The Breville BES870XL Barista Express is without a doubt the best all-in-one, semi-automatic espresso machines you can buy for less money that luxury models, but it outshines them all once you learn the skill with some patience.
- High-quality espresso
- Conveniently designed
- Customizable settings
- Affordable for its caliber
- Requires regular cleaning
- Takes time to learn the machine and its parts
From my experience, there are two types of espresso drinkers: those who don’t care where the coffee comes from, how much it costs, or how it’s made, provided they get it fast. The second kind wants to have the best espresso at home, it should be cheap, and are willing to spend considerable time to get it done. If the latter describes you or need to upgrade from a smaller Burr Coffee Grinder, the semi-automatic Breville BES870XL Barista Express espresso machine is for you.
The Barista Express offers pretty everything you’d need to brew the best espresso, from enough adjustable control to manual settings, that will make you feel like a real barista when using it. Unlike pricier machines, this one is easy to operate and grinds coffee beans right into its portafilter. Rather not surprising, a gadget like this isn’t for everyone as it requires some effort to operate and get everything right.
Design & Features
With a stainless-steel construction, the Breville BES870XL looks and feels durable, which is something we all look for in an appliance that will be in use most of the day. It has a hefty steel portafilter and a handle attachment that adds to its good appearance, but it’s the accompanying burr grinder, pressure gauge, and large bean hopper that seal the premium looks.
It measures 16 inches tall and 13.5 inches wide, reaching a depth of 12.5 inches, which is about the same size as a standard drip coffee maker but twice as wide. When you compare it with compact espresso machines such as the De’Longhi Dedica and Mr. Coffee Café Barista, the Breville Barista Express espresso maker is larger and physically more robust.
On design, it is the pressure gauge that catches your eye first, and easily spells out Breville’s brewing chops. Placed at the front and center of the control panel, its circular dial displays whether the internal pump is gushing hot water through your coffee grounds within the optimal pressure range.
To the left and right of the dial are large circular buttons for “Power,” “Filter Size” and “Program” along with a two for selecting to brew single or double espresso shots. There’s also. A knob for setting the amount of coffee grounds the grinder will produce automatically, either for single or double-sized espresso filters.
Performance & Taste
For starters, it can be daunting to pull a decent first shot with the Breville BES870XL Barista Express. Once you hone your technique and know your echelons well, you’ll definitely get treated to the best espresso you’ve tasted from a home machine. For instance, if you set the grinder to level 5 coarseness, the resulting shots taste decent, though a little flat, basically a shadow of what you can do with the Rancilio Silvia Pro espresso machine.
Of course, all that can be confirmed by the refractometer readings of shots pulled at these settings – possibly the average percentage TDS (total dissolved solids) returning at 7.8 percent. That means with a final espresso volume of 1.7 fluid ounces pulled through the 0.5 ounces of coffee within the portafilter, that translates to a lower volume of 13.2 percent.
Just like drip coffee, espresso should concentrate with a high enough TDS to hit the optimal extraction percentage of between 18 and 22 percent. In that case, if you bump the grinder level to level 3 coarseness, the Barista Express will reward your patience with a shot that’s truly enticing.
For sure, the coffee you drink from the Breville BES870XL espresso machine tastes better and lingers longer on the palate than what you can make with either the Philips Saeco GranBaristo Avanti (4.2 TDS Average) or the Krups EA9010 (3.9 TDS Average), both excellent but highly-priced espresso machines.
All espresso machines require good care and that comes down to regular cleaning to stay in good working order, and the Breville Barista Express requires exactly that. Luckily, this appliance has fewer moving parts and doesn’t have messy milk reservoirs to maintain compared to super-automatic gadgets, making it relatively easy to keep tidy.
Brewing the best espresso with the Breville Barista Express take time, effort and some good practice. That’s particularly true if you’re fond of the push-button functionality of super-automatic espresso makers like the pricey but efficient Philips Saeco GranBaristo Avanti and Krups EA9010.
But those patient enough to stick with the fairly affordable Breville BES870XL Barista Express, and willing to tweak its settings and various options, etc., will be sweetly rewarded ultimately spend a lot of less money.
Not only is the Breville Barista a capable espresso maker than cheaper espresso such as the De’Longhi Dedica and Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista, but the Express also produces superior flavor than the aforementioned luxury models at a fraction of the price. All this helps the Breville BES870XL Barista Express earn our Editor’s Choice award for home espresso machines.
Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel, Large
$599.95 in stock
15 used from $459.95