Breville BES860XL Barista Express Espresso Machine with Grinder
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- Stainless steel conical burr grinder with ½lb bean hopper
- 15 bar Italian pump
- 1450W stainless steel thermocoil heating system
- Adjustable grind size and grind amount settings
- Preset, manual over-ride or re-programmable shot volumes
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Fresh is Best
In the world of coffee, freshness can be measured in seconds. By the time even five minutes has passed, ground beans have started to lose their flavor. Grinding beans every time you want fresh espresso takes time, though, and oftentimes it becomes a tradeoff between taste and convenience. The Breville Barista Express solves this problem, delivering fresh, quality espresso at remarkable speed, thanks to its integrated burr grinder. Go from beans to espresso in under a minute—all in the comfort of your own home.
Café quality espresso in your home
Espresso making is notorious for being both an art and a science, requiring you to carefully adjust each of the inputs (grind size, grind amount, etc.). But even complete beginners and aspiring baristas can pull a perfect shot from the Breville Barista Express. For beginners, it comes with two dual-wall, pressurized filters that regulate pressure and help optimize the extraction. For more experienced baristas, the Barista Express includes two single-wall, non-pressurized filters that give you more room to experiment with different grind sizes, grind amounts, and tamping pressure. As either a crash-course or a continuation study, the Barista Express gives you free rein to explore the art of espresso.
In addition to its integrated burr grinder, the Breville Barista Express has an Italian-manufactured 15 bar pump and thermocoil heating system that ensures accurate regulation of water temperature for a full-flavored espresso. A pre-brew function and flat shower head make sure that the water is optimally distributed through the coffee puck. The Barista Express also has several helpful features, such as a cup warmer on the top of the machine and a feature that removes excess water from the filter basket after coffee extraction, so the used grounds form a dry puck for quicker cleanup. Lastly, it has a stainless steel 360 degree swivel-action steam wand for lattes and cappuccinos.
For beginners and aspiring baristas alike, the Barista Express makes good espresso accessible and easy to make.
Designed with the consumer in mind
The Breville Barista Express is built from high-quality materials so the resulting machine is as sturdy as possible. No-slip feet keep the machine from sliding across the counter when the burr grinder is activated. The Barista Express is housed in a sleek stainless steel casing, making it an attractive and timeless addition to any kitchen. The entire unit is easy to clean and comes with a hideaway storage compartment for the included cleaning tools, in addition to an easily removable drip tray.
- Integrated conical burr grinder and half-pound bean hopper: stainless steel conical burrs optimize extraction of flavor from the bean by maximizing the surface area of the grinds. Use freshly ground beans for every shot for more full espresso flavor. Hopper has locking system for easy removal, storage and transfer of coffee beans.
- Grind size and grind amount selector dials: choose among grind settings from fine to coarse and adjust the amount of freshly ground espresso dosed into the filter basket.
- Filter size button: indicate whether you are using a single- or double-wall filter basket and the grinder will dispense the required amount of ground coffee for the appropriate filter type.
- 54mm tamper: for expert tamping control. With magnetized storage, but removable for easy tamping.
- Hands-free grinding cradle: push portafilter into cradle and freshly ground espresso will be dispensed directly into the filter. Grinder automatically stops when the indicated amount has been dispensed.
- 54mm stainless steel portafilter: with commercial style spouts.
- 67 fl. oz. removable water tank: top-fill tank with replaceable water filter to reduce impurities and scale.
- Volumetric control: preset 1 and 2 cup volumes, manual over-ride, or reprogrammable shot volumes.
- Espresso pressure gauge: monitors espresso extraction pressure.
- Thermocoil heating system: integrated stainless steel water coil accurately controls water temperature.
- Clean me light: indicates when a cleaning cycle is required. Cleaning kit included.
- 360-degree swivel action steam wand: for effortless milk texturing.
- Auto purge function: automatically adjusts water temperature after steam for optimal espresso extraction temperature.
- Removable drip tray: partitioned for both wet and dry spills, with 'Empty me!' indicator for when it’s full.
|Model||Dual Boiler||Barista Express||Infuser|
|Weight||30 lbs||23 lbs||17 lbs|
|Heating system||Dual boilers, stainless steel||Thermocoil, stainless steel||Thermocoil, stainless steel|
|Temperature control||Electronic PID (for better temperature stability)||Electronic PID (for better temperature stability)||Electronic PID (for better temperature stability)|
|Pump||Dual Italian pumps||15 bar Italian pump||15 bar Italian pump|
|Water tank||84 fl. oz. top-fill and rear-fill||67 fl. oz. top-fill with handle||61 fl. oz. top-fill with handle|
|Water filtration||Yes, 1 year supply||Yes, 1 filter||Yes, 1 filter|
|Accessories||2 x 58mm dual wall filter baskets, 2 x 58mm single wall filter baskets, 58mm integrated tamper, stainless steel milk jug, cleaning tool, cleaning disc and tables, allen key, water filter holder and filters, coffee scoop||2 x 54mm dual wall filter baskets, 2 x 54mm single wall filter baskets, 54mm integrated tamper, stainless steel milk jug, cleaning tool, cleaning disc and tables, allen key, water filter holder and filter, coffee scoop||2 x 54mm dual wall filter baskets, 2 x 54mm single wall filter baskets, 54mm integrated tamper, stainless steel milk jug, cleaning tool, cleaning disc and tables, allen key, water filter holder and filter, coffee scoop|
|Pre-infusion||True low pressure (gradual ramp up)||Triple prime (3 burst full power)||True low pressure (gradual ramp up)|
|Volumetric control||Preset, manual over-ride or reprogrammable||Preset, manual over-ride or reprogrammable||Preset, manual over-ride or reprogrammable|
|Dry puck feature?||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Auto purge?||Not required||Yes||Yes|
|Steam wand||360 degree swivel, 3 hole tip||360 degree swivel, 1 hole tip||360 degree swivel, 1 hole tip|
|Hot water||Yes, dedicated outlet||No||Yes, dedicated outlet|
|Concealed storage tray||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Breville assist plug||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Other||Over-pressure valve (OPV), actively heated group head, heat exchanger (HX), programmable extraction temps, programmable pre-infusion, backlit LCD, espresso shot clock, auto start, audio alerts (high, low, mute), drop down swivel foot||.5 lb bean hopper, conical burr grinder, grind size dial, grind amount dial, hands-free grinding cradle|
|Housing||Stainless steel; parts that come in contact with water, coffee, and milk are BPA free||Stainless steel; parts that come in contact with water, coffee, and milk are BPA free||Stainless steel; parts that come in contact with water, coffee, and milk are BPA free|
Top Customer Reviews
So, I liked the Breville from all the reviews but was worried about some of the negativity on the "wet puck" I had read. All the reviews mentioned excellent coffee though, so it was on my short list.
Then I saw the Breville BES860XL, also known as the Barista Express Programmable Expresso. From the looks you can tell this unit has exchanged the hot water dispenser for a bean grinder. This unit is a fully automatic expresso machine with the super automatic feature of grinding a pre-measure of beans for your brew. Note, it is not a super automatic machine as you still need to manually mount the portafilter into the group head, and clean the filter afterwards. This is as automatic as you will want to go if you want to really control your coffee.
But, let me walk you through the pleasure:
1. the box. this has excellent graphics -- even as you open, the getting started guide and pictures guide you along. The unit removes easily.
2. The tamper is magnetically held in place on the front of the machine -- you can use it in place or remove for manual tamping.
3. New: -there is a dry puck feature now for all the fussy reviews -- this removes excess water so you get, a dry puck
- an excellent burr grinder -- you can dismantle this for cleaning, and it has a wide range of control
- for those that previously complained about the "cheat" dual wall filters -- the unit comes with single and double dual wall AND single wall filters
- there is a hideaway storage tray to hold all the small goodies
4. Steaming -- excellent steam temperature and pressure -- works very well with the provided frothing jug, very minimal excess water to start
5. The real test. I am using the dual wall filters, and the Illy whole expresso beans I got from Italy were made into pure heavenly expresso. Nice crema. This is the real thing.
This is one finely engineered machine. From a mechanically inclined electrical engineer to the folks at Breville: you have created an exceptionally functional piece that does the job. Did I mention it is beautiful on the counter as well? I have it on an island, no bad sides.
Drawbacks: none. BUT, when making a real expresso shot, make sure you pre-warm your demitasse. Otherwise the expresso will heat up your cup and your coffee will not be hot. I run a water cycle first into my cup to heat up the group head and the cup.
In my opinion this is the best buy in the market under $1500. At the office, daily I use a super automatic machine that is at that top end.
The major selling points of the Barista Express are:
(1) patented dual-wall filters to help novices make a respectable cup of espresso without a lot of fuss. Breville has also included regular (single-walled) filters to allow a user the freedom to craft a cup of espresso like a professional barista would.
(2) the integrated burr grinder
A burr grinder (as opposed to a blade grinder) is ideally suited for grinding coffee beans because they generate less frictional heat than a conventional blade grinder. (Excessive heat degrades the quality of coffee beans. See Breville BCG450XL Conical Burr Grinder)
(3) coffeehouse-quality espresso right in your own home in under 2 minutes flat.
My experience with Breville Barista Express has been mostly positive. I'm especially impressed by how easy it is to make a delicious-tasting cup of espresso! Here's a detailed assessment:
- Single-Wall and Dual-Wall Filters
Breville has included 2 types of filter: (1) the single-wall filter and (2) the double-wall filter. Each type of filter comes in 2 sizes (single-shot and double-shot) -- for a total of 4 filters.
> Single-Wall Filter (Non-Pressurized Filter)
With the single-wall filter, getting the tamp pressure and grind size just right are of paramount importance for making a good cup of espresso. Under-extraction results in a watered-down espresso with little creama (foam head). The espresso will also taste a little sour. Over-extraction, on the other hand, makes the espresso overly bitter. I'll tell you, I have ruined many a cup of coffee because of under-extraction or over-extraction. Getting it right will take a lot of patience, practice, and experimentation.
> Dual-Wall Filter (Pressurized Filter)
I really appreciate the dual-wall filters Breville has included in the package for a beginner who is unsure of the "right" ground size or tamp pressure to use. The dual-wall filter helps to give a beginner a leg up on making a good cup of espresso without having to worry too much about the intricacies involving coffee ground size and tamp pressure.
A commonly reported problem that's noteworthy is that the single hole on the lower wall sometimes gets clogged up (although I haven't encountered the problem thus far). Breville advises the use of a pin to unclog the filter.
- Coffee Temperature
The ideal temperature of the water for extraction is between 195 F to 202 F. However, the water temperature reaches only roughly 185 F on my machine. There are no adjustments that allow you to increase/decrease the temperature of the water.
- Bean Hopper & Conical Burr Grinder
The bean hopper coffee that feeds the burr grinder has a supposed 8oz capacity. In practice, I find that it will only hold about 6 oz (it takes about half of a 12-oz bag of Peets coffee). A real plus to the hopper is the edges of its lid are lined with rubber to ensure a tight-fitting and airtight seal, so the coffee beans won't degrade as a result of oxidation.
The grind size of the burr grinder is adjustable, from very fine (for espresso and Turkish coffee) to coarse (recommended for espresso extraction with a dual-wall filter). The grinder delivers very evenly ground coffee (no lumps).
The only complaint I have about the hopper is as it empties out, the coffee beans in it occasionally need a little help to make them fall into the chute leading to the burr grinder. This happens more often with "oily" coffee beans.
- Magnetic Tamper
The magnetic tamper allows you to either (i) tamp on the counter (like a professional barista does) or (ii) do your tamping "on board" (with the tamper magnetically affixed to the machine). I really like that you're able to store the tamper on board when it's not in use, so it's within easy reach and it won't get lost.
I like how easy it is to program the amount of espresso dispensed into both the Single Shot and Double Shot buttons. For example, to program the Double Shot button, all you do is press the Program button, press Double Shot button, and press Double Shot button again to stop the extraction once you get the desired amount of espresso. Thereon, the Double Shot button will dispense the preprogrammed amount of espresso every time you push it.
- Steam Wand
The steam wand produces perfectly textured milk. You can use an included attachment if more froth is desired.
The Barista Express is a beautifully designed machine that simply oozes class and quality. The exterior is stainless steel except for the water tank, the bean hopper, the drip tray, the knobs, and a few other smaller parts (all of which are made of plastic).
- Easy Cleanup
Clean-up is easy:
> Give the portafilter a good tap to expel the ground. The ground should pop right out (the used ground should resemble a brownie if you've gotten the grind size and tamp pressure right). Give both the filter basket and the portafilter a quick rinse and you're done.
> Empty the drip tray when it says "Empty me" (a small float atop the drip tray gets upturned to display an "Empty me" sign when the drip tray is just about full) -- a very nice touch.
> Make sure the steam wand is wiped down immediately after use.
- Get Started Right Away
Everything you need to get started right away is included: filter baskets, milk jug, tamper, carbon water filter, and frother attachment. You probably want to get some espresso cups and a thermometer if you don't have them already.
Despite a couple of issues, I like the Barista Express. Would I recommend it? Well, it depends.
If you're looking for an convenient, no-brainer way to make good cup of espresso (or any espresso-based beverage, such as Latte, Cappuccino, and Mocha) - the Barista Express may be your ticket. It consistently churns out a good cup of espresso when you use the dual-wall filter, which works in tandem with the preprogrammed dual-wall settings. In addition, the burr grinder, which doesn't normally come integrated in professional machines, is a definite plus.
However, if you're into the art of making espresso (like a true barista), there are other good machines within the same price range you might want to look at first (one of the most popular machines is the Silvia Rancilio Espresso Machine).
There you have it. The above are some important considerations you might want to take into account before you make a purchase decision.
[Update October 5, 2011]
4 months after I acquired this espresso machine, it began leaking water. The water must have shorted out the electronics because the unit stopped working altogether shortly after. For months, my machine fell by the wayside, until I contacted Breville about getting it fixed. I was pleasantly surprised at how promptly they responded and how helpful the customer representative was. About 1 week after I contacted them, I received a brand new unit. Great job on the customer service, Breville -- Thank you. You've definitely won me over.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
piece, the black rubber on the steam wand, has worn out and partly broken off.