De'Longhi Stilosa Espresso Machine review
For most casual coffee drinkers, the process of making espresso is a little too involved. It requires a big, expensive machine and the technical expertise to know how to operate it.
The De'Longhi Stilosa presents itself as a solution.
De'Longhi markets the Stilosa as an affordable, easy-to-use espresso machine for the novice barista. They claim that the built-in frother lets you prepare your favorite café-quality drinks at home, and that the design is elegant enough to look good on any countertop.
It's a manual espresso machine, so it requires more hands-on skill than automated (and much pricier) options. But is it straightforward and simple enough for the entry-level user? We tested the Stilosa to see if it lives up to De'Longhi's claims.
How to set up the De'Longhi Stilosa
Though we found the Stilosa easy to use, we had to read through the directions a few times as we were setting it up. The setup itself was straightforward enough, but took a bit of time. Before brewing any drinks, we primed the machine by pulling five espresso shots, which is standard practice for setting up a new espresso maker.
We noticed the first shot was a little hard to pull, but setting the machine to steam mode and then back to espresso mode seemed to fix the problem. After that, we were ready to go.
De'Longhi Stilosa cost
At $99.95, the De'Longhi Stilosa is on the affordable end of the spectrum when it comes to espresso machines. More specialized machines frequently go for closer to $600, and De'Longhi's own higher-end options retail in the $1,000 to $2,000 range. As far as espresso machines go, the initial investment on this model is minimal.
If you're looking for a way to save money on expensive specialty drinks from coffee shops, the Stilosa is a great alternative. By replacing a daily $5 coffee with a home-brewed drink, you could save hundreds of dollars a year, and this particular machine will have paid for itself in less than a month.
De'Longhi Stilosa design
We found it remarkable just how little space the Stilosa took up on our countertop. The high-gloss black color pairs well with the stainless steel elements (which are rare in an espresso machine at this price point).
A great little feature on this machine is the removable drip tray. Made to accommodate taller cups, the removable tray is new to this model and allows you to pull shots into larger espresso glasses or directly into your mug.
How to use the De'Longhi Stilosa
One of the Stilosa's biggest selling points is that it's easy enough for beginners to use, and we found this to be true. Despite being a largely manual machine, pulling espresso and steaming milk were both straightforward and intuitive. Here's how to do it best.
Pulling espresso: Begin by grinding your espresso beans to a fine, powdery consistency and put them in the portafilter, making sure to tamp them down. Next, turn the dial to "on" to heat the water. Once the "ready" indicator light switches on, turn the dial again to the coffee cup icon, and the shot should start pouring out. When your shot is full, turn the dial back to "on" to stop the flow. In our testing, the water heated up in a minute or two when starting from cold water, then it took about 10 seconds to pull a single shot of espresso and 15 seconds to pull a double.
The Stilosa comes with two filter baskets, one for single shots and one for double shots. The Stilosa also has two espresso spouts, allowing you to make two one-shot drinks at the same time if you'd like. We thought this was great for households with more than one espresso drinker.
We recommend that you pull espresso shots before turning on the steamer for your milk, because it will make the water in the boiler hotter than is optimal for espresso. And if you're not careful, you'll end up with burnt-tasting espresso.
Frothing milk: To test the steam wand, we tried frothing both dairy and non-dairy milk. The wand's built-in aerator took the guesswork out of frothing -- just turn the machine to steam mode and wait until the "ready" light comes on, then submerge the wand in a mug or pitcher of milk. Flip the dial on the side of the machine to turn the frother on, and once you have your preferred creaminess and temperature, turn the dial back to zero and the switch back to "on." Keep in mind the milk will double or triple in volume once steamed.
We found that the milk frother worked well with both regular milk and plant-based milk. We strongly preferred the taste of the milk when it was frothed in a stainless steel pitcher then poured over the espresso. On busy mornings, however, we frothed the milk in the mug we wanted to drink from, then poured espresso shots directly into the mug. Note that the machine doesn't come with a pitcher.
After you're done with the steaming wand, it's important to flush out the residual milk to prevent the wand from clogging. We'd suggest running it under a damp washcloth or into a clean mug for a few seconds to get the job done.
Cleaning the De'Longhi Stilosa
Cleaning the Stilosa was fairly simple: To clean the filter cups, remove the filter from the portafilter and then unscrew the filter cap. Disassemble each component and rinse. We noticed that when the filter cups are slightly misaligned, they can be difficult to remove, so make sure to align them properly when you insert them. Likewise, to clean the frothing wand, unscrew it from the machine and wash it with warm water, and remove the nozzle by pulling it downward.
After each use, it's important to do a quick clean on an espresso machine to make sure the steam wand doesn't accrue milk buildup and the ground coffee doesn't clog any of the components.
De'Longhi Stilosa Pros
The De'Longhi Stilosa is an affordable espresso machine that anyone would be comfortable using. The absolute beginner will need a few tries to get a handle on the machine, but after you get it down, you'll save money that would otherwise be spent in a coffee shop. As for the drinks it makes, they're well-balanced and smooth, and the process of making them is relatively quick and easy. The overall design is well thought out, and the minimal footprint will look good on your countertop without taking up too much space.
Throughout our testing, we found that the Stilosa was quieter than other espresso machines we've tested. However, keep in mind that espresso machines are generally louder than drip coffee makers.
De'Longhi Stilosa Cons
This is a budget-friendly espresso machine -- the casing is made of plastic and a little flimsy, but aesthetically, it's counterbalanced nicely by the brushed metal elements. The filter cups were difficult to remove when they were misaligned, so make sure to double-check them before pulling shots.
At the end of the day, the De'Longhi Stilosa is an efficient, user-friendly manual espresso machine. It looks good and doesn't take up too much counter space. Perhaps most important of all, it makes good-tasting drinks in a minimal amount of time. We recommend this machine to anyone who wants an affordable espresso machine that's capable of making cafe-quality lattes and cappuccinos at home.
Landon Groves is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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