Is The (Very) Pricey Breville Espresso Machine Actually Worth It?
I bought the Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine and I have one thing to tell you. It whips up café-quality expressos and lattes in the comfort of my own kitchen.
FYI, prices and ratings are accurate as of time of writing.
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine BES870BSXL
Top-rated: 21,396 ratings
Highlight: Rich, full flavor and body.
Helpful review: "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, this is the one. I debated going with this one or something cheaper. I used to have a DeLonghi EC155. That thing started at 4.0 stars or higher, but now I see it lower, and 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. 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.
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.
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.
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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