Breville is known for producing high-quality home appliances and their coffee machines are no different. Any of their espresso machine models are going to give you high functionality, durability and efficiency. It’s the differences in the features that separates them but knowing the differences can be confusing, especially as many coffee machines can look the same at first glance. This comparison of the Breville Barista Express and the Breville Oracle looks at what each espresso machine offers and why you may prefer one over the other.
Grinder, Portafilter, Tamper
The Barista Express (BES870XL) has a 250g lockable bean hopper that can easily be removed allowing you to swap out the coffee beans quickly and easily. The beans go into the integrated conical burr grinder and are ground to the set grind size. Grind settings are easy to adjust with the simple and intuitive dial that’s located on the side of the machine. The coffee grounds go into a 54mm portafilter which is slightly smaller than the standard commercial size.
The Oracle (BES980) has a larger bean hopper capacity with its 270g lockable hopper. This espresso machine automatically doses the amount of ground coffee so you don’t need to worry about that setting, it also automatically tamps it to ensure even tamping and caféquality coffee even if you’re a complete beginner. If you do know a bit about making espresso, you can tweak the tamp pressure allowing you to find and set the perfect tamp for your preferences. It also uses a 58mm stainless steel portafilter which is the professional standard.
Water Tank, Boiler, Pressure
The Barista Express Breville has a 2L water tank that is easy to access at the back of the machine. The water is filtered and a Thermo Coil heats up the water you need as you need it. It uses PID (precise temperature control) to ensure the temperature offers optimal espresso extraction. This espresso maker offers 15 bar pump pressure which is ideal for a great cup of coffee.
The Oracle has a larger water reservoir capacity of 2.5L. This uses a filter and can be filled from the front of the machine. The water tank is easy to access and it has a water level indicator at the front of the espresso maker so you can see exactly how much water is left.
For temperature control the Oracle uses a stainless steel dual boiler which means you can brew and steam at the same time. The dual boilers on this coffee maker makes it quick to brew multiple drinks. It also uses a heated group head-PID controlled element to keep the temperature stable and get maximum flavour from the beans by ensuring optimal extraction. The machine has a 25 second heat up time from when it is switched on and it offers 15 bar pump pressure.
The Breville Barista Express and the Oracle espresso machines both feature integrated steam wands.
The Barista Express features a traditional steam wand with a single-hole steam tip. It is able to create good microfoam but it is not very fast and lacks steaming power when compared to the Oracle. This may not be an issue when making a single drink but can become frustrating when milk texturing for multiple milk based coffees.
The Oracle offers automatic milk steaming as well as manual steaming. It is able to make microfoam for any drink. You can set the amount of foam you want as well as the steaming temperature, there is a thermostat located at the end of the steam wand that ensures the milk reaches the desired temperature. When setting the temperature, a smiley indicator on the LCD display lets you know when you are in the best temp zone for good milk steaming.
Once you’ve chosen your settings you can let the steaming wand work automatically or you can steam the milk manually if you want to. One of the other great features of the Oracle is that when the steam wand is put back into its original position after use it will automatically clean itself.
The Breville Barista Express comes with pressurized and standard baskets. The pressurized baskets are ideal for beginners as they let you start things off more basic (or use pre-ground coffee) and improve things as you go. Once you are confident with the settings and the technical side of making good coffee with the machine you can change to the standard baskets. The Oracle only offers standard baskets but the auto dosing and auto tamping helps you get great results from day one.
One Touch Long Black Option
The Breville Oracle has a One Touch Long Black function that brews a double espresso and then fills the cup with hot water from a separate spout. This makes a long black that can rival coffee shops available at the touch of a button.
Automatically Power On/Off
The Breville Oracle automatically turns on and off as per your time settings. It also has an auto shut off feature for energy efficiency.
The Barista Express features a pressure gauge on the front of the machine, this quickly lets you know if you are using the right grind or not for your espresso.
Barista Express vs Oracle Similarities:
- Drip tray – both of the machines offer a decent-sized drip tray that lets you know when it needs to be emptied.
- Pre-infusion – both offer auto preinfusion to gently expand grind for more even extraction and better espresso shots.
- Programmable shot volume
- Brushed stainless steel exterior
At the time of writing, the Breville Barista Express will cost around $725 while the Oracle will set you back around $2699.
This is a considerable price difference. The Barista Express is a great entry-level option and the Breville Oracle is packed full of amazing features and technology allowing you to create the best espresso drinks at home.
The Barista Express is smaller than the Oracle espresso machine, so it won’t take up as much space on your kitchen counter. The Oracle is larger but it comes with a roller bearing to make sure it is easy for you to move around and access the back of the machine without scratching your worktop. This feature makes the size of the Breville Oracle much more manageable although it will still take up a fair bit of space on the kitchen counter.
The Breville Oracle uses LCD displays to let you see and adjust the settings. This is easy to understand, simple to use and makes creating the coffee you love straightforward.
Making your Selection
The Breville Barista Express and Breville Oracle are both excellent espresso machines. The best espresso machine for you will depend on budget and what features you want.
If you are on a budget, you want to save space or you’re simply not worried about getting an espresso machine with all the bells and whistles then the Breville Express is going to be a great choice for you. It is particular well suited to beginners as it gives you the option of using pressurized baskets that let you make good coffee without a perfectly consistent grind.
If you are looking for an automatic espresso machine that can do it all then the Breville Oracle is worth considering. The Oracle uses impressive technology to give you the best shots of espresso and perfect micro foam milk with little input from you. This espresso machine will practically do everything for you, it has loads of features and uses LCD displays to ensure it remains intuitive to use. It’s certainly a hard espresso machine to top.
Also worth considering: Breville Oracle Touch
If you like the sound of the Oracle but are looking for a higher level of convenience and personalisation, consider the Oracle Touch.
The Oracle Touch is a sleek, smart coffee machine with a touchscreen display. It is easy to use and offers the ability to make your favourite coffees with the consistent, high quality often found only in coffee shops.
It features the same conical burr grinder, water resevoir, and dual boiler as the Oracle but adds the option of customising your drinks and saving your preferences for next time. All settings can be named to avoid confusion so next time you fancy a latte made exactly how you like it all you need to do is click on your saved setting and the machine will do the rest.