It can be hard to make a great cup of coffee at home, but you don’t want to go out every time you want a good cup. The problem is that most people are either stuck with an old-fashioned drip machine, or they have to buy one expensive piece of equipment for each type of coffee drink they like. And even then, the results are never quite as good as what you get in your favorite local café. This is where the Breville Barista Express comes in.
We’ve put hours into researching the pros and cons of the Breville Barista Express. We’ll share what makes this espresso machine the ultimate choice of many coffee lovers.
Don’t forget to read our What You Should Know Before You Buy section for that golden nugget of wisdom that will help you decide if this semi-automatic espresso machine deserves a place on your countertop.
Table of Contents
- Convenient to use.
- Can prepare 6 types of coffee drinks (Americano, Espresso, Cappuccino, Latte, macchiato, ristretto).
- Has stable water temperature.
- Fast heat-up times.
- Requires you to buy expensive water filters.
- Some parts require hand-cleaning.
Breville is well-known for its iconic kitchen appliance brands since 1932. You can find Breville in kitchens worldwide quickly, giving people moreover power and peace of mind to do things rapidly or impressively. They are a juggernaut of coffee appliances, including espresso machines, coffee makers, and grinders.
About the Breville Barista Express
The Breville Barista Express espresso machine is a steal. It’s easy to use, keeps your coffee grinding and brewing hassle-free, plus it has an attractive stainless steel design that will look great in any kitchen!
The Breville Barista Express takes time and effort to operate, but it produces a quality cup of coffee.
The Bottom Line
The Breville Barista Express is a sleek, user-friendly espresso maker that produces better coffee than more expensive machines. It’s comparatively easy to use and keep clean, plus it has an attractive stainless steel design. The device also sports a built-in burr grinder for hassle-free grinding of beans! While the Barista Express does require some effort compared with fancy super-automatic models, its outstanding value makes up for this difference-making excellent tasting espressos at affordable prices vs much more expensive models.
Features & Benefits
If you were to get a coffee at the beginning of your day, do you think the Barista Express espresso machine will make a significant difference? Let’s find out as we discuss the features and benefits of using this semi-automatic espresso machine.
Performance and Quality
Precise Espresso Extraction
The digital temperature control (PID) in Barista Express guarantees the proper water temperature at +/- 2°C. It is to ensure that at this temperature, there’ll be optimal espresso extraction. Its pre-infusion feature works by gradually increasing the pressure at the beginning of the brewing process. Such a feature ensures that all the coffee flavors and undertones are evenly drawn out during the extraction process.
Four Filter Baskets
The Barista Express has four filter baskets you can use to extract a balanced and flavorful espresso. It has two single-wall filter baskets and two dual-wall filter baskets. This stainless steel filter basket measures 54mm.
Dose Control Grinding
When you’re ready to start drinking coffee, the grinder automatically starts grinding beans into a perfect size for your best brew.
The integrated precision conical burr grinder grinds on demand. It delivers the right amount of freshly ground coffee directly into the portafilter with any roast of bean so that each cup is just how you like it when starting your day!
To properly guide you on how much coffee grounds each basket can hold and the best filter basket to use regardless of whether it’s a single wall or dual wall. Below are the dose specifications of the filter baskets according to cup:
- 1 CUP basket can hold approximately 8-10g of ground coffee or 2 level tablespoons of pre-ground coffee beans.
- 2 CUP basket can hold approximately 15-18g of ground coffee or 3 level tablespoon of pre-ground coffee beans
- You’ll need 4 level tablespoons if you use freshly ground coffee.
The Barista Express might not have the 3-second heat up like any other coffee machine. Still, it makes up a stable water temperature with its Thermocoil Heating System, which is one of the keys to achieving a great tasting espresso.
Microfoam Milk Texturing
You can manually prepare micro-foam milk using this home espresso machine’s powerful steam wand. It allows you to hand texture the microfoam milk, resulting in an enhanced flavor and a beautiful microfoam for your latte art creations.
The Breville Barista Express stands 16 inches tall and can occupy your kitchen space with its 13.5 inches width and 12.5 inches depth. Its size is comparable to a standard drip coffee maker, except whether its width is twice as much as the drip coffee machine. Compared to other compact espresso machines that feature the same functionality, it is more robust and more extensive than Gaggia Classic and SMEG ECF01.
This espresso maker has a brushed stainless steel chassis, stainless steel conical burrs, and a steel portafilter, giving this machine an industrial look. It gives off a more severe business vibe with its large bean hopper and pressure gauge, which you often see on top-of-the-line semi and super-automatic espresso machines.
Grind Size Dial
At the front panel on the left side of this espresso machine, you’ll find the grind size amount knob sitting in between the power button and the filter size button. This knob allows you to adjust the grind amount. Turn the trim knob in the clockwise direction, and you’ll get more grinds. Turning the dial counterclockwise will give you less ground.
One of the iconic features of most Breville semi-automatic machines is the pressure gauge. In Barista Express, you’ll find it positioned at the center of the control panel. The circular dial displays whether the internal pump pressure of your machine is pushing hot water through your coffee within the acceptable pressure range or not.
Interestingly, it’s a part of the espresso machine which you have to pay attention to. If there’s little force during the coffee extraction, the water will quickly pass through the coffee grounds. Meaning, under extraction, occurred, so expect a less flavorful coffee. Likewise, if there’s less water flow under high pressure, the coffee grounds go over-extraction, resulting in terrible tasting coffee.
Built-In Burr Grinder
Breville users’ opinions about the built-in grinder are divided between love and hate. For coffee lovers that see Breville Barista Express as not their “forever coffee machine,” since there’s always an option to upgrade. The built-in grinder is pretty decent for coffee drinkers learning the art of making barista-quality coffee.
Yet if you’re on the level of being adventurous with your coffee but sees the espresso shot of Barista Express a great deal. You’ll put your trust in grinding coffee beans in a separate burr grinder that ensures flexibility and consistency.
Programmable Shot Control
When you program the shots volumetrically, it produces authentic espresso consistently. Using 19 to 22 grams of coffee beans with a 54mm portafilter allows you to achieve a uniform and balanced espresso. Such pairing is the key to maximizing your full flavor to get that cafe-quality brew every time!
The Barista Express isn’t all glory and praise kind of machine. It may have an attractive brushed stainless steel casing that provides a business look and corrosion-free feature to this espresso maker. Still, its kryptonite lies in its plastic internal parts—the reason why you should take care of this machine with regular maintenance and cleaning.
Some of its parts aren’t available in the market. Rather than do DIY fixes, it’s best to reach out to their customer service and take advantage of the warranty to get the Breville fix or replace your unit.
- Breville Name: The Barista Express
- Machine Type: Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine
- Construction Materials: Brushed Stainless Steel
- Dimensions (WxDxH): 12.8″ x 12.2″ x 13.1″
- Bean Hopper: ½ pounds
- Water Tank Capacity: 67 ounces.
- Heating System
- Thermocoil–Integrated stainless steel water path
- Power: 1600W
- Pre-Infusion Function
- Gradually increases water pressure to expand grinds for an even extraction gently.
- Purge Function
- Automatically adjusts water temperatures after steam for optimal espresso temperature.
- Single or Double Shots.
- Adjustable Grind Amount & Manual over-ride.
- 18 grind settings
- Voltage: 110–120 volts.
- Warranty: 1-year limited product warranty
- Razor Dose Trimming Tool.
- 54mm Stainless Steel Portafilter.
- One cup & 2cup Single & Dual Wall Filter Baskets.
- Coffee Scoop.
- Integrated Tamper.
- Stainless Steel Milk Jug.
- Cleaning discs and tablets.
- Cleaning brush, tool, and Allen Key.
- Water Filter Holder and Water Filter.
Your Barista Express will remind you to run a clean cycle with its “Clean Me” notification. Here are the steps that you can follow:
- Ensure that the espresso machine is off and check if the water tank is full.
- Insert the cleaning disk into the single filter basket.
- Place a container below the port ahead if you’ll be using a cleaning disk with a hole to prevent liquid from splashing out. If you’re using a no-hole cleaning disk, the liquid will pour straight into the drip tray.
- Include the cleaning tablet into the cleaning disk before inserting the portafilter into the machine.
- Press and hold the single and dual cup buttons at the same time. While doing it, push the power button to turn on the machine.
- Release the buttons when you hear a beep, and the machine starts up.
What You Should Know Before You Buy
Is the search for the ultimate espresso maker for home brewers over? This crucial section of the Breville Barista Express review filtered the most critical information you need to know before throwing your bucks to this machine.
- The Barista Express has an integrated conical burr grinder made of stainless steel to ensure that you extract only freshly ground beans.
- If you’re aiming to prepare a cafe-quality coffee, it’s best to have a dedicated grinder rather than using the built-in grinder.
- This espresso machine has 18 grind settings that will test your creativity in preparing drinks.
- This coffee machine has auto-stop features for a hands-free grinding of coffee beans into the portafilter.
- The Breville BES870XL Barista Express has an instant hot water dispenser if you prefer long black or want to preheat your cups.
- It has automatic dosing that dispenses the apt amount of coffee grounds for a single or double espresso shot.
- You can adjust the grind amount to suit the fineness or coarseness of your ground coffee using the dial to pull great shots.
- You can control the dose with the dose trimming tool designed explicitly for Breville espresso machines.
- The Barista Express has an electronic PID temperature control to ensure stability when the temperature increases during the extraction process.
- It’s one of the semi-automatic espresso machines in the market with auto-purge, automatically adjusting the water temperature after it steams.
- This coffee maker uses a Thermocoil Heating System, which controls the water temperature accurately.
- It uses 1600W for a faster heat-up and high-pressure steam.
- Disposal of the coffee grounds in the filter basket is easy with its dry puck feature.
Looking for coffee recommendations? Check out these articles to get the best insight into which coffees to buy at home.
- Our 16 Best Dark Roast Coffee Beans
- Our 12 Best Light Roast Coffees To Buy
- 8 Best Sustainable Coffee Brands You Can Trust
- 8 Fair Trade Coffee Brands that Support Social and Environmental Efforts
- The Best Kona Coffee Brands + SCAM WARNING
- 11 Best Decaf Coffee for People with No Plans to Give Up their Coffee Habit
If the machine has been adequately cared for, it can last for more than 5-10 years. Generally speaking, this machine is a long-term investment. For most people, ten years is the break-even point where they spend just about as much keeping up with the device in repairs and maintenance as if they had just bought another one and kept up with that one instead. So it boils down to how often you use your coffee maker vs. how often it breaks or needs repair.
Yes. That’s because it has a compelling thermoblock heating system embedded in the water tank, with a large stainless steel boiler to make brews at the temperature of professional machines.
Moreover, Breville Barista Express is easy to use, and cleanup time is relatively quick if you pay attention to what you’re doing while unloading cups or filling hot water tanks. Overall, I think Breville Barista Express is a sound investment for people who love coffee but who don’t have access to an expensive espresso bar machine or great quality beans at home.
The main difference between the two machines is that the Barista Express is a machine geared towards on-the-go coffee drinkers, whereas the Pro machine appeals to tinkering techies.
Barista Express only has one group handle with a pressure valve to regulate the temperature of the portafilter. The pump of Pro can be adjusted so that coffee gets more or less dense, depending on preference.
To be clear, descaling is different from backflushing. Descaling uses a specific descaling chemical that strips off the limescale buildup in the internal working of the espresso machine. And this process is essential to espresso machine users who live in an area with hard water containing specific calcium bicarbonate concentrations.
Backflushing involves processes that force water and a cleaning agent to go back through the system over the pressure. The strategy intends to remove any buildup and maintain the valves in good working condition.
When should you descale your Barista Express? Take note that when your water hardness measures 4, it means you should descale every 90 days ( 3 months). If your water hardness test strips revealed that the water hardness measures 6, you have to descale your Barista Express every 60 days (2 months)
To descale your machine, here’s what you need to do.:
1) Detach your water tank from the device and remove any remaining water.
2) Put away the water filter from the water reservoir.
3) Mix your descaling chemical to water based on the instructions.
4) Fill the water reservoir with the mixed solution and reattach it to the machine.
5) Put a container on the drip tray to avoid splashing.
6) Turn the espresso machine on and press-hold the 1 CUP button. Hold the button until one-third of the water in the tank was poured out from the reservoir.
7) Use one-third of the water in the reservoir and turning on/off the switch to direct the water flow in the pipes.
8) Then, position the steam wand into the drip tray or the container to run steam until all the remaining water in the tank is removed.
10) Detach the water tank and remove any remaining descaling chemical and water mixture to the sink.
11) Wash the water tank several times to eliminate any chemical residue.
12) Refill the water tank with clean water and reattach it to the machine.
13) Repeat the water extraction process mentioned above to flush out the remaining chemical mixture.
IMPORTANT: Don’t forget to remove the water filter every time you descale your espresso machine.
You can program the Barista Express according to your desired espresso shots. Here’s a quick guide you can follow.
To program a single espresso, you should:
1) Press the PROGRAM button once. You’ll hear a beep once and see the Program button’s light flashes. It prompts you that the machine is currently in programming mode.
2) Push the 1 CUP button to begin your single espresso extraction. Once you reach the desired volume of espresso, press the 1 CUP button again. When you hear the beep twice, it means that it’s ready to pour another single espresso shot.
To program a double espresso, you should:
1) Press the PROGRAM button once. You’ll hear a beep and see the Program Button’s light flash, which prompts you that the machine is in programming mode.
2) Push the 2 CUP button to begin your double espresso extraction. Once you reach the desired volume of espresso, push it again and when you hear the beep twice, know that it’s ready to pour another double-shot!
Increasing the amount of pressure and time it takes to pour is a common problem for many Barista Express users. The first step in fixing this issue, although not always necessary, would be increasing your grinder size by dropping down one number on the grind wheel side of your machine. You may need to adjust your dosage if you find that more than 16 grams are being dispensed from the grinding chamber each use as well.
If you get pressure with the disk, but not with ground coffee, first check that your beans are within a few weeks of their roast date. If they’re fresh enough, then make sure you grind finely. You can adjust the upper burr to make finer grounds and see if this solves it!
Grind the coffee beans finer to lengthen the extraction time.
It will ensure that you extract as much flavor from the coffee beans, ensuring that your drink is rich in texture.
Brewing for a more extended period also has many positives, including using less water and balancing out off-flavors like sour or bitter. Depending on what kind of coffee you are brewing, anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes is an excellent place to start trying out different durations.
We recommend avoiding pre-ground coffee. Pre-ground coffee often has a higher exposure to oxygen, which can cause the flavor profile to change and lead to off-tastes.
It’s safe, but when you open it up for brewing – it may change the desired flavor profile of your cup of java. By “safe,” we mean that it will still have the requisite flavors in them when ground properly. However, if you grind many days in advance, some pieces are now aged and have found oxidized flavors over time, so I would not recommend grinding more than 5 or 6 days before brewing.
Yes. The Barista Express comes with a built-in brew timer that allows it to make Americano coffee (espresso followed by a stream of hot water) and has an integrated milk steamer to make lattes.
Breville Barista Express is more in the league of espresso machines rather than your regular drip pot. It is designed to let you be as creative as you please, handcrafting everything from rich espressos, cappuccinos made with flexible foam through steam nozzle attachments at the press of a button at any given time. Breville barista express would do justice even to those connoisseurs’ discerning palates who feel they need their shots filled up with grounds.
The Breville Oracle Touch
The Breville Oracle Touch is a fully automatic espresso machine that makes it easy to get your favorite drinks, from cappuccinos and lattes to espressos and mochas. It features an intuitive touch screen display so you can easily prepare your favorite coffee beverage with the three easy touch screen motions – swipe, select, and tap.
You should check out our full Oracle Touch review to learn more about this machine.
- SWIPE. SELECT. ENJOY: With automation at every stage, simply swipe and select for espresso, long black, latte, flat white or cappuccino and enjoy caf? quality coffee at home
- DOSE AMOUNT: The integrated conical burr grinder automatically grinds, doses and tamps 22 grams of coffee, similar to the commercial machine in your favorite cafe
- PRECISE WATER TEMPERATURE: The difference between an ashy or balanced tasting espresso can be caused by temperature change as little as 2?F. The Oracle Touch uses digital temperature control (PID) technology, this ensures the temperature is kept at its optimum range.
- OPTIMAL WATER PRESSURE: The Over Pressure Valve (OPV) is a commercial feature included in the Oracle Touch. This limits the maximum pressure throughout the extraction, helping prevent bitter flavors in the coffee shot. It also has true low pressure pre-infusion, which gradually increases the pressure to gently expand the grinds for an even extraction.
- SUFFICIENT STEAM PRESSURE: A cafe quality coffee is a delicate balance of espresso flavor and rich sweet milk with a micro-foam texture. The steam wand, powered by a dedicated steam boiler, automatically textures milk to your taste and preferred temperature, delivering barista quality silky micro-foam that enhances the flavor of coffee. Then it cleans itself!
- TRIPLE HEAT SYSTEM: 1. Dedicated steam boiler with integrated Heat Exchange aids thermal stability. 2. Dedicated espresso boiler with Digital PID control delivers precise water temperature. 3. Heated group head? PID controlled embedded element maintains thermal stability.
- WARRANTY: 2 Year Repair Warranty. Construction Materials: Brushed Stainless Steel, Stainless Steel Dual Boiler.
- SETTING: Touch screen operation. 5 pre-programmed favorites. Create, save and name 8 customizable coffee settings. Adjustable Grind Control. Programmable Milk Temperature and Texture. One/Two Shots. Hot Water. Voltage - 110–120 Volts.
De’Longhi La Specialista Espresso Machine
If you’re looking for a fully automatic espresso machine, look no further than the La Specialista by De’Longhi. This sleek and stylish machine features an advanced latte system where you can choose between flat or foam. You also get two different heating systems: a thermoblock for precise extraction and an independent heating system for texturing or steaming milk.
- Sensor grinding technology: Exclusive sensing technology delivers precise, consistent grinding and the optimal dose for espresso, every time. Plus, the bean sensor ensures you’ll never run out of beans while grinding.
- The smart tamping station: Simply pull the lever to tamp the ground coffee with the right pressure for perfect results. There’s no need to remove the porta-filter, so you get to enjoy a mess-free experience.
- Active temperature control with dual heating system: The best temperature stability for optimal coffee extraction and milk texturing. La Specialist is equipped with two independent heating systems. One thermoblock for extracting coffee and an independent heating system for steaming milk or frothing ensures immediate beverage preparation
- Advanced latte system: Choose your style of froth: Micro-foam frothing for Latte Art or rich froth for cappuccino. Just place your cup under the spout and select flat or foam. Once it’s finished, you can enjoy your flat hot milk, or the perfect foam to express your latte art creativity.
- 1 second quick start: Power the machine on, grind and tamp your dose, then immediately brew authentic espresso – no additional heat up time necessary. Thanks to a second heating system dedicated to the advanced latte system, you don’t have to wait to steam your milk, either. La Specialist is ready when you are.
- Separate hot water spout: For added convenience, use La Specialist's separate hot water spout to brew an authentic Americano. And the spout also delivers hot water for tea without the residual coffee taste transferring from the brewing unit.
- Warranty: 2 years, plus 1 additional year of warranty for registering your espresso machine.
The Breville Barista Touch
The Barista Touch is a fully automatic espresso machine that can make up to eight different beverages. It has an integrated grinder and a touchscreen control panel for easy customization of drinks. You can even save presets, so you don’t have to spend too much time on each drink when there are other things to do in the morning!
You can read more about this machine in our Barista Touch review.
The Breville Barista Express is the cure to your longing for a good cup of coffee. It’s an all-in-one espresso maker that gives you complete control over your coffee experience. It makes it easy for anyone to brew excellent specialty coffees at home. You can easily create latte art just like a barista and enjoy smooth microfoam milk texturing without any special skills or training whatsoever!
Other Breville related articles you may be interested in:
- Breville Oracle Touch Review: Best-in-Class Automated Coffee Machine
- Breville Oracle: A Revolutionary 3-in-1 Fully-automatic Espresso Machine
- Breville Dual Boiler: A Satisfying Espresso Drinker’s Tool
- Breville Barista Touch: 3rd Wave Espresso at Home
- Breville Barista Pro: Precise Espresso at Home
- Breville Barista Express: The Ultimate All-In-One Espresso Machine
- Breville Bambino Plus: The Ideal Entry Level Espresso Machine
- Breville Bambino: Starter Espresso Machine with Superb Coffee Quality and Value
- Breville Infuser: Can it Brew the Perfect Espresso?
- Breville Duo Temp Pro: Is it Worth the Hype?