Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine

When the Specialty Coffee Association of America gives its blessing to an espresso maker, you know you’ve got a winner – and the Breville Barista Express got the definite blessing from the SCAA: it was named the Best New Product of the Year in the Consumer Equipment segment. Just one look at the classy and classic little machine makes it clear that it means serious business when it comes to coffee.

It may have a few ergonomic curves in the right places, but overall, it’s a solid block of a machine with all the dials and buttons you’d expect on a serious piece of espresso making equipment. That doesn’t mean it’s complicated, though. In fact, the inclusion of the integrated coffee grinder, removable bean hopper and on-board storage for the precision-fitted tamper should improve your workflow and make it easier than ever to turn out flawless espresso and espresso drinks every time.

Barista Express from Breville Review

The Basics

The Breville Barista Express is an espresso machine with an integrated conical burr grinder – but that barely begins to describe all the nifty features of this machine. When you take all of the features together, you get a very carefully, intelligently designed espresso machine that’s about as user-friendly as you can get without compromising quality and user choice. Its list of features sounds like a wish list created by a cadre of baristas who were asked to design their ideal machine. Just take a look at the features and specs you get when you buy the Barista Express:

Features:

  • Integral conical burr grinder
  • Adjustable grind size
  • Dose control
  • Pre-infusion
  • PID temperature control
  • Programmable 1-2 cup buttons
  • Customize buttons
  • Pressure gauge
  • Dedicated water spouts
  • Removable water tank with carbon filter
  • Adjustable water temperature
  • Removable hopper
  • Integrated tamper
  • Portafilter holder – grind into portafilter
  • Double-boiler for quick steam
  • 360 degree steam wand

Specs:

  • 15-bar pump
  • 1600 watt thermocoil
  • 110-120v
  • Electronic PID for temperature control and stability
  • Purge function
  • Pre-infusion function with low pressure
  • 67 oz. (2L) water tank
  • Replaceable water filter
  • Storage for integrated 54mm tamper
  • 54mm single and dual wall filter baskets
  • Conical burr grinder
  • Adjustable grind size and amount
  • The Razor dose trimming tool to trim down the puck for precision dosing
  • 1/2 lb. bean hopper
  • Grind to portafilter
  • Espresso pressure gauge
  • Volumetric control for cup size, preset and programmable
  • Hot water outlet
  • Cup warming tray
  • Dry puck feature removes water from filter basket after extraction

A Closer Look:


So let’s unpack those features a bit and take a look at how they contribute to the overall function of this little gem of an espresso machine. First, you get a 15-bar pump, more than adequate to get a decent shot of espresso. It’s got an electronic PID to monitor and regulate water temperature, and a low pressure pre-infusion function to pre-wet the coffee grinds for fuller coffee extraction. The 67-ounce water tank gives you enough to brew plenty of shots before you have to refill, and it’s fitted with a built-in carbon filter to ensure that you’re starting with pure, clean water. You can monitor the temperature and the pressure, set the machine to pull a single or double shot, adjust the temperature, over-ride the volume setting or program your own cup size, all from the front of the machine with a few simple dials and buttons.

The coffee grinder is built into the machine, and it grinds directly into the portafilter, supported by a portafilter cradle to give you hands free operation for grind adjusting. You can adjust the grind – and this new model has even finer control over the grind settings – and select the dose amount for your coffee. You never have to worry about misplacing the tamper, which is calibrated for 30 lbs. of pressure, because it has its own on-board storage right on the front of the machine. Did we mention that it’s pretty enough to be on the front of the machine, by the way?

We’ve got to mention one of the features we really, really love about this machine: you can remove the bean hopper even if it’s full of beans. A simple twist of the handle seals the bean outlet so that you can pull the hopper off without spilling beans everywhere, and store the beans properly so they’ll stay fresher. It would be absolutely perfect if you could buy extra hoppers for people like me, who like to brew different coffees at different times of day.

Pros:

  • Integrated grinder so you can grind immediately before brewing
  • Portafilter cradle for hands-free grinding
  • Included The Razor puck trimming tool for consistent coffee extraction
  • Adjustable everything
  • Pressure gauge, temperature gauge and PID
  • Clean Me button to let you know it’s time to descale
  • Auto purge for steam wand
  • 360-degree steam wand for steaming milk
  • Dedicated hot water wand for Americanos and warming cup
  • Cup warmer tray
  • Lockable, removable bean hopper

Cons:

  • There’s a bit of a learning curve to get the grind size adjustment right, but once you figure it out, it’s easy to do.

In a Nutshell:

There’s almost nothing not to like about the Breville Barista Express. It’s a well-designed machine that takes your work flow into account and includes just about anything you’d want to find on an espresso machine. We’d love to see Breville sell extra bean hoppers for this baby, though.