The DeLonghi Dedica EC 680 Coffee Machine combines a “real” coffee machine and a filter pod system in one, mixing convenience with taste. At least, that’s the theory.
The DeLonghi Dedica EC 680 Coffee Machine is an Espresso machine with optional milk frother for making cappucino coffee on the side, and in that respect, it’s a simple, fairly effective little machine. Initial installation out of the box is straightforward once you’ve flushed enough water through the main filter head and steam wand, you’re ready to go.
That’s where things get interesting, because while the $349 DeLonghi Dedica EC 680 Coffee Machine is quite Dedica-ted (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) towards coffee production, it manages the interesting trick of using either proper ground coffee of whatever type you’d care to throw into it, or coffee pods if you’re more on the “convenience” side of the coffee equation. Coffee Pod machines have enjoyed a renaissance of late, because we’re a nation of rapid caffeine addicts, or something. More on that shortly.
As a dual use machine it makes sense to assess the DeLonghi Dedica EC 680 Coffee Machine from both sides of its coffee creation ability. DeLonghi supplied me with a DeLonghi Dedica EC 680 Coffee Machine for a month to test it out, because good coffee should be savoured, and that’s given me plenty of time to assess its good and bad points, as well as drink a lot of coffee. For the record, I regret nothing.
That’s largely because when you’re working from ground coffee, the DeLonghi Dedica EC 680 Coffee Machine is nicely idiot proof. Buttons cover single or dual cup delivery, and can be easily programmed to flow through as much or as little water as you’d like depending on personal tastes, and the steam wand works quickly and effectively, although a jug isn’t provided for swishing around the wand, Barista style. To be honest, I just tended to use another coffee cup.
The rear water container is of a decent size, so you’re not just making one or two cups from it before having to refill it. Refilling is simple, with the choice of either slotting the whole reservoir out, or opening it up at the top to pour water in. A thermoblock quickly heats the water before passing it through the coffee head, which means that the DeLonghi Dedica EC 680 Coffee Machine can make your coffee quite quickly indeed. One factor that caught me off-guard initially is that the DeLonghi Dedica EC 680 Coffee Machine suspends itself when not in use, which looks exactly like it’s off. There’s no state difference in the clickable on/off switch, but if you lightly tap the buttons they’ll flash to indicate that they’re operational or not. Equally, if the weather is colder you can check the top plate, which acts as a simple cup warmer if you like that kind of thing.
The DeLonghi Dedica EC 680 Coffee Machine does vibrate a little while making your coffee, and this is notable if you’re using larger cups, because they’ll often vibrate around on the serving plate while the coffee pours into them, adding to the general noise. Again, there’s coffee at the end of this particular rainbow, and as such a small amount of noise is quite bearable. I’ve used pure Pod machines that make much more racket. The shiny steel finish of my review machine initially looked quite nice, but you’ll have to be quite polish-happy to keep it shiny. Notably, my review sample picked up quite a few scratches from vibrating coffee cups on the holding plate, although that doesn’t affect the quality of the coffee in any way at all.
That nicely segues into the subject of coffee pods. It’s fair to say that while I appreciate the convenience, I’m not a big fan of coffee pods, and not from a “coffee snob” perspective per se. There are times when I’d chew raw caffeine if it were available, so I’m pretty far away from the coffee snob position.
No, my problem with coffee pods is with the pods themselves, because they’re quite wasteful when you consider they’re a wrapper around coffee that often uses up a significant amount of plastic, aluminium and paper, depending on construction.
The DeLonghi Dedica EC 680 Coffee Machine uses the ESE Pod system. Ever heard of it? Before the DeLonghi Dedica EC 680 Coffee Machine turned up, neither had I. They’re not a commonplace pod to find in any case. I tracked down a pack in David Jones, who also sell the DeLonghi Dedica EC 680 Coffee Machine itself, with 25 pods selling for $10, or 40c per cup. Not terrible in Pod terms, although the ESE pods are a little unlike most other pods, comprising a paper filter around the coffee itself.
That in theory should be more recyclable, or at least a bit more biodegradable than other pod alternatives, although the warm cosy green feelings do rather evaporate when you see the packaging they come in.
They’re a little bit easier than using coffee grounds, although only really marginally, and more on the end side where you can simply throw the ESE pod away as opposed to cleaning out the Coffee head. I don’t see that as too onerous, but your taste can of course vary.
So what to make of the DeLonghi Dedica EC 680 Coffee Machine? As a baseline simple to use coffee maker with coffee grounds it’s very nice indeed, and on that basis if you only want a simple machine it’s worth your while. If you’re more in the coffee pod space it could be a decent halfway house between pods and “real” coffee, and it does live up to the hype of being able to use either pods or grounds, but I can’t imagine too many Dedica owners opting for Pods long-term.