Are you on the hunt for the perfect compact espresso machine to brew café quality espresso at home?
After spending years in the coffee industry and testing countless models, I’ve narrowed it down to two top contenders:
- the Breville Bambino and
- the DeLonghi Dedica.
In this article, I’ll share my in-depth comparison of these two espresso powerhouses, highlighting the key features that might make one a better fit for your lifestyle and taste buds.
Here is a quick comparison of both machines.
|Feature||Breville Bambino||DeLonghi Dedica|
|Build Quality and Design||Stainless steel body, plastic and metal parts||Plastic body, heavier portafilter, metal switch|
|Dimensions||13″ deep x 12″ tall x 6″ wide||13″ deep x 12″ tall x 6″ wide|
|Weight||11 pounds||9 pounds|
|User Interface||Programmable buttons, manual steam start||Programmable buttons, steam switch|
|Startup Time||3 seconds||40 seconds|
|Extraction Temperature||Not adjustable||Adjustable|
|Portafilter Size||54 millimeters||51 millimeters|
|Non-Pressurized Baskets||Yes, with better performance||Yes, with slightly inferior performance|
|Steam Arm Type||Manual single hole steam arm||Panarello|
|Steaming Speed||Faster transition to steaming temperature||Slower transition, similar steaming speed|
|Color Options||Silver only||Variety of colors available|
|Targeted End Users||Greater control, better non-pressurized espresso||Convenience, better pressurized espresso|
Dive in and let me guide you towards the machine that’s best for you.
Build Quality and Design
Let’s compare the design and the build quality if these two machines.
Material and construction
When it comes to the Breville Bambino and the DeLonghi Dedica, both machines have solid build quality. They use a mix of plastic and metal parts, with each machine opting for different materials in certain areas.
- For instance, the body of the Breville is stainless steel, while the DeLonghi is plastic.
- However, the DeLonghi boasts a heavier portafilter and a metal steam switch.
I appreciate the durability of stainless steel, but the heavier portafilter on the DeLonghi does feel more professional in hand.
Size and weight
These compact espresso machines have nearly identical footprints, measuring about 13 inches deep, 12 inches tall, and 6 inches wide.
The Bambino does weigh slightly more at 11 pounds, compared to the Dedica’s 9 pounds.
Aesthetics and color options
Aesthetically speaking, both machines have a simple yet elegant look. It’s hard to pick a winner based on appearance alone.
However, the DeLonghi Dedica offers a variety of colors, whereas the Bambino is currently only available in silver.
The user interfaces of these simple espresso machines are similar.
The user interfaces on the Bambino and Dedica are quite similar, featuring programmable single and double shot buttons, as well as one to heat up to steaming temperature.
Heating and steaming process
On the Bambino, the steam starts right away, while on the Dedica, you change the boiler temperature and then start and stop using the switch on the side.
I must say that I prefer the Dedica’s approach, as it allows you to have more control over the steaming process.
The Bambino requires you to either let the steam run or actively cool down the machine to brewing temperature. Conversely, the Dedica allows you to start and stop the steam as you wish. This added control can be quite beneficial in achieving the perfect espresso.
Power switch and scheduling options
The DeLonghi Dedica has a dedicated power switch, which is not only more intuitive but also allows you to program it to turn on in the morning using a smart switch or timer.
On the Bambino, you need to remember which buttons to hold to power it off, and it can’t be scheduled to power on the same way.
Personally, I love the convenience of having my espresso machine ready to go when I wake up. The Dedica’s scheduling capability definitely gets a thumbs up from me!
How fast do they start up? Let’s see.
- The Bambino is lightning fast when it comes to startup time, taking a mere three seconds to heat up to temperature. It’s perfect for those busy mornings when you’re in a hurry.
- The DeLonghi Dedica is not as quick as the Bambino, but it still impresses with a respectable 40-second warm-up time. It’s not too shabby, but the Bambino takes the lead in this category.
And now for the brewing quality of the 2 machines.
Pressurized filter baskets
When comparing the Bambino and Dedica based on their espresso quality, they produce similar results when using pressurized filter baskets and pre-ground coffee. Pressurized baskets have only one pinhole, allowing you to use pre-ground coffee or a less expensive coffee grinder and still achieve decent results.
Many people will likely opt for pressurized baskets with entry-level machines like these.
Non-pressurized filter baskets
If you want to upgrade your espresso quality by purchasing a dedicated espresso burr grinder, both machines allow you to switch to non-pressurized, traditional filter baskets.
You can even use bottomless portafilters with both machines. However, in this situation, Breville Bambino has a significant advantage. Its wider 54-millimeter baskets and more traditional 9-bar brew pressure are better suited for non-pressurized use. I was able to pull much more consistent non-pressurized shots on the Bambino.
Additionally, there are far more aftermarket accessories available for 54-millimeter machines compared to the less common 51-millimeter portafilter on the Dedica.
These accessories become useful when you start experimenting with the less forgiving non-pressurized shots.
Extraction temperature control
The Dedica has one key advantage over the Bambino in this area: you can adjust the extraction temperature.
This feature is not meant for adjusting the temperature of your drink, but rather for fine-tuning the extraction process for lighter or darker roasted coffees.
Both machines have a slight tendency to overheat, so I generally kept the Dedica in the middle or low-temperature mode. Even so, it’s essential to quickly purge the group head on both machines before starting your shot.
Steam arm types
Steaming is another area where the Bambino and Dedica diverge. The Bambino uses a single-hole steam arm, while the Dedica features a Panarello. Neither is inherently better; they cater to different end users.
The Panarello automatically draws air into the milk when heating, creating foam. This feature is convenient if you want to start the steaming process and walk away.
However, the Panarello provides less control over the final milk texture, resulting in coarser foam compared to the variety of textures you can create with a manual steam arm.
Pros and cons of panarello vs. manual steam arm
With a manual steam arm, like the one on the Bambino, you can create anything from coarse cappuccino foam to very fine latte foam. It takes some practice to master steaming on the Bambino, but once you do, it offers more flexibility and control.
A small hack for the Dedica: you can remove the outer Panarello cover to achieve more control over the steaming process. DeLonghi also sells a similar model with a manual steam arm called the Dedica Arte if you prefer that option.
Steaming speed and temperature
The Bambino transitions to steaming temperature about five seconds faster than the Dedica.
However, once steaming, both machines take approximately the same time to steam milk up to a standard temperature of 60 degrees Celsius.
So which one should you Choose
After thoroughly comparing the Breville Bambino and DeLonghi Dedica, I’m confident that both machines are excellent entry-level options, targeting slightly different end users.
The Breville Bambino?
The Bambino offers faster startup and the potential for better espresso performance if you also purchase a high-quality espresso grinder and use non-pressurized baskets. It also provides the ability to create a variety of milk textures with its more manual steam arm.
Or the DeLonghi Dedica?
The Dedica is a more convenience-oriented machine. It has better pressurized and pre-ground espresso performance, and a Panarello wand for more convenient, albeit less precise, milk steaming.
Additionally, its scheduling capability is a useful feature for those who appreciate a ready-to-go machine in the morning.
Ultimately, your choice will come down to your specific situation and preferences. Consider what matters most to you:
- better non-pressurized espresso performance and control over milk steaming,
- or the convenience and simplicity of using pre-ground coffee and a Panarello wand.
As a barista, I must say that both machines are excellent for their price range, and your choice will come down to your personal preferences and how involved you want to be in the brewing process.
However, if convenience and ease of use are your top priorities, the DeLonghi Dedica might be the perfect fit for your daily coffee routine.
Please leave a comment on which machine you think is better.