[easyazon-image asin=”B001CNJHC6″ alt=”DeLonghi ESAM5500M Perfecta Digital Super-Automatic Espresso Machine, Metallic Blue” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41eArtpvqsL._SL160_.jpg” align=”right” width=”120″ height=”160″]There are several outstanding features on this super-automatic that, just by looking, you may think you are getting on another comparably priced maker when you are, in fact not. The first thing I like about the ESAM 5500 is the apparent ability to make a hot coffee drink.
That may sound a bit ridiculous unless you have been let down in the past by another, lesser performing machine. It’s actually a common complaint for the temp to be lacking, so when I find a maker that performs well in this area it’s definitely something I zero in on.
(Remember this isn’t a cheap machine! But you can get good deals on it. Amazon’s discount prices change daily so check out the sale price for this item right now by clicking here.)
Another area, in regards to temperature, that can be a letdown on other makers, is their cup warmer. This is less often reported to be a problem, I think because people just don’t care as much, but with the Perfecta the cup warmer is reported to be hot! Losing 10 or 15*F because of a cold cup is a bummer, so this is excellent news for those of us who like an extra hot drink.
Speaking of heat, the one place you don’t want a lot of it is in the attached milk carafe, if you are lucky enough to have a machine with this accessory to begin with that is. Why is this? Well put simply, cold milk is fresh milk. The ESAM 5500 can deliver the goods, clean the milk circuit, and all the while leave the remaining milk cold.
Once you’re done steaming and frothing just detach the milk accessory, then put it in the fridge for the next time you need it. I like it!
This super-automatic has a lot of other nice features. One thing I like in particular is the front loading water container. You simply pull out the water tank and fill it. This makes it easier to keep your water and beans separate. The last thing you want is water in your burr grinder, and it happens more often than you’d think.
On the top you’ll access the bean hopper, which includes the adjustment lever for thirteen levels of coarseness, and a bypass doser for pre-ground coffee. The cup warmer/ heated plate is on top too. Brew group removes like a printer cartridge for easy cleaning.
Controlling the ESAM 5500 looks to be pretty straightforward and comparable in features to others in its price range. All of the expected niceties are present and accounted for. Ability to choose things like strength, cup-size, and automatic shut-off time, clock, temp, water hardness, etc…, all via the unit’s digital screen appear to be thoughtfully laid out and intuitive.
For all of its opulence, I really only have one complaint when going over the Perfectas 5500 series’ laundry list of rather nice attributes. That would be the cabinet. Keep in mind that this is not a big glaring flaw by any stretch, and that many would not consider it a flaw of any sort.
There are plenty of excellent machines that feature a plastic cabinet, this being one of them. Some, me included feel that the bean counters (no pun intended) at their respective companies could pony-up for a nicer metallic case. The thing is, if the insides are pretty much the same, then what differentiates this maker from their more expensive units? Usually a fancier interface, a dash of programing, and a lot of stainless steel.
So, if this is true, in any capacity, then buying the maker with the plastic shell is not just economical but smart.
“What’s Everyone Else Saying?”
You know, I almost chuckle when I read about how this or that maker is loud. I have yet to find a quality burr grinder that is quiet! Chalk it up to quality perhaps? Personally, I want to know my machine is doing its business. This wasn’t a big complaint for the Perfecta anyway so let’s move on.
Occasionally I hear about a company that maintains good customer service. You’d think it’d be the standard for companies that make high-end luxury devices, but sadly this is often not the case. So then, I am happy to report that DeLonghi has made the grade with more than one customer when the need arose for some one-on-one time with a human being. Hopefully you won’t need it, but it’s nice to know that they are there for you should it come to that.
The hardest part of sorting through what people have to say about a product is the contradictions. It’s really about trying to give you the best idea that I can about what to expect when you lay down your hard earned dollars, and open the box.
With this in mind I feel obligated to, somewhat, contradict what I said earlier about the heat that this maker produces. Some users thought that the ESAM 5500 could do better, but that’s where my research experience comes in. I believe that the Perfecta does a better job than most others.
I think sound advice is to read your users guide, watch the DVD, and use the cup warmer. There are tips, or even crucial steps that people sometimes miss because they don’t take the time to learn all of the nuances of their new makers. These are fairly complex, and sometimes even finicky machines.
Okay, enough of the lecture!
I’ve read through countless comments, reviews, complaints and forum threads regarding all makes and models of coffee makers, and the DeLonghi ESAM 5500M has done pretty darn well. If I were in the market for a super-automatic in this price range, I would definitely consider the purchase of this maker.
SPECIFICATIONS & CAPACITIES
- Weight: 23.2lbs.
- 60oz Water Tank
- 25oz Milk Carafe
- 15 Bar Pump
- Conical Burr Grinder
- Bypass Doser
- Adjustable Height Spout
- Push Button Cleaning Function
- Hot Water Spout for Tea or Other
- Made in Italy
HOW BIG IS IT?
H 14” x W 11” x D 15”
One Year Limited Warranty
Having had a long history, since 1902, in fact, DeLonghi has been in the business of research and development longer than most if not all of their rivals. Though they may not have been making coffee and espresso makers from the very beginning, they were making consumers happy with convenient appliances, and building a reputation as a premier Italian Design Company. Winning numerous awards over the years only confirmed DeLonghi as a powerhouse premium goods manufacturer.
Key words from their website:
“Innovative, style, performance, international…”
All of this “…through committed people who are passionate about driving the continuous success of the brand”
DeLonghi do not keep a complex four page mission that spirals into the obscure, kind of refreshing actually.
EXPLORING THE COMPANY WEBSITE
DeLonghi has a Flash heavy website here that contains information on all of their corporate products. The information available for the ESAM 5500M is pretty thin. One might wonder if DeLonghi is actually trying to sell their products, or just hoping someone else will. In the end, who cares if they market well? As long as they make a great product, we’ll forgive them.
“WHERE CAN I BUY THE PERFECTA AND HOW MUCH SHOULD I PAY?”
I’ve seen some pretty high prices on this model. Amazon.com has a price of $1000.00 less than MSRP. Prices at Amazon start at around $1500.00
There a lot of super-automatic options for the consumer in this price range. Finding the perfect one for you may not be easy, but hopefully I have given you something to think about in terms of this particular model, and the company that makes it. DeLonghi is one of my favorite manufacturers, not simply for what they make, but for the way that they support what they make too.
Like I mentioned before, I hope you would never need to use their customer service, but the peace of mind that comes with great backing is worth a lot in my book. Middle man services, and warranties from an outfit like Amazon.com are great too.
I was passing through the local hospital the other day, and decided to stop in at the resident espresso stand. I figured I’d talk to the barista since it had been a while, and she had been a regular fixture for over 10 years. It will come as no shock to you, dear reader, that I talk to all of the local baristas, and since this one happened to use a business class DeLonghi machine it seemed to be fortunate timing.
My suspicions were confirmed as she explained that while traffic totaled only around 30 or so drinks per day on average, that still worked out to, well, a whole bunch of drinks! This island café doesn’t use a super-automatic, and perhaps it’s a stretch to correlate the two makers, but they do come from the same place, and are made by the same people, and she had nothing but good to say about her experience with the machine, and DeLonghi in general.
I’m a believer in trickle-down, and my guess is that they have enough experience to design and build a superior product.
I like the Perfecta ESAM 5500M. I think it represents an outstanding value in a sea of makers that you can easily over pay for. Getting more for your money when it comes to what many would consider a luxury item is rare. With the available discount, however, more is an acceptable concept when considering the ESAM 5500.
Depending on how you look at it, this maker can actually pay for itself over time. Factor in the daily cost of drinks purchased at your local café and the it won’t be long either.
Check Amazon for a good deal on the Perfecta.