Sunday, September 25, 2022

Capsule Considers: We Review the De’Longhi Specialista Maestro Espresso Machine (AKA the Lockdown Saviour)

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Welcome to Capsule Considers, where we try out and review the latest products on the market and offer our honest, unbiased opinions, free from any obligation or expectation because if you’re parting with your hard-earned money based on any of our recommendations, we’re gonna make sure it’s damn well worth it. 

Coffee addict Kelly Bertrand plays barista over lockdown with De’Longhi’s Specialista Maestro Espresso Machine – and finds she doesn’t want to go back to the old normal after falling in love with her espresso machine. In a totally normal way, of course.

For me – and for a lot of New Zealanders – coffee is more a drink.

It’s a routine. It’s the way of starting each day right. It’s a physical reminder of a reset and a refresh.

*Fleabag voice* Coffee, Anthony, is everything.

Love is Everything — smilecapsules: #in quarantimes we remember endless...
If you don’t get this reference first please make yourself a cup of coffee and watch Fleabag quick smart.

The first day cafes re-opened for takeaway I wandered down for my usual flat white, and a few sips in I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Why didn’t it taste as good?

The answer was on my kitchen bench. For the two months prior I’d be using De’Longhi’s Specialista Maestro Espresso Machine, and the proof was in the pudding – or rather, the Keep Cup. It’s better than bought.

We all watched as Aotearoa’s love affair with coffee only intensified during Covid, when we realised we didn’t know what we had until it was gone.

In an effort to pandemic-proof our caffeine cravings many of us have thought upgrading the at-home coffee situation – no disrespect to the humble and hearty Red Ribbon Roast, but sometimes you need the real deal.

And if you’re still in the market for a machine that’ll turn your kitchen counter into a café, the Specialista Maestro is your girl.

The Maestro is big, bolshy and brilliant – but it’s also smart, kind of like The Governess on The Chase. Essentially, the machine takes care of all the science for you so you’re guaranteed to get a perfect cup of coffee every time and turns you into a barista before you’ve even had the chance to open both eyes.

And as one would suspect, it’s all about the beans. If you even know the smallest bit about beans, you’ll know different areas of the world produce different flavours and characteristics, and different roasts do the same. Now, I have enough to worry about in the world without figuring out this stuff, so the machine does it for you.

We’re talking sensor grinding technology; a smart in-built tamping station which means freshly-ground beans every morning but with none of the mess; dynamic infusion that automatically matches the grind and dose of your beans, and active temperature control where you can select from five different settings to bring out the best flavour of your beans.

(Plus, you do get some handy dandy instructions to help you which are extremely helpful!)

Once you’ve got your beans sorted, the Maestro comes with six pre-set recipes for New Zealand’s favourite kinds – flat white, cappuccino, latte, espresso, long black and ‘coffee’ – so you really don’t have to think.

You can even customise the volume of the recipes (milk and coffee) so you can make sure your favourite cup is always full.

You also have two milk options – the very café chic manual wand which will theoretically let you excel at latte art (the only thing I’ve managed to do is the ‘squigggly line’ and one time, something very rude that was very much on accident) or the convenient LatteCrema system where you chuck the milk into the container and let the machine do all the work.

While the Maestro is as smart as a Chaser, there is some intuitiveness to it and you do get better at conducting the perfect coffee symphony over time as you have a bit of a fiddle with different doses and grinds, depending on what coffee you’re using.

There’s a certain romance about making your coffee in the morning (well there is to me, I was single for too long I think) so I like using the manual wand for my milk, and I’ve got my grind and dose down to a science. I even have a bean guy. Yeah, I’m one of those Aucklanders.

The bottom line with anything that demands you shell out big bucks – and this is big bucks, 1999 of them, although De’Longhi have cheaper options that, in my opinion after using one at my bubble buddy’s house are very nearly as good – is that it needs to make your life not only easier, but better practically and emotionally.

I genuinely look forward to my 15 minutes of peace in the morning where I make my flat white, sit at my desk and plan my day. Being able to make a coffee that makes me this happy is a highlight to anyday, and in lockdown, some days it was the only highlight!

Bottom line, if you love coffee and you want to pandemic proof your morning cup, the Maestro will quickly become your best friend. It’s definitely mine.

(Apologies to my actual best friend, I’m sure you understand.)

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