DeLonghi Rivelia is the latest machine from the Italian brand. It’s a small, affordable, fully automatic espresso machine that wants to make it as easy and quick as possible to switch between different coffee beans. Something that is usually quite cumbersome.
Fortunately, it doesn’t try to compete with the big boys on smart features, but rather to provide simple solutions in a cheap package.
The De'Longhi La Specialista Maestro makes great coffee and everyone around you will think you're a professional. It's relatively easy to use - and it makes Cold Brew in less than five minutes!
The machine has been tested with two beans. A supermarket coffee and a speciality coffee for connoisseurs. From the local supermarket, an organic blend called Mezcla de Cafe, which costs €15 for 750 grams. On the expensive end, a rarely offered coffee from the now world-famous roastery Coffee Collective. An anaerobically fermented coffee bean from a single farm in Ethiopia. It costs €18 for 200 grams of organic beans.
Only the essentials
With Rivelia, DeLonghi have not spent money on expensive equipment. You get a single grinder and you can’t connect the machine to an app via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. You won’t find a cup warmer on the machine either. You can still change the brewing temperature, make minor changes to coffee recipes and have multiple profiles. There’s also access to Delonghi’s “Bean Adapt”, which helps you customise the machine to your coffee beans.
The design is slightly boring, but the DeLonghi Rivelia takes up only slightly more space than some capsule machines. This makes it easy to fit it in, which is rarely the case with espresso machines. The noise is also at an acceptable level.
The maximum dose of coffee beans is about 16 grams of coffee per cup, and it takes the machine one minute and 42 seconds to brew a cappuccino. When you switch on the Rivelia, it takes 37 seconds to heat up and flush water through the outlet.
In short, exactly what you’d expect from a competitive machine in its price range. Neither over- nor underwhelming, but points for the compact size. Where the Rivelia stands out is the bean container.
The vast majority of espresso machines have no system for removing the beans after they’ve been loaded into the container. Too bad if you don’t like your coffee!
Not so with the Rivelia. It comes with two containers that you can switch between. The system works in the same way as the much more expensive Sage The Oracle Touch, where you “lock” the bottom of the bean container and then lift it up from the top of the machine.
There are always a few beans closest to the grinder that remain when the container is removed. Approx. 12 grams. You are given the choice of grinding the beans away or brewing them into a cup of coffee of your choice. It’s easy and the screen explains everything in an educational way when changing the containers.
Intense cold brew, sweet iced coffee or warm, aromatic cappuccino? The new DeLonghi can do it all.
Because there is only one grinder, there will always be some cross-contamination between beans. And while it’s convenient to store your coffee in the two bean containers, you should also be aware that the containers are not airtight. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but if beans are left in the containers for several weeks, they will become dull. For example, if you have decaffeinated beans that are used infrequently, it’s better to store them in the freezer or in an airtight or vacuum container. This will preserve the flavour much better.
All in all, bean exchange is still a practical system that could be introduced to other coffee machines.
Ease of use
Rivelia is a typical DeLonghi and will be familiar if you’ve tried other DeLonghi machines. This is generally a good thing. Their milk jug is easy to clean, the water tank is a good size for a small machine and the touchscreen is easy to navigate. In fact, much easier than the top-of-the-line Maestosa, which is a few years old. The screen has much better colours and response time, but is small, which can result in human error early in the morning. The operating system itself is infinitely simple. This is partly because you don’t have as many adjustable settings as on the more expensive models.
DeLonghi really wants to make life easy, and Rivelia has a built-in “routine” function that suggests coffee based on the time of day. The S does what it promises. It divides the day into morning, midday and evening, and the type of coffee you drink the most during those time intervals is at the front of the queue on the screen. If your coffee choice is completely independent of the time of day, it feels more like it’s shuffling recipes around for no reason. If you consistently drink, say, a cappuccino in the morning, an americano in the afternoon and a small espresso in the evening, you can save a little time. A very little bit of time. In my opinion, it’s easier to switch the system off, which fortunately is easy.
Coffee as expected
Rivelia brews a good espresso that is no threat to the best on the market, but doesn’t seem like a compromise either. The beans from the supermarket turned out to be a disappointment, which is not the machine’s fault. Therefore, its task was to minimise the ashy bitterness that the beans offered and create an espresso that at least tasted fine in a cappuccino. It did a great job. With a little extra water and the temperature on medium, the coffee was acceptable. The grinder was set to 3 in the test, which resulted in an excellent texture for an automatic machine. The maximum dose of 16 grams of coffee tasted best when brewed into about 65 grams of espresso.
The expensive beans had a more interesting flavour. The temperature had to be raised to High, but a finished amount of 65 grams of espresso was also suitable. The result was an espresso with no bitterness or off-flavours. The acidity really shone through without being unpleasant or overwhelming. A very clean and clear fruit flavour with a good amount of acidity and sweetness. The fermented flavour remained quite subtle.
The espresso quality from Rivelia is very well suited to the price point. It doesn’t have all the nerdy little settings, but it has the essentials covered. The grinder is set manually on top of the machine and the temperature is set on the screen. In the coffee recipes, you have the option to change how much coffee and water is used, which is the most important thing after all. If you are very unsure about the correct settings, you can use the so-called Bean adapt. This guides you through the flavour and appearance of the coffee and adjusts the settings until you are satisfied. A nice feature that makes it easy to track down a new coffee bean.
The milk container is similar to the one found in the DeLonghi Eletta Explore and the quality is similarly fine without coming close to barista quality. Warm milk is always a luxury and the Rivelia delivers it with a nice crispy froth for a cappuccino. The machine works fine with plant milk if you prefer. However, like most automatic espresso machines, it struggles to produce the creamy milk required for a good latte.
The milk container is easy to disassemble and clean, and it’s dishwasher safe. One challenge is that the lid doesn’t snap onto the container. This makes it all too easy to spill milk all over the fridge, which unfortunately happened to me on a sleepy Wednesday morning. My old capsule machine, also from DeLonghi, has an almost identical milk container that clicks into place. Why DeLonghi has moved away from this is beyond me.
The price/quality ratio of the DeLonghi Rivelia is good, but without being overwhelming. The compact size is a big plus, as is the touchscreen, which outperforms the screen on older DeLonghi machines. The bean switching system works really well, but involves either wasting beans or drinking a cup of the coffee you want to switch from. It’s still far better than not being able to remove the canister, so the feature is appreciated. If you’re not interested in app control and you don’t want an expensive, gigantic machine on your kitchen counter, the DeLonghi Rivelia is a good buy.