The Breville Barista Express: A Truly Spectacular Entry Level Home Espresso Machine
Making espresso at home can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be difficult to get the perfect cup of coffee without investing in some expensive equipment. But can the Breville Barista Express help with that?
If you’re looking for an affordable home espresso machine that will help you take your coffee game to the next level, the Breville Barista Express is a great option.
In this article, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of this machine, as well as give you a verdict on whether or not it’s worth buying.
Design and Features
The Barista Express is a semi-automatic espresso machine that comes with a built-in burr grinder. This allows you to grind your own coffee beans right before you make your espresso, which results in a fresher and more flavourful cup of coffee.
It’s a beautifully designed machine that will look great on any kitchen counter.
The Barista Express is made from brushed stainless steel and has a sleek, minimalist design.
One of the best features of the Barista Express is its built-in burr grinder. Not only does this save you space on your countertop, but it also ensures that you get the freshest cup of coffee possible.
The unit also has a PID controller, which helps to maintain the temperature of your espresso and ensure that it’s always brewed at the perfect temperature.
The Barista Express comes with a built-in tamper, so you can tamp your coffee grinds before brewing.
It also has a steam wand for frothing milk, as well as a hot water spout for making tea or Americanos.
The Barista Express is fully automatic, so all you have to do is press a button and it will start brewing your espresso.
It’s an easy machine to use and it’s very beginner-friendly.
What is the espresso like from the Barista Express?
The Barista Express is capable of making delicious espresso shots.
Don’t get me wrong, you’re going to have to work for them though.
Dialling in the grinder is going to be your biggest challenge here.
This is what I recommend (you’ll need a scale for this):
Pick a low number on the grinder, say 3.
Grind 18grams of coffee into the portafilter
Pull your shot. You’re aiming for 36g of espresso out.
It should take 30 seconds.
If it takes 30+, grind coarser (4 on the grinder)
If it takes less than 30 seconds, grind finer (2 on the grinder)
The most important part here is taste though.
Stir your espresso and sip.
Does it taste good?
No? Keep adjusting.
What is the milk steaming like from the Barista Express?
The Barista Express comes with a low power, but very capable, steam wand for frothing milk.
The wand is adjustable, so you can customize the level of foam that you want in your milk by easily moving it around.
Once you’ve worked it out, the steaming process is simple and easy to follow, and the resulting milk is creamy and delicious.
Here are my tips for the ultimate milk steaming with the Barista Express:
Fill the jug with milk to just below the spout.
Throw the thing (not literally) into the freezer for 15 minutes.
This has the effect of cooling the milk down so that you have way more time to steam it into submission!
With the cooled milk, follow this guide from Lance Hedrick on how to nail the steaming process:
With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to create something like this from the Barista Express :
This is a latte I created with my own Barista Express.
Cleaning and Maintenance
The Barista Express is a relatively easy machine to clean.
All of the removable parts can be washed in the sink, and the grinder can be easily cleaned with a brush.
The Barista Express does require some regular maintenance, such as descaling and cleaning the brew head, but this is all explained in the user manual.
I’ve found that living in Vancouver means that the descaling process isn’t nearly as necessary as if you’re living in a hard water area such as Calgary.
Hands down the most important parts to keep clean are:
1 – The steam wand. Wipe it clean immediately after you’ve used it and purge by shooting some jets of steam out of it.
2 – The portafilter. Every time you use the portafilter rinse it out. Remove the basket once a day and clean inside.
3 – The grouphead. Wipe this after every use. Disassemble and clean once a week.
Is the Barista Express worth buying?
Overall, I think that the Breville Barista Express is a truly great entry-level home espresso machine.
It’s easy to use, easy on the eye and it makes delicious espresso shots.
The steam features are solid and with a bit of practice you can knock out some really great latte art.
Where Can I Buy the Barista Express?
At the time of writing, it’s actually a bit of a bugger to get hold of one!
NOTE: That is NOT an affiliate link, I don’t get any money if you buy from them, but they do pay for Ad space on my website.
They’re an awesome local company and have done a lot for the local coffee scene.
Specifications of the Barista Express aka the BES870
30.5 x 27.9 x 34.3 cm
Brushed Stainless Steel
Bean Hopper Capacity: 1/2 lb Water Tank Capacity: 67 oz
1600W Thermocoil–Integrated stainless steel water path accurately controls water temperature.
Pre Infusion Function
Gradually increases water pressure to gently expand grinds for an even extraction.
Automatically adjusts water temperatures after steam for optimal espresso temperature.
Single or Double Shots Adjustable Grind Amount & Manual over-ride.
1 Year Limited Product Warranty
Included Accessories: Razor Dose Trimming Tool 54mm Stainless Steel Portafilter 1 cup & 2cup Single & Dual Wall Filter Baskets Coffee Scoop Integrated Tamper Stainless Steel Milk Jug Cleaning disc and tablets Cleaning brush, tool and Allen Key Water Filter Holder and Water Filter