Right out of the box you are ready to have the perfect cup of coffee in less than 60 seconds! Simply add your favorite coffee beans into the grinder, and either set standard or micro-manage how many coffee beans to grind based on your preference (heavy or light).
The over-sized water tank (built in filter) makes filling up simple and less frequent than other smaller, inferior coffee espresso machines. The coffee will taste so good your friends will think you went to barista school for the weekend!
The Breville Barista Express features an integrated conical burr grinder and dosing control that produces a cup of espresso in less than a minute! The precise dose is added directly into the coffee filter to provide perfect crema for every cup. Your friends will be impressed first by the speed and then by the taste of every cup!
Features of this espresso machine include:
- Sealed bean hopper with 8oz capacity
- Preset or adjustable grind amount
- Hands free grinding cradle
- Removable 67oz water tank with water filtration system
- 360 degree swivel steam wand with froth enhancer
- Dry puck feature
- Concealed storage compartment
- 1 Year Limited Product Warranty
Despite some of the negative criticism sprinkled throughout this review, keep in mind that (1) I am giving this machine 5 stars, and now that I have spent a few weeks getting to know it (intimately), I love it – so much, that if a burglar broke into my house and stole it, I would order another one the same day – I have not been back to Starbucks since. All that being said, you NEED to read this review so that your machine does not frustrate you and so that you get the most out of it. Read on my coffee-loving friend:1. I am a guy, who knew nothing about espresso machines before this. I am very mechanically inclined and don’t usually read instructions. This was different – this machine is NOT self-explanatory and you NEED to read the instructions (which are well written, and even include a troubleshooting section). Don’t get frustrated with this machine until/unless you have read (all) the instructions.2. This is not a ‘stand-alone’ purchase … this machine costs around $500 (give or take), you need to invest another $100 right from the start (preferably at the same time) to get the most out of it, enjoy it to the fullest, and not get unreasonably frustrated by making your own lattes and mochas.3. The other things you REALLY should order at the same time (and all are available on Amazon) are: a. ($29) 100-pack disposable 20oz. cups with lids and sleeves (sold by Yes!fresh). Trust me, you want to get these. It’s only $0.29 per cup and are far more convenient that trying to clean out a million dirty coffee cups from your car/office each week. These are worth twice what they cost in the long run. And when your friends are over, you need not ‘loan’ them a nice coffee cup to go (which you may never see again) – just give them a paper cup to take with them. b. ($5-15 for 25 oz. / $20-30 for 64 oz.) Torani syrups and sauces, AND the pump tops that go with them (always sold separately). IF you drink the same thing on a regular basis (like I do) such as a white chocolate peppermint mocha, buy the 64 oz. white chocolate sauce and not the smaller 25 oz. bottle. c. ($14) Amazon Basics Cotton Washcloth – 24 pack – grey (the grey matches the espresso machine, but the color doesn’t matter). Again, trust me, you want a nicely folded stack of these sitting next to the machine – you will use 1 each time you make espresso, and then it will be dirty and needs to be washed. At my house (3 people using the machine) we bought two 24-packs because we make so much coffee – two 24-packs is not too many for our house (I’m thinking about buying a third pack). d. ($10 for pair of single shot size, $15 for pair of double shot size) Set of double-walled espresso shot glasses. Do NOT buy the rounded ones (ie: Cutehom espresso coffee cups) because they will not pour very well and drip all over the place (down the side) each time – very frustrating. Buy the JoyJolt Javaah Double Walled Espresso Glasses instead – you’ll be glad you did in the long run. And, if you’re planning to make mostly double-shot lattes/mochas, buy a set of Dragon Glassware 6 oz Espresso Cups (also double-walled) so that you don’t have to keep fidgeting with the single shot cups to keep them in the right spot under the coffee dispenser. It’s important to buy double-walled glasses for two reasons. First, it keeps the espresso hot while you’re steaming your milk, second, it keeps you from burning your fingers when pouring the espresso into your coffee cup. e. ($15) Breville BCB100 Barista-Style Coffee Knock Box. Again, TRUST me, you want this right next to your machine – the coffee grounds will start piling up quickly and you don’t want your portafilter anywhere near a garbage can. This thing is a must.4. Space requirements: This machine (and all that you want to go with it) will take some counter space – allow AT LEAST 34-inches of counter width to accommodate – slightly more is even better. You will from my picture, this is a 34-inch setup, and there is no room to spare.5. Making espresso. After you read the instructions, here are some tips that they don’t include to help avoid frustration: a. When the beans are grinding, lightly knock on the top of the hopper lid (just like knocking on a door) so that the beans keep feeding down to the grinder (sometimes they get hung up – a light knock each time keeps this from happening). Do NOT overfill the portafilter (after tamping) or it will jam coffee grounds into the water outlet and could possibly damage the portafilter or locking guide. After the grounds are tamped down in the filter cup, the silver part of the tamper should be just hidden beneath the rim of the portafilter (the machine includes a tool you can use if you accidentally overfill the filter cup, but after a short while, you’ll figure out how much to grind each time and the tool will not be necessary). b. You ALWAYS want to watch the pressure gauge when making espresso. It NEEDS to be in the dark grey area of the pressure gauge (and ideally in/near the middle of the grey area) during the brew cycle, otherwise you are not making good espresso – rather, you are making either watered down espresso (not enough pressure) or not enough espresso which is too rich (too much pressure). There are two key things that affect pressure: the fineness at which the coffee is ground (which is adjustable) and the volume of grounds in the portafilter (also adjustable). Although there is a one or two shot size setting, I have found it best to do two, 1-shot grinds, tamping down the grounds in-between each single-shot grind. I have the grind (volume) setting on the 4th click setting, and I have the grind (fineness) setting on either 2 or 3 (play around and see what gives you the best results). IF the pressure is too low, then either your coffee is ground too coarsely, or your have not tamped it down tight enough, or the filter is not filled with enough coffee grounds, or a combination of any/all of these things. IF the pressure is too high, then either your coffee is ground too finely, or you have tamped down the grounds too hard (tightly), or a combination of the two. c. IF using two, single-shot espresso glasses to collect a double-shot brew, keep an eye on them during the brew cycle and make sure they are centered under the espresso being dispensed (this can be avoided by using a double-shot size collection cup). d. IF making a mocha or other syrup/sauce drink, pre-mix the espresso and syrup in the glass and stir thoroughly before adding the steamed milk. e. Steaming milk is 1/2-art, and 1/2-science (seriously), and it does not come naturally. If you’ve never worked at a coffee shop and been trained to steam milk, do yourself a favor and watch a few good (short) YouTube videos on the proper way to steam milk. You will THANK yourself for taking 5-10 minutes on You Tube and learning the proper way to steam milk (and things to avoid). Understanding the steaming process will allow you to control the amount of foam on top and not make big mess. f. Before you steam your milk, VENT the steam wand to remove the residual water from the boiler line (you don’t want a few teaspoons of water in your milk). Vent the line, then turn the steam off … wait 5 full seconds … then insert the steam wand into the milk, then turn the steam back on. Hold the handle with your left hand, and place your right hand underneath the stainless steel milk steaming cup, when the cup is too hot for your right hand to touch (I mean really to hot to hold), keep the steam wand in and start counting along with the pump (which sounds like a metronome in the background … dit … dit … dit … dit …). For a semi-hot latte/mocha keep the steam wand in the milk for 30 double-dits (don’t start counting until after you can non longer touch the bottom with your right hand … “and-one, and two, and three” and so on until you get to 30 (the equivalent of 60 single dits). For hot (but still drinkable) count to 40 double-dits, and for very-hot, 50 double-dits. Anything above 60 and you risk burning the milk (which will ruin the flavor and you will need to toss it out and start over). When finished, turn the steam off, and remove the steam wand from the milk about 3-5 seconds before it finishes blowing steam (to avoid having milk sucked back up into the steam line). g. After you steam your milk, VENT the steam wand again to remove any milk that inadvertently got sucked up into the steam wand line and prevent any from making its way into the boiler. IF milk makes its way back into the boiler unit (because you failed to vent the line after use) you will DESTROY the boiler (permanently), in that, the milk cannot be cleaned out, will burn during the next use, and every cup of milk you steam in the future will have a burnt-milk smell/flavor – yuck! DO yourself a favor and vent the steam line religiously after each use – and make sure others who use your machine know that they can ruin it if they don’t do so also! (there goes $500!) h. The bottom tray is easy to remove, empty and clean (comes apart in 3 pieces). You should empty this every 2-4 days of use because it fills up despite you not pouring liquid into it – reason is, each time you finish using the steam wand or hot water dispenser, the machine auto-vents out the line from the boiler into the bottom tray (sneaky little devil) … so even though you don’t realize it, it’s filling up a little with each use. (Fun fact – the hot water dispenser can be used for instant hot water to make tea!).6. Cleaning up. a. I unfold a clean washcloth each time I make espresso. When you tamp down the grounds, it will help avoid damaging/scratching your counter, and will catch the spill-over grounds (there will always be some spill-over). b. When finished, use hot water (from your kitchen sink) to rinse the espresso cup(s), milk steaming cup, portafilter and filter insert (remove the filter cup from the portafilter each time you clean them), then use another clean washcloth to set them out to dry upon. c. The washcloth used to make espresso: fold it in half, twice (into a square), and use the hot water dispenser (on the machine) to get one corner of the square wet with hot (boiling hot) water, then fold the square into a triangle so that the boiling water corner is exposed, then fold that triangle into another triangle around the steam wand and thoroughly clean the steam wand. It will take a little time and firm pressure – make sure the wand is clean so that you don’t get nasty milk residue build up on your steam wand.7. Keeping things stocked: a. Milk. If your family uses milk for other things (cereal, baking, etc.) and up until now you have been a ‘1-gallon at a time’ household, it’s time to go up to a 2-gallon at a time household. Trust me – once you (and others in your house) discover the delicious lattes/mochas which are quick at hand, the milk will begin to disappear quickly (my house is now a 3-gallon at a time household with 3 people regularly using the machine). b. Keep a spare box of to-go cups/lids on hand, when you open it, order another one – it is not cost prohibitive and you never want to be out of to-go cups in the morning. c. Keep a spare bag of coffee beans on hand – also not cost prohibitive and if you run out of beans, well, there’s no reason to ever run out of beans. d. Keep a spare bottle of your favorite syrups/sauces. If you run out, all the fun is over.8. Quirks and tips. a. Keep a close eye (and refill often – like every morning) the water tank in the back (you need not pull it off each time, just take a 4-cup measuring cup and refill it when it gets 1/2-way down). Reason being, the machine is not smart like a Keurig – it has no sensor telling it when the water is out and it will run itself (to its peril) dry when the water runs out – this is not particularly good for the machine or the pumps. b. Use top quality beans – I recommend buying 1 lb. bags of Starbucks Espresso Roast beans – whole, NEVER pre-ground. WHY would you spend $600 on a coffee bar setup and then use crap beans or pre-ground (aka: not fresh) coffee? When you use top quality Starbucks beans (I have no financial interest in Starbucks by the by – so if you prefer something else like Pete’s or Dutch Bros., fine – but make sure you’re buying whole bean bags of their Espresso Roast). 2-4 double-shot lattes/mochas per day will go through a 1 lb. bag of beans every 1-2 weeks. c. Transitioning to decaf beans…? Nope, not easy, nor was the machine set up for an easy transition. To transition from regular espresso beans to decaf beans you must unlock the bean hopper and remove it – then pour the regular beans into a ziplock bag, then take your vacuum cleaner (I’m not joking) and vacuum out the remaining regular beans from the grinding gear mechanism, then replace the (empty) hopper – lock it in place, then fill it with decaf beans. We did this once at my house … and will never do it again.I hope you enjoyed my review and it helps you make awesome lattes and mochas!
Update June 2nd 2019: Still use it daily, and it’s working well! It’s now been almost 4 years! (Time flies when you’re drinking good coffee :)Update August-6-17: Still going strong after almost two years!Original Review and Tips:I love this thing. I’ve been using it multiple times a day for almost a year I think. Every day it makes amazing espresso, and as long as I keep it clean it preforms beautifully. This thing is also easier to maintain and requires less cleaning than other cheaper espresso machines I’ve tried.A tip for anyone looking to make actual espresso at home, I recommend looking for a local roastery in your area. I use to buy bulk beans online like many people, but once I tried local whole beans and found a blend I liked, the difference was amazing. Bean choice is very important if you actually want to enjoy your espresso!A few tips I picked up for using this machine:1. A few people complained about the grind amount knob not going low enough. To counteract this, I changed the cup size to “Single” and increased the grind amount by turning the knob to the right. This gives me the perfect amount of ground coffee every time.2. If the machine keeps going over or under on the pressure gauge, try cleaning the grinder. And remember to clean the grouphead with those desolvable tablets when the clean me light comes on!3. You can get cheap replacement cleaning tablets here on amazon. I chose Urnex Cafiza Espresso Machine Cleaning Tablets here on amazon, and they work great!4. You do not need to order a separate tamper, the one included is perfect.5. The included frothing cup is small but works for me. Some might need a bigger one.6. Do not underestimate the need for a burr grinder. Trying to make good espresso without one is like trying to hammer a nail with an inflatable hammer!Some of the features I love (Pros)*1) The grinder. I know many would rather use a separate burr grinder, but this thing works perfectly fine, and is easy to clean. Many complained about the coffee machine heating up the beans too much if you leave them inside the hopper, but I actually store my beans in a special container outside of the hopper, and use the included the scoop to pour in the beans when I grind them.2) The frother is amazing. Much much better than cheaper machines.3) Clean me light is awesome. Always reminds me to keep up on this things maintenance, and helps prolong the life.4) The Stainless steel is beautiful. (It is not 100% stainless on the outside though, a little bit of plastic, see cons.)5) The pressure gauge. Absolutely invaluable in making good tasting espresso. I would not recommend buying any machine without one. It really helps with learning and getting it right!6) The included tamper is perfect.7) Creates perfect pucks of coffee to dump out in the trash.8) The hot water dispenser is an awesome addition!9) Is an all-in-one, meaning I don’t need to buy a separate grinder!10) Just makes good coffee.11) Great manual included for lots of useful information.12) Has an automated cleaning cycle to clean the insides of the grouphead. Awesome!14) Includes a beautiful copper dosing tool.15) Includes tools to clean out the filters.Some things that bother me (Cons)*1)The top of the machine is plastic.2) The bottom sides of the machine is plastic3) The water tank needs to be refilled often, and it also thick plastic.4) The bottom water catcher thing (sorry) needs to be emptied often, but its not too bad.5) The coffee grind separator doesn’t really seem to help much, but it does help keep it out of the water below and little bit, which keeps it from smelling!6) Expensive, but to me, was a very worthwhile investment for how much coffee I was buying from the shop.7) Can’t seem to find inexpensive filters for the water tank, however, I use filtered water instead of tap.8) The Lowest grind amount is too much on the “double” setting. QC Should have caught this! But not a deal breaker. See above for workaround.*Might add more later as I think of them!This thing is also great for making sweet frappicinos and iced drinks.For caramel flavored drinks I use Hershey’s Caramel Syrup (Edit: I now make my own caramel syrup! It’s super easy!)For vanilla flavored drinks I use Torani Vanilla Syrup that I get cheaply from a bulk wholesale store in my town.For my sweet drink of choice I mix the two, add a double shot of espresso, 2% milk, and top with whipped cream and caramel syrup.Nothing beats a great espresso in the morning!Added tons of pictures.Edit: It seems quite a few people had problems with the machine dying on them, If your machine died on your please comment on this review with any information you think may help, such as the level of maintenance you preformed while your machine was working, the brand of water filters and cleaning tablets you used, etc.Maybe we can find a common cause of this defect!
Kindle Customer –
Dear Breville – We purchased this machine in March of this year. We like the drinks that it produced however, the burr grinder has stopped working. It sounds as if the gears are stripped. I have repeatedly called the customer service phone number and left a return phone number because sitting on hold for over half an hour with no response is ridiculous. When this machine was working, I would have given it a 4.5 but now that it is in need of repair and Breville seems to ignore it customer service claims I will give it 1 star out of generosity.
Kindle Customer –