I tried this espresso machine to make instant cold brew — and the results surprised me

De'Longhi - La Specialista Prestigio Espresso
(Image credit: De'Longhi)

I've tested some of the best coffee makers on the market, and with a career that gives me the chance to test all the latest brewing tech, I've become a certified coffee obsessive. However, as summer hits full swing and I switch from my morning cappuccino to an iced coffee, I typically retire my espresso maker and opt for a homemade cold brew concentrate. The problem with using traditional espresso to make an iced coffee is that it instantly melts my ice, leading to a watery coffee that just doesn't hit the spot. 

While making cold brew is cheap and relatively painless, it does take 12-24 hours and you do need to do it in bulk, so when I found out that De'Longhi worked with the Specialty Coffee Association to develop a line of machines that can make cold brew and cold espresso with the touch of a button, I was cautiously excited to put it to the test. De'Longhi sent me their La Specialista Maestro to try it for myself. 

De'Longhi EC9665M La Specialista Maestro Espresso Machine: $1,159 at Amazon

De'Longhi EC9665M La Specialista Maestro Espresso Machine: $1,159 at Amazon
The La Specialista Maestro Espresso Machine is the one I tested when putting De'Longhi's Cold Extraction Tech through its paces. The most high-end of the brand's manual espresso machines, it features a hybrid design with manual elements but the benefits of automated functions. 

How does De'Longhi's Cold Extraction Technology work?  

De'Longhi Cold Extraction brewing

(Image credit: De'Longhi)

Designed to extract the unique flavors of a cold brewed coffee, De'Longhi added a dedicated water circuit to its brewing unit that extracts cold-brewed coffee with room temperature water over a longer period. Instead of exerting high levels of pressure and heat like you would with an espresso, the cold brew setting on De'Longhi's La Specialista Maestro steeps your grounds for up to five minutes to create a less acidic taste. 

Cold brew really started to make sense to me when I first heard it compared with tea. Much like a tea, the brewing process is produced by steeping your grounds to create a sweeter and more nuanced flavor. Typically you'd use a larger grind size when making cold brew overnight, but because the De'Longhi brews its Espresso Cool or Cold Brew shots over a much shorter period of time, I found it worked well with regular fine grounds. 

De'Longhi's Cold Extraction Technology is available in its Eletta Explore, Eletta Explore and La Specialista Maestro machines. 

Does it pass the taste test? 

De'Longhi La Specialista Maestro

(Image credit: Future)

Let me preface this by saying that while I am a coffee enthusiast, I'm no James Hoffman. Although I enjoy the rituals that go into making an outstanding cup of coffee, I wouldn't turn my nose up at a cold brew from the likes of Blank Street. Is the cold brew you'll get with De'Longhi's Cold Extraction Technology as good as a slowly-steeped 24-hour concentrate? No. But why would you expect it to be? For a start, it takes the room-temperature water in your coffee machine tank and pushes it through the brewing element without any heat. So it doesn't come out cold, it comes out room temperature. That's ok though, I just poured it over ice and enjoyed its more mellow and subtle flavor.

I've actually found that the cold brew I made in the De'Longhi was better without milk. It took about three minutes on average to brew and came out in a flow of drips. The machine I tried also has a Cold Espresso setting, which made a shorter and faster shot that I enjoyed pairing with cold milk for an iced latte. One thing I did wish for was a cold milk setting on the machine's automatic milk dispenser. 

Can it replace a cold brew maker? 

Two drinks made with De'Longhi Cold Extraction

(Image credit: De'Longhi)

I make my cold brew using my trusty Toddy Cold Brew System, which only costs around $50 and usually takes around 18 hours to make the concentration I look for. My major gripe with this system is that I never know if I'm going to get through the volume of cold brew concentrate I'm left with, and I've thrown out a lot of cold brew in the past that either didn't turn out how I wanted it or that I didn't get through fast enough. 

Suffice to say, making cold brew at home takes a fair amount of trial and error, and also a lot of patience — two things you don't need with the precision and ease of an espresso machine with cold brew functionality. 

It goes without saying that you're spending a tiny fraction of the price when you opt for a cold brew system, and when you get your formula right, the quality of the concentrate you're left with can be better than the brews I made with the La Specialista Maestro. However, you do need to set the time aside to make your cold brew at least 12 hours before you want to drink it. 

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Millie Fender
Senior Homes Editor

Millie is the Senior Home Editor at Tom's Guide. She's been reviewing home tech for over five years, testing everything from coffee makers to the latest vacuum cleaners. Starting out in 2019 as a Staff Writer at TopTenReviews, Millie then moved on to Future's Homes portfolio, where she eventually oversaw all product testing as Head of Reviews.

With particular expertise in cookware and kitchen appliances, you'll struggle to find an air fryer Millie's not tested. She's traveled the world reporting on the latest home innovations and product launches, learning how to use pizza ovens from Pizzaiolos in Naples, and touring the De'Longhi factory in Venice.

When she's not reporting on home and appliance trends, Millie loves watching live music. She's currently learning the guitar - naturally, she plays a Fender.