The Breville Barista Express is one of the best espresso machines in its class. It looks good, brews great espresso, makes it easy to steam milk, and has a built in grinder. Let’s dig in deeper in this Breville BES870XL review.
Breville BES870XL Review: What makes it so special?
For the price point, the Breville BES870XL can’t be beaten. It has features found in much higher-end machines, and it’s an all-in-one suite for making espresso, cappuccinos, lattes, and other specialty coffees.
Built-In Conical Burr Grinder
The key to making good espresso, or indeed any kind of coffee is grinding fresh beans before extracting. Like most high-end espresso machines, the Breville Barista Express BES870XL comes with a top-mounted burr grinder.
You can put in up to half a pound of coffee beans and the Barista Express will grind them fresh for you. You can also adjust the consistency of the grind using a dial on the front of the machine. This way, you can tweak the fineness of the grind to your liking.
Unlike other machines where the coffee is ground and brewed automatically, the Barista Express actually grinds the coffee into a portafilter, which you then have to manually tamp down.
This is not a deal-breaker. In fact, it combines the best of both worlds: you get a built in grinder, but you still have manual control over the tamping.
Low Pressure Before Brewing to bloom
This feature, along with the showerhead-style water distribution system ensures that the espresso puck is saturated before pressure builds. By just wetting the coffee, you can bloom it, releasing the extra gases just before the final brew.
This results in more even extraction and ultimately better flavor, and ensures that you’re enjoying the most out of your espresso beans.
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Adjustable One-and-two-cup Options
Amazingly, this Barista Express allows you to program for either one or two espresso cups each brewing. One preset ‘cup’ is normally 30 milliliters or 1.5 ounces, but you can still adjust the liquid amount going into each shot to get your desired flavor exactly.
This feature is quite complicated and it takes you some practice to get it to your liking. Otherwise, you can just stick to pulling the standard single or double shot.
You can choose between a single or double shot by using the controls on the front of the machine.
The pressure gauge in this machine is not as attractive as those in other pricier models, but it is much more functional. It is the key of the brew’s stability. For instance, you can check the pressure to determine where your wanted flavor is, and how much crema is available on you shot.
This is more of an educational feature than anything else, since you are unable to adjust the pressure – but you can see how the pressure changes as the shot is pulled, and you can use this knowledge to improve your manual espresso pulling skills.
You will be able to adjust the pressure through other factors, though, like the fineness of the grounds and the pressure at which you have tamped them.
This is a great way to experiment and see what pressure range the machine is able to work at when the ground consistency has changed or you have tamped it looser or tighter.
Ideally, you want the pressure to stay as stable as possible throughout the extraction. This results in the most balanced and flavorful shot.
Spacious and Detachable Water Tank with Filter
Like most high end espresso machines, this machine comes with a large water reservoir, so you do not have to pour water for each espresso making time.
I sometimes want the tank to be side mounted, not rear mounted as it is really because we need to pull the machine away from the wall a bit when starting refilling.
However, this change can affect the machine’s look and may make it harder to use. In addition, with the reservoir’s capacity of up to 67 ounces of water, you do not have to refill water frequently. What about the filter? The integrated filter will help to take out impurities from water, ensuring you’re your final espresso will taste marvelous.
Stainless Steel Steam Wand
The steam wand is an integral part in an espresso machine. Without it, the machine will become incomplete, as you won’t be able to make lattes and cappuccinos without an external frother.
The Breville BES870XL Barista comes with a solid, 360-degree wand, allowing you to heat and texture fresh milk. With a little bit of practice, you can use it to form microfoam bubbles for you to exercise your creative side with a bit of latte art.
The steam wand is activated by a dial on the side of the machine.
Remember to wipe the steam wand clean after using it. This includes purging it with some steam to remove any milk residue from inside the pipes, as well as wiping down the outside to clear any residue from there.
Ease of Cleaning
The machine has a built in indicator light for cleaning which will tell you when you need to perform some regular maintenance on it. For best results, remember to clean every month and descale every 3 months. This will help extend the life of your machine.
The drip tray should be cleaned every few days, since you will experience quite a bit of drip from the end of the espresso shot.
- Fast and consistent brews
- Includes a burr grinder, which is a huge plus
- It is durable and sturdy due to made of high-quality material and solid structure
- It leaves no slip feet even when the burr grinder is on work, which avoids “walking” across the counter
- You can brew single or double shots by putting two cups side by side
- The drip tray gets full quickly
- The grind occasionally spray on the counter instead of all going into the portafilter
In conclusion, Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine is really a wise investment to those who are looking for solution for fine espresso at home, especially to beginner and intermediate baristas.
For beginners, it’s a great way to progress and learn about espresso from the basics to more advanced shot pulling.
For intermediate baristas, they’ll appreciate the level of control afforded by the machine to adjust brewing variables. The ability to see the pressure on the dial is real-time feedback of how your adjustments affect the brew.
- Dose control grinding: Integrated conical burr grinder grinds on demand to deliver the right amount of freshly ground coffee directly into the portafilter for your preferred taste with any roast of bean
- Precise espresso extraction: Digital temperature control (PID) delivers water at precisely the right temperature, ensuring optimal Espresso extraction
- Micro foam milk texturing: The steam wand performance allows you to hand texture micro foam milk that enhances flavor and enables creation of latte art
- Grind size dial: Simple and intuitive, giving you control over the grind size no matter what type of bean you're grinding
- Hands free operation: Innovative grinding cradle allows any at home Barista to grind directly into the espresso port filter
Frequently Asked Questions
Can this machine brew espresso and steam milk at once?
The answer is “no”. The unit has a single boiler and can perform one function at one time. But do not worry about this as the whole process doesn’t take you much time, it is just around 60 seconds to make beans into result espresso, and then another 15 to 30 seconds to steam milk, which depends on the number and the quality of the container you’re using for the steam process.
Is it necessary to remove the tamper when operating the machine?
You can still keep the tamper attached; however the result would be better if you removed it out of the storage spot, where it is kept in place with a magnet. Some users share that they still have tamper in place when running the machine, personally, I prefer to remove it and get a finer espresso puck.
How hot is the warming plate on top of the machine?
Actually, the warming plate is not severely hot. You just feel somehow warm when touching, so if you want, you can put some cups on the top for them to get warm before adding the drink made recently. If you prefer hot your cups to warm ones, add hot water into them and do the emptying few seconds before filling in your drink.
Can I make regular coffee with this machine?
This espresso machine isn’t supposed to brew regular drip coffee, however, you can still make fine Americano with it by brewing one shot or two of espresso, then pouring water from the dispenser. The final drink tastes like a good, strong cup of coffee.
Last update on 2020-07-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API