Breville the Oracle Review (BES980)

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Breville’s home espresso machine catalogue has something for almost every level of user, from small semi-automatic coffee machines with minimal features through to espresso makers offering a fully automated workflow.

Choosing what style works best for you is one of the biggest challenges when selecting an espresso machine for your home. 

In this review, we shine the light on one of Breville’s most premium espresso machines, the Oracle. We discuss who this espresso maker would be suitable for, and compare it to some of its main competitors.

Who is the Breville Oracle for?

The Breville Oracle is for coffee lovers looking to enjoy coffee at home as they would if a professional barista was making it.

This stainless steel machine would be great for someone wanting the quality offered by a high-end coffee machine but without the desire to learn to craft the whole coffee from scratch.

When looking for a coffee maker in this price range, most of your options will be commercial-style machines that require additional equipment and knowledge, or fully automatic espresso machines that may not deliver the level of quality you’re looking for.

This machine sits somewhere in the middle, being able to produce cafe-quality, but with a range of smart features that make the process easier for the user.

It has automatic tamping, dosing, grinding and steam wand capabilities, taking the workload out of crafting a fine cup of coffee. This puts it in the exclusive club of automatic manual espresso machines. All you need to do is choose the right grind size for the beans.

The Oracle offers a close to fully automatic espresso-making experience with the added benefits of tweaking the settings to get the exact drink you are looking for and still being able to practice your latte art.

With most of the work taken away from its user, the Oracle may not be the best espresso machine to choose if you want to get fully involved in crafting your coffee, as there will be some manual brew limitations.

Getting Started with the Oracle

Making coffee with the Oracle is designed to be as hands-off as possible. 

It has an integrated conical burr grinder and a large 2.5-litre water tank with a built-in water filter supplying the two boilers; one for espresso extraction and the other for milk frothing.

By inserting the portafilter and locking it into place under the grinder, the Oracle will grind, dose and tamp for you, leaving no mess, preparing the coffee grounds to be moved over to the group head and brew your espresso shot.

The Oracle can make various drinks with minimal exertion. The machine has an auto-americano option that will produce a ready to drink double shot Americano at the touch of a button.

The addition of steamed milk is as easy as filling a milk jug with fresh milk and putting it into position under the steam wand, where you can adjust how much foam you want on your cup of coffee.

More foam is what makes a traditional cappuccino, whereas less foam moves towards the fan-favourite flat white.

Within the machine itself, you will find a PID controlled stainless steel dual boiler system for better consistency and speed with espresso extraction and milk frothing, allowing users to steam their milk while the espresso shot is pouring.

As with most Breville coffee machines, the Oracle has pre-infusion settings that settle the coffee grounds before applying additional pressure to make your shot of espresso.

Features and Benefits

By integrating the below features, the Oracle offers users the intricate qualities of a semi-automatic espresso machine with the ease of use of an automatic.

Triple Heat System

Breville’s patent-pending triple heat system is found on the manufacturer’s premium level machines, allowing more consistency by utilising two boilers to extract espresso and steam milk. 

The addition of actively heating the group head means that all essential parts are at optimal temperature during the brewing process.

PID Temperature Control

Delivering a precise water temperature is another feature that helps with brew consistency.

PID temperature control ensures that the water applied to the coffee grounds in the portafilter is at its optimum temperature when brewing.

Auto Purge Function

This feature automatically adjusts the two boilers back to their optimal temperature by purging hot water through the steam wand.

It helps to deliver pressure and temperature stability within the two boilers.

Over Pressure Valve

The OPV helps keep the machine from delivering too much pressure during espresso extraction, which can cause bitter, unwanted flavours.

Integrated Grinder

The integrated grinder has a 280-gram bean hopper capacity, as well as auto dosing and tamping features that allow users to accurately grind fresh coffee beans just before brewing, helping to maximise the quality of their espresso shot.

Auto On

Auto-on lets users plan their mornings with a little more structure by being able to set when the Oracle turns on, allowing it to start the preheating routine before they’re out of bed.

Auto Milk Texturing

The techniques required for producing the perfect milk texture for your latte or flat white has a bit of a learning curve. With auto milk frothing, this step is left to the intelligent steam wand, leaving the user to pour the milk into their espresso shot to complete their morning cup of coffee.

Commercial 58mm Group Head

A 58mm portafilter and group head are found on commercial level espresso machines.

The way that coffee grounds are distributed across the coffee basket in the larger portafilter allows for a more even pressure and temperature throughout the coffee bed.

What do users say about the Breville Oracle?

Here is what users have had to say about their experience with the Breville Oracle:

Positives

  • Consistency in making drinks is excellent. The ease of use with The Oracle means that you can recreate your favourite coffee drink with minimal effort.
  • People with next to no coffee-making experience have found this coffee machine to produce high-quality results.
  • The automatic capabilities of The Oracle help save precious time in coffee making. 

Negatives

  • The unit’s height, including the bean hopper, may make it hard to fit under some kitchen cabinets.
  • Users have had to accept giving up some control over how their cup of coffee is prepared. 
  • Making several Americano coffees in a row will strain the capabilities of the hot water system, and you will reach a point where you need to wait a few minutes before brewing again.

Is the Breville Oracle right for you?

Here is what should be considered when deciding if the Breville Oracle is the right coffee maker for you.

Pros:

  • The automatic espresso capabilities of The Oracle make producing high-quality coffee drinks very easy.
  • It offers almost all of Breville’s premium features that help improve consistency and quality when brewing great coffee, including pre-infusion, auto tamping and milk frothing.
  • The one-touch Americano option allows users to create longer espresso-based drinks at the touch of a button, without needing to boil the kettle.

Cons:

  • Having to give up some control to the programmable settings could frustrate some home baristas. 
  • The unit is quite large, sitting at 45cm tall. Make sure to measure the space you intend to use beforehand.
  • The auto-dosing setting is pre-set to use 22 grams of coffee when preparing a shot of espresso, which may be a lot more ground coffee than you have previously used.

Alternatives

Breville the Barista Touch

The Barista Touch is a modern espresso maker that allows users to create and adjust drink profiles to match the taste of everyone who uses it.

Once you select the drink on the touch screen, the Barista Touch will adjust to the pre-programmed settings and walk the user through making their drink.

You may want to choose this machine over The Oracle because:

  • Its instant heat-up feature lets you produce great coffee seconds after turning the machine on.
  • Multiple user and drink settings, allowing the machine to create a library of personalised drinks customised to all users tastes.
  • The extra boiler and 58mm group head and portafilter are not features you are looking for, and you would be happy to save a few hundred dollars on an all in one coffee maker.

DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro

The DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro is a great all in one espresso maker, well equipped with easy to use automatic espresso preparation features. 

Espresso lovers may want to choose this machine over the Breville because:

  • The user gets to set their machine up the way they want to, with interchangeable steam wands. Choose between a fully manual latte art-focused steam wand and one capable of automatic milk frothing that will take out any effort needed to create well-textured milk.
  • You are already comfortable with the way that the DeLonghi machines work. There would be a bit of a learning curve when changing the brand, and any accessories you may have purchased for your previous DeLonghi would become obsolete.

Breville the Dual Boiler with Smart Grinder Pro

The Breville Dual Boiler and Smart Grinder Pro combo, known on the market as ‘The Dynamic Duo’, is one of Breville’s most all-around complete coffee setups.

This coffee setup may suit users better over The Oracle because:

  • You will receive Breville’s top of the line, semi-automatic espresso setup.
  • The Dual Boiler offers all of the premium features users look for when seeking out a high-quality home espresso machine.
  • The Smart Grinder Pro is well designed and offers great results for various styles of coffee preparation. With over 60 grind settings for your beans, you can use it for anything from a French Press to Espresso.

RELATED: Breville Dual Boiler vs the Oracle

Comparison Table

Use the table below to compare the Oracle against the coffee machines either side in Breville’s range.

the Oracle Touchthe Oraclethe Dual Boiler
Link to Instruction bookBES990BES980BES920
RRP$3,999$2,999$1,999
Check PriceThe Good GuysThe Good GuysThe Good Guys
BoilersDualDualDual
Heating SystemTriple Heat SystemTriple Heat SystemTriple Heat System
Power2400 Watts2400 Watts2200 Watts
Dimensions (WxDxH)39.2 x 37.3 x 45.4 cm40.9 x 37.3 x 45.3 cm35.8 x 37.1 x 37.3 cm
MaterialBrushed Stainless SteelBrushed Stainless SteelBrushed Stainless Steel
Pump Pressure15 Bar15 Bar15 Bar
Pre InfusionYesYesYes
Auto Purge FunctionYesYesNo
PID Temperature ControlYesYesYes
Over Pressure ValveYesYesYes
Espresso Pressure GaugeNoNoYes
Integrated GrinderYesYesNo
Colour Touch ScreenYesNoNo
Programmable Shot TempYesYesYes
Auto Milk TexturingYesYesNo
Saved Coffee Settings822
Dual Wall Filter BasketsNoNoYes
Heated Group HeadYesYesYes
Dry Puck FeatureNoNoYes

Conclusion

The Breville Oracle is very close to an automatic espresso machine whilst still offering semi-automatic quality-focused features. 

It houses almost all of the premium capabilities Breville have to offer that assist with consistency, and has been developed to take away 90% of the workload when compared to classic styles of espresso makers.

Overall this coffee machine can do it all; just remember that if you have a lot of previous experience with manual or semi-automatic espresso machines, you will be giving up quite a lot of control if you go for this option.

Breville Oracle FAQ

How long does the Breville Oracle last?

While Breville may not be quite up there with prosumer level equipment, they are a very well respected manufacturer that makes machines to last, and the Oracle should still be going strong after 5-10 years of use.

Which Breville espresso is best?

The Dual Boiler offers every feature a home barista would look for in a semi-automatic espresso machine if we are just looking at the machine’s capabilities when making espresso. The only thing that is missing is an integrated grinder. 

When was the Breville Oracle released?

Breville introduced The Oracle to the world at the Melbourne International Coffee Exhibition (MICE) in 2013.

How long does the Breville Oracle take to heat up?

It’s best to give The Breville Oracle at least 5 minutes to heat up. 

Review Summary

The Oracle

The Breville Oracle is very close to an automatic espresso machine whilst still offering semi-automatic quality-focused features. It houses almost all of the premium capabilities Breville have to offer that assist with consistency, and has been developed to take away 90% of the workload when compared to classic styles of espresso makers.

Product SKU: BES980

Product Brand: Breville

Product Currency: AUD

Product Price: $2,999

Product In-Stock: InStock

Editor's Rating:
4