Overall Brew Quality
Ease of Use
This older model by Delonghi is still going strong – an exceptional, entry-level super automatic machine that’s full-featured and very newbie friendly. The Magnifica ESAM 3300 has got enough fine-grained controls to satisfy most coffee purists, while being easy for newbies to master. Plus, it’s small enough that even people with limited counter space can find a permanent home for it. Recommended for anyone.
- 1 Delonghi ESAM3300
- 2 Overview of the Delonghi Magnifica 3300 Espresso Machine
- 3 Pros & Cons of the Delonghi Magnifica ESAM3300
- 4 Delonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica Super Automatic Espresso Coffee Machine Review Conclusion
Are you tired of the generic morning coffee you’re getting from your drip-brew machine?
Looking for a way to put some pizazz in your cup to start each day?
Most importantly, are you looking for a relatively inexpensive way to do that? One that won’t require you to max out a credit card?
Then you’re going to love our in-depth Delonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica super automatic espresso coffee machine review. It’s proof positive that good things really do come in small packages!
While it’s certainly true that this machine is not perfect, it’s a full-featured, surprisingly capable machine that can make just about any specialty coffee drink you can imagine. Even better, it can be had for a surprisingly modest sum, and what’s not to like about that?
In the sections that follow, we’ll go over everything this machine can do, and outline its few limitations. After reading this review, should you decide it’s not a good fit for you, we think you’ll still agree, it’s an extraordinary machine and an exceptional value for the money.
A Note on the Delonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica Super Automatic
Note, however, that this is an old model. Delonghi has been selling it for over a decade while making periodic upgrades to keep it current. Don’t let the fact that it’s been around for a while dissuade you though. That’s actually a hidden strength!
After all, when a new model hits the market, invariably, there are production wrinkles and other assorted problems. That’s something you won’t have to worry about with the ESAM3300 by Delonghi. Any kinks and problems have been long ago ironed out, so what you’re getting is pure quality.
Ready to get started? Let’s go!
Overview of the Delonghi Magnifica 3300 Espresso Machine
Form Factor, Footprint & Aesthetic
The first thing you’ll notice when you look at the Delonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica super automatic is that it’s a relatively small, unassuming machine. It’s not unattractive, by any means, and it’s got hints of classic European styling, but you can tell it was designed with function in mind over form, and it blends into the background, which is a plus for most people.
It’s not a centerpiece appliance. Not something that people will ooh and ahh over when they step into your kitchen. It’s functional. It’s got a job to do.
One thing that may be a drawback for some is the fact that the unit is almost entirely constructed from ABS plastic. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is certainly true that it’s not as sturdy or durable as stainless steel, which is the material of choice in more expensive machines.
This was a purely pragmatic design decision that helps keep the unit cost low. The only place you’ll find stainless steel is in the drip tray.
The machine measures 15.3” x 11” x 14.4” and weighs in at 28.2 pounds. That makes it small enough that you shouldn’t have any particular difficulty finding it a permanent home, even if you have a smaller kitchen and countertop space is at a premium.
This is always a huge deal for us, and one of the first things we ask about any new machine we review is “how big is the water tank?” As such, we consider this to be a critical portion of our Delonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica super automatic review.
If you’re a casual coffee drinker, then this will be relatively minor, but if there’s more than one coffee lover in your home, or if you drink a lot of the stuff, then it becomes much more important. Get a machine with a tiny water tank, and it’ll be annoying to use because you’ll constantly have to stop to refill the thing.
In our book, there’s no such thing as a reservoir that’s too big, and our magic number is sixty. We like to see at least a sixty-ounce capacity, and that’s precisely what the ESAM3300 provides, which gets a hearty thumbs-up from us!
Grind Settings and Bypass Doser
First and foremost, it’s got seven grind settings, and the industry average is six. It’s a rare thing for a cheaper machine to beat the industry average, and that gets another nod of approval from us.
It gets better though, because the Delonghi Magnifica 3300 is one of the few value-priced machines to offer a bypass doser (one scoop), so you can enjoy specialty teas and decaf with minimal fuss or effort. Both good things.
Stainless Steel Burrs
The downside of this grinder? Not that of a big deal, but it uses stainless steel burrs.
These are cheaper, so it’s easy to see this as a cost-saving move by the company, but there is one wrinkle you should be aware of where stainless-steel grinders are concerned. If you’re making several drinks back-to-back, there's a chance that the grinders would heat up. The heat may not be that much, still, any added heat could affect the flavor of whatever drink you’re trying to make.
You’ll almost never see this issue if you’re just making one drink, with a delay before making another, but it’s certainly something to keep in the back of your mind.
Sitting atop the grinder, you’ll find an 8.8-ounce bean hopper, which can hold about 250 grams of coffee beans. This should be enough to make 15 double shots of espresso before having to refill it with more beans.
Just note that as with most other super automatics, the 3300 doesn't do well with oily beans. So, avoid using Dark Roast beans or you'll run the risk of gumming up the burrs and you won't be able to clean them! To stay out of this trouble, stick with Medium Roast!
The Boiler System
Given the modest price of this unit, we were stunned to find out that it’s a double boiler system, and our Delonghi Magnifica ESAM3300 review wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t give the company a well-deserved kudos for the inclusion of a second boiler.
It’s great news if you love milk-based specialty coffee drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, because it means there’s no more wait time when switching between brewing and steaming your milk.
If you’re a casual coffee drinker, you probably won't notice the wait time anyway, because it’s measured in seconds, not minutes. Nevertheless, the more coffee you drink throughout the course of a given day, the more you’ll come to appreciate having that dedicated milk boiler.
The one drawback? There’s no way to adjust the boiler temp. You get the default setting, and that’s it. We’ll have more to say about that later, but for now, just know that this is one of the few limitations of the 3300. The default temperature is fairly hot, and there are some other things you can do to bump the temperature up further (which we’ll also be talking about in later sections of this review).
Telescoping Coffee Spigot
The coffee spouts on the Delonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica move up and down, and the range is from 2.5” to 5” only. You probably won’t be able to fit your favorite tall coffee mug. Still, the range is quite acceptable for most.
The Brew Unit and Control System
There’s not a lot to say about the brew unit, except to note that it is removable, which makes weekly cleaning a snap. Just pop it out, give it a good rinse, let it dry thoroughly, and snap it back into place. That’s all there is to it!
Most low-priced machines keep things pretty basic and don’t have a complicated control system, and the Delonghi Magnifica 3300 espresso machine is no different in this regard. In fact, the drip-brew coffee maker you’re probably using right now is likely to have more buttons than this machine, so there’s not much of a learning curve here.
Easy to Use
Overall, there are only two knobs, one lever for steam, and about half a dozen buttons to deal with (counting the power button).
While it would be overselling it to say there’s no learning curve at all here, this isn’t a machine you’re going to have to spend half a day trying to figure out. Just take it out of the box, plug it in, run through the initial setup instructions in the user guide, and start making drinks.
Strength and Volume Controls
Having said that, even though mastering the basic controls is pretty easy, the 3300 does allow you quite a bit of freedom in terms of creating your drinks, your way. One big thing you’ll find here that you don’t get from other lower-priced machines is the ability to control dosing strength and shot volume.
Both of these are controlled via simple knobs on the front face of the unit. If you want a stronger shot, simply dial up the amount of beans the unit grinds, or dial down the amount of water. This gives you a lot of options in terms of flavor fine-tuning, in addition to the seven grind settings.
Even better, the 3300 has two programmable buttons so you can lock in your preferred settings for both a single and a double shot of espresso, so you don’t have to keep re-doing it, every time you pull a shot.
One thing this machine doesn’t offer though is one touch advanced drinks, and our Delonghi 3300 review would be incomplete if we didn’t draw your attention to this limitation. You can have a one-touch espresso, and that’s it. Everything else, you’ll need to make manually. That’s not a surprise on low-priced machines, but it’s something we wanted to mention for the sake of completeness.
A Few Words About Espresso
Before we talk about the pump that drives the process, we’ve got to say a few words about the difference between how espresso is made versus how drip-brew coffee is made.
On a drip brew machine, gravity moves the coffee from the grounds chamber and into the pot waiting below. Espresso machines don’t work like that. They rely on pressure, and pressure is measured in bars, with one bar being equal to atmospheric pressure at sea level.
It takes at least nine bars of pressure to make a good espresso, and the 3300’s pump is rated at fifteen bars, which is all the power you need to make a great espresso, every time you turn the machine on.
The Milk Frothing System
Broadly speaking, there are two ways a manufacturer can implement the milk frothing function. The first is via an auto-frother.
People who are new to the world of specialty coffee drinks tend to like this better because there’s nothing to learn. You simply pour milk into the carafe, plug it into the machine, and push the button. The machine does the rest.
The Delonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica espresso machine doesn’t do that, maintaining its old school design by providing a conventional steam wand. Coffee purists and aspiring Baristas tend to like this approach better, because it gives them more control over the quality and quantity of the foam produced, and the heat of the milk, but it does intimidate some new users.
Don’t let it!
Sure, it takes a bit of time and practice to learn to use it well, and your first few drinks might not turn out quite the way you had hoped, but once you master its use, you’ll be able to make just about any specialty coffee drink you can dream up, and that’s good stuff.
The steam wand on the 3300 is quite good, but a little short for our liking, so it will require some experimentation to learn to use it well, but it’s nothing you can’t master after making 4-5 milk-based drinks, and the quality of the foam it produces is excellent. You won’t be disappointed!
Cup Warming Tray
The Delonghi 3300 Magnifica has a small, passively heated cup warming tray, which means that the heat that warms the surface area is provided by one of the boilers, rather than the tray having its own, independent power supply.
This is the industry standard. There are very few espresso machines on the market today that offer an independent power supply, and if you’re new to the world of specialty coffee, then you should know that the cup warming tray has a super important role to play!
We talked before about the fact that on this machine, you cannot adjust the boiler temperature, and that can be a problem for some users.
The default boiler temp is not bad, but you should know that specialty drinks are brewed at temperatures somewhat lower than the drip brew coffee you’re accustomed to. Because of that, a lot of American coffee drinkers complain that espresso machines just don’t get the coffee hot enough.
Lacking the ability to adjust the boiler temp, what can you do? The answer lies in the cup warming tray!
See, when you dispense coffee into a cold cup, you lose heat. The cold from the cup leeches off several degrees of drink temp. By pre-warming the cup though, you minimize the heat loss, and that’s why it’s such a big deal.
You’ll notice it even more profoundly when you make milk-based coffee drinks, because the milk isn’t as hot as the espresso, and will lower the total temp even more.
To get a sense of how big a difference it makes, try a simple experiment.
Brew two of your favorite coffee drinks, dispensing one into a cold cup, and the other into a cup that’s been sitting on the warming tray for a while. You’ll be amazed at the difference!
The bottom line here: use that cup warming tray!
Easy to Use, Easy to Clean
Since the Magnifica ESAM 3300 has a simple control scheme and only a basic feature set (but still sufficient to allow you to make a broad range of drinks!), it should come as no surprise that it’s easy to use and clean.
We’ve already talked about the ease of use, so we won’t rehash that here, except to say again that there’s no learning curve to speak of. It will probably take you longer to unbox the machine and run through the initial setup than it will take you to master the controls.
Cleaning is likewise made easy, in part, because everything you need to attend to on a regular basis is easy to access, and in part because the designers included an array of alert lights on the front face of the machine, so if it needs something, one of those will light up and let you know.
Your major cleaning and maintenance duties will be as follows:
That’s it. If you do those things, your machine will provide years of reliable service, and allow you to perform all sorts of specialty coffee magic!
Delonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica Super Automatic Espresso Coffee Machine Review Conclusion
And that wraps up our Delonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica super automatic espresso coffee machine review.
It’s a great general-purpose machine that’s easy enough to use that newbies won’t be put off or intimidated while offering enough customization that budget-conscious purists and aspiring Baristas will be pleased with the purchase as well.
From a capacity standpoint, it can keep pace with a single power drinker or a small household with multiple casual drinkers, making it appealing to a broad swath of the market. We highly recommend it!
Sources and Official Brand Websites
- DeLonghi, Official Brand Website.
- What is it about coffee?, Harvard Health Publications.
- The Long History of the Espresso Machine, Smithsonianmag.
- Espresso Machines Different Heating Technologies, Hydrobio.
- 13 Health Benefits of Coffee, Based on Science, Authority Nutrition.
- 13 Things Baristas Won’t Tell You, Reader's Digest.
- How to Grind Coffee, Craft Coffee.