Breville Duo Temp Pro Espresso Machine, Stainless Steel
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- 15 bar Italian pump^PID temperature control^1600 watts thermocoil^1.8 liter removable water tank capacity
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|Color||Stainless Steel||Brushed Stainless||Stainless Steel||Stainless Steel||Silver||Red|
|Item Weight||18.9 lbs||13 lbs||10.37 lbs||12.2 lbs||20 lbs||9.3 lbs|
Breville Duo Temp Pro Espresso Machine, Stainless Steel
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Initially I couldn't talk myself into the extra $200 (*wait till the end!) and decided to purchase the Duo Temp Pro. Since this is an important purchase and there are only a few reviews here, I wanted to add mine to help out. Short version: once you play with it a little, this machine makes excellent espresso and foamed milk-- better than 90% of what you're going to get on the street. It's also probably the best *value* of the Breville line-- IF you already have a burr grinder (or want to buy your own). So my experience:
1. My first shot used the single-pressurized basket and was awful-- BUT it was user error. I used good espresso beans (Swing's 4-Mile Espresso) but apparently ground too fine, so it came out bitter and over-extracted. You can tell this both from the taste (bitter) and visually from the drip-drip-drip rate it comes out of the machine. (**One small thing I do NOT like is that apparently there is an auto-off function: stopping the brewing if, I assume, it senses too much pressure. Mine turned off after about 20 seconds on the first shot. MAYBE that's a good feature, to protect the machine… but I don't like it being taken out of my control.) So this shot got thrown out.
2. My second shot used the same basket and a coffee from Peet's (Cafe Domingo) pre-ground between espresso and filter. It generated a decent crema but didn't have much of a "nose"-- that heady scent of concentrated black mojo. However, it TASTED wonderful-- smooth, focused, not bitter at all, only a small "bite" at the end. You could drink it like water; better than 90% of espressos I get at a cafe. This told me the machine was doing its duty and (on the first shot) I wasn't doing mine.
3. My third shot, for a cappuccino, used the same beans as the first (Swings), only ground to the same consistency as the second. It came out much better. There was still a sharp lemony-bitter note from the coffee but much more integrated this time, and it came out at the slow-dripping honey drool that indicates the right grind/pressure. So you DO need to play with it a little bit, but it's not that hard. The milk foaming was almost TOO easy. Whatever they did with this machine, it's the right temperature, pressure, and (after priming) all steam-- no hot water that would dilute your milk. The only thing I DON'T like is-- again-- excessive automation; you can't manually control the flow of steam. (I never realized how much I liked that on my old machine… however NONE of the Breville models do this, so I guess I have to give it up.)
4. My fourth shot (yes, I'm well caffeinated by now) used the standard single-shot NON-pressurized basket and the same coffee as #1+3. It came out fine, but I ran it a bit longer than I should have. One thing I actually LIKE about the Duo-Temp vs. the Barista Express is that the extraction is manual-- you can "run long" if you want to. On the Barista Express, you can REPROGRAM the standardized shots, but its still automated. I guess I just like the user-control. I was a *little* concerned that the espresso actually came out too cool-- this is just my instinct from a dozen years in Italian coffee bars, so I can't prove it, but here's one place where the Barista Express actually has MORE manual customization. If I had the capability, I would up the temp by a degree and see how it comes out.
So all in all, it's a great machine… and I'm probably going to take it back for the Barista Express. Why? Well, for one thing, I don't have a good burr grinder, so I need that anyway. For another, I now appreciate more the idea of temp and pressure control. You can't tell MECHANICALLY on this one whether you're doing the shot right-- only by taste and visual inspection. Maybe you're doing it right and… maybe not. With the pressure gauge, you basically get engineering feedback on whether you have your grinder set right for those beans. As a geeky analyst-type, I might like that. But if you don't care so much for those (relatively small) features, this is the machine for you.
WARNING! There are videos out there on YouTube (like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3gmFtVItbU - see picture) that MISTAKENLY state this machine does not come with both pressurized and unpressurized filter baskets; it does. The same video mistakenly states that the Barista Express is a ThermoBlock system; also not true (it's ThermoCoil). Maybe it was once true and now its not, with new models, but it's still pretty sloppy for a professional company (Seattle Coffee Gear) to leave those videos up. Also, "Gail" (in the videos) keeps getting corrected by her videographer ("This is for pods!" "No, actually it's for back flushing the machine…"). While I appreciate that it keeps things casual and "homey", it is a little disconcerting for a coffee professional to be so frequently and casually wrong on a product demo! So don't trust these videos. Get your info from current reviews and user experience.
I was ready to throw it out and figured what the heck and started removing screws. It's actually quite easy to get the covers off of, but I found nothing wrong. It all seemed to work fine. Then I removed the allen screw that holds the screen that covers the heating element and lo and behold the thing was completely gummed up on the inside. I always wiped it from the outside, but be aware as you do that you're pushing grounds up inside of it. You need to remove it and clean it from time to time. I was ecstatic, this had to be it. Loaded up some coffee, same problem.
I took a good look at my ground coffee and noticed it was pretty finely ground. I always go to the same Starbucks and have them grind it to espresso grind. I figured I'd make one last attempt and buy a coarser grind and grabbed an off the shelf Starbucks espresso (pre-ground) from Walmart. Big difference in grind from what Starbucks gave me this last time. That was the key. Water flowed through it like a river. Problem solved. If you do have this issue don't throw out the finely ground coffee. Just mix it 50/50 with a coarser grind and it will work great.
So the moral of this story is that if you have an issue with the coffee not coming through, try a coarser grind before tossing your machine in the trash. And don't tell Starbucks to give you an espresso grind, it's just too fine for this machine. Time to buy my own grinder. That's another can of worms I don't look forward to. The reviews are much like with espresso machines, hit or miss.
I don't normally write reviews, but I hope this review saves someone the grief I had. I'm back in love with this machine.