Breville Barista Express
Breville has built a reputation for producing high-quality and very popular home espresso machines. These machines have taken the home brewing market by storm thanks to them being equipped with features that meet the modern consumer’s high standards and the fact they offer fantastic machines at almost every price point.
Also, Breville coffee machines generally offer exceptional quality and a lot of features for the price, providing customers with great value for money.
Today we are taking a closer look at two of the manufacturer’s most popular home espresso machines, the Breville Infuser and the Breville Barista Express.
This comparison picks apart both of the machine’s key features and should help you make an educated decision when looking to invest in one of Breville’s top home espresso machines.
Before comparing these two machines in detail, we wanted to include a quick comment on a recent addition to the Breville line-up as for many people this will replace the Barista Express as the best option for a home espresso machine.
Introducing: Breville Barista Express Impress
2022 has seen a welcome upgrade to Breville’s most popular home espresso machine.
The new Barista Express Impress comes with all the features users love about the Barista Express including an integrated burr grinder, Thermocoil heating system, and a 2L water tank.
However, there are a few important upgrades that you’ll find on the Impress that are mostly related to creating less mess and optimising the dosing and tamping process.
Assisted tamping: On the standard Express, each dose of espresso needs to be tamped manually. On the Impress, a built-in tamper helps the user achieve the perfect tamp, applying the right amount of pressure and even incorporating a twist at the end for a smooth puck, just like a barista would do it.
Intelligent dosing: Dosing the correct amount of ground coffee into the filter basket can be a challenge, even for the most experienced home barista. The Impress features technology that learns how much to dose based on the previous grind and tamp process.
More grind settings: The number of grind settings has increased from 16 to 25. This wider range better allows the user to control grind size and, consequently, coffee extraction.
The most noticeable difference when you put the Barista Express and Infuser side by side is the bean hopper poking out of the top left side of the Barista Express. The built-in grinder allows users of the Express to does freshly ground beans directly into the portafilter.
Finding an adjustable, built-in grinder with stainless steel burrs, fully integrated with a coffee machine’s structure is usually something only present in fully automatic machines.
With the Barista Express, Breville has produced a machine that boasts everything a fully automatic espresso machine holds, but still needs the magical human touch to control the variables and get a good extraction from the coffee.
If looking for an all-in-one machine, there is no comparison between the Infuser and the Barista Express.
The Infuser will require the addition of a grinder if you want to use whole beans to brew espresso.
Breville does have a couple of burr grinders that would match perfectly with the Infuser that aren’t too expensive (we recommend the Smart Grinder Pro).
When you are in need of a quick caffeine fix you must keep in mind that espresso machines need time to get to the right temperature and pressure to make coffee.
Breville is known for having quick heating machines and the Infuser and Barista Express are no exception.
The Infuser is equipped with a powerful 1650W Thermocoil–Integrated stainless steel water path that accurately takes control of the water temperature.
The Barista Express has a slightly lower-powered heating system at 1600W but offers the same kind of settings found in the Infuser with controlled water temperature for optimal extraction.
Most entry-level home espresso machines are not equipped for being connected directly to the water mains, instead of coming with built-in water tanks that supply the boilers inside the machine.
The size of the water tank will determine how often you have to fill it up.
There’s nothing worse than getting everything ready for brewing up a fresh shot of espresso and finding that your water tank is empty and it is here that the Barista Express pulls ahead slightly in the contest.
The Barista Express has a larger tank holding a fraction under 2 litres of water while the Breville Infuser has the capacity to hold use over 1.8 litres.
Both machines do come with an attachable carbon water filter which takes away some of the worries with inner machine maintenance in the long run.
A removable filter is useful as tap water is full of minerals that can play havoc with the inside of your home espresso machines.
Calcium build-up is one of the most common causes of espresso machines breaking down, but can easily be avoided with regular maintenance (like descaling).
The Barista Express and Infuser both make full use of their pre-infusion capabilities.
This is particularly useful when users are prone to making small ‘errors’ in the preparation process, helping to fix some of the main causes of channelling by feeding low-pressure hot water into the coffee bed, causing the ground coffee to swell slightly, and bringing the coffee together.
You will also find a pressure gauge on the face of both the Breville Barista Express and Breville Infuser. Machine pressure is a useful indicator to tell when the machine is ready to use and get a quality level of extraction.
The Barista Express and the Infuser both have a preset 15 bars of pressure that are intended to extract the coffee at the same pressure you will find in classic Italian machines.
Both machines offer the same features when it comes to steam wand pressure. Using a stainless steel heating coil to bring the water to the optimum temperature to produce steam when frothing milk means that the overall pressure of the steam wands is a lot lower than commercial style espresso machines, which can be useful if just starting out and still learning the art of texturing milk.
Neither the Infuser nor Barista Express have dual boiler capabilities, which are often preferred when wanting to use the steam wand quickly after espresso extraction.
Even though the Barista Express technically takes up more room on the counter than the Infuser, the built-in grinder is a nifty feature to save space when wanting to keep full control over the quality of coffee extraction that you are able to produce.
The larger base size of the Barista Express does allow for a slightly larger drip tray, which is useful if brewing regularly throughout the day and don’t want to keep emptying the built-up wastewater.
TheInfuser may take up less space as a unit, but with the lack of a built-in grinder, you would have to limit yourself to pre-ground coffee if wanting to keep the space saved for something else.
Breville Infuser vs Barista Express Comparison Table
|Link to Instruction book
|Amazon, Bing Lee, The Good Guys
|Amazon, eBay, The Good Guys
|33.8 x 31.3 x 40.7 cm (WxDxH)
|25.7 x 31.2 x 33.4 cm (WxDxH)
|Brushed Stainless Steel
|Brushed Stainless Steel
|Auto Purge Function
|PID Temperature Control
|Espresso Pressure Gauge
|Water Tank Size
|Bean Hopper Capacity
|Shot Volume Control
|Programmable Shot Temp
|Dual Wall Filter Baskets
|Dry Puck Feature
We also recommend checking out the Infuser vs Barista Express Comparison at Breville.
Making your Selection
Breville Barista Express
Choosing between the Breville Barista Express and the Breville Infuser all comes down to personal preference. Here are the key factors to keep in mind:
The in-built grinder
The in-built adjustable grinder on the Breville Barista Express allows you to brew freshly ground beans almost straight out of the box.
Having access to a grinder gives you a lot more options when it comes to choosing what beans you want to use to make your coffee with.
Grinding coffee beans fresh, just before brewing is a golden rule to gaining higher quality results in your espresso or filter coffee.
The Breville Infuser will require a separate coffee grinder if you want to brew fresh coffee.
Without a grinder you will have to make do with pre-ground coffee beans which may not be ground to the optimum size to match your home machine.
Even though Breville home machines are often touted as being some of the best for home coffee enthusiasts, they can be seen to come up a little short in the grinder department. Although, with the company’s acquisition of home grinder specialists, Baratza, the pairings that the home appliance industry leaders will be able to offer in the future could be of a much higher quality than before.
Invest in additional quality tools
The money you can save purchasing the Breville Infuser can also be put towards a burr grinder that is able to produce the kind of results we seek. Breville’s own Smart Grinder Pro is a quality burr grinder that offers 60 grind setting adjustments, whereas the built-in grinder for the Barista Express only has 15 available grind adjustments.
Too close to call
Making a comparison between the Barista Express and the Infuser has been tough, as they are two great machines that both offer so many of the same features.
Programmable single shot or double shot buttons, charcoal filter, pre-infusion, multi-positional steam wand, automated cleaning function, PID temperature control, and an easily removable drip tray are all features that both the Barista Express and Infuser hold. Adding a built-in grinder to the Infuser would make it almost impossible to put together a fair comparison between the two.