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  • Casey Wilson

Is The Breville Barista Express Actually Worth The Money In 2022?

If you’re on the hunt for a powerful espresso machine at an affordable price, the Barista Express might be the one for you. It has a built-in grinder, milk frother and cup warmer, and it pulls exceptionally flavorful shots.

The Barista Express by Breville

FYI, Prices and ratings are accurate as of time of writing.


The Barista Express by Breville

Top-rated: 17,302 ratings


The Barista Express by Breville

Highlight: Grinds on demand to deliver the right amount of freshly ground coffee directly into the portafilter.

Most helpful review: "Despite some of the negative criticism sprinkled throughout this review, keep in mind that (1) I am giving this machine 5 stars, and now that I have spent a few weeks getting to know it (intimately), I love it - so much, that if a burglar broke into my house and stole it, I would order another one the same day - I have not been back to Starbucks since. All that being said, you NEED to read this review so that your machine does not frustrate you and so that you get the most out of it. Read on my coffee-loving friend:
1. I am a guy, who knew nothing about espresso machines before this. I am very mechanically inclined and don't usually read instructions. This was different - this machine is NOT self-explanatory and you NEED to read the instructions (which are well written, and even include a troubleshooting section). Don't get frustrated with this machine until/unless you have read (all) the instructions.
2. This is not a 'stand-alone' purchase... this machine costs around $500 (give or take), you need to invest another $100 right from the start (preferably at the same time) to get the most out of it, enjoy it to the fullest, and not get unreasonably frustrated by making your own lattes and mochas.
3. The other things you REALLY should order at the same time (and all are available on Amazon) are:
a. ($29) 100-pack disposable 20oz. cups with lids and sleeves (sold by Yes!fresh). Trust me, you want to get these. It's only $0.29 per cup and are far more convenient that trying to clean out a million dirty coffee cups from your car/office each week. These are worth twice what they cost in the long run. And when your friends are over, you need not 'loan' them a nice coffee cup to go (which you may never see again) - just give them a paper cup to take with them.
b. ($5-15 for 25 oz. / $20-30 for 64 oz.) Torani syrups and sauces, AND the pump tops that go with them (always sold separately). IF you drink the same thing on a regular basis (like I do) such as a white chocolate peppermint mocha, buy the 64 oz. white chocolate sauce and not the smaller 25 oz. bottle.
c. ($14) Amazon Basics Cotton Washcloth - 24 pack - grey (the grey matches the espresso machine, but the color doesn't matter). Again, trust me, you want a nicely folded stack of these sitting next to the machine - you will use 1 each time you make espresso, and then it will be dirty and needs to be washed. At my house (3 people using the machine) we bought two 24-packs because we make so much coffee - two 24-packs is not too many for our house (I'm thinking about buying a third pack).
d. ($10 for pair of single shot size, $15 for pair of double shot size) Set of double-walled espresso shot glasses. Do NOT buy the rounded ones (ie: Cutehom espresso coffee cups) because they will not pour very well and drip all over the place (down the side) each time - very frustrating. Buy the JoyJolt Javaah Double Walled Espresso Glasses instead - you'll be glad you did in the long run. And, if you're planning to make mostly double-shot lattes/mochas, buy a set of Dragon Glassware 6 oz Espresso Cups (also double-walled) so that you don't have to keep fidgeting with the single shot cups to keep them in the right spot under the coffee dispenser. It's important to buy double-walled glasses for two reasons. First, it keeps the espresso hot while you're steaming your milk, second, it keeps you from burning your fingers when pouring the espresso into your coffee cup.
e. ($15) Breville BCB100 Barista-Style Coffee Knock Box. Again, TRUST me, you want this right next to your machine - the coffee grounds will start piling up quickly and you don't want your portafilter anywhere near a garbage can. This thing is a must.
4. Space requirements: This machine (and all that you want to go with it) will take some counter space - allow AT LEAST 34-inches of counter width to accommodate - slightly more is even better. You will from my picture, this is a 34-inch setup, and there is no room to spare.
5. Making espresso. After you read the instructions, here are some tips that they don't include to help avoid frustration:
a. When the beans are grinding, lightly knock on the top of the hopper lid (just like knocking on a door) so that the beans keep feeding down to the grinder (sometimes they get hung up - a light knock each time keeps this from happening). Do NOT overfill the portafilter (after tamping) or it will jam coffee grounds into the water outlet and could possibly damage the portafilter or locking guide. After the grounds are tamped down in the filter cup, the silver part of the tamper should be just hidden beneath the rim of the portafilter (the machine includes a tool you can use if you accidentally overfill the filter cup, but after a short while, you'll figure out how much to grind each time and the tool will not be necessary).
b. You ALWAYS want to watch the pressure gauge when making espresso. It NEEDS to be in the dark grey area of the pressure gauge (and ideally in/near the middle of the grey area) during the brew cycle, otherwise you are not making good espresso - rather, you are making either watered down espresso (not enough pressure) or not enough espresso which is too rich (too much pressure). There are two key things that affect pressure: the fineness at which the coffee is ground (which is adjustable) and the volume of grounds in the portafilter (also adjustable). Although there is a one or two shot size setting, I have found it best to do two, 1-shot grinds, tamping down the grounds in-between each single-shot grind. I have the grind (volume) setting on the 4th click setting, and I have the grind (fineness) setting on either 2 or 3 (play around and see what gives you the best results). IF the pressure is too low, then either your coffee is ground too coarsely, or your have not tamped it down tight enough, or the filter is not filled with enough coffee grounds, or a combination of any/all of these things. IF the pressure is too high, then either your coffee is ground too finely, or you have tamped down the grounds too hard (tightly), or a combination of the two.
c. IF using two, single-shot espresso glasses to collect a double-shot brew, keep an eye on them during the brew cycle and make sure they are centered under the espresso being dispensed (this can be avoided by using a double-shot size collection cup).
d. IF making a mocha or other syrup/sauce drink, pre-mix the espresso and syrup in the glass and stir thoroughly before adding the steamed milk.
e. Steaming milk is 1/2-art, and 1/2-science (seriously), and it does not come naturally. If you've never worked at a coffee shop and been trained to steam milk, do yourself a favor and watch a few good (short) YouTube videos on the proper way to steam milk. You will THANK yourself for taking 5-10 minutes on You Tube and learning the proper way to steam milk (and things to avoid). Understanding the steaming process will allow you to control the amount of foam on top and not make big mess.
f. Before you steam your milk, VENT the steam wand to remove the residual water from the boiler line (you don't want a few teaspoons of water in your milk). Vent the line, then turn the steam off ... wait 5 full seconds ... then insert the steam wand into the milk, then turn the steam back on. Hold the handle with your left hand, and place your right hand underneath the stainless steel milk steaming cup, when the cup is too hot for your right hand to touch (I mean really to hot to hold), keep the steam wand in and start counting along with the pump (which sounds like a metronome in the background ... dit ... dit ... dit ... dit ...). For a semi-hot latte/mocha keep the steam wand in the milk for 30 double-dits (don't start counting until after you can non longer touch the bottom with your right hand ... "and-one, and two, and three" and so on until you get to 30 (the equivalent of 60 single dits). For hot (but still drinkable) count to 40 double-dits, and for very-hot, 50 double-dits. Anything above 60 and you risk burning the milk (which will ruin the flavor and you will need to toss it out and start over). When finished, turn the steam off, and remove the steam wand from the milk about 3-5 seconds before it finishes blowing steam (to avoid having milk sucked back up into the steam line).
g. After you steam your milk, VENT the steam wand again to remove any milk that inadvertently got sucked up into the steam wand line and prevent any from making its way into the boiler. IF milk makes its way back into the boiler unit (because you failed to vent the line after use) you will DESTROY the boiler (permanently), in that, the milk cannot be cleaned out, will burn during the next use, and every cup of milk you steam in the future will have a burnt-milk smell/flavor - yuck! DO yourself a favor and vent the steam line religiously after each use - and make sure others who use your machine know that they can ruin it if they don't do so also! (there goes $500!)
h. The bottom tray is easy to remove, empty and clean (comes apart in 3 pieces). You should empty this every 2-4 days of use because it fills up despite you not pouring liquid into it - reason is, each time you finish using the steam wand or hot water dispenser, the machine auto-vents out the line from the boiler into the bottom tray (sneaky little devil) ... so even though you don't realize it, it's filling up a little with each use. (Fun fact - the hot water dispenser can be used for instant hot water to make tea!).
6. Cleaning up.
a. I unfold a clean washcloth each time I make espresso. When you tamp down the grounds, it will help avoid damaging/scratching your counter, and will catch the spill-over grounds (there will always be some spill-over).
b. When finished, use hot water (from your kitchen sink) to rinse the espresso cup(s), milk steaming cup, portafilter and filter insert (remove the filter cup from the portafilter each time you clean them), then use another clean washcloth to set them out to dry upon.
c. The washcloth used to make espresso: fold it in half, twice (into a square), and use the hot water dispenser (on the machine) to get one corner of the square wet with hot (boiling hot) water, then fold the square into a triangle so that the boiling water corner is exposed, then fold that triangle into another triangle around the steam wand and thoroughly clean the steam wand. It will take a little time and firm pressure - make sure the wand is clean so that you don't get nasty milk residue build up on your steam wand.
7. Keeping things stocked:
a. Milk. If your family uses milk for other things (cereal, baking, etc.) and up until now you have been a '1-gallon at a time' household, it's time to go up to a 2-gallon at a time household. Trust me - once you (and others in your house) discover the delicious lattes/mochas which are quick at hand, the milk will begin to disappear quickly (my house is now a 3-gallon at a time household with 3 people regularly using the machine).
b. Keep a spare box of to-go cups/lids on hand, when you open it, order another one - it is not cost prohibitive and you never want to be out of to-go cups in the morning.
c. Keep a spare bag of coffee beans on hand - also not cost prohibitive and if you run out of beans, well, there's no reason to ever run out of beans.
d. Keep a spare bottle of your favorite syrups/sauces. If you run out, all the fun is over.
8. Quirks and tips.
a. Keep a close eye (and refill often - like every morning) the water tank in the back (you need not pull it off each time, just take a 4-cup measuring cup and refill it when it gets 1/2-way down). Reason being, the machine is not smart like a Keurig - it has no sensor telling it when the water is out and it will run itself (to its peril) dry when the water runs out - this is not particularly good for the machine or the pumps.
b. Use top quality beans - I recommend buying 1 lb. bags of Starbucks Espresso Roast beans - whole, NEVER pre-ground. WHY would you spend $600 on a coffee bar setup and then use crap beans or pre-ground (aka: not fresh) coffee? When you use top quality Starbucks beans (I have no financial interest in Starbucks by the by - so if you prefer something else like Pete's or Dutch Bros., fine - but make sure you're buying whole bean bags of their Espresso Roast). 2-4 double-shot lattes/mochas per day will go through a 1 lb. bag of beans every 1-2 weeks.
c. Transitioning to decaf beans...? Nope, not easy, nor was the machine set up for an easy transition. To transition from regular espresso beans to decaf beans you must unlock the bean hopper and remove it - then pour the regular beans into a ziplock bag, then take your vacuum cleaner (I'm not joking) and vacuum out the remaining regular beans from the grinding gear mechanism, then replace the (empty) hopper - lock it in place, then fill it with decaf beans. We did this once at my house ... and will never do it again.
I hope you enjoyed my review and it helps you make awesome lattes and mochas!" — VR

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The Barista Express by Breville

"I love this thing. I've been using it multiple times a day for almost a year I think. Every day it makes amazing espresso, and as long as I keep it clean it preforms beautifully. This thing is also easier to maintain and requires less cleaning than other cheaper espresso machines I've tried.
A tip for anyone looking to make actual espresso at home, I recommend looking for a local roastery in your area. I use to buy bulk beans online like many people, but once I tried local whole beans and found a blend I liked, the difference was amazing. Bean choice is very important if you actually want to enjoy your espresso!
A few tips I picked up for using this machine:
1. A few people complained about the grind amount knob not going low enough. To counteract this, I changed the cup size to "Single" and increased the grind amount by turning the knob to the right. This gives me the perfect amount of ground coffee every time.
2. If the machine keeps going over or under on the pressure gauge, try cleaning the grinder. And remember to clean the grouphead with those desolvable tablets when the clean me light comes on!
3. You can get cheap replacement cleaning tablets here on amazon. I chose Urnex Cafiza Espresso Machine Cleaning Tablets here on amazon, and they work great!
4. You do not need to order a separate tamper, the one included is perfect.
5. The included frothing cup is small but works for me. Some might need a bigger one.
6. Do not underestimate the need for a burr grinder. Trying to make good espresso without one is like trying to hammer a nail with an inflatable hammer!
Some of the features I love (Pros)*
1) The grinder. I know many would rather use a separate burr grinder, but this thing works perfectly fine, and is easy to clean. Many complained about the coffee machine heating up the beans too much if you leave them inside the hopper, but I actually store my beans in a special container outside of the hopper, and use the included the scoop to pour in the beans when I grind them.
2) The frother is amazing. Much much better than cheaper machines.
3) Clean me light is awesome. Always reminds me to keep up on this things maintenance, and helps prolong the life.
4) The Stainless steel is beautiful. (It is not 100% stainless on the outside though, a little bit of plastic, see cons.)
5) The pressure gauge. Absolutely invaluable in making good tasting espresso. I would not recommend buying any machine without one. It really helps with learning and getting it right!
6) The included tamper is perfect.
7) Creates perfect pucks of coffee to dump out in the trash.
8) The hot water dispenser is an awesome addition!
9) Is an all-in-one, meaning I don't need to buy a separate grinder!
10) Just makes good coffee.
11) Great manual included for lots of useful information.
12) Has an automated cleaning cycle to clean the insides of the grouphead. Awesome!
14) Includes a beautiful copper dosing tool.
15) Includes tools to clean out the filters.
Some things that bother me (Cons)*
1)The top of the machine is plastic.
2) The bottom sides of the machine is plastic
3) The water tank needs to be refilled often, and it also thick plastic.
4) The bottom water catcher thing (sorry) needs to be emptied often, but its not too bad.
5) The coffee grind separator doesn't really seem to help much, but it does help keep it out of the water below and little bit, which keeps it from smelling!
6) Expensive, but to me, was a very worthwhile investment for how much coffee I was buying from the shop.
7) Can't seem to find inexpensive filters for the water tank, however, I use filtered water instead of tap.
8) The Lowest grind amount is too much on the "double" setting. QC Should have caught this! But not a deal breaker. See above for workaround.
*Might add more later as I think of them!
This thing is also great for making sweet frappicinos and iced drinks.
For caramel flavored drinks I use Hershey's Caramel Syrup (Edit: I now make my own caramel syrup! It's super easy!)
For vanilla flavored drinks I use Torani Vanilla Syrup that I get cheaply from a bulk wholesale store in my town.
For my sweet drink of choice I mix the two, add a double shot of espresso, 2% milk, and top with whipped cream and caramel syrup.
Nothing beats a great espresso in the morning!" — Amazonian

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The Barista Express by Breville

"After working as a barista for 4 years, the thought of leaving the café to go to grad school was upsetting. As an early birthday gift slash café departing gift my mom purchased this machine for me. It does everything I need it to in order to prepare any coffee shop drink! Perfect single or double espresso (even coming with dual wall filters to give decent espresso from pre-ground coffee), steam wand with acceptable pressure and good heat for texturing milk (latte art is a must for me and this machine allows me to achieve it 7/10 times), tamp which could be wider but works perfectly fine to be included in the price, nice size water tank with good filter, hot water spicket for americanos, milk pitcher for pouring is sized well to fit with the steam wand, storage tray hidden inside to hold filters and tools, a built in burr grinder which is amazing because it requires no extra space in your kitchen and works just as well as a separate one, and a shot splitter on your portafilter (nice for splitting a double shot into two small mugs and steaming a large quantity of milk to make 2 coffees at once since there’s no dual boiler).
I really love this machine and after 4times daily use for the last 2 months I have yet to need to clean it with the tablets provided due to all of the self cleaning the machine does. Water is a great temp for brewing and steaming, and it’s not piping hot but plenty hot enough from the water spicket. This machine is kind of a “why on earth not?” kind of deal." — Samantha Stangl

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The Barista Express by Breville

"I have been using the Brevill BES870BSXL The Barista Express Coffee Machine for a couple of weeks. We have very pure well water, though it is hard since it contains calcium and magnesium. This has no taste, but can affect the clogging of any water heating appliance. I mentioned this because the flavor of the espresso and the function of the machine can be affected.
I have used and reviewed several espresso machines through the Amazon Vine program and bought one other, this one I researched specifically for several months and purchased it myself. I have received for review/used mostly the cheaper units of several manufacturers, (Mr. Coffee, DeLonghi, Capresso, etc.) The comparison between this higher priced Breville and the less expensive machines is not entirely fair except on the level of taste.
This Breville machine is far beyond the functioning of any that I have had. As I learned about espresso, I mostly drink latte, and my taste has refined, the cheaper machines would not satisfy. This Breville machine makes amazingly great latte and espresso.
The biggest difference in using this machine rather than using the less expensive machines is the ability to control the strength, flavor and coffee grind; and the pressure. The flavor of my latte is not only as good as the latte purchased from the better coffee shops, it is consistently better. I had to fight to get a good flavor out of the other machines and work them to the maximum.
THE PLUSES OF THE BARISTA EXPRESS:
The beans are held in a storage unit on the top of the machine, they can be ground to powder if you desired, but it has multiple grind settings.
The water tank holds a lot of water and is easy to remove and fill or fill while attached.
The function buttons are easy to see and the functions make sense and are easy to use.
The correct amount of ground coffee goes directly into the filter basket automatically. The tamper stored under the machine by a magnet. The amount of coffee has multiple settings for both one and two cups of espresso.
The ground coffee basket holder goes into the group head with ease.
The pressure gauge lets you know the pressure of the tamped coffee being extracted with an indication of the optimum pressure point. The pressure of your tamping is a learned function by using the gauge. In this way you learn the strength of your tamp for your best espresso.
When you are finished, the machine purges itself of stream and hot water in the tray.
The streamed milk function works better than any machine I have used. Very small bubbles to big foam can be made easily. You decide what you want.
Hot water is also available on the unit.
The machine comes with cleaning tablets, tools, tamper, milk frothing cup, extra filter cups, and a place to store them.
NEGATIVES:
As far as I am concerned there aren't any. It is important to clean the milk frothing wand immediately after frothing or the milk gets hard on it from the heat, but I did not find this an issue.
Overall:
I really love the way this machine works and the espresso and latte that I can make. It makes the espresso easily and much quicker than any machine I have used. The taste and texture of the lattes are beyond compare. My only regret is that I should have got the red one instead of the black, though the black unit looks really great. I never realized that the price of the espresso machine would make such a huge difference in the quality of the espresso and the latte." — Tom T.

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The Barista Express by Breville

"Fantastic espresso machine. You get your grinder (with adjustable dosage, and two dials to change the coarseness - the second adjustment is directly inside the grinder), pump, steam wand, hot water spout and a nice tamper all in one machine!
The accessories you get with it are great as well, you get the porta-filter holder (duh), 4 baskets (single and double serve with single walls and the same in double-wall setup), precision dosage razor, frothing pitcher and the cleaning kit. Really don't need much more than this, so if you're looking for a serious espresso machine with all included, this one is it. And the 1,500+ reviews and average over 4.5 stars just proves that.
I debated going with this one or something cheaper. I recently used to have a DeLonghi EC155. That thing started at 4.0 stars or higher, but now I see it lower, I understand why. For a first try of "espresso" coffee, it was okay. I put it in quotation marks, because it was more like a really strong coffee, didn't quite come across as espresso. Maybe I did it wrong. But anyway, I am not reviewing that machine here.
With this machine, there is one thing you need to realize (and a video review of Breville, or rather "Sage" as this brand is known in Europe) is this - with this machine, you're not only getting into serious coffee, you're probably getting into a hobby as well, or a new activity. If you are looking for a simple serve machine that prepares a great coffee with one push of a button, look elsewhere, like the Nespresso machines.
But, if you are looking for something that is a little more involved, gives you the desired control, allows you to experiment and pulls you into the world of coffee, this is it. There is a reason why you pay $2-2.50 for just an espresso at a coffee shop. It takes work, it takes skill and it takes time. Once you start pulling your own great (or good for me, I'm not at the "great" level quite yet) coffee, the sense of accomplishment along with a great drink at home feels nice.
I think it retails at around $560 right now. I put it on my wish list in August 2017 I believe and kept watching the price. Then I noticed it dropped below $500 for like a day and half and I ended up getting this machine for $460. I still would probably purchase it for $560, but man, what a deal.
Don't forget that cheap/stale beans just won't do. I mean, if you got a car for a race track, you probably wouldn't pour in regular 87 gas, no, you'd go with the premium high-octane stuff. Similar with this - you got an awesome, professional-like machine, then feed it quality beans. I mean, you can try to go cheaper, but if you get very oily and stale beans, the coffee will taste burnt and you'll end up spending more time cleaning the thing.
Pros:
1) Sense of control - there is so much experimentation you can do. I've had this for 3 months and I'm still at the beginning. I now froth milk in a decent way but boy, there is a lot to learn.
2) All-in-one - you don't have to get an expensive grinder, fancy wooden tamper and a milk frother. I mean, you could, but why would you, if you have that high quality all built into this one?
3) The supplied equipment - kind of goes with point number 2, but you get a frothing pitcher as well, you get multiple baskets and you get everything you need to get rolling (besides the beans).
4) Quality - it is all stainless steel and what isn't (and is plastic) doesn't feel cheaply made. It seems sturdy and high quality. I've had it for 3 months now, so far so good, so ask me in a few months if I still think so.
5) The display/indicators - it tells you when it wants to be cleaned. I spoke to their customer reps and this was their exact email response:
"I have confirmed with our technicians, they advised me it will actually come on after 300 shots, and unplugging the unit should not reset the counter. " You also have a dedicated button for filter size, you can let it automatically grind the specific amount of coffee you want - this brings me to one of the cons, however.
Cons:
1) As mentioned pro #5, the grinding amount is a bit of a pain. When coffee is ground, it tends to expand. If you let the machine grind the automatic amount, it overfills the basket (because the coffee expands) and you get grounds falling over into the tray. This may not be a design flaw, because when you tap the filter onto the counter, the grinds settle and you do have the right amount, it's just a mess though - someone slightly OCD like myself finds that hard to deal with. I just use the manual grind, I hold it in, let it fill half way, tap it to let it settle, grind some more and tamp. Time consuming, yes, but it's more fun and cleaner.
2) If you live in an area with hard water (like I do), be prepared for water spots all over that beautiful stainless steel - again, not a manufacturer's flaw, but worth mentioning.
I keep trying to think of other cons, but can't. That's when you know it's a good unit, when you "try" to think of cons just for the review and can't come up with any legit ones.
Again, if you want a great coffee machine that will feed (or create) a coffee hobby and make you want to experiment, source local beans and just overall make your own fantastic coffee, go right ahead. I'd say it's worth the money.
If you're looking for a morning/quick convenience of pressing a button and that's it, look elsewhere, this isn't for you. I would also like to say that this machine is my after-work or weekend espresso/play around machine, for my quick morning coffee I have a small Mr. Coffee steam machine (and a Cuisinart grinder)." — D & R

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The Barista Express by Breville

"I’m a manager for a cafe and we run a $25,000 4-group La Marzocco, and a $7,000 grinder, and it’s like I never even left the shop. Everything about this product is stellar. The presentation and packaging is great, it comes with everything you need to brew a good shot. All you need is a knock box. I was worried that it would feel kind of cheap due to the price but I was wrong.
-The portafilter is heavy duty, I was worried it would be flimsy. It’s not.
-The grinder produces a consistent grind every time.
-The machine itself looks beautiful and is heavy duty. Not much plastic to be found.
-frothing pitcher is perfect size and is heavy duty.
-steam wand has the perfect amount of power. Allows you to really get the temp and froth perfect. Skilled baristas will have no problem doing great latte art with this machine.
-It’s all in one. No separate grinder needed, and the included grinder is high quality.
-Has a manual dose option for those who are picky about the Grams used in the shot
-Comes with 4 different filter baskets
-Alerts you when the machine needs to be descaled and cleaned (comes with all needed cleaning supplies as well)
-very easy to setup
-shots have good crema, great flow rate, but obviously this will moreso depend on beans and proper dosing, but just know you can make some very good espresso.
I was really considering a La Pavoni for home use, but after reading the reviews on this machine, I decided to go with this one. Best decision I’ve made. It is great for people who are wanting to get into espresso/coffee but don’t want to spend a fortune, yet it is so high quality that a skilled barista can fine tune everything for their idea of a perfect shot." — Spetsnaz
"I bought this about a month ago and thought I'd give it some time to review. This is my first espresso machine, and I must say, I am very impressed.
The reason I bought it was mainly because I was tired of reloading my Starbucks card, and I missed real Italian espressos from Italy. I had tried brewing with Moka pots, but it just didn't work out. The Breville is spot-on!
At first, like everyone else, I had a bit of a hard time getting the dial to register correctly in the espresso range. Finally I settled on the Starbucks espresso beans with the grind set to 3. When you grind the beans, start off just barely filling the filter, then gently pressing the grounds to the sides. After that, grind a little more just so you can make a little rounded hill. Then, tamp firmly.
Milk frothing is a breeze as well. There were some YouTube videos I watched to get an idea of how to do it. Honestly it's not a difficult machine to use. My 11-year old daughter has the whole process down pat and has officially become the family barista. My wife won't drink a capuccino unless my daughter made it.
UPDATE--After nearly a year, this thing is still chugging along! Two things stand out as must-do's to keep it that way:
- Clean regularly -- I had let the grinder get clogged up and it wasn't grinding as well. Routine grinder cleaning is essential, as is regular descaling and cleaning using the tablets.
Also, I do have to say that you should call customer support when you're not sure what's going on. I had a problem also with the pressure and found out that because of the beans I used, I needed to change the grind size to a finer grind. Not only did they help me figure it out, they also sent me some Breville descaler and cleaning tablets free because the machine was still under warranty. That's worth an extra star in my book!" — TheFutureMe
"I'm not sure how to begin describing this quite amazing product. Being almost 60 I have learned over the many seasons in life that you get what you pay for. Sometimes your expectations are far exceeded and thus my dilemma! In short I have been doing it all wrong since 1969 when I brewed my first cup of Joe. What I both learned and experienced with this product is a value that far exceeds the cost of the unit. They say knowledge is power and backed by a proper pull or shot of expresso I believe our species has a chance haha. You will not be disappointed if you are willing to learn and take the time to perfect your skill. It took us about an hour to dial it in to that perfect cup so be patient and experiment. Everybody is different and does not like coffee the same way. This will give you a full range of possibilities you never dreamed were possible at home. Pictures will come later" — NEO
"I have waited years to get this machine, an espresso machine is not exactly a necessity even for a coffee snob like me. I saw the price drop on this unit and decided to take the plunge. I swore off sbux to justify my purchase. The first thing I noticed is my house feels more posh with this sitting on the counter (we have a small house in the country). Secondly, I decided I don't want another thing. Owing an espresso machine of this caliber makes ones life complete.
To the details... Italians make the best espresso! I bought this machine after many trips abroad to various regions of Europe. When you find the best you buy the best. This machine is top quality and makes a fantastic espresso (bean quality matters). I would say easy to use for most but I am extremely domestically challenged so I am having issues getting a cappuccino and as I am not someone that enjoys being in the kitchen I have have large learning curve.
My fiance usually makes the drinks and he had not problem adjusting. The fully automated features for single or double shoot make this idiot proof. The steamer works well if you know how to use it and clean up is easy as long as you clean the wand immediately after use.
If you want to stay out of coffee houses and save money, this is the way. Top quality, top espresso, very intuitive." — Jax B.

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The Barista Express by Breville