Breville the Oracle
Breville the Dual Boiler
The Breville Oracle and Dual Boiler are undoubtedly two of Breville’s best coffee machines. They both include a dual boiler, and a range of other premium features that allow users to make barista-quality coffee at home.
They are, however, best suited to quite different users, and the best option for you will be determined by how much control you want to take of the coffee making process.
Below we take a deep dive into the Oracle and the Dual Boiler to help you decide which machine is right for you.
Both of these coffee machines feature Breville’s Triple Heat System. This system includes a dedicated boiler for both the espresso extraction and the milk steamer (making them “dual boiler” machines). They also include a separate heating element for the group head (where you place the portafilter) which ensures consistent temperatures throughout the espresso extraction process.
There are a couple of key benefits associated with having a separate boiler for both espresso and steaming. Firstly, it means both these functions can be used at the same time, whereas on single boiler machines you’ll need to wait for a while in between. This translates to a much more efficient workflow, great if you’re making multiple coffees at once.
Secondly, because the boilers don’t need to switch from the optimal espresso temperature to the much higher steaming temperature, they can be much more accurate and consistent in the water temperature they deliver to their respective functions.
Pre infusion is a feature found across most of Breville’s home coffee machines. The purpose of pre-infusion is to ensure water flows evenly through the ground coffee bed, and to avoid the common problem of “channelling”. It does this by applying a small amount of water at low pressure to evenly soak the coffee puck, before applying the full pressure required for espresso extraction.
On the Oracle, users have the ability to increase or decrease the pre-infusion pressure within the machine’s settings. Users of the Dual Boiler have the ability to by-pass low pressure pre-infusion completely and deliver full-pressure water to the group head by simply pressing and holding the 1 CUP button.
PID Temperature Control
Temperature control is essential during the espresso process and both these machines achieve this by utilising a digital PID temperature controller, a feature often found on commercial machines.
This allows the boiler to deliver precise water temperature for optimum espresso flavour.
This is an important advantage that these machines have over popular espresso machines like the Racilio Silva or Gaggia Classic, where PID controllers need to be retro-fitted.
58mm is the portafilter size found on commercial espresso machines. In contrast to the 54mm found on most of Breville’s machines, the larger size distributes the ground coffee over a larger area which allows for a more even pressure and temperature to be applied throughout the coffee bed during the espresso extraction process.
2.5L Water Tank
The large water tank found on both the Dual Boiler and the Oracle make them suitable for large or busy households.
On both machines, the reservoir is removable but can also be filled from the top. It features an integrated water filter and a backlit level indicator.
Auto On is a premium feature only found on Breville’s top tier machines (the Dual Boiler and the two Oracle models). It allows users to set a time in the morning for the machine to turn itself on so it can start warming up. This means it’s at optimal temperature when you’re ready to make your coffee.
The most obvious difference between these two machines is the grinder integrated into the left hand side of the Oracle. This conical burr grinder features a 280g bean hopper and has been designed for optimal performance with the Oracle espresso extraction process.
Worth noting is that it’s not just a simple grinder included on the Oracle. In addition to the grinder itself it also features auto dosing and tamping features that automate some of the process (and guesswork) required with a traditional coffee grinder.
The Dual Boiler needs to be paired with an espresso grinder. Budget will ultimately determine the grinder you choose but Breville’s Smart Grinder Pro is a good fit and is in fact sold as a bundle named the Dynamic Duo.
Whichever grinder you choose, make sure it is designed to perform well with espresso-grade (very fine) grind sizes as some grinders are targeted more at the manual coffee making methods such as pour-over, and are designed to perform best with more coarse grinds.
Keep in mind that a grinder is a piece of gear people often upgrade as they progress on their coffee making journey. In our view, this is a benefit of the Dual Boiler, as with the Oracle you’re stuck with the built-in grinder.
The pressure gauge on the Dual Boiler allows users to monitor the extraction pressure while making espresso. This is an essential part of dialing in the perfect espresso shot on a semi-automatic machine.
Incorrect pressure can indicate a number of problems including incorrect dosing, incorrect grind size, old coffee beans, or incorrect tamping pressure.
As the Oracle is a more automated machine, monitoring a pressure gauge is not part of the brewing process. This is a good example of how the Oracle demands less of the user but does not allow for the fine-tuning that may be required to deliver the same quality espresso.
Auto Milk Texturing
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of creating a cafe-quality latte, flat white, or cappuccino at home is the milk steaming process. Creating the perfect milk micro-foam can take years of practice (and hours of watching youtube videos!).
While the Dual Boiler does have a powerful manual steam wand, the Oracle features Breville’s Auto Milk Texturing functionality. Users need to simply program their desired milk temperature and style from the settings menu and then place the milk jug under the steam wand. The Oracle will then automatically texture milk to perfectly suit your coffee.
Auto Purge Function
The steam wand on the Oracle will automatically purge once the auto milk texturing process is complete and the milk jug has been removed. This is a step that is usually a manual part of the brewing process and serves the purpose of removing residual milk from inside the steam wand.
Hot steam will be released when the wand is returned to a downward position and users should take care to make sure their hands are clear to avoid injury.
The Oracle has a current RRP of $2,999, placing it in a similar price range to premium automatic machines like those from Jura. The advantage of the Breville machine is that it hands back a small amount of control to the user, finely walking the line between semi-automatic and fully-automatic.
The Dual Boiler and Smart Grinder Pro bundle (“the Dynamic Duo”) has a current RRP of $2,199. This makes it a slightly more affordable option than high-quality espresso machines like those from Izzo, Expobar, La Pavoni, while also including a grinder and Breville’s “prosumer” features that make the espresso process more consistent and forgiving.
When comparing the price of the two Breville machines, the Dynamic Duo appears the best bang-for-buck option. While some users will very much value the additional features of the Oracle, they do come with a significant increase in price.
Breville Oracle Vs Dual Boiler Comparison Table
|the Oracle||the Dual Boiler|
|Link to Instruction book||BES980||BES920|
|RRP||$2,999||$2,199 (with Grinder)|
|Check Price||The Good Guys||The Good Guys|
|Heating System||Triple Heat System||Triple Heat System|
|Power||2400 Watts||2200 Watts|
|Dimensions (WxDxH)||40.9 x 37.3 x 45.3 cm||35.8 x 37.1 x 37.3 cm|
|Auto Purge Function||Yes||No|
|PID Temperature Control||Yes||Yes|
|Over Pressure Valve||Yes||Yes|
|Espresso Pressure Gauge||No||Yes|
|Water Tank Size||2.5L||2.5L|
|Auto Milk Texturing||Yes||No|
|Dual Wall Filter Baskets||No||Yes|
|Heated Group Head||Yes||Yes|
|Dry Puck Feature||No||Yes|
|Warranty||2 Years||2 Years|
Making your Selection
Breville the Oracle
Breville the Dual Boiler
While these are undoubtedly two of Breville’s best coffee machines, they are best suited to quite different users. The right option for you will ultimately be determined by how much control you want to take of the coffee making process.
The differences between the Dual Boiler and the Oracle can be summarised down to the following two points:
1. Automatic Manual vs Semi-Automatic
The Oracle is an “automatic manual espresso machine”. This simply means it replicates the traditional espresso process found on semi-automatic machines, but automates some of these steps, notably via the Auto Grinding, Dosing and Tamping, Automated Espresso extraction, and Auto Milk Texturing.
The Dual Boiler is a “prosumer” level semi-automatic machine. It lets the user take control in the same way they would with a traditional espresso machine but introduces features such as pre-infusion and temperature control to help the users get the best result from their coffee beans.
2. Integrated Grinder
One of the biggest decisions buyers will need to make when deciding between these two options is whether they want an all-in-one coffee machine. While an integrated grinder is more tidy, may help improve workflow, and is generally more cost efficient, they generally aren’t up to the quality of a dedicated espresso grinder.
As mentioned earlier, a key benefit of having a separate grinder is that you can upgrade it as you progress on your coffee making journey. Whereas with the integrated grinder on the Oracle you’re stuck with the built-in grinder.