BetterBean Senior Member Joined: 18 Oct 2010 Posts: 2 Location: Mountain View, CA Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Thu Oct 21, 2010, 12:33am Subject: Re: Any thoughts on the Breville Barista Express?
I've had the BES860XL for three months now and I'm quite pleased with it. Prior, I had a Starbucks Barista which died, and then for a while I had a Mazzer Mini and Livia machine which made great espresso but were extremely messy, took up lots of space, and constantly broke down. The Breville is a good compromise. I do have a couple gripes: - The grinding process over-fills the portafilter, causing small amounts of coffee to cascade over the edge and onto the counter - My portafilter sticks to the brew head. Breville is tirelessly trying to fix it, and I suspect they will get it right eventually
The machine produces repeatable, reliably good espresso. Again, not as good as the top of the line stuff most of you seem to be stuck on, but it offers considerable advantages over repurposed cafe equipment.
After reading some of the reviews about it on here I realized that most of the reviews were worthless. Some people said the internals of the Breville were junk, but probably never realized it has the same pumps and boilers as the italian machines they were recommending.
JasonBrandtLewis Senior Member Joined: 9 Dec 2005 Posts: 6,099 Location: Berkeley, CA Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -... Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario -... Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup Drip: CCD, Chemex Roaster: No, no, not another...
Posted Thu Oct 21, 2010, 6:51am Subject: Re: Any thoughts on the Breville Barista Express?
Welcome, Eric, to CG. Glad to have you here . . . .
I do not question your experience with a Breville, but would only say that three months is still perhaps in the "honeymoon phase," and wold hope that you a) write a "not-so-worthless" review in the consumer section and that you write a follow-up after you've owned it for a full year. It's certainly possible you got a Breville that was built on a Tuesday, and your experience is not to be discounted. But -- for me -- until there are more voices like yours to counter-balance the experience I (and others) have had, for the time being I'll stick to my "Run a-a-w-a-a-a-a-a-y-y-y-y" philosophy.
takeshi Senior Member Joined: 12 Oct 2002 Posts: 731 Location: Houston Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: Silvia Grinder: Super Jolly Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Mon Oct 25, 2010, 12:49pm Subject: Re: Any thoughts on the Breville Barista Express?
- The grinding process over-fills the portafilter, causing small amounts of coffee to cascade over the edge and onto the counter - My portafilter sticks to the brew head. Breville is tirelessly trying to fix it, and I suspect they will get it right eventually
ponti33609 Senior Member Joined: 13 Oct 2010 Posts: 63 Location: Tampa, FL Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Quick Mill Andreja Grinder: Rio Normale/Mazzer SJ
Posted Tue Oct 26, 2010, 4:44am Subject: Re: Any thoughts on the Breville Barista Express?
We just bought our first Espresso Machine last week after reading everything we could here and elsewhere.
We saw this machine at a local W&S and liked the looks and "thought" of it....all in one, easy, less stuff on the counter.....would match our blender and toaster.
Anyway, this being said, we felt that $500-$600 was way too much to pay for something that we might turn around and throw out in short order or be unsatisfied with FWIW. Granted we ended up buying something for 3 times that price but now feel like we will be happy for at least 3-5 years and maybe more.
strfish7 Senior Member Joined: 7 Aug 2009 Posts: 174 Location: San Antonio Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: La Pavoni Europiccola,... Grinder: Vario Vac Pot: Bialetti Drip: Technivorm Moccamaster Roaster: Behmor, FreshRoast 8
Posted Tue Oct 26, 2010, 5:34am Subject: Re: Any thoughts on the Breville Barista Express?
Jason's recommendations for grinders are great, but I'd go a little further and suggest stretching the budget if you possibly can and get the Baratza Vario, which would almost guarantee you'd not be looking for a grinder again, ever. I know the money seems excessive, but if you look at it as something you will use pretty much every single day, as opposed to some of the "stuff" we purchase which gets used infrequently or worse, once or twice, it's a good investment.
BetterBean Senior Member Joined: 18 Oct 2010 Posts: 2 Location: Mountain View, CA Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Mon Nov 1, 2010, 1:20pm Subject: Re: Any thoughts on the Breville Barista Express?
Perhaps I didn't say enough about my experience. I've been a barista at an independent coffee shop. I've owned everything from a $50 Krups boiler espresso machine to a $2500 Expobar cafe machine. I'm certainly not going to say that the Breville does as well as the Expobar, but it comes darned close when you take its limitations into account - which most people will have to do if they buy a $500 machine. It also doesn't require you to pipe cold water in and a install a floor sump-drain, or require that you add another $500 or more for a cafe-quality grinder. I've also owned italian machines in in the sub-$1000 price range where I couldn't get a replacement part and had to *write* to italy to get service. Certainly what I'd put up with in my own cafe would be a lot more than I put up with in a home machine which I use a couple times a day - including the loooong heating times that the commercial or near-commercial machines require you to wait through (or have them on all day long, consuming energy.)
It's really about suitability-to-task. The bulk of the reviews on here were of the form, "well, this Volkswagen is terrible, you should buy a Maserati!" Which of course if you put it in car-speak shows how ridiculous the advice is: most people have a space, hassle, and money budget that the "alternate" recommendations don't address. That's why I called them "worthless" and I think it's irresponsible to give such advice to beginners. One person said, "you can do much better for the same amount of money." Well, that's a start, but what exactly would that "much better" be? With a $500 budget, a good grinder uses up a minimum of $200 of it and he's going to recommend that another machine that can be had for the remaining $300 - which will most likely use the same internal parts and general equipment - is going to be "a lot better?" I don't think so! Sure, you could get used kit, but if it isn't consumer grade with a large following, then service is hard to get. And we all know these machines need service! In addition, for many who buy the Breville, a fully automatic might be a better choice, but acceptable ones start at twice the price, so I wouldn't recommend them to the same person who just bought the Barista Express. At least the BE will develop their understanding that technique and process can change coffee flavor.
So, let's have some sanity here: if you don't like a machine, then offer an alternative that meets the same general budget and usability points. The Maserati isn't for everyone!
What is a “café machine”? And how does that differ from a “boiler espresso machine”?
I'm certainly not going to say that the Breville does as well as the Expobar, but it comes darned close when you take its limitations into account - which most people will have to do if they buy a $500 machine.
Could you be specific as to the brand and the specific machine? I’ve certainly never had to “write to italy” (sic) to get replacement parts. Replacement parts are and have been readily available in my experience.
Certainly what I'd put up with in my own café . . .
I’m sorry – did I misunderstand? Did you own a café, or were you employed by an independent café? Just trying to understand . . .
. . . would be a lot more than I put up with in a home machine which I use a couple times a day - including the loooong (sic) heating times that the commercial or near-commercial machines require you to wait through (or have them on all day long, consuming energy.)
Well, I cannot speak for anyone else – that would be rather presumptuous on my part, wouldn’t it? – but it seems clear to me that you haven’t been reading my posts. Even a casual read through my posts will frequently reveal something similar to: What is your budget? There’s no point in recommending a $3,000 machine if your budget is $300, but there’s also no point in recommending a $3,000 machine – even if it’s within the budget – if there’s a $1,500 machine that will suit your needs perfectly.
I think it's irresponsible to give such advice to beginners.
With a $500 budget, a good grinder uses up a minimum of $200 of it and he's going to recommend that another machine that can be had for the remaining $300 - which will most likely use the same internal parts and general equipment - is going to be "a lot better?" I don't think so!
BTW, a Maserati generally isn’t for the person who owns the Maserati, either . . .
So, if we presume “John Smith” says, “I have $500, I have never made espresso before, and I want to buy an espresso machine” . . .
Again, I don’t know how often, or how well, you’ve read my posts, but there are four standard questions I ask. The first three cover the needs of the “newbie,” while the last being what is the individual’s budget, and does that figure include a grinder? (Admittedly, I always add a 10 percent “fudge factor” to the budget.)
The least expensive machines that I feel completely comfortable recommending are the aforementioned Gaggia Classic and Le’Lit PL041 ($399). The obvious problem is that that doesn’t leave much for the grinder. (Hence the obvious question, does that include a grinder?)
Are there less expensive machines that I’d recommend? Only with reservations.
My other oft-repeated “tidbit” of alleged wisdom is that making great espresso at home needn’t cost a fortune, but it does have to cost something.
Chris_W Senior Member Joined: 27 Oct 2011 Posts: 1 Location: USA Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Thu Oct 27, 2011, 10:52am Subject: I love the Breville Barista Express - ignore the bad rederick
I, too have the BES860Xl for about 6 month now, and I love it. It makes a really good and consistent espresso, and whats even more important it is very easy to play with if you want to try different beans and roasts.
My previous machine was a pump driven Krups which I used with pre-ground espresso I got from a local coffee shop (I did not really like Illy or Lavazza after a while for espresso). Upgrading to the Breville is a huge step ahead. I finally can modify the grind and output to just the espresso I want and like. The learning curve was a bit flat at the beginning, it took me a while to figure how to load the filter and how much to tamp it but after that I got a good feeling how to correct tamping, grind and amount when I get a new sort of beans.
Important points fo me are that you can consistently get the same amount of coffee from the grinder and see the pressure on the gauge since this really helps to modify your output. If I get new beans I normally start with a double shot and set the amount to the 2nd setting from the smallest. I than adjust the tamp and fines of the grind that the gauge goes to half to the upper 1/3 of the recommended pressure setting (this gives about the right time of output and a correct pour - you can of course also time it and look at the liquid coming out, but the gauge makes it much easier- look elsewhere to read about this). I then try the espresso and adjust the output watching the gauge to stronger or weaker. Darker roasts normally require a weaker tamp and coarser grind and go higher on the gauge.
Some things I found out while using it: - the pressurized filters might be nice but they don't give you anything close to what you can get with the normal ones if you are willing to experiment - While grinding rock the portafilter once or twice to prevent spills (there is still a little spill but the large waste compartment captures it nicely) - I think the tamper is a little bit to small, make sure that you press (easy, don't compress) the beans to the side of the filter before tamping - Always let the machine warm up 5-10 minutes with the filter installed, then run an empty double shot through to get everything warmed up. - remove the black plastic disc inside the portafilter, I believe it is there to prevent cooling if you don't do warm-ups but it also prevents the filter from waring up properly if you run the empty shot - I normally program the shot length very long and turn the pump off by pressing the button again when the right amount is reached. - I don't use the charcoal filter (much to expensive) but brita-filtered water, the are also much cheaper cleaning tablets than the ones suggested by Breville
To this forum post in general: It is very unfortunate that this comes up as the top hits if you google the Breville Barista express. There are obviously some senior members here which do not like this brand and are ready to refute every other opinion violently and relentlessly. If you read their posts carefully you will realize that these members did not own any Breville branded machines, not this particular machine or in the best case only tested it for a few hours (I went through all of the mostly useless comments, before I bought mine). As several others posted here it a good machine after you figured how to use it and I am sure it makes equally good espresso as the 2 machines they tend to recommend (I owned one of these but that was with preground Lavazza). So- if you bought this machine or want to buy it, just give it a little bit of time and you will figure it out. After a while it is very rewarding, start buying different beans/roasts and you will be amazed with the different flavors you can get.
I am sure these seniors I mention above will bash me too for this- I will not reply, it's no use.
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