Breville Barista Express, a semi-automatic espresso machine, is among the most reliable gear when it comes to a great tasting espresso. It comes with a built-in conical burr grinder that lets you ground your own coffee to produce the best coffee drink. With stunning features, a great grab for anyone.
This is one of Breville’s great espresso machine. Coffee lovers and professionals welcome this machine with arms wide open. But, is this also the coffee maker you need? We’re sure it is.
However, check out our full in-depth review to learn more about this coffee maker from Breville.
What is the Breville Barista Express?
Breville, as a great coffee maker manufacturer, isn’t disappointing their consumer on its Breville BES870XL Barista Express. It’s a semi-automatic espresso machine with built-in conical burr grinder to help you grind and brew a perfect shot.
- Dose control grinding: integrated conical burr grinder grinds on demand to deliver the right amount of freshly ground Coffee directly into the portafilter for your preferred taste with any roast of bean
- Precise espresso extraction: digital temperature control (PID) delivers water at precisely the right temperature, ensuring optimal Espresso extraction
It comes with a lot of features and highly customizable controls for great coffee making.
- Includes user-friendly instructions with troubleshooting section
- Requires less cleaning that other espresso machines
- With “Clean Me” light indicates the next cleaning cycle
- Has pressure gauge that’s integral to making great espresso
- Comes with hot water dispenser
- Very easy to get freshly ground beans
- Has automated cleaning cycle that maintains the cleanliness of the grouphead
- Includes tools and accessories, so you won’t need to buy them
- Has adjustable brew temperature of ±4 degrees to finetune your shot
- Operation is not easily understood, you need to read the instructions
- Need to exert more effort and brainpower to operate the machine
- Takes up more space in the counter
- No indicator for the water level
- Some buyers complained about the grind knob that won’t go low enough
- Top and bottom sides are made of plastic
- Drip tray needs to be emptied often
- Tamper included maybe too light
- Hot water dispenser can still be improved
- Coffee grounds might fall in your drip tray
Design and Specifications
In order to aid the operation, buttons are clearly labelled and will light up when pressed. The water tank has 67oz capacity, which is big enough to fill a few cups in the morning without frequent refills. It uses a charcoal filter that removes some impurities of the water to lengthen the lifetime of the machine.
Made of brushed stainless steel casing, this machine has 13.25 x 12 x 16 inches dimension weighing 23lbs. Since it’s quite taller in size, you have to consider your counter space and height of the overhead cabinets before buying this one. You might end up putting thing on your table instead on your kitchen counter.
It operates at 120V with power rating of 1600W. It’s thermocoil broiler is made of stainless steel-lined aluminum with solenoid valve. The thermocoil heating system is also an essential part of this coffee maker. It’s a great update from its predecessor. This ensures accurate regulation of the water temperature.
Additionally, it’s essential to the pre-brew function that ensures optimal distribution of water in the coffee.
Portafilters included are both pressurized and non-pressurized with average brew time of one minute and 70 seconds steam time. Since it has an integrated grinder, unfortunately, it doesn’t have a slot for coffee pods. It’s designed with auto shut-off, but don’t have auto-on function.
In order to select whether a single- or double-wall filter basket, there’s a dedicated filter size button for this settings. This will help the machine dispense the right amount of coffee directly to the portafilter.
The 8oz bean hopper is very easy to remove for cleaning and refilling. This gives you the maximum surface are of the bean for optimal grinding to give you the natural flavor of the bean. It’s UV-protected, so it’s okay to leave the beans in the hopper and it won’t compromise the flavor of the beans.
Features and Functionalities
At its price, it’s no surprise that Breville Barista Express comes with a lot of stunning features and functionalities. What’s surprising, though is, you can actually enjoy these features because they are useful and really convenient. Among the pride of this espresso machine are the following:
- Built-in conical burr grinder: Having a built-in grinder doesn’t only give you a complete coffee machine, it also saves you money from buying a separate coffee grinder. It features dose-control grinder that helps you decide the right amount of freshly ground coffee you’re gonna need. In this way, you can grind just the right coffee to achieve a perfect espresso drink.
- Precise espresso extraction: Thanks to the precise digital temperature control (PID) technology that detects and stabilizes fluctuation of temperature during extraction. So, it keeps the water temperature to a certain rating (around 200°F)during the extraction. Once optimum temperature is maintained, you can achieve a balanced-tasting espresso.
- Milk Frothing: Getting the velvety texture of your espresso requires a great steam wand performance. The manual steam wand for the Infuser allows you to create micro-foam milk so you can easily create latte art, at the same time, enhance the flavor of your espresso.
- Grind Size Dial: Being able to control the size of your coffee grounds is essential to achieve the kind of coffee that you want. With this simple, yet intuitive control, you can choose from the 16 different grinding settings.
- Hands-free grinding cradle: You’ll be able to grind the coffee directly to your portafilter. To do this, you have to push the portafilter into the cradle. Then, as you’re grinding, the coffee grounds will fall dispense directly to the portafilter. And since this is automated, the grinder will stop once the required amount of coffee has been fully dispensed.
- Hot Water Dispenser: This is a feature not found in other espresso machine. The ability to pull out hot water anytime is great for making soup, hot americano or tea.
Setup and Operation
The setup of this coffee machine isn’t straightforward. You need to read the manual, which, thankfully, is quite detailed and will give you more comprehensive instructions. But, overall initial setup requires at least 30 minutes to an hour. It’s also recommended, however, that you turn the machine 10-15 minutes before you’ll use it for it to be ready.
Using the Breville Barista Express isn’t straightforward, as well. It has a steep learning curve. Although some may find it challenging, others find it a burden. However, rest assured that you’ll get a tastier, bolder and more aromatic coffee drink.
Just to be frank, if you’re a busy person who want to skip the lines in coffee shops and just get a morning coffee, this one might be too advanced for you. Perhaps, you need a full or super automatic machine where all you need to do is press a single button and a wait a minute or even less. But, if you’re a coffee enthusiast with the interest to brew and get to know the process of coffee making, read on.
It’s semi-automatic! Hence, you are required to grind, dose, tamp and steam the milk manually. You got to undergo these major tasks before getting to enjoy a tasty coffee. Although these can be learned, it actually takes a lot of time to master them.
As you have read from the features and functionalities, it includes built-in burr grinder, customizable volumetric controls and a few more stunning features. So, before you can use this with a close eyes, you need to familiarize each of its functionalities.
Another noteworthy feature of this machine is the low pressure pre-infusion with 15bar extraction pressure. With this, the ground coffee is evenly soaked and expanded before the full extraction process. This helps you achieve an more consistent shot every time you make an espresso. Additionally, this will also correct some inconsistencies during tamping.
One tiny problem with this machine is, the steam wand takes time to pressure after taking a shot. So, this means, your espresso sits there for a while before you decorate it with your favorite latte art. This will expose your espresso and may get bitter.
Brewing Capacity and Process
Be it single shot or double shot, you can prepare it easily with this espresso machine. And, though the operation might not be direct and easily, you can get a great coffee you can’ t have or might be difficult to achieve with those easy-to-operate machines.
For starters, you can start with the dual-wall, pressurized portafilters. This allows you to immediately go to extraction without the need to control the grind size and amount. You can easily get a perfect espresso without cracking your head to learn the complex functions of this machine.
Once you get to familiarize how the machine really works, you may challenge yourself with the use of single-wall, non-pressurized portafilters. You get to enjoy all the controls to optimize the coffee grounds and the taste, as well. This will help you experiment with the different grind sizes, amount and the tampering pressure, for a preparation of your barista career.
With the Dose Control you can vary the grind amount in each cup, between 19-22 grams. This control will help you achieve full-flavored coffee like you’re ordering it from a great barista. Most espresso machines have only 11-13 grams capacity, but this one gives you a real café-grade coffee.
From there you can define the exact coffee-to-water ratio. Then, you get the enjoy the grind size control that lets you choose from the 16 level of fineness – which also affects the flavor of your espresso.
So, a simple and straightforward brewing process goes from choosing whether you are in the mode for a single or double shot by choosing the right filter basket (which is included in your purchase.) Then, select the filter size using the dedicated button. As mentioned above, depending on your preferences, you can use the pressurized on the non-pressurized filter basket.
Then, it’s time for you to put the portafilter into the grinding basket. Start grinding by pressing the button and it’ll dispense just the right amount of coffee to the portafilter. Get the tamper, tamp and level with the a razor dose trimming tool.
Attach the portafilter to the grouphead to start extracting. Lastly, just press and select the size of the shot you want – single or double shot. Then, the machine will start to pressurize and prepare your favorite espresso in around 25 to 35 seconds.
There’s the adjustable 360-degree swivel action steam wand so you can conveniently do milk frothing and milk steaming. Although this seems to be a rigid coffee maker, but it’s not commercial-grade and might only give you 20 cups of espresso daily.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Since the operation of this machine is quite complicated, it’s also expected that you need to make a few sacrifices for maintenance. For the manual steam wand, if you are diligent in purging and wiping off the milk after each use, you can skip cleaning stubborn residue later on.
Portafilter also requires a bit cleaning, especially for beginners who still produce muddier and messier coffee grounds. But, with right grinding and amount, this semi-automatic coffee machine will make a compact, dry and disposable-ready coffee pluck. The drip tray has an indicator when it’s full and is fairly easy to remove and clean.
While the cleaning process is not quite tedious, descaling is the opposite. While others has automatic descaling, Barista Express requires you to mix half of water and vinegar and manually flush the solution in the machine. Then, flush out the vinegar with water. Overall manual descaling might need around 30 minutes.
Additionally, it also demands a more diligent maintenance. If you skip one or two cleaning sessions, you might get annoyed by the loud noise it produce during brewing.
Accessories and Add-ons
Aside from the features and controls of this machine, you’ll also be surprised with the accessories and add-ons included when you buy this product.
It comes with a 54mm portafilter that is made of stainless steel and tamper. It has a razor dose trimming tool that trims or levels your portafilter to get consistent shot every single time. This machine also includes a cup warmer with 4 inches cup clearance.
Breville Barista Express also comes with a both single- and dual-wall pressurized and non-pressurized filter baskets (a total of four baskets in all.) You also get a coffee scoop and a stainless steel milk jug, a water filter and a water filter holder. For cleaning, it has a cleaning disc, couple of tablets, cleaning brush and alley key.
Though this isn’t a cheaper coffee machine, but, you don’t need to spend for the accessories since they are already included in the package.
Who this product is for?
Barista Express cost you several hundreds of dollars, so it’s certainly not cheap. However, it has a lot of professional features that you can get from expensive espresso machines, which are twice or thrice its price.
For those who are looking for a quick and easy coffee brewing machine, this one isn’t the right coffee maker for you. As you have read, it takes time to setup and to get to taste your favorite coffee. You may opt for a super-automatic machine, rather than a semi-automatic one.
However, if you are an aspiring barista and wants to know how a perfectly brewed coffee is made, this is the perfect one for you. You get the enjoy the smell the aroma of the beans when grinding, perfect your leveling and tamping technique in the portafilter and add the best finishing for your espresso.
If you want the best testing espresso dose every time you crave for coffee, then, the Breville Barista Express is just the perfect coffee maker for you. Its steam wand works wonders in your latte and espresso, you could fool yourself that you’re getting your drinks from a professional barista.
This mid-priced semi-automatic espresso machine is might be good for beginners who have the time to read and understand the manual. At the same time have the dedication to go through the steep learning curve of this espresso machine. Experienced baristas, on the other hand, will really enjoy this because of its highly customizable controls that they can easily tweak and dial.
From the features that you’ve read in our in-depth review, we highly recommend this for everyone who really put some thought with their espresso. Moreover, it’s also a good, although a bit expensive, practice coffee making for those who wants to be a real barista.
Check it out! You wouldn’t regret this machine. Just give it and yourself sometime together and you can understand why many coffee experts recommend this.
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