Delonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300 Review

This is my Delonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300 Review.

I own the Delonghi Magnifica ESAM 4200, a very similar machine, and spent a whole day researching other users’ experiences with the 3300 to put together this review.

Let’s get started.

Should I Buy the Delonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300 (Quick Verdict)?

You should not buy the Delonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300. The machine is cheaply built and fraught with technical issues. It has a poor user interface and therefore just isn’t nice to use.

If you are thinking about buying a Delonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300, I would instead opt for a Philips LatteGo 4300.

The Philips LatteGo 4300 is similarly priced to the Delonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300, but with the Philips LatteGo 4300 you get the following features that the 3300 does not have:

  • A more sturdily built machine made with much less plastic
  • An LCD screen control panel
  • Automatic milk frothing
  • Far more coffee presets

This makes the Philips LatteGo 4300 a much better purchase than the Delonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300.

Product Overview

The Delonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300 is a superautomatic espresso machine.

This means that all you need to do to make a coffee with the machine is fill it up with whole coffee beans and water. 

The machine will grind the beans, dose the coffee and pull the shot for you.

The machine has a milk wand that allows you to steam and froth milk manually. 

Below is a table of key features and specifications of the Delonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300:

SpecificationDelonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300
Dimensions (width x depth x height in inches)11.0″ x 15.3″ x 14.4″
Available drinks2 (single espresso, double espresso)
Milk frothingYes – steam wand (manual operation)
Serving size settingsYes – 10 settings from 1 oz to 8 oz
Strength settingsYes – 10 settings from 0.5 oz to 1.5 oz
GrinderStainless steel conical grinder
Grinder settings13 settings
Grinder capacity8.8 oz
Bypass Doser Yes
Water tank capacity61 oz
Water filterNo
Warning light when water tank is empty?Yes
Used coffee ground container capacity14 pucks
Warning light when the coffee ground container is full?Yes
Self-cleaningSteam wand only
Descale modeYes
Descale warning lightYes
Can you open up the machine?Yes
Removable group headYes
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Pros of Delonghi Magnifica ESAM3300
  • Makes a good espresso
  • Removable group head
Cons of Delonghi Magnifica ESAM3300
  • Very noisy
  • Unintuitive user interface
  • Cheap, plasticy feel
  • Often succumbs to technical problems

I am now going to evaluate this machine across five key criteria. They are:

  • Quality of Coffee
  • User Friendliness
  • Ease of Cleaning and Maintenance
  • Build Quality
  • Value for Money

Quality of Coffee

The Delonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300 can make a really good espresso. The machine’s milk frother works really well too allowing you to make excellent milk-based coffee drinks. I’d pit its coffee up against any superautomatic espresso machine.

Quality of Black Coffee

I’m impressed by the quality of black coffee that the ESAM 3300 makes.

The machine brews espresso in 25 seconds.

This matches the barista-recommended brewing time for an espresso.

The vast majority of superautomatic machines brew espresso much faster than this, leading to an under-extracted and therefore very sharp espresso.

The Delonghi 3300’s longer brewing time means that it makes better espresso than most superautomatic machines.

Espresso dispenses out of the machine at around 188 Fahrenheit, suggesting that the machine brews at around 205 Fahrenheit (there is roughly a 10% loss in temperature between brewing and dispensing an espresso). 

This, again, matches barista recommendations.

My Delonghi Magnifica ESAM 4200 uses the exact same brewing system as the 3300 and makes an espresso better than most superautomatic espresso machines that I’ve tested once I get the machine’s settings right.

Dialling in a Good Coffee with the ESAM 3300

Speaking of settings, it takes a bit of trial and error to get the ESAM 3300 to make a good coffee.

One weakness of the machine is that its strength and size settings are not clearly labelled on the machine, rather they are just given arbitrary “notches” out of ten.

I wish that the machine told you what weight/volume their strength and serving size settings corresponded to

I find that with my ESAM 4200 (which has an identical brewing system to the 3300), you make the best coffee by setting your grinder to level 3 out of 7, setting the coffee strength to strongest, and setting the serving size to about halfway between smallest and medium.

From what I’ve seen online, setting your 3300 in a similar way to this should give you a great espresso

This will set the machine to make a 2.8 oz espresso with a 1.4 oz puck of coffee, achieving the desired coffee-to-water ratio of 1:2.

Since the machine brews with a maximum of 1.4 oz of coffee, I find it ridiculous that you can set the machine to brew up to 8 oz of coffee. 

No matter how strong you set your strength, a coffee this size will be watery to the point of being undrinkable.

I also think the 3300’s pump could be improved. 

If you set the grinder any finer than medium fine (level 3 out of 12), then the machine struggles to push water through the puck of coffee.

I suspect that the machine could brew with a finer coffee grind if it had a stronger pump. 

This may well improve the espresso that it makes.

That being said, it did not take me too much time to dial in a very good espresso with my Delonghi 4200 and I am sure that the ESAM 3300 is much the same. 

Other users report that similar settings (grinder set to medium fine, strength on highest, and serving size on medium-low) produced excellent results.

I just wish these measurements were better signposted on the machine.

Quality of Milk Frother

The ESAM 3300’s milk frother is pretty good. 

It’s a little on the weak side as far as heat and pressure are concerned. 

This is a good thing for beginners as you are less likely to scorch your milk, but it means that large quantities of milk may froth a little bit slower than with a commercial espresso machine.

The machine’s milk wand is attached to the machine by a pivot joint. 

Ideally, the wand would be attached to the machine via a ball joint so I can move it around in the milk as I am frothing. This is a small nitpick, however. 

In reality, there isn’t too much difference between milk wands and the ESAM 3300s can froth and steam milk just fine.

Quality of Coffee Overall 9/10. I’d happily pit the Delonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300’s coffee against any superautomatic espresso machine, including ones far more expensive than it.

User Friendliness

The Delonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300 has a very basic and unintuitive user interface which makes it tricky to use. The machine is also incredibly loud which also adds to it being a pain to use.

Ease of Setup

The machine is pretty easy to set up, with you just needing to flush the machine with a bit of water through both its milk wand and its coffee spouts.

The 3300’s manual gives you very clear instructions on how to set up the machine, you can find this here.

Ease of Use

Although the 3300 is not super-difficult to use, it is quite annoying to use for a couple of reasons.

The first of these is that the machine is incredibly loud.

Many other reviews of the machine say that its grinder is loud, but product demonstration videos suggest that the machine is not just loud when grinding beans but also when it is turning on and heating up.

The heating up stage is particularly grating, with the machine making an on-and-off blare for about 20 seconds while it is doing this. 

If my 4200 is anything to go by, then the machine is so loud when it is heating up that someone on the floor above you can hear it, even when their door is closed.

If you are making coffee with this machine first thing in the morning expect to hear complaints from anyone living with you.

The second problem with this machine, as far as its user-friendliness is concerned, is that its display is really unintuitive.

The machine tells you what part of the brewing process it is by having the lights of certain buttons either flash or blink. 

These buttons have symbols, but it’s far from obvious what these symbols represent. 

You will need to know what these symbols mean in advance of using the machine to be able to brew with it easily.

What does this middle button mean?

While the machine’s manual does tell you what these light patterns and symbols denote, illuminated words or an LCD screen with words would make using the machine so much easier.

Users also report the ESAM 3300’s buttons to not be very responsive. 

This, combined with the machine not communicating what part of the brewing process it is in very well, can lead to lots of confusion if the machine is not working how you expect it.

This lack of intuitiveness also makes it hard for someone who has never used the machine before to make a coffee with it. 

This machine is therefore not suitable for office use.

Technical issues with the machine are also indicated by patterns of button flashes. This is quite difficult to understand and makes the machine hard to troubleshoot.

Ease of Use Rating: 3/10. The machine is a pain to use, plain and simple. It really needs an overhaul of its user interface.

Ease of Cleaning and Maintenance

Although the machine does not self-clean, its removable parts make it easy enough to clean. The machine’s removable group head means that you can deep clean and maintain it without the aid of a technician.

Messiness of the Machine

The Delonghi Magnifica 3300 doesn’t make excessive amounts of the mess when you use it.

The machine has a large enough drip tray that any coffee or water drips immediately after brewing will land in it, rather than on your counter.

I haven’t read any reports online of the machine randomly sneezing out coffee or water, which is something that can add to the messiness of more poorly built machines.

The only time that the machine can make a bit of a mess is when you open it up to remove its drip tray and used coffee grounds container.

These components of the machine slide out of the main body of the machine. However, this sliding mechanism isn’t the smoothest and can jam, even when you pull it out gently.

If this jam happens then this can cause liquid in the drip tray, and ground coffee in the container, to spill out into the machine which you then need to clean up.

As it’s dark in the machine, cleaning this up can be a bit of a pain.

Removable Parts

All of the 3300’s components that come into direct contact with coffee, milk or water are removable (except for its internal pipes). 

This makes cleaning the machine easy as you can remove its parts and clean them in the sink or dishwasher.

The only time that you will need to clean components fixed to the machine is during descaling, or if you spill something inside the machine (which as I said earlier, can happen).

The table below shows what parts of the Delonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300 are removable and what parts are dishwasher friendly:

ComponentRemovableDishwasher friendly
Water tankYesNo
Steam wandNoNo
Steam wand headYesYes
Drip trayYesNo
Drip tray lidYesYes
Used coffee grounds containerYesNo
Group headYesNo
Bypass DoserNoNo

I particularly like the fact that the machine’s group head is removable.

This is what the group head looks like when you remove it

Dirty group heads can drastically decrease the quality of coffee that a superautomatic espresso machine can make.

Machines that do not have removable group heads, therefore, tend to age quicker than ones that do.

Blocked group heads are also a leading cause of technical issues with superautomatic espresso machines.

A removable group head means that you can easily rinse and lubricate it, which can quickly solve many technical problems that you might face with the ESAM 3300.

If you had such issues with machines that did not have a removable group head, you might have to call in an expensive technician to help troubleshoot it.

Descaling

The Magnifica ESAM 3300 tells you when it needs to be descaled, and has a descaling mode that makes descaling really easy to do.

All you need to do to descale the machine is put it into descale mode and fill its water tank with descaling solution and water. 

The machine will then run this solution through its internal pipes.

The machine will make you descale it roughly every 3-4 months depending on the hardness of the water you use. 

You can set water hardness when you first set up the machine, and the machine comes with a water hardness strip to help you do this.

Although descaling this machine is easy, I wish that the machine came with some sort of water filter so you did not have to descale it so often.

Ease of Cleaning and Maintenance: 8/10. The machine’s large number of removable parts makes it easy to clean and I love the fact that its group head is removable.

Design and Build Quality

The machine feels like it was cheaply built and is prone to a number of technical problems.

Look and Feel of the Machine

Although the machine has a metallic paint finish, the second you touch it you realize that it is made out of plastic. 

Its exterior is particularly thin and plasticky. 

This cheap feel is epitomized when you try and remove or reattach the machine’s drip tray. When you do this it makes a noise similar to when you eject a VHS (remember those?) from a VHS player. 

I would not be surprised if any of the hinges of the machine were to break under a small amount of excess pressure, or if any removable parts of the machine would break if dropped.

In short, I’m unimpressed with the machine’s build quality.

Quality of Grinder

The ESAM 3300 uses a stainless steel conical burr grinder.

While this is a high-quality grinder (these types of grinders generally retail for $150 – $200 by themselves), the interplay between the grinder and the machine can be improved.

The machine cannot brew coffee on its grinder’s finest settings, as it cannot pump water with enough pressure to pump it through such a fine puck of coffee.

This makes you wonder why the machine includes a grinder that can grind coffee so fine, and if its espresso quality can be improved with a stronger pump.

Any Known Technical Issues

There is one technical issue that I have noticed people regularly report online about the Delonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300. 

Machine Mistakenly Thinks Used Coffee Container is Full

A problem that plagues many Delonghi superautomatic machines (including the ESAM 3300) is that it mistakenly thinks that its used coffee ground container is full.

This will cause the machine to essentially “lock up” and not be able to make coffee.

You know that this is happening because the light underneath the “empty coffee grounds container” symbol is flashing.

This problem occurs because the empty used coffee grounds container warning light is triggered by a microswitch within the machine. 

This switch can be easily bumped when reinserting the drip tray into the machine. Once it is bumped on, the “empty empty coffee grounds container” warning will be permanently on and the machine will not be able to make coffee until it is turned off again.

To fix this problem you need to unscrew the bottom of the machine to access this microswitch and turn it off.

You can find a video on how to do this below:

This is a really annoying problem seeing how easily it occurs, how hard it is to fix, and how it renders the machine useless when it happens.

It has happened to my 4200 on more than one occasion.

Design and Build Quality Rating: 4/10. I’m really unimpressed with the ESAM 3300’s plasticky feel. The buggy full of used ground coffee container warning is a big reason why I don’t recommend this machine.

Value For Money

The Delonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300 is decent value for money compared to similarly priced Jura machines. A Jura machine of a similar price will only be able to make black coffee, whereas the Delonghi has a milk frother.

However, Philips’s range of superautomatic machines offers much better value than the Delonghi 3300. Similarly priced machines such as the 3200 and 4300 have both a greater range of functionalities and a higher build quality.

Value for Money Rating: 6/10

What Users Say

As of August 2022, the Delonghi ESAM 3300 has been reviewed 3,839 times on Amazon and has an average rating of 4.3 stars out of 5.

Positive Reviews

Positive reviews of the machine speak highly of the quality of coffee that it makes.

5-star review, January 2019:  “For me it makes a close to perfect, strong espresso in about 3 minutes after turning it on. I heat a cup for use with it and the double shot is delicious and very hot. The single shot is maybe just a bit better but its temperature is a couple of degrees cooler than I like.”

5-star review, March 2022: “This thing makes the best coffee and lattes ever.”

Negative Reviews

Negative reviews concur with my observation that the machine is quite buggy.

They also point out that the machine is terrible at helping you diagnose what is wrong with it as it uses a stupid system of cryptic error warning lights.

1-star review, February 2013: The machine groaned and clunked, spilled the entire carafe of water all over my counter and floor, and lit up with a series of error lights. Any error light currently on prevents the machine from making espresso. I now proudly own a 35 pound paperweight.”

1-star review. February 2020: “I’m so disappointed that it didn’t work out for me. I read all the great reviews and bought this machine because I usually believe other users.

– Flashing red lights abound, it looks great next to our Christmas Tree!

– Flashing red lights telling me to fill the water, even though I only brewed two cups, and the reservoir is 3/4 full.

– Flashing red lights to clean the tray, so I opened it, and there were only a few used coffee pucks and hardly any water on the tray reservoir. I cleaned it anyway, inserted back in, but the lights kept flashing.”

These negative reviews match my experience with the Delonghi ESAM 4200 which combines bugginess with a stupid error light system that makes it really hard to troubleshoot.

Best Alternative to Delonghi 3300 – Philips LatteGo 4300

If you are thinking about buying the Delonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300, I’d instead recommend you go and buy the Philips LatteGo 4300.

The Philips LatteGo 4300 is another superautomatic espresso machine at a similar price to the Delonghi, however, the LatteGo 4300 has a fully automatic milk frother rather than a manual one.

This means that rather than froth the milk yourself with a milk wand, all you need to do is fill the LatteGo 4300’s milk container with milk and the machine will froth and steam milk for you.

The LatteGo 4300’s milk frother is excellent and can froth milk to a similar standard as the ESAM 3300.

The two main reasons why I would recommend the Philips LatteGo 4300 over the Delonghi 3300 is that the Philips has an LCD screen to guide you through the brewing, cleaning and troubleshooting process and that it has a much higher build quality than the Delonghi.

This means that you will not have the frustrating “why is this machine not making coffee and what do these lights mean?” face off with the LatteGo.

Final Verdict

I would not recommend buying the Delonghi Magnifica ESAM 3300.

This is because the machine has a poor user interface and a low build quality.

It is therefore prone to technical issues and its poor interface makes it hard to diagnose and troubleshoot the technical issues. 

This makes the machine very frustrating to use.

Instead, I would recommend buying the similarly priced Philips LatteGo 4300. The machine makes a similar quality espresso to the Delonghi but is much easier and more pleasant to use.