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108 of 112 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2012
I've had one of these machines for 4 years and have a good knowledge of them... here's how to get the best from it:

1) Selecting 'Double, long Coffee' does not necessarily give a 'double-strength' coffee.

Coffee strength is dictated by a number of factors but the 'Coffee buttons' of which 'Double, Long Coffee' is one, only affect the strength in terms of how much water they're custom programmed (by the user) to deliver.

To explain that a bit better... the 'coffee buttons' ranging from Single to Double, Espresso or Long are programmable in that you can change how much water they deliver to suit taste &/ or the cups you use.

On this point there is an issue which, good as the machines are, is not addressed by DeLonghi and one which almost certainly accounts for some opinions that the coffee delivered falls a little short of a Barista's... I shall explain...

When the user presses the 'Double Long' button the machine grinds the coffee, compresses it and passes water through the patte at 15bar and around 93 degrees centigrade. The amount of water passing through here is dictated by the user's custom preference -not DeLonghi... therein lies the problem and one must understand coffee to know why that's a problem...

This is an espresso machine and all drinks it delivers are based on espresso either straight-up or diluted with water (Americano) or milk (Latte etc).

A perfect Espresso is delivered in or around as follows:

1) Grind (Perfect grinding is essential -fine for a rich crema)
2) Tamping (Compressing of the ground coffee into a little patte)
3) Water pressure (15 bar)
4) Water Temp (93 Degrees C)
5) Duration of extraction (How long the water runs for - about 21 seconds)

One could argue a bar here, a degree there or a slightly longer or shorter extraction but we're in the ball park at those listed above.

It doesn't matter whether your having a single, double or quadruple the same goes... You cannot just double the amount of water... if you do that you extract features of the coffee that give undesirable taste such as bitterness etc.

When I say that DeLonghi have not addressed this I mean that they have not installed what's known in the coffee machine trade as a bypass... that's a feature on commercial machines where the extraction takes place as I've described, then stops... Depending on whether you want a 'Long Coffee' a separate water filler spout delivers fresh hot water, bypassing the coffee patte.

You can still avoid this downside on this machine... but for a long coffee it means having your trusty old kettle and prepare water (just off boiling-93Degrees C) to 'top-up' your espresso shot to form a 'Long Coffee'. Doing it this way you'll notice a huge improvement in taste and into Barista territory!

Finally on this, notice how they make a coffee in Starbucks next time you're there... same thing, they take an espresso 'shot' from the machine and dump it into your cup adding water or milk as per your request... they don't fill your cup with water through the patte for a minute or more just to get volume -the coffee would taste awful...

2) Adjusting coffee strength

Now that I've addressed the misunderstanding on the buttons and water quantity and dilution -here's how one adjusts coffee strength on the Prima Donna:

A) Cycle the 'Coffee Strength' button from extra-mild through to extra-strong

These are factory set running times for the coffee grinder which simply affect the amount of coffee that ends up in the internal 'Group head' in the machine through which the water will flow. More coffee = Stronger flavour.

B) Empty the coffee grinder, allowing it to run until it starts to speed up due to lack of beans. Then, either cancel the extraction by tapping the coffee button or let it run.

C) Add your favourite bean to the hopper

D) With the hopper door open, notice the little black lever to the left above the coffee beans... This adjusts how finely the grinder mills the coffee. The finer the coffee, the greater the surface area of each granule and the more flavour the water can leach out in that precious 21seconds!

E) DO NOT MOVE THE LEVER YET: Pay attention to the direction of travel that the lever moves in -finer grind -push towards rear of machine. Coarse grind, pull towards front of machine

F) Select Extra-strong coffee via coffee strength button

G) Press one of the coffee buttons

H) As the grinder starts, now move the lever slowly. I recommend going finer -so move lever towards rear of machine. Go back one step at a time.

I) Notice the flow & consistency of espresso from machine -is it smooth -flowing not too fast not too slow, creamy and golden? The colour should be just lightening by the time the extraction completes -you've got the best from your coffee and leaving the worst behind! (That's in and around 21 seconds of the main flow of coffee -not since the grinder started running or the pre-extraction) Adjust flow time as described in user manual.

J) That's pretty much it, play around with that setting -I cannot tell you what's best as it depends on the bean you're using and how you like your coffee... An 'oily' coffee is sticky and a tight (fine) grind will make the patte too thick and you'll get no flow or a drippy one... I use 'Zombie' coffee beans from 'Java Republic' -it's a strong coffee but is not oily so my machine runs at the tightest level.

Finally, use that kettle of water to pre-heat the cup... run the machine... dump the warming water, put in fresh hot water and place the cup under the coffee nozzles adjusting the height so the nozzles are as close to the cup as possible -this prevents 'splashing' and the preservation of that lovely crema!

Enjoy!

P.s -if you have any questions, post a reply and I'll answer...

I've been asked whether the water spout makes up for the need for a kettle:

Fast answer is No... here's why:

It does indeed have such a water facility... That connector is also used to generate hot and/or frothy milk using the supplied milk-jug accessory, as you may well know. It is ideal for milk as you don't want to 'boil' milk for milk-based coffees.

'Professional' machines come with two water tanks. One is for coffee extraction @ 93 Degrees C and the other is up to boiling, solely for water & steam production.

The PrimaDonna has no hot water tanks at all!

I've previously explained that incorrrect water temp spoils the flavour of the espresso shot.

Cheaper machines use a single tank. Problem is, when you take your initial shot from this tank at 93C and get the pefect 'espresso', then hit the steam/water button, the machine has to heat up to 100 to give you steam/water. This takes a little bit but, in fairness, you do get your frothy milk or americano. There's a downside though, if you need a second coffee immediately (as you often will for householders or guests), your water temp is now at 100 and that'll kill your next espresso... you'd have to wait for it to cool again!

So, DeLonghi addressed the need for two 'water tanks' by using a "Dual Thermoblock" design. This is not unlike the common instant electric shower: Cold water in -instantly heated to required temp by passing it across a super-heated element. It saves on space and electricity as you only heat what you use. There's even a seperate element for the hot water.

However, in the same fashion that an electric shower never compares to a pumped -stored water system, so too does the thermoblock fails to deliver voluminous amounts of water.

I'm conveniently working from home today and my 6600 is on in the kitchen and I popped in and performed a test for you... I gave it the best chance without using a kettle as I normally do...

I had a cup on the warming try since the machine was switched on at 7.30am and it was just about warm to the touch -so I didn't use a cold cup...

Inserted Spout and pressed the water button:

I got just under 150ml of hot water -and it was slow -taking 38 seconds to manage that -before it automatically stopped and had to "Reheat" -according to the display.

It would be quite frustrating if you wanted a proper 'Long Coffee' using the water spout and your coffee wouldn't be quite 'piping hot' either.

Now, all that said, I made fantastic coffee this morning as ever using the kettle, to provide water to both pre-heat the cup while the machine was grinding, then quickly boiling it again for the water poured into cup in time to catch the extraction.

The above sounds 'a bit OCD' when read aloud but it's a methodology perfected over 4 years of ownership that delivers consistently great coffee -that's commented on by visitors, business colleagues and friends alike. To the extent, even, that some would rather meet me at my house than the local coffee shop!

By the way, as a latte, cappuccio, macchiato maker -it does excel as one doesn't want to boil milk and it produces ample steam to deliver a 'Long' latte etc. This may sound incongruous to what I said about water production above but these are the facts and the practical experience of using the machine.

For milk coffees: Set the water temp to 'HIGH' in the basic machine settings.
Use a kettle to preheat the cup.
Rinse the group using the rinse button
Preheat the milk wand by pressing the 'Clean' button on the jug
Double tap the 'Latte' button to trigger the 'Milk Frothing' function
Place cup under the spout and collect hot, frothy milk
When machine auto-stops, quickly press and hold 'Latte' button (before blue light extinguishes)
Continue to hold until required amount of milk is delivered
Now select required 'Coffee' button to obtain your favourite espresso shot

The above will give you a latte to compete with the best at a temperature to satisfy a demanding female latte addict! ;) [In fact, it will need to cool before drinking!]

So, I wholeheartedly recommend the machine but to get the best from it you'll have to resolve to use your kettle for preheating cups & americanos. For espresso or milk coffees -it's fine as is.

To improve on this, absent a kettle... a machine with a proper two-boiler bypass... commercial, probably triple your cost and burning electricity too keeping all that water at the ready -with a longer morning warm-up time. The PrimaDonna is ready in a couple of mins -about as long as your kettle! ;)

Let me know if you need to know anything else...
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 4 April 2012
Ive had several DeLonghi machines in the past and decided to "upgrade" to the "Prima Donna" as we love coffee in our household.

This machine is a cosmetically updated PrimaDonna ESAM6600, which is very similar.

The only issues I have had are:

1. The "tab" on the back of the drip tray is very flimsy and easily broken when washing. it operates a microswitch that tells the machine that the tray is missing, so you would think that if the tab is missing, the machine wouldnt work. Fortunately it is sensible to work out that if everything else (including the grounds container) is there (another tab and microswitch), then the drip tray must also be there, and the machine ignores the problem!

2. The milk frother jug has a problem with the "venturi" effect that draws the milk up the straw in the jug. These wear out within a year, and require a new jug lid (£16). Ive had 3 !

3. Most worrying of all is the display panel, which notoriously fails after about 12 - 18 months, its down to it being placed above the boiler, and the solder melts on the board and it fails either completely, or just the display / backlight fails. Ive had 2 in 3 years replaced under warranty. When its out of warranty the boards are £82 + fitting, so be warned its VERY common!

Other than those 3 issues, the machine is reliable and makes FANTASTIC coffee.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 29 April 2013
I have had this machine for 2+ years now. I had experience with other coffee machines before. (I also have tried Jura, Philips, Siemens, Gaggia, Tachio, Seico, etc. in offices I used to be in or though friends. I had an ESAM4200 before as well). So I am able to give an all round comparison especially with regard to taste and ease of use. Please note that the ESAM4200 has the same brewer unit and same boiler unit as well. The ESAM 6620 has a slightly better grinder. Well, my point is that the quality of coffee can be achieved at a much lower price point with ESAM4200 itself. But there are other factors: I will try to explain this as I had to find out the hard way.

I find this ESAM6620 has been ideal for our needs. It is sturdy and most easy to clean: making it inexpensive to maintain and run. It delivers everything in terms of taste and quality. IT MAKES PERFECT COFFEE. Even provides hot water (and hot milk) at the exact temperature (80c) for brewing tea! If your coffee needs are around 10 cups a day (or less) then this is the ideal workhorse. A better way to say this is in terms of how many people the machine caters for. This machine is ideal if it is catering to 4 or 5 ADULTS in a home or a small office. For larger offices and large households where there are more individuals who like coffee in various ways this machine is grossly inadequate. The build quality is so good that it can take abuse from four (or so) adults who try to make coffee with it! But the constant changing the carafe etc is prone to breakage if very many people try to use the machine carelessly. Machines like Jura (with fixed milk installation - peltier cooled) will be better choice for offices with more than 6 people or even households with more than 6 people.

Where does the coffee quality stand? It gets a 9.5/10 from me for the superior coffee quality verging on truly superlative quality. So with this machine coffee quality and consistency is not what you need to worry about. If it offered much more accurate control over brewing temperature and digital control over the fineness of grind then it would get 10/10 !!

It is the sheer quantity of need. Our home office does not have multiple visitors at the same time. So this machine is ok. Occasionally when there are visitors in the office and you wish to make 6 cups of coffee at the same time you will really struggle. Sometimes when relatives visit and I have to make 10 cups then be prepared to spend half an hour trying to make coffee!! It will not only be slow but the machine will struggle to cope. But it will; as long as you are not making that kind of quantity everyday. Even a good quality machine like this struggles when more than 4 or 5 people try to use it. I hope this review helps you decide on your coffee machine requirements..
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2012
i consider myself a coffee lover and by all means love a cup of good italian coffee twice a day on the mark. i purchased this coffee machine because i hated the hassle of frothing the milk on a daily basis and preparing everything. as such this machine does everything, and even if it does have a bit of cleaning requirements, i like being able to make my coffee the way i like it without spending 15 minutes minimum in the kitchen.

the machine is quite good and i love the fact that it's very 'modular'. this means if something goes bad, i have a greater ability to recover the machine by simply changing a part. it's also easy to clean. the stainless steel construction gives me confidence and looks great in my living room. the auto frothing is fantastic and no complaints. the milk carafe is very easy to clean by pulling out all the relevant parts.

at this point i have cleaned the infuser once and have NOT descaled the machine. i use RO water so i expect for it to be a while before i need to.

pros:
- excellent frothing.
- excellent auto clean cycles. easy to clean, particularly the infuser. as such i can clean it more r less inside out.
- large water and milk tanks
- good coffee, albeit a little watery at moderate grind levels.
- plastic drip tray so it won't get rusted

cons:
- at very fine grind levels, i received an error on more than one occassion, that i need to increase coarseness. lost a lot of water and coffee this way.
- coffee tends to spill out of the drip tray and grounds container. still easy to clean but i question the design.
- you cannot modify only the milk or only the coffee quantity in programming mode.
- can only make one cup at a time using pre-ground coffee.
- cannot adjust strength using pre-ground coffee.
- machine does not detect low water or beans quantity prior to actually starting the preparation process. if you are low on beans, it will make the milk and leave you stranded. you then need to refill and add the espresso using the manual buttons.
- can't use very tall cups.

useful additions for Delonghi to consider:
- multiple memory functions with combos of coffee and milk quantities, strength, etc.
- cancel button to cancel prep of coffee say if the water is too low, etc.
- check for all input levels like milk, etc. prior to preparation of coffee
- 'additives' ability- adding flavors, etc. will be a major bonus.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 November 2011
....i felt that i had to post a (rare for me) review of this machine. As a small office, we required a machine to provide quick, excellent coffee for staff and clients. I researched machines last year by looking at over reviews and the like, but plumbed for this one, as i had accepted that I was going to have to face something around the £800 mark.
'Buy cheap - buy twice' - we really didnt want to get something half-cocked.

This prima donna has been above expectations. The main attractions is that it operates with fresh beans and delivers a really super coffee. I'm quite pleased in comparing the quality of the coffee to more expensive machines - I feel this machine wins hands down.

Disadvantages- none of great note. It can be slow in getiing 10 coffees out, but the wait is worth it.

Thoroughly recommended
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 December 2013
I purchased this having seen my daughter's similar machine (which she likes very much), and having researched thoroughly on Amazon and elsewhere. Since receiving it I have been hugely impressed with the drinks it makes. What it does is detailed elsewhere, so I won't regurgitate unnecessarily! Suffice to say, if you like coffee in various guises, you'll appreciate how capable the Prima Donna is.
But.... this is an expensive addition to any kitchen, and for this sort of money I would expect more reliability than so far encountered. The first one lasted nearly 3 months before the milk dispensing function failed. DeLonghi sent replacement parts promptly (only praise for their customer service) but several suggestions/replacement bits failed to solve the problem. Amazon were superb with their replacement service and the new machine functioned correctly for about 5 months. This time the filtration unit decided to stay where it was - the catch mechanism seems to have failed. Once more I have had to use Amazon's excellent customer service department.
I'm going to soldier-on with this machine in the hope of just having had bad luck so far. Updated review will be done when I see how we get on with the third attempt!

Update: I've increased the score to 4 stars as the 3rd machine has performed faultlessly for many months. It is a slightly upgraded version - quieter being the most significant difference, and has produced at least 6 to 8 espressos and lattes every day. We tend not to use the milk jug very often, preferring to use the microwave to give the reults we enjoy, but it works well and is easy to clean. If this had been the first machine it would have earned the full 5 star score, but I can't forgive the earlier reliability issues.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2015
Have owned this machine for a few years now - brilliant for the first two years. Spoilt now by the fact that the milk jug has failed - will not draw up the milk. Reverted to warming the milk up separately (microwave!) but now the whole machine has given up - will not deliver any coffee - just makes the usual noises and sends the water straight to the drip tray. Buying this expensive machine was not one of my best decisions.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This machine is absolutely stunning to look at and as a bonus makes the most delicious coffee I've ever made, of course my partner was determined the machine was going to be a waste of money and why did we need one that is until he tried a cup of regular, now he's moaning that it could become addictive,
The machine is extremely easy to use once you know where all the buttons are, even that isn't a mystery though because the display tells you exactly what is going on even when to empty the ground coffee beans. Wow I love this machine and I have had another machine for the past seven years so am able to compare and this one comes out on top in every stage.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This really is a lovely looking De'Longhi machine - sparkling Stainless steal with a blue LED display it's very stylish - but also nice and robust looking (ok so it is a little heavy to shift around but this is made up for in the quality of the build). But does its quality also shine through in its working? Read on...

What do you get? The box arrives and contains little more than you'd expect as basics - with hardly any "extras" with the possible exception of the "Plastic ground coffee spoon" and the "Descaler". Indeed I was a bit disappointed to find that when I opened the box entitled "starter kit" all I got was the descaler and an instruction book - and a lot of empty space!

How easy is it to use? It purports to be simple to use, effortlessly converting "bean to cup" coffee - and it certainly does this in style. Buy yourself some roasted beans and drop them in the top left compartment, fill the appropriate container up with water (this slots in and out of the right side of the machine), put some milk in the milk jug and attach this to the machine and press the button for the type of coffee you want. Just press cappuccino and as long as your mug is in the right position just a few seconds later - hey presto - a lovely cup of cappuccino is sitting waiting to be drunk!

If you prefer the slightly cheaper route with using ground coffee, then just spoon this into the middle compartment (using the measuring spoon provided) and ditto - a hot cup of cappuccino is ready to drink.

The machine has separate buttons for Cappuccinos, latte-macchiatos and caffe-lattes. Coffee dispenser accommodates: full size or espresso cups
The "Burr grinder" for grinding the coffee is adjustable in 7 different coarseness settings. On top of the machine on the right is a "hot-plate" to keep your cups warm. Even the water hardness can be adjusted for your local water to ensure the machine continues to work perfectly.

Apart from the quality of the cups of coffee and the ease of use, the other thing I really like about this machine (unlike many others I have tried) is the ease of cleaning. The drip tray can be removed and rinsed out. The coffee remains are collected in plugs which can be easily thrown away and leave little debris behind. It also "rinses" when you turn the machine on (cleaning out all of the inner workings) and also when you power down. If at any other time you want to rinse it out - just press the appropriate button to effortlessly start the short rinse cycle.

The only things you will need to buy are coffee beans (unsurprisingly!) and also some descaler every now and again - particularly if you live in a "hard-water" area. I got mine in bulk from Amazon quite cheaply and mine needs descaling every couple of months. Yours may need more or less descaling depending on your water and the amount of use the machine gets.

So, what about the down-side? The only negative is the price. Yes it IS expensive but if you are a real connoisseur of coffee and want the best on the market - a machine which will look cool, be robust and give you a really great cup of coffee every time then this is probably the machine for you!
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on 6 February 2015
Received this yesterday and set up today, so this review may well be added to in the future but for first impressions.
PRO's
Nice looking machine, not as bulky as expected and looks good on the worktop (should do at the price)
Easy to set up
You're making your first coffees within minutes.
Compresses the coffee dregs into dry little circular blocks
Milk jug stores easily in side of fridge.
Ideally uses skimmed or semi skimmed milk which is a bonus (bought 4 litres of whole milk expecting that to be best but not recommended in the book and we're watching the weight a bit).
Have tried the cappuccino and lattes, taste is good but yet to set amount as the cappuccinos do not fill our large Derby mugs.
It DOES make hot milk with 3 levels of froth...latte, macchiato and cappuccino, so this could be used for hot chocolates and mocha drinks.
It also does just hot water for tea, but for tea personally, I would still boil the kettle.
CONs
The cappuccino was not quite as hot as I would have liked even with the water heat setting on high, though it could have been due to the milk cooling it a little, will update after trying an espresso. Tried putting boiling water in the cups first improved it a little, but not yet tried running water through first
Even with the lid raised on the base, my nice new latte glasses would not fit under the spouts, I therefore thought barista, used the latte milk function first put this milk in the glass then added and espresso. 2 x latte milk was perfect for 3 tall lattes.
The water filter/ softener supplied, I have not fitted it yet as our area is 2 for hardness so on the soft side but will probably fit it tomorrow. But it supposedly lasts two months and is around £10 a time to replace. An extra small expense that should be taken into account.
In conclusion, It's expensive for a coffee machine but the coffee it makes is nicer than the filter and pod machines and definately cheaper by the cup than pods if you don't take the initial outlay into account. And at the moment I still have some tinkering to do to get it perfect but it's simple to do and I love this machine..........though I'm a little hyper tonight from too much caffeine.......
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