Today we are looking at the semi-automatic Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine, a well-designed entry-level espresso-maker that will also please the more demanding consumer.
Breville designed the Barista Express for the average user and their needs, and the result is a machine with customizable controls, a built-in grinder, and a heat exchange boiler. Let’s take a look at why this machine is getting such high marks.
well designed espresso machine for average users and demands
the price fairly matches its reputation in the industry
our rating, based on our sound and impartial assessment
The key feature of the Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine is the built-in conical burr grinder. We all know that having freshly-ground coffee beans is crucial to a great cup of espresso. After even five minutes, ground beans begin to lose flavor.
However, grinding beans each time can take time, so the taste is sometimes a trade-off to convenience. But thanks to the integrated grinder, the Breville Barista Express solves this dilemma.
Having a built-in grinder streamlines the process of making espresso, plus lowers the overall costs because you don’t have to purchase a separate grinder. This one feature makes this stand out from other entry-level espresso machines.
Another key feature is the large water tank with a removable charcoal filter. The filter helps reduce scaling, and at 67 ounces of capacity, the tank is larger than others in this price range.
Espresso-making requires careful adjustments of grind size and amount, as well as water temperature. With the Barista Express machine, this is taken into consideration, and even beginners can quickly learn how to produce a near-perfect perfect shot.
The Barista Express has a classic design with a stainless steel outer body over plastic clad. There are three control buttons on the left that you can use to fine-tune your grind and the amount that you want in each dose. You can choose your grind settings from fine to coarse and adjust how much is dosed into the basket.
There is a hands-free cradle directly under the grinder that allows the grounds to be dispensed accurately into the basket; the grinder stops automatically when the correct amount is dispensed. The 54mm portafilter has commercial style spouts for extraction.
On the right are volumetric controls that allow you to preset 1 and 2 cups, program shot volumes, or do a manual over-ride. On the right side of the body is the control that switches from extraction to using the steam wand; there is an automatic purge function that adjusts the water temperature down after using the steam wand, so the machine provides the optimal extraction temperature.
The Breville Barista Express comes with two pressurized and two non-pressurized filters; the pressurized versions allow the grind to be off without worrying about the extraction quality, while the non-pressurized requires precision. Once you learn what you want for taste, you can use the non-pressurized for better consistency. A cleaning disk (or razor) is included to allow you to clean off the portafilter before putting it in place for extraction.
The built-in stainless steel conical burr grinder is removable, allowing you to store the unused beans for freshness. A tamper hangs down from a magnet by the grinder dispenser, making it easily accessible. The bottom of the machine has non-slip feet to keep it from moving while the beans are grinding.
This espresso machine has a 15 bar pump and thermocoil heating system that regulates the water temperature. A pre-infusion function combined with a flat shower head distributes the water evenly through the coffee puck. There is also a feature that removes excess water from the filter after extraction, making a dryer puck for easier cleanup.
There is a drip tray that holds accessories in the back. A 3-way solenoid button directs excess moisture from the brew head directly to the drip tray.
The steam wand is conventional, which allows for greater control of the air into the milk to break the foam. While slower than some steam arms, it’s easier and cleaner to use. Once you get used to the frothing technique, you will have more consistency in the process with this type of steam wand.
The gauge on the front of the machine shows whether the extraction is getting the correct pressure for the grind you are using. A cup warmer on the top of the machine heated from the motor (no electric coil).
Brewing espresso becomes a labor of love because there is a bit of timing and accuracy involved in making a consistent brew every time. The Breville Barista Express makes this process easy, once you learn how to make the perfect cup of coffee for you. The built-in grinder is the first step, and that is what separates this machine from others in its price point.
The best espresso milk drinks combine the espresso and froth within 15 seconds. What’s great about the Barista Express is that you can extract and steam at the same time, eliminating the need to wait for one or the other to complete.
After a learning curve and testing different doses, grinds, and water temperature, you’ll find the perfect settings for your taste. Once you set your controls, consistency is where the Barista Express Espresso Machine shines.
The best feature of this machine is its built-in grinder, which provides the freshest grind for your brew. Fine-tune the grind, and you’ll be able to immediately use your freshly ground beans for the perfect shot of espresso.
The large water tank allows you to go longer without having to refill. With its removable charcoal filter, it cuts down on scaling and makes cleaning your machine much easier.
You can remove the built-in grinder for regular cleaning. Oils from the coffee beans can accumulate in the hopper and if not cleaned can get rancid. On a regular basis, remove the beans from the grinder and wipe the hopper out with a clean, dry towel.
The drip tray will catch moisture from extraction and the steaming wand, as well as moisture from the heating coils. Simply slide the tray out to clean.
There aren’t a lot of downsides to the Barista Express. There is a learning curve to find the best brew extraction for your taste, but overall, this machine strikes a perfect balance between usability, ability to make great coffee, and the price point.
The competition in this price range is sparse, due to the one significant difference that Breville’s Barista Express has: its built-in grinder. Add that to the mix, and most similar machines see a large uptick in price.
We think the Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine is the better option unless you want a more classic look, a smaller footprint, and you don’t mind the disparities listed above.
This compact machine is fully automated and has a built-in grinder. However, that can be a drawback for users who want to fine-tune their drinks. The user-friendly control panel has an LCD screen that is easy to navigate. The removable tank is closer in size the Breville Barista Express at 60 ounces.
Although the price point is lower, the quality of construction is a bit weaker in our opinion. The plastic exterior just doesn’t hold up to the stainless steel construction of the Breville. Invest a little more money and time to learn how to use it, and you’ll have a longer lasting, quality built machine.
After researching all of the models of espresso machines with similar features, it’s hard to beat the Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine. With the solid construction, the key features that include a built-in grinder, the price point, and the quality of the espresso drinks you can make, this machine will satisfy beginners and seasoned espresso makers alike.