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I've been a more upmarket coffee connoisseur for a while now but going out for what I like to call a 'posh' coffee isn't always viable. So I decided to go for a coffee machine to pump my espresso, froth my milk and help me make the face of Jesus in the milk froth (still not managed it), all in the comfort of my own kitchen.
Looking around there is a widely varied array of coffee machines out there and most will sent you back a pretty penny, an expensive piece of kit if you don't get the intended results. (yes bread maker owners I'm talking to you).
The Delonghi EC152 is probably one of the cheapest coffee makers you'll find on the market at this time. It can be picked up for about £60 online, of course the adage 'you get what you pay for' normally applies to electricals. However I saw quite a few online reviews from users who had pretty good things to say about the machine.
So when I stumbled across the machine on Ebay for £40 I decided to bite the bullet and get brewing. The machine is quite compact, small in footprint and looks quite decent in its design. It won't stand out like a sore thumb in a modern kitchen. Of course for the money you're not going to get a sleek finish, polished parts and all. It's mostly plastic on the outside but hey that's expected.
The machine is pretty simple in concept. A cover on the top opens up to reveal a removable 1-litre water container plus storage your coffee basket. Other than that there's your coffee basket handle, a basket and a measuring scoop for your coffee. To make coffee, you take your ground beans, put an amount in the basket and plug the handle into the machine. This is my only real gripe with the machine, placing the handle in the machine is not plain sailing and you have to pull it very hard to get a good seal with the water plate.
Before of course you have to tamper your coffee, there is a plastic tamper to press down your coffee, it's a bit fiddly and I really recommend getting a tamper you can hold in your hand. So with that, you let the water heat by twisting a dial, an 'ok' light will show when it's ready, you switch the dial and let the espresso filter into your mug. Now you can leave it at that if you like your coffee strong and low in ml's. I'm a latte fan so frothing milk is the next stage for me. There is a milk frother which swings out, now you don't get a jug which is a bit of a downer so that's another thing you'll have to buy separately. The steamer can be controlled by a knob on the top of the machine. Hey presto, warm frothy milk as a result of steam!
Overall I'm very impressed with the quality of the end result when you consider the cost of the machine. If you've never made coffee at home then you'll probably need a few attempts to get the desired result. It took me six attempts to get it to a standard I was happy with. The main thing to remember is to tamper your coffee firmly.
Despite a couple of minor design flaws, the EC152 is well worth the money and I certainly think it's give some of the more expensive machines a run for their money.
Summary: For less than £60 this is a great gadget for the home coffee lover.