Breville Barista Express Grinder
The Barista Express has an integrated stainless steel conical burr grinder with dosing controls and adjustable grind settings so your coffee is ground fresh for every cup. Youll be able to fill the removable see-through 8 ounce bean hopper, grind your beans and dose directly into the coffee filter in under 60 seconds.
Choose from a Dual Wall preset grind setting or 18 grind size options to achieve your desired results. Similarly, a knob located on the front panel lets you take advantage of the pre-programmed Dual Wall setting or manually select your grind volume.
Also present is an easy to overlook option for hands-free grinding thanks to an auto-stop function when grinding directly into the portafilter. The included burrs are also detachable for hassle-free maintenance.
Operating The Milk Frother
Frothing is easy. Just make sure the machine is primed and the “Hot water/Steam” light is on in front, then turn the dial on the right side of the machine to steam. Either place the steam wand over the grate or catch any liquid remnants with a cup.
You can switch it back to standby once it’s spewing out pure steam, then place it in your pitcher with milk, and switch it on. The best advice for steamed milk I’ve ever heard from Breville was to set the steam wand in the middle of the pitcher and then tilt it so that you’re set one-fourth of the diameter away from the wall, then just hold it still until it’s almost too hot to touch.
For frothed milk, for a cappuccino, you’ll want to keep it moving until you have airy, fine bubbles throughout.
Quality Of Coffee And Flavor Produced By The Bes870xl
The number one reason most consumers purchase a home espresso machine is that they want café quality espresso at home. The Barista Express consistently delivers high-quality espresso, cappuccino or lattes with every brew.
It takes no more than a minute or two to complete the entire process and each pour is of the highest standard. The machine grinds the coffee to a fine powder every time and it measures and delivers the correct volume of water with every cup. Theres very little waste material left behind and you never have to worry about the grinds finding their way into your cup.
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Breville Barista Express Review: This Powerful Comparatively Affordable Espresso Machine Pulls Truly Flavorful Shots
If you seek a home espresso machine with the power to pull truly excellent shots, look no further than the $600 Breville Barista Express.
Brian Bennett is a senior writer for the home and outdoor section at CNET. He reviews a wide range of household and smart-home products. These include everything from cordless and robot vacuum cleaners to fire pits, grills and coffee makers. An NYC native, Brian now resides in bucolic Louisville, Kentucky where he rides longboards downhill in his free time.
In my experience, there are two types of espresso drinkers. The first set doesn’t care where their elixir comes from, how much it costs or how it’s made, as long as they get it fast. A second group dreams about duplicating espresso alchemy at home, on the cheap, and are more than willing to get their hands dirty. If the latter sounds like you, then the semi-automatic $600 Breville Barista Express espresso machine is a dream come true.
The Bottom Line
Also be sure to read: The best home espresso machines for sale right now
Breville Barista Express Water Filter
The Barista Express sports an ample 67 ounce removable reservoir and comes with a carbon resin water filter for clean water and great tasting espresso. Using a water filter helps prevent scale build-up in and on many of the inner functioning components. Replacing the water filter every 2 months will reduce the need to decalcify the machine. If you live in a hard water area, it is recommended that you change the water filter more frequently. To install a water filter into your Barista Express, follow the instructions below:
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Pull Shots Like A Barista
I admit that at first all the Breville Barista Express’ knobs, buttons, and dials were intimidating. Thanks to the detailed manual, after pulling just a few practice shots I had the basic process down. First I filled the bean hopper and the water tank. Next I dropped a double-walled, double-shot filter into the portafilter basket and pushed it backward into the grinding cradle.
Fill the grinder’s bean hopper.
One short push and release hits a button at the back of the cradle telling the grinder to automatically fill the filter basket to the size you’ve selected, single or double. Also factored in is what grind amount setting you’ve selected, controlled by the grind amount dial. You can grind manually into the portafilter too by pushing it back and holding it in place. Releasing backwards pressure off of the portafilter handle stops the grinder.
Finally you tamp down your grounds, swivel the portafilter into place to lock it under the brewhead, then hit the single or double espresso button. With any luck a thick, concentrated stream of espresso liquid will flow into your glass or cup. Keep in mind that many factors can affect your espresso pull quality. These include the coarseness and amount of grounds used, how hard a tamp you exert, and whether the machine has been properly primed right before you brew.
Cons Of This Bes870xl Espresso Machine
Although Breville has put in a lot of effort on designing and performance, some features like hot water dispenser could have been improved. Moreover, while the machine itself works well, it does require diligent maintenance. A few skipped cleaning sessions can make your grinder loud, although it is easy to get a replacement it nevertheless remains a weak point. The machine is relatively taller in size, so before you plan to buy it, make sure you go through dimensions to see if it really can fit in your kitchen.
You can also check out our best espresso machine buying guide if you need espresso machine for home or office use.
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The Bes870xl Is The Improved Version Of The Bes860xl
Breville discontinued the BES860XL and released this model in its place with several modifications:
- Redesigned coffee bean hopper for larger capacity
- Added Auto Off Mode after 3 hours of inactivity
- Included Razor dosing tool, which aids in consistent dose volume/leveling
- Replaces bolted bolted Thermoblock with single stainless steel Thermocoil boiler, so no risk of future leaks
- PID temperature control for more consistent extraction temps
Is The Breville Barista Express Worth It
Yes, the Breville Barista Express is worth it for anyone who is ready to take their espresso-making prowess to the next level. The BE870XL provides much of the power of a professional machine, but at a lower price point than, for example, the Breville Oracle. It is a great espresso machine a good pick for those looking to advance their espresso experience without breaking the bank.
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Dont Buy The Barista Express If
You have no interest in learning to brew espresso The Express is a powerful, flexible machine, but it requires a little practice and understanding to master all the nuances. If you just want to push a button, buy a fully automatic machine like the Saeco Picobaristo. Another great machine we recommend is one of the industry favorites in this space: the Delonghi ESAM3300 automatic machine. Check our review here.
You own a good burr grinder already If youve already invested in a good burr coffee grinder that grinds for espresso theres no need to invest in a machine with a built-in grinder. Go for something like the Dual Boiler BES920XL, Infuser or Bambino instead which are like the Express, minus the burr grinder. Another machine you can check out is the Gaggia Classic Pro, which we reviewed in detail right here.
You are an advanced espresso brewing geek If youve already mastered the art of dialing in espresso shots, a few of the features of the Barista Express, like the pressure gauge, will make youyawn. If this sounds like you, consider something like the Breville Duo Temp Pro, although youll still need a good grinder.
Youre purchasing for a coffee shop This machine is intended for home use and wont fare well under pressure in a commercial environment. I have no idea how you even got this far in this article. Are you high? Heres our guide on commercial espresso machines.
Youre Not The Type To Invest Heavily
The Barista Express isnt a cheap machine. While it is relatively inexpensive when we compare it to other semi-automatic machines on the market, lets be real, it is still a big-ticket item.
But thats the thing with brewing espresso at home it comes with a hefty initial investment. Though this investment will eventually pay off, not needing to go to the coffee shop for a daily shot of espresso.
If youre on a tight budget, brewing espresso at home should probably be avoided altogether if youre after quality.
Buying a lesser machine than the Barista Express will most likely result in disappointment, if youre after coffee shop quality in my opinion.
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Internal Workings & Espresso Performance
One of the most important differences between the Breville Barista Express vs Barista Pro is the heating system. Breville incorporated its newer ThermoJet heating system into the Pro model, which is a significant upgrade to the older thermocoil on the Barista Express.
Im a coffee nerd at heart, and I can talk about the differences between thermal blocks, boilers, and heat exchangers for a while. Both of the Breville Barista models use a thermocoil system.
Thermocoils are aluminum blocks with intricate stainless steel piping inside. The water enters one end, moves through the piping system, and comes out heated on the other end. Thermocoils are common on home espresso machines, but the difference is how fast they heat water.
The Barista Pros newer ThermoJet system heats water to brewing temperature in three seconds. The ThermoJet design also adjusts temperatures quickly. You dont have to wait for the machine to heat up in the morning, nor do you have to wait between brewing coffee and steaming milk. If you want an espresso machine that is ready to go within seconds of turning it on, the Pro is the obvious choice.
The Barista Express uses a thermocoil system that heats in about 30 seconds. That time beats most other espresso machines but its an extra 30 seconds every morning without espresso.
The one downside of the ThermoJet system is you have to run a blank shot to heat up the system. Its imperative you run a black or youll first espresso will be under-extracted .
Cleaning The Breville Express Espresso Machine
The BES870XL is easy to clean and it includes cleaning discs and tablets with purchase, as well as a cleaning brush thats the ideal size for accessing any hard to reach areas of the machine. Cleaning the drip tray is also straight-forward it simply slides out of the slot at the bottom and the grilles are removable to make things easier. The only issue with cleaning this machine is that it can be a little time consuming if you want to do a thorough job.
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Standout Features Of The Breville Barista Express Bes870xl
Interchangeable Single and Dual-Wall Filter Baskets
Espresso can be as simple or as complicated as you wish to make it, and the interchangeable single and dual-wall filter baskets cater to home baristas of all types.
- Use the single-wall filter basket if you want to exert more control over your espresso. This is best when you want to grind your own beans and experiment with grind size, dose and tamp.
- Use the double-wall filter basket if you want to use pre-ground beans or want to take the variability out of your espresso. The dual-wall basket does a better job of regulating pressure and optimizing extraction regardless of grind, dose or tamp pressure.
Advanced Temperature Mode allows you to adjust the water temperature
Different beans require different water temperatures. With the Breville BES870XL’s Advanced Temperature Mode, you can adjust the temperature +/- 4ÂºF in 2ÂºF increments. This gives you 5 different temperature settings.
Adjusting the temperature is incredibly easy:
Youre After An Effortless Experience
As I mentioned earlier, to get really good shots of espresso, you need to learn how.
Its not super complicated, but there is a learning curve. If youre not interested in learning how to dial in your espresso, best go with an automatic espresso machine. If youve got a slick burr grinder like the Wilfa Uniform or Niche Zero sitting on your bench, this is probably not the machine for you. The grinder on the Breville would probably just go to waste. In this case, you could go with the Breville Infuser, which is the exact same espresso coffee maker minus the grinder.
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Options On The Barista Express
This Breville espresso machine has all of the key features expected in a quality home espresso machine at the lowest price on Amazon possible. We reviewed all aspects of its operation and found all of the features wed expect.
Theres a side grinder adjustment switch on the side that allows you to quickly switch between fine or coarse grinding depending on your preference. The hopper holds ½ a pound of beans at a time and the water tank, located at the back of the machine, can hold up to 67 ounces.
The tamper slots in on the left side and we like the fact that its magnetic so that you dont have to worry about losing track of it. Next to the tamper is the portafilter and you can choose from 4 different filter baskets a single and double cup single wall basket and a single and a double dual-wall basket.
On the left side of the main control face you can choose between single or double dose grind amounts and theres a center pressure gauge thats easy to follow. When the gauge is in the middle grey area it makes the ideal espresso shot and this is all well explained in the manual that comes with the machine. In our review, we found that the Barista express waits to begin pouring until the gauge was in that grey area.
Once youve selected the size of your grind you simply push the portafilter into the slot and it engages a button at the back which begins the grinding process. It takes less than a minute to grind and then the portafilter can be easily removed for tamping.
Rating The Bes870xl For Durability
While the BES870XL is reasonably priced for a home espresso machine, its still a significant investment compared to standard coffee makers. You want a machine thats built to last and thats what you get with the Barista Express. This machine features a durable stainless steel design and each part is designed to stand up to daily use without noticeable wear and tear. A 1-year limited warranty also comes standard with this machine.
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Potential Shortcomings Of The Breville Barista Express Bes870xl
No water level indicator light
File this under small annoyance, but it would be nice if the BES870XL had a water indicator light because the rear-positioned water tank makes it difficult to easily see how much water is left.
Not NSF certified so not suitable for commercial purposes
Finding an affordable espresso machine for commercial purposes can be difficult. Unfortunately, this machine wonât work for you. Instead, take a look some of La Pavoniâs models.
Breville Bes870xl Review Verdict
The Breville the Barista Express is our top pick for the best grind and brew coffee maker. This machine is well designed, with all of the key features we were looking for and its priced affordably. In our review of the BES870XL we were impressed with the quality of coffee it can produce on a consistent basis and we appreciated its simplicity.
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Got Problems Troubleshooting The Breville Bes870xl Barista Express Espresso Machine
The Breville BES870XL Barista Express is a great espresso machine which affords the user a ton of customization. Sometimes that means a lot of questions about how to make the most of it.
I canât get water to flow from the shower head.
This could be caused by a few things. First, make sure the machine has heated up, which generally takes about 20 seconds. Second, make sure the water reservoir isnât empty. Third, make sure the water reservoir is in its locked-in position. Fourth, itâs possible your coffee is ground too finely, tamped too firmly or the filter basket is overloaded.
My espresso is running too slowly or quickly.
This almost always is due to issues with the portafilter. Itâs possible the coffee is ground too finely/coarsely or packed too much/not enough.
Espresso is streaming over the sides of the portafilter!
Remove the portafilter and make sure there arenât any coffee grounds on the rim, which would prevent a good seal. Also make sure the portafilter basket is secured firmly to the machine. If neither of these work, itâs also possible the silicone ring on the machine, which seals to the rim of the portafilter, is worn out. If your machine is around 2 years old this is definitely possible. Call Breville for a new part and refer to page 32 of the user manual for instructions showing how to replace this part.
The steamer makes no steam!
My espresso isnât hot enough.
My latte/cappuccino isnât hot enough.
My crema is weak!