Taking its place in a line of very impressive home coffee machines made by Delonghi, the Scultura coffee machine certainly looks the part with a very contemporary 50's diner look to its case.
It also measures 24.2cm wide, by 38.3cm deep, by 30.5cm high so it should be quite at home in any size kitchen without taking up a massive footprint. But aesthetics aside; what can this machine do? And, how easy is it to use?
Let's start by taking a quick look at what you can make with the Scultura. Like any good coffee machine it comes with all the facilities you need to make a good espresso and also a decent steam frother – for an authentic, creamy foam. This combo is enough to make virtually all the coffees we love from simple espresso shots, rich black coffee to cappuccinos and lattes.
Let's dive in and start by looking at its espresso pump.
Powerful 15 Bar Espresso Pump
At the root of most of our favourite coffees you'll typically find a decent espresso. It forms the 'core' of the coffee and it needs to be good! To help you create the perfect espresso the Scultura comes with its own integrated 15 bar pump to produce rich espresso and thick crema.
Although this might be expected from every coffee machine, unfortunately this is not always the case. The key to the Sculturas ability to create a decent espresso is because it is a pump, opposed to a steam, driven system. Typically steam driven systems can produce only 2-3 bars of pressure and it is generally agreed that you need at least 9 bars of pressure to produce good espresso.
The reason for this is simple; the higher the pressure the finer the coffee grounds you can use. This allows for more extraction of flavour and the essences of the coffee due to an increased surface area.
The crema device (the point of the machine where the espresso is delivered) features two nozzles, just like you would find on the machines in your favourite coffee shop, and will allow you to comfortably sit one cup, when you're making coffee for yourself, or two cups beneath it when you have friends over.
Integrated Steaming Wand
On the right hand side of the machine you'll find an integrated steaming wand. This little nozzle forces steam and air into milk to simultaneously heat and foam it. This creates the wonderfully rich foam and hot milk for cappuccinos and lattes. In fact Delonghi calls the steamer wand a 'cappuccino system'.
The truth is, I am in two minds about these. They don't provide the convenience of, say, an automated milk frother, but they do provide a wonderful foam once you've had a little practice. These aren't inherently difficult to use but they don't offer the 'one-push' button convenience that we are all used to. So it is worth remembering this before purchase.
The steamer wand does have a variable pressure valve so you can fine tune it to level you're comfortable with and you can keep it lower until you get more familiar with using it – Delonghi recommends turning this at least half a turn.
It is also worth mentioning that, because the foam is made with just milk, it will always taste better (in my opinion) than the somewhat overly sweet and artificial tasting foam which the capsule based machines like the Dolce Gusto range prepares.
In most circumstances you can simply place the tip of the steaming wand a few millimeters into the milk and discharge the steam to create a foam. However, if you like a denser, creamier foam you need to plunge the tip into the base of the milk and gently rotate the container whilst moving it up and down in a slow, steady motion (this might require a little practice – but is really worth it!).
Other Useful features
Delonghi really shows their experience in the market place when you begin to look at the extra features they include with their coffee machines – and the Scultura is no exception to this.
On top of the device you'll find a handy cup warming plate to keep your cups and your coffee warmer for longer – this is exactly what most coffee shops do.
You will also find a number of crema filters to fit inside the crema device. There are two filters (each a different size) that are sized to prepare one or two cups of coffee respectively. In each filter you can place your favourite coffee blend and Delonghi have also included a measuring spoon with integrated tamping device so you can compress the coffee for even water penetration, which ultimately creates a better cup of coffee.
You can also use ESE pods with this machine for increased convenience.
You might have noticed that this machine does not feature a coffee grinder, and that's simply because it is not meant to. Bean-to-cup machines (which feature a grinder) are typically much more expensive than than the Scultura (often over double the price). However, if this is more what you are looking for you might want to check out the Magnifica before deciding on the Scultura.
How To Use The Scultura Coffee Machine
Ease of use is very important when it comes to coffee machines because, let's face it, we probably would like to use them every day before work or in the evenings to replace the boring and often bitter cup of instant coffee.
Using the machine is very simple and Delonghi markets this device as a simple '3 button system', which I would agree with. On the left, front-hand side of the coffee maker three buttons are located. The first is the power button which turns the device on and begins the pre-heating process.
The next button down has a button next to it which will illuminate when the machine is ready to start preparing coffee. Pressing this button will cause hot water to be pushed through the crema device and prepares the coffee/espresso.
Finally, the last button is the steam button and light. As you've probably guessed this will also glow green when unit is ready to prepare steam. You need to press the steam button to start the preparation process. Once this is ready you can prepare the milk using the method described above.
Looking at the back of the device you'll find a very roomy 1.4 litre water tank. This is enough to easily prepare a good few cups of coffee before refilling. This is important because it is frustrating to constantly refill the water tank. Particularly if you're planning on using this more than once or twice a day. This was often a problem with a Dolce Gusto machine I own which would only just prepare two cups of coffee before I had to refill it.
That's really all this is to know about how to use this machine and, it really is a simple 3 button system to get great coffee.
What we think about the Delonghi Scultura Coffee Machine
The Scultura really is a wonderful device which represents the mid-range models available and represents an affordable way to get authentic coffee in your home.
Its ease of use, stylish design and useful features and excellent price point make it hard to pick any faults with this device and we believe it is sure to be a hit with any coffee fan. But we especially think it will please those people who are looking to make their first coffee-shop-style coffees in the comfort of their own home.
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