Dalla Corte Mini
The Dalla Corte delivers everything you’re longing for in an espresso machine and more. The Mini features unbelievable temperature stability, dual boilers that run independently of each other and an almost endless supply of steam. That being said, the Dalla Corte Mini is not limited to at-home use. In fact, it can be used in a variety of locations like a small café, restaurant, country club or anyplace you’d serve coffee lovers on a regular basis.
Like Two Peas in a Pod
When I asked our commercial division what made the Dalla Corte Mini so special, they responded with two words – double boiler. The manufacturers of Dalla Corte utilized a dual or double boiler construction, which allows the boilers to run independently of each other at various temperatures. That means there’s never a wait time for the boiler to cool off or heat up to brew. And, with the double boiler system, you can have two baristas working in unison, because it’s possible to brew and steam simultaneously.
The double boilers on the Dalla Corte Mini operate flawlessly, largely in part because of their construction. The brew boiler on the Dalla Corte Mini is heavy-duty nickel plated brass, while the steam boiler is constructed of stainless steel. Both of these boilers allowed me to brew and steam perfectly. In addition to the powerful steam boiler, the engineers at Dalla Corte integrated a three-hole steam tip on the steam wand, which lends a hand when it comes to steaming and frothing milk.
Let your Fingers do the Walking
The Mini’s stellar performance isn’t just because of the dual boilers though. The engineers at Dalla Corte incorporated adjustable temperature controls on this machine, as well. This control allowed me to adjust the brewing temperature between 85 and 110 degrees by simply turning the knob on the front right of the machine to the left or right. The Direct Temperature Control System (DTCS) enables control of the temperature in the brewing unit and the boiler to adjust to a tenth of a degree-– which is pretty impressive considering a lot of machines tout temperature control, but don’t deliver to that extent. And while the elementary temperature control knob may seem outdated, simple controls never go out of style. It was good to see that even the engineers in Milan recognize how important temperature control is to coffee aficionados.
Brew like a Barista
The Dalla Corte allows you to brew like a barista each and every time, thanks to its 54mm commercial grade portafilter, 3-way solenoid valve and easy to use controls. While brewing using a smaller portafilter may seem awkward at first, its small size grows on you because it’s still very heavy, due to its construction. The portafilter is molded of marine grade chrome-plated brass, which helps preserve the heat within, as well.
The 3-way solenoid valve found commonly on commercial machines helps to relieve water pressure at the end of the brewing cycle. While I can’t imagine brewing on a commercial quality machine and not having a 3-way solenoid valve, I did appreciate the fact that Bruno Dalla Corte incorporated it into the Mini’s utilitarian design.
That same unpretentious feeling is carried over onto the front of the Mini, where there are three buttons that control brewing-–a single, a double and a free-flow or programmable button. Combined with 2 or 4 second pre-infusion, brewing espresso on the Dalla Corte was sheer pleasure.
The Haves and Have Nots
Clearly the Dalla Corte offers a lot in the way of brewing, steaming, temperature stability and steam pressure. What it doesn’t have, and it doesn’t affect the performance one bit, is a separate hot water arm and active cup warmer. Dalla Corte suggests that if you’re looking for hot water for a café Americano or hot chocolate, you submerge the steam wand into a mug of hot water, steam the water and then add your shot of espresso. Those two things aside, the Dalla Corte Mini offers the highest degree of performance on an espresso machine of this size at this price point. All this is possible because of the direct contact the Dalla Corte family continues to have at their plant in Milan. The know-how and hands-on development that goes into every Dalla Corte machine will continue to go unmatched until someone figures out their secret.