There is a singular joy to mastering the art of good espresso. The problem is that few consumer grade espresso machines are up to the challenge of reproducing the performance of a real coffee house espresso machine…until now.
Breville’s line of high-end home espresso machines can provide you with the function and performance of a coffee house grade espresso machine in the comfort and convenience of your own kitchen. Everything you need to prepare your own cappuccino, latte, or Americano is at your fingertips in a compact and easy to use countertop machine.
Which Breville model is right for you and your espresso making needs? The Breville machine for you may not be apparent immediately, and choosing the right one can be an intimidating process.
Everyone wants to know they are getting the best value for their investment, so we’ve reviewed Breville’s best selling product lineup and developed a buyer’s guide to help you pick the right machine for you. Let’s begin by taking an in-depth look at what to consider when choosing the best Breville espresso machine to use in your home.
Breville Espresso Machine Buying Guide
Choosing the right Breville espresso machine is a process with some clearly defined categories, and it’s all about maintaining the right expectations for each model. To help you moderate what you can expect from your Breville machine in terms of performance, here are the considerations to take into account before making a buying decision.
Points to Ponder:
How much espresso do you plan to make on a daily basis? Most Breville machines offer 1 shot (3 fluid oz.) or 2 shot (6 oz.) capacity, though it is easy enough to refill or repack another filter to make more espresso. Capacity also refers to the amount of water an espresso machine holds in its internal reservoir, and is important to consider if you plan on making steamed/textured milk for your espresso-based beverages.
Built in grinders are a real time saver, but some espresso purists prefer to grind their beans using a burr grinder or other device to ensure their grounds are the correct consistency before loading and tamping the filter.
Some like it hot, and others like their espresso on the safe side of scalding. Hotter espresso makes it easier to achieve an ideal drinking temperature when frothed or steamed milk is added. Breville espresso makers include a temperature control for your espresso so that the temperature is to your taste when it expresses your coffee into the demitasse cup. It’s not a concern for everyone, but those particular about their coffee temp will find it to be an exceptionally useful ability.
Single Boiler/Pump vs. Dual Boiler/Pump
Many espresso machines use the same boiler for producing steam as they do for expressing boiling water through coffee, and this presents a problem. Not only does it affect the quality of your brew, but you have to wait for the boiler temperature to lower back down to produce more espresso. A dual boiler and pump model that has separate boilers for espresso and steam as well as separate pumps allows you to steam milk and make more espresso without the need for a lengthy cooldown in between.
Breville builds their espresso machines with their two-stage pressure infusion system that slowly adds steam pressure to the puck in the filter to extract flavors and infuse the grounds evenly. Once the low-pressure stage is complete, the system kicks into high pressure mode to properly express the grounds for a perfect shot of espresso. This vastly improves the consistency of your espresso with every cup, and is not a feature found on every espresso maker.
Whether you are setting an alarm to start the espresso shortly before your daily wakeup time, or you want to push a button and create the perfect cafe Americano, programmable features largely determine your Breville espresso machine experience. Set-and-forget and one touch features are nice, but they also tend to incur a hefty financial investment as well. Decide in advance how important programmable features are before making a buying decision.
Learning Curve vs. Automation
Some espresso machines require little from their users, even grinding, dosing, and pressing your espresso for you at the touch of a button. Others may require you to learn about how to prepare good espresso using a well designed espresso machine. Decide in advance how much time you plan on investing in producing your ideal espresso. If you aren’t a fan of trial-and-error method when it comes to your morning coffee, you may want to invest in a Breville model that features greater automation.
Advice for First Time Buyers
If you’ve never owned an espresso machine, there are some things you need to know to get the most out of your machine and minimize any potential frustration. Check out this list:
You should never use plain tap water in your espresso machine. This contributes to scaling of the interior boiler parts due to the mineral content of tap water. If possible, only use cold filtered or distilled water in your Breville espresso machine.
Every part of your espresso machine involved in boiling water will need to be removed, cleaned, and descaled on a regular basis. Failing to keep your components clear of debris and buildup can cause your machine to break down or stop working entirely. Follow the recommended cleaning and maintenance schedule for your espresso machine as detailed in the owner’s manual.
Read Directions Closely
It may take a few tries until you get the results you want out of your espresso machine. If it doesn’t seem like it is working correctly or you are struggling to get consistent results, make sure you are following the directions included carefully. Many users believe their unit is defective when they are simply missing a step in the espresso making process. Be sure to check everything carefully so you can eliminate user error as the cause of your espresso-making woes.
Do Your Homework
Make sure that your prospective Breville model isn’t going to require more time and attention from you than you can give. Fresh, masterfully crafted espresso takes practice, and unless you are willing to invest in a more costly model that handles multiple aspects of the process for you, you need to do some research first on how to make espresso with your potential Breville machine via tutorial videos and the online owner’s manual. This is crucial to finding just the right Breville espresso maker for you.
1. Breville BES840XL the Infuser Espresso Machine Cost: $$
This espresso machine provides everything you need to craft professional grade espresso quickly and easily. The BES840XL includes fewer of the high end automated frills of more expensive models, but it does have many capabilities and options that make consistently delicious espresso achievable even for the amateur home barista.
The BES840XL is a compact size, 1 or 2 shot espresso machine that uses low-pressure pre-infusion to allow for consistent ground expansion and optimal flavor extraction during the high-pressure phase. A dedicated steamer nozzle, hot water outlet for cafe Americano, and multiple filter styles for preparing your espresso your way make this an excellent choice for beginners looking to upgrade their home espresso brewing capabilities.
Product Features Overview:
Low pressure pre-infusion stage for consistent expansion and extraction
Programmable 1 or 2 shot volumes with a manual override for programming your own custom volumes
Large easy to read pressure gauge
Dedicated hot water outlet
360 degree swivel steam wand for frothing milk in the included 20 oz. stainless steel pitcher
What to Expect
This is a high end espresso maker designed to let anyone with a willingness to learn how to create good espresso produce professional grade results with some time, effort, and practice. There’s not much automation involved, so be prepared to learn the basics of espresso brewing and milk texturing/frothing for yourself.
The majority of user feedback is positive
Learn to grind and pack correctly for best results
Many negative reviewers clearly did not follow the included instructions
Regular maintenance and cleaning is a must
DO NOT use tap water in your BES840XL, only cold filtered or distilled water
2. Breville BES980XL Oracle Espresso Machine, Silver Cost: $$$
Every stage of the espresso process is fully automated from grounds and tamping to cupping the espresso and frothing milk. Push button operation and expertly programmed presets take care of everything for you, saving you time and money while producing the best possible espresso to your own exacting taste. Here’s what makes the Breville Oracle one of the best home espresso machines on the market.
Automatic grinding, dosing, and tamping
Programmable and hands free milk texturing with automatic purging feature
84 fluid oz. water tank
Dual boilers (one for espresso, one for steam) and dual Italian pumps are removable for easy descaling
One-touch Americano, latte, and cappuccino with fully customizable temperature
What to Expect
Push the button for espresso. The machine makes you a near-perfect espresso. Enjoy your espresso in the latte, cappuccino, or other espresso beverage of your choice. Keep distilled water in the boilers and beans in the grinder hopper, and this smart espresso machine will do the rest.
User reviews are mixed on this model, but that may be due to the fact it largely automates most of the espresso making process
Programmed presets produce excellent espresso according to most reviews
Follow maintenance and cleaning schedules closely, this machine breaks down easily if it is not cared for properly
3. Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine Cost: $$$
Making your ideal espresso or espresso beverage at home requires certain features for a high degree of control over the factors that make or break a good espresso. The BES920XL offers everything you need to produce perfectly textured steamed milk and piping hot espresso that are consistently good with every batch. The dual boilers allow you to precisely control the temperature of the water used in creating espresso with a separate source for generating steam.
This eliminates the need for a cooldown period or purging between steaming milk and making a fresh batch of espresso. You can prepare your espresso and have the steamed or frothed milk ready to go for your cappuccino or latte as soon as your coffee has finished brewing. The BES920XL is an excellent machine for anyone who is looking to take their espresso skills to the next level at home and wants the best possible tools at their disposal for crafting perfect espresso beverages.
Dual boilers for simultaneous brewing ands teaming
Over-pressure valve prevents excessive steam pressure during extraction
Electronically controlled water temperature for precision brewing
Integrated descale alert and LCD assisted descaling procedure
360 degree swivel steam wand
What to Expect:
The BES920XL is built for people who have an excellent command of espresso brewing fundamentals and are ready for master crafting. There are few automated features on this model, and more than likely you will need to practice brewing your espresso a few times to get consistent results.
It is a hit with more experienced home baristas, but beginners may find that they don’t have a need for many of the additional features and controls built-in to this model.
Practice makes perfect, and most users say they had to give it a few tries to produce espresso the way they liked it.
A lot of users find it to be their ideal espresso machine for producing professional grade espresso at home.
Intended for users looking to buy more value at lower cost, the Duo Temp Pro is all business. The combination of Breville’s low-pressure infusion prior to high pressure extraction produces superior flavor and texture from every cup. It may not have the automation or high end programmable features of its costlier sister products, but it is every bit as capable when it comes to producing consistently good espresso and steamed milk.
Shot volume can be manually set to 1 or 2 shots, and the steam wand draws from the same 61 oz. reservoir as the espresso pump. However, it features an automatic purge feature that allows you to start another batch of espresso soon after you have finished frothing/steaming milk for that morning latte or cappuccino. The Breville Duo Temp Pro is an excellent entry level machine that can satisfy even the most demanding coffee drinker.
15 bar Italian-made pump
Single and dual wall filters
360 degree swivel steam wand
Razor does trimming tool
Stainless steel 20 oz. frothing pitcher
What to Expect:
The Duo Temp Pro is not a push button espresso machine. You need to make sure your grounds are the right consistency, dosed properly, and tamped correctly. It may take a little practice, but this machine is simple enough to master with a fairly shallow learning curve.
Users agree it is a great entry level model that makes great espresso
Cold filtered water works better than distilled water per most user feedback
Multiple users stated new users should prepared to tweak settings a bit to get their espresso just the way they want it
A high degree of automation combined with convenience of Nespresso pre-packed espresso pods make this ideal for any espresso lover looking to press a button and get an excellent shot or two of espresso every time. This model is primarily intended for those coffee fans who want to try their hand at latte art, and the features reflect this.
The steamer uses Breville’s unique microfoam technology to generate rich crema, and has multiple texture and temperature presets for latte, cappuccino, flat white, and more with a 3 second heat up time. The espresso brewing is similarly programmable for espresso, macchiato, and other beverages requiring specific temperatures and consistency. With 19 bars of pressure at its disposal, this compact countertop espresso maker allows anyone to produce coffee shop quality espresso and espresso beverages at home with minimal effort and practice.
Programmable presets for milk steamer and auto-frothing
Espresso brew can be programmed by beverage type
Integrated descaling and cleaning notifications
1.5 ml capacity removable water tank
Multiple presets for espresso and steamer to produce beverages suitable for practicing coffee art
What to Expect:
This is truly a push-button espresso maker. Load up the pod, put milk in the frothing pitcher, hit the button, and the machine does the rest. So long as you clean and descale it when the notification pops up, you should have no issues with this espresso machine. The only caveat to be aware of is you cannot steam milk and brew espresso simultaneously. So long as you are okay with that, this is an ideal espresso machine for those who don’t necessarily have time to master pulling perfect shots.
Some espresso purists complain Nespresso pods affect the flavor and are not as fresh, but it is a small minority of reviewers.
Many users concur this model is a truly push-button operation: push button, get espresso. Push another button, get textured steamed milk.
Consistency and quality of brewed coffee and steamed milk are key points in nearly every user review
Looking for perfect home-brewed espresso without the steep learning curve? This is the espresso machine for you. The BES870XL handles the majority of difficult brewing procedures that normally go along with making your own espresso. Decide what texture you want you grounds to be, and add beans to the ½ lb. capacity burr grinder. Pick your desired temperature, volume (1 or 2 shots) and insert the filter of your choice.
Use the hands free grinding cradle to measure out the perfect dose. Tamp your perfectly measured grounds with the included 54mm tamper that stores magnetically in the unit itself. Lock the filter into place and press start. In minutes, you have a perfect cup of piping hot espresso. Use the steamer to steam and texture your milk, and you are all set with your morning latte. The Barista Express is an appropriate name for this Breville machine, as it does help you learn to make your own espresso as well as the average barista with little or no experience.
Integrated ½ lb. capacity burr grinder
Hands-free grinding cradle measures just the right amount of grounds for your shots
Integrated cleaning alert for routine maintenance and descaling
67 oz. removable water tank
Auto purge function allows you to brew espresso sooner after you finish steaming milk.
What to Expect:
While some features are more automated than other Breville models, you will still need to make sure that you set the appropriate grounds texture and tamp properly for consistent results. Be prepared for the usual mess of regular cleaning and cleanup after pulling your shots each day as well. Furthermore, you may have to spend a little time practicing with the steamer to get your espresso beverages just the way you like them. If you are new to making your own espresso though, the BES870XL is definitely a great way to start yourself out right.
Users rave about how much easier it is to master espresso preparation with the automated grinder and dispenser.
Cleanup and maintaining your BES870XL may take longer than you expect
The Final Verdict
Based on our reviews, the best choice for anyone looking to enjoy cafe quality espresso in their own home is the Breville BES980XL Oracle Espresso Machine. It is the easiest to learn, provides the freshest grounds, and it pulls some of the best tasting and textured shots you will ever have. If you want a hassle free espresso maker that delivers quality, performance, and the best value for your investment, your first choice should be the Breville BES980XL Oracle Espresso Machine.