. It’s a good machine and would be an excellent purchase for most people who drink coffee regularly.