Despite its name, the Barista Express by Breville isn’t a machine that’s only for baristas. The set-up may be a bit tricky for beginners to start with but the machine is made with user experience at the forefront of its design.
To brew quality espresso it’s necessary to combine high pressure with the perfect water temperature alongside setting up the portafilter with the ideal grind amount and tamping it with a good amount of force. All these steps require a bit of know-how and a lot of quality equipment.
The Breville Barista Express is not only a powerful machine but it comes with all the extras you would normally have to buy separately. This saves you time and money and allows you to start brewing espresso straight away.
To really understand this coffee maker, what’s included, how it works, and whether it’s a good fit for your home, read on. This review covers everything you need to know about the Barista Express espresso machine to uncover all those hidden features.
The Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine
Type: Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine
- Conical Burr Grinder
- Powerful Steam Wand
- Low-Pressure Pre Infusion
- Precise Digital Temperature Control
- Tricky for Beginners
- Additional Purchases may be Required
The Breville Barista Express Review
The Barista Express is an impressive machine in its capabilities as well as its appearance. The housing is extremely durable with a brushed stainless steel finish that gives this home espresso machine a high-quality feel.
Alongside the machine itself, you get quite a few extras that will help you get started brewing great espresso straight away. Included is a 54mm stainless steel portafilter that can hold single or double-shot portafilter baskets. There’s also room for you to choose how you like to brew thanks to the 1 and 2-cup single wall and dual wall filter baskets included.
Once you load up the filter basket using the coffee scoop provided, the Razor Dose Trimming Tool allows you to level out the coffee with complete precision. Next up, there‘s an Integrated Tamper that magnetically attaches to the machine so you’ll never lose it. It’s actually a really good quality one which is surprising as most espresso makers come with those useless plastic ones.
Another really useful inclusion is the stainless steel milk jug. Too many espresso machines fail to include this essential piece and without it, frothing milk is impossible.
To help you keep your machine squeaky clean there’s a cleaning kit that includes a cleaning disc, tablets, a brush tool plus Allen key, and a water filter and filter holder. These all help to keep your machine in good working order.
This espresso machine isn’t the cheapest option available on the market but with all these extras you really get your money‘s worth and more.
Why Choose this Coffee Machine?
To go from ground coffee to quality espresso there are a lot of variables that need to be controlled to ensure optimal espresso extraction. The Barista Express is a machine designed for at-home use but it doesn’t skimp out where the essential elements are necessary.
Perfectly Ground Beans
For a domestic machine, the specs are really good. We will start with the bean hopper and grinder. The hopper can hold 8 oz of coffee beans so that’s enough for around 30 single shots of espresso or 15 double shots. If you’re not brewing huge volumes of coffee every day then it’s recommended not to fill the hopper completely as the coffee will start to lose some of its flavor and aroma over time.
The coffee grinder is a conical burr grinder so it ensures an even, consistent grind each time. You can choose between 16 different grind settings and adjust this using the grind size dial. There’s also a coffee dosing dial on the front of the machine or you can manually dose the coffee by pushing and holding the portafilter in place.
Removable Water Tank
The water tank is removable which makes it easy to fill and clean. Breville also includes a water filter which is really important for both great-tasting espressos as well as for keeping the machine in good working order.
The hot water used for brewing espresso has to be the perfect temperature otherwise this can end up ruining your cup of coffee. An issue with a lot of espresso machines is even if they get the water up to the correct temperature in the boiler, this can change by the time it reaches the group head.
Breville has side-stepped this issue by incorporating a PID temperature control gauge in the brew head. This ensures that the water is at the perfect temperature when it first contacts the coffee. This is the kind of high-quality adaption usually only found in a coffee shop machine so is quite an exciting find.
One final point about the temperature control in this machine is the thermocoil heating system. This allows the water to heat up very fast and also means you can switch between espresso brewing and the frother without having to wait for ages for the water to reach the precise temperature.
Alongside getting the water temperature just right, another really important consideration is the brewing pressure. To brew true espresso you need at least 9 bars of pressure to extract that thick, foamy layer that floats on top, also known as the crema.
Unlike temperature, the right amount of pressure isn’t a fixed point but forms more of a curve that gradually increases over the brewing process. It’s often advised to start brewing espresso with a low water pressure to allow the coffee puck to expand and avoids water channeling through fixed points.
The Breville Barista Express has a low-pressure pre-infusion cycle built into it so this helps ensure a well-extracted espresso that’s bursting with flavor and aroma. There’s also a pressure gauge built into the front of the machine so you can monitor exactly what’s going on during the brewing process. This gauge is also very useful if you’re adjusting the settings as it allows you to easily see if your changes will work adequately to brew good espresso.
Beautiful Steamed Milk
A huge benefit of this machine is the powerful steam wand that’s incorporated on a swivel arm so you can tuck it out the way when not in use. It produces a jet of steam with enough pressure to create a very thick microfoam in the milk. This allows you to make all kinds of specialty coffee including cappuccinos, lattes, and even latte art. It is worth noting that it does take a fair amount of practice to get really good at steaming milk as most find it to be a steep learning curve.
Alongside the steam wand is a hot water dispenser so you can go from a shot of espresso to an Americano without any extra equipment needed.
Choosing the Correct Coffee Beans
If you’re new to espresso brewing then it’s always advisable to start out using cheaper coffee beans as you will find you have to pull several shots before you get the technique just right. Once you get the hang of your machine it’s best to use coffee beans that are roasted with espresso brewing in mind.
Darker roast beans stand up well to espresso brewing and the oily surface of the beans makes for good quality espresso. Some medium roast beans can also work well but avoid light roast for this brew method.
Breville BES870XL Barista Express vs The Bambino Plus
If you’re looking for a home barista set-up similar to the Barista Express but a bit more compact then the Bambino Plus is ideal. It still has all the great coffee brewing parameters like digital temperature control, optimal water pressure, and a fast heat up but it is lacking the coffee grinder. It has a powerful steam wand so specialty coffee is no problem but there‘s no pressure gauge and the machine is a lot more compact so ideal for smaller kitchens.
The Barista Express vs The Oracle
The Breville Oracle has an LCD screen that displays a lot of information to help you adjust the brewing parameters. From precise, dose-controlled grinding to a dual boiler giving you accurate milk temperature control and even the option for a long black coffee. It can deliver an Americano in one touch thanks to an angled water spout that automatically tops up your cup with hot water at the right time. The milk frother has a texture control dial so will automatically froth the milk to the perfect consistency for your chosen recipe.
Overall, the Oracle is more automated, simple to use, and perfect for entertaining guests. The downside is that the price is almost $3000 more than the Barista Express and, in my opinion, this is just a bit too expensive for what you get.
Is Breville Barista Express coffee maker worth it?
The Barista Express is fairly expensive when compared to other at-home espresso machines but you do get a huge amount back for what you invest. The machine performs almost as well as a commercial one but is reasonably easy to use so beginners will get the hang of it after a little practice. It has a built-in burr grinder, and steam wand so can brew all kinds of coffee without you needing to purchase any extra appliances.
It has advanced brewing systems and comes with loads of extras like a milk jug and tamper. Overall, I would say the Barista Express is well worth the investment if you love specialty coffee on a daily basis.
How long does Breville Barista Express last?
If you take good care of your espresso machine by cleaning it and descaling it frequently then it should last somewhere between 5 and 10 years. This value also depends on how often you use the coffee maker.
Does Breville Barista Express come with a warranty?
Breville offers a 1-year repair guarantee on the Barista Express where in this time they will repair or replace a defective product caused by faulty workmanship and materials.
Where can I buy Breville Barista Express?
You can buy the Barista Express on Amazon through this link.
Does the Breville Barista Express need to be cleaned often?
You should flush and wipe the steam wand after every use as well as wipe the group head. The drip tray should be cleaned roughly once a week (depending on use) and once a month you can use a special cleaning tablet to flush the interior of the machine. Descaling should be carried out once a month or so if you live in an area with very hard water. Finally, replace the water filter every 2 months.
So that’s everything you need to know about the Breville Barista Express. It’s a high-spec machine that’s ideal for beginners and coffee connoisseurs alike. If you’re looking for an espresso machine that ticks every box and doesn’t cost the earth then this is the very best choice for your home. It’s the perfect balance between being readily customizable yet also having automated options that are perfect for first-time users.