If you want to improve your barista skills and be more hands on with your machine you’ll most likely need a healthy budget that will include a grinder as well. But what if you just starting out and have limited funds? Breville has an espresso machine that may be right up your alley – one that has been voted the best new product of 2013 by the Specialty Coffee Association of America.
This Breville BES870XL Barista Express review will walk you through all the features so If you’ve got your eyes set on this particular machine, you should definitely keep reading. That’s sound advice for those just casually browsing, as well.
Features of the Breville BES870XL Barista Express Coffee Machine
The machine’s housing is made mostly of brushed steel, giving it an elegant look. Perhaps the thing to admire most about it is that all areas which come in contact with your drinks are Bisphenol A free. Good news for those that want to make sure that what they put in their bodies is safe and not harmful.
The boiler(thermocoil) in this model has been improved and heats better than the previous systems. On top of this, it has PID temperature control which means the brew water temperature is extremely accurate for consistent shots – a feature usually found in higher level machines.
A 3-way solenoid valve releases pressure and an excess of water at the end of every cycle so you get a nice and dry coffee puck, easy to knock out, like in the Breville 920XL.
The steam wand is mounted on 360 deg swivel joint making it easy to use with any milk pitcher and is a pro-style single hole – gives users more control of the type of froth created but takes more practice to master.
2. Ease of use
The Breville BES870XL Barista Express coffee maker comes with a quality manual which is very easy to understand and follow so you should have it figured out in no time.
Automatic dosing has been included for your perfect cup of coffee. And don’t worry, it’s adjustable. You can choose between a single or double shot. To do this, all you have to press is one button which tells the grinder to start grinding the amount of coffee you asked for, set up by using the knob, straight into the portafilter.
You can do manual dosing as well and this isn’t too complicated either. All you have to do is put the portafilter in the holder and then push and hold it until your cup is filled with the desired amount.
Excess steam is released into the dip tray after steaming milk which allows the boiler to cool down and be ready to brew in half a minute after steaming. Great for those that need to make more back to back milk based coffee drinks.
The large dip tray has separate compartments for excess grounds and liquids and a separate water spout is great for making tea or topping up an Americano.
3. Automatic brewing
This machine combines brewing and grinding with higher level features found in more expensive machines, giving you the best value for a lower price.
The grinder is actually incorporated into it so that means you get to save counter space! We’re talking about a very solid grinder made out of stainless steel. It’s a conical burr grinder which has 16 different grinding settings.
To brew, just press a button for a single or double shot (1 or 2 oz), and remember that you can reprogram manufacturer settings for different amounts of water making it more to liking.
Though not very big(holds 1/2lb of beans), the bean hopper is removable so you can empty and clean it more easily and change the beans quickly.
The pressure gauge will help you get the perfect shot of coffee by letting you know when the pressure of the brew head is right. It will help you dial in the right grind combination, coffee dose, and tamping pressure.
The preinfusion feature wets the coffee beans briefly to extract more flavor and the water temperature is also adjustable- 4℉ up and down.
All these features give you a lot of flexibility and ability to play with the setting and create a perfect espresso.
4. Cleaning and Maintenance
The usual case with these machines is that they’re rather hard to clean and you have to keep track of the cleaning schedule. This can result in machine breaking down and you end up frustrated and without coffee presumably for weeks.
This won’t be the case with the Breville BES870XL Barista Express coffee machine because it notifies you by itself when it needs to be cleaned. That’s one thing you don’t have to remember of doing and you can be sure it’s properly looked after. To clean it, all you have to do is use the included cleaning tablets.
What Else You Should Know About the Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine
- A passive cup warmer – for always keeping your cups ready
- 67oz water tank which can be filled at the machine or sink and be fitted with a water filter
- The 54mm portafilter is smaller than the standard 58mm one, but is made from stainless steel and comes with 4 baskets (2 pressurized and 2 unpressurised; both single and double)
- The magnetic tamper stored within the machine for compressing the coffee in unpressurized baskets
- A hidden compartment behind the dip tray- suitable for fitting all the necessary tools
It’s always best to know what other users have to say about something you want to buy.
When it comes to the Breville BES870XL Barista Express, out of 1159 users which took the time to write a review, 72% gave it five stars. 11% gave it 4 stars, 4% opted for 2 and 3 stars, and 9% only gave it one star.
- The built-in grinder
Great value, good quality grinder that made happy many of the users. Quiet and fast with very decent number of settings that gives a consistent grind
- The pressure gauge
Another favorite feature many of users mentioned. It will let you dial in the settings for ideal shot every time
- The steam wand
Many users said that it produces very nice foam and it gets easier to use with practice
According to our users, these are the minor cons the machine has
- The dip tray gets full quickly
Some users complained about being forced to empty the drip tray a lot. This it’s probably due to the steam being released to it after steaming milk and brewing.
- The coffee grounds may occasionally spill out of the portafilter
Several users mentioned that coffee pills out of the portafilter when grinding. The solution to that is simple. Just take the portafilter out of the holder and tap on the counter 2-3 times during the grinding process. This not only solves the spilling problem but also will distribute the grounds properly in the basket.
- Can get messy while in use, but easy to clean
As with all hands-on espresso machines, things can get a bit messy. If it’s not for you, consider super automatic machine
Having read this Breville BES870XL Barista Express review you’re now more capable of making a sound decision about your coffee maker.
Overall this is a great choice for someone who is just starting with semi-automatic espresso machines. With incorporated burr grinder and loaded with a lot of features found in higher level machines like PID and 3-way solenoid valve, it is a great value for money. With many positive 5 stars reviews, I’m sure you’ll be happy with this one. As for cons. Frankly, with semi-automatic machines, you’d get your hands dirty. It is a hands-on machine after all.