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If you crave for morning java with minimum fuss, you need a super-automatic machine but it can cost you $2500 to $3000 and if you’re willing to pay for it, go for it.
But if you don’t want to pay through your nose, then a semi-automatic machine would be a great opportunity for you to polish your barista skills like a pro and brew a variety of coffee specialties at the comfort of your home.
If you’re looking for a review about Breville BES870XL Barista Express, you’ve come to the right place.
In this ultimate review, I’ve covered the whole nine yards of this semi-automatic machine to tell you about:
- Why It’s one of the best semi-automatic espresso machines
- Everything you need to know
- What I liked about it
- The potential drawbacks
By the end of the review, you’ll have a clear picture of this machine’s performance, and you’ll be able to make a better decision before whipping out your credit card.
Breville Barista Express BES870XL – Top Features
Design and Appearance
You’ll hardly find anybody who doesn’t admire this type of appearance. Measuring 16 inches high by 13.5 inches wide and reaching the depth of 12.5 inches, this machine has a top-notch and professional-looking appearance.
It matches the size of a drip coffee maker but about twice as wide; still you easily slot anywhere without having to sacrifice all your counter space.
Built-in Grinder and Size Adjustments
If you’re a coffee enthusiast like me, you probably already know there is a clear taste’s difference in the coffee that has been brewed using the pre-ground beans.
That’s why we stick to the freshly ground beans at every possible turn because it adds maximum flavor and freshness to the java that’s unique and peerless.
Luckily, Breville Barista Express comes with a built-in stainless steel conical burr grinder which would have cost you about $200 if bought separately. Plus, it saves your counter space and less stuff to spick and span.
It has 16 grinder settings for fine to coarse grounds that allow you to brew espresso, cappuccino latte, and even americano.
In addition to that, it’s having automatic as well as manual dosing for single or double shots. So, if you’re a beginner or experienced user, you’ll be able to operate it.
Here are the ways to do it:
- Automatic Filter Dosing: Just select the filter size (single/double), place the portafilter into the holder, and press once, it will automatically dispense the right amount of ground required to make your single/double shot.
- Manual Dosing: Just select the amount of grinds by using the grind amount knob, then place the portafilter into the holder and press, it will begin releasing the grounds until you release it.
It has an 8oz capacity bean hopper which is enough for brewing up to 50+ standard-sized cups of coffee, so you don’t need to refill it so often. Moreover, it’s easily removable, that makes it easy to return beans to storage or while switching between different types of coffee.
Breville Barista Express is equipped with a 67-ounces (2 liters) water tank that is enough for preparing several cups of coffee without having to replenish frequently. The water reservoir is placed at the backside of the machine, so accessing it might be cumbersome.
You can conveniently fill the water tank while placed at the machine, but if you’re worried about spilling the water on the countertop or contamination of the reservoir due to coffee grinds, you can easily remove it for filling at the sink.
Monitoring the Pressure Gauge
Breville BES870XL is equipped with an in-built pressure gauge that’s located in the middle of the control panel, right on the face-front of the machine. This pressure gauge allows you to visually monitor how much pressure your coffee is subjected to throughout the process of extraction.
This plays an optimal role in pulling out the shots that satisfy your taste buds, if this is something new for you, probably, you don’t know how to monitor this to assure pulling out the perfect espresso shot.
Here is way to monitor the pressure gauge for great-tasting espresso shot:
- As you begin the single/double espresso shot, pressure gauge should stay in range of pre-infusion phase for about 7 seconds while pre-infusion.
- Then it should rank close to espresso range phase for about 10-14 seconds. The espresso should pull out and look like honey.
- This process should last for up to 30 to 35 seconds per shot.
This is an indication of perfect grind size, coffee dose and temping pressure for brewing an optimal quality espresso shot. On the flip side, if you notice the needle stays below the middle of espresso-range, you probably have too coarse or too fine coffee grounds which may result in an under-extracted espresso shot.
However, it’s no use crying over spilled milk, it may take you fewer attempts to exactly figure out the optimal grind size, dose, and temping for a foamy and rich extraction in the right amount of time.
The image is the courtesy of the user (bergerb) on Home-Barista.
Save Energy Consumption
The Barista Express stands by itself if not used for an hour and turns off automatically after 3 hours of inactivity, so you don’t need to fret even if you’re madly racing against the clock to prepare and dish out the breakfast and somehow forgot hitting the switch before leaving for office.
This not only conserves the appliance from unwanted damage but also saves your money from pouring down the drain due to high-cost electricity bills.
Descaling and Cleaning
Just like many other espresso machines, Breville Barista Express is not exceptional as it also requires consistent cleaning to work effectively. On the bright side, it’s having way less movable parts, so it’s comparatively easier to sustain prolonged than semi-automatic machines out there.
The cleaning of Barista Express is divided into two camps, after use and periodic cleaning.
Here are the ways to keep the machine uncluttered after every shot:
- Step 1: After pulling out every shot, always remember to empty the puck of spent grounds from the portafilter.
- Step 2: Once done pulling out the espresso shot, press the single shot button once again without the portafilter connected to the head. It will flush out the hot water through the brew head and rinse out any stray coffee grounds.
- Step 3: Always make sure you wipe the wand with a warm damp cloth after steaming milk. This bit of work keeps your machine free from bacterial contamination. In addition, purging the steam wand is also an easy way to prevent the nozzle from clogging.
The Barista Express features a built-in cleaning cycle which should be carried out periodically. You don’t need to guess or set reminders on your phone to alert yourself as Breville’s CLEAN ME light illuminates automatically to let you know when cleaning is required.
Here is the breakdown for performing regular maintenance:
- Replacing the Water Filters: If you decide to use water filters, make sure you reinstate them after every two months. This will potentially prevent the scale build-up and improve the performance of the machine, affected due to the blockages and heating problems.
- Decalcifying: After regular use, hard water often causes minerals build-up, which nullifies the inner functioning components and consequently affects the quality of your morning java. Breville advises decalcifying the machine after every 2-3 months using a blend of white vinegar and water.
- Cleaning Drip Tray: The drip tray should be removed, emptied, and cleaned at regular intervals, especially when the drip tray indicator shows EMPTY ME. The best practice is to remove the grid, compartments and wash the drip tray with warm soapy water, using a non-abrasive liquid. Lastly, rinse and dry fully.
The drip tray parts are dishwasher safe and long-lasting if maintained carefully.
Breville provides a detailed instruction manual with the purchase of the machine, so if you’re not sure how to carry out cleaning for a specific part, feel free to check out page 25 of their specially designed guidebook.
Here is what you’ll get besides the Barista Express in order to maintain the appliance and dispense quality shot every time:
- 54mm Stainless Steel Portafilter
- 2 single and double shots pressurized and non-pressurized filter baskets
- Water Filter
- Built-in Temper
- 16-ounces Milk Pitcher
- Cleaning Disk and Tablets
- Cleaning Brush tool and Allen key
This image is courtesy of Breville USA.
More Awesome Features
Milk Frother System and Hot Water On-Demand
If you’re a big fan of cappuccino, latte, and dozens of other milk-based beverages, then you’re definitely gonna need a milk frother, and this would cost you an additional $150. But with Breville Barista Express, you don’t need to pay those extra bucks since it has an attached steam wand that works wonderfully to produce rich and foamy steamed milk.
You don’t need to have more than just basic knowledge under your belt to prepare rich foamy milk. No doubt, it requires a bit of a learning curve, but once you learn the technique, you’ll find yourself like a latte art pro who prepares delicious beverages at home – just like a professional barista.
The milk frothing can be operated by the knob located on the right side of the machine. If you want to make Americano, switch the knob to the left side to get hot water effortlessly. And if you want to steam the milk to prepare foam, follow these steps:
- Step 1: Fill the pitcher with an adequate amount of milk, switch the knob to the right side on Steam and point the wand to the hole in the drip tray.
- Step 2: The pump inside the machine will kick in, and you’ll hear a pulse sound. Within a matter of few seconds, the steam will shoot out of the wand, with quite a bit of water.
- Step 3: Switch the steam off after water purged out of the wand. Once the Hot Water Steam light will begin blinking (located on the face front of the machine), then turn on the steam again before it discharges the built-up pressure.
- Step 4: Now slide the wand into the pitcher with an angle pointing downward and let it rip.
- Step 5: Hold it down until it reaches the desired thickness, depending on the coffee drink (cappuccino or latte) you want to brew.
Advanced Temperature Mode
As a bonus, Breville Barista Express features a PID (Proportional, Integral, Derivative) controllers that you might find only in higher level professional machines. Different coffee drinks require different water temperatures but with Barista Express, you’re in full control as you can easily make adjustments to the temperature +/- 4ºF in 2ºF increments from default temperature (200ºF).
This digital temperature control delivers water at an exceptionally accurate temperature, necessary for brewing shot after shot at an optimal extraction level.
Adjusting the temperature can be tricky, but you’ll be able to do it easily by following these steps:
- Step 1: Turn the machine off by pressing the POWER button.
- Step 2: Press and hold the POWER and PROGRAM button. The machine will beep once and indicate the current temperature is selected by illuminating the button.
- Step 3: Adjust the temperature within 5 seconds of entering the Advanced Mode; otherwise machine will return back to heating/stand-by operation.
The machine will beep twice to confirm the temperature change. Now, you’re ready to brew your favorite drink at exactly your selected temperature. To learn more about the temperature adjustments, you can read the Page 19 of the instruction booklet.
Attached Drip Tray
The Breville Barista Express is well-designed and constructed, where it gives you all the functionalities from dispensing the coffee grounds to brewing shots in just a touch of a button, there is some unavoidable mess and spilled of coffee grounds, and dripped water.
Thanks to its attached drip tray which is specifically designed to hold all the mess of coffee grounds and dripped water. Though it doesn’t require emptying and cleaning on a daily basis, you’ll have to mop it periodically.
So, no mess, no fuss anymore but only the delicious specialties!
Potential Drawbacks of Breville Barista Express BES870XL
1. Adjusting the Grounds
The Barista Express, BES870XL comes with a rotating knob to adjust the grind amounts when done manually but it isn’t numerical so this makes it more of a guesswork for what comes for a single or double shot.
And you’ll have keep on the tip of tongue otherwise it would be difficult for you to dispense the right amount of grounds every time.
2. Heavy Weight
Breville Barista Express BES870XL weighs around 23 pounds (10.5 kg) that makes it a heavy weight appliance so it might be difficult for you to slither on the counter and won’t the best fit if you’re deciding to take it on camping.
Video Review: Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine, BES870XL
Check out this video to learn better how Breville Barista Express operates to craft delicious milk-based coffee drinks for you.
- Integrated conical burr grinder
- Attached steam wand for milk frothing and hot water
- Makes great tasting milk-based coffee specialties
- Occupy less space on your kitchen counter
- Stands by after 1 hours and shutdown automatically after 3 hours of inactivity
- The carbon filters enhances the quality of and flavor of your java
- Easy to clean and removable parts
- Comes with all the essential accessories to easily maintain the machine
- Heavy-weight appliance
- The manual grind amount doesn’t have tally marks
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for one machine that provides great value for money in a business class design, excellent performance, convenience, power and all the essential functionalities in a single complete package then make it Breville Barista Express.
It worths every penny and you can enjoy hassle-free coffee drinks every morning without watching your dollars drop out like espresso shots.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the significant improvements of the Breville BES870XL over the BES860XL?
The latest model Breville BES870XL has done the following improvements over BES860XL:
- Bean hopper redesigned
- Advanced temperature controlling (PID)
- Added hot water dispenser
- Auto stand by and shut off feature for saving unnecessary energy consumption
- Power input increased to 1600W
- Included dosing control tool “Razor”
2. What other coffee this machine can make than espresso?
It’s equipped with hot water dispenser so you can easily make tea or americano other than cappuccino, latte and espresso.
3. Does it come with any money-back guarantee?
Breville Barista Express comes with 1 year limited product warranty.
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