De'Longhi PrimaDonna Soul review 2

The De’Longhi PrimaDonna Soul is an impressive bean-to-cup coffee machine that gives the user an extra level of control over how their coffee is prepared. It’s not a cheap machine, nor is it compact, but it makes excellent (and customisable) coffee. 

Pros

  • 21 different coffee recipes 
  • Customisable drinks
  • 500g coffee bean container
  • 2.2l water reservoir 
  • 500ml thermal milk carafe 
  • Excellent touchscreen interface

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Bulky design

Who is the De’Longhi PrimaDonna Soul for?

This is a semi-professional coffee machine that would work well in a small office or a coffee lover’s kitchen who doesn’t want the effort that comes with making barista-quality coffee.

It’ll struggle to keep up with any more traffic than this as the 2.2l water reservoir isn’t big enough to last more than a dozen coffees.

Price

It’s expensive. $2,699 is a lot of money to spend on a coffee machine, and it will be hard to justify for a lot of people (without big budgets). But, there’s a cost hidden in plain sight with coffee machines that’s easy to overlook. The coffee itself. After the upfront expense of buying a high-quality bean-to-cup coffee machine, they are the cheapest units to run.

For comparison, before switching to the De’Longhi PrimeDonna Soul, I spent a small fortune on capsules ($100/month) running my Nespresso CitiZ. I bought that machine for around $250 in mid-2019 but would have spent another $2,400 on capsules alone. With the sting of that quick maths exercise fresh in mind, the high up-front price of the De’Longhi PrimaDonna Soul doesn’t seem so bad.

Design

The first thing you’ll notice about the PrimaDona soul is its size – at 26.2 x 48.5 x 39cm and 11.4Kg it’s a big machine. And because of that, it won’t be suitable for all kitchens. So make sure you do your due diligence and check if you’ve got space in your kitchen for this machine before you buy it.

Other than its bulk, it’s a well-thought-out machine. With features like its height-adjustable coffee spout and detachable/dishwasher-safe parts demonstrating its user-friendliness.

Is it a good looking machine too? I’m not sure. Some manual barista-style coffee machines have an almost romantic charm to their design. The PrimaDonna Soul doesn’t have that. 

Its chrome and plastic finish is far from ugly, but it’s not in the same league as KitchenAid or Smeg, in terms of being a kitchen appliance you’d want on display for its aesthetics alone.

DeLonghi PrimaDonna Soul review 6
The carafe and water reservoir both detach easily

Making coffee

Once you’ve filled the machine with beans, the rest is simple. You select one of the 21 different coffees you want to drink on the device’s touchscreen, and it’ll start grinding, grunting and hissing for 20-30 seconds as it makes your coffee for you.

It’s that easy. 

However, I’d suggest it’s worth getting to know your machine a little better and tweaking some of the settings to make the perfect coffee for you. 

That’s part of what makes this machine special – it hands over a level of control to the user.

For example, if you want a little bit more espresso and less milk in your Flat White, you can digitally “say when” at the press of a button, and the machine will save the setting against your profile. And the machine supports five profiles (more on this below).

What is Bean Adapt?

De’Longhi recognises that different coffee beans need to be treated individually. Bean Adapt is its solution to this problem, tailoring its brewing process – grinding size, grind dose and water temperature – based on the type of bean and its roasting level. 

That’s not all. You can also instruct the PrimaDonna Soul to brew you an espresso, taste it and then answer an additional series of questions (shown on the display) to help it customise the coffee to your taste further. 

It’s a great feature that helps you tailor your coffee to your personal tastes with ease.

DeLonghi PrimaDonna Soul review 3
A Flat White I made using the De’Longhi PrimaDonna Soul

Profiles

The obvious problem with the scenario above is that not all tastes are the same. A busy household, or office, is likely to have a range of tastes. The Profile feature addresses that.

The De’Longhi PrimeDona Soul’s interface lets you customise how its 21 different drinks are brewed – for up to five separate profiles. 

Removable milk carafe

Automatic bean-to-cup coffee machines are sometimes let down by their built-in milk frothers/containers. Milk, as you know, turns quickly, and sitting next to a warm coffee machine isn’t its optimum habitat. 

This machine combats that problem with its removable and double-wall insulated, 500ml milk container. Allowing the user to pop the whole carafe back in the fridge, just like a milk bottle, when they’re finished making coffee.

The milk spout is self-cleaning, too. Sort of. All you have to do is twist the nob located on the top of the carafe, and the Soul will flush the milk spout out with piping-hot water. It works pretty well, but it doesn’t clean the internal plumbing of the carafe, so you’ll still have to decanter the milk and scrub it clean – or run it through the dishwasher – every few days.

Touchscreen interface

The PrimeDonna Soul’s touchscreen is another sign of quality. Touchscreens on home appliances are often low-tech solutions that become maddening to use as they fail to recognise touch inputs accurately. Not this. This 4.3-inch TFT touchscreen colour display is as receptive as the smartphone screen in your pocket.

DeLonghi PrimaDonna Soul review 9
Smartphone-grade 4.3-inch TFT touchscreen

Coffee Link App 📱

The Coffe Link app gives you the same level of control over the PrimeDonna soul as if you were standing in front of it physically pressing buttons on the touch screen. It’s comprehensive in terms of features.

Whether it’s useful or not is up for debate. I found that I didn’t use it much for a couple of reasons. First, I kept the milk carafe chilling in my fridge (as designed). And second, I seldom had a cup waiting under the machine’s spouts to catch my app-ordered coffee.

That said, I love a gimmick. And I like knowing that the machine is Wi-Fi connected and I could make a coffee with it from anywhere in the world.

Verdict

Ease-of-use is the De’Longhi PrimaDonna Soul’s forte. That and delicious, customisable coffee. And these are the features that make this machine a good fit for a busy home or small office, with people that care about their coffee.

The combination of the easy-to-use touchscreen (or smartphone app) with its customisable coffee technology is a big plus point. Giving those of us who have a desire to create barista-quality coffee at home/work the ability to do so at the press of a button.

Its size and price mean it won’t be a device that’s right for everyone. But if your budget and kitchen space allows it, the De’Longhi PrimaDonna Soul will pay you back day-after-day with delicious coffee brewed precisely to your tastes

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Coffee
Design
Ease of use
Price