Reviewing the Breville Barista Express
Trying the ultimate ‘push present’ for every coffee-loving, sleep deprived, new mama.
The one thing all new parents can relate to is discovering a new level of exhaustion that comes with having a baby. No one can prepare you for what sleep deprivation feels like and the desire to do anything to not feel in that zombie state. Before having a baby, I already had a dependency on caffeine, but AFTER having my son, my addiction hit new heights. My husband and I were brewing two pots of coffee each morning and inhaling the black liquid like air.
Finally, I got smart and decided that purchasing a high-quality espresso machine would give me the delicious and unlimited coffees my heart and brain so desired, throughout my day. After MANY hours of research comparing different brands, price points, models, and manual vs. semi-automatic vs. automatic machines, I landed on purchasing my beloved Breville Barista Express. There are many fantastic reviews and Youtube videos on this machine and others, but here are the pros and cons that eventually landed the Breville Barista Express in my kitchen.
Drip coffee worked wonders in waking me up in the morning, but my mental health wanted to be treated with a hot, foamy latte in the afternoons. Our bank account soon began to notice the influx of coffee orders as the drinks we purchased multiplied, which directly correlated with our son’s sleep schedule (or lack thereof).
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This Breville Barista Express measures 16 inches tall by 13.5 inches wide with a depth of 12.5 inches. It is roughly the same size as a regular drip coffee maker, but double the width. Breville’s espresso maker is a little bit of a counter hog, but its’ industrial look and heavy-duty feel make it all more appealing to me (a barista wanna-be).
The machine’s chassis is stainless steel (although there appears to be a black and red option online as well) and is accompanied by a hefty portafilter, tamper with a magnetic holding spot, built in 360 degree steam wand, it boasts a large bean hopper on top (½ lb capacity) which feeds into the built-in burr grinder, and center stage is the pressure gauge to ensure a properly pulled shot.
This machine retails right around $699. This is quite a lot of money, but you won’t find a better in-home expresso machine that offers the quality that the Barista Express does, for this price that includes all of the features listed above.
Breville’s Pressure Gauge
Pressure gauge: Breville is fearless in presenting the gauge center stage of its’ machine. This gauge lets you know if you are getting the optimal pressure it takes to pull a good espresso shot. Too little pressure and the water will run right through the grounds, producing a thin and sour tasting shot. Too much pressure and your shot will be bitter. Getting the correct pressure to pull through your beans is about the grind size and how you tamp your grounds into the portafilter. But, most other machines do not present the pressure gauge, because they are trying to mask inconsistencies in pressure or cut costs in production.
Bean Hopper & Burr Grinder: The bean hopper and burr grinder were a huge selling point for me. The built-in burr grinder meant that I wouldn’t need to grind my beans separately and fiddle with getting them into the portafilter. While the grinder would drop my fresh ground beans directly into the portafilter and even dosed how many grams of beans I would need! Simply Amazing.
Water reservoir: The water reservoir on this machine is 67 oz. After using the machine for while, I wish it was even bigger, but most other machines are lucky to have a tank half this size.
Easy to clean: The machine is straight-forward and easy to clean. The pieces that do come apart to wash, do so with simplicity and ease. Knowing that cleaning is essential to maintaining any machine and keeping the flavor quality of the coffee high, this was an important factor to consider.
Milk Frother: The built-in milk frother is amazing! It takes a few seconds to heat up, but then works magic on your milk and is very easy to use.
Water Tank reservoir – No low water indicator: The machine has a minimum and maximum line on its’ water tank, but it does not have a warning light on the front of the machine to tell you if you need to add water. You MUST check your water levels every time you use the Breville because running your machine with too little water could result in irrevocably damaging your precious espresso maker. This isn’t a huge deal, but it is something to note.
The Breville is intimidating and overwhelming at first: While the initial set-up of the machine was cake, the first 8-10 shots I pulled were terrible! You must use trial and error to find the correct dosage, grind size, and tamping pressure to pull your shots correctly. However, the learning stage passed quickly (as did a lot of wasted coffee beans) and I have had no issues in pulling perfect shots every time, since. Countless Youtube videos can offer advice and walk you through this learning stage, but my favorite and most helpful Youtube channel I have found is called Hoon’s Coffee. If you buy a machine and need help, check out his channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2cDae0GAy9ytVEmkFi4i5g.
The Bottom Line:
After one week of owning this machine and making, on average six coffees a day, I can safely say the Breville Barista Express is one of my favorite investment purchases of all time. Waking up at 4am (after a short night of interrupted sleep) to work a full-time job, be a full-time mom and keep house, this couldn’t have been a better purchase. It makes me excited to start my day and gives me something to look forward to in the afternoons.
If you decide to purchase this beauty of a machine yourself, use my link and I will get a small commission! Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel
P.S. Here are some extras you may want to consider when purchasing this machine:
My only regret is not buying the Breville Barista Express sooner.
Espresso shot glasses. I currently use a mug to pull my shots into, but I will soon be buying a set of these to feel extra fancy and barista-like. De’Longhi Double Walled Thermo Espresso Glasses, Set of 2
A knock box to get the used grounds out of your portafilter. Depending on where you buy you Breville, it may be included or it may not be… so check before purchasing! I initially thought I would just use my trashcan for this, but didn’t like the idea of hitting and potentially damaging my trash can or having the portafilter touch my trash can. Breville sells a branded knock box here in the regular size and the mini. I have the mini size and can’t imagine having the larger one on my counter, but to each their own! Breville Knock Box Mini in Stainless Steel Construction – Dishwasher Safe
So what are you waiting for, go treat yourself!