Diletta Mio Vs. Stone Espresso
It’s a great time for anyone shopping for a step-up espresso machine. What do we mean when we say “step-up?” Generally this refers to machines that might not be a user’s first choice due to complexity or cost. These are machines that you grow into. While they may make a good starter machine for some, they definitely offer features and performance more in line with prosumer options that have higher learning curves.
Today in particular we’re taking a look at the Diletta Mio and the Stone espresso machine lineup. Diletta and Stone both offer high quality machines that represent a great value, so which is the right choice for you? Let’s talk about it.
Aesthetics and Design
A big point of difference between these machines is their appearance and case design. The Stone offers a really solid platform, with smartly placed feet to prevent slipping, a compact footprint, and some clever aesthetic design choices. The Stone has plates on the sides called “slabs” ; these plates come in different colors, allowing you to really customize the look of your Stone. It’s a great way to future proof your machine for whatever color schemes you might want for your kitchen in the future.
The Mio, by comparison, offers a slick, modern look. Less art piece and more function, we still really like the powder coating on offer for this machine. Because it is a little less unique visually it can also blend into a more minimalist kitchen aesthetic easier. In either case (no pun intended), both of these machines are beautiful and a great fit for the right countertop.
Both of these machines offer some pretty excellent brewing performance. The Stone is a really unique offering. While it may look similar to an E-61 group head, it’s actually quite different. A heating element brings the water up to near brew temps, but then a smaller micro cartridge heater brings the water to its 200 degree brewing temperature. While you can’t adjust it, it’s all controlled with a PID-controller, meaning that this two-step heating system produces some incredibly consistent and solid temps. The result, of course, is some great coffee. The pump is solid and provides the pressure you want, and combined with the temperature it leads to some great performance.
The Diletta Mio, on the other hand, is a bit more traditional. That said, you don’t need to fix something that isn’t broken. This machine offers great heat performance, and you can even turn off the steam heat to fully dedicate the boiler to brew temps to help recovery. This machine IS controlled by an adjustable PID controller, giving you a little more flexibility in your temperatures. What’s more, that PID controller doubles as a shot timer, something the Stone does not have built-in.
Both of these machines offer solid milk steaming performance for the price range. The thing about this range of machine is that the steaming options are a place where manufacturers can recover some of the cost of bringing that great brew performance. This doesn’t mean that the steaming on the Mio or the Stone is bad - quite the opposite. You’ll still see a significant step-up from any entry level machine. They won’t, however, steam your milk with the rapidity of a commercial machine. But that’s OK, it helps you learn technique, and you’ll still be crafting delicious lattes and cappuccinos at the kind of quality levels you’d expect from your local coffee shop (with a bit of practice).
Where they DO differ is the Mio’s unique steam group shutoff. If you want to use a little less energy you can turn of the steaming heat, so the heating element won’t kick water temperature up into that range. It makes for a point in the Mio’s favor for users who just need the steam for the occasional latte or capp, instead of their daily drinker.
Odds and Ends
A huge part of the difference between these two machines is those little extra details. They both craft excellent espresso drinks, and they both offer solid, if not the best, steam performance. The stone offers more aesthetic flexibility, but the Mio has a bit more going on in terms of brew control with its adjustable PID controller.
Another thins the Mio has working in its favor is its water tank. The tank on this machine is almost 2 liters, and it is conveniently removable from the side of the case. This is a clever design concept, as most water tanks come out of the top, which can be a pain to deal with if you put the machine under cabinets. Speaking of, the Stone features a smalle (under 1.5 liter) water tank that is removed from the top. While we don’t want to condemn it too hard for this - it’s the case with many machines - it’s still worth noting. You’ll also find yourself refilling the water more frequently because of its smaller size.
It’s not just the water tank that the Mio has a leg up on though, it’s also the drip tray. The Stone’s tray is pretty small, just a plastic insert into the front of the machine. The Mio, meanwhile, has a sizeable tray at the front of the machine. This may not be a thing you’re concerned about, but it does make workflow and living with the Diletta Mio a bit easier.
Which Should I Pick?
This is a very tricky question. The best way to decide which machine is right for you is to give us a call or chat, or even head to one of our stores to see the machines in person. Barring that, it really comes down to those details. Would being able to turn off steaming to save some power benefit you? Do you need that flexibility in temperature adjustment? Are you planning on making enough drinks in a row that you want that larger water tank and drip tray? Then the Diletta Mio might be for you.
On the other hand, if you like the aesthetics of the Stone, the swappable slabs, and don’t care about temperature adjustment, it is a fantastic machine that you can’t go wrong with. Oh, and don't forget, these machines are only as good as the grinder you pair them with!
Looking for more insight? Check out our comparison video with John!