Does “Perfecta” also stand for perfect coffee results?
The Delonghi Perfecta ESAM 5400 fully automatic coffee machine:
Such a large selection. So many functions. So many differences. The decision for the right fully automatic machine is really not easy. That’s why we’re testing some of the most popular models currently on the market for you. With the Perfecta Esam 5400, Delonghi has produced a fully automatic coffee machine that inspires many customers. We want to find out what is behind it and whether we can safely join the positive voices.
First impression and design
If you decide to purchase this fully automatic coffee machine, choose a product that is in the mid three-digit price segment.
From a purely visual point of view, the device looks quite appealing at first glance. It is mostly in glossy black with a matt silver accent on the front. The fully automatic machine is made entirely of plastic, with the exception of the milk system and the coffee spout. Only six buttons are arranged around a large display, namely the on and off function, the selection of one or two cups, the steam button, the rinsing function and “P”, a button with which you can access the menu, similarly of the products from “Jura“. Here the “P” stands for “programming”.
Below the display there is a rotary knob that is reminiscent of the Jura Rotary Switch. Regarding the display itself, it should be said that these are only pre-defined symbols that are illuminated depending on the situation. The filling compartment for beans with a capacity of 250g is located in the middle of the almost flat top. There is also a heated storage area for around 4 normal sized cups. The water container can be removed from the front and, like the bean compartment, is completely covered. What we noticed positively about the front removable water tank was that the device was also positioned between other things to save space and that the tank could still be reached easily.
The storage space for the cups is comfortably large and openly designed so that you don’t have to worry about the cup size. To remove the drip tray and the ground coffee container, you can open the front like a door and pull out the tray. The collecting container has a float that signals when it is full. In general, you should of course empty it regularly for reasons of hygiene. We noticed extremely positively that when removing the collecting container, the view of the removable brewing group becomes clear, so that an optimal cleaning option is given.
Another appealing point is that two packets of fresh coffee beans are included as accessories so that you can start preparing it straight away. Most fully automatic coffee machines do not have such a customer-friendly “addition”. Even though we use our own beans in tests, we really appreciate this idea.
Remember: You can always check our shop page for our recommended products that we tested ourselves. We’ve tested espresso makers, espresso machines both fully automatic and portafilters, and coffee utensils.
Operation is definitely easier than, for example, the Delonghi fully automatic coffee machines that have already been tested. Luminous symbols shows that the water and the bean container had to be filled. In this context, we had nothing to complain about. However, many symbols are not exactly self-explanatory and also extremely confusing when they appear in combination. An example should make this clear: If the symbol for the coffee grounds container flashes, if the user has found out which one it is, the system informs that it is full. If the bean symbol flashes in addition to this symbol, it means that the bean container is empty. In any case, we did not understand the logic of the displays on the Delonghi Perfecta Esam 5400.
The filling quantity can be determined using the rotary knob. However, we only found out the exact information regarding the milliliters (40, 60, 90, 120) from the operating instructions. Only the cup symbols in four levels with different filling levels offer orientation. The user who does not want to read must first try out how large the respective quantities are. In general, of course, this is not a serious problem, but with many other devices, the filling quantity is specified exactly. With fully automatic coffee machines with precise information, operation is simply more fun and more intuitive. The user does not feel unsafe every time a button is pressed and does not have to ask himself.
We found the following positive, albeit equally not self-explanatory: In addition to the smallest possible amount of cups, there is another symbol that shows a cup and an “M” in it, which apparently stands for “my coffee”. In this case, it means that you can program the filling quantity here completely individually. You can also set the intensity of the coffee or the amount of ground coffee that you want to draw from 1 to 5 according to your requirements. We also had to find out this function by trial and error, because the symbol did not immediately tell us that this was about the desired intensity. Once you have made your choice, it will be saved unless you change it again. We found this service, as it was very uncomplicated, to be extremely positive.
Now all you have to do is press the appropriate button to get a cup or two. Instead of fresh beans, you can also use ground coffee if you want to prepare a different type of coffee in between without emptying the bean container first. The so-called “Easytronic display” was, at least for us, not really “easy” to use. In addition, such a system is no longer state-of-the-art. For example, the brewing temperature cannot be adjusted without reading the operating instructions. The same applies to many settings that are made using various key combinations, which unfortunately cannot be accessed intuitively.
You have to froth the milk yourself in the jug. Such handling may be common with many entry-level devices, but this Delonghi model is at a significantly different price, namely a higher level. For example, similarly expensive Jura fully automatic coffee machines use a suction system that does the frothing for the user.
In the basic settings, we found the coffee to be not hot enough and simply too bland in taste (the settings: medium amount of ground coffee, medium dispensing amount, standard setting for brewing temperature.) After a few adjustments, however, we were able to achieve results that convinced us overall. As a limitation, it should be mentioned that most fully automatic machines must of course first be tried out and adapted to individual requirements. In summary, the work that the device did in terms of brewing temperature and intensity was satisfactory, if not impressive, given this price level.
The grinder, praised by the manufacturer as being particularly quiet, worked quickly, but not as quietly as we would have expected. We were still disappointed with the aforementioned foam lance because the Delonghi Perfecta Esam 5400 is not a real fully automatic coffee machine when it comes to the preparation of milk drinks. Espresso machines are traditionally equipped with such foam lances. Any coffee lover who decides to buy a fully automatic machine, however, probably does not want to have to lend a hand. The quality is okay, however, because the frother can be used after a relatively short heating-up time. It is also easy to reach due to the open design and delivers satisfactory results.
As is usual with any fully automatic coffee machine, there are many parts of this machine that you should clean regularly. The information about emptying the coffee grounds container is made when necessary, which we found good. In such a case, the float rises as soon as the drip tray is full, a function that is standard. Unfortunately, however, it does not catch all of the liquid by far.
Should decalcification be necessary, a corresponding note will be given, whereby the decalcifying solution is included in the scope of delivery. You can also start this process manually. We found it extremely impractical that none of the parts can be cleaned in the dishwasher. So you always have to rinse them by hand. With many fully automatic coffee machines, at least the foam lance of the milk system is dishwasher-safe, so that at least the stubborn milk residues can be cleaned without any personal effort. It’s a shame that this part can only be cleaned manually.
You can remove the brew group, which means that the inside of the machine can be easily cleaned by hand. This also applies to the brew group itself, a clear plus point of this Delonghi fully automatic machine. We noticed a lot of residue on the brew group in just a few applications. It is all the better that it can be removed. However, the fact that it had so many residues after a short time was a negative surprise. For this reason, we recommend that you remove these accessories very regularly and clean them thoroughly.
You can manually trigger the rinsing process for the coffee spout or the milk system at any time. When it is switched off, this is automatically triggered, as is usual with most devices.
Facts and figures about the Delonghi Perfecta
- Overall result: 7.2
- Dimensions (HxWxD): 44 x 28.4 x 38
- Weight: 11.5
- Capacity of the bean container: 250g
- Capacity of the water tank: 1.7 l
- Grinder: stainless steel conical grinder, 13 degrees of grinding
- Coffee spout: height adjustable, 2 cup function (not for milk beverages)
- Cleaning / descaling information: Yes / Yes
- Programmable coffee variants: partially (in addition to preprogrammed dispensing quantities, another can be saved)
- Hot water function: yes
- Display: Yes, symbol display
- Operation via app: No.
- Removable brew group: Yes
Pros and cons:
- Tasty coffee
- Quality workmanship
- “Intelligent” design (large storage space for cups, front removable water container)
- Quick heating up
- Quite heavy
- Operation takes getting used to, complicated key combinations
- Few storage / customization options
Our conclusion on the Delonghi Perfecta
After a few pre-settings, you will undoubtedly get a tasty coffee at a good fully automatic coffee machine level. However, the price seems rather high to us, given the (to put it carefully!) extremely poor display and the not very intuitive operation. Cheaper devices get by without a display and are still easier to use. Other fully automatic coffee machines with the same or only a slightly higher price range are equipped with much better displays.
We liked the design relatively well, an assessment that is of course a matter of taste. As expected, the workmanship is not bad, considering the price.
We found it a bit unfortunate that only a few presets can be saved. This is all the more annoying when several people use the coffee machine. In such a case, we advise you to use devices with more storage options.
As far as the foam lance that has already been mentioned several times is concerned, this model only deserves the name “fully automatic coffee machine” when it comes to producing pure coffee. If you value milk variants without any personal effort, we advise you to look out for other coffee machines.
However, if you don’t mind a large selection of coffee and milk beverages, then you will not be disappointed with the quality of coffee making by the Delonghi Perfecta Esam 5400, provided you have familiarized yourself with the operation of the device. However, if you are looking for a fully automatic coffee machine with intuitive operation and a wealth of variants, you will probably not be particularly happy with this device!