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Delonghi Clessidra coffee machine review: A better way to brew filter coffee

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Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
158
inc VAT

Discover why this innovative take on an old favourite may just make you a drip-coffee convert

Pros 
One-touch brewing
10-cup capacity
40-minute keep warm
Cons 
Expensive
Can be messy
No milk option
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Almost everyone used to have a filter coffee machine. But then, somewhere down the line, we discovered espresso and – for many of us – the trusty stalwart was consigned to a cupboard. However, in the last few years, drip coffee, and especially manual drip or pour-over, has had a resurgence. Delonghi’s Clessidra is one of this new breed of filter coffee machines that seek to unite everything we loved about drip makers (hot coffee on demand, ideal for entertaining or burning the midnight oil) with an improved method that consigns bitter brews to the bin.

Delonghi Clessidra review: What you need to know

It might resemble a typical filter machine, but the Clessidra is far more refined. Rather than soaking the coffee grounds all at once, it uses automated pulses of water to mimic a manual pour over method, and this creates a more intense flavour and aroma. The temperature (92-96C) and infusion time is also controlled, which makes for far more consistent results.

The Clessidra’s coffee brewing talents have earned a certification by the European Coffee Brewing Centre, which, even if you’ve never heard of it, goes some way towards the feeling that you’re getting a much better cup in general. It thoroughly deserves the accreditation, too – the coffee it produces is smooth, aromatic, rich and flavourful.

Delonghi Clessidra review: Price and competition

Considering that you can pick up a basic filter coffee machine for less than £20, it’s clear that the Clessidra is at the pricier end of the spectrum. For instance, the Melitta Look Timer costs just under £50 and makes a very reasonable pot of coffee. If you just want a plentiful supply of the black stuff, and aren’t bothered about getting the very best flavour – or the taste of slightly stewed coffee after a few hours – then an inexpensive filter coffee machine will do the job just fine.

The Clessidra is in a different class, however. It’s price comparable with stylish models such as Smeg’s Drip filter coffee machine, or premium filter machines with thermal jugs, but produces better results than any we've come across. And it’s worth bearing in mind that Sage’s high-end filter coffee machine, the Precision Brewer, which offers similar brewing techniques, albeit with far more customisability, is likely to cost around £250 when it finally lands in the UK. For what it is, the Delonghi isn’t outlandishly expensive.

Also consider: Melitta Look Timer

Melitta's Look Timer is an inexpensive route to good quality filter coffee. The results are nowhere near as refined as the Delonghi, but it's brilliant for the money.
Amazon
£47.99

Delonghi Clessidra review: Features and design

There’s several aspects of the Clessidra that set it apart from other filter coffee makers. The hourglass design is handsome, and there’s a large amount of exposed glass accented with sleek chrome and grey.

On top, the water tank has a removable lid that features vents at the back to let any steam escape as the water heats, and quantity markings. This is shown in cc (the same as ml) and there’s capacity for up to 10 cups, which makes the Clessidra great for post-dinner coffee.

There are two methods it uses to make coffee – ‘high quality brew’, and ‘pour over’. Each of these has a corresponding button, represented by what looks like a shower spray and drips. When pressed in, each button illuminates. What takes a little getting used to is that the buttons protrude from the machine, and it initially feels more natural to push them down than inwards as you're meant to.

Once the water in the tank reaches the preset temperature, it cascades down through the centre onto the ground coffee in a filter paper, which sits in a removable cone in the jug. The cone itself is well-designed, with a handle to lift it out and a sprung, lever-operated valve that only opens when coffee is dispensed. This means no drips on the worktop when it’s removed from the carafe. The Clessidra also comes with a shaped holder for the cone to sit in when it’s not in use, and a scoop for measuring out ground coffee.

Another useful feature is the anti-drip mechanism. This ensures that when the carafe is removed, the machine stops dispensing water, preventing drips falling onto the hotplate below. The hotplate itself keeps the coffee warm for up to 40 minutes and this can be switched off if it’s not required.

Delonghi Clessidra review: Performance

We used it to make four cups of coffee on both settings, and found the high quality option to be the preferred one. Not only did it boil the water in just over a minute, it took only a few minutes more to finish brewing. The coffee poured out without any drips on the worktop or down the side of the jug and was noticeably flavourful and aromatic, akin to an Americano. The pour over option brewed as easily but took several minutes longer and didn’t bring out all the subtle flavours in the coffee. That said, it’s worth experimenting with both to see which suits your palate best.

Delonghi Clessidra review: Cleaning and maintenance

As well as being easy to use and producing great coffee, the Clessidra is a dream to keep clean. As any rare drips onto the hotplate will only ever be water, rather than coffee, all this needs is a wipe. It also features a descaling alert when required, so you don’t need to remember when to run a cycle. Similarly, the wide neck of the carafe made rinsing it out under the tap easy.

Delonghi Clessidra review: Verdict

The Clessidra nixes most of the common problems associated with bog-standard filter coffee makers, which makes it a far more appealing option for discerning coffee drinkers.

However, it also has the potential to convert a few lungo lovers by offering the sort of flavour-rich black coffee you might have previously only expected from an espresso topped up with hot water. In fact, we wouldn't be surprised to see the Clessidra’s considerable coffee-brewing talents convince many pod, capsule and manual espresso fans to make the switch, or just add it to their coffee-making arsenal – it's just that good.

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