I want to talk about Espresso machines, specifically the entry-level Espresso machines, the Breville Barista Express.
This coffee machine comes in around $700. Hold on; I hear you saying, “that’s not entry-level, that’s pretty expensive,” but honestly, within the Espresso machine community, it’s definitely in that entry-level range.
We’re going to talk more about other options and what this machine can do. First, I’m going to give you some pros and cons, and then I’m going to tell you about how to brew better coffee, together with some tips and tricks.
This machine was the first Espresso machine I ever owned. To be quite honest with you, it’s near and dear to my heart.
If you’re reading this article and you own a Barista Express, there’s something about this machine that is special.
Is it the best machine since sliced bread? Unfortunately, no, but this machine has something about it; it’s just a characteristic about this machine that makes me smile.
I want to talk about this machine now. This machine is great if you’re reading this article and you don’t own an Espresso machine yet, and it’s the holiday season right now; this is a popular gift at this time of year.
This might be my highest recommendation for an entry-level Espresso machine; let me explain why.
1. This machine is easy to use, which isn’t the case with many other Espresso machines.
2. Not only that, it does have a built-in grinder with 40-millimeter burrs calibrated for entry-level Espresso. is this going to be the best grinder since sliced bread?
No, but this will get you into Espresso caliber grinds. But, unfortunately, something like a Baratza Encore can’t.
3. It has a single boiler design, but it’s not a true single boiler; this is a thermal coil machine.
What does that mean? Simply, this machine doesn’t have a kettle, a boiler to heat up the water. Instead, it has a block that water runs through that heats up on the fly.
Ultimately what that means for you is this machine can heat up in a matter of seconds and brew Espresso on-demand, and for the average consumer, that’s desirable.
That being said, this is a great package. So if you want to gift somebody an Espresso machine, or you want to receive an Espresso machine and don’t want to have to invest too much into a grinder and a machine, this machine is awesome for that.
1. What I don’t love about this machine is that it has a 54-millimeter portafilter. And this is the most unfortunate part for me because I’ve been talking to friends who still use this machine, people who are very into coffee, and this portafilter is what separates this machine from being good to great.
If this had a commercial size portafilter, more people would be satisfied with purchasing this machine and not upgrading.
The portafilter is a 54 millimeter portafilter. Not many other Espresso machines use this size of the portafilter, and that’s unfortunate because what that means is accessories tampers and, quite honestly, brew recipes don’t work the same with this machine.
Now that being said, since I have purchased my Breville Barista Express, some awesome companies have been building some great accessories. It’s just unfortunate that that wasn’t a bigger portal filter.
That was one of the biggest reasons I left this machine and upgraded to a commercial machine.
Now, this is an appliance-level machine. Of course, at $700, it’s still a lot of money, but it still is an entry-level appliance machine.
2. It uses cheap plastics coated with stainless steel externals. It’s not the most heavy-duty machine ever built, but this is a great option if you’re getting into Espresso.
It was the machine that got me into Espresso. So I think if you’re in the market to buy an entry-level Espresso machine, this might be the best option for you.
It can do other things like steam milk; it can do things like brew grade Espresso, it’s got volumetric buttons that you can program it comes with the portafilter it’s got both pressurized non-pressurized baskets and a drip tray that lets you know when it’s full.
It’s got a removable water tank, which I find very handy as a pressure gauge to let you know if your coffee is dialed in. All in all, this is a great machine for the price level.
What Other Machines Would This Compare Against?
I think this is a great machine to compare against something like the G
Gaggia Classic. The Gaggia Classic is a machine with a 58-millimeter portafilter, a machine with commercial-grade parts. But the thing that separates the Gaggia from this Breville is its ease of use and convenience
The Breville Barista Express is the most convenient Espresso machine to use on the market, period. And I am picky about my Espresso.
There are moments where I can hit a button and have an Espresso within seconds but is that the thing you should do? Well, we’re going to talk more about that in tips and tricks.
The Gaggia Classic has a 58-millimeter portafilter, but it does not have a built-in grinder. If you want to go one step above the Barista Express and have good Espresso at home, something that you can have for years to come and dial-in in the long term, I would highly recommend checking out the Gaggia Classic.
The other option is if you already have a great grinder, or you want a better grinder than the one built into the Barista Express, then look at the Breville Infuser. That machine is the same as this one without a grinder built-in.
You can save about $100 to $150 and put that money towards a really good Espresso grinder. But I want to save that because I want to get some tips and tricks to help you dial in this machine.
Tips And Tricks
Number one for the Breville Barista express is to let it get hot. This machine can turn on and be ready within seconds, but that’s not what you should do. I think you should wait at least 20 minutes before using this machine.
With the portafilter locked in to be able to get warm. You might ask, “why would you want to do that?”. It’s simple. Because this machine, after a few seconds, isn’t fully warm.
If you want the best Espresso possible with your Breville Barista Express, let it warm up. I promise you it will make a big difference with your Espresso. Let it warm up. Let it get hot 20 minutes is the bare minimum.
Suppose you want to get up and have Espresso ready in the morning; I suggest two things. Either turn this on the first thing in the morning and then do some other stuff and come back later or put a smart switch on this device. Let this machine get hot, it will be so much better, and your coffee will thank you.
When the Espresso machine isn’t fully warmed up, when the portafilter isn’t fully warmed up, it will be chilled when water comes in contact with it. Ultimately under extracting your coffee and leaving a sour flavor.
If you have sour coffee and you’re wondering how to fix that if you’re not letting your machine warm-up, that would be my first suggestion to you.
Dial-in your shot every single time. I have a full-on article on tips and tricks for dialing in Espresso here.
Tip number three is to use a non-pressurized basket. Breville supplies you with four baskets with this machine, two single shots and two double shots. It would help if you always were using the double shot; use the non-pressurized basket.
The non-pressurized basket has more holes on the bottom. Ultimately what this is doing is it’s not giving you fake crema. It’s allowing the pressure in the puck to build up from the ground coffee, not from the lack of restriction within the basket itself. So always use a non-pressurized basket; this will help you get better results with your coffee.
Number four is to use good water. I was talking to some people the other day about how much water changes your coffee. It can be night and day difference if you use good water.
If you’re using tap water, use something like a Brita or a filtration system like the peak water filter to give you the best tasting water. But if you want to dial in coffee even more and get the best flavors possible, I would highly recommend using proper water for coffee.
I have a recipe it’ll take you five to ten minutes to make, and it will give you tons of coffee water, and it costs you just a few cents with some household ingredients.
But if you want to buy a product to make it easier for you, my biggest recommendation would be a product like third wave water.
Third-wave water makes mineral supplements that you can add to distilled water to create the perfect mixture of coffee water. Not only that, they have minerals within the coffee water to help protect your Espresso machine.
Number five, and this one’s so simple, but you need to have good coffee. Your machine will only produce as good of a shot as the coffee you put in it.
So my first recommendation would be to buy fresh coffee. I think the best results for your machine are from a local roaster who is roasting fresh often.
Fresh coffee will make all the difference in helping you brew better coffee on the Breville Barista Express.
Last but not least is keeping this machine clean. You need to keep this machine clean weekly, and I would highly recommend backflushing this once a month.
Clean out your grinder if you’ve never done that. Grab a vacuum cleaner, take off the hopper and suck out all those old grounds. That right there will make all the difference in helping you make better coffee on the Barista Express. Tip #
This one might sound pretentious, but I promise you it’s not. It is to upgrade your grinder for this machine. If you want to brew the best coffee possible on the Barista Express, this grinder will get you started, but it will not give you the best results possible.
Now you might be saying that doesn’t make any sense. It’s built into the machine; well, here’s the deal. This machine has a great capability of making good Espresso, but this grinder does not.
With coffee and Espresso, the grinder is the most important piece of technology you can invest in. a grinder makes all the difference.
With my machine, at home, I use a thousand-dollar grinder because it makes all the difference. It would be better to use my Niche Zero and the Breville Barista Express than to use this grinder with my little Bianca. So it’s that important to invest in a good grinder.