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DeLonghi PrimaDonna Exclusive

Fully automatic, compact and simple to use, the Italian-designed espresso machine sets a new standard

by Hans Aschim in Design on 06 March 2014

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It's hard to beat a handcrafted espresso from a skilled barista. Pulling shots and texturing milk takes skill and attention to detail, and the human touch in preparing coffee will never become obsolete. Still, stepping out to your neighborhood cafe isn't always an option. Whether you're at home in your PJs or cranking it out at the office, a barista-quality latte, cappuccino, or even mocha is just one button away with the PrimaDonnna Exclusive from design-centric Italian appliance-maker DeLonghi. We've been impressed by the quality of automated espresso machines of late, like the Breville Oracle, but DeLonghi's latest offering takes the experience and design to the next level of both automation and sophistication.

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Coffee is a matter of personal preference and everyone likes their brew differently. With ultimate customization in mind, nearly every aspect of the coffee experience is adjustable on the PrimaDonna Exclusive—certainly living up to its name. Most notably, there are six programmable profile settings for users of the machine—giving family members or co-workers with particular preferences a one-touch ticket to their perfect coffee. Choose from four beverage sizes and five different strengths of coffee for cappuccinos, lattes, macchiatos with a chocolate container for hot cocoa and mochas. An internal silent burr grinder offers 13 different grinds to get the most out of your chosen roast. The machine's full-color, high resolution screen makes cycling through these settings a simple enough task for when you've just gotten out of bed: though the machine is complex and thorough, it's easy to use.

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At just under 30 pounds and taking up no more room than other machines in its class, DeLonghi's latest offering packs a punch. Unlike most automated home espresso machines, everything in the PrimaDonna Exclusive is internal; the only thing you'll see is your coffee. Beans are ground then tamped internally, once your shot is pulled the grounds are deposited within the machine. An indicator reminds you to empty the machine after roughly 14 uses. An internal water filtration system ensures the purest cup while a dual boiler system known as the thermoblock maintains precise temperature cup after cup. Plus, a cup warmer atop the machine ensure your beverage stays warm long after its made.

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Perhaps the machine's most innovative feature is its detachable milk frothing system. The patented Latte Crema system produces rich, well-textured milk at the push of a button. Fill the Latte Crema system with milk in the morning and its insulated chamber keeps milk cool for hours. With reducing waste and increasing convenience, the chamber detaches easily from the machine and takes up little room in the refrigerator. Maintaining the PrimaDonna Exclusive is simple, with little regular cleaning necessary. Keeping the milk chamber refrigerated is the best way to ensure the quality of your beverages stays high. Our only reservation with the machine is its somewhat meager water tank, which holds just shy of 48 ounces. Still, refilling is easy enough and the modular nature of the parts make taking the machine apart easy.

For espresso lovers looking for an easy and hassle-free fix, the PrimaDonna Exclusive is a dream machine. However, dreams this easy come at a price with the machine going for $3500 from Amazon.

Photos by Hans Aschim

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