Here it is, we finally reached the top of the Breville espresso totem pole. This is the Oracle.
When you check out the price of this machine, you might be a little shocked. What added features justify the significantly higher price over the already stellar dual boiler we looked at earlier, and more importantly, are these features worth it?
|Grinding||Hardened steel conical burrs|
|Timer||shot clock displays shot duration as a guide to extraction consistency.|
|Pre Infusion||Gradually increases water pressure to gently expand grinds for an even extraction.|
|Over Pressure Valve||Limits the 15 bar Italian pump pressure throughout the extraction.|
|Heat System||Dedicated steam boiler with integrated Heat Exchange aids thermal stability.|
|Display||LCD display to control how much espresso ends up in your cup.|
|Microfoam||Automatically textures milk and delivers barista-quality microfoam.|
|Extraction||Overpressure valve limits the maximum pump pressure throughout extraction.|
|Water Pressure||Dual boilers and heated group head controlled by digital temperature control (PID)|
This machine is big and not just in width but the height as well. The oracle takes the already slightly exaggerated height of the dual boiler and adds in an integrated grinder perched on top.
However, other than being visually large, this will not pose any functional problems at the top of the grinder is just barely under the standard 18-inch opening height for overhead cabinets.
The left displays the grind settings while the right allows you to select the milk texture and temperature while the middle handles all other settings and information display.
The drip tray follows the other Breville machines by pulling straight out to reveal a hidden pool bin. I think it is the single greatest feature of an espresso machine design, Breville integrated caster system.
The rear of the machine has the same clever power cord shortener as found on the dual boiler and access to the water reservoir.
Now you may be thinking, “that’s an inconvenient location for a water reservoir.” But luckily, the Oracle also includes a convenient front filling port which makes it much easier to fill than the smaller Breville models.
So what makes the Oracle so special, and who exactly do I think should seriously consider buying it?
The oracle takes the already great and highly programmable brewing performance from the dual boiler, takes away the opportunity for user error, and effectively eliminates the espresso learning curve.
It does this by handling the…
- And milk texturing
This means your only job is to move the portafilter from the dosing cradle to the group head, select a shot size and hit go on the steam wand.
Starting with an already warm portafilter, we immediately lock it into the dosing grinding cradle and twist to the right to start the grinding and tamping process.
Then get started on a milk by pressing down on the steaming lever to engage the automatic mode, which will reach the texture and temperature you’ve preset using that right-hand screen.
Now you might be thinking that the milk is going to be ready well ahead of our espresso. Still, this machine takes around 50 seconds to reach a standard 65-degree temperature which for a dual boiler is quite honestly quite bad, but seeing as it’s automatic, we can just let it run.
And now that the grinding is finished, you can see that we have a perfectly tamp puck, which we can immediately screw into the group head and press the double shot button.
Now we can walk away from the machine knowing that the milk will stop at our desired temperature and texture, and the shot will run based on how we program it in the settings with a pre-programmed pre-infusion and dose and shot time.
Throughout the week I’ve been using this machine, the part that struck me most was the amount of free time that I have during the brewing process where I can walk away from the machine and do other tasks in my kitchen while the Oracle is brewing my coffee.
This is very different from any other espresso machine, where you normally have to be holding the milk while it steams and watching for a correct dose on the espresso.
Breville then takes it a step further by automating a process that I don’t even think needs to be automated. You’ll see that after you wipe off the steam wand and push it back in, it will automatically purge.
Now I’m going to go ahead and guess that Breville has done this because I think that some users of a machine like this won’t know that they need to purge after every single steaming session, so they’ve chosen to do it for you.
Finally, despite my relatively amateur latte art skills, the milk is textured very, very well for a latte.
When I bought this machine to review, I had some big hesitations with the automated tamping because I was already familiar with how clumpy and uneven the integrated Breville grinders can be.
If you were to tamp this portafilter without distributing immediately, you’re going to have some horrendously uneven flow and sour-tasting espresso.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the tamping on the auricle is accomplished using two rotating distribution blades and not a flat tamper.
The tamping pressure and duration are also adjustable, but so far, I’ve left it on the default setting of 5 & 4 seconds, and the performance of this tamping system has surprised me.
I’ve been using this machine for just over a week and have only once got a shot that exhibited any form of channeling. In all other cases, the extraction has been very consistent from shot to shot.
I was cynical, and I’ll admit that I was proven wrong by the great-tasting and highly repeatable shots I was able to produce.
Like the dual boiler, the Oracle also offers you a huge range of adjustments to the critical brewing parameters, like brew temperature pre-infusion time and shot volume.
But I feel that most users that this machine appeals to won’t even dive into many of these great options.
Automated Milk Steaming
I’m not sure why I expected that to be little flexibility in the steam settings. Still, again I was pleasantly surprised that I could create anywhere from large cappuccino foam to the elusive wet paint texture required for latte art. All at the push of a button and any temperature from 45 to 75 degrees Celsius.
Quickly running through the base menu, we start with a single and double shot volume adjustment.
Pressing the select button while the single or double shot is displayed will immediately start a programming extraction for the corresponding size.
Once you have achieved the desired time or volume, press the select button again to stop the extraction and save the setting.
I’ll show you how to switch between time-based and volumetric-based extraction once we reach the advanced menu.
The next setting is shot temperature, which doesn’t require an explanation or the next few items.
This starts the cleaning cycle, allowing you to set the time and auto power on or auto power-off times.
Tamping duration and the pressure can be set using the next option. To select values anywhere between 2 to 10 seconds and force on a scale of 1 through 9.
I recommend leaving these on the default values unless you are really struggling with getting a good extraction.
Next up, you can set the pre-infusion pressure and duration. I’ve had great results by using a long and low-pressure pre-infusion.
With the pressure at the lowest setting, I lock in my dialed-in puck and then see how long it takes for the first drips to exit the spouts when holding the pre-infusion manually, and that is the value that I use for my pre-infusion time.
The final item on this menu allows you to select from a list of pre-programmed long black settings. If no cup icon is present, it means that the preset has not been programmed.
To program, hit the select button, and espresso will start to extract. Once you have the desired volume of espresso, hit the select button again, and hot water will start to flow.
Once you have enough water, press the select button one more time to save the preset.
Next, we’ll take a look at the advanced menu. To enter the advanced menu, start with the machine turned off.
Press the single shot button and the power button and hold both for three seconds until the menu appears.
The first option in the advanced menu allows you to reset the machine to its factory defaults, which are these settings.
- Shot Temp: 93 C
- Low-Pressure Pre-infusion: PP60, PT07 sec
- Milk Temp: 60 C
- Auto Start@ Off (8.00 AM)
- Clock: (12.00 AM)
- 1 Cup Button Shot Duration: 25 Seconds
- 2 Cup Button Shot Duration: 30 Seconds
The second option will allow you to access the advanced descaling mode. Finally, the next option allows you to switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit temperature units.
LCD will allow you to change the brightness of the LCD screen. Similarly, the spot setting allows you to change the brightness of the drip tray and work area spotlights.
Next, you have the option to adjust your steam temperature, which will impact how long it takes for your milk to warm up.
Also, with steaming performance, the error setting allows you to choose the temperature and time at which air introduction begins during the automatic steaming. No real reason to fiddle around with this in my eyes.
SND will adjust the volume of the machine beeps between off, low and high. The next option has to do with a little-known feature on the oracle, the cooling fan.
This barely audible fan is used to cool the area around the bean hopper and grinder to avoid warming up your stored coffee beans when the machine is running.
It can be adjusted to silent standard or cool, which is essentially just off, on, or high; it’s a good feature to leave on.
The CLN setting allows you to disable the clean me alert, but you’ll still need to remember to run the cycle for the health of your machine.
The clock setting allows you to switch between a 12 and 24-hour time display, and finally, the volume setting allows you to switch between time-based extraction and volumetric-based extraction.
Whether you select time or volumetric the programming mode shown on the main menu will accommodate for whichever setting you choose.
And that’s it; those are all the settings and fine adjustments you can make to your Breville Oracle espresso machine.
|Breville Oracle Espresso||Specifications|
|Size (WxDxH) in inc||12.7 x 15.5 x 16|
|Water Capacity||2.5 Liters|
|Warranty||2 Year Repair Warranty|
|Bean Hopper Capacity||84 oz|
|Construction Materials||Brushed Stainless Steel Exterior|
|Max. Pump Pressure||15bar|
Who Is This Machine For?
The beauty of this system, in my eyes, can be targeted at two groups of people. The first group is those that entertain or have guests over often.
This is because you can make about one latte a minute on the Oracle and not even need to be attending to the machine the whole time.
Leaving you free to socialize, prepare food, or bring the drink that you just made to the guest that it’s for. No more standing at the espresso machine for 30 minutes making everyone drink.
If your guests stay for longer, you could teach them how to use it even more conveniently. Many existing espresso machine owners will recognize an option is not feasible on a more traditional machine.
There is quite literally no way to mess up a coffee when using the Oracles automated modes. Oracle will automatically dispense water to suit the small, medium, or large cups, whether they want a latte or an Americano. You don’t even need to move the cup after brewing.
The second group of people that I believe this machine will appeal to are those that want the best coffee possible at home without needing to learn how to distribute, tamp properly, struggle with dialing in, or properly texture the milk.
They want a push-button solution, but they don’t want to sacrifice quality, and from my experience during my first week with the Oracle, this has been true.
Which One Is For Me?
For the last seven days, I have had two machines in my kitchen, the apartamento and the Oracle. Each morning when I woke up in a rush, I would, without fail, opt for the Oracle over the apartamento.
This was because the machine was already warmed up thanks to the schedule when it turned on. So I didn’t need to worry about all the fussy weighing, distributing, tamping, purging, and backflushing associated with the rocket.
I continued making my breakfast as the Oracle did his job. However, in the afternoon, when I got home from work, the decision was different. I wanted to take my time with the more involved in the traditional brewing process on the rocket, practice my latte art, or even experiment with a new coffee.
Even though I’m a big coffee enthusiast in wanting convenience and speed, I happily chose the Oracle. However, I struggled to find a drop in quality over the shots I was getting on the Apartamento.
Breville claims this machine is the final compromise ending machine for espresso lovers because you can use the automated modes or do everything manually. Unfortunately, with this statement, I’m going to have to disagree.
I’ve already fully admitted that I was pleasantly surprised by the automated tamping and steaming, but this is not a machine that would give you any added joy or coffee quality from you manually.
You still can’t grind and tamp yourself without buying a completely separate grinder. The manual shot pulling is identical to all other Breville machines and needs to be hard-pressed to create better-textured milk yourself, not that you’d want to try while using the awkward and stubby Panarello style wand.
Play to this machine’s strengths and take advantage of the automated features; otherwise, you might as well go with the dual boiler and use the money you saved on a better quality grinder.
And I think that right there is a slight sticking point for the Oracle. for the same money depending on where you live, you could buy a dual boiler and a Niche Zero coffee grinder for approximately the same price and make better quality espresso.
So the decision comes down to what you are looking for. If you do want that extra 10% of espresso quality, there are certainly some other machine and grinder combos you should be looking at.
However, if you want to get the quickest, most fuss-free espresso experience at home while still having a 58-millimeter commercial portafilter, dual boilers, and still very, very good quality, definitely look at the Oracle.
I never thought I’d even consider keeping this machine when I first bought it, but the convenience is tough to ignore. And when you consider that’s a 58-millimeter dual boiler, PID controlled espresso machine with adjustable pre-infusion, a built-in grinder, and a built-in puck press; the price starts to look a little less crazy.
Where To Buy
As always we would recommend Amazone for the best price and customer service in case you have any issues, which you won’t. It has a star rating of 4.2 out of 5 on Amazon so a popular espresso machine for those who want to just turn it on and get great coffee every time.