Breville Barista Express Review (BES870)

We use affiliate links and may receive a commission on purchases. Read more here.

The Barista Express is often featured on lists of the best home coffee machines and is one of Breville’s most popular espresso makers. With an integrated grinder, the Barista Express has covered two vital components in one piece of equipment.

But does it live up to the hype? Or are you better off buying a separate espresso machine and grinder or one of Breville’s newer all-in-one machines?

In this review, we put Breville’s entry-level all-in-one semi-automatic coffee machine under the microscope to help you decide if its the right option for you.

Who is the Barista Express for?

The Breville Barista Express aims to cover almost everything one needs to recreate a coffee shop experience at home and make great espresso-based drinks in one tidy unit.

This is a perfect first machine for consumers wanting to learn about making espresso.

The brushed stainless steel machine’s design helps to keep everything neatly packed away and in its place, creating a compact, dedicated espresso space with a repeatable workflow and ease of use.

It also has a number of features that contribute to consistent and high quality espresso extraction, such as Pre-Infusion and PID Temperature Control.

The Barista Express eliminates the need for a separate coffee grinder, which saves valuable kitchen counter space. Another positive is buyers won’t need to spend time deliberating on which grinder to invest in.

Having an integrated coffee grinder comes with a slight learning curve, but will be helpful for a lot of users.

The Breville Barista Express may not suit coffee lovers looking for a suitable burr grinder to use with brew methods other than espresso (e.g. pour-over), but if it is just espresso you’re looking for, this coffee machine is perfect for those just beginning their espresso journey.

Sitting at around the same price range as the Gaggia Classic, the Breville Barista Express can save customers money by being an all-in-one espresso setup, as a quality burr grinder can be a big additional expense when buying a good semi-automatic espresso machine.

Getting started with the Barista Express

The Breville Barista Express is a stainless steel home espresso machine aimed at minimising the workflow when making great tasting espresso-based drinks.

After filling the 2-litre capacity water tank, and bean hopper with up to around 230grams of coffee beans, you just need to turn on the machine and wait for it to reach the ideal internal hot water temperature.

Users then choose the grind setting and amount of coffee before placing the portafilter into its cradle, ready to fill the filter basket with fresh coffee grounds.

Tamp down with the neatly stored tamper, place into the group head and press either the single or double shot button to start extracting your coffee. 

The two single or double buttons can be programmed to your specific needs, or you can use the machine in manual mode which simply opens and closes the valve for as long as you want to.

Milk steaming on this machine is very good. The steam wand can be moved around 360 degrees which allows users to find the perfect angle for milk frothing.

Important Features

The Barista Express includes a wide range of features designed to make the espresso brewing process easier, more consistent, and less prone to common problems such as over/under extraction and channeling.

Thermocoil Heating System

Thermocoil heating systems are found to be a more modern and efficient way of heating water in an espresso machine (compared to traditional boiler systems).

Even though the Thermocoil is not as fast to heat up as Breville’s Thermojet machines, it will only take a couple of minutes to reach the right temperature.

Integrated Conical Burr Grinder

Conical burr grinders are seen by many as the best way to grind coffee beans for espresso

The integrated burr grinder on the Barista Express has multiple grind settings allowing users to find the right grind size. Further grind sizes are available if needed by easily adjusting the burrs internally.

Breville has placed a portafilter cradle directly under the grinder which once over the learning curve, allows users to take advantage of its automatic dosing function, creating a more hands-off workflow.

Espresso Pressure Gauge

The espresso pressure gauge helps users to identify when the machine’s internal hot water tank is at optimal temperature and at the right pressure to extract espresso or steam milk.

Digital PID Temperature Control

The PID temperature control is found on most of Breville’s espresso machine range.

Accurate temperature control helps to deliver consistent results in brewing a great-tasting espresso shot.

Pre-Infusion

Pre-infusion is a feature found on a lot of commercial espresso machines. Infusing the ground coffee with low-pressure hot water lets the bed of coffee settle into the coffee basket before full pressure is activated.

This can help lower the chances of channelling and under extraction, which can both spoil a cup of coffee.

Auto Purge

Breville’s auto-purge feature allows the machine to flush the machine with cooler water in order to bring the temperature down after using the steam wand to froth milk.

Programmable Shot Temp

Being able to adjust the temperature when extracting espresso means that coffee lovers can get the most out of their beans no matter what style of roast they enjoy most.

Lighter roasting styles are found to taste better when using higher temperatures whereas darker roasts taste best when using lower temperatures.

What do users say about the Barista Express?

With a built-in burr grinder, the Breville Barista Express is an easy go-to for someone looking to delve straight into espresso extraction, right out of the box. This machine receives praise for its value-for money, range of helpful features, and reliability.

Positives

This machine is very popular with Breville customers and offers ‘out of the box’ access to great espresso. Many users have found the Barista Express to be the all in one answer to their home espresso needs and are able to brew fantastic coffee, over and over again.

Compared to other machines in this price range, the inclusion of a grinder is a big plus for many users. Also, the various features designed to provide consistency and remove problems in the espresso extraction process, mean the learning curve can be smaller than with commercial style machines.

Negatives

All-in-one espresso machines come with a few potential issues. If your grinder is playing up and you want to tinker with it, this will be much more difficult if it’s located within your espresso machine. Likewise, having to send back a machine to the retailer for repair means that the customer loses their grinder and espresso machine at the same time.

Is Breville the Barista Express right for you?

The Barista Express as an excellent espresso machine for users looking to learn the ropes. While it represents great value for money, it is no longer new on the market and it does lack some of the features found on the newer Breville coffee machines.

Pros:

  • With an integrated grinder, the Barista Express is a great all-in-one coffee maker that makes workflow very easy for the user.
  • Because of the various features on the machine, even beginners can make great espresso drinks.
  • The machine comes in at half the price as one of Breville’s high-end machines, like the Dual Boiler and represents great value for money compared to the alternatives.
  • The built-in water filter allows you to fill the water tank with tap water, without having to worry about mineral build-up inside the machine itself.

Cons:

  • Users may want to upgrade their grinder for one with more precise settings, which would make this machines unique selling point obsolete.
  • The more working parts on a machine means that there are more things that can go wrong. If either side of the coffee maker breaks down, sending the machine away for repair will see you without a grinder or an espresso machine. 

Alternatives to the Barista Express

Breville Barista Pro

If you can afford the upgrade or will be brewing more than one cup at a time, we recommend the Barista Pro.

The Thermojet heating system delivers a faster warm-up time and a quicker transition from steaming to brewing. This means you can brew more coffees in a shorter amount of time than with the Barista Express.

Reasons to choose the Barista Pro over the Barista Express:

  • Smaller steps in between grind settings allowing for finer tuning of grind size.
  • Thermojet means a faster warm-up time and quicker transition from steaming to brewing. This is especially important if you intend to make more than one coffee at a time.
  • Steam pressure is better so milk texturing is quicker.
  • Digital display provides real-time access to important grinding, extraction and cleaning information. The display also makes setting up your machine and dialling in the perfect espresso much easier.

RELATED:

Sunbeam Cafe Series

The Sunbeam espresso machine range is one of Breville’s biggest competitors in Australia for home coffee machines.

The Sunbeam Cafe Series is a well designed, modern-looking entry-level espresso machine with PID temperature control.

Reasons you may want to choose the Sunbeam Cafe Series:

  • It houses dual boilers at a very competitive price. Breville’s most affordable dual boiler machine costs several hundred more dollars than the Sunbeam Cafe Series.
  • The full-sized 58mm portafilter is a desirable feature for a lot of coffee enthusiasts. As a 58mm machine, it could be compared to the Gaggia Classic, which sits in a similar price range.
  • It has a built-in milk temperature gauge to help users achieve their desired milk temperature without having to rely on additional thermometers or going by touch.
  • Paired with an adequate grinder, the Cafe Series will come in at around the same price as the Breville machine, with the option of gradually upgrading either the machine or the grinder over time.

RELATED: Sunbeam EM7000 Cafe Series Review

DeLonghi La Specialista

The DeLonghi La Specialista is a semi automatic coffee machine with some advanced capabilities that minimise the steps and effort a user needs to put in to produce a good cup of coffee.

Reasons you may want to choose the DeLonghi La Specialista:

  • The machine is capable of close to fully automatic drink preparation, meaning that the user allows the machine to carry out most of the hard work.
  • Automatic tamping capabilities helps to achieve a consistent pressure applied to the coffee grounds, eliminating the possibility of human error .
  • From Flat White to Cappuccino, the customisable auto milk steaming options let users choose the style of milk they want to have with their freshly brewed coffee.
  • No heat up wait time allows users to simply turn on the machine and start making coffee.

Comparison Table

Use the table below to compare the Barista Express to the machines either side of it in Breville’s line-up.

the Barista Touchthe Barista Prothe Barista Expressthe Infuser
Link to Instruction bookBES880BES878BES870BES840
RRP$1,699$1,299$999$799
Check PriceThe Good GuysThe Good GuysThe Good GuysThe Good Guys
BoilersSingleSingleSingleSingle
Heating SystemDual ThermoJetThermojetThermocoilThermocoil
Power1680 Watts1680 Watts1850 Watts1650 Watts
Dimensions32 x 41 x 32 cm (WxDxH)35 x 41 x 41 cm (WxDxH)33.8 x 31.3 x 40.7 cm (WxDxH)25.7 x 31.2 x 33.4 cm (WxDxH)
Espresso Pressure GaugeNoNoYesYes
Water Tank Size2L2L2L1.8L
Integrated GrinderYesYesYesNo
Colour Touch ScreenYesNoNoNo
Rapid Heat UpYesYesNoNo
Shot ClockNoYesNoNo
Auto Milk TexturingYesNoNoNo
Saved Coffee Settings8222

Conclusion

As an all in one semi-automatic espresso machine and burr grinder combo, the Barista Express offers a lot at a very competitive price.

As a first foray into the world of espresso, this is an excellent option.

The built-in grinder saves money and hassle, while the way the machine itself is designed to save space in your kitchen and has all of the tools needed to create delicious espresso-based drinks.

Barista Express FAQ

Is the Breville Barista Express worth it?

If you are looking for a good quality, midrange all in one coffee grinder and espresso machine, the Breville Barista Express is one of the best options on the market.

Is the Barista Pro better than the Express?

The Barista Pro is a more workflow friendly version of the Barista Express. Both machines are excellent entry-level, 54mm portafilter espresso makers that offer an all in one coffee experience.
The Barista Pro is quicker to heat and requires close to no downtime in between making drinks, however it does come with a higher price tag.

Can you use ground coffee in Barista Express?

Yes, you can use coffee ground with a different grinder if needed, although freshly ground beans are recommended for a closer to coffee shop level of quality.
The Barista Express is an all in one semi-automatic espresso machine. This means that the coffee grinder and the espresso machine work as two separate machines housed together in the same unit.

How long does Breville Barista Express last?

With regular maintenance and care, there is no reason that the Barista Express won’t last for 5 years or more. Breville is one of the best names for entry-level semi-automatic espresso equipment and can help if anything goes wrong with your machine.

How do I clean my Barista Express?

  • Clean out the drip tray, portafilter and milk jug after every use and wipe down the machine.
  • Regularly brush out the grinders’ burrs. These are easily removed within the machine’s bean hopper.
  • Wipe down and backflush the espresso machine with hot water after most brews. Breville includes cleaner tablets that should be flushed through the espresso machine once every few weeks to break down any built-up oils from the coffee grounds.
  • If using the steam wand regularly, make sure to soak the tip in hot water once in a while to get rid of any milk build up inside the steam wand.
  • Review Summary

    Barista Express Review

    The Breville Barista Express aims to cover almost everything one needs to recreate a coffee shop experience at home and make great espresso-based drinks in one tidy unit.

    Product SKU: BES870

    Product Brand: Breville

    Product Currency: AUD

    Product Price: $999

    Product In-Stock: InStock

    Editor's Rating:
    3.91