DeLonghi Dedica EC 680 Coffee Machine Review

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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.

Fill with coffee, tamp down, press buttons, coffee comes out. Steamed milk optional. Life is good.
Fill with coffee, tamp down, press buttons, coffee comes out. Steamed milk optional. Life is good.

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.
No lights could mean it's off... or just waiting for you to tap its buttons.
No lights could mean it’s off… or just waiting for you to tap its buttons.

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.
Where the worlds of coffee convenience and the late, great Eddie Guerrero collide. This is an ESE coffee pod.
Where the worlds of coffee convenience and the late, great Eddie Guerrero collide. This is an ESE coffee pod.

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.
That's a lot of wrapper packaging to go around one paper filter. Plus there's the box that these come in, further adding to the waste.
That’s a lot of wrapper packaging to go around one paper filter. Plus there’s the box that these come in, further adding to the waste.

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.

Author: Alex

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

7 thoughts on “DeLonghi Dedica EC 680 Coffee Machine Review

    1. It’s decent. I don’t do a lot of cappuccino style coffees at home so I didn’t use it extensively, but it frothed full fat milk nicely and was easy enough to clean, with removable parts. It’d be wise, though, to have a small drip tray handy for if you forget to swivel it back into place as otherwise you’ll get a little bit of dripped milk. Then again, like me, you may have cats…

  1. If you read through the manual it states that the machine takes about 5 espresso’s to “calibrate” before you get the real deal. I’ve had mine for roughly a week and my coffee seems to taste better with every shot. I adjusted the temperature setting to the hottest one and have really taken to learning a good tamp. I also think filtered water is a must to help reduce lime scale build up. You can throw in the Delonghi filter at 9.99 for 2 months or just invest in a Brita style pitcher for refills.

  2. I’ve just bought my first delonghi dedica and followed all the set instructions. When I used the hot water / steamer function on the side to flush water through the system the pump made an alarming rattling sound. Is this normal or do I need to send the machine back?
    Thank you.

  3. In principle this is a brilliantly designed and constructed machine, and potentially it could produce really good espresso at a fantastic price. It also appears to be very reliable. Unfortunately, the whole system is calibrated to use the horrible “fake crema” baskets supplied with the device. These have a double bottom and a single tiny hole in the bottom of the basket.
    The objective of this system is to make the Dedica idiot proof, but it also prevents it from being able to make really good coffee. The tiny hole sprays the coffee into a plastic cup with channels inside the portafilter at high pressure, foaming it and creating what looks like crema, but isn’t. The hole also makes it possible to use quite coarsely ground coffee, because the counter-pressure to the pump is created by the hole and not by the tamped coffee grounds. And this, in turn, means that the hot water isn’t being forced through the coffee at high pressure for a good extraction. Instead, the tiny hole in the basket is creating the pressure and the coffee is really just soaking in the hot water and escaping slowly through the tiny hole. This does not a good espresso make.
    It’s possible to modify the basket by either completely moving the second bottom with the tiny hole, or drilling out the hole. Then you see how the system is calibrated only for the tiny hole: You then have to grind the coffee much too fine, because the pump pushes the water through too fast. Even with a much too fine, powdery mocca grind, it’s almost impossible to get a single shot to take more than 10 seconds, which is about a third of what you need for good extraction. The result is espresso without body or complex aroma, and is a waste of good beans.
    The only way to get long enough extraction with a modified basket is either to put twice as much water through or to use way too much coffee, or both. And the result still isn’t as good as a 25-30 second extraction with the right amount of coffee and the right amount of water.
    All this is really frustrating, because this amazing little machine would be quite capable of making a perfect espresso. The pump is actually too strong, not too weak, and the water temperature is excellent. And the only things coffee grounds understand is temperature and pressure — they don’t know anything about the price of the machine.
    It would be possible to produce a “pro” version of this machine with proper espresso baskets and the necessary calibration to use them correctly, and a proper steam want instead of the horrible cappucinatore that makes fake foam in the same way that the tiny hole baskets make fake crema. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that DeLonghi thinks that would be a good idea.

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