Delonghi ECAM 23460 S review - Coffee Machine Ratings
- Reservoir Size
- Overall Brew Quality
- Customization Options
- Ease of Use
A solid workhorse of a machine, designed to fit into small kitchens. It features older tech, but the designers kept the menus surprisingly simple. The Delonghi ECAM 23460 S is recommended for single coffee drinker households and casual users. Coffee purists will not be pleased with the absence of a conventional steam wand.
Do you wish you had your own personal coffee butler living at home, ready to make you your favorite specialty drink at a moment’s notice?
Are you the only serious coffee drinker in your house?
If you answered yes to both of those questions, then you’re going to love our in-depth review of the DeLonghi ECAM 23460 S. It’s a great sub-compact machine that really delivers the goods!
Sure, it has a few shortcomings, but we’ll cover everything, both good and bad in the sections below. As you’ll see, this is more of a “one person” coffee machine. Hence, due to its design limitations, if you’ve got several coffee lovers in your household, then there’s probably a better fit for you.
Ready to see what this one can do? Let’s jump right in!
An Overview of the DeLonghi ECAM 23460 S
Table of Contents
- 1 An Overview of the DeLonghi ECAM 23460 S
- 1.1 Form Factor, Footprint & Aesthetic
- 1.2 Reservoir Size
- 1.3 The DeLonghi 23460’s Integrated Grinder
- 1.4 The Boiler System
- 1.5 Telescoping Coffee Spigot
- 1.6 The Brew Unit and Control System
- 1.7 A Few Words About Espresso
- 1.8 The Milk Frothing System
- 1.9 Does the DeLonghi 23460S Have a Cup Warming Tray?
- 1.10 Easy to Use, Easy to Clean
- 2 Pros & Cons of the DeLonghi ECAM23460S
- 3 DeLonghi ECAM23460S Review Conclusion
Form Factor, Footprint & Aesthetic
The “S” in the name of the machine stands for sub-compact, but it could just as easily stand for “silver,” since that’s the only color it comes in.
It’s a small, unassuming machine, neither especially attractive or unattractive. It looks like a kitchen appliance with a job to do. If you like the no-nonsense aesthetic, that will suit you just fine. If you’re looking for something with glamour and flair, it’ll probably leave you a little underwhelmed.
The machine has a small footprint, measuring just 16.9” x 9.25 x 13.4” and weighing in at just under twenty pounds (19.8 pounds, to be precise). Most of the weight savings comes from two areas: The fact that it’s made almost entirely of sturdy ABS plastic (the drip tray is thin stainless steel, but that’s about the only metal you’ll find on the machine), and the fact that it only sports a single boiler.
We’ll have more to say about the boiler a bit later. For now, the important thing to note is that it’s small and relatively lightweight, and even if you have a tiny kitchen where counter space is at a premium, it should present no particular challenge to find the little unit a permanent home.
This is an important part of our DeLonghi ECAM23460S review because, in our view, few things are as important as the size of the water tank.
Part of that is our own bias. As power coffee drinkers with a cup in-hand all day long, we’ve never met a water tank we considered to be too big. There’s just no such thing.
Our minimum acceptable size is 60 ounces. At that size, the machine can keep pace with the amount of coffee we drink, and the 23460 delivers with its 1.8-liter (60.8 ounces) reservoir. Kudos to DeLonghi for delivering such volume in a relatively small machine!
The tank has an integrated water filter built in, which means that like it or not, you’ll have to change it periodically to keep the machine from fussing at you (and it will!), and to cut down on the amount of descaling you have to do.
We’re on the fence about water filters. On the one hand, we get it. They make for a more convenient machine because they cut down on maintenance. On the other though, over time, the price of those filters starts to add up, and will significantly increase your total cost of ownership.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that you can get around the need for a filter if you just use distilled water in the tank. Anyway, it’s integrated, so there’s that.
The DeLonghi 23460’s Integrated Grinder
We probably like this feature as much, if not more than the size of the water reservoir, and this feature gets high praise from other DeLonghi ECAM 23460 S reviews on the web.
The grinder is fantastic. It’s a ceramic burr design with an impressive 13 grind settings, paired with an 8.8-ounce, top-loading bean hopper.
While we’d love it if the bean hopper was ever so slightly larger, this is a good pairing. What we see all too often in various models put up for sale is that there’s a size mismatch between the water tank and the bean hopper.
It’s super annoying because it means that you’re constantly having to stop what you’re doing to refill one or the other. At 8.8 ounces, as long as you don’t drink your coffee exceptionally strong, there’s no mismatch to speak of. Again, bravo, DeLonghi!
Thirteen grind settings are simply magnificent, especially given that the industry average is just six. You don’t find many super automatics on the market with double digit grind settings on offer, which puts the 23460 in a select company indeed.
If you’re new to the world of specialty coffee drinks, you may not fully appreciate the importance of having so many grind settings to choose from, but once you start experimenting, you’ll quickly realize that getting the grind right is one of the major drivers of the flavor of whatever drink you’re making.
More settings means more choices, and the ability to dial in your preferred flavor settings. That’s good stuff, no matter how you slice (or grind) it.
The Boiler System
While the machine is near-perfect, we do regard this as a bit of a shortcoming. It only offers a single aluminum boiler, lined with stainless-steel and featuring Thermoblock technology.
The boiler itself is excellent, it’s just that we’d prefer it if the machine had two, because we like milk-based drinks, and a dedicated milk boiler makes the process of making them a little faster. Even so, thanks to the Thermoblock technology, the one boiler can switch gears pretty quickly, so the delay is measured in seconds, not minutes.
Telescoping Coffee Spigot
There’s not much to say about this feature except the fact that the 23460’s coffee spouts do move up and down, and will accommodate cups ranging in size from 2.5” to just under 6”. That’s not quite big enough to accommodate your favorite super-sized mug; it’s a significant range, and better than what’s offered by many more expensive models.
You’ll want to adjust the position of the spouts so that they’re just above the lip of whatever cup you’re using. Doing so will help to improve the quality of the crema you get in your cup.
The Brew Unit and Control System
The brew unit on the DeLonghi ECAM 23460 cannot be removed, which means that about once a week, you’ll need to open the machine up and give it a good sweeping with the brush you get when you buy the model.
As to the control system, it’s older, dated technology, featuring a two-line LED on the front face of the machine, a simple dial, and seven buttons, total. The menus are deeper and more complex than you find on most older machines like this, but navigation is a snap because all you have to do to choose a given menu item is turn the control knob, then press the menu button to select that option.
We like this approach. It’s a simple method of making navigating via the dated display a breeze and reduces the learning curve of the unit to practically nothing. Even better, DeLonghi has published some forty videos on YouTube that go over every aspect of using the machine, so if something’s not clear, the videos will get you up to speed in no time flat.
As far as one touch convenience, you’ve got settings for:
"My Coffee" is a button you can customize your personal preferences on. This is the reason we mentioned earlier that this is kind of a “one person” coffee machine. There are no user profiles, so only one person can set their preferences here.
Note that whatever coffee selection you make, you can opt to brew either a single or double. The coffee spouts are designed so that you can dispense your double into two cups, or one larger one if you’re Jonesing for a double dose of your favorite drink.
From the menu, you can customize your coffee strength by setting how much water will be dispensed into your cup, and how much milk is used when making a milk-based drink. You can also set the water temperature by choosing from between four different settings (one to four “dots” on the menu screen).
That’s not as many customization options as you find on some other machines, but it’s not bad for the money. We rate this as a slightly above-average feature implementation.
Pro Tip: You can also access basic statistics from the menu: how many coffees you’ve made in total, how many milk-based drinks, how much water has been dispensed, how many times the unit has been descaled, etc.
A Few Words About Espresso
The unit also has a pump that’s rated at fifteen bars. If you’re new to the world of specialty coffee, that phrase might not make much sense. To clarify, it’s important to understand the difference between how drip brew coffee is made versus how espresso is made.
If you’re a specialty coffee veteran, skip to the next section, if not, read on!
Drip brew machines rely on the force of gravity to get the coffee from the grounds chamber and into the pot below. Espresso machines rely on pressure, and pressure is measured in “bars,” where one bar is equal to atmospheric pressure at sea levels.
It takes a minimum of nine bars of brewing pressure to make a good shot of espresso, and as we mentioned, the 23460’s pump is rated at fifteen bars. All the power you’ll need to pull a great shot of espresso, every time you use the machine. And now you know!
The Milk Frothing System
Coffee purists won’t like this feature implementation because the ECAM 23460S utilizes an auto-frother, rather than a conventional steam wand. Our view is that the company did a great job with it.
When you unbox the unit, you’ll find two attachments: one for dispensing hot water, and the plastic carafe for frothing milk. When you want to make a milk-based drink, you simply pour some milk in the carafe, plug it into the slot on the machine, and make your selection.
The carafe is dishwasher safe and can be put in the fridge when not in use, both handy features. Also note that on top of the carafe, there’s a control knob which lets you dial in the amount of foam you want. This gives you the flexibility to make lattes, flat whites, cappuccinos, and just about any other milk-based drink you can imagine.
Granted, the auto-frother isn’t quite as flexible as having a conventional steam wand, but the froth you get is good quality and will satisfy all but the most finicky coffee purists.
Does the DeLonghi 23460S Have a Cup Warming Tray?
It’s a fair question because some models (especially sub-compacts) don’t, but the answer is yes! The 23460 even has a small, passively heated cup warming tray, and it’s more important than newbies realize.
The reason? Heat loss.
See, specialty coffee drinks were meant to be enjoyed at temperatures somewhat lower than most Americans drink their drip-brew coffee. One of the biggest complaints about espresso machines is that they just don’t make the coffee hot enough.
Part of the problem is that if you dispense your drink into a cold cup, you’re going to lose heat. If you’re making a milk-based drink, you’ll lose even more, because milk can’t be steamed at temperatures as hot as the coffee is brewed.
To get a feel for just how big a difference it makes, brew two of your favorite coffee drinks. Dispense the first one into a cold cup, and the second into a cup you’ve had on the warming tray for a while. You’ll be amazed at the difference!
Easy to Use, Easy to Clean
Earlier, we mentioned that the machine would fuss at you when it was time to descale. It does that, and more. It’ll basically send up a flare any time it needs maintenance, which makes caring for the unit a pretty simple matter.
Where maintenance is concerned, your main tasks will be:
That’s it. That’s really all there is to maintaining the machine.
Pros & Cons of the DeLonghi ECAM23460S
As you can see from our review to this point, there’s a lot to like about the 23460, and DeLonghi gets a lot right with this model.
In our view, the two biggest pros are: it’s got thirteen grind settings and an impressively sized water tank for such a small machine.
As far as negatives go, the biggest potential negative is that the control system is dated and relies on simple LED technology. If you love high-tech gear, that’s going to be something of a disappointment.
Another negative is the fact that this model is geared to be a single user unit, so if there are multiple coffee drinkers in your household, it’s going to be annoying to use. Everyone will want to save their preferences, but there’s only room for one. In that case, you’re going to want a machine that offers user profiles.
DeLonghi ECAM23460S Review Conclusion
And that wraps up our DeLonghi ECAM 23460S review. We like the machine on the whole, and would highly recommend it to anyone but coffee purists, with the proviso that you’re the only coffee drinker in your household.
It’s a good, solid, reliable, Italian-made machine that you won’t outgrow anytime soon.