Long had I gazed over the counter at the beauty and majesty of the Magnifica only to fully realize that my mere barista's salary could ne'er afford such a luxury. Even by saving my tips I was only just reaching the point where I could pick out a less expensive, modestly reviewed, semi-auto. Suddenly the retail gods blessed me with a sale even the district manager could not comprehend and I was walking home with a brand new DeLonghi Magnifica 3400 bought at a ridiculous price. So if this review may seem written with rose tinted keyboards, just look above at the price I paid!
I was looking at a fully automatic model with my wife in mind. She doesn't have the time for all that fuss what with the grinding and the tamping and then the pulling and then then the knocking and then wiping up the mess you make of a semi. She's a teacher for Chris's sake. She has young brains to nurture. Needless to say she loves the simple controls and the whole super-auto concept. You need a single shot, you got it, you pansy, push the button. You need a double shot, yeah, I know you do, push that button instead. Father-in-law spending the weekend? Pull a couple Americano's for him and he'll forget all about that drunken Vegas wedding you two opted for after he'd already put the down payments on everything. The controls are simple and customizable as you need. Ease of use being said, I do wish that I could just leave it on all the time. Maybe its not the greenest thing to do, but I like to wake up and have it ready to go. Yeah, you can program it start up when you want, but I want it ready at all times, without a moments notice.
The water tank is very large for the size of the machine and it is easy to remove and fill. Based on the nozzle that the tank plugs into the machine with I could imagine a system that could hook up to a water main in the house... Ah, to dream. If only I'd married a plumber. The hopper is plenty big enough for me holding a little more than a 1/4 lb. of beans at a time. The thing that bugs me about it, and this is my biggest complaint for irrational reasons, is that there is this grating over the top of the hopper. Maybe its to prevent anything larger than a bean into the hopper or maybe tiny Italian children where losing finger tips by sticking their hands in the grinding mechanism, but I find it absurd and impossible to remove without taking the whole thing apart. The puck catch is also on the smallish side for me. La Magnifica is programmed to tell you it is full after 14 total shots, that's 7 doubles for everyone out there. A bit low especially when you're pumping out those espresso martinis like a Vegas bartender on a Friday night. But again, it is easy to dump by just opening a front door on the machine and pulling out the drip tray along with the puck deposit. Since you've got it all out, you might as well just give everything a nice rinse. Ah, good as new.
I like my espresso, morning, noon, and midnight, and I'm talking the good good stuff here, and I find that I can get good enough from my Magnifica. Yeah, I know I 'll never be able to pull that perfect shot but I've come to grips with it by shaking hands with the devil of convenience. However, the shots I pull are dang good, I would dare say better than those I pull from the big monstrosity of a super-auto I play with every day at work. I agree with a previous reviewer and a 24 second shot from this machine sure is tasty.
I'm a big guy and do my share of heavy lifting at my store, but I could have done with a little more heft from this machine. There is a lot of plastic on this thing and while they painted it all shiny silver, it just doesn't have that right feel. I'm talking that feel of an original Transformer toy where you knew that if you threw it at your brother not only would your brother be knocked out, but you transform that sucker back into truck mode without a scratch on him. I don't get that from my Magnifica. I sure wish I did.
The steaming wand is a little different than other models that I've seen, but after a little experimenting I like it. The wand arm extends out from the machine like normal but the wand tip is a two piece plastic part. The inner part is a standard spout and the second part covers that and diffuses into two spouts. This works very well and I am able to get excellent foam from it. My favorite part of the wand is that both plastic parts come off easily and can be cleaned thoroughly. I could see them breaking after some abuse, however. I also wish they were a little longer, but hey, don't we all.
The last thing I can comment on is the noise. While not being obnoxiously loud by any means, it is a little louder than most burr grinders I've heard. A bit jarring at 4am, but I'm used to it now.