Breville Barista Express review: Can this espresso machine really make cafe-style drinks at home?

Coffee & Accessories

Like any worthwhile endeavor, learning to make espresso with this machine will require patience. Give yourself the freedom to experiment so you can fine-tune your craft.

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Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine review

“Third-wave coffee” is the phrase used to describe craft or artisan coffee — a beverage that is a step above the product of a branded chain such as Starbucks. However, finding an at-home espresso machine that can actually offer this kind of luxury coffee-making on demand — and quickly, for those with limited time in their schedule — is not easy. 

Breville claims to have the solutions with their Barista Express. This all-in-one espresso machine promises you can make third-wave specialty coffee at home, “from bean to espresso,” in less than a minute. Using precise temperature control and other features, the appliance delivers high-quality espresso drinks in very little time.

Breville Barista Express

Can the Breville Barista Express really make artisan espresso at home in under a minute? We tested it to see if the company’s claims were true, and here is what we found.

Testing the Breville Barista Express 

We tested the Breville Barista Express with someone who has extensive experience making coffee. They have owned a variety of countertop machines and used a stovetop espresso maker. At work, our tester has used a high-end coffee machine. They also have experience with grinding and tamping to make artisan espresso.

Our tester drinks one or two cups of coffee every morning and afternoon. For convenience and simplicity, their preference is plain black dark roast coffee. However, when time allows, our tester indulges in the occasional Americano, cappuccino or latte.

When shopping for a coffee maker, our tester is most interested in convenience, ease of use, ease of cleanup and consistent quality. 

Overview of the Breville Barista Express

We received the espresso coffee machine in good condition. The unit arrived wrapped in plastic to protect the chrome finish, with the detachable parts secured in a small box.

Our first impression was that the Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine is a quality product. It’s heavy, and the combination of brushed metal and chrome makes it look impressive. The unit is large, however, requiring you to find a permanent location for it on your countertop.

How to use the Breville Barista Express

Setting up the Breville espresso machine for the first time may be tedious, but it isn’t difficult. The manual provides a good walk-through for getting started.

Before putting the Barista Express together, you must wash all the individual pieces and run some hot water and steam through the unit to flush out the lines. While this process takes time, it also guides you through the steps needed to make a cup of espresso. By the time the machine is ready, you will feel comfortable with its operation. Making the perfect brew, however, will still take practice.

We found some of the steps to be cumbersome, which detracted from the machine’s otherwise streamline performance. In short, after preheating the unit, you must drip water into the basket, portafilter, and your cup. Then, dry the filter basket thoroughly before setting your grind size and selecting either one or two servings. We spilled a bit of the grounds every time we removed the portafilter after grinding, and we noticed the hopper could get clogged, which resulted in a weaker brew.

The tamper is magnetically attached to the unit on the left. Learning how hard to pack down the grounds requires trial and error. After tamping, turn on the hot water, insert and lock the portafilter, and press the start button.

It takes practice to get good foam, but texturing the milk is easy with the swinging wand that pulls off the unit.

After you separate the portafilter and basket, the Barista Express is easy to clean. Wipe off any milk residue from the steam wand stem with a damp cloth, and run the steam for a few seconds to flush out the stem. To finish cleaning, dump the espresso grounds, and wash and dry the filter basket and portafilter. 

Key features of the Breville Barista Express

Grind-size dial

No matter which type of coffee bean you’re grinding, this intuitive feature provides precision control.

Dose-control grinding

The conical burr grinder can grind the precise amount of coffee beans directly into the portafilter for your particular taste.

Precise espresso extraction

This machine employs a digital temperature control to deliver water at the perfect temperature so you get optimal espresso extraction.

Microfoam texturing

If you enjoy creating latte art, you will love the steam wand that allows you to hand-texture microfoam milk.

Onboard storage

We appreciate the hidden storage drawer at the back of the drip tray under the unit. This gives you a place to stash all the tools and spare filters. 

Other top home espresso machines

De’Longhi La Specialista Prestigio Espresso Machine

De’Longhi La Specialista Prestigio Espresso Machine

This high-end espresso machine will satisfy those looking for top quality. It offers a smart tamping station, single-wall filter baskets, a one-second quick-start, a self-cleaning function and more.

Sold by Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond

Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista

Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista

If you’re on a budget, but still want a quality coffee-making experience, this model is a top option. It is a semi-automatic, 3-in-1 espresso maker, cappuccino maker and latte maker. The automatic milk frother is especially helpful for novices.

Sold by Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond

Calphalon Temp iQ Espresso Machine

Calphalon Temp iQ Espresso Machine

Calphalon’s 15-bar Italian pump delivers the precise amount of pressure for maximum flavor extraction. It has a dial for selecting steam, hot water and pre-programmed single and double shots. A stainless steel milk pitcher, a tamper and a cleaning pin are included.

Sold by Amazon and Wayfair

Breville Barista Express price

The Breville Barista Express retails for $699.95. However, you can often find it at a discounted price.

Where is the Breville Barista Express sold?

Amazon

The Breville Barista Express is available at Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond and Wayfair.

Breville Barista Express benefits

This machine makes amazing espresso — the best we’ve ever made with a home unit. It has an impressive design, includes a replaceable water filter and has a high-quality frother. If you purchase this machine, you may never need to go to a coffeehouse again because you can replicate all your favorite lattes without leaving home.

Breville Barista Express drawbacks

Like most top-quality items, this one carries a high price tag. The espresso-making process is involved — you can’t go from start to finish in under a minute — and there is a steep learning curve. However, that was fine with us because the results were worth the extra effort. It isn’t the cleanest machine to use; you will have splatters and spilled grounds. There are no features for brewing regular coffee. Sometimes, the hopper failed to feed the grinder, but that was a minor frustration, not a deal breaker.

Should you get the Breville Barista Express?

If you love espresso and you’re willing to put in the effort to master the machine, the Breville Barista Express coffee machine should be your top choice. It’s not a quick-brewing appliance, but the results are excellent. This is not a machine for a novice; it’s for the connoisseur with discerning tastes.

 

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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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