Last updated on February 18th, 2023 by Garret Jacob
I don’t think its too much hyperbole to say that once you’ve experienced the aroma and full bodied creamy delicacy of a well made espresso, your life is forever changed for the better!
But getting started can be a bit intimidating and overwhelming. So it’s no wonder that Breville, a high quality brand, is really popular as a beginners solution.
Breville Barista Express BES870
Performance - 9.3/10
Ease of Use/Maintenance - 8.9/10
Build & Quality - 9.1/10
Design & Features - 8.6/10
User Satisfaction - 9.2/10
The Breville Barista Express is a semi automatic espresso machine that lives up to the hype of what you would expect from a high quality machine. With a built in grinder, temperature control, automatic dose adjustments and manual steam wand, rich bold and velvety full body espressos are simple and consistent even for beginners.
It is well-constructed, durable, and long-lasting. Perfect for coffee drinkers just learning how to make their own espressos at home.
While, there can be a steep learning curve and it is a bit pricey, over time it becomes easy to use and worth the price as you go to the coffee shop less frequently.
Particularly, the Breville Barista Express BES870XL. Many rave it is the ideal machine for espresso lovers looking for professional-quality specialty coffee that you can easily create in the comfort of your own homes. But is it right for you?
In this quick straight to the gist Breville Barista Express review, we answer the question and give our overall rating to help you decide.
Last update on 2023-11-30
Breville Barista Express BES870XL Review and Rating
What is it made of?
- Made entirely of brushed stainless steel.
How durable is it?
- Overall, the Barista Express is extremely durable with its stainless steel construction, and most users reported many years of proper functionality.
- The most commonly reported issues are that the grinder stops working or the automatic stop feature that occurs during extraction worked inconsistently.
- However, if the machine is well taken care of and all the proper cleaning and maintenance is done, it should have no problem lasting a minimum of 5 to 8 years.
Build/Quality Rating: 9.1
What brew modes does it have?
- Makes single or double shot espressos using pre-infusion and pressure
- The manual steam wand means you can whip up lattes and cappuccinos too.
- 9-bars of extraction delivered by 15-bar Italian pump.
- Strength is controlled by the amount of coffee grounds that are used, the amount of water, and the grind size.
- Breville recommends a dose size between 18 and 22 grams, however, some users strongly recommend a dose size closer to 16 to 17 grams with 60ml of water for a double shot.
- You can play with this to get the right combination to find the right espresso strength that you desire.
- Yes, digital temperature control (PID) delivers water at exactly 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The milk steamer produces powerful steam at 266 degrees Fahrenheit for smooth, velvety microfoam.
How many cups does it make?
- Single shot (30 ml) or double shot (60 ml)
- Can use the manual control to make customized shot sizes of espresso.
Steam wand for frothing?
- Yes, steam comes out at 266 degrees Fahrenheit to create silky, velvety microfoam.
How quiet is it?
- The loudest parts are the grinder and the milk steamer. But otherwise the noise level is standard.
How is the taste and flavor?
Most users rave about the boldness, creaminess, and richness of the espresso and how the machine’s low-pressure pre-infusion soaks the grounds to bring out the best of the natural flavors of the coffee.
However, this is usually after some time spent experimenting with the machine to find the right dose of coffee, grind size, and amount of water to use for the perfect shot of espresso every time. There is a slight learning curve to using the machine.
Performance Rating: 9.3
Ease of Use/Maintenance
How big is it?
- At 12.5″ wide x 13.8″ long x 15.9″ high, the Barista Express is fairly compact for a semi automatic machine
How heavy? Portable?
- Weight: 23 lbs. So pretty heavy and not portable.
LCD display or push buttons or both?
- Push buttons with an analog pressure gauge.
How easy is it to use?
Many people commented about how the Breville Barista Express BES870XL is the perfect machine for someone who is just starting to learn how to make their own espresso at home. It’s not super complicated to grind your beans, tamp, switch porta-filter to brew station, pull your shot and use the milk steamer.
However, most users said that it still took them a minimum of a full bag of beans to learn how to properly use the machine to make coffee the way they wanted. Some users went so far as to suggest using a cheaper bag of coffee beans at first to perfect your skills before switching to your preferred high-quality coffee beans.
Yes, has indicator lights for cleaning and descaling
How easy is it to clean?
- Espresso machines in general are more complicated to maintain than drip coffee makers. But upkeep for the Barista Express is fairly standard and simple:
- For daily maintenance, simple clean our the drip tray, puck bin, flush group head, and wipe own milk steamer wand
- Do a full backflush on a weekly basis by scrubbing the group heads and using coffee machine detergent or white vinegar and water to flush through the machine.
- Clean the steam wand with warm water and coffee machine detergent or white vinegar. Let it soak overnight if possible. This can be done weekly as well.
- Clean the draining hose weekly.
Ease of Use/Maintenance Rating: 8.9
Design & Features
Does it use pods or ground coffee or both?
- Uses whole beans and grinds them immediately before pulling an espresso shot for the freshest coffee taste imaginable.
- Thermocoil heating system
- Built-in conical burr grinder with 16 different grind settings.
- 8 oz bean hopper capacity
Permanent coffee filter included?
- Yes, 54 mm stainless steel portafilter with dual and single wall filters.
- No. Manual use every time.
Auto shut off, energy saving mode?
Any other notable tech features?
- Pre-infusion: great for saturating the beans and getting even extractions thus better flavors
- Dose grinding funnel: keeps your grinding and tamping cleaner and more streamlined
Removable water reservoir? How big?
- Yes, 67 oz.
Comes with extra accessories?
- Yes, things like coffee scoop, tamp, dose trimming tool and milk jug are included.
Can it dispense hot water?
- Yes. However, many users recommended heating water separately and putting it in a mug, and then adding the espresso afterward for the best-tasting americanos.
Drip tray removable to accommodate larger mugs?
Come in different colors?
- Yes, brushed stainless steel or black sesame.
- Retails at $749.95.
Design & Features Rating: 8.6
- 1-Year Limited Product Warranty
Specific customer feedback
Overall, the vast majority of people who purchased the Breville Barista Express BES870XL are 100% satisfied with the machine and the customer service they received if they had any issues or concerns that needed to be addressed.
The most common criticism of the machine is that it takes a little bit of getting used to and there is a strong learning curve to operating the machine. However, once the user has worked the machine to make a couple of dozen bad-tasting espresso shots, they typically find the right combination and can then always create a perfect shot of espresso to their liking.
User Satisfaction Rating: 9.2
Overall Rating: 9.0
Pros and Cons
- Things We Like
- A good espresso machine for beginners.
- 16 grind settings to dial in the right grind size
- Grinding cradle to keep your grinding prep cleaner
- Low pressure pre-infusions and temperature control means high quality consistent extractions
- Automated features like dosing, timing, temperature, pre-infusion can be manually controlled if you’re skills improve
- Includes a power steam wand for creating frothy steamed milk and latte art.
- Comes with all the necessary and desired accessories.
- Things We Don’t Like
- More expensive than other home espresso machines.
- Steep learning curve when first operating the machine.
- No auto shut off or energy saving mode
How Does it Compare?
Breville Barista Express BES870XL vs Calphalon Espresso Machine
- Both machines use a 15-bar Italian pump for perfected pressure and flavor extraction.
- Both machines use PID temperature control to deliver heat consistently every time.
- Both machines include a high-pressure steam wand for steaming milk and making latte art.
- The Calphalon Espresso Machine comes with a built-in conical burr grinder with 30 grind settings instead of the 16 grind settings that the Breville machine contains.
- The Calphalon Espresso Machine retails for $50 more than the Breville Barista Express BES870XL.
Which is better?
Overall, it is our view that the Breville Barista Express is the superior espresso machine when compared to the Calphalon machine. Although the Calphalon machine has almost twice the grind settings as the Breville, it doesn’t stand out in any other way.
The Breville machine seems to be much more durable, has fewer complaints, and has better customer service.
Also, once operating the machine has been perfected, it can be depended on to produce the best-tasting shots of espresso every time for many many years, where the longevity of the Calphalon machine is much more suspect.
Although the Calphalon machine retails for $50 more than the Breville machine, it can be seen being sold online for steep discounts of up to 40%. If you’re on a tight budget than you could consider the Calphalon.
But overall, if we had to choose a machine to make espresso at home, it would be the Breville Barista Express BES870XL.
The Breville Barista Express is a semi automatic espresso machine that lives up to the hype of what you would expect from a high quality machine. It offers a variety of grind settings, temperature control, and dose adjustments for an automatic deliciously pulled espresso for beginners. But also has manual overrides and a manual steam wand for a more hands on espresso barista experience.
It is a well-constructed, durable, and long-lasting machine that is ideal for people just learning how to make their own espressos at home.
True, there can be a steep learning curve. But once you use the Barista Express a few times, it becomes incredibly easy to use and every shot of espresso you make comes out tasting rich and bold with a velvety full body feel.
While it is a bit pricey, this Breville espresso machine is worth the price and will pay for itself over time the more you use it rather than frequenting your local coffee shop.
Last update on 2023-11-30
For more quality Breville machines to consider, check out our favorites here:
- For your drip coffee enthusiasts:
- For more espresso maker options:
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- About the Author
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Garret is a content writer who has written thousands of articles on hundreds of subjects, all with the help of his favorite Peruvian blends of coffee grown near his home, a few hours from Machu Picchu. When he’s not sipping his cup of joe or writing content, he enjoys hiking in the mountains, camping with friends, and enjoying a cold beer around a fire beneath a star-lit night.