De’Longhi Eletta Explore review: delicious hot and cold brews from one bean-to-cup machine

It turns out you can have it all

De’Longhi Eletta Explore on a kitchen counter
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

The De’Longhi Eletta Explore is an accomplished bean-to-cup coffee machine that’s perfect for coffee lovers who don’t have the time to maintain an espresso machine. Plus, it can make both hot and cold beverages and comes with everything you might need for a fully operational caffeination station. However, some of the design elements are a little underbaked.

Pros

  • +

    Versatile with hot and cold drinks

  • +

    Fantastic bean adapt technology

  • +

    Delicious results

Cons

  • -

    Expensive, and doubly so in the US

  • -

    Water tank design a little annoying

  • -

    Bean hopper not airtight

  • -

    Frustrating two-carafe milk system

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De'Longhi Eletta Explore two-minute review

Throw your Starbucks loyalty card out of the window, because the De’Longhi Eletta Explore is here to completely shake up your coffee addiction, offering a gamut of both cold and hot drinks in one brilliant machine.

This is easily one of the best bean-to-cup coffee makers I’ve tested, pouring deliciously smooth and sweet espresso and cold brew coffee in record time with minimal maintenance. Of course, as with many bean-to-cup machines, it’s not going to be one for the fervent, ride-or-die coffee lovers; they're better off with one of the best espresso machines. It is, however, perfect for those of us who don’t need the ritual of coffee-making and just need the good stuff.

Relatively compact at 15.13 x 10.25 x 17.5" / 38.5 x 26 x 45cm (H x W x D), the De’Longhi Eletta Explore manages to pack in a lot of features and functionalities without eating up too much counter space — provided you’ve got fairly deep counters. It’s not a thing of beauty, but it’s not bad-looking, clad mostly in black and deeper grays, and it comes with a whole host of accessories; a travel mug, two milk carafes, an ice tray, a grounds scoop, a brush and a hot water nozzle. You name it, and it’s probably in the Eletta Explore box (provided it’s somewhat relevant to coffee-making, that is).

De’Longhi Eletta Explore on a kitchen counter

(Image credit: Future)

As ever, I was impressed by De’Longhi’s Bean Adapt and Latte Crema technology, which work in tandem to ensure drinks produced by the Eletta Explore are as close as possible to barista-made beverages. The Eletta Explore can also connect to De’Longhi’s Coffee Link App, meaning you can remotely control your machine and line up your orders from the sofa. But keep in mind that the machine runs its cleaning cycles before use, so you’ll have to get up to switch your mug for the container catching wastewater.

De’Longhi Eletta Explore review: price & availability

  • Price: $1,899.99 / £999.99 / AU$1,799.00
  • Available in US, UK and Australia

The price for the De’Longhi Eletta Explore varies wildly across the globe; in the UK, its list price is £999.99, though retailers seem to consistently sell it at least £100 cheaper at £899.99. In Australia, it’s priced around the same at AU$1,799, but in the US it’s horrifically more expensive at $1,899.99.

In the UK/AU, it’s definitely offering relatively good value for money; yes, it could still do with being cheaper, but there aren’t that many bean-to-cup machines as capable as the Eletta Explore, especially not when it comes to cold drinks. When it comes to the US, however, it’s inconceivable why it should be double the price.

The machine comes with all the accessories you should need: a travel mug, two milk carafes, an ice tray, a grounds scoop, a brush and a hot water nozzle. It also comes with a descaling kit and one water filter, which you’ll need to replace to keep the machine in good working order; these cost $9.95 / £11.99 / AU$19.95 and $19.95 / £15.99 / AU$29.95 respectively.

De’Longhi Eletta Explore specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Dimensions (H x W x D)15.13 x 10.25 x 17.50" / 38.5 x 26 x 45cm
Weight24.68lbs / 11.1kg
Grind settings7
Pump pressure19 bar
Beans container capacity10.6oz / 300g
Water container capacity60.9 fl oz / 1.8L
Grounds container capacity14 portions
Max cup height6.7" / 170mm

De’Longhi Eletta Explore review: design

  • Compact design
  • Touchscreen display
  • Hot and cold milk carafes

While the De’Longhi Eletta Explore takes up a decent chunk of kitchen counter space, it’s broadly speaking a compact and space-efficient machine provided you have deep enough counters and sufficient overhead. It measures 15.13 x 10.25 x 17.50" / 38.5 x 26 x 45cm, but you’ll also have to think about how you store its many accessories.

On top of the machine at the rear is the 10.6oz / 300g bean hopper and grounds hatch. These are not airtight, unlike the detachable bean hoppers included with the De’Longhi Rivelia I tested a few months ago, meaning you probably only ever want as much coffee in there as you intend to use in a given day to keep your beans and grounds fresh.

You can also change the grind size using a dial seated beneath the hopper lid — this is a slightly annoying design choice, especially if you like to fiddle with your settings and have lower cabinets. There are seven grind options for the conical burr grinder within the machine.

Moving towards the front of the machine, there’s a metal tray that is great for storing accessories or cups, and then at the very front are the controls. From left to right, there are touch controls for the machine’s different menus: ‘To-go mode’, cold beverages, hot beverages and your favorites menu. These controls surround the 3.5-inch (8.9cm) color touchscreen display in the middle of the console, which displays various instructions and status updates while your coffee brews.

De’Longhi Eletta Explore grinding beans for a flat white

(Image credit: Future)

Beneath the controls on the front of the screen are the spout, the accessory slot where you can click in the Hot and Cold LatteCrema Carafes or hot water nozzle, and the 60.9fl oz / 1.8L inbuilt water tank, which slides out of the machine. I love the design of this in principle; however, in practice, it can be really annoying. I found that the tank didn’t always quite align with its threads properly, meaning it would be slightly askew in the machine, especially if you fully remove the tank — so thankfully, De’Longhi has included an insert lid for the tank with a small hole for pouring in water. If, like me, you refill your coffee machine with filtered water from a jug, that’s no issue, but if you will be refilling from a faucet or otherwise affixed water source, you might find this process tedious.

At the base is the drip tray, which is just about fine for all cup sizes, barring some of the larger mugs I have in my collection. It gets better still when you lift the hatch here, which grants some extra height and allows you to fit full-size travel mugs — a really neat addition that’s perfect for early-morning commuters.

A hand holding the De’Longhi Eletta Explore's Cold LatteCrema Carafe

(Image credit: Future)

In addition to the machine itself, you get two LatteCrema milk carafes for hot and cold milk beverages. The reason these are split into two containers is that different nozzles are needed to foam milk with and without heat, which makes sense, but does create some frustrations in use. Plus, you can exclusively use semi-skimmed milk and plant-based milk with the Eletta Explore.

On top of each carafe is a dial that allows you to choose between min, mid and max froth, as well as the cleaning setting. These lids aren’t snugly fit to the carafes, so make sure you don’t make the same mistake I did in lifting them by the lid — unless you want to cry over spilt milk. The nozzles sit quite far forward on the carafe, meaning slimmer tall mugs can be a bit problematic, given the espresso spout is fairly far back.

  • Design score: 4 out of 5

De’Longhi Eletta Explore review: performance

  • Consistent and rich results
  • Impressive grinder
  • Easy to maintain

As with any bean-to-cup coffee machine, the quality of the beverages will never quite match those made by hand using a more sophisticated espresso machine, but I was nonetheless impressed by the De’Longhi Eletta Explore. Broadly speaking, its results were consistent and rich, although occasionally it spat out a very acidic espresso. This was usually only when I hit a not-so-sweet spot where I’d made a few coffees in close succession and the beans had been in the non-airtight hopper a little too long.

The rest of the time, the Eletta Explore made delicious, well-balanced espresso with a well-formed crema and plenty of body. Its cappuccinos had great microfoam with impressive staying power, and the lattes were delicious and creamy. All of the drinks came out at the perfect recommended drinking temperature, too.

De’Longhi Eletta Explore making an iced latte

(Image credit: Future)

Most impressive, however, was the cold coffee made by the Eletta Explore. From rich and creamy iced lattes to delicious cold cappuccinos with excellent foam — though it’s never quite as good as foam created by heating the milk. Even its cold brews that compress a slow brewing process into mere minutes came out deliciously, with only a hint of bitterness. The machine will tell you the perfect number of ice cubes to use from the supplied tray, which in my experience was the perfect amount every time.

The conical burr grinder inside the machine is fantastic, crushing beans to the perfect size for smooth and delicious coffee. I mostly kept the grind setting to five, but the Eletta Explore offers seven different settings from fine to coarse. It’s fairly loud (70dB) in use, but not the loudest I’ve tested.

Swapping between milk jugs is pretty annoying if, like me, you want to have different coffees throughout the day. It seems to be a workaround, as different nozzles are needed for different milk temperatures, but why couldn’t they just offer changeable nozzles?

De’Longhi Eletta Explore making a cup of espresso

(Image credit: Future)

I used the Coffee Link App and Bean Adapt technology with my Eletta Explore to ensure I was crafting the best possible coffee, inputting information about my coffee bean of choice to finesse the water temperature and intensity. The app and machine both boast a huge menu of espresso-based options, too, if you’re ever looking for inspiration.

Maintenance-wise, the machine is pretty easy to look after. It cleans itself automatically, but you’ll need to keep on top of the descaling and water filter to make sure it remains in good working order. The drip tray and grounds container are easy to remove, but the drip tray is a little fiddly to clean. The milk carafes are both dishwasher-safe, but relatively easy to clean by hand in the sink, too.

Should you buy the De’Longhi Eletta Explore?

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

How I tested the De’Longhi Eletta Explore

I used the De'Longhi Eletta Explore as my main coffee machine for a month, testing its various settings and functions and drinking a lot of different coffees. I used both its cold and hot coffee technology to try almost every drink on its expansive menu - excluding those that are effectively just iterations on standard drinks.

In addition to coffee taste and quality tests, I also maintained the device per the manufacturer's instructions to see how easy it is to run over time. I also tested the De'Longhi coffee link app to see how easy it was to use and how successfully it can control the machine.

I've been testing home appliances for two years, in addition to my years of experience testing tech more generally, which informs my ratings and opinions on how well tech performs, how well it's designed and if it offers value for money. 

Read more about how we test

First reviewed June 2024

Josephine Watson
Managing Editor, Lifestyle

Josephine Watson (@JosieWatson) is TechRadar's Managing Editor - Lifestyle. Josephine has previously written on a variety of topics, from pop culture to gaming and even the energy industry, joining TechRadar to support general site management. She is a smart home nerd, as well as an advocate for internet safety and education, and has also made a point of using her position to fight for progression in the treatment of diversity and inclusion, mental health, and neurodiversity in corporate settings. Generally, you'll find her watching Disney movies, playing on her Switch, or showing people pictures of her cats, Mr. Smith and Heady.