Starting off with the design, Diletta are once again offering 3 finishes, all at the same price point. Stainless steel, powder-coated white, and powder-coated black.
Everyone who I’ve shown this machine to has thought that it looks the absolute business in this matte black colour, and I have to say I completely agree. The contrast between the polished metal of the E61 group head and arms against a black background is just a super cool look, and the drip tray also has a unique design. Of course you could go more traditional with a polished metal case, but for me this was just too good to pass up.
I really like that this doesn’t have to be a “traditional” looking machine if you don’t want it to be, and that was also one of the main things that drew me to the Rocket Appartamento in the first place. Having a bit of personality is good, and I’m happy to see brands also taking this approach.
Moving on to the actual build quality, the Bello is securely in line with other entry level heat exchangers. It is well put together, and thanks to the standardized E61 group head, you get the same rock solid locking in feeling as you would on any E61 machine, even those costing 2 or 3 times as much.
There are some areas where the feel is a little bit cheaper than higher-priced machines I’ve used, most notably being the knob on the brew lever itself, the actuator in behind it, the slightly rough metal rails under the drip tray, and the look of these plastic stoppers within the pressure gauge dial.
However, those are all quite nitpicky observations. Day to day operation of this machine is very pleasant. You get that same tactile, mechanical brewing experience that I talked about in the Rocket Appartamento review, and that’s a beautiful thing to interact with each morning.
Quickly running through the features, the Bello is 11” wide, 14.5” tall, and 17.75” deep, it comes with both single and double spouted 58mm portafilters, and just like the Mio comes with a solid feeling wooden tamper.
The heating configuration is a traditional heat exchanger, using a 1.8L stainless steel boiler, and on the front there are the typical hot water arm and steam arm which is a no-burn steam arm. An absolute must-have.
There is a low water indicator, the water reservoir is impressively large at 3 liters, and it is accessible through the hinged lid, which while we’re on the topic, leads us nicely into the user experience.
The lid of the water reservoir does feel more premium that a detachable lid, however I do worry about people with lower overhead cabinets. Because it hinges at the back, that means the machine has to be slid completely clear of any overhead obstructions to fill. If your cabinets are tall, ignore this, it’s a really nice feature.
The water reservoir itself is also very nice because of its size. Coming in at 3L its half to a full leader larger than many other equally size machines. This is very nice, because it means far less refills, which is especially important on E61s which I find tend to go through water a bit more quickly.
The machine heats up in around 15 minutes, about par for the course for a heat exchanger, and like other E61s you’re going to want to let it idle even longer to allow all the temperatures to fully normalize.
Using the machine day-to-day is very nice, and I especially like the interesting dual pressure gauge on this machine. One half for boiler pressure, and one half for pump pressure. Pretty cool looking, AND very informative when making drinks.
Just like on the Mio, I also noticed that this vibration pump is noticeably quieter than other machines I’ve used recently. Diletta say the pump is mounted on rubber vibration dampers, and it certainly does work.
Other than that, it’s just a smooth, classic, E61 experience. Which brings us to the actual espresso performance.
The Bello comes from the factory running at 9 bars, which is nice, because it means that you can start using it right away, instead of needed to tear off all the panels first to adjust the OPV. So thank you Diletta for setting this properly.
The Bello is a heat exchanger, and it is not PID controlled, meaning that you will need to do some temperature surfing to get consistent temperature at the group head. A 10 second purge before brewing goes a long way to more consistent performance.
Once you get a routine down, it is a very good performer. You can make great espresso on this machine, and I do really like that they included a single spout portafilter. Even if you’re making a double shot, this is a convenient option I don’t think many people take advantage of
On the Mio we say some pretty tight cup clearance, and on the Bello it is a little better, measuring in at around 3.5”. This gives you enough room to comfortably fit a shot glass and a scale.
Moving on to steaming performance, the Bello uses a 2 hole steam tip, and as previously mentioned a no-burn steam arm, which are both nice to have and are things I expect to see on a machine of this price range.
Steam flow is of course variable through the steam knob, and the knobs themselves feel sturdy and high quality, with really good grip from the 5-pointed shape. For home use I maybe would have preferred a slightly less commercial look, but I must admit they work well, even with wet and slippery hands.
Steaming power is good, a very clear step up over entry level machines, and the ability to brew and steam simultaneously will certainly speed up your workflow even further. Compared to the Rocket Appartamento the Bello’s steaming experience and speed is almost identical.
So, do I recommend this machine, and do I recommend it OVER the Rocket Appartamento? Well, based purely on looks alone I think that the Bello puts up a hell of a fight, and might even beat the Rocket from a purely aesthetic standpoint. Of course, this will come down to personal preference.
In term of build quality the Bello is a solid E61 machine, with good components and an enjoyable user experience. There are some areas where it lags slightly behind the Rocket such as the drip tray finishing and the plastic on the lever, but it also beats in in other areas like the cup rail… If you’re looking at build quality alone, I’d say the Rocket is ahead, but not by an miniscule margin.
Overall, the Bello is a good looking, good performing, and well priced machines for the feature set and build. If you’ve always eyed the Apparatmento, but thought it was always just slightly overpriced for what it offers, then the Diletta Bello might just be the perfect machine you’ve been waiting for.
Need more? Watch the video!