You can say that coffee enthusiasts belong to one of two groups. People in one group don’t want to be bothered with details, as long as they get their coffee here and now. The other group is very specific about the taste, aroma, and the espresso machine brand they use to make their coffee, and they need their espresso to be perfect.
This review will help the second group as the Breville Barista Express might be the espresso machine they need at home.
The Breville Barista Express (BES870XL) at a glance
Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine
The Barista Express combines both super-automatic and semi-automatic features. That includes an integrated conical burr grinder, pre-programmed options for espresso, and Thermocoil single boiler (dual-use), making Breville stay ahead of its competition.
Superior quality coffee, with decent control over the process
It takes some practice to learn using this machine.
This is not a fully automatic espresso machine, so making a great espresso requires some skills (I'm sure you'll acquire them in no time).
Breville Barista Express
Breville BES870XL Barista Express
15.9 x 12.5 x 13.8 inches
Yes, Swivel Wand (360 degrees)
Conical Burr Grinder, 18 grind-size settings
Water Tank Capacity
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Ever since this semi-automatic mid-tier espresso machine has hit the market, it became clear that this machine is almost unrivaled with high performance at a reasonable price.
Here’s my take on Breville Barista Express. I hope it will help you decide whether or not to invest in it.
Like the Breville Bambino Plus we covered before, the Barista Express by Breville is a great espresso machine that can efficiently make quality coffee at par with the ones available in cafes.
- Built-in grinder – It includes an in-built grinder and steam wand and a digital temperature control system.
- Manual/Automatic Brewing – This model features many options in brewing, both manual (fully) and automatic, allowing you to improve your espresso-making skills flexibly.
The downside is that the Barista Express can’t cater to several guests at a time. Nevertheless, this reasonably priced espresso machine will deliver more than what you invest by providing top-notch coffee quality.
The Breville Barista Express Design
The first thing I noticed about the Barista Express is its exquisite professional design. I’m not only talking about the looks but also about how easy it is to access crucial areas.
For example, the steam wand moves at a 360-degree angle. When steaming milk, you can pull it toward you and push it back when the machine is idle, so the milk frother is not in your way.
You can also detach the tamper for better control over the pressure you apply to compress the grounds. You can reattach the tamper to the machine for storage when you’re done.
I also liked the reasonable amount of settings that can be customized. For example, you can easily adjust the coffee grind level and tamp to prepare the kind of espresso you prefer. In general, try the automatic options at first. After a short trial and error process, you’d be able to use the Barista Express manually to get the perfect espresso, just as you like it.
Overall, I find the design to be highly professional. I liked the classic stainless steel (brushed) finish unit better than the black one. But both options look equally gorgeous.
The Barista Express Functionality
The dials, knobs, and buttons of the Barista Express can be intimidating at first sight. Still, the manual provided with the machine includes a detailed, easy-to-understand explanation of how things work. I believe the average user will be able to get a hold of everything after some practice.
So how to use a Breville Barista Express?
First, fill the water tank and bean hopper. Then, place the single or double shot filter into the portafilter basket, and attach the basked back to the grinding cradle.
Fill the filter basket with ground coffee using the button at the backside of the cradle. A push and release movement will fill the basket with the right amount of coffee. You can also use manual grinding by applying some pressure using the portafilter handle. Once you release the pressure from the portafilter handle, the grinding process will stop.
The last step is to tamp the grounds and swivel the portafilter back in its place to lock it underneath the brew head.
Finally, press the single or double espresso button, and enjoy a concentrated, thick espresso shot.
Make sure you select the proper coffee beans, grind level, and tamp pressure to get the best out of the Barista Express and get your espresso just as you like it.
You can expect good-quality lattes and cappuccinos using this machine, as long as you learn how to manually froth and steam your milk. You should expect this learning curve when you start frothing your milk manually, regardless of the espresso machine model.
The Breville BES870XL Barista Express is very convenient for beginners in milk frothing. The Barista Express offers a stainless steel steam wand, which can move in a 360-degree direction. This feature makes it easy to hold the milk pitcher even for left-handed barista-hobbyists.
Moreover, the infuser allows you to get a smooth microfoam or a regular milk froth. This makes the Barista Express milk frothing process one of the most comfortable among semi-automatic espresso machines.
The Thermoblock Wand gives you control over the amount of air you want in the foam. This means you have to practice learning how to master this technique, but I can assure you that it gets better with time.
The Coffee Grinder
A coffee grinder crushes the coffee to be brewed. It also builds the resistance required for building up pressure within the portafilter. There is no good coffee without a quality burr grinder, especially if it is an espresso machine.
This machine’s stainless steel conical burr grinder is located on its left side. It undertakes the grinding based on the grind size you can adjust using an 18-step dial.
The top part of the grinder includes a bean hopper made of durable and sturdy plastic. It can hold up to 8 ounces and be removed conveniently to fill beans or clean. Use the control panel on the machine to adjust the grind amount by selecting the “Coffee Amount” dial. You will also find two dosage buttons that can be programmed according to your requirement.
Let’s make it simple: You just have to place the portafilter inside the cradle to grind for as long as needed. The machine is programmed to consider the amount of coffee you’re using based on grinding time.
While this dosing method might not be precise, the dosing gets better each time you perform this function.
This built-in grinder performs its assigned job efficiently. This model has a smooth and efficient workflow, whether grinding, tamping, or brewing. You’ll have no problems with improper grind size, as stand-alone coffee grinders sometimes have.
The water tank of this unit is placed in the back part and has a 2-liter capacity. It can be easily removed for cleaning or refilling by flicking the wrist for unlocking the tank.
The Taste Of Espresso And Latte Drinks
While the makers claim that you can prepare an espresso within a minute, it did take me almost four minutes to prepare an espresso shot the first time. I learned that it depends on how long it takes you to grind, tamp, and brew. That doesn’t imply that the quality was anything less than exceptional right from the first shot.
When you learn how to use the Barista Express, you can enjoy aromatic espresso or frothy latte drinks that taste just like the coffee at any good local cafe. You must remember that the espresso quality depends on the mechanics but also on your beans selection and barista skills.
Once you figure out how this machine work, you can easily prepare any drink. This model grinds the beans evenly and consistently pulls high-quality espresso with the right amount of bitterness and an abundance of crema. Using the steam wand properly will give you the silkiest microfoam and creamy froth to enjoy these drinks as if they were made by a professional at a coffee shop.
What I Liked Or Disliked Using The Barista Express
- The Design Is Professional- This espresso machine offers more than stunning looks. Many features are commonly found in professional coffee makers’ kitchens. For example, the grinding is dose-controlled, the built-in, conical burr grinder, or the digital temperature control system.
- Superior Quality Coffee with a lot of manual control – The ability to adjust all this model’s settings gives you control over the coffee the machine delivers. Based on your requirement, you can use it to prepare a cold brew, an espresso, or even a latte with your work of art on it.
- A semi-automatic machine requires some practice: Not sure if that’s a drawback per se, but when you choose a semi-automatic machine as the Barista Express by Breville, you should know you will not get your espresso by pressing a button. It can be a drawback for beginners but a required feature for more experienced baristas. If you are a beginner – practice to achieve perfection.
- No predefined profiles or automatic wake-up time – As most semi-automatic espresso machines, the Barista Express doesn’t come with personal profiles, wake-up timers, or too many programmable presets. The machine does allow you to set and forget some settings. Still, it will never be as simple as a fully automatic machine. You’ll have to switch on the Barista Express yourself in the morning.
Breville Barista Express – Final thoughts
After reviewing the Breville BES870XL Barista Express, I can safely say that this model offers some of the finest home-made espresso available. Not only will amateurs benefit from using this machine, but even the advanced coffee makers will find this unit interesting to use. For those who no longer intend to shell out your money on baristas or cafes to get the coffee you desire, this product is worth giving a try.