Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine Review (BES870xl): Is It Really The Best?

Breville Barista Express Review

In this Breville Barista Express review, we get straight to the point about this machine as our pick for the best value in a semi-automatic espresso machine. But why?

Well, if not just for the fact that it includes literally everything you need to make a great latte from built-in grinder to steam wand, it also comes at a great price!

In terms of value and functionality, the Breville Barista Express is the best on the market. It’s easy to understand pressure gauge and innovative grinding cradle make a quick learner out of any amateur barista.

Later we will take a deeper look at how each part of this Breville Espresso model makes your morning routine that much easier.

It’s low price makes every piece of it well worth spending the money on, and the Italian-made stainless steel body helps to complete the look of a quality machine.

Breville is a brand well-known for quality and this model is really no exception.

When you work with this espresso machine you can expect superior usability and reliability. We tested the Breville Barista Express and it is seriously one of the easiest semi-automatic espresso machines to use. Experience has been thrown off the list of qualifications for making a good espresso drink at home.

The Breville Barista Express is a worthy addition for any home even if it does take a minute to start up, but we’ll touch more on that part a bit later

Are you intrigued? Buckle up and welcome to our Breville Barista Express review, where we’ll unpack one of the best semi-automatic espresso machines on the market in its entirety.


Is the Breville Barista Express worth it?

In short, yes. The Breville BES870XL Barista Express is an espresso machine that is definitely worth what you pay for it.

Especially in a world where espresso machines can easily run you over a thousand dollars, the Breville Barista Express is a relatively cheap and high-quality machine.

The Breville Barista Express is not just an espresso machine, it’s a full-service café for the home. Macchiato? No problem.

Latte? Pfft! Child’s play! This machine can help you make anything you see on the menu at your local coffee shop since it has all the same parts!


Parts of the Barista Express espresso machine

The Barista Express is an all-in-one espresso machine. From the steam wand to the burr grinder, the only thing you need to bring is milk, water, and beans!

Steam wand

The Breville Barista Express has a steam wand to help you make the steamed milk for your drink.

The steam wand allows the user to texture the foam by hand which not only enhances the flavor but also enables the creation of latte foam art!

What more could you want from a steam wand outside of the ability to draw your cat’s face on your morning latte?

Burr grinder

Another great component of the Barista Express is the built-in grinder.

The integrated conical burr grinder has a grind size dial at the side of the machine allowing you to choose the coarseness of your grind size and truly maximize your freshly ground beans experience.

The Barista Express grinder deposits the desired grind amount directly into the portafilter, streamlining the process further.

The innovative grinding cradle allows you to grind directly into the portafilter. It’s easier to determine the grind amount when it goes indirectly, making this feature valuable for an absolute barista beginner.

Breville Barista Express Burr Grinder

Your freshly ground coffee will never go to waste again with this coffee grinder!

Drip tray

But if you do somehow manage to overfill your portafilter, fret not! There is a drip tray. Most espresso machines come with a drip tray so the Breville isn’t particularly special with including this, but it is an important piece.

Without this, the little spills of water and coffee throughout the process of making your espresso drink would be all over the kitchen counter instead of contained in the easily removable drip tray.

Even the most experienced barista can’t escape the need for this piece. This is especially helpful while you are learning each step in the espresso-making process.

Water tank

The Barista Express has a removable water tank with a capacity of 67 ounces.

With that kind of tank capacity, you could have espresso after espresso all day without needing to refill the tank!

The water tank is also very easily removed from the back of the machine for refilling and cleaning; there is even a handle to help make the process smoother.

Pressure gauge

Generating the right amount of pressure with hot water is essential to creating a good espresso shot.

The pressure gauge on the front of the machine allows you to monitor the pressure of the hot water going into the coffee grounds.

The face of the pressure gauge is easily understandable and has a graphic representation on it to show when the pressure is too low or too high.

This part of the machine will help you brew a quality shot every time no matter your experience level.

espresso

Portafilter basket

The Breville Barista Express comes with two types of filter baskets, single or double shot.

The filter basket can be packed with the tamper, also included with the Breville Barista Express. The comfortable handle makes the process of espresso extraction feel more high quality.

Depending on the type of coffee you want to make you can consider utilizing pre-infusion by presoaking your coffee grounds in the filter basket and thereby reducing the resistance of the water flow, attaining a more even distribution of water through the grounds and a smoother shot of espresso.

Bean hopper

The Barista Express has a bean hopper capacity of 1/2 a pound of coffee beans.

Keeping the airtight cap on the hopper will help to keep the beans as fresh as possible when the machine is not in use.

This may seem like an insignificant part of the whole machine but without one, you would have to feed the beans into the grinder as it is grinding.

This component makes the process more hands-free.

Group head

The one component of the espresso machine where all the magic happens is the group head.

This is the part of the machine where you insert the portafilter basket and let water filter through to make that great espresso.

Every machine will have a group head but Breville uses high-quality stainless steel for the group head, ensuring that you will have Italian quality espresso if you use the machine correctly.

espresso handle with coffee grinds

Design

The Breville brushed stainless steel design makes this more affordable machine look like a piece worthy of high-quality space.

The Breville BES870xl consists of Italian-made stainless steel parts to ensure that your espresso is made up to Italian standards.

The neutrality of stainless steel makes the Breville BES870xl able to blend in with any environment.

Whether you are purchasing your machine for the home, office, or your own small café, you can be sure that the aesthetics will mesh.

The bottom line, the design of the Breville Barista Express is that their machines give you everything you need while adhering to the space restrictions of the average home at an affordable price with a beautiful, clean look.

The Specs:

  • Dose control grinding
  • 1/2 lb hopper capacity
  • 67 ounces water tank capacity
  • Hands free operation grinding cradle
  • Grind size dial
  • Steam wand for milk foam texturing
  • Digital temperature control (PID) for espresso extraction

Features of the Breville BES870xl for a beginner

The features of the Breville BES870xl that help with the learning curve of becoming an excellent at-home barista are plentiful and surprisingly upscale considering how low the price of the machine is.

While you may be content making a basic, half-conscious, cup o’ joe in the morning, the features of this machine will help you to add a single or double, rich, and creamy espresso shot to your morning without breaking a sweat.

Semi automatic machine

As discussed previously, the Barista Express is a semi-automatic machine, meaning that a lot of the guesswork is taken out of brewing your espresso shot.

The only thing it doesn’t automatically regulate is how much water to push through the coffee grounds in the portafilter.

All in one

Becoming an at-home barista has never been so simple. The Breville Barista Express has everything you need to make a latte; from bean hopper to portafilter.

Filter size button

A really neat function of the Breville Barista Express is that there is a button that will automatically distribute the right amount of coffee grounds for your filter size.

So if you have chosen the double shot filter, just press the double filter size button to distribute the correct amount of grounds and streamline yet another step of the espresso process.

Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel

Digital temperature control (PID)

This lets water filter through at the exact right temperature to ensure optimal extraction and help you make the most of your coffee.

Brewing pressure gauge

We know we already mentioned this in the parts section, but it is also a feature. Many lower-cost machines completely eliminate a pressure gauge.

Without this it is very easy to push water through the portafilter under too high pressure, resulting in too bitter an espresso.

Heating system

The 1600-watt thermocoil system in the Barista Express allows for super fast start-ups, under a minute.

This is great for the morning when you sleep a little too long and have no time to waste on waiting for your machine to wake up too.

Hands free

Okay, it’s not a completely hands-free espresso machine, but it is hands-free for a step.

The Barista Express has a hands-free feature for depositing grounds into the portafilter. Just press the portafilter into the slot and the grounds will be deposited into the filter.


Price of BES870xl Barista Express

Buying a coffee maker is always going to be cheaper than buying an espresso machine.

But as far as price goes for espresso machines that do it all, the Barista Express is a great value. In addition to value, this sleek machine provides:

  • A burr grinder, which could easily run you $300 or more. Considering that this is one of the most important parts of your espresso journey, ensuring a good quality grind, the grinder included with the BES870xl is extremely high value.
  • Steam wand, a standalone steamer could cost you $100 or more. While steam wands are normally included with espresso machines, the Espresso machine, which can cost as much as a car or as little as a coffee pot depending on which one you want.
  • The quality of materials used in the production of this machine make the price well worth it. Instead of getting a cheap material, lower cost machine that would break after a few uses, it’s much better to get this model made with real stainless steel. Instead of getting a cheap material, lower cost machine that would break after a few uses, it’s much better to get this model made with real stainless steel.

Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel

Overall, the price of the BES870xl Barista Express is well worth the value for what you get.

There’s often promotions for this machine so it’s best to check what the latest price is first.

The included features and components really do add up separately and Breville has managed to include them all without breaking into the four-digit realm.


Pro and Cons

Now that you know all about all of the parts, features, price, and design of the Barista Express, let’s get into what the best and worst parts are about this machine.

Pros

  • Price- this is a tricky one to place in either list. For the type of machine it is, the price is great! But if you’re not looking for a mini version of what your local coffee shop is using, then the cost might be too high.
  • Quality of taste- This machine gives a great tasting espresso shot with very little knowledge of how to brew it!
  • Easy to set up- This unit is really simple to set up. The included instructions make the process really easy and not confusing unlike some other appliances.
  • Easy to use- The well designed interface makes the entire apparatus extremely easy to learn and use. With gauges for pressure, and the wonderful drip tray indicator everything is easy to remove and use.
  • Great steam wand- the excellent quality of the steam wand allows anyone to make a beautiful café quality latte in the comfort of their own home.

Cons

  • Price- Compared to other automatic units, the cost of this machine is much much higher. That being said, it delivers much higher quality espresso. So, the cost is relative to what you are looking for in a machine.
  • Long time to set up- While the ease of set-up is great, it does take a lot longer than other comparable automatic units.
  • Slow- If you are not dedicated to learning the are of barista and are more concerned about convenience then this model isn’t for you. It requires time and effort to make your espresso, not just the push of a button to make hot water.
  • Short term cleaning– If you’re the kind of person to keep up on cleaning a machine right after you use it then this isn’t an issue. The steam wand requires an immediate wipe down after use or it can build up a gunky layer very quickly. Not only that but the descaling process takes a long time. Other units have automated descaling but the BES870xl is more manual and requires you to pour vinegar through the whole machine then hot water to flush it out.

DeLonghi vs. Breville vs. Nespresso

While the Breville BES870xl is a great value it is important to point out that it isn’t a Nespresso machine like the Pixie.

You absolutely cannot use this machine to brew espresso with the Nespresso pods or any pod for that matter.

This unit requires real, unadulterated beans. If you are interested in finding a Nespresso compatible machine, check out our comparison here.

There has been a longstanding rivalry between DeLonghi and Breville. DeLonghi is an Italian company and Breville is Australian.

The fight over who has the best brand may never be finished, but overall DeLonghi usually has a better quality build than Breville but a higher price.

A comparable model from DeLonghi, the Magnifica, has many of the same features as the Barista Express.

DeLonghi vs. Breville vs. Nespresso

The bean hopper has only 1/4 pound capacity but the cleaning and descaling process is significantly faster and easier than the Barista Express.

The DeLonghi Magnifica is also about $100 more than the Barista Express, but the whole unit is much smaller lengthwise, giving you more counter space to work with.

Overall, the two machines stack up to each other pretty well, it really depends on what your preferences are personally.


Which Breville coffee machine is the best?

When it comes to Breville, the most sold option on Amazon is the Barista Express.

It shouldn’t be any surprise considering the affordable cost, convenient size, ease of use, and great style.

This machine will make a great addition to the home of any person looking to become an amateur barista or cut down on their trips to Starbucks.

The semi-automatic nature of the Barista Express makes it easy to learn how to use for any new barista.

With the easy-to-understand interface for pressure and grind amount/size, the simple steam wand, and the wonderful design features for cleaning, this could be a great addition to any kitchen counter.

If you are interested in knowing exactly how to use this machine, check out our tutorial on Youtube.


Conclusion

The Breville Barista Express BES870xl is hands down our top choice for the best home espresso machine.

It’s a great addition to any office space or home if you are looking to upgrade your espresso experience without taking out a home loan to do so.

The pricing alone makes this machine a worthy buy. When you consider all the parts that come with this appliance, you literally have 3 in 1 (grinder, steam wand, espresso machine) the value becomes glaringly apparent.

With such a cheap price it’s hard to believe that you can get such a reputable brand like Breville and the reliability that comes with all of their machines.

Breville doesn’t break down as quickly as other, cheaper brands. If you want your machine to start up every morning and reliably make you a great espresso, then this is the machine for you.

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