Bean-to-cup and pod coffee machines that feature café-style bar pressure have become widely available, so it’s easy to wonder why the filter coffee machine is still a firm favourite. This DeLonghi helps to provide an answer. Part of a matching Distinta range comprising a kettle and a pair of toasters, there’s an appealing simplicity to it that more complex machines lack.
While its drip coffee concept might be recognisable, that’s where the resemblance to its forerunners ceases. The Distinta is about percolating coffee for a modern lifestyle coupled with a smart finish, problem-solving design and a reusable filter that results in minimal waste.
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The most striking thing about the Distinta is its good looks. While at first glance its shape is pared back, closer inspection reveals smooth curves, chromed details and a minimal control panel. DeLonghi’s Italian industrial design influences are more apparent on the other appliances in the range, but the Distinta filter coffee machine is undeniably smart. It’s available in four matte metallic finishes – white, black, copper and bronze – allowing you to opt for a matching set or a mix of coordinating colours.
Feature-wise, it has a 10-cup capacity, and a hot plate to keep the coffee warm – although it’ll switch itself off after 40 minutes. An Aroma function has been added to improve the flavour and smell of the resulting brew, and it works by releasing the water in the filter more slowly. However, it’s the anti-drip system on the filter holder that’s particularly well thought out. Consisting of a spring-loaded mechanism, it stops the sizzle and unpleasant burning odour caused by drips from the filter once the jug's been taken away.
Ultimately, the biggest win for the Distinta filter coffee machine is its ease of use – the principle of brewing is both familiar and straightforward. The carafe jug has cup measurements clearly marked on it and the included coffee scoop is the right size for one cup, so it's easy to work out how much water and coffee is needed. You just flip up the lid on top, pour the water in the tank at the back, pop the ground coffee into the permanent filter and switch the machine on for the percolating to start. The instructions recommend levelling the ground coffee in the filter – and indeed we found that unlevelled grounds stop the water from filtering through as consistently as it should.
The brew process is slower than a bar pump machine, but it does start percolating through in a matter of seconds. Selecting the Aroma function reduces this further and isn’t recommended for a full carafe of coffee unless you've got time to burn – but the increased smell and improved flavour is worth the extra time.
A brew of six cups takes a few minutes and the machine will beep when it’s completely finished. Thanks to the anti-drip mechanism, it’s possible to remove the jug multiple times to pour out the contents – the Distinta will stop dispensing when you do so.
Cleaning is just as nifty. Once cooled, the filter can be emptied of the used grounds – if they’ve been levelled they’ll fall out more or less as one lump – then it can be rinsed clean, while the filter holder has an integral handle for mess-free removal of any remaining coffee. The carafe can be rinsed or washed.
For all its lack of buttons and bar pressure, the coffee from the Distinta is pretty smooth. You won’t get a much-sought-after crema, but choose good-quality ground coffee and the taste won’t be vastly different. It definitely pays to select the Aroma function, as the coffee is noticeably fuller-bodied.
While the permanent filter is excellent and a great improvement on messy filter papers, there will still be a few fine grounds at the bottom of the carafe, and possibly your mug, too. But there's significantly fewer than when making coffee in a cafetière.
The Distinta lends itself well to volume coffee making, so it’s ideal for a large, busy household with lots of comings and goings, as well as for entertaining. Its sleek finish and clever features mean it’s priced at the higher end of filter machines, but if you’re investing in matching items, or on the hunt for a reliable morning companion with stylish lines, it’s a good fit.
More than just an old-school concept with a smart facelift, the Distinta is a great way to have coffee on tap with minimal mess and fuss.
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