Delonghi ECP3420 Review

This is my Delonghi ECP3420 review.

I have never owned this machine, however, I do own the Delonghi ESAM3300, so I have some experience with this manufacturer and their products.

I spent half a day researching other people’s experiences with this product online to put together this review.

Should I Buy the Delonghi ECP3420?

I would only recommend buying the Delonghi ECP3420 if you only intend on making espresso (and no milk drinks) with this machine, and if you want as inexpensive a machine as possible.

The machine can make a decent espresso considering its price tag, is easy to use and reliable.

Its milk frother is pretty poor, so I cannot recommend it for milk-based coffee drinks.

If you want to make milk-based drinks, then I would recommend buying the Delonghi ECP3630 instead of the ECP3420.

The ECP3630 has a far superior milk frother compared to the ECP3420. 

The ECP3630’s milk frother can both steam and froth milk well, allowing you to make both latte and cappuccino with it to a high standard.

Product Overview

The Delonghi ECP3420 is a compact semi-automatic espresso machine.

This means that you need to dose out your ground coffee and tell the machine when to start and stop brewing your espresso.

The machine does not have a built-in grinder, so you will either need a separate grinder or buy pre-ground coffee, to use with this machine.

The machine also has a steam wand which Delonghi describes as using a “cappuccino system”.

In reality, this means that the frother creates large bubbles in the milk as it steams it. 

This is good to make milk foam to top coffees with, but you will not get the silky microfoam that you ideally want in a latte.

Below is a table containing the key features and specifications of this machine:

SpecificationDelonghi ECP3420
Type of machineSemi-automatic
Available black drinksSingle espressoDouble espresso
Milk functionalityMilk wand with “cappuccino system” (froths rather than steams milk)
Size (width x depth x height)7.25” x 9.6” x 11.9” 
Maximum mug clearance (drip tray removed)5 inches (6 inches)
Water tank capacity37 oz
Portafilter type3 in 1 pressurised portafilter
Pump system15 bar pump
Heating systemSingle boiler
Descale warning lightNo
Removable water tankYes
Removable drip trayYes
Buy on AmazonCheck the latest price
Pros of Delonghi ECP3420
  • Affordable
  • Easy to use and clean – even for beginners
  • Small enough to fit on a crowded counter
Cons of Delonghi ECP3420
  • Use of pressurised portafilter means that coffee does not extract thoroughly. This creates a bland espresso.
  • Clogs up when you use finely ground coffee
  • Portafilter is too small to dose double espresso correctly
  • Milk wand is not powerful enough to foam more than a single portion of milk

I am now going to assess the Delonghi ECP 3420 across four key criteria:

  • Quality of Drinks
  • Ease of Use
  • Design and Build Quality
  • Value for Money

Quality of Drinks

The Delonghi ECP3420 makes a decent, but not great, espresso. Its steam wand can froth a small portion of milk (enough for one cappuccino) well but lacks the power to froth larger portions of milk.

Quality of Espresso

Since the Delonghi ECP3420 is a semi-automatic machine, you need to dose out the coffee and water in each drink yourself.

This can improve the quality of espresso that the machine makes so long as you are happy to put in the work of dosing out your coffee and water accurately. 

Having full control over coffee and water dosing means that you can get as close as possible to the optimal ground coffee-to-water ratio for an espresso (2:1).

To dose out the ground coffee and water in your espresso you will need a scale to weigh both the ground coffee that you use and your final espresso shot. 

The ECP3420 does not come with a scale to do this. 

The machine only has enough clearance space to fit a scale underneath your cup if you use an espresso cup. You have no chance of fitting a scale underneath your cup if you use a larger mug to catch your brewed espresso.

One big downside of the machine (as far as its coffee quality is concerned) is that it does not generate enough pressure to brew finely ground coffee.

If you brew with finely ground coffee, your water will not pull through the coffee puck but instead, stay clogged in the portafilter.

Espresso should ideally be brewed with very finely ground coffee beans. When brewing with the ECP3420 you need to use coffee that is a fair bit coarser than this.

This need to use coarser-than-ideal coffee means that the ECP3420’s espressos are a bit on the bland and watery side. They are somewhere between espresso and filter coffee.

Bear in mind that all the espresso machines in the ECP3420’s price range have this problem.

You can use pre-ground coffee labelled as suitable for espresso with the ECP3420, as this is usually ground to a coarser level than “true” espresso coffee should be. 

This is most likely so it can be brewed with cheaper espresso machines.

Quality of Milk-Based Drinks

The ECP3420’s steam wand can only froth milk and creates large bubbles in the milk when it does so.

It can therefore only make foam to top coffee with, as you find with cappuccino and macchiato. 

You cannot make silky steamed milk for a latte with this machine.

The steam wand on this machine is only powerful to steam milk for about 25 seconds at a time. 

This means that if you want to steam milk for more than one drink, you will have to steam each portion of milk individually. This is a bit of a pain.

The steam wand on this machine is a bit crude in all honesty. Don’t expect coffee shop-level milk foam from it. 

It’s not as bad as some other reviews make out, however. 

You can see a clip of it in action in the video below:

Quality of Drinks Rating: 5/10

The Delonghi ECP3420 can only make an average espresso due to its lack of brewing pressure. While its steam wand can froth milk, it’s too weak to make anything that resembles cafe-quality steamed milk.

Ease of Use

Although the Delonghi ECP3420 requires you to dose and pull espresso shots yourself, it has a very intuitive user interface that makes this as easy as possible.

Workflow

The machine requires you to grind and dose up the ground coffee for every drink that you make.

While this is obviously more work than a superautomatic espresso machine (which just requires you to press a button to make espresso), many espresso drinkers view brewing the coffee as part of the fun of espresso drinking.

Therefore, so long as you know what you are getting yourself in for, the work involved with making an espresso with the ECP3640 should not be a problem.

Just be aware that you will need to buy a separate grinder (and ideally a finely tuned scale) to use whole beans with this machine.

The machine doesn’t have any fiddly bits to make brewing an espresso any more work than necessary. It takes about 30 seconds to heat up, which is faster than most machines of a similar price.

The machine can make several espressos back to back, but can only froth one portion of milk at a time.

User Interface

The machine is dial operated, and its controls are laid out in a really straightforward way. 

You can see this control panel below:

This is what the following dial positions refer to:

  • ON: Makes the machine heat up
  • Cup/Water Droplets icon: Makes the machine dispense water through your coffee grounds
  • Steam icon: Makes the machine’s steam wand heat up
  • Lever on the right of the machine: Turns steam wand on/off

The “READY” and “ON” lights indicate that the machine is at the right temperature to brew and on respectively.

I think that this control panel is really intuitive and I can’t find any faults with it.

Ease of Using the Steam Wand

All steam wands take a bit of practice to master.

That being said, the EC3420’s are easier to use than most as it is not very powerful. 

This lack of power means that you have little risk of scorching your milk. Scorching milk is the most common way that beginners mess up milk frothing.

Unfortunately, the lack of power in the machine’s steam wand means that you can only steam one portion of milk at a time. 

As you get better at milk frothing you’ll probably find this frustrating, especially if you want to make coffees for several people at a time.

Ease of Cleaning

The ECP3420’s portafilter, steam wand and brew head (the part of the machine where the portafilter attaches) need to be cleaned after every coffee.

Fortunately, the portafilter and steam wand are removable so can be easily cleaned in the sink. The group head cannot be removed but just needs a quick wipe with a damp cloth to clean.

The other parts of the machine that come into direct contact with water and/or coffee are its drip tray and water tank.

The table below shows you how often each part of the ECP3420 needs to be cleaned, and whether it is removable and dishwasher safe:

PartHow often does it need to be cleaned?Removable?Dishwasher safe
PortafilterAfter each useYesNo
Steam wandAfter each useYesNo
Drip trayEvery two weeksYesNo
Water tankEvery weekYesNo
Internal pipes (descaling)Every two monthsNoN/A

The ECP3420’s water tank does not use a water filter. It, therefore, needs to be descaled every two months. Machines that use a water filter need to be descaled far less often than this.

The machine is easy to descale, all you need to do is fill up its water tank with a descaling solution and make the machine dispense this solution.

Unfortunately, the machine does not have a descale warning light. You, therefore, need to remember to descale it every two months. 

Using the machine when it needs to be descaled can wear out its pump and make it unusable in the long term.

Ease of Use Rating: 8/10

The Delonghi ECP3420 is very easy to use as far as semi-automatic machines go. So long as you are happy to grind and dose out the coffee for each drink, its intuitive user interface makes it a breeze to use.

Design and Build Quality

The machine is sturdy and reliable, although its portafilter is too small. This prevents you from using enough ground coffee to brew a proper double espresso.

Internal Build Quality

The ECP3420 has a decent internal build quality for its price.

I cannot find many cases online of the machine failing to heat up or dispense enough water. This suggests that its internal systems will rarely succumb to technical problems.

The machine can warm up in 30 seconds and make several espressos in a row. Not many machines in this price range have the power to do this.

As mentioned earlier, the machine is let down by the weakness of its pump as it cannot generate enough pressure to brew finely ground coffee.

This is an issue that plagues Delonghi espresso machines as has only been recently rectified in its top-of-the-line machines (which are over 10x the price of the ECP3420).

External Build Quality

The machine is largely made of plastic. That’s why none of its removable parts is dishwasher friendly.

That being said, the machine is pretty sturdy and weighty. None of its external parts feels like they could break easily.

Size and Aesthetics

The ECP3420 is small enough that it should be able to fit in a kitchen with limited countertop space.

It is only 11.9 inches high, so you shouldn’t need to worry about low cabinets obstructing you from removing and refilling the water tank at the top of the machine.

The machine has 5 inches of cup clearance (6 inches if you remove its drip tray). It will not be able to accommodate most travel mugs.

Are There Any Known Technical Issues with the Delonghi ECP3420? 

People who use this machine often complain about its portafilter being badly made.

Users say that the portafilter’s basket is too small. 

They say that you need to use the double espresso basket to make a single espresso and that the portafilter simply cannot hold enough ground coffee to make a decent-strength double espresso.

Others have complained that the portafilter handle can easily break apart from the basket.

I have owned other espresso machines that had this problem and it’s because the portafilter basket is attached to the handle with glue.

Since the portafilter basket gets hot during brewing, this glue can melt, causing the head to detach from the handle.

Better-made portafilters have their handle attached to the basket with a screw, so do not have this problem.

Design and Build Quality: 7/10

Poorly made portafilter aside, the ECP3420 is a sturdy and reliable machine that is compact enough to fit in any kitchen.

Value For Money

The Delonghi ECP3420 is inexpensive for what it is. 

Brands that make more budget-friendly espresso machines (Mr Coffee for example) often do not last a very long time before their heating system or pump deteriorates.

While the ECP3420 offers decent value for money, I think that the Delonghi ECP3630 offers much better value for money.

The ECP3630 only costs slightly more than the ECP3420, and for that, you get a much better milk frother that can make milk for lattes as well as cappuccinos.

Value for Money Rating: 7/10

What Users Say

As of September 2022, the machine has an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

Positive reviews of the machine talk about how easy it is to use and the excellent value for money that it provides.

Amazon review, July 2022: “Espresso part was a breeze, the whole thing works really well and only takes a short time to get ready to use. Water container was easy to get to, easy to fill and simple to put back in. This whole thing is working out really well and is very impressive for the price point.”

Negative reviews of the machine say that it just does not produce enough pressure to make a well-flavored espresso.
Reddit feedback on the machine, July 2022: “The machine uses a pressurised portafilter rather than a pump to get it to the correct pressure. The resulting espresso may be drinkable, but not really anything better than what you might get out of a Moka pot”

Product Alternatives

If you are looking to buy a lower-mid priced semi-automatic espresso machine I would recommend the Delonghi ECP3630 or the Breville Bambino over the Delonghi ECP3420.

Delonghi ECP3630 – A Much Better Steam Wand for Only a Fraction More Money

The ECP3630 is very similar to the ECP3420 but has a much higher quality steam wand.

The steam wand has two settings, a steam setting and a froth setting. This allows you to make both latte-style drinks and layered drinks with milk foam. With the ECP3420 you can only make layered drinks with milk foam.

The ECP3630’s steam wand is also much more powerful than the ECP3420 so can steam/froth much larger portions of milk.

Breville Bambino – Best entry-level espresso machine (but not the cheapest)

The Breville Bambino is the best of the more affordable espresso machines on the market.

It has none of the pressure issues of the ECP3420, so can make consistently high-quality espresso.

The machine costs around twice the price of the ECP3420, but it is worth this extra cost if you really care about the quality of your espresso.

It’s worth mentioning that as this machine does not use a pressurised portafilter, you will need a good quality burr grinder to use this machine effectively.

Final Verdict

I’d only recommend the Delonghi ECP3420 if you are looking to test the water with an affordable espresso machine and aren’t looking to make milk-based drinks regularly.
The machine is reliable and does the job, but it’s never going to make world-class espresso. Its steam wand isn’t the best, and I would recommend buying the Delonghi ECP3630 instead if you are planning on making milk-based drinks with your machine.